Monday, December 22, 2008

The Christmas Post

Well, it's been a while. It hasn't been that I've had nothing to write about, so much as I don't want to write about anything that has been going on in my life. It's been... well, challenging to say the least. I am heartened by what that Nietzsche (yes, I had to look it up to spell it) dude said, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." So right about now I am feeling strong like bull.

That being said, I am still enjoying the Christmas season. I love everything about it - the lights, the trees, the decorations. This year has been fun because it will be the first year the kid kinda gets the whole Santa concept. The other day we had this conversation:

KID: Mommy, is Santa here yet?

ME: Umm, no, not yet...
KID: When is he coming?

The only way to answer that question was to take the calendar off the wall, show her what it day it was, and then show her all the days between that day and Christmas. I even drew a Christmas tree on the 25th's square. Then she proceeded to draw all over the whole month, so I'm not really sure she got what I was getting at. (The kid believes if there is something on which she can write, and a some kind of writing implement within her reach, it's fair game. She's going to draw on it.)

So, since it's Christmas, and near the end of the year, it seems an appropriate time to think about some of my favorite things. You know, like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens? Well, of those, whiskers on kittens might make the list, but but we'll see. It just seems like a good time to think about the good things in my life, not just at Christmas, but in general. I like to believe that the glass really is half full. And who knows, maybe someone else who's down in the dumps will read this and be inspired to do the same thing.

So here it is, in no particular order (are you kidding me, that's way too hard; maybe only my number one will actually be the number one, but that's as far as it goes), some of my favorite things. Since Christmas is the 25th, and the ABC Family Channel is kind enough to have their annual 25 Days of Christmas deal, where they play all those stop-motion Rankin/Bass Christmas specials of my youth and corny Christmas-themed movies, let's just do a list of 25:

25. Facebook: Wow, Facebook is the shiznit. I have had so much fun connecting and reconnecting with old friends, looking at their photos, and reading and making funny comments. The only problem is that it is as addictive as crack. Well, as addictive as I have heard crack is supposed to be. I've never tried crack, crack is whack, after all.
24. My job: I dig it. Who would have thought that a girl who was (and kinda still is) afraid of her own shadow would wind up as a police dispatcher? Not me, that's for sure.
23. Round Table Pizza: I could eat my personal pizza with creamy garlic sauce and olives DAILY. And also, ranch dressing on the side, please. Remember my compulsive overeating blog? My life lately has not really been helping me with my goals, sadly.
22. Sushi: Tuna. Raw. 'Nuff said. Except that I can't believe my parents will not even consider trying it. Remember Green Eggs and Ham, I said. He would not eat it in a box or with a fox at first, and then he said he'd eat it anywhere, after he tried it! My folks weren't buying it.
21. TV and the DVR: Chuck, The Office, 30 Rock, and Burn Notice are a few of my favorites.
20. Seeing snow on a local mountaintop: Seriously, how cool is that?
19. The fact that my pigment and my facial fat has slowed the wrinkling process: Knock wood.
18. Blogging: Even though I haven't done it for a while, I really do enjoy it.
17. Mapquest and similar: How did I get anywhere before?
16. Beer: Hefeweizen, Corona, and Bud Light With Lime 'specially.
15. Wine: Reds 'specially, but I'm extremely not picky.
14. Waxed eyebrows: Have you seen my eyebrows prior to the fall of 1999? Why did people let me walk around like for 29 years?

13. Acrylic nails: The only way I can have fingernails. No hangnails, no peeling, no chipping, no splitting. And I like to have them painted with the same color almost every time, "Dark Secret." Wow, doesn't that sound so mysterious?
12. Books: I have always loved them and will always love them, even if it takes me one million years to read them sometimes. I was doing really well there for a while recently, and now I've sort of been in a non-reading mood. When I'm in kind of a dark place, books do not distract me well enough, so instead I wind up playing a bunch of computer games or watching TV. But I really do love to read.
11. The fact that my kid loves books: Soooo awesome.
10. My kid's hair: Beautiful curls and a beautiful color, I could not have planned it any better.
9. George Clooney: Just take a look at the guy. He keeps getting hotter and hotter. I am pretty sure none of his relationships ever last too long because he's waiting for me.
8. See's Candy: Please, do not put it within arm's reach. I'm begging you.
7. Singing: With Sassy Sisters, in the car, in the shower, by myself with the karaoke machine, wherever. As long as I can remember it has given me great joy and I hope it always will.
6. Christmas: See above, and add A Christmas Story, It's a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, get-togethers with family and friends, and driving around and looking for lights (and saying, accidentally, "HOLY CRAP!," and then a few houses later having your kid yell from her car seat, "HOLY CRAP!").
5. Movies: Even though I get to the theater almost never (unless a kid's movie is out), I will always love the experience of watching a movie in a theater, especially one with a lot of people with whom to laugh, gasp, cry, and applaud. Yes, I've applauded in the theater, and yes, I know the actors can't hear, but so what, sue me.
4. E-mail: The ONLY way I have managed to keep in touch with people, since I do not like to talk on the phone. I love e-mail so much, if it were a boy I'd marry it.
3. My friends: They kick ass. I'm a lucky girl.
2. My family: Especially Mom. I'm a super lucky girl. Knowing they are always there for me has carried me through a lot.
1. My kid: Wow. I've pretty much already written about how much I dig her. Unbelievable how she gets better and better and more and more entertaining. She knocks me out.

I'm sure that as soon as I get this posted I will think of all kinds of things that will be on this list and are not, but hey, I threw it together in like half an hour so I won't beat myself up about it too much. And again, it's definitely not in order. I love my kid's hair way more than George Clooney and See's Candy.

So think about your favorite things. Be thankful for them; go and do them (you know, if it's an activity, not a person, though in some cases that might be applicable... ), go and see them, send them a note, or give them a great big hug and kiss.

Merry Christmas, to all of you and yours.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Change is Gonna Come

I cannot believe that my daughter is going to grow up in a world where she will take for granted the idea of a person of color being President of the United States.

People of my generation have grown up with the notion that we could do anything to which we put our minds. It was the movers and shakers who came right before us and fought for civil rights, for black folks and women, whom we have to thank for growing up this way. But in spite of this, never, ever, ever did I think I would live to see a black president of this country. Not only did I not think I'd see it in my lifetime, but not even in my daughter's lifetime!

It was especially meaningful to me, having grown up the daughter of a black father and white mother, and sometimes not knowing where, if anywhere, I fit in, to see someone with the same racial makeup standing in front of this gigantic crowd of the most amazed, inspired, and happy people I have ever seen, giving his first speech as President-elect of our country.

Granted, Barack's dad was from Kenya, and my dad is from Nebraska City, Nebraska, so it's not as if we have much in common outside of our skin color, but still, you get what I mean!

Since I'd taken Kayla with me to the polling place to vote for Barack in the primary, I thought it only fitting she should be with me when I cast my vote for him in this general election. I was going to be working on election day, from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., and knew it would be a struggle to get both myself and the kid out the door in time to vote before work, and with commute time and baby-pick-up time I'd have no time after work, so we decided to go to the Registrar of Voter's Office, one of which for my county is like 10 minutes from my house.

We get to the county building, which is huge and impressive-looking, and go up in the elevator to the 2nd floor. Anytime we have to go in an elevator, Kayla yells, "Pick me up, Mommy, PICK ME UP!" This kid, who sometimes seems as though she has no fear whatsoever, has this thing about elevators, I think about that little bit of space on the floor right at the elevator door, like she thinks she might fall in or something. Anyway, I grab her, get in the elevator, and when we get out, bam, the line is right there. So it was cool - we stood in line for maybe 30 minutes, during which time I chatted with a nice man behind me who let me borrow his pen so I could fill out my absentee voter application (since basically that's what we were doing, voting absentee only in person). I had no pen since I was trying to travel light with just my phone, my keys, my ID, my jacket (it was nasty cold and rainy when we went), and of course, the kid.

Mercifully, Kayla's patience lasted as long as it took us to vote. When we were done, this gruff sheriff's deputy working the counter gave me a large "I Voted" sticker that he'd been handing out to kids. But part of the top was ripped off (he wasn't the best sticker-ripper-offer guy), and I was like, "Um, could I have one that is not ripped, we want to be able to read it!" And he didn't even say anything, just gave me another one and then did not give me the little "I Voted" sticker for me, and I should have made him, but at the time the old shy Jen had taken over, and I guess I didn't want to push my luck. Anyway, here's a picture of Kayla holding her sticker (because she did not want to put it on for some reason), and of course, also holding Dolly Diego (not to be confused with Plastic Diego), because we do not go anywhere without him:

The next day after work, election night, I went over to my mom's to pick up the kid and watch the results roll in. I wanted to be there, with my kid, my (pretty much) liberal Democrat folks, to watch was hopefully going to be history in the making, and was I ever not disappointed about that.

I mean come on, have you ever seen anything like it? I was hoping by today I would be able to explain how I felt that night. First of all, it was exciting, no matter who you were pulling for, to see so many people amped about the process. But then, it probably wasn't as exciting to you if you were rooting for the other guy. Hey, I understand. This is the girl who voted for Dukakis and Gore and... geez, I always forget the other guy's name... John Kerry! That's it! So see, I know what it feels like when your guy doesn't win.

Mom and I were flipping back and forth between MSNBC and the networks, and at 8 p.m. sharp, we're watching NBC, and there's a picture of Barack against this dark background, filling the screen, and it says "BARACK OBAMA ELECTED 44th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES," and no one is talking. And I look at my mom, and at the TV, and at my mom again, and I probably said, "Holy crap," as that is the appropriate thing to say when you see something like that. Then Brian Williams says "11 p.m. on the east coast, we're back on the air, and we have news... there will be young children in the white house for the first time since the Kennedy generation. An African-American has broken the barrier as old as the Republic. An astonishing candidate, an astonishing campaign, a seismic shift in American politics, you are looking at the 44th President of the United States, the celebration begins... "

Of course, I could have never remembered all of that, thank goodness for YouTube! And what about Amy Carter, though? She was small-ish when she was in the White House, but who cares! It was still beyond hecka cool when that announcement was made. I asked my parents, "Are we sure about this? I'm not going to go to bed with Barack as President and wake up and find out the other guy won, am I?" Once they assured me that would not be the case I felt even better about the whole thing.

The elation we felt that night, my mom and I as we looked at each other, then back at the TV, the elation that Spook and I felt as we yelled in each other's ears over the phone (just like we did back in '92), it was so much more than just, "Check it out, our guy won!" His win was truly a sign of hope, that things could actually get better, hope that many of us have not felt in a really long time. And as we all know, it won't happen overnight, but it will happen. A change is gonna come.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Total Drama DVR

Seriously, sometimes something has to go. And last week that something was Grey's Anatomy.

I was up to my eyeballs in the show. At least two, if not three episodes leftover from last season, plus everything from this season, and the pressure was killing me. I know, it's just TV. Not actual brain surgery like McDreamy would perform.

One day last week I took a seat on my couch (sadly, one of my favorite places to be - I think my end of the couch is actually visibly lower than the other end, which is very, very sad), check out my DVR, and find it's about 97% full. I had a little baby panic attack.

Here it is, fall season in full swing, and I'm just not keeping up. One of the problems is that there is just not much Kayla-free TV time. So you don't want to watch a show like Grey's Anatomy, what with them cutting people up and all the blood and guts and stuff with your almost-three-year-old running around and telling you to get off the couch because she wants to jump in that spot, and ordering you to hold Dolly Deigo so that he can watch her jump. Frankly, when my TV is on, it's usually playing Charlie and Lola, Go Diego, Go, Wow, Wow, Wubbzy, Caillou, or Max and Ruby. All delightful shows in their own right, but sometimes when you're pushing forty you need something a little meatier.

But why Grey's, Jen? I'll bet you're asking, especially if you're one of those with whom I've talked about how good this episode was and how much that episode made me cry. I will always have affection for the show. I actually broke up with it before and started watching it again, so perhaps, down the line, when the DVR gets somewhat cleaned up, I'll let it back into my life. Right now, I just can't commit to it. Kind of the way that Meredith can never seem to quite commit to Derek (and please, can someone explain that to me, because while I know that she is even more neurotic than I am, and that is really saying something, I don't care how nutty I am, when Patrick Dempsey is all, "Marry me, this will be our house, I love you, love you, love you," sorry, but you wouldn't find me hesitating for a single second about whether or not I could commit to him), although the commercials I've seen make me think that maybe they are finally back together, but I suppose someone will clue me in on that at some point.

There were other shows that I could not even consider giving the old heave-ho: Chuck, 30 Rock, The Office, Ugly Betty, Kitchen Nightmares, Burn Notice, Pushing Daisies... these are some of my non-negotiables. And then there is a show like Life on Mars, which literally, I've only seen the first 10 minutes of the first episode, but now Don is watching it so that one has to stay. And then there's Life, about a cop who was framed for a murder he did not commit and was wrongly imprisoned. While this is certainly not the best cop show out there, I am into the storyline about who framed him which started with the very first episode of its premiere season last year, so I have to hang with that one to see what happens. I'm sure there are other shows I'm forgetting, and I could get up and go take a look at the DVR right now, but frankly, I'm feeling too lazy to do so.

Then there is Total Drama Island. This is a show on Cartoon Network, and yes, it is a cartoon. I accidentally started a relationship with this show. One night, in a zombie-fied state because I'd only slept a few hours within a span of nearly 30, I was looking for something to watch while I packed for a trip, and when I saw the title, I was intrigued so I checked it out. I think I came in part of the way into the first episode, and they showed a few more episodes that night. My mom was at my house, and she comes in my bedroom and is like, "What the hell are you doing, you zombie, you are supposed to be packing." Well, maybe it wasn't that bad but it was close. Then we leave for our trip to Reno with the kid the next day, and in the hotel room there are only a couple of "kid" channels, and Cartoon Network was one of them, and both nights we were there they played several episodes, so this is how I got hooked. It was as if it was meant to be. AND Kayla likes it, or at least does not tell me to change the channel when it is on, so it doesn't get much better than that.

I know what you're thinking: "Jen, I'm a grown-up person. Why on earth would I watch your silly cartoon with a silly name like Total Drama Island?" First of all, watching cartoons will make you feel young, and who doesn't want to feel young? Secondly, it is an extremely entertaining, amusing, and clever show. A satire of reality shows, especially Survivor, it is about 22 teenagers who show up at Camp Wawanakwa and engage in a series of totally absurd challenges (one was a "trust" challenge where a teammate was charged with preparing potentially lethal blowfish for a fellow teammate) and try to avoid being voted off by their teammates. During the elimination ceremony, marshmallows are passed out to team members who get to stay, and whoever doesn't get one has to walk the Dock of Shame to the Boat of Losers and "never, never, never, ever come back," as Jeff Probst-like host Chris Maclean takes an inappropriate amount of glee in telling the campers.

This is like Survivor meets Big Brother meets The Real World meets a Saturday Night Live spoof of those shows (well, back when SNL was funny). While it parodies these reality competition shows filled with people willing to do just about anything for their 15 minutes of fame (the fast-paced, very catchy theme song lyrics proclaim, "I wanna be, I wanna be, I wanna be famous!), it's way more entertaining than any of those shows could ever be (although that is not really fair of me to say because I only watched Big Brother the first season, one half of one episode of Survivor, and I've never watched The Real World).

Take my advice and check this show out. I've been watching previous episodes on Comcast's On Demand. If you are looking for some silly entertainment which will sometimes having you laugh off your you-know-what, you should give it a shot.

But if you get hooked on it and wind up getting a full DVR, don't come complaining to me. I've got enough DVR drama of my own.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I Guess They're Famous Because...

Every time I see a picture of Paris Hilton, I think, "Why?" I know you're an heiress and your family has truckloads of money. So do other rich people, and I don't have to see them every time I open up a People or Us Weekly (if I'm at the nail salon without a book). Why must you take up any portion of any entertainment reports on Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood, or TMZ (how much do I love Harvey Levin, the guy who does the legal commentary for People's Court, when he is wearing a t-shirt and jeans and being all snarkily funny about celebrities? I am actually disturbed by how much I love him on this show).

Now, I know, this is all subjective. That is why this is my blog, so I can write whatever the heck I want about whatever the heck I want. This post is meant to be completely silly and frivolous, and you are not meant to remember it for one single second after you read it. It is meant to be like... well, like reading an Us Weekly while you get your nails done!

I mentioned this before, but I still don't understand why Ryan Seacrest is famous. I know he's the host of American Idol, and he's the E! News guy, but I told you before that if he becomes the permanent host of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve I might have to boycott the holiday. But seriously, can someone tell me if they've heard him as a disc jockey and he was really, really, like totally awesomely super good? Because maybe that is why he deserves to be famous. Otherwise, the fact that they had him host the Emmy's last year, then co-host them (sort of, if you can call it that) this year makes absolutely no sense to me. On Idol (which in his defense, I do not watch very often), he just seems kind of weird and weaselly. Every once in a while he has some funny remark for Simon, but I guess what I'm questioning is why he is as famous as he is. Isn't there someone out there more talented than he is who should be where he is? Don't tell me - he was in the right place at the right time. Wow, lucky us.

I suppose I have a cornucopia of reality show "stars" whose fame I could question, but I would like to focus on one bunch of them - the cast of The Hills. Okay, here is where I really show my age. I don't understand what this show is. Is it a scripted show? Is it a reality show? I have never seen the show, just clips on The Soup. Is it on VH-1, MTV? The only reason I know it exists is because again, when I open up a the best magazine in the whole world, People (the subscription to which I cancelled because I decided it was too much of a luxury, so now my wonderful co-worker, Sarah, lets me read her hand-me-down copy), who do I see as soon as I start in with the "Star Tracks" (the first section of the magazine filled with pictures of celebrities, either posed at events or candid, like coming out of a Starbucks in West Hollywood cafe)? Lauren Conrad, and Heidi something and Spencer Pratt. Oh my gosh, I can't STAND these people. It annoys me to no end that I even know their names! I am so sorry if I am offending anyone, because if this is one of your guilty pleasure shows, more power to you, I have all kinds of stuff like that. I guess I just resent these people - the ones I just mentioned, for example, who seem to have zero talent - taking up space in these pictures instead of like, actual movie or TV stars or something. Oh, and Audrina Partridge - is she the other from The Hills? Yes, I don't want her in my magazine either.

Did I just get old? Is that the problem? I'm out of touch, I know this. I realize that since I tend to listen to talk radio or audio books when I'm driving, I next to never know about new songs or artists, unless one of my stepkids tells me about them, or maybe even a co-worker. Sometimes my husband, who while only four years older than me is mentally much, much, much older even turns me onto something new. And I know that the celebs who were all fresh and new when I was a teenager are now either all washed up, or in rehab, or they're busy raising kids or living a normal life. I mean, I do not expect to see a picture of C. Thomas Howell in the "Star Tracks" anytime soon. So I don't think it's that I don't want young people, I just don't want people who aren't famous for a good reason. Like, you know, they can act or they entertain us or something. So many times I think to myself, "What if that chick were a size 14? Would her picture be in the front of my (well, Sarah's) People every week?" And what is really funny about that is that I would KILL to be a size 14 again, while the people you see in these pictures or on Entertainment Tonight could fit into one side of a size-14 pair of pants with room to spare. So for me, that's not a good enough reason for me to consider you as famous, just because you look good.

And sure, models might fall into this category of "famous because they look good," but that is different. And there would be people who would be considered "personalities," maybe. Not really actors or musicians... and I can't think of anyone right now who falls into this category, but I can tell you right now that Heidi Spencer Lauren Audrina does not fall into this category, at least not for me. Did you know that if you Google Spencer Pratt you will get approximately 42,900,000 results? I hope you didn't know that because I hope you have not Googled him recently or ever. This is the kind of research I do for you, my dear readers. That number is so big I don't even know how to say it. If you Google me you will get 53 results. A few from this blog, a few from other things, but no where close to 42,900,000 results. So what does this Spencer character have that I don't? What is his "talent?" Seriously, someone tell me if they know! I am all ears.

I think I should clarify that in the great scheme of things, it doesn't matter what any celebrities are doing, or that the paparazzi caught a glimpse of George Clooney laying in the sun, all mustachioed for a role in his new movie, or that Ben took Violet to the pumpkin patch, or that Salma Hayek had her daughter, Valentina, with her on the set of 30 Rock while filming her guest appearance. But I'm sorry, I LOVE this kind of stuff. I like to see the stars glitzed and glammed up, or caught in some candid moment, or whatever, I really do. And I know other people could care less about that stuff (I can just imagine the look on my dad's face if I ran this last paragraph by him). But still, show me actual celebrities, not these youngsters whose only claim to fame is that they party at nightclubs and have perfect hair and complexions and bodies.

It occurs to me that this post makes me sound like a crotchety old lady, you know the one who yells at the kids who accidentally kick the ball into her yard. I hope I'm not that lady. I do have good news, though - the other night I finished two of Sarah's hand-me-down Peoples in one sitting and guess what? Not a single Heidi Spencer Lauren Audrina photo in "Star Tracks!" But I can't remember if they showed up in the rest of the magazine - I'm getting older and my memory's not what it used to be.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Compulsive Eaters Unanonymous

So I looked up compulsive eaters on Wikipedia (every lazy websearcher's favorite place to go), and it looks like that's what I am. I've suspected it for years, but here, on the World Wide Web, in front of my huge readership of about five or six (and two of them are related to me), I'm owning it. I'm claiming it, I'm saying, hello, my name is Jen, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

You start to suspect that you are way past the "Let's go on a diet" or "Let's join Weight Watchers" (a program, which, by the way, is the best if you are a normal person) point when you are stopping at Adelberto's at 3:30 a.m. after work to grab a light snack of nachos covered with cheese and guacamole. Who needs to eat that at 3:30 in the morning? Pretty much no one. And, you are making that stop after spending several miles beforehand chanting to yourself, "I don't need it. Keep driving, just go to bed." Or you are never, ever, ever done with your meal just because you're full. There always seems to be room for one more bite. Or helping. Or meal. Hey, Taco Bell, thanks for that whole 4th Meal thing, you really have given me some good rationalization help with that one.

I'm not sure when my problem started, but let's just say I don't think that it helped that I fell madly in love with mayonnaise at age 7. Seriously, if mayonnaise were a guy, I'd marry it and have little mayo kids with it. I remember like it was yesterday the day my babysitter took us to Burger King. This in itself was a big deal, because in my house, we didn't eat a lot of fast food, and if we were having burgers they were going to be from McDonald's. So I got some kind of burger and and it had this beautiful, wonderful mayonnaise on it. My parents, being from the Midwest, were Miracle Whip people. They have since come to their senses and switched to mayo, but back then mayo was never in our house, just the Whip (and though I clearly prefer mayo to Miracle Whip, I must admit that its tangy zip is sometimes welcome on certain types of sandwiches or burgers). Anyway, one bite of that burger and the love affair began.

Fast forward to 1987, and I've got my own wheels and a job that pays me money that I can use on food. How many times did I get off at 11 p.m. and cruise over to Burger King for a Whopper with cheese, EXTRA mayonnaise? Way too many to count. Even though I still love mayonnaise way more than I should, I just don't have it in me to order anything with extra mayo. I don't want to be that fat girl that pulls around to the drive-thru window to pay and gets the look from the cashier that says, "Hmph. No wonder she wants extra mayo." I just always hope I'll get lucky and have Bob, the extra mayo slatherer back there making my Whopper with cheese (only now I order them hold the meat since I gave up red meat 13 years ago, which had next to nothing to do with health or cutting calories and more to do with the fact that after watching "Babe" I did not want to eat cute animals that I feared might have personalities, which is why is I still eat chicken, turkey, and fish [and yes, I do think baby chicks are cute but that is something with which I have to deal]).

It's not just mayo. I'll eat a whole bunch of anything, believe me. Salty, sweet, I don't discriminate, just depends on my mood. I will say the starchier the better, and if there is cheese and sauce involved, even better. Pizza? Could I ever have just one slice? Especially if it's from Round Table, with creamy garlic sauce and olives only? No, pretty much I eat as many slices as it takes for me to feel the fullness in the eyeballs. And that's the problem. Going past belly fullness into eyeball fullness. This I don't like.

So why do I do it? There's no time to lay all that out in this post. The reasons are various and sundry and have all been discussed with a couple of different therapists. Just the stuff that's gone down in my life in the past year alone has been enough for me to do more than my part in keeping Adelberto's in business. I will say that two of the big issues in my life that have contributed to my problem would be 9/11 and pregnancy.

If you were born in 1970 or thereabouts like I was, then you grew up in a world where, quite simply, really bad stuff didn't happen to us here. So for a whole generation of folks, watching those Twin Towers get hit, over and over again, shattered this completely idyllic world and false sense of safety we'd managed to keep for 30 years or so. So this horrific event made me less likely to make good choices when it came to food. Let's see... the world could end tomorrow, shall I order a veggie burger hold the mayo with a side salad, low fat dressing on the side? Umm, I DON'T THINK SO, PAL! How about a super burrito mojado with the works, please? Don't forget the guacamole and sour cream!

Then there was pregnancy, during which I vomited every single day, except for a wonderful 10 days early in the third trimester. Otherwise, it was get up, puke, go about my business, puke, go to bed, etc. So once pregnancy was over and there was no more of that, I pretty much decided to go on a food free-for-all. Well, the kid will be 3 at the end of December and my free-for-all is still happening.

I think the number 100 is also one more reason I feel so stalled and stymied. I would like to lose 100 pounds, and in all of my years of battling my food issues and my weight, I have never had a desire to lose a 3-digit number of pounds. I'd actually be happy with 90, so maybe I should just think of it that way and it wouldn't be such a mental stumbling block for me? I think I see that 100 and think to myself, "Dang, that's never gonna happen. (Munch munch munch noises) Would ya give me another cookie?"

And before you tell me I should exercise, I know this already. Believe it or not, there was a time in my life when I had to exercise every day or I'd feel weird. Seriously, it was as much a part of my routine as getting up and taking a shower and brushing my teeth. I loved to go to Jazzercise or do a workout tape at home (pretty much anything that let me shake my butt made me happy). I was into strength training, the whole thing. What happened to the girl? I think maybe I ate her. Now I try to walk 30 minutes at a time, and manage that 3-4 times a week, if it's a good week. Every once in a great while I'm able to find some kid distraction-free time at home to throw on a yoga video or something, but once in a great while only.

So why, as my brother would say, throw all of this out on front street for all five or six of you to see? Well, because maybe I'll actually dive into this book I've started reading, called It's Not About Food, which talks about how to (as the front cover claims) "Change your mind, change your life, and end your obsession with food and weight." Because it has been almost all about food for me (man, I didn't even get into planning my vacation activites around where I was going to eat!). And maybe the next time I want to stop at Adelberto's I'll think about how much better I felt just by getting all of this out. And maybe I'll think of something else to do rather than eat a burrito the next time I'm sad. Or mad. Or happy. Or awake. Maybe I will, you never know.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Proposition 8 Interview

Hello, and welcome to a very special edition of Work In Progress. For the first time ever, I will be conducting a completely fictionalized interview with a completely fictionalized person, Mr. John Q. Heterosexual, about the very controversial proposition appearing on ballots in California in November, Proposition 8.

Remember, Mr. Heterosexual only exists within my imagination, therefore any similarities to any persons living or dead is not only highly unlikely, it would just be pretty darn weird as well.

Jennifer Michelle Moore-Skallerud: Mr. Heterosexual, thank you for agreeing to meet with me today.

John Quite Heterosexual: Hey, sure, no problem. I'm still getting paid for this, right?

JMM: That must be some other interview you're doing, since it's not like I get paid for this so I don't really have the budget to pay interviewees.

JQH: (Sighs with annoyance) Okay, whatever.

JMM: So, Mr. Heterosexual - or may I call you John?

JQH: Sure, yeah, why not.

JMM: Fabulous. So John, I have invited you here today so that I can talk to you about Proposition 8. Are you familiar with this proposition?

JQH: Proposition 8... Proposition 8... Let me think about this...

JMM: You know, it's the one about same-sex marriage?

JQH: (Nodding knowingly) Oh, sure. Yeah, I saw the commercial. That's the one where the girl comes home with that book with the two guys on the front called "King and King" or something, and she tells her mom, (in a "little girl" singsong) "Mommy, today I found out I can marry a princess!" All I know is, I don't want my kid learning that in school.

JMM: Okay, so you are familiar with it, that's good, and you bring up a good point. John, do you ever remember learning about or talking about marriage in school?

JQH: I know that I've heard people saying that if we say it's okay for gay people to get married, then they'll start teaching kids in school that this is okay, and we know it's gonna happen because that's what happened in some other state, too.

JMM: Hmm, well, as followers of my blog know, I'm not really known for having too much knowledge about, well, anything, so I don't know about that. But I'm asking you, John - do you remember how you learned about marriage? Do you even remember talking about it in school, because I don't, so I'm just wondering if you do.

JQH: Well, no, not exactly...

JMM: So, I'm just trying to... let's call a spade a spade, John. I'm just trying to shoot down this argument because it seems to be the one that the supporters of Prop 8 are putting all their money on - that people will get scared and pass this proposition because they are afraid that their kids are going to learn that gay marriage is okay, and, I suppose, that once they know it's okay, they will turn gay. What do you think about that, John? About this idea that learning that gay marriage is legal will make kids decide to be gay?

JQH: I don't think it's a good idea. Kids don't need to be hearing about that kind of stuff.

JMM: Seriously, John. Think about. Do you remember the first girl you ever liked? I'm sorry -I'm just assuming you like girls, what with your name and all.

JQH: Hell yes I like girls! I love girls!

JMM: Wonderful. So do you remember the first girl you liked?

JQH: Sure I do. I was in Kindergarten, and her name was... what was her name? Kirsten? Kristen? Christine? Something like that. Yeah, I used to try to kiss her at recess. Good times.

JMM: Okay, so I remember the first boy I liked. His name was Kevin, and it, too was in Kindergarten, and the thing is, I just liked him because I liked him. Like, no one taught me to like boys.

JQH: (a bit befuddled) Okay...

JMM: So I'm just thinking regardless of how you think that people become gay - I just can't imagine that if marriage had come up in school, and the teacher said that sometimes men and women marry each other and sometimes men and men, and sometimes women and women - that I would have decided to have a crush on a girl instead of Kevin. I liked Kevin because I did, because that is what I felt... does that make sense?

JQH: (suspiciously) Hmph. I suppose.

JMM: I'm just trying to be logical about it. Another one of the arguments for Prop 8, and for this I want to just get out my book, you know the one with the propositions in it, and all the other stuff we're supposed to vote for? (I start digging around in my pile of very important papers to locate the book.) Right here it says, in the argument for Prop 8, "... while gays have the right to their private lives, they do not have the right to redefine marriage for everyone else."

JQH: (thinking for a moment) Yeah, that's right! They don't have that right!

JMM: And I guess I don't get that.

JQH: What do you mean, I mean, what's not to get? Marriage means a man and a woman getting up in front of their family and friends and saying 'til death do us part and that. A man and a woman, period. That's marriage.

JMM: Okay, I mean, that's fine, but even if I think your definition is valid, if two guys get married, how does that affect you and your marriage?

JQH: Because then they're trying to make me accept a different definition of marriage!

JMM: But say you go to Home Depot.... is that a good example, do you go to Home Depot?

JQH: Of course I go to Home Depot!

JMM: Okay, so say you go to Home Depot. And you see two guys walking down the aisle buying... I don't know, hammers.

JQH: Okay...

JMM: So what does it matter to you - or, how does it affect your day if they are married or shacked up or just pals from the bowling league? How does that impact your day or your marriage or your life or anything?

JQH: Because... because uh...

JMM: I mean think about it - it's okay for gay people to be together and have, well you know, relations - all the advocates of Proposition 8 are saying they don't care if gay people are gay and do gay things and all. But the fact that these people want to make a legally binding commitment? You would think that people who are traditionalists and don't even like the idea of sex outside of marriage and everything would be all for this!

JQH: Well come on, now, that's not the same thing.

JMM: Okay, true enough. I know that they are talking about not having sex out of wedlock because it should only be for procreation, or whatever. But you know what? You know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of how in the not too distant past, a black person was not allowed to marry a white person!

JQH: Well, that's totally different. That's just racist.

JMM: Well, of course, we think that now. But do you know that some states had laws against interracial marriage until the late 60's? I mean, it's just crazy to think about now, but it's true, and maybe that is why I get all fired up, because I wouldn't be here if interracial marriage were against the law, and neither would my daughter.

JQH: Hmph, I don't know. I still say that's different. It's not like you can choose what race you are after all.

JMM: Okay, so even though I don't really think we can choose our sexual orientation, if you believe that is not true - that some people wake up and say, "Hey! It's a beautiful day out today, no wind, and I think I will be gay from now on!" - even if that's the case, I still don't see why it would be an issue for you if they made their union legal and all.

JQH: Why do they even want to get married anyway? They have all those domestic partnership laws and everything, why can't they just be okay with that? The can visit each other in the hospital and everything!

JMM: Well, John, why did you want to get married?

JQH: My wife said I had to marry her or she was going to find someone who would, who didn't have "commitment issues."

JMM: Okay, but that aside. Didn't you want to show the world how much this person meant to you? And pledge your love in front of everyone you knew (or at least everyone you could afford to invite)? You know, to make it official and solid and all of that good stuff.

JQH: Well, sure, yeah, of course.

JMM: So why should we deny that to anyone? No one, even the Prop 8 supporters, want to outlaw homosexuality, so why shouldn't homosexuals get to pledge their love in public and have certain health benefits, and have the kick-ass party to celebrate if they want to? I mean, I just want to know why. I just don't get it. That is why I brought you here today, John. I was hoping maybe you could explain this to me.

JQH: You know what? I don't need to explain it. We already voted on this and some crazy judges go and overturn what we wanted, so we shouldn't even have to defend this proposition at all!

JMM: You know, I do get that, I understand that people would be miffed if they voted for something and then all of a sudden they have to vote again. But I'll bet at sometime people were like, "We already decided black people can't vote! We shouldn't have to vote on this again!" Or they were thinking, "We already decided that black people can't marry white people, why should we have to even consider this!" Or, "We already decided that black people should be slaves, what's all the fuss about?" John, sometimes the people need to rethink stuff. Or they're just wrong.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wake Me Up on Election Day

So last night I watched the debate. Or as much of it as I could with interruptions from Kayla, who was "having a mood," as she likes to say. And all I can say is zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh my goodness, how BORING! Maybe since Saturday Night Live has been doing such a good job with their send-ups of Sarah Palin interviews and the Biden/Palin debate ("You just got schooled BIDEN-STYLE!"), it made watching Barack Obama and John McCain go at it seem as exciting as that time you were in a hardware store watching two guys discuss the merits of one wrench over another. Well, just pick your favorite boring subject and then picture two guys talking about it in a really, really boring way.

Now of course, I'm interested in the world. I live in it, after all. But maybe it's just that the debate sounded to me like this: "Blah, blah, blah pork barrel." "Blah blah blah earmarks." "Blah blah blah this country." "Blah blah blah that country." "Blah blah blah economy." And I guess all I kept thinking is that who in the heck is going to be able to fix any of this stuff?

At this point in the game, what I have to go on is my party affiliation, for starters. Like I've said before, I have always been a Democrat, and I turned 18 right before the primary in '88 in which I got to vote for Dukakis. Then sadly watch him get defeated. Then in '92 I voted for Clinton and turned cartwheels when he got elected not once but twice (and I kind of wish I could vote for him again because in spite of everything, he's still my favorite). I can still remember calling Spook (or Spook calling me) on election night and I think we just screamed at each other because we were so excited.

The other thing is personalities. I don't like McCain. I don't like Palin. These are people I would not invite over to my house to play Scattergories or Trivial Pursuit. Barack, this guy I'd invite over, though I'd ask him to loosen up a little bit and not be such a smarty pants with the Trivial Pursuit. He's a smart guy, that's obvious. So when someone says, "What about the fact that he hasn't had experience doing x, y, and z?" I think to myself, this is one smart cat and he will hire people who know about these things.

On a purely selfish and vain level, it is cool to have someone running for president who is, like me, a mixed-race American. That is cool. So I know that I like Obama better than McCain (because for one thing, like Gene Burns said on KGO last night, I think McCain's demeanor in the debate was "snarky"), and I liked him better than Hillary, but considering I voted for him in the primary and will vote for him in November, I wish I knew more about him. That is my fault - I'm by no means saying that he is not telling us about himself, I have just not paid much attention, but anyone who read my first blog knows I'm just that way - oblivious. I'll keep being honest about that, in spite of the fact it makes me look like an idiot. At least I have his books on my list of stuff I want to read, and as soon as I read this really entertaining stuff I'm reading right now I'll move on to that. Before the election even, I promise.

I have to say, cheers to these guys for wanting this job. Seriously, I think it sucks. Never in a million bajillion years would I want to be president. Think about it. It would be like... I can't even think of a job to compare it to! But then I'm the kind of person who, while a control freak, doesn't want to be in charge at work. I like being invisible-ish and being able to pass the buck up if I need to do so. Don't get me wrong, I want to do a great job at whatever I do, I just don't want to be the boss. So to be president and be boss of like, the whole country... the thought of the paperwork alone makes my head hurt.

But back to why I think this whole campaign is so... blah blah blah to me. Really, who can fix us? Who can fix the economy? Who can make all these countries who hate us and want to obliterate us from the face of the earth not want to do that? Who can change the fact that we have been at war for so many years spinning our wheels as countless lives are lost? Who can give me hope that one day we will again have that innocence I feel so lucky to have experienced as a kid... back when we didn't seem to think Russia was going to nuke us anymore and reports of terrorists were few and far between? Any of you born in 1970 or thereabouts know what I'm talking about. Heck, that was back when we could walk all over town without grown-ups and not think anyone would kidnap us, either! How do we get back to that? What human on this planet can make it good like that again?

The answer is no one. Do I trust one or the other of them to get us closer? Sure, that's why I'm going to vote for Barack. But do I wish I could write in a name like "Superman," or "Batman," or... I can't even think of any other good superheroes. This is way out of the league of say, an Aquaman or Green Hornet. We need someone who can fly and deflect bullets and turn back time, if needed. Or we need someone who can make a movie and project it into the sky so that everyone can see it, and it would say something like, "KNOCK IT OFF!" Just those words, so that everyone on the planet could see them and say, "Why yes, we are being rather silly about everything, aren't we, and it would sure be a lot better if we could just all make friends with one another since we all have to live on this planet together."

Does anyone else have any other ideas? I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Saturday Night Lives

At least it is a pretty drive. Over the bridge, I look out and see the greenish-blue gentle waves of the Carquinez Strait as the sun sets on the horizon. If only I were going, say, out on a date, maybe to a nice restaurant with a lovely bay view where we could watch the sunset while we eat something really tasty. I'll bet those people in the car next to me are on their way to do something just like that. That car over there has got five youngsters in it, and by youngsters I mean they are under thirty. I'll bet they are off to the City to paaaarrrrtttaaaaay. I wish I'd done a lot of partying when I had the chance.

But how could I have known that my standard Saturday night destination was going to be work? I have, for about the last 2 years, been a weekend night shift worker. Much of that time was spent working 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., and now it is usually 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

So when I am on my way to work, you are going out to visit friends. Or going to San Francisco for a night on the town. Or you might be coming home from Lake Tahoe or your grandma's house. And I am doing my best not to hate you. Or wish that I were you.

I knew what I was getting into when I took the job. Well, sort of. At the time I decided to get into the police dispatching biz, the dispatchers at my agency seemed to eschew the weekday day shift, instead opting for weekend and graveyard shifts. After all, who wanted to be in the building when Administration was there breathing down your neck? Well to me, this sounded grand! You mean to tell me I could have a cool job like police dispatcher and work normal hours like I'd been doing since 1990? Amazing. While I did get to spend about six months on just such a shift, after that the tides turned and all of a sudden weekday day shift was the place to be! Being one of the lower people on the totem pole, that meant that I got what was leftover, and that meant weekend nights. (Though I did enjoy an all too brief interlude working 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Let me just take a moment to remember how cool it was to wake up with no alarm and have a Sunday off and feel like a normal person... okay, I'm done now.)

But for all my kvetching about my hours, I have found that after spending all this time being a weekend night owl, I kinda like it. Do I like that everyone else I know is off weekends and that in order to see them they have to go out on "school" nights? No, I don't like that part. Do I like that I have no days off with my husband? Well, sometimes that is not such a bad thing, but it would be nice to have one day off together without one or the other of us having to take time off. And it would be great not to have to take time off to go to weekend parties and get-togethers and see friends that live too far away for school-night hanging-out.

I'm also not thrilled about the fact that on Mondays when I get off, I don't necessarily have the option of sleeping. It just depends on my husband's schedule and the kid's sleeping/nap (in her opinion naps get a great big "BOO!") schedule, and don't even ask me why she doesn't go to the sitter's that day, because the sitter is 30 miles away, and it's a long story.

But I have to say, I definitely dig commuting against traffic. That is super swell. I feel so grateful as I zip through American Canyon and come out on the other side and see all those poor souls stuck in that messy area where 680 merges with 80 and people are trying to get off to get onto Highway 12 (for the love of God and all that's good and holy, please, put another lane in there, that area is ridiculous!).

I love what the sky looks like at 7 a.m. Sad to say, I'm never up that early unless I am just getting off work, because I get up when Kayla does on our days off, and she has been liking to sleep in, which is fine by me!

I love being able to go to Target on the weekdays. At my Target in Fairfield, if I go before noon, I have the nicest lady whose line we always get into, and she has been my checker of choice since back when I was pregnant with Kayla. One of these days I'll devote a whole post to the friendly people of Fairfield. Anyway, it is wonderful to take care of any kind of business on a weekday. Granted, the stores and businesses aren't deserted by any means, but it is better than dealing with weekend crowds.

I don't like that since my body clock does not know if it's daytime or nighttime, sometimes on my days off I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep for an hour or more because I feel like I should be up. But I do like when I'm at work and it's a certain time of the morning and the sun is just starting to come up, and I can go to the window and take a look and take in the stillness of the street below.

I don't like that on my days off I sometimes feel so tired, that I think if a group of travelling carnival people came by looking for a cute kid to put in their show, I might just offer up Kayla if the price was right and it would mean getting a nap. And I mean a real nap, not a nap that consists of 10 minute intervals of sleep followed by someone opening up my eyes with their little fingers and saying, "MOMMY, WAKE UP, OPEN YOUR EYES!"

I do like that just like the song says, the freaks come out at night. It's true. You get some nutty stuff going on at night that you just wouldn't see in the daytime. At the same time, it's mellower at night, because all the people who want to call up and yell at you about something in the same way they'd complain about a meal they didn't like in a restaurant and think that somehow you should be able to schedule crime so they could be guaranteed a particular time time at which they could speak to an officer - those folks are sleeping, which is nice.

So, if I ever get the choice in the near future of working this shift or working a weekday day shift, which one am I going to choose? Commute traffic. Getting up early. (Let me tell you, no matter how much sleep I've had, it's always easier to get up at 4 or 5 in the afternoon than it is to get up at 5 in the morning. Always.) Getting the kid up early and out the door. Arrrgghh.

I guess I'll need to think about that one.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Don't stop and smell the flowers or appreciate the gentle curves of a rolling green hill. I mean really, smelled one flower smelled 'em all, right? They smell all floral-like. Hill, schmill, you see them on the way to work every day. Don't you dare stop to appreciate any of nature's beauty because you had better hurry up and get to wherever you are going, and I mean RIGHT NOW!

That means if you have to cut someone off on the freeway or not wait for a pedestrian to cross the street or make a passing move that is not quite safe, it's all for the sake of getting to where you need to get just a little bit more quickly.

How did we get here?

Don't get me wrong. I don't like to meander down Interstate 80 any more than the next guy. I love that working odd hours keeps me out of commute traffic for the most part. But come on, where are we all going that we need to get there so fast?

When I see a carload of teenagers swerving in and out of the lanes and speeding and tailgating and doing all sorts of crazy stuff, don't tell me they are trying to get one of the passengers to the emergency room because his appendix has burst. Or that they all work at the same place and are late. Or that they are undercover superheroes on their way to save the day. I'm not buying it.

No, they just want to get there before everyone else. And the sad part is that I do, too, even though I always remember something from a book I read. I think it was in Don't Sweat the Small Stuff that the author talked about the fact that you could just chill and drive the speed limit and stay in your lane and you'd get there at the same time as the crazy guy doing all the crazy stuff. In my head I know it's true, and believe me, I try not to ever exceed the speed limit by more than 5 miles, but I still get aggravated when someone is in front of me going exactly the speed limit. I will literally yell and use bad words (if my kid is not in the car) and wish my car was equipped with machinery to remove the car in front of me off the road if that car is going 64 miles per hour when I would like to continue at my steady pace of 67. Who cares? Really, who cares? Even when I do not have to be somewhere at any particular time, I'm like this!

Which brings me to another problem. I think I might always be rushing because I have taken too long to get ready at home. No matter how organized I think I am or how I have all the time in the world to get ready, there is a always a snag. And strangely enough, it seems the more time I have to get ready, the better the chances I will be running late. Something always comes up that throws me for a loop and extends my getting ready time. For example (and this is pretty common), I get too hot. Invariably when I'm getting ready I wind up getting really hot and this slows me down. I don't want to sweat so much that a) I can't put on my makeup or b) I sweat off the makeup I've put on or c) I get stinky. I have always been the hottest one in the room (and I mean that quite literally and not at all figuratively), and carrying around 100 extra pounds makes me even hotter (again, literally).

Of course, if I am trying to get Kayla out of the house with me, we can throw countless variables into the mix. Let's just make a list:

1) She doesn't want to take a bath. For the longest, this was never a problem. Recently, however, it seems that she is much too busy to be bothered with bathing. No matter how I try to sell it (Bubbles! Play with your toys! You'll be clean and shiny and fresh!), we wind up going back and forth and back and forth until she relents or I throw her in kicking and screaming.

2) She does not want to go where we are going. Now this is kind of an unusual one. She is usually game to go wherever it is we're going just for the sake of not staying at home. But sometimes she will decide she doesn't want to go to such and such a place, so I figure out a way to sell the place as the best place she'll ever go, so she will allow me to continue to get her ready to go to said place.

3) She throws a fit... about anything and everything. Wow, my least favorite delay-causer by far. She can go from a perfectly content and angelic place to an evil, awful, horrible place in about 10 seconds. For example, I'm getting ready for work. I have the light on so that, oh, I don't know, I can see what I'm doing. Kayla doesn't want the light on. Why? You would have to ask her. Have you tried to reason with a 33-month-old kid lately? So much fun it should be illegal. And very time consuming. Especially when you try to roll Super Nanny style and get that kid to stay on the Naughty Chair for the entire length of the timeout she earned for a) screaming, screaming, and screaming, and b) hitting Daddy.

4) She is too busy. As in, "Kayla, let's get dressed." "Mommy, I'm too BUSY!" She tells me this all the time. "Would you like to have some lunch now?" "Mommy, I'm too BUSY!" Where did she even get this? What does she know from busy? She's not even three years old! If she is this busy at this age, just how fast is she going to be driving on the freeway one day?

Kayla taking time out to enjoy the great outdoors with Dolly Diego.

The next time you are taking a walk and your kid stops and says "This is a beautiful pink flower, Mommy," and proceeds to smell it, I suggest you do the same.

"Watch me, Mommy, watch me! Watch me run in circles! Mommy, run in circles with me!" Yes, it is just a kid running in circles in your kitchen. But one day she'll be driving, on her way to college or her job, no doubt in a hurry because she's running late, and I can pretty much guarantee she will not be asking you to watch her run in circles anymore or to chase her.

Don't think I wrote this post for all of you. I mean, I did, but I also wrote it for me and I hope I'm listening.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Thank You Post

A million thanks to Vanessa, a childhood friend with whom I have recently reconnected after twenty years plus. Were it not for Ness and her kick-ass blog (, chances are I would not be doing this now. It might have happened, but not until I was blogging about retirement and grandkids.

Ness is the little cutie in the middle. The cutie on the left is my bestest bud,
Spooky. The one on the right is me. This was taken at our 20-year reunion by Jeanie. I know, we do not look old enough to be out of high school 20 years.

Thanks to Mom, for coming up with the title of this blog. I called her for advice when I was trying to think of a title, because basically, I call her for advice about everything. I keep trying to get out of her how I will get to the point where I know everything like she does, but she will not tell me. I guess I will have to figure this out on my own. Also thanks to Mom for everything else, and I do mean everything.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Big Lie of Omission

So it's not a lie. It's just that people do not tell you the truth. Not the whole truth, anyway. No one, and I mean no one, tells you how hard it is to be a mother.

They do not tell you that should you decide to procreate, you will in fact be signing on for the hardest, most grueling, and most thankless job on the face of the earth.

No one can explain this to you. It is not that they have not tried, it is just that you probably caught them on a day when their kid was good. Their kid had probably not said on that particular day "I want a NEW mommy!" or "Mommy! Be quiet RIGHT NOW! SHHHHHH!"

The fact of the matter is, they could not tell you how hard it is, because there is something inside of all of them - all of the mothers and fathers who came before you - that wants you to suffer right along with them. There is a reason someone came up with the phrase "Misery loves company." It's because it is true.

Also, think how the world would be if every prospective parent knew the real deal? The good thing is that stores would be less crowded. You wouldn't have to change your dinner plans on a Saturday night because you are starving, there's an hour wait, and not even a spot at the bar so that you can forget all about the fact you are starving. The bad thing is that if you are single, you'd have a lot fewer eligibles from which to choose (and it's slim pickin's enough as it is, or so I hear).

No one tells you that even though you survived the days when you had to make sure anything your curious toddler would want to put in their mouth was out of reach without incident, one day at the age of two-and-a-half-plus you'd look up and see their teeth are purple because they decided to try eating a crayon. Or they'd managed to find a yogurt-covered raisin in the couch that is God knows how old but they are munching on it contentedly anyway.

No one can give you a clue, not even Super Nanny herself, about how hard it is to carry a 30-pound, kicking and screaming child from the middle of the mall to the car, as sympathetic parents look on, because they did not get to spend enough time at Play Town. You also do not get briefed on the whole potty training thing, and how much urine you'll be trying to soak out of your carpet, as if you've just brought home a new puppy, and you find yourself wondering how your family room would look if you covered the entire thing with plastic.

The other thing that none of these mothers and fathers can adequately prepare you for is the way you feel as though you have so much love for this new person in your life, you think you need another heart to contain it all. They don't tell you that finally, you will get just how much your own mother loves you.

They have no way of explaining that almost immediately after the kid arrives, everything makes sense. All of your missteps and foul-ups and bad choices and really, really, really bad choices all seem to make sense, because they all brought you to this point in time, the one in which you are getting a big hug and kiss from your kid and hearing them say, "I love you, Mommy." And even if they played a recording for you, you would not be able to understand that hearing their laughter is like being immersed within joy itself, if that is possible.

It's the ultimate paradoxical situation. Nothing will make you feel more like you are losing your mind than being a parent. Nothing will leave you feeling more beaten, battered, and forsaken. But nothing else will give you as much laughter, entertainment, warmth, and fulfillment, either.

I wish I could tell you the truth the right now, to make up for all the people who will not tell you later. But I just can't write it as bad or as good as it really is.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Frienemies and Emmy's

I really don't think I have much to say about "frienemies," but I absolutely love this term. It is one of my favorite of all time. I think I first heard the expression "frienemy" when watching a show called Miss Guided, which was an Ashton Kutcher-produced venture on ABC last season that was around for about eight episodes before it got the boot. And that was a shame, because for mindless entertainment it was quite entertaining! Anyway, frienemies... such a lovely, evocative word. I think almost everyone has them. I'm sorry, I should stop and define this word before I go on, in case you've not heard it and don't know what it means from the way it sounds. The (love it) has several definitions, but it basically means someone who is at once a friend and an enemy. I know, it's silly, but these people exist!

For example, there is the "friend" who is always kind to you when they see you, but who spews all kinds of crap about you behind your back. I would have to say that for me, this is the basic definition. There is also the person you can get along with just fine, and have casual conversation with... perhaps a co-worker. However, you think everything they are about is ridiculous and you have no respect for them whatsoever. Also you think they are a complete idiot.

As for my first definition, we will always have friends about whom we have something to say. You could think your friend was like a better person than Mother Theresa, but wonder to yourself whatever possessed them to wear that shirt with those pants. Or think that they should have handled a particular problem in the same way you would have. That's normal, and that person would not count as a frienemy.

No, a frienemy is someone who could be totally hardcore awful, either to your face or behind your back (a frienemy's favorite place to be), but then be sweet as pie to your face. And these people I do not get. I just don't understand. I would rather have friends and enemies, and no frienemies. If you want to be evil when I'm not around, I'd pretty much rather you be evil when I am around. Or at least don't sign your e-mails with big fat x's and o's and then start plotting what you could do to make my life miserable. That's just silly.

I figured I'd better speak my peace about the Emmy Awards, since they were just on last night. I know, you don't care. I read that the audience for the Emmy's was the lowest of all time or something. But I DVR'd them and watched them today, and first of all I would like to say that whoever thought it would be a good idea to have five reality show hosts do the hosting duties is an idiot. I guess it sounded good on paper, but then they got up there and started talking, and the opening bit is pretty much the most painful thing I've ever endured. I'd take the false labor pains I had in Las Vegas and recovery from a C-section combined over watching Jeff Probst and Howie Mandel try to be funny. Perhaps they are funny in real life, but together they were as funny as doing your taxes. Meanwhile Tom Bergeron (I love the guy) and Heidi Klum stood around looking uncomfortable, and I'm thinking, "Okay, this is part of the bit and at any moment it's going to get funny... " but then it never happened. Sheesh, I can't even remember who the fifth guy was... oh, gosh. Of course, the omnipresent Ryan Seacrest. Is there anyone else who is not happy with the fact that it seems he is being primed to be the next Dick Clark on New Year's Rockin' Eve? I have spent like the last 30-plus years with Dick, and the thought of spending the next 30-something with Ryan Seacrest makes me want to boycott New Year's Eve entirely. Please, if someone can explain to me why I should like this guy, feel free. I am open-minded and willing to listen to your reasoning before keeping him on the list of People Who Are Famous And Just Shouldn't Be.

On the bright side of the Emmy telecast was the fact that 30 Rock won, and so did Tina Fey, for Writing and Best Actress, and Alec Baldwin for Best Actor. Say what you will about his personal life, dude is funnier than hell on this show, and if you are not watching it, please do. It's freaking hilarious and Tina Fey is my idol. Oh, goodness, and Josh Groban. I did not get this guy before. And what I mean by that is that I did not get why he was so famous and so adored. But after his medley of TV theme songs, I was ready to marry the guy. He was adorable and the medley was so much fun. Mad Men won for best drama, which caused me to ask myself for the bajillionth time why I am not watching this show. One day, at least a year ago, I watched bits and pieces of several episodes during a marathon while I cleaned house and loved it (the show, not cleaning the house), but have never made it a staple on my DVR, and I think I need to change that. And House, I need to watch that show, too.

Oh goodness, THE highlight of the Emmy's... the Ricky Gervais/Steve Carrell bit. Laughed off my you-know-what!!

Say what you will about its defects, but I will never be one of those people who do not watch TV. Every time I hear that, I feel a slight of pang of jealousy, which quickly subsides and turns into "What the hell is wrong with you?" There is a heap of good stuff on TV. Do I like the fact that it takes time away from reading, writing, or my kid? No... but let me think on that some more after the season premiere of Dancing With The Stars.