Monday, June 26, 2006

These are a few of my favorite things...

I love that Lola's favorite stuffed animal is a naked mole rat.

I love that Eve cut Lola's hair two weeks before they were to be flower girls in a wedding and buried the evidence in the sandbox.

I love that I can get a totally tacky song (like Britney Spears' "Oops, I did it again") stuck in my rocker husband's head during his morning shower and it will stay there all day long.

I love that Lola's best dance moves are invented when she's fresh out of the bath, naked, dripping wet with screwy, towel-dried hair in front of the full length mirror.

I love to watch my six-year old run across the street to tell the neighbors about her latest accomplishment.

I love that my husband's creative streak came to light after our children were born.

I love that Lola absolutely revels in being tickled and Eve hates it more than anything.

I love to hide around the corner or upstairs and listen to my redneck husband play Barbies with my girls.

I love the way my obese cat manages to twist herself into a pretzel so she can clean every spot of herself in the sun triangle on the carpet in the morning.

I love that my dog always loves to see me and never thinks I'm mean.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

For grown-ups only

I just finished devouring a book by Connie May Fowler called "The Problem with Murmur Lee". My friend, Sarah, accused me of reading only depressing books, and perhaps she's right, but while this one was a little sad, it was a quick, lively read that I enjoyed immensely.

My husband is of the same opinion as Sarah and doesn't even bother to inquire about my literary choices anymore, but I did find a passage in this particular book that he was capable of appreciating. Ms. Fowler writes (as her character, Edith Piaf), "...blow jobs! From a male point of view, there's nothing better. And it's a sad fact of the world that there simply are not enough of them being given. I swear, we would fight fewer wars if men were blown more often. Daily, if possible." Now that's a statement a man can agree with, eh? Especially the "daily, if possible" line...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The end of an era


I feel somewhat ridiculous using that phrase, being only in my mid-30s, but it is certainly fitting. This week Bubba and I lost the last pet we had that pre-dated the births of our children. I don't know why, but I feel as though I need to justify the grief I feel at our cat's death, as though she couldn't possibly rate this cavern of sadness that I'm sitting with right now. I don't expect a cascade of sympathy from family and friends, and there is a part of me that feels silly even notifying others of her passing, but at my core, I feel her loss sharply and I intend to honor her as an important part of our lives.

This scrummy-looking little waif came to us as the result of me imploring Bubba to find a friend for my lonely adult cat. I am sure he saw through my manipulations, but he humored me and let me believe I had convinced him that our depressed cat needed a companion. Somehow, we heard about a litter of kittens in someone's barn who were being given away and went one Saturday morning to check them out. The only one who didn't scatter as soon as we entered the broken-down building was the littlest of the bunch. She sat up, looked in our direction with perky ears and her head held high and yowled. She was the runt, a bony, ear-mite infested little thing, but she pushed her head into my boyfriend's palm and started purring like a Formula One car. To say we were sold is an understatement.

Our adult cat took to her instantly, using her rough tongue to thoroughly cleanse the little thing. Within hours, she was ferrying her back and forth across our shoebox apartment in her mouth, and the little one was so unimpressed that she would sleep while being held by the scruff of her neck. The two of them were quickly inseparable.

When we were finally able to afford a house, the outdoors proved to be very enticing to the little one. She, who had been an inside cat for her entire life, took to scratching the door as if she were possessed. Because of coyote sightings in the area, I refused to let her out, but after a year of her repeated begging, in the form of sharpening her claws on the oriental rug, shrieking her claws down the sliding glass door until I thought my teeth would crumble to dust, and leaving hairballs strategically placed by the back door, I relented and threw her out for a day. I truly believed she would be back within a few hours, running for her life and pleading to be let in. Instead, she refused to come in even to eat. She began hunting and leaving her serial killer trophies for us in the driveway and on the back porch. Even after eight years of domestication, she was instinctually capable of capturing voles, shrews, mice, birds, and one at least one occasion, a mole. She slimmed down and became even more friendly with me when I was gardening and approached the children at a dead run when they ventured outside to play.

Three years ago, we returned from Christmas vacation to find her frantically clawing at the back door. I flung it open, expecting to find some wild animal hot on her tail, but she refused to come inside. She just sat down and wailed. I examined her all over, trying to discern what was wrong, but couldn't find a scratch on her. It was then that Bubba called to me from upstairs. Our older cat was ill. She was 17 years old and would die later that evening of sudden kidney failure. The little one knew. Even after two years separated by a sliding glass door and an entire world, she knew when there was something wrong with her surrogate mother. I cried for both of them.

We have since been adopted by another outdoor cat. She is a sleek, black feline who appeared out of nowhere six months ago and bonded with our little one. There has never been any squabbling over the food dish or the couch on the deck. They share as if they have known each other their entire lives, and I am so happy to have another companion for our adventurous tabby that I don't mind the extra trophies that appear now and again. Truth be told, our little one had slowed down quite a bit with regards to hunting, anyway, so the volume hasn't increased all that much.

Two days ago, I took the little one to the vet to see why she hadn't been eating for several days. She had moved from her normal perch on the patio to the window box nearest our kitchen table a few days before and I had noticed her losing weight rapidly. My girls, who had grown up with her, insisted on joining us at the kitty doctor and watched without blinking while the vet performed her examination. I had a feeling that our kitty wouldn't be coming home again, but I still felt that vacuum in my gut when I heard the phrase, "stomach cancer". The mass was three times the size of her stomach and completely inoperable. I am glad that I didn't have to make the decision to let her go; there was no other option.

I spent the remainder of the day by turns consoling my girls and explaining the mysteries of death to them. We have decided to mingle the ashes of the two kitties (I still have the ashes from three years ago in a box in my laundry room) under a newly planted hydrangea near the girls' playhouse in the backyard. I will miss her terribly, but I am so glad she graced our lives with her quirky kitty self and I am grateful that she was able to make a new friend before she left us. As for my husband and myself, we will now enter the era of only having things that came after our children. I wish I could find some profound message in that, but for now all I have is sadness.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Reasons #1, 2, and 3 to be Happy You are Not an Only Child

So that when you decide to pick up a pair of scissors and play hairdresser you don't have to experiment on yourself. You can cut your little sister's bangs to the stub of her forehead to see what it looks like before deciding whether or not to cut your own hair.

You can also deflect blame for the incident onto the younger sibling and even if your parents don't believe you, you can proclaim your innocence loudly and repeatedly, hoping to cast some small sliver of reasonable doubt in their minds that maybe you weren't the sole mastermind. (Note to Eve: we're not buying it, sweetheart!)

You won't be the one who looks ridiculous at your uncle's wedding in two weeks, where you are supposed to be one of TWO FLOWER GIRLS: the other one being your little sister - yeah, the one with NO BANGS NOW!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My Nanny Was a Robot

Sitting in traffic this morning, I watched a frustrated father reach into the back seat of his car and snatch his child’s juice box from her hands. His mouth was tight, lips pushed together with such force the blood had fled. He jabbed the straw into the hole in the top of the box and tossed the box back into her lap. I felt an arrow of pain in my chest, wondering what it felt like for the little girl to start her day with her father angry and making her feel stupid. I wanted to shout at him, “All she wanted was some help, you callous bastard!” As a parent, I have been there many times myself, and I sympathized with him simultaneously. I imagined his controlled panic as he managed to get her and her baby brother ready to go that morning, packing lunches and diaper bags. He was now stuck at a red light, 25 cars back, that he had no hope of getting through for at least two more turns. He was multitasking, spending his idle time at the light filtering through the day’s work in his head. The last thing he wanted to deal with was a juice box, for God’s sake!

I found myself wishing that children could have cyborgs for parents at times like this. Someone who could place them first at all times without being distracted by other pressures and taking it out on the children. Kids have so much of their own pressure, learning an extraordinary amount of information every day just to keep up, and they really need parents who can understand their needs and focus on nurturing them and supporting them through this difficult time. Wait, how absurd is that? Did someone just tip over my marble bin? I don’t think I had ever taken the time to explore it before, but now I was beginning to understand that most parents, with all of their imperfections, are actually perfect parents for their children. Maybe the trick is to understand the ultimate goal of parenting.

Are we trying to raise our children to be perfect little creatures, in tune with their own desires and needs, accomplishing tasks with efficiency and clarity at appropriate developmental milestones? All of that sounds pretty good at first, but when I really examine it, I don’t think that that is what I want. I want to raise my children to be human beings, with flaws and quirks that make them interesting. I don’t want them to hurt, but I know that they will need to perform some spectacular face-plants in order to experience what snow truly feels like in their underwear and up their noses. The people I find most fascinating are those who have hilarious stories to tell about their adventures and misadventures.

I also realized that some of the most spine-tingling moments I have had in my life have been those that came after months of soul-searching and frustrated questioning. The times when I have struggled to find an answer or determine just how I truly feel about something have given me more insight into who I am and how I view the world and have afforded me a great deal of pride and excitement. I can’t deny my children the opportunity to suffer and learn in that way. I want my children to be human, to be full of humanity. It is very unlikely that they will ever live in a place where they are the center of attention. I would rather give them the tools to understand how to live and interact with other people than have someone cater to their every need. Often, the way we gain insight into ourselves is by the way we react to others.

That little girl will bounce back from her rough morning with her daddy. I hope he gives her a warm hug and a sloppy kiss as he drops her off for the day and she knows with great certainty that he loves her. She will store the memory that sometimes Daddy and Mommy get angry but it doesn’t affect where she stands in their hearts. I truly hope that she will grow up to give herself permission to get angry with others and express it. I hope she never feels as though her emotions are invalid or improper. It turns out that human parents are the best option we have if our goal is to raise children who are infused with humanity.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

More Shameless Promotion

Well, actually, at least it's not self-promotion, so I can't feel any shame anyway. I just wanted to clue people in on a fantastic little women's magazine that you can either submit your work for (all you budding writers out there) or just pick up for your dry wit reading pleasure.

The magazine comes out only twice a year and contains no advertisements, but is instead packed from cover to delicious cover with sarcastic, hilarious, and sometimes touching writing and art. They accept fiction, nonfiction, comics, photographs, poetry and essays written by women and do a fantastic job of it. The publication is called "Swivel: The Nexus of Women and Wit" (there's a hula hoop reference in there, didja catch it?)

Anyway, down to details. Those of you who live in the Seattle area can pick it up at any of your smaller, locally owned bookshops. Others can visit www.swivelmag.com for all other information on ordering, submitting, etc. I urge you to try it out - it's great bathroom reading and I, for one, am planning on seeing my name in there as a contributor someday soon.....

Saturday, June 10, 2006

RUN TO THE MOVIES AND BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!

There are times when I am so happy that I have children as an excuse to see certain movies. The movie "Cars" definitely qualifies. In fact, for those of you who don't have children and want to see this movie, you are welcome to borrow my children because this is one of those movies that they will want to watch four hundred times in the next 30 days anyway and, frankly, I'm not sure I can afford it.

Pixar's genius comes shining through again (think "Toy Story" and "A Bug's Life" for starters) in this feature. The scenery is gorgeous, every detail has been attended to, and the characters are wonderfully realistic and lifelike. Larry the Cable Guy is, well, Larry the Cable Guy and utterly hilarious, and the supporting cast is fantastically attuned to the storyline. Please run, don't walk, to see this movie in the theater! I swear you won't regret it!

By the way, despite high gasoline prices here, if anything would inspire you to get off your duff and take a road trip along Route 66 this summer, this movie is it!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Remind Me Why I Do This...

Every few days as I contemplate my next blog entry I have the same conversation with myself. I originally began writing here as a way to exercise my writing muscles and work out some of the kinks in my "voice" so that I could be more efficient when I write the book(s) I so desperately want to write.

Unfortunately, the comment section has waylaid me on more than one occasion and I must confess, I struggle to avoid becoming an attention whore because of it. I broadcast the news of my new blog to friends and family as well as some past writing workshop acquaintances and hoped that word would spread from there. I have commented on others' blogs and left my url and check my blog several times a day to see who has commented.

A month ago, I was feeling rather despondent because the comments I receive are fairly predictable (not that I don't love you, guys, so keep commenting!), coming from my dearest friends. In hopes of unearthing other readers who were to shy to comment, I added a map to my site and was heartened to discover that there are some people who read my blog but don't have much to say.

Following that slight rise in my excitement came another dip as I began reading comments on other people's blogs and noticed that some of the blogs I routinely read were being commented on by other blogs I routinely read and I was being completely left out. I'm not sure I could be any more neurotic or junior-high-hormone-driven, but I digress. My newest tactic was to write about some controversial issue that would have people commenting, regardless of whether they agreed with me or not. So far, that hasn't proven very effective, either.

So my dilemma is this: do I continue to write what I want to write regardless of the audience? After all, I started this journey not to please the mass of humanity that will someday come to realize my literary brilliance, but to better develop that brilliance. Or do I become a slave to the comments and hope that this means I am drawing enough of a crowd that magazines and book publishers can only agree that my following is in love with me? Hmmm, sounds pretty petulant to me, how about you?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I LOVE JON STEWART!!!!!!

Okay, this post is not for anyone who is rabidly pro-life (as in anti-choice, anti-stem-cell research, anti-euthanasia, etc.). Perhaps we can agree to disagree and you can read some of my other posts, or you can even post your comments of disagreement with me, so long as my ideas and logic are the target, and not my right to exist as a person or my family, or my morality. Okay? That said, Jon Stewart skewered Ramesh Ponnuru, a neo-George Will type "reporter" last week on The Daily Show. If you missed it, please follow the link below and you can watch it as long as you have eight minutes to spare. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at7F6gVHtos&search=daily%20showRamesh has published a book entitled The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life. Wow! Holy sensationalism, Batman! Could you get any more stereotypical? Anyone who knows me well, knows that I believe in a woman's right to choose and the power of stem-cell research to stop debilitating diseases such as MS, Parkinson's Disease, diabetes, etc., and I have signed a living will. I do, however, resent being labeled as one of the "party of death" considering I am not in favor of the war in Iraq (uh, I believe there have been many dead "innocents" as a result), nor am I in favor of the death penalty. Getting pregnant with a severely genetically deformed baby not enough, Dubya? Maybe I can convince you the unborn child is concealing WMDs in my womb...I could go on for days, but I will spare you the rhetoric. 'Nuff said.
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