Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The One With The Sad But Funny Truth

A few snippets from the last few days....
Flipper and Himself took the field with the dogs again. This was the Swooper's second time in the field aaaannndddd he did nothing. He didn't have to be fished out from underneath the van, but he really didn't do a darn thing. Flipper seems to believe that it's the dogs fault... it really isn't. Back in the day when we were competing, our dogs were exposed several times a week during season. There were 3 day trips to do nothing but hunting and field work. It's not like that anymore. Himself works for a living and most of Flippers compatriots have passed on. I let Flipper blame the dogs, I don't want to highlight his losses over the past few years...

Momma was always the one who was involved in everyone's health. Flipper showed up for dinner on Sunday with the results of his latest blood test. I tried my best to keep my eyebrows from disappearing into my hairline. I read the results, made a suggestion or two and then heard the sentence that Momma waited 30 years for "Okay, If you say so." I had that mixed-feeling thing. I still do. I want to chuckle because we've waited 30 or so years for the "mule" thing to come to an end, 30 years waiting for the sharing to begin. And it began... and part of me wanted to laugh, and the other part of me wanted to cry. And all of me wondered if this is wrapped around his acceptance of age and mortality?

Speaking of age and mortality, Himself and I had the following conversation about mortality and my shitty, money-grubbing family...

Himself: You know, they're going to try and stand in your way if you try and make Flipper's health decisions. I hope he has it written down somewhere. If he doesn't, you don't have a legal leg to stand on.

Nyt: Doesn't matter, I'll do what I have to. He's actually said that he wants me to do the medical stuff, and Ungrateful Nephew to handle the money, so I'm thinking he's got it written down.

Himself: Even if it is, they're still going to give you trouble.

Nyt: Look, it's a non-issue. Once we reach that part of the program, being decent to them, or holding my tongue just doesn't apply anymore. We've always known that once Flipper moves on, there will be no relationship with those people. Contact with them will end. It's up to them whether or not it ends with a bang or a whimper.

Himself: I'm betting on the bang.

Come to think of it, this stuff is way more sad than funny.....

Friday, October 16, 2009

The One About Assumptions

 Call them assumptions, call them judgments, people make them every day. People look at you, at me, they speak to you or me, and they decide in their minds what we're like. They decide if we're educated, wealthy, bright, dim, secure, insecure, whatever... they base their decisions on brief encounters, first impressions if you like.

One of the things that I get a kick out of every time, is when people's assumptions get blown away. Several weeks ago, the therapist working with the Eggroll found her assumptions about me somewhat incorrect. It was fun to watch her face as she tried to jive new information with previous assumptions. It was almost worth the price of admission just for the floor show. It started with the Eggroll announcing that we had gone to see cars over the weekend. I explained that we had gone to a collector's auction. She immediately assumed that Himself was a car fan. She was wrong...it's me that's the fan...I'm the one who speaks automobile fluently... that was just the beginning..

When it comes to me, people assume more than a few things:

*People assume that I'm educated. I'm not particularly. I have a drivers license, a mixology degree, and I'm a certified massage therapist. That's it. I do however have an insatiable curiosity and if something interests me I will learn everything I can about it.

*People assume that my experiences are limited to the staid, solid suburbs. So not the case. I've spent time with all different types of folks, from academics to bikers, artists to actuaries. It's given me a wealth of different experiences.

*People assume that I'm wealthy. So not the case. I wear good jewelry because it's easier than trying to match something every morning. I buy good shoes because I HATE it when my feet hurt.I buy good bags and keep them for 20 years because I'm too lazy to keep up with trends.

It's great fun to watch folks faces when the assumption they've made turn out to be untrue. As the therapist probed me for more information, her face made the most interesting contortions as she tried to process the information. I had to actually stifle myself from laughing. I'm thinking that I probably shouldn't enjoy this kind of stuff as much as I do,,,

Friday, October 09, 2009

The One About The "New Economy" Hitting Home

I pulled out of my garage the other day only to find neighbors gathered in the streets with pitchforks and torches. Not literally mind you, but the feeling? It was more than palpable. You see, the "new" economy has finally touched down in our little suburb. Actually it's more like it crash landed on our street. And folks are scared.

We've been pretty lucky around here actually. We've seen foreclosures, but those have been on the far ends of the spectrum. The middle section of our town has been largely left untouched. Oh sure, homes are not valued at what they once were, but there hasn't been a foreclosure or a sale that gave those numbers any kind of "legs". Until now. Until my neighbor priced his home 13K under average for the area and then sold it for 19K under average. One of the largest homes on the block...19k under average. Now the banks and the powers that be have an actual number to go on. Now the value of our home can be determined by an actual number, not a theoretical one. That number just put at least 5 families on this block upside down in their mortgages. Now everyone on this block has a vested interest in seeing those families succeed.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The One Brought To You By the Letter "D"

Himself suffered quite the disappointment the other day. A paper that he
had worked quite diligently on was denied international publication by the
un-named University that he teaches at. This in and of itself is not the end
of the world, but the denial actually opened with the line "your research is
flawed". So totally the wrong thing to say to my husband. The topic of the
paper was abstract and subjective to begin with, so of course he queried as
to the reason "why" the powers that be decided that the research was
"flawed". After all, it had been accepted and even lauded when presented
at the University level... which brings me to my next "d" word....

Defend: He ended up being put in the position of defending his methods. Not the
premise of the paper, but the methodology used to collect the data. I find
this fascinating, not because of the paper itself, but because it seems to be
the general temperature of society. One must defend themselves, their
beliefs, their choices, every day, over and over. When did it become about
defense? Defense does nothing for anyone other than solidify their own
position, it's a self-validation thing, not a learning experience. If we're so
busy pushing at one another in an effort to defend our individual positions,
how is it that we ever learn from one another?

Debate: Which land me at my next "d" word. Debate. Has it actually disappeared or
is it a case of no one actually knowing what it means? Or has it turned into
a synonym for defend? I'm struck over and over in this life with how often
people are so busy telling others that they are wrong that they fail to hear
anything the other side has to tell them. Rather than expanding each other
by examining multiple facets of any issue, we stand rigid. And it's sad.. If
you push at me and I push at you, neither one of us moves in any direction
at all. If one of us pushes twice...we go somewhere.. the path changes.. but
one of us is going to have to allow ourselves to be pushed twice. One of us
is going to have to let go of being "right". One of us is going to have to con-
sider the possibility.

Derision: It has become perfectly acceptable to ridicule just about anyone who does
not agree with you. Even if they've NEVER SAID ANYTHING AT ALL!
Of course there are political correctness boundaries, but outside of that
loose framework, it's just fine to assassinate just about anyone for any type
of dissension....

Delay: This actually has less to do with the topic and more to do with the fact that
I'm searching for more "d" words so I can keep my behind in this chair a
little bit longer....

Defeat: The clock has beat me, time to start the day...

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

The One About Being A Writer

I've been meandering about the internet for years. I've always enjoyed a peek into others lives, and I've always enjoyed hearing opinions other than my own. For years, blogs have afforded me just those things. Recently though, I've noticed a disturbing trend. Maybe it's not disturbing in general, but it's disturbing to me. Everyone seems to fancy themselves a "writer". And in my opinion, once you fancy yourself a "writer", it's the actual writing that suffers.

What's happened over the past few years is that media and money has invaded the blogosphere. As bloggers unite under different labels and as the media recognizes the power of those labels, the creativity and much of the "truth" is sucked right out of the process. Folks begin shilling for numbers, both in traffic and literal dollars. And it's the writing that suffers.

It's like a virus really,and the infection begins when their popularity grows. The writing growers weaker, the opinions become weaker, and dissension or disagreement is not tolerated. The other symptom is the proliferation of plagiarized writing styles or subject matter. The writers claim that they're taking inspiration from other bloggers, in reality, it's plagiarism. Ideas and subjects literally stolen from somewhere else. To the reader, it becomes the equivalent of a 7th grade English class. You get to read 30 articles on the same subject, using basically the same tone.

Then the virus spreads, like a head cold moving to your chest. The endorsements show up, the review blogs begin. The opening of all of these is the formula "I'm here to help" post. It should actually read "I'm here to help as long as someone places the product with me and pays me to use it." Not exactly an honest appraisal. But the sycophants eat it up.

I have nothing against making a few bucks when you can. I would never say that I wouldn't do the same things given the opportunity. But I can't help but mourn the loss of the true voice, the true artists. The folks who just say it because it's on their mind, the folks who write for themselves and not the audience. The people who are just "people who write" not "writers".

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The One About Racism and Criticism

This little gem lives on the back of Vanbo. I vehemently disagree with the current administration and I'm open and willing to discuss that with anyone who would like to. I do not shout my opinion from the rooftops, I do not carry a sign, I do not pass out leaflets. I have a fairly innocuous bumper sticker on the back of my "mom van".

I've formed my opinions by researching topics, I've read HR3200 and the Cap and Trade bill. I read articles everyday from both sides of the debate, and I do my best to consider both sides of any issue. If you ask me a question about a topic, I want to be the person who can not only comment on that topic, but explain "why" I stand in the place I do. I'm happy to listen and engage in any debate, comfortable in knowing that I stand where I do based on reason and logic.

With that in mind, I'm amazed at the reaction this little bumper sticker garners...

The first time it happened was in the Costco parking lot. I had the Eggroll in the cart and was just tossing the last of the purchases in the back of Vanbo, when a couple approached me and offered to take my cart. As I moved to take Eggroll from the cart's seat, the bumper sticker became fully visible.

"You don't like President Obama?" the woman queried.

"No, I'm not sure "like" has anything to do with it, I don't agree with his policies."

"You're just a racist!" the woman scolded. I gazed at the small Asian kid on my hip and then back to her. She stammered for a second before replying "You just don't like black people!"

Oddly enough, they took my cart anyway....

The next time it happened was in the parking lot of our local Wally World. Now I despise Wally World, but my optometrist is there and I love him...so I suffer... As I'm exiting Vanbo, I'm approached by two women. I hadn't even closed the door before I heard "You don't support our President?"

"I support the office of President, but I disagree with the agenda our current President is advocating."

"You're just a racist, you don't like our President because he's black."

"No" I sighed, "I don't agree with him because of his agenda, and I'm a conservative, not a racist"

"You think you're entitled to everything, driving your fancy car (really!?! a mom van is fancy?) and living in your happy little suburb...." There were other cries, but the next thing I remember is the sound of throat clearing and the giant loogie headed my way..

The loogie missed me, and I was out of words for the first time in a long time. The women sauntered away and I stood there for a moment in total disbelief. This is what we've become.

A few years ago, this would have ended differently. A few years ago, the above incident would have ended with the business end of my shoe, or perhaps a tire iron. It's different now, I'm older, wiser, and I have more to lose in this life. I won't rise to the bait.

The common thread in both of these incidences? Both times I (a white woman) was approached by people of color. After the second incident I texted a friend and told her what happened. I also asked if she thought what happened to me was a hate crime. She did, and she encouraged me to call the police. I passed. I had no wish to be on the side of any kind of race crime. Because it's not about that... It's about people's complete lack of civility, it's about people's inability to endure anyone else's opinion but their own. It's about the right to think or speak freely without fear of retribution.

That's right, I said fear. How are we, as a society, going to reach any kind of compromise if we attack one another for a thought or opinion? And how are we ever going to eliminate racisim, when that very kind of behavior encourages people to widen the gap, to cross the street, to ignore the other side. I don't consider myself a racist. Critic? Yes. Racist? No.

But I'm beginning to understand exactly how it happens....

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The One About Funny, Frustrating and Fascinations

Some of the stuff that's rattling around in my noggin....

  • The Eggroll has now learned to declare that she's "okay". Now, it's fabulous that she's using her words, but the "I'm okay" declaration comes after she makes any kind of noise at all. Flush the toilet? "I'm okay!" Drop a crayon? "I'm okay!" Stomp your foot? "I'm okay!" Move the chair? "I'm okay!" The list is just about endless. The amusing portion of this is that she's learning about inflection in speech, so the "okay" takes on all different intonnations... I'm O-kay, I'm o-KAY, I'm OOOOkay, Okaaaaaayy. I had no idea that there so darn many.
  • Morning dressing around here seems to be taking a bit longer since the Swooper has discovered that he can make the Eggroll insane. He currently feels that it's his job to to steal her clean clothes. Oddly enough, he has no interest in the dirty stuff. He sits patiently waiting for her to be in the middle of taking off her PJ's or putting on her underwear and then he sidles up, picks up whatever has been left unattended, and saunters away. Funniest moment that I didn't have a camera for?? The Eggroll confronting the Swooper. He with her socks in his mouth and she naked as a jaybird, hands on hips telling him that those sock are "not yours".
  •  Our home improvement investment this year involved a new airconditioner, furnace and a tankless hot water heater. As usual, it started out simple (Boob sweat! Fix my AC!) and morphed into a project. (AC unit too small for house, furnace cannot accommodate larger unit and what the hell, as long as you're in there let's do the water heater) Now while I currently have no idea whether or not the HE airconditioner is saving us any money, I'm pleasantly surprised to report that the water heater is costing us about half as much to run as the standard tank heater we had previously. Add that to the constant hot water, and well, you have a happy Nyt. A Nyt that can be found floating in her giant tub WHILE the washer's running! Nirvana!
  • We are on our third faucet for the kitchen sink. When the first two went bad, I pleaded with handyman guy to check the old water heater. I figured that the tank had to be sending bits of something through the lines that kept screwing up my kitchen faucet. 3 faucets in 3 years?? He scolded me for even thinking that, the water heater might be bad, after all it wasn't leaking. After replacing the original heater with the tankless, he declared that I should never have another problem, since all the sludge and decay that was screwing up my faucets was now gone. I found myself somewhere between confusion and vindication....
  • Much to Himself's consternation, the Eggroll knows her motorcycles. She can pick out a Harley and loudly declares the rest "rice burners". My bad.....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The One Where I Am Awed By Simple Compassion

There are days when the mundane changes your view, days when you see things that were right in front of you for the very first time...days like yesterday....

Yesterday the Spinner and I set off for the vets for his annual shots and checkup. I should have known that something was "off" when I exited my car in the lot, there were several people standing outside with their animals, but my addled brain just blew past it without so much as a second thought. As I exchanged greetings with the standees, I didn't notice anything different and no one said anything other than basic pleasantries. Then I opened the door...

Inside was a man and a woman, the woman held a small dog wrapped in a blanket. She was keening and wailing with a pain that was palpable. He was stoic and rigid in his chair. For many of us, that kind of pain invades our soul. Maybe we've been there, maybe we haven't, but that kind of primal sound touches places inside of us that we'd much rather leave untouched. I wanted to run out the door. I wanted to say something, anything to ease their pain, to somehow make it better, but I couldn't, I didn't want to invade, I didn't want to open my heart for fear of feeling their pain and reminding me of the pains of the past. Instead, I slipped into the opposite side of the divided waiting room. The Spinner settled himself onto my lap.

The couple was ushered into an exam room. I could hear more keening and wailing through the door and then the woman ran outside. Several minutes later, the man followed suit, expressionless, holding the empty leash and collar. My heart hurt for him. As women, we often make the men in our lives responsible for the most umpleasant tasks, and because they love us, they do it without complaint.

The Spinner and I were ushered into another exam room, and the whole vaccination, check-up thing went flawlessly. For a few minutes anyway, the drama unfolding seemed far away...

I've written about the Spinner before. What I haven't talked about is the fact that the Spinner is a one person dog. He's MY dog. He's perfectly pleasant to strangers, and he'd never bite a soul, but he'll never actively seek out another human, at least when I'm around. It's just his way...

While I stood at the counter, waiting for my bill and tags, the Spinner took to spinning in front of the exit. The man entered the room, sat down, put his head in his hands and began to weep silently.

Then a very peculiar thing happened. While I stood there frozen, the Spinner stopped spinning. While searched my brain for the right thing to say, the Spinner walked to the man and sat down in front of him. While I debated whether or not I should call my dog, the Spinner began gently licking the tears from the weeping man. While time stopped for me, the Spinner sat with the man who wept openly while clutching the Spinner with all his might. And I couldn't think of one thing to say... And my dog, the dog who is not so fond of strangers, stayed with that man until his tears subsided...

I don't know how long it lasted. I know that when it was over, the Spinner returned to the exit and began spinning again. I know that I had no words, I know that I was overwhelmed in so many ways. I know that for all our bluster as human beings, for all our intelligence and dominance in this world, for all our words and superiority.... the only thing that I saw in those moments, was the pure compassion shown by an animal. As much as I, and the others in that office recognized the pain, for whatever reason, the only creature that even tried to help was the former foofy dog that I call my friend...and I'm in awe...

Monday, July 27, 2009

The One About Cletus and The Bot

This little fella here is fondly known as "the bot". For those of you in the know, or for those of you clean freaks out there, "the bot" is a Rainbow/Rexair vacuum. But not just any Rainbow. This particular "bot" has been with me for close to 20 years. And that's not the special part.. the special part is that this particular "bot" was born in 1959. That's right...today I'm mourning the loss of a 50 year old vacuum cleaner.

And it's all Cletus's fault...

The only service guy for these super vacs is located quite a distance from my house. I don't mind really, I think in 20 years, I've had the bot serviced once. Momma had bots over the years and I think I took hers in for service once or twice. Anyhow, the gentleman that handles the service is a semi-retired, over-all wearing, southern drawling sweetie, who's name, for the life of me, I can't remember. Now here's a thing about me...if I can't remember someone's name, I usually prompt myself with one of the person's characteristics, or, heaven help us all, if you have too many characteristics, I'll christen you with a brand spanking new name....hence... Cletus.

After a thorough examination, Cletus declared the bot terminal. Even though the repairs were small (a new cord and possibly a new switch) there just aren't parts for 50 year old bots. And Cletus charges $50 an hour just to poke around. So Cletus and I mourned the loss of my dear friend. But not for long... Cletus decided that no woman (especially one of those "clean freaks"...seriously, he called me a clean freak) should be bot-less. So he introduced me to my new great love...."Shiny Bot"

And shiny he is.... and 'spensive....whoo boy!

Now before anyone scolds me for spending absolute gobs of dough..let me remind you of a few things. First, I was in mourning and second...his cousin was 50 years old. By my estimation that means I'll need a new vacuum when I'm 93 and at that rate this little bugger cost me a measly $26 a year...

Monday, July 20, 2009

The One About Stuff I Don't Get
There's a whole bunch of stuff in this life that I'll never understand...
* Why the Chocolate Jesus feels the need to have a press conference EVERY SINGLE DAY! For the love of God man, campaign season is over! And furthermore, no matter how often you try and sell a used car, it's still a USED CAR! You can call it whatever you want, you can try and wrap it in pretty paper, it's still a BAD IDEA!
* Why people think they're doing my kid a favor when they feed her arbitrarily. My child has a eating disorder, it's documented and we're seeing therapists for it. But somehow, folks just think it's a great thing to feed her whatever, whenever, without asking. Seriously, you'll ask me if it's alright to feed my dog, but you won't ask me about feeding my kid??
* What the hell happened to the grown men in my life. Flipper had his annual golf outing, which seemed to turn into nothing but a geriatric frat party. Complete with unconcious party goers, house damage and peeing in the pond... we shall not discuss the age of the participants...

* Why the Swooper eats EVERYTHING. You name it, this dog will attempt to eat it. Wood, paper, plastic, heck, I even caught him with a mouthful of steel wool (that was a C-note worth of X-rays). Perhaps I should send him to therapy with the Eggroll.

* What happened to summer in the Midwest? Sure, now that we replaced the airconditioner, it hasn't gone above 80 in what seems like weeks. On the plus side, we may be able to try out the new furnace since it's dropping into the 50's at night...

* Where the time goes. The Eggroll has now been with us for a little over a year. Parenting still hasn't gotten any easier... LOL!

* Where have all the manners gone? Is there a "manners graveyard" somewhere? Does anyone have directions??

* Why companies are against rewarding customers. Recently, our local cable company offered a sweet deal for new customers. The deal would have shaved almost $60 a month off of our current bill. They won't let us have it, but they've been generous enough to offer us $5 a month off of our current bill. Gee that's swell (insert sarcasm here) You would think that in these tough times that companies would be just as concerned about retention as they are about getting new clients...

* Why it is that folks with "oddities" find it necessary to slap photos of themselves everywhere. Are you unaware of your one wonky eye?? Has no one told you? I'm now no longer reading your posts, I'm staring at the wonky eye. You could be writing earth-shattering revelations and I'm going to miss them because of the wonky eye. Please stop.

*Why every one is an "expert". I'm thinking that the recent, home-grown gradute of UC Berkely is not quite the health care "expert" he's been labeled. Acne treatments do not qualify you as an "expert"

I know, I could have done better... it's not like I haven't had months to work on a decent post... I'll try harder next time...

Monday, May 25, 2009

The One That May Or May Not Be True

"Wait for meeeee......."

It's a cry heard often on playgrounds, in backyards, on streets, and in homes across the country and around the world. In any language, in any place, the cry is universal. As a matter of fact, you don't even need to speak the language to understand the meaning, you know the sound and you've felt the feeling yourself. Everyone has at one time or another. Everyone at one time or the other, has been the one uttering the plaintive wail.

"Wait for meeeee......"

As parents, we dread the day when our child is the child uttering the wail. We know it will happen, as sure as the sun will rise in the morning, our kid will be the kid left behind at least once in their lives. When it happens, we soothe the offended child. We tell them that they are worthwhile, we tell them that they are valuable, we tell them that we love them. We tell them that every person has value. We tell them that evey human being has something worthwhile within them. Once the wailing has subsided, we tell them to remember this feeling. We tell them to remember so that they won't make someone else feel as bad as they do right now.

"Wait for meeee......"

Inevitably, it will come to pass when our child will be the child who leaves someone behind. And our hearts hurts. Our hearts hurt not only for the child who has been left behind, but for our own child, the one who has done the leaving, because we never wanted them to be burdened with the guilt of hurting another, and we try to teach the lesson once again. We tell them to "bring enough for the whole class" and "how did you feel when that happened to you?". Perhaps we choose another route, perhaps we try and teach them about endurance. We say things like "just play one game with him/her, then you can be on your way." Maybe we go with bribery "if you stop that, I'll get you..." And we hope it doesn't happen again, but we know it will...

"Wait for meeeee...."

As our children age and travel through school and friends, we hear the wail from time to time. Whether it's our child doing the wailing or someone else's, it still hurts our hearts. We still hope that our child will be the child who "gets it". We hope our child is the child who will stand up.
"Wait for meeee...."

It's not so simple for our children, especially as they live their lives outside of our direct control, outside of our sphere of influence. Instead of our approval, they seek the approval of their friends. They seek the acceptance of the "crowd". They seek to be part of the pack. They fear the pack turning on them should they be the ones to stand up, should they be the one who hears the wail, who feels the wail.

"Wait for meeeee....."

We wonder when our children will feel their own power. We wonder when "pack" approval will no longer matter, we pray that that day comes sooner rather than later. Sadly, we know in our hearts that it will never come for some. We hope with all our might that the "some" is actually "some other kid". We hope that we are the example not the lesson. We continue to hope. As we listen the the explanations, the excuses, we continue to hope that our child won't be the child who is responsible for the wail.

"Wait for meeeee..."

For those who's child is the wailer we fervently hope that they discover their power as well. We hope that they learn how to stand up, we hope that they learn to shout....

"Don't wait for meeee..."

Monday, May 18, 2009

The One About Why I'll Never Be Asked To Join the Woman's Club

Today, while waiting for the Eggroll to finish her speech class, I found myself waiting with 2 other Moms. Let's just call them Shiny Suzy and Perfect Patty. They are apparently acquainted and I found myself listening to the following conversation:

Perfect Patty: Hey Suzy, I was thinking of you the other day. Do you have a recommendation for a DJ?

Shiny Suzy: Of course. I don't have it with me but just give me a call. He's great and he's pretty cheap too. Why do you need him?

Perfect Patty: Well, I'm putting the annual block party together and I have to be careful what I spend. You know how people are. Last year we had a pig roast, a DJ and all kind of things and we asked people to pay $25 per family, this year we're not asking for any money at all, we're going to get part of the cost from our HOA and then I guess I'll just have to go to local businesses for the rest.

Shiny Suzy: Well, that's going to be a lot of work. I was in charge of our block party for 6 years and I got tired of doing everything myself. You know people always say that they're willing to help, but they never do.

Perfect Patty: I know, I've decided just to do it myself, I haven't heard from any of the ladies who offered to help.

-------------here's where it starts to get a little dicey--------------

Nyt: (raising my hand) Ladies, I couldn't help but over hear. I'm one of those people who always offers to help and I do mean it. But if I never hear another word from the organizer, how am I supposed to know what to help with?

------------ and here's where it all starts to go wrong--------

Shiny Suzy: That doesn't matter, you should just show up for your assignment.

Nyt: I beg your pardon?

Perfect Patty: Yes, you should just show up and do whatever you're told.

Shiny Suzy: We don't have time to chase people down. We're busy.

Nyt: Well, I would think that if you needed the help it wouldn't be a big deal to inquire if the person that offered is still willing and if she is, to just pass out the "assignment" then.

Shiny Suzy: I'm not interested in doing that, if you offer and don't show up it's just being ignorant.

----- the part where it comes crashing down-----

Nyt: Small wonder no one helps you.

------------- cue dead silence---------

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The One About Enforcer Bunny

This sweet looking critter is the "Enforcer Bunny" and he rules the Eggroll with an iron carrot....

During our trip to the Great Southwest, a friend of mine left the bunny on the doorstep. She called to tell me it was there and I brought it in and set it on the counter while Eggroll was napping.

It was one of those "throwdown" days, where every fifteen minutes Eggroll was having a fit over one thing or another. I forgot about the bunny on the counter, and later on that evening, she noticed it. She immediately declared it "Eggroll's Bunny". I was exhausted, and I'd had enough for the day. I told her she could have the bunny when she had a day with no "fits".

Bunny sat on the counter for two days. Each day she'd ask me about it and each day I told her she could have it when she went a day without a fit. On the third day, while I was putting her to bed, I asked her which one of her stuffed hippos she'd like to sleep with. She looked at me and began wagging her finger back and forth. And then, my child, who rarely speaks more than three words together, said "No fits today, I can have the bunny"..... She got the bunny and I laughed until the tears ran.

Since then, Bunny has become the enforcer. Fits can be quelled instantly with the threat of Bunny denial...

I love the bunny...

Friday, May 01, 2009

The One About F*&k Me Fridays

Fridays around here blow. While most of America looks forward to Fridays eagerly, I dread the day. Friday is my Monday.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the Eggroll attends a local program in the morning. She loves it there, and for the most part I love having her there. And then there are FRIDAYS.

My child is an extraordinary child in so many ways. She is bright, engaging, intelligent and beautiful. But, like many post-institutionalized kids, she bears some scars. The first involves food. After 10 months with us the "hoarding" that some kids display has not improved with the Eggroll, if anything it's gotten worse. She will literally eat herself to the point of illness if allowed. The second is initiation. While most three year olds will tell you what they want, get a toy down, or make requests spontaneously, my child will only do those things if forced to. We have a rule in our house, don't ask, don't get and it has worked fabulously for her..... as long as she's here...

Three mornings a week while at "play" her every whim is catered to. She does not have to speak to get what she wants, she doesn't have to use her table manners, she merely points, looks at the caretakers, or cries. And it works...every damn time.

Then we have the food thing. Seriously, the way they feed children is horrifying. More horrifying is the fact that they are following STATE mandates and guidelines for nutrition. Wednesday the children dined on a lunch of breaded chicken nuggets, rice pilaf, bread and butter, canned fruit, and milk. Yesterday, they were treated to a delightful meal of salsbury steak, mac&cheese, bread and butter, canned fruit and milk. Can we say carbohydrate overload?? And the portions?? OMG!

Now lest you think that I'm not mother of the year, know that I have looked into other programs, and they're all about the same. Unless I want to pay 15k to 20k a year for private pre-school, I'm pretty much stuck with what I've got.

But on to the subject of this post which is F*&k Me Friday. We begin our day with a 5:30am call from the Eggroll, who not only has to go potty, but has generally wet whatever she has on. A quick trip to the potty, a fast change of clothes and sheets, and back to bed she goes. Usually crying for two reasons. First she has wet herself and second, she would really like to get up. F*&k me!

Upon the second awakening, it's time to get dressed. More tears as she is denied the super special Elmo undies (those are a treat for when everything is dry). F*&k me! Then it's down the stairs to begin the day. She puts herself in the chair, which she has pulled away from the table and then sits down. Moments later there is crying because her chair is too far from the table. I will ask her what she needs and there is more crying...no words... F*&% me! After several minutes of prompting and cajoling she spits out a "help, push chair in please". Yea! Moving on.. Next comes an unprompted request for water. We're doing well here... and then....nothing! And I mean nothing...for what seems like hours at a time. There's pointing...there's naming of objects....but there's nothing else. I make breakfast and she names everything on my plate. Then she requests a toy, I ask her if it's time for that toy, she says it is... F*&k me! I have to honor her request. It's supposed to be good for her comprehension. More requests, all for different toys, each time she's asked if it's time for that toy, if it's time to play. Each time she answers yes, each time her request is honored. F*&k me! Breakfast falls by the wayside... tears ensue....

This will go on for hours, currently, I'm on my third hour at the kitchen table. My ass is numb, my work isn't done and my kid is staring vacantly out the window. She'll point, I'll ask "what is it?" she'll refuse to answer, I'll point out that she needs to answer, she'll cry... it will continue this way until naptime. F*&k me!

She knows how to do all of this. She knows the names of so many things, she knows how to request, she knows how to initiate...until Friday...on Friday she is clueless. On Friday she waits for someone to read her mind. This afternoon will be slightly easier and tomorrow will be easier still. By Sunday we'll be back to routine, Monday we'll enjoy it and Tuesday...well Tuesday is the first step on the path to F*&k Me Friday.

I can't help but wonder if it's worth it. I know that she needs the socialization that those 3 morning provide, but I can't help but wonder. I lose a whole morning with my child just waiting for her to do what she's capable of. I spend the rest of my time as disciplinarian, correcting that which was allowed during those three days. (Seriously, hands IN the food???) And I spend a lot of time dealing with the fabulous mood swings that a good kiddie carb crash brings on. And I wonder if it's worth it...

I'm disheartened by what I see in our kids educational system. Rather than lifting children up, the system seeks to bring them all down to the same level. For example...normally, my kid has impeccable table manners. She actually came to us that way. But she's not praised for that, other children are not encouraged to be like her, it's perfectly fine if her and their skills suffer. Same thing with speech. I'm sure there are other children who speak much better than she does, but it's just fine if she never improves. The herd mentality wins every time. Sad but true...

I'm disheartened by what I see our kids eating. I'm not against some good mac and cheese, but could we balance that with something that's green perhaps? Instead of having kids name all the food groups, might we actually feed them something from all of those groups?? I have to laugh when I hear parents complain about potty training, bed-wetting, behavior problems and the rest...especially when they're handing their kids a juice box to wash down their nuggets and fries with?? Anyone see the connection? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

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The One About Motherhood, Missing Parts and Me

Greetings from the Great Southwest! Now for a list of the things that are rattling around in my brain recently. There's something about this place that makes my brain work differently. Not better, mind you, just different. There are plenty of folks who believe that the desert has a different "energy" , and maybe, just maybe, that's true....
  • The menfolk have spent the week traversing the links in the annual golf outing. Much fun and frolicking was had by all. All the men that is. As for the Eggroll and I, well, most of the festivities were for the grown-ups... and I had no babysitter....so....well.... To be honest, I missed the freedom of choice, not necessarily the activities themselves.
  • Speaking of freedom of choice, motherhood leaves you with none. That sounds very dark doesn't it? I don't mean it that way...it's just become glaringly apparent that motherhood and I are often at odds. There is a lack of time and choice that happens with kids, and for me, that often poses a few difficulties. It doesn't erase the "wonderful" that happens with kids, it just underlines the fact that women are often shortchanged in the whole grand scheme of life. Still sounding dark?? Bear with me....
  • As an adult, we first care for ourselves. And by care I mean it in the holistic sense of the word. We nurture our bodies, our minds, our spirits, and our souls. Then, we marry, and we put our spouses care ahead of our own. We love and adore them, so it's only natural to put their well-being ahead of our own. As we age (and in my case) perhaps our aging parents require our energy. We move their well-being to the top of the "energy" list, and our own well-being is now regaled to third-place. Next comes the child or children and we find ourselves in fourth or fifth place. Then one day we notice that there is not a hell of a lot of leftover time or energy to give to ourselves. We wither, we atrophy... and we discover that we're low on places and time to re-fuel... it becomes a rather bleak existence..
  • Eventually, we will have nothing to offer our spouses, children or parents. Eventually we will have nothing left to offer anyone, not even ourselves... and for those of us who were or are self-aware..it's painful...
  • We've all seen those women... you know the ones. They were beautiful once, they were intelligent, independent and brave.. and then you see them again, maybe a few years or a few kids later. They schlep around in yoga pants and a sweatshirt, babbling on about diapers, schools, and juice boxes. They've not read anything beyond US weekly and whatever the school sends home with their kid. Devoid of any kind of self-esteem, they move through life like robots, spending their days gratifying everyone but themselves. They use phrases like "when I have the time..." "I've been meaning to..." "As soon as..."
  • The quest continues to keep that from happening to your lovely host. If anything, my time in the desert, my time here, may have just given me that little bit of perspective that I so desperately needed....

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The One That's So So Wrong

But so damn funny I can't stop laughing

With two poses even!
Better get yours before someone figures out how not complimentary this really is!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The One About How I Am HUGE in China

I never finished the China posts... So in my quest to organize my life, you will find, from time to time disjointed posts about random stuff that I forgot to finish. Or maybe I didn't forget, maybe I've been meaning to but life got in the way.

Once we landed in Beijing, I was convinced I had entered the 7th circle of Hell. I had been awake for more than 24 hours, sick with the whoopsies for the 12 hours before that, and I had just arrived to 106 degrees with 98% humidity. The only thing that I could think about was a bed and some air-conditioning.... I would get the bed...I would miss the air-conditioning... The one thing that kept running through my head was "death is not an option".

Blessedly, our delayed flight got us into Beijing in the evening, rather than early afternoon, so the whole jet lag thing was solved in pretty short order. We boarded a bus for the trip to our hotel. We arrived at the hotel, checked in, and immediately went to our room. After boiling some water for tooth brushing, and taking our injections, we crawled into the kind of small bed and crashed. We slept fitfully throughout the night, restless to begin with, and the swamp cooler blowing cool but wet air at us didn't help...at least it didn't help me....

A word here about Himself. I seemed to have scored myself the most "durable" fellow around. I call him "Gentle Ben" from time to time...he's the size of a large bear and about as furry. Folks look at him and wonder if size really does matter... it doesn't. He is uneffected by climate, can sleep soundly at the drop of a hat, and will travel miles on foot without so much as a blister. You can load him down with packages, walk him fifteen miles in the blistering sun and he won't issue a single complaint. As a matter of fact, he'll help little old ladies across the street and carry their packages at the same time. I have yet to run across one thing that he won't try, and he's always "up" for the next adventure. It's amazing and humbling at the same time.

And then there's me... the "bitcher". Totally climate sensitive. The planets must align correctly for me to sleep well and I must have the proper equipment to travel miles on foot. I will pass out in the heat and my hands and legs will seize in the cold. And I will tell anyone who'll listen. I will tell them a lot...like every five minutes. Oooh yeah, and I'll cry too. Purely out of frustration, but I will cry. And as for that little old lady??? Man up Sally....carry your own shit. I'm up for the next adventure, and I'll enjoy it, but I'll bitch and moan the whole way. Travel with us my friends, and you will discover the meaning of "polar opposites".

The following morning, Himself wandered about, gathering water and cigarettes while I tried to regain a wee bit of my dignity. One of the few things that Himself and I have in common is the fact that we're both early risers. Especially when traveling. By the time most folks get out of bed, we've been up for hours, wandered about, perhaps already had breakfast. I say perhaps because we're usually up before the kitchen is even open...unless we're near a truck stop... or a Denny's. The group was scheduled to do some touring, so I prepared myself accordingly...

A word about me. I am not a conventionally attractive woman. Many people use the term "striking" when describing me and I choose to believe that they mean it in a good way. I stand over six feet tall, and I am not model thin. I have a real body with some junk in the trunk and hands and feet that are proportionate for my size. I'm not obese, but I'll never be mistaken for skinny. That being said, I realized early on in my life that I was never going to look like everyone else, so I don't try. I actually do the opposite. I'm very graphic, choosing to emphasize my differences rather than try to disguise them. As an example, after Momma died, the hair at my temples went totally gray. My solution? I had my stylist bleach out large chunks of my red hair. So, I sport some Lily Munster stripes. Totally white. Totally obvious.... Here at home, people look and occasionally comment and even when we were in Europe, I'd get some "looks" from time to time, but nothing...absolutely nothing... prepared me for China...

Later that morning, the group boarded a tour bus ( I love tour buses...they have real air-conditioning) and headed for the Great Wall. Despite the heat and humidity, Himself and I decided that the once in a lifetime opportunity far outweighed the uncomfortable and we headed off to "walk the wall". I made it to the first battlement. (probably a little over a mile) Between the heat, the pollution, and the general malaise from traveling, I felt somewhat woozy. I chose to stay in the battlement, while Himself continued on to the end of the section (where there was a roller coaster?!?). I settled in, arranging myself and rearranging myself whenever there was a breeze. After a few minutes a little boy ran up to me and grabbed me around the leg. I smiled and patted his head, he darted off and returned a few moments later with his entire family. They wanted to take a picture with me. Ummm... okay... then there was another family, and another, and another... By the time Himself returned I had taken pictures with no less than 25 families. I joked that I should have charged a few yuan per photo, and maybe I could have paid for the trip. I reasoned that the Great Wall is a destination for all Chinese. Many of these folks had probably never seen a Caucasian, much less a Caucasian that looked like me. I figured that they'd be interested in Himself as well, him being a man of size and all....they weren't... nor were they interested in anyone else in our group. I thought it was odd, but I also thought it was important to be gracious. We joked about it with our group (who I really think thought we were lying) and wrote it off.

The next day, we visited Tienemen Square and it happened again. This time it happened in front of everyone and it made it difficult to navigate the Square. It happened at the Summer Palace, in restaurants, on the street, everywhere... Anywhere we went, if people weren't outright asking for photos, they were surreptitiously snapping away with their cell phones. The click and whirrr sound followed us everywhere. It was amusing for the first few days, then it became downright annoying, and after that, it made both Himself and I positively homicidal. The culture in China is such that in their society it's perfectly acceptable to behave this way, it's perfectly acceptable to say things out loud and in front of someone that we in Western culture would never consider.

So should you receive a postcard from a Chinese friend, or open a Chinese book or magazine and they contain pictures of a large white woman with striped hair.... well.... it's me.... and I'm HUGE in China!!

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Monday, March 16, 2009

The One About Stuff That Makes Me Twitch

Stuff that makes me twitch...

The utility folks who are replacing a line outside. An underground line. It started last week when I looked out the kitchen window to see Utility dude violently shoving my back gate. Yes, that's right the BACK gate. The one with a padlock on it. The one that has a huge "Beware of Dog" sign on it. The one that's not going to open. I opened the window and started politely with "Sir, the gate is locked for a reason, you're welcome to come around to the other side." I was acknowledged with a nod and as soon as I left the window, Utility Dude started in on the gate again. I had to wake Himself up to handle the situation. Much to my chagrin, after all of Utility Dude's hard work, the rain took away the paint markings, and the Swooper brought in all the little flags...Doh!

Today, Utility Dude returned with all his little friends. Once again, gate shoving ensued. Seriously, is there some kind of vision or comprehension test these folks have to take?? And if there is, why are all the flunkies at my house? So now, Utility Dude drives around to the correct side of the yard. And rings the doorbell, which activates the dogs, which activates the child who is supposed to be napping.... Then, I ask UD politely, if he would skip the whole flag part and kindly just use the paint. I explain that the smaller dog just pulls them out anyway... Five minutes later, what's in my yard??? FLAGS!! When I pointed it out, UD said he "forgot". Really?? So there's no memory test involved with this job either...BTW after this UD informs me that they probably won't be in my yard at all, it appears that all the digging will take place in my neighbors yard.

Which is probably a signal that my entire yard will be decimated forthwith....

Le Sigh....

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Friday, March 13, 2009

The One About Decision Making

The "new economy" has left us somewhat lost. I'm not talking about the nation as a whole, I'm talking about individual families. Our homes are worth less, our dollar doesn't go as far, our 401k's are worth about a buck and a half, our jobs are threatened... and we recognize as individuals that we need to make some changes.

So we begin. We research. We read. We compare. We look at our present and our future and we attempt to re-organize priorities and goals. And then we attempt to make decisions...and it all goes awry....

There have been many discussions, many debates... and then we realize... we're missing a critical factor in our decision making process...we are missing experience...

The last "recession/inflation" brouhaha that Himself and I remember was in the late 70's and the early 80's. And as kids, it really didn't affect us. My family was either self-employed or working for the "city" and his family was military. Self-employment involved real-estate...specifically rentals. So back then, there weren't a whole lot of "issues" that we knew about....

Today, things are a little different. Everything that I've been taught about securing your future, doesn't apply. I know how to make money.... but I don't know how to make money in this economy. And neither, it appears, does anyone else. Because no one, and I mean no one has experienced this before.

So, you do the best you can. Because there is no right or wrong answer, there is no good or bad decision. You give up on the idea of actually "making" money and you move on to the idea of "preserving" money. You set aside a year's worth of living expenses because the very real fact is, if you or your breadwinner becomes unemployed, you're going to be unemployed for a while...maybe longer than awhile... You start "stuffing"... stuffing the money in the mattress, stuffing your fear down, and stuffing your anger down.

And make no mistake here... the people who are in this kind of position are scared...really scared... and they're pissed....really pissed...

Just keep in mind that "scared and angry" is what start stampedes.....

I'm just saying......

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

The One About The "Story"

One of my favorite websites is www.salsainchina.blogspot.com. M3 has done a wonderful job of chronicling their adoption journey and their daily life. I check in almost daily, although I've just de-lurked recently. Her current topic is talking to your children about adoption. Any surprise here that I find myself on the "other side of the fence"?

The current trend is to tell your children all about their adoption. I'm not sure I agree. As a matter of fact, I know I don't.....

For starters, it should be mentioned that I am an adult adoptee of an adoptee. Yes, that's right folks, I'm a third generation adopter. My view is different. I'm also a good ten to fifteen years older than most of the folks with children the Eggroll's age. That makes the view a bit different as well.

I am pretty much stunned that folks are choosing to burden their (young) children with the past. Pouring over life-books, telling the "story" over and over...really?!? Ooo and the ones that try and explain the "one-child" thing to a small child? They flat-out scare me.

Kids need to know that they're adopted. But they need to know within the context of RIGHT NOW, not yesterday. They need to know that all families are different, and every family comes to be a family a different way. They need to know that they belong with OUR family, that they are wanted by the family that they have RIGHT NOW and that nothing is ever, ever, going to change that.

I've never agreed with the families that choose to emphasize the differences. There's a whole group of families out there that celebrate all things Chinese. Because their children are Chinese... but how many of these families are celebrating all things from their own heritage as well? How many of these families are actually celebrating and reveling in ALL of the cultures that make up their family? My best guess is, not many....

So, there are families out there trying to be "honest" with their children. And I think that's a good thing.. but when the "honesty" becomes consuming, when the "story" of the past takes precedent over the "story" of the present...that's a problem..
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Friday, February 27, 2009

The One About The Stuff We Teach Our Kids
Without Really Trying...

Before the Eggroll's arrival, I had made a conscience effort to control my language. Let's face it folks, I spent my formative years in the garage or the bar with a bunch of grease monkeys and felons. Then there were the years on the floor of the commodities exchange. It would not be an exaggeration when I say I could make a sailor blush.. and not in a good way either. I calmed down some over the years, but, like any other human being, I'm flawed. And let's face it, sometimes a good !*&@# just fits the occasion, or the person...whatever...

One we got the referral for the Eggroll, I started on a mini-mouth-makeover. I began to substitute ordinary or nonsense words for the offensive ones. I tried...oh how I tried.. And now my child....well...my child has learned a few things....

While searching for something that Himself had put away, I declared him a "pinhead". Now, if you ask the Eggroll what Daddy is, she'll say "pinhead". She also waves bye-bye to him while declaring "Bye-bye Pinhead!" I'd nip this behavior in the bud if I wasn't laughing so damn hard.

Inanimate objects frustrate me. One evening, while trying to get a movie to load in the DVD player I started madly pushing the button and yelling "HELLO!?! HELLO!?!" at the television screen. Now, when you turn on a DVD the Eggroll says to the screen "Hello, hello, movie"

I chatter incessantly to my child. It's supposed to be good for her language skills. When going through a store, or running errands, I usually say "we're moving on" when one task is finished. The other day, while I was comparing prices at the local Tarjay, my child, apparently bored in the cart, started yelling.."Moving on, we're moving on!" We moved right on to the ladies room before I wet my pants.

Then there's the whole road rage thing... I've got it.. I accept it... Recently, after a particular test of my driving reflexes, I ended up in the wrong lane. I swerved rather roughly and after the "Wheeee!" from the small child, I said something like "sorry baby, Momma did the stupid". Now my kid looks up at me in the kid mirror and says "momma stoooopid". Again, I'd correct that one too if it didn't make me laugh so hard.....

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Monday, February 23, 2009

The One About Doing What Comes Naturally

There's a long and involved story about how I came to be a fan of upland game hunting. I can't shoot worth a darn and I pretty much despise the outdoors. I hate the idea of birds suffering and I'm not a big fan of dirt in general. Suffice it to say that I find nature most appealing when I'm viewing it from a clean window in a temperature controlled environment. Oh...and then there's that whole peeing outside thing....I hate peeing outside...

Now that I've established those boundaries, let me tell you what I do enjoy. I enjoy watching these animals to what they were bred to do. I enjoy the unbridled passion and intelligence that these animals exhibit when they commit to the three "F's"....find the bird, flush the bird, fetch the bird... there's really something quite zen about it...

Over the years, we've had a series of these dogs. Starting with the Moose and ending with the Swooper, one generation has learned from another. This time, it's the Spinner guiding the Swooper. It's the Swooper's first time in the field and he really did much better than I thought. I had visions of having to fish him out from under the van after the first shot was fired..but he hung in and followed the Spinner...

He patiently followed along...

When in doubt, it's always a great idea
to bite the other guy in the behind...

The lead is to control the jumping..the
Spinner is not too adept at "flush the
bird" yet...He's more into "snap the bird
out of the air"...

Working the field...

A perfect point...

A singular focus...

Not bad for a former "foofy" show dog..
Though he still has that "showy" gait

Waiting for the shot....

All in all a successful morning... There was at least one funny though. This was the first time Himself and I had been out in the field together. As I was standing fiddling with the camera, a bird shot out from behind me and flew over my head. I hit the deck, camera and all..and Himself looked at me oddly when I got up. He said "I would never fire over your head"... Mmmm-hmmm just wait till you see the next credit card bill buddy..... LOL!

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