Thursday, August 30, 2007

And now for something completely different...

My sister-in-law sent me this article from the New Yorker titled . I hope no one is offended by the irreverence of the humor but I thought this was quite clever and funny and wanted to share. I especially love when Debbie and Mary Magdalene scream and talk about whether they like Jesus better when he's healing the lame or with a ponytail. I choked on this. Seriously - I was sucking on a Halls and I choked on it when I started laughing. Had to give myself the Heimlich and now my chest hurts too. So go read this, but don't have any hard candy or hot beverages around when you do. I'm warning you...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday Introspective

So I was thinking on Tuesdays which tend to be thoughtful days, I'd like to talk about things that people said that had the most impact on my life. Only with age have I truly learned the power of language and how it can affect a person's life, perhaps even the course of their life. Of course it isn't only what was said but how we respond to it that makes the greatest impact. And that is an important lesson because we can't control the things that people say to us, but we can control how we let it affect us.

Today I am thinking back a couple of years in the last week of my old job. I had given notice months ago and yet there was still so much to do, I was lingering in my old job until I finally had had enough and was making it clear I was leaving. I was talking to a colleague whom I shall refer to as Tony, because that is his name. So Tony was asking me what I planned on doing now that I was really quiting. He knew I had been working on my book for the past 5 years so I told him that I planned on taking a year to finally finish my book and try to get it published and because I had so many other ideas for books, perhaps if I was lucky I could make a career out of being a writer. His response was to roll his eyes, guffaw and say "Yeah, right! Keep dreaming!" You know it's funny but for a long time after he said that, I kept dreaming about this same conversation but instead of me shrugging it off, in my dream I keep punching him in the mouth.

Eventually, I stopped dreaming about punching him in the mouth and instead dreamt about actually publishing my book to great acclaim and inviting him to my book lauch party and laughing in his face while waving a stack of hundreds in his face. So unrealistic, I know, but I was dreaming, like he told me to. To some extent his disbelief in my ability fueled me to complete my book as much as my husband's terrific support in allowing me to stay home, helped me to achieve my goal. One positive and one negative all pushed me in the same direction. My husband kept encouraging me to finish, the negative comment gave me the anger to not give up. I finished my book back in June and have been editing ever since. I'm on what I hope is my final edits and plan to begin querying agents in the next month or so. There were so many moments that I nearly gave up. Who was I kidding? What agent or publisher would want my book? Who would ever want to read a World War II military drama about two soldiers written by a girl? All the positive encouragement of my husband and my writer's group would be a great help, of course, but sometimes just seeing Tony's smug face and hearing his mocking voice gives me the extra incentive to keep going. So the moral of the story has been that there is actually something positive that can be taken from the negative. And one day, who knows, maybe the dream will become a reality.

So please share with me those things, positive or negative, that has had an impact on you.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Da Man

You thought I'd post about my youngest, right? I will, but first I must post about my husband. He likes to be referred to as "Da Man." Sometimes I refer to him as "Dumb Man" and he will still respond. When I first married him, I thought he had a flushing problem cause he would always leave pee in the toilet. Confronting him about this situation Da Man admitted to a silly game he invented called pee racing. Apparently it involves flushing and peeing at the same time and trying to pee faster than the water flushes. He apparently lost. A lot. After stressing that the toilet seat must be returned in the proper position and flushing should occur after he has relieved himself, I hoped that this problem was solved. Thirteen years later, he's still pee racing and leaving the toilet seat up. To relieve some of my nagging, I had relegated him to his own bathroom downstairs, but he refuses to limit himself to his own space, instead determined to share himself with all four of the house toilets. He must be free to do his business whereever and whenever the need arises.

Da Man also suffers from foot in mouth disease. One of our babysitters is a young (early 20s) very attractive woman who used to be the preschool teacher for my older daughters. She recently informed us that she is engaged to be married. This reminds me of a situation that occurred last year. One night she had been babysitting and she had lost some weight and cut her hair. My husband enthusiastically complimented her with what I thought was overkill. AFter she went home I commented to my husband that she had looked great, to which he responded again with over enthusiastic abandon. Peeved I asked him if he thought she were prettier than me, to which he responded. "Well, she is really pretty, but she's no where near as pretty as you... when you were her age..." (Oh no he didn't!) There was absolute silence as hubby continued to watch another Dave Chapelle show episode for the 100th time. "When I was her age?" I asked. Da Man, still oblivious to the danger, "Yeah, you were way hotter than her when you were in your 20s." I slowly cracked my knuckles. "So, I was hot, but now I'm not?" Da Man, still watching the screen, "Not like you used to be." (Oh yes he did!!) All of a sudden he realized what he just said and turned to look at me. I think I must have looked like Medusa because I swear Da Man froze for a good solid minute. "Oh come on! I was just kidding! You know I think your hot! You are absolutely hot! Hotter than you ever were before. Honey?" You see, this is where Da Man becomes Dumb Man, because even if it is true, it's one of those things you don't say to the wife. A far more appropriate answer would have been, you were as pretty as she was when you were her age but prettier to me now more than ever. The issue isn't if I'm prettier than my babysitter, but am I still attractive to my husband. His answer made me feel that I no longer was.

When the Dumb man finally realized his mistake, it was too late to take back what he had said. The damage was done. I would await my moment of utter revenge. I thought, what would I do? He may find some of his fishing reels surprisingly low on line, his basketball sadly deflated, a small circular patch of baldness on the top of his head, none of them really appealed to me, except the shaving his head thing but that was too messy. So what could I do? It happened when we went to see the movie 300, which I loved. I love violent action movies not for the gratuitous violence, but for the rush of excitement from a well done battle scene, and 300 had great battle scenes. It also had the most beautiful 6 pack abs on that absolute beefcake Gerard Butler. I think I drooled my mouth dry staring at his body and admiring his overacting. The moment of revenge came when we walked out of the theater and I started loudly proclaiming my love for Gerard Butler's body. When Da Man started to look irritated, I said, "You know that actor is only a few years younger than you are." And patting Da Man's soft belly, I said, "maybe you should start working out again." I enjoyed watching him suck in his gut for the rest of the night! And I get the added benefit of watching him start back on his weight lifting regimen.
All that lifting apparently gives you brain damage. It must be why weight lifters are usually not the brightest bulbs. The blood drains out of their heads and into their bulging muscles straining against the heavy weights. Either that or there is another explanation for stupidity. August 20th was our 13th wedding anniversary. Apparently the tradition with the 13th anniversary is that you are supposed to forget all about it. Did you know that? I didn't either. So I thought I would see how long you were supposed to forget the 13th for. Turns out you forget it for as long as your wife doesn't remind you about it and then you panic like a little girl and run away to check the internet to see what nasty stuff your wife has blogged about you for your inexcusable lapse of judgment which was compounded by taking a defensive position and asking where his anniversary present was. Uhhhhhh, your anniversary present is that I didn't kill you after my third pregnancy. That present is a holdover until our youngest starts college. And even if I did have an anniversary present, I wouldn't give it to you because YOU FORGOT OUR ANNIVERSARY!

So I will enjoy thinking of all sorts of evil retaliatory measures I might dream up until such time as an appropriately acceptable diamond gift is received by me as is my due for having borne his children and stayed by his side through the good, the bad and the flatulent.

If you think of any good punishments, feel free to let me know!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Middle Child

So since I wrote about my oldest, I feel obligated to write about all my kids and so I turn to my middle child. Oh my! Where do I begin? First of all, she is 6 and has the husky low voice of a life long cigar smoking granny. On top of that, the girl is an absolute goofball and has no filters on the things that come out of her mouth. She is the fun one and yet very sensitive. She makes me laugh harder than any millionaire comic out there. She is also the reason we don't go to public pools and locker rooms anymore.

I used to take the girls for swim lessons at the local Y. Since I am a fairly modest person, the girls are not used to seeing naked people walking around letting it all hang out. This was also the time that my middle child had gotten confused about what a 'tushie' was and had taken to calling the female frontal nether region as the 'tushie.' So here we are at the Y, I'm changing the girls out of their wet swimsuits and trying to safeguard my oldest girls privacy because she refused to change naked in the woman's locker room and I couldn't fit all 3 into the little changing room. So I'm manuevering her underneath a large towel while trying to keep an eye on the youngest who has decided to take everything out of my purse and dump it on the floor. Meanwhile my middle child is staring wide-eyed at something when all of a sudden she announces in a loud (I mean piercing!) hoarse voice "Mommy! that old lady has hair all over her tushie!" I was so startled, I dropped the towel causing my eldest child to shriek and I swivelled around to see my (at that time 5 year old) pointing at this poor woman who had just walked out of the shower. OK my first reaction is, "why don't you actually use the towel that you are draping so casually over your arm?" and then I grabbed her pointing arm and turned her away, chastising her for embarassing the poor woman. Fortunately, I don't think the woman understood any English and I was able to hustle the girls out before another unfortunate faux pas would be released.

Unfortunately this is not the last of her interesting faux pas. Recently, I took the girls to our local swimming pool since they had a week off from camp and I had finished teaching summer session. At the pool, there was a man who had sort of shaggy hair and a little bit of a paunchy belly. But he was unmistakably a man. Perhaps the confusion was that he was wearing a speedo which my girls have never seen on a man. American men don't tend to wear speedos and I think the last time I saw one was when I was in Miami.

So my middle child announces in her loud husky carrying voice, "Look! that woman forgot to wear her bathing suit top and is naked!" Her voice rose at the end so that 'naked' comes out in a near shout. I shushed her and whispered "No, he's a man." To which she replied, not in a whisper, "That can't be a man, she's got bigger boobies than you do Mommy!" I don't know who was more insulted me or the guy with the man boobies. I can't even begin to tell you how my humiliation was completed when I told her not to use that term and tried to explain to her that they were not the same as women's breasts when she nodded her head sagely and said "Oh, I get it! Those boobies have no milk in them!"

My daughter the 8 year old author

So I'm sure I am not alone in thinking my child is the smartest kid in the world. I mean what parent out there thinks "Boy that Junior of mine sure is an idiot, and ugly too!" Cause even if Junior ain't exactly Einstein, even though he might look like him, we, as parents, are gonna find the beauty in our children. At least, one would think.

I'm always amazed at how smart my children are and how they will surprise me with the things they say and do. Today is one of those days. My oldest daughter, who is 8, had made a little storybook out of multi-colored construction paper, beautifully illustrated in that special children's art way that always makes me smile. It was titled the "Flowerboy" and it is all about a little boy who always wanted to be a flowergirl but was told by adults that as a boy he couldn't be a flowergirl. So when his aunt gets married and he is made the ring bearer, he comes up with a funny scheme with the real flowergirl in order to make his wish come true. It was such a lovely story, it had such a wonderful message. It made me teary eyed and so proud to be her mother. I'm gonna have to find a way to get her book published, even if it is a vanity, because at 8 years of age, my daughter has reminded me why I love to read and write. In her I see myself, but better. She is a natural born storyteller. Must be in the genes!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

School days, school days,

Good old fashioned rule days. Reading and writing and 'rithmetic,Taught to the tune of a hickory stick!

So summer is almost over and school is officially starting next week. Why does summer always feel so short? The week before school is always my craziest week. I take the kids out of camp so they can 'rest' and help me get ready for school as we sort out school supplies, clothing, athletic gear and all the other fun stuff this time of year entails. At the same time, I have to frantically prepare for my own classes which also start next week. I need another vacation!

I'm awash in a sea of paper, and it will only get worse. I had a whole month to prepare for classes, instead, I surfed the net clicking through link after link and finding ever more interesting blogs to read. And now I am scrambling once again. If procrastination is an American past time, then I am its reigning star. Only my husband is a worser procrastinator. I told him when he bought the fish tank that I would never clean it, repeat NEVER. He still bought it for the kids in order to hear the accolades of "Your the best dad!" That was back in January. He stocked it with fish and crabs that slowly died one by one until 2 remained. All because he procrastinated on cleaning the tank. Eight months later (this past weekend) after our oldest daughter complained that she couldn't take another fish dying, (neither could I since having to scoop up two bulging eyed dead fish was something I'm still nursing a grudge against my hubby on) he finally cleaned the tank. Hallelujah! Clean water in the tank! I have no idea how those 2 little white clouds have survived all this time but they sure are happy now. So hubby and girls went and bought a whole bunch of fish to kill off one by one again.

So one of the hallmarks of a procrastinator is also that they digress alot and tell pointless stories and blog about how much of a procrastinator they are. I'm just proving my point here. So all this procrastinating is bumming me out and yet I still can't get myself motivated. I need a good kick in the ass. Do any of you remember that Ebay listing for a good ass kicking fro 2001? For any of you who have never seen it, I have decided to post it here for your enjoyment...

I will kick your ass.
Item # 1641798199

Winning bid receives an ass-kicking from me personally. I am 6'0" and weigh over 230 lbs. If you win this auction, I will personally come to your house and kick your ass. I guarantee that I will not break any bones or kill you, nor will I use any weapons on you, but I will give you a good beating. I will do this under two conditions:1) You or anyone else does not press charges against me(after all, you bought the ass-kicking),2) You do not fight back or attempt to physically harm me in any other manner (this is your ass getting kicked, not mine).Buyer provides round-trip plane ticket to the nearest airport, as well as cab fare to your house and back. If you are not close to an airport, you may provide me with a train ticket or other means of transportation. Do not pick me up, as I will be attacking you completely randomly. Buyer must also provide good, clear directions to their house, as well as any business expenses for if I need to stay in a hotel or buy food for myself during the trip. Most likely though I will just fly in, kick your ass, and then leave.Upon my arrival, I will select a random time to come over and kick your ass. It may be when you are sleeping, or showering, or any other time during the day/night when you are most vulnerable. During this beating I may damage one or more of your household items, if I have to break glass to get into your home or knock over furniture if you attempt to run from me. This should be expected by you, and covered in my expenses. If you are married or have children, I may choose to slap around your family a little bit, but only if I'm feeling particularly generous. They should be informed of this, and expect it as well. Bidding starts at one cent ($0.01) but remember the winner must pay all expenses for my travel if they wish for me to come and kick their ass. I will accept check, money order, or Paypal. Or you could just let me use your valid credit card for a few days and we'll call it even.

Oh yeah, this is still funny reading it again. But definitely sounds too violent for a big wuss like me. Think I'll kick my own ass and get to work!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Pucca Love!

This is my children's favorite cartoon. A huge hit in Asia, this Korean animated series is only now making waves in the states. Pucca is a little girl with super strength who loves passionately a ninja boy. Just watching her chase and catch her little boyfriend is too cute. I'm going to change my profile picture from my daughter to Pucca. Recently read an article about posting pics of your kids on the net and how dangerous it might be. Knowing these reasons I had deliberately picked a cute picture of my youngest playing peek-a-boo, so that her face was concealed. But after reading Bernita's blog post over at "An Innocent A-Blog" (don't know how to link in a post yet - need to learn!), I've rethought it and am going to change it.
The internet has changed the world in so many ways. But one thing it has done for good and bad is the level of dissemination of information into the world. Once posted on the net, you will never know where your item could end up. The ramifications of that are troubling given that we do not live in a land of milk and cookies. After realizing how little control I would have over pictures of myself and my children, I decided that the best thing for me to do was not to post them at all. So I'm changing my avatar to something safe to keep my child's picture, albeit a hidden one, away from the unknown.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Cell phone and public bathroom?!!

So I was at Barnes and Nobles today and had to use the ladies room where I encountered the weirdest behavior. A short line was waiting for one of the 4 stalls to open up and we realized that a woman in one of the stalls was talking quite loudly on the phone. And it sounded like a business call!! She was clearly a real estate agent trying to set up someone's closing. But doing business in a public bathroom stall? It gets worse! There was a maladorous funk in the air which people were attributing to the talker. Clearly she didn't want to flush while she was on the phone but we were all subjected to her stench! It finally ended when a woman in the stall next to her banged on the wall and said, "Hey, you on the phone! Flush already! You're killing us all here!"

The bathroom got really quiet except for a few snickers that snuck out. We women on line bit our lips not to laugh. The line kept moving, but the talker had stopped talking. But for the sound of a flush, she was utterly still and silent. Even after I was done and I came out to wash my hands, she stayed put in her stall. All I could see were black shoes and hose, the kind that my mother would wear to work. She had sounded older, with a heavy accent I couldn't really place. I started feeling real bad for her. Humiliated by her own stupidity. Cause you have to admit, taking a business phone call in a public stall while you are doing your business has to be some kind of stupid. Yeah, she was loud and obnoxious, yeah she was rude and offensive. But now all I could think about was how mortified she must be. She never did come out for the ten minutes I hung around in the book shelves nearby. I'm sure she learned her lesson, but at what price?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Kindness of Strangers

Copyright HarlanH, April 8, 2007,

Stumbled across this picture on the web of three strangers helping a man in New York City. There is kindness all around us.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Personal Space Issue

Recently I had a conversation with a friend of mine who was complaining about a mutual acquaintance of ours who is Japanese. My friend thought it was extremely rude that our new Japanese friend, I'll call her "Michiko," had no concept of personal space, would stand very close to her during a conversation and was very touchy feely - for example, she likes to grab your hand or hug you when she is happy or excited. Now, I myself do not like to be touched and am very American in my need for keeping a distance between me and another person, but I did not take Michiko's behavior as rude because I know it was a case of so called "American manners" versus "Japanese manners." In many Asian countries, it is very commonplace for female friends to hold hands while walking or talking. It is a sign of affection. And there is no real concept of what we consider our "personal space."

So I was surprised to hear that my friend had sharply taken our Japanese friend to task and in the process had hurt her feelings deeply. Now there is a reserve to Michiko's manner that was not there before and I fear our relationship is damaged. When I told my friend I thought she had been rude and unkind in how she approached the matter, she disagreed. She thought it was important for someone to explain to her what was proper manners in the country she now lived in. So maybe she was right and she wasn't being unkind. But when manners clash due to culture, some amount of respect needs to be considered on both parts. And perhaps a little tolerance is wise.

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