Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Eighteen Million Cracks

"Like art, revolutions come from combining what exists into what has never existed before." Gloria Steinem

I have different views than Hillary Rodham Clinton on many different subjects. But today, I have to give a shout out to her for what she has accomplished.

The first year I was in Catholic grade school, girls had their own side of the playground. The boys had the basketball hoops and the slide, but we "were allowed to use it if we asked permission." Soon after that, it became a co-ed playground.

Girls were not allowed to serve at the altar with the priests during mass. When I asked about it once, our parish priest said it wasn't allowed because "girls play with their hair too much."

There was no girls little league baseball in my home town.

In seventh grade, our class had to submit questions on a certain subject to the teacher. For no reason whatsoever, the teacher (a man) mentioned that the boys in class submitted much more intelligent questions. I'm not sure how he came to that conclusion as we had not put our names on the slips of paper we turned in. I'm sure he thought the better handwriting belonged to the boys also.

The father of one of my grade school classmates told my father that his daughter wasn't going to college because "I'm not going to spend the money on education for a girl."

When I was in my early 20s, I was pushed into a corner and groped by one of the partners in the firm where I was working. When I managed to free myself and tell this guy just what I thought of him, I was warned that, if I told anyone what he had done, I would never work in that town again. I was a secretary working for not much more than minimum wage at the time. And it happened more than once.

When I was in my 30s, I guy I worked with lectured me on how women are all poor drivers because they aren't competitive enough.

These incidents in my life are small potatos compared to the stories of women in our country and around the world who suffer discrimination and worse, but they have affected me in many ways. To this day, I still remember how inferior they made me feel.

"Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it. And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time." Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

Thank you Senator Clinton, from the little six-year-old girl on her first day of first grade who stood segregated on the side of the playground looking longingly at the slide she wasn't sure she was allowed to use. Things will be different for my daughter.

"I'm tough, I'm ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay." Madonna

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What Would Captain Kirk Do?

Why is it that other people always seem to have it together and I never quite get anything right?  I do have my good moments.  Once in awhile, I have a day where everything seems to go right.  But for the most part, I feel like I'm on the hamster wheel getting nowhere fast.  

And the most irritating part of it all is that the people in my orbit who do have it together are completely oblivious to the fact that their spotless homes and manicured yards are unattainable for some of us.  It really pisses me off.  

I'm sure there will be a day when I have the house organized.  You will be able to eat off my floors.  The yard will be free of weeds.  I will be oblivious to the plight of others who try to emulate me.  And no one in the world will notice because they will all be busy talking about how Hell has just freaking frozen over.  

In the meantime, I just keep plugging away at the impossible.  And somehow I always manage to drop one of the balls I've been trying to juggle.  Something should've been done or washed or ironed or mended or bought, etc., etc., etc.  

In my heart, I long to be Captain Kirk from the old Star Trek TV series.  Captain Kirk always got it right.  He solved every problem, saved every galaxy, won every fight against every enemy, and he never, ever doubted himself while he was doing it.  He boldly went where no man had ever gone before armed only with a faser, his good looks and an ego the size of the Milky Way. Captain Kirk had to be the inspiration for the phrase "Git R Done".  

And then there was Mr. Jones.  In every Star Trek episode there was a landing party that would beam down to explore a strange planet.  The landing party usually consisted of Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Mr. Spock, perhaps one of the other series regulars - Scotty or Sulu or Uhura.  And then there was Mr. Jones.  The neophyte.  The unknown ensign.  The expendable fifth wheel. Mr. Jones usually got turned into a small container of dust or died after uttering his one two-word line and then vanished completely.  He boldly went nowhere.  Done in by the evil forces inhabiting the strange planet.  Mr. Jones did not have it together.  

I feel like I'm in a perpetual "Mr. Jones" mode in a world of Captain Kirks.  And no one can beam me out of here.  

"Remember - you can't beam through a force field.  So, don't try it."  William Shatner  

Friday, August 22, 2008

State Fair

We took the kids to the Minnesota State Fair.

We had the most wonderful day, as you can see.

I found out that my son is just like me. He starts out thinking that these rides are going to be fun, but very quickly into it, he looks like he wants to get out in the worst way. It takes him until the ride is almost over to relax and start to enjoy himself. If you look closely at these pictures, you can see that his sister is having a great time, but he looks like he just wants to get out.

It struck me that these fair rides are a lot like life. There may be something that seems like a good idea, but once you're caught up in it, you just really want to get back to where you were. Where it felt safe. But you're caught up in the motion, and the force of everything going on keeps you right where you are. And once things die down, you swear you will never, ever do that again. Until the next adventure that looks like it might be fun.

The fair itself was incredible. Some things I observed there:

Cutest thing: A sign that said "Minnesota: Bring a Coat".

Scariest thing: Being in a ferris wheel cart with my two kids who were rocking it back and forth and asking, "You're not SCARED, are you Mom?" I'm hoarse from screaming at them. Little smarta**es.

Most embarassing moment: My young son watching a man being carried out on a stretcher and asking the rescue worker, "Is he dead or something?"

Tackiest thing: Matching his & hers Vikings tattoos on a lovely couple walking the Midway.

Most recommended thing: The Leinie Lodge. Alcohol at 10:30 a.m. . . . need I say more?

Most wonderful thing: My "thrifty" husband willingly shelling out big bucks to buy ride tickets so his kids could go on any ride they wanted to as many times as they wanted to. And the smiles on all their faces.

What a wonderful day. I am not a "fair" person, but this was the cleanest, nicest and most well-run fair I have ever been to. And (here's the strange thing), I did not encounter one single "freak" the entire three and a half hours that I was there. (I am usually a "freak magnet".) I highly recommend this fair. We had a day that I will always remember.

One final caveat: Giant slide + my little fat self = very, very unflattering photos. Fortunately, you will never see those on this blog. (Talk about a bad idea . . . )

"Live and work but do not forget to play, to have fun in life and really enjoy it." Eileen Caddy

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hey Mamanista, This is Your Wakeup Call!

About a year ago, I went to a new hairstylist. I sat in her chair and told her what I wanted to change about my hair and asked for her opinion on the subject. We formulated a plan and she quickly got to work. She asked me to tell her about myself. I started in immediately talking at warp speed about my kids, my job, my commute, cooking, my husband, my house and my cat. She stopped combing out my hair and looked at me in the mirror. "And what do you like to do when you're not working or taking care of your family?" Silence. Why did she have to ask me such a hard question? My brain felt like it was stammering and fumbling for an answer. "I like to knit" was what I finally said, though I couldn't remember the last knitting project that I had actually finished.

This should have been a big moment. This should have tipped me off that something wasn't right. This should have been the moment in the story where, metaphorically speaking, the operator tells me that the calls I've been getting all night are coming from inside the house - or the moment where the guy who has been convinced that there's a serial killer at the party finally loosens up and admits he was wrong, right when the rest of the partygoers see the serial killer over his shoulder. It should have been like that. It bothered me a bit that I had such a hard time answering her question, but I quickly discarded the feeling.

I was cleaning out my bedroom closet one day. I stumbled on a small box labeled "master bedroom closet" from our last move many, many years ago. I laughed about how I always seem to have one box that never gets opened after each move. They just sit in a basement or a closet, and no one can ever remember what exactly is inside. I cut the tape on the box and opened it.
It was a time capsule. Two jewelry boxes containing my past. Abalone jewelry bought on vacation once, pins, silver barrettes with designs hammered on them, rings, and a cream-colored hair bow. Memories came flooding back. I once had a Chrisian Dior suit with a detachable collar that was the same exact color as this hair bow. I had matching shoes in the same color also. I used to wear white suits with pale camisols and all kinds of accessories. I used to go out for drinks with friends. I used to shop like it was an Olympic sport - and trust me when I tell you I would've medaled in it if it were. Matching handbags. Three-step skin care programs. Things I had long forgotten. When did I let it all go?

I carefully packed up the box, folded the top together and packed it back away in the far corner of the closet. Out of sight, out of mind.

Yesterday, I was driving home from the grocery store with my kids. I was reminding them that their bedroom floor needed to be picked up. My son started talking about how he wanted "a hundred million dollars" so he could get servants. He would get someone to clean up his bedroom floor. And while he was at it, he would get someone to do all the cleaning, cooking, laundry and dishes. My daughter looked at him and said, "Don't waste your money on that - Mom does all that." The child is subtle.

I've finally heard the wakeup call. I have to end this blog post now. I have a knitting class and a cooking class to sign up for. After that, I'm going to call about touring a new local gym. And then there's some earrings that I want to wear today, but I've got to get them down out of a box in the closet first.

"What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. Right now." Author Unknown.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This Mess is a Place!

"If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it." Erma Bombeck

I just found something on the rug behind the recliner that looks like it had been an orange M&M once.

After cleaning that up, I found something that looks like dried Diet Coke on the wall.

I'm wondering just what goes on in this house the twenty minutes a day that I'm not here. Then again, I would probably be better off not knowing.

"Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity." Erma Bombeck

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Self-Adjusting Universe

The boom has lowered. The other shoe has dropped. Murphy has written a couple of new laws in my honor. Chaos reigns supreme.

My house is a pile of puzzle pieces, glue sticks, Barbies dressed like hookers and little Army men who are fighting some unseen enemy. I know how the Army men must feel. I am having the type of day where I feel like I'm suffocating. It has become a major chore to get things done around here between playdates, school registration, registering for various extra curricular activities, and back-to-school shopping. I have had so much coffee today, my hair is growing nerve endings.

I took my darling daughter clothes shopping recently. She talked me into going to one of those trendy pre-teen places with the thumping dance music, bright lights and perfectly-accessorized, very fashionably-dressed mannequins. She was in Heaven. She floated about the store pulling things off racks while my young son found all kinds of things to get into. While two teenaged size zero store employees with bright blonde hair and bright white smiles were helping her, ("Maybe we should help her" they said after seeing my attempts to get my daughter interested in some jeans that would actually cover her rear end) my son found it highly amusing to spin the circular clothes racks and hug the mannequins. I foolishly took a minute to look at some scarves, and while my back was turned, my son somehow ended up in the store's window display. (BTW - The look on the faces of the passers-by was priceless.) By the time we selected three outfits (out of about 20), I felt like I had been beaten with a baseball bat. I have seen a glimpse of Hell, and it is filled with overpriced sequined preteen clothing that has skulls on it.

This is all probably payback for last weekend when I told a Jehovah's Witness that I was a practicing witch. Who knew those people could move so quickly?

I need more coffee. Coffee is going to get me through this day.

"Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day." Winnie the Pooh

Sunday, August 17, 2008


"A vacation is like love - anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort, and remembered with nostalgia." Author Unknown

We took a day trip to Duluth to see the tall ships. The day could've been made into one of those "Vacation" movies with my dear husband playing the Chevy Chase/Clark Griswold character.

It was incredibly hot when we got to Duluth. When we arrived, we took an off ramp to find parking, but the police had closed down the streets to the parking lots since they were all full. Lines of people meandered around the entire city waiting to tour the ships. We asked a policeman where we could park and got the wonderful response, "Probably nowhere for at least five miles." Helpful.

I got out of the car with the sunscreen and my knitting and walked about three blocks from the off ramp to the end of the ever-growing line of people. My husband drove off with the kids to find parking.

At the end of the line I met a wonderful little old couple from Northeast St. Paul - Erv and Rosemary. Rosemary and I chatted in line, and every once in awhile she would send Erv off to get her something from their car which was parked five blocks away. I asked her how long it took her to train her husband, and she replied "Fifty-seven years." I asked her how they met, and she didn't remember exactly. I asked her if they had a big celebration on their 50th anniversary, and she said that they did, but all she remembered was being outside in a tent with a lot of people. As we stood in line in the sweltering heat, we talked about raising children, living in Wisconsin and Minnesota, marriage, real estate, farms, cats, dogs, knitting, and the weather - and that is just as partial list. Rosemary loves to talk as much as I do.

Sadly, my husband found out that the line to tour each tall ship would require hours and hours of waiting in the hot sun. We decided to bag our plans and simply take pictures of the beautiful ships and then go to the Lake Superior Zoo. So, I said goodbye to Rosemary. Erv was off fetching something from their car. I wish I had taken her picture. Talking to her was one of the highlights of the day for me.

As you can see, the tall ships were beautiful.

We had fun at the zoo even though most of the animals that were kept outside were laying low because of the heat which didn't allow for many photo opportunities. The kids still had a great time.

Unfortunately, nearly every person we came into contact with in Duluth was incredibly rude which is really too bad since Duluth is a beautiful place. And, in the end, the kids had a great time and have only good memories of that day.

Then again, these two manage to have fun wherever they go. (They really don't look that much alike, but they sure do in this photo.)

As for me, I'll be staying close to home for awhile. And my poor husband still can't bring himself to talk about that day. I left out most of the really bad parts about the day, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

"No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one." Elbert Hubbard

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday Morning Musings

"Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town."  George Carlin

When is the boom going to lower?  When am I going to discover something that I should've done but didn't?  When is everything going to start going wrong and completely fall apart?  

From time to time I get nervous that something is going to happen.  I don't know what.  It's just a nagging feeling at the back of my mind all day.  I try to tell myself that I'm just being silly.  Everything has been smooth sailing around here lately which just makes me worry.  

Sometimes I think I've pushed past the brink of insanity and am now residing in the abyss.  

"Sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts."  William S. Burroughs  

Friday, August 8, 2008

Down the Rabbit Hole

"It would be so nice if something made sense for a change."  Alice in Wonderland

Brett Favre is playing for the New York Jets.  
My five-year-old son has impeccable manners as of late.  
My house is staying semi-clean.  
Some landscaping got finished.  
I've almost made it through the summer, and I'm still in one piece.  
My kids cleaned their room on Monday, and it's still clean on Friday.  

My world has been stranger than usual lately.  


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Favre Beneath My Wings . . .

"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." Vince Lombardi

He's baaaaack!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Not at Rock Bottom . . . Yet

"What is a home without children? Quiet." Henny Youngman

My darling daughter attended a birthday party and sleepover last night. Her friend lives out in the country and has two younger brothers and a younger sister, and a new sibling on the way. When I dropped my daughter off yesterday, the house was complete chaos - birthday guests arriving with gifts, balloons everywhere, toys strewn as far as the eye could see inside and outside the home. One of the little boys was sliding down the front banister in his underwear and a Buzz Lightyear mask. A tiny little girl was wailing and banging her baby doll against the wall. My daughter couldn't quite believe her eyes. I asked her if she wanted to stay, and she said she did.

I went to pick her up this morning. When I walked up to the house, I could see a little boy's pair of shorts and some underwear sitting right in front of the door. A beagle promptly came running to meet me and took the underwear in his mouth and ran around the yard with it. I collected my daughter and her belongings and said our goodbyes. She got in our van and promptly started crying because she was so happy to be coming home. Evidently the little pantsless boy was quite mean to her and things were a bit too chaotic for her. My daughter was even HAPPY TO SEE HER LITTLE BROTHER.

As I was driving home, I realized that on any given day (okay, everyday) you can find toys scattered about my house. My son may even slide down our front banister (with clothing on). My kids and house are far from perfect. BUT we've never had underwear laying outside our front door . . . yet. I know it is terrible, but I was somewhat comforted that someone else is more domestically challenged than I am. I suppose I had better enjoy this feeling before I go straight to Hell.

Note to self: Call your Mom and tell her what a wonderful mother she is and always has been. Ask how she kept her house so clean with five kids.