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Jog-a-thon report

Madhousewife: Girlfriend, are you wearing knee-high socks with your shorts because your legs are cold? Because you can wear long pants if you want to.

Girlfriend: No, Mom. I just like them like this.

Mad: Well, you sure look cute.

GF: No, how about “cool”?


So I went to the school jog-a-thon to cheer my daughter on, per her request. I was not there to cheer Mister Bubby on because the fifth-graders ran during the time that I was helping Girlfriend get ready for her bus. (Not that MB needed me there to cheer him on. I think he might have been humiliated if I had done so. He did reassure me afterward that my presence had not been needed at all.) It was a lovely spring day, unseasonably warm for May in Oregon, and what with the athletic-type event on that day’s agenda, Girlfriend decided to wear shorts–her first time ever wearing shorts to school, I think. That’s only significant for the Bitter Irony I’m about to convey in the next part of this anecdote. While waiting for the kindergarten bus to arrive, the kids were “practicing” for the jog-a-thon by running down the street, and GF happened to trip and skin her knees on the sidewalk. (All together now: O bitter irony!) So I had to take her back to the house and patch her up and drive her to school and was very nearly late for my eyebrow waxing appointment. What a tragedy that would have been. My first eyebrow waxing in, what, fifteen years? Anyway, I’m getting off topic. New paragraph!

Despite the number she did on her knees (I just happened to have two very large bandages in stock), GF still managed to run seven laps around the track. That’s 1 3/4 miles, gentle readers. MB had projected that she’d run as many as four laps because that was how much he did in kindergarten, but clearly he underestimated his baby sister’s athletic prowess. The big bad fifth-grader himself only ran eight laps. I say “only” only because watching the kindergarten run has raised the bar significantly in my eyes. It shouldn’t be surprising, actually, that kindergarteners have a lot of energy. MB must have been a lazy kindergartener or something. I don’t know, I wasn’t there. (HA!) Anyway, I’m glad he only ran eight laps because I don’t want to tell you how much he suckered me into pledging per lap. This is what the school gets when I feel guilty for not volunteering.

Speaking of which, when I got to the school and signed in, the secretary automatically gave me a “volunteer” tag instead a “visitor” tag. Maybe she was out of “visitor” tags, who knows? I didn’t let it influence me. Too much. The PTO president did hand me a spray bottle filled with water so I could spray the runners with refreshing coolness as they jogged past. I figured that would be just helpful enough to make my “volunteer” tag not a lie. Let me tell you, most kindergarteners don’t appreciate being sprayed with water, even when they’re running in the hot sun, so I just sort of sprayed the water in the air and let them run into it if they so desired. Most of them dodged it, which I thought was funny since it was probably evaporated by the time they got there. One kid kept coming back to get sprayed again and again. Right in the face. That’s my kind of kindergartener.


The Mother’s Day report

A Book About My Mom
By Girlfriend

My mom likes to eat veggies but don’t give her popsicles.

My mom is really good at dancing.

My mom looks pretty when she wears a dress.

My mom likes to play with me.

If I could give my mom something special, it would be a present.

My mom is funny when she plays don’t say a word.

I love my mom because she hugs me.









Dear Mom,

Thank you for playing Monopoly, Bingo, Zingo, Sorry. You make macaroni and cheese. It tastes good. I feel happy with Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Love, Elvis













Mister Bubby’s Mother’s Day art:

Flaming Feet Giraffe and Nighttime Quagga

Mother’s Day Fish

When Girlfriend started kindergarten, a friend of mine whose youngest child was also starting kindergarten asked me, “So are you going to volunteer now that everyone’s in school?”

“Oh!” I said, as if the thought had never occurred to me, because it never had. “Wow. I don’t know. I guess I could do that now, couldn’t I?”

But I haven’t.

It’s May now, so I’m probably not going to at all this year. I’m a terrible human being.

It’s not like I’ve never volunteered at school. I’ve chaperoned field trips for Mister Bubby’s class. I helped out at Aussie Day when he was in the second grade. I helped set up chairs for one of the (monthly) movie nights last year. I’ve…well, that pretty much covers it. A couple field trips, Aussie Day and movie night chairs. That’s the sum total of my school volunteering. So yeah, terrible human being is more or less correct.

I used to have what I thought was a pretty valid excuse not to volunteer at school: I had other kids at home to take care of, and I wasn’t going to hire a babysitter to take care of these other kids while I volunteered at school because that’s crazy. I know other moms who trade babysitting with other moms so they can volunteer at school, but this was never an option for me because a) there are very, very few moms willing to trade babysitting with me and b) I am not going to waste that good will on freaking volunteering at school–that is crazy. Good will is for emergencies. Anyway. For the record, yes, I did actually end up paying a babysitter all those above-mentioned times I volunteered at school. It was crazy. I wouldn’t have done it, but Mister Bubby really wanted me to. He’s, like, the only kid whose mother never volunteers at school or something. So I did that crazy thing those few times, but I refused to do it on a regular basis, because that’s just crazy.

Now that all the kids are in school, I could theoretically volunteer on a regular basis without it costing me anything. I have no excuse for not doing it, except that I don’t want to.

I might feel more of a moral obligation to volunteer at school if there weren’t so freaking many other parents who volunteer at school. The school is lousy with parent volunteers, such that if you want to chaperone a field trip, you have to take a number. In my friend OBL‘s world, lots of parents volunteering=  more pressure to volunteer. I might feel this myself if I didn’t choose to be oblivious to so many societal expectations. I don’t want to volunteer at school, so unless I feel like I am actually needed, I would have to try really hard to feel morally obligated to do it–and I’m just not made of that stern of stuff.

Here’s another thing: I’m not good with children. I like children, but children don’t like me. I mean, my own children seem to like me just fine, but other children are afraid of me. I speak to them, and they will actually turn their bodies away from me to avoid interacting with me, hoping that I will set my scary sights on someone else. I really don’t get how I can be so scary to other people’s children with no effort whatsoever on my part, and yet my own children aren’t afraid of me at all, no matter how scary I try to be. I don’t like feeling socially awkward. I feel socially awkward most of the time, but it’s bad enough feeling it around adults. I don’t like feeling it around young children. (I especially don’t like feeling it around teenagers, which is why you’ll find me volunteering at a prison before you’ll find me volunteering at middle school.)

Volunteering at school seems to me like one of those above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty things. Probably because my own mother never volunteered at school. (Probably because she had other children to take care of and couldn’t afford to pay a babysitter and anyway, that would have been crazy.) I don’t remember seeing a lot of parent volunteers at school when I was young, other than on field trips. Those must have been the halcyon days when public education had all the money it needed and class sizes were smaller and teachers had less to do. Oh, wait. I don’t know. I don’t know what happened to public education, but between the time I was going to school and the time my kids are going to school, things changed so that parents are now an integral part of students’ education, even during those hours while the school is supposed to be educating them. It’s not enough to help with the homework, which is intrusive enough; now we also have to be there at school helping the teachers do their jobs for free. I mean, we’re helping for free. The teachers are still getting paid, albeit not enough. But I digress.

It’s not that I don’t believe the teachers really need the help. I believe it; I just choose to live in the past when nobody did anything about it.

Here’s another dirty secret which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. My feeling is that the school is there to take the kids off my hands for several hours a day. That’s why I pay my taxes. I mean, I pay my taxes because the government will put me in prison if I don’t, but even if there were no government schools, I would pay money for someone else to educate my children so that they could go be away from me for a few hours a day. No offense to them, I love them, but we can only take so much of each other. I get them full time for the first five years. Kindergarten takes them for only two and a half hours a day during the school year. I just got rid of them–why would I turn around and volunteer at school so I can see more of them? It just doesn’t make any sense.

(Just so you know, I also send my children to school so they can interact with adults they’re not allowed to walk all over. I think that’s important. But secondary, I admit.)

And there’s this final thing. I had a very bad school experience with my oldest child. From the moment she started kindergarten, Princess Zurg hated school, and she misbehaved at school, and the school was always calling to tell me about her misbehavior and calling to tell me I had to come pick her up because she was being suspended again, and I was always going down to the school for the privilege of meeting with a group of educators telling me all the things that were wrong with my daughter and asking what we were going to do about it, etc., etc., etc. It was several years before I could walk into the local elementary school and not experience some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Intellectually, I know that it’s a good school doing good things for children. Emotionally, the school is not my friend. Therefore I am not emotionally inclined to do it any favors. Which makes it a lot easier to rationalize my intellectual inclinations not to do it any favors.

While writing this, Girlfriend came up to me and told me how excited she was for the school jog-a-thon, which is this afternoon. I’ll have you know that while I am very stingy with my time, so far as the school is concerned, I have tried to be generous with my money to make up for it. Because money, when you have it, is so much easier to part with. I will gladly spend more money in donations than it would cost me for a babysitter so I could volunteer my time (although as I’ve already said, I no longer need to hire a babysitter–but you get my point). So yes, I have sponsored both of my children generously in the school’s jog-a-thon, but Girlfriend just informed me that she would really, really like me to show up for the jog-a-thon and cheer her on. This was not my original plan. (See above about kindergarten only being two and a half hours and I just got rid of her, etc.) But she really wants me to be there, and since I’m never there to volunteer, I feel morally obligated to show up. So I will.

But I won’t help with the jog-a-thon. I won’t!


There is a lot of laundry piling up in the living room. Why the living room? Because there’s more room there. At least there used to be, before I put all the laundry there.

At least it’s clean laundry in the living room. The dirty laundry is in a big pile upstairs.

It’s not that difficult to fold laundry. I kind of enjoy it, actually. Or I did enjoy it, when I could listen to my iPod while I folded. This was before I dropped the iPod in the toilet. Now I don’t have anything to listen to. I guess I could listen to my iTunes library on the computer. It’s not like I have to move around the house to fold laundry. Only to put it away. For some reason putting away laundry is so much more odious a chore than actually folding it. Though you wouldn’t know the difference judging by the enormous amount of unfolded laundry in the living room.

But as I was saying, putting away the clean laundry after it has been folded is something that apparently no one wants to do. Why should this be? My kids all groan when I tell them to put away their clean clothes. I feel like they shouldn’t complain, since they didn’t have to wash or fold any of it–and yet, the only reason I’m asking them to put it away is because I myself don’t want to do it. Theoretically, I should have more sympathy for them. And yet, somehow I do not.

Every time I have this conversation with myself, I am reminded that my children really need to start doing their own laundry. I started doing laundry when I was six. It’s not that hard. I’m continuously amazing myself with the number of things I have not managed to teach my children to do over the years. What the crap have I been doing?

Oh, yeah.

Well, I’d repent right now by getting off the internet and conducting an impromptu laundry class, but they’re all in school at the moment. So. Later.

Today I have to remember that I’m picking Elvis up from school and taking him to Cub Scouts. I’m just telling you that so I don’t forget.

Today is a very busy day. Elvis usually takes the bus home from school, but today he has Cub Scouts, which starts at 3:30 p.m., which is seven minutes earlier than his bus gets home, so I have to pick him up from school so he can get to Cub Scouts on time. His school gets out at 3:05 p.m., but I have to leave here at 2:30 p.m. if I want to get there early enough to snag a parking space so I don’t have to go through the circle of hell that is the pick-up line. The pick-up line! I have never been able to figure out the pick-up line. Not at any school any of my children has ever attended. It just doesn’t make sense to me. There’s this big line of cars driven by parents waiting for children who haven’t come out of their classrooms yet and a bunch of children waiting on the pavement for parents who can’t get into the parking lot because of all the cars that are already in there and aren’t going anywhere until their kids show up. I understand why there’s a pick-up line. I just don’t understand how anyone manages to ever get out of it. It makes me claustrophobic to think about it. I avoid it altogether by parking off campus and walking in, or alternatively, being so late that there are no other cars left in the parking lot. That works, too. But it won’t work for Elvis on Cub Scout day, so I must leave at 2:30 p.m.

Which is the time I would ordinarily be picking up Mister Bubby and Girlfriend from school, but obviously I can’t be both places at once, so the babysitter is picking up MB and GF while I pick up Elvis. And obviously I’m taking Elvis to Cub Scouts. Elvis has a thing about using the restroom at school, so he always has to pee as soon as he gets home, but since we’re not coming home, he will need to pee as soon as he gets to Cub Scouts. Cub Scouts is usually at the church, so that wouldn’t be a problem, but last time it wasn’t at the church but at a neighboring school (long story) but not inside the school, only at the outdoor part of the school, and I didn’t know if the school would even be open for him to pee in there (and it just now occurred to me that maybe he wouldn’t want to pee at a strange school, either, but maybe he would, who knows), so to avoid any sort of emergency-type disappointment situation, I took him to pee at the Fred Meyer on the way. (He doesn’t have a problem with using restrooms at stores or restaurants.) Since they are doing a bike-riding activity today, which will not be inside the church, I don’t know if the church will be unlocked or not–although the den leader should have a key, since they usually meet inside, but who knows if she will bring her key if she’s not expecting to have to go in–so again I am wondering whether or not there will be an emergency-type disappointment situation, and I may need to have him pee at the Fred Meyer again. I don’t know. The uncertainty is wearing on me.

We have to leave Cub Scouts early so that Elvis can go to his social group, which starts at 4:30 p.m. I know it sounds weird to take him out of one presumably-social activity to take him to another one, but the social group is his speech therapy, so he can’t miss it and moreover, he doesn’t want to. So we’ll be leaving Cub Scouts early and going to social group, and then after social group we will go to the Safeway because that is his routine and if I change it there will be heartache (mostly mine), so we will get home around 6:30 p.m. Which is usual for a Tuesday. But it will feel like a very busy day. I haven’t even gotten to the part where we have to do homework and crap.

Which is why I should go do the laundry now.


So I fell down the stairs this morning. I actually do that a lot more often than I’d like to admit. Usually my rear end breaks my fall, which isn’t pleasant, but it’s a lot better than what I did today, which was break my fall with my left arm…sort of…backwards. Hard to explain. I don’t have any idea why I did it that way. All I know is that my left shoulder is still somewhat unhappy with me. It can join the club. Who isn’t unhappy with me these days? I’m unhappy with me. Yesterday I dropped my iPod in the toilet. Yeah, I know. My husband asked the same thing. It was freak accident, okay? Not like I regularly engage in risky activities that involve toilets. But sometimes things happen. Well, I have a birthday coming up. Maybe my husband will be so relieved to know what to give me that he won’t mind that he’s married to such a clumsy dork.

Well, let’s get real. If he minded, he probably would have said something by now.

Princess Zurg just asked when we’re going to work on her dress again. Remember my tale of the Impossible Dress? Well, we started working on it a couple weeks ago. Meaning we cut out some pattern pieces. We haven’t done anything else with them. I still haven’t figured out what the crap you do with fusible interfacing. And the whole sleeve thing…Lord, don’t ask. Sleeves. Bah!

If I could go back in time and change one thing–well, if it were only one thing, I’d stop myself from dropping the iPod in the toilet, but if it could be two things, I would learn how to sew properly, just in case I gave birth to a daughter who wanted to be a fashion designer someday.

Of course, I’m cynical to believe that if I had learned to sew properly, I would have given birth to a daughter who wanted to be an auto mechanic or something. Of course, if she wanted to be an auto mechanic, I would have no problem saying, “That’s a great dream, sweetheart. When you get to high school, you can take auto shop!” I wouldn’t feel the need to learn to take apart my own car and put it back together so I could give her free lessons. And yet that is the approach I’m taking with sewing because I feel guilty for never learning that particular womanly art. I learned just enough to pass eighth grade home economics, and then I promptly forgot all of it. More or less. Not that one sewing unit in eighth grade home ec would have been enough for this project PZ has bitten off and invited me to chew. (I use “invited” loosely here.) But whatever. I think I was about to blame the patriarchy for my problems, and I got sidetracked. Oh, well. I guess we’ll move on.

Do they even offer home ec in schools anymore? I don’t think they have it at PZ’s school.

You know what unit I remember best in eighth grade home ec? Laundry. Not kidding. I remember because at the time I thought, “Seriously?” I’d been doing laundry since I was six years old. Yes, I aced the laundry unit, gentle readers. But have I managed to pass that skill along to my children? No. My children know nothing about laundry. Well, Elvis knows a little because he likes using the machine. But the rest of them are ignoramuses. My children know very little about how to do anything. I am pretty much a failure in the passing-on-knowledge category.

So even if I had learned to sew in my younger days, would I be capable of passing on that knowledge? It doesn’t appear to be so. We tried to save money on piano lessons by having me teach the kids, and that just didn’t work out. I have no credibility with my children. They don’t believe a word I say.

And yet my daughter still expects me to teach her to sew. It is a puzzlement. Whatever. I guess the bottom line is that if I could go back in time and change one thing, I’d still choose the iPod.

Princess Zurg has wanted to learn to sew for the longest time. For Christmas 2010 we gave her a sewing machine. I really, really intended to teach her how to use it. It’s not like I don’t know anything about sewing. I know a few things. I’ve used sewing machines before. Specifically, I used a sewing machine when I took Home Economics in the eighth grade, and I also used a sewing machine when I decided to sew my own temple dress in 1996 and I stitched half the bodice before my mother took pity on me and finished the whole thing herself. So yes, I have some sewing experience. No, I was not under the illusion that I had extensive sewing knowledge that I would simply pass on to my daughter. I knew that I would need to give myself a, ah, refresher course before I could tutor PZ in the womanly art of sewing. I didn’t think it would be like riding a bike. I did think it would be a bit more like doing algebra. You know, a little perusal of the material and it would all come back to me. I did it before, I could do it again.

So. Sewing. It’s not at all like algebra.

I figured we’d start small, with simple projects. For instance, we made Girlfriend a pillowcase for Christmas. (With puppies on it! It’s so cute.) That went well. I figured we would gradually work our way up from there, eventually ending up in the arena of actual apparel. But PZ has been wanting to do actual apparel for such a long time that she just isn’t willing to wait any longer. She told me she wanted to make herself a new Sunday dress. I figured, okay, that’s fine. I’m a grown woman who’s used a sewing machine before. I passed 8th grade Home Ec. I think I might have gotten an A. Surely I can fumble my way through a basic dress pattern.

Because I am a terrible mother who lacks enthusiasm for her daughter’s sewing project, my MIL took pity on PZ (and me) and took PZ to the fabric store to select an appropriate pattern and the appropriate fabric. PZ had this particular vision in mind–being that she intends to become a fashion designer someday (hence the interest in sewing, which I have not nurtured nearly as much as I’d hoped I would)–so my MIL tried her best to help her find materials that would approximate that vision. They came home with the pattern and the fabric, and my MIL volunteered to take the boys this evening so PZ and I could examine the materials in more detail before beginning the project in earnest.

Well, I’ve spent the last hour or so examining the materials, and I very much want to cry right now.

It’s not at all like algebra. It’s not at all a basic dress pattern. It’s a dress with a fitted bodice and a skirt comprised of many panels, and oh by the way she will need to add sleeves to it, so voila, here’s another pattern for some other item of apparel that does have sleeves, so we can just do a mash-up of those two patterns, okay, only incidentally this dress laces up the front and she doesn’t want it to lace up the front because that looks like a corset and that will look slutty, so we’re going to have to figure out some other mode of fastening (whatever I think is best, she’s not really that picky).

This is impossible. This is Just.Not.Possible. I read the pattern instructions. They’re in English, but I don’t know all the words. The sentences don’t make sense to me. There are diagrams, but I can’t discern the relationship of the diagrams to reality. It’s not at all like algebra. It’s very, very complicated. I don’t remember it being this complicated in the eighth grade. I don’t remember integral calculus being this complicated.

I can’t do this.

I can’t.

I don’t mean that I don’t want to. I don’t want to, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that I can’t. I can’t do it. It’s above my pay grade. It’s above my level of expertise. It’s above my level of intelligence. There is no possible way I can accomplish this task.

The fabric’s been bought. There’s fabric and lace and interfacing and…something else I don’t even know what it is. It’s very unclear. I don’t know how I’m going to break the news to my daughter. She’s going to need another sewing mentor, and I need to find one fast.

Just as soon as I throw my son a birthday party and make a fool of myself clogging in front of a bunch of old people and throw my daughter a birthday party the following week and then I think the housekeepers come again OH CRAP WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME???

Easter! I still haven’t shopped for Easter!

The housekeepers have come and gone. I guess I hid the crap well enough. Now I’m going to have to un-hide it again so I can re-commence the de-crapification. Re-crapifying for the sake of de-crapifying. I’m like Jesse Jackson gone domestic.

But the house looks so nice, I’m not ready to re-crapify just yet.

Mister Bubby has a Court of Honor tonight for Boy Scouts. He’s getting his Tenderfoot or some such. I don’t know much about scouting. Elvis finally got his Bobcat last week, so we played pin the pin on the mom again. I don’t really understand why they pin the pin on the mom. I mean, I do, I guess, because Boy Scouts are all American and crap and Mom is American like her apple pie and boys love their moms and whatnot–I dunno, I reckon it’s something like that. But folks are always saying that they have to honor the moms because the moms work hard to help their boys do their scouting crap, and that makes me feel like a fraud because I have done exactly jack crap to help my sons with their scouting crap. Aside from volunteering for a total of two (2) days at day camp last summer, I can’t think of a single thing I’ve done to play a part in either son’s scouting career. So maybe I’m not who that pin is for. Maybe I’m not even American. I like apple pie, but I’ve never made one. That’s probably neither here nor there. But no one asked me if I wanted my sons to be Boy Scouts! Maybe I deserve a pin just for not saying no.

My husband, on the other hand, is very involved with the scouting thing. He probably deserves the pin more than me. If Mom isn’t there, they will have the boy pin the pin on Dad. But to pin the pin on Dad when Mom is standing right there might be gauche or something. Maybe it’s emasculating. Who knows?

Anyway, MB will be getting his Tenderfoot, whatever that is. Reckon I won’t be getting a pin or any other undeserved accolade this time.

Man, one of these days I’d like to get a deserved accolade. That would be a thing.

Anyway, in other news, I went to the dentist this morning. Teeth are feeling clean. The hygienist told me I had hardly any tartar buildup. (So that would be a deserved accolade, I guess, but where’s my freaking pin? I would wear that one with pride. HARDLY ANY TARTAR BUILDUP.) The hygienist is someone I go to church with. I might have told this story before. In fact, I’m positive I’ve told it before, but I’ve got nothing better to do and I’m getting old, so I’ll just tell it again. I used to have reservations about having my teeth scraped clean by someone I know socially. I mean, technically I also know my dentist socially and I used to have reservations about that, but at least the dentist only looks in your mouth after it’s been cleaned. The hygienist sees everything as it really is. So yes, I had reservations about that, and I had always hoped to avoid this particular hygienist, but one day I had an appointment on the day she was working, and what do you know, after the first minute and a half it’s not awkward at all. I’ve discovered that I prefer it, actually. This is probably because she’s always giving me accolades about my lack of tartar build-up. Maybe she only says that because she likes me. Maybe I don’t really deserve that accolade. But I like to think she has more integrity than that. Also, I like to believe that I have propelled myself to HARDLY ANY TARTAR BUILD-UP status. Even if I don’t get a pin.

And here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: I went to the oral surgeon yesterday, and I’ve decided that I’m going to have the surgery. The oral surgeon told me that my case was what they classify as “severe.” Not severe as in I’m going to lose all my teeth and die of teeth cancer or something, but he went through all the problems that people with my kind of malocclusion can have, and I thought, “Check, check, check…hadn’t thought of that one before but now I’m going to be hyper-aware of it, thanks a lot–check…” He wasn’t scare-mongery about it at all. He was very professional and matter-of-fact like professional people tend to be. He has beautiful eyes too, but that’s neither here nor there. (I just notice these things!) So anyway, he explained the surgery and the recovery process, and it was a lot less horrifying than I was anticipating. I mean, I’m not going to like it, but I’m firmly in the “Do” column now, whereas before I had one-and-a-half feet in the “Do Not” column.

Unless my insurance doesn’t cover it, in which case my firmness is somewhat malleable.

I mean, here’s the thing: I didn’t get braces for cosmetic reasons. Many people comment that they’d never noticed my teeth needed fixing. And yes, I do wonder if they say that to everyone. They’re hardly going to say, “Oh, good for you, it’s about time you did something about that.” But my teeth didn’t look especially crooked or hideous, and anyway, even if they were hideous, I’ve been hideous for years and I’m used to it. If I were going to do something cosmetic, I’d get a boob job, not fix my teeth. I have my priorities. But I got the braces to fix my bite and jaw problems, and any cosmetic benefit is just the icing on the cake. (In the event, God forbid, that I ever get breast cancer, I will make “new boobs” my survival mantra.) Right. Anyway. So after yesterday I am persuaded that it’s kind of lame to suffer through $5,000 and two years’ (at least) worth of braces in order to only half-fix the problem that I set out to fix. Before, I was thinking, “Well, I’ve been living like this for 40 years, what’s another 40?” whereas now I’m thinking, “It’s only going to get worse because that’s what getting old means.”

Now I’m going to get a whole new jaw and live out my golden years in luxury.

(Technically it is not a whole new jaw, just the same jaw moved about a centimeter forward. But you know what I mean.)

Apparently, in addition to compassion fatigue I also have title fatigue. (Was the “also” redundant? Yes. But it sounded better to me. Just like saying Tuesday thrice sounds better than just twice.)

I feel certain that I’m going to forget that my daughter has piano lessons today, just as I forgot that she had them yesterday, which is why I had them rescheduled for today, but will I remember that? It doesn’t seem possible, all things considered.

(And all things considered, why would I say my daughter has “piano lessons” today? She has a piano lesson today. She accumulates multiple piano lessons over time, but technically has only one today. But I always refer to piano lessons in the plural. Like I did just now. I can’t stop myself!)

I’ve had a few things on my mind. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but I’m easily overwhelmed. Like most people, I have a hundred things I ought to be doing at any one time, but I’m only willing to think about one or two and prefer to ignore all the others. When circumstances converge so as to force me to not only think about but actually do something about more than a couple things, I start to feel put upon. Hence, my current discomfort. And forgetfulness. I’m simply incapable of remembering most things, let alone everything.

The other day I panicked because I thought I had forgotten to order my dad’s birthday present, but then I remembered that I hadn’t forgotten, and I was relieved. So relieved that I proceeded to forget everything else. (Once I start relaxing, it is really hard for me to stop.)

SO. I know some of you would like to know why Princess Zurg was suspended on Friday. The short answer is “PMS? Insanity?” but the longer answer is this: She had a confrontation with her Language Arts teacher (the latest in a long line of confrontations with this particular teacher, whom she despises for reasons I don’t really understand) that culminated in her threatening the teacher’s life and subsequently she was taken to the Behavior Learning Center classroom to cool down and had another confrontation with a different teacher there, which culminated in her hitting the teacher on the arm. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these new-fangled school policies, that’s a no-no. I mean, all of it’s a no-no. She did very few things on Friday that are actually permitted under ordinary circumstances. So, yes, she absolutely deserved to be suspended for the remainder of that day, and she has had in-school suspension yesterday and today. I think she’s supposed to go back to her regular classes tomorrow, but I think she may be in for a change in Language Arts teachers. We’ll see. I really don’t have time to think about it right now.

Fortunately, I was able to get her in to see her shrink yesterday, and he has added another medication to our pharmacological support arsenal. It’s Abilify, which I think is probably the awesomest name for a psychotropic drug ever. I mean, it’s so stupid and nakedly condescending that you can’t help but love it. I believed I’ve blogged on it before, back when my own shrink was considering it for me (but alas, I was never actually Abilified). It’s supposed to have a calming effect and keep her from getting stuck on her runaway train of negativity. I’m sure I can come up with a better metaphor than “runaway train of negativity.” How about she’s got this Ferrari of negativity and someone’s cut the brake lines? That’s a little more apt. Anyway. She started that last night. One of the side effects is drowsiness (which is why it’s taken at night). She woke up this morning feeling nauseated. I was scared because I really, really don’t want this pill to make her nauseated. I don’t want it to make her anything but Abilified. Also, I really, really wanted her to go to school today. Because I want everyone to go to school everyday. It’s my dream, and I mean to live it.

She felt better after eating breakfast, so she went to school, and so far I have not had a phone call from the school reporting puking. So we’re cool. I guess.

Tonight is pack meeting for cub scouts. We’re going to eat cake. So that’s good.

Tomorrow night Princess Zurg and Sugar Daddy are going to the temple and the rest of us are going to Elvis’s basketball party. It’s the end of the season. So that’s good.

On Thursday I leave for California because it’s my dad’s 65th birthday on Saturday and my step-mother is throwing him a party. I am looking forward to the trip, but I haven’t really planned for it yet because I’ve been overwhelmed with thoughts of teacher-hitting and -possibly-murdering and suspensions and Abilification and scouts and cake and basketball and what to make for dinner and there’s also been a lot of laundry. Also, it is Dr. Seuss’s birthday on Friday and so the kindergarten is having Pajama Day.


So Girlfriend doesn’t actually own any pajamas. She did have some Thomas the Tank Engine pajamas, but they disappeared into thin air several weeks ago, and I have not been able to locate them. We even looked for them extra-hard once we found out that there was going to be a Pajama Day (HEAVY, PUT-UPON SIGH), but to no avail. I know what you’re thinking: So what has Girlfriend been sleeping in, if not pajamas? Answer: Not the buff. She just wears clothes to bed. Comfortable clothes, but not to be confused with pajamas, and therefore not a believable outfit for Pajama Day. So I went to the Target to look for pajamas, but being that it’s February, all the pajamas in stock are shorts, not long pants, because in Retail World, summertime starts in January. In the Pacific Northwest I shall not be sending my children outside the house in shorts until mid-July. Which is about when they’ll start selling heavy winter coats again, so I should make a note to pick one of those up then. Anyway, I got off the subject. I also went to Old Navy, which doesn’t sell pajamas, and I even went to Ross Dress for Less, which doesn’t sell children’s pajamas except for babies. So that was disheartening.

Today I had to go to Macy’s to buy fancy soap for my face, and while I was there I looked for pajamas. No love. So then I went to Kohl’s, where I eventually found something suitable. Ideally, I would have gotten her new Thomas pajamas, since they would match her Thomas slippers and her Thomas blanket, but there weren’t any Thomas pajamas to be found, so instead I got her Scooby-Doo. Of course, I had to go to the boys’ section because all they sell in the girls’ section is Pepto Bismol-hued princess stuff and stuff that says “Mommy’s Little Cupcake Sweet as Can Be” and crap like that. I mean, she is my little cupcake, sweet as can be, but jeez, she’s already going to school in her intimate apparel; let the girl keep some of her dignity.

While I was at the Kohl’s I remembered that I forgot to bring the belt that PZ gave to SD for Christmas and I’ve been meaning to return because it didn’t fit then, and since he’s lost 20+ pounds, it certainly doesn’t fit now. I just don’t shop at Kohl’s very often. It was doubtful that I could have returned it anyway, however, since I’ve lost the receipt and do they have a 60-day return policy or a 90-day, I can’t remember. Whatever. I think the best I could have hoped for was an exchange (which was all I wanted), but they appear not to carry that brand anymore anyway, so whatever. I bought him a new belt. Much smaller than the old belt. It was on clearance, so it sort of makes up for me wasting money on a belt he’ll never wear and I’ll never return. Kind of. Maybe I’ll just keep the old belt for those days when he feels bloated. Ha ha. If I see him start to put the weight back on, I can say, “Do I have to get out your fat belt, honey?” You know, just to be supportive of his new lifestyle.

Here are the things I have to do before I leave town:

1. Figure out what the weather is supposed to be in California. I mean, as I recall, February in Southern California is pretty warm, but it’s been a long time since I’ve actually experienced a SoCal February. I don’t know. It’s impossible to predict the weather in Oregon; you just have to be prepared for anything. But California tends to be pretty predictable.

2. Touch up my roots. I have this patch of grey by my right temple that looks like a bald spot from a distance. I don’t like that.

3. Remember how many ounces of liquid I’m allowed to carry on the plane. Now that I’m all high-maintenance with the fancy Macy’s soap and the conditioner that I have to buy off the interwebs, it makes travel a little more complicated. But I don’t want to check a bag.

4. Remember that PZ has piano lessons today. A piano lesson, that is. Just one. Approximately 50 minutes from now.

I was hoping for a couple hours of peace and quiet this afternoon, but instead I had to pick up Princess Zurg from school because she’s been suspended, and I’ve been listening to her moan about her horrible life while I eat the rest of these Pringles and don’t let her have any.

I have compassion fatigue.

Although I could talk about turkey literally. My husband smoked a turkey in his new smoker that he got for Christmas. That was a week ago. We did not eat enough of this smoked turkey, nor did we store it appropriately. Some of it shall therefore be wasted. It’s a depressing topic, which is why I suggested we stick to the metaphorical turkey-talking.

I just didn’t have a better title for this post. Because I’m not sure where it’s going. I’m pretty sure I’m going to start talking about my personal problems, though. Not personal like “TMI,” just personal like “not that interesting to you.” But here you are anyway, so let’s begin.

Here’s a dilemma: Princess Zurg wants to join an after-school club. It’s called the Girls Club. I don’t actually know what it’s all about, except that probably only girls belong to it. I know that they put on a fashion show every year. We went to it last year because one of PZ’s BFFs is in the club, and she was in the fashion show. I think the point of the fashion show is for the girls to use their creativity–take something old and make it new, create ensembles, blah blah, whatever. It’s kind of cute, if a bit uncomfortable. Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, I think PZ would enjoy participating in the fashion show, if nothing else because, in case I’ve never told you–and it’s possible I never have, even though it seems absurd that I never have, but I can be absurdly negligent in my information-dispensing–PZ is really into fashion. Like, “alternative” fashion. I think she would rock a fashion show. She would also be among the minority of participants whose bra straps are not visible. Seriously, when did it become okay for middle-schoolers (as opposed to Madonna or grown-up slutty types) to exhibit their bras to general public? Clearly it is not accidental or incidental bra-showing. I don’t see any ratty, gray-and-dingy bras hanging out. They’re all colorful and in good repair, and definitely out there. Is the new retail variety in bras a cause or an effect of this trend? In any case, I don’t think I like it. I mean, I appreciate a bright-green polka-dot bra as much as the next person, but I really think bras should stay semi-private. Only your lovers, doctors and community-dressing-room compadres should get to see them. Unless you are a bra model. And middle-school girls should not have lovers or be bra models. Call me an old crank. I am an old crank. And I make an end.

So back to the dilemma. PZ wants to join this club, but as the ever-contrary universe would have it, the club meets Wednesdays after school, which is when PZ has her standing appointment with her psychologist. Are you aware of how difficult it is to secure a regular, after-school appointment with anyone, let alone a psychologist who treats adolescents? I’m sure you’re aware, now that you’ve thought about it for two seconds. Anyway, we’ve discussed this dilemma with her psychologist, who has been encouraging PZ to get involved with more extracurricular activities. Predictably, her only other after-school opening is on Tuesday, at exactly the same time I have to take Elvis to his social group, ten miles away, during rush hour. I’ve tried to wrap my brain around how I can get each of these children to their respective appointments at the same time on Tuesday during rush hour, but I just…can’t…quite…reach…No, there’s no way I can do this. Not without human cloning, and a) the science isn’t there yet and b) I have some ethical problems with that anyway.

Here are my options, as I see it:

Option A. Continue taking PZ to this psychologist weekly, on Wednesdays, and forget about the Girls Club.
Option B. Switch to taking PZ to this psychologist on an every-other-week basis, at an appointment time that is during school hours, possibly jumping the appointment time around so that she doesn’t miss the same class period every time (bearing in mind that the psychologist is in Freaking Tigard and there’s a 30-60 minute round-trip commute time, depending on traffic, to factor in).
Option C. Find a different therapist.

An Option D that isn’t science fiction has thusfar eluded me, but I’m open to suggestions.

This morning I asked PZ to rank these different options, and she ordered them Option B, Option C, Option A (Option A being the least appealing). We have (finally–finally) gotten PZ in to see a psychiatrist, and as of this morning we are increasing her medication dosage, which we hope will eventually result in a drastic improvement. However, she still needs the support of regular counseling, at least for now. Certainly while she’s transitioning to a therapeutic medication level. I’m not 100 percent certain that it needs to be weekly. Maybe biweekly is sufficient. But I hesitate. The current appointment time is not totally convenient (because we don’t get home until almost six, and Elvis has basketball practice at 6:15, and PZ has youth group at 7, bleeeeeaaahhhhhh), but it is nevertheless so precious (regular after-school appointment slots being so very rare) that I am loath to let it go. Bird in the hand, you know? I’d feel a fool to forsake it. And what if biweekly turns out not to be good enough. And I don’t want to be taking her out of school on a regular basis, but I don’t want her to miss a good social opportunity and I don’t want to change therapists when the current one is working so well.

And then there’s this other factor: What if she ends up hating Girls Club? She’s been known to want to do stuff and then turn out to hate it once she’s doing it. I’m going to give up a sweet after-school appointment slot for that? My brain is exploding with (negative) possibilities.

But does PZ deserve to be deprived of an opportunity because of what I’m afraid she’ll do? Possibly. But if we all got what we deserved, we’d all be pretty much screwed, wouldn’t we?

Tell me what to do, internet!

Well. That’s one moral dilemma down.

In other news, my laptop continues to work intermittently, so long as I don’t make it work too hard. As of now and for the foreseeable future, it is the only (semi-)operational computer in the house, so I have to share it. Well, technically, I don’t, but unless I want my life to be completely miserable, I have to share it. It’s okay. I mean, it’s not like I mean to be living on it or anything, but it does kind of suck when I want/need to use it and some rotten kid WHO HASN’T HAD A TURN ALL DAY is on it. Blerg. But that’s neither here nor there. I was going somewhere with this. Oh. I have been writing more, and very often I am doing it longhand because when the mood/opportunity strikes, someone else is on my laptop. Which kind of sucks, as I mentioned. But that brings me to where I was going. This laptop is certainly on its way out. It is losing the will to live. I’m not sure what’s keeping it holding on. It certainly isn’t so I can update our family blog because uploading pictures to Blogger = Working Too Hard. But whatever. Someday it’s going to just go gentle into that good night, and I need to be prepared. Which brings me to where I was going.

My husband bought this laptop for me a few years ago, to celebrate my first national publication. As it happens, that was also my last national publication–well, my last for money, anyway. (Not that it was a lot of money, but it was the principle of the thing.) I don’t want to think about how many years ago that was. Enough years ago that my laptop is now wearing out. (In fairness, I’ve used the crap out of it. I just haven’t published the crap out of anything. Not for money, anyway.) As a result of these circumstances and my contemplation thereof, I feel like I don’t really deserve a new laptop. I’ll take one, mind you–don’t misunderstand me. And I’ll complain about not having one. But on the occasion of receiving this particular laptop, I felt that I was on the cusp of a new stage of my career, and in retrospect I see that I was just on the crest of a random wave in my career. It is somewhat depressing. Did I already say that? I’m sure it bears repeating, even if I’ve said it a million times (which I’m sure I have, if not all in this one specific post). I need a new narrative surrounding my laptop ownership, but I’m too busy worrying about the PZ therapist/club thing and also the fact that she has an eye infection that won’t go away and I need to take her back to the doctor but there’s no TIME.

And there’s also no time to keep gabbing about this crap. I have to get Girlfriend on the school bus. Adieu, gentle readers, adieu.

Last night I read Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.  I didn’t like it.  Here are fewer-than-thirteen reasons why.

1.  For those of you unfamiliar with this popular YA novel, it is about a girl named Hannah who commits suicide, but before she dies she records six-and-a-half audio cassette tapes explaining her “thirteen reasons why” she did it–or rather, describing thirteen incidents with thirteen different people that led up to her committing suicide.  The book is alternately narrated by Hannah’s audiotaped voice and Clay, one of the thirteen people on the tapes, who is listening to Hannah’s audio tapes.  Does this make sense?  I feel like I’m making it more complicated than it is.  The premise is not so complicated:  You’re reading the words of Clay, who is listening to the words of Hannah.  So you alternate between Hannah’s narrative and Clay’s reactions to what he’s hearing.  The concept is simple enough;  the execution is somewhat flawed because it’s not like there’s a section where Hannah speaks and then a section where Clay speaks, but there’s a constant back and forth between the two.  My sister enjoyed the audiobook version of this novel, and I imagine that the audiobook version is superior if only because it is much easier to determine who is talking when, if the different characters’ words are spoken by different actors:  Boy Voice, Girl Voice, Boy Voice again, etc.–what could be clearer?  In the text version it’s Italics, Not Italics, Italics, Not Italics–who’s the Italics again?  Wait, was that one thing in Italics or Not Italics?  Italics.  Not Italics.  It’s more complicated than it sounds, or maybe it’s because I’m coming down with something and my brain is foggy, but I found the narration very confusing for that reason.

2.  Confusing narration is not a deal-breaker for me–I just finished my seventh Toni Morrison novel, and it took much longer than a single evening to read, but I plugged away at it, by golly, because I’m that way–but in addition to being insufficiently differentiated in their respective fonts, the characters in TRW were not particularly fleshed out.  Again, this is where an audiobook version would be really helpful, since actors would be dramatizing everything and making it all…dramatic…you know, making the characters seem more like real people.  Reading the plain old slanty-letters/non-slanty-letters version, I never felt like I really knew these characters, much less cared about them, which brings me to Another Reason Why.

3.  Hannah’s story is very sad.  It’s sad because some kids were mean to her, and she ended up killing herself.  Suicides are almost always inherently sad, or sad by default.  At the same time, because she never seemed like a real person–i.e. I never really understood where she was coming from or what made her tick–her suffering didn’t seem all that real to me either.  Now that’s just cold, isn’t it?  She killed herself and I’m like, “Meh.”  No, it was actually more like this:  Some kids did some mean stuff sometimes, but I did not have a picture of what her daily life was like, at school or at home (there was some technically-non-zero amount of information on her home life, but it was not useful), so although she explained how Incident 1 led to Incident 2 which led to Incident 3 and so on, and certainly all of these incidents sucked, I did not get a sense of their cumulative effect on her life or her psyche.  She told me she was overwhelmed and hopeless, but I didn’t really believe her, even though she was clearly dead now because of it.

4.  But here’s the real thing:  Her suicide was a calculated means of revenge against everyone who had wronged her.  I can see how such a plot would energize and motivate a person, but it still came off as exquisitely cruel.  And yes, I realize I’m talking about a dead girl (albeit a fictional one) who was the victim of bullying.  But it seemed like she gave at least as good as she got.  She would lay traps for people, including, in the end, one completely innocent person she used to render her suicide Totally Justified.  All of which made me think, “Really, Hannah?  Why don’t you just grow up?”  But of course, she can’t.  She’s dead now.  And it’s all everyone else’s fault.

Honestly, it kind of bothered me.  I know how the adolescent mind works.  I have an excruciatingly vivid memory of my own adolescence.  Adolescence sucks.  Feeling like you’d be better off dead, likewise, sucks.  I understand all that, so I feel like I should be more sympathetic.  But I’m just not, and it bothers me.

Before you start getting too worried, let me reassure you that all of this is not over a mere YA novel.  It’s more complicated than that.  Because I have been the mother of a troubled adolescent girl for a few years now, and let me tell you, THAT sucks.  It sucks to have this excruciatingly vivid memory of how much adolescence sucks and how much clinical depression sucks (that last part is not so much a memory, but I remember having clinical depression at that age, too, and it SUCKS), and to know that there is nothing in your power to change that for your child.  You can listen, you can make (lame) suggestions (and know that they’re lame), you can take them to therapy and buy them pharmaceutical support, but the bottom line is that the will to live and the will to keep trying is all on them, not you.  Your adult perspective is all well and good for you, but it’s useless to them.  They have to get their own.  And in the meantime you feel frustrated and helpless, and that makes you angry.  And sometimes just plain annoyed.

That’s how you find yourself thinking things like, “Gah, just grow up already!”



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