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Well, it’s the first blog post of 2017, kids. I know you thought I was never coming back. Or maybe it was I who thought you were never coming back. You may still not be here! But I am, and herewith I kick off what is sure to be a glorious year of amateur blogging!

Actually, it’s not necessarily sure to be glorious. But it always has been amateur, and there’s no reason to suspect it will ever stop being so. And with that, let the glorious year begin.

Maybe it won’t be a glorious year, but a magical year. Which would you prefer? Myself, I can’t decide.

What can I tell you that you don’t already know? I had a pretty good holiday season. I still refer to it as the “holiday season” because I’m a loyal foot soldier in the War on Christmas. Also, I don’t think I’ve posted since before Thanksgiving. I’m lucky to be getting this under the wire for Martin Luther King Day.

Talking of which, I still haven’t taken down the Christmas tree. (It’s part of my War on Christmas, to make the Christmas tree part of all of my holiday celebrations, just so I don’t have to put it away.) I know folks who put away the Christmas decorations on December 26. I don’t even understand that. I guess that maybe goes well with the tradition of Boxing Day? I mean, I know Boxing Day is when you box up stuff to give to the poor, but as long as you’re boxing up for the poor, you may as well box up your Christmas decorations? It seems reasonable, from a theoretical standpoint. But only if you’re the industrious, non-lazy type. When it comes to how long the Christmas tree stays up, I’ve always taken my cue from the soap operas, which always have their characters attending New Year’s Eve parties where a Christmas tree is still prominently displayed. If it’s good enough for the folks on Days of Our Lives, it should be good enough for us, I think. I suppose it should be kosher (so to speak) to keep the Christmas tree on display through Epiphany, but after that it does seem a bit gauche.

So yeah, I’ll start being embarrassed by the Christmas tree sometime after Saturday. My annual goal is to have it down by Valentine’s Day, and I usually make that. Low expectations are the secret to my success. (You’re welcome. That first one was free.)

In the past, I have not done well with New Year resolutions. I’ve decided that this year I am not going to make any big changes in January. If at some point during the middle of the year I decide that a change is in order, I will feel free to pursue that avenue. That’s the phrase that just popped into my head. “Pursue that avenue”—does anyone even say that? It rhymes. People ought to say it. But that’s neither here nor there. I don’t have any specific goals for this year until I get to December.

In December I resolve that I will not do any Christmas shopping the week before Christmas. It matters not if the Christmas shopping is finished or unfinished at that point. What matters is that I don’t go Christmas shopping during that last seven days before Christmas. Not because it’s crowded and stressful and I’m more likely to get into a car accident (although I have had two pre-Christmas car accidents in two years; maybe my other December resolution should be to avoid driving), but because the closer I get to Christmas, the more desperate I become to find a gift, any gift, to give the loved one(s) for whom I am shopping, and the more unreliable my judgment becomes. To wit, about three days before Christmas I was in a Bed, Bath & Beyond, where I seriously considered buying a set of Football Corn Holders. In my defense, they were on clearance, and they did have the University of Oregon logo on them. But that is not a defense that would stand up in the Court of Christmas Craptastrophes. If I were actually in court, I would go with an insanity defense, which, luckily, is a scenario that popped into my mind before I crossed that particular line. I left the Bed, Bath & Beyond shaken, and without any gifts, but grateful to have survived such a close call.

I really should probably not leave the house at all that last week before Christmas, but that may not be practical. Baby steps.

But back to January. My kids are back in school, except for Princess Zurg, who goes back next week. Have I mentioned that PZ is in college now? Do you know that when I started this blog, she was in kindergarten? Just mentioning that makes me feel like I should rethink my life, so I’m going to change the subject now.

What else happens in January? The presidential inauguration, I guess. On second thought, let’s talk about how I should rethink my life. I’ve decided that I need to get a job. I don’t know yet what it’s going to be. My husband went to the bank today, and he said while he was there, he thought about how if I got a job, I should try the bank. I don’t remember any of his reasoning, except that I’m a woman. I have noticed that bank employees, especially bank tellers, tend to be disproportionately female. I don’t know why this is. Frankly, I’m not sure my female traits are at bank-teller level, but it’s something to strive for.

And I think we’ll just leave things there for now. Happy 2017, gentle readers! I’ll probably see you again after the Christmas tree is down.

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I know I promise fiction tomorrow (which is today, so in other words, I promised fiction today), but two days ago I said I’d talk about my stupid low-carb diet and that’s what I’m in the mood to talk about today, so that’s what I’m doing.

I know I said, after my restrictive jaw surgery recovery diet was finally over, that I would never go on another diet again as long as I lived, that I would rather be fat, but I changed my mind. Not that I’m fat (yet). That’s the problem. It’s not that I’m fat (unless you’re looking for a runway model, in which case, sure, I’m a whale); it’s that I have a fear of becoming fat. Which sounds very fat-shaming, now that I actually type it out loud. I don’t think I have unrealistic expectations for how my body should look. I know I’m 45 years old and I will never have tight abs (or any abs) and my butt will always be big. I know I’m not going to be 130 lbs. again in this lifetime, and that’s okay. I had four kids, my husband still finds me attractive, and I’m not planning to have a second career in Hollywood. But I have put on about ten pounds in the last year (which is my net gain–not my Bridget Jones losing-and-gaining-back gain), which is not a big deal, except that the last time I weighed this much, I was pregnant (which was ten years ago), and I don’t want to gain ten pounds every year. That means if I live another 20 years, I will gain 200 more pounds, which will put me at a weight I’ve never been, even while pregnant. Unacceptable!

I think you are probably starting to see now what I’m about. It isn’t rational to fear that because one is four pounds over the most she said she would ever allow herself to weigh, one must necessarily be on track to gain 200 pounds in 20 years. In fact, my metabolism is probably overdue for slowing down. Aforementioned metabolism was pretty darn awesome for the first 35 years of life, which encouraged some unfortunate dietary habits, which have continued unabated even as the metabolism has decided that it’s had enough of the rat race and will now retire to a beach in Tahiti where it will lie in the sun and drink the drinks with the little umbrellas in them, now and forever. If only my body could enjoy my metabolism’s retirement, which sounds pretty dreamy, if you like the beach, but also very fattening. My metabolism doesn’t have to buy new clothes, because it’s not literally an anthropomorphic entity literally residing on a beach, which is probably clothing-optional anyway because why not? The metaphor itself is probably what needs to be retired at this point.

So, yes, it is normal to put on weight at my age, and I am not obese, despite what the BMI charts expect me to believe. I have eyes; I can see I am not obese. I can also see that there are lots of women out there who weigh at least as much as I do and look just fine, feel just fine, and lead happy and productive lives. Perhaps if I led a happy and productive life, I would not feel the need to weigh less than a particular number. I can still wear most of my clothes. The only clothes I can’t wear anymore are clothes I’ve had since my early twenties, and yes, I probably should just get rid of them, but I have a sentimental attachment to my plaid skirt and cannot face the possibility–strikeout–reality that I will never wear it again. Especially since I’ve never seen another plaid skirt of its kind in my size. Maybe when I do, I will let go of the dream and allow some other, thinner person at the Goodwill to know the joy of this particular garment. I can see Marie Kondo shaking her head and rolling her eyes at me, but you know what? Until Marie Kondo figures out a way I can get everyone else in my household to toss the items that don’t spark my joy, I am keeping my too-small-but-fabulous plaid skirt and she can kiss my big toe. (A humorous reference to my considerable butt was too obvious.)

Have I spent all this time trying to justify going on a diet or trying to justify going off my diet? This is only day 5 of the diet, mind you. I’m not starving. It’s not a stupid diet. It’s a very reasonable diet and will probably make me healthier. I want to be healthier because that is the main reason I don’t want to get fat. I am not a fit person. I’ve been tap dancing and clogging for more than a decade, and I still can’t run up the stairs inside my own house without my legs screaming at me afterwards. I can’t run on level ground for more than probably 30 seconds without stopping to catch my breath–and then I can’t start again. I’m old and everything hurts, and all I can think is that the more I weigh, the harder it will be to do all the things I really shouldn’t have this much trouble doing. I hurt my back in December and finally went to the doctor a couple weeks ago. She sent me to the physical therapist, who has assigned me some simple, very low-impact core-strengthening exercises. I used to joke that my abdominal muscles just disappeared with my last pregnancy, but I’m beginning to think that is actually what happened because these simple, very low-impact core-strengthening exercises are murdering me. I feel like I should get an x-ray or something and see if the abdominal muscles are really still there and make sure they haven’t become empty husks or something. I can still suck in my gut, so in theory I must have some abdominal muscles, yes? I just don’t get it.

I just want a peanut butter sandwich. I want a peanut butter sandwich because I’m sad and I’m more sad that I can’t have a peanut butter sandwich. I wouldn’t even need jelly, just peanut butter. I wouldn’t even need two slices of bread, just one. And a glass of milk. Not skim milk, real milk. But that would be one-third of my allotted calories for the day and the calorie-counting app I downloaded for my phone would scold me in red letters about my fat intake. It just isn’t worth it. (I hate being scolded, especially in red letters! It’s a pretty useful app otherwise, if you like that sort of thing.) And I need to get off my butt and exercise now if I want to be in the black at the end of the day, so I will quit typing now, as typing doesn’t burn calories (unfortunately).

You know what else ought to burn calories but doesn’t? Making salads. What a time suck. But I digress. Gentle readers, adieu.

Remember several months ago, when I started answering a series of 36 questions found in this New York Times article? If so, I bet you thought I’d just given up on that. Well, I haven’t! I just decided to take a half-year-long break. Or something. But look, we’re already on question 13:

If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

This is a tricky question. I would not want to know the future. I’ve read/seen too many of those time travel books/movies; I know that nothing good can come of knowing the future. That’s the Monkey’s Paw law. Call it Monkey’s Law. Except it’s Monkey’s Paw, so you may as well call it that. I suppose there’s always the idea that you can bet on the World Series or something and make a killing, but to me that doesn’t seem very sporting. So forget the future.

As for the truth about myself and my life, well, what is there to know? I feel like I’m pretty self-aware. I suppose I would like to know what I could do with my hair to make it look better. I might ask, “Is it even possible to make my hair look better?” Or “Should I just get one of those short haircuts like Janine Turner used to have that first season of Northern Exposure, not because it will look good but because it won’t look any worse than what I already have and I’ll finally have a low-maintenance hairstyle?”

Along those same lines, I might ask it which lipstick shade is right for me. I’m having a lot of difficulty with this issue right now. I had the perfect shade of lipstick, and I ran out of it and they don’t make it anymore, and I’ve bought, like, fourteen shades of lipstick since then, and none of them is right. It’s incredibly frustrating.

I might also ask, “What do I need to do to get rid of these plantar warts?” I’ve had them since the summer of 2002, and the last time I went to the doctor to have them frozen, she basically said that it was pointless because they would just come back again. I’ve considered going to a podiatrist or something. I mean, a podiatrist wouldn’t tell me it was pointless to treat my plantar warts, right? He or she would at least try to get some money out of me. But if I had a crystal ball that would tell me the truth, I would know if I were wasting my time (and money–well, the insurance company’s money, probably).

To be honest, my plantar warts don’t bother me most of the time, possibly because I’ve gotten used to them, but the fact of them bothers me a great deal. What I’d really like to know is what is this thing growing underneath my toenail on my left foot because that is a real mystery. It’s probably a wart or something, and yes, I should probably just go to the doctor and have it looked at. At first it hurt like a melon farmer–I thought I’d bruised it somehow, maybe my clogging shoes were too tight, who knows–and I thought my toenail was going to fall off. But then it stopped hurting, and my toenail never fell off. It just got hugely misshapen and there was obviously this thing growing there that had never been there before. I know what you’d like to ask the crystal ball: Why in hell’s name has Mad not gone to the doctor yet? Is she some kind of idiot? Answer: maybe. Actually, I have nothing against going to doctors. I just have something against making appointments for going to the doctor. It’s the same reason I haven’t had a haircut in eleven months. (No, it’s not because my doctor cuts my hair. But I also have to make an appointment to get a haircut. I hate making appointments. That’s my problem.)

I did manage to make an appointment yesterday for a haircut. On Wednesday I made an appointment for a mammogram. I hope both turn out equally well. I hope I do not get the haircut equivalent of cancer, in other words. Or the breast equivalent of a bad haircut. I’m not sure what the latter would be, but it seems like something to be avoided.

Did I ever tell you about the time I had to get a breast ultrasound and the technician was a man? That was unexpected. I mean, it was okay. Having my first baby sort of destroyed any preciousness I had about the sanctity of my body, and I’d had three more babies since then, so my capacity for embarrassment had dwindled to almost nothing. But, you know, it’s unusual, isn’t it? The Breast Health Center skews pretty heavily female, like a maternity ward. I’ve never even met with a male radiologist. But this ultrasound technician was a dude, and he was a relatively young guy. I can just imagine that looking at middle-aged breasts all day had always been his dream job. Anyway, he was nice. (As one would hope anyone who touches your breast would be.)

I seem to have gotten off the topic. I can’t think of anything else I would like to ask the crystal ball. Oh, except maybe “what career should I pursue?” It doesn’t have to tell me whether or not I would be successful. As I said, I don’t want to know the future. But I could use some ideas.

I’ve decided that September is a good time to make resolutions, rather than New Year’s, because it’s when the kids all leave the house for a few hours a day and I have some space to think about how I might make life improvements. Also, it’s nearing the end of the year, and if my September resolutions fail, there’s always New Year’s just around the corner.

This decision comes after months of procrastinating–no, make that years. Years of procrastinating getting on with my life now that I’m no longer changing diapers and breastfeeding and cutting up people’s food all my waking hours. Well, I sometimes still cut up people’s food. But not as much as I used to. Technically, I’ve made this decision about a billion times since my youngest started first grade, but it’s the implementation that I’ve procrastinated. Of course, the resolutions are always changing. One day they’re modest, the next unrealistic, the next somewhere in between. The problem is that I can’t seem to accomplish anything, regardless of how small the as-yet-hypothetical accomplishment may seem.

Which means that while I started this post with the intention of talking about resolutions, writing that last paragraph pretty much talked me out of ever trying to do anything ever again.

So if you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to since I got jaw surgery and fell off the face of the (virtual) earth (or, you might say I virtually fell of the face of the actual earth, I don’t know), that’s pretty much it. When I’m not numbing my pain with frivolous, non-productive activities or the reassuring routine of laundry and dishes, I am more or less losing hope of contributing meaningfully to society ever again.

Since my family is supposed to be more important than anything else I have to do with, hopefully my children will do better with their lives than my own example has taught them. (That was meant to be a sardonic comment, although I do hope my children engage life more successfully than I have. Fortunately, only one of them seems to have inherited my mental instability so far. So, you know, #hopeisalive.)

I’m afraid they’re all going to turn out to be crappy housekeepers. Let me give you a quick update on our experiment with firing the housekeepers: All of my worst fears have come true. I’ve known for the last several years that the main argument for keeping the housekeepers rather than doing the housekeeping myself was the enforced schedule. I knew I could never maintain a schedule on my own. I would need the support of everyone else in the family, and since that support did not seem to be forthcoming, I kept paying professionals to come clean my house even though they sometimes didn’t do such a great job and preparing for their visits was causing me to have mini-nervous breakdowns fortnightly. When the kids took over the bulk of the chores that the housekeepers once did, it seemed to work out pretty well for the first five months. I was astonished, actually, at how well it was working out, and I was so much less stressed than I was when I had the housekeepers.

Then in June I had the jaw surgery, and that was the week I stopped vacuuming regularly. I was absolutely unable to vacuum that week because I was unable to do just about anything but drink things through a straw and lie in bed and be miserable. That was okay. Anyone can afford to skip vacuuming for a couple weeks. Unfortunately, two weeks later I was physically able to vacuum but still very tired and psychologically depressed because I was still in pain, not sleeping well, and the only thing I had to look forward to was drinking chocolate protein shakes. HIGHLIGHT OF MY DAY. So vacuuming was not on my list of things to do because basically nothing was on my list of things to do, including the tidying that should have preceded the vacuuming, including the nagging and threatening of the children that could have substituted for doing all the tidying. If I were a good parent, instead of a hopeless one, I would have insisted that children could not do x (desirable task) before doing y (undesirable task). The trouble was, it was summer, and the kids were always around, and the only thing I wanted more than for them to do their (and my) chores was for them to get out of my face for a while. So if they got invitations to go with friends somewhere, off they went, even if they hadn’t done their chores, because I was too tired and unhappy and hungry to listen to them whine and complain about anything, let alone EVERYTHING.

Eventually, after what felt like the longest six weeks of my life that didn’t include high school P.E., I was able to eat real food again, and that’s when things should have gotten better, since at least I was no longer hungry. If you have enough to eat, you should have enough energy to do whatever needs to be done. Unfortunately, by that time the house was in so much disarray and the constant presence of other people was driving me so crazy that I didn’t even know where or how to start getting everything under control again. The thing about dependent children is that they always need things (hence the term dependent). Every time I thought about cleaning the kitchen (or whatever), I’d think about how I would start doing something and someone would inevitably need me to drive them somewhere or make them a sandwich or play Monopoly with them or explain the meaning of life or whatever, and that would disrupt my flow and everyone’s-just-going-to-mess-it-up-anyway-so-why-bother–and I just wouldn’t begin. Well, there’s no surer way to accomplish nothing than by not beginning in the first place, so you see where I went wrong. I’m not making excuses. I’m explaining myself.

The solutions to my problems are obvious. Even I can see them. It’s the execution that’s elusive. Probably because I’m deliberately avoiding it.

The thing I hate about housework is not the cleaning and scrubbing. (Well, except for the shower and the bathtub. I freaking hate cleaning the shower and the bathtub. I’d rather scrub a million toilets.) Cleaning and scrubbing feel like actual accomplishments. It’s the management of possessions that overwhelms me. Six people live in this house, and I’m in charge of managing all of their possessions. I can already read the comments: “You should not be in charge of managing all of their possessions. Everyone should be responsible for managing their own possessions.” Yes, but you’re describing the world that ought to be, and I’m describing the world that is, so bear with me.

Earlier this year–or maybe it was last year–I read somewhere about a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and I got it into my head that I should read it because maybe, unlike every other book about organizing and changing your life, this one would actually be magical. I don’t know what hallucinatory drug I was under at the time–aside from the fact that books about organizing rarely tell me anything I don’t already know, I learned from actually visiting Japan that I don’t have a culturally-Japanese bone in my body–but whatever it was, it couldn’t have been too debilitating because I didn’t actually buy the book, but I put myself on the three-mile-long waiting list at the library because let’s face it, the odds were against it being actually magical. You might say I left it to fate. By the time it was my turn to borrow this allegedly-magical book, I was already completely free of my delusion. In fact, I’d considered taking myself off the waiting list several times, but for some reason I didn’t, and because I actually had the maybe-magic book in my possession now, it seemed foolish not to actually read it.

Well, I read it, and let me tell you, this woman has a lot of great ideas for decluttering and organizing your life if you live alone. I can see it working perfectly for someone who only has to manage her own possessions. It is completely unworkable for someone who has to manage (to at least some extent) six different people’s possessions and whose management style of her own possessions is partially dependent on the fact that she has five other people’s management lifestyles to compensate for. The guiding principle seems profound and life-changing, initially: Don’t keep anything in your life that does not spark joy. Well, sure. Why would you want anything in your life that doesn’t spark joy? Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t have a choice about keeping things in your life that don’t spark joy. She acknowledges this, I think, at some point. I would hate to mischaracterize her writings or her philosophy. I think she accounts for things like toilet paper by reasoning backwards that a life without toilet paper would be significantly less joyful. Not that she actually writes about toilet paper. I’m just giving you an idea of how she might have dealt with such mundane essentials. Unfortunately, there are things other than mundane essentials that must stay in one’s life despite their failure to spark joy and despite their tendency to provoke actual sorrow. Here’s what’s on my living room floor right now:

A socket wrench–does not spark joy, but I assume my husband would be very upset if I just tossed it. I have no idea if my husband is responsible or not for it being on the floor, but there it is.

A three-hole punch–does not spark joy, but my joy is significantly dampened when I find myself, from time to time, needing a three-hole punch and being unable to find one. Up until looking down at the floor just this minute, I had been wondering where this particular three-hole punch had gotten off to. There isn’t a particularly good place for storing it because it’s kind of bulky and doesn’t fit in any drawers because there’s too much other crap in my drawers. I don’t know who left this three-hole punch on the floor, but I would be curious to know where they found it.

A USB cord–does not spark joy because I don’t recognize it as a USB cord to one of the devices that I use. I assume it belongs to one of my husband’s devices, but I don’t know which and I also don’t know why it’s on the floor, unattached to any device.

Princess Zurg’s jacket–sparks joy for Princess Zurg, but often gets left on the floor because it’s too much trouble to put away in the actual coat closet, which is jam chocky full of jackets and coats that spark varying levels of joy among different household members.

A Scooby-Doo Monopoly game and a Duckopoly game–spark joy for Elvis, who loves Monopoly in all its forms. Does not spark joy for me personally, as I dislike Monopoly more than almost any other game on earth, but I assume it’s on the floor because there is not enough room in the game cabinets (yes, we have more than one) to fit all of the Monopoly games we own, let alone all of the other board games we own. Some games are just always going to live on the floor, until we get rid of some games or get rid of some bath towels and bed sheets and convert the linen closet into a game cabinet.

Mister Bubby’s leather portfolio–does not spark joy for me; used to spark joy for Mister Bubby, even though the zipper broke on it about a year or so ago, but he had to switch to an ordinary three-ring binder because the Organizational Nazis at his high school have decreed that everyone needs to have the same organizational system regardless of personality or preference. Granted, this new organizational systems is probably better than his previous organizational system (stuff everything in the leather portfolio until it gets too full and then cull and start over again, looking classy all the while because it’s leather and doesn’t fall apart like your traditional three-ring binder, except for the zipper thing)–but MB has always been very sentimental and doesn’t like to let things go, even after they are no longer of use to him. He also doesn’t like to put things away.

A children’s magazine–does not spark joy for me, but sparks some joy for Girlfriend, who actually reads it. Unfortunately, she likes to keep all of her magazines rather than recycle them (unless she’s actually outgrown them, like with her Thomas the Tank Engine magazine–I tossed a bunch of them last spring, it was awesome). In her defense, she does actually re-read them. However, there is not enough space in this house to store all the reading material any one of us might re-read someday. This is the number one reason I bought a Kindle. Actual books used to spark joy for me, before I started drowning in my own (and everyone else’s) possessions. My Kindle is probably the one thing standing between me and literal suffocation. (Yes, literal. I was an English major. It’s been good for one thing.) It is the one area in which I have been able to stem the tide of material acquisition.

Princess Zurg’s old tap shoes–have always sparked joy for me because they’re cute and remind me of why I took up dancing late in life, but I should probably get over it because Girlfriend’s feet finally got too big to wear them (and theoretically learn to tap dance) and they’re just taking up space on the floor because there isn’t room in our shoe shelves to hold all the shoes we actually wear, let alone the shoes no one can wear. So here is the one object I have named thusfar that actually sparks joy for me, and it is the one object I have decided I should actually get rid of.

I see that this post is now over 2,400 words. If it were hard copy, it would be sucking the joy right the hell out of me.

 

So this morning I had all of my premolars pulled–or, as my dentist so delicately put it, “gently persuaded” (to come out). They gave me some nitrous oxide, along with the Novocaine. I have this much to say about nitrous oxide: Yes, please. Also: Please, more. I could have laid in that chair all day getting teeth gently persuaded. It was that awesome. Fortunately, my dentist only extracted the teeth my orthodontist asked him to extract. And I went home, comfortably numb. And drooling.

I showed the extracted teeth to my husband, who showed them to Elvis, who seemed genuinely grossed out. I will not be posting pictures.

My mouth still tastes like blood. I can take more ibuprofen in about…24 minutes. I look forward to that.

The good thing about getting my teeth pulled on Presidents Day: My husband was off work, so he could drive me to and from the dentist. The bad thing about getting my teeth pulled on Presidents Day: All the kids are off school, and they’re driving us crazy.

I was instructed to take it easy today. I’m trying to walk that fine line between taking it easy and appearing lazy. The appearance of laziness is not well-received in this household. I don’t think I am succeeding. Walking the fine line, I mean. I suppose I should just give up walking and go ahead and be lazy, as tomorrow laziness will not be permitted, nor will it be possible. (The housekeepers come on Wednesday.)

In other news, I’m pondering a career change. Not immediately, as I have another year and a half until my youngest is in school full-time. But these things require careful planning. And research. Right now I am researching jobs that don’t require me to interact with other people. The pickings are slimmer than you might imagine. I am definitely going to need to go back to school and major in whatever thing I should have majored in the first time if I wanted to live a life of usefulness and social isolation. I don’t even know yet if that major exists. But if it does, I will find it. This time my premolars will not be holding me back.

Thoughts tangentially related to Realistic Goal #1:

I ate only one piece of fudge yesterday.  I think.  I’m pretty sure.  It may have been two, but no more than that.  In any case, it was a number that I can count on one hand, which is an improvement over the last two weeks.  My willpower is a real Nurse Ratched, let me tell you.

Anyway, I was listening to Dennis Prager this morning, and he was talking about losing weight and cutting calories, blah blah, and he said that a small piece of cake is just as satisfying as a large piece of cake, and since we eat sweets for the satisfaction and not for the…whatever we eat real food for…I forget…then you may as well have the small portion of sweets instead of the large and be just as satisfied.  I have to tell you, Dennis Prager often has non-political insights on life that are provocative but true.  This one I do not buy.  A small piece of cake does not satisfy me as much as a large piece of cake.  If I eat a small piece of cake, what I’m thinking afterward is, “I want another piece of cake.”  I do not one cookie.  One cookie does not satisfy me.  I want several cookies.  One piece of fudge does not satisfy me.  If I’m trying to eat only one piece of fudge, I will probably just work harder to forget the experience of eating the second one.  That’s how my brain and taste buds work.

I should point out that there is this caveat:  the cake/cookie/fudge has to taste good in order to leave me unsatisfied with just one small piece.  If I have just one small piece of mediocre cake/cookie/fudge, I do not want more.  However, I am not actually satisfied, either.  I think, “I wish I could un-eat that and eat something else.  Preferably lots of it.”  This may be a symptom of a psychological problem, but I’m just telling you how it is.  I am not satisfied with just a small piece of anything that tastes good.  I suppose there is one exception.  I can chew a piece of gum about fifteen times and feel satisfied.  Aside from that, though, I like to participate in a food until my stomach finally puts its foot down and I hate myself.  Then, I am satisfied.  But not before that.

Now, do I habitually eat to the point of nausea and self-loathing?  Of course not.  Well, maybe that wasn’t an “of course not” moment, given what I just confessed to you in the preceding paragraphs.  Maybe it was more of an “I assure you, no” moment.  Well, I assure you, no, I do not habitually eat to the point of nausea and self-loathing.  What I’m telling you is that I frequently eat more of something than I ought to, and probably even more frequently go unsatisfied.  That’s what I’m telling you.  What I’m telling you is that Dennis Prager is wrong about cake.  That’s all.

Tangentially-related aside:  Speaking of radio personalities and food, I think I’ve blogged before about my weakness for John Tesh’s “Intelligence for Your Life” program.  I don’t know what it is.  It’s not like I listen to it habitually.  I hardly ever listen to it, but when it’s on, I find it irresistible.  Maybe it’s his soothing, familiar voice.  Maybe it’s all those random facts in fun-sized packages that are candy for my brain–I can’t have just one!  But anyway, I was in the car the other day, listening to the radio, and there’s John Tesh talking about how when you get the munchies during the day, it’s very tempting to go to the vending machine at work and buy something to satisfy said munchies but that something is usually not very healthy.  (He said it better; he’s a professional, I’m not.)  Anyway, that’s why he’s developed Intelligence For Your Life snack bars–healthy but convenient food to satisfy those mid-day cravings.  It’s intelligence for your stomach!  (He didn’t really say that; it just came to me.)

Princess Zurg was in the car with me at the time, and she couldn’t understand what I was cracking up about.  It was very difficult to explain how John Tesh-as-snack-food-entrepeneur was so amusing to me, but do you understand, gentle readers?  Anyway, end tangentially-related aside.

And now for something that is only tangentially-related if you’re inside my brain and have a front-row seat to the synapses firing.  I was reading Go Fug Yourself the other day and I found this picture of Rhianna (I think) wearing a blazer with nothing under it but some glittery pasties, and I thought…wow.  That is something.  I mean, on the one hand, really, it’s nothing.  I mean, famous people wear crazy crap all the time.  Lady Gaga wore a meat dress or something a while back.  I wasn’t really paying attention, but I remember thinking it was a step forward for her, as most of the pictures I see of her, she’s not wearing any pants.  Lots of famous ladies out there walking around without pants.  In the middle of winter.  There’s something going on there, gentle readers, and I’m not just talking about wanting attention.  There are lots of ways to get attention, even while wearing pants.  It can be done.  No, when I look at these young ladies in their pasties and g-strings, I’m not thinking, “Wow, what magnificent sluts you all are,” or “Some people will do anything for attention.”  I’m thinking, “There goes someone who is really insecure about her sexuality.”

Now, obviously, they have some form of security–it takes a certain amount of confidence to go around pantsless or topless (especially in the winter, and pretending like you’re not even cold), but it also takes a certain amount of neurosis, because seriously, what are you trying to prove?  I can’t even begin to comprehend that level of insecurity, and I’ve always fancied myself the Queen of All Things Insecure.  I guess on the one hand means that I know insecurity when I see it, but on the other, maybe I’m not fit to wear the crown after all because…seriously, no pants?  That’s hardcore.

These are extreme examples, of course.  Do you remember when I went to my high school reunion and I was talking about all the decolletage in the room?  At the time I thought, “I guess if it weren’t for these religiously-informed restrictions on how much skin I can show, this would be the stage of life where I told the world, ‘Hey, look at how great my boobs look after all these years.'”  Well, there’s the religiously-informed restrictions, and then there’s the matter of Gertrude Stein and there not being a lot of there there.  But I realize now that despite those two facts, this is nevertheless the stage of life where I tend to wear more form-fitting garments and tell the world, ‘Hey, isn’t it amazing what they’re doing with bras these days?'”  So, you know, it’s not pantslessness, but maybe it’s a variation on the same theme.

Well, whatever.  I reserve my right to look down on people who don’t wear pants in public.  It makes me feel better about myself.

Gentle readers, I am being summoned for a quick round of playtime with the pre-schooler before lunch, so I must bid you adieu.

My first realistic goal for 2011 is to eat better in January than I did in December.  Shouldn’t be too difficult, once all the fudge is finally gone.

….

On second thought, maybe that goal should read “eat better in February than I did in December or January.”

.

This morning I was singing, and Princess Zurg, as usual, was complaining about my singing.  She actually said, “I thought you were going to resolve not to sing so much anymore.”

“Why on earth would I make a resolution like that?” I asked.  “I’d have to break it every day of my life.”

“Well, maybe you could sing less around me.”

“I think I resolve to sing more, especially around you.  That’s a resolution I can keep.”

“No!”

So there’s my second realistic goal for 2011.  Yell less, sing more.  The singing is the key, gentle readers.  If I merely resolved to yell less, I would inevitably find myself wanting to yell more.  But if I replace yelling with singing, I can annoy my children just as much and wield far more influence over them.  I once got Mister Bubby to clean his room by singing “Beat It” on continuous loop until he just couldn’t stand it anymore.  Didn’t cost me a thing.

I just need to fashion myself a proper repertoire.

I’m on a roll here.

.

My Realistic Goals for 2011

1.  Eat better in February than I did in January or December.

2.  Yell less, sing more.

3.  Finish reading one of the books I started reading in 2010.

4.  Socialize with real people in real life, say, once a quarter.

And one slightly-unrealistic goal, just to keep me humble:

5.  Write more often than I floss.

.

These are the goals I will hold myself accountable for this year.  All of my other accomplishments will be gravy.  All of my other failures will be…well, they might be gravy, too.  I’ve never really understood that expression.

.

Suggestions for comments:

What are your realistic goals?  What songs do you think I should sing this year?

 

Mister Bubby:  I said three bad words today.

Madhousewife:  Oh, dear, what were they?

MB:  Well, it was the same word, only I said it three different times.  But only to myself.

Mad:  Yeah, let’s not say bad words to other people.

MB:  I don’t.  I just said it in my mind.

Mad:  What word was it?

MB:  It’s that word they say in Dad’s video game.  [spells it]

Mad:  Okay, yeah, try not to even think that word because it’s very easy to start saying.  It just sort of rolls off the tongue, unlike some other bad words we know.

MB:  Like the b-i-t-c-h word?

Mad:  It’s not necessary to spell it out every time.  “The B-word” will do.

MB:  What about [spells the mother of all bad words]?

Mad:  You can just call that the F-word.  The Super-F-word.

MB:  But “super” makes it sound like it’s good.

Mad:  How about the Super-Bad-F-word?

MB:  Okay.

Mad:  Don’t even think that one.

MB:  You know, R [his best friend] knows the U-word.

Mad:  What’s the U word?

MB:  I don’t know.

Mad:  When you find out, let me know.

MB:  Okay.

.


.

Elvis is really into spelling things lately.  (No, not b-i-t-c-h, fortunately.)  More to the point, he is really into having us spell things.  He wants us to spell just about everything.  Sometimes we have to spell everything twice.  For some reason, after he asks us to spell something, he has to inquire as to the whereabouts of a particular letter that has no business being in the word we’ve just spelled.  Usually it’s the letter E.  “Where’s the E in banana?  Where’s the E in Washington?”  Lately, however, when we’ve just spelled a word that has an E in it, he likes to ask about the letter F.

.

This morning I was helping him make an egg for breakfast, and he wanted to spell “egg.”  So we spelled “egg.”  Unfortunately, I am not a morning person and I have less patience for spelling things in the morning.

.

Elvis:  Where’s the F in egg?

Mad:  There is no F in egg.  It’s just E-G-G.

Elvis:  Where’s the F in egg?

Mad:  There is no F in egg!

It sounds wronger when you say it out loud.

.


.

I was going to forego New Year Resolutions for 2010–new decade, new New Year policy–but I decided I just couldn’t do that because it’s in my nature to promise myself that I’ll do things and then not do them.  I can’t seem to avoid it, so I may as well make it official.  This year I do NOT resolve to finish my novel, because you can only do that so many times before it starts to ring hollow.  This year I pretty much give myself permission not to finish my novel.  Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was 90, or something, so I have a lot of time left for that kind of foolishness.

.

This year I resolve to read all the books that I feel morally obligated to read because a) I have bought them, b) others have bought them for me (usually because I asked them to), or c) others have loaned them to me, and I feel awkward returning a book I borrowed but didn’t bother to read, which is why I still have it, even though the lender would probably much rather I returned the book than took three years to read it.  Just to keep my goal realistic, I will give myself the option of reading the borrowed books or just returning them without reading them, depending on my mood in 2010.  I may or may not try to fake having read them.  I haven’t decided yet.  All I know is that come December 31 of this year, I will no longer have Jasper Fforde clogging up my bookshelf, no offense to him.

.

I’m thinking, just off the top of my head, that I have at least 20 books on this list.  That’s a conservative, or rather, hopeful estimate.  The real number may be closer to 30.  But let’s call it 24, just for simplicity-of-math’s sake.  That means I will need to read two books per month, plus whatever books I have to read for book clubs and whatever serial-killer or chick-lit books I have to read because I’m going through a major depression, plus maybe books that just strike my fancy because they’re not books I feel morally obligated to read.  Do I think I can do this?  Yes, I think I can.  I deliberately used the Little Engine That Could reference instead of the Barack Obama “Yes, We Can” reference because it was more literary.  I’m succeeding already, kids, and it’s only the fifth of January.  Can I get an amen?

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This post was inspired by my sister‘s recent blog about her new purse.  I have not gotten a new purse.  I have the same old purse as I’ve had for the last…I don’t remember when I got it.  I think I’ve only actually had it a year or so, but it’s very similar to the last purse I bought, so it just seems like I’ve had it forever.  I became converted to the backpack style of purse several years ago because I have such a hard time with shoulder bag straps slipping off my shoulders, particularly when I’m trying to herd children around.  ‘Tis very annoying.  So this style of purse is not what I find aesthetically appealing–believe me, I know a cute bag when I see one, and this one is not particularly cute, though it is not particularly ugly, either–but I like it from a utilitarian perspective.  I am looking forward to the day when I can just go back to a simple shoulder bag.  When that day might be, I do not know.

Anyway, my sister’s post about her new bag and moving the contents from old bag to new bag reminded me that my old bag needed to be cleaned out again.  I try to do that every four to eight months, whether I need to or not.  I tend to stuff my purses full of both useful and useless crap that weighs me down in both body and spirit.  When I suspect that the useless crap is outweighing the useful crap, I decide it’s time to clean out the bag.  Then about a month or so later, I actually clean out the bag.

So here was what was in my bag when I opened it this morning:

Yeah, that’s a mess.  And the carpet is filthy, thanks for noticing.  (And this is the clean part of the filthy carpet, just so you know.)  I want to emphasize that ONLY what was in my purse is in this picture.  Right now you might be thinking, “Is that a…pair of pants?”  Why, yes.  Yes, it is!  But I can explain.

Here is what the contents of my purse looked like after I’d engaged in a little sorting:

And now you can really see how filthy the carpet is.  You’re welcome.  Yes, those are still pants, and yes, there are tampons in there, too.  I should have warned you earlier that I have no pride.  (Or shame.  But mostly no pride.)  For those of you with less-scrutinizing eyeballs, I shall present a typewritten inventory.

ALL THE FREAKING CRAP THAT WAS IN MY PURSE

  • Receipts (galore–they’re in the northwest corner)
  • Coupons that are either expired or which I will never use
  • 1 voided check
  • Grocery lists
  • To-do lists
  • Doctor’s instructions, including instructions for a prescription that I never actually filled
  • Ice Breaker sours
  • Instructions from Elvis’s speech therapist
  • Flyer for my tap instructor’s holiday tap show
  • 2008 Schedule for Princess Zurg’s girls’ group activities at the church
  • Credit card application with a grocery list written on the back
  • Target gift card
  • Temporary ID card for the old health insurance
  • 2 business cards
  • List of books I want to read
  • Napkin
  • Facial tissue I blotted my lipstick on
  • Dried-out wet wipe
  • Rice Krispie treat wrapper
  • Plastic bag that used to hold facial tissue
  • 2 ponytailers
  • 2 mostly-empty boxes of Tic Tac Freshmints
  • 14 loose Tic Tac Freshments
  • Online pharmacy statement
  • Child’s headband
  • Girlfriend’s pants (packed on a cold day when I was in a hurry and thought I could talk her into wearing pants later–I was mistaken)
  • 4 tampons
  • 2 maxipads
  • 1 pantiliner
  • 1 pack of Incredibles fruit snacks
  • 1 snack pack of M&M’s (bonus!)
  • Half a roll of Smarties
  • Sunglasses
  • Ziploc bag filled with emery boards and a pair of nail clippers (why did I need so many emery boards?  heck if I know)
  • 3 ball-point pens
  • Unused deposit slips
  • Old health insurance card for Princess Zurg
  • Cherry Coca-Cola-flavored lip balm
  • Stamps
  • Large hair clip
  • $12.66
  • $35 that actually belongs to Mister Bubby
  • Toothpick
  • Coconut lime hand lotion
  • 1 tube of lipstick (“Rose Bud”)
  • Nordstrom gift card holder (gift card missing)
  • Compact mirror
  • 1 pair of training pants for Elvis, who doesn’t wear training pants during the day anymore (WOO-FREAKING-HOO!)
  • Travel bag of Huggies wipes
  • 1 check to deposit ($7–those stock dividends are really paying out, you know?)
  • Facial tissue that is miraculously intact
  • 2 miniature flashlights
  • iPod plus earbuds
  • 2 Hotel for Dogs toys from McDonald’s, one still in plastic wrapper
  • 1 monthly planner (from 2009!)
  • 1 checkbook
  • 1 spiral notebook
  • 1 tithing slip plus two tithing envelopes
  • Prescriptions for Princess Zurg
  • Envelope containing our new health savings account debit cards
  • Nail clippers (another pair)
  • Tweezers
  • Tide to Go pen
  • Hot-pink wallet (you see it?  of course you do!)

Now, I know what you’re thinking:  a) that’s ridiculous, and b) where is my cell phone?  Well, it was upstairs charging.  But it’s charged now, so I put it in my then-empty purse, which is now-not-empty, along with only the most essential items from the above list.  And what might those items be?  Well, I can tell you it only included three tampons.  I mean, who needs four tampons in a single outing?  There’s prepared, and there’s just silly.  I also kept the M&M’s (obviously) and my wallet.  I tried to consolidate the Tic-Tacs into a single box, but the ones from the one box wouldn’t budge, so I just ditched that one.  I exchanged Elvis’s training pants for one of Girlfriend’s diapers.  Girlfriend does, unfortunately, still wear diapers, but give us a break, she’s only three.

And sorry there’s no picture of the old-but-freshly-and-less-ridiculously-packed purse, but I forgot to take one, so you’ll just have to use your imaginations.  The point is that I am to be congratulated.  And pitied–at least most of the time.  But today, congratulated.  Congratulations to me!

And just to up the entertainment value of this post, I shall include random quotage from Princess Zurg.

Princess Zurg:  Some people think that it’s embarrassing if everyone at school finds out who you have a crush on.  But you know what’s even more embarrassing?

Giraffemom:  What?

PZ:  Being naked in front of everyone!

GM:  Oh yes, that’s much worse.

PZ:  But you know what’s even more embarrassing?

GM:  What’s that?

PZ:  Telling everyone who your crush is while you’re naked!

And with that, gentle readers, adieu.

2008 is half-over, kids. Six months down, six to go. Normally at this time I would be lamenting how little I have accomplished this year, but is my normal mode of thinking healthy and productive? No. So this year I’m trying something different. Instead of thinking this year is half-over, I’m going to think of it as half-full. Today is the first day of the rest of my year. Good-bye, 2008: The Beginning. Hello, 2008: The Sequel. Now you’ll hear The Rest of the Story.

So here are my resolutions for this half of the year:

1. I will no longer be the stick figure in this cartoon.

Yeah, I’ve made this resolution before, but never on the actual internet. So now it’s a point of honor. I must be steadfast.

2. I will not waste time blogging when I could be doing something productive. Oops, too late. Well, there’s always next July.

3. I will color my hair my hair again. It’s only been twelve weeks since the last time.

4. I will work the phrase “There is no charge for awesomeness” into conversation frequently.

That’s all I got. What about you all?

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