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If anyone still reads this blog, and I doubt anyone does, you might have been wondering where I’ve been. Well, no, probably not. If you still read this blog, you’re probably related to me or something, and you know exactly where I’ve been. One of the places I’ve been lately is Twitter. “Why?” you might ask. Or probably more like, “In God’s name, why?” I don’t know, really. I don’t have a good excuse. I might have a couple of feeble explanations.

I opened a Twitter account ages ago, but I never used it very much because a) I’m really bad at restricting myself to 140 characters, and b) since it is basically an information firehose, I found it a little overwhelming (and frankly, annoying). I started using it regularly during the 2016 presidential campaign because a) I had a lot of political feels that were finding their way onto my Facebook (honestly, officer, I don’t know how those got there!), which I think is generally a bad idea, but b) I still had a lot of political feels that needed to go someplace, and I figured Twitter would at least restrict me to brief (if entirely too frequent) expressions of said feels.

Why did I not just go back to blogging? Well, I did write some political posts during the campaign (if you were here, you would have seen them), but I found myself getting so apoplectic that I couldn’t write very much that was coherent or lucid or worth reading. (So why did I still think I needed to say anything? Good question, gentle readers. I’ll have to ponder on that some more before I attempt to answer.) So I stuck with retweeting crap on Twitter and the occasional pithy “SIGH” or “WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?” As you can imagine, it had its reward.

But you can see how 140 characters just isn’t enough for me, right? Not even one of the new, beta 280-character accounts would be sufficient to hold all of my profound and totally smart musings.

So this is the context in which I have returned to this space for the gritty reboot of “I Am the Giraffe,” and by “gritty reboot” I mean that it’s probably going to suck–but, as another middle-aged woman with an unfortunate career trajectory once said, what difference, at this point, does it make?

What really inspired me to dust off the old WordPress login page is this Twitter hashtag #WhyIWrite. I stopped taking myself seriously as a writer a couple years ago. I know. It’s funny because I stopped being a serious writer long before that, but you know the old saying, the unserious writer is always the last to know. But this hashtag gave me some more unpleasant feels, of the non-political variety, because I do miss writing. And the real question for me is not “Why do I write?” but “Why don’t I write?”

I started blogging when my kids were still very young. I think Princess Zurg was six. Mister Bubby was three. Elvis was one. Girlfriend had not yet been thought of, except in the abstract sense of me thinking I might eventually have four children total (but certainly not more than four). I should have been too busy to write, but I found time to write blog posts, almost every day, for a very long time. I don’t remember spending tons of time writing individual blog posts. Which is not to say I wrote short blog posts, but that I basically just typed whatever I was thinking. There was not a lot of editing. Quelle surprise, I know. I don’t remember neglecting the children to accomplish this, and yet I find it so much more difficult to sit down and write a blog post anymore. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. Or maybe three. I dunno, let’s see what happens.

  1. I didn’t have time to do anything more than type whatever I was thinking. I didn’t have time to work on any of the writing projects I meant to work on when I had more time. When I started having more time to spend on writing projects I’d been neglecting, I felt guilty for spending time on blogging instead of the writing I’d claimed I really wanted to do, which brings me to my next point.
  2. Writer’s block is a real thing. It’s not a tragedy or something, but it’s a real psychological problem. My psychological problem is that I don’t know what’s going to happen next, and I’m afraid that whatever I put on the page (virtual or otherwise) is going to suck, and I just can’t face that. Which means that a) I’m a coward, and b) I’m the worst sort of coward because I’m deathly afraid of something that isn’t a life or death situation, which I suspect is because c) I’m actually incredibly lazy. It’s one thing to think you’ve come to terms with your character flaws because you have no trouble saying, “Yeah, haha, I’m a terrible human being,” because you know intellectually you’re a terrible human being, but until you’ve actually emotionally faced the reality of your deepest character flaw, you haven’t come to terms with anything. So long story short, I didn’t want to write blog posts because I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) write what I really wanted to write, but I was not ready to admit that figurative ship had sailed and would not be returning to port, so I wrote nothing. Because humans are dumb and make bad decisions, and so am/do I.
  3. This is secondary to my last point (can point #3 be secondary? well, it is), but I had a lot of inspiration when my kids were little. They did say the darnedest things, after all. Now they’re 19, 17, 14, and (very close to) 12, and while they still say (and do) the darnedest things, I’m more circumspect about writing about them because I feel they deserve their privacy. I mean, I don’t have a problem telling you about the funny thing my kid said the other day. (They do still say funny things.) But there’s a lot of other stuff that takes up space in the parenting neighborhood of my brain that just isn’t the general public’s business. It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it. Oh, man, you have no idea how much I’d like to talk about it. But I shouldn’t because it would be wrong. I’ve gone through a rather long period of parenting that has been emotionally exhausting, and writing about it might help–i.e., it might help me, but I don’t think it would help me more than it would hurt my child. So yeah, if this were Facebook, that would be some next-level Vaguebooking. This is blogging, so I guess it’s vagueblogging, but whatever. The point is it’s hard to muster energy to write about the funny thing my kid said the other day when I’m kind of obsessed with the stuff I can’t write about. (See above, laziness.)

But you know what? I’m tired of not writing. I’m tired of Twitter. Will I still go on Twitter? Of course I will. Like a dog to its vomit. I’m only human. But I’m not doing anything else. Well, laundry. I’m doing laundry. I’m doing the dishes too. Occasionally I even sweep the floor. (And I do mean occasionally. I thought about doing it today, but I’m here instead. Maybe tomorrow.) I run errands. I practice my clogging. I feel like I shouldn’t eat unless I’ve exercised that day. Does not exercising keep me from eating? Absolutely not. But I feel guilty the whole time I’m doing it, and that takes at least 30 percent of the pleasure out of it. But I digress. Where was I? (You haven’t missed this about me, have you?) Oh, yes. I’m not doing anything else. And I’m not apt to do anything better with my time. It would be rad of me to start volunteering and giving back to the community and crap, but I’m not yet that person. (I haven’t given up on the idea that I might be that person someday, but I’m at peace with the fact that I’m not yet that person. Which means I’ll probably never be that person, but I’m not admitting that yet. One deep character flaw confrontation at a time, kids!)

The best thing about blogging, back in the old days, was just putting stuff out there, knowing that anyone on earth could see it and also knowing that probably no one would. I don’t know what was so great about it, except that I kind of miss it. As my readership grew, blogging became more rewarding in many ways, but also more stressful. It’s always more stressful when people expect things of you.


So there’s this article on Fusion titled “Nameplate Necklaces: This s*** is for us” (alternate title: “White Girls: Stop wearing nameplate necklaces”). Obviously, I came across this article because I read Fusion all the time. Just kidding. Obviously, I came across this article because some other white person I follow on Twitter was drawing attention to how crazy it is to add nameplate necklaces to the list of things that are considered cultural appropriation. I’m not actually sure if there is a limit to what “should” be considered cultural appropriation. Being white, I can’t really understand what it’s like to have one’s culture appropriated. I suppose, as a woman who was born female, I can imagine it’s sort of like when Caitlyn Jenner wins Woman of the Year when she’s only been a woman for about 15 minutes. Actually, it’s probably even more like Bono being Woman of the Year when he’s never been a woman for any minutes. Then again, who am I to judge? I don’t know Bono’s life! So I’m back to not really understanding how horrible it is when a white girl wears s*** that’s for women of color.

For the record, I’ve never owned nor worn a nameplate necklace. On the other hand, I don’t know how many things I have worn inappropriately–things I thought I was only wearing but was actually appropriating. I’m suspecting the number is low because I’m pretty white, culturally speaking, and have very little in the way of personal style. I don’t think I’ve ever been cool enough to appropriate something. The only thing I can think of is when I attended my brother-in-law’s wedding in Japan and I wore a kimono for the traditional Shinto ceremony–but that was at the invitation of the Japanese bride. It’s not a thing I would have thought to do on my own, but when someone invites you to her traditional Shinto wedding in Japan and offers you, as a soon-to-be family member, a kimono, it seems like it would be rude to say, “No thanks.” On the other hand, if I just up and decided on my own to wear a kimono someplace, that would probably be considered cultural appropriation.

On our first trip to Japan, my husband and I were visiting a shrine, and a (Japanese) man approached us and pointed out that a nearby tree was known as the “marriage tree.” He brought us over there and showed us how to pay our respects to the tree, or how to bless our marriage via this tree ritual; I’m sorry to say that between the language barrier and my faulty memory, I can’t tell you the precise nature of what he was showing us how to do, and it’s not my intention to sound disrespectful. (Maybe the guy was just messing with us. But he seemed sincere.) To be honest, bowing to the tree felt a little weird to me—not in the sense of “this is foreign and I don’t like it” but in the sense of “I’m not Japanese and I don’t know crap about Shintoism and I feel like a fraud.” But to the man, he was just sharing his culture and inviting us to appreciate it.

So maybe that’s the “get out of jail free” card. If someone invites you to participate in their culture, that’s okay. Maybe if one of my black or Latina girlfriends gave me a nameplate necklace for my birthday, that would also be okay. (Or she could just be messing with me. But friends don’t do that to each other, do they?) The problem is that if I wear my nameplate necklace out in public, no one’s going to know that my friend of color gave it to me. They will probably assume that I am appropriating WOC’s culture, and knowing this, how can I in good conscience wear such a thing? I mean, I could say, “Actually, my friend, who happens to be a WOC, gave it to me for my birthday,” but even I know that’s just what a clueless white person would say. If I were the offended person, I’d be like, “Oh, yeah, I’m sure some of your best friends are black!”

Actually, I don’t think I have any friends of color who would give me a nameplate necklace for my birthday. This is all just hypothetical. It’s something that theoretically could happen. I mean, I never expected to be wearing a kimono to someone’s wedding either.

For the record, the kimono was very beautiful. I’m not sure I pulled it off, what with my red hair and big feet. [1] (Those shoes are the worst. I’m sorry if that’s racist, but at least I won’t be appropriating that part of the culture again if I can help it.) I can understand why someone would want to wear something from another culture because it is beautiful. I guess I can also understand why it gets on a WOC’s nerves when Carrie Bradshaw starts wearing a nameplate necklace and suddenly nameplate necklaces are cool because a popular white girl wore one, even though WOC have been wearing nameplate necklaces for years. But I also can’t help thinking it’s kind of like when hipsters sniff that they liked something before it was cool, and now that it’s cool, it’s been ruined. WOC were enjoying their nameplate necklaces before white girls ruined it for them. I hate to lump anyone in the same category as hipsters, but I just can’t think of a more pertinent example offhand. I understand why it’s different: hipsters are not historically people who have been marginalized by the larger society; they marginalize themselves, on purpose. So of course it’s not the same thing. I get that.

Here’s the thing: I enjoyed reading that Fusion piece, for the most part. I appreciated the author explaining the significance of nameplate necklaces to her and other WOC. It would never have occurred to me that nameplates were a black/WOC thing. I was unaware. I’m glad to be aware of her experience and feelings. What I don’t get is the same thing I don’t get about hipsters being miffed that their favorite band now has thousands of fans who weren’t there from the very beginning: why does it bother you that other people like what you like, even if it’s for different reasons?

I’m sure some people would say that question proves I absolutely don’t get any of the stuff I previously claimed to get, if I don’t get that last part. But I’m trying, I really am. As I said, I’m white—I’ve got the white privilege, I’m lousy with white privilege, along with tons of other privilege. I have zero experience with someone taking an aspect of my culture that is dear to me and cheapening it or whatever else one does when one culturally-appropriates. I can’t even think of a single thing on earth that I think of as belonging exclusively to my demographic group’s “culture.” My husband comes from Scandinavian stock; I can’t decide if this makes him more or less “white” than I am. I have no particular interest in genealogy—it doesn’t do anything for me—but I can trace my ancestors on both sides back about 200 years to…England. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of this, as it was an accident of birth I had nothing to do with. (It is kind of a bummer when they have those celebrate-our-diverse-cultural-heritage potlucks. You can’t eat the Magna Carta, amirite?) But to me, everything that’s great about English culture is part of the cultural heritage of every American. It’s not like I own it, as a person of English ancestry; I share it with a host of people who are not of English ancestry, racially speaking. I don’t even think of myself as a person of English ancestry, i.e. that my ancestors lived in England is not a conscious part of my identity. As a white person, I have the luxury of not thinking about my race unless I start writing crap like this.

But like I said, I’m trying. I’m trying to empathize by drawing whatever parallels or hypothetical parallels I can to my own experience. I suppose that as a woman, I am part of a historically marginalized group. Unfortunately, the closest I can get to imagining something like cultural appropriation in that context is my above Caitlyn Jenner remark, which veers uncomfortably close to anti-trans sentiment. I admit that I get a little bent out of shape when Caitlyn Jenner is named Woman of the Year for publicly wearing a dress and painting her nails. Women have been wearing dresses and painting their nails for years, but someone who used to be called Bruce does it and suddenly it’s Woman of the Year stuff. I don’t care if someone who is biologically male wants to live as a woman, regardless of whether she wears a dress or not (women can do anything!)—it’s no skin off my nose, after all. But when someone who lived as a man and enjoyed the privileges of man-living for 60 years claims she’s “just as much a woman” as I am, please forgive me for saying, “Oh, honey.” I mean, what else can I say? I’m happy you’re happy, Caitlyn Jenner, but a newly-transitioned woman winning Woman of the Year is like Barack Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize immediately upon his inauguration: you just haven’t earned it yet, baby. (Alluding to Smiths songs: just what a white girl of a certain age would do.

I say that, and I own it, but I also realize it sounds pretty mean—I reckon it sounds really mean to any trans woman (or person) who has had to suffer through things that I will never understand because I haven’t experienced them. Yet I also notice that this means 45 years of living as a woman, having experiences that a trans woman has never had, qualifies me for exactly zero pronouncements on the nature of womanhood. So trying to relate to the whole “appropriation” issue via my womanhood is a fail.

As a Mormon, I guess I qualify as a religious minority. Historically, Mormons have been marginalized. Some would argue we still are (though I would not, not really). And Mormons are definitely a culture as well as a religion. I’m not sure how one would go about appropriating our culture.[2] It’s kind of hard to nail down in the first place, not unlike our theology. But as long as we’re imagining something super-unlikely, let’s suppose that some not-Mormon person took something that was sacred to us and cheapened or commercialized it. Let’s say some non-Mormon celebrity (famous and therefore influential, sadly) started wearing Mormon temple clothes in public because they thought it looked cool. No one would ever do that, but let’s say they did. Most Mormons would instinctively call that disrespectful and gross, but that’s because it’s hard to imagine anyone doing it for reasons other than mockery. One has to imagine someone wearing Mormon temple clothes because they actually thought it did look cool. It takes a lot of imagination. (You could strain something and hurt yourself, probably.) I can only imagine that my reaction to this sort of thing would be to think a) they look as ridiculous as I do, and b) we appropriated all that temple stuff from the Masons, so they probably have first dibs on being offended.

Anyway, they already made The Book of Mormon musical, which wasn’t appropriation but satire, and plenty of Mormons got their noses out of joint over that because a) Mormons generally don’t appreciate satire and b) Mormons don’t like to be made fun of, especially not with F-words. I did not see The BofM musical, nor do I care to—I have a reasonably high tolerance for irreverent humor, but a fairly low tolerance for scatological humor, which is the same reason I don’t like to watch South Park—but I thought (and still think) that righteous indignation/outrage was a foolish response. It makes us look small, and frankly, insecure. I’m pretty sure Jesus said if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. If you’re going to trash or mock my religion, maybe you’re a jerk (or maybe you’re just misunderstood—I don’t know your life!), but that’s on you, not me. If you want to have a real conversation about my religion, I’m happy to converse with you; if you’re going to be a jerk, go be a jerk without me.

I can say these things about Mormons because I am one and I understand the Mormon experience, but I can’t say to a woman of color, “Your thing about nameplate necklaces makes you look small and insecure,” because I’m not one and I don’t know her experience. I don’t understand her feelings. Is it even possible for me to understand her feelings to the extent that I can understand why she would get bent out of shape over white girls wearing nameplate necklaces? Is there any point in trying to understand, or do I just accept that as a white girl, I have no business wearing a nameplate necklace?

So I’m back where I started, a middle-aged white lady with a free blog and no clue. Where does one draw the line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation? Is there a line between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation? [3] If so, where does one draw that? How do you know when you’re appropriating something? I’m not really looking for someone to tell me this whole “cultural appropriation” thing is ridiculous. I know some not-(completely)-ridiculous people who have very strong feelings about it, but can’t really articulate the difference between appreciation/exchange and appropriation. I’m not invested in the idea that I should be able to wear a nameplate necklace or a kimono. I’m not even a fan of any sports teams with Native American mascots. On occasion, I enjoy Vietnamese food, but then I read an essay by a Vietnamese-American who was upset that Vietnamese food was trendy now, but white people used to make fun of her lunches when she was young. My instinct is to think that person might need therapy to deal with her issues, but I’m open to the idea of that not being fair. When I was a kid, I thought bologna sandwiches were delicious. I think bologna is gross now. I still like Spam, though. Hawaiians also like Spam. Who liked it first? What does it all mean? I don’t know.


[1] Even my red hair is, technically, appropriated. I was born a brunette, but I think red hair is beautiful and I like the way I look with red hair, so I dye it red, even if it’s wrong. I have extremely fair skin and burn easily, so I almost feel as though I’ve earned it, but that’s just what a clueless fake-ginger would say.

[2] I was reading some non-Mormon person’s Twitter feed and they were saying how their son wanted to ask someone to Homecoming, but apparently, expectations have changed such that it’s no longer okay to say, “Will you come to Homecoming with me?” You have to do something creative, like with balloons or baked goods or whatever. I was, frankly, astonished. I thought only Mormons did this. (We love theatre! And arts & crafts!) Now it’s what everyone’s supposed to do? Is this the Pinterest-ization of our culture, or has Pinterest simply facilitated the widespread appropriation of Mormon culture? In either case, I don’t actually care. Do what you feel, kids.

[3] I went to a recipe exchange a million years ago, and a friend of mine, who was from Idaho, shared this recipe called “Hong Kong Chicken.” It was a dish her mother made all the time when she was growing up. It consisted of rice, chicken, and cream of mushroom soup (basically). So…where did the Hong Kong part come in, exactly? My friend said, sheepishly, “Oh. Well. You see, most of what we ate was made with potatoes. But this was made with rice. Hence—Hong Kong.” I thought this was adorable (and hilarious). I shared this story with someone recently, and they thought it was offensive, maybe borderline racist. Well, goodness—uneducated about Chinese cuisine, sure, but racist? Can’t we just be glad that we live in a world where more people are eating rice? Maybe Idahoans should be offended when other people belittle their attempts to try new things!


Back in October, I thanked ordinarybutloud for tagging me in her Seven Stylish Things post because it would give me something to blog about. And then I turned around and continued not blogging. Ha ha! Actually, I think I turned around and blogged about something else, and then lost my will to blog altogether. Again–even with a ready-made topic! This not-blogging is a sickness of mine. It starts with not knowing what to write about. Then it turns into thinking of something to write about but not really feeling like it. Then it turns into thinking, “If I’m going to spend time writing, I should write something real, rather than something bloggy.” And that turns into thinking, “I really don’t know what to write about, and everything there is to write about is something I don’t feel like writing about. And I should have majored in math in college.”

Seriously, I think I should have majored in math in college. I remember our senior…golly, what did they call that? Some special evening they had for graduating seniors at my college. What did they call it? It was a thing. All I remember is that my calculus professor introduced me to his wife (who happened to be the Dean of Students and may have met me before but wouldn’t have had any reason to remember me), and he said, “Pat, this is Mad Maidenname. She’s an English major, but she could have been a math major.” And I said, “Dr. E, I wish you had told me that three years ago.” Seriously, I did (wish and say so). (Totally irrelevant aside: I then found out that Dr. E had majored in both math and English as an undergraduate, and that made me like him even more. I have so many regrets about not majoring in math in college.)

I also remember I was wearing white shoes that night, even though it was after Labor Day (and before Easter). Which makes a perfect segue to the business end of my “Seven Stylish Things about Me” post.

Thing 1

Sometime during my sophomore year of college, I was in my friend’s dorm room, where she was getting ready for a thing. She turned to me and said, “Is it too early to wear white?” And I said, “I dunno. What time is it?” I had never heard that you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day. Never! I think it was because I was born and raised on the West coast–not just the “West,” but the West Coast, where people are much less formal about their dress (and just about everything).  Especially in Oregon, where I was born and raised during my formative years.  So yes, I had never heard this rule, and I actually thought it was kind of dumb.  I mean, says who?  Why not?  What’s so offensive about white after Labor Day?  And I still think it’s a dumb rule.  I think it’s a dumb rule, and yet ever since I learned it, I can’t help but be aware of it.  I was aware of it that Senior-Something-Evening, when I was wearing the white shoes.  I didn’t really want to wear the white shoes, because it was after Labor Day and this was Virginia and I didn’t want to look foolish, but they were the only shoes that went with my dress.  I pretty much had two pairs of dress shoes–a black pair and a white pair, and the black pair would not have done, in my opinion.  But perhaps I was wrong.  I’m still second-guessing my decision after all these years.

Thing 2

I no longer own any white shoes.  It’s not worth the angst.  Also, they might be passe.  Or so passe that they’re stylish again.  I don’t know, but either way, I can’t deal.

Thing 3

As long as we’re on the topic of shoes, this is as good a time as any to tell you that although I don’t own many shoes, I really, really like shoes.  I will pass by a shoe display just to see what’s there, even though I don’t need shoes and can’t really bring myself to purchase shoes that I don’t particularly need (because I’m a little cheap that way).  But I appreciate stylish shoes.  My daughter doesn’t like shopping with me because I am guaranteed at some point–or perhaps several points–to say, “Aren’t these shoes adorable???”  And she’s like, “Whatever, Mom.”

What keeps me from being a shoe-a-holic is a) I’m kind of cheap and b) I always think, “What can I wear these shoes with, and where?” and c) I’m a size 9.  If you’re a woman of large feet, you have also probably noticed that most of the cute shoes stop at size 7.  Or, alternatively, that once you move past size 7, the shoes don’t look cute anymore.  But I appreciate shoe style.  I’m not an outgoing person at all–I’m the opposite of an outgoing person–but I have been known to exclaim to total strangers, “I love your shoes!”  Because I love their shoes more than I love my dignity.

I took this picture because I knew I wouldn't buy them, but seriously, aren't they so crazy they're awesome? Now every time I see this picture on my phone, I have regrets. Especially since they were only $5. But where would I have worn them? Or where wouldn't I have worn them???

Thing 4

I am beginning to think this entire post could be about shoes, if I wanted it to be.  I haven’t decided yet.  But here’s another thing about me and shoes:  My brain loves shoes.  My feet insists that shoes be comfortable.  Most of the time I wear sneakers, or “athletic shoes,” or whatever they’re called.  I’ve decided that the best athletic shoes for my feet are Nikes.  I don’t think I will buy any other kind from now on.  I will endure discomfort for the sake of style on occasion.  I wear heels even though they are no longer comfortable (either because I’ve gotten old or I spent too many years wearing flats because I didn’t want to tower over my 5’7″ husband) because they look so much better (especially on my large-ish feet).  But one thing I will not wear is flip-flops.  Not because I find them tacky, but because I find them uncomfortable.  I can’t stand having things between my toes.  (It’s the same reason I will never wear divided-toe socks.)  And those flip-flop toe-thingies can be murder, depending on what they’re made out of.  I honestly think you chronic flip-flop wearers must have callouses between your toes.  I don’t know how you manage otherwise.

Thing 5

Last shoe-related thing, I promise (maybe):  Just out of curiosity, how did you learn how to tie your shoes?  Bunny-ear method, or squirrel-and-tree method?  My dad taught me squirrel-and-tree in a single session, and I was shoelace-independent for life.  My children couldn’t learn to tie their shoes for the life of them until someone (not me) taught them bunny-ear method, and then, voila.  It was like when three separate members of my family tried to teach me to drive using a stick shift, but I could never do it–and then I got put behind the wheel of an automatic and I was like, “Really?  Driving can be this easy?  Why would anyone do it the other way???”  I’m sure that’s what my kids were thinking about me and my esoteric shoe-tying ways.  It wasn’t that I was prejudiced against the bunny-ear method; it just never occurred to me to use it because that’s not how I tie shoes (and once a child learned to do it for him or herself, I washed my brains of the whole affair).  But after having three children fail to grasp the concept of squirrel and tree, I was determined to teach Girlfriend to tie her shoes the bunny-ear way.  And guess what.  SHE DOESN’T GET IT.  Which leads me to believe it isn’t the method, it’s just me.

Thing 6

It would have been better–from an artistic point of view–if I’d just stuck with the shoe theme.  But I realized that I actually don’t have anything else to say about shoes.  Sure, later on this evening I’ll probably think of a couple more things and go, “Doh!  Why couldn’t I have thought of that earlier?  Seven Stylish Shoe Things would have been so much awesomer.  But noooooo…”  The only problem is that if I wait to think of another shoe thing, I’ll never think of it.  So I have to just move on, even if it’s wrong.  Which makes me think Thing 6 should be about my writing style.

I had a white-shoes-after-Labor-Day moment in that last paragraph.  I said “go” when I meant “say.”  I do that, and I know I’m doing it because I’m hyper-aware of all the rules I break.  Sometimes I agonize over breaking them.  Because I definitely know better.  But I do it anyway, because to some extent, I do write the way I talk, and sometimes when I’m talking and I mean “I said…,” I’ll say, “I went…” or “I was all…”-  Because sometimes I didn’t say–I went or I was all.  You know?  Sometimes I was even “like.”  I’m not proud, but that’s how I do.

Something that is more analogous to the white-shoes-Labor-Day thing, though, is when I split my infinitives.  Until my British Lit 201 professor brought it to my attention, I had no idea you weren’t supposed to split infinitives.  Really.  And like the white shoes rule, I thought it was really stupid.  I still think it’s stupid.  But from that point onward, I have not been able to split an infinitive without being hyper-aware of it.  I end sentences with prepositions with impunity, but the split infinitive–it’s a much lesser offense and yet I’m very self-conscious about it.  I do it all the time, sure, but self-consciously.  And not ironically.  I think it’s because it was such a rude awakening to discover that I didn’t actually know all the arcane rules of English grammar.  It was humiliating, just like when I was in my friend’s dorm room and suddenly my whole life of wearing shoes between the months of September and April flashed before my eyes.

Thing 7

People who know me before they read me tell me I write just like I talk.  But people who read me before they meet me are usually disappointed.  What’s that about?  I dunno.  But it’s a thing.

Here’s something true:

I’m so happy to have my kids in school and therefore away from home for six-and-a-half hours a day that I don’t really give a crap what they learn.  So long as I’m not getting phone calls notifying me that my daughter has punched the principal, I’m good.

You know that used to happen, right?  But it doesn’t anymore.  And the day it stopped happening was the day I declared myself Free From Involvement With My Child’s Education.

Granted, my children do pretty well in school, academically.  If they were failing, I might have feelings about it.  I mean, probably I would have feelings of concern.  I might even feel obligated, or even motivated, to do something about that.  But they’re not failing, they’re all doing fine, and so I just don’t worry my pretty head about how much they’re learning or whether or not the curriculum is challenging enough.

I know a lot of parents who do care about such things.  Parents of other kids-who-do-just-fine-in-school-academically and parents of kids-who-may-even-be-gifted.  My two older children were tested for the Talented and Gifted program in elementary school, and I think the verdict was that they were talented, but not (necessarily) gifted, whatever that means.  I didn’t really care.  The Talented and Gifted program is sort of a joke in Oregon, as far as I can tell.  We’re in, I think, the top school district in Oregon, or certainly one of the top five, and it’s a joke here, so I assume it’s a joke everywhere in the state.  That’s okay, I don’t really care, and perhaps I don’t need to care, as my children are merely talented, rather than gifted.  But I digress.

I have a friend whose son is clearly talented and gifted.  She is very aware of and concerned about what he does in school.  I know very little about what my children do at school.  Only what they tell me.  “They” meaning the kids themselves, and their teachers.  I don’t volunteer in the classroom.  I don’t e-mail the teacher and request more information than I receive as a matter of course.  My only interaction with teachers is at parent-teacher conferences and if I have to send a note because someone has to go to the dentist.  I’m just not curious enough.  Possibly because the curiosity was beaten out of me the first five years of Princess Zurg’s public education, when any communication with school meant that something bad had happened that I was going to have to deal with even though I had no clue what to do because I myself am merely talented and probably not gifted.  I’m sure that’s part of the reason.  But I also think I’m lazy.  (Something that gifted people tend not to be, I’ve noticed.  Come to think of it, my children are lazy, too.  I probably didn’t need to have them tested for giftedness at all.)

Anyway, my friend with the talented and gifted son complains a lot that her son doesn’t have enough to do at school.  She doesn’t want to homeschool because she, like me, has other things she’d rather do with her time.  But that’s kind of where the similarity with me ends.  She talks about the stuff she and her husband have had to do to augment her son’s inadequate public school education, and I think, “Well, that seems to be working out for you all, doesn’t it?”  Because the thing is, her son is just gifted enough to teach himself crap.  They haven’t had to do much of anything besides steer him and provide him with used college textbooks.  Heck, even I could do that.  But she doesn’t like that he can do all of the regular schoolwork very quickly and then the rest of his class time is spent drawing comic books.  I myself think that drawing comic books sounds like fun.  I wish I’d had more time to draw comic books when I was in school, but apparently I wasn’t gifted enough.  Or the curriculum was better then.  I really wouldn’t know.

I should tell you now that I actually attended second through fourth grade in this very same school district, back in the day, and I recall my education being perfectly adequate for my needs.  I was even in the Talented and Gifted program (qualifying under the “talented” requirement, I assume), which at that time was not such a joke as it is now.  They actually bused us talented/gifted kids to the junior high twice a week for enrichment purposes.  I didn’t like doing that.  As I recall, the TAG teacher was kind of mean, and I wasn’t terribly interested in the stuff he taught us.  We did do a unit on Greek mythology, which I enjoyed, and I guess I have pleasant memories of visiting the library there, but mostly I remember the grumpy TAG teacher and not wanting to go.  When I entered the GATE program in California, I was even less interested in the enrichment I received there, so I guess that just goes to show that there’s only so much you can do for the talented and/or gifted.  At least in my case.  Or only in my case, in which case, there’s nothing that any of this goes to show.  It’s just a pointless anecdote to fill up space.


Anyway, last month I was sitting around chatting with the mothers of two of Mister Bubby’s classmates, and they were talking about the curriculum and stuff, and one, who has always volunteered regularly in her son’s classes, said, “You can tell by looking at the kids which parents care.”  (By “care” she meant “care about what their kids are learning at school,” not “care” in a more general sense.)  And I immediately thought, “Can she tell by looking at my son whether or not I care?  Can she discern how much I care?  Because I think I may not care as much as my son makes it look like I care.”

A few weeks ago my husband and I learned that Princess Zurg had not been doing her math homework, that she had not been conscientious about bringing home her math book in order to do her math homework, and that she had been equally unconscientious about bringing home her student planner in which she is required to write down all of her assigned work each day.  So we had to have a conversation with her about responsibility and how she was going to have to bring home her planner every day and one of us had to look at it to make sure that she was doing what she was supposed to be doing.  That lasted for a while.  She’s gotten better about bringing home her math book, when bringing home a math book is required.  She is very bad about bringing home the planner.  Technically, the school has a homework hotline parents can check and also some internet thingy has been arranged also, but I can never remember to check the homework hotline or the internet thingy because I’ve got other stuff on my mind, and so I’ve just been trusting that she’s doing her work.  She’s in the Behavior Learning Center program and she has to get a data card signed by all her teachers that says she’s been behaving herself, and most days I see that, and it has acceptable marks and if it doesn’t, it’s an isolated event that does not recur the following day, so generally I believe she is doing fine.

Her progress report came the other day, and she’s got mostly B’s, which is what we were expecting, based on what we learned at parent-teacher conferences.  I’m pretty sure she could get mostly A’s, if she applied herself (the way gifted children are wont to do and the merely talented are expected to do).  I think, “Should I be doing more to ensure that she applies herself?”  Then I think, “You know, I’ve already been to school.  I really don’t feel like doing school over again on my daughter’s behalf.  Especially not middle school.”  And I just can’t bring myself to be emotionally invested in her getting A’s instead of B’s.  I feel guilty.  Then I think, “Dude, they’re B’s, not C’s or D’s or F’s, so what do I have to feel bad about?”  Then I think,  “If my daughter is not actualizing her potential, am I not somewhat to blame for that?  What sort of example is she getting at home?  A mother who is too lazy to check the homework hotline and/or make sure that her daughter’s brought home her student planner that day.  No wonder neither of us is gifted.”

I want to set a goal for 2011 that I will remember to check the homework hotline and institute severe consequences for not bringing home one’s student planner.  But I just set the goal for remembering to give her her meds every morning, and while I’m doing rather well with that, I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle another success.  Anyway, the only reason I’m remembering is that I set an alarm on my cell phone to remind me.  I suppose I could set another alarm on my cell phone to remind me to check the homework hotline.  But if I set an alarm on my cell phone to remind me to do all of the things I should be doing, my cell phone would be going off all the time and I’d never remember what all the alarms are for.  And that’s why I think I must not care very much about my kids’ education.

I don’t require commentary on my Slackerhood.  I’m just making conversation here.

In what way(s) are you a Slacker Parent?

Sugar Daddy:  Your uncle lives in Spokane, right?

Madhousewife:  Yes.

SD:  Do you want to visit your uncle this summer?

Mad:  I guess.  If he’s around.

SD:  That’s right, they’re all over the world these days.  It’s just that I’m planning our vacation, and this amusement park the kids wanted to go to is in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which is about an hour from Spokane.  I guess we could find some other stuff to do around there.

Mad:  White supremacy stuff?

SD:  Yeah, I figured we’d visit a couple of camps, hang out with some Tea Party folks.

Mad:  Sounds awesome.


Last night our family went to the library, and Girlfriend checked out A Flea Story by Leo Lionni, which is about these two fleas who are hanging out together on this dog–hanging out near the dog’s tail, as it happens, and the one flea decides he wants to move to another part of the dog, but the other flea is happy where he is, but he lets the other flea talk him into going with him.  So they both travel to the dog’s head, but that isn’t good enough for the flea with wanderlust; he wants to hop onto a nearby chicken, and although the homebody flea just got comfortable on the dog’s head, he goes with the other flea to the chicken, but then the other flea wants to go someplace else, and so on and so on.  //SPOILER ALERT!!!//  Eventually the adventurous flea decides to hop onto this bird so he can fly, but the other flea, the one who never wanted to leave his original spot on the dog in the first place, decides that he’s had enough adventure and decides to go back home to the dog.  The adventurous flea says he’ll come back someday and tell the other flea all about his journey, but he wonders if words will be enough.  Meanwhile, the other flea finds his beloved dog, settles back in comfortably and says that between what he’s seen already and what his flea friend will no doubt tell him all about later, his life will be very full indeed.

When I read this story, I immediately thought that this Flea Story was the story of my marriage.  SD is the adventurous flea.  He always wants to be doing something.  I prefer to stay home, but I let him drag me places because I don’t want to be a fuddy duddy, even though I really am one.  I try to fight that part of my nature, but it gets more difficult as I get older.  I like to be comfortable.  Correction:  I like to be very comfortable.  Travel isn’t comfortable for me, even though it is enjoyable enough at times while I am doing it, and I appreciate the experience in retrospect.  I enjoy having the experience behind me at least as much as I enjoy being amidst the experience, and having the experience before me makes me feel tired.  You probably gathered as much from my various pre-Japan-angst posts, but if you didn’t, I’m telling you now.

Leo Lionni is not usually a judgmental author, but the fact remains that in the story, one of the fleas wants adventure and excitement and to experience the unknown, and the other flea is happy hanging out on a dog’s butt.  I reiterate:  a dog’s butt.  It’s hard not to read some judgment into that.

So here’s my poor husband, trying to plan something new and exciting for us to do–someplace new and exciting for us to go–as a family for our vacation, and I haven’t quite recovered enough from my trip to Japan to muster up any enthusiasm for further travel in the near future.  Nothing sounds exciting to me–or rather, I guess I just don’t really like excitement.  I don’t like fun.  I am a fuddy duddy at heart and I always will be.

And now that this book has entered our home, every time my husband tries to talk to me about our vacation and I don’t have any useful contribution to make to the planning thereof, he’s going to say, “Oh, I forgot.  You’d rather hang out on a dog’s butt the rest of your life.”

Yes.  Yes, I would.  And I’m okay with that.  For now.

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This morning I was reading a blog–and which one it was eludes me now (sorry), but a commenter (I think) said that online we are able to present ourselves however we like, choosing only to show the best parts of ourselves, whereas in real life it’s harder to hide the flaws and the bad parts of us will show up alongside the good parts.  Now I think I remember where I saw this, but it doesn’t matter because it was sort of a tangent that had little to do with the original posting.  (Therefore, I intentionally HIDE it from you, deceptive online persona that I am!)  Yes, that is why I didn’t respond to the comment, because my response would have been even more irrelevant than the comment to which I am referring, but not irrelevant to the point I am about to make here (on my own blog, which is unhidden!), which is this:  I don’t buy that our online personae tend to be more flattering than our real life selves.  Sometimes our online personae are unintentionally deceptive, in that they tend to make us appear worse than we really are in real life, because our statements are out of context; emoticons are a poor substitute for actual facial expressions, tones of voice, body language, etc.–not to mention any previous history of interaction that would influence the way our audience would interpret what we say.  Aside from that, though, I think that online we tend to be more honest and candid than we are in real life precisely because of the perceived anonymity.

I say things on this blog that I wouldn’t dream of saying to people I know in real life.  Even though a few people that I know in real life now read this blog, I still say things here that I probably wouldn’t say to them in a regular conversation–mainly because I wouldn’t dream of being that narcissistic in a real life conversation.  Does my sister necessarily need/want to know about my menstrual cycle or how I feel about the Muppet Babies?  Does she really care?  (Well, do you, sis?  Do you?)  There are things I wouldn’t inflict on someone else–even one who was close to me, and certainly not a casual acquaintance–in real-life conversation because my partners in real-life conversations are captive audiences, and they won’t tell me when I’m boring the living crap out of them because they don’t want to hurt my feelings.  So in real life I make a conscious effort not to bore the living crap out of someone, but here on the old blogstead I make no such promises.  I figure if you’re bored, you’ll just leave and I’ll never know you went anywhere.  I’ll never know you were here in the first place.  Such is the beauty of the interwebs, gentle readers!  As far as I’m concerned, I’m probably just talking to myself right now.  I can say whatever I want and no one cares, not even me.

But there’s also this:  in real life, I don’t speak well.  I am just as bad at private speaking as I am at public speaking.  Actually, at least in public speaking I have gone to the trouble of preparing my remarks, whereas my private conversations have no such benefit.  It is all off-the-cuff and therefore often nonsensical and rarely interesting.  I feel sorry for people who have to listen to me talk in real life.  I alluded to this in my post about President Obama and his teleprompter (or was it a post about Sarah Palin and her palm?  I guess it depends on your point of view).  I think if I could have a teleprompter (or even palm notes) when I was talking to my husband about something important, my husband would prefer that.  Sure, it might creep him out a little, and he might mock me for my crutches if I started to get the upper hand in an argument, but overall, I think he would benefit from the clarity that would almost certainly result if I didn’t have to rely solely on my verbal skills, which are negligible in the best of times and almost non-existent during a crisis.

I was going somewhere with that.  Oh, yes, here it is:  because I’m better at writing than I am at speaking, I will bother to write things down that I don’t bother speaking because written down, the ideas at least have a shot at making sense.  So yes, I will be more candid and honest and forthcoming online because online I can interact via the written word.  And because I am more candid and honest and forthcoming online, I reveal more about myself here than I would in real life, both good and bad.  Here I will tell you what I really think.  In real life, I would rather just say nothing.

Last month I went to a party at JaneAnne‘s house, and whilst mingling with the various guests, I was asked how I knew JaneAnne, and because I couldn’t think of anything clever to say, I had to admit that we met online, which still feels like a weird thing to admit–to me, anyway–probably because I’m old and old people think only perverts meet online or something.  Whatever.  But it’s not actually a weird thing.  In many ways it is less weird to talk to people I met online because I know those people already have way more context than they will ever need for the purposes of interacting with me.  My mental illness, my political views (not necessarily related to the mental illness, but you know, whatever makes you feel more charitable toward me), my family problems, my religious beliefs, my insecurities, my mistakes, my hygienic shortcomings, my plantar warts, my questionable taste in entertainment, my menstrual cycle–it’s already out there, and they decided they like me anyway, so what’s left to be awkward about?  Other than my poor conversational skills, I mean.  Yes, exactly.  The hard part is over; now all we have to do is remember each other’s real names.

So I don’t know–maybe other people craft for themselves online personae that are more flattering than their real-life selves, choosing only to reveal those aspects of their lives and personalities that cast them in the best possible light, but that is not how this Giraffe rolls.  Just to prove it to you, I will finally get around to what I meant to show you here in the first place.

I did bake a cake on Lincoln’s birthday.  If I were one of those best-foot-forward online types, I would feel compelled to tell you that I’m actually (ordinarily) reasonably competent at cake-baking, but since the purpose of this blog is not to tell you how awesome I am but rather how awesome I am at screwing up, here are some pictures of my Lincoln’s Birthday cake–an ordinary chocolate cake that I baked and iced from scratch, with results so unimpressive that I even surprised myself.

For one thing, I was somewhat careless when removing the cake from the pan, so it fell apart a little.  I thought I could sort of glue it back together with the frosting, but here’s the thing about the frosting:  I used a little (snicker) too much liquid, so it came out thinner than it should have, and it never actually reached an acceptable spreading consistency.  At the time I thought, well, whatever, I’ve worked with too-thin frosting before–specifically, when you add food coloring to that whipped white frosting that comes in the cans (yeah, I know, don’t lecture me), it tends to thin out and get more oozy than fluffy, but you can still work with it.  Not so with the frosting I made last week, which was incompetently-mixed even by my standards (and yes, I have made my own frosting before), and which, while delicious, should not have been used to frost a cake, but that did not stop me.  No, it did not, for I was determined to frost the cake with that icing, which was fine at first, but after about a minute or so proceeded to ooze off the sides of the cake with such alarming speed and ferocity that I was forced to abandon the project and clamp the lid of the cake dish onto said dish before aforementioned frosting flooded my entire kitchen.  It was like one of those wacky sitcoms where the clueless person pours too much laundry detergent into the washer and before you know it the entire household is being washed away on a tide of suds.  Fortunately, I was able to contain the “situation.”

Of course, when I lifted the lid off the cake the following day, there was still some more cleaning-up to do, but enough of my blah blah blah, here is the photographic evidence:

I chose chocolate because chocolate is the best flavor and Lincoln was the best president.  The hearts were a concession toward Valentine’s Day.

This end represents the devastation of the Civil War and the ravaged South!

Much chocolate was spilled for the sake of deliciousness, just as much blood was spilled for the preservation of our Union.

And yes, I did lick it right off the edge of the platter, what’s it to you?

Just kidding, I didn’t really.  But if I did, I’d totally admit it!  Unlike if I invited you to my house to partake of the cake in real life, in which case you would really not want to have that information, would you?  No, I didn’t think you would.

I think my point is made.

P.S.  I’m thinking of making a carrot cake for Washington’s birthday.  Bonus points if you can come up with a reasonable connection between carrots and the father of our country.  Otherwise, I will just have to do it myself.

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Did you ever have a dream you were ashamed to talk about?

I’ve had some pretty wigged-out dreams in my day.  Or rather, my night.  I don’t often dream when I sleep during the day.  Hey, science people–does dreamless sleep mean you’re sleeping deeply?  I have a lot of deep-feeling sleep during the day.  You know, when I sleep during the day.  Not like I habitually sleep during the day, though I wouldn’t have a problem admitting it if I did–because sleeping isn’t shameful; it’s the dreams that weird other folks out.

My husband and I often share our dreams.  Not in the aspirations sense–outside of taking our meals out, we don’t have that many common goals–but in the REM-sense.  He’s shared some dreams with me that I kind of wish he hadn’t.  I’ve also shared some dreams with him that I kind of wish I hadn’t.  Like that dream I had shortly after we got married, where I dreamed that he was pimping me out to a mutual acquaintance of ours.  To make matters worse, it was a mutual acquaintance that I really didn’t care for, but that’s actually beside the point.  In the dream, the mutual acquaintance was all, “Dude, I really appreciate this,” and I was like, “Hey, I’m really not comfortable with this AT ALL,” and my husband was like, “What’s your problem?”

Anyway, I don’t know why I would have dreamed something like this…well, no, on second thought, I have an idea…but don’t worry, I won’t share it with you.  Why not?  Because my husband reads this blog, and if this experience of dream-sharing has taught me anything, it’s that you don’t share sensitive material with the husband.  Because he’s spent the last eleven-plus years teasing me about having sex with this person that I wouldn’t have sex with if he were the last person on earth, that’s why!

Sex dreams don’t necessarily have sexual meaning, of course.  At least that’s what I hope.  I mean, how would it be if you had a dream that you were watching a TV show and the TV show was all about how Steve Sanders from 90210 had been reduced to making pornos?  Wouldn’t that disturb you?  It disturbs me.  I mean, it would disturb me, if I were to have a dream like that, because no offense to Steve Sanders and his kinky-haired glory, but where the hell does that come from?  I always thought that if I had a sex dream involving a 90210 character, Brenda would figure more prominently.  I mean, not that I mean anything by that, but doesn’t it make sense?

Anyway.  I had a dream once that I was married to Liam Neeson, but oddly, there was no sex in that dream.  And by “oddly,” I think you know what I mean.

I’m just not saying.

Tell me about yourself.

Well, don’t tell me everything.  Leave a little to the imagination.  But tell me something.  Tell me, um…three things.  THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS ABOUT YOU.

Or, you know, the first three things that come to mind, which is what I’d do.

Have you ever seen that episode of Scrubs where Turk asks Carla what’s bothering her, and she peels back her scalp and there is a gushing forth of all her neurotic thoughts and obsessions?  That’s what this blog is going to be like.

I am doubled over with guilt for the following reasons, in no particular order:

1.  Last month I called Princess Zurg’s best friend’s stepmother to see if PZ’s best friend could come to PZ’s birthday party and found out that PZ’s best friend broke her leg in a really bad way over Spring Break and was totally bed/couch-ridden for the next couple weeks and still needed to have another surgery and was going to have limited mobility because of the whole crutches thing for however long it takes to recuperate from a broken leg that’s been broken that badly.  So that’s why PZ didn’t have a birthday party this year, because if the best friend can’t come, what’s the point?  And the reason I didn’t know about PZ’s best friend’s broken leg before this was because PZ’s best friend lives on the other side of town and her family doesn’t have a car, and so we don’t see her very often at all, especially not since PZ has been going to a different school for the last year.  I can count on one hand–probably half of one hand–the number of times PZ has seen her best friend over the last year.  That is the state of PZ’s social life.  That I felt guilty enough about already, and I didn’t think it was possible to feel much guiltier, but I didn’t foresee the broken leg.  When I heard about the broken leg, I felt just awful for PZ’s best friend, and I said I would certainly bring PZ over for a visit, soon.  In fact, I penciled it into my calendar for that week.  But it didn’t actually work out for that week, and I told myself I would have to pencil it in for some other day the following week, but you know what?  I never picked up another pencil, and I never took PZ to see her best friend with the broken leg.  It’s been a month.  I could still take her–I still want to take her, or think I want to take her, or think I mean to take her, but I’m beginning to suspect that maybe I really don’t mean or want to take her and never actually did because if I really did, I would have done it by now, wouldn’t I have?  The truth is that a best friend on the other side of town is much like a starving child in Africa to me, only without a convenient little intermediary organization like UNICEF that I can write a check to and thereby assuage my guilt.  No, I have to actually block out some time in my schedule to actually visit the best friend on the other side of town myself, but that is too much work, and that is why I’m a terrible human being.  Moving on!

2.  Lest ye think the best friend with the broken leg is some kind of aberration in my ordinarily-chock-full-o’-thoughtfulness life, I also have an aunt who lives on the other side of Portland, whom I see about once a year.  No, once a year is too generous.  I see her about once every year and a half, usually when some other member of my family comes through Portland and says, “I should really see B. while I’m here,” and I say, “Oh yeah, that’d be good, I’ll go with you.”  My aunt is getting on in years and is now in a nursing home.  I don’t know exactly how long she’s been in the home because I didn’t realize she’d gone there until my older sister mentioned it to me one day.  I know she’s only been in there sometime since last July because last July I went to see her in her house (not “the home”), but still, I haven’t been to see her in “the home” and don’t even know which home it is because I haven’t called any of my cousins to find out or get an address to send a frakking Christmas card, should I be so humanitarily inclined this year.  I’ve lived a half-hour away from her for the last five years, and I just haven’t gone to see her because I haven’t wanted to think about what to do with the children or when would be a good time to go or calling on the phone and having a conversation–it’s all just been too much, darling, too much, because I’m a terrible human being.  But wait!  There’s more.

3.  After the turbulent elementary school years with Princess Zurg, I have been so relieved and happy that Mister Bubby has done well in school and has never been a problem for anyone and always does his homework and has just generally let me send him off to school and not worry about him for six-and-a-half hours, five days a week.  Then a few weeks ago I got a call from his best friend’s mother, who wanted to know if I was also concerned about the fact that our sons have learned exactly nothing new in school this year, that they are still doing the same crap they did in first grade, only with slightly different worksheets.  That was the first time I ever really stopped to think about it and realized that actually, yes, now that you mention it, Mister Bubby has been complaining that school is boring and he already knows everything they’re teaching him and why can’t he just go to third grade, and yes, they do have an awful lot of worksheets, don’t they?  What the hell is up with the worksheets?  I don’t remember doing so many worksheets when I was in school.  I guess they can’t afford books and slates anymore because they have to buy computers so our children can be competitive in the twenty-first century.  And what are they using the computers for?  Hell if I know.  The last time I was involved in a child’s education, it was primarily for the purpose of figuring out how I could get myself less involved on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis.  All I’ve ever really wanted was to send my kid off to school for six-and-a-half hours a day, five days a week, and not have to worry about anything beyond that.  I don’t remember my parents being that involved in my education until I was in high school and the math got harder.  I’m feeling a lot of resentment over the fact that I’m devoting all of May 29–paying a babysitter for six-and-a-half hours–to volunteering at the school for “Australia Day,” the annual second grade extravaganza.  It’s not like I ever volunteer at the school if I can possibly help it, and usually I can help it quite a bit because our neighborhood school is overrun with parents who volunteer for everything.  It’s a very competitive game–who will be the lucky soul who gets to chaperone the field trip to the rock museum???–and I’ve been quite content not to play it.  They used to make me volunteer to chaperone field trips because PZ was supposedly so volatile that even being attended by her own freaking aide was not enough, no, she had to have parental supervision if they were going to take her off of school property, and so, yes, I was pleased as punch not to be doing that anymore–but now it’s freaking Australia Day and they need all the helping hands they can get and MB wants me there anyway because I never volunteer and possibly he’s afraid the other kids assume that his mom must be some kind of crack mom because she’s never seen on school property during school hours.  And that’s how I got roped into being a group leader in the morning and running the flipping didgeridoo in afternoon, whatever the hell any of that means, I haven’t even looked at my job description(s) yet because I’ve been so preoccupied with the fact that I pay all this money in property taxes and my neighbors spend so much of their time helping out in the school, and my son is still doing first-grade worksheets in flipping May and what the hell does he need a flipping didgeridoo for anyway?  I’m so angry about it and yet I feel I have no one but myself to blame because I was the one who wanted a worry-free education for my son–rather, an education for my son that was worry-free for me–and this is just what you get for not worrying:  fill-in-the-blank worksheets and mother-frakking didgeridoos.  Nice work, Mother.  I hope you ate a lot of bon bons this year while your son’s brain was atrophying!

4.  We were thinking of sending Elvis to summer camp this year.  Rather, Sugar Daddy thought it would be a good idea to send Elvis to this summer camp for children with disabilities, and I had no argument against it because hey, who doesn’t need to get rid of Elvis for a couple hours a day during the summer?  So we sent away for an application for this camp, and we got the paperwork in the mail a couple weeks ago, and I started to fill it out because I’m pretty good at filling out paperwork.  I did all right with the name and address and emergency contacts and doctors and insurance information, and then I got to the section where I had to describe in detail the extent of my child’s disability and his specific challenges, and I thought, “I can’t do this right now, I’m going to do it later,” because after all this time I still have trouble confronting these facts about my son.  I have a visceral response to requests for quantification about his disability.  I just can’t handle it.  I don’t understand why, but I just can’t, and by “can’t,” I really mean I just don’t want to, and I don’t know why, but I just don’t.  But I have to, or he’s not going to go to camp, and I will be sorry later, sometime this summer, when he’s driving me crazy and eating all the popsicles and replacing all the batteries in all of the small appliances and can’t find the right screwdriver and wants me to push him 89 times on the swing but he really means 99 times and he gets frustrated and starts yelling, “aaahhhAAAHHHHaaahhhhAAAAHHHHHaaaahhhhAAAHHHHHaaahhhhAAAAHHHHH” with the full force of his diaphragm behind it for the forty-seventh time that day, and I will probably start screaming myself and want to pop him one and possibly I will actually pop him one because I can’t stand it anymore, and I will only have myself to blame because I was too lazy to fill out the paperwork on time so he could go to camp and make me a little bit less crazy.  And I wonder how I can love my son so much while simultaneously not wanting him around very much.  Maybe I don’t love him as much as I think I do, unless he’s asleep.  That’s just not right.  Which reminds me, I need to find that frakking paperwork and fill it out, and now I’m afraid I won’t be able to find it.

5.  Girlfriend is almost 42 months old and still needs to be toilet-trained.  Sugar Daddy did the heavy lifting with toilet training Elvis, although that was mostly because he finally got the idea that I wasn’t going to do it, and so now he deserves a medal and I need to get on the stick and finally toilet-train our non-disabled child, who has absolutely no desire to use the toilet.  In point of fact, she has the opposite of desire.  I think sometimes that I was born in the wrong era.  As much as I enjoy the conveniences of modern life, I often wish that I could have parented back in the day when adults weren’t supposed to care about scarring their children for life, and if they didn’t do what Ma or Pa said, Ma or Pa could just beat them with a stick and voila, instant compliance–and they didn’t grow up to be serial killers or anything, just average, reasonably-productive citizens who also beat their children with sticks.  Not that I want to beat my child with a stick–no, I am far too modern and enlightened to have such feelings, but I admit that I am just plain old weary of trying to figure out how to get my children to do stuff without beating them with a stick.  How did toileting get to be so complicated?  How did human beings evolve to the point where sitting in their own filth is a preferred state?  I have seen each of my children reach the stage where they were interested in the toilet, only to immediately recoil upon being offered a toileting opportunity–and not only recoil, but turn and run in the opposite direction, screaming bloody murder, huddling in a corner every time the word “potty” is uttered–leaving me feeling very much like a guy who’s misinterpreted a pretty girl’s attentions and ends up not only offending her with my romantic advances but turning her into a lesbian besides.  What on earth have I done?

6.  I am seriously considering giving up my housekeepers because it is so depressing to me to walk around my house and realize that I’ve just been engaging in a bi-monthly exercise of shoving stuff in closets and drawers so someone else can come vacuum and mop, and once the vacuuming and mopping is done, all the crap that we own just comes SPROING!ing out of aforementioned closets and drawers and deposits itself all over the floors and countertops, along with the neverending stream of new crap that finds its way into our house on a daily basis.  I am just ready to surrender to entropy already.  I caught up on the laundry, sort of–the clothes part, I was mostly caught up on, and then I had this backlog of towels I had to wash, so I’ve washed nothing but towels for the last two days, which is not to say I’ve been continuously washing towels for 48 hours, but towels is all I’ve washed, and now I have an unbelievable backlog of actual clothes that need to be washed again because you just can’t go 48 hours without washing clothes, not when you have six people in your family, all of whom wear clothes.  What do I do all day long?  Seriously, what do I do?  You know how OBL can’t go grocery shopping until she’s organized her pantry?  I look in my pantry, which is an unqualified disaster, and I just think, “I would sooner never eat again than try to figure out what the hell is in here,” and then I cram another cereal box in there, close the door real quick-like, and jam a chair in front of it so it doesn’t SPROING! open again.  I’m like the anti-OBL.  It’s not like I do nothing.  Obviously, I am filling up my days with something other than blogging and Facebooking because people still have clean clothes and they have food to eat and there is toilet paper in the house, but on the other hand, there’s all this entropy and long-neglected best friends with broken legs and aunts in failing health and summer camp paperwork unfilled-out and three-year-olds in diapers, and I have to tell you, people, it’s not because I don’t have enough hours in the day.  It’s probably because my parents didn’t beat me with a stick more when I was little.

Okay, it was good to get that off my chest.  I’m not going to visit anyone’s best friend today, but I think I will do the dishes and start on the laundry and pick up the 47,368 pieces of paper that are lying all over my living room floor.  I might even sweep the kitchen floor.  I should go to the Target, but I don’t remember why.  Somebody’s prescription.  Also, I’m pretty sure that since I’ve said the word “frak” about 67 times before 10 a.m. today, it probably means that I should pick up some tampons, too.  Incidentally, I feel like “frak” is so much more satisfying than saying the actual F-word, it’s got to be more vulgar somehow.  In any case, I should probably stop saying it around my kids.  I’ll put that on my list of stuff I “mean” or “want” to do.  Damn, I’m gonna eat some chocolate cake now.

So I was wasting time on the Facebook this weekend, and I picked my top five Celebrity Crushes.  I will share them with you now.


David Duchovny

David Duchovny


Jeremy Northam

Jeremy Northam


Sam Waterston

Sam Waterston


Daniel Day Lewis

Daniel Day Lewis


Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson

My Facebook friends noticed a distinct resemblance among these five cats.  Brother Okiebu pointed out that they all had “strong noses.”  I must say, I do enjoy a strong nose.  The first thing I notice about a man is his nose.  Because seriously, how can you miss it?  It’s RIGHT THERE.  If it isn’t, there’s a problem.  That’s what I say.

I have loved men whose noses were not particularly prominent.  I was going to give examples, but none is springing to mind at the moment…I’ll have to get back to you on that.

My husband also noticed the resemblance among these celebrity crushes of mine.  He thought it was creepy.  His celebrity crushes were much more varied.  Christine McGlade, Mary Stuart Masterson, Helena Bonham Carter, Gillian Anderson, and Shelly Fabares.  I assume that none of these women strike him as the type that smell bad.  I suppose that in this respect, my husband has a nose thing, too.

Speaking of my husband, his nose doesn’t strike me as particularly strong.  But neither is it unstrong.  It is perfectly fine.  And my husband is a very good-looking man.  It just wasn’t his nose that attracted me to him.  It was probably his eyes and that gap between his front teeth.  (And yet I do not have a thing for David Letterman.  Particularly.)

The other thing about these men is that they’re all tall.  You can’t really tell that from the photos, but I think the shortest one is David Duchovny, and he’s 6 feet. I always thought I would marry a tall man, but I didn’t.  My husband is 5’6″.  This kind of freaked me out, initially, because I thought dating a short man would be awkward.  Especially since I was very fond of wearing high heels at the time.  So I felt about 5’9″, when I was really only 5’7″.

I don’t remember if I immediately went out and bought flats or not.  I think I might have for the wedding.  I think I still looked taller than him in the pictures.  But it turned out that it isn’t that awkward dating a shorter man, or being married to one.  Especially when the height difference is one inch.  I went back to wearing heels a couple years ago, because I like the way they look and I’m no longer self-conscious about being taller than my husband.  (I don’t know how my husband feels about it.  I never asked him because I thought the question might be emasculating.  Real men don’t care if their wives tower over them, right?)

I thought about making a separate list for my chick celebrity crushes, but I could only think of these two.

Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell

Gillian Anderson

Gillian Anderson

And that just isn’t enough for a list.  I could probably come up with three other ladies I think are hot, but I wouldn’t love them, so putting them on the same list as these two would just be insulting, in a way.

Neither of these women has a prominent nose, nor are they tall.  They are both decidedly on the petite and perky side.  What does that say about me?  That I don’t like my women looking like my men, I guess.  That’s…heterosexual of me…I think.

But the height thing is interesting.  Kristen Bell is 5’1″ and Gillian Anderson is 5’3″.  Have you ever noticed how often very tall men end up with very short women?  I have.  It used to really bother me, back when I was in the market for tall men, and they were all dating perky, petite women.  Now that I’m no longer in the market for any men, tall or otherwise, I seem to have made my peace with perky, petite women.

Actually, I’m sure it’s something much weirder than making peace.  Maybe I still harbor a desire to be with a tall man, only since it’s forbidden–what with being married and all–it’s morphed into some fantasy about being a tall man and consequently being attracted to short women…which isn’t forbidden…because I’m not actually gay.  Particularly.

And now I end this ill-considered but highly attractive blog.  Use the comment section to psychoanalyze me and/or confess your own celebrity crushes.


September 2021

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