Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In Like a Lion, Out Like a ... Chihuahua?

My sister has 3 dogs. A Weimaraner puppy who is already quite large and ridiculously exuberant, a medium-sized mixed breed rescue who is sweet and gentle - as long as you're not a young boy, and a Chihuahua. Guess who makes his presence known most loudly and aggressively when you visit their home?

Did you guess the Chihuahua? Good for you! (There is no prize. Sorry.)

In a house where he is by far the smallest soul with free rein he needs, I suppose, to do what he can to make his mark. So to speak. Ahem.

So he is loud, and he is mean, and he growls and barks very loudly at anyone who enters his home, jumping up to take a swipe at their ankles. I always assure him, in a tone that could probably be interpreted as condescending, that he is indeed bad and mean and very very scary.

When, in reality, he's actually just sort of cute.

The weather over the last couple days has had the same effect.

It got very cold, after the nice spring thaw. There was hail and wind and cold and even a few sputters of snow. Winter wanted to let us know that it was still here, and it was still mean, and it was still a force to be reckoned with.

The spring sun smiled in a manner that might be interpreted as condescending, cutting through all the nastiness winter was trying to throw. Yes, yes, Old Man Winter. You are very bad, and very mean, and very very scary. Now go lay down like a good boy and maybe I'll give you a treat.

Spring rocks.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Channeling My Inner Amy Sedaris

So, as an adopted person, I was prone, as many adopted people are, to fantasizing about my natural parents. I came up with many wild exotic scenarios wherein I was the center of a lot of drama and angst. Many of them involved celebrities. As I got older, I realized that the truth was probably more mundane, and that made me a little sad. But a whole lot of what happens when one gets older makes one sad, so the fit was pretty good.

Two years ago at a concert I had a thunderbolt realization that Iggy Pop was just about the right age to have fathered me. I entertained that one for a little while, just because it made me so ridiculously giddy.

David Sedaris is such an amazing writer that he has convinced me, on more than one occasion, that I really did grow up in his family. I've often blamed Mr. Sedaris for my weight problems. If he were only more prolific, certainly I would have a stronger core. No - seriously - it makes sense - stick with me on this one. Every time he releases a new book, I devour it in one session and I laugh so hard that my abs still hurt three days later. If he would see fit to release something every three or four days, I'd have abs of steel. Selfish bastard, only churning something out every year or so. It's like he doesn't even care about my soft middle.

Anyway, since he has convinced me that I am indeed the Secret Sedaris Sibling, is it any wonder that I chose to channel his (our???) sister Amy when my daughter came to me with a crafting request?

Lea had just purchased this skirt from Hot Topic. She liked it so much that she wanted another tutu type skirt, but she wanted one in pink. "We have some pink tulle in the basement, and I have a little time on my hands", I informed her. (And there it is, folks. I am the sort of person who has yardage of pink tulle on hand, just in case. That is pathetic? sad? awesome? I don't know. It just is.)

"Let's do it! Shazamm!" she responded with an enthusiasm that made me a little nervous. What if I couldn't come through? Then I gave internal voice to those five little words that have gotten me through many a crafting crisis: What Would Amy Sedaris Do? Amy would make a damn skirt out of materials already available in the house and a glue gun. And it would rock. Speak to me, Amy, I'm listening.

This is what we came up with; Lea, Amy and I:

Cute, right? If you want to know how we did it (and see more pics) I posted my how-to's here.

I like to think Iggy Pop's real granddaughters would approve.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


My Liv has always been a walking talking living breathing dichotomy. She is not one who will ever allow herself to be put into a box. Currently, Liv is a tree-hugging vegetarian peacemonger with a mad love for speed metal. She is putting together a band which currently consists of a drummer (that would be her), a pianist, and a cellist. Their intention is to play a fusion of metal, country and jazz. By damn, if anyone can make that work, it's Liv. They plan to call themselves "Paradox". Smart little chickadees.

I remember a time when Liv was probably around 4 (and still insisted on being called O-livia - emphasis on the 'O'). My parents were visiting and it was a rainy day so we packed the kids up and headed off to Barnes and Noble to kill some time. At some point we all ended up in the music section. O-livia was wearing a sweet little dress and two bouncy pigtails. She was brightness and sunshine and rainbows and lollipops and unicorns and baby bunnies. My dad was listening to some music with big headphones and asked if O-livia wanted to listen. She said, "Sure" and climbed up onto his lap. My mom came running over with a CD to scan. "Here, honey, listen to this. I think you'll like it. It's Yanni."

I smirked and turned away. This was not going to go well.

Liv - I mean, O-livia - happily put on the headphones, anxious to hear something new. I watched as her smile of eager anticipation turned to confusion then distaste. She screamed, the way one does when one is wearing headphones and one is pretty certain one is speaking in a reasonable tone but one is most assuredly not, "I no like Yanni!!!!! Bring me AC/DC!!!!!"

I thought the oh-so-trendy-cool guy working behind the counter was going to pee his oh-so-trendy-cool pants he was laughing so hard.

For years, Liv didn't want to go to concerts - didn't like them. Said she'd rather play music than watch someone else play. I sort of got that. When we took her to her first concert? She fell asleep in my lap. Second concert? Cried and whined till we had to leave early out of consideration for the people around us. Last concert? Wanted to be in the mosh pit.

She dresses like a scary little rocker dude (not at all like a little rocker chick), scores straight 'A's and is consistently praised by her teachers and peers alike for being thoughtful, kind and generous.

I'll let you know when "Paradox" schedules their first world tour. Tell them you know me, I'll see what I can do about getting you a backstage pass.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Get Off My Shoulder, Or Give Me $5,000.

I was in an elevator today with a nice looking lady. It was a mirrored elevator, so not looking at her was next to impossible. Here's what I saw:

She was wearing a jacket; I was wearing a jacket.

She was wearing a T-shirt; I was wearing a T-shirt.

She was wearing black pants; I was wearing a black skirt.

She was wearing black shoes with Mary-Jane style straps; I was wearing black shoes with Mary-Jane style straps.

We couldn't have looked more different.

Her jacket was a cropped blazer that nipped in smartly at her waist; mine was my husband's jean jacket with the sleeves rolled up.

Her T-shirt was white and fitted and tucked into her pants; mine was bright pink and oversized and hanging out over my skirt and below the hem of my pilfered jacket.

Her pants had a nice drape; my skirt was what a sweatshirt would be if a sweatshirt were a skirt.

Her shoes were patent leather with pointy toes and high heels; mine were ergonomically designed earth shoes.

I looked away from her - in the mirrored elevator - and to my own reflection. There were Stacy and Clinton, sitting on my shoulders like some sort of demented devils, tormenting me, "See? She still looks casual. She's still wearing a T-shirt and a jacket. There is nothing you are going to do today that you would not look perfectly appropriate doing dressed like her." Then all the mirrors in the elevator started feeling like S&C's 360 degree mirrored room and I got a little dizzy and nauseous.

The nice looking lady exited the elevator with a polite nod and smile. I think I may have flipped her off, I'm not sure.

The demonic little Stacy and Clinton followed me to my car, where they continued to berate me about buying clothes that fit and making more of an effort and how much less frumpy I'll feel when I look less frumpy and blah blah blah blah blah. At this point I stabbed Clinton in the eye with a spork that I keep in the glove box for just such situations. I tried to get Stacy, but the light deflecting off of her oh-so-chic white streak temporarily blinded me. I get random kinky little gray hairs. If only I could corral them into one nice, tidy, interesting little streak... It's because I'm lazy and undisciplined. Maybe if I paid more attention to my wardrobe...

So I sighed, and I told Stacy that I realized that the bulk of my clothing choices were unflattering. I said I was ready to make more of an effort. I told her I was ready to hear and respect her rules. I asked her for my $5,000 prepaid credit card.

Bitch disappeared so fast it made my head spin.

Roots and Wings

Today my Lea turns 13.

Lea was never what you might want to call an easy child. Prenatally, she put me on bed rest. She took her good sweet time coming into this world, not upside down but backwards, resulting in a ridiculously long 'back labor' for me. Upon entering this world, instead of being thrust onto my chest and into my arms, she was immediately wheeled away. She had entered this world with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. Not tightly, but enough that they wanted to check her out before allowing us to bond. Practically my first glimpse of her was of her being wheeled away from me.

The first few years of her life we were always together. I always made her the first priority. We played together constantly and I worked when she napped. For a couple years, Lea had my undivided attention. It wasn't hard for her to get this - I was utterly enchanted by her. I clearly remember one incident, when she was a couple months old. We were visiting relatives and I was laying on the floor with her, playing quietly, winding down. My mom and my aunt suggested that they could watch the baby so that I could have a little break. I remember saying, sincerely and incredulously, "a BREAK? Why would I want a BREAK from my BABY?" I adored her.

Lea was a beautiful baby - full-on Gerber beautiful.

For her second Halloween she was Princess Leia. (Come on, her name was Lea. Like we had a choice...) Her grandmother had made her a little costume and I had braided and cinnamon bunned a long wig. Which she called her hat. She had a light saber that was almost as big as she was. I was hugely pregnant with her sister and had to opt out of trick-or-treat that year. Call it hormones, call it whatever you want, but I couldn't stop crying as I watched her happily skipping down the street, holding hands with her daddy and telling him things I couldn't hear. Things that were just for them. Walking away from me.

I wanted her to go to pre-school, because I didn't want her to have a rude awakening when she started kindergarten. She had some little friends, but the bulk of her socialization was with me. I wanted her to have some experience dealing with other little people under her belt before I put her on a school bus. Separating on that first morning was much harder for me than for her. I offered assurances, tears welling up behind my eyes, that I wouldn't be far. She said, "Ok. Bye." and turned her back on me to begin playing in this new room full of new to her toys and new to her kids. Ok. Bye. I cried in the car for the full hour and a half - missing her - knowing that it was an important step that she'd taken that day. An important step away from me.

When she was a little older, she wanted to go to Girl Scout Camp with a friend from her troop. I reluctantly agreed. No contact for a full week. We couldn't call each other. I wrote to her every day - starting before she left - so that she would be sure to get something at mail call each day. Despite the fact that I'd packed self-addressed stamped envelopes for her, I got nothing all week. Tom was not surprised. I was devastated. When I picked her up, though, I got the biggest hug I have ever received from that child. She ran at me like a thing possessed and gave me a full on arms and legs monkey hug. Lea is - to put it mildly - not much of a hugger - at least not with me - so this was one of my happiest parenting moments ever. Still walking away from me, but at the same time running towards me.

Last summer at a large festival, Lea wanted to be free to walk around with her girlfriend. I was reluctant, but there were a lot of other kids their age running around sans parents, so after a long lecture and a check to make sure no-one's cell phone was in danger of running out of charge, we watched them walk away. She and her friend proved themselves worthy of our trust. Every 15 minutes or so they sent us a picture of themselves. Here we are. Safe, sound and happy. Checking in. Independent, walking away, but still connected.

As with that first day of pre-school, it's always been easier for her than it is for me.

A wiser person than me once said that the best things we can give our children are roots and wings. Give them roots to keep them grounded through tough times. Give them wings to soar above everything, explore new worlds and fly farther than we ever did.

Lea, my first born, my dearest love - giving you roots has been easy. Giving you wings has been harder, but I'm trying. I know when it's time for you to fly you will indeed soar above it all and fly farther than I ever have. I know this. I HOPE that you will always remember where your roots are and that you will always find a way to return to them.

Happy birthday, baby.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Bass, The Rock, The Mic, The Treble

Liv and Lea at the Newport

As I've probably nattered on about before, Lea will be turning thirteen on Monday. This is a special birthday - officially a teen - so when I found out that one of her favorite bands would be in town just a few days prior to her birthday, it seemed pretty clear how we had to celebrate. On a Thursday night, we packed the family up and headed to the Newport Music Hall to see Mindless Self Indulgence.

Tom and I have never shied away from taking the girls to shows, so we didn't really put a lot of thought into this. Special birthday. Band she likes. No brainer.

Our lack of forethought first became evident as we started circling the block on which the Music Hall is located looking for parking. The line of folks waiting to get in was already quite long. And we were pretty sure our little group was gonna anchor both ends of the age spectrum.

Now those of you who know me know that I am not in any way freaked out by what I call "the fringe children" - the kids who rely on a lot of piercings and tattoos and elaborate hair and outfits to try to figure out who they are. I have no issue with them, truth be told, I kind of like them. I like the girls with their pigtails and their striped tights and combat boots and short skirts and mesh shirts. I like the boys with their mohawks and skinny jeans and concert shirts. I like interesting piercings and body mods and brightly colored hair. I like hair with so much product it doesn't even resemble hair anymore. I like all of these things. But when it became the norm and I became the exception - I didn't like that much, at all. It's never fun to feel like a minority. Which is, of course, how the fringe children feel every day, but, in fairness, that is sort of self-imposed.

Anyway, short story long, I started to feel intimidated. Then, of course, I started to feel ashamed of myself. What kind of hypocrite am I? So I was unnerved as we took our place in line. Lea was giddy. She felt, I have to assume, like the little Bee Girl in the Blind Melon video for 'No Rain'. She was among her wonderfully different peeps. While I was trying to hide my intimidation and Lea was trying to hide her girlish glee Tom and Liv seemed pretty impervious to it all. Perhaps they were trying to hide something, too. If we're going to get philosophical, I suppose we all are. Whoa. Choke me in the shallow waters, before I get too deep.

After almost an hour in the line, we made it into the venue. It was very cool and just right for what it was. It was perfect, as a matter of fact, for what it was. What it was NOT was: designed for the comfort of middle-aged people with bad backs and arthritic knees. No seating. A few railings to lean on, that was it. That was as much rest as our old bones were gonna get. Coupled with the fact that we'd overheard in line that there were going to be two warm-up bands, Tom and I (mostly me, I'm sure) started working up a mild state of panic. First thought: my knees are never gonna make it. Second thought involved math. There's not supposed to be math at concerts! If the doors opened at 7 and the first of 2 warm up bands took the stage at 8, (carry the 2), we were very unlikely to get out of there before 12. On a school night. Oh my sweet loving God, what had we done?

We secured a position in the balcony leaning against a railing. The view was excellent and the kids were able to observe the mosh pit without actually getting anywhere near it. It was all good. We took turns leaving our post, once we'd claimed it, so as not to lose it completely. Tom took the girls to buy the requisite T-shirts. We people watched - which was primo - while we waited for the first band.

When they came out, Liv, who was next to me, immediately started rockin' out. About half way through the first song, I pointed out to her that the band consisted of just a drummer, a keyboardist and a singer. Liv gave me a look which clearly conveyed, "Thanks for pointing that out, Captain Obvious". It was noteworthy because Liv is trying to start a band and so far she only has a drummer and a keyboardist on board. She thought she'd need a guitar and a bass before they could even think about making music. This band, Velvet Code, was doin' it. While Tom and I weren't completely turned on by the music, we loved how into it the girls were. And they put on a fun show. I often really like the warm up band. They try hard.

The second band, Hollowboy, didn't impress any of us. I think there was a pretty prevalent feeling going through the crowd. That feeling manifested itself as a chant a little more than halfway through their set: "M-S-I! M-S-I!" I always feel a little bad when there's a second warm-up band. Even when you don't like them much - as I didn't - it's gotta be distressing playing to a crowd who is just chanting for the headliners while you're trying to entertain them. So I clapped politely. I'm pretty sure they appreciated the effort.

Mindless Self Indulgence hit the stage with a frenzy that never let up. I really really dug it and the girls were going nuts. The mosh pit was in full swing. Liv turns to me and says, "They look like a bunch of penguins down there!"

"Penguins?" I shouted, uncertain that I'd heard her right with my old middle-aged ears in the middle of a concert. Penguins didn't make much sense. The crowd was more pink and black than black and white... and no-one was doing that cute little waddle walk. I was thinking maybe a peacock reference might have been more fitting... but I was pretty sure I heard 'penguin'.

"Yes! Penguins! When one penguin moves, they all move! They look like penguins!"

My first thought was that she was sort of making fun of them - sort of like sheep - all following, none leading - allowing themselves to be herded. That was never Liv's way. Good for her, I thought. Then I looked at her face. She was not making fun of these people. She was entranced by them. "Do you want to be a penguin?" I asked, tentatively.

"HECK YEAH!!!" she answered, pogoing and headbanging simultaneously, with stars and hearts in her eyes. Penguins. Lovely.

Well, shit. My eleven year old can't wait to hit the mosh pit.

Someone hold me.

Around halfway through their set, I saw a guy talk to Lea. She was between Tom and I, so I didn't panic or anything. Turns out he had asked if she could squeeze over to make room on the railing for his girlfriend, who was rather shortish and couldn't see. Lea, of course, was in her element and wasn't gonna say no to a fellow fringe child fan, so she squeezed over, effectively squeezing Liv out to make room for a girl in a full-on Alice in Wonderland costume. (Yeah, I don't know. Maybe some sort of drug reference?) I let Liv squeeze through to my space and held on to the bar with one hand for a little while before being completely squeezed out. I had been on my feet for almost 5 hours now and my knees hurt so bad I nearly cried. There is no crying at concerts! No math, and no crying! I was definitely doing it wrong!

Despite that, though, the show was really fun. The energy was high, the band was infinitely entertaining and it was all good. I had to get off of my high horse of political correctness a couple times, but dammit, sometimes it gets uncomfy up there and I need to stretch my legs. No harm. My girls have had that drilled into them enough that they know to never say things that are - incorrect. They also know they're going to hear them. They live in the world. I have faith that I've given them the tools to handle it.

On the way out, both girls were so excited. When I heard "That was better than the My Chemical Romance concert!" I knew for sure we'd done good. I forgot about political incorrectness and my sore knees and reveled in the indisputable fact that we'd made her thirteenth birthday memorable.

On the way out, they noticed a poster with upcoming shows. Dragonforce, April 27. A freaking MONDAY night... but it's Dragonforce, Mom... Crap. Looks like this party has just begun. Do you think I'd lose any cred if I took a little stool to sit on between bands?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lunch With a Loved One

Lunch with a loved one. Because parent luncheons didn't work because too many parents couldn't consistently make it. Grandparents? Too many lived far away. Or no longer lived at all. So lunch with a loved one was conceived as a catch-all phrase to cover anyone special in the child's life that could make it to lunch with them.

I have never missed a lunch with a loved one for either of my girls. I like them. I like them a lot. I like the opportunity to see my child in her natural environment. That makes it sound like I'm observing monkeys in the zoo. I'm not going to edit it.

I like meeting their friends and I love having special one-on-one time with each child - away from their sibling. All about them. I love the proud way they show me around their classroom and their school. I've even learned to accept (if not love) that they'll ditch me in a minute to play with their friends. I like watching them interact with their friends. I like the way their face lights up when they initially see me, waving at me like little maniacs. Like they hadn't seen me just a couple hours before. There's something special about being where you usually aren't.

I'm lucky, and I know it. I am a stay-at-home mom with no obligations other than those which I impose on myself. I'm lucky I get to experience this every year, twice a year. I'm lucky.

Less lucky are those kids who do not get a lunch date and those parents who, usually due to circumstances way out of their control, can't make it to these events. It is often just unreasonable to expect parents to be able to rearrange their whole day so that they can spend half an hour at their child's school. I'm sure many of them would love to. It's just not always feasible.

I've watched kids from preschool on up during these events. As they get older, they do seem to be better equipped to understand that their parents (or grandparents, or general loved ones) can't always make it. Or maybe they just get better at masking their disappointment.

Because of this, I really don't think days like this are a good idea.

I say that with a heavy heart, because I personally adore them. I'm lucky. But fighting to keep them because I enjoy them when they make so many kids and parents sad is just full-on selfish. Yet I don't want it to be taken away from me, even though I know it's an inherently bad idea.

I realized that this was not completely unrelated to the feelings I experienced when my university's mascot changed from the politically incorrect and offensive 'Indians' to the more benign 'Crimson Hawk's'. I understood the need to switch. I even agreed with it. But dammit, I wasn't a 'Crimson Hawk', I was an 'Indian'. My alumni magazines used to be greeted with enthusiasm, but now they just go straight to the recycle bin. It's not my school anymore.

That's ok. Time goes by, things change, it's not all about me (or so I'm told). It's not all about what makes me comfortable and/or happy. There is a whole community, nation, world to consider.

Sometimes that means I lose, for the greater good.

For now, though? I get to continue to enjoy lunch with my loved ones once a year. And I pull as many of those kids without a grown-up lunch date to our table and offer them a cookie and listen to their stories.

And that's ok, too.

Monday, March 16, 2009

No Offense...

Over dinner last night our eldest related to us that one of her new friends thinks I'm nice and Tom is a little scary. (No offense, Dad.)

Tom and I smile. This is as it should be. This new friend is of the male variety and we figure being an approachable mom and a slightly intimidating dad sounds just about exactly right.

If that was the end of it, it wouldn't be much of a story, would it?

She went on to say that she didn't know why he thought that. If she were meeting us for the first time, her reaction would be just the opposite.

"Why would you say that?"

"Because Dad just looks kind of - old and harmless. No offense, Dad."

"None taken."

"But Mom looks scary. Mom looks like she could put a hurtin' on someone. No offense, Mom."

"None taken."

Then my old, harmless husband looked at me and said, "You realize what she's just done, don't you?"


"She's just accused us of being Ozzy and Sharon."

"Oh my God, I think she has."

Being the pop culture junkies that we are, Tom and I have often wondered what TV couple we were. Were we Tim and Jill? Dan and Roseanne? Mike and Carol? Peg and Al? Bob and Emily? Sam and Darrin? Fred and Wilma?


We're Ozzy and Sharon.

We are the prince and queen of freaking darkness.

All hail.

Housework is a Breeze With My New Maytag Appliances!

Ok, that title may be a little deceptive since I still hate housework and avoid it at all costs and live in a sty just to defy it. Screw you, housework! You're not the boss of me!

The alternate title for this post was "If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It (But if it IS, Get Your Ass a New One)". I liked the one I went with better because I thought it conjured up images of happy housewives in vintage ads from the 50's and 60's. And I kinda dug that. But that's all irrelevant. Here's the ridiculously mundane deal:

Tom and I were both single for a long time and we both lived in apartments until we got married in our early 30's. Neither of us ever owned a washer/dryer before that time. When we got married, Tom's stepfather had just gotten a new set and offered to let us have their old one, as it was still quite functional. We happily accepted. One less expense for newly marrieds? Yes, please.

This served us just fine for a while. If I'm not mistaken, we inherited someone else's reject a few years down the line. I may be mis-recalling the whole thing - maybe we inherited single pieces. It doesn't matter. Not important to the actual story. What is important, I guess, is that we never had a matched set, but we always had something functional. And that seemed like enough.

Our dryer had given us trouble a few times, but Tom had managed to cuss his way through manageable repairs. Then a couple months ago something went wrong with the sensor. It would still dry our clothes, it just never stopped. It dried, and dried and dried. And even when I was diligent enough to check on it in a timely manner, it was drying very slowly. But laundry is a job and it's not fun and it's not supposed to be and it was still getting done, so I saw no real benefit to bitching about it. It was what it was.

It took me three full days to get four or five loads of laundry washed, dried, and put away.

Then Tom says to me (he says), "We really need to replace that dryer, this is ridiculous." Go figure, I did not argue this point with him. And then it got even better. When he took me to look at new dryers, he asked if I wanted a washer, too. I reminded him that the washer was just fine. He said he thought I might like to have a matched set. I said that I indeed might.

So I accepted delivery of my new washer and dryer a little over a week ago, and I gotta tell ya: I might have experienced just a little bit of that ridiculous vintage housewife glee. My dryer dries faster than my washer washes. This is insane to me! Now to those of you who actually indulge in modern appliances on a regular basis, this may seem like no big deal, but for me - well - the mind wobbles. Laundry takes about one third the time it used to. And also? When I open either appliance, they sing to me. And I think that's just a real nice touch. Like birds singing to Cinderella. Or something.

Now I wonder if one of those new vacuums on a ball would get me this excited about vacuuming?

Monday, March 9, 2009

International Day of Awesomeness

It has come to my attention that today is officially the International Day of Awesomeness. As I read this on the internet, I must assume that it is absolutely, 100%, set in stone, irrefutably true (double true).

Now. The questions then become: How should one best celebrate such an auspicious occasion? How much awesome can you bring to the table before the table collapses? Am I really awesome enough to participate?

I can only provide a confident and solid answer to the third query. You are totally awesome enough. Totally.

As for question number two, I figure if the table collapses from an overabundance of awesome, well, it was probably time for a new table anyway. You didn't want a table that had a set capacity for awesome, did you? So don't worry about over-taxing the table with your awesomeness. Things will work out the way they need to.

Now the first question. Hmmmm. This one is tougher, I think. That you should celebrate in a manner that is awesome is obvious. But what is awesome? Websters defines "awesome" as:

1: expressive of awe
2 : inspiring awe

Well, that wasn't as helpful as I'd hoped...

Let's see how they define "awe":

an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime

Hmmm - if I had been asked to define it without the assistance of Websters, I almost certainly would not have included the word "dread". I absolutely would not have listed it first.

Nope, Mr. Webster, in this case you were no help. I think we need to return to the current vernacular definition. Where does one find current vernacular definitions? Urban Dictionary, of course. The Urban Dictionary carries many definitions for awesome, my possible favorite being:

A 'sticking plaster' word used by Americans to cover the huge gaps in their vocabulary. It is one of the three words which make up most American sentences. The American vocabulary consists of just three words: Omigod, awesome, and shit.

Well, shit. That didn't make me feel awesome at all. But it did make me giggle. And starting
your morning with a giggle is, in my humble opinion, pretty awesome.

However you choose to define it, I hope you have an awesome day!

Friday, March 6, 2009

And We Danced

Remember when you were very young and you would spin and spin and spin until you couldn't maintain your balance anymore and you would fall down, preferably into a big pile of sofa pillows, and watch the world spin while you laughed at nothing in particular? If you were a little girl, perhaps this feeling was enhanced by a wonderfully twirly skirt that made you feel beautiful as well as carefree and dizzy. I've often said that most of us who indulge in alcohol or drugs when we get older are just trying to recapture that feeling of spinning and spinning and spinning. (Then, somewhere along the way, most of us decide we don't really like that feeling very much at all. But that's another story for another day)

I have always loved to dance. I have never been any good at it. Grace is not my stronghold. I have rarely cared. Dance like no-one is looking was never just a platitude for me.

I remember Jr. High dances. Sitting with the girls on one side of the room while the boys lined the other. Maybe awkwardly dancing with girlfriends for a little while before dissolving into giggles when we realized the boys were watching. Tentatively swaying with the boys during slow songs. Beth? I hear you callin'. But I can't come home right now...

I don't remember high school dances as much as I remember going EVERY weekend in high school to the underage disco, The Glass Diamond. Now say what you want about disco. You'll probably be right. I've probably said it too. As a musical genre, it was deplorable. But as a scene? Honey, even the underage scene was on fire. I remember putting on my deep scoop necked Danskin and a black wrap skirt and ridiculous heels and heading to the diamond. It felt so sophisticated and grown-up to enter that disco and say, "Hold my purse. I love this song." And then proceed to boogie ooggie oogie till I just couldn't boogie no more. I remember practicing steps and moves diligently in girlfriends' basements to get ready for that one night a week. Saturday Night Fever was not entertainment, it was a How-To-Guide.

College led to dancing on beer-sticky basement floors in frat houses then small apartments with the furniture pushed back, then finally, senior year, in clubs. College was dancing like Belinda Carlisle. College was trying to learn the "Thriller" dance without the benefit of a VCR. Or, you know, the aforementioned grace. And, if any of my college friends are reading, it's 10:00. What song is on the stereo? (Godzilla) And where are your feet? (not on the floor)

Post college involved a lot of dancing and clubbing, too. At least twice a week, quite often a lot more. DJ, VJ, live band - it was all good. And it was all an opportunity to dance. For inspiration.

Then dancing became something I only did at weddings. Celebrate good times, come on!

Then dancing became a lovely form of synchronous reciprocity when I danced with my babies and they responded to the gentle rhythms.

And I thought maybe that was it.

Every now and then I'd dance around the house with the kids. Every now and then at a concert or festival I'd feel my shoulders start to move. Even more rarely my hips would become engaged. If I thought no one was looking. On rare occasions I'd headbang a little. Which is, as everyone knows, the same but different.

Last night I got a gift.

The pizza shop had karaoke night.

From a business standpoint, it was a complete failure. But the very thing that made it a failure for the business made it a resounding success for me. It was like a private party. A private party for girls. The only folks there were myself, my two girls, my sister and her daughter, our friend, one other waitress, and her friend. Everyone (but me - I have my limits) took a turn on the mike. That was fun. But more fun than that? We danced. I mean we DANCED! No little shoulder dancing, no shifting weight from one hip to the other, full on dancing. We forgot we were too fat or too skinny or too old or too young or too any darn thing at all and we danced. Me? Who has spent the last couple decades trying to be invisible so no-one will have to be offended by the ampleness of my behind? Child, I was doin' the butt. I was a brick house. I p-pushed it real good. And I did all of this with women I loved who were doing it too. And we laughed. We laughed so hard and so well. And every bit of it was laughing with, not at. (ok, the young boys who were working at the shop might have been laughing at. But if you're not living your life in a manner that is amusing on some level to adolescent boys, you're probably not living it right.)

Moving like that felt AMAZING! I felt like that little girl swirling in my pretty dress till I couldn't swirl any more. That was cool. But cooler still was that I was sharing this experience with my girls. This wonderful, multi-generational girl power feeling was just palpable. I hope they never forget it.

I know I won't.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lay Your Hands on Me

While waiting to have blood drawn today, I couldn't help but notice an older gentleman sharing the waiting room with me. I was looking at his thin delicate skin and feeling sorry in advance about whatever pricking and poking they were going to impose upon him. He was quite old. He was mostly (but not completely) bald - and even his head was wrinkled. My eyes were, for some reason, drawn to his hands. I was immediately struck by how lovely they were. They were quite deeply wrinkled and covered with age spots. Two things we're taught to fear and fend off as long as possible. Looking at him, I wondered why. He was beautiful. Perhaps that's just my personal aesthetic, but I don't know. He looked beautiful to me. His hands looked particularly beautiful. I found myself wondering what he'd done for a living - how he'd used those hands as a younger man - if they had stories. I was pretty sure they did. I had to force myself to look away - I'd stared too long and was in danger of appearing rude.

I turned my attention to my own hands. I complain about them being wrinkly, and they are - certainly more wrinkly than they were when I was in my 20's - but no where near the glorious wrinkles that that man was sporting. I wondered if he loved them or hated them or was completely indifferent to them. I hoped he loved them. Indifferent seems like a more likely answer, though. I don't love my hands. Even before my skin started showing the ravages of time, I didn't like how short my fingers are. Now they're short and wrinkled. Blech.

When my turn came, after all of this thinking about hands, I pretty naturally focused my attention on the hands of the woman who would be drawing my blood. They looked a lot like mine. But they didn't bother me on her. Hmmmm. So apparently middle-aged hands don't bother me as long as they're attached to someone else. I hope I get over this silliness by the time I have gorgeously deep wrinkles like my companion in the waiting room.

This same reasoning transfers to gray hair for me, too. I think women with gray hair are really beautiful. Women with white hair are downright enviable. And men with gray or white hair? Child, please. Yet graying hair? Not quite as charming. Which is why, I suppose, so many people attempt to cover it up. I bet if we went to bed one day with dark hair and woke up the next with gray it wouldn't freak us out nearly as much as watching the little grays slowly, one by one begin to take over. Because we can hide a couple. And we can hide a few. And then we MUST! The alternative becomes unbearable.

But hands. We were talking about hands. Weird. It's so unlike me to go off on a tangent...

Tom has beautiful hands. Long graceful fingers. He was born to be a musician. When both girls were born, it was immediately apparent that they had inherited his lovely hands. Liv's fingers - at age 11 - are already longer than mine.

My hands aren't so lovely to behold, but they are deft and true. I think maybe I ought to give them a little more respect.

*The title for this post was originally going to be "Hands Down" or "Raise Your Hand if You're Sure" or something like that, but when Tom informed me that today was Jon Bon Jovi's birthday, nothing but "Lay Your Hands on Me" made any sense.

**This is post #99! How shall we celebrate 100? Oh the pressure! Forget I said anything - I think I'll let it come and go like any other. Or maybe I won't. We'll see if inspiration strikes. But if you think of a swell way to commemorate it, I am indeed open to suggestions...