Friday, November 27, 2009

When Black Friday Comes...

Black Friday. Folks love it and hate it and love to hate it and hate to love it. Folks avoid it like the plague and folks look forward to it all year. Folks have strong feelings about Black Friday.

My mom is among them. You know, the folks. The strong feeling folks. She falls very firmly into the pro camp. Lurves it, she does.

For the last decade or so my parents have been bringing Thanksgiving to me. My sister and I live in the same town, and my parents just find it easier to travel to us than to have us travel to them. We have Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's house, and while the dishes are still being washed, the sale flyers are being perused. For years it was my mom, my sister and I. We'd wake up early and stand in the lines and shop till we dropped and have coffee and breakfast and a couple years we even lasted until lunch.

My mom has made no secret about how much she cherishes this tradition.

Me? I don't usually end up shopping that much that day, but I do enjoy the time with my girl tribe. This year my sister had to work. My mom asked if I'd still go with her. Of course I would. You see, I'm the black sheep of the family. I made all the wrong choices and took all the wrong paths. You might say (if you were my mother) that I'm a giant mass of unfulfilled God-given potential. Now this was a moniker I may have rightfully laid claim to from the late 70's through the late 80's, but since then I've been pretty much an upstanding citizen. It doesn't matter. My role in the family has been cemented. I'm the loser, the nogoodnik, the ne'er do well. As such, I'm a woman pushing fifty who is still desperate to receive her parents' approval. I don't know if that makes me a loser or not, but it certainly makes me pitiful.


So my mom and I look through all of our ads, plotting our course. As we queued up at Target at 3:15 am I knew I was gaining favor. I didn't mind the dark or the cold or the little threats of snow - my mom was enjoying being just with me. As the day progressed, she had great luck shopping while I pushed the buggy and pointed her towards the proper sections of the stores. At one point she said, "I like just shopping with you. You do everything I suggest and you never say no." (for the record, it was similar behavior that caused me to fall out of favor a couple decades ago...)

I puppied out before she did, begging off to go home around 9:30. She took me home then picked my dad up and had him take her to a couple more stops. I was just waking up from my nap when she called to tell me she was done and to ask if I'd mind taking her to Barnes & Noble after dinner. Sure I will. I am, after all, just a girl who can't say no.

It may have been Black Friday, but for just one day, I got to be Golden.

I'll take it.

Speaking of getting things for great prices (or, in this case, for FREE!), utilizing the random number generator, Sherri at Luv a Bargain was the winner of my Stick Mixer giveaway! Congratulations, Sherri! Send me your contact information and we'll get this going!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

There are Dozens of Us! Dozens!

Lots of good things come in dozens. Donuts, cupcakes, never-nudes and candles on Liv's birthday cake. Yes, my youngest, my baby, my darlink girl turns 12 today.

As a preschooler, Liv loved playing dress up. Well, sure. Most kids love dress up. But Liv would stay in character for - well - I think she might have been Dorothy Gale for two full years. She had three blue gingham jumpers and went through countless pairs of ruby slippers. She would only wear blue socks. When the weather got cold and I told her she had to wear tights, she had a fit. "Dorothy doesn't wear tights! Dorothy wears blue socks!" I told her she could wear blue socks over her tights, but that didn't fly. I finally found some tights that closely matched her skin color and she reluctantly agreed to wear those. But it didn't make her any too happy. Dorothy gave way to Laura Ingalls. Laura didn't live with us as long, but she certainly lived with us vividly. Tom and I grew accustomed to being referred to as Ma and Pa. Liv wore her bonnet to go to the grocery store. Or, you know, "to go into town for dry goods."

As she got older, we found out that Liv's convictions weren't confined to character authenticity in her clothing choices. She became a vegetarian at the age of ten and has never looked back. She doesn't impose her beliefs on anyone else, but she holds firm to them for herself. Liv knows who she is and she likes herself. I know a lot of adults who haven't come to that sort of peace (raises hand shyly hoping no one will see me...). To be able to feel it at twelve - an age when many kids are feeling their most awkward, is nothing short of amazing to me.

While she may be all about the tree hugging and animal rights, that's not ALL she's all about. Liv is also a talented writer and musician. Her ideas for stories blow me away. They're sweet, and clever, and unique - just like their author. She's a natural born writer. She also plays drums, piano and baritone. She has a band with her sister and a couple other kids (Um, playing the drums. Not the baritone. Just to be clear.) and they're sounding better than Tom and I ever dreamed they'd sound so early in the game. Her genre? Metal. Speed metal, specifically. I told her she should name her band 'Paradox'. (she didn't)

How could I have talked about my Livvie Lu this long and not mentioned her wit? A day doesn't go by that she doesn't crack my stuff up at least once. And ya know what? When she's sure no one is looking? She still kisses me goodnight.

Happy Birthday, Punky Punk! You rock my world!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Party's Over (Or Has it Just Begun?)

So yesterday. Wow. Yesterday was a blast. But now everyone's gone home and it's time to move the furniture back where it belongs and throw away the empties. Time to wash the dirty glasses and run the vacuum. I think someone got chocolate on my carpet. Man, I hope that's chocolate. That's never coming out. No worries. Every good party racks up a little collateral damage. I think that happened when a couple of you thought it would be a good idea to play "you got chocolate in my tequila!" "You got tequila on my chocolate!" Two great tastes that, as it turns out, don't taste great together. At all.

Yesterday was a party, but today it's back to the real world. That's cool, though - because some of you may remember that I teased a couple weeks ago about a giveaway? Well, that's happening today. That's not a bad segue back to reality, huh? Free stuff. Nice.

The folks at CSN stores offered to send me a product to review for them. In exchange for an honest review, they sent a Kaloric stick mixer for me to try and - the best part - offered to send another one to one of my lucky readers. Cool, right?

Ok - a little back story: On Halloween, my daughter dropped my point and shoot and it hasn't worked since. I was trying to hold out on my review until I'd replaced it, but then I just got antsy to get one of these out to you and money for a new camera didn't seem to be appearing from the sky, so - so I decided to power through sans personal pics. (If any of you have a direct line to Santa, perhaps you could clue him in regarding my camera dilemma. Thanks.)

But I've digressed, haven't I? Sorry.

Yesterday was the perfect day for me to fire this puppy up. I was so busy answering all of your wonderful comments (thank you, thank you, thank you, by the way! - I'll visit you all before the week is out - promise!) that I didn't have time to make lunch. So I said to myself, I said, "Self? You ought to use that stick mixer and make yourself a smoothie. A vodka smoothie." And that's just what I did. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I've never owned another stick mixer, so I don't have a basis for comparison. (Fine. Also in the interest of full disclosure I didn't have a vodka smoothie at noon. Just a plain old strawberry banana one. Happy? Full disclosure is no fun. Let's not invite full disclosure next time.) What I can tell you is that my smoothie was done in seconds. (And that it was delicious!) Clean up couldn't have been easier. You KNOW I love that!!! So. Easy to use. Easy to clean. Easy to store. It is ALL good! I know I'll be going to this instead of the blender over and over again.

AND NOW YOU CAN TOO! (I screamed that like Billy Mays, God rest his soul, and pointed at you! Yes you!) Just leave a comment and you're in the running. Simple as that. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Everyone gets one entry only and - sorry - it can only be shipped to an address in the U.S. of A. (But everyone can still comment! Woo hoo! Just let me know that you're ineligible for the giveaway in your comment. Sucks, I know, but what're you gonna do?) Make sure you have it set up so that I can reach you via e-mail. I'm going to draw a winner on Friday, November 27, 2009, so be sure to comment before then!!!

Think of it as a slightly belated doorprize from the party.

(tomorrow is another party - a BIRTHDAY party! - and you're invited...)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stopping by From SITS to Say Hi? Well, Hi Right Back Atcha!

I saw a little plaque in one of the kagillion catalogs I receive regularly (and way more regularly during the holidays) that read: My house is a mess, but my homepage looks great. I should've perhaps been a little more concerned than I actually was when my whole family expressed the opinion that that plaque would look great over my desk. Ahem. So I'm glad you're visiting my virtual home rather than my actual one. I pay more attention to it.

So. Today I am the featured blogger at SITS. If you're not familiar with SITS, you should be! They are a great group of folks who offer tremendous comment support to blog addicts like m'self. You'll find people you'll like there, I promise.

If you're stopping by from SITS, hi, howdy, pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee, glass of wine, shot of tequila or can of Diet Coke. Seriously, I'll join you in whatever sort of libation you prefer. Wanna just squirt chocolate syrup down our throats and eliminate the middle man? I'm in.

So. Comfy? Ok. A little about myself, then.

Keep in Touch With Mommakin is a play on the Aerosmith song, Mama Kin. It sounds like a mommy-blogger name, but I'm not really a mommy-blogger. I do talk about my kids from time to time, (I have two girls - Lea, 13, and Liv who will be 12 this week.) but it's not all about them by a long shot. It's more about me. The subtitle. Wife, Mother, Squealy Fangirl, Frustrated Bohemian Suburbanite.

Now SITS would have me list three links for you to visit to get to know me a little bit and decide if I'm someone you'd like to spend more time with or not. This is hard! What if I link you to a bunch of posts about my kids and you hate mommy-bloggers? What if I link you to squealy fangirl posts and you hate the bands I love? What if I link you to whiny posts and you only like sunshine and rainbows and lollipops? (Seriously, though. I don't write a lot about sunshine and rainbows and lollipops. The occasional unicorn, but that's about it...) After a great deal of stressing and re-reading old posts, I just decided to go with three I liked. It's a pretty random sampling. Without further ado:

So that's a wee peek into me. I'm glad you stopped by! I hope you'll see fit to stop by again.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

NaNoWriMo: I Laughed, I Cried, It Became a Part of Me

Ok, so here's the dealio. I just wrote the last word in my NaNoWriMo project. Final word count? 50,046. More than a week ahead of schedule. It just got to a point where it was writing itself. I couldn't stop it.

I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me.

I laughed when I looked at some of the things I'd typed. One or two of them were even supposed to be funny. Many of them were not.

I cried when I looked at some of the things I'd typed. One or two of them were even supposed to be sad. Many of them were not.

It became a part of me. I learned lessons that will stay with me for a long time, if not forever. I learned:

Discipline. I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow morning when I sit down at my computer in the early morning hours when the house is still dark. (Yes I do. I'll catch up on all the blog reading I've been missing out on. See ya in the morning!) It will feel odd not to open that document and power through with the story. I have been very faithful to it. I have written the alotted amount of words every morning whether I wanted to or not. It wasn't a choice. A lot of crap was written utilizing this method, but I didn't stop or give up when I hit a glitch. That was cool. And very unlike me. I can weed out the crap in the editing process. If I'd quit, it would just be over.

Humility. What I've written - at this point - is not something that I would want to read. That is not false modesty. I was at the library the other day looking for a book. As I read back covers and rejected titles based on what was written there - scoffed at them even - I realized that I would reject a back cover description of my own book - I mean, project - just as quickly. I can't say I dug that feeling.

Respect. Another thing I realized was that every genre deserves respect - even the genres I'd never had much respect for before. Sex scenes are hard to write. Real live work goes into all of it. Even bodice rippers. Even romances. All of it. I may not want to read it - but I'll never scoff again. I'll never dismiss anything as silly fluffy or worthless again. Just because I don't want to read it doesn't make it crap. Writing is hard work and writers deserve respect.

I thought about starting the editing process tomorrow, but I ultimately decided against it. I'm going to let it sit until December 1 and begin editing then as planned. I'll probably be more objective with a little time between me and the story. Who knows? By January or February this hot buttered mess may actually evolve into something I'd like to read. (I'm not holding my breathe. But it could happen...)

All in all, I loved this experience. I put out over 50,000 words in a more or less linear story. I did it in 21 days. Not a lot of people can make that claim and - although I'm not (yet) proud of the product, I wouldn't have traded the process for anything. I'm already plotting for next November...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Truly Authentic

My new buddy Allison at Life of a Tater Tot Mom has tagged me as a Theta Mom - that is, THE True Authentic Mom. Ok, first of all, I'm always jealous of people named Allison, because they get that awesome Elvis Costello song and I just get that stupid 'Tammy's in Love' business. She gets "Alison, I know this world is killing you" and I get "The ole hootie owl hootie-hoo's to the dove - Tammy, Tammy, Tammy's in love".... and that is just patently unfair.

Part of being a True Authentic Mom is realizing that things aren't always fair all the time.

Sometimes you might want to go see Ace Frehley, but you go see a Jr. High orchestra concert instead, because you're a mom. Sometimes you want to see Aerosmith and KISS share a frackin' stage, but you send your kid to college instead, because you're a mom. (Because holy man! Have you SEEN how much tickets for a show like that cost?) Sometimes you want to drink martini's on a Friday night, but you take your kids to see New Moon instead, because you're a mom. (Ok, that one's totally not true. I'm totally going to drink martini's Friday night, because I'm the mom and I said so, dammit! But that just means I'll have to take them the next afternoon with a potential hangover. And I will. Because I'm a mom.)

See? Things aren't always fair.

Now, being tagged as a Theta Mom has some responsibilities and one of them is that I share five experiences that have shaped me as a true authentic mom. The other is that I tag five other folks who I think bring a certain sense of authenticity to the title of mom - and I will - I'll do that - just be patient. Sometimes you just have to be patient, whether it's fair or not.

I decided that, rather than write my own list, I'd turn it over to the folks who made me a mom in the first place. They didn't necessarily choose particular experiences, but rather generalizations. I figured that was close enough for rock and roll. Tom was the first person responsible for my motherhood, so he got the first shot (my comments are parenthetical and italicized.)

1. She gives up a lot for the family. She gave up her career. (and my youth and my beauty and travel and money and manicures, but never tequila...)

Lea was next to throw something into the pot:

2. She lets us go to concerts...even ones she doesn't like that much...and that are loud. (oh, bless your heart. I would NEVER take you a concert for a band I didn't like that much. And FYI? The TV can be too loud, but a concert really can't. Thanks, though, for thinking that's a sacrifice!)

Liv threw in the third one:

3. She lets me play my loud drums and not let it annoy her. (I admit it. I'm a saint.)

The girls came up with the next one together:

4. She always understands when we're on our periods. (due in large part to the fact that I never gave up tequila.)

Then they left, because they had more important things to do than stroke my ego (tell me more about my eyes...) and also because House was coming on and Dr. House always trumps me. So I was left to come up with the fifth one on my own.

5. I think being a true, authentic mom means giving up on perfection. Good thing I'd never really been much of a perfectionist in the first place. My heart hurts for those moms who are. Sometimes good enough just needs to be good enough. Before I had kids I did a lot of home visits in the course of my job and I always thought, smugly, that I could do it better. My kids would never ________, my house would always ________. Whatever you filled those blanks in with was probably right. But guess what? My kids aren't perfect and my house isn't perfect and I am far, far, far from perfect. But Lea said to me the other day (she said), "I love being in our family." Now Lea is thirteen and just about as ornery as the day is long. She has raised eye-rolling to an art form. I would not have been surprised if she'd said, "I hate this family!" (hurt, but not surprised). But she loves being a part of us, in all our imperfection. In all our true authenticity, if you will. So I guess I'm saying that I think being a true authentic mom has to do with accepting your true authentic family, warts and all.

Now for the tagging part. I find the following moms to be very true and authentic, so, tag! You're it!

Mamaface at Blog-Ignoramous
Unknown Mami at, um, Unknown Mami
Traci at 38 and Growing
Tiffany at ElastaMom's Excerpts
Mandy at Mandy's Life After 30

Aaaaaaand this is the reason I don't do many awards - I hate the passing on part - I always feel like I'm leaving someone important out and I hate, hate, hate that. Hate it. But this isn't an award, it's a tag. So I feel a little better about that. It's unfair that I had to choose only five out of all of my great mom friends. But, like we've already established, this mom thing isn't always fair.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

He's Still Preoccupied With Number Eighty-Five

So my mother hates Joe Paterno. No, wait, that's harsh. My mother hates Joe Paterno's glasses. I mean she has really strong feelings about those glasses. My dad will casually mention Joe Pa, and my mom will go off. "How can you even listen to him when he's wearing those stupid glasses? They're so stupid! I can't even pay attention to what he's saying because his glasses are so stupid." Sometimes she'll even punch her fist into her palm for emphasis. She becomes visibly agitated when he is interviewed. "He is so ridiculous! What is he trying to prove with those stupid glasses?"

The last time my dad was due for new specs, he casually announced, "I'm hoping they have some nice frames like Joe Paterno's."

"I'll divorce you."

They've been married for fifty-one years and have weathered many a storm, but this, apparently, would have been an unforgiveable offense.

"Why would you even SAY that? Oooooh! He looks so STUPID in those glasses. Why he would wear those stupid glasses I'll never know."

I guess there's no accounting for what we decide to get passionate about.

Lately my husband has been demonstrating a similar preoccupation with Chad Ochocinco, wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. It started out innocently (and logically) enough. "What kind of a douche legally changes his name to his jersey number?" I had no answer for that. It did seem like a sort of - well - douchey thing to do. I imagine many folks asked themselves and perhaps their significant others the same question, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

But that wasn't the end of it. Almost every time Ochocinco is mentioned, Tom will say some variation of, "What an idiot. Ochocinco. What kind of stupid name is that?" or, "So what happens if he goes to another team and number 85 has been retired? What're you gonna do then, OCHOCINCO? Stupid."

I have taken to answering his outbursts with, "His name is almost as stupid as Joe Paterno's glasses."

Comparing Tom to my mother usually buys me - and Ochocinco - a few moments of respite. But just a few. Because sooner or later, Tom will be shaking his head again and saying, "Ochocinco. Idiot." He tries to say it quietly, but I still hear him.

If I ever want him to divorce me, I'll just have to legally change my name to a number. If I want to be divorced and disowned, I can change my name to a number and get myself some big glasses.

Good to know.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby

Last week I told you about a little present I bought myself for completing my first week of NaNoWriMo. This week I deserve (but probably can't afford to indulge in) a much bigger present than an old CD. Several milestones were hit this week. I passed the halfway point, according to NaNoWriMo standards, and I passed it two days early. Oh, don't bother! I'll go ahead and pat myself on the back as soon as my hands are free from tooting my own horn. But that wasn't my biggest accomplishment. Oh no. My biggest accomplishment occurred yesterday. I wrote my very first ever completely fictional sex scene.

I've told a few of you in private notes that the coolest part of this whole project for me has been that after a couple days, the characters sort of started leading me rather than me leading them. They let me know what they needed to do and I wrote the words that made them do it. I'd certainly heard about this phenomenon before, but I never thought it would happen to me. (Should that last sentence have been prefaced by: Dear Penthouse? It sort of seems like it should have...) Well, this week two of my characters started leading me down a path that most definitely needed to result in a roll in the hay for them (roll, roll, roll in ze hay). I told Tom Wednesday, "I think my characters are going to do it tomorrow." I put it like that because I didn't want to waste all my valuable word-smithin' on a conversation with my husband, who would probably be just as happy if I didn't talk at all. As the day went by and I got closer to my writing time, I started trying to think of ways to get out of it (and for my gentlemen readers - isn't that just like a woman?) Maybe they could just start to make out and then one of them could get a very important phone call. Maybe they could just start to make out and then he would stop things to reveal a congenital disorder that made sex impossible but he sure would like to cuddle all night. Maybe they could just start to make out and that would trigger her hormones and make her period start. It could happen. But no. None of those things were what my characters wanted to do. What they wanted to do was 'it'. I'd made the bed and now I was going to have to lie in it - or - um - let them get laid in it.

So yesterday morning I did it. Well, I wrote it, they did it. And I'll tell you what, folks, if actually having sex took as long as writing about having sex did, we'd all feel like we were married to Sting, if you know what I mean, and I suspect that you do. I labored over it. It was torturous. I wanted it to be hot without crossing the line into pornographic. This is hard! (that's what she said) I didn't want it to be raunchy, but I didn't want it to be sappy. I wanted a potential reader to be a little warm after reading it - maybe even to have broken a little sweat - but I didn't want them to feel like they needed a shower. I have no idea if I accomplished this or not. As of this moment I'm pleased with what I came up with. I am also certain beyond the shadow of any doubt that some would find it too tame and some would find it too wild. You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself. So to speak.

You may or may not have noticed that I was missing from my usual blog rounds yesterday. Writing this short passage took all of my alotted computer time and a little more. Plus, my brain was zapped. My writing is usually very 'stream of consciousness'. That scene was work.

Am I going to let you read it? Not anytime soon! It's not ready for the light of day. Besides, what would a post about sex be without a little tease?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


There are people who fear change and people who embrace it. I have always tended to be more of a hugger - more of an embracer of change - but the older I get the more I find I want some things - not all things, mind you, but some things to stay the same. My last post was a testament to that.

My sister - there's a gal who fears change. No - fear is not the right word, and it would make her very angry to see me use it in reference to her and she can still kick my ass - she rejects change. Her hairstyle has changed twice since high school. She graduated in 1982. And neither of those changes were dramatic, either. She likes it this way and this is the way it is and if you don't like it you can suck it. She wears uniforms. Not official uniforms, just - she finds a style that she likes and that works for her and she wears it. All the time. The uniforms have gone through several changes. There were the shiny satin shirts and black pants. Then there was the ill-advised tuxedo shirts and gym shorts. Then there were T-shirts with over-sized animal prints. Currently she sports exercise tops and scrub bottoms. Cut off or not, depending upon the season. She marches to her own drummer, for sure, but said drummer can only play one cadence at a time.

I don't dig every fashion choice she makes, but I do dig her attitude. And I'm also a little jealous of the fact that she has a definite style. This is something that is not true of me. I try to be a chameleon and generally fail miserably.

I didn't set out to talk about clothes, though, believe it or not. I set out to talk about furniture. Last weekend we did some major moving and shaking around here. My craft room is gone. Gone, ya'll. In the next couple weeks, I expect to have a wall of shelves in what is currently Tom's unused woodshop. The kids have moved into my former craft room and made it a dedicated practice space for their band. This moved the drum kit and all of the amps and ugly wires and cords out of my front room and into the band room in the basement. This has been a good change! My front room is prettier, the kids practice more because they feel freer to make mistakes in the basement than they did in the front room - it's all good. Except the whole craft room thing, but that'll work out. Don't cry for me, fellow crafters.

So change - particularly change that brings almost instant notable improvement - leaves one wanting more, no? Improvements in one room draw attention to shortcomings in another. My perfectly servicable dining table became just a big ole' pile of flaws on four legs. Legs which have been chewed on by the puppy. And our puppy is 9 1/2. Years, not weeks. 9 1/2 weeks is something different entirely. So, yeah, a new dining set would definitely spruce things up.

The folks at CSN stores had contacted me a week or so ago to ask if I wanted to host a giveaway (And I said hell yes! So watch this space!) so I decided to check their dining room furniture first. Here's the dilemma. I liked two. A lot. This one is very similar to the one I currently have, but with a top that has not been the starting point for countless kids' art projects and legs which have not been used as canine teething toys. I know if I got this table or one like it it would look good in my kitchen. It's not a change so much as an upgrade.

Then I saw this. I love this set. But it is very different from what I currently have. It's more of a gamble. Will it look good in my space? Or will I get it and decide I need new curtains? And maybe a new baker's rack... You see where I'm going? It's a change, and it might (but might not...) dictate more changes that in turn might dictate even MORE changes... Change can have a snowball effect, no doubt.

Do I want to play it safe or take a risk?

When do you take risks and when do you play it safe?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sonnet #1: A Reluctant Crone's Dilemma

To color, or not to color: that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in mind to suffer the slings and arrows of an aging head with only a sparse few grays, or to take chemicals against a sea of potential grays, and by opposing end them?
To dye, to fake; to fake: perchance to deceive.
For who would purposefully bear the whips and scorns of time?

All of this is because I'm debating coloring my hair. Yeah. Nobody ever accused me of being not quite dramatic enough. You might even say I had quite a dramatic streak. Streak... that brings me back to hair color now, doesn't it?

Here's the thing: I colored my hair all the time when I was younger. A few of my friends were graying and I just didn't want to know about it. I figured if I kept color in it all the time, I'd just never know when I started to go gray. It seemed like a foolproof plan. When I had my kids and quit working, keeping up with color just wasn't a financial feasibility. I decided to see what was under there - under the color and the perms and all the other ridiculous affronts I had been imposing on my tresses. Turns out what was under there was not one single gray hair. I couldn't believe it. I was into my thirties and most of my friends were a little if not a lot gray. Not that anyone would've known that, of course. Fans of the color they were and are. I don't fault them for that a bit. But I didn't have a one. How 'bout that? Growing the perm out was a little more traumatic. My real hair was shiny. It was soft. It was not gray. But it was as fine as a toddler's. I considered using little velcro bows to try to manage my coiffure.

I haven't colored it or permed it or indulged in any other chemical processes since that day. (Ok, there was that one time, when I was asked to be a hair model - a before and after sort of thing. It was crazy fun and he did a great job with the color. I wouldn't mention it, but a couple of you know I did that and I know how you are. If you think I'm lying about that you'll figure I'm lying about everything. And I'm so not. I'm all about full disclosure. But that was years ago and it has long since grown out, so - sew buttons on ice cream.)

Now I'm no longer in my thirties and I only have a little bit of time left in the forties. My head is no longer completely devoid of grays. But I've gotta tell ya here, at the risk of seeming immodest, there are precious few of them. And I'll tell you something else - a secret, almost - I don't really hate them. They're not gray so much as they're silver - white even. They're not the bane of my existence. Sometimes I even think they're sort of pretty. Don't have a heart attack and die from the shock. I guess that's what happens when they don't start to show up until you're ready for them.

But lately - lately my crowning glory is not looking as shiny as it used to. Some days it's downright dull. It is still soft and it still behaves badly when I try to style it, but now it isn't lustrous. And I want it to be. Is that so wrong? The fast track to shine is color, right? And if it covers those couple few grays that insist on framing my face, well, that wouldn't be the end of the world I suppose.

All of this led to my Shakespearian inspired sonnet. Hamlet never had a dilemma like this. Plus, in the immortal words of The Boss, "I'm just tired and bored with myself".

Shakespeare and Springsteen in one post. Yeah.

Friday, November 6, 2009

You Never Forget Your First

I bought myself a present yesterday. I do that all the time on the rare occasion when I feel like I really deserve one. What did I do yesterday to merit a present, you ask? Well, I completed my fifth day of NaNoWriMo and that officially marked more words of fiction than I've ever put to paper before. (I know, right? Cheers! *clink*) It's weird - I'm not particularly proud of what I've written and I'm not even sure if any amount of post-November editing will make me so, but I AM very proud of the fact that I've been disciplined and dedicated enough to do it every day - even when the results weren't exactly (or even close to) what I wanted them to be.

I didn't want to talk about that, though.

I wanted to talk about my present.

I bought myself the CD 'Dreamboat Annie' by Heart. (no small thanks to Mary RC for getting that ball rolling with her post about doing their freaking hair and makeup and throwing me into possibly frightening squealy fangirl overload mode in her comments. Sorry Mary. Maybe sometime I'll tell you how I REALLY feel...) Now this was special, because this was the first album I bought with my own money. And I haven't had it in any other format until yesterday. Oh - for my younger readers - albums were these big flat round black things - bigger than a dinner plate - and we played them on record players, one side then the other. The artwork on them was sometimes amazing and often iconic. They were and are delicious. But that's not what I wanted to talk about, either.

I listened to the CD in the car yesterday and was amazed that I still knew every word to every song. The low notes she sings are still too high for me, but that didn't stop me from singing along to every note. I was alone in the car, no one's ears had to bear the offense. Oh! That was you next to me at that stop light? Well - whatever... Momma was just getting her groove on and you were probably just jealous. Love me like music, and I'll be your song...

Which brings me (quite smoothly, if I say so m'self) to the lyrics. How pretty is that one, by the way? I nearly wept this morning, listening to 'How Deep it Goes'.

Somebody turned on the dirty blues, well I know -
you don't like the blues 'cause the words are always the same
and they kind of remind you...

Somebody turned the blues on me,
well, I don't like the blues -
'cause I can't see through the tears that come,
and make it hard to find you...

Good gravy, kids. That moves me as much now as it did when I was fifteen. And that's exactly how old I felt, listening to it. I was instantly transported to my parents living room, playing albums on their hi-fi and singing every word as if it mattered. I could feel my parents carpeting under my belly as I read every lyric from the album cover and commited them to something deeper than memory. I almost expected my dad to say, "Time to call it quits, Tam, we've got to head to school"
"Just one more song..."

"I'll sing you a song - we have to go." (And for those of you who actually knew both my dad and I at that time - here's an extra little treat for you - he generally sang me Billy Joel's "Big Shot". Sometimes he danced. You're welcome for that visual)

I remember thinking the song 'Magic Man' might have been written about the boy I was seeing, because I truly HAD never seen eyes so blue... I thought about him this morning - listening to that CD - for the first time in over thirty years...

I remember hiking in the Canadian Rockies and drinking from a stream and hearing the lyric 'the time that you drank that water like wine, so sweet and so fine...' in my head and I was transported back to THAT moment this morning, too. I could almost taste that water - infinitely sweeter and more refreshing than any I'd ever tasted before or since.

My children were fighting in the car this morning and I turned up the volume on 'White Lightning and Wine' - mostly just to drown them out - and they not only stopped fighting but decided it would be a great song for their band to cover. Music hath charms...

I suppose I should get back to my NaNoWriMo project. How else am I gonna convince myself I deserve 'Seals and Croft's Greatest Hits' or Carole King's 'Tapestry' or Billy Joel's anything before 'The Nylon Curtain'?

Write on.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm Big Enough; I'm Small Enough

A pretty typical activity for teachers of young kids is a project called some variation on 'I'm Big Enough; I'm Small Enough'. This is a great activity for kids who are at an age where they're being sent conflicting messages to help them figure out exactly where they stand. Kids who are not yet old enough to make many decisions, but are constantly being told they're "old enough to know better". The idea is to come up with positive things on both sides, for example: "I'm big enough to tie my own shoes; I'm small enough to cuddle in Daddy's lap for a bedtime story". This of course evokes "awwwww's" from the grown-ups, but it also helps the wee ones figure out that there are positives to being bigger than some and smaller than some.

I wondered if a similar activity would help with my midlife crisis.

I'm big enough to worry about not fitting in an airline seat;
I'm small enough that I don't need to drive a special car.

Hmm. That certainly didn't make me feel much better.

Perhaps I need to change it up a bit given my circumstances. Let's try: I'm young enough; I'm old enough.

I'm young enough to want to get my party on;
I'm old enough to know when to turn over the car keys.

I'm young enough to travel;
I'm old enough to afford it (theoretically, anyway).

I'm young enough to be idealistic;
I'm old enough to be practical.

I'm young enough to listen to and respect dissenting opinions;
I'm old enough not to let that change my mind.

I'm young enough to want to dress fashionably;
I'm old enough to have been forgotten by the designers.

I'm young enough to want to go to rock concerts;
I'm old enough to want to have somewhere to park my ample ass available at same. I might also want earplugs. If Pete Townsend wasn't immune to hearing damage, what makes me think I'll be? I'm also old enough to like Pete Townsend.

I'm young enough to want a beer at that concert;
I'm old enough to realize I can practically buy a twelve-pack for what that beer will cost. It can wait.

I'm young enough to want to try to fit in;
I'm old enough to not put so much store in other people's opinions.

I'm young enough to love Andy Samberg;
I'm old enough to have loved John Belushi - first run.

I'm young enough to want to try new things;
I'm old enough to be a little set in my ways.

I'm young enough to feel cute in my new hat;
I'm (almost) old enough for that hat to be red.

That was a pretty decent start. Maybe I'm just young enough and just old enough. Maybe this is just the right young/old for me to be. How about you? What are you young enough; old enough for? Or big enough; small enough, if you really want to go to there. I'm dying to know - I know I've missed good ones!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Get a Job? What For? I'm Trying to Think.

I've been thinking about considering contemplating looking for a job. We would benefit from the extra money and I would benefit from doing something more productive with my days than being a formidable online presence. This appears to be the manifestation of my mid-life crisis. I don't know what I want to do with the second half. I mean - I REALLY don't know - I don't even have any ideas. I know I don't want to teach anymore. But beyond that? I don't know. Oh! And food service. I don't want to do anything that has anything to do with food service.

Of course that's where I started out. That's where most folks start out, no? When I was fifteen I started working at a sub shop. In retrospect, it wasn't such a bad gig. Sure, there was the time I had to work the afternoon of my junior prom and my relief didn't come on time and I only had half an hour to get ready and I couldn't get the smell of onions out of my hands for love or money. That day sucked. But overall, it was a pretty decent gig - especially considering how young I was.

Even when I taught, I had a part-time gig on the side more often than not. Teachers moonlight a lot. Go figure.

Once I had a part-time gig at a lingerie store. This was a hoot, and I could tell you stories for days based on that job alone. Stories like this one:

We catered to the lingerie needs of the general public, but we also did pretty regular business with the local strippers, both male and female. Most just came in, bought what they needed and left. We had the largest selection of tear-away underwear in the metropolitan area, so we were a pretty popular spot. This stuff was not built to last, so we had a lot of repeat customers. Novelty items like thongs resembling a tuxedo or Pinocchio were big sellers. It was a classy place.

One day when I was alone in the shop (it was a small shop, so this was almost always the case), a guy came in and spent a little while perusing our wide selection of stripper-wear for men. He picked up a few items and asked me if he could try them on. This was unusual, because male strippers tend to follow the same rule with their underpants as body builders do with their T-shirts: If it's too big they're flattered (and believe me - nothing we sold was too big...), and if it's too small they'll wear it anyway. But, ok, go ahead and try them on. But dude! (I reminded him) State law requires that you keep your underwear on while trying them on. He nodded to indicate that he'd heard me.

A few moments later, the door of the dressing room opened and he was standing there in a pair of burgundy briefs. You might have called it a banana sling, but that's just because you weren't regularly selling thongs that resembled actual bananas. With faces. Happy, happy faces. (I told you it was classy.) He said, "What do you think?"

"It's nice."

He turned around. I nodded. I see you.

He went into the dressing room again and emerged just moments later wearing a yellow - let's call it a bikini, shall we? Again, "What do you think?" He ran his hands over his stomach. It was like I was getting a little audition or something. Maybe he was a new stripper and he was practicing. I didn't know.

"Very nice." I said, barely looking up.

He turned around and gave his tush a little shake. I rolled my eyes.

He went back into the dressing room. He only had one more item to try on, and I somehow knew I was gonna get flashed this time. His little exhibitions had gone a little further each time and I just knew... I also knew that the only reason he would do that would be to shock me. To get a reaction. To see if a rise out of him would yield a rise out of me. I knew I couldn't give him that. I couldn't let him win.

Predictably, he emerged from the dressing room wearing a red tear-away thong. "What do you think of this one?" he asked, posing.

"It's good. Red is a good color for you."

"And what do you think of THIS?" he said, proudly pulling back the velcro and standing in the middle of my store in all his glory. (That pride, for inquiring minds who might want to know, was not entirely misplaced. But that's neither here nor there.)

"I THINK", I said, without missing a beat and without letting a single expression cross my face, "that you're going to have to buy those, because you have clearly tried them on without underwear underneath, which is a violation of state law. As is exposing yourself in a public place."

His face, among other things, fell, and he returned to the dressing room. This time he came out fully dressed. He put all three items on the counter and paid for them without another word.

Come to think of it, maybe I don't want a job after all. I'm too old to deal with that shit.

What's the wildest thing that ever happened to you at work?