Monday, January 25, 2010

The Lovely Susan

My mother - and probably your mother and maybe you and almost definitely Carol Brady - always said: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. As I have no desire to (further) disappoint my mother (or yours, or you, or most definitely Carol Brady) here is my review of the movie The Lovely Bones.

Susan Sarandon rocks. She rocked as Louise. She was a bangin' Banger sister. I worship at the altar of the virgin(ish) Janet Weiss - A Heroine (and slut).

And she brought Grandma Lynn to life in The Lovely Bones. She represented everything I - as a girl only slightly younger than the lead character in this movie in the early '70's when it took place - found glamorous, sophisticated, and wonderful. She wore furs and huge sunglasses. Her hair was ratted to the sky. She smoked cigarettes and drank whiskey, neat. She cussed and talked frankly about sex. And she turned out to be the glue that held her family together. I love her so much. Wait - you might be asking - who do you love? Susan Sarandon or Grandma Lynn? But that's acting, isn't it? Because they became one and the same.

Also, Marky Mark is still very cute.

Oh - and a lot of the imagery was very pretty.

And that's about all the nice things that I can come up with to say about the movie The Lovely Bones.

Ask me about the book upon which it was based and I will wax rhapsodic.

Now, I'm gonna go back and watch that clip from Rocky Horror again. And yes, I'll be commenting to the screen. But I won't throw rice at the laptop (again). I learned THAT lesson. Skip The Lovely Bones. Rent Thelma and Louise or The Banger Sisters instead. Better yet, buy The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Mom might not approve, but I for one always left with good things to say.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Same Time Next Year

When I was a freshman in college, I subscribed to Cosmopolitan. It made sense. I was, after all, a small town girl who had traveled almost forty-five minutes to attend a state university in a rural area. If that doesn't scream 'cosmopolitan' I guess I don't know what does. Yep, I was a Cosmo Girl, all right. And not just because I slept with a lot of foreign exchange students. That's not really true. I didn't sleep with a lot of foreign exchange students till my first year of grad school - a year my roommate and I fondly referred to as 'Around the World in Eighty Lays'. That might not really be true, either. But it might. I don't know. There was a lot of tequila involved in my first year of grad school. But I've digressed.

Cosmopolitan. Ahem.

So I enjoyed my subscription for a year - learning how to please a man and new sex positions and recipes for seduction and stuff - stuff that would come in handy when I went to grad school. When my subscription came to an end, I renewed it. I figured there was probably a lot more to learn. I figured wrong. I found that the second year was very much just a rehash of the first. Same resolutions, same Valentine's Day secrets, same getting into bikini shape for summer... same, same same.

Tom had a subscription to Men's Health when I met him. That's right. When I met him, he was well on his way to rock hard abs and was privy to many secret ways to please a woman in the bedroom. Men's Health. Plus he had that helpful monthly reminder to 'Eat This, Not That' .

As I grew up and my interests shifted, I subscribed to many more publications and experienced very much the same phenomenon. Fun for a year - good ideas for a year - slight variations on the same ideas for the next year. I will still subscribe to a magazine when one comes along that looks interesting for whatever stage of my life I happen to be in, but I rarely - no - never extend them longer than a year.

I chalked it up to lazy journalism.

Until I passed the year mark on serious blogging. I find myself not only returning to the same seasonal themes, but sometimes even coming up with the same phrases I used a year ago and feeling like they're original thoughts until I read through the archives. Archives sounds stupid and a little pretentious. Past issues?

It's hard to avoid. Hard like Taylor Lautner's abs. Not that I've looked.

I promise that I shall endeavor to come up with fresh thoughts and ideas. When that fails, I might introduce a new feature: 'Drink This, Not That' - a monthly feature on which spirits will get you where you want to go and how fast. Perhaps throw in an article on how drinking till you puke can contribute to rock hard abs. Helpful phrases for seducing exchange students. I don't know. Stuff like that.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Winter Fashion? No Thank You.

I do not have a good winter wardrobe. I don't even think I have a passable winter wardrobe. I live in Ohio, where we have relatively miserable winters (I say relatively because I've lived in places that are worse. But it's still bad. Just sayin'. Relatively). I do not own snow boots. I have a couple pairs of fashion boots, but they're not easy to come by (thick calves, dontcha know) and not fun to buy. I've had the same couple pairs for years. I don't have a proper winter coat. I have a leather swing coat that was handed down to me by my mother when she got sick and lost a lot of weight. That's right. A hand-me-down. From my mom. It has neither buttons nor a zipper. That's right. It doesn't close in the front.

None of this is, by the way, because I cannot afford to buy clothes. Just so you know. Things are tight, but not quite that tight. I just don't want to use what little fashion budget there is on ugly winter ugliness. Buying snow boots would acknowledge the snow, and I have no plans to do so. A coat with a closure would acknowledge the cold, something else I have no plans to do. If I ignore them, perhaps they'll go away. (fingers in ears, lalalalalala)

I have a lot of scarves. I have a few hats. I have a pair of gloves somewhere...

I realized that if the opportunity suddenly arose for me to go somewhere warmer for a couple days I would be in the store buying all kinds of cute things for my vacation. Even if it was only for a weekend. But for winter? Which lasts a good three months? Nah - I can get by. I don't need to throw any money at THAT.

I was thinking that it's a similar mentality that drives us when we have a special occassion. We'll spend money on a special occassion dress that we'll only wear once - and accessories for same - that we would never dream of spending on clothes we'll wear over and over and over. Why? Special occassions are fun! We need to adorn ourselves appropriately - give the special occassion it's due. Everyday is not fun. We don't want to invest in everyday. Winter is not fun. I don't want to invest in winter.

I used the plural tense (predominately) in that last paragraph - was that presumptuous? Is this just me, or is there something to it?

We're supposed to get a wintry mix tonight - whatever the hekyll and jekyll that is. I'll be greeting it in mesh sneakers and a T-shirt. And maybe a scarf. Probably a scarf. If I don't fully acknowledge it, it isn't really there, right? RIGHT?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Etiquette 101

"What's a hobknocker?" asked my thirteen year old daughter as she returned from the restroom to our table at a local pizza joint.


"A hobknocker."

"Not completely sure, why?"

"Well, when I was in the ladies' room, there was a lady in the next stall on her cell phone (which, by the way, ew) and when I flushed she said, 'excuse me - the hobknocker in the next stall just flushed.'"

Well, we thought this was particularly rude on several levels, but didn't think it was worth making an issue of. (Until I came home and looked up hobknocker on urban dictionary. Now I'm pissed.) A few moments later a woman who had about twenty years on me walked out of the restroom.

"It must've been her", said my daughter.

"No way", we responded, laughing. This was a sweet little old lady we were looking at. A sweet little old lady with a cell phone in her hand. A sweet little old lady with a cell phone in her hand who joined her grandson at her table. A sweet little old lady who was the only person to walk out of the ladies' room in a ten minute span of time.


Now who's the hobknocker?

My daughter is thirteen. She's kind of heard it all. And it has been brought to my attention that David Archuletta was referred to as a hobknocker on a recent episode of iCarly. You know. The show whose target demographic is - well - REALLY young.

That's not cool.

But it's even less cool for a grandmother to use it to refer to a little girl in a bathroom stall while using a stall herself while talking on the phone.

What a world, what a hobknocking world.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Looking for The One

The phone rang, and I ran my fingers through my hair in an attempt to make myself presentable before I answered it. Never mind that the person on the other end of the line couldn't see me - if I was going to be talking to HIM (oh pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease let it be him) I wanted to look my best.

It wasn't him.

I'm sure my mother - who it was - heard the disappointment in my voice.

I'd just met him, but I thought it had gone really well. I liked him and he seemed to like me. When he'd asked to see me again, I was elated. I tried on clothes for an hour before I was confident I'd come up with just the right look. Accessible, but not desperate. Grooming was kicked up a notch as I waxed, polished and buffed myself to a high glow. And it had gone well. "I'll call you", he'd said as we took our leave of each other.

But it wasn't him.

I talked - or rather, listened - to my mother as I retrieved the mail. And there it was. His return address. Oh, nothing about THIS could be good. I opened it before I was back in the house, my hands trembling as I unfolded his note.

blah blah blah - pleasure meeting you - blah blah blah - many qualified applicants - blah blah blah - cannot offer you a position at this time

"I gotta go, Mom."

I hung up the phone and reread his words, surprised that at my age they could still pack such a sting. I thought we liked each other. I thought it was going well. I thought we were such a good fit. We could've been beautiful together...

This of course lead to - of course he didn't want me - why would he want me? I'm too (negative adjective of your choice here) for anyone to want me. I am worthless.

When I felt up to speaking, I shared it with a couple girlfriends who were - to their credit - very sympathetic. "He's crazy!" "He doesn't know what he's missing!" "He doesn't deserve you!" "Plenty of fish in the sea!" That's what girlfriends say. It's their job. And it even sounded kind of believable while the margaritas were still flowing. "Bartender? Another round!" But the next day when I was home alone with nothing but a hangover to keep me company while everyone else was off having a job, well, that sting returned with a vengeance.

I was hurt, then I was angry, then I was despondent. The three stages of a premature break-up. I suppose there are more - revenge sex, acceptance, moving on - those don't all work as well with my analogy. Well, not revenge sex, anyway. Dammit, I can't even have good old fashioned revenge sex! That's the only good part of a break-up! What am I gonna do? Meet a bigger, stronger, better looking but not as smart company in a bar and interview with them right in front of him? Sheesh.

Soon, I know, I won't even remember his name.

But for now it hurts.

Once - when it really WAS a break-up scenario - I was lamenting my situation with my cousin. Her daughter, a toddler at the time who we thought was out of earshot, came over to us with a confused look on her face and asked, "Him not love Tam?"

"He doesn't love Tam." I answered trying to hide my tears from her.

"But", she said, scrunching her face further in her obvious confusion, "EVERYone's gotta love Tam!"

"Not everyone."

She shook her head and frowned, clearly unable to process this information.

But that was long ago and far away.

I'm happily married to a man I adore. I have a family. I have moooooooooved on. It seemed so important once and now it's just a little tagger on the end of a post.

That toddler is in her twenties and I've forgotten his name.

(his name was Scott)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Force of Habit

When I was still hanging on to my twenties by a thread, I dated a marine-biologist. He watched fishing shows for hours every weekend morning (and well into the afternoon sometimes). After he broke my heart (in the middle of a James Bond marathon - something I have yet to regain my taste for thanks to him...) I found myself watching fishing shows all by myself on the weekends after Pee-Wee's Playhouse was over, because I just couldn't remember what else to do.

I got over it, eventually. The boy AND the fishing shows.

This morning I woke up on the couch at 5:00 am with the TV still on. I'd fallen asleep trying to get through a particularly dismal SNL. Athletes are not funny, ya'll. Stop booking athletes. Except Peyton Manning. Book him a lot; he's the lone exception. But I've digressed. I woke up to a fishing show. As I reached for the remote to turn the TV off so I could roll over and go back to sleep, I realized that I couldn't stop looking at the screen. The volume was down to next to nothing and I know next to nothing about fish and/or fishing, so it wasn't the content of the show that had me mesmerized. The show appeared to be about two grizzly looking old dudes pulling ugly ass fish out of a murky lake. Nope. It wasn't that. It was the sky. The sky behind them was clear and blue and bright. I could not peel my eyes from it.

Just looking at a blue sky on TV was having an effect. Whoda thunk?

Tom? He doesn't watch fishing shows. He watches Ninja Warrior. One weekend a couple weekends ago he watched Ninja Warrior for ten hours straight. I shit thee not. I roll my eyes. I make fun of him. Sometimes I even get full on angry. But I have to wonder - if he went away for a weekend, would I watch it anyway? Probably not. It always appears to be rainy and gray on Mount Midoriyama.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Just Shoveling the - um - Snow

When I was pregnant with Lea, Tom and I were newlyweds renting a home in South Jersey. I was on bed rest due to pre-eclampsia. I was bored. It was a lonely winter. Friends and family called or stopped in when they could, but their lives were going on. We lived a couple miles down an old country road. We were isolated. When Tom left for work every morning, I would start counting the hours until he'd return. When he did come home, of course, he had to cook and do laundry and clean - he didn't really have the time or energy to socialize with me. Plus, as I may have mentioned, I was isolated and starved for human contact. Many of my attempts at interaction began with, "Today on Ricki Lake..." Yep. It was a lonely winter.

During that winter, we were hit with a big snow storm - the likes of which South Jersey hadn't seen in decades, if John Bathke, local anchorman extraordinaire, was to be believed. Tom was at work while Days of Our Lives was continually being interrupted with reports of the incoming inclement weather. I was secretly pleased. Not, you know, that m'stories were being interrupted - that part sucked - but that it looked like we were going to be snowed in.

I envisioned a long weekend curled up next to my honey - drinking hot chocolate, talking, maybe playing some cards - candles lit in case of a power outage, blankets wrapped around us to fend off the cold - it would be romantic. I entertained this fantasy while I watched the first tentative flakes begin to fall. There was no wind, so they fell straight down, sparkling as they landed and stuck to the already cold ground. It was beautiful. I couldn't wait for Tom to get home and share it with me. This was going to be great - a last shot at being a couple before the baby arrived.

By the time he got home, a few inches had already accumulated. He did not seem to be as excited about the prospect of being snowed in as I was. He threw together a quick dinner, then immediately donned snow gear and headed out with a spade - because we didn't have a snow shovel. (This was the first winter either of us had lived anywhere but in an apartment where snow removal was part of the contract - it hadn't occurred to us.)

We had a long circular gravel driveway.

The snow continued to fall as he shoveled. As the sun set, he came in the house and collapsed, prone on the floor, exhausted. The snow continued to fall. It was the weekend, so I figured the romantic portion of the snowstorm would begin the next day. I was mistaken. The next morning, he got up, had a cup of coffee, and headed straight back outside with the shovel. He would come in for breaks from time to time - to thaw his fingers or to grab something warm to eat or drink - then he'd head right back outside. The snow was relentless, but so was my man. He was gonna beat this mutha.

The next day I begged him to let it be. He was sore and tired and grumpy. But he went right back out in it. Part of his reasoning was that he was going to need to get out Monday morning for work and that would be much easier if he kept up with it.

"Much harder if you break your back."



Monday morning, of course, our little country road still hadn't been plowed. Our driveway was clear, but it was as far as he was gonna get. This was before the days when telecommuting was an option, so he was left with no choice but to call in, explain his situation, and let them know that he'd be there as soon as the plow hit our street.

It could've been a lovely weekend.

It was not.

That was fourteen years ago. Things change. Things stay the same.

We're under a couple few inches of snow now. Tom worked from home the last two days. The kids have been home from school. Once again, it was a perfectly lovely snow - white and fluffy and sparkling. Removing even a flake of it didn't occur to one of the four of us. Because we were huddled together under blankets around the fire drinking hot chocolate and playing cards? Hardly. Everyone is doing their own thing in the four corners of the house. It's the only way we can stay off of each others nerves. Plus, our fireplace has been out of commission for two years. People are particularly staying clear of me, because when the sky matches the landscape, and both are white, I tend to turn into the Wicked Bitch of the Midwest.

Shoveling seems futile.

Everything seems futile.

Most of my neighbors seem to be in agreement.

Most, but not one. She was shoveling when I went to bed last night at 10:30 and she was shoveling when I woke up this morning at 6:00. When the whole neighborhood is quiet - as it tends to be at those two times - it is extraordinarily loud and annoying; her diligence a judgment on our laziness. Last night I told Tom it sounded like someone playing drums - no - someone LEARNING to play drums. She is working my last nerve and I'm about to set my Flying Monkeys loose on her. I don't know where she thinks she's going anyway - our street has not been plowed.

Now would it kill somebody to bring me some damn hot chocolate?

I'm working on another novel this winter, and I thought I'd share a representative exerpt:

All work and no play makes Tammy a dull girl.

Something like seventy days till Spring. I can do this...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Blogging About Blogging is Like Thinking About Thinking. But With An Audience.

My friend Melissa B. - better known as The Scholastic Scribe - contacted me yesterday to ask if I'd answer a few questions about blogging. I sure didn't feel like I had any advice to offer, but I participated anyway. Check it out, if you're not already visiting The Scribe, which you probably are - but if you're not, you should be!

The timing was good, as I've been rethinking my whole approach lately. I started blogging in March of 2008. For the first full year, my readers consisted of my husband and a small handful of close friends. Many of my posts had 0 comments. The most comments I received was 4 or 5 - and usually 2 of those were me, answering back. I wrote when I had something to say. There was no schedule, no rhyme or reason, just 'lil ole me, blogging it out.

Then two things happened in quick succession. I joined SITS and I imported my blog to Facebook. Suddenly there were people reading what I had to say. Reading and RESPONDING to it! Soon I developed some bloggy friendships. My writing style changed a little, I think, once I knew there was an audience. It became more conversational. I liked it. My little blog was now no longer just a slightly more public journal, it was a social system. It didn't take long for it to become a lifeline.

At this point I became inundated with 'awards', memes, tags, prompts - you name it. I wanted to play by the rules and the rules seemed to include these things. I'd be a lying liar pants who lies if I didn't say it was fun at first. I joined in all the reindeer games. But it wasn't me. I didn't know how to get out of it once I was in it. I toyed with the notion of bagging the whole thing and starting a new blog, where I could just write.

But I wasn't sure I could live without the followers and the comments once I'd had a taste. Could I really go back to writing just for me?

Then the giveaway folks started contacting me. Holy man! Free stuff just for giving it a mention on my 'lil ole blog? Count me in! And I did it. And it was fun. But it wasn't me.

Then some stuff started happening in my life that I wasn't comfortable blogging about. Yes, even I, the naked blogger, have some limits. I checked out for a while. No dramatic good bye post - just stopped writing and stopped visiting. It was only a week or two. Followers dropped off immediately. And I realized I could live with that... Then I wrote a post (or two, or three - who's counting?) because - just like in the beginning - I had something to say. But I was still dealing with life-issues and I was still hiding under the dark heavy blanket of SAD. So I wrote, but I didn't visit. More followers dropped off. And I realized I could live with that.

I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I did use the new page on the new calendar as an excuse to do some thinking about the 'lil ole blog. I'm going to write when I feel like writing. I'm going to visit when I feel like visiting. I'm going to comment when I feel like commenting. Whatever I feel like I wanna do, gosh!

So that's where I am. I hope I don't lose more followers, but if I do, I've learned, I can live with it. My 'lil ole blog never set out to set the world on fire. I don't have any aspirations to rule the blogosphere. I am what I am; it is what it is.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I Had a Dream

I dreamed last night that I went to a weight loss website (and folks, that right there proves I was dreaming, because as a fan of my own sanity I stay away from them like I stay away from sites dedicated to kicking puppies) and right there - on their front page - was a big article on abuse. An article on taking control and not allowing anyone to abuse you. Helpful links and advice on where to go if abuse had already occurred. I remind you, my friends, that this was only a dream. If it was real, I would be signed up for their service, providing links, and offering to pay THEM to advertise in my sidebar.

No, it was a dream alright.

It was a dream because all you have to do - in January - is turn on your TV, or walk into the grocery store, or - hell - have a conversation with your friends to determine that abusing the sort of folks who might benefit from a visit to a weight loss website is not only acceptable but encouraged. In a society where perfectly average sized women complain about their weight and are encouraged to be thinner, you aren't likely to find what I found in my dream - a place that will help one lose weight if one needs or wants to, but in the meantime informs them that it is NOT ok for them to accept abuse - neither physical nor emotional.

No, that was a dream alright.

It was a dream, because we expect abuse from others, those of us who are bigger than what society dictates as acceptable. We feel like we deserve it. We walk with our heads down and try to be as unobtrusive as big people can be to avoid looks and comments. We try to be invisible when we go out, if we go out at all. We know we incite fear and disgust. Disgust with what we are and fear that 'something like that could happen to me' (usually followed by the comforting thought, 'I would NEVER let something like that happen to me'). We expect it. We try to avoid it, but when it comes we blame the abused rather than the abuser.

Yep, it was a dream alright.

It was a dream because we're encouraged to abuse ourselves. We're barraged with commercials and products - particularly at this time of year - that remind us that we're disgusting and unworthy, but with a lot of money from us and a little help from them we can be acceptable once again. Oh happy day. Sellers of false hope like Jillian Michaels, Special K, and Nutri-System can collectively kiss my fat white ass. There's plenty of room.

Now here's a little meta-blogging for ya: as I was reading this post over, the rant about the TV and grocery stores and conversations rang familiar in my ears. I went to my archives and found this: Battling the Two-Headed Beast - written last year in - what do you know? Early January. 'Tis the season.

But I had a dream...

A dream where people were encouraged to be who they are - right now - not who they could be if they bought the right product or plan. A dream where healthy people come in all shapes and sizes. A dream where designers at all price points made lovely, flattering clothes for women with all body types. A dream where it was no more ok to abuse someone because of their weight than it would be to abuse them because of their race, religion or creed (for the record, I do know that people are still abused on all three of those counts, but it is not societally acceptable and certainly not societally encouraged).

I had a dream. It's still early. I wonder if I could still get back to sleep?

Friday, January 1, 2010

I Married Johnny Bravo

Tom and I were sitting in the ski lodge waiting for the kids to finish tubing and watching the band set up for the evening's entertainment. There was one guy setting up equipment who was hard to miss, because he had not only a mullet but also bangs. Now either of those hairstyles on a man warrants a second glance, but both? Well, suffice it to say, it was nothing short of glorious. After a few moments, he approached us. Scratch that. He approached Tom. He held his hand out for a handshake and said to my husband (he said), "You must be a musician."

Now we were both watching them set up, so why he was able to single Tom out as the musician among us is a mystery. No it's not. Tom has beautiful long hair. It naturally dries in perfect spirals. It makes him look like a rock star. We had a chuckle about him having been approached by a man in a bar based entirely on his appearance and that was that.

Or so we thought.

We left the lodge for a couple hours and when we returned Mr. Rock Star was enjoying a sandwich. Mr. Mullet Bangs Rock Star, to be clear, not Tom. He approached Tom once again, asking what he played and where he was from and if he had a day job - which was weird enough - but then he handed Tom his phone and asked him to enter his number. Not knowing how to gracefully decline, Tom did so. Dude definitely wanted to play (some music) with my handsome hubby.

Now Tom is a kick-ass bass player. Know how I know? I know because I've heard him play; not because I've cleaned remnants of his glorious locks from the shower drain.

As we turned to leave, he introduced his drummer to Tom. Tom introduced me and Mr. Mullet Bangs Rock Star said, "I'll never remember that - I'll just call you Mrs. Tom."

I called Tom Mr. Tammy the rest of the night in an attempt to regain some identity and to recover from the blow to my ego.

My self-image/identity crisis had been quite the recurring theme in 2009 and I was hoping to unofficially resolve to leave it behind in 2010. It only took one silly man with an even sillier haircut to remind me that middle-aged fat housewives are not relevant.

Nah, I can't give him credit for that. I wasn't really in any danger of forgetting.

I think I'm gonna resolve to take up smoking instead. That way if I fail in my resolution before the week's out - or before I even actually attempt it - I can still be considered a success. Sort of.

Or maybe I'll just get a mullet.