Monthly Archives: March 2010

iPod Personality Test

I popped into the office I share with my husband last night, grabbed my iPod and announced I was going to “bless the universe with my music” while I cooked dinner. He smiled at me, followed me to the door and shut it behind me–the office is right next to the kitchen and I guess he felt he didn’t need a blessing.

Actually, he just doesn’t like some of the music I do.

I docked the little machine in the kitchen speaker, hit shuffle and started crooning away while I began my evening shift as short-order cook, because no one in my family can possible ever eat anything someone else is eating (but that’s a blog for another day). The first song was Rickie Lee Jone’s “Magazine.” She was followed by the Clash’s “Overpowered by Funk.” By the time dinner was ready for I’d performed alongside Jimmy Buffett, Jack Johnson, Coldplay, Rosie Vela (am I the only one who remembers her?) and other favorites. It was an almost exhausting concert.

When hubby appeared asking if it was safe to enter the kitchen, I was feeling groovy and happy. I love the “shuffle” concept: no decisions to make and it’s all good. A true stress antidote.

Anyway, it got me thinking . . . has anyone done a psychology test based on the music on a person’s iPod? I haven’t read Cosmo for a couple decades–do they still do tests like that? We all have eclectic tastes–one would think those tastes said something deep and profound about our personalities. Do they say something about the real us? Aside from suggesting I’m at least partially stuck in the 1980’s, if someone found my iPod on a beach and listened to everything on the shuffle setting, what else would that person be able to glean about me? Would he or she be able to pick me out of a crowd?

I’ve a friend who is such a Parrot Head (for those of you not in the know, that’s NOT an insult; it just means she’s a big Jimmy Buffett fan) that I’m sure if someone found her iPod they’d look for some deeply tanned, bleach blond chick in a coconut bra speaking with a long-drawled twang. But no, she’s a tall brunette from Chicago, and she’d have to get seriously drunk before she’d even consider the coconut bra.

I was surprised one day when a rather conservative woman I know confessed her iPod was full of expletive-filled rap music. She claimed it got her fired up when she was working out. I was about to suggest she look up the Violent Femmes, as they always get me going, but there was a glint in her eye that made me retreat. I got the feeling I could be the nudge that sent her over the edge.

Then there’s the 13-year old kid in my neighborhood who likes Frank Sinatra. Whoever would have thunk?

My kids’ iPods definitely reflect each of them. The daughter’s is loaded up with just about everything she heard on Radio Disney and my son has U2, ColdPlay and Linkin Park in all their glory, which seems to match his deep, young and yet powerful mind.

Perhaps our iPods could be the next litmus test for public office. What was it Obama listened to on the campaign trail? I can’t remember. But I think next time I learn about what someone in a position of power listens to on his or her iPod, I’m going to pay better attention. Though I’m not sure if I’ll be able to interpret the results all that well.

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Mom Style?

We are such a self-absorbed society, really. I’m not saying there’s anything bad about that, and I’m certainly not saying I condemn that. After all, I, too am self-absorbed. I honestly think that’s what blogging and Twitter and Yelp and all the others are about–that desire to express ourselves to anyone and everyone who will listen (or read) is a form of self-absorption. It’s all about Us!

But I’m not going to rant about that today–I’m too self-absorbed. I’ve spent the past several days being self-absorbed mulling over my style of mothering. My daughter had an issue with a friend on Thursday last week that was followed by a tale of horror about a boy I know that was followed by an eye-opening account of what I can expect my kids to go through in middle school that was followed by me spending an hour with fellow-self-obsessed-moms waiting outside a birthday party that was followed by a good wake-up call/email from an old friend who put it all into perspective for me. By the time Saturday morning hit, I had had an epiphany that made me realize I’d been f*cking up in my parenting style. So I developed a totally new approach (to me), that I will probably realize in a couple of years is equally f*cked up. But I’ll worry about that then.

In the meantime, I find it hilarious that I’m actually spending time self-absorbed over “how” I’m being a mother. When did it happen that we had to have a philosophy? An approach? A mom style? Did my mother? I don’t think so. I can honestly say my mother never read a parenting book.

But I’ve read more than my fair share–which, really, is the reason why I screw things up. If I just acted like a Mama Bear and simply fed my kids, provided shelter and the occasional attack when a real threat (not an argument with a friend or a misunderstanding with a teacher, but a real, dangerous threat approached)and lived as a role model for how to behave when you grow up I think we would all be happier. But no, I’ve been self-absorbed worrying about the long-term emotional and psychological consequences of every bleeping breath I take in the vicinity of my children and constantly have been questioning whether or not I’m doing it “right”–as if anyone has the answer to what “right” is.

And I’m not alone. For some reason there’s not a mom out there just happy being a mom. We’re all self-absorbed in developing and living by a mom-style based on what we think being a mom should be about. We have Alpha moms, Helicopter moms, Child-directed moms. There’s even a Bad Mom’s Club (see link on the side bar). And just this morning I discovered Theta moms (The Truly Authentic Moms) — Link on side bar, too.

It’s funny, we all want our daughters to grow up being confident and strong, totally accepting of who they are (and sons, too, but for some reason its more of a personal quest of moms regarding their daughters). And yet, we constantly feel the need to justify who we are as mothers and question how we do it.

Which was part of my big epiphany this weekend. The other part is: I need to let her screw up and learn for herself instead of telling her, coaching her, and guiding her non-stop in her behavior. I need to stop worrying about how I am handling her situations–I need to step back, like a true Mama Bear, and let her learn to live without my constant interference and not take it personally when she does things I don’t like or when she messes up or when her feelings get hurt. She’s gotta learn to live and learn to live.

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Do you ever outgrow stupidity?

A couple decades ago I had such a flash of insight I still don’t understand why there weren’t reports of mysterious lightening on the local news. It was the day I discovered a major flaw in human beings, so major that I ever after doubted the believability of both evolutionary theory and intelligent design.

I worked with a woman–let me rephrase that with the right emphasis–I worked with a woman who was paid to have her presence in the building. (That’s not just my opinion. No one ever accused her of working as she had the reputation of being someone who was not exactly well endowed in the intellectual department.) Anyway, this woman came up to me one day and said, “Lisa, I was thinking . . .” and she paused, at which point I spouted, “Oh God! Did it hurt?”

And that’s when the flash of insight happened. It dawned on me that if the theory of evolution held water, people like me would have been bred out of existence. And if intelligent design was right, that would suggest people were created in a Christian god’s image, which in turn would suggest God is a pretty snarky, impulsive being (and doesn’t that conflict with the whole omnipotent, omnibenevolent image?).

Thankfully it didn’t occur to my co-worker that she should be offended. She laughed and went on to tell me the brilliant thought she believed she was blessed with, which wasn’t the same brilliant thought I had: people should have a re-set button. And that idea is the key bit of proof that maybe we are all alone in the universe with no rhyme or reason.

Why can’t we have a nerve ending somewhere in our forearms that, when pressed, makes you forget everything that happened within the previous thirty seconds? Granted, I didn’t need it with my former co-worker, but imagine how those proverbial answers to “do I look fat in this?” could be handled. All a man would have to do is, after impulsively answering with the truth, lean forward and lovingly touch his favorite woman on the arm and say “you look fabulous.” She’d never be any wiser.

And think about how much more fun TV news could be. Remember that Katie Couric interview with Sarah Palin? Couric could have started a question and pressed Palin’s arm at just the right second so that all Palin would remember would be the first and last words of the question. Just imagine what her responses would have been! Then again, maybe they would have been the same. But you get the point. It could make the news so much more fun.

But we don’t have such a nerve ending, or at least I never found one. So fools like me tend to go on blundering around the universe occasionally spouting things off that offend, belittle and denigrate others. And usually, it’s not meant with ill intent. Like yesterday. I was checking out at a salon when one of the people who worked there was talking about how she’s almost finished with her first year of trade school and her dad was still disappointed she hadn’t gone to college. She was looking forward to moving out on her own and not having to rely on her dad to support her, but was worried she wouldn’t make enough money. I told her to just do her best and enjoy it because “you’re only young and stupid once” and it’ll be harder to get away with that kind of behavior later in her life.

The look on her face suggested she wasn’t sure if she was insulted. I quickly explained that we’re all young and stupid at some point, but we all don’t have the liberty of trying to live our life that way, that some of us survive and thrive (take rock stars for example) by following through on our young and stupid ways. I freely admit to my young and stupid days, which apparently have gone on for much longer than should be legal. But I didn’t mean stupid in the sense of low IQ; I simply meant stupid in the sense of believing you understood the world when you really aren’t old enough too. But the more I went on, the further away from me she backed, and I thought, “geesh, it would be so much easier if we just had a freaking re-set button!”

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Like we need yet another political party

I’ve decided I have a split personality. But I don’t think it’s the kind that can be fixed by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or an exorcising priest. It’s a political split personality. I’m just not sure there is a political side that I’m definitely on.

And the Internet is to blame. The Internet and Nielson ratings. They conspired to inflict this condition on me and I think they’re happily inflicting it on everyone. Oooooo, look! A new conspiracy theory!

Once upon a time, when our source of information was television news, television news that was not interested in viewer ratings, being able to figure out where you stood on a particular issue was pretty clear cut. Everything was black and white, even though the news was broadcast in technicolor (I’m not that old. Oh, those were the days. Now, it’s not so easy. Now we all suffer from information overload, whether or not we want to admit it. Now many of us are distressed by the signs and symptoms of analysis paralysis–a condition brought on by getting so much information that you are unable to make a decision.

For example: I no longer know to what political party I belong. I used to say things like, in my heart I’m a libertarian, but intellectually I know the human race will never evolve to a point where we all take personal responsibility for every aspect of our lives. So I was a kinder, gentler, progressive democrat. I thought I was so smart. I used to be full of opinions and the issues of the day and willing to spout them off as if they were carved in stone, burning bush nearby. I still do that sometimes, but not as much as I used to. It’s partly because I feel like I’m on both sides of the fence now and it’s partly because I’ve been blessed with so much “news” that I just don’t know whom to believe and what is the ultimate truth.

Take the health care bill. I’ve been blasted with so much opinion, and opinion presented as fact, and fact presented as opinion, that I don’t really know what’s true. Once I looked up parts of the bill because I received an email from a “trusted source” telling me horrific things were hidden in it. Things like the government would have instant access to my checking account to make me immediately pay for my share of the bill. I looked it up, and that’s not what the actual document said. The actual document said that I would have instant access to knowing what my exact financial responsibility of the bill would be. Which sounds like a pretty good idea to me, as I’ve received bills from doctors that were a year or so past due because it took them that long to figure out what I owed versus the insurance company. And they’re never worded pleasantly. Of course by the time I was able to look it all up and figure out what it meant, the health care reform bill changed and I’m now no longer sure if my instant outrage and fear is still a moot point.

Anyway, this morning I heard on the “news” that by 2014 all people will be required to have insurance or they will be fined for it. It riled my libertarian feathers. I mean, since when did the government have the right to demand that people buy something, maybe even something they cannot afford? And if they can’t afford it, how the hell will they afford the fine? And suddenly I was adamantly against the bill. BUT, later in the morning, I read a blog of a student who works as a pastry chef in Philly (I really wish I could figure out how to post links to this site; one day I will and you’ll be able to read what I read, too). She’s in her last year of working on an MFA and will be on her own insurance-wise next year. She has a medical history none of us want as it includes childhood leukemia. And now she doesn’t have to worry about insurance companies refusing to cover her next year. So the progressive in me raised her hackles and was all for the health care reform bill because now insurance companies will not be allowed to exclude that student from coverage.

So which political party does that put me in? Is there a split-personality party? And I don’t want to belong to anything named after a caffeinated drink. The world doesn’t need any more jittery fingers pointing at all and nothing. But it makes me wonder if there’s a party named after an alcoholic beverage. The Brewer’s Party, perhaps? It might make sense in this day and age and it would bring us back to our origins. If you read the journals and personal letters of our founding fathers, you’ll quickly learn they were all piss-ass drunk when they were debating our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Maybe if we create a party based on the “I love you man!” philosophy, we’ll all just get a long a little bit better? Maybe even get along long enough to figure it all out?

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The Line

Sometimes it just sucks being a mom. Sometimes it would be so much easier to just pretend I’m not a mom to my 8-year old daughter and that instead, I’m a fellow 8-year old girl. Sometimes I wonder if I’d get better results and have less guilt if I said things like “I’m not going to be your friend any more if you don’t pick up your dirty clothes.”

“Sometimes” always happens when I’m close to The Line. You know The Line. It’s the one, that, if you cross it, a little voice from a corner of your mind reminds you ever so casually that you may have squashed, just a little, that beautiful, wondrous, majestic spirit still residing in your kid.

My daughter is one of those children who can have fun all by herself in an empty room, or as the Southern expression goes, can be happy playing in a pile of shit. She is imaginative, insightful, intuitive, and wiser beyond her years. Her teachers repeatedly tell me they’ve never seen a child like her, that they look forward to seeing her as an adult to learn about the fabulous things she’s destined to do. They assure me she is bound for some kind of greatness. They repeatedly admire the depths of her sense of diplomacy, the ease with which she reads between the lines, the comedy of her adult-like wit. Everyone remarks on how she seems to have an endless amount of enthusiasm for everything in life.

I should be grateful for such a child, which I am. I should celebrate her uniqueness, which I do. I should encourage her not to be afraid to reach out, to branch out into the world and yet stay true to herself and her abilities, which I do.

But trust me living with her ain’t easy. That boundless energy must be curtailed periodically, otherwise things in the house get broken, homework doesn’t get done, and she’d never sit still long enough to actually eat a meal. That insightful, intuitive mind of hers can combine with the adult-like wit and create one hell of a sarcastic attitude (not unlike her mom, apparently, according to her father). And there are times when an 8-year old just shouldn’t read between the lines.

I fear reining her in as much as I fear not reining her in. I’m trying, probably with a sense of desperation that she senses and takes advantage of, to find that point of balance where I can encourage her beautiful self to exist while happily co-existing with the rest of the family. That’s The line I keep approaching and probably cross more often than I should.

I guess I’ll know how well I did or didn’t do when she’s an adult. If her teachers are right and she is bound for greatness, I’ll read her autobiography and learn exactly where I screwed up.

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Texting for the over 40 (Because you asked for it, Laurie!)

My friend Laurie recently asked me how to abbreviate “obnoxious, gaudy, distasteful and trashy” in a text message.  She may have been joking, but I felt it to be a good question, which needed a good answer.  I thought perhaps we could rearrange the words and come up with an acronym we could pronounce, e.g., TODG.

The idea brings up a good point:  if those of us over 20 (OK, over 40) are going to embrace texting, we need to come up with our own abbreviations.  After all, our vocabulary in general is more mature than most avid texters and our life experiences often require something more than OMG to describe them. We have reached that age when we must socialize at events that, if we were twenty years younger and had been invited, our response would be to laugh our asses off, or as they say LMAO. But, due to our jobs, our spouse’s job, our volunteer work, our political affiliations or whatever, we now suffer through them and the suffering is more easily handled if we can E-vent (if unfamiliar with that word, see my post regarding e-venting, apparently I’m too old to figure out how to put the link in here) to a friend who’s not there.

Yes, someone needs to come up with texting expressions for the rest of us. And why not me? I can fulfill a public service as well as the next gal. So here goes . . .

BING >^^< which I decided means, “Being Catty.”  You can preface it with a name to suggest someone else is being catty, or you can introduce a clause with it so that the recipient of the message knows you’re being catty about what comes next.  For example if you text:  “BING >^^<  when will she get control of her boobs?”  The recipient will know that the woman with cleavage deeper than Himalayan valleys  is having her usual problem.  (Yes, I know, I’m probably just jealous–after all if I’d had all the fat sucked out of my body and something else propping up my boobs, I’d probably dress like that, too.)

Of course you can always follow BING>^^< with another acronym, such as OTH, for “Oh, the hair!” (think bad dye jobs) or SWMD, for “she’s wearing my dress!” (for those times when you realize the sales-woman lied to you again). And if you think the other woman looks better in the dress than you do, you can add SOB!

Social events can often begin with:  GIND for “God, I need a drink.”  Then a few hours later you could probably change it to GIWIWD for “God I wish I were drunk.” or maybe even HIC, for “yes, I am drunk.”

If you ever find yourself surprised by a new, young face in the crowd, a face that replaced a person who had already showed up at the same event earlier, you can type:  &HXIH2, which meansAnd his Ex is here, too.” The problem with that one is that I can seldom find the & sign on my phone, so for those of us with Blackberrys, you may want to use NHXIH2.

For those moments when an acquaintance with eccentric tastes, beliefs, or hobbies corners you at a holiday party to give you the latest updates, you can use TA_______A, to meantalking about _______ againand fill in the blank.  For example, you text “Tom’s here TAufosAfor Tom’s here and is talking about UFO’s again.” It works better when the subject in question begins with a consonant, e.g., “Sue’s TAcatsA” because when you read it, it sounds like a word you can pronounce in your head.

Whenever something is too long to text, but you know you’ll just have to repeat it later and there’s a good chance you won’t remember, send your friend: RM2TYL for “remind me to tell you later” and then follow up with a noun that you hope will continue to have meaning when your friend asks about it.

And for those nights when you’re out with the girls or when your husband isn’t with you (I don’t mean to sound sexist or anything, I just can’t think of any man sending texts like those above to anyone but EVERY woman I know would), there are a couple of abbreviations that may come in handy.  The first is for a girlfriend who isn’t there with you:  DDDHM, which means “Desperate, divorced Dad is hitting on me” and she’ll know you’re sitting on a bar stool and some dad is showing you pictures of his kids even though you’re wearing your wedding ring and told him you happily have a husband at home.  Finally the last two are for the spouse who is at home while you’re not.  The first is: IAY, which means “I appreciate you” (which is a purpose of all those DDD’s just mentioned; they are yet more reminders of why you’re with your man).  And the second is “SU4M” suggesting “stay up for me.”

Now then, if I were a marketing genius, I’d condense all that down, put it on tiny laminated cards and sell them as an accompaniment to reading glasses.


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Front-yard Warfare

I want to ressurect the Berlin wall, just a portion of it, in my front yard.  The thing is, I know for a fact the zoning committee for my township frowns on barbed-wire fencing.  I’m pretty sure they would not support my idea to erect a brick-and-mortar fortress, complete with trenches and armed guards.  But something needs to be done!

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.  I keep the side yards and the back yard natural.  I keep the native grasses (yes, I’m aware that’s a euphemism for weeds) and the moss mowed short in only a small area so that my kids can romp and run and climb on the playset.  Otherwise, the place is natural, wooded and wild.  I will sit on my patio in the summer, drinking coffee before the rest of the house wakes up, and listen to the birds.  Sometimes a ground hog will lumber by.  Occassionally I make eye-contact with the deer at the edge of the forest.  I feel as though, despite the fact that I’m paying a mortgage and taxes on the ground there, it belongs to nature, to the wild flora and fauna and I’m privileged to enjoy it behind my mug.

All I ask for in return is that nature let me have my front yard.  My front yard with the expensive grass where we eat dinner, picnic-style with neighbors on warm nights.  My front yard, the place where I grow peonies, irises and roses to cut and enjoy indoors.  My front yard where I planted crape myrtles, dogwoods and a cherry tree in contrast to the oaks and pine trees everywhere else.  Am I asking for too much?  I garden organically?  I don’t think I’m offending anyone.

Long ago I gave up on phlox and hostas–the rabbits and deer used those beds as their personal salad bar.  I quit keeping bird feeders close to the house because squirrels found their way from them into my attic.  I allowed the frogs to move into my little pond and allowed the bees to keep their hives.  So, while not exactly catering to the wildlife,  I’ve made concessions.  I’m trying to meet nature half-way.  But I’m all out of options now.

My turf has been infiltrated. My land has been invaded.  The winter snows are retreating only to reveal the evidence.  The myriad holes are exposed.  The tiny mounds running the length of my property are clearly marked.  The enemy is not even trying to hide its presence.  I have moles!

Internet searches are scaring me.  Apparently there are all sorts of tried-but-not-fool-proof-and-true techniques to get rid of the buggers.  I’m assured I have a spring and summer ahead of me filled with subterranean warfare.  I now fantasize about spending the pre-dawn hours with Bill Murray in pseudo-combat gear, toting fire hoses and explosives.

I just can’t figure out how such a little, tiny little and cute critter can cause me such grief!  Why is he prepared to battle with nothing but wee claws and a wiggling nose?  How is it, in the chess game that I call my gardening hobby, that I’m already feeling cornered, just a move away from check mate?  And what do I do when I fail?

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