Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Search me

According to How to Blog gurus, good bloggers don't say "Sorry for the lack of posts lately." So, I guess this is sorry for the lack of posts lately, and sorry for not being a good blogger.

As I've mentioned, we just bought a house, and in between moving in, unpacking, searching for just about everything I thought we'd put in a convenient place so we wouldn't have to search for it, clogged toilets and fountaining poop water, being covered in cat vomit, and miscellaneous moving tasks, I haven't had much time or opportunity for blogging (I only just re-got the Internet). Also, my son has winter break, and has the annoying habit of wanting me to actually spend time with him.

I kid, of course. I have as much fun as he does.

I did make time for Christmas decoration, but most of the house is in various states of mess, so you just get to see a corner. (Who am I kidding? It's just an excuse to show off a kid Christmas picture.)

And in the meantime, until I have more meaty posts, I'll leave you with a smattering of search terms that result in this blog. It leaves me wondering, sometimes:

Arizonawriter: Woo! People are searching for me! Or, at least, a writer in Arizona. I'll choose to believe the former.

I just made you say underwear: Well, my son made me say "I'd better see those underpants where they belong and not on your head, in thirty seconds!"

A-Z of dirty words: Um, not that kind of blog. Sorry.

Dirty words A-Z: Really, it's not!

Surprised dirty words: As in, WTF?!

Half clothed: It's not that kind of blog either.

Stupid husband: I feel your pain, anonymous searcher.

Love husband: See, it's not all bad, right?

A-Z dirtywords: Back on that, I see.

Every single word in the universe A-Z: OK, even I'm not that ambitious. Even if I was trying to find all the dirty ones.

Shorts 1892 butt: Susan B. Anthony? Clara Barton? Calamity Jane? Grover Cleveland? Seriously, I'm curious whose 1892 butt you were hoping to see.

Nothing is as boring as a writer: Thanks a lot.

Poop: Heh, heh. You said poop.

Tahmoh Penikett is HOT: Oh, yeah.

Pink puke: I hope you're not searching out of necessity, kind reader. Because my experience with pink puke was not made any more savory by the pleasing pastel shade of the projectile, lemme tell you.

I love you: Aww, thanks. Now does that love come with a comment? A link, perhaps?

I will be back tonight probably. Until then, I'm sure I'll see you all soon, dear readers, since every person in existence will be in the mall parking lot.

Monday, December 8, 2008

4 hoseys

Little bit of a family resemblance
I can't talk about my father, or my grandfather, or my great-grandfather, without becoming lost in memories of the tastes and smells of my grandparents' home in upstate New York.

Every time we visited New York, my grandparents trotted out a long-standing ritual of herding every member of the family to the driveway. The practice traditionally took place on the hottest, most humid summer day, when everyone sported oily, reflective sheens of sweat and condensation over faces and heads topped by hair frizzing out and up at odd, unpredictable angles. It was under these conditions that the ritual began, every family member grouping and regrouping for photographs. My grandparents had a cherry tree, an oak tree, a lush lawn, and a rose bush. But instead of any of these verdant backgrounds, they invariably chose the white-paneled garage door as a backdrop. About an hour into the routine, everyone would persevere with grim-faced determination, and the countenances combined with the garage gave the shots the look of police lineups. My sister and brother and I have our growth recorded in a series of mug shots.

It is in this form that four generations of Hosey men were captured on film for the first and last time. My great-grandfather, an Irish immigrant who occasionally couldn't recall that I was not my aunt but could tell me the name of the woman who gave him a blanket on the leaky boat to America. My grandfather, a talented writer with a poetic bent (which I discovered, almost by accident, on my last visit with him) who always wore blue trucker-style baseball caps he bought on trips to Arizona, perched loosely on his head so you could see through the part between the top of his head and the top of the hat. My brother, who would one day roll a car at 90 mph and survive, would be homecoming king, would join the Air Force and almost die in training and would return to be an emergency medical technician -- but who then was just my dorky little brother. And towering head and shoulders and chest above them all, my father: math prodigy, winner of every Trivial Pursuit game, commissioner of his fantasy football and baseball leagues, cracker of horrible jokes (which, I've since learned, he learned from his father), terrible but unabashed singer, larger than life in many senses. All but my brother have since passed on.

After the shots we'd talk my grandparents into a shot or two in front of the rosebush -- which were always their favorite, although we could count on mandatory mug shots on the next visit anyway -- and sit on the bench with peeling red paint in their backyard, picking cherry tomatoes from the vine. The round fruits would burst with only light pressure, spraying sweet-tangy juices into our mouths. (Or out of them, if we were really lucky. A projectile tomato bite was one of the rare treats of a New York summer afternoon.) I still only eat cherry tomatoes, although they don't taste as sweet or moist in Arizona. I don't think it's entirely in my head.

It was my grandpa's birthday December 4, the same day we were closing on our new home. Right around that time, my son was making some of the worst puns I'd ever heard.

Damn, I miss those guys.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy Anniversary (Or, "See, I told you I post nice things sometimes")

Dear Husband:

I could, maybe, think of ten things I hate about you. But there will be another time for snarkiness and venting. Today is not the day for that. (Most days aren't, come to that. You're infuriatingly faultless sometimes.) Today is the day for the ten, or twenty-eight things (or at least twenty-eight of the things) I love about you:

  1. Your tenderness.
  2. Your conviction.
  3. The way you regularly change the picture on your cell phone to different shots of our son, and you obviously don't do it for "points," as I had no earthly idea you did so until last week.
  4. Your forearms. I mean, wow.
  5. The way you act gooey-mushy-lovey to the cat when you think no one's looking.
  6. Your ability to provide for us. And not just the money (though, yeah, I love that too).
  7. Your patience.
  8. The fact I never secretly think I'm smarter than you.
  9. The way you tolerate it when I act like I am.
  10. Your unending supply of euphemisms for making the, um, beast with two backs. (There's a new one for you.)
  11. When you startle me.
  12. They way you get all stoked and talk at the top of your lungs when you're excited.
  13. Your stupid jokes.
  14. Your dedication.
  15. The fact that we can play.
  16. How you play with our son.
  17. How quickly, naturally, just like that, he became OUR son.
  18. Your dorky laugh.
  19. The fact that we can just be together -- not as in "be together," as in just be. And when we suck at everything else, that's enough.
  20. Our history. Even the bad parts. Well, most of the bad parts. Maybe not that part in the parking lot. But you know, if things hadn't happened the way they had, they wouldn't have happened the way they have. Or that's what some dorky 16-year-old told me, anyway.
  21. When you walk around in sock feet.
  22. How you get all competitive about everything. Have you beaten my and David's Zoo Tycoon game yet?
  23. Listening to you boss people around. Come on baby, talk managerial to me.
  24. Your curiosity.
  25. The way you order a dish at the restaurant, as if it's really your idea, and then "ask" me if I want to "try" some.
  26. The way you lie when I ask if my hair looks nice. Good form.
  27. Your love.
  28. You.

Happy Anniversary.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So beautiful it hurts

The evening before, it was homework that stole our sunset.

He'd promised to do his homework in exchange for an evening stroll. I happily agreed. We needed a walk. He then proceeded to stall doing his homework, to whine about his homework, to get generally snotty about his homework. The sunset outside was amazing. It went from gentle melons and pinks, while he SWORE I was making it up when I gently corrected his spelling; to richer oranges and reds as I received the death glare for reminding him there was a back side to the worksheet; to blues and finally totally dark as he staged a small protest when I tried to point out his name looked like "Pavid" when he was petulantly, deliberately lazy with his handwriting. His homework got done, but we missed our walk, our moment.

And this evening, it was the boogers that did it.

I'd worked hard on my own stuff. I'd tried to catch up in both my personal and professional dealings. I'd taken a break to pick up my son from school, played a board game with him, served a snack, nagged him to do his homework, answered about ten million MomcanIhaves, MomcanIdos and MomMomMomlookitMomlookitMoms, and then rushed back again to the phone and computer. He'd call me back to the living room about every thirty seconds -- if he'd just give me ten freaking consecutive minutes, I'd grumble to myself -- but I was managing, slowly, to hack away at the day's tasks.

He called me out, a-freakin'-GAIN, and proceeded to ignore me once I got to the room. He was watching a commercial wherein the announcer apparently aimed to drill the product name into kids' -- and by extension parents' -- heads through sheer obnoxiousness: "So get ZEROGRAVITYMICRO!!!! Only ZEROGRAVITYMICRO can zoom on the floor, walls, or upside-down! It may even be able to violate the time space continuum! Really! So ask your parents for ZEROGRAVITYMICRO! Again, that's ZEROGRAVITYMICRO! Right now, ask for ZEROGRAVITYMICRO! Seriously, go ask! Now! ZEROGRAVITYMICRO!! Go ask your parents! ZEROGRAVITYMICRO! That's ZEROGRAVITYMICRO!!"

Finally, I asked what was up.

"I just wanted you in the room."

"Five minutes, David. Just five. Please."

Five seconds later, he called me back in. He said his hands felt funny and presented gunked-up fingernails. And even though I had about ten minutes to finish what I had been trying to do before various deadlines whooshed by, and even though cleaning my son's nails is about as easy as bathing a cat, I tried to clean out what seemed to be glue. To accommodate his nails-being-touched phobia, I was trapping one hand at a time and facing away from him, using my body to block his view as I scraped the glue out. About a minute in, however, with the glue now all over my fingers, he stopped me.

"Mom? I think my nose is bleeding."

I looked up. He'd quietly used his free hand to try to wipe it -- resulting in a sort of bloody handlebar mustache look. "What happened?"

"Well, before when I was scratching my nose ... I think I scratched too hard."

Realization struck. "David, what's under your nails?"

"Probably nose stuff."

"David! You weren't SCRATCHING your nose. You were PICKING your nose!"


"Yes huh! Did you put your fingernails into your nose? Did you dig?"

"But I wasn't!" (He was really whining now.) "I was scratching itches on the inside!"


"Waaaahaaaaa! I'm sorry, Mom!" His feet pounded the hallway to the bathroom. Slam. Muffled sniffling.

Ten minutes later he emerged from the bathroom, sans blood mustache and fingernail boogers. He asked if we had time to go out somewhere. I told him I wasn't sure; the day was almost over now. The sun was just about down.

"But I was waiting for you all day! I would have used a tissue if you were out here! And you said we could go out!"

He was laying it on a bit thick, but he was right. And really, what did I have to show for the day? What had I done? I'd e-mailed and written and blogged and Flickred. I'd worked a bunch and rested just a few minutes. I'd packed and called and cleaned and fixed. I'd even made a start in the Christmas lists. (Actually, one list: "1: Art kit; 2: Butterfly raising kit; 3: Transformers action figures; 4: EyeClops Bionic Eye; 5: NO Zero Gravity Micro...") I'd nagged.

And now I'd made my kid cry.

I really could have been out there.

Seen one way, parenting will always leave you guilt-ridden. No matter how much you play, take care, clean up after, tolerate, sing, laugh, sympathize, admonish, teach or help there's always something you're not doing. There's always something you're leaving out. There's always something you're missing. If you really, truly love your child, then every minute missed (especially if it's because of you) feels like a sin. Like sunsets. In a state with 360 clear days a year and spectacular sunsets nearly as often, if you truly love the planet, how can capturing only a few dozen sunsets -- either in photos or through sheer experience -- be anything but a sin? In either case, it seems the moments consciously treasured will forever be dwarfed by the moments missed.

But we decided to try to go out anyway. We yanked on our shoes (playground sand still rattling in his), grabbed a water bottle each, swiped some dry cat food (to feed the geese and ducks) and dashed out the door. I caught every green light on the way there. The sky was burning orange and yellow. Things were looking up. Still, I didn't figure we'd make it. And sure enough, we pulled up as the sun was dipping completely below the scrub and trees that lined our view over the east end of the water. The sky had turned a dull, darkish shade of faded violet. Crap.

Again, we'd missed our moment.

But he smiled. He dug his hands in the cat food and flung it into the pond. A couple dozen ducks and geese hastened over, casting Vs in their wakes in the darkening water. The geese honked and barked. The ducks chattered. A squadron of egrets flew overhead, impossibly long legs trailing behind them. One duck had taken to flying up as David threw the food, snapping and missing each time. He cracked up.

And we had our moment.

Some moments of parenthood are like blazing sunsets, vivid and Hallmarky and just oozing with overt awesomeness. But others are less noticeable -- and go totally unnoticed, if you're not careful. Sometimes the moments just creep up on you. He'll befriend a friendless girl at school, and you'll just about explode seeing him walk her out one afternoon. Or you'll catch his smile refracted dozens of times through raindrops on a window. Or he's sitting in a cardboard box that he's christened "David's club," and you're the only one allowed to join, and the passwords are "I love David," "We love playing" and "Magic Tree House." Or you'll watch as he coaxes a cat out of hiding or gently holds an insect. Sometimes, he's not even doing anything: just standing, in a baggy shirt, grasping his teddy bear and watching the last rays of light hit the parking lot pavement. And you'll think: Damn. This is My Kid.

And sometimes, mundane moments blossom into vivid Moment moments. He'll be pawing through your books, say, and he starts to sound out the lines in a book of poetry. You abruptly notice the way he holds the hand of an elderly person he's only just met, his fragile fingers resting over the delicate blue branches of the man's veins. You'll be rushing like mad to clean up for dinner and he presents you with a fistful of slightly stuck-together Christmas M&Ms, plopping the mass into your hand and withdrawing his own hand, covered in green and red polka-dots, and declaring that "You deserved a treat." Or you'll be packing, full of worry and preoccupation, and he'll push play on the CD player and dance with you to "Thunder Road," jumping and spinning and grinning just for you at "Roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair." And you wonder how does he do that, how does he know, how can he bowl me over so completely? How is life so damn beautiful it hurts, and I only just now noticed?

The sunset unexpectedly turned into a Sunset sunset that night. It put on a second act of sorts, and the rest of the day -- the bills and the deadlines and the forms to sign and folks who won't call me back, the e-mail and mail mail and articles, the boxes packed and not yet packed, the stuff not yet fixed or cleaned or even considered, the homework and boogers -- just ... well, didn't melt away, really. This is reality, after all. But for a moment, they were hidden behind a curtain of deep blue and vivid pink, of bold streaks of orange and yellow, and of the silhouette of my son, his Casper-the-Ghost head and rounded cheek backlit by the surprise encore.

We sat and rode the evening into night. Carpe noctem, apparently. Seize the night.

The next day, we drew each other pictures about it. Carpe parvulus, maybe. Carpe occasus. Seize the child. Seize the sunset. Because the horrible truth is you'll miss out on so many moments. But the cool thing is, for a while, you get a perpetual fresh start, another chance every day.

Also, boogers are harder and less fun to clean out from under nails than caked-in cat food dust, but not as bad as poop or dried blood. Just in case you were wondering.

Kiss my Aspartame

Dear (name withheld),

I received the following message from you the other day (I've omitted your name from the screen capture to protect the gullible, and the answer, gasp, Hitler, because, well, the scrolling-way-down-for-the-obvious-answer thing annoyed me enough one time):

Really? I mean, really? You do realize that I could make up a list of commonalities for you, or me, or anyone and imply you or I MUST be like Hitler, right? Or that I could make up a list and compare just about anyone to Hitler, or Jesus, or Ghandi or President Bush or Justin Timberlake or just about freaking ANYONE ELSE?

I love you, and I'm totally happy to get real e-mails from you. In fact, I get so many solicitations to write about stuff in which I have no interest, or e-mails asking where the hell is the article I SAID I'd write, that it's a welcome breath of fresh air to read your notes. But your spam? It's gotta stop. Most of these have been debunked a LONG time ago, and I know you're kind of new to the online-socializing thing, but let me just say: Spam = bad form. It doesn't make it better if the spam is morality themed or religion themed.

Also, in a bold, uncharacteristic move, I henceforth swear to write mainly on my stated areas of interest and semi-expertise; namely nature, parenting, and a dash each of humor and science. I hereby (well, after this post) leave political-ness mostly to others. (Unless you visit, whereupon you'll get your fill.) But I almost entirely give up e-mailing, blogging and Facebook-statusing about such things. Even to correct you. So please know that I'm not ignoring you, even when I am.

Also, in case you were wondering:

  • Sadly, there is no food giveaway at Panda Express tomorrow. Thanks a lot for getting my hopes up, though.
  • The book of Revelation does not contain a description of "the anti-Christ," nor is there anywhere a description of someone matching Obama's description. Doesn't it seem a little suspect that every time some new and different person comes on the scene, either Revelation or Nostradamus is found to have condemned him and described him in eerie detail?
  • Aspartame was not developed as ant poison. Nor is or was it responsible for an epidemic of cancer or multiple sclerosis. This was debunked a pretty long time ago, sweetie.
  • Diamond Rio's "In God We Still Trust" wasn't played because it wasn't released as a single for a long time. If anti-Christian sentiment was responsible, would we be hearing even half the songs we currently hear on country stations?
  • I am not offended that products come with multiple-language instructions, that I have to press 1 for English, or that English-language teachers are employed. I think these things are good ideas, and have to question the logic of anyone who objects to classes that teach English as a second language but carries "Learn the %$#@ Language" signs. Can you automatically download a foreign language to your brain?
  • I am totally against persecuting Christianity. However, I don't think any such persecution is taking place in some large-scale way. There are no insidious plans to make coins omitting the phrase "In God We Trust." There is no overt war on Christmas. The ACLU actually has defended Christmas displays. Some stores will start saying "Merry Christmas" soon, others will say "Happy Holidays," others will just render friendly service without season's greetings, and some will remain as customer-unfriendly as ever. There is no Satanic or religion- or God-hating conspiracy in schools, grocery stores, post offices, or anywhere else. Nor are Arrowhead, Folgers, Procter & Gamble or any other company paying a "secret tax" to anyone.
  • If I receive any e-mail entitled "Agree or Delete," I will delete.

I think there are some folks who are pompous, intolerant, immoral, or who have an over-inflated sense of entitlement. I also think there are some people who are too quick to judge, who are hypocritical, or who are entirely too gullible and credulous. Unfortunately, all of us are these things a small portion of the time. Fortunately, most of us are not, most of the time. I do not think these e-mails help matters, in any case.

Besides, if I'm going to waste time doing not-work, I'm heading over to Facebook. There, I can update my status with my OWN crazy beliefs and opinions, hundreds of times a day!

Say hi to (name of mutual friend/family member withheld) for me,


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things I'll never understand

In no particular order:

How a six-year-old and a diabetic have consumed most of the cookies I baked less than two days ago.

The irrational, unfounded fear some folks have.

The appeal of crocs.

My own inability to shut up when it's prudent.

Faith. I think anyone who claims to fully understand it is mistaken or not being truthful.

The extent of the total wonderfulness and awesomeness of my kid.

How, exactly, a car works.

Why we seem to be fine with the rising price of any number of things, but will drive out of our way to save two cents a gallon on gas.

The inverse relationship between the popularity of a meme and its coolness.

How people can say arts in the schools are a waste of time.

Why my husband puts up with me. Especially when I tell him things like "I totally promise I'll have the laundry done and ready before your super-excruciating long shift at work tomorrow," get mad if he doesn't totally believe me, and then present him with second-stringer boxers and a slightly wrinkled work shirt for work the next day.

Ginormous aviator-style sunglasses.

How I manage to utter phrases like "What did I say about butts?" "Your penis is fine," and "If you lick that, I'm going to be really mad!" while keeping a straight face.

Why the heck people insist on saying "an historic," as in "This has been an historic election." Do we say "an Hawaiian" or "an hotel?"

How my mom single-handedly raised three teenagers.

Why my husband insists on putting empty soda cans back in the refrigerator. (And how I manage to refrain from harming him when my morning caffeine fix is repeatedly thwarted.)

Why nobody within earshot the other day congratulated me on my cleverness for my usage of the phrase "Barack me Obamadeus."

Child abuse.

Why the cat treats every time I go to the bathroom like an urgent, special social occasion between the two of us.

Why an entire forest had to be paperized just so we could try to buy a house.

Many of the things I act like I understand.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A blue evening in the red sea

Saying my peace
Originally uploaded by khosey1
UPDATE: Herein I agonize a bit about voting and political choices, and wonder if the box I marked today will have any ramifications. Let me just say that I can answer that question already: it did. Long story short, my husband and I made up after a semi-long discussion/fight/reconciliation/more fight/more discussion that peaked with me screeching "I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR WHO I VOTED FOR!" and storming outside to throw the trash away with severe prejudice while muttering dirty words.

(Yes, folks, it was that bad. I was so upset I didn't even notice my sentence ended with a preposition.)

So yeah, I voted today, and it occurred to me that more of my online acquaintances would have been able to predict which box I marked than the folks I see regularly in "real" life. This would be true even if I wasn't a computer nerd who needs to get out more. And it didn't really seem right.

I have a colorful political heritage, both in terms of my family background and personal journey. I won't bore you with details (largely because if I ever see you or currently do already, I'll gladly bore you in person), but suffice it to say that most members of my close and close-ish family, my husband's entire family and most of my social and professional circles are vivid, dark shades of red or blue.

My dad, for one, was a through-and-through conservative Republican and huge Reagan fan. I actually have a shirt I inherited from him hidden somewhere, emblazoned with large red letters "Top 10 Reasons to Elect Rush Limbaugh for President." ("Knows it was 'Adam and Eve,' not 'Adam and Steve,'" and other such gems.) To be fair, this was before Limbaugh was a total raving racist. Also to be fair, my dad usually had well-reasoned thought behind his opinions, even if he opined just a tad too loudly and obnoxiously. And I ... well, I totally and completely (and with considerable justification) idolized my dad, pretty much always. So even as I was developing my own views, that colored them considerably.

My family has left leanings as well, to be sure. My uncle, for one -- my dad's brother -- is a Democratic committee member on the west side of Buffalo. It sounds like he and my dad, even growing up, sort of made a career out of playing each other's devil's advocates. I respect the hell out of them both, and it is/was edifying just to listen to what they have/had to say. The tradition throughout my family tends away from the "Don't talk about politics or religion at the dinner table" and closer to "Hash out politics, religion, and everything else over dinner, breakfast, lunch, snacks, beer, tea, coffee and coupon cutting. Make up with sarcasm and humor."

I could go on about family political ties: my mom's a beautifully nuanced political landscape: Republican but a member of Greenpeace, conservative on most moral issues ... but progressive on race and gender politics. My brother is conservative, usually, but has some of the most well-thought-out opinions of anyone of whom I consider myself a peer. My friends are liberal, about 95 percent of them. My husband's family is incapable of separating religion from politics, and thinks it should be that way. But my story is everyone's story. Few of us come from a monochromatic background. I will say that times like this tend to be slightly more ... volatile in my experience than maybe in those of some of my friends.

(I promise, this graph wraps up the preamble.) I remember when I was in grade school, we did one of those "Kids Pick the President" things. We had to fill out dummy voting cards. I knew my family's political leanings more or less, especially my dad's. But I didn't usually hear party-name talk. So when I had to bubble in an "R" or a "D," I chose the latter -- because, I reasoned, I believed in democracy above all. My dad, understandably, was crestfallen when I told him this later. I was "set straight" at the time, and spent a good several years pretty much living on the Republican party line. But I always sort of wondered about that "D." What if it was better, sometimes? I have a strong opinion on nearly everything about which I bother to have an opinion. But I wouldn't say I'm a raving liberal or conservative. I guess maybe left of center. It's not that I'm wishy-washy by any means, just that maybe if you took all my views on various issues, it'd more or less average out to there.

So here goes.

[Deep breath]

I voted for Barack Obama.

Um, yeah. I know. Big huge news, right? Well, not to most of you who follow any of my online goings-on. (I swear I have a real life. I just think it's such a rich life, why not share it on my blog? And on Facebook? And on Flickr, and science forums, and reading forums...)

The thing is, this may possibly be news to one or two people, which is shameful, for someone who's proud of being opinionated and revelatory in her writing and all that jazz.

Obama is a statesman. He's a family man. He's got growing to do, but I can see his growth enlightening rather than endangering the country. He's intellectually curious (which, really, is a biggie) and honest. And regardless of who gets the blame or credit, followers and supporters of Obama have largely behaved more respectfully and productively than many McCain supporters, which I tend to think is instructive of how the worst and best of Americans would act under either candidate as president. It may not be fair, but to some extent I bet McCain's supporters have cost him the election (along with Palin, of course). I mean, with friends like these...

And inspiration, and hope, and eloquence are not empty baubles that make Obama merely seem better. They matter. The same appeal, rhetoric and communication skills will be in play in his role as president. Yeah, sure, he rehearses the speeches and sure, McCain's slip-ups of "My fellow prisoners," "I couldn't agree with him (the guy with whom I totally disagree) more," and "cunt" instead of "cut" are just that, slip-ups that garnered way more reaction than was warranted. But McCain practiced too, didn't he? And wouldn't his future speeches be in front of a hurting country or on the precarious international stage? Are you telling me that communication, rhetoric and inspiration don't matter there? That slip-ups won't get blown out of proportion?

My husband used a good analogy the other day (though he will surely object to it being appropriated here). "Obama's got him intellectually," he admitted. "Obama would be the guy who could build a chemical treatment plant from scratch, could probably draw up the chemical structures and how they interact on the spot. But McCain's worked in them; he'd be the guy who could tell you how it all works and how it runs and what to do when the front part breaks down." That may be a fair point, and insofar as time clocked and miles walked can qualify a candidate, McCain might edge him out. But first, I think Obama can run the country capably and has had relevant experience, albeit for a shorter span of time. And second, what we need right now is some fresh air, some rebuilding, some straight-up building. We need the guy who can draw up the plans and work out the equations.

Silly as it is, I'm still nervous about this post, even though my worries are probably largely unfounded. Will I have to have the abortion argument with my husband again? (EDIT: Yes, yes I will. That and more.) The experience argument with part of my family? Will the other portion of my family be chagrined I haven't resoundingly denounced McCain? Will my extended family just outright disown me? What of the arguments of Arizona and veteran loyalty? The ethical debates? Economy issues about which I still feel unqualified to even have opinions?

But it is my choice, and I have labored long and hard, if only in my own head. And it feels disingenuous to conceal it, even by omission. Hell, it feels downright chicken shit. And though each vote counts and I feel my vote is undeniably essential, it's just like everyone's. I'm not special. I'm not anyone. Today, I'm not a writer, or a snarky conversationalist, or a long-suffering intellectual among people I secretly (and perhaps wrongly) think are less intelligent than I. I'm not the conservative one among my writer and liberal arts friends. I'm not the raving liberal among my and my husband's immediate family. I'm not the one who dare not even open her mouth among certain extended family members for fear of the fallout. I'm not the one who accidentally bubbled in the "D" instead of the "R" and spent the next two decades wondering if it was a providential slip. I'm not the pathologically conscientious mom who wonders what, if anything, to tell a six-year-old about candidates' differences.

I should never have been afraid to voice this, in real life, loudly. I'm just me, deciding here, today. I'm Kim. Not everyone will agree with me. And I voted for change. Hopefully for myself as well.

Monday, October 20, 2008


If you're wondering why I'm semi-quiet on the blog recently, I actually have a real excuse this time. Aaron and I are looking to buy -- buy, as in our own, not renting -- our first house. I know, I know, buying a house in THIS market? But it's turning out to be relatively in our favor, providing we can manage our budget. The prices in our neck of the woods are pretty good right now, and since I'm hopeful the market will improve at least some in the next few years, it should turn out to be a decent buy.

I've been working on a few articles in the scraps of time I have between looking at houses, discussing terms, debating it with my husband and the realtor (playing the go-between, since he's virtually always at work), and reading a War and Peace-sized volume called "Disclosure Materials," but other than that I haven't been too coherent or eloquent. I'm not dumb, or irresponsible or naive, but I have to work to get a firm grasp on these kinds of things. Give me astrophysics or classical literature any day, but start talking EEM and FHA and NINA; SISA, SIVA, LPMI, BPMI, LPMI difference, and whatever else, and I start to glaze over a little.

More, and more interesting, posts to come.

In the meantime, if you were wondering what I did while waiting for callbacks on three house contracts and two interviews, or if you were wondering if I'm as nerdy as you remember, I leave you with this:

Monday, October 13, 2008

50 things to do in the near to not-so-distant future (let's say within ten years)

This post is courtesy of my friend Mary, who posted her list with an open request that we follow suit. I'm posting mine here because 1) I'm selfish and want it for my own blog; and 2) I tend to publish really long comments in other people's blogs and have begun to feel silly about it.

There are a ton of things I have done, even a bunch that are popular items on "things to do" lists: I've become a parent, married, hand-fed dolphins, seen a Shakespearean play at a theater where I had to dress fancy and felt the "theatre" spelling was totally appropriate, met Walter Cronkite and Tom Brokaw in the same evening, watched the sun set countless evenings from countless locales, read several classic novels, been to both the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls, climbed a mountain (several times, and got lost one of them), volunteered, gone horseback riding, slept under the stars, visited several museums and art galleries. There are also a few other "experiences" which shall remain nameless here, owing to the mixed-company readership of this blog. (Don't worry, Mom. Nothing too mortifying.)

There are also several things that by definition can't be on this list, owing to the nature of reality or my fantastic ineptitude -- things I can never do: Perform any kind of dancing, see a World Series with my father, meet Madeline L'Engle, play any sort of professional sport, sing, be a perfect housekeeper.

So, without further ado, here's a list of fifty things I haven't done, but can see myself accomplishing:

  1. Take up a martial art, and mean it this time.
  2. Go on the honeymoon we never took.
  3. Nurture David's animal mania. Volunteer together somewhere that rehabilitates or rescues animals.
  4. Adopt a dog.
  5. Get scuba certified.
  6. Hang glide.
  7. Have an article published in National Geographic.
  8. Be important enough to be on the other end of a big-time interview.
  9. Speak fluent, not just passable, Spanish.
  10. Learn how to play at least one instrument well.
  11. Continue to improve my writing, so that five years from now, I feel about today's writing like I feel today about my five-years-ago writing.
  12. Publish a book.
  13. Stop being pathologically self-conscious. (Regular self-consciousness is plenty.)
  14. Have another kid or two. Or don't. Either way, continue to realize how incredibly privileged I am, and how perpetually perfect (though far from flawless) our family is.
  15. Travel outside North America. (15b: Convince Aaron to travel outside North America.)
  16. Run a marathon.
  17. Buy a house.
  18. Buy a better car. Take really good care of it this time.
  19. Learn all the major constellations by season. Teach David.
  20. Get better at using my telescope; learn to take non-lousy astrophotos.
  21. Learn to drive a manual transmission.
  22. Learn to wakeboard capably, without wiping out before I'm fully up and having my nails ripped from their nail beds by the rope handle.
  23. Teach David all the cool little things I know, or at least all the things that excite him: origami, how to safely catch and release any of a hundred different kinds of critters, how to build a sand castle that stays up, the bajillion different versions of poker that my father taught me.
  24. Become more involved in my son's school activities. (While still avoiding becoming THAT parent.)
  25. Write that piece on Dad, religion and baseball that's been knocking around in my head, and actually publish it somewhere.
  26. Get an article and photos published in a quality magazine. That pays.
  27. See whales in the wild. Take at least two great photos of them, then put away the camera and savor the experience.
  28. Dive with whale sharks and manta rays. Also, see great whites from a diving cage.
  29. Take my husband and son down the Grand Canyon for a trip that's at least partially as awesome as I remember it. Take a zillion pictures of the falls. Watch David swim in the falls, right where I did as a kid.
  30. Write some poetry again, except don't suck at it this time.
  31. Teach David how to tie his shoelaces properly, even if none of the shoes they make have laces anymore.
  32. Grow my own tomatoes.
  33. Tell, and more importantly show, the people in my life that I love them, and do it way more often than I do now.
  34. Do those photo collections I have in mind, if for no other reason than to please myself.
  35. Be brave enough to really surprise my husband. Preferably, make it a pleasant surprise.
  36. Give yoga a try.
  37. See the Northern Lights.
  38. Travel somewhere completely foreign in every sense of the word, and truly live like the locals.
  39. Vacation in Hawaii.
  40. Explore a rain forest.
  41. Teach college writing.
  42. Be able to handle: Basic car maintenance (beyond just the battery and spare tire), saying no when I mean no, in-depth conversations on the economy, deadlines, intimacy.
  43. Fix and actually develop my defunct website. Also, come up with a better title for my blog.
  44. Look into my son's eyes; see myself, my husband, my parents, and the totally individual being he is all rolled up together; and bask in it.
  45. Horse around with my husband and son when they ask me to. Even if I don't feel like it at first. (Remember that I really love it after, like, a nanosecond. And that they don't care if my ass looks ten kinds of fat as we roll around on the bed.)
  46. Get to really know someone who is so different than me in life outlook or circumstances that I cannot now imagine wanting to know them.
  47. Read all the books on my to-be-read list. Or all the ones that are currently on my list, at any rate. I'll have added just as many more by then.
  48. Spend more time with my mother out in nature.
  49. Become competent at managing my own time.
  50. Stop second-guessing myself. Start now, by posting this list without going back over it to see how eloquent my goals sound.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

My meager contribution to political bloviating

I will leave the commentary on the campaign, election, presidential candidates and vice presidential candidates to more qualified bloggers, pundits, and the less-qualified who just can't help themselves, both because I'm not qualified beyond the oversaturation of news I take in each day and the stuff I subsequently look up to decode the news I take in each day; and because I'd like to sort of get my blog to a regular schedule and sort of on a consistent topic.

But I have to say this: Why does Ms. Palin think it's "time that normal Joe Six-pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency?" Really? Why on Earth would I want Joe Six-Pack, or any of his inexperienced kin, running this country? Shouldn't we rather prefer a president and vice president who are not the everyman? Who are better, or more experienced than the everyman, at least with regards to running a country, working with the judicial and legislative branches, foreign policy, the economy, and understanding both the power and responsibility that goes with such a role? I mean, McCain, Palin, Obama, or Biden can be dumber than me about literature, or computer code, or plumbing, or the exact science behind science, or how to make enchiladas or the relative hotness of actors appearing on the Sci-Fi channel, or really any number of other things, important or unimportant, so long as they're smarter and more experienced than me where running a country is concerned. I would assume most people who happen to be both smart enough to purchase a six-pack and not possessing any special political or executive administration expertise or knowledge -- which is most people -- feel the same way. I mean, if we're going with that philosophy -- it being time for everyone to be represented in positions, to hell with experience or qualifications -- then how about preacher with chronic Tourette's Syndrome? How about junk-food-addicted nutritionist? Why should my doctor have to have studied and practiced before he operates on me? Hell, I should've skipped the master's degree I just got; why not just start teaching college courses right now? I'm sure my opinions and vague forays into writing qualified me completely before I ever started my more intense studies or got any real professional chops. And besides that, aren't we kind of at a point where we'd like to erase the picture the international community has of Americans as a bunch of Homer Simpsons?

Does she really think we'll all say "Oh gosh golly gee, she's a commoner! Let's elect her right away!" (To which I'm sure Ms. Palin would respond "You betcha I think so! It's all about shoring up support for the common folk, and ... Alaska ... Job creation ... See, it's all about being a maverick! And if you want examples, I'll bring 'em to ya!" Or something like that.)

I think the American people are smarter than that, even if we all act like Joe Six-Pack.

EDIT: Read this article, which is far less bitchy and brings up an even better point, one that was bothering me even though I wasn't smart enough to articulate it. People are people, after all. I don't think voters much appreciate being reduced to a one-liner, like we're that supporting character on a show whose only role is to be the wise old guy or send the kids off or show up and say "Did someone say sausage?" We all have richer lives than that. Even if the candidates don't have time to address all the nuances of our different lives (and they don't), they would do well to acknowledge they exist.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On not taking pictures

On not taking pictures
Originally uploaded by khosey1
(Moved from my Flickr page because it's more writing than picture, and because Leslie's right. Flickr, if you don't know, is a photo-sharing site that sees entirely too much of me. Of course, if I was a photographer instead of a writer by trade, I'd probably find some way to write stuff while neglecting my photography. I am indeed a moron.)

We went on a long walk the other day and we both brought our cameras. He's got my old H2, which is hella camera for a six-year-old, but between its past performance and his growing skill, it seemed like a good marriage. And it usually is. But this evening sucked for picture-taking. His battery was half-dead, my lens had a grain that I could see but not locate, all the bugs flew away as soon as we neared, a veritable throng of kids descended from seemingly nowhere making this noise, scaring away any remaining wildlife. The light sucked. Finally, out of frustration at his frustration (he looked like he wanted to murder the camera, but refused to just let it be and enjoy the scenery -- stubborn? just a tad), I mandated that we put the cameras away. (I wanted to keep mine out, but figured I should set an example.)

The evening opened up for us. The sky deepened to melon-orange and this vivid purply shade that was the exact color of an eye shadow my best friend and I wore when we were David's age and convinced it was exotic (I secretly still think so). The clouds, boring and grayish only a minute earlier, took on a bruised, brownish indigo look. I wanted to take the camera back out, but then he leaned on my shoulder. So we just sat. The most gigantic darner I'd ever seen landed a few feet away from us. We didn't care that it was now too dark to get a good shot. We just watched it. A cormorant appeared at unexpected places in the water at our feet, periscoping up right in front of us, diving and popping up almost a full minute later off to our left, then down again and up in thirty seconds, so distant now it was barely visible.

This is the only shot I took and saved that night. On our way back a tiny something streaked into our path. I thought it was a grasshopper at first, they're so abundant lately, but it was this young gecko, almost too small and fragile to pick up. We did anyway, because it seemed to have a baffling affinity for hiding under folks' feet. It clung there, making David's tiny hands look giant, until he relocated it safely to the brush. A half-dozen other people walked by, and he didn't even see them.

"This one's special," said a passing man, nodding to my son. I got a little choked up, so only nodded and smiled.

Taking pictures has helped me notice things I never did before. But sometimes, putting the camera away helps me really see them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

Come on get down with the sickness

I've been battling a cold/general suckiness for a few days. I finally gave up and took some cold medicine, but since I: a) have nothing but drowsy-making stuff and b) waited until it got so bad I didn't care and took it anyway, I'm really struggling now to maintain a modicum of competence and non-idiocy. (Cold meds affect me like a tranquilizer dart would affect a normal person.) So I hpoe you'll all excuse any missssssssssspellings and forgvie me if I seem out of.


Aaand we're back. Sort of.

I was going to finish a list-type essay dedicated to my husband (who is freaking out about his upcoming 29th birthday; apparently 29 is the new 30, which is the new 70), but I'm stuck about halfway through. Until my neurons fire up once again, please accept this illness-themed story in its place.

When I was a few days shy of eight years old, to celebrate the end of school, my mother took my brother, my sister and I to Fiesta Mall.

(For any Arizonans who might remember, this was back when the neighborhood of Fiesta Mall and the vicinity was considered semi-upscale, at least by us. I once went, hold onto your hats, all the way to the top (sixteen stories!) of the neighboring Bank of America building. These were indeed happening times.)

The outing was doomed. As we walked across approximately fifty-seven miles of boiling-hot parking lot toward the mall entrance, either the heat or the long day or a heretofore undetected bug got the best of me. I staggered to the nearest curbed-off island of gravel and oleanders (this is considered fancy landscaping in these parts) and abruptly emptied the contents of my stomach into the rocks.

My mom was mildly concerned about this, and asked if I was OK. I told her I felt better, but thirsty. Needless to say, she wasn't overly eager to bring a potential vomit-time-bomb into the mall, so we piled back in the car and headed home. During the trip I whined, no less than four and a half billion times, that I was really really thirsty.

When we arrived home my mom gave me a glass of water.

"Sip it," she advised. "Sip! Slowly!" she repeated as I gulped it.

"But I'm sooooo thirsty," I whined in a cracked whisper, in the tones of someone who is moments from death by dehydration -- for I knew this clearly to be the case, however ignorant my mother was of the fact.

"You just threw up. Sip. Slowly. Slowly!"

I gulped it. Naturally.

Approximately thirty seconds later, I beat it down the hall for a very urgent appointment with the toilet, vaguely wishing I'd had knee pads for my crash-landing.

My mom, of course, showed the proper amount of sympathy -- or rather, she displayed what she deemed the proper amount of sympathy. Here is how she showed just how very concerned she was: While I was in the bathroom, presenting my copious offering to the porcelain god, she walked in with a purposeful stride and a gallon jug full to the brim with water.

"Here," she said, plopping the jug on the bathroom counter with such enthusiasm that its plastic sides bowed and rippled, and had it not been securely capped, its contents would have fountained upward in eerie synchronization with the contents of my stomach.

"Here," she repeated. "Drink up. Drink all you want."

(My mom claims not to remember this, but says she believes it, as it sounds just like something she'd do, and just like something I would have done.)

With that, she turned on her heel and left again with my brother and sister. I assume now that either a) they only retired to the living room, front yard, or swimming pool; or b) she arranged for proper supervision before departing, but I was too busy feeling sorry for myself and entertaining notions of witch-mothers abandoning their dying progeny to notice which of these scenarios actually took place.

Miraculously, I survived.

But here's the thing: I think she was exactly right.

My mom was pretty consistent in this attitude -- she showed considerable concern if anything was really wrong with any of us; say, the time I broke my arm so that my wrist neighbored my elbow, or the time my sister went careening down a tree and slashed her thigh open, or the time my brother came down with some disease, which remained mysterious in nature or origin but which left him bearing a striking resemblance to Jeff Golblum's character in The Fly, mid-transformation -- but unless there was something really wrong, in her view, there was nothing really wrong.

What constituted sick and/or injured, and garnered a modicum of sympathy, in my mom's view:
  • Blood spurting so copiously that you resembled some sort of festive lawn sprinkler.
  • A broken, severed, or severely cut body part. (Where "severely cut" is defined as "laceration twelve or more feet in depth and two or more miles in length.")
  • Any body part actively on fire.
  • Simultaneous vomiting and explosive diarrhea (providing you make it to the bathroom; if you didn't even death throes wouldn't save you).
  • A fever exceeding two hundred degrees.

Of course, if we had a real illness, one that could be infectious, she'd keep us home from school. But "real illness" was defined as "something more serious than the common cold, with demonstrable symptoms, that was not brought about by the sufferer's own stupidity."

To her own credit, my mom applies these standards to herself with even more stringent adherence than she uses on anyone else. She recently got out of the hospital, where she spent a month in what would have been a completely incapacitated state for any normal human (not just laid up, but laid flat-out, wiped out, bodily rebellion). But my mom is not any normal human. She wrote thank-yous, kept in touch with just about everyone, made sure things were running smoothly at work in her absence, and actually made an effort (and succeeded) to entertain my sister, my brother and I when we visited, so that it felt more like an afternoon chatting on the couch than an afternoon in a hospital room.

My mom, incidentally, will deny that it was a big deal: Some garbage about how she didn't write that many thank-yous; or that she only checked on work, didn't really do much; or that we were the ones going to the effort during visits. She lies. She's amazing.

She's always been like this, at least for my entire life. It was about more than just her high standards for herself, though she has that in spades. And it was about more than just her disinclination to allow us to skip school, though there certainly was that.

Because of my mom, I've tried to apply the same standards to myself for years. I woke up today with -- in addition to a burgeoning cold -- a migraine and, er, bathroom problems, and went about my day, as much as I wanted to melt into nothing. I also apply them to my family. This isn't always always a popular policy; just ask my husband ("So your blood sugar's low. Here. Sugar. Eat."), or my son. ("You still have to brush your teeth, clean your room and pick up your dirty socks, no matter what aches.") My heart is full of nothing but mushy, cheesy emotion for my son. It's where I keep the squeaky clean language and knowledge of cartoons, where I store comforting songs and tricks for making it feel better. It's covered in crayon-written messages and drawings of dinosaurs and hearts. Big googly-eyed turtles hold the whole mess directly against my heart with the strongest of magnets. But my mama, as you might guess, didn't raise no fool.

For instance, my son wanted to say up late last night. He is evidently of the opinion that we hold secret nightly parties as soon as he closes his eyes. One of fastest ways into my sympathies, the little sucker has figured out, is to have something wrong with him. And sympathy takes time, and time means later bedtime. So he played pathetic.

"Moooom, I have a sniffly nose. And I feel funny ("Funny" turned out to be "tired" when I asked him to describe it. Tired at bedtime. Go figure.) And, I have a leg ache, and my feet itch."

"Do you have a gash, a rash and purple bumps?"


"Nothing. You're fine. Bedtime."

But it wasn't until recently that I figured out what I like best about my mom's philosophy: It's a whole outlook on life, an all-encompassing; straightforward; no-bullshit-taking approach to everything. My son might occasionally try to play sick for sympathy, but his heart isn't really in it. Being well is so much more fun. And sickness, well, that's just life. I took him with me to visit my mom in the hospital. She had managed to procure a second hospital gown to layer over the first and so was afforded some small amount of dignity, but otherwise was as you'd expect: wires, tubes, IVs, beeping stuff, blinking lights and digital readouts, the hatrack-looking thing that all the bags and tubes hang from.

"Oh," a friend comented when I told her later about the trip. "Wasn't he scared?"

"No, it's fine now. My mom'll be in there for a little while longer, but she'll be fine. David knows that."

"I mean all the hospital stuff. Wasn't he scared of all that?" (She pronounced hospital stuff the way you might pronounce leprosy lesions.)

"Nah. We explained it all ahead of time. He had a great time."

"Are you kidding?"


"'A great time?' You are joking, right?"

"Uh, actually, no. After talking to her for a minute, he wanted to know about all the stuff attached to her."

"So he was scared."

"No, he thought it was cool."

She didn't believe me. But it's true. He was fascinated. We must've heard about a billion times: "What's this one, Grandma? What does this one do? So if that's the reading for this, then this one must be..." He was enthralled.

That's the thing. Sickness, even death, is just a part of life. Some parts totally suck and are to be avoided at all costs. But almost all of it is fascinating. Welcome to the reigning philosophy in our family. Intravenous anything? Fascinating. Vomit? Enthralling, at least up to the age of ten or so. Viruses, bacteria, childbirth, disease progression, emergency medicine shows at dinner? Sign us up. Just make sure we don't miss the part with compound fracture.

Also, I realized the other cool part of the no-acting-pathetic rule as I watched a child play with my son on the playground. This child is sometimes, but not always, in a wheelchair. I don't know his exact deal, injury or disease or what, if it's permanent or not, but I do know from the mother herself that his only impediment is that he sometimes has a little trouble using his legs. But because of this, she babies him every waking moment. She opens his food, does his homework, comes on all the field trips (but only to follow him around and get him special treatment), cries foul if he ever gets in trouble, pre-chews his food ... you get the idea. (OK, I made that last one up. The rest are from direct, annoying obsesrvation, though.)

This child was coming off the playground, quite happily and ably, to start the school day the other day, and his mom rushed over as if he were on fire. "Oh, poor baby. Do your legs hurt? Here. Let me help you." With this, she carried him down the sidewalk baby-talking all the way. He looked absolutely miserable. (Disclaimer: I know I'm talking out of my ass about children in wheelchairs, as mine isn't. Still, I think I can confidently say she does this boy no favors, and would be the same way were her son running marathons. Take my bloviating with a grain of salt, of course.)

My son, on the other hand, had to make his own darn way through the crowd to say goodbye, despite being knocked down by another child en route. And he was overjoyed to come to me. (Disclaimer 2: I made sure he was OK, though he didn't see me checking on him.)

Life goes on. And life is infinitely cooler than the miniature not-so-miniature roadblocks we encounter. And if my mother was a wicked witch, I certainly hope I've inherited the tendency.

He already knows he'd better make it to the bathroom no matter how sick he is, so I'd say we're on the right track.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A little more conversation

My son asked me if I was working this afternoon. I had been. But I was taking a break from "real" work, and after answering businesslike stuff via phone and e-mail, was now looking at the following crucial e-mailed nuggets:

  • WARNING: I will get cancer from heating anything in the microwave.
  • WARNING: Homosexuals, because they cannot reproduce, are out to "recruit" children via our public schools.
  • I can increase the size of "that special male member." By up to two hundred percent!
  • WARNING: Dora the Explorer is actually just a mouthpiece for propagandists to "Latinize" our society.
  • Obama is counting on me.
  • McCain is counting on me.
  • A college political club whose table I once stopped at for two minutes in 2005 is "counting on the unique difference that YOU, [insert first name], can make come November." (I'm not kidding. This was the exact wording.)
  • No, really. I can increase my size. Tonight!
  • I've been missing out by neglecting to visit something called Girlz Camz.
  • I can still find that Special Someone, even though I'm a single woman over 40.

(Well, at least the last one got my gender correct.)

Naturally I answered, "No, sweetie, I'm not working. What's up?"

"What happens when we die? Is there a heaven we can see, and is it like the Spirit World on Avatar?"

That's the thing about kids. You never wade into the deep end. You dive, head-first, and usually smash your skull a few times before swimming competently. But that's the thing I love the most too. There are so many times I've been thinking about some issue or other, and want to just broach the topic with someone. But with the possible exception of my mother, whose brain patterns, at least insofar as their irregularity and abruptness and things-connected-to-things, happily coincide with my own, no one is very receptive to my tendency to come out with "Sure, I'll pass the bread. Speaking of the death penalty..."

We're swimming now. It's tough. But it's pretty sweet.

And it's easier than answering the other question he asked: "Why do you have two e-mails with the word penis in uppercase letters?"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Random notes I would write

To the Lady at Walgreens Yesterday: I've donated to medical research of one kind or another three times in the past two months. My husband is a Type I diabetic. After I politely decline to donate a buck at the checkout, you don't need to ask "Are you SURE you can't spare a dollar for diabetes research?" Especially not when the tone so clearly says "You obviously don't care a whit about diabetics, you sugar-swilling, cold-hearted bitch, you."

To the Lady I Usually See at Walgreens: Thanks for not doing that. Also, you sounded sincere the other day when you said "Have a nice day." That's pretty frickin' rare. Thank you.

To My Husband: When I said "I really don't do the married thing," I was trying to illustrate how much I love you. I mean, if we hadn't married each other, we wouldn't have married, I bet. Because we really kind of suck at the whole wifey/husbandy thing.

To My Son: You danced with abandon under a mammoth skeleton the other day. I can't express how cool that was. Also, you're in first grade. So cool. But at the rate you're growing, you'll be sixteen by tomorrow morning. Stop that.

To the Folks at Verizon: If you knew I was getting a new phone; and you knew my old one was stolen; and you are in possession of my physical address, e-mail address, other e-mail address, land line phone number and husband's cell number (you recited them all to me so I know you are): Does it really make sense to call me ON MY VERIZON CELL to tell me you couldn't deliver my Verizon cell phone?

To My Fellow Gophers: When I checked my messages today there were three messages from three different friends from Goucher. It made my afternoon. Y'all almost make me wish I was going on another semester. Almost.

To My Sometime Editors: I sure hope I haven't turned into persona non grata in my mad, out-of-contact rush to finish my manuscript. I hope I hear back from some of you. Because I really have some good material ready.

To My Son: I heard about another child abuse case last night and it made me want to come get you out of bed and hug you nearly in half. I love you so much, it really seems excessive at times. But I really do. Then, you woke me up at four this morning, covered from your hairline to shoulders in nose blood and from your waist down in pee. I still love you, and just as much. But I'd really rather you not do that again.

To My Cat: You woke me up at 4:30 this morning, licking my ears. I love you too. But 4:30? Are you kidding? Plus, you snore. Since when do cats snore?

To My Husband: You woke me up at 5:10 this morning, snoring and pushing me up against the wall. You know I love you. But if you do that again, I may have to put you in our son's room, with the cat, and barricade the three of you in there until at least 6 a.m.

To My Readers: This is me, getting back into blogging. Bear with me. It'll get better in coming days.

To the Lady Who Puts Out the "Early Release Today" Reminder Sign As We Drop Our Kids Off Wednesday Mornings: You've saved my ass from being late on more than one occasion. I'd feel really terrible about that. So thank you.

To Whatever Genius Put Pro Wrestling on the Sci-Fi Channel: WTF?

To My Mom: You are really super-amazing. I don't ever tell you that, except when I sign a hokey card for some occasion. And if you read this, you'll surely brush it off. But it's true. Even all those things I used to hate you for doing: Thanks. I'm starting to get it.

To the Guy in My Complex With Apparent Hypertrichosis: I understand not shaving. Really. But what's with the hot pants and no-shirt policy? And what clothes can you possibly be washing all the time?

To Paris Hilton: I defended you several times (I know, I surprised myself) over the past few weeks. I would've blogged about you, except I'm a lazy ass and several, several people beat me to it. But well said.

To the Person Who Said to Me, "We need to get someone to run this country for Jesus.": You do realize that would be a theocracy, right? Which you're against? Faith can't be mandated. It's kind of not faith any more.

To My Kitchen Cupboard Doors: I know you're cheaply made, but can you stop falling on my head? I darn near got a concussion last time.

To the Apartment Repair Staff: When you put my doors back on, you put 'em on backward. But I don't care. We won't be here much longer, with any luck. So nyah nyah.

To the Jehovah's Witnesses Who Visited Yesterday: When you heard me shout to my son "No, I'm going to beat you!" and he retorted with "I'll beat you harder!" and I retorted with "I'll beat you so hard!" we were talking about Monopoly. Sorry about that. Also, you should know I hardly ever read the Watchtowers you give me. I read part of yesterday's, but only because I was on hold with the geniuses at Verizon. I tried to tell you this, but you give them to me anyway. I might read them at some time, but things tend to get lost around here. Sorry. You really are very nice.

To My Son, Husband, Mom, Sister, Brother, Friends, Colleagues, Mentors and Countless Others: Thanks for sticking by me these last couple of years, even when -- especially when -- I've been a neurotic pain in the ass. I don't know how accomplished I am or will be, but it's thanks to all of you.

To My Readers: Thanks for sticking with me. And sorry about the whole ending-on-a-sappy-note thing. It's a bad habit. I promise the next entry will have 33 percent more bodily fluids and fart jokes, or your money back.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A big nanny nanny boo boo to my friends/family in AZ

It's 82 degrees where I am right now. Should barely hit 90 today.

And I just read about Arizona's twenty-first day this year with temps 110 or above.

Tee hee.

That is all.

Oh, also: My reading went well last night for anyone who's wondering, I've had a great time seeing all my Goucher buddies, and David made it through the night without wetting the hotel sheets. Life is good today.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm still out here

I know I've been neglectful of this blog -- in fact, of most of my online connections -- for a big chunk of this summer. After finishing my manuscript, I wanted to take a breather from living in front of the computer monitor, and aside from keeping a few magazine queries out there, have been pretty quiet lately. Plus, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my son, and he pretty much does his best to make it impossible to blog during daytime hours anyway.

Example: While I'm typing this, he is asking about what people believe regarding the Trinity, and how Jesus and God can be the same person, and not. I am trying to explain nuances of different beliefs, but have realized this is futile. So I'm just answering any questions he chooses to ask, and explaining it six-year-old style. His conclusion, thirty seconds ago, went something like this:
"So, they're the same person, sorta, but the parts that make them them are different and separate too?"
"Yeah; you've got it."
"So, it's like when Goku and Vegeta get together to make Gogeta?"
(I'm still trying to figure out how to answer this. But this is representative of how most of our conversations go.)

But, the school year is starting soon (about which I'm simultaneously happy and sad), and I'm stepping up my freelancing, so it's back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

So, to get myself back in the blogging spirit, and a by way of a mini-update on my frame of mind and activities lately:

Five things that make me happy today:
1. David. I gave him Pop Tarts this morning, which earned me the designation "the best mom ever."

2. That I signed up with YouTube at some point (though I didn't remember doing so), prompting it to suggest a whole string of engaging political videos for me this morning to listen to in the background while I was playing around with pictures preparing to get some work done. Now I just have to make sure that 1) I do in fact get work done; and 2) I don't let my husband catch them before he's fully awake, lest we start the day with a nuclear-level debate about whether Bill O'Reilly or Christopher Hitchens is the bigger pompous douchebag.

3. That I had an excuse to watch the movie Happy Feet for the umpteenth time with my son. (Think March of the Penguins, only more exciting, presented sort of as a halftime show. It's a lot more fun than you might think.) Any movie that can channel The Beach Boys; Sinatra; Stevie Wonder -- sung by Pink (!); Bread; Queen; Earth, Wind & Fire; The Beatles; Elvis; The Jackson Five and Salt-n-Pepa ("Let's talk about eggs, baby; let's talk about you and me...") deserves a chance.

4. That my hair color, which I thought yesterday looked basically OK, still looked non-freakish this morning. Plus, I only dyed a small section of my skin, which is fading nicely. On a related note, some lotion that was supposed to give me a "summer glow" but instead made my legs the color of basketballs has also worn off. This is nice, since I'm going to graduation in a few days. I'm not super nervous or conscious of my appearance, but I'd just as soon not look like an Oompa-Loompa the one time a year I see these folks.

5. That maybe someday soon, my husband and I will be looking seriously at moving into a house. We've started looking more seriously now that prices are going down, and even more seriously since our stuff/family has grown to exceed the capacity of our apartment. We bottlenecked in the hallway the other day -- literally got stuck -- and almost in unison decided we need to look for a larger place. The lease runs out in November, and we're determined not to sign on again.

...and Five that bug the living crap out of me:
1. Asswriting. You know what I mean -- the shorts/pants that have words across the butt cheeks. For some reason, there seems to be an invasion of it here lately. There's the usual Juicy (on girls as young as seven, which seems so wrong), and a plethora of others that range from funny to just incomprehensible: Juicy land, Bad Ass, 1892 (So... what? Your butt has a vintage?), Bull Dog (Asswriting for men! At last!), Pink (I don't get it -- the color? the singer? US porn network? Calvinist theologian?), aneteclilpse (goth boy asswriting), Love pink (with a butt-crack space break; apparently it's punctuation now), Love (crack-break) Hate, Lifeguard (on someone who clearly wasn't one), Alo (butt-crack break) ha, Sw (break) im, Hottie, Flirt, and recently, Grrrl (you're not as punk as ya think you are, OK? Especially when you're 10) . It's written, screened on, beaded, rhinestoned, embroidered, .... and how is it good that your butt is "juicy"?

2. In a semi-related item is the weird preoccupation with making kids, even babies, sexual. It long ago stopped being novel enough to be cute; it's just creepy now. I saw bikinis for eight-year-olds in the store the other day. Maybe innocent enough. But then I come home to find an article about high heels for infants. And that evening I get an e-mail advertising something about "painted babies" and "natural beauties" in a photo retouching service. I checked it out and not only is it inferior to what I could do with my own photos, it's the single creepiest thing I've seen in a while. I could rant about this, but others have done it much more eloquently. Just, eww. I'm glad I have a boy.

3. Graduation. This doesn't really belong in the things-that-bug-me category so much as things-that-are-causing-some-stress category. I'm stoked to graduate, for sure (well, stoked to get the degree, I don't much go in for the ceremonies), but I have to read from my manuscript and still haven't settled on a selection, mostly because we're limited to four pages and none of my vignettes are self-contained in less than ten or so. I feel like I need to give a preamble, something like "This really is more interesting than my reading makes it sound; I just chose a less dramatic, though no less exciting, topic for my manuscript." But I think that might be kind of lame.

4. That summer vacation is almost over. Overall, it's been an awesome summer break, but I feel like I haven't taken full advantage of every day with my son. And I even, in my darker moments, feel like I want a few moments all to myself, and then I feel bad for that. I guess any parent worth his or her weight in Pop Tarts would feel this way, but still.

5. Healthy eating. Again, I suppose this belongs in the first list. I've been eating much healthier foods and portions lately, especially since I wrapped up my manuscript and stopped living like one of those Hot Pockets-munching Red Bull-drinking computer nerds you see in movies. But I just baked a fresh batch of brownies and seriously want to eat like half the pan.

That's it for tonight. More posts to come soon (promise). Possible topics include the recent awesomeness of certain people I know, why I would like to hogtie my cat, the day recently my car became a boat and how to change pee-soaked sheets in one's sleep.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

He cannot tell a lie

This afternoon, as I was supposed to be working:

(Video game noises emanate from the living room. I hear the someone-drowning sound effect.)
David: Argh! SpongeBob! I hate when you do that!
(Same sound effect, moments later.)
David: SpongeBob! Quit it right now!
(Same sound effect.)
David: Stupid freak SpongeBob! Stupidstupidstupid. Stooooooopid!
(Same sound effect.)
David: Grrr! (Really. "Grrr." As in, "Frosted Flakes! They're Grrreat!") Grrr, SpongeBob! Why do you keep doing that?

Me (after mumbling a few verboten words myself, wrapping up with "just want five freakin' minutes"): David! Why don't you put that down and come back to it some other time, when you can enjoy it.
Him: I am enjoying it! (Throws murderous glares toward the television.)
Me: You don't look like you're enjoying it.
Him: Well, I am. SpongeBob just keeps being stupid.
Me: Why don't you just play it later? Maybe practice that part.
Him: SpongeBob is just stupid right there!
Me: You know SpongeBob isn't real.
Him: Well, he's stupid anyway.
Me: I think you've said that word enough.
Him: No!
Me: Excuse me?
Him: SpongeBob made me. He made me say stupid. And freak. And he makes me want to keep saying it. Stupid! Stupid! Freak! Stupid! Freak! Freak! Freak! stupidfreakstupidfreakstupidstupid!
Me (Later, as a teary, but much calmed face turns to emerge from the corner): Do you know why you were in the corner?
Him: Because I said words I shouldn't. And because I acted like a baby about the game.
Me: Good. Are you going to do it again?
Him: Probably.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Writerly stuff and stupid husband tricks

Did I say a day or two? I really took longer than I expected and am a little freaked out now meant to say a week or two. Yeah.

Until then, a couple of things:

First thing: I love this guy. If I had the free time, this would totally be me. According to my friends, it already is me.

And second: My husband, for as long as I can remember, has done this ridiculous noise where he grabs his throat skin and muscle tightly over his Adam's apple, wiggles it in and out, and says huunngh haaahhh huuuungha in a strained, high-pitched tone while his voice wiggles as he assaults his own neck, but which he insists sounds "just like" bagpipes. It actually sounds a little like a flock of violently ill, asthmatic geese, and a very little like bagpipes, and a whole lot like the voice of someone who you are not surprised finds the bagpipe term "blowstick" extremely funny. He and one friend who used to "accompany" his performances were, I thought, the planet's sole self-injuring bagpipe-imitating artists.

Turns out I was wrong. This video was on my homepage the other day. If you go to Youtube and do a cursory search, there emerges a whole bizarre community of folks who have cultivated this, um, "talent."

I made the further mistake of showing this to my husband, who now seems to think this is a talent clearly worthy of cultivation and, heaven help us, practice. And lest I get bored of bagpipe ambiance, he's expanding to include several other sound effects. He seems to fancy himself the next Michael Winslow.


Oh well. At least I'm safe for now, since my demeanor ramping up to submitting my manuscript is well above Don't-even-look-at-me and just south of Keep-sharp-objects-away-from-Kim. I'm sure he'll redouble his rehearsal in a few days, though. Lucky me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm still here...

I'd meant to blog long before this, about a whole host of things (which I will do, eventually, providing I remember) and then finally just to say that I'm too busy to blog for a few days, but it appears I failed to do even that. Sorry all. (All ... three? Four fair readers? I can hope.) I'm trying very, very hard to wrap up my very nebulous manuscript for my graduate program (due, basically, momentarily), without losing too large a portion of my sanity, and that's taking up pretty much all my writing time. And when I'm at home, darn it, my family has the irritating habit of wanting to, you know, be with me and stuff. So. Manuscript craziness for a day or two more. Then, hopefully, blogging before the real craziness sets in ramping up to revision and graduation.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Every single day, and every word you say...

I talked to a couple of people recently who had kind words about my humble blog and humorous writing therein. Despite very gracious protests, I was trying to assure them that the humor, alas, is not mine. It's my son. I could choose to be jealous that it comes so naturally to him -- I mean, his idea of humor is the following joke:

"Knock knock"
"Who's there?"
"Me! Bwa-ha-ha!"
(Repeat for half an hour.)

But, in his natural moments, I think I might just be able to transcribe the words that come out of his mouth, and it would fare just as well.

Exhibit A (in the school parking lot, after picking him up):
Me: What were you talking and laughing about over there?
Him: Weiners!
Me: (Ignoring and changing tracks, or so I thought) So what did you learn about today?
Him: Weiners!
Me: Do you know what that means?
Him: Yeah. And I have a weiner! You wanna know who else has one?
Me: I think I have a pretty good guess. Did you learn anything else? Did you have music class today?
Him: Yeah. We learned a song about a cat. And we made up a song afterwards. Wanna hear it?
Me: Sure.
Him: Weeeiner, Weeeeeeeiner, Weiner-weiner-weeeeiner! Weiner-weiner bo-beiner...
Me: Let's hear the cat one now.

Exhibit B (as I prepared to cut his hair and he debated whether to don a shirt):
Him: I just don't want the hair to get on those pointy things.
Me: You don't have to worry about the clippers. They're not that pointy.
Him: Not those pointy things. These pointy things, on my chest! My ... pimples?

Exhibit C (while exiting the bathroom):
Him: Will you get mad if I tell you the truth? It's something that happened just now with poop.

Exhibit D (regularly):
Me: It's time to clean your room.
Him: Eeeeeaaaanghh! Wauuuugheeeeah! Waaaaahh!
Me: David! I think we're beyond whining, don't you?
Him: What whining? I wasn't whining.

Exhibit E (on a Ferris wheel):
Him: Hey! Look at all the people down there! Hey people! Hey. HEY! Aaahhhhh!
Him (a few seconds later, concerned): Why are they all looking at us?

Exhibit F (regularly):
Me: If you do that again, I'm going to holler, OK?
Him: OK.
Me: Got it? Because I'm done talking about it. Next time, I'm going to holler, and I will be mad.
Him: O-Kaaay, Mom.
Me: I don't want you to be surprised. Because I will yell, and I will be mad.
Him: Al-riiight!
(Does it again)
Me (Hollering): David! Stop it right now!
Him (Crying, totally shocked): Why are you mad?

Exhibit G (at a school book fair, after looking over a Harry Potter book):
Him: Wanna know how to play Quidditch?
Me (Unsuspecting. I should know better): How?
Him: Well, you stick a broom between your legs, like a ... like a boy part (here he gestures, quite pointedly, to his own, as if that's better than naming it in public), only you stick it coming out your butt, and you zoom around and grab balls and hit balls and try to catch that really little ball.
Neighboring child: Balls! Bwaah-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaa!
Him (to me): Wait, what are balls on people again? You don't have them, right?

Can I rest my case?