Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday song

And now for something completely different . . . The Lumberjack Song by Monty Python! Why? Because I think it's hilarious and I figured we could all use a break from songs with actual meaning this week!

Lumberjack: I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK, I sleep all night and I work all day.

Choir: He's a lumberjack and he's OK, He sleeps all night and he works all day.

Lumberjack: I cut down trees, I eat my lunch, I go to the lavatory. On Wednesdays I go shopping, and have buttered scones for tea.

Choir & Girl: He cuts down trees, he eats his lunch, He goes to the lavatory. On Wednesdays he goes shopping, And has buttered scones for tea.

Lumberjack: [In unison with Choir] I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK, I sleep all night and I work all day.

Lumberjack: I cut down trees, I skip and jump, I like to press wild flowers. I put on women's clothing, And hang around in bars.

Choir: He cuts down trees, he skips and jumps, He likes to press wild flowers. He puts on women's clothing, And hangs around in bars?

Lumberjack: [In unison with Choir] I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK, I sleep all night and I work all day.

Lumberjack: I cut down trees, I wear high heels, Suspenders and a bra. I wish I'd been a girlie, Just like my dear papa.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Thursday Thirteen

I'm not feeling very creative today so I'll take a page from the other bloggers listed below and do a list. Feel free to join us. Just do your own Thursday Thirteen and send me a link in my comments. I'll add you to the list below! Thanks to Leanne by way of e for this idea!

13. I'm a bit superstitious so I'm a little concerned about making a list of 13 things.

12. I won't let that stop me, though.

11. Speaking of bad luck, my car was towed on Sunday from in front of my apartment building. It had flashers on and I think the jerk watched me bring my groceries in before he towed me.

10. When I went to pick up my car, I swore at the tow truck driver and called him an asshole (among other things).

9. Really loud.

8. It made me feel better even if it didn't help anything (and probably hurt because he then left my car at the waaaaay back of the lot).

7. I don't know why I'm counting backwards.

6. I'm going to a book launch party tonight for this author's latest book. The party is being thrown by my fabulous neighbor who is starting a party planning business.

5. I'm going to meet this online friend on Sunday and I'm really excited.

4. Go check out her site - she's really funny.

3. I like blogging more than I like working.

2. And that might become a problem at some point.

1. I had a much harder time coming up with 13 things to say than I thought I would!

Now go check out other Thursday Thirteens and send me a link to your Thursday Thirteens! If you send me a link, I'll add your link below.

1. Leanne at Artist by Nature
2. e at retrospect
3. mommy k at petroville
4. Uzi at Uzi's Musings
5. the Crusty Crone at Crone's Corner
6. Mary at Elsewhere
7. Keb at What the
8. Interstellarlass at Interstellar Adventures

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Help Yourself

Hello. My name is Jessica and I'm addicted to self-help books. I admit that I am powerless over my addiction. I haven't quite gotten to the point where I give myself over to a higher power, though. I have to figure out which higher power is the appropriate higher power to take over for me. That's a pretty big decision, don't you think? The way the Buddha would handle things is far different than the way the Christian God would handle them or another (lower case) god like, say, Zeus would. What if I do pick Zeus and Hera gets jealous. Chaos, I tell you. You can't take this stuff lightly. But that's a topic for another post. just makes my problem worse. I don't even have to drag my ass to a book store to feed my addiction. All I need is a computer and a credit card. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad (at least for our budget) if I just took the books out from the library. But I need the full, new book experience - the new book smell, the crisp, clean, unfolded pages, the unbroken binding. A new book holds the promise of redemption - I will conquer my clutter, get fit in 15 minutes a day and I will create my life from the inside out, Dr. Phil!

The new book experience also involves the search for the right book to fix the issue du jour, reading reviews and looking at various writings by the same author or by different authors on the same topic. Damn you, you make it so easy! Once the purchase is made, the anticipation begins - checking the account status and tracking the package every day. Oh, when will it get here? How could I have survived this long without the wisdom this perfect book will surely impart? My life will be so much better once I read this book! And then the book arrives. I can't wait to rip open the box and start reading. There's no doubt that this book contains the answers I need. This is the last self-help book I will ever need!

I read the book, devouring its pages without savoring them. No time to waste! This book has the answers. The quicker I read it, the quicker my problems will be fixed and I will live happily ever after. Isn't happily ever after the promise of the fairy tales I grew up on? Sometimes I learn things that I didn't already know, sometimes I make changes to my attitude or behavior in response to things I learned from the book. But more often, the changes go the way of all of my New Year's resolutions - I make a half-hearted effort at change and give up after about a month (or less). Apparently I haven't learned that change is really difficult. It actually involves work. I'm all about the "new book experience" and the reading. Not so much about the actual change part.

So there's the inevitable let down. The book didn't live up to its promise, my problem's aren't solved. The clutter continues to conquer me, I'm nowhere near fit and I haven't managed to create my life from the inside out. I swear that I'm not going to buy any more of those books. I try to convince myself that all the wisdom I need is inside of me and no book is going to give me any answers I don't already know. It's like dieting - we all know that we need to eat fewer calories than we consume and we need to exercise. There's really nothing more to it - you can try all the fad diets you want but they don't change the basic math of weight gain and loss. There's nothing that any diet book can teach us about losing weight that we don't already know. In that area at least, I'm not the only one who has trouble with the actual changing of habits part of the equation.

Despite my best arguments with myself about how no book will help me, in time, the urge to buy returns., that bastion of evil, will send me an email enticing me to look at books that might interest me based on previous purchases, most of which were self-help books. And the cycle of addiction begins anew.

Now I have so-called "friends" enabling my addiction. Sitting by my feet at my desk this very moment are several self-help books given to me by one of these friends. There are a few books by Stuart Wildeand a couple by Don Miguel Ruiz. For some reason, these authors managed to escape my search for the perfect book. Even though I have several other books that are in my reading queue including the book noted in the margin on the right, as well as three books by this author (in a compilation edition),this book and this book, I'll probably go home tonight and spend at least a little time perusing the new books I got today. Even though they are slightly used books and don't give the full "new book experience," they'll do in a pinch.

I suppose at some point I'll make another effort to break the addiction. But now I have a good excuse for reading these books - I need to share what I learn with all of you. See how this works? I now have an obligation to read self-help books. So you don't have to. I do it all for you, my dear readers. Maybe I don't need to read those books about being a more thoughtful and giving person after all!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday song (on Saturday)

Ok - so I lied. It's not really about clothes but it sort of is. So here goes, this week's Friday song is Who We Are by Hope Partlow.

I don't wanna put on my make up
Just like every girl in a magazine
That's not who I am when I wake up
That's not who I wanna be

There's so much more to me than
Meets the eye
In this life I know one thing

It doesn't really matter what you wear
Let the people stare
Cuz we are who we are who we are who we are
It doesn't really matter what car you drive
It's good to be alive
Yeah we are who we are who we are who we are
Who we are

Tell me baby do I look like the real thing
Or would you change the color of my eyes
Tell me why my television's filling me with lies

It doesn't really matter what you wear
Let the people stare
Cuz we are who we are who we are who we are
It doesn't really matter what car you drive
It's good to be alive
Yeah we are who we are who we are who we are

There is beauty on the inside
Yeah you're beautiful
All right!

Though it doesn't really matter what you wear
Let the people stare
Cuz we are who we are who we are who we are
It doesn't really matter what car you drive
It's good to be alive
Yeah we are who we are who we are who we are

It doesn't really matter what you wear
Let the people stare (it's good to be alive good to be alive)
Doesn't really matter what car you drive
It's good to be alive (who we are)
Yeah we are who we are who we are who we are who we are (it's good to be alive good to be alive)

When we are who we are

I think this song hit me this week because I'm going through a phase where I'm not feeling good about the way I look. I haven't been exercising, I've been eating too much junk and I've gained a few pounds. I've gained enough weight that it effects the way my clothes fit. I know that if I let that bother me, it doesn't do any good and it makes things worse - I'll eat to make myself feel better! Stupid, I know.

I don't need to tell you that our society values physical attractiveness to an unhealthy level. No matter how logically I try to see that and how many times I tell myself that how I look shouldn't matter, it does matter. It's not like I'm an actress or public figure. I don't have paparazzi snapping pictures of me without make up on. Which just makes my concern about my looks that much more ridiculous.

And the other silly thing is that I tend to feel intimidated by really attractive people. Or really wealthy people. I know, being rich and pretty doesn't equate with happiness or true contentment with life. I'm in a weird mood, I guess.

I don't want to teach my girls that they way they look is paramount. I try not to complain about my true body image in front of them and I have never talked about dieting. If I talk about wanting to lose weight, it's always couched in terms of eating more healthy foods in smaller portions. Never about trying to look better - only about health. But, to be totally honest, sometimes it's a lie. As unhealthy as this attitude is, there are times that I couldn't give a rat's ass about my health as long as I look half way decent in a bathing suit and my favorite pants don't pull at the thighs. Just don't tell my girls! (Thank God they aren't old enough to read this blog).

Say the party line with me - it's about who you are on the inside, not about what you look like or the clothes you wear.

Airport blogging

I'm sitting at LaGuardia waiting for my plane to board. I came to NY to attend a conference on the always interesting topic of Closed-End Fund governance. Just can't get enough of that stuff, I tell you!

So I made the HUGE mistake of booking a 6am flight out of Chicago. What the hell was I thinking? Of course, I went to my friends' house for dinner last night and drank wine and talked far later than I should have considering I was supposed to get up at 4:30am. So I get to bed a midnight and barely get any sleep before I hit the snooze button THREE times. Not a good start.

I somehow manage to leave the house by 5:10 but, of course, can't find a cab. I end up walking three blocks to the Embassy Suites and catch a cab in front. On a good day with no traffic, it takes about 20 minutes to get to O'Hare and luckily, it was a good day. But when I try to do self-service check-in, my boarding pass mysteriously doesn't print. So I move to another machine, same thing. Next machine tells me that because it's less than 30 minutes before the flight leaves I can't get a boarding pass. How pissed was I that I had been there at least (ok barely) 30 minutes ahead but American's stupid machines wouldn't print my boarding pass? Yes, I know - I could have printed my boarding pass from home but that would have required forethought and planning and we've already established that those are skills that I do not possess.

So the very "helpful" agent (sarcasm alert) tells me that there's no way I can get on that flight but maybe I can try those "other machines over there" and that might work. So I try the other machines - same thing. Two of them don't appear to work and the third one tells me "Loser - you're too late." So another "very helpful" agent tells me I have to get in the really long line to get help. I must have a fairy godmother because the agent at the desk was actually REALLY helpful and she said - "I think you can make it. Give it a try." Wow - how hard would it have been for one of the other two "very helpful" agents to actually stop chatting about their love lives and give me some real help.

Ok, so I make like O.J. and run to security where - shocker - the TSA agent is really nice and lets me into the First Class line so I can get through quickly. So I quickly and dutifully take my laptop out of my briefcase, put everything in the bins and put the bins and my shoes on the conveyor belt which is - not moving. Why? Because the conveyor belt lady is - reading. And not looking at the conveyor belt. So I look to the metal detector lady who waves me through and says - with a straight face - "Ma'am, you have been randomly selected for additional screening." Poor girl saw the look of utter horror, furious anger and total disbelief on my face (and also, my eyeballs popped out of my head), glanced at my boarding pass and said "Oh, no you didn't!" Then she turned to the conveyor belt lady who was - wait for it - still reading a book and gently let her know that she, um, had stuff to look at. I, however, was about to yell "WTF conveyor belt lady! Get a move on! I have a plane to catch!" But it's good that I didn't because that extra screening would have come on fast and furious.

So, I make the plane with plenty of time to spare. Go figure - I could have gotten that Starbucks afterall.

After the "very interesting" conference, I ended up with a couple hours to kill so I did what I used to do when I lived in NY - I walked around and looked at people and stuff. I was at the American Stock Exchange for the conference so I made my way over to Broadway and started walking north. I started in the financial district and moseyed up to Tribeca. Then I took a right turn on Canal Street and into Chinatown. There is really no city like NY. It's simply amazing how many little stores and businesses there are packed into these blocks. And so many of them sell the same junky purses, watches, jewelry, hats, clothes and stuff. How in the world do any of them make money?

The people watching is amazing. Well, except for the one guy that was walking in front of me on a side street. He was sort of well dressed - he had dress pants and a Hawaiian shirt and was wearing a baseball cap. He was strolling along and then all of a sudden he stopped, turned to the curb and WHIPPED IT OUT AND BEGAN TO PEE. I am so not kidding. And everyone just walked past like nothing out of the ordinary was going on but there was a man peeing in the street in the middle of the day! WTF! Now I remember why I moved out of NY. People in Chicago have the decency to pee in the alleyways.

Gotta go - the plane is about to board. I'll try to post the Friday song later tonight but if I don't get a chance, I guess it will be the Saturday song this week. Not to ruin the surprise or anything but it's another song by a lady singing about deep emotional issues. Only this time it's about clothes.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Ch ch ch chaaanges . . .

Oh look! More lame musical references from yours truly. Sorry, I just can't help myself.

I don't know why this occurred to me but I was just remembering the difficulty we had dropping M-Girl off at preschool two years ago. She would cry and cling and cry and cling. I'd hand her over to a teacher and she'd reach for me, tears streaming down her face. It was haaarible. Truly. The teachers told us that within seconds of our leaving, she was just fine and dandy. But of course. This went on most of the school year. It sucked.

Then it was time for junior kindergarten - and she pulled some of the same stuff. Big D and I learned early on that if we had Abby drop her off at class instead of one of us going in, M-Girl was miraculously tear and cling free. So her big sis dropped her off most of the year and we just waved from the car.

I was worried at the beginning of this school year. A-Girl's not around to walk her to class. I thought we'd have a lot of "Don't leave me, Mommy!" for a few months. We're in the car driving to school on the first day.

Me: M-Girl, do you want me to walk you to class this morning?
M-Girl: No.
Me: Really, I can. It's no problem.
M-Girl: No! I'll go myself.
Me: Um, ok.

So we pull up to the school. The gym teacher opens the door for M-Girl. She grabs her backpack and heads to the door.

Me: Bye, honey! Have a great day!
M-Girl: (Nothing - I was talking to her back. She was already heading up the stairs to class).
Me: *sniff*

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Just a little crazy?

Is it just me or does anyone else think that this person is a little crazy?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Feelings . . . wo wo wo . . . feelings

Sorry for the really lame musical reference but I've been thinking about feelings lately. You should go check out Giovanni's new blog at Life Unscrambled. He writes about all kinds of interesting things but recently he wrote about the pursuit of happiness. He points out that it is impossible to be happy all the time and when we inevitably fail to be constantly happy, we figure there must be something wrong with our lives. That kind of disappointment can lead to depression. But if we just tried to be more realistic about life and its ups and downs, we'd probably be more content with our lives in general.

As I think I've mentioned recently, I come from a family that didn't appreciate strong emotions. Although negative emotions were particularly frowned upon, even strongly expressed positive emotions made my parents uncomfortable. I can't remember any specifics but as I think about it, I can remember feeling embarrassed at having gotten "overly" excited about something. Although I think I'm getting better at it, I still have trouble expressing my emotions. But emotions have a habit of getting out one way or another - we can either let them out in healthy, constructive ways or allow them to manifest themselves in destructive ways. Before we can express emotions in a healthy way, we have to learn to accept them.

This morning, M-Girl was angry and frustrated because she had a stuffy nose and didn't want to go to school. I told her that she wasn't sick so she needed to go to school. She was frustrated because she felt like I wasn't listening to her (and because she wasn't getting her way). Monday mornings are tough - they represent a change in routine from the weekend to the school week and she was probably a little sad about being separated from me after we just spent two full days together.

My temptation was to tell her to get over it, get up and get dressed. Instead, I tried to accept and acknowledge her feelings by saying that it was ok for her to be angry and frustrated. I told her she could continue to feel that way for as long as she needed to. However, she still needed to get ready for school. I hugged her a nudged her along a little and eventually she got dressed. And once she started getting ready to go, she was fine. (Except that she repeated the performance - unsuccessfully - for the babysitter in the afternoon saying that her nose was too stuffy for her to go to guitar lessons.) Hopefully, she's learning that it's ok to be angry and frustrated and that you can express those feelings and you won't get punished. I also hope she's learning that just because she's angry doesn't mean she'll get her way.

Sometimes when we tell our kids to stop crying or yelling, it may be because the expression of their emotions is making us uncomfortable. Certainly there are times when crying and screaming is not appropriate and we have to help them learn to control their emotional outbursts at those times. But there are times when we can - and should - let them express those strong emotions and help them learn to calm themselves down (we've taught our kids to take deep breaths). This is an essential life skill that they aren't going to learn at school.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A day at the circus

Well, it wasn't a whole day and it wasn't really the circus but M-Girl and I went to see Hephaestus: A Greek mythology circus tale at Lookingglass Theatre this afternoon. It was fabulous! It's narrated by a young girl (more about her later). Meredith said the little girl was her favorite part of the show. She's reading a book about the story of Hephaestus.

Hephaestus is the son of the Greek goddess Hera who is unhappily married to Zeus. She secretly gives birth to Hephaestus but because he's horribly disfigured and ugly, she casts him off Mt. Olympus. He falls for many years and by the time he lands in Lake Lemnos, he's fully grown. The queen of the sea nymphs saves him and he discovers that he has a talent for making things, including beautiful jewelry and "people" made out of silver. Hera sees this and gets jealous. She sends Isis, the Goddess of the rainbow, down to ask Hephaestus to come back. He creates a golden throne for Hera who comes down to earth to receive the gift but when she sits in the throne, she is bound by invisible ropes. Hephaestus refuses to let her go. Hera sends Ares, the God of war to convince Hephaestus to release her but he still refuses. Hera finally offers Aphrodite as a bride for Hephaestus. When Hephaestus sees Aphrodite, he falls in love and agrees to let Hera go. He then creates an even more beautiful throne for Hera and takes it up to her on Mt. Olympus.

Lookingglass has a relatively small (p.r. types would call it "intimate") theater space on Michigan Avenue in the old water pumping station across the street from the Water Tower. It's basically a black box, theater in the round. Not a place that you would expect to see world-class circus performances but that's what we saw today. Hera is played by a woman who is a member of the 7th generation of the Wallenda family. Her brother was in the show along with several other adults who literally grew up in circus families. They are amazing performers and it was surreal seeing real-life Wallendas.

One of the best things about the show is the way they weave the circus acts into the story in a way that fits better than I expected. Each of the gods/goddesses does a performance that seamlessly fits within the story. Ares was played by a young man who did rope tricks requiring amazing strength, control and courage. Isis was a beautiful woman with rainbow colored bows in her hair and she did graceful tricks on a rope swing. The queen of the nymphs did incredible hula hoop tricks with silver hoops created by Hephaestus. (This very moment, Meredith walked into my room with her hula hoop to practice!) Hera was strong and daring on a hoop trapeze (the first throne made by Hephaestus) and the tightrope. The music - heavy on the percussion - was perfect.

Ok, now back to the young narrator. She was nine years old and this was her theater debut. Not surprisingly, I thought about Abby the whole time I watched her. She has brown hair that was pulled back in pony tails. Her two front teeth are just coming in - just like A-Girl. (Thinking about it now, my heart hurts. I miss my baby). It was hard watching someone else's child perform knowing that my own baby is performing and I haven't been there to see her. But I digress.

As M-Girl and I were about to leave the theater, the girl was in the lobby with her dad so M-Girl and I went to say hi to her and tell her that we enjoyed her performance. I couldn't help but tell her dad about our own little performer. I talked to the girl about what it's like to be on stage and asked her if she was nervous. She said that before the show she walks around saying "Oh, no. I can't do this." but then when she gets on stage everything is fine. She seemed really comfortable out there - she has to sing and hit cues with her lines and she did a great job. Her dad and I talked about how incredible it is to see your own child on stage like that. We both grabbed our hearts and shook our heads at the same time! It's hard to find the right words to describe the feeling.

He said that people involved in the production have been encouraging them to get an agent for their daughter. This was not only her theater debut, it's her professional debut. He said they were not sure what they wanted to do and he asked if he could call me to talk about agents, etc. You all know how much I love to talk about A-Girl's career and give my advice to total strangers! So, of course I said yes.

I was a little nervous about approaching them in the lobby - you never know how people in that situation might act. I mean, they could have thought I was a psycho or something. A psycho hanging out with a five-year old and her pink Hello Kitty purse. Ok, maybe not. But still - her dad could have been a stuck up stage parent or something. Luckily, he's a really nice guy. Us down-to-earth, friendly-type stage parents have to stick together.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday song

Taking a page from Crouching Mommy, Hidden Laundry, I've decided to quote song lyrics on my blog. Taking another page from lots of bloggers including Megan and Mir, who, at one time or another have done regular Friday things, I'm going to try to do it every Friday.

So here's this week's Friday song: Everyday by Toby Lightman

Everyday is a struggle between what I wanna say
And what I should keep to myself
And the words that manage to leave my lips
Don't hurt me, but they hurt everyone else

And I find myself in need of a pause
I'm not sure why, but I think that it's because
Of this desire to be what others want me to be
Which is nothing close to me

But I'll see better when the smoke clears
When the smoke clears inside my head
And I can listen when the screaming doesn't repeat everything I've said
And all that remains me and who I am at the end of the day
And this happens everyday

Everyday is a battle between what I wanna know
And what I don't wanna figure out
And everything in between in these thoughts of mine
That you know I can't live with out

And I find myself in need of a pause
I'm not sure why, but I think that it's because
Of this desire to be what others want me to be
Which is nothing close to me

But I'll see better when the smoke clears
When the smoke clears inside my head
And I can listen when the screaming doesn't repeat everything I've said
And all that remains me and who I am at the end of the day
And this happens everyday

First of all, this is a beautiful song - quiet but powerful. Toby has an interesting, smoky voice that I love to listen to. And the lyrics hit me every time I hear the song.

There are times when I struggle with being myself. As I was growing up, I was taught that expressing strong emotions was a bad thing. And anger was something that just wasn't done in my house (unless you were my dad and your teenage daughter was still on the phone at 2 a.m. on a school night, then you could get mad). But the problem with that kind of upbringing is that you learn that it just isn't worth the risk to express any emotions except in a very controlled manner. Eventually, you figure out that it's safest to express the emotions that people expect you to express - in the way they expect you to express them - and not necessarily the ones you feel. At some point, you aren't even sure what you feel anymore and that's when you forget who you are.

I like the part where she says she's in need of a pause. It would be good for me to learn to pause before I respond to things so that I can make sure that my response is genuine. Maybe if I slow down and listen a little better, I'll be able to hear my own voice speaking.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Family and friends

This summer we became acquainted with the parents of one of M-Girl's friends. We had dinner at their house, they had dinner at our house and we became friends. The father has really taken to M-Girl and become kind of like an uncle to her. I realized today that, to me, they've become like the family I no longer have. I'm estranged from most of my family, for reasons that are too numerous and painful to go into now. But the way these friends have acted towards me during this time of stress have made me realize some things about my family, and about myself.

I come from a family of "takers", for lack of a better word. Unfortunately, I've realized that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. It's not that we aren't generous in our own way - we always give to charity, we do things for other people, we're friendly and nice (most of the time). It's on an emotional level that we have our real problems. It's every "man" for himself. We have trouble in groups because we can't really put the interests of the group - or other individuals in the group - ahead of our own interests. When we do give of ourselves emotionally, we expect something in return - complete and unquestioning adoration and obedience, mostly.

"Look at me! I gave you a hug and told you I love you. What more do you want from me? Time, attention, actual caring? Sorry, too much of my own shit to deal with." or "Time to buy a prom dress? Well, maybe I can go with you but I might have something better to do. Oh, your step mom is going with you instead? In that case I'll for sure be able to be there." or "By the way, we're having a party next week and you'll be there. Seven months pregnant, middle of the summer and no car? Take a train. We expect you to show up."

I was talking with a girlfriend the other day. This summer she's been re-evaluating a lot of things in her life, and taking a close look at her relationships. She's an incredibly giving and warm person. She said she's decided to get rid of the "energy suckers" in her life. Those people that just take and don't give anything, or enough, in return. That's my family. Sometimes, that's me. I don't want to be an energy sucker anymore.

So these friends of ours - they invite M-Girl for playdates and sleepovers and have me over for dinner. They call and ask how I'm doing and make sure I'm not alone too much. They're really there for me, it's not just words. They treat me like my fantasy family treats each other. I feel comfortable with them, like I can be myself and there's no judging, no expectations for anything other than friendship. I think it's time I learn to be a better friend and I think I've found a good example to follow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I'm feeling a bit scattered these days. There are so many things I like to do - reading, knitting, writing - but I never feel like I have enough time to devote to those interests.

I'm in various stages of reading several books - Patricia Cornwell's The Last Precinct, John Twelve Hawks' The Traveler, Harriet Lerner's The Dance of Anger (actually, the book is the trilogy including The Dance of Intimacy and The Dance of Deception but I've only started the first of the three). I also have several books waiting in the wings (including a book on how to manage peri-menopause which I think I'm avoiding because it'll probably tell me I have to quit my Starbucks habit and I just don't think I can do that).

I'm working on several knitting projects - I've started two baby blankets and have a third in waiting, there's a throw for Dave I started two years ago that I haven't even looked at in ages and somewhere along the line I started a sweater for myself that I'll probably pull out and start over at some point. I also have enough yarn for several other projects. But that doesn't stop me from looking at yarn websites yearning to buy more!

And then there's the writing that I love to do but am forever procrastinating on - I have at least two stories/book ideas going right now (meaning I've actually started to write stuff) and lots more that bubble to the surface of my mind now and then. For a long time I've had a fantasy about making a living as a writer someday. But writers have to actually spend time writing and I'm forever telling myself I'll write "later." Of course, later never comes. Or when it comes, I have to go make dinner or get some sleep or go to work. Or I write here, which is great but isn't necessarily something that will ever pay the bills.

On top of all that, there's every day life that needs attention. I want to spend time with Meredith (and when they get back, Dave and Abby), I need to cook, do laundry and clean (at least every now and then). There are bills to pay and projects around the house that just need doing. Oh, yeah - and then there's my day job. It's not a bad job, there are lots of things about it that I like (not the least of which is the people I work with) and the pay's nothing to sneeze at. Given the lifestyle to which I've become accustomed, I have no intention of leaving here any time soon (unless I win the lottery). Somewhere in there I think about fitting in exercise but it never seems to make the cut.

I guess I wish that things were flipped around so that I could spend the bulk of my time on creative pursuits and less of my time on earning a living in the corporate world. How do other people do it? I know there are people out there that manage to accomplish far more than I do and I'd love some advice on how to stop procrastinating and actually do something creative.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Long distance

So M-Girl got to talk to A-Girl and Big D for a little while last night. After that, she slept better than she had in weeks. Talking on the phone isn't as good as being in person but it's better than nothing.

A-Girl said she's having a really good time. She loves performing and thinks everyone is sooooo nice. She sounds good. The little bit that I can see her on the webcam, she looks good. I really miss her. I miss my husband too but we are at least able to IM and talk a little bit more. He stays up and talks to me while A-Girl sleeps and then I stay up to talk to him while A-Girl's at school in the mornings.

I can't wait to see them. I can't wait to see the show. It'll be nice to meet more of the people so I can put faces with names. Sometimes I feel like I have to pinch myself to make sure this isn't a dream. When A-Girl said she wanted to be an actress, Big D and I talked about the possibility that she'd be successful but we're nothing if not realistic. The fact that she's done as well as she has really blows me away sometimes. In truth, a part of me wonders whether we should put the breaks on but then I talk to her and she gushes about how much she's enjoying herself. And although she misses her friends and me and her sister, she seems to be handling it really well.

As adults, we know that there are trade-offs in pretty much every choice we make. If we decide to live in the Midwest, we know that we'll have to deal with the winters. If you choose to live in the city, you have to deal with traffic and lack of affordable parking. If you live in the suburbs, you have to get up with the roosters to get to work on time. You can't have everything. As kids, the choices aren't generally as monumental - if you choose Doritos for you snack, you can't have Fritos, too. If you wear a skirt on the coldest day of the year, you have to deal with your legs getting cold. Nothing earth shattering. But at the tender age of 7 1/2, A-Girl's had to learn that if you choose to be in show business, you may have to be away from your family and friends for months at a time. You have to work hard - harder than the adults in the show because the adults don't have to do 16 hours of school each week on top of the show schedule. What's so amazing is that she understands and accepts the choices she makes. She expresses her feelings - she misses everyone - but she doesn't complain. And that makes me really proud.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sore loser

Not so long ago, my kids were playing at a friend's house. A-Girl was playing Nintendo (or Play Station or X-Box, who the hell can keep them straight) with her friend, a boy. A-Girl was kicking his ass at Super Mario Brothers or something, which pissed him off so much that he reached over and pushed the restart button. Because he wasn't winning. This was a five year old child who was getting ready to start kindergarten. Why did he have such a hard time losing? Because his parents (his father mostly) always let the kid win whenever they played anything.

It really bugs me to see that. It's not that I'm mean and take pleasure in beating little kids at some video game. But when you let a child win - no matter what the game is, you teach him all the wrong things. You teach him that it's not ok to lose, that he should be rewarded even if he doesn't work hard or isn't good at something, that the world revolves around him. You teach him to be a sore loser and that just sucks. It's going to be so hard for that kid to make friends because no one wants to play with a sore loser.

There are certain games that don't require skill (Candyland or Chutes and Ladders) so kids can learn to win and lose gracefully. My husband taught the girls to say "Good game" to their opponent and shake hands after every game - win or lose. And quitting in the middle of a game because you're losing is a punishable offense. It's not that my kids never get upset when they lose, but they aren't sore losers.

What do you think? Do you think it's ok to let kids win? Sometimes, never or always? I suppose that if I was playing basketball with M-Girl, I wouldn't be body checking her all over the court or anything but I wouldn't let her win. Oh, wait - I suck at basketball. And I'm out of shape. She could probably whip my ass. Well, anyway, you get the point.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Opening Night!

A-Girl made it through opening night in China and Big D said she had a great time. I haven't gotten many details - they were on their way to a cast party when I talked to them. Big D said she did awesome. She said she was nervous before the show but once she walked on stage, she wasn't nervous anymore.

It's bittersweet. I'm so proud of her and excited about this opportunity she's getting. She's on a big adventure and she's learning a lot about herself and the world. I'm getting details about the things they're doing but it isn't the same as being there. When your kids are born, you know that at some point you'll have to let them go to live their own lives. Even if it is only temporary, A-Girl's living her own life and I'm not there to see it. The best time to talk to my girls is lying in bed with them. I don't know why but that's when they offer observations of their world that don't come out at other times. That's what I miss the most with A-Girl gone. I miss snuggling and having her play with my hair while we talk about the day.

We've got good technology - we can call each other over the internet and I can see her on the webcam. But we can't have one of our typical rambling conversations. There's too much of a delay, things are too easily misunderstood. Since they're living in a hotel, my husband is always in the room while we're talking. It's not like she or I would hide anything important from him but we can't have real girl talk while he's around. I'm sure she has different conversations with him when I'm not around. I miss having alone time with her.

On the other hand, M-Girl and I are getting lots of quality time together. We're having a good time and not getting on each other's nerves too much. She asks for a nightly back rub (she loves to have me rub her shoulders) and she always offers me a back rub in return. She's been crawling into bed with me in the mornings - it's a nice way to wake up. Except this morning - she had forgotten to shut off her alarm clock and it started playing its annoying Powerpuff Girls song. I could hear it clear across the apartment so I told her she needed to go shut it off before the neighbors break in and smash it. She said "Why do I always have to do everything when I'm tired?!" I gave her one of my patent-pending "You better do what I say" looks. She stood up on my bed and started to march off in a huff and stomped on my shin in the process. She may be small but she stomps hard! At least it got me out of bed.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Parrothead is born!

Big Jimmy Buffett fans call themselves Parrotheads. I had heard of Parrotheads over the years and, I have to say, I just didn't get it. But on Sunday night I went to the Jimmy Buffett concert at Wrigley Field. I can now say that I would be proud to call myself a Parrothead. I won't wear the funny clothes, though. I just don't look good in Hawaiian prints and silly hats. It was one of the better concerts I've been to (and the only concert I've gone to in the last 10 years). It was great, not so much because of the quality of the music (Buffett's good but I wouldn't call him a great musician) - it was the atmosphere. It was being at Wrigley on a beautiful, end of summer evening. It was the colorful outfits, people having a good time. It was the overpriced margaritas.

I went with a girlfriend from work who got the tickets from her boss who got the tickets from Forbes Magazine (we advertise in there a lot). Thanks Forbes! This is a woman that I've known for several years but it's only recently that we've gotten to be more than "Hello in the hall" friends. Now we're "Let's have lunch and talk about our kids" friends. Her recent promotion has us working together more often. We had a fabulous time - we danced and sang along and talked over the noise until our voices were hoarse.

There were a lot more "AARP-eligibles" in the crowd than I would have guessed. I would say the average age was 35 to 45. Virtually everyone around us was singing along to every song. Given that I have no Jimmy Buffett albums and have never been to one of his concerts, I was surprised that I knew most of the songs or at least had heard them over the years. I didn't realize it but Jimmy Buffett is a big part of the musical fabric of my life. (Cue music - "Memories") It's the kind of music that was played at college parties and bars. Not to sound corny, but it really is the music of good times. You can't be depressed listening to Jimmy Buffett. Even his last encore - a nice rendition of Arlo Guthrie's City of New Orleans accompanied by a slide show of New Orleans street scenes (before Katrina) - didn't bring the mood down. It was an uplifting celebration of what was instead of a mourning of what's gone. Maybe it's too early for that, I don't know. But it was beautiful and touching and not the least the bit sad.

My favorite song of the night - and I know this is predictable - was Margaritaville. Partly because it's the only song that I know all the words to. Partly because it was a great crowd experience - you just know that every last person in the stadium knows that song by heart and hearing everyone sing together is powerful. Even if it is a silly song. (Gosh - can I say that and still be a Parrothead?)

On that note - I'm going to order a greatest hits album. No self-respecting Parrothead would be caught dead with a Jimmy Buffet-less ipod.