June 29, 2010

The Girl My Boyfriend Cheated on Me With in High School

Yesterday I ran into the girl I used to refer to as "the girl who stole my boyfriend in high school," but recently realized I should probably refer to as "the girl my boyfriend cheated on me with in high school," not only because the first statement implies that men are faultless pawns in games played by women (like when people call Angelina Jolie a homewrecker, as if Brad Pitt didn't wreck his own home), but also because the boyfriend in question saw her only briefly (evidently the relationship thrived under cheating conditions but not otherwise) and then was my boyfriend again, for reasons I can't satisfactorily explain except to say that he was QUITE cute and QUITE charming aside from the cheating thing, and I DID dump him permanently after the second time he cheated with her (and again, their relationship fizzled out).

ANYWAY, I saw the girl my high school boyfriend cheated on me with, and she was wearing a Winnie-the-Pooh shirt. And it's not that there is one single thing wrong with wearing a Winnie-the-Pooh shirt, but still, I had a flash of sympathy for her because that is not what I would want to be wearing on such an occasion, if I were her.


Speaking of high school, I would like to know what language you studied in school, and why did you choose it? I started with French because I thought French seemed ROMANTIC, and then after two years of that I switched to Latin because I thought it would help with my SATs. It turned out I liked Latin a lot better (it's not a spoken language anymore, so no one can criticize your accent!), so I took three more semesters of it in college.

June 28, 2010

New Exercise Plan (YAWN)

As you already know if you follow me on Twitter (and why WOULDN'T you, since that is where I give updates on how irritated I am by the high price of shipping a few rolls of address labels?) (NINE DOLLARS WTF!!!), I'm bored with my usual exercise routine and looking for a change. I don't usually talk about exercise here because it doesn't occur to me as a topic of interest (but SHIPPING costs! THAT'S entertainment!), but I wonder if that's why whenever I write on the topic of fatness I get some "Fine, don't exercise or eat right, BE fat" feedback---as if that's the natural opposite of "Everyone can have the same results with the same effort."

So. Fine. I will try to remember to talk about exercise more. (Also on the syllabus: how much broccoli and spinach I eat, and how little red meat.) Currently I exercise in the evening, right after the kids go to bed, because that's when it's been working best: the kids wake us up around 5:30, and I know I COULD get up earlier but so far haven't been motivated to. In the evening I'm less likely to be interrupted, and some of my routines let me watch a movie while exercising which makes it not quite so "ack I'm cutting into my limited slice of free time."

BUT. That's not working for me now. I used to get a second wind in the evening, but now I feel worn out. I used to be willing to cut into that limited slice of free time, but now the idea makes me feel sullen. Also, I'm bored with both the Wii Fit and with running, so that makes me feel even MORE sullen: not only am I using up free time, I'm doing something I HATE.

Well, so clearly that means an adjustment is in order. I asked for suggestions on Twitter, and 30 Day Shred is now on its way to me (hey, I finally read Twilight, this is the next natural step), despite the fact that the mere FACIAL EXPRESSIONS of Jillian Michaels make me want to punch her in the teeth, and this is without ever hearing her voice, which reportedly is unpleasant and mean. I also have several other people's suggestions on my Netflix queue, and I wish I'd thought of Netflix before I paid money for 30 Day Shred, but there it is and I can always donate it to the library if I don't like it.

The other adjustment, and to me this is far more radical, is I'm going to try exercising in the morning, before and while Paul is showering. Aaaaaaaaacccccckkkkkkkk. But if it WORKS, it means it'll cut into my sleep time instead of into my free time, and may make it easier for me to get to sleep at night in which case it would in fact be cutting into my lying-awake-wishing-I-could-sleep time, which would be awesome. ALSO, it would mean I could shower right after, which would mean a reduction in the part of exercising I hate most, which is the part where I have to change clothes! and take ANOTHER shower! and change clothes! which seems like no big deal but can add another big chunk of free time to the process. ALSO-also, it would mean getting it over with first-thing rather than dreading it and/or making it dependent on what kind of day I have.

BUT, it also means I can't go running (because if a child needed something, which is likely, Paul would be in the shower and I'd be out of the house). And it means an increase in the possibility of a hugely annoying mid-exercise interruption (such as child waking up soaked). And it means I'll have to argue with my half-asleep self, and she's even more sullen than my evening self.

Another potential problem is this: Evening exercising significantly decreased EATING, because I didn't want to exercise on a full stomach and afterward my appetite was suppressed. I'd do ZERO snacking all evening, and by the time I started feeling hungry it was too close to bedtime to eat anything. If I'm exercising in the morning, though, it opens the evening up for snacking, and it also may mean I'll have a mid-morning eat-everything-in-sight time.

So we will SEE, is what I am saying.

I tried it for the first time this morning and it went okay. The novelty of the situation made it easier to get out of bed, and it was very pleasant to be able to take a chilly shower afterward and know it could be the ONLY shower of the day. My new workout DVDs haven't arrived yet so I did one of my old Tae Bo DVDs. Gosh, I'd forgotten how much I hate the girl who acts like she's about to fall to the ground and start twitching with bliss. Yes, we all know you find this workout so INCREDIBLY STIMULATING it makes you want to SHOUT WITH JOY, but the rest of us are sweating and counting minutes so could you please shut your Teacher's Pet trap, kthanx. Hey, I just thought of a new awesome product: a workout DVD in which NONE of the participants make you want to smack them! Imagine such a world!

June 27, 2010

Party, Hair, Natural Habitats

Last night I dreamed Jonniker was having a multi-day party at her house and she let me come, and I was nervous but I went anyway and then kept wondering, "WHY DO I NOT DO THINGS LIKE THIS MORE OFTEN??" because it was so fun. I was also wondering if we really should be drinking ALL day long like that, and why no one seemed surprised that Justin Timberlake was naked. I had to leave early because I had to give birth to four kittens at the hospital, but who DOESN'T have that dream amirite?

It is time to take action on my hair. I've been growing it, and that's still fun so I want to keep doing that, but it is looking overgrown and overthick, and it's getting painful to comb even when I use lots of detangler. I'm going to make an appointment with my favorite stylist (Krissy--*starry eyes*) because she ALWAYS knows what to do. When I was growing out my bangs, I went to her and I was like, "Nothing can be done about that, I'm sure," and she was like "Mm hm" and then she gave me a cut that was like I'd already grown out the bangs. Doesn't talk much, does Krissy, but KNOWS ALL. (I feel a little sorry for her about her name. She doesn't seem like a Krissy. She seems like a Beth, or an Erin, or a Cara.)

Do you know what else, about my hair? I worry that it is Too Much with the five kids and the no/low make-up. I always wear it twisted up, and it's just...er. Especially with the maxi skirts I bought recently. Maxi skirts are fashionable right now, but long skirt + long twisted-up hair + many more children than usual + no make-up----it starts to look like something I'm not. Or even SEVERAL things I'm not.

I don't know why this reminds me of it, but we had someone straight out of another habitat walking down our street the other day. Normally in our town, if I see a woman walking a dog, she's wearing capris and a t-shirt and sunscreen, she has hair that doesn't catch your attention, and her dog is a medium-sized mutt type or a golden retriever. THIS woman had long straightened streaked hair, a deep tan, make-up that was clearly visible from my car, short-short-short shorts, glittery sandals, a cardigan longer than the shorts, sunglasses, and a tiny white fluffy dog on a pink leather leash. I hadn't realized we had so little of that kind of thing until I was so startled seeing it. It's like I hadn't realized how few old people lived in the town I used to live in, until I moved to the town I live in now.

June 25, 2010

OMG GET THROUGH DAY SOMEHOW

Today needs a plan. It is only breakfast time, and yet the goal "Do not go slap out of mind" is setting the bar TOO HIGH.

I thought about going to Target, because Target is always a soothing balm unto my soul, but...five children.

I could take them to the park, but the twins are getting their 5-year pictures taken tomorrow, and Edward already has a scrape on his cheekbone and a bug bite on his forehead, and I feel like that is my limit for facial injuries.

I made myself a challenge, a boring and depressing challenge but a challenge nevertheless, to see how many loads of laundry I could get done---and right out of the gate discovered I'd left a load in the washer and would need to re-run it. "That's going to cost her, Becky." "You got that right, Jim. We'll have to see if she can make up the time by shaving some minutes off the next wash cycle."

June 23, 2010

Frappe-date!

I updated the frappe recipe below, to include calorie info and a non-coffee alternative.

McDonald's Mocha Frappe Recipe

On impulse I ordered a mocha frappe at McDonald's, and UM YUMMY. The ingredients didn't seem hard to figure out: I guessed coffee, chocolate, milk. I tasted cream, so probably it was whole milk or maybe a blend of whole milk and cream. I could see little teeny bits of ice, so either there was ice in it too or else the coffee was frozen. I often have leftover coffee, so I froze some.


It's hard to make things at home because I have to acknowledge what's in them. If I get a frappe, all I have to think about it how much it costs and how good it tastes, and I don't have to think, "Hey, am I drinking...CREAM??"

But the nice thing about making things at home is that I can substitute. In this case, I used 2% milk, but next time I'll try it with skim.

One cup milk


Squeeze the Hershey syrup for awhile
(I'll try to remember to measure next time.)


Blend.
While it's blending,
add eight coffee ice cubes and two plain water ice cubes
through the hole in the lid.
(If yours doesn't have a hole in the lid,
shut off blender, remove lid, add a cube,
replace lid, blend, shut off blender,
remove lid, add a cube....)



Another squeeze of chocolate syrup, perhaps



PLEASE AND THANK YOU



Makes enough for two people to have some,
or for one person to have seconds.
I am the only one in my house who likes coffee.




Update! I looked online and got calorie info for the McDonald's Frappe.



Then I made my version again, so I'd know how many ounces. Ounces are a little tricky because the blender puts air into the mixture, so presumably the ounces wouldn't be the same after the mixture sits for awhile, but anyway, my recipe made 18 ounces so let's compare it to the 16-ounce medium.

I used 1/2 cup skim milk (40 calories), 1/2 cup 2% milk (65 calories), and 4 T. (or 1/4 c.) Hershey syrup (200 calories FTLOG). (The Hershey syrup is a great example of the point I made near the beginning about how it can be harder to make things at home where I have to Acknowledge The Ingredients). That's a total of 305 calories, and it's quite chocolatey and sweet; if my goal were to reduce the calories, I could use less chocolate syrup and/or replace some of the syrup with plain sugar (or even Splenda, I suppose). If I'd known it would be so close to the hundred-calorie mark, I might have done all skim milk and then it would have been 280 calories which sounds much less---AND would have been exactly half the calories of the 560-calorie medium frappe.

Another note: the second time I made it, it wasn't thick enough. I didn't want to add more coffee ice cubes because I was doing measurements, but I think it could easily have used another couple of cubes---which might have brought it ounces up to compare to the 680-calorie large frappe, an even more impressive calorie difference.

And yet another note: The kids were all very jealous that I got to drink a "shake," but they all hated the coffee flavor, so I froze MILK ice cubes and made the same recipe but with milk-cubes instead of coffee-cubes. VERY good, and just like giving them chocolate milk---but with them having the feeling they're getting ice cream.

June 22, 2010

Fine. Done. I Guess That Was It.

So! I take a birth control pill called Ocella. Ocella is the generic for Yasmin. And if I understand it correctly, Yasmin and Yaz are the pills that have been in the news recently because of a bunch of problematic side effects including symptoms such as DEATH. Which concerns me, but not a lot, because I read prescription inserts, and ALL versions of the pill have little pamphlets that come with them that basically say, "You understand that by taking the pill you are specifically requesting to die, right?" And if THOSE seem scary, I read the pamphlet that comes with a mere TAMPON and that puts it in perspective.

But! My cousin is in the hospital because she was on Yasmin and got a blood clot in her lung. And while a brief hospital stay is in my repertoire of parenting fantasies (another is solitary confinement in prison), I get that this is not actually a vacation. (She's expected to make a full recovery and is impatient to get out of there.)

There are few reactions less sensible and more human than deciding to go off a medication after someone I KNOW has a problem---as opposed to after a bunch of people I DON'T know have problems. My cousin having a blood clot in her lung means exactly ZERO for my likelihood of having trouble with a medication, or for the statistical dangers of the medication, or for how the medication compares in danger to other medications. And I tell you this with a self-deprecating shrug, because NEVERTHELESS. I'll finish out this packet and then that's it.

So isn't this fun? We're back to the birth control problem, and MY GOODNESS does this ever go around and around and around again. My favorite birth control ever was the Fertility Awareness Method, which made me feel SUPAH SMAHT, but Paul's not willing to do that one now: it was perfect when an unexpected pregnancy would have been fine and even welcome, but that was then and this is now.

Every time I bring up this topic, lots of people suggest the IUD. On paper, this would be the best option for me right now: it doesn't have the hormones that cause problems, and it's long-term but it wouldn't be hard to remove if there was a change in the no-more-babies decision. But the IUD works by allowing conception to take place but then not allowing the zygote to take hold, and that makes me feel uncomfortable, so for now this method is out of the running. (The pill, too, works by making the uterine lining unreceptive to a zygote---but because it first attempts to prevent ovulation altogether, this is more okay with me. The hormone IUD works more like the pill, but in that case I'd rather just take the pill.)

All barrier methods seem practically MEDIEVAL, and they require a level of responsibility more consistent with people for whom an unplanned pregnancy would be fine.

I've tried Depo-Provera---but again, if I'm going to use hormones, I'd just as soon use the pill. I don't have any trouble remembering to take the pill regularly, so going in for a shot every few months is actually MORE of a hassle for me.

Soooooo, we're back around to the pill, but a different formula. Or...well...

Well, it could be Time for The Snip. I have been verrrrrrry reluctant to make a permanent decision about this, but the other night I said to Paul that if he was REALLY SURE, then it was TIME TO STOP MAKING ME RUIN MY LIFE WITH HORMONES. It was partly a tantrum and partly serious. I'd probably have another baby if he changed his mind, because hey, free baby, but as my youngest finishes potty-training and my second-youngests go to kindergarten this fall I do also feel more ready to say "Fine. Done. I guess that was it."

But Wait, There's More: The Problem of the Cat's Weight

(I didn't post this a couple of nights ago when I wrote it, because after being up all night I didn't want to have to deal with the comments that day. Now I'm well-rested.)

It's the middle of the night, and I've been up agitating about the implications of the cat. I mean, here's this cat, right? She eats only an optimal nutritious diet. She doesn't have access to junk food. She lives nearly her entire adult life in complete health: aside from routine vaccinations and one small and quickly-remedied bout with fleas, she never needs medical care for anything. She weighs 12 pounds all that time---and at every annual vet check-up, the vet mentions that she should lose weight, that her "healthy weight" would be more like 6 pounds, that we should try reducing her already-below-average intake of nutritious food, that we should try feeding her food that includes stuff that isn't food.

This struggle goes on for nearly the cat's ENTIRE---and COMPLETELY HEALTHY---LIFE. She reaches 16 years old, which is a nice old age for a cat. Finally she begins to have some old-age-related health problems, and then her thyroid breaks, and she drops to her "healthy weight."

The quotes are deliberate, because what does "healthy weight" even...MEAN here? The weight at which...what? Clearly not "the weight at which the creature is healthy," because Mouse was healthy at 12 pounds, eating a nutritious diet. Clearly not "the weight that is natural for that particular creature," since again, 12 pounds was natural for her. I suppose her "healthy weight," then, would be the amount of flesh that would be average for the size of her frame, but what relevance would that have for her individual cat self? Her own body was round and plump, so how does the average of the entire cat population, including all cat body types, apply to her? Why would she need to strive to put her body RIGHT AT the average, rather than letting it contribute its own data point to the average?

The main question I'm asking---duh---is what does this cat's body tell us about our own bodies? If a creature that doesn't have food choices, isn't shamed by news-like television showing pictures of fat people walking down the street with "THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!" flashing over them, and is an ANIMAL who doesn't have Food Issues to work through with her therapist----if THIS CREATURE is at her correct weight when she weighs twice as much as an average cat of her frame size, then what does this tell us about our own weights and our own health---and our own "health"?

I'm awake in the middle of the night thinking about how there are women who go on diets so they won't be the embarrassing Fat Mom. These are women who wouldn't get a nose job if their nose shape embarrassed the kids. They'd laugh long and rich if those children suggested the women should change their own personal fashion style for something the children considered cooler. But they'll have their healthy digestive systems surgically altered so that those systems will be unable to work properly and the effect will be weight loss, and they'll do it so they won't embarrass their children with their appearance. (I'm FULLY IN FAVOR OF SURGERIES ((including nose jobs!)) for people who want them, and have looked into it for myself; what I'm not in favor of is an atmosphere of shame and disproportionate fear, or the idea that a person should alter their appearance to avoid offending/embarrassing others.)

Or they won't have the surgery, they'll instead change their lives to dedicate enormous time and energy to the alteration and upkeep of their bodies. The boulder will have to be pushed up the hill, and then it will have to be held there, NEARLY at the top, for the rest of the women's lives. It will be their life's most consuming project---with all the work gone the instant they die, leaving nothing of value behind to show for it. I hope it's obvious I'm not talking about situations where this brings a person joy.

Well, or maybe some of them won't give the embarrassment reason, maybe they'll say it's because they want to be around to see their children grow up. They want to be around to see their grandchildren. Women in their 30s are dropping dead of fatness all around us, leaving their poor motherless children behind, and of course we want to prevent that. Well worth the cost, financial and otherwise, to take actions that are in fact MORE UNHEALTHY and MORE DANGEROUS than carrying some extra weight. (I'm FULLY IN FAVOR of keeping healthy to prolong life, and as a parent I know how motivating it is to think pleasant thoughts of future family stuff, and it's a great idea to use that as motivation for making the choices we want to make. Again, what I'm opposed to is the atmosphere of shame and of exaggerated/inappropriate fear.)


Pardon my French, but what kind of fucked-up merde is this? Let's think again of Mouse, whose healthy weight (if we must try to apply such a term) is TWICE AS HIGH as an average cat of her frame size. Should we have had her healthy digestive system surgically altered in pursuit of that average? Should we have put her on a little cat treadmill for 2 hours a day while letting a mean person scream at her that she just needed to DO IT and STOP WHINING ABOUT IT!!!

And if we should have, what would have been the purpose? To take a healthy and natural cat body and make it into...what? and why?

Clearly I want to draw a connection between these two things: Mouse, who was healthy and round and plump at her natural weight of 12 pounds, and human women, many of whom are also healthy and round and plump at their natural weights of twice the average. And clearly, many readers are already composing their arguments why this connection can't be drawn, or why an analogy that doesn't apply in every single case doesn't apply in any cases at all, or why there's nothing wrong with being fit (of COURSE there isn't), or why fatness REALLY TRULY IS a terrible health hazard, or how if we allow people to think it's okay to be fat they won't eat well or exercise (the assumption is that fat people neither eat well nor exercise), or how if people really did eat a healthy diet they wouldn't be plump even though the cat was, or how for them being thin has nothing to do with appearance, or how they're sure I'm right that SOME women are healthy and plump but MOST of them are lying to themselves cramming fast food down their throats and eating entire bags of chips and getting diabetes and heart disease, or how they themselves are fat and eat this way, or used to be fat while eating that way, and OBESITY EPIDEMIC OBESITY EPIDEMIC OMG ROACHES CRAWLING EVERYWHERE OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!!!1!

Or they're composing attacks against women who are thin, or who are athletic, because if it's okay to have a fat body it must NOT be okay to have a thin one! If it's okay NOT to choose to get surgery for purely appearance-related reasons, it must be NOT okay to get surgery for purely appearance-related reasons, OR for reasons that include non-appearance-based elements! If it's okay to NOT feel that spending a lot of time in athletic pursuits is a good investment, it must not be okay for someone else to feel like it IS a good investment! There can't be more than one acceptable way to look and act or else HOW WILL WOMEN KNOW HOW WE'RE SUPPOSED TO MAKE OURSELVES LOOK AND ACT???

And many, many people will assume that because I don't think people should be shamed into changing their appearance, or because I think fatness gets a disproportionate measure of blame for health problems while other health-impacting things get disproportionately little (especially considering how very little science is even willing to make GUESSES about at this point), or because I think sometimes people say it's about health when it's not, this means I think people should eat nothing but junk! and should never exercise! and that weight has NO impact on health! and that I have no idea how important it is to be HEALTHY!! And some people will assume that because I think everyone has different body types and that not everyone can achieve the same results with the same efforts and that we should see if science can find out more about this, that means I think NO ONE CAN CHANGE AT ALL!! and no one should try!! and everyone should just pig out and sit around all the time because IT'S HOPELESS AND STUPID!! And some people will think that because I think the culture has become scary and toxic and non-science-based on the subject of weight and needs a major overhaul, that means NO ONE SHOULD TRY TO LOSE WEIGHT FOR ANY REASON. Sigh.

I'm already weary of all of it, and it hasn't even started.

So why deliberately post on the topic, if I'm going to flinch queasily every time a new comment comes in, wondering if this'll be a Bad One? Why do it, if the adrenaline will make me snappish with the children, and if I'll dread going to my computer, and if I'll have to start using all my anti-mental-illness measures such as sunlight and funny books and nice hair conditioner? Why do it when I KNOW I will be misunderstood by at least a few people and probably a lot of them? Partly it's because I think this subject is important, and I think the resulting feedback and discussions and posts end up showing the problem better than I can do by writing about it. Partly it's that I think we keep working with theories and not wondering enough why those theories give us inconsistent results. Partly it's that this is one of My Topics: some of us are super-laid-back and wonder why the rest of us can't just stop thinking about things if they get us so UPSET, but most of us have a small handful of hot issues we go back to AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN, despite ourselves. BECAUSE OF ourselves.

And probably more than any of those things it's because this is what I DO: I write about what I'm thinking about, and I publish it online. Some people think it out, some people talk it out, some people exercise it out, some people therapy it out---and I publish-it-online it out. I suppose a couple of generations ago I would have had to keep writing letters to the editor or something. Maybe get a little printing press and spend sleepless nights lining up the inky little letters, and spend the next morning handing out my little leaflets.

June 20, 2010

Casual Remarks

I put on a new pair of pants, yoga pants, something new for me. Grey-and-white striped, comfy and soft. I showed them off to Paul and he said "What's this, Sassy Pants?" and I said, "They were on clearance and I thought I'd try them!" Usually I wear men's pajama pants for evening/bedtime. He petted them and declared them comfy and soft and cute.

The children were surprised by the new pants and wanted to know what was going on, and I told them about it as I went into the other room to load the dishwasher. Rob, my eldest, my 11-year-old son, said in a jokey tone, "I'd have thought you wouldn't want to wear stripes! Because..." and his voice cut off abruptly. I went into the room and said, "I don't know what you were going to say, but it sounds like maybe it was something hurtful," and he said "That's why Daddy cut me off." Which of course was worse.

It wasn't even so much that I had my feelings hurt by what he was saying, though of course I did. And it wasn't that what he started to say was something that would diminish my enjoyment of my new comfy pants, though of course it did. It's that in 5th grade, at 11 years old, growing up in a household with a loving, good, plumpish mother who eats with enjoyment and doesn't go around saying negative things about her body, he has nevertheless learned from the culture that there are assumptions to be made about fat people. That it's okay to assume They should want to look different than they do, should want to minimize the fatness element of their appearance. That it's okay to suggest that there are certain things They shouldn't wear, since those types of clothing emphasize what is clearly a negative thing to be hidden. That it's okay to remark on that in a jokey tone. That it's a subject for discussion at all.

He doesn't mean it, he doesn't really mean it. But he needs to be taught that it is not okay to make jokes about other people's appearances, and that fatness isn't comical or scornable even if it's shown that way in cartoons. That fatness has in fact ZERO to do with what's in a person's heart or brain, and zero to do with a person's value as a person. I'm weary at the thought of being one person teaching him this in the face of a GIANT CULTURE relentlessly teaching him the opposite.

*****

I commented that our cat Mouse is now SO SMALL. Her head is one third the size of her body. She is tiny. I showed in the air how her body used to be, and how it is now. And Paul said, "Yeah, but she's at her healthy weight now."

Let that remark hang in the air for a moment. Consider that the reason Mouse is now 6 pounds instead of 12 pounds is that she has thyroid disease and kidney disease and is getting elderly. She throws up much of her food. She takes medication twice a day to keep her from consuming her own body.

She is half her size not because of health but because of illness. When she was "fat," she was a healthy cat carrying some extra weight---and that's making the huge assumption that the words "extra weight" make sense as opposed to judgments. Now she is thin, because she is ill and elderly.

It's not just that he would assume that one single measure of health would be the most important one, and in fact the only one worth considering. It's not just that he would fail to think about other measures and how important they are. It's not just that his opinions about the cat likely reflect his opinions about fatness in general, and about his own wife's fatness in particular. It's that he's a well-above-average-intelligence person, the kind who studies college-level physics for fun, and he would nevertheless say such a TRULY, DEEPLY, PROFOUNDLY STUPID thing. And it's that he's not alone in such stupid thoughts, not even CLOSE to alone.

He doesn't mean it, he doesn't really mean he believes she is healthier now that when she was plump and ACTUALLY healthy, and he doesn't actually think stupid things about my body just because he thinks them glancingly and thoughtlessly about the cat's body. He's just not thinking it through. But he SHOULD think it through. As should all mentally-competent adults. The fat attaching to a body has no correlation to the brain and heart inside it; the words coming out of that body's mouth are another story.

June 19, 2010

Emergency (Not Ours)

My mom and I went out shopping today, and at lunchtime we went to McDonald's. We were unloading the kids from the car when a man pulled up in a truck and said, "Can you call 911 for me? I feel like I'm going to pass out."

For me (someone who lies awake worrying about handling herself in an emergency and is scared of telephones to the point of diagnosed phobia), this was like opening the door to a room where a child has had a dramatic and horrifying barf incident. When there is barf on the ceiling and in between all the intricately-carved rails of the crib, there is a time period during which one stares at the disaster and tries to deny what one is seeing, and then there is a moment where one gathers oneself up and thinks, "There is no one else to do this thing which must be done, and so I'd best get started." The journey of a thousand loads of laundry begins with a single paper towel.

Right away there was a decision to be made: cell phone, or go inside? I went for cell phone. My cell phone was out of batteries. I took my mom's. I didn't know how to use it, or even how to unlock it, and I also knew 911 wouldn't be able to track my location and that I didn't know where I was either, and I tried not to think about how much this resembled one of my Anxiety Dreams. I thought, "911 is accustomed to people who don't know what they're doing. THEY will figure this out. JUST DON'T CRY."

I called, and they did figure it out, and I didn't cry until the end when she told me to "Take care." I told them the wrong city (we were right near the border of two), but it was quickly and efficiently figured out by the people who knew what they were doing. It cost maybe 15 seconds of time. They asked me a bunch of questions, and I kept reminding myself to say "I don't know" if I didn't know, rather than panicking and/or guessing. They asked me to guess his age, and I did, remembering that they don't really expect me to guess accurately, they just wanted his approximately decade, and that most people belong at least to a recognizable DECADE and that it was okay to give that decade ("in his 40s, I think") rather than trying to guess exactly ("42 or so? Or maybe older. Or you know, his hair is thinning and that can make men look so much older, so maybe he's more like my age? I'm in my mid-thirties. Or maybe he could be even older than that? I'm not sure.").

This is when my mom suggested we go OVER to him instead of continuing to stand by my car in the next aisle, which I swear had never occurred to me. My mom said kindly later, "Well, it would have occurred to you eventually," but no, it wouldn't have. Or rather, it would have, and I would have NOT gone over: I would have thought we should give him privacy, or space, or something. But my mom was exactly right, because do you know what? If a 911 operator is asking you questions about someone you don't know, the session goes better if you can ASK THE STRANGER for the answers! I know, right?? Emergency Medical Training right here, free of charge!

He was pale and sweating and shiny and shaking, and he was moving around really restlessly. It was a hot and sunny day and I opened the door to his truck, and my mom opened the passenger door, but it was still hot. I asked the 911 operator if we should do anything, have him lie down or help him out of the car or something, and she said no. I'm not a touch-oriented person (I have to deliberately remember to hug the children or I don't think of it---that's how non-touch-oriented I am), but I put my hand on his upper arm and it was obviously the right thing to do because he GRABBED for my hand with his other hand. I remembered some study I'd read where it said that nurses who touched their patients were far more effective than those who didn't. I also remembered when I was in the hospital having my babies and someone offered a hand to hold and I was so grateful to have it and so reluctant to let it go. So then I held his hand with my other hand and left my first hand on his upper arm, and my mom said later she wished she had thought of it first. It was a good move.

He wanted me to call his girlfriend and so here was the phone/emergency situation to deal with again, but it went okay and I didn't cry. This is when I thought to ask his name, another move that turned out to be a good idea. He was very eager that she know that his valuables were under the passenger-side mat. I was eager not to panic her or to make her feel obligated to come (she was 25 minutes away, and unshowered/undressed), because I was pretty sure (though NOT sure) that he could take those things with him to the hospital. But he was adamant, and he was saying it again and again. It reminded me of my one big car accident at 17 when I was trying to give the ambulance drivers my car insurance information.

I kept telling him the ambulance was on the way, and that everything would be okay. It was a combination of Mommy Mode and things I'd seen on TV. He'd watched TV too because he said, "This is what they do, right? They keep you talking and conscious and they say everything's fine!" I said, yes, they did, but that I really did think he'd be okay: that he definitely looked pale and sweaty and ill, but that he didn't look like a man on The Way Out. That maybe he'd just had too much sun, and maybe they would cool him down and hook him up to an IV for awhile and everything would be fine. (He'd been working outside all morning, he said.) I don't know if people who don't know anything are supposed to offer worthless reassurances, but that's what I did.

The ambulance seemed like it took a long time to get there, but I looked at my watch when everything was over and it was only 15 minutes later than when we'd arrived at McDonald's so it can't have been TOO long. They didn't have their sirens on; shouldn't they have had their sirens on? I'd thought we'd hear them coming. They checked him briefly and then put him on a stretcher and said they'd bring him into the ambulance where it was cooler. I told them about his stuff under the mat and asked if we should stay or if we should get out of their way now, and they said we could go. I went over and told the man that we were going, and he grabbed my hand again. I don't think he ever once saw me: his eyes were moving moving moving.

We went in to McDonald's but my mom said she couldn't eat until she made sure the ambulance people got his stuff, so she went over to a window and watched until one of them went to the passenger side, got his stuff, closed the doors and locked them. I got her a diet Coke to sip while she waited, but she was at our table by the time I got there. We ate lunch, and of course his truck was still there when we left. What's weird is we'll never know what it was. Heatstroke? Heart attack? Food poisoning? Did he...die? Probably not. But did he?

I came out of this feeling relief. I worry a lot that I won't be able to handle an emergency, because for one thing I'm not a fast thinker, and fast thinkers do better in emergencies. So I guess I'd started thinking I'd be BAD in an emergency, COUNTER-good in fact. But I was fine! I wasn't perfect, I didn't demonstrate a Natural Gift for Emergency Handling, but I was COMPETENT, and that was such a relief! And I felt like I LEARNED things from the experience (TOUCH! Find out the person's name! Don't let the fact that you don't know everything throw you into a panic!) that would help me if such a thing happened again, and that gave me hope, too: some people ARE naturally gifted in Emergency-Handling, but probably a LOT of people get good at it from EXPERIENCE and TRAINING, and those are things I could get too.

June 17, 2010

Theoretical Annoyance

The twins were supposed to get their 5-year portraits done this afternoon, but Edward got SIX mosquito bites on his forehead a few days ago and they still look bad today so I called and canceled. My late mother-in-law used to tell over and over again (seriously, EVERY VISIT) a story of when Preschooler Paul had a huge forehead scrape/lump but her pinehole husband wouldn't let her reschedule the portrait, saying in his Superior Pinehole Voice "That's what he looks like today. That is what he looks like today." She told this story ADMIRINGLY, often ending with, "And he was right! That WAS what he looked like that day!"

Well, YES, but I am not trying to CAPTURE THE MOMENT here, I am trying to capture a YEAR, and he did NOT have an enormous forehead situation ALL YEAR! If he HAD had it all year, I would GLADLY have it photographed! But I am not trying to document "The Mosquito-Bite Forehead of June 14-17, 2010" in this session. It is "Age Five" I am trying to document. AGE FIVE.

And I wonder why his forehead would be so particularly delicious to mosquitoes? Although actually, he says it's SPIDER bites, and if he's right I don't want to know, I really don't. I am just going to keep saying MOSQUITO BITES, and I'm not going over to the part of the yard they've been playing in. And if you think I'm going to Google "spider bites" to see what they look like, you've gone slap out of your mind.

So! Speaking of this morning, our neighbor was mowing the lawn at 7:15. This shouldn't annoy me, since we're all up by then and so it doesn't affect me at all. But our neighbor doesn't know that, and so it annoys me IN THEORY. Do you have stuff like this, where you're NOT annoyed and yet you also ARE annoyed because you COULD BE legitimately annoyed, even though as it happens you're NOT? I seem to always be talking myself through these things. "We can't even HEAR the loud party from this side of our house AND it's not waking up any of the kids, so there is NO REASON to be annoyed." "I don't even really need to get in touch with him so it's no big deal that I can't."

June 16, 2010

Wakeful Agitation

I'm lying awake fretting about things and re-arguing arguments that happened years ago, and that's not very productive. So I will get up and put all those things HERE, because THAT will be...oh.

1. You remember my new blue-green leather chair? A cat has been scratching it. There are scratch marks, and there is a small RIP. I feel like patching the leather with someone's furry PELT. Why do we let ANIMALS live in our HOUSE?

2. It makes me mad when people say they don't mind what was said, they just mind the WAY it was said---when you know it's that they actually mind what was said, and that there was NO way it could have been said that would have pleased them. Related point: I had a friend in high school who used to say horrible hurtful things (mostly to her family) and then "apologize" by saying she didn't regret what she'd said, she just regretted the WAY she'd said it. And I was always listening to these stories appalled, thinking, "Oh dear no, I think you'd also better regret what you said, because ACK."

3. Or when people say "hurt" when what they actually mean is "mad." Example: Jen in MI and I had a college roommate who once told us she was "hurt" that we didn't do our share of cleaning the bathroom on a particular occasion. She was red-faced with fury. (And lest you think we were cleaning slackers ((we had a cleaning CHART)), it was a misunderstanding: I suppose we should have said, "Rather than stand here watching you do your share while we wait to do our share, we'll go do some studying at the library and then come back and do our share later.")

4. The claim that every opinion/viewpoint is equally valid and deserves respect. I DO get how/why people can think so, but I think there are certain opinions (racism being the one that springs to mind as most obvious/clear for this example) that don't deserve respect. That doesn't mean I get to express my disrespect by burning down someone's house or whatever, but there is such a thing as appropriate disrespect---and if I'm disrespectful of a point of view, it is with careful and extensive thought, not just "Anyone who doesn't see it my way is crazy and stupid!" in the manner of my late mother-in-law. I get, though, that it's pretty much impossible to draw the line between "everyone's opinion on this issue is equally valid" and "well, only within a certain range of options," and also that the line is dramatically affected by time and place, and also that it's impossible to apply this THEORY to widespread PRACTICE ("Here is a list of invalid opinions:"), and that that's why it's important to be careful and not go around setting fire to things willy-nilly.

5. The children have been lying to me, which makes me angry even though I realize it's a normal developmental stage. I remember being genuinely perplexed, even indignant, when my mom told my 4th grade self how hurt and upset she was by the lies I was telling (which, for perspective, were generally about how much candy I'd bought/eaten, as opposed to being about things such as who had been into the liquor or who had pawned the family silver). My feelings were amorphous and unfocused back then, but if I had to spell them out now I'd say they were "But what does it have to do with YOU? I am just trying to EAT MORE SWEETS." Anyway, I read some book recently that had a section on lying children and that has helped somewhat, but it still makes me nuts when I'm asking something perfectly reasonable such as "Who peed in the bathtub?" and everyone says "Not me!" even though my follow-up would be, "Ah. Well, please use the potty instead" rather than "Ah. Well, go cut your own beatin' switch." I get tired of having to be so very careful with my questions to avoid spooking them into lying to me. "Wow," I say admiringly, spinning my sticky web. "That sure is a big puddle of pee in the bathtub!"

6. It bugs me that the elementary school nags and nags and nags---and does it EVEN-HANDEDLY, so that EVERYONE gets nagged every few weeks about KEEPING YOUR CHILDREN'S LUNCH ACCOUNT BALANCES IN THE POSITIVE ZONE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY. My kids now have over $100 each in their lunch accounts, because I keep thinking "What if they mean ME???" And---AND---there is no way to check your child's balance unless you call the cafeteria and have them look it up for you! No wonder people lose track! (Well, okay, and some people are EXASPERATING FLAKERDOODLES who are MILKING THE SYSTEM. But not EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US needs the flakerdoodle treatment.)

7. Still on the subject of the elementary school, it further bugs me that when I sign up to donate stuff for a bake sale, there are a dozen bulk-email requests and reminders but there's no bulk-email thank you afterward. I LIKE donating to the bake sale! I LIKE it! But begging and nagging without thanking is ineffective, in terms of morale.

8. I made the children help me clean for awhile this afternoon, and not only was it like herding cats, one of them said, "It'll just get messy again." OH RLY. I wonder why THAT will be? In that case, let's start a daily group cleaning regimen, Mr. Logic!!


All right. I do feel better. I think people who keep diaries are probably people whose mental filing systems need some manual help.

June 14, 2010

A Lesson in Portrait Timing


This is Henry's 3-year-old portrait, and I'm so, so, so happy with it. It's from JCPenney. Studios vary so much depending on the photographers, but ours has at least three photographers who are EXCELLENT. Like, there's this fleeting half-second smile in the middle of a tantrum, and they CATCH it.

(Which is not to imply that THIS picture involved such a catch.)
(It totally did.)


I don't think you'd need to be a parent to figure out that it's a good idea to bring the child's portrait shirt with you to put on at the last minute, or that it's a bad idea to go for a ketchuppy lunch right before the photo. But something it's taken me awhile to learn is DO THE PORTRAIT FIRST. The appointment is often at an awkward time, like 10:30 in the morning, and so I think to myself, "Oh! I will go earlier and I will spend the time before the appointment browsing in Target!" No. Whatever time the appointment is, it is best to arrive for the appointment and not try to do anything beforehand. I have an anecdote to illustrate one of the reasons for the wisdom of this policy.

Yesterday my mom and I brought Henry to the mall to have his portrait done, and like the pros we are we did the photo session FIRST. It was a grueling session: Henry was PERFECT for the first photo (the standing one, above), but then he burst into tears and yelled "I WANT TO GO HOME!!!!" and continued yelling it, pausing only to say "NO!" to anything the photographer suggested. He wouldn't stay put in the photo area and kept flinging himself into my lap. When he DID stay in the photo area, he wouldn't show his face. I felt so sorry for the photographer, and I had no idea what to do about Henry.

Afterward we went for a ketchuppy lunch, which was delicious. And at the end of it, Henry started crying and saying he needed to use the potty, and it turned out it was Too Late. And furthermore, it was the kind of Too Late that necessitated throwing his underpants in the trash can and putting his pants in a plastic bag. (Best thing in my diaper bag: empty Target bags. I have used them for all sorts of mishaps.) (It wouldn't have to be a Target one, of course. That's the kind I happen to have the most of. Plus, they're sturdier than some other kinds. Sturdy is good for mishaps.)

I got him cleaned up and put a too-small diaper on him because I didn't have any replacement undies for him (I haven't needed diapers in the diaper bag for so long I was lucky to have the two too-small ones), and then I wrapped his lower half in his blankie for modesty and warmth. We went to Target and I looked at the clearance racks for a pair of pants for him. There was a cute pair on clearance for $5, and even though he's still in 2T pants (like me, he's tall but has short legs) I bought the 3T ones so I could feel like it was a wise purchase for future wearing, accident or no accident. I went through the line, then sat on the bench right there and took off the tags and put the pants on him, and they were really cute pants. I will confess that I felt pretty awesome, like I had totally handled a tricky problem in a way that was happy for everyone. And do you remember what goeth before a fall? Yes.

We continued shopping, and Henry was in his stroller. It is a brand-new stroller, because the stroller I bought for toddler Rob ten years ago finally broke unfixably, and even though I felt dim buying a stroller at THIS point in the child-rearing process, I really did get my money's worth out of that first one, and I DID need one still, and so there it is. In short: he was in his new stroller, and this was the third time we'd used it, and I was still feeling happy about how fun it was to have NEW baby equipment, looking NEW!

And he started crying and saying he needed to go potty. And I looked down and it was Too Late. Here is the kind of Too Late it was: 20 minutes later, I emerged sweaty and dazed from the crowded Target bathroom with a child who was wearing only a too-small diaper, shoes, and socks, and who was sitting on several layers of paper towels in a wet stroller I'd cleaned the best I could. I was out of wipes, and I had with me a knotted Target bag containing unthinkable laundry for later.

At these times it is useful to think to oneself, "No one REALLY CARES what anyone else is doing." As I strolled my enormous, diaper-and-shoes-and-nothing-else-wearing 3-year-old through the baby clothes department, we attracted some Looks but I thought to myself, "No one REALLY CARES. Try to act nonchalant."

I remembered that we had the shirt he'd been wearing before I changed him into his Portrait Shirt, so we only needed pants. I looked for the 2T pants I hadn't chosen earlier, but they were gone, and there were no more 3T pants either. Finally I chose some orange shorts, which was a little disheartening because he has so many handmedown shorts I already need to get rid of some. But at least he didn't yet have any cute orange ones. I also got a package of wipes. I found my mom, got my purse, put the t-shirt on him (the t-shirt had been stuffed in my purse), went through the checkout and bought the shorts and wipes, and this time I felt less Awesome than I'd felt the first time.

Isn't it nice we did the portraits FIRST?

June 12, 2010

Twenty-Five-Year-Old Spoilers: Movies That Traumatized My Childhood Self

Tonight I re-watched Agnes of God. Boy, that Jane Fonda isn't much of an actress, is she? She seems to be of the "You can tell I'm acting because I'm SMOKING and I'm TALKING LOUDER" method, which is what I remember of my college boyfriend's theater group.

I'm a little surprised I watched this movie as a CHILD, but actually it was probably totally okay because I realize on re-watching it I didn't understand ONE SINGLE THING that was going on. For one thing, I didn't realize the first time that Meg Tilly (Agnes) was supposed to be young. Nor did I understand she was supposed to be crazy, so, uh. I guess the blood might have upset me, but I don't remember it. This time around it upset me more that there is a HUGE CHUNK left out of the solution to the mystery. As a child I thought I just didn't understand it, but NO.

I DIDN'T see Witness, but I always think I did because I get it confused with Agnes of God. For some reason. They did come out the same year, but that's all I've got by way of explanation.

The most traumatic movie I can't believe I watched as a child was Time After Time, which (spoiler from 1979!) has a scene in which a girl hides in her closet while her best friend is killed by Jack the Ripper, who thinks the best friend is the girl. There is blood EVERYWHERE afterward. What traumatized me was not so much the blood (although, !!!) but the fact that the girl KNEW Jack the Ripper was coming for her at her apartment (she saw a newspaper from the future) but DIDN'T LEAVE because she was so paralyzed and upset. She just sits there weeping, waiting to be brutally murdered. THEN, she suddenly panics when he arrives and she hides, and just then her friend arrives.

I loved the movie Oliver!, except for the scene (spoiler from 1968!) where nice, nice Nancy is BEATEN TO DEATH, which I couldn't BELIEVE was TRUE. Like, at first I just thought her boyfriend was beating her up, but then it turned out she was DEAD?? And Oliver SAW it happen?? Horrifying! At that stage I think I was innocent of the idea that men sometimes kill women they're romantically involved with. Really, it's a shocking concept.

I think I would have loved E.T. if I hadn't been so repulsed by the slimy, ugly alien. All my friends thought he was so! cute! and had E.T. dolls and t-shirts and stuff, but the look of him made me feel sick and gave me bad dreams. His heart! glowing through his translucent skin! BARF.

June 11, 2010

Poll, Poll, Vent

There! There! You see? Just as I suspected: in the Twilight poll, the Twilight enthusiasts in fact BEAT the Twilight dislikers! And yet on the post where I mentioned Twilight, the comments section had about four apologetic Twilight-liking comments and all the rest were celebrating its awfulness! I FELT those of you who didn't want to comment in that environment! I FELT you out there!


And now I would like to know how many of us are cat people and how many are dog people. New poll over on the right. I'm a cat person, obv, and what's odd is it seems like most of my good friends are dog people. Or cat AND dog people, which I think is probably the most awesome category. I've gradually developed the hypothesis that cat people and dog people are drawn to each other, despite their differences, and I'm interested to know how this hypothesis tests.

And may I vent for a moment on a very boring topic? The monthly health insurance cost for our family is now 25% more than our mortgage payment. MORE. than. our mortgage payment. And perhaps you are thinking, "Well, YEAH, you have FIVE kids!," but NO, that's the "family" price, for employee + spouse + child(ren), so it's the same as we'd pay if we had one child. AND, in all our years of employment, it is the worst policy we've ever had, with a $1000 deductible per person per year. AND, we hardly EVER go to the doctor: the kids get physicals once a year, and there are probably 3-5 more visits TOTAL for our family per year. None of us have any medical conditions, none of us have expensive prescriptions. Which, you know, is desirable: when we buy health insurance we're making a bet and hoping we'll lose, and we sure will be glad to have this policy when something expensive happens, and also of course it's necessary for everyone to pay lots in order to cover the expensive things that do happen within the group. But STILL! /vent

Poll results:

June 9, 2010

Fast Food and Walmart

Have any of you SWITCHED temptation foods? I have always---ALWAYS---been a sweets girl, from earliest childhood until my mid-thirties, and now it's meat and cheese. It's not that I don't still like sweets, but I don't PROWL for them anymore, I don't leave the house specifically to get them anymore, I don't make frantic combinations out of whatever we have in the cupboards (powdered sugar! and peanut butter! and melted chocolate! and pretzels!). Ice cream can sit unbothered in the freezer for a WEEK, easy. (Did you know ice cream gets little crystals on it if it sits in the freezer too long? I DID NOT know that, but now I do.) NOW I prowl/leave for McDonald's, and leftover pizza in the fridge won't make it past 7:00 in the morning.

It's been this way for months and months, so maybe it's a new stage of life? The Chicken Nugget Years? The only other time of my life I've felt this way has been in the first trimester of pregnancy, and so I keep freaking myself out and taking pregnancy tests, but gradually the conclusion is seeping into my dimly-lit brain that perhaps all this is a result of some OTHER hormonal situation, NOT pregnancy but affecting me as that hormonal change affects me, and DEAR TARGET LET IT NOT BE PRE-MENOPAUSE, NOT YET! Maybe it's just my Pill, but I've been on that for ages without this side effect, so who knows. The point is, I have a tip for you, and it is this: If you are planning to eat fast food in a sly and secretive manner, it is easy to dispose of a fast food bag/cup, but hard to dispose of a pizza box. Free advice.

(BTW, I just found this fun chart, which says that when my body is telling me it craves salt, fat, chocolate, and alcohol, what it's REALLY trying to say is that I want raw goat milk, turnip greens, raw nuts, and potato peel broth! Huh! Well, I'll try it, but if it works I'm going to be pretty cheesed off at my body for communicating so poorly!)

********

Yesterday we went to Walmart and I bought a purple beanbag chair for $15. I hate to see my money going to support Satan's Gift Shop 'n' Bargain Emporium BLESSED BLESSED WALMART WHO WANTS ONLY THE BEST FOR US AND AGAINST WHOM NOT A WORD MUST BE SPOKEN LEST WE SEEM UNGRATEFUL FOR THE WONDERFUL MINIMUM-WAGE JOBS AND LOW LOW PRICES THEY GIVE OUR UNDESERVING COMMUNITIES OUT OF THE PURE GOODNESS OF THEIR FAMILY-ORIENTED HEARTS, but Target doesn't have packs of men's handkerchiefs anymore and Walmart does. And Target doesn't carry Baby Magic soap anymore and Walmart does. And I looked at Target and in THREE pet stores AND at vet's office for one of those cat-happying pheromone collars, but apparently only Walmart has them. And also we were running low on giant bottles of Tabasco sauce. And there was a cute brown broomstick maxi-skirt in their plus-size women's department for only $16! And little boy organic cotton 2-piece short-sleeved dinosaur pajamas marked down to $3! Well, and obviously it was essential that we own a $15 purple beanbag chair, OBVIOUSLY.

June 4, 2010

The Hours of Suffering

I had a little tantrum yesterday. I don't know quite what led up to it, but the total-straws-minus-one were already piled on the camel's back, or rather MY back, when I switched on the television and it happened to be on a channel showing one of those motivational speakers working an audience, and she was saying, "In the last two generations, consumption of The Food Product Currently Playing the Role of Satan has increased by TEN THOUSAND TIMES!!!" and it showed her audience nodding and shaking their heads as if this were shocking, just shocking.

You'll be glad to know I didn't throw the remote across the room while yelling "That is because that's when The Current Incarnation of Satan was INVENTED!!! Why not go for broke and say it's an INFINITE increase, you ignorance-encouraging, fear-mongering, statistics-misusing BITCH???"

Er, no, actually I did.

The problem clearly goes beyond me reaching my lifetime limit for crowd manipulators. There is, I think, a need for me to find a way to handle 4:00-7:00 p.m. with less suffering. I do fine all day, but by Hour Eleven I am DONE and there are still three more hours to get through before the little kids go to bed.

A cocktail is pretty much exactly the ticket, and so I tried a daily 4:00 cocktail regimen, but I found it works better for me if it's, like, once or twice a week and not every day. So I'll put "alcohol" on the Friday and Saturday slots, and maybe we can find something else for the other days.

On the "There's NO problem EXERCISE can't solve!!!" theory, I tried a daily 4:00 short-fast-run regimen, but it made things way, way worse: I was sweaty and hot and irritable afterward, and it was infuriating how much planning and preparation went into such a short thing. It was like trying to take five kids to the grocery store for a single loaf of bread: not worth the trouble. Plus, we don't need MORE things to accomplish in that 3-hour crazy time of homework and baths and dinner and tidying and bedtime routines.

I tried upbeat music and I tried soothing music, but we don't need more noise around here either, and it was frustrating trying to hear and be heard over it, and it jangled me to be dealing with another source of distraction.

I tried a cup of coffee at around 2:30/3:00, but it made me irritable. I tried a nourishing little snack, and that helped a little but not sufficiently.

If you have a good strategy for The Hours of Suffering, do please share.

June 1, 2010

If You Can't Sing Like an Angel, You Can be the Heavenly Beam of Light

You know the "angels singing"/"heavenly beam of light" sound? Pretend the Audience Handler is holding up a sign instructing you to make that sound.


I have been looking for a chair like this for over TWELVE YEARS. After I left my daycare job, I worked for a few months as a nanny---or I suppose "babysitter" would be accurate, too, except when it's a full-time job for a single family I think of that as "nannying." ANYWAY, as if it matters. The point is that the kids in that family were champion nappers and would BOTH nap for THREE FULL HOURS every day after lunch. (Go ahead and make the angel sound again, because MAN.)

The house had a lot of nice comfy furniture, including a big puffy recliner and a sectional couch, but the chair I always went to was a small, short-backed swivel chair. It didn't LOOK particularly comfy, but the arms were exactly the right height to rest my elbows on while I was reading, and I would swivel back and forth, back and forth, back and forth---very soothing. And the rounded back was just right.

Ever since, I have been on a quest to find a similar chair. I asked the mama of the family where they'd gotten it, but it was a handmedown from her parents and she said she thought they'd gotten it decades before. I found many chairs that looked similar but were uncomfortable, or were the wrong proportions, or didn't swivel. Then, after TWELVE YEARS, I found the above-pictured chair at Home Goods and it was exactly right.

But: a color problem. Home Goods had it in white, in a light dusky blue, and in purple. And I don't mean purple, or purple, I mean PURPLE. Jess Loolu purple. Even after I say to you that it was PURPLE, you might still be picturing an eggplant color, or maybe a deep dusky purplish grey.

PURPLE. It was PURPLE.


I liked the purple but I'd say my decor tends more toward muted light greens and golds, and then we have that wine-colored couch, and our carpet is blue, and actually I guess I should not be using the words "my decor" as if I have one. Suffice it to say I thought the light dusky blue would be the easiest to incorporate into the existing situation. But the light dusky blue one was broken and wouldn't swivel right. I went home and fretted: should I get the purple?

Yesterday my mom and I went to the other Home Goods within easy driving distance, just to see if they might have the same chair. And they DID! In, er, purple.

(PURPLE.)


Then Henry said he needed to pee. I was taking him to the bathroom and I saw a huge square SOMETHING tipped up on its side (like an ottoman, but more like NINE ottomans) in a muted turquoise leather, and I thought, "It's too bad I can't find the chair in THAT color." And do you know what? Behind the big tipped up nona-ottoman was the chair in the same muted turquoise leather. And I had to LEAVE IT to take Henry to the bathroom. ANYONE might have bought it! Anyone!

Afterward, I brought Henry to my mom for safekeeping and I picked up the chair and carried it to the register. It was bulky and awkward, but what if I went to ask for someone to put it on one of those platform carts and in the meantime SOMEONE ELSE BOUGHT IT?? So I just hauled it. It feels very comical to go through a register line with a CHAIR. I bought it and hauled it out to the minivan and put it in (Paul had removed the third row of seats in case I did find the chair) and LOCKED THE DOORS and then I felt better, like the chair was IRREVOCABLY MINE.

I went back in and we finished shopping, and on the way out the clerk said they'd had a LIME GREEN one but it had sold. LIME GREEN! I might need a pair of these chairs.