Friday, November 22, 2013

significantly distressing senior moment

Is when you cannot remember which toothbrush is your own.

Note:  All three toothbrushes are mine.  I can't remember my currently using toothbrush.  My currently using toothbrush isn't new, either.  Been using it a month, maybe two.  The other two, older toothbrushes?  One I've been using to clean my jewelry, in particular my anniversary ring, to keep the teeny diamonds shiny.  The other, I'm not even sure why it's there.  I'm guessing I've used it to clean something else or the other.  Something bathroom-ish.

So I picked the one I thought most likely candidate.  As I brushed my teeth I started gagging at the thought of gunky jewelry debris in my mouth.

Next purchase?  A new toothbrush brain.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

when keeping austin weird gets weird

Like so many who are drawn to the area, we like to do our share to Keep Austin Weird, as the city motto goes.  And that means spending what few entertainment dollars our budget allows at locally owned businesses.  Not that this is such a sacrifice.  There aren't too many big chains we like very much anyway.  

Still, it was with high hopes that my husband and I, along with our three teenagers, ventured to a new, locally owned restaurant.  Close to our house, cool atmosphere, beer garden-esque, and serving Tex-Mex and hamburgers, our two most favorite palate pleasers, what could go wrong?

Not much at first.  The burgers were tasty, the fries were our favorite kind (battered and crunchy) and, bonus, a live band was playing some authentic Austin blues. Greatness of life, we thought.  We've found our new Friday night hangout. Minutes after declaring just that, a shocking encounter with the manager left us declaring we would absolutely never go back.

After nearly finishing our meal, the server approached our table, You know there is a $2 cover, per person, for the band.  

Uhh, no? No  cover charge posted anywhere. Server replied that a notice about cover charge was on the menu.  Asked to see the not terribly congenial manager.  You want to see me?  He reeked of irritation.   

Long story short, and more irritable words from the manager, he insisted we pay. No apology. We calmly but uncomfortably informed him we liked the music very much but we planned to put $5 in the tip jar, and sorry, curmudgeonly manager, that was our final offer.  

Truthfully, if we had known about a cover charge, we wouldn't have gone in.  Not with our kids in tow.  They didn't have any interest in the music (old-geazer band) and I would have preferred engaging with our kids. If it were just Sam and I, we would have complained but paid the cover. In any event, has anyone been to a restaurant where kids are charged a cover?  Or am I out of touch?

But back to the story:  Curmudgeonly Manager said he would send someone to collect the $5 tip. Uh no, we will put the $5 in the tip jar ourselves , thank-you-very-much.   CM:  So you're saying the band is not worth $2 !!   

We asked to see the menu to verify cover charge notice. After huffing away, CM never produced it. 

In the end, we left a decent tip for the unfriendly server and left the band its tip.  And left feeling disappointed as could be. 

Were we out of line balking?  Do we give the place a second chance?  I mean, I liked the food, location, outdoor setting with cooling fans and a subtle air mist system. Liked that it's locally owned.  Liked everything but the unposted cover and the unyielding, insulting CM.  

I feel the need to add that this is the first time I've ever had a bad encounter with restaurant management. I rarely complain, often eating mistakes rather than cause a scene.  Sam and I are easy that way.  

So what say ye, readers?  Would you go back? In cognito or otherwise? 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

weighing in on the mommy wars

This post comes straight from a comment box.  As in, I meant to write a short comment and instead ended up writing an entire post.  My thoughts are in response to a post about "the mommy wars" that I read on Momastery.
I'm 50+ years old, have three teenagers, have stayed at home and have (mostly) worked three-quarters time, which gives me a taste of both worlds.   I have long been in the company of feminists, both working moms and SAHMs.  I've got lots of mommy friends and in my job as a shrink I hear the complaints of plenty of moms.

I have never heard, emphasis on never, women who argue that all stay home mothers damage women’s liberation, as the warring sentiments of working moms, as indicated on the Momastery post. 

However, frequently my tongue bleeds because I've heard far too many times phrases such as, 

I'm not going to let someone else raise my children.  

I'm not going to dump my kids off at some daycare.  

I want my children to be bonded to me, not to some daycare worker.  

Etc, etc, etc.  Usually said with harsh voice tone.  Unmistakably critical.  The implication, "I'm better mommy."    

From what place do these competitive and hostile remarks spring?  And why do I hear them so damned often?  Perhaps these kinds of disparaging comments arise from the frustration?  boredom?  anxiety? resentment?  associated with being a full time, stay at home parent?  I know I have felt envious of and anxiety about the slower paced lifestyle, the lack of need to "get dressed for work," (not to mention the extra laundry associated with), and the freedom from worry that my child isn't getting quality attention (though when I stayed at home I hardly felt that my children received the best quality attention) among many other things.  But I don't feel the need to condemn their choice.  In fact, I celebrate the choice women now have.  And men, too.  Twenty years ago it was extremely rare to find men willing to forgo their careers in favor of full time daddy.  Hooray for the kids of our generation whose dads are more involved in their lives!

My concern about SAHM isn't about what's best for children because I truly believe it's more about the individual parent than it is about the working mom / SAHM distinction.  What my concern IS about: the vulnerability many SAHMs face in the harsh reality of post-divorce.  I know many moms who SAH and don't regret it (only the occasional mom admittting to regret) despite getting royally screwed in the divorce settlement.  Despite intense fear bordering on panic at the prospect of re-entering the job market.  

I want to see family court prioritize and monetize a woman's SAH contribution when it comes to settlement.  I want to see pre-nups and post-nups where the working parent agrees, that should we divorce, the SAH parent will be entitled to a generous settlement.  The parent who stays at home is not only tending to the children, s/he is tending to the working spouse's career while his/her own career is wasting away.  Which means of course, earning potential that decreases, or at best, stagnates.  We need fairness in the family legal system before I'll encourage someone to quit their job and stay home with the kids.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

nesting, of sorts

For the first time in many years we saw only two kids off to their first day of school.

My oldest is living twenty minutes away from home and due to start his first day of college this week.

For the first time in his life he'll have no send off, no posing for mom's camera.

It's a safe bet he's thrilled about that.

So one way for a mom to cope with an emptying nest, apparently, is to build a pretty, new one out of landscape clippings.  I don't know if the landscape is improved -- I probably looked like Rambo stalking unaware victims in a Thailand jungle, only with pastel garden gloves and garden clippers -- or what I'll attract to my nest but I think I feel a little better.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

chasing windmills

I'm still here.  Living, breathing, eating, sleeping, and (sigh) tending to three teens which lately has meant working more hours so that I can raise them in the style to which they've become accustomed.

I've been traveling:

To NYC and the Met Museum for the first time, all by myself (with the help of my good friend, D, who gave me public transportation pointers).

View fromWashington Square, NYC 
Edith Wharton's fictional families occupied these homes.

To Washington D.C. to walk in the Chris for Life 5K raising money for colon cancer.

To NJ for a funeral.  Unfortunately my very longtime friend with colon cancer died a few short weeks after garnering the energy to walk the 5K in his moccasins.

And to NJ to play video games with my niece while I recover from a back injury caused by doing the unthinkable:  riding in a car while reaching for a bag of Salt and Vinegar potato chips.

Teach me.    

To Dallas for a wedding.

To the Texas coast for five days on the beach with nothing to do but talk with my man and catch up on some sorely neglected reading.

What else?  When I'm not driving two teen girls to separate concerts (or arguing about whether they can attend one),

my daughter and friend with Fall Out Boy

I'm teaching them to drive.  I didn't think my heart would keep ticking after teaching my oldest to drive so I'm seriously worried about surviving two at once.

I've been attending ....

prom festivities,

graduation for one smart, hardworking, handsome, and overall awesome boy,

t.u. bound
(which is aggie speak for the univ of texas)

political rallies,
Stand Up for Texas Women!!
(I'm under the tree on the left)

zoning meetings that threaten to cover with condos the cherished meadows just beyond my backyard,

and downtown firework displays.

hours of planning, parking and long walks to the river's edge 
for 12 minutes of fireworks

And most recently, apartment hunting.  Which morphed into condo hunting because I can't bear the thought of writing $800/month rent checks for my awesome boy to live in my same city. Just recently Austin was rated the most expensive city to raise a family.  I'm soon to find it's the most expensive city to house a college student.

So we're signing contracts, lining up funding, and soon enough attending a closing and outfitting an apartment, and moving my son from the only home he's known, away from a mom crying buckets of tears when nobody is looking because she's having a hard time accepting that the tiny newborn with the tiniest of feet now has large man feet that he's using to walk out into his own independent life.  Which I know is a happy ending to a happy life but it's hard to remember as I lie in bed mopping up tears.

And so you see, I'm doing all kinds of things.  Everything, it seems, but blogging.  I miss blogging and keeping up with the lives of my blogging buddies.  I've got every intention of resuming when life settles down.  But for now?

I'll be chasing windmills.
 wind farms near Taft, Texas

Monday, May 13, 2013

late night dentist flash mob

Last night I was moderating comments when I noticed a trend:

Dentists, collectively, love my blog.  In the wee hours of the morning SEVEN dentists left the following praise:

Reading health related articles is my hobby.       -Fountain Valley Dentist

I have never ever seen such a kind of outclass informal blog.     -Orange County Implant Dentist

I have too many questions for my health care but this has solved them all.    -Tucson Dentist

Wow! Super kind of stuff you have provided us to read.   -Vero Beach Dentist

woooo! Awesome dude!   -Las Vegas Dentist

You can't even imagine that how much it has helped me in securing my health.    -Beverly Hills Cosmetic Dentist

And one last, particularly warm and personal comment:

You know my grand father used to told me about health care.  It is the same as you have told me.    -Cincinatti Dentist

Who knew the topic of INFIDELITY could be so awe-inspiring to such a broad swath of American  dentists at three o'clock in the morning?

Reminds me of a song by an Austin singer-songwriter.  Seven Dentists on an Infidelity Post (loose translation).

Saturday, February 23, 2013

a grief observed

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross tells us there are five stages of grief:


According to Kubler-Ross, we progress through these five stages during the many months, even years, of the grieving process, usually in a back-and-forth fashion.

Sometimes we get stuck in one phase for a longer period of time than the others and sometimes we skip stages altogether.  The following video demonstrates a young woman who gets stuck in denial for what seems an eternity and then jumps quickly into acceptance.

To save time, skip to 45 seconds into the video.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

overheard in a kitchen

where have these days gone?
Overheard in a kitchen 
on a friday afternoon 
as a mother reminds her teenager 
she is grounded:

But mom! I have plans tonight! 

And with a perfectly straight face, 

 I don't have anything to do tomorrow! 
Why can't I be grounded tomorrow night?!

Monday, January 07, 2013

another drawback of my brilliant idea

Another potential drawback with my whole watering-down the whole milk idea (what is this, a third world country?) The potential (surety?) for loss of the fortified Vit D.  But don't tell my dream killer husband that.  Actually he's not the nutrition Nazi in this house.  Of the two of us, I am.

Meanwhile, the good news.  None of the kids have commented and they absolutely would if they noticed the slightest distaste, disgruntled at everything I put in front of them besides sugary cereal teenagers that they are.  So I think I'll figure out other ways to get Vit D and keep moving forward with this plan.  Stay tuned.  Or not (yawn).

Sunday, January 06, 2013

new year, new financial challenges

So this year will be, universe and adolescent brain willing, our first year of paying college tuition.  We're right smack in the middle of getting a jump start on our income tax prep, first time in, like, evah, thanks to the FAFSA. (For those of you who have been down the FAFSA road you know how anxiety provoking hitting that final calculation button can be. GULP!  For those of you who aren't there yet, I don't recommend googling this acronym. It's not good for your mental health.)

Anyhow, this morning afternoon as I went about some routine morning chores, I came up with a great idea to save money AND refrigerator space.  Here's how it came about:

My neighbor left town for the holiday break and brought over a gallon of whole milk that her family didn't have time to drink.  Mine is a skim milk family so that gallon has sat in the fridge untouched all week.  My kids think whole milk tastes terrible (not me... I think of it as guiltless liquid vanilla ice cream).

Late last night I decided to take deceptive measures.  With the last gallon skim nearly empty, I added whole milk plus water, shook it up, and voila, a gallon of skim milk is born.

None the wiser, my kids ate their cereal this morning without notice.  So as I refreshed the gallon container once again with the milk/water mix, I thought, why not do this all year long?  Buy only two gallons of whole milk per grocery store trip instead of the usual four to five gallons.  Saves room in the fridge and money.  Woo hoo !!

And why didn't I think of this sooner?  As in, sixteen-years-ago sooner?  According to a reader's suggestion on the Money Saving Mom, this method could save me somewhere in the range of $300-$400/year. Times sixteen years?  Plus interest?   I'm not an accounting major, but I think we'd have enough saved for one semester of tuition, anyway.

Ok, so now my smarty-pants dream-killer husband just walked in and informed me this plan has a kink.  Because whole milk has fat in it, we'll never get it down to the 0% fat of skim milk.  True.  While not a chemist or nutritionist, either, I'm sure we can get it down to a nominal, tolerable amount of fat, can't we?  Make up for it by doing jumping jacks every time we pour ourselves a glass of milk?

Has anyone done this already?  Any other penny pinching tips for this soon-to-be in-the-poorhouse mom?

Monday, December 24, 2012

a pleasure of the most unexpected kind

I'm baking Christmas* cookies.  The sugar cookie cut-out kind.  And because I'm an equal opportunity baker (heh) I'm making a batch of chocolate chocolate chip cookies.  With powdered sugar generously sprinkled.  Like little round bites of heaven, these chocolate cookies.

*No, not holiday cookies.  Contrary to what some fools out there in faux news land think, I am not a soldier of the made up war against Christmas. 

So while I'm getting all prepared, gathering my ingredients and as I emptied a bag of flour into the storage container, I noticed something.  Something strange.  I lurrrrve the sound and the feel of that thick, soft, hard-pliable paper package that flour comes in.  It's oddly soothing and even more oddly pleasurable.  To the point where I want to sneak into the dark, hidden recesses of my pantry and have my way with it.

I am not kidding.

If no cookies result today, you alone, reader, will know the reason why.

So here's hoping each of you discovers a new, secret pleasure this holiday season. Or even a pleasure you can share out loud with a big surprise look on your face as a camera awaits that all important snap.  Or maybe a quiet pleasure as you watch those you love, be it family or friends, talk and laugh and just be together.

Whatever your pleasure, may it be merry!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

in search of fall foliage

And I do mean search.  As in, taking a long walk on a beautiful fall afternoon, with the number one goal of finding fall color.

Nearly my 30th fall season in this big state of Texas and I still haven't gotten over the yearning I feel for the fall foliage of my younger years growing up on the east coast.  So I like to take long walks and sometimes long road trips in search of fall foliage.

Behind our house is a greenbelt of sorts with a walking trail.  On a gently sloping hill is a stand of Flame Leaf Sumac trees.  Beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows.

While these may not be foliage, per se, the tuna of the prickly pear cactus (below) provides luscious shades of pink which slowly ripen to deep maroon.  I picked a bucket full of these beauties, by the way, to make my specialty prickly pear cactus juice. Read more about my adventures in prickly pear juice here and here.

Sometimes we don't have to walk too far.  In front of our house we planted several Crepe Myrtles.  What a nice surprise to find they produce red leaves in November.

And in the back yard my husband Sam found and planted trees with the express purpose of proving to his bitchy yearnful wife that Texas can so provide fall color. Like most obnoxious proud Texans he refuses for his state to be outdone by any other state, especially a piss-ant sized state from the northeast.

The tree with the yellow leaves on the left is a Chinese Pistachio. And to it's left and seen closer in the picture on the right is a Big Tooth Maple (surrounded by protective wire to keep the deer from chewing at its bark).  This is the type of maple that grows prolifically in Lost Maples State Natural Area located in the beautiful hill country town of Vanderpool, Texas, one of my most favorite road trip destinations.

As of this weekend Sam and I are celebrating 21 years of marriage.  What better way than with a little fall color appearing annually indoors, too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

books as therapy

The first book I read by Elizabeth Berg was Open House.  I was so taken aback by the raw honesty of a woman torn apart by her husband's infidelity.

The next Berg novel I picked up was Durable Goods, about a young adolescent army brat who lives with her older sister and their widowed father.  I loved this one, too.

Soon after, I went searching for more Berg titles. Lucky me when I discovered Durable Goods was the first of a trilogy (it would have been just a teeny bit ruined if I had started with the second or third in the series). Joy School and True to Form are the two sequels. I soaked up these two as well.

In doing my clinical work I occasionally encounter clients whose mothers died when they were young.  It's one of the toughest losses to address. For the client, of course, yes.  And for me on a personal level. Not because I lost my mother, thankfully.  But just the mere act of contemplating what a loss of this magnitude means.

I've had a couple recent medical scares (barely) where I several times laid in bed at night thinking about what it would be like for my kids if something were to happen to me.  It was blinding.  I couldn't hold the thought.  I had brief images of sitting in my bed making a video recording of all the things I think my kids, especially my daughters, need to hear from me when they're old enough to hear it (saw this on television somewhere).  My chest would collapse under the weight and my mind would immediately change the subject.

But back to the books.  Right now I'm looking for other novels where the heroine of the story has lost her mother.  Where we see elements daughters processing what it means to grow up without a mother.  Jane Eyre immediately comes to mind but other than the opening chapters we don't hear much in the way of how Jane feels the loss of her mother, per se.  Or am I forgetting?

Any book suggestions, readers?

Saturday, October 06, 2012

best bit about gumbo. ever.

To give you an idea why this story of gumbo holds so much meaning for me, here is a list of names of my southerm friends and kinfolk:

*Arceneaux (ar-sen-oh)     *Cormier (cor-mee-hay)    *Babineaux (bab-in-oh)
*Hebert (Hay-Bear minus the "H")  *Prejean (pray-zhawh)   *Richard (ree-shard)
*Broussard (broo-sard)  *DuPuy (dew-Pwee)   *LeBlanc (luh-blonh)
*Sonnier (Son-ee-yay)    *Theriot (teh-ree-oh)

Which is to say, I come from a long line of cajun gumbolatiers. And I was privileged to learn by the side of a few of them.

So a few weeks ago, as I sat in my doctor's office waiting for my annual poking, prodding, squeezing and flattening and read an article in the Smithsonian, Toward a Unified Theory of Gumbo, written by By Lolis Eric Elie, a man from south Louisiana, you could say I was in hog cracklin' heaven.* Feel free to read the online version, Best.gumbo.ever.

These nearly thirty years of living in Texas I have tasted many bowls of gumbo, enjoyed with great pleasure many bowls of gumbo, that tasted little of what I grew up knowing as gumbo. No bell pepper, no celery, no parsley and only the minimum of onion. Tasted like a wonderful chicken soup with a roux base. But not the rich, colorful, spicy gumbo of my childhood.

So when I read the following words I felt a flood of cajun recognition,

My mother’s gumbo is made with okra, shrimp, crabs and several kinds of sausage (the onions, garlic, bell pepper, celery, parsley, green onions and bay leaf go without saying).

It goes without saying. Can I have a witness?

And even more vindicated goodness was to come:

My elders acknowledged the existence of two types of gumbo: okra and filé. Filé, the ground sassafras leaves that the Choctaw contributed to the state’s cuisine, thickened and flavored gumbo. By the time I came along, okra could be bought frozen year-round. So if you really wanted to make an okra gumbo in the dead of winter, you could. But in my parents’ day, filé gumbo was wintertime gumbo, made when okra was out of season.

Vindicated because I have heard world-traveled, food-savants (some from Cajun territory, even) decry, Some people even add okra! Isn't that crazy? Plainly unaware of the origin of the word gumbo.  Mr. Elie tells us Kingombo is the word for okra in West Africa.

This fact may explain why I've been served a plate of Texas gumbo that contained nothing but okra.

Huh? I sat eating, scratching my head. Figuratively. I was at the table, afterall.

I recall, many years ago, promising an Austin friend that I would bring dinner, a pot of gumbo, to feed a crowd at a football watching party. When I arrived with my large pot and rice cooker in tow I was confused and a little hurt to see that he had laid out an array of barbeque chicken, pork chops and sausage. And potato salad. Enough to feed a small army.

He later admitted, sheepishly, that he thought it was strange when I offered to feed everyone from a huge pot of cooked okra. This from a native Texan!

He also admitted that he loved my gumbo. As did everyone else given the trays of leftover barbeque.

So a big thank you to Mr. Elie for trying to set the world straight. And to his momma, Mrs. Elie, for cooking her son such a fabulous looking gumbo. That crab and shrimp looks to.die.for, just like the gumbo my uncle used to cook up on his backyard gas cooker.

But the biggest thank you I reserve for Mr. Elie, for allowing me to feel safe in the knowledge that the gumbo I serve is, too, the best.gumbo.ever.

*If you have never tasted cracklins, the Cajun version of chitlins, a sort of a cross between pork rinds and deep-fried, thick slab bacon, don't do so at four o'clock in the afternoon, on an empty stomach after you have spent all morning and afternoon eating absolutely nothing, that is to say, drinking high octane Community Coffee and inhaling second hand, chain smoked cigarettes because your cajun hosts are too thrilled to have you as a visitor to even think to offer you any food until you are so plum stupid as to mention you've never tasted cracklin. You might just try some and swear you'll never eat cracklin' again.

Twenty years later? I've kept my word.


Friday, September 21, 2012

noooooo ! not my city !

Just yesterday I tried to post a response to several  Omg, Texas is so scary comments in response to my last post.  All well deserved.

But blogger wouldn't let me for some unknown reason (and it's still acting extremely bratty this morning).  

Until you come to my chosen city, Austin, is what I wanted to comment until blogger wouldn't let me for some reason   Because unlike most of the rest of red, rural Texas, Austin stands as a shining, beckoning royal blue of liberal mindedness, inviting one and all, white, black, asian, hispanic, muslim, buddhist, athiest, left wing, left-of-center wing, and yes, even right wing.

As this story, waiting in my email box this morning, will attest:

So right now I'm trying to decide how to respond.  Tonight, after I see the live music planned for several weeks now, I could head to Bud's street with some lighter fluid and a blow torch and instigate a rope burning.

Or I can just go home like a peaceful little shrink and let good ole' boy Bud have his right to free speech like our  constitution guarantees and the oft bashed ACLU helps defend.  

What say ye, readers?

Monday, September 17, 2012

yay texas. way to make me proud. again.

More and more, Texas and Kansas are acting like twin sisters separated at birth.

First there was the push for creationist textbooks.  Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and my kids get to read a science book instead of a religious book.

Then there was that pesky law that mandates women seeking an abortion get a sonogram, thanks to federal judges upholding the law.  It's still being litigated but as of today women are forced to have an invasive, medically unnecessary procedure 24 hours in advance.  A logistical problem for both the patient and the medical facility.

But now?  A Beaumont Texas high school student, presumed gay, signed up for a cosmetology class.  The principal-slash-southern-baptist-deacon, Thomas Amons, instructed the cosmetology teacher, Cequada Clark, to inform the boy he wasn't welcome in her class.  Clark refused to deliver the message.  So Amons (not to be confused with Amens) did what any self-aggrandizing principal would do:  He cancelled the class.  Nobody gets to take cosmetology this term.

As for the noble Ms. Clark, what did she get for her courage and conviction?  A pink slip.


Friday, September 07, 2012

on economic conspiracy theories and donny osmond's secret love child

     My husband's and my conversations keep coming around to a conspiratorial theory about the job numbers in the economy.   Separately we've come up with the suspicion that corporations have been holding back on the hiring front, deliberately keeping the unemployment rate high so that their tax loop heavy, regulation lax GOP presidential candidate, in this case Mittens, will have a better chance of getting elected.

     So today when I saw the NYTimes blurb,

U.S. Added 96,000 Jobs in August; Unemployment Rate Fell to 8.1% 

I immediately surmised it would follow that most of those new jobs were released on August 31st following Mitt's nomination speech.  Or, in the case of companies headed by women, on August 29th, the day after Ann Romney's line,

     I mean, let's be real.  You can't tell me every GOPeep who heard that Oprah-esque shout out didn't cringe, just a little, when they saw that.  Or, like me, a full out stomach retch.  Who wrote that garbage?

     My assumption is, even the powers that be are cringing at the thought of four years of the smarmy Rmoneys in the White House (which inevitably, in most cases, leads to four more).  Four years of overly sentimentalized television journaling of the family's struggling college years, where (insert sad violin music) they had to  gasp!  sell stock - wait a sec, I need a tissue - in order to pay Mitt's law school tuition.  Four years of glamour interviews with each of the five Romney boys, where we get to listen to details of their own pulling-up-of-boot-straps stories.

     (I swear one of those boys was fathered by Donny Osmond.  You know which one I mean.)

     In any case, I am hopeful that job numbers keep rising, no matter who gets into office come November.  Various economic gurus claim we are on the right track, the worst is behind us, and that it takes money in the pockets of the middle class Americans to get back on solid ground.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

airport observations

My summer ended faster than expected.  At the last minute I had to fly out of town, to my nation's capital and then to my hometown in Joisey.  Too much time on my hands, between the hours before takeoff and mind numbing layovers, I took notice of my fellow fliers.
--Young women in swingy, flowy mini-dresses should not carry backpacks unless they want people behind them to watch their dresses hike up their asses.  Something about the positioning of the pack over fabric and the swaying of hips causes the dress to mimic a rising curtain.  Given the array of dimples I witnessed, this shocked observer wondered if the young woman was wearing a thong or nothing at all. 

--Hulky muscley guys are so, so not attractive.  They are like some tanned species of hairless ape in clothing.  It doesn't help that I imagine the hours and hours of grunting in front of a mirror as they painstakingly cultivate all those bulgy muscles.  Not attractive either.  

--Ditto not attractive, those tall athletic males who hawk a loogie into a planter not four feet from my own feet.  You were good looking until you made me gag.  

On a side note, someone feel free to explain one of the most mysterious unknowns plaguing me since childhood:  Is there an evolutionary reason why men spit so much? Equally appreciated would be a corresponding explanation for why women (read, this particular woman, me) seemingly lack the physical capability of spitting properly.  Why, instead of ridding the throat of irritating mucous, do my attempts cause only a fit of coughing and gagging and teary eyes which, maddeningly generates even more mucous.  

Ok, so back to ass cheeks.  Anyone want to take a guess as to which famous person these belong?

Monday, August 13, 2012

hope springs into the therapy room

Saw Hope Springs yesterday.  It stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a couple married 31 years in desperate need of an intimacy tune up.  Added treat, Steve Carell plays their marriage therapist.  He plays it straight but I was constantly suppressing a giggle every time the camera was on him.

As someone who has been present in many a couples therapy session, to include both sides of the couch, I can say this is one of the most realistic portrayals of on-the-screen therapy I have ever seen.  It's a good look at what cognitive behavioral therapy looks like.  

It was also nice to watch on-screen therapy and not wince at the multitude of ethical violations and unrealistic therapy results.  And what I'm talking about here is that magical Aha moment where the client accesses a deeply buried insight, bubbles over in dramatic tears, is hugged by the therapist, and all is well from that moment forward.

Aside from the therapy perspective?  Convincing acting by all and it's a hugely funny and really touching movie.  I laughed til I cried and cried til I laughed.  Have tissues in hand when you choose your seat. Especially if you suspect you'll see aspects of your own marital bogged-down-ness.   

Hope Springs is not the most well directed movie.  It's got a few slow points and the timing is awkward in several scenes and the dialog is a little weak here and there.  But overall I loved every minute of it.  

It was also a great movie going experience thanks to the fact that Sam and I were two of the youngest people in the mostly packed audience.  It was fun to listen to the loud bursts of laughter, the type which says, Yup.  That's exactly how it is in my marriage.  One guy in particular was doing a little too much relating when Streep's character fessed up that she didn't like oral sex.  When Carell asked whether she was referring to giving or receiving, she stammers, Uhhh..... Huh?!?  This is a  woman who needs June Cleaver to teach her a thing or two.   

Which leads to one of my not very important on a movie choice level but important on a  female point of view level.  I speak of issues raised by Streep's character but not followed up on by the therapist or elsewhere.  The perspective portrayed where the woman seemed most motivated and willing to change her behavior and the man less so.  Need bedroom sparks?  Woman: get to it.  The part about doing more for the woman to keep her interested?  (Which is a number one issue in my office?)  More or less hopped over by the male director.  For example, we see Streep doing the Monica on a banana.  Do we see Jones playing tongue-sie with a taco?  No, we do not.  

Oh well.  It's a very good start to a very necessary dialog for older couples who want to keep sex alive.  And great, all around entertainment for people who want to see a relatable married couple in a funny, poignant film.  

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

a victim of mistaken identity

My sister, whom I shall call Robin because my parents almost named her that, lives near my hometown. Robin looks a lot like me. She is also ten years younger.

For about the 21st time in as many years Robin called me today to tell me, yet again, one of my high school classmates approached her and asked if she was me. And of course she informed them that no, she was my younger sister, Robin.

To which my classmates say something to this effect:

Oh! Well that explains it, then! I've seen you lots of times and thought you were her. Huh. And here, all this time, I thought she ignored didn't recognize me!

Even my high school BFF once mistook Robin for me. Robin said my BFF came storming across a parking lot ready to ream me for not letting her know I was in town.

Now, you can imagine (or not if you are a healthy, confident person who doesn't spend hours upon hours ruminating) this dilemma presents a push and pull of two equally polar feelings. On the one hand there might be a crowd of classmates out there who think I look ten years younger. Not a bad impression to have floating around.

But on the other hand, there's more likely potentially a crowd of classmates thinking I am blind ignoring them. And that I am, what? Too good to speak? An asshole?

And of course my mind gets stuck on the latter. Worried that I'm hurting other people's feelings. When I'm not even there. Worried that people think I'm an asshole.

I am, as they say, a victim of mistaken identity.

Nothing can be done about this, right? Or can there? The year is 2012. I can use some of this modern social technology to make an announcement. On my high school's Facebook page:

Hey classmates, Listen up! I've got a younger sister who looks a lot like me. Her name is Robin. If you think you see me at the grocery store and I don't acknowledge you? It is not me ignoring you. It is my sister ignoring you. Because she has no idea who you are. So do me a favor? Go up to me/her and ask. So you'll know what the real deal is. So you won't go around telling people I'm a stuck up asshole!

So what do you think, readers? Too much? Too neurotic?