Wednesday, December 31, 2008

advances in personal feminism

A few days ago I took my kids to our fitness center's indoor pool. Without shaving my legs beforehand. After weeks of winter growth, uncontrolled forestation.

This feat took quite a bit of cognitive therapy skillage to accomplish, as in, "psychologist, heal thyself" of fear of social disapproval.

I am proud to be a feminist. To believe that gender should not determine opportunity, access, pay level, intelligence, nurturing ability, or who controls the TV remote.

I wish I put my money where my leg hair grows. You know, where I believe gender also need not determine one's routine razor blade habits.

I see women with long, dark, cactus beast ape hairy legs and I gasp. Silently. I try not to stare. I admire their bravery while wondering if they have any idea the impact their hairy legs have on members of the opposite sex. On members of the same sex. On tried and true feminists, for goddess sake. I hate myself for my hypocrisy.

I married a man who thinks women with hairy legs, hairy armpits, and hairy snatches are sexy. Aren't I the lucky one? I feel that much more confident baring all to him during the turtleneck and jeans season. I even manage to feel sexy. With my armpit hair. Underarm hair can feel daring and renegade. Not so leg hair. Nuh-uh. I feel no kind of confidence baring the snarly leg growth to him. Less so to strangers in public.

While researching my thesis in graduate school, I read Femininity, by Susan Brownmiller. It was an amazing read. One of those books that I have thought about thousands of times as I engaged in traditional feminine rituals of self care that go contrary to my feminist ideals. I talked about one of those times, here.

As I changed out of my workout clothes and into my bathing suit, as I strode in front of the hawty hawt hawt lifeguard with the long surfer boy haircut (half my age and then some, dammit) (half my body weight too, now that I think about it. Shit! Why did he have to be on duty this day?!) I thought about Brownmiller. I took comfort in her admission that despite being the author of several feminist tomes, she had a few stereotypical feminine trappings she could not give up. Wearing lipstick, no matter where she went, was one.

So, I remind myself, I'm in good company. I'm not the only fraud on the planet.

Years ago, while driving to work, I listened to several local morning radio jocks talk about a certain formerly Catholic schoolgirl, turned material girl, turned star of her own sex book, turned Kabbalah, turned twice-divorcee. There was a brief mention of material girl's infamous nude photo with hairy armpits and how "gross" and "nasty" and "dirty" they found it when women didn't shave their underarms.

So it occurred to me. My avoidance of showing unshaved leg hair had to do with a hygiene issue: my fear that others would assume I was not clean. That I didn't bathe regularly. And I really really don't want people to think I'm dirty. Dirty mind? Doesn't bother me. Dirty body? Very much.

That insight and a cup of shaving cream will get some of us nowhere, for about 15 years.
So on this day, I pulled out my cognitive toolbelt instead of my electric shaver:

1. I cannot control what others think of me. Deep breath.
2. It is unimportant what others think of me. Full exhale. It is important that I please myself. And it would please me greatly to skip the leg shave.
3. It is likely people will be far enough away that they won't see the hair on my legs.
4. If they do get close enough, refer to #1 and #2.
5. I am 40-something years old, for crissakes. I am married. I am going for a swim, not to a Mrs. America pageant, and not to attract a young and dumb man who doesn't appreciate the hawtness of lush, untamed hair on a cellulite-ridden, matronly thigh.
6. I deserve the luxury of unshaved legs.
7. The kids are in the car and I will never hear the end of it if I keep them waiting long enough to destroy this rainforest.

Ok, so score one for self preservation and maternal appeasement.

But yeah. Score one for feminism, too.

Is there a traditionally feminine, or masculine, depending on your gender, habit you struggle to let go of?

stickk to this year's resolutions

So here I am. On the eve of another new year, contemplating another list of shaky resolutions. And thinking, another year of being disappointed in failing to meet my weight loss goals.

I've been successful all my life in the weight management department. If you consider limiting my weight gain to 10lbs per decade a success.

Which is to say, I've been trying to lose 20lbs my entire adult life, without ever getting there. Argh. A lousy feeling. It's now getting to the point where the added weight is affecting my health -- little or big aches and pains that are slowing me down further. Weight loss isn't feeling so much like a choice as a necessity.
Back in the spring I heard a story on NPR radio talking about a website that helps you stickk to your goals. Wimp that I am, I'm now at the point where I'm seriously considering giving it a try. Based on the theory that most people will work harder to avoid losing money than they will to earn it (called Prospect Theory by behavioral economists), lets you set all sorts of goals for yourself, weight loss being just one, while betting your money that you'll achieve those goals.

Want to quit smoking? Stickk it. Commit to a regular work out schedule? Make new friends? Set career goals? Follow through on stress management exercises? Stickk can help.

The gist is this: You put up a sum of money, your choice how much. You check in at pre-set intervals or you might opt for a one-day deadline. If you make your goal? You keep the money. If you fail? Someone else gets your money -- you choose a charity organization. Stickk recommends you choose a charity that you despise.
I'm such a tightwad who goes to annoying and ridiculous lengths to avoid wasting money, that this just might work for me.

As I said, I'm thinking seriously about signing up. Both SAM and I want to lose weight but we can't seem to get there. So I want to enlist his support and try this together. Put an end to our cycle of mismatched motivation. You know, where he's motivated one week and unknowingly I tempt him away by baking his favorite dessert. Or I'm determined to stick to my diet but he brings home a bag full of my favorite chocolates. Those inadvertent but reliable sabotage behaviors.

If and when I sign up, I'll keep you posted. But until I decide, I thought I'd pass along what looks to be a very helpful tool.
In the meantime.....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

gift card blues

Gift cards for the kids are both a blessing and a curse.

The blessing: Holiday shopping is a breeze. Wrapping paper is conserved. They take up very little room under the tree.
The curse: They have to be redeemed.

Translation: Mom gets to stand around in crowded stores waiting for the little darlings to spend them right down to the penny. Tax excluded. Mom also gets to pay the sales tax.

If a tired Mom insists on (a little post-holiday peace and quiet, dammit) delaying the shopping until the crowds die down? Penalty box. The whining and wheedling and pestering and shrieking tirades follow. This is the thanks we get for lobbying the relatives into gift card synergy.
It has been said that the tradition of Santa Clause began with Sinterklaas who would leave candy for the good children and scoop all the bad children into his bag and whisk them away to Spain.
I'm starting a petition. I figure with enough signatures, the jolly elf will morph back into his 7th century self so that bedraggled parents can enjoy a quiet, conflict free 2009. I'd have a lot of new kitchen gadgets from Tarjay and my kids would get a free trip to Europe. Not sure if that would be round trip.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

capitol lights and luminaria nights

We took the kids downtown for some old fashioned Christmas carolling to the grounds of the state Capitol building. We gathered for The Capitol Tree Lighting and Holiday Sing-Along hosted by John Aielli (pronounced Eeely). Aielli's daily morning program, EKLEKTIKOS, on the local public radio, KUT, is broadcast from the University of Texas. It's one of my favorite programs because you never know what Aielli will play. Classical, folk, jazz, rock, and international selections from Sweden to New Zealand. He also interviews musicians who are playing locally so listeners can get a sampling of live music shows around town. It was a treat to not only have John Aielli host the Sing-Along, but to also sing along with John Aielli.

A snapshot inside the Capitol, looking up to the top of the rotunda:

The lighted tree on the south side of the Capitol, facing Congress Avenue.

Another night, we went to see the Luminations display at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Thousands of lighted ornaments lined walkways, meandered down cedar arbors, sat atop limestone rock walls, simple and luminous. There's something so gratifying about a multitude of candles in the night, especially outdoors.

For more pictures with better views of the Wildflower Center, click

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays from my Texas home to yours.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

cave mommas are good enough

JCK at Motherscribe gave us an excellent post about excessive mommy-guilt yesterday.

She tells us about a mom we all recognize, one who throws a splendid birthday party for her little girl but worries that an earlier "snappy" moment ruined her child's special day. JCK asks when we mommies are gonna start cutting ourselves some slack.

Jen at Rants & Raves replies that guilt in moderation can be a good thing. It serves as a vestige of "the enormity of the job" of being in charge of a little person's life. It helps steer us in the right direction.

Here are two additional thoughts on this mommy-guilt stuff: Think caves and "good enough."

First, the caves. It helps me to remember that we 21st century moms are decendants of cave dwellers. By this I refer to the fact that the first mothers raised their children in caves. On dirt floors. Wearing lice infested wooly mammoth jackets. With dinosaur bones used as paddle boards. No central heating or AC or indoor plumbing. And no, no antibacterial soaps or disinfectant wipes or toilet paper, even.

Those kids raised in caves? They survived. And hundreds of thousands of generations later decendants of cave kids grew up to have children of their own who grew up to become mommies like us who compare parenting notes over the internets.

And if those kids raised in caves can survive, so can our kids raised in framed stucco houses with sculpted landscapes survive crabby mommy moments.

Second: Think of these three words: Good Enough Mothering. It's a term coined by psychiatrist D.W. Winnicott.

I don't pretend to understand most of Winnicott's psychoanalytic (mumbo-jumbo) writings. I'm a cognitive behavioral psychologist, afterall.

But I've read a good enough amount of parenting books in which good enough mothering is used as a reference point. I have used this reference point in teaching parenting classes. And I have developed my own personal understanding that guides me toward a better appreciation for that which I provide my kids.

I love my kids, to the point where it nearly hurts. I feed them three meals a day, provide shelter for them, referee their squabbles, wipe their tears, make them do their homework (sometimes all in one sittting) and yes, I lose my cool every now and then. Spit nails and breathe fire, even.

I don't advocate angry outbursts, but hey, I'm a work in progress, I have my limits, and I'm trying. Really hard.

I think its fairly accurate to guesstimate that for every lousy mommy moment, I have provided one hundred nurturing ones. And that's good enough to raise up a healthy kid.

So good enough mothering has become my personal mommy mantra, my self soothing, self-calming, stop-guilt-in-it's-tracks meditation phrase. On those days when I fear I am a lousy mom because I didn't talk my kids through a hurt feeling or a missed opportunity. On those days when I lose my temper and look more like Joan Crawford than Carol Brady. Because continual second-guessing and wearing-my-guilt-on-my-sleeves drains me of the now moments I need to be as good of a parent as I can be.

So it is, on those days, that I remember that kids are sturdy and resilient by design. They are genetically endowed with the ability to thrive despite emotional nicks and scrapes. They know they are loved even when they learn the hard way that mommy has a boiling point and brother, you'd better step lightly on those mornings when she was up blogging way past her bedtime. And it's that love as a constant that raises up good enough kids.

Cave momma illustration by Peggy Maceo. Can be found here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

to which this mom is left speechless

I found a pair of girls corduroy pants in my bedroom, that look to be my daughters' size.

I go to their room and ask them, "Do these fit either of you?"

They both replied, "No."

Hmmm. What is wrong with the pants?

To which my fashion savvy daughter enlightens me: "I can't wear those because they make my butt look big."

My ten year old thinks her butt looks big?

Using my sternest, no nonsense voice, I replied, "Oh, they do not. You don't need to worry about such nonsense. Now here, take the pants"

Savvy Daughter: "Oh yes they do! They don't have back pockets. Pants without back pockets make your butt look big!"

Stern Me: "That has nothing to do with anything. Here, take the pants."

Savvy Daughter: "Yes, Mom! Pants without pockets make your butt look big! They do! Look, it says so in the book you gave me!"

In my most incredulous mom voice: "What?" (Thinking, "yeah, right!")

To which she produces the book, that yes, I gave her for Christmas last year, School Handbook for Girls* by Lisa Regan. I purchased it at the Scholastic Book Sale put on by their school each year.

And then my daughter quickly flips to the exact page, titled, Dream Jeans, where it says,

"If you're concerned that your butt is too big to wear jeans, think again. Choose a pair with large rear pockets to minimize your butt. Small pockets make it look bigger and no pockets will make it look huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge!"

Savvy Daughter: "See, Mom?!?"

I say nothing. I know when I've been beat.

And instead of taking a moment to explain that she has a beautiful little butt and doesn't need to worry about her butt looking huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge like the book I gave her says, I left the room with my mouth hanging open, determined to write a letter to the publisher, or leave an angry review on Amazon books, or both.

Or maybe just to blog about it.

*BackPackBooks. 2006. Miles Kelly Publishing Ltd.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Mental Pause Mama, of The Mental Pause Chronicles, is hosting a bloggy book club meeting today, here.

I am participating.
I will have to write this on the fly,

I've only got three million
chores on my to-do-list today.
Bear with me.


Without doubt, the single most redeeming aspect of Stephanie Meyer's book was Edward. Not just Edward's cool and beautiful hawtness, but his restraint. His dangerous desire reigned in with low grunts and growls. His tender touch and sweet breath. How much he longed for Bella's sweet smell. What woman isn't turned on by a man who finds her scent captivating and damned near irresistible? Oooh yeah, baby. Suck my blood now. (It was enough to revive this reader's carnal desires of the human variety, if you know what I mean, and, I don't mind publicizing, one of the few books from which my husband has reaped personal benefit).

The second most redeeming facet of Twilight is the underlying storyline: teenage vampires in our midst, or mist. Well, both. It's a fascinating concept. The explanations, the myth borrowing and busting. I especially loved the ingenious vampire version of vegan. It's a metaphor for humanitarian motives: overcoming our baser instincts, practicing self discipline, bettering ourselves by making conscientious and healthy choices.

The most disappointing aspect of this book is our heroine, Bella. She stumbles through this book, literally and figuratively, in a romantic daze. I didn't find it cute. I didn't find it endearing. I found it annoying as hell. I found her clutziness a symbol of weakness and a lack of forthright, confident self-directedness and self-knowledge. Ok, so Bella is a teenager in love. Cut her some slack, why don't I? Of course. But the heroine is supposed to grow and undergo significant change in the course of a novel. I don't see this happening.

Frustrated and irritated, I just didn't find much to admire in Bella. Yes, she's a dutiful little student who gets high grades. So an intelligent young heroine, in the academic sense, yes. But otherwise, she does not represent a strong heroine with a purpose that I respect and want my daughters to emulate. I kept hoping to see a young woman who grows to make decisions in her own best interest, not one who repeatedly drops everything and reroutes her life in singular pursuit of a romantic interest. As one example, Bella becomes largely bored with her friends and loses them whenever Edward wiggles his perfect little finger. This is so not the modern message we want for our teenage girls, or adult women, for that matter.

Time and again we see Bella happily choosing the traditional female role of service toward others and nurturing loved ones, often at her own expense. Twilight opens with Bella leaving her home in Arizona, not because she wants to get to know her father better and explore new terrain but as a sacrificial offering to her mother, to alleviate her mother's guilt. Once she gets there, she eagerly cooks for, worries about and dotes on her father, the other man in her life, who, for reasons not explained, has lived alone for longer than a decade. What? No eligible women in Forks?

But the biggest problem I had with this novel? That tired and insidious female victimhood thing happening. Female victim romanticized. Yet another female rescued by strong, perfect, omnicient male. Made sexy.

At one point an evil foe is in hot pursuit: Bella comes up with the plan to save herself and her vampire friends. And everyone around her nods. Yes, this plan could save us.

Ah, I thought with satisfaction. Finally. Redemption. Bella's transforming on the page. She will save herself and save Edward too, rather than the other way around.

But no. Instead she walks right into harms way, into the hall of mirrors, further endangering herself and Edward. It reminded me of so many books and movies where the heroine (seldom her male counterpart) does the very thing that puts her in the most danger, leaving the audience incredulous: "Why is she doing that?!? What is she thinking?!? She's so stupid!!"

With Bella, I'm disappointed to say, we are given a weak and clumsy victim in need of repeated rescuing. Bah.

And yet, upon completing Twilight, what did I do? I quickly ran into my teenager's room and found the sequel, New Moon. Must see what happens next. Must be seduced by more Edwardy hawtness. Feminism be damned.

This is the true gift of Meyer's writing. Like her hero Edward, she keeps us wanting more, even when it isn't all that good for us.

Friday, December 05, 2008

feel stupid much?

Magpie posted a One Word meme yesterday. The first prompt was: Where is your cell phone?

The meme question reminded me. A little earlier in the day I was sitting at my kitchen table (inhaling) (scarfing) (wolfing down) eating a late lunch (sourdough pretzels and cheese, not so much a lunch as a snack when lunch was skipped due to much-too-busy schedule), when I heard my cell phone ring.
I'd been expecting an important call all day (from a district attorney, and you know how those must be put at top priority, right?) so I was up in a flash looking for my ringing phone. Frantically searching my cluttered kitchen countertops, I couldn't find it anywhere. But it sounded like it was close by. Like it was right in front of me. But where?!?

Well, it was close. But it was not in front of me, it was behind me. As in, attached to my behind. Tucked in the rear pocket of my jeans. Right where I put it so I wouldn't miss the call. Thanks to my brain fugue, and my running around like a chicken on meth, the call went to "missed" and they didn't leave a message. Was it the D.A. ? I didn't know. And I never call back unknown numbers when they don't bother to leave a message. So I was left to wonder. And finish my lunch.
(Turns out it wasn't the D.A. and I still have no idea who it was).

Thanks Geekologie for letting me borrow the picture.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

it goes something like this

Me to SAM: "I'll be right there, honey!"

I just want to check my blog real quick.. See if I've gotten any new comments today. And then I'll be off. Real fast, like.

Ooh, look at this. Several comments to be moderated. Goodie! Now, who is that? Somebody new. I need to click over and check her blog real quick. Leave a comment of appreciation.

Oh and while I'm here, let me just check on a couple of my favorite blogs. The regulars. Just a couple (look over my shoulder, see SAM reading his newspaper). Ah good. He hasn't noticed. Maybe three or four, real quick ones.

But wait, this is a long post. Hmm, let's see. Looks interesting. Haha. She sure has a way with words.

Read a few (dozen) witty comments.
And who is that? What a clever profile name. I bet she's got a worthwhile blog. Let me check out that one before I close out the window....

SAM (20 minutes later, sounding extra irritated): "Coffee, what are you DOING? Are you coming or not?!?"

Me: "Oops. Sorrrrrrrr-eeeeeeeee. I'll be there in just a sec."

Just need to finish this one post...........

In the words of Linda Ellerbee, "and so it goes."

Victorian blogger picture found here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

the martyr syndrome: an intervention

I have sorely strayed from one of my blog objectives: to share some of my accumulated wisdom in the area of all things psychological. The holiday weekend has given me fresh motivation and inspiration.

The Martyr Syndrome

Defining Characteristics: Insisting on having one's own way in the completion of a task; which is the hardest, tedious, most time consuming and potentially back breaking way of doing said task; and despite the urging of the majority of adults present to make it easy on oneself; and despite assurances that it will "taste just fine: or "work just as well" (maybe even better) done the easier, faster, way.

Upon insisting on having done it the hard way, The Martyr becomes overly fatiqued and "stressed out," to the point of intolerable crankiness, or poutiness, or both, in repeating cycles; which, in turn, inevitably elicits feelings of alienation and emotional deprivation; and the overall belief that one is not appreciated in the slightest, and therefore not loved, despite (indeed, in spite of) the sacrifices one has made. Heavy sighs and comments such as "But I only wanted to make everyone happy!" may be heard during this latter phase of the disorder. Tears may be present.

Preparation of the annual Thanksgiving Feast is a common precipitating event. The making of turkey gravy is a particularly ripe activity for the presentation of The Martyr Syndrome but there are an infinite number of domestic scenerios that work equally well in sparking the onset of the disorder.

Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done to thwart the perpetual enactor of the syndrome. If a Martyr is in your midst, do not, therefore, direct your efforts toward trying to dissuade, shame, or engage in "I told you so's", particularly if you are in the throes of the decades long sufferer. It will be to no avail and could escalate The Martyr into further decompensation.

Recommended Treatment: There is, however, one full proof method that those exposed to The Martyr Syndrome can employ. I call it the "Dayglo Slushie Surprise."

1. Present the kids and The Martyr with a "Dayglo Pink Slushie" made in the blender. Inform recipients that you thought this would be "a fun surprise" and perhaps "the start of a holiday tradition."

2. Hold back a generous portion of the slushie.

3. Enact slight of hand.
4. Add heavy handed jiggerfulls of tequila and triple sec to the blender. At this stage, you should begin to feel the Prodromal Effects, Stage I of relief. i.e., Help IS on the way.

5. Pour covertly enhanced (prickly pear margaritas) DayGlo Slushie Surprises into two glasses: one for yourself and one for your co-conspirator, if you are fortunate enough to have one on hand.

Lime wedge and salt rim optional. Although, experts suggest these are better left off entirely lest The Martyr be tipped off to their significance and a second, more vicious round of the disorder ensues.

6. Give a knowing wink when handing the co-conspirator his Slushie "Surprise."

7. Toast to the happiness and wellbeing of all present. Give the co-conspirator a second knowing wink.

Feel Prodromal Phase, Stage II of the impending relief.

8. Slurp. Swallow. Allow the icy cold elixir to move to the back of throat, roll slowly down the esophagus, make contact with the tummy, and then ... ahhhh ... feel the merciful FULL RELIEF phase of treatment, that luxurious warmth from the inside out. The feeling that whispers, ""

9. Agree wholeheartedly when kids and The Martyr tell you how yummy these slushies are and what a good idea it was and how they "hope we do this every year."

10. Repeat steps #4 through #8, as often as needed.

low hanging breastesses are best

On the turkey, that is. When you cook it.

My husband, SAM, used to take his morning coffee at a diner with a man named Harry who shared his prized Thanksgiving Day tips. Many moons past Harry was a cook in the Army Air Corps during WW II. He later owned a popular local restaurant. Somewhere in between Harry cooked for Lyndon Johnson when the President was visiting Bergstrom Air force Base. LBJ was impressed, especially with Harry's enchiladas. LBJ requested Harry, and his enchiladas, anytime he was at his Johnson City Ranch, an hour or so from here.

So over the course of the past several years, Harry gave SAM numerous kitchen pointers. The most enduring and the most shared is baking the turkey with the breast facing downward in the pan. This way the juices from the dark meat marinate the breast.
This advice resonated for SAM. He cooked a turkey for the first time during his former marriage. His wife came home and started laughing because he put the turkey in the pan upside down, breast side down. They laughed even more when they tasted the result: They both swore it was juiciest turkey they had ever eaten.

Harry's second turkey pointer: never cook bread dressing inside the bird. It dries out the meat. In order to cook the turkey long enough to get the dressing cooked through, the meat is overcooked. Overcooked equals dry. So cook the bread dressing on the side in the stove.

Third pointer: Stuff the bird with fruit. Jenn at Juggling Life knows about this one, and a few more tips besides. In Harry's words, use anything you've got in your fruit bowl. SAM uses apples, oranges and onions. The fruit juice bastes the meat with the most refreshing flavor. SAM also uses Harry's suggestion of placing garlic cloves into the side of the turkey.

Juicy turkey with a tang of orange and garlic. Breast side down. Good stuff. Thanks, Harry, goddess rest your soul. And thanks to watershed for the turkey pic.
Oh, and here's my one pointer: Husband cooks the bird while wife blogs about it. Fabuloso!

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

synecdoche, synmecdoche

I love Charlie Kaufman's films. Or, at least the three I've seen (that he has had a hand in?) in which he has had a hand.

That feeling of confusion and "huh?" during Being John Malkovich, and then suddenly "getting it, " or at least, some of it. Most of the time. Or, wait, is that, most of it, some of the time? Whichever. I dug it.

With Adaptation, that shudder of recognition in Nicholas' Cage's self-conscious character. The back and forth between the writer's head, the book, and the principal characters he's supposed to be writing about. I loved it.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: As a psychologist, I can't stop thinking of the possibilities. In the midst of some of my sessions with clients who have been through terribly painful events, I wish I had my own memory erasing machine. And not just for my client.

Today's meeting-of-minds with Kaufman was not a whole lot different. Synecdoche, New York is a wild ride. No, a slow, agonizing, downward cycle of a ride through the psyche of a man, Caden Cotard, who lives his life straddled between regret for the past and dread for the future. Occasionally he lands smack dab in the middle of the power of now and is rewarded by despair, but most importantly, despair that has been validated. That's as close to feeling good as he gets.

The paper where I get my movie listings gave it four-and-a-half-stars. After feeling thoroughly confused by the review, a WTF moment that only certain, gifted movie reviewers can give me, I decided I have to see this. I had no idea what the title meant, even less of an idea after reading Wiki, and even less still again after reading the definition after seeing Snyecdoche. So now you will understand how I felt compelled to take on the challenge of seeing if I too can get it, like the reviewer who gave it four-and-a-half stars. I mean, she must have gotten it if she gave it so many stars, right?

Feeling a little confused? Like maybe you get my review, or at least some of it, but you're not really sure, so now you'll have to see the movie too, to see if you get it?

There. You now have no reason to see the film. You do get it. And that's the feeling I got coming out of the theatre. Or one of about a thousand zillion different feelings.

In essence, I liked it. I want to see it again. So that I can absorb more. Or maybe not. It's a little too depressing to go through it all over again. But it is a fascinating, confusing, snapshot of a snapshot of a blend between one man's neurotic yet realistic worries, the missed opportunities and losses that result, and his experience of what is happening now versus how he is capturing it through his art (in this case, playwriting).
And now I'm wondering, will there be a director narrated version on the DVD? Ooh, I must watch that.

I was mostly enthralled. I laughed a lot. I smirked. I snickered. I chuckled. I recoiled. I felt that uncomfortable, awkward feeling of recognition that Kaufman's movies elicit. Here's another guy who thinks too much in a depressing, dread-inducing, erectile-dysfunction-happening sort of way. Way more than me, but I can relate to enough of his thoughts to wonder just how focked up I am if I see even a little bit of myself here. I am comforted, however, knowing, that I am mostly able to tuck away my neurotic thoughts into one of two files: "I'll think about that one later" or "Let's just forget we ever thought about that, shall we?" Not so, Mr. Cotard.

And then there's the psychologist in the film. Whoah. I sure hope Kaufman never wanders into my office. And then makes a film where I have a prominent background role as a self-promoting, sexy-except-for-the-blisters, doing more-harm-than-good talk-healer. I would be all, "Therapist, tear down that shingle!"

In the end, I don't agree with the four-and-a-half stars. I'm thinking four at best, five-and-a-half at worst. But that's just me. What you think is what counts. I doubt any three people watching this film are affected the same way. Times five.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

dishonor roll

Californians Against Hate (CAH) is a group dedicated to "out" those who contribute money to the cause of denying same sex marriage rights. CAH recently published their "Dishonor Roll," a list of individuals, companies, and organizations who donated big dollars ($5000 or more) in the effort to help pass Proposition 8. Check out the list, Californians in particular. Boycott where applicable; shake your head in disapproval where your consumer power isn't.

Here's an example, according to CAH,

"San Diego businessman Terry Caster, who owns A-1 Self Storage Company was California’s 2nd biggest individual contributor to the Yes on 8 campaign. Caster and his family gave nearly $700,000 to Yes on 8, including $400,000 just five days before the election."

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish for posting the link first and to my friend J for sending me the email. And To Form a More Perfect Union for the pic.

Monday, November 17, 2008

protesting prop 8

I took my teenage son and his friend to Saturday's protest rally opposing Proposition 8. My son's friend was hesitant. "What if there is violence?" "The people there will think I'm a lesbian." But in the end, she came along. It was a great feeling for me. For my child and his friend to see so many strong, outspoken, positive members of the GLBT community. To be reminded that the push for same-sex marriage isn't just about two adults who love each other and want to share in a lifelong committment as well as enjoy the rights and priviledges that come with it. No, it's not just that. There are the children. Like Mason. Who just want what other families get to have: Married parents.

Mason is a 10 year old who spoke with all the command of a veteran speech maker. Mason has two moms. He said kids at school tell him his is not "a real family." That his family is "weird." He announced that only 23% of families in our nation are comprised of the traditional nuclear family: a married mom, dad and their kids. "My math teacher tells me that's a minority!" The crowd roared. I cried.

All three of us bought this t-shirt to celebrate the day from EqualityTexas, to contribute to the cause, and to help this dream of equality become a reality.

It was also very cool to know that I was standing in unity with some of my bloggy friends: Jenn , Cheri, Kelli, QueersUnited, and DebOnTheRocks. Anyone else attend? Leave a link and I'll include you in my list.

Thanks to austinistdotcom's photostream for posting their Prop 8 Protest pictures to flickr, allowing this slacker mom, who left her camera at home, to post all of the pictures you are seeing to her blog:

Friday, November 14, 2008

a wedding gift from hell

Jenn's story about giving the grand tour of her newly remodeled house one New Year's Eve reminded me my most memorable wedding gift. One that I would like to forget, but can't.

We got married in my homestate in the Northeast. When we returned to Texas, my in-laws gave us a wedding party, in our newlywed home.

In preparation, SAM and I had done a bit of spiffing up, painting our bedroom the color of "Softness" for example (a mauve color, for those of you who don't keep a paint wheel by your computer screens). A few wedding gifts had arrived early, including blue towels we had registered for. So those were hanging in the newly bleached white tiled bathroom.

A cherished lifelong friend from Lousiana had arrived on her Harley lowrider with her mother strapped on the back. When they finished unpacking, I started to show them around. By this time the party was in full throng. About 50 guests were making merry.

After oohing and ahhing over Softness, my friends and I proceeded to the master bath. I spotted something dark hanging over the rim of the white waste basket. In one of those seconds that felt like hours, I zeroed in on this dark thing. What the hell is that? What the fock is that? Is that a turd? Yes.It.Is.A.Turd. A giant, glistening, man-sized turd draped on the rim of the white wastebasket in a white bathroom. And my guests are right behind me. Holy shit. No pun intended. And there was nothing at all holy about it.

In a flash, and before my guests could see, I grabbed one of my new blue hand towels, mercifully located just above the wastebasket. With towel in hand I flipped the turd inside the bin and threw the towel on top. I squeezed beside my guests, rushed it outside, and set the wastebasket on the ground behind the air conditioner unit. Will deal with that gem later.

Noone was the wiser. My guests didn't seem the least phased. They had just ridden four hours on a motorcycle so I suppose their brains were a bit foggy.

Later, when my husband and I had time to discuss the mystery poo at length, we started looking over our guest list. Who would have taken a shit on the wastebasket that was three feet away from the toilet? Why? How was that managed, exactly, the turd so evenly laid upon the wastebasket rim? Think about it, people. And think how you might have fared, under scrutiny for such a foul deed?

My husband immediately pointed to one of his distant relations, a kid who was in young elementary school. The kid looked troubled, he argued. He'd always thought something was wrong with the kid, he insisted. You don't know this family like I do, he went on. I do admit, the child had big dark circles under his eyes and looked like he was up to no good. I still have an image of his face burnt into my memory, him looking up at me, later that same evening. And yes, the guilty expression haunts me.

But I defended that poor kid. "That was an adult turd. A man-sized turd. It did not come from the anus of a child." To this day SAM insists it came from that child. I counter it came from an adult. Though what adult would do such a thing is not something I care to dwell on.

The next time we had visited with this family, maybe a year later, I found myself engaging the mother of this child with a slightly more indepth line of questioning than I might have done under normal circumstances. SAM was eyeing me down the table, giving me a subtle, knowing nod, with one of his familliar "see if I'm not right" expressions written all over his face. My undercover investigation did not yield much, however, except for learning that the dad was determined the child would become a linebacker in the NFL one day (the kid was on the runty side and never played football, unless punting football shaped turds into wastebaskets counts). He is smart as a whip, deans list and all that.

So these many years later, we still have not settled or agreed upon the ownership of the mystery poo. I've filed that away under one of life's mysteries better left unsolved. I have, learned since, however, with plunger in hand, that yes, small children can, indeed, leave man-sized turds.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

sarah: the new sanjaya

Damn. Why didn't I think of this? Political commentator Chris Kofinis said that Sarah Palin's media blitz these past few days reminds him of Sanjaya.

Sanjaya: Cute. Great hair. Not talented enough to win.

Now, go away. For the love of goddess and country, go back to Alass-gah.

You can listen to Kofinis below. Fast forward to 1 min. 50 sec. to hear the Sanjaya comment.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Protest Prop 8 This Saturday

November 15, 2008

1:30 PM East Coast
12:30 PM Central
11:30 AM Mountain
10:30 AM West Coast

Thank you, Cheri at BlogThisMom, for making me aware that even in a red state like Texas, I can do some small part, Be the Change and help protest the passage of California's Proposition 8.

Want to show your support for LGBT individuals' right to marry? Join the Impact. Find your state here and do your part.

seven things

Grandy posted a meme today, here, and tagged the blogosphere. I've been tagged a few times for memes and so far I don't think I've completed one. I want to, mean to, start them, but somehow never finish (story of my life, seems like). So here goes.

Seven Things About CoffeeYogurt in High School

1. Like Grandy and Vodka Mom's daughter, I played field hockey all through high school. Loved that sport. I had to make a decision, my sophomore year, between tennis (of which I lettered my freshman year) or field hockey when the lousy powers that be in NJ moved girls tennis to the fall. Because, by all means, let's make sure boys tennis gets priority. We girls griped that very few boys played both football and tennis .. but lots of girls played both field hockey and tennis. Anyway, I'm turning this into a mini-dissertation. But one last point, our team played in the NJ State Championship but lost 2-1. I scored the only goal for our team. It was a whirlwind season. In the spring, my friend and I tried out for boys tennis team. Making school history. It came down to match that we played during school hours, for which a ton of people watched. We lost. Barely. I cried in the girls bathroom afterwards.

2. I wrote a paper for English Lit: how love was the downfall of two monarchies, Napolean and the last Czar of Russia. Is that deep, or what? BadMom?

3. I used to walk to my best friend's house mornings so that we could walk to school together. Her boyfriend plus friends used to park their car in her driveway. One chilly morning I walked up to see the inside of the boyfriend's car completely filled with smoke. To the point you couldn't see any of the three guys inside puffing on their weed. It was a scene out of Cheech & Chong. There's a saying, "The difference between good girls and bad girls is good girls don't get caught." Uh, yeah. Boys too.

4. I once was summoned to the Asst Principal's office after skipping 5th period study hall. Because the AP saw my boyfriend and me walking to the BFr house during 5th period (boyfriend's mom worked, if you know what I mean). He promised he wouldn't tell my parents and I promised I would never do that again. I didn't. Half a step closer to bad girl. Thanks Mr. C, if you're reading this.

5. I got a permanent in my hair on the day of Junior Year Homecoming. I wanted that tousled-look. Instead I got that poodle-fro-look. I cried all the way home. Then bravely went to the football game anyway. It was the most miserable day of my life. And for the next few weeks following. Things were never the same between my boyfriend and me.

6. At least one, maybe two years, I walked home everyday for lunch because I landed a lunch period which none of my close friends shared. I was too shy and too self-conscious to branch out. With hair like that, who could blame me?

7. I had seven or eight close girlfriends who were the best friends a girl could have. We had so, so, many fun times. Like one time we camped out in the woods. It started raining at 3am and most of us had no tents. Rain sodden, head pounding due to massive quantities of red punch and southern comfort, I watched a spider splash around in a puddle near my shoulder until the sun came up. Then we had to drag one hundred pounds of wet sleeping bags across corn fields and cow pasture. Good times. We're still in touch to this day. Now if just one of them would leave a comment, just once, ever, I'd (stop pestering them) be overjoyed!

Me and my peeps, 25 years later.