Monday, January 25, 2010

the meaning of the bird

About talking to your kids early and often? A big thank you, halleluliah and Yes Ma'am! to Juggling Jenn who posted a book review on straight talk about sex. I second everything she said. (And want to read the book).

I would like to add that a big piece of keeping the communication open with our kids is to listen without criticizing. If you hear your child repeat a bad word? Or ask one of those questions you didn't think you would hear until they were old enough to vote?

First. Check your feelings at the door.

Second. Keep your expression neutral, open and accepting.

Third. Listen. Quietly. As in, wait. Wait a little longer. Until they finish saying what they need to say. You will be amazed at how much more you hear this way. How much more your kids have heard, seen, or wondered about, when you give them free and neutral space to share.

Fourth. Ask what they think about it.

Refer back to first, second, and third.

Fifth, clear up the errors and uncertainty with as open minded a discussion as you can muster.

Because nothing shuts kids down more than a screechy "OMG! Where did you hear that? I don't ever want to hear you say that again! Is that clear, missy?"

Or a disgusted look. Or feinting. Or throwing yourself to the ground crying. Or throwing a Bible at them.

Like Jenn, whose parenting opinions I admire, we've also had a blow job conversation at the dinner table. And an anal sex conversation. And why kids use so many curse words on the school bus.

And a frank discussion of what it means to flip the bird (give the middle finger, in case you live under a rock).

Because seriously, have you ever tried to explain this doozie of a gesture before to three under-age faces filling their milk-rimmed mouths with ravioli?

On the fly?

As in you've never really thought about what it really means before?

When you're pretty sure they've seen you use this very gesture in the car?

It's not easy. And I'm not sure my husband and I did such a great job. But more important than my kids seeing their parents squirm understanding what this crude expression conveys and why their parents people unleash the bird with such frequency, we have taught them that they can get accurate information from us, delivered in a calm and sincere manner, designed to teach rather than preach.

Because this is nothing new. People have been cursing at each other and threatening each other and shocking each other with the many ways the human body can be used to dazzle and delight since the dawn of the bear skin thong.

And I hope my way of listening without reacting means I am increasing my influence rather than rendering myself the free speech censor, the disapproving prude, the wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap dispenser. Because if they get a horrified look followed by a punishing message? They're not going to talk to you about anything else they think might horrify you. Or disappoint you.

Respected experts in the field of adolescent development claim that one of the biggest reasons cited by teens for not telling their parents they are thinking about having sex, or have already had sex, is the fear they will disappoint their parents. And second is the fear that parents will punish. That they will wield their almighty social ax. As in, You won't be seeing HIM anymore! Or, Don't ask to go to her party!

So my strategy is to put on my PPF. My parental poker face: I'm not disappointed. I'm not surprised. I'm not shocked. I'm not disgusted. I'm not scared out of my ever-loving-wits.

No. It's perfectly natural for my 10 year old daughter to ask what it means when people say, F*ck you! Or why the boys on the bus shout, Suck my d*ck! Or the girls retort, Eat this!

So with my PPF in place, here is what it means. Here is why they might be saying it. Here is why they think it makes them sound like a grown up. Here is how it hides their insecurity about what it all means because they probably don't have anyone at home who explains this stuff to them in a calm and cool manner.

And finally? Thank them. Thank your kids for having the courage to ask. For being smart enough to get the truth from an adult source. For trusting you enough to talk straight to them.

Okay. Now use your napkin. Because you've got ravioli sauce on your chin.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Aaryn Belfer can rant like no other. And
today's post was no exception with her 12 things she's really friggin sick and tired of. To include liars (yeah you, Rudy and Dana) and overly vain, surgically addicted fame-seekers (Heidi).

Me? I'd like to add my humble #13. Or make that #12, as I don't have a grudge against those cute, cuddly Pandas.

So here we go. Here's what I'm really friggin sick and tired of: so-called independent and swing voters who decide elections.

Because I have to ask: Who are you people, really?

That one year you can vote for the Bushie gang and the next election year Obama and now this year Scott "I posed naked for Cosmo" Brown?

I mean really, Massachusetts? You lose The Lion and you replace him with Beefcake Boy because he drives a fancy four door GMC Canyon pick up truck? I know this kind of down-home-boy fakery works in Texas elections, but you too?

And why is it that posing nude tends to work against women running for Miss America but works for men running for the U.S. Senate? WTF is that about?

I really do believe wonder if some people register as Independent so they can be the darling of the politico media. As in, I don't get enough attention in my real life so I'll call myself an Independent so exit pollsters will put a microphone and camera in front of my face so I can toyingly make them guess who I voted for.

This is not a game, people.

Did you not see what 8 years of Republicanisms did to America? To the stock market? To the banking industry? To people's homes? Jobs? Lives?

I guess you Massachusians are about as hard headed as your state is hard to spell.

You say you want to send a message to Democrats that you don't like how they're running things. Really?

Lesson 1. Brown's seat certainly means more Congressional stagnation, not less.

Lesson 2. Years of Republican regulation-ease led to financial near-collapse. Or have you forgotten already? I haven't. My husband lost a great deal of income. Our finances still have not recovered. And I am working longer hours to keep us afloat. I am not able to be the available mom that I was before Bush-face and Dick Vader took my country hostage.

Lesson 3. Recent economic indicators, thanks to Dem-lead initiatives, suggest we just might be out of the most troubled waters. I'd say the Dems are doing a pretty damned good job.

Lesson 4. A good thirty years we've endured a steady stream of steep health insurance premium increases and other assaults on our health care. Experts predict more of the same if we don't do something drastically different. But Republican leadership can only come up with tax-cuts and more tax-cuts and filibusters and no-votes and tort reform as supposed solutions.

Lesson 5. I got news for you tort-touters. I live in a state that passed tort-reform. My premiums have not come down at all. They continue to rise several hundred dollars every year. Some years, like this one, more than $1000. You can read more about how tort-reform "did not translate into lower health insurance premiums for consumers" here.

I can only hope Scott Brown makes good on his campaign promises cough! choke! snort! That he votes in the U.S. Senate like he voted in the Mass. State Senate. A moderate who worked with the Dems.

But it's hard to imagine the current Republican party letting Brown get away with anything short of the right wing red meat spewed out by the likes of Limpballs and Annthrax Coulter.

So we shall see, Mass-a-chew-on-this. We shall see.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

attemption sleezy, foreign spammers!

Note to your sleezy, foreign, scamming, spamming self: If you're going to send out mass emails to recipients without benefit of a a formal introduction, let alone a shared language, you might want to study the vocabulary of your recipients a little more carefully, i.e., don't rely so heavily on Google Translator.*

Case in point. This was waiting for me in my personal, private (use only for communicating with friends, family, and teachers so how the hell did you find me?) email box this morning:

Second Attemption: Your Credit Card PreApproval inside
Your Prepaid Credit Card will be shipped soon!
Prepaid Credit Card Approval Enclosed
Poor credit? Instant Approval for Credit Cards!

We have a Credit Card card invitation for you
Enclosed: Cards for people with Bad Credit...

So while I have your rapturous attemption, Sir Spams Alot, I have a few questions:

A. Is this an offer for credit or a last-chance opportunity to save my soul? Because, while in the lives of some the end result may feel similar, for most people money and soul suffer from irreconcilable differences.

B. Prepaid credit? Let me see if I understand. I send a thousand dollars to some unknown destination on the other side of the continent so you can issue me a credit card in the amount of a thousand dollars minus your most generous fee offer?

C. And why would I want to take that risk when I can go to my local grocery store, spin the metal kiosk and prepay in person? Am I not comprensating something here?

*Please don't take this personally, Google. You most definitely rank right up there at the very top of my list of favorite internets friends tools. But for language translation? Needs a little work.

Here's what I mean: I once used you to compose a note for my, then, non-English speaking house cleaner. I wanted her to change the sheets on my son's spare bed. I came home to find her looking at me very strangely. At the end of a confusing exchange, I deciphered her question: Should she cover his bed in notebook, printer, or wrapping paper?

Friday, January 15, 2010

avoiding bed

Because when I wake up? I'll be a half-century old.

Next stop, Old City.

So, yeah. These are my last few minutes of 40-something.

I remember that I liked saying I was 30-something.

It was a cool, hip television show.

I took pride in 40-something.

Visions of a woman in her sexual peak.

But 50-something. Where is the comfort in that?

So tomorrow? I will gladly accept gratuitous gifts of


Monday, January 11, 2010

deceived no more

I'm onto you, my little golden bar of soap. You can't fool me: Your sleek size. Your shrinking weight. Your newly slenderized waistline.

Your same price.

You used to be 4.5 oz. You are now 4 oz. And I am not the only one who has noticed.

At the end of each of our relationships, I used to cherish your remains. Take your soap slivers and lovingly place them flat along the inside of the rounded contour of your replacement bar. In the soap divot, if you will. A sliver pit for soap shavings. A token remembrance of all those showers we used to share.

In fact, your carved out cavity seems designed for the express purpose of holding my leftover slivers, doesn't it? Aiding we spurned lovers in our quest to slide you close along our nekkid bodies ever longer, until the inevitable end.

But in doing so, I see that I am covering your logo. Your crafty product designers wouldn't let that happen, would they? And break their cardinal rule of marketing? Thou shalt not cover thy product's trademark?

So no. I will not suffer fools gladly. Your cored out concavity isn't there for my convenience. It isn't there so I can scrimp and save and get an extra two showers out of your incredibly shrinking bar-hood.

It isn't there for my ease or protection either, so that the soap fits more precisely in my hand, preventing those potentially embarrassing and increasingly dangerous drop-soap-reach maneuvers.

Come back, Heath-soap, come back!

It isn't about me at all, is it?

No, the concave hollow is merely a way for your makers, the manufacturers, to fool me, the loyal customer, into thinking the price remains the same. So that they can continue selling more, but smaller, bars of soap. So that they can keep their jobs. So that their stockholders, your pimps, can continue to maintain their lavish lifestyles.

Make me the cuckhold, will you?

Think a-gain.

So, dear soap, no more recycling for me. No more lingering last moments of lucious lathering. No indeed.

I've hatched a plan. I'm saving your golden slivers in a plastic pouch, otherwise known as a baggie. I'm also saving my empty breath mint dispensers. Because it's only a matter of time before your personal size bar of soap will shrink to the size of a Tic Tac. When that day comes, I shall be ready.

So look for me in the back alley ways. I'll be the woman with the wig and the fake moustache, with the look of spurned longing on her face, frantically waving to get your attention, standing behind her car with the trunk open to reveal thousands of candy sized slivers of soap, encased in plastic dispensers, disguised as orange breath mints.

And on that day? Fear not. I shall no longer be your fool. Your cuckhold. Your spurned latherer.

I shall be free.

But the soap won't be.

$1.09 plus tax, please.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

once in a very belewe moon

Folklore tells us that people of long ago named each moon, depending on the time of year it shown. The harvest moon, say, and the summer moon.

A moon which appeared too early, an extra moon in the seasonal cycle, was called a blue moon.

When it came before the Lent Moon, preachers dubbed it the belewe moon, or, the betrayer moon.

Mary at Beauty Amongst the Weeds and Kathleen at Hill Country Mysteries both blogged about our New Year's Eve moon. A cold and blustery night here in Texas, Sam and I, along with a group of friends, toasted the New Year beside an outdoor fire pit. We looked up to the sky, champagne in hand. After the sparkles of the roman candles dissipated, the clouds moved away to reveal the big blue moon directly over our heads.

What does it mean when a blue moon shines on the very last night of the year? Is it an omen that foreshadows an ill wind? Or an auspicious promise of a better turn of events?

I took an interest in blue moons after hearing a native Texan, Nanci Griffith, sing this version of "Once in a Very Blue Moon." I was in Texas only a year or two when I first saw her performing it on video. I believe it was on MTV. This was back when MTV was a prized commodity, when party locations were determined based solely on who subscribed to it because it was that new and that cool.

You could call it a driveway moment in my living room. Mezmerized, I bought nearly all of her albums, went to see her live, became a lifelong fan. With this one song, I ventured away from pop and rock music and toward the more soulful folk.

A grammy award winner, Nanci mentions Austin's Congress Avenue in her love song, So Long Ago. A native Texan, she was schooled in Austin at the University of Texas. She taught kindergarten and first grade here in the 1970's. Those lucky little students. I wonder, did she bring her guitar to class and sing? Where are they now? And do they realize their good fortune?

Nanci does a haunting rendition of Bob Dylan's Boots of Spanish Leather, if you like what you've heard so far. Her duet with John Prine, Speed of the Sound of Loneliness, is another one that stops me in my tracks every time I hear it.

In 1986, Nanci put together The Blue Moon Orchestra. They've been recording and performing with her ever since.

So for me? There's no question. A new year welcomed by a blue moon is all good.