Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Tisket, A Tasket, I Bought a Laundry Basket

I've been doing the Mom thing for 19 plus years now, and I swear to you, I thought I'd seen it all. Sweet bubbly smiles, nasty body fluids, sticky valentines, muddy sneakers, the little time warp kids fall into as they go to sleep that turns them back into babies (I have a sneaking suspicion that this is an evolutionary survival tactic - we moms can forgive a lot when we see 'em transformed back into the babies we remember). I can't tell you how many tubes of chapstick I've found in my dryer (cleans up better than crayon, fyi), how many toilets I've plunged because some newbie potty user was very enthusiastic about wiping. Kids do lots of peculiar things, just to see if they can. Like my oldest son stuck his head through the slats on the back of a rocking chair. And got stuck. Same child tried to fly. He put some thought into it: got every fan in our house in one room, got a towel for a cape, turned on all the fans and did the Superman Liftoff. He then discovered the Law of Gravity. His younger brother got a Power Wheels truck for his birthday. I found him in the street in the predawn gloom, merrily Power Wheeling his way to the store.

I thought I'd seen everything.

But I'd never seen two children get into a fist fight over a clothes basket.

It was all my fault of course. I bought two new baskets so that I could put each child's neatly folded clean clothing in his or her own basket, for him or her to put away. A nice end-run around the part of laundry I despise - the redeployment. An organized system to deal with an awe-inspiring weekly heap of smelly socks, questionable undergarments and mystery stains. I have about 4 baskets in varying degrees of decay. I threw out the most decrepit, drove to Big Lots and purchased two rectangular white plastic baskets. Took them home feeling like I'd solved a major problem, like I could be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Tossed them down in the living room and went to turn on the dryer. And when I returned, I saw this: in one corner, weighing in at 42 lbs and standing 48 1/2" tall, Josephine the Spitting Queen. In the other corner, at just under 55" and tipping the scales at 70 lbs, the Austinator. I left a living room and came back to a WWF Smackdown. There was hitting and punching and kicking and yelling and name-calling. There were tears and snot, but no blood and guts. Pouts aplenty. Sulking with style. Deep sighs and whispered threats. All over a damn laundry basket!

I read this book once about sibling rivalry. It claimed that each child's personal mission was to claim the exclusive love of the parent, which sorts out to this: each kid wants to be the favorite. And the favorite gets the new laundry basket.

Forget visualizing world peace. Buy all you want at Big Lots for $1.99 a basket.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Reality Check

This won't be my Stones year. I was there, in all my internet glory, logged in and ready to buy tickets at 10:00 a.m. The first ones I drew were limited view. As were the next and the next and the next. Finally, in desperation, I took two that would have been looking over Keith's shoulder, but from 10,000 feet up. Damn the home computer's useless dial-up internet!! I timed out before it could process my request, so I lost those tickets. Then I went insane.

I tried to buy seats that actually faced the stage. I tried to buy seats from which you could SEE the stage. I tried to buy seats from which you could tell which direction Mick tucks. I threatened. I pleaded. I let loose lots of colorful language and gesticulations. All to no avail. Freaking scalpers/ticket brokers/greedy maniacs in Charlotte. Nothing was left at 10:12. Nothing.

I should be disappointed, but I'm not. Angry. Bitter. Disenfranchised. But I was all that before. I don't want to see the Stones from the Ozone Layer. I don't want to see them with 20,000 strangers, That Drunk Guy and his girlfriend The WooHoo Girl (only there will be like 100 of each). The negatives are beating the positives senseless on this fight. I don't really like big crowds. I don't like to wade through piss and vomit in public restrooms (any restrooms, I should clarify). Parking's a bitch. I hate standing in line. All this to watch the back of Keith's head? The vague disappointment will disappear like smoke after a bit of retail therapy. Mick, Keith, you'll get your money anyway. And I won't have to pay $5 for warm beer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Bought any decongestants lately? Are you a meth manufacturer? A meth addict? Do you drink cough syrup to get high? I like a good Nyquil buzz now and then, but I don't consider myself an addict. I had an experience yesterday purchasing Claritin-D for my son, who though he is 19 years old and over 6 feet tall, becomes the biggest baby in the world when he's sick. He's a man, after all. I stood there in the aisle at Walgreen's - here are the allergy medications, the cough syrups, the cough drops. There's the Claritin. Where's the Claritin-D? Then I see the rack of cards. To buy this medication, you must take this card to the pharmacy. At the pharmacy, I'm given the Once Over, like she's checking me out for meth sores, and asked to show my driver's license. Which she records in a log book. That I have to sign - why do I have to sign? Shouldn't she be initialling something somewhere? We have six people in our family and I only bought a 10 pack of 12 hour pills. If I go back in 3 days will she pull out that logbook, show me my signature and deny me drugs? Is this what happens with medicinal marijuana? God help me if I need morphine. Although, it would be simpler to purchase, with a prescription paving the way. I guess we're taking the War On Drugs to the drugstores and supermarkets. I steer very clear of methamphetamine. I think, no, I know, I would be all over that like stupid on W, and I can see a very clear picture of my life Going All To Hell. I mean, of course, worse than it is now, which is not bad exactly, but there's always room for improvement. I quit smoking 9 years ago. If I live to be 85, I will take it back up. I like cigarettes. A lot. When I was young and wild, I could never understand why people took downers. Why turn yourself into a zombie? But speed (and by this I mean amphetamines, not the toxic waste called methamphetamine) - the evening never had to end. That was a long time ago and in a galaxy far, far away, but I can see how easily I could get sucked into that temptation trying to keep up with a job, a house, a family and still carve an hour or two out for myself. So, I will take the little cards to the pharmacist when I need Claritin-D (who should be paying me something for all these plugs). I will show photo id and I will sign the logbook, and all of this will make for a cleaner, safer Land of the Free.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Signs of Summer

1. Grainger County tomatoes.
2. Honeysuckle blooms.
3. Sandals. And winter white feet.
4. Lightning bugs.
5. The inverse ratio of homework to daylight. Is that right? I mean the longer the days, the shorter the homework.
6. Surf music.
7. The reappearance of The Six Flags Old Dude.
8. Strawberries.
9. The wafts of steak sizzling on your grill.
10. The reinstitution of the Kids and Balls Outdoors Rule.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

In Search of: The Perfect Shoe

Yes, I'm a shoe girl. It's my most girly trait, I suppose. I have yet to outgrow a single pair since I had my first kid. I recently went thru the painful task of cleaning out my closet. I was brutal. I sort thru my clothes twice a year, as the seasons - well, IF, the seasons change. If I haven't been wearing it, I generally toss it, unless it's dressy. Or really really cute.

But the shoes. I never get rid of the shoes. I might NEED them someday. I think I can safely say that I have mourned the loss of many, many shoes. There were the satin sandals with the ankle straps. I think I actually threw up on them after a teenage misadventure. The Dr. Scholl's - did you know it is possible to stand on your toes in your Dr. Scholl's? Kids, don't try this at home. Platform wedges. Clownishly loud suede slip-ons. The workboots I wore planting trees (well, actually cutting down and burning them in uneco-friendly piles) with the BCTV. The brown quasi-roman sandals with the broken sole. The burgundy stiletto sandals I wore to my very last ever piano recital. I can't remember a chord, but I remember those shoes. The golden brown woven-leather clogs. So many good friends consigned to the Big Trashcan in the sky. But the time had come. No Imelda, I.

So goodbye snakeskin mules. So long, fuzzy clogs. Adios, beloved square-toed cowboy boots. I saved the dressy stuff, of course. The black pumps, the navy pumps - I've got weddings and funerals covered as long as I don't have to actually walk in them. I've forgotten how. If I ever knew! I seem to recall the sound of clomping, but I've tried to block it out. I could not part with my wellies, even though I'm afraid spiders might live in them now. I kept the espadrilles just because they are purple. The tan loafers likewise got a pass. They are preppy as hell, but the silver buckle is a fabulous and unexpected detail. Sneakers were kept. They pass thru life stages: exercise shoe, casual shoe, carwashing shoe. I kept the white slippers with the tiny little rose pattern that I took to the hospital when my first daughter was born. I bought her a white linen dress with matching roses. Our first (and last) Mother/Daughter outfit. I kept the brown platform sandals (with a merciful wide platform!) that make me feel like a Funkified Diva. Out went the Barbie Shoes, the fuzzy blue slippers with the strange rhinestone trim, the fantastically cute but stupidly heavy thongs from Old Navy. In stayed the ratty Keds I run to the mailbox in - they are easy on/easy off and absolutely machine washable. In the end, I could see the carpet at the bottom of the closet, spaces in the cabinet, room on the shelf.

Rack Room, here I come.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

wondering, wondering

all about me. I'm always wondering what my problem(s) is/are - and I'm convinced that somewhere, somehow, someday someone is going to walk up to me and say 'ok, fix this, this, stop doing that and smile more' or something, and My Life Will Be Perfect. Maybe I need my colon cleansed. A mantra. Perhaps some affirmations pasted to my bathroom mirror. Something - that is no doubt the heart of my dilemma, this quest for somethings - but anyway, in the eternal quest for self-knowledge, I did an online handwriting analysis today.

I discovered that: I'm sarcastic. No shit, sherlock. I'm an ambivert. That means neither extroverted nor introverted and has nothing to do with an amphibian fetish. I also have the best of two kinds of minds; I always knew there was something schizophrenic about me. I have an investigating as well as a creating mind. Oh my. I'm just cut out for the National Enquirer, aren't I? Diplomacy is also one of my best attributes, but I'm also candid and direct and I have a temper, which is "... a hostile trait used to protect the ego." The last half of that is dead on.

You can try it for yourself. It's free and painless, unless you get writer's cramp.

Monday, May 16, 2005

kids and sports

My name is Debbie, and I'm a soccer addict.

And I'm about to go cold turkey.

My 11 year old son, let's call him Austin because that is his name, plays on a U-12 AYSO team. The spring tournament started last Friday night. Austin got sick at school - nothing contagious, just his allergies making him miserable. We got him doctored up and he was fit to play Friday night. Normally, I don't allow a child of mine who has been sick enough to leave school to participate in any activities on that day. But we have an ozone layer defense - lots and lots of holes in it, and Austin is something of a dynamo on the soccer field. (apologies to non-US fans. I can't use the word 'pitch' outside the baseball context). In fact, just so you don't think I'm bragging (well, I am - but is it bragging if it's truth? ;>) or that I'm biased in my son's favor (I'm not - he's the AntiChrist most of the time), let me point out that his coach told me that he thought Austin was his best player. That's stretching it. We've got some offense, but they have some communication problems to put it mildly. One ballhog and two class clowns, and more dives taken in the penalty area than at the last two Summer Olympics. Anyway, it seemed important that Austin play. And he felt better. I didn't make him. Austin played well and played hard and so did everybody else; we won 2-1.

Saturday. The semi-finals. It's threatening thunderstorms, humid and no shade in sight. We beat this team before and our little guys are expecting to win today. One of our strikers is out, so we make some adjustments, but apparently not the right ones. The other team scores. Twice. We can't get within shouting distance of the goal. Our ballhog striker attempts to outwit their keeper by running straight at him. The goalkeeper is twice this kid's size and not clumsy. Ballhog's mama screamed herself hoarse at the previous game, so thankfully cannot scream HELP HIM!! to his teammates - he won't accept help, pure and simple. Anyway, we lose. Austin is upset, but drowns his sorrows in Gatorade and granola bars. He will live to fight another day. He did get teary telling his sister about it, but acheived that great grammar school triumph: he did not cry in front of his teammates.

Austin has always reminded me of a puppy. He can be a frolicking kind of kid, particularly when balls are involved. And he's good at it - basketball, football, soccer, baseball. If there's a ball involved, he can play it. It's one of my greatest and simplest pleasures - to watch him playing hard, absolutely absorbed in what he's doing and this big puppy smile that lights up his whole face. I suppose it sounds 1) boastful and 2) pretentious, but it's like seeing somebody do what they were made to do.

Anyway, BIG UPS!! to Coach Lee who takes the AYSO credo to heart: everybody plays.

How will I make it through the offseason?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Big Ups to....

1. The Pigeon Forge street department for fixing that crater on Middle Creek - my cd player thanks you! And my tie rods thank you, too!

2. All you bad Mothers everywhere! You know who you are!

3. San Jose Earthquakes! First game I've seen this year ended with a 1-0 win. Now let's work on scoring while I'm watching!

4. The pilots of a certain high-winged Cessna for illustrating with style that even in an age of GPS navigation, there are still men who won't ask for directions.

5. The Rolling Stones - this is gonna be my year!

6. me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I Survived Mother's Day

Did you?

It's fast becoming my least favorite holiday. I know it's supposed to be all about saying a big Thanks, Ma! for all you do, but all it ever does is remind me, in BOLD print and brilliant detail, of all my shortcomings as a mother and a daughter. They are legion, and they have names like Sloth and Short-Temperedness, Forgot to Write Again and Next Week, I Promise. And, trust me, I know I shouldn't feel like that, so it compounds the guilt ten-fold! Oh, what a lovely holiday! Who came up with this idea? Could it be SATAN??? Yep, I've got a problem with Mother's Day.

but, I lived through it again, and that which does not kill me makes me stronger (or exacerbates those masochistic inclinations, whichever you prefer).

I neatly avoided breakfast in bed by getting up before it was ready. My daughter told me to go back to bed. I told her no. Anyway, I ate not-quite-cheesy-enough grits before I'd even had a cup of tea, so I think that was really sportsmanlike of me. My youngest daughter had hidden a lovingly made card under my pillow on Friday, so I had to be careful not to discover it all weekend. My housekeeping borders on the slovenly, but I do keep my bed made to keep Pawli out of it, so more sporting behavior on my part. I remembered to call my mom! I did not guilt trip anybody into taking me anywhere! In fact, I took my kids to the river for a picnic! I'm giving myself a solid B+ for the day's efforts.

note to self: when world domination is achieved, cancel Valentine's Day and Mother's Day ASAP.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Big To Do List

My senior year of high school, we were asked to articulate our aspirations and ambitions for our tender young futures. Mine reads like this: I have no ambition. Oh, the angst! the teenage gloom! Yes, I deserved a swift kick in the collective unconscious. I was reading too much Vonnegut, listening to loud punk music, spending too much time with bad influences and juvenile delinquents. And they wouldn't let me say Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, so really, what was I to say? But today, through the magic of the internet, I'm going back to high school to answer that question - (soon-to-be graduating student), what do you want to do with your life?

1. I want to see celery grow. Everytime I buy it at the grocery store, I think, what the hell does this stuff look like growing in the ground? Like green Roman columns? Like short palm trees? I want to see acres of celery on the hillsides of Tuscany or northern California or wherever it may grow. Is there special celery harvesting equipment? Celery House Rules?

2. I want to drive a Bobcat. They're so cute! Tiny heavy equipment! Girly industrial gear! This would involve purchasing new footwear (i. e., work boots), and that's always a plus.

3. I want to follow a river. Like the Mississippi. From source to sea, living out my own little Lewis & Clark fantasy. A good possibility of shoe shopping and the added allure of the occasional campfire to poke.

So, that's it. Nothing to compare with my classmate who wanted to be Quincy, M.E. But better than the generic Travel, Get Rich and Rule the World. It occurs to me that Hunter S. Thompson's untimely demise leaves an opening in the Gonzo Journalist world - I could try that too. Not because I'm that fabulous, but because that would be some Serious Fun.

Are You Tired of My Capitalized Emphatics Yet?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ground Rules

Should have done this on my first post, but better late than never.

Top Ten Things I Don't Wanna Talk About

1. You. At least most of the time.

2. God. Except where I need a colorful obscenity, or I'm drunk and philosphical.

3. Elected officials of any ilk, unless I want to take potshots at them.

4. My job, lest I find my self job-less.

5. Reality tv. Proof that Western civilization is riding a speedball to hell.

6. Michael Jackson. Just ick. ick. ick. ick. I want to wash my hands now.

7. Paris Hilton, unless I need a bad example. Don't fuck with my name, bitch!

8. My sex life. You have already met my breasts. The rest of me is less interesting.

9. Causes of the Week. If you've got money to give away, you can give it to me.

10. Cute Things My Kids Did/Said - at least not more than once a week.

And we (the royal one) are coming at you commercial free, 24/7/365 ad infinitum perpetuus. (that's hillbilly latin, btw).