Sunday, February 28, 2010

Connecting to the Real Olympic Gold...may the feelings of connection remain long after the Olympics are over...

February 28, 2010

Connecting to the Real Olympic Gold

Are you guys watching the Olympics? I am. Every ding-dong night. I didn’t know I still possessed that kind of television viewing commitment, though I must admit I was an eighties, tuned-to-NBC-on-Thursday-nights devotee. Maybe it’s like riding a bike and you never forget the skill.

I actually sat through the entire opening ceremonies for the Olympics, which rendered me “verklempt” at times. With the program’s inspirational thematic imagery about one world, what wasn’t to love? There were swimming whales, flying seekers of wisdom, rolling prairies, talented Canadian singers that we Americans have TOTALLY been taking credit for and then the culminating lighting of the torch. I could only imagine what the apex would be after all of that, but then I had yet to watch aerial ski jumping – the height of athleticism.

For a woman who has to chant, “right, left, right, left,” when she walks, it’s mindboggling to watch this sport, let alone consider participating in it. The funny thing is, I can dance like nobody’s business, but being a bit accident prone, I can’t seem to walk without mishap, bruises, or a multitude of “excuse me’s.”

Many is the time that I’ve been meandering along, minding my own business, often carrying a much-anticipated meal when I hit some sort of particle in the air and “Whee!” off I go, losing my balance, bearings and $4.99 lunch special, all in one fell swoop.

And swooping is just what these aerial jumper guys – and they happen to be guys in this case – have perfected in a sport that I just may have invented, in view of the many times I have lofted into the air. In their case, they are graceful athletes who earn medals by going helmet over keister, twisting into orbit (I did see stars above their heads) and then they land gently and softly, as though they’ve simply hopped off a low wall when someone yelled, “Dinner!”

The emotional charges I love are present in this Olympics, though the coverage seems a bit sanitized, forcing me to rely upon yahoo news to know that there were unkind comments about ice skating costumes, a crying curler when the crowd got “raucous” and an ice skating Don Juan who is in love with…wait for it…another ice skater. Where were these Olympic moments in the prime time coverage? I even had to get the bleeping transcript from bleeping Google to see what the bleep Shaun White and his bleeping coach had bleeping said.

Reminding me that color commentary is a gift all its own, I have been privy to some play by plays that have been not-so-much-helpful like, “It looks as though Bode is really going for the gold,” and when one of the skiers fell, “Well, her dreams for gold have been dashed.” Now, putting aside my good-natured sarcasm, what I do adore is the back story about the athletes, drawing me into their world with an intimate look at just how many obstacles they’ve faced in order to even arrive at the Olympics.

I was truly brought to tears when I viewed the stories about the recovering alcoholic skier, the terrible crash that kept a well-liked, talented snowboarder from competing and the young female ice skater whose mom just died. To be privileged to hear their stories and what it is to be truly challenged is an honor which serves to connect us all to this human experience. And that is what the Olympics is really all about. Connection. Issues like ice dancing costumes, off-camera profanity and bizarre claims over another skater’s Olympic gold? They don’t even rate a place on the podium.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

SURVIVOR...PARENT STYLE...a real show about survival...humorous take on reality

February 27, 2010

You know, I’ve only watched “Survivor,” a few times and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through a whole episode, but I’m always struck by my idea of what a true survival-type of show would really look like.

None of this namby-pamby eating of bugs, ratting each other out to narrow the odds and Generation Y-ME hook-ups that – gasp! – don’t seem to work-out when living the unreality of a reality show, all as contestants vie for a cash prize and the chance to be on the cover of People magazine as the “hottest” television survivalist of the year. (I’m taking a deep breath now because that was a “mother” of a sentence, was it not?)

Nope, my idea for a REAL show about survival would be called, Survivor…Parent Style.
This is where parent contestants would take their families on a trip outback, front, or in the middle of nowhere in order to show people what it’s really like to be challenged beyond the limits of human capacity. (In point of fact, most of you know what we usually call this kind of adventure – a vacation!) Parents are challenged by family life every day in civilized society, so we can only imagine how this would all look if the parental show were taken on the road.

Survivor…Parent Style wouldn’t be a wimpy show with whiny people dispatched to a gorgeous island where they are interviewed about how hard it is to balance, standing, on a raft for hours. Huh-uh. It would be a realistic show with whiny families living on a gorgeous island where we hear kids ponder larger-than-life issues like the meaning of time by asking, “When are we going to be there?” to which their wise, soul-searching mother would reply, “We are there, Josh. Now be quiet and eat your pillbug and could you please close your mouth over that wiggling larvae?” Think of the hilarity that could ensue with warring families? It would be Swiss Family Robinson on steroids.

Ever balance over a latrine while holding a three-year-old’s hand? I know you have moms. Now, there’s a challenge America is probably just not ready to see, but that’s what true survival looks like. There could be plot twists, like temper tantrums that scare the natives so badly, they try to figure out how to get off of their own island? One flying set of flip-flops, soaring across the forested treetops as a result of a child hearing, “no,” from a parent is all it would take.

Survivor…Parent Style might not be the ratings bonanza the networks are looking for because the reality of family dynamics and physical requirements is just too scary and overwhelming, but also because at issue could be the time commitment. Here’s the pretend tag line for my pretend show:

“Watch Survivor...Parent Style as ordinary people, previously living ordinary lives, take their ordinary children into an extraordinary world filled with dangerous obstacles. Observe parents spending 18 years raising their children in the wild, without losing them, their own sanity or the keys to the jeep that will escort them out of this hellhole when, and if, the jeep starts up at the end of their almost-two-decade-long journey.”

That’s right. I forgot to tell you the best part of my idea for the series, Survivor…Parent Style. The show would air for 18 years OR until all of the minor children were rendered non-minors OR until all of the majority-aged adults were rendered majorly nuts. Whichever comes first. Care to lay odds on this one?

Friday, February 26, 2010

MOMISM #4...Parenting IS a Popularity Contest...You're Just Not Going to Win...

February 26, 2010

It’s no surprise to you, I know, we aren’t always so much popular with our kids when we make the kinds of sensible decisions we have to make as parents.
In fact, oftentimes when we’re doing our job well, setting boundaries, enforcing accountability and making them eat their vegetables, those are the times that our kids subject us to the best they have in their arsenal of “fabulously fun” ways to torment their parents. These include, but are not limited to: the silent treatment, temper tantrums (this includes door slamming), personal notes written to us detailing our transgressions, phone calls to their grandparents, letting them know where they went wrong with their kids and letters to their lawyer seeking representation in order to pursue their claim(s) of unfair practices.

One day, as I sat drinking a cup of lukewarm coffee, my body having just absorbed massive aftershocks as a result of my child’s door slamming because I wouldn’t let her go to a party with an unknown party in order to party, I came up with this particular MOMISM:


As it turns out, parenting IS a popularity contest, it’s just one that you’re never going to win, but you do get one of those nifty participation ribbons...metaphorically.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

MOMISMS...pithy asides, succinct sayings and one-liners to live by, with, or in spite of...

February 25, 2010

We continue with MOMISMS today, this one relating to our teenaged children and one of the many ways that they contribute to our physical appearance.

Teenagers' life experiences act as nature’s Botox.

And, of course, you know I’ll explain this. So, if your household is like ours, and I’m guessing it may be more than a little bit, the best conversations you have with your teenaged child is when you’re in the car driving. Maybe there’s something about not looking directly at them, not being able to utilize too many hand gestures or the simple fact that you cannot make any sudden moves or dangerous maneuvers, lest you both become a traffic statistic. In their heart of hearts every teenager knows that their parents have deeply ingrained survival instincts, so safety will always win out.

Many is the time when I’ve sat behind the wheel, thinking I am simply taking my youngster to someone’s house for a visit, unaware that this is actually a momentous occasion – my child is going to share her life with me!

Now when this happens, as is the case with all things parent-y, we must be aware that we will not always hear the following:

a) What we want to hear
b) What we thought we heard
c) The reason why anything that is shared by the adolescent happened and/or what the teenager will be doing about the aforementioned experience (s)

We are our own filter and a multitude of quick adjustments must be made during this communication fiesta, so the event doesn’t end just as quickly as it began. Thus, the first thing that happens, naturally, when we are privy to the reality of our children’s lives is that the face goes slack, thus creating a Botox effect. No wrinkles, no expression, no-how.

This hearkens back to our animalistic natures and our desire to belong in a pack or to a herd. When a shy, preferably non-hungry critter approaches and we wish to make its acquaintance we must make sure as not to alarm them, so no sudden moves, no aggressive facial expressions and no threatening gestures. This translates well in our approach to our youth and their “emotional sharings to go.”

In my own case, it is the one time in my life when I have no visible emotions playing across my freckled mien because I know the moment I register any kind of reaction, whatsoever, the moment will pass as quickly as my excitement over the water bra. Again, the benefit in this exchange, besides the one where we get a peek at the look-inside Easter egg that is our children’s lives, is that, for sustained periods of time, we are rendered ageless, timeless, but fortunately, we are not clueless…for now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MOMISMS...pithy asides, succinct sayings and one-liners to live by, with, or in spite of...

February 24, 2010
Rainy Day Greetings Everyone~
(April...February) Showers Bring May Flowers And All Of That...

If you read yesterday’s blog (and, of course, I’m really hoping that’s true), then you know I’ve launched into a blog series I call, MOMISMS. Today’s MOMISM has to do with appearance because nothing really takes you away from spending time on your appearance, so much as motherhood. Am I right, ladies? Can I get a whoop-whoop out there?

Okay, well, anyway, so this pithy little saying for today’s MOMISM is a thought I had one morning as I made the mistake of greeting the mirror before my first cup of coffee.

By the way, some words of caution about mirrors. I thought it would be a fabulous idea to get one of those “objects (and pores) in the mirror may appear closer than they really are,” kind of mirrors for the purposes of plucking my eyebrows and what-not. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT forget to steel yourself for that encounter before you gaze at your beauteous visage. I don’t care how much natural beauty you are carrying in your DNA that thing is a weapon of mass destruction…destruction of the ego!


The bags under my eyes are getting so deep I greet the mirror
each morning with the question, “Paper or plastic?!“

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Twitter Moms: The Influential Moms Network

Momisms...appropos of nothing, but relatable to something

February 23, 2010

I often come up with my own terms for things, even concocting made-up words in my continuing journey as a wordsmithing woman. One such "animal," is my term, "Momism," which means pretty much what you would think it means. These are sayings, one-liners and pithy asides that relate to the craft that is Momming. See? I manipulated the word "mom" again, this time "verbing it up," even though Mom is decidedly noun-ish.

I'm thinking -- ow, ow, ow! -- that I will share these Momisms with you in a numbered sequence, feeding them out, one at a time, as I build some nice dynamics...or something. Perhaps you will be sharing these when you meet your officemates at the water cooler. Let's be honest though. Do most offices or workplaces in general even have a water cooler? I mean, with budgetary constraints and [the rest of this diatribe has been redacted for the author's own good].

Momism #1

You know what life always throws at you, but your kids never do?


Yep! There's more where this came from!

Monday, February 22, 2010

I'll Always Be There For You...Unless I'm Somewhere Else?!...finding the humor in finding ourselves...

February 22, 2010

I’ll Always Be There For You…Unless I’m Somewhere Else?!

Much has been written about how much WORK it is to maintain a marital relationship (place right hand on forehead and adopt a long-suffering, weary look at this point.)

Much has been written about how CHALLENGING it is to maintain a home and provide quality care for our children (take a deep breath – inhale – hold it, hold it – are ya dizzy yet? Now let it out and sigh, really loudly.)

And way more than is necessary has been written about how DIFFICULT it is to retain any semblance of individuality, during which process we must forage for “me” time.

Let’s face it. The most brutal challenge in the hero’s journey that is motherhood is preserving our sanity, but sure, let’s go with individuality and the requisite “me” time on this one. During the course of my quest for this particular holy grail is when I utter the words to my family that truly express the way I feel about them and my place in their world:

I’ll Always Be There For You…Unless I’m Somewhere Else?!

…which, NOT coincidentally is the name of my new humor book I’m working on and am hoping to publish some time before my children are writing their own parenting books. (If anyone is counting, this’ll make 4 published books and 10 written. If I were to convert this score to a batting average, I would depress myself, so let’s just add “and counting,” so I’ll feel better. Ready? Three published books…and counting. Yep, that’s good.)

As a mom, the only time I really feel alone is when I yodel out to the household at large, “Who made this mess?” but that isn’t the same as “me” time, is it? Anything that involves cleaning products means I’m still on the clock.

In my never-ending quest for solitude, I often find myself doing things that are alternately embarrassing and functional, like taking a long, soothing bath, but then using the towel I’ve just used to mop the floor. Did you enjoy that visual? On-line counselors are standing by to assist you in processing that little tidbit of information.

I won’t say that I’m ever outside the law during the course of any of my pursuits (because, quite frankly officer, that would be stupid to do here in print, wouldn’t it?), but what I will say is that I often go to lengths that defy logic in order to maintain the toughest relationship there is – the relationship with myself! How about you? Do tell!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Very Civilly George Washington Got it Right

February 21, 2010

Very Civilly Yours

Lately I’ve been irked by the lack of civility that has hit our country like some sort of syllabic plague. A few years back National Public Radio ran a story about George Washington and the fact that when he was a mere lad, he took it upon himself to handwrite a little something he called, 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, which were built upon a number of 6th-century guidelines he’d gleaned from some Jesuit gentlemen.

When I read the list, it made me wonder. What happened to us and by “us,” I mean our society? Sometimes we are just plain not nice to one another. I notice this when I flick on a news show and watch a panel interview. The people don’t even allow each other to finish breathing in and out, let alone finish their sentences. A question is asked of the guest, she is poised to answer, takes a breath, utters a syllable, followed by heading into a conversational direction related to the question and then some numskull goes out of turn and rips into her. George dealt with this issue in #6 on his list when he stated, “…speak not when you should hold your peace.” There isn’t a whole bunch of peace holding out there, or listening, as far as I can see.

George Washington was probably a teenager right about the time when he set forth his intentions as to how he wanted to live his life and how others might follow suit. I’m thinking teenagers have changed quite a bit since the 18th century because we know he was most likely not spending his time rolling his eyes when his parents were talking, as is evidenced by #12 where he writes, “roll not the eyes; lift not one eyebrow higher than the other.”

The father of our country wasn’t spending all of his time standing in front of the mirror either, preening as he admired the cut of his jib, (although there are plenty of paintings of George, so he was not adverse to a pose here and there). He was a thinking man who did something with his time by establishing a respectful tone, as he sets forth in #49, “use no reproachful language against any one; neither curse nor revile.” Notice he didn’t add, “…until they have left the room” or “…unless you act anonymously.”

I’ve always known I’m no Mother Teresa but, as it turns out, I’m no George Washington either because I’m guilty of not even making a list about treating people respectfully, let alone checking it twice. And the details on our Potomac River-rider’s list? Whew! No less than 19 points of the 110-point list deal with the consumption of food, followed by all manner of...manners.

George knew how important it is to refrain from irritating behavior, like crunching carrots, sniffing incessantly or tapping your foot to that new kid, Mozart’s, music. He takes this point on with number #4 on his list where it includes taking note of the distraction that is a “humming voice.”

I ask you, now, to join me in my vow to be a more civilized person of whom George Washington would be extremely proud, adhering to the number one Rule of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation: “Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.”

And for those who have difficulty keeping a civil tongue in their head, let us not engage with them negatively, but instead bid them adieu with a jaunty, “Have a nice day!”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Take Me at My Word...moraine...where geography and vocabulary meet

February 20, 2010

Take Me at My Word…moraine…where geography and vocabulary meet

I’ve decided to run another little segment in my MS WRITE-NOW blog ( every week called “Take Me at My Word,” along with my weekly “Not Not” lists…just because. Hey! Maybe “Just Because” will be the name of another segment….soon I’ll have more segments than days of the week. I’m treating my blog as though it’s a very small, but frequently published magazine and I’m the only editor which makes for a real decrease in my publishing rejection statistics.

As you might guess, “Take Me at My Word” offers up a somewhat unusual and interesting word that may be tough to introduce into a conversation, but, boy, if you can, impressive stuff! I love words and, as many of you know, there is a word for just such a person. Word-lover. Okay, only kidding. That may be true, but the more formal, Latin-y without salsa name is: philologist.

In a move to grab your attention by confusing you, I’m actually not writing about the word philologist today, but rather an intriguing-looking word that may make you stop and grab your dictionary by the short bindings upon encountering it, “it” being today’s “Take Me at My Word,” word:


Contextually, it doesn’t provide any big clues, but maybe it reminds you of the word moron, like it does for me? Again, this is not helpful because the word has nothing to do with someone “who is notably stupid or lacking in good judgment.” Moraine actually has to do with glaciers, not clueless people. Stop yawning!

I came across the word, “moraine” in my email because I’m such a dweeb that I actually subscribe to a couple of “word of the day” newsletter deals. (You always suspected this might be how I spent my time, but confirmation has now been provided.)

I’ve never even come in contact with a moraine (unlike a moron), let alone used it in a sentence and, no, you can’t “verbalize” this noun by saying, “I was morained on an island, but luckily I had my top five favorite things; Dove chocolate squares, flip flops (my children have begged me to stop saying thongs), iced tea, poetry by Mary Oliver, and Johnny Depp. Johnny Depp would be there just for the entertaining stories he could tell me when I’m not drinking, eating or reading.

What does the freaking word mean? I’m glad you asked!

Definition: A moraine is a “glacial deposit, ridge of rocks left at the sides and at the end of a glacier when it melts, also at the junction of two glaciers.”

As it turns out, there are several types of moraines; for instance, end, medial, terminal, ground, Veiki, and recessional. Given the reality or, if you prefer, possibility of global warming, it may be that we’ll all be using the word moraine as much as “credit,” both related to a meltdown. Within the framework of the meaning and this possibility of global warming we would be saying things like, “Man, I sure can see that terminal moraine clearly. Huh, terminal. That can’t be a good thing, can it?” (The answer is, “Nope. Not so much.”)

They often say that science and literature do not go hand in hand (I don’t know who “they” are and I’m not sure why I’m bringing a metaphorical hand into the mix), but I guess I’ll leave you to the joy that is this geo-vocab-u-licious moment. Let us savor it. Salud!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Yoga Has Always Been Very, Very, Very Good To Me...a lesson about life on life's terms

February 19, 2010

Yoga Has Always Been Very, Very, Very Good To Me

Today’s ditty is a short little entry about yoga and how it has been patient with me, even as I didn’t know how to be patient with myself. The mind/body connection is phenomenal and no matter what kind of satisfying work-outs I’ve integrated into my life, this is the one that is the best all-around bang for my buck.

It’s been about eight years now since I assumed my first downward dog and while there were certainly many devotees at the time, it didn’t possess the mainstream buzz it has now earned. My family and I used to kid around that the “granola” communities were the first to embrace the practice, “granola” being those of us who like to wear natural fibers, shop for pesticide-free foods and have a penchant for listening to world music, avant garde school style, which is likely to be played on a squash gourd of some kind.

Before I tried yoga out I held the mistaken impression that it was too easy to be much of a work-out, it was just boring breathing stuff and it was too mystical for a mere mortal to understand. As it turns out, breathing is certainly a part of its power, it’s not easy in the sense that it will challenge you as much or as little as you wish, and the mystical part, well, it is mystical and understanding arrives in its own time. It’s all in your perspective.

Embarking upon my yogic journey I was not at my strongest, stress having left me feeling like the human version of a bungee cord, except bouncing back up was getting tougher and tougher. I felt mad, kinked up and tired which I thought was a strange combination to bring into a yoga class but, come to find out, that’s a common admission ticket for entry into the practice. Most of us arrive to our first yoga class frustrated and out of options as a result of some sort of negative experience, but open to a non-traditional approach. This leads to exactly the right frame of mind for healing to begin.

One of my favorite things about yoga, besides our very cool final corpse pose savasana that is the most relaxed I have ever been when I’m awake, is the fact that it teaches me that the body gives what it can, on any given day. No more, no less, no matter what I think it should do. It just “is” and that is the lesson that is the most precious of all.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Down But Not Out...a serious take on life and poetry...

February 18, 2010

Down But Not Out...a serious take on life and poetry

I’m going to talk about beat poets today. Why? I’m not exactly sure, other than I’m pretty much just rolling with whatever jumps into my head on some days and if that doesn’t scare you, then you are a hearty one!

Literature inspires me, poetry in particular. I’ve got my favorites that I “study,” just for the heck of it and, let’s be honest, if that doesn’t flash a railroad crossing-type sign proclaiming, “Geek!” I’m not sure what does. I adore Harlem Renaissance writers and they hold the top place on my list, but I hanker for open forms of poetry and the beat poets really float my boat.

“Beat” poets, as in “down and out,” beat up and, seemingly done for, except the very feelings that inspire their craft, bring about their salvation through the craft. The term “I’m beat,” as in tired, found its way into our lexicon, along with, “Hey, you beat me,” when someone wins some sort of event during competition. How refreshing to turn a negative message into a chance to make it different through the power of emotive words. Being "beat" is temporary and when we're down, the next directional pull is up.

We’ve all felt as though we just wanted to “Howl,” as Alan Ginsberg did with that eponymous poem and so it’s empathy at its best to read these poems that speak our pain as we gnash our teeth at the unfairness of it all. One of the solid outcomes of poetry is the fact that it is cathartic for both the writer and reader. Beat poets have inspired generations and legions of us, including spoken word poets who rhythmically slice, dice and pare down messages to the real essence that is life and all of the promise it holds.

In fact, the literary theorist and critic, Northrup Frye when talking about creating said, “The fundamental job of the imagination in ordinary life, then, is to produce out of the society we have to live in, a vision of the society we want to live in.” It is in this way that we formulate our own individual mission statements whereby, even if our messages are seemingly negative they hold transformative possibilities. It is through the expression of the negative that we open ourselves to the resurrection of the positive and all of those rich redemptive elements that allow us to reconnect and begin anew.

If you’re a poet, then you would agree with Robert Frost when he said, “To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.” We don’t define the work, the work defines us. I've written poetry since I was a little kid in third grade, all scabbed knees, freckled of face and filled with joy over all I had to say. Those sweet early poems of mine would be the precursor to all of the stages of my life that would follow; the angst-filled prepubescent youth, the sufferer at the hands of unrequited love, the angry, heavy eyeliner-using young dancer and the humbled, but joyous new mom. It's all there in verse, meter, line and time.

LeRoi Jones has a short and profound poem about finding our place in the world and when educating America's youth I have taken hours and multiple white boards to explicate this poem, it is so rich with meaning, so I will leave you his provocative words:

I can’t say who I am.
Unless you agree I’m real.

By Le Roi Jones
aka Amiri Baraka

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Driving Me Crazy...a humor column about teaching one's child how to drive...

February 17, 2010

Driving Me Crazy

You haven’t lived until you’ve had the pleasure of teaching your progeny how to drive. Initially I told my husband that it was his job to teach our kids how to drive, being as how I gave birth and both were equally painful.

What really happened is the way of all things parenting; I said one thing, but did something else, confusing everyone in the process, except my eldest who said that her father made her “nervous” and she wanted her mommy to teach her how to drive. She chose this option, despite the fact that I am not equipped for the task because I bellow out comments like, “Slow Down!”, “Stop trying to kill us!” and “Get off the flipping bumps,” when my own husband is at the wheel.

Actually, that last comment, “Get off the flipping bumps!”was a frequent refrain, since my daughter had established these as her guiding force, if you will. While most of us use these handy, neatly arranged buttons for general alignment, my child insisted on riding them for entire excursions. Now, granted, I admire the skill level this requires, but the safety issue is something to consider, what with oncoming traffic a mere kilomiliseconds away. As far as I know, riding the reflectors for protracted periods of time is not on the driver’s test, so next stop: the Multitasking Unit.

We grizzled veteran roadsters are able to sip coffee, listen to music, flick a blinker on, check the rear view mirror for reasons other than grooming, navigate a car around winding roads, avoid wildlife and progress with forward momentum, all while steering the vehicle as we remain at a pleasurable cruising altitude. In the case of a driver-in-training, this isn’t as easy as it looks, nor is it integrated as smoothly, which I am reminded of every time the neck rest delivers a karate chop to my C1 vertebrae.

Heaven help us on the days when my daughter notices things that have nothing to do with driving, but rather her surroundings. We have often veered off the road as she encounters a pedestrian for which we overcorrect to the next county and my fashion-conscious daughter is hard-wired to notice styles so, on one occasion, she yelled out, “Omigod, is that a Gucci bag?!” slamming on the brakes in the process which, in turn, made me jam down my imaginary brake.

In fact, this pretend brake has led to calf cramps, necessitating an increase in my banana consumption.

In an attempt to win the Academy Award for Best Middle-Aged Mother in the Role of a Driving Instructor, I project relaxation by distracting myself with internal thoughts. I do this by chewing gum like a mad woman and using a will power questioning technique I’ve developed. I ask myself things like: Is my Will current? Do I have a Will? Will this drive never end? Will I survive? Can I will this vehicle to pull over?

In another ploy to prevent my daughter from noticing that I am scared spitless, I’ve used my humor coping mechanism which does not do us any favors in the safety department, let me tell you. She gets laughing so hard that the car weaves in and out of traffic, resulting in some close calls, so I’ve shut down my short-lived comedy show, “Hey, we’re rolling with the laughs,” lest we become short-lived ourselves.

My daughter is so cute, though, because she tries hard to do it all right, even apologizing profusely when making driving errors to which her mother lovingly and compassionately replies,

“Don’t apologize. Just do it right!”

Meanwhile, as I wait for the tax return that will pay for another car and more gum for me, I’ll sip my bubbly water, isometrically tone my calves and hope like heck that I can make my youngest daughter good and nervous before it’s her turn to learn how to drive.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 16, 2010

It seemed as though we’d be waiting forever and yet, here it is. No, silly, not the return of your ability to metabolize 5,000 calories a day, but rather it is the last installment of this particular column on technology, specifically, a wee bit about youth and the computer.

The Technology Shuffle – Part VIII of VIII

…interests. It seems that everyone’s opinion is worth something and it’s really not about substance, but merely content. While I've hopped onto the technology superhighway in the form of Facebook and even this blog, I am no match for our young folks out there in knowing what the heck I'm doing with it. In fact, our children can hold their own with the best of the computer technicians, earning unofficial IT degrees by the time they are 16 years old that are the envy of, well, us.

But updating, maintaining, and uploading all take time and I lose interest, the will to live or consciousness if I spend too much time on that blasted Facebook because then bills don't get paid and the goldfish starts to look at me in a very accusing manner. Our kids complete these tasks lickety-split, but some of their "business" goes undone, as well, along the lines of homework, loading the dishwasher, and "Hey! Did you feed the dog? He's looking mighty skinny!" all while the IM pop-up tune plays as background music, almost like, "Pop goes the weasel."

The good news is that our youth really are writing like crazy and their worlds are large. The bad news? Nary a grammatical capitalization, an edit, nor a quick “look-see” for content, is in evidence…most of the time. It’s just “order in” and right back out, like some sort of fast food franchise for words and, as such, maybe we’ll start seeing people’s websites list “a million words served out so far,” volume being more important than subject matter.

The problem comes in, not so much in the utilization of computer technology and all that it can do that’s positive, it’s the social aspects of these endeavors that are a challenge, laying fertile ground for the growing and sowing of miscommunication. In short, you can get someone ticked off in one character or less by virtue of IMing, Facebook, AboutFace, MySpace, AboutSpace. The margin of error for misunderstanding tone, which isn’t really present in these platforms, is almost comical at times.

A seemingly innocuous query along the lines of, “What do you think you’re doing today?” takes on a whole new meaning when the recipient reads it with emphasis on the “What,” “you’re” and “doing.” Try reading that sentence to yourself that way and then try it with the more pleasant, evenly spaced tone where there is no emphasis on any one word. There’s a big difference, isn’t there? And how about when someone, even accidentally, which I have done, types a message to you with all capital letters? Doesn't the heat begin at the base of your neck and flame up and out your ears because you feel as though you've been told off?

While we’re all building our special homages to ourselves and communicating about it via the web, we’re probably also spending nearly an equal amount of time correcting misperceptions or just plain creating misperceptions that will never be corrected because, ironically enough, no one tells us that we’re coming off as insufferable twits. (Maybe because we’re all a bit guilty of that and no one really calls out their own.)

Bringing it home, as it were, to the basic premise of this column – how to help our children learn to focus and NOT multitask so much with the support of the technology we provide for them, we’ve covered quite a bit of territory here.

The bottom line on technology is the bottom line on most everything new that holds promise for added convenience: Just because it can make things easier, doesn’t mean it does. And that’s a (w)rap!


Monday, February 15, 2010

The Technology Shuffle...Part VII of VIII...Building a Humor Column From the Ground Up...

February 15, 2010

The Technology Shuffle – Part VII of VIII

…it obliterates even the illusion that your child is listening to you. In fact, in my own household, my child has taken to loudly proclaiming, “I can’t hear you!” in a matter-of-fact way, as she sets her music to a decibel level that sends me howling when I’m just sitting next to her when she has her “buds” on.

Lest you think my subscription to “Old Fogey Times” is appropriate, I do realize that our generation took quite a bit of heat from our own parents because we blasted our loud music on low-quality amplification systems and, “Turn it down,” usually preceded every request our parents made. “Turn down that music and come and eat!”; “Turn down that music and did you brush your teeth?”; “Turn down that music and why is your principal calling me?” You get the idea. It’s irony at its best, really.

We had headphones, the kind that encapsulated your noggin like an astronaut helmet, and while that probably didn’t do much for our inner ear labyrinths, we didn’t insert a Secret Service-looking implant directly into our cochlea and then detonate the music. (You can see that my new book, "The Ear and I," is really paying off.)

I know the distinction I'm drawing is small. All right, let's be honest, it's minuscule and I think I've just ruined my whole supposition that the ipod is bad, the only bad part being its lack of longevity. Having said that, let's move on to the last in our three-pronged technology topics in this column which is…drum roll puh-leeze…the computer. (I'm planning on writing a separate column on the whole "youtube" phenom because I’ve decided there’s just too much fodder there.)

The computer provides instantaneous community and, thus, instantaneous ways for people to become miffed with one another as we all promote the heck out of our individual…


Sunday, February 14, 2010

VALENTINE’S DAY – Can I get a Woo-Woo?!

February 14, 2010

Dependent upon your perspective, today marks either a celebration of the heartfelt, gushing joy that is being in love or it may be the heartwrenching, gut-churning day that marks every break-up you've ever had, magnified by the cruel celebration that is Valentine's Day. No matter whichever is the case, I have prepared the next segment of this column in a way that there is no mention of romance whatsoever.

I really can't take much credit for that, I mean, how in the world would a column about technology relate to romance, unless you've experienced a break-up via instant messaging, a text or by phone -- uh-oh. There seem to be many possible associations that can be made, as it turns out.

Well, this segment deals with an ipod, specifically, so unless you've ever heard a song that's made you sad, reminding you of a break-up, lost know what? I'm going to stop trying to help. No more explanations, just today's humorous offering. Without further ado...

The Technology Shuffle – Part VI (of VIII)

…which was the whole point of this whole exercise. There’s only one problem. You now remember that you’re not sure what time you’re supposed to pick-up said focusee after basketball practice and now you’ve brilliantly removed your only way to confirm that fact – the phone! Acknowledging mixed results on this phase of technology deprivation, it’s time to move on to the ipod, which is not all bad, when it is functional.

I began this column project by telling you how I had to blow dry my child's state-of-the-art, hot pink homage to Barbie in my useless bid to get the blasted thing working. Forget that this music delivery system is expensive, seems to break at the midnight hour when the warranty expires and that the liberation of it from its packaging turns into an aerobic activity. The ipod is a nifty little compact device offering relative ease in accessing your favorite tunes in thematically-arranged playlists. However, because we are using technology as a parental teaching moment, the ipod becomes another item from which you need to wean your child temporarily when you realize that…


Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Technology Shuffle...Part V...Building a Humor Column From the Ground Up...

February 13, 2010

We are headed down the home stretch of my now book length humor-column-in-the-making that takes a look at technology and our attempts to co-exist peacefully with it. In my last blog, I made the prediction that it would take another four installments to wrap this puppy up, so that would mean three more segments, and counting, if you are...counting that is.

By the way, digressing to talk about technology in action...did you watch the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies last night? Fabulous! Only one glitch, even with the use of, what was it, at least 70 LCD screens? My personal favorite? The part where it appeared that whales were spouting and swimming in the ocean. Now THAT was gold! I can only imagine how incredible it was when you were right there.

The malfunction didn't occur until the very end of the ceremonies and I wouldn't have known it as such, if the anchors hadn't, oh, so helpfully, mentioned it. I guess one of the four columns didn't spring up for its part in the lighting of the Olympic trough, so the four torch-bearing Canadians, including the odds-on favorite Wayne Gretzky, were standing there waiting for a wee bit of time. No biggie. The show went on and it seemed that the lighting was accomplished just fine with three columns, instead of four. Anyway. Where was I? Right. The next segment of my blog...

The Technology Shuffle – Part V

…the proverbial monster or what? Have you ever gotten the bright idea to “get back to basics” and remove the cellular device from your child’s claw-like grip? This you do in an effort to bring about eye contact and reconnect them with their environment as you helpfully point out, “You can take a break from this thing for one day,” all while s/he whines piteously, “But I won’t be able to talk to anyone all day!”

It’s not long before the pathetic turns to the demonic and you see the child of your loins morph into a creature from Frankenstein where you can almost see bolts sprouting from the neck area or, alternatively, maybe this still looks like your child, but you know it won’t be long before the neck swivels around in a full 360 and split pea soup comes shooting out of their mouth. It’s enough to scare even the most experienced of parents.

Fast forward to the end of the day, after you’ve had a chance to savor the smug satisfaction that is rightfully yours over the fact that you’re “helping” your child’s entrée into the Focus Kingdom…


Friday, February 12, 2010

The Technology Shuffle...Part IV...Building a Humor Column From the Ground Up...

February 12, 2010

We are now onto Part IV of this serialized humor column about technology that threatens to become a humor book, really, but onward we proceed toward the finish line. I will make a prediction -- just called me Nostradamus-writus -- that there will be another four parts until it's complete. Let's see if I can hold it at that. We now continue with...

“The Technology Shuffle” -- PART IV

… keep kids motivated, healthy, focused, traveling on the straight and narrow and listening to us in the face of ipods, iphones, and I can’t even imagine what’s next on the “I need you to kill me now” technology horizon.

As we undertake this “mission impossible” of parenting and education, in the face of technology that is waaaaayyyy more interesting than we are, we are forced to deal with each device and its attendant issue(s) separately. As mentioned above, there are phones, musical delivery systems and...duhn, duhn, duhn, the computer with instant messaging, Facebook, About Face, MySpace, Your Space, can’t we all just have our own space, which brings me to youtube. This is a venue where everyone can conduct their own reality show without the hassle and inconvenience of a reasonable person reminding you that this will all come back to haunt you and while your life is important -- as far as real viewing-worthy content -- you've got nothing. But let us charge forward, setting forth each application separately.

First up, is the cell phone and the fact that the Y-ME?! generationally placed child has probably had one since they were practicing cursive on those big lines with the dotted ones in the middle. Many of us have embraced the ease of communication by providing our children with these darling little gadgets because we were tired of waiting in the wrong parking lot, on the wrong street corner and at the wrong friend’s house, so why not give ourselves something to make our lives easier? Boy, did we create…


Thursday, February 11, 2010

RE: The Technology Shuffle, PART III, a humor column work-in-progress

February 11, 2010

Please do see Parts I and II of this "baby" humor column that will crawl, toddle, walk and then run, developing into a mature, fully grown, adult piece of writing that we can all be proud of. And on we go to Part III of my work-in-progress. A little something I like to call:

“The Technology Shuffle" – Part III

…suffers at the hands of technology’s relentless imperative to MULTI-TASK!

Our kids are actually multi-taskers extraordinaires, something we’ve learned to do, focus being a more highly valued attribute during our formative years. Then as we grew into young adults, with our own offspring, we wanted it all, baby, so we found that if we just focused on one thing at a time that is all we would get done and we certainly couldn’t have that!

God forbid that someone should ask you, “What did you do today?” to which you would reply, “I went to the grocery store.” Your conversational partner would be aghast replying with, “That’s it? Just the store? Nothing else? Huh!”

We did it all and now we’re tired and many of us would love the absolute luxury of simply focusing on one thing at a time, but the bar has been raised and unless we want to spend all of our time at the local bar, drowning our sorrows over it, we must keep up with the proverbial Joneses on this “having it all, doing it all” deal.

This, however, is not a problem with our children because they have embraced multi-tasking and the technology that supports it with a vengeance. The challenge comes in when we realize we’re supposed to…


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Technology Shuffle...Part II...Building a Humor Column From the Ground Up...

February 10, 2010

Just by way of a recap, this is a continuing serialization of a humor-column-in-the-making by the name of, "The Technology Shuffle." For Part I please do sashay on over to yesterday's entry and if you're just right there, on the edge of your seat, waiting as each day's offering unfolds, please do sign-up for email delivery of my blog. I'd love it!

The Technology Shuffle -- Part II

The fact that we babyboomers willingly and even happily, may I add, signed on for procreation, even in the face of our own childhood war stories as the byproduct of, "I'll give you something to cry about!" and "What do you mean you need to find yourself? Get a job! You'll know right where you are every day," is probably miraculous in and of itself.

What we didn't sign on for are the parenting disadvantages that have been bestowed upon us by virtue of technology. This could possibly be classified as payback for finding fault with the aforementioned parenting approach that led to our parents saying things like, "I'll give you something to cry about!"
Nevertheless, our parenting disadvantages exist in a whole brave new world, taking many forms, so it is important to address them separately, even as our ability to separate our thoughts about such things…


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Technology Shuffle...Part I...Building a Humor Column From the Ground Up...

February 9, 2010

I’ve been thinking (insert big, “Uh-oh!”), that if Tom Wolfe could serialize his work in Rolling Stone magazine why couldn’t I serialize my work in (on, around) my own blog? Now, granted, I’m no Tom Wolfe, with or without his snazzy white suits, and we can all agree that my blog is not Rolling Stone, me with a readership of (she said, hopefully) about 40 people.

Nevertheless, why not publish snippets of, say, a column-in-the-making, creating installments that will “show” the building of a humor column, from the ground floor up. I know what you’re all thinking, “You just saw or read, Julie, Julia,” because we’re all witnessing hopeful novelists by the dozens, blogging their way (in)to imaginary book deals. You know what I have to say to that? Nothing. I’ve got nothing. Really. Frankly I’m a little bit sorry I even brought the subject up, so let’s just change the subject.

This work is not, Bonfire of the Vanities, it will never hit the New York Times bestseller list where it will remain for two months and it will not sell over 800,000 copies in hardcover. But let us not dwell on what it is not, but rather what it is. It is a piece I like to call…

The Technology Shuffle -- Part I

As I sit here blow drying my daughter’s ipod that has suffered the cruel fate of being rendered helpless by virtue of an exploded soda lurking in the deepest recesses of her purse, I wonder if technology has made my life simple at all…


Monday, February 8, 2010

Is That Just a Line You're Giving Me?...great first lines from literature

February 8, 2010

Is That Just a Line You’re Giving Me?

Chances are if you’re writer, then you’re a voracious reader as well. Though many of us can rattle off movie quotes in response to most any situation, faster than you can say, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” it’s good ‘ole literature that is my soft spot for such fodder.

Some of our best lines, allusions, asides and points well taken have been borrowed from great literature. As I’ve read more and more works by Shakespeare and others of note it’s amazing to discover how many of the phrases we utilize in our modern language are actually pulled from texts that originated some time around the period when Joan of Arc was attempting to reason with her captors, “No, really, I’m a good person. Hey, I’m getting a heat rash. Change is good. Can’t we talk about this?”

Shakespeare is a particularly rich font from which our current commentary emanates. From Hamlet’s advice, "This above all: to thine own self be true," to Macbeth’s pragmatic “what’s done is done,” to Julius Caesar’s warning, “Beware the ides of March,” we still recognize these in our current lexicon. Though these types of writings are often attributed to Ben Franklin as one of his axioms or as quotes from the bible, oftentimes, the utterances are Will’s doing or someone Will-like.

It’s literature that provides us with a texturized richness of language that we can all draw from and maybe even aspire to, but be forewarned that if you speak like some of these folks, your social circle may shrink radically. Not to be negative, but another downside may be that if you’re a literary wonk who enjoys making scholarly references in normal conversations, you run the risk of encountering many a blank look because, let’s be honest, not everyone is so dorky as we worshipful lifetime devotees of all things booky. Just remember this simple rule that I learned when I was doing stand-up comedy. If you have to explain it, it’s not working. Move on! Next slide! Check, please!

Along the lines of famous literary references is today’s blog which provides you with a gathering of famous first lines from novels, of which there are scads of “Top 100” lists that you can gather up from many a cyberspace drawer. I’ve just included a random smattering, but if you’re into more than a smatter, then you can trawl on over to for the full meal deal.

100 Best First Lines of Novels
As chosen by the editors of American Book Review
(Sample of 10 of ‘em)

1. "Call me Ishmael." Herman Melville. Moby-Dick. (1851)
2. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice (1813)
3. "A screaming comes across the sky." Thomas Pynchon. Gravity's Rainbow. (1973)
4. "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
Gabriel García Márquez (trans. Gregory Rabassa) One Hundred Years of Solitude. (1967)
5."It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."George Orwell.
6. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair." Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities. (1859)
7. "I am an invisible man." Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man. (1952)
8. "If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth." J. D. Salinger. The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
9. "Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting."
William Faulkner. The Sound and the Fury (1929)
10. "I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story." Edith Wharton. Ethan Frome. (1911)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Ultimate Coffee Klatch...humor column about the benefits of caffeine

February 7, 2010

The Ultimate Coffee Klatch

As someone who is always looking at the healthful potential of any given product, recently I read an article that really made my tail wag. The headline boldly and pungently announced, "Wake Up and Smell Health Benefits of Fresh Coffee." May I say, as an avid consumer of strongly brewed, robust coffee products, I was truly excited to learn I’d been contributing positively to my own health.

It seems that this group’s findings confirmed that not only is the aroma of freshly brewed coffee pleasant, but when exuding those “yummy, your fix is on its way” fumes, it’s also exuding those precious antioxidants that we are all running around, attempting to corral for our greater good. I can finally put together that antioxidant breakfast of champions: blueberries, dark chocolate and coffee.

Apparently you not only need to smell the stuff to get the full benefit, but drink it too. May I tell you the excitement that this caffeine addict feels over this particular finding? As I read on I learned that antioxidants work by helping to block some of the undesirable effects of oxygen on living tissue. Good thing. I’m so out of the loop I was still under the impression that oxygen was always good for living tissue. Fortunately, I knew intrinsically that I needed to counteract the bad effects of oxygen with the good effects of caffeine ingestion. I'm now thinking that maybe I should spread coffee all over my face because I've certainly got some undesirable things going on with that living tissue as it ages.

And while this study certainly garnered a great deal of attention from me, it got me thinking about how these folks get the money to fund these studies. I mean, talk about your dream job. Granted, the gentleman who put together the study and surveyed its participants had some pretty impressive credentials, he being a Professor of Environmental Toxicology at UC Davis. While that title represents a fair amount of schooling, how the heck did it translate into Java Maven? Can you imagine how this pre-research scenario played out?

Picture two science guys, Lab Partner and Professor Guy, sitting around in white lab coats, trying to come up with next year's research project and the attendant funding.

Professor Guy might say, "No, no. Saving the earth's resources has been done to death. We need something new, something exciting." (Slurping sounds heard, as he lifts his University of California Davis monogrammed mug full of steaming coffee to his lips, contemplating a profitable project.)

Lab Partner: "Well, how about the consequences of the diminishing ozone layer on infants in their open air strollers and the skin's inability to manufacture ample melatonin to combat the possibility of skin cancer by the time the child reaches adulthood?" (Insert sound of liquid being poured as he completes his walk across the room to pour himself another cup of hot joe after which he begins his long journey back across the room, pot in hand.)

Professor Guy: "Darn it, man, no! We need something special," he exclaims, accepting the proffered second cup of French Roast from his research buddy. "Wait a minute, I've got it!" he shouts as he stares at his coffee cup, only just now noticing that it's not an appendage, but a receptacle that can be successfully balanced on any flat surface.
Lab Partner: "What did you get? The chipped cup again? Sorry. I thought I'd thrown that danged thing away."

Professor Guy: "No, you idiot! We'll study caffeine as it relates to antioxidants which will combat the negative effects of oxygen on living tissue."
They both laugh uproariously for a full five minutes at the absurdity of it all and then Professor Guy and the Lab Partner exchange meaningful looks as they simultaneously drain the last few drops of the pungent, slightly sweetened offering from the bottom of their respective cups. The room is still. Professor Guy picks up a pen.

"Dear Folgers..."

Here's the link to The Union where this article ran today:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Un-Cougar...humorous column about the latest babyboomer trend...

February 6, 2010

The Un-Cougar

Okay, so I’m a friendly girl; always have been, always will be and that has always been something I counted as a strength for me. It never led to any problems in my life and, in fact, has kept me skipping along on my happy little trail to Optimism Land where all things are good and, even if they’re not, they will be shortly. Until recently. When the whole concept of being a Cougar came into play.

Now, I have a pretty darned good sense of humor, the only exception to this being excessive anatomical humor or bathroom humor. They just don’t bring out the guffaws in me and we all know that humor is subjective, so that’s no biggie. The funniest moments in my life usually occur at my own expense, anyway, because I am one of those people who turns the very simplest of experiences into the very not so simplest of experiences, i.e., simple walking in high heels turns into a long forward trip spanning multiple city blocks, drinking my coffee ends up turning into a cup juggling act and so on.

But this Cougar thing, now that is not so fabulous. My poor fellow babyboomer females and I are not reaping the rewards of keeping ourselves fit, realizing the (relative) dream of social equality, and retaining one or two of our marbles along the way. What am I talking about? Whenever I chat up someone from the opposite sex who is younger than the cookie sheets I own, I am accused of being a Cougar. Yuck! Witness a seemingly innocuous interaction I had in the presence of my daughter. Again, just to reiterate, I’m friendly. Always have been. Always will be. Well, maybe that last one is still up for debate.

I’m moseying on out of my car, getting ready to take advantage of one of our local retail outlet’s “buy 7, get 1” great deals, when I espy a totally darling dog out with his master. As I jog over and twitter about, asking the young man how old this precious puppy is, confirming the breed – it was a Golden Retriever – I note that my daughter is watching me with “that” look on her face. I don’t get it, but not to worry, I’m full-on in the throes of my doggie doting, being a pound puppy mom to the third power. These kinds of interactions are instinctual for me, really. I thought the youth was nice and as I waved good-bye, telling him to have a nice day, my daughter hissed, “Oh, my God, mom, do you not get what you just did?”

Okay, I’m really not going to be able to play this one off because, for the life of me, I can’t see how talking to a young guy about his dog, running over there energetically, all the while talking in an animated, friendly tone…oh, hey, wait a minute. Hold on. It’s one of those Cougar moments, a term I couldn’t get right for a while, insisting on saying ocelot until I employed the use of mnemonics.

I turned to her, a bit nauseous and say, “Don’t tell me. That’s what people do to pick-up on people, right? That was a come on?” She nods affirmatively. I mean, in my defense I have been out of circulation during a span of five presidential terms. And then I got irritated and I’ve remained irritated every time I am just a normal person interacting with other folks who, oftentimes, also happen to be males half my age.

This whole thing is making me a bit twitchy, so my clumsiness has amped up even more, rendering trips to my local fine purveyors of caffeinated beverages as not so much trips where I score caffeine as outings where I display my cleaning prowess. I find myself blurting things out in moments of unabated Tourette’s Syndrome making comments like, “We’re just talking here,” or proclaiming loudly my status as a married woman, “Boy, it’s sure great being married…and ordering a skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latté.”

All of this has just made me look like a nutcase which, in point of fact, is just a notch below Cougar status. At least it’s a Cougar of a different stripe.

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's NOT That It's NOT Time to Think About Aging When...

February 5, 2010

It’s time for another “NOT NOT” list this week. I thought I’d go ahead and cover one of those topics that are always blasting us in the face, sometimes as a result of a quick look-see in the mirror, sometimes because the media “do go on” about it. So, ladies and gentlemen,

It’s Not That It’s Not Time to Think About Aging When:

1. You call your kids by the names of your dogs…repeatedly;

2. AARP keeps sending you materials;

3. You graduated from college some year preceding the inception of the band, Bon Jovi;

4. You, at least, know someone who knows someone who went to Woodstock;

5. You remember what a freedom shirt (female) was and a Nehru jacket (male) was and, no, they aren’t coming back in style;

6. You’re on your third (or more) witnessing of the song remake for, “Big Yellow Taxi,” (Don’t it always seem, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone);

7. You are more interested in developing your portfolio than your biceps;

8. You find yourself looking at old pictures of yourself exclaiming, “Damn, I was hot!”

9. You find your wife/husband looking at old pictures of you exclaiming, “Damn, you were hot!”

10. Retirement communities keep sending you materials;

11. Your hair growth is equal to your employment possibilities; minimal, a little dark, only hopeful with some sort of enhancement;

12. Your children start asking you how much equity you have in your home and when you think the market might rebound;

13. You realize updating your Will means removing the part where your 20-year-old-plus-several-years children will not be taken care of by their long-deceased grandparents;

14. You’re the same age as your primary parent of the same gender when s/he died and you thought they’d had a “good run” at the time;

15. You realize you’ve been married longer than you lived at home with your family of origin…times two;

16. Term life insurance companies keep sending you materials;

17. Your children keep sending you materials about AARP, term life insurance and retirement facilities;

18. Long conversations play out in your head like time subtracted off of your actuarial chart potential;

19. You start wondering if there’s something to this whole playing cards, bridge, pinochle thing;

20. When people ask how old you are, you insist on making them guess, querying them back with, “How old do I look?”

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Beauty is in the Eyeteeth...or how to discover the multiple uses for earrings

February 4, 2010

Beauty is in Your Eyeteeth

I’ve got a hot beauty tip for you, but I guess I’m feeling a little like today’s blog entry is a bit exclusionary because it involves one of the many uses an earring possesses. Now, even as I write this, I do realize that men wear earrings and, in fact, as someone who enjoyed the club scene of the eighties when the men were prettier than the women, I know that even moisturizing is not a topic only for the (supposedly) fairer sex.

Beauty has often been heralded as being skin deep, but I happen to feel that while we may lock eyes with folks first, it is shortly followed by a quick look-see at the old chompers and you don’t want to present yourself poorly. We also live by the aphorism that, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and while Margaret Wolfe Hungerford is credited with that exact phrase, Plato can claim the original gist of that one when he said, “Remember how in that communion only, beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but realities…” Our reality is that we must never let down our guard in our constant battle to preserve our dignity and, more importantly, our beheld beauty.

You know how you’ve just enjoyed a savory meal at your favorite restaurant and you excuse yourself to go to the powder room in order to…take a powder? As you finish your ritualistic ministrations you smile up at yourself in the mirror in that scary, canine, “I might have rabies” look, quickly, as you wash your hands? How many times have you done this and noticed that you have something in your teeth, heck, you have everything in your teeth that previously resided on your plate and no floss anywhere in sight? As you frantically look around for anything that will dislodge those nasty remnants; threads hanging from your clothing, twine that holds the paper towel dispenser together, you catch a glint of something in the mirror. Hum. An earring. Earrings are made of surgical steel, are mostly clean, and most definitely possess sturdy posts. Pop that earring out, take care of those pearly whites, eradicating all evidence of a good meal, rinse the earring off, snap it back in and no one will be the wiser.

Now there’s a hot beauty tip you’ll never see trumpeted from a mainstream magazine that makes its home on the checkstand rack. And you know another benefit I thought of? No one will want to borrow your earrings. Score another benefit!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hagiography...a Witch of a Word!

February 3, 2010

Take Me at My Word…Hagiography…a Witch of a Word

Today’s installment has us dealing with a word that looks like one thing; however, possesses an entirely different meaning than one gathers upon first glance. Now that I’m receiving my fair share of “word a day” offerings in my email, I am provided with daily musings – or amusings – that have me thinking and writing extemporaneously, faster than you can say, “Hold on. Is that “hagiography” with one “g” or two? Which brings me to today’s subject.

The word is:


This word is a noun that is pronounced: (hag-ee-OG-ruh-fee, hay-jee-) and it has two basic meanings which are:
1. A biography of a saint.2. An uncritical biography, treating its subject with undue reverence.

Here’s a little etymology and usage action for you as well:

From Greek hagio- (holy) + -graphy (writing). A related word is hagiocracy (a government by holy persons; also a place thus governed).


"There's a whiff of hagiography in the sometimes sympathetic portrayal of the gang. But then, one man's terrorist..." — Tim Walker; The Baader-Meinhof Complex; The Independent (London, UK); Apr 17, 2009.

Now, for me, I hooked right onto the “hag” aspect of the word and my mind started racing, which I’m sure had nothing to do with those four cups of coffee I imbibed before the clock had struck seven…as in a.m. I thought about ways to combine the real dictionary meanings of this word with the way it sounded. I came up with my own sample sentence which, perhaps, you will also find helpful in remembering this utterly useful word that will now lie at the ready in your phalanx of word soldiers, poised to do battle in your daily efforts to communicate. Hold on. I need to take a breath here before I continue. There, that’s better. Now for that sample sentence I promised you:

Sample Sentence:
(Which will, most definitely have you chanting, “Which witch is which?” in no time.)

The hagiography written about Joan of Arc was truly inspirational, possessing depth and breadth of research, as well as an empathetic portrayal of a much-maligned historical figure.

Doesn’t that sentence just fairly drip with simplicity and definition enlightenment? What it does for me is provide me with a much-needed association to “hag,” which relates to “witch,” which is what Joan of Arc was accused of being when, in fact, she ended up being a saint, the probable opposite of a witch.

Now, see, you’ve got yet another – I’ll refrain from saying useless and go with unique – word to work into your daily conversation for your own personal verbal Olympics. Go forth and verbally battle at will. Tallyho!

(For catching up on another, “Take Me at My Word installment, See January 27, 2010. The word was “amanuensis,” which I still can’t spell unless I’m looking right at it.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Feeling Flush...a humorous column about the fact that relaxation is tough to come by...even in the shower

February 2, 2010

Feeling Flush

What is it about announcing, “I’m taking a shower,” to one’s family that seems to serve as an open invitation to wash a large sinkful of dishes, water the lawn, throw in a load of laundry, flush the toilet, or all of the above?

Perhaps your residence is different than my own humble abode, but in our not-quite-twenty-year-old home a flush, or any household water usage for that matter, must be preceded by a warning. Let me explain.

At this point in our lives, we have rented, owned, lived in, or homesteaded dozens of homes and never, in any of these locations, has the toilet and shower worked autonomously from the rest of the water delivery system(s). Our experience has shown us that few, if any, plumbing systems co-exist peacefully with the various water outlets installed in the average dwelling. What’s worse, the same combination of activities – taking a shower while the commode is being flushed or brushing one’s teeth while the shower is on – does not generate the same punishment at any given time.

The flush may send me screaming from the shower with early signs of frostbite, but it’s equally as likely that I will exit my watery torment with a decidedly sunburned hue because the water registered a Fahrenheit just slightly cooler than freshly spewed lava.

This random temperature pattern seems to be some sort of water company version of Morse code for which I, evidently, need a plumber to decipher said code. While the hydrology of the situation never makes sense, it does lead to some creative choreography in the shower, evoking images of Twyla Tharp, Martha Graham and Bob Fosse, particularly if they lived in places where the shower did not play well with any other water-distributing devices. In my efforts to elude the quick step painful temperature change I have executed many a seemingly impossible leap, turn and jeté, making me appear as though I’m auditioning as a dancer for an aquatic Broadway musical.

One of the questions that may be prudent to ask when purchasing a home, along with, “How many bedrooms are there?, “Is there air conditioning?”, or “Do rabid raccoons run rampant?” might be, “Are you able to flush the toilet at the same time as someone in another part of the house is sprucing up in the shower without having to engage in hydro-dodgeball?” This may not seem critical, but if you share space with active children or a family member who just plain drinks a great deal of water, well, you can figure out the ramifications of such a situation. I’d rather take on the rabid raccoon running rampant.

A shower can be a relaxing time of respite from the usual stressors and commitments that life offers, taking full advantage of positive ions – or so people have told me. I don’t want to give the impression that this situation has been all bad because it has led to some positive adaptations, such as my unique talent of being able to soap up my hair, armpits and feet simultaneously. In addition to enhancing my ambidexterity I have also gained a weapon in my already-fully-stocked marital arsenal. Shower Power!

Having been irritated with my husband once or twice during the course of our heavenly unioFont sizen, our bathing facilities have provided me with a tactical plus during spirited discussions with my spouse. The fact that, during my slight pique, I have found an absolute need to flush the privy during his hair shampooing sequence is an unlucky happenstance...for him. It’s also the ultimate payback for any situation and, while I am not particularly proud to admit that I have used the “Shower Power” weapon when I’ve felt miffed, it has been an effective ploy.

The last word becomes the last flush, if you will. (I have also learned that just a teensy bit of running water – just enough to use for brushing one’s teeth, say – will do the trick as well.) There’s nothing like a nice high-pitched, “Arrggghhh! What happened to the freaking water temperature?!” to really make a woman feel as strong as two-ply toilet paper. That’s when I’m feeling really flush.