Friday, April 7, 2017

A couple of days ago I had a dream about my sister.  I was visiting her.  Presumably wherever she is now.  The afterlife's visiting area looked a lot like a prison's, and I'm not sure what kind of Catholic bullshit THAT is, but whatever. 

When she came in, we weren't allowed to speak.  The room was full of people sitting across from one another at small tables, quiet, motionless.  Liz looked like she was about sixteen.

I was frustrated; I had questions; it was too quiet and too still and I remember knowing it was a dream and being annoyed that my subconscious was this pathetically unsubtle.  I threw my hands up in disgust.  And Liz smiled at me, and with her right hand, made this little sister gang-sign gesture I knew a long time ago.  When we were kids, it was the sign we'd flash at one another over the dinner table -- that universal signal to make an escape, go meet somewhere else, find something fun to do.

And then I woke up. 

I don't know how much stock I put into ghostly visitations.  Mainly I feel like Liz was just too practical for that kind of nonsense.  But whether it was from her or from me, the message was pretty clear.  It's time to get up from the table.  Death is boring for those who aren't dead.  It's dinnertime conversation with your dad when you're ten years old and The Tracey Ullman show is on and your sister is waiting for you. 

And in many ways, not much has changed anyway.  She still keeps my secrets, and I still keep hers - the same way sisters have been doing since the beginning of time. 

So I'm getting up.  Going to go do something fun.  I strongly suspect Liz would say it's about damn time. 


Friday, May 6, 2016

Dear Lamenters of 1970s Parenting:

I know.  We know.  WE GET IT.  The outdoors, drinking from hoses, sunshine, bike riding without helmets, outside from sunup to sundown, Mom smoking Kools at the kitchen table kicking you out of the house, no television, kids had consequences, Moms made dinner every night, WE GET IT.
There really is no way to over-emphasize how weary I am of seeing this complaint on Facebook.  MY DAD SPANKED ME AND I BECAME RESPECTFUL.  “In the 1970s, my mom barely knew I was alive!”  “I didn’t wear a helmet and I lived!” 

I mean, great for you.

Can we please stop romanticizing parenting of the past?  Parenting in the 1970s bears absolutely no resemblance to parenting today.  There is virtually no aspect of life that is the same, owing to technological advance and, you know, common sensical things like the benefits of wearing a seatbelt when driving 70 miles per hour down a highway.  Life as we know it is so drastically unlike life from my childhood that I sometimes wonder if I came from another planet.  A quaint, archaic planet carpeted in shag, with olive appliances.

Let’s break it down a little, shall we?


"My mother kicked us outdoors when the sun came up, and told us not to come back until dinnertime!”

I mean, great.  That would be excellent, and I would love to do that now, but for one weeeeeensy little change from the 1970s:  The 24-hour news cycle.  Every time a child goes missing (well, a blond/blue-eyed child, but that’s a whole OTHER kettle of fish), it’s instant, national news.  And the repetitive nature of the 24-hour news cycle means this story is shoved down our collective throats repeatedly over the course of several days.  Cameraphones and video improvements mean we see security footage of the child’s last known moments over and over again.  We’re haunted and fascinated by gruesome details that are parsed out between commercial breaks.

Once you've seen video footage of a child riding a bicycle into, apparently, oblivion, seventeen times in twenty-four hours, you tend to be a little gun-shy about letting your kid roam around outside alone.  If you can blithely let your kid walk out the door after seeing that image repeatedly, then you’re either a better person than I am or an utter sociopath.

The inevitable result of this?  Less kids go out to play, because as parents we’re increasingly frightened of predators and accidents alike.  When less kids go out to play, even less parents begin allowing their own kids out.  I don’t know about you, but when I allow my kid outside, it’s usually because there’s a roving pack of neighborhood boys about, and there remains a modicum of safety in numbers.

So stop telling me how you went outside for fourteen hours a day in 1984, and implying that I’m a lesser parent somehow for not attempting to shoehorn a thirty-year-old practice into a 2016 world.


“We spent our time in creative pursuits!  We didn’t spend all our time staring at iPads or on computers!  We played with Legos and built with blocks and LEARNED THINGS!”

Okay.  Have you seen the things you can do on an iPad?  Have you watched your kid interact with a video game, or a computer? 

I loved Legos as a kid.  I built houses with them, and my sister and I would make up little kiddie Peyton-Place-type soap operas.  Legos were an amazing creative outlet for me.

You know what my ten-year-old does?  Constructs his own houses in Minecraft.  These elaborate, gorgeous, detailed houses that blow me away.  He can use different texture packs to make the materials look any way he wants them; he can use mods to input works of art or different plants.  Minecraft in creative mode is like Legos on steroids.  If Minecraft had been around when I was ten years old, I would be as addicted to it as my son is.  It’s creative, it’s dynamic, it’s constantly evolving because of new modifications and packs and user contributors, and it is amazing

He also plays his fair share of banal, everyday video games -- shoot-em-up games, Call of Duty, that sort of thing.  But I really don’t see how the ever-changing worlds in those games are more detrimental to the child mind than replaying that perpetually mind-numbing twentieth board of Frogger I could never get past.


We were never really a spanking family, even in the 1980s.  If you don’t have the same talent as my mother for leveling one’s entire ego with one flat, disappointed gaze, then I don’t know what to tell you. 

It tells me something that resolution in this world is rarely achieved through might; and even when it is, you still have to hash out the peace after the fighting stops.  The pen truly is mightier than the sword, and frankly I think everyone would do better to realize that. 

In our family we have always preferred to destroy people emotionally anyway.


“My mother made us dinner every night!”

Hokay.  I mean, not to denigrate anyone’s mother’s cooking, but do you remember the stuff you ate as a kid?  I love my mother, and she’s an excellent cook; but even moms who are dedicated to this task end up shoveling out cream-of-crap tater-tot casseroles once in a while. 

(Note:  Oh, God, you have to read that recipe.)

In the 1970s and 1980s, I daresay there were also a whole hell of a lot more mothers staying home all day, who had more time to plan, prepare and implement a meal.  Rather than, say, me, who scrambles to get home with children before six pm, and can never attempt anything on a weeknight that requires more than twenty minutes.  Even twenty minutes is a stretch when you have a three-year-old charging like an enraged bull at the refrigerator screaming for CHEESE SNACKS YOGURT BERRIES MOMMY I WANT SOMETHING TO EAT CHIPS WANT CHIPS


“My parents never even asked if I had homework.  Kids today don’t take any responsibility for their own schoolwork because their parents do it for them.”

To whoever came up with that little gem:  Do you even have kids?  Because I cannot even tell you how many times my son has come home with school projects that explicitly require my assistance.  As in, LITERALLY TELL ME I HAVE TO DO PART OF IT.  And no, I do not want to have to help anyone create a solar system.  I don’t want to work on PowerPoints when I get home from work after creating PowerPoints all day.  I already went to school. 

If you really want any of this to change, you have to start with the teachers who are requiring me to sign ten agendas/behavior sheets/time-out slips/ouch reports every single day.  Start with the teachers whose project outlines blithely say, “Parents can help by constructing a scale model of the Sistine Chapel while students write a one-paragraph, syntactically irregular poem about trees.”
Don’t come to me with this stuff.


“In my day, keeping score was a way to lose gracefully!  Participation trophies are disgraceful!  You shouldn’t get anything just for showing up!”

Firstly, as someone whose utter lack of any kind of physical grace virtually guaranteed her a right-field spot for four years in the Vienna Ponytail Softball League, fuck you.  These kinds of things were very clearly written by sneering coaches’ daughters who played first base or pitcher, who were blessed with coordination and excellent eyesight, and who never failed to take advantage of those gifts by systematically destroying the self-esteem of every lesser player on the team. 

By virtue of putting up with the insults, the backhanded comments, the eyerolls every time I dropped a ball, and the suggestions that “she should sit out this inning, because the score is too close,” I EARNED THAT PARTICIPATION TROPHY.  

And so does every other kid who optimistically joins a sport, learns to work with people they might otherwise avoid like a pile of athletically-gifted snot, and spends a few months running up and down a field for, basically, no very good reason that I can see.

Secondly, as a parent whose kid has played soccer in youth leagues for a few years now, don’t kid yourselves.  No score is officially recorded, but everyone, from the parents to the kids on the teams, still keeps score.  We all know who’s winning and who’s losing.  Announcing it on a scoreboard doesn’t change that, and it doesn’t lessen the impact.

Being a parent is SO hard.  Sometimes because the kid is difficult, but mainly because other people’s expectations of you are insurmountable and their goals unreachable.  In the 1980s, nobody had mommy blogs.  Or Pinterest.  Or Facebook, or Instagram.  Our mothers weren’t constantly bombarded with friends’ glossy, filtered photos of perfect birthday parties, or effortless casual style.  Your mom smoking Kools wasn’t opening her door to find Maria fucking Kang with her abs of steel, yelling, “What’s YOUR excuse?”.  Nobody extolled to her the virtues of roasting kale leaves.  She didn’t know any better, and she didn’t know any worse, either. 

That said, you know what I do have in common with my own mom from the 1980s?  Both of us are simply trying to get through this with a modicum of dignity and the hope that our kids don’t end up atop a clock tower somewhere with an automatic weapon.  Both of us just kinda want our kids to grow up and get nice jobs they like and have nice lives they’re happy with.  Both of us are desperately pretending we know what we’re doing.  We’re doing the best we can.

So stop pushing me.  And roasted kale tastes terrible.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Warm Weather Movies

I hate summer; let me just say that right from the start.  Summer as a kid was fantastic.  It meant no school and freedom and all that amazing stuff.  Summer as an adult just means my skirts are going to stick to me in unflattering ways and everyone in the office complains when I take vacation and emails me anyway.

Warm-weather movies, however, are my jam.  Even if they're sweaty, they're amazing looking.  Even if it's supposed to be a hundred million degrees, everyone's hair is perfectly windblown.  The heat is never too much, nobody ever seems to have to work when it's 95 degrees out, and everyone lunches outdoors.  The only possible exception to this theory was the movie "Jaws."  Everyone in that movie looks like six kinds of hammered shit, which, as I understand from the AMC "Behind the Movies" special, they were.

CAVEAT:  There are some spoilers here, so if you're the sort who will whine about that in the comments, just stop, man.  Nobody wants your kind here.

10.  A Time To Kill (1996).

Okay, this is kind of a brutal movie.  BUT, in its defense, it's also intensely interesting; and the season and location are as much of a character as anyone human in the cast.  An old-school Matthew McConaghey doesn't hurt much, either.

See?  GLOWING PERFECTLY.  Her hair isn't even falling.  What the FUCK?

9.  Dazed and Confused (1993)

This movie came out just after I graduated from high school.   And all I have to say is, in June in Northern Virginia, it was about 90 degrees with 90% humidity.  This movie is supposed to be in TEXAS, and these kids are all roaming around aimlessly and sweatlessly in jeans and long-sleeved shirts.
Texas kids in the 70s were born without sweat glands.
That said, it's the perfect early-summer movie.  We are all poor dumb Mitch, who stumbles into an entire universe of possibility.  Even if he DOES end up hooking up with the girl who literally looks like she's thirty years old, we all have that one night we remember from teenaged summers that sticks with us.

8.  Jaws 2 (1978)

Three years after the dark, better original, Jaws 2 came out.  It lacks the depth of the original, but includes all the fun of a really good slasher flick -- on catamarans and dingys.  (Seriously, it's evidence of how crazy shit was that the idea of allowing a teenager to just ... randomly sail off with his epically stunted friends into the Atlantic was a totes-okay thing back then).

So -- yeah.  The 1978 answer to Greg Brady, Chief Brody's son Mike, goes out with his goofball friends to randomly sail around for a while.  Through shark-infested waters.  And takes his little brother.  It's worth noting here that when I first saw this movie at age ten, in 1986, I had a crush on the character of Doug.  I still kind of do.
He seems DEEP!  He READS!  Shut up.
Naturally the great white shark zeroes in on this group of kids, because he knows a service to humanity when he sees it.  And even though they're being threatened by a massive shark with a serious grudge, everyone STILL LOOKS PRETTY FUCKING GOOD.  I'd have wet my pants and started tearing out my hair by this point, which may be why my husband has never taken me sailing.
Don't let death get in the way of good hair product, y'all.
7.  Now and Then (1995)

This movie sort of encapsulates pre-teen summer stuff for me.  Riding your bikes to get popsicles, swimming wherever the hell you felt like it, and, most particularly, that ONE SCENE where Gaby Hoffman goes home after fighting, and drops her bike in the yard and strides into the house like a badass.  We ALL had that kind of day once in a while, where you wander into the house for dinner like you fucking own it, reeking of dirt and that peculiar metal smell from chain-link fences and playground swings.

To say nothing of those pre-teen girl relationships that were so intense and all-consuming, it was like you were all nearly the same person.  It was only when you hit high school that you started to see the differences -- and hence, some of the cracks.

Also, once again -- hot enough to swim naked in a stream, not hot enough to sweat.

6.  Live From Baghdad (2002)

You probably haven't seen this one; it's kind of obscure.  But it's absolutely worth a watch, because it's about the growth of the 24-hour news cycle, and it's kind of captivating.  Still -- Baghdad in August?  I give you perfectly imperfect hair.

5.  Stealing Beauty (1996)

Italy, presumably during the summer; perfect hair for everyone.  That said, this movie gets it right in ways I'd never seen until then.  This, I think, is considered one of Bernardo Bertolucci's lightweight films; but it is so beautiful.  You can nearly feel the dust from the roads and the sun on your arms -- but, naturally, no sweating.

4.  Shag (1989)

YOU GUYS.  If you haven't seen this movie, you must.  Phoebe Cates, Bridget Fonda, Annabeth Gish, and a seriously hot Robert Rusler.  Just graduated from high school, four Southern girls run away to Myrtle Beach in 1963, before one of them is set to get married, as a last hurrah.  I envied Phoebe Cates's effortless tan here as a kid; and true to life at the beach, most of it takes place with the various cast members in bathing suits.  But -- perfect bubble flip, man.

"You ever see The Hustler?"
That first time alone at the beach without your parents is ... pretty much like this.  Totally disorienting, and sometimes life-changing.  And generally full of questionable alcoholic concoctions of one type or another.

3.  Before Sunrise (1995)

This one hits home for me, because nearly all of my trips to the European continent have been in the summertime.  And there is nothing like the smell of a large European city in the summer.  Like bus fumes and cigarette smoke and oranges, baked bread and heated pavement.  There's a sort of recklessness inspired by a city about which you know nothing, in which you do not know the language.  There's a freedom from fear that should, in and of itself, be frightening; but isn't.  And very much like Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, you wander, aimlessly, fearlessly, sure that even if you don't quite know your place in the world, you can sure as fuck articulate it.  

"Night in the park?  No problem.  Dew is Nature's hair serum."
I also found this movie so believable, mainly because when you're in a new place by yourself, anyone speaking your language becomes, immediately and without question, someone who speaks your language.  The sweet, flooding relief of finding someone who can understand you, literally, very often leads to those kinds of conversations in which you try to make them understand you, figuratively.  I've had a night sort of like this, on Bastille Day in Paris one summer, and the near-desperation for connection lends everything a kind of hallucinatory air.  The next morning you really can't believe you did or said those things, or that they were accepted or encouraged with such ease and aplomb. 

And because of that otherwordliness, I fucking hated the sequels.  These people should never have met again; because meeting again sucks all the magic right out of nights like this.  How do you ruin a perfect, magical night when you're 22?  Re-set it twenty years later when you're 40, when you remember all the perfectly cringeworthy things you said that seemed totally deep at the time.

2.  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

NOBODY makes summer in Mississippi look as good as Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman.  This movie is all drama, all the time; but all those slamming screen doors and glasses clinking with ice make this one of my favorite summer movies of all time.  Some movies are more about atmosphere than plot, and this is one of them for me.  I honestly (and maybe flamefully) could not give less of a damn about Brick and Maggie the Cat; I just want to look at them as they move through that room, spitting at one another.

1.  Romancing the Stone (1984)

Jungles.  Sailboats.  Crashed airplanes full of marijuana.  Danny DeVito.  A giant emerald.  And a romance novelist hermit who ends up in the middle of a kidnapping.  This movie kind of has everything, including Kathleen Turner's perfect 80s perm.

What I love the most about this movie is the transformation of Joan Wilder.  She starts out looking like this:

And ends up, after several days kicking around a jungle being chased by bad guys, looking like this:

I mean... must be nice.


I'm sure I'm leaving a lot off this list -- Wet Hot American Summer, obvs; Meatballs, Friday the Thirteenth, all the camp stuff.  You don't like it?  Go make your own list.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why My Son Will Be a Boy Scout

Make no mistake.  The Boy Scouts have ... some problematic issues for me, in terms of social policy.  I am not at all fond of discrimination, anti-gay sentiment, exclusion of any kind.  I know a huge number of people who would not, and will not, allow their sons to be a part of an organization that condones this sort of behavior in any way.  And ordinarily, I might agree with them. 


I happen to know a few Boy Scouts.  Not children, but adults.  My husband was one.  His brother was another.  A large group of their friends growing up, and still today, were Scouts as well.  And here's the thing that stops me in my tracks every time I get nervous about associating my son with an organization with, at most, a bigoted and outdated policy; and at least, one serious fucking PR problem: 

Fucking hell, these are good men

And really, I mean it.  Every single last damn one of them, many of whom I went to school with from middle school through high school.  Without exception, every single one of the bunch were good students.  They were respectful of parents and teachers, even through Ye Awful Holy-Shit Teenage Years.  Even while sneaking beer through my back door.  Even while attempting to speak to my mother after having just tossed back five shots of Jagermeister on a college break.  

Or, in one particular case, even while explaining to my father that he wanted to marry me.

These were the boys who escorted me home when I'd had too much to drink.  Who looked after me at parties.  Who were and remain universally intelligent and self-assured.    

Thus, not a hard decision to make in the end.  

Policy isn't always changed by outside pressure, in any case; very often it's changed from the inside out.  Given the examples of the Scouts I've seen and grown up with, I'd venture a guess that it won't be too long before any exclusionary or discriminatory policies at the national level are a thing of the past.  

This is not my most articulate post, but, I think, an important one.  Ask questions of the truly good, kind and confident men you know, because I bet an overwhelming number of them were Boy Scouts at one time or another.  

And if our son grows up to be like any one of the former Scouts I know?  Then it was worth it. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Crazy Things.

Okay, this is random, because it’s been so long since I posted anything, and things have happened, so – yeah.


(Although “ran” might be too strong a word.)

The Oak Barrel Half Marathon in Lynchburg, Tennessee, to be specific.  Which was a beautiful run, and perfect weather, and I am never doing it again because a) there is a giant one-mile-long hill right at mile 4; and b) the assholes who run the race are – well, assholes. 

To clarify the second point:  My brother-in-law broke his foot a few weeks before the race.  On the website, there was a little paragraph that said the race was sold out, so if you weren’t able to run, you should contact the organizers and they could defer your race fee for a year so they could give your spot to someone else.

So my brother-in-law contacted them.  Their response was to tell him that they were going to sell his spot to someone else and refund his money, minus, naturally, a processing fee.  No deferral.  He told them if that was going to be how it was, maybe he’d just show up and get his shirt and race packet, and just not run – at least he’d get a nice shirt out of it.  Their response was that now that they knew he wasn’t going to run, they were essentially canceling his number and refunding his money against his will.

Such nice, down-home people.


So the half-marathon.  It sucked, people.  It was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and probably it still would have been the hardest thing I ever did even if I hadn’t started completely giving up on training four weeks out from the race.  Probably.


Last week Thomas and I went to Whole Foods, and he chose the g*ddamned can of escargot as his new food to try. 

Look, my parents used to love these things when I was little, and always ordered them at restaurants, and I have never wanted to try them.  But here I was. 

I clarified some butter, threw in some garlic and minced onion, and tossed the suckers into the mix.

Served the whole thing up to Thomas and the Better Half with some crusty bread.
Verdict:  Yeah, no.  The consensus seemed to be that they had the consistency and even appearance of shiitake mushrooms – but the taste of old gamey meat. 

We did however just eat the shit out of the garlic butter and bread.


New foods we’ve tried lately:

Roasted kale (seriously, this shit is nasty; why is this such a big fucking trend now?  It’s like eating a pile of salted leaves from your lawn in October.  Every website is all, “Ha ha, my kids can’t get enough of this!” and my kid is like Seriously, bitch?  You’re feeding me compost now?.)

Kebab (I’d had this; Thomas had not.   Verdict:  “I wish the entire planet was made of this stuff.”)

Dill Pickle Flavored Popcorn (this was at the local farmers’ market, and holy shit, this is miraculous and awesome, except if you eat too much, it will do terrible things to your digestive system, terrible and unspeakable things; not that I know this by personal experience or anything, shut up.)


Work has been crazy stressful lately.  I’ve had something like three migraines in the last two weeks, which is unheard-of and I’m pretty sure I have a brain tumor or something and all of you dicks will be sorry you were ever mean to me.

Also today Thomas and I spent part of the afternoon on the couch watching the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie that was just released to DVD and I am sort of embarrassed to admit that I spent most of the movie being intensely attracted to Jason Lee.  Seriously, that dude cleans up well once you remove the terribly hipster facial hair.  Unfortunately, I have since been informed that Jason Lee is a Scientologist, which means sadly we are not meant to be, since it would be impossible for a guy who believes we are descended from aliens to be with a girl who believes we should emulate a man who told his followers to symbolically cannibalize him in order to remember him.

Monday, March 5, 2012

How To Be A Bad Parent.

1.  Vaccinate.    I know.  Seems like a no-brainer, right?  The pediatrician, whom you trusted to care for your newborn and who did squicky things like see how the umbilical cord thing was coming and who also answered your panicky calls at 2am when you were half-hysterical screaming “He’s just breathing weird”?  That guy? 

That guy is shit, and so is his medical degree.

You are not allowed to trust him anymore.  From this point forward, you are solely responsible for the medical well-being of your baby.  Never mind the fact that you got a C in biology.  YOU ARE THE STEWARD OF THIS SHIP, not the pediatrician, who clearly knows nothing.  Because you know what?


Yes.  You are now expected to spend at least fifty hours a week extensively fighting your way through websites with titles like and in order to ascertain, through no medical insight or previous knowledge whatsoever, whether or not what your doctor is telling you is okay is REALLY NOT OKAY.

It’s a conspiracy, and your kindly pediatrician can suck it.   If you ever vaccinate and blithely and naively tell your friends, “Well, the pediatrician recommended it,” expect judgy silences and side-eyes.  You are expected to come to this table with links and references and a bibliography.

2.  Feed The Children Hamburger Helper, Happy Meals, Veggies From Cans, Macaroni and Cheese, or Anything Else Not Hand-Crafted or Tilled By Vegetarian Hippies Living in Yurts.
This one is simple.  If you’re not spending at least 50% of your gross income shopping at Whole Foods and local co-ops for massive crates of organic kale and raw milk, you are killing your kid.  And people will tell you so, in sly ways.  And you will adopt this apologetic air when you admit to anyone that the kid ate a hamburger for dinner.  And you will never, ever mention to anyone that he spilled his French fries in the backseat and may have also ingested a couple of old ones from last week when picking them up.

3.  Put Your Child in Daycare.  This one is awesome, because people will be very open about judging you for it.  The conversation will go something like this:

ORGANIC MOM:  So you work?  What does Little Johnny do during the day?

YOU:  Oh, he’s at Little Tots Daycare.  My husband drops him off and I pick him up in the evening.


YOU:  Do you work?

ORGANIC MOM:  Well, I was going to go back to work.  But then I just couldn’t bear the thought of total strangers essentially raising my child.


4.  Let Your Kid Face Forward In His Carseat Before the Age of Twelve.

If you put your kid face-forward in the carseat at the recommended age (which varies, but is generally somewhere around two years), you are for all intents and purposes wishing upon him a violent, fiery death.   It is not enough to follow the manufacturer’s directions or the state requirements for safety.  It is JUST NOT SAFE ENOUGH. 

(Note:  The person who tells you this will then generally get into her car and start driving away with her rear-facing five-year-old while talking on the phone, drinking a Diet Coke, changing the radio station, and texting other Organic Moms for a Starbucks meet-up.)
5.  The Grandaddy of All Judgments – Formula Feeding.

This one floored me.  Total strangers, coworkers, and family alike will have absolutely no compunction about asking you flat-out after you have a baby whether or not the kid is getting the boob.  And then they will talk authoritatively about colostrum and immune systems and antibodies, even if they’ve never had children.

We didn’t breastfeed.  My OB didn’t think it was a big deal, but then, he was also seventy years old and near death and probably would have let me do a twilight-sleep birth if I asked for one.  Our pediatrician didn’t think it was any big whoop either. 

Armed with that information, I read some literature.  And the only thing my pregnancy-addled, hormone-driven mind managed to retain was the one little snippet about formula-fed babies sleeping longer than breastfed babies.  And the part about the husband being able to have the same bonding experience I did with the baby (read:  Can get up at night sometimes while you sleep blissfully). 

So we formula-fed.  And surprisingly the child did not wither on the vine and die from the lack of our love.  Breastfeeding is a good thing, but not breastfeeding does not mean you’re inviting doom and despair.

But you would not believe the raised eyebrows.  I didn’t expect them, mainly because nobody had asked about my breasts in polite conversation before, unless they were frat boys and we were drunk.  I once had a woman ask me in the grocery store if I was breastfeeding, and when I admitted I wasn’t, she said, meaningfully, “It’s so much healthier.  Not to mention more sanitary than having to use all those bottles.  Yuck.”  And then I noticed that her precious baby was sucking on the car keys she had just dropped on the floor.

The Point:

I have one.

Kids are a lot more hardy than you think they are.  And they’re shockingly adaptable to your flaws and missteps.  If you think you fucked up by not breastfeeding, eh.  Too late now, right?  But presumably the child will not grow up to have a boob fixation unless you also do a shitload of other things entirely and deliberately wrong.

Kids will forgive you.  Organic Moms may not.  But in the end, even the kids of the Organic Moms will have screaming tantrums and bouts of horrendous, fire-hose-like vomiting and yell I HATE YOU and basically, at one point or another, re-enact all the worst parts of “The Exorcist.”

Fuck the Organic Moms.  Give yourself a break already. 

And have you guys tasted Hamburger Helper lately?  It is fucking delicious.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Few Notes About Running.

When I was in high school, I ran cross-country and track for a while.  Mostly because it seemed like a good thing to have on my transcript.  It was a sport, but it didn't require much in the way of coordination (something I lack to the point of medical deficiency), and even better, it didn't require me to interact with other people or really be part of a team and rah-rah and all that bullsh!t, at which I'm terrible.  

So when the Better Half started running, I thought it was a good idea.  Part of my impetus to start running myself was, I admit, the paralyzing fear that Matt was going to get all buff and lean and strong, and I would end up middle-aged and dumpy in comparison.  Nobody wants to be Jack Sprat's wife, y'all.  

The other incentive?  Is that when you do these long runs, you can eat like a truck driver and say you need it for "fuel" and nobody bats an eye.  SIGN ME UP, motherf*cker.

The first few runs?  Sucked.  Sucked so badly that I wondered how anyone, anywhere, ever, did this and thought it was at all fun.  It looks so easy.  Just jog!  Right?  Right.  Except that by the time I'd get winded and want to walk, thinking I'd run quite a ways, I'd look down and realize I'd only gone a quarter of a mile.  That's about twenty-five calories.  THAT'S NOT EVEN A PAT OF BUTTER AT THE CRACKER BARREL.  This will never do. 

Then, miraculously, I broke through some kind of wall.  I credit watching horror movies on the treadmill.  I brought my iPod, plugged it in, and slogged my way through half of Paranormal Activity 3.  Adrenaline helps a lot, I find.  Except for the parts where there was some kind of jumpy scare in the movie, at which point I nearly ate it and then did that look-around-to-see-if-anyone-saw-that thing.  And today I managed to run 7.1 miles with a running group, and it was awesome and I didn't feel like I was going to die or anything, which was amazing. 

So.  A few universal truths about running: 

1.  NOBODY looks good running.  Nearly everyone comes back sniffing, red-faced, with frozen snot and unkempt hair and basically looking seriously beat up.  There are one or two exceptions to this rule, but I find those people are almost universally reviled in the running world.  I don't care if you run an 8:00 pace through a marathon -- unless you look like shit afterwards, people will hate you. 

2.  Running gear is meant to be functional, and as such, is generally not cute.  Very few people look good in hats, storing water-bottles turns you into a grandpa with a fannypack, and the tech shirts made from slippery material will find and garishly highlight whatever random roll of back fat you possess.  The backlash to this is that people tend to wear the most outlandish stuff imaginable.  One woman in our group today wore a knit pig as a hat.

3.  The only exception to the running-gear ugliness?  Compression capris.  Holy shit.  If I could get away with wearing these forever, I would.  I want to wear them to work.  To the grocery store.   To church.  Because compression pants squish everything in, lift everything up, elongate every line.  I have never, ever had much of an ass to work with, but I get into these things and all of a sudden I feel like Beyonce. 

4.  If you are a woman, the most strenuous part of your workout by far will be attempting to fight your way out of your running bra afterwards.
5.  Your favorite music will be total crap to run to.  Whatever workout mix you start with will eventually, over the course of several months, end up consisting almost exclusively of Britney Spears.  Don't fight it.  It's just how it is.  But maybe consider putting a lock on your iPod screen so that if you die unexpectedly, nobody will be able to find your workout mix and put in your obituary that your favorite song was "S&M" by Rihanna.

6.  Endorphins are no joke.  Shortly after finishing a long run, you will find yourself talking animatedly and dopily to people you have never met.  The urge to talk and discuss the run at length is overwhelming and should be curbed.  It's like the point of the night after your third drink when you stop in mid-conversation, realizing you've just told a total stranger in detail about losing your virginity. 

7.  The best part of any run, ever, is approximately one hour after it's over.  Your muscles tick softly, you're showered and clean, and you feel as if you've accomplished something.  

8.  Until the point where your cat eyes you from her perch on the couch, in a sunbeam, and is clearly wondering just why the hell anyone bothers.   The answer is that people run for the same reason people climb mountains -- because they can.  

I'm no athlete; I really don't hold much water with the whole healthy-lifestyle thing.  I eat pretty well, but that's because I like some healthy foods, not because I'm at all concerned about it.  I don't like team sports, I think too much muscle definition in women looks unattractive, and my basic goal in life is to do juuuust enough to get me to the finish line at the end, preferably at around 90 years old.

But there is something, something, something about it, and it's seductive.  There's something satisfying and pleasurable in using your body to do the things it was meant to do.  There's a childlike weariness about the end of it, breathing in frosty air, half-listening for your mother to call you in.

And then you get to go home and eat a thousand calories.