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me in my tracks every time I get nervous about associating my son with an organization with, at most, a bigoted and outdated policy; and at least, one serious fucking PR problem: 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 PoisoningYourChildren.com and VaccinesKill.org 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.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Parenting Fail.

Today Thomas got his report card.  Which was a good card; he's a bright kid.  But he was unreasonably upset because he was marked as behind in recognizing relationships b/t days and months.  Whatever. 
But he worked himself up into this frenzy by the time we got to the school parking lot, tears and self-recrimination and I was freaking out, thinking, Jesus, this kid's gonna end up in a clock tower, and it was late and cold and I was tired. 

And so I start joking.  Badly.  lol.   "Oh, my GOD, Thomas, are you going to be this emo when you're a teenager?  Am I gonna have to hide all the sharp things and stop you from cutting yourself and try to prevent you from painting your ROOM black while you shlump around the house and mutter 'Everybody sucks'?"
And he stops.   And laughs.  And then we spend the entire ride home discussing what would be better for cutting -- razor blades or a pirate sword?

I am seriously screwing up this kid.  But at least the process is sort of entertaining.