Saturday, November 8, 2008

Breast is Worst

I've been making a little list of things I'd like to take up with God if/when I ever get the chance. Nothing major, just things I wonder about. Such as, why do some people wear jeans, long sleeves, and flip-flops? Why are yellow traffic lights so short? And why do we still care about Jessica Simpson?

And I also think that breast feeding should make your boobs look better, not worse. Am I right, ladies?

Seriously. Having a baby is a big deal - you turn your body over to science for nine months, get stretch marks and a stubbornly permanent tummy pooch, and spend the next year convincing yourself that everyone wears maternity clothes full-time and the scent of spit-up mixed with pureed peas is all the rage in Paris. It's really a small favor to ask that at least we don't suffer the insult of our boobs looking like, well, how they do. At least my husband can sleep well at night knowing that exotic dancing will never be a viable fall-back career for me.

Let me just say that I'm a proponent of breast feeding. Formula has come a long way, but I just think that if you can pull it off, breast feeding is the way to go. I did it, and, in theory, I'll do it again. I just wouldn't say no to a few perks along the way. It's the least He could do. On the list of Woman 2.0 upgrades, anti-gravity boobs would be a nice enhancement.

Granted, there are some women who return from the maternity wing of the hospital looking as if their pregnancies had been some elaborate ruse and they actually just pulled a basketball out from beneath their shirts and said, "gotcha!" These are probably the same women who run marathons on the weekends and and claim that they sometimes "forget to eat." Who forgets to eat? Freaks of nature, that's who. These women are not to be trusted and, just to be safe, should be universally scorned until they learn that they are not wanted here.

But for most of us, no amount of collagen-enhanced lotion, Pilates classes, or miracle snake-oil will return our bodies to their rightful state. And that's okay. The rewards of motherhood far outweigh the cost of admission. I'm just saying....I'm not opposed to the idea of a post-natal stimulus package courtesy of the Almighty One to boost morale.

And other things.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Under Pressure

I've got my eye on something shiny, but it's not what you're thinking. I want a Troy-Bilt 3000 MAX PSI / 2.7 MAX GPM Pressure Washer. It's red, it's powerful, and someday I will wield its wand.

It started innocently enough. I had invited my parents for a visit with the ulterior motive of securing free babysitters so the hubby and I could go out for our anniversary. At the last second, I asked my mom to bring along their pressure washer. It had been a while since we had done our house and it needed a good scrub-down. But what I didn't know is that I had sparked a fire within my mother that would not be easily extingished.

Before I knew it, I was in the middle of a military-style logistical meeting held via email with my mom. We would need bleach, at least two gallons. We would need gasoline. To maximize our time, the materials should be purchased ahead of time and ready when she arrived. I wondered what all the fuss was about and got back to sitting around doing nothing.

When my parents arrived, she couldn't hide the disappointment that her instructions had not been carried out. "Don't worry," I said. "We can get all of that stuff after we go to the farmer's market tomorrow." Her eyes darted around and she seeemd anxious. I offered her some wine.

The next day, after the farmer's market, we sat around the table eating sandwiches. My mom brushed her hands together and pushed back from the table. "Okay," she announced. "I am going to change into my work clothes and then we can get started!"

My dad looked at her, perplexed. "To do what?"

"To pressure wash!" Her eyes gleamed with the anticipation of a child on Christmas Eve.

Within 15 minutes we were on the driveway. Our role could best be summed up as, "supervisory." There really wasn't much for us to do, but we felt guilty going inside to watch football when she was outside doing manual labor. But when we suggested trading off for turns, she ignored us. When my dad finally wrestled the pressure washer from her iron grip, she had a vigor and energy I had only previously witnessed when she realized she could combine her coupons at Chico's. I had literally never seen my mom so happy.

It was easy to see why pressure washing was so addictive: instant results. Don't like that drop of paint on the driveway? Blast it away. The green mildew on the windowsills? Gone. Even the gutters looked like new. I was a little embarassed that there was so much to wash, but I was glad to no longer feel like the Boo Radley of my cul-de-sac. Well, once we take care of the weed garden growing alongside the house and fix the part of the fence that fell down. Yeah, we're those neighbors.

It's hard to describe the intoxicating, trance-inducing element that pressure washing provides, mostly because I have not experienced it first-hand. I never got a turn. Between my mom, dad, and husband, I was left with the task of chief cook and bottle-washer. At one point, I went inside and put the fall duvet on the bed. I folded a load of laundry.

And that night, after our date, we returned home to find my parents on the couch, my dad snoring with his mouth hanging open and my mom coming down from her buzz. We convinced her to let us keep the pressure washer for a month. I am still waiting for my turn.

To clean is mundane, but to pressure wash is divine. At least, that's what I hear. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm Tired of Setting the Example

I am the first born in my family, and as such I have spent a lot of time feeling like I should "set the example." Now, mom and dad, before you pick up the cell phone and call me in defense, I don't recall ever being told to do this...I was just compelled. I felt responsible. I think its an oldest-kid thing. Or maybe it is my over-developed guilt complex. Who knows.

But I'm 32 now. My brother and sister are adults, one with a child of her own. And I am sick of setting the good example! I want to have some fun!

I want to sneak out of my house in the middle of the night! And do what? Probably go back inside and get back in bed. I'm tired.

I want to stash liquor under my bed and feign suprise when it is found. (Gasp! How did that get there?)

I want to stay out all night with the wrong crowd and get a (temporary) tattoo.

I want to blow a bunch of money on 1985 Jeep Grand Wagoneer (navy blue with the wood panels and a roof rack like in "What About Bob?").

I want to play hookey from work and go to the beach in my Wagoneer and drink mojitos and not care at all about the empty calories from sugar.

I want to lose something expensive and then not care when it can't be found. Although I already have the losing things part down pretty well....

I want to empty my 401(k) and blow it on a summer home in New England. But at these rates, I could probably only afford a studio apartment...

Anyway, it just occurred to me today that I've been really good for a really long time. I'm ready to make people wonder what got into me.

I'll have to put that on my to-do list. :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dirty Mouth?

I realized something last night: I'm a bit of a potty-mouth.

It happened gradually...maybe I just started getting frustrated more often, or maybe I just enjoy being snarky, but over time my quiet mutterings have gotten louder and louder. Then last night I found myself walking down the hall hollering, "Damn it! I burned the oatmeal again!" And as I turned into the bathroom and saw the angelic face of my two-year-old son playing in the tub, I stopped in my tracks and thought, "I really need to stop cursing."

Everyone has heard the stories about kids saying the darndest things, usually in front of the church pastor or in the checkout line at the grocery store. I love to tell the tale of my friend's nephew who called out gleefully, "see ya later, f*** face!," instantly incriminating his father, who backed silently out of the room beneath the glares of his wife, mother, and sister. And I giggle when I remember hearing another friend's daughter mutter under her breath when a puzzle piece just wouldn't fit in its spot. And the day when a child at my son's birthday party called someone else a "dumbass" and his mother had to explain her battle with road rage to the instantly-silent crowd in my living room was truly hilarious. But when you realize those words might come out of your own child's mouth, and that you are the one who put them there, well, it's time to grab a metaphorical bar of soap.

I don't say the really bad stuff. I'm more a fan of the medium-level obscenities, the ones that have meandered their way into our daily conversations. You can say them on TV, you hear them on the radio, and well, everyone else is doing it. But regardless of relative shock-value and societal peer pressure, cursing is unladylike. And anyone who knows me knows that first and foremost, I am a lady. (Hint - that is your cue to ROFLYAO*.)

So I have started coming up with new exclamations of frustration:

Cheese and crackers!


Oh, go bake a pie!

But sometimes nothing quite gives you that oomph like a good old-fashioned f-bomb.

I'm not proud. I want to change. So as of today, I am the new and improved, less sailor-like me. And if you don't like it, well, you can...go stuff a turkey.

*Roll On Floor Laughing Your A** Off (for the un-hip**)
**And if you're friends with me, that probably includes you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Grammar Police Reporting for Duty

I have a little habit that drives my husband crazy. I learned it early in life and never realized it was so annoying until it was pointed out to me in the car one day on the way home from work.

I was leafing through a magazine and proclaimed, "I can't believe how many typos are in this magazine! I should mark it up and send it to the editor!" I turned to the inside cover and looked for her name. "She really should be ashamed of herself."


Then, "yeah, I'm sure she would appreciate that. People just looove it when you correct their grammar. It's so awesome." Only the word "love" was said really sarcastically so as to leave no doubt as to his real meaning.

I grew up in a house where grammar was a big deal. We weren't doing good, we were doing well. The invitation wasn't for her and I, it was for her and me. And don't get me started on the differences between "fewer" and "less". I appreciated these little English lessons because I didn't want to look or sound like an idiot, so I soaked it up and prepared for the day when I would unleash my knowledge of grammar on the world, which naturally would turn to me in appreciation and ask where I have been all its life.

So it is not surprising that I have turned into a full-fledged Grammar Warrior. My fingers itch to correct misspellings on signs. I have been known to erase an errant comma or rearrange words on the dry-erase boards at Lowe's. And anyone who has walked into my office in the past six months has seen my public announcement that adding an apostrophe "s" to a word makes it possessive, not plural. Never in the history of the world has an apostrophe "s" been plural and it never, never, never will be that way so please, for the love of God, stop.

I recently heard a news story about a group of teenagers who were arrested for vandalizing a historical sign. It turns out that they were on a mission to correct grammar mistakes on signs across America, a quest I could surely identify with. When I heard of an actual organization formed to eradicate the misuse of apostrophes, I clamored for membership information. And when a friend sent me this 2005 essay, I felt vindicated.

My constant need to point out mistakes doesn't end with printed publications, however. I suspect my husband watches movies and television shows with a clenched jaw because he is waiting for me to point jubilantly at the screen and shout, "EDITING MISTAKE!" and then grab the remote to rewind the scene and point out how, for example, in one frame, she has the boots on, and in the next one she doesn't. Then I sit back with a self-satisfied smirk as he rolls his eyes and says, "good eye, sweetie."

When did I become such a tattle-tale? And why do I feel so compelled to correct grammar? Is there a red-penned English teacher inside of me fighting to get out?

Maybe, but I think it really boils down to frustration with people looking stupid when they don't have to. There are so many tools to make us look smarter than we are, and I for one am not afraid to use them.

Do I make grammar mistakes? You betcha. And if I do, please tell me. Because if I am going to look stupid, I'd like it to be for something a lot more fun than grammar. :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Just Don't Have That Much To Say

People keep asking me when I am going to update this blog, and to be honest, I just haven't had a lot of time to write creatively lately. The news isn't inspiring, I haven't noticed anything funny or peculiar that caught my attention long enough to formulate an opinion worth sharing, and no one in my sphere of awareness has done anything stupid for me to comment on. Nope, just living my life.

Wishing it wasn't hot anymore.

Trying to find time to update my iPod with Christmas music.

Scrolling iTunes for more Celtic music podcasts to subscribe to.

Going through my closet and finding long-lost dresses with the tags still on them and then trying them on, happy to find they still fit.

Folding endless loads of laundry (how can three people generate so much?)

Watching HGTV and wondering if we will ever finish the laundry room.

Trying to scrub clean where I spilled something on the seat in my car.

Going through my son's vast collection of priceless preschool art and deciding he is an undiscovered genuis.

You know...normal stuff.

So forgive me for not writing; I've just been distracted.

It's not you, it's me. :)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Curious George Has Balls

Kids say the darndest things, and sometimes they hit the nail right on the head. It happened to me over the weekend when my family took a road trip. When getting into the car one morning, I handed my son a book called something like, "Curious George Counts to 10," which features on the cover a picture of Curious George playing with several bouncing balls. My precious wonder took the book, examined the cover, and remarked, "Curious George has balls."

As my husband and I exchanged looks and tried to stifle peals of laughter, I thought to myself, right you are, my son. Curious George does have balls.

As the mother of a toddler, I have witnessed Curious George attempting feats that would have landed anyone else in time out, the thinking chair, or in some cases, jail. I guess when you're an adorable, cooing monkey, people tend to look the other way. But after watching our cuddly friend wreak havok on the life of the man with the yellow hat, I've come to the realization that Curious George is the poster child for the "don't try this at home" campaign. The producers of the show even know this - at the end of each episode, a child's voice announces the start of a real-life application segment in which kids apply reality to George's feats by saying, "Curious George is a monkey, and sometimes he can do things that we can't." Tell me about it, kiddo.

Curious George isn't afraid to break people's stuff and then act dumb when they show up later. George has busted the plumbing system in his NYC apartment building, set a cage full of puppies loose in the animal shelter, climbed inside a clock tower and crammed a toolbox into the gears of the town clock, destroyed a beaver dam, filled his house with water, broken a dinosaur skeleton in the museum, and found countless other ways to remind us to spay and neuter our pets.

But in the end, everyone just laughs and shrugs their shoulders as if to say, "whaddya gonna do!" That crazy monkey!

I am well aware that Curious George is an animated, fictional character and his escapades are intended for entertainment purposes only. But I think George can teach us a lesson about the possibilities of innocence. George does have to have balls to pull half the stunts he gets away with, but he employs a great deal of innocence and simplicity in his solutions. If there is anything I want my son to take away from watching Curious George, it is that sometimes life takes balls, as long as you are willing to clean up afterwards.

And also that if you're really cute and know how to play dumb, people will forgive just about anything.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Why I Will Not Vote for Hillary

Now, let me preface this by saying that I don't have all the facts and this is simply my opinion based on what I hear on NPR between 6:00 and 6:15 am each morning. Correct me if I have my facts wrong.

Every morning on the radio I hear Democrats making the argument that the Democratic primary votes in Florida and Michigan should be counted, and that it is a crime against humanity for them not to be. They promise to fight for our votes to count, and pledge that they will not lay down arms until all of the delegates are seated.

And I can't help but wonder how they can look at themselves in the mirror each morning and not avert their eyes. Newsflash - the Democratic party broke the rules. Blatantly, from what I understand. The rules said when to have primaries, and that primaries held at times other than stipulated by the rules would not be valid. They ignored those rules and had primaries anyway. Obama did the right thing and abstained. Hillary made speeches about how she was going to campaign here anyway, as if she was doing us a favor by gracing us with her presence, and put her name on the ballot. And because she was THE ONLY CANDIDATE LISTED, she won. Note to Hillary - winning by default is not winning. I would stop waving that victory flag.

Is it any wonder why she is now fighting to have those votes counted? It's not because of democratic processes. It is because she wants to ignore the rules and then cry foul when she gets caught. It may be a stupid rule, and it may need to be changed. But if she won't respect the guidelines created by her own party for fair play and blatently manipulates the system for her own gain, how can we expect her to create diplomacy on a global level? It is obvious she does not have the best interests of democracy at heart, so why should we expect her to have our best interests at heart if she is in office?

Let me be very clear - I am registered as an Independent, so I have no alliance to either of the dominant parties. I don't like any of the candidates and think they are all products of a flawed system plagued with more of an emphasis on PR, pandering, and strategic endorsements than with the real leadership skill it will take to turn our economy around, improve foreign relations, and get us back on track.

Why won't I vote for Hillary? Because she doesn't respect us enough to play fair. She is a smart woman with a true gift for policy-making, leadership, and inspiring people to make a difference. But her campaign is not about those things. It is about Hillary Clinton waging a one-woman battle to stick it to the Republicans. I'm not so naive as to think that Obama and McCain are not cut from the same cloth, but at least they're better actors.

Hilary is losing, and it is driving her crazy. I can relate - I can appreciate a woman who fights to the death and doesn't take failure as an option. But there comes a time when you're just making a fool of yourself, and trying to convince us that you manipulating the system is really doing us a favor, you manage to simultaneously insult our intelligence and degrade your credibility as an agent of change.

Step aside, Hillary. The fat lady just cleared her throat.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Enough With the Mommy Guilt

I just read an article about the current marketing campaign by Suave, in which a woman is shown going through the stages of being a young, attractive woman, then having kids and slowly morphing into a spit-up smelling, wrinkled-clothes wearing, unhappy lump of a person. Then, of course, she uses Suave and is attractive and happy again. The writer of the article chastized Suave for exploiting mommy-guilt to sell their products, and argued that glamorous haircare isn't necessarily at the top of a mother's to-do list.

And then I read the comments from women (and men) listing off all of the roles women play as mothers, and how we should all just be glad that they don't hit us in the face with a frying pan for not worshipping at their feet for the sole reason that they gave birth.

My response - you signed up for this.

I am a mother, albeit to only one child who is pretty easy to take care of. And, I have a A+ husband who shares household chores and parenting responsibilities pretty equally and with enthusiasm. I work full-time and manage to keep the house relatively clean, wear clean and presentable clothes, cook healthy meals, run errands, maintain friendships, date my husband, and exercise daily. And I don't feel like society owes me any pity for this.

People call being a mother the hardest job on earth, and I can see why. It is a 24/7 all-hands-on-deck position with little vacation, no sick leave, and payment in the form of the occasional "please" or "thank you, mommy." I just don't feel the need to lord it over everyone about how hard I work as a mother. I asked to become a mother, and I knew it would be hard. Sure, I enjoyed my Mother's Day breakfast and basked in the appreciation of my son and husband, but I don't expect to be worshipped because I am a mother. I expect to be worshipped because I am awesome. LOL

Many mothers love to list off all of the hats they wear in their families. As one commenter on the article wrote: "cook, pastry chef, maid, taxi-cab driver, author, disciplinarian, friend, laundress, pet groomer/caregiver, professional grocery planner and shopper, party planner, gift purchaser (birthday parties, christmas, anniversaries, etc.), volunteer (at school event or otherwise), counselor, nurse/physician (primary care and ER services), vehicle cleaner(inside and out), editor, teacher (all subjects and specialties), financial analyst, college planner and financier..." Here's the thing - you don't have to do all of those things. There is a good chance that your family would survive - possibly thrive - if you just got out of the way a little bit.

What I'm trying to say is, I don't feel bad for you. Seriously. If you are filling all of those roles for your family, what is everyone else doing? Feeding a cat and scooping a litter box does not make you a pet groomer/caregiver. It makes you an adult. Shopping for gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas does not make you a personal shopper. It makes you an adult. Stopping at the gas station to vacuum out your car for 10 minutes does not make you a vehicle cleaner. It makes you an adult.

If you don't want to do these things, get rid of the cat, disown your family, and live with a dirty car. But don't make the rest of us feel bad because you can't get your act together.

Want to talk about the double standard regarding societal pressure for moms to look like supermodels while dads can let themselves go? I'm right there with you. Want to vent about there not being enough time in the day to get it all done and still get enough sleep to get up and do it the next day? Sing it, sister. Just stop with the guilt.

It really isn't making me feel bad.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Some Enchanted Evening

I heard on the radio this morning that our local Junior League recently hosted an "Operation: Prom Night," during which the members supplied lower-income teenagers with dresses, shoes, haircuts, makeup, accessories, and everything else a girl needs to go to the prom. Except her dignity, of course.

The woman who was interviewed expressed that she was so glad they were able to provide this service and make sure that everyone had an opportunity to have the magical experience of prom night.

Blech. Gag me.

Okay, I went to my prom. I went to two, in fact - mine and my now-husband's. It was fine. My mom made me two very nice dresses. I managed to rub some goop in my hair until it resembled something moderately fashionable and slap on some makeup, and we piled into a limo with our friends to go have pictures taken to commemorate our magical evening. We went downtown and had at 4:30 pm dinner at a fancy restaurant, where I witnessed two girls from my class throwing up their dinners in the bathroom, and then because we had so much time to kill before the actual prom started, we stopped and played a few rounds of mini-golf.

I don't even remember what happened at the prom. Probably a lot of yelling over the DJ and looking at people's watches to find out when we could leave and have fun again. I wasn't that into the prom.

My wedding day was the same way. My mom made me a lovely dress, I rubbed some goop in my hair and stuck a veil on top, put on some lip gloss, and went to church. I shaved my legs in the car. I didn't mean to make light of the importance of the day, but I just wasn't that into making my wedding the Most Perfect Day Ever. My wedding day was pretty close to perfect, but I think it had more to do with my family and husband than magic.

What I'm trying to say is, so much pressure is put on events like prom night for them to be perfect and magical, when in reality prom night is just prom night. And to view it from the perspective of MTV, prom night is an event designed to pressure kids to spend their parents' money, drink heavily, have sex, and ultimately throw up in someone's bushes at an after-party, all in the name of creating a "magical experience."

The prom champions will argue that the prom is a rite of passage, a symbolic event celebrating the end of high school and the entrance into a new phase of life. It is about treasuring friendships and making lifelong memories. And I agree, the prom is an excellent way to do those things. I just don't think it needs to be built up as the most important event in a high school girl's life.

Call me jaded but I can't get excited about Operation: Prom Night. But, my perspective is skewed; going to the prom was not out of reach for me. I understand that this group of do-gooders is simply helping these girls have a nice dress, cute shoes, and pretty jewelry for a party that they might not otherwise be able to afford. And that is what the problem is - the prom should not be a party that people need charity to attend.

I think these girls would be better served by the Junior League donating supplies for their first college dorm room or apartment on their own, and they can just do the makeovers on each other.

I'm not one of the prom picketers who want to see it abolished in exchange for college application essay writing parties. The prom can be a fun event to celebrate the end of high school and these kids should fight for their right to party. But I will do a silent high-five to myself if I have a teenaged daughter someday who tells me she just isn't that into the prom.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Toddlers, Talk to Me

I've been making the two-year-old birthday party circuit lately, and I've got to hand it to them - two-year-olds are the cutest game in town. A two-year-old on his own is pretty darn cute, but get a bunch of them together and the cuteness just oozes out everywhere and turns typically level-headed adults into smiling, sappy goofballs.

Two-year-olds have a knack for making everything funny. The way they walk, like they're trying to pretend like they're not drunk. The way they drop things and then stoop to pick them up, taking extra care on the vertical return so they don't do a face-plant in the sandbox. A two-year-old laughs with his entire body and infects everyone else with their happiness. And seeing a two-year-old run with complete abandon is enough to make Dick Cheney want to celebrate Earth Day.

The way two-year-olds interact with each other is even better. Linear thought is not a requirement, and they don't even have to be doing the same thing to have a good time together. Whether they are bonding over animal crackers, juice, or a mutual admiration for Thomas the Tank Engine, toddlers generally accept each other for who they are.

My favorite thing about two-year-olds, though, is how easy it is for me to communicate with them. I know, most of their words are not easily understood and they don't use complete sentences, but that is where the magic happens. Let me explain.

I am not a kid person. Kids don't get me, and I don't get them. Kids are unpredictable, and I never know what they're going to say to me. That freaks me out. When I'm around other people's kids, I feel like they can sense my fear and see it as a weakness. Take this recent exchange in the parking lot of my son's preschool:

Random Child: Are you Zach's mom?

Me: No.

Random Child: You look like Zach's mom.

Me: Okay.

It's not that I am not friendly or social, or that I lack the basics of conversant interaction. It's that I have nothing to say to kids that doesn't sound like I am patronizing them.

But with two-year-olds, my world opens up. This is a group I can engage with. Since I am not completely clear on what they are telling or asking me, I can pretty much say anything and get an A+ for trying. A conversation with a two-year-old goes more like this:

Toddler: Cup.

Me: Yep, that's a red cup.

Toddler: Moon in sky.

Me: Look at the moon in the sky. What shape is the moon?

Toddler: Mommy is eating.

Me: Yep, Mommy is having a yummy snack.

Easy! Just state the obvious and ask questions related to shapes, colors, and sounds, and you're golden. I could do this all day.

I feel like my resistance to interact with kids makes me lazy or standoffish, and that I might be interpreted as mean or disinterested. And maybe I am those things, who knows. But I think it really comes down to the basic need we all have once in a while to be happy just stating the obvious, accepting it, and moving on. Toddlers have it down to an art form, and I get it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Not Without My Hair

In the natural habitat of women, there are certain ideals. A single-digit clothing size, stylish purses, big diamond rings...let's face it ladies: these are some of the things we use as a basis of comparison out in the wild. We all know its true. And as makeover shows and reality modeling competitions will attest, the holy grail of femininity is long hair.

At some point in a woman's life, she sees a shampoo commercial and instantly aches for long, glorious locks of hair that swoosh when she walks and sends a message to the universe that says, "I am woman, see me flat-iron." Long hair is sexuality, long hair is glamorous, long hair is...never going to happen for me.

I have always been a member of the short hair club. As a child, my mother would cut my hair into styles that she insists now were "very becoming." I suspect now that she was getting her style advice from a pet grooming magazine. My elementary school pictures are a slide show of pity: curly in some spots, wavy in others, and always a big cowlick in the front. My solution was to grow it long, and I tried so many times. I brushed it 100 times a night, used the special shampoo, and patiently persevered through the awkward stages when I tried to act like I meant for it to look that way. But it never looked good, and eventually I had to accept that I just look better with short hair, so I tried to make the most of it.

But oh how I envied those girls with long hair. People always think that short hair is so easy, but I wanted the simplicity of putting my hair in a ponytail instead of having to invest in various types of goop and sprays to keep my hair under control. What you save in drying time with short hair, you lose in logistics.

So you can imagine that I held a little resentment towards those long-locked girls who identified themselves by their hair. Inevitably every week I would see some television show about makeovers, when girls would cry and moan about having their hair cut, and I would think, "get over it, you whiner." But inside I thought, "one down, 50 million to go. If I can't have long hair, NO ONE CAN."

Then one day I realized I was slowing making the transition to the dark side. I was home with my baby and didn't have many opportunities for haircuts anyway, so it kind of started to happen on its own.

Over time, I started to really enjoy having "long hair" (which for me, means shoulder-length). I could get it into a ponytail if I really tried, and a collection of barrettes and headbands had started to appear in the bathroom. Before I knew it, I was nodding in understanding at the crying girls on TV, brushing my lucious locks and vowing never to cut my hair.

And then I innocently went in for a trim. I wanted bangs, nothing major. I sat confidently with my stylist and chatted about nothing in particular. Then my neck started to feel very naked. I reached back to feel my hair and was gone. There had been a gross miscommunication. I panicked, and tried to calm down. As she excitedly gave me the mirror to check out the back, my heart sank. All of my work had gone down the drain, and I hadn't even gotten to say goodbye. I couldn't fault her; she was so pleased with her work and I knew this was my old haircut I had always had. It looked okay, it just wasn't what I expected.

I was numb. I played it off like it was fine and went to my car to cry. I returned to my office and received comfort from my friends who assured me it looked cute. I cried to my husband as he stood there helplessly and tried to tell me it wasn't that bad. I appreciated my one honest friend who told me, "it kind of looks cute."

And that's when I realized that I turned into That Girl. I had mocked them, I had scorned them, and then I had joined them. I spent two days of my life mourning my hair, never seeing the irony because when it happens to you, its never ironic.

To be honest, now I am glad its gone. Having long hair was fun, but having short hair is me. While it takes longer in the mornings and I still miss having a ponytail on the weekends, I like not blending in with the crowd. I don't think I will try to grow my hair out again, but I can confide to the long-haired girls: I get it.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Insanity Is a One-Way Street

Last week as I was driving through my neighborhood towards my house to retrieve my forgotten lunch from the refrigerator, which is not an uncommon experience in my work week, I encountered someone in the car ahead of me committing something so vile and reprehensible, so simultaneously annoying and enraging, so completely selfish and inconsiderate that I thought it should be listed as the eighth deadly sin: he was driving the speed limit.

But he wasn't just driving the speed limit. He was driving 30 miles an hour. As I trailed him in my car, knuckles white, brow furrowed, obscenities uttered, and as I tried in vain to use my Jedi mind tricks to propel his car faster down the curving road to my house, I decided that 30 miles an hour is the exact speed that will drive someone mentally insane.

If I ever become an evil genius and need to drive people insane, I am going to create time-sensitive tasks for them to do and then dictate that they can only accomplish them while driving in a car at 30 miles an hour. Then I'll sit back at my desk, tap my fingers together under my chin, and smile at nothing in particular while I rock slowly back and forth in my chair, because I am pretty sure that's what evil geniuses do, at least until we leave the room, at which point they probably check their email.

But back to what I was saying - driving at 30 miles an hour makes being in a car completely pointless. If you're going to take the trouble to get into a car, put on your seatbelt, and crank it up only to drive 30 miles an hour, then you should be ashamed of yourself. Make it worth the effort. Go 45.

Now, I can only complain too much. After all, I was the one who was late. And we were in a residential neighborhood. And I don't have the most illustrious driving record: I have my share of tickets, made worse due to sarcastic comments regarding the validity of the speed limit I had violated, and I have been to drivers' rehab more than once (I recommend the online version). I am a repeat offender, and I know I'll do it again. I can't help myself; I have a need for speed.

I understand the reasoning behind low speed limits in residential areas and I hypocritically tsk at the folks who whip around bus stops and buggy-pushing mothers. I just have a sneaking suspicion that the people responsible for coming up with the speed limits in my neighborhood are sitting behind big desks, tapping their fingers on their chins, and smiling at nothing in particular while they rock back and forth in their chairs.

So the next time you are stuck behind some pokey law-abiding citizen, gripping your steering wheel and trying to figure keep from ramming their car, think of me. If you're not too busy going insane, that is.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I See London, I See France...I am sick of seeing your underpants

You know, it is really sad when we have to pass a law to make people pull up their pants.

This morning on my drive to work I heard about a bill moving through our government called the "Pull Up Your Britches Bill". It basically makes it illegal to wear pants that expose your unmentionables. I rather thought it should have been called the "I See London, I See France Bill," but no one asked me. Again.

I recently saw a kid wearing pants that were so low I almost missed my green light trying to figure out how he kept them from falling straight down to the ground. Safety pins? Velcro? Lots of practice walking without moving his hips? I wasn't sure, but I didn't approve. I also tire of seeing teenage girls walking around with the hot pink waistband of their thong peeking from their low-rise jeans. Then again, maybe I'm just jealous.

This would be a great opportunity launch into a tirade about the days when we had a sense of decency and self-respect in regards to our appearance, but I am going to try to not do that. I remember seeing an episode of "Leave it to Beaver," when Wally and Beaver are taking a bus to visit a cousin, and Wally asks if he can wear his blue jeans for the journey. Ward replied in surprise, "Why no, Wally. You'll need to wear your slacks and a sport jacket!" It made me laugh because I know that no matter what era you choose, there have always been people muttering how they don't know what's up with kids these days.

So is there really anything wrong with kids wearing clothes that make them look like morons? I did it when I was a teenager and...well, you can draw your own conclusions there. But really, if the worst thing someone does is wear stupid-looking pants, do we really have a problem?

I think the issue is that we are worried that wearing stupid-looking pants is a gateway activity towards doing something worse. Come on, we've all looked at those kids and assumed they were up to no good. For all we know they are the valedictorian of their class, curing cancer by day and rescuing kittens by night. But if while they're doing these heroic things, we can see their underwear...well, I just have a hard time not laughing.

I think maybe this legislation should be renamed as the "You'll Thank Us Later" bill. Kids will be kids and wear their moronic clothes (and I have the family photo albums to prove it), but eventually they will be adults and, hopefully, utter those familiar words: "what's the matter with kids today?"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I'm Addicted to LOL

It's the new year, so its time to make some obligatory New Year resolutions. This year, I resolved to do a few things differently. For one, I am going to attempt a full year without frivilous credit card spending or fast food. Both ambitious, but both necessary for a good 2009. So I am committed. The credit cards are out of my wallet, and my road trips will be fortified with Clif bars and homemade sandwiches. I can deal.

But one resolution has been harder to keep. Every day, I am compelled by an irresistable longing to conclude each sentence in an email by letting my fingers wander to some very special letters on my keyboard: LOL. I love using LOL. Okay, so I don't use it after every sentence, but it has gotten to the point where if I was indeed laughing out loud that often, I would lose my job, or at least be gently prodded to take advantage of our employee assistance program. LOL I love to laugh, but apparently I love telling people I am laughing even more.

LOL is such a quick and easy way to say, "get it?" or "you know what I am saying?" or even "wink, wink, nudge, nudge". LOL lets me add levity to a touchy situation, or convey that my opinion on so-and-so's new haircut is only meant in jest, and if confronted I would never actually say whatever I just LOLed about. Or, it is just an expression that I am not taking myself too seriously, and that my comments on the world are mostly tongue-in-cheek.

The truth is, I do laugh a lot, and I do laugh out loud. I like to laugh, and I like to make other people laugh. But lately I've started to feel that my constant use of LOL is diluting its impact. If I LOL at everything I think is even mildly amusing, maybe LOLing isn't that big of a deal. If I LOL at the drop of a hat, people might stop trying to make me LOL, and that would be a shame.

So, this year I resolve to stop overusing LOL and use it only in cases where it is absolutely necessary. Sure, others may resolve to get out of debt or volunteer more time to charity or stop stealing office supplies from their employer. But for me, developing coping mechanisms for ignoring the itch of my fingers that desperately want to type those three little taps on the keyboard will be rehabilitation enough.

What will I do instead to convey my emotions through email? I plan to begin abusing the smiley face. :)