Archive for October, 2011


midlife crisis stage 7 (8? 135? who’s counting?)

As far as I can remember (being too lazy to walk into the other room and get “the book” in order to cite it directly) women go through various “brain” stages, almost entirely dependent upon hormonal changes. (I know, right? So much for thinking we’re “making decisions” or “finding ourselves.” Apparently we’re all just victims of estrogen and/or testosterone and/or progestogens; oh, that’s funny, at first I typed protestogens — Dyslexics of the world, untie! —  is that Freudian?)

So teenage years are rebellious, as burgeoning women fight for freedom and independence and search for sexual identity. (Again, I’m not quoting, I’m “remembering,” and probably citing as much from personal experience/memory as from anything any psychiatrist or sociologist said.)

The twenties are dominated by an ambitious tendency, gradually ceding into “mommy brain.”

In her thirties, a woman is wrapped up in nurturing her children, while perhaps trying to hang on to (by her fingernails, probably, if the first priority is any priority at all) her professional identity.

In her forties a woman begins to look beyond all of the people she has been taking care of and starts to think about taking care of herself.

In her fifties (supposedly, I am despitewhatyouallmightthink NOT THERE YET), a woman becomes quite “selfish” — looking to have HER needs met, and a last sprint/gasp professionally, so to speak, before the retirement years set in.

I don’t even want to think about what might happen in the sixties. I’m having a hard enough time with the fact that I’m going to be 47 in a few weeks, which is a helluva lot closer to 50 than it is to 40 and actually seems a helluva lot older than 46. Just sayin’.

Is this funny? I think so. But maybe that’s just my “Indecision Nucleus” talking. Oh, and btw, women can spell. Snap!

Anyway, I find I’m belying the 50s expectations in that my professional ambitions are waning. Yes, there’s a part of me that is kind of tired of being “mom” (sorry, Hannah) and ready to move on — looking forward to years with Husband and travel and beautiful meals together without anyone wrinkling up his or her nose and asking if it’s “spicy” or why we can’t eat hamburgers like normal people. (At the same time I would likeitverymuch if Only Daughter stopped trying to figure out how to be 18 and was just 10 for at least a little while longer.) But I’m finding that I just kind of want to do my job, be respected and paid fairly for it, and then come home and take a nap on my couch or knit or beat OD at Rummikub or get a dog or something.

Speaking of which, we might be getting a dog.

I’ve found a breeder that I know of and therefore trust who has a new litter of Coton’s — hypoallergenic, good temperament, small, and local, so I can visit and become acquainted with the puppy rather than adopt from a rescue (enough of that, have been on that emotional roller coaster for several weeks now) or buy from someone in another state and have the pup shipped sight unseen.

I’d post a picture, but the breeders aren’t very “techie” so there aren’t any available. Am hoping to visit next Thursday, so will keep you all posted.

Here’s a “generic” Coton”

Can a dog be cuter than this? I didn’t think so.

ANYWAY,  see? I can’t even keep my mind on my “work.”


I’m supposed to be planning Friday’s seminar right now.

Instead I’m drinking way better Scotch than I can afford (thank you, Husband dear) and wondering if there are 30 Rock reruns on cable.

So much for professional ambitions.

And the funny thing is, I don’t really care.

Although maybe that’s the scotch.


heard, at dinner, Halloween 2011

Only Daughter: So Willow Smith is famous and like totally shouldn’t be because she’s only 10 and wears really stupid clothes.

Me: Well, why do you suppose she’s famous?

OD: Her brother, Jaden, was in that Karate movie.

Me: Oh, so that’s Will Smith’s daughter. She’s famous because her parents are famous, and are apparently willing to allow her to make a spectacle of herself to exploit the publicity opportunities.

OD: Yeah, but she’s famous.

Me: There are better, more important things than being famous.

OD: Like money?

I’m so proud.

(When I harumphed, she said, “candy?”)(It is Halloween after all, and she did give me her [lone, miniature] Babe Ruth and [lone, but super size] Butterfinger. Such a good girl.)

In a related story, what’s up with this hairdo?

This has to fall under the “you don’t have to do it just because you can” category.



this week from the road, seen from Saturday

the starlings swarmed and swooshed
around their favorite overpass

and the fog drifted in waves across the road
like from a machine on a dark and windy stage,
while leaves flung themselves from branches
and danced around the car

I drove you to the airport Thursday
morning and sometime around this afternoon
tired of the company of my own silence

on my way to dinner with a friend
the moon slipped through a snip in the fabric of the
pale-blue metal of the sky,
the sun having laid its ribbon of pink
along the horizon
and that big oak on the right side
of the road shone with its black shadow light
as a single handful of rain slapped against
my windshield

I used to long to be alone
and now you are always here
glowing like a coal at the center of me

when I put my steak into the pan last night
on its bed of salt and pepper
the flame caught a drip of fat or
a grain of salt, and
seared a thread of my sweater,
I noticed it from the corner of my mind
and then it was gone;

is the edge always, just, right there?

come home


the tree of life

Just finished watching The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, with a few brief and puzzling appearances by Sean Penn.

First of all, I feel I must stress that I have no problem with poetic moviemaking, powerful symbolism, or beautiful cinematography. What I do have a problem with is the fact that the director, Terrence Malick, seemed to have two irreconcilable goals in the making of this movie: trying to tell a compelling and powerful story about a complex character and the family at his mercy, and trying to incorporate every powerful moment or image Malick has experienced since childhood.

It’s kind of funny that I ended up watching this tonight, because I was thinking, literally just a couple of hours before, about whether it would be possible to tell the story of a life through a series of songs, or pictures; whether the changes in feeling and ambition and perspective that mark one’s passage through this life can be reflected adequately without a narrative.

This is what Malick seems to have tried to do, but I don’t think he did it very well. There are too many gaps in the narrative — principally, which son died? and at what point in the rest of the character’s lives? If you want to do it poetically, you need to do it all poetically.

Instead, when he gets to a point in the story where he doesn’t know how to tell it, he just cops out, and opts instead for montages of creation-of-the-earth-à-la-2001:A-Space-Odyssey, or crowds of people “coming to the water.” Then, when the images seem to have tried the last possible shred of patience from the viewer, he returns to the story at some point in the future (or, even more frustratingly, cuts to the closing credits). I guess we are all supposed to feel that the “story had been told” (did it not matter? was it supposedly obvious? is it too pedantic of us to want to have a vague idea what’s going on?) and are just so flippin’ happy to be done watching volcanos and dinosaur/bird/pterodactyl things poking each other with their beaks we won’t mind or notice.

Didn’t work for me.

Should have watched The Third Man.

The opening monologue, though, is lovely — apparently two writings called “The Way of Grace” and “The Way of Nature.” Anybody have/know the text?


today in politics

Today’s headlines re: the Republican candidates.

Just what this country needs; someone who can’t manage their own campaign.

But we all know what we really need, more jobs. Maybe Rick Perry has the answer. (If you click on each ad banner it will take you to the whole article.)

But then there’s this:

Meh. Details, details.

And then, last but not least, the stalwart long-suffering “front runner,” Romney.

Oops. That wasn’t the one I meant.

That’s funny, I didn’t even do that on purpose.


This all just makes me tired.

I actually got an email from People or the American Way a few days ago, with this in the subject line:

“Is it time you ran for office?”

I snorted and thought, as if! What sane person wants to run for office. And then it occurred to me.


In a related story, I re-posted this on facebook today, from a post that I can now attribute to Axis Mundi:

When Egypt’s people protested, we supported them. When Libya’s people protested, we supported them even more than we supported Egypt. When our people protest, we ignore them, shoot them, gas them, beat them, arrest them, and make fun of them on TV, the radio, and the internet.

As an American, how do you justify this?

And a friend replied:

we cheered and supported them in their fight over tyranny, and for a chance at maybe democracy, although that remains to be seen. I think our protests are seen as something altogether different and can’t be compared as apples to apples. If we are to avoid bankruptcy, drastic measures must be taken, and unfortunately, that means tougher times.. And yes, we will always have the rich, as we will always have the poor. Some things won’t change..Sorry..I think that’s why so many look at our protesters as a bunch of sob asses
I fear he’s missing the point.
Maybe some of these protestors are “putting on airs” by comparing the plight of the American middle class with the plight of Arabian people oppressed by brutal dictators — this is unfortunate, and regrettable; but at the same time, I believe it was Goethe that said that none are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. Our “democracy” is a fallacy, with our government being sold off to the highest bidder, and his statement that “we will always have the rich, as we will always have the poor” made me first wonder if he was actually quoting Jesus. (Knowing him as I do, I doubt it.) But when 1% of the population controls 40% of the wealth of the country, and the government is for sale, we’re all in trouble. A nation can only thrive with a thriving middle class. And while I count myself lucky that I’ve so far managed to keep my head above water, my children fed and housed and educated, I am exactly that. Lucky. The fact that I’ve earned a Doctorate and have 20 years of professional experience in my field, and the best I can hope for is piecework as an adjunct with no salary, no benefits, and no security is only one piece of the pie chart that shows the trouble this country is in.
Basta. It’s past my bedtime.

i might have to buy this book, or make an appointment with a psychiatrist

On the blog Good Mom/Bad Mom, Jenny Lawson posts about season-appropriate “children’s” books.

I have to admit, at the risk of revealing myself to be an unimaginative, drudge-like stick-in-the-mud (what does that expression mean, btw? Am I stuck in the mud? Then shouldn’t it be “stuck-in-the-mud”? Or if it’s an actual stick, like from a tree, in the mud, what does that have to do with anything?) (what was I saying?) (oh, yeah), I’m not really all that interested in books about zombies.

I did think that the book “Monsters Eat Whiny Children” looked interesting, if for no other reason than to leave it lying around the house to intimidate piano students who don’t practice enough and come with their excuses polished and ready.

A commenter suggested “Daddy Drinks Because You Cry,” which I thought sounded really funny in a Family-Guy-inappropriate kind of way. (Aside: I love Family Guy, but never got into the habit of watching it because then my sons would watch too and I would have to wrestle with the urge to laugh uproariously over something immensely inappropriate so as not to be a “bad example.”)

But apparently this book doesn’t actually exist. (In the interests of “research,” I checked. I wasn’t going to buy it. I wasn’t!)

Speaking of inappropriate. . .

I commented after Jenny’s post that I thought this book looked kind of whimsical, despite the likelihood that it included some black humor; but that it also reminded me of my grandma in her early 90s.

Then I clicked on the image of the cover, expecting a book about, well, dinosaurs. It is what’s illustrated on the cover after all.

But this is the first page that came up when I clicked on “See all 6 customer images.”

This is some kind of creepy. Like someone has been watching me slowly but systematically killing each and every one of my house plants over the past 15 years, and is sending me not-all-that-coded nor all-that-subtle messages.

(Notice, in the banner, the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. This is on purpose. And symbolic. I have one plant left in my house, a Zu-Zu, which is reportedly “unkillable.” I believe the exact terms were “thrives under benign neglect.” [Although now that I do a little more research, this is apparently a fallacy. Nice. Thank you, Lowe’s.] Recently 5 of the 8 stalks died. 3 persist, despite the odds. What can I say? It’s a gift. We were, recently and briefly, in the process of adopting a rescued Havanese. I was afraid they were somehow going to research my houseplant history and find me wanting. Despite the fact that my children and pets seem to survive; except for fish, of course.)


The next four pages of the book go like this: (I’m guessing in sequence, although I might be making assumptions [it wouldn’t be the first time]. If it’s not the sequence found in the book, it should be.)

I know, I know, this should be sad. I remember my grandma saying how alone she was. It was really, really sad. It was.

But it’s just funny to me. Maybe because it shouldn’t be. Or maybe I’m just hopeless.

Me, to Husband: “Is there something wrong with me that I thinks this is so funny?”

Husband: “I don’t think so.”



guess which is which

On my way to bed last night I fetched my phone from wherever I had left it and noticed I had 2 text messages, one from each son, each away at their respective colleges.

Guess which is from “First” and which is “Second”

Text message A:  How do you make those baked home fries so delicious?

Text message B:  Guess who has ibs?


I’d offer a prize for the winner, but it’s a) just too obvious and b) I’m broke.

Ah, parenthood. Who knew it would be this much fun?



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