Thursday, November 24, 2011


First holiday away from my children. Ugh. First holiday when I get to talk to other people about their first holidays away from their children. Not half bad.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Mementos of Occupy Richmond (4:00 AM - 1:00 AM 10/31/11)

Reminder: This story is told backwards. Got that, anonymous reader known as Chris?

4:00 AM Monday morning in Richmond, VA 10/31/11 –

“They are in the trees.”

“Can I go in there?”

“Please. “ I direct the young man with the hot Krispy Kremes to the new hiding place of 7 of my homeless friends. We just finished the breakfast I rescued from camp but it was cold. A little hot grease and sugar is always welcome.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mementos of Occupy Richmond (10 AM - 4:45 AM 10/31/11)

If you have never seen "Memento" it is a movie whose story is told backwards.

10:12 AM October 31, 2011 - I sit down to remember some of what has happened in the past day. My face and hands are chapped from the cold. My lips are so chapped they are swollen. My Occupy friend David calls to check on me. He is going to see if he can find Pretty, BBoy, Jesus, and Lightup; find them a drier spot than an entrance ramp. I have stopped crying for now.

9:00 AM October 31 - The kids make it to school just in time. I see parents driving up in their vans and SUV's. What I would have given to have seen about six of those at 2 AM. I see my lifelong friend, Patty.

"The reports of my incarceration have been greatly exaggerated!" I cry out.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Life in Occupy Richmond

The lessons this Occupy Richmond stay of mine have provided are almost overwhelming. It is nearly impossible for me to get the every day work of my life with my children done off-site, live on-site and blog. It is toooo much. But the experience every day is amazing, frightening, sobering, and frequently surreal.

Let's start with the living. The nitty gritty of Occupy life for me.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Martha's Meditation

Yes, I sleep in a tent in the heart of the city. Yes, my family is changing. And yes, life is still life. People are still getting married. People are still dying. Yesterday I officiated a wedding and attended a funeral. Today I have a memorial service for a friend and mentor.

Since few of my readers will be at her service, I am including the closing meditation here. Martha was a damn funny gal, smart as a whip, and could dish out a tongue lashing to prove it. Meanwhile, she was quite ill for many years and gave assistance to a huge network of women, the full extent of which remains her secret.

Here is what I will say. It is as close to Martha's voice as I could muster...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Living in Occupy Richmond

I moved into tent city last night. I was met by a move-in crew who helped me set up my tent. I had borrowed a tent instead of using my own and imagine our surprise when it turned out to be a ... hexagon. Once that hurdle was overcome I was given the ultimate Welcome Wagon gifts - a brand new tarp and some insulation sheets. Both went under the tent and I slept great.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Free Falling

I was always a boom boom gal.

If it has a cool beat, I like it. If I can shake my money-maker or boogie with my babies to it, I like it. Most importantly, if one of my buddies wrote it, I like it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


As a chatty, honest, say what I am thinking blogger I find it VERY hard to blog through certain valleys of life. I have blogged through disease, grief, change of careers, gravity's relentless attack upon my body...

But there are some things which do not belong in blogs.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bowling, Black Lights, Worship... It Works!!!

We had the first service of the spiritual block party that is Winding River. A LOT of people came. We needed every single deck chair that was brought and luckily the bowling alley did have a couple dozen folding chairs we could borrow. The theme was "Don't Miss Your Blessing". Every child in attendance (15+ of them) asked to return next week. The musicians and the bowling alley got paid. I did not lose any money.

Now THAT is success.

Music was provided by Velpo on guitar and Roger on sax. It had a street musician kind of feel. They played all jumpy fun stuff. Sara was in charge of the ministry of bubbles. Mary was church secretary. Betye heckled me the whole time.

Jim won the good egg award. Bob earned the voodoo postcard. Laura and Gin almost got in big trouble. Deanna, Betye, and Sam won the door prizes. Mark bowled slowest. One family of four had a complicated scoring system which suggested multiple rule bendings in the interest of family cohesiveness.

Chris drank a beer. David went for soda. Marcia's legs glowed in the black light. Lois giggled. Adelaide drooled. Ian pinched my nose with his toes. Nikki smiled so much I almost cried for joy. Andrea thought I didn't recognize her.

And you. Were you there? Not to rub it in, or anything... but you should have been there. It was low-key, happy, chill, great. The punks AND the hippies called it cool. And the one thing I heard the most was that people felt that they had never had a worship experience like it.

That's pretty much what I was going for.

We have a service this week. 5 PM at Plaza Bowl in Southside Plaza at Belt Boulevard and Hull Street. $7 cover (cash please) but we do have financial aid if needed. Bring a chair. Bowling shoes, worship, music included in the cover. Beverages and snack extra. The theme is "911".

If I do say so myself... I am pretty darn stoked.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This Chickie Thinks #3

Another in a series of rambling advice columns by a gal whose only credentials are being old enough to know better, and drying her tears while putting on her armor in record time. (Oh, and that seminary degree and nearly two decades of experience in ministry but no one seems to care about intentionally pursued credentials any more.)

Dear Auspicious Jots,

My ex is making my life hell. We have children. HELP?!?!

The Almost Universal Agony

Monday, August 08, 2011

And I Didn't Have to Say Worm Sex!

It took decades, wars in the Middle East, political unrest at home, the rise of reality television, and a Star Trek prequel but it would seem that at long last - the world needs my completely off-balance, goofy, fun-loving, seize the day and dance in it sense of humor. Thank you, sweet Lawd!!

Do you have any idea how many blank stares and lifted eyebrows have met my ideas over the years? It wasn't until this past weekend that I had the nerve to do a sermon on worm sex just cuz I was inspired to do a sermon on worm sex (and belly buttons, and dead vultures. It worked. I swear!) I finally get old enough, sad enough, strong enough, crazy enough, and tired-of-the-same-old-thing enough to do exactly what I want and I hear a roar of approval from across the country and right here at home. It's almost like "Field of Dreams" but in my case it is "If you think of it and are willing to admit it... they will come!"

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Brand New Thing

I imagine my audience when I write. I see both of you hunched over your computers, your faces illuminated by the screen, your jammies a wee bit askew. You, my mother, are reading this with a New Yorker in your other hand, and another window in your computer open to the Metropolitan Opera schedule.

As for the other you, you are harder to imagine.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Too Old to Fake It

As a young woman I cared about the feelings of others to such a degree that I lied to them. At the time I thought that putting on the cheery face and telling people what they wanted to hear would make life better for us all.

Yep. I was a dumbass. I had more energy then. I haven't become wiser. I'm just too tired for that nonsense. The way I figure it now, if you want lies - watch TV. I'm just not up for the cost of faking it anymore.

Some recent examples.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

This Chickie Thinks #2

Dear Auspicious Jots,
When you have told a gentleman that you just want to be friends... are you allowed to change your mind?
Old Gal

Wow! This one is a zinger.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

This Chickie Thinks #1

Welcome to the weekly advice column of Auspicious Jots where we take concepts like "advice" and "weekly" pretty loosely. Like all advice columns I accept questions. Because I am new and foolish, I will take all kinds of questions until someone offends or stumps me, at which point I will take all kinds of questions except those.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A Toast to Continuing Education

The dogs need to go out. The bills need to be paid. I am in my jammies at 11. I need to go to work. And I should probably be concerned by that screeching of children followed by a loud banging.

But instead... Sounds like blogging time to me.

Friday, July 01, 2011


Even bloggers get homework. In an effort to fix some of the issues that have plagued this blog I am taking a class. This class has promised to help me be more techno savvy. Those of you who have read the blog from the start know that my original blog name was Rev. Luddite so this knowledge does not come easy.


You know why I can’t remember numbers? It could be because I can feel and taste music and colors. Or imaybe it is because I have never recovered numerical memory since I had viral meningitis. Maybe I hold my cell phone too close to my head. I am sure one of these excuses is the culprit. All are equally true.

One of my buddies is a postcard dude. Sends me great ones. From his travels or with funny pictures. They all just have a line or two. He could have emailed, texted, or tweeted any of them. But he is a postcard dude.

Most of the nooks in our home have one of his postcards propped in them by now. They are a testament to his retro cool style and his friendship. They are constant reminders of my failure as a postcard gal.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Joyous Loving Frolic Dance

Step one: Step ball change, Kick, Spin. Take 16 to Charlotte for the boa brigade.

It was the Unitarian Universalist Association's General Assembly. I was awarded Final Fellowship at long last. I did not want to go, did not want to participate, did not want to send in a photo. The more rambunctious of my pals and kin had other plans. So we went. In a caravan.

The back of my vehicle said: UU GAsm - Did I win a prize? Imagine this: I did not write that.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dancing Queen Minister Angst and Honor

I can't believe I am going through with this.

I am getting ready to hit the road with 15 people I love to go to a ceremony in Charlotte. It is called Final Fellowship. It's a Unitarian Universalist minister thing. I have mixed feelings about it. That's why I invited my family and friends. If I hadn't - I would not be going right now. I'd be thinking about smoothie flavors.

Now I am doing both. Mango.... yum.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Poopy Diaper Attitude

A negative outlook is a force matched only by the intense desire to eat buttered popcorn after 10 PM, the natural aversion to public humiliation except when intoxicated, and procrastination during the tax season.

I am Miss Fussy Pants these days and there seems to be nothing to do about it. I keep telling friends I don't want to talk about it. Then I mope. I keep trying to 'fake it til I make it' and I fail at both. So here's my time-tested tactic used in every situation with equally poor results: the blurting rant.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What to Save What to Let Go

The nasty side effect of having an open mind is the frequent imperative to change it in light of new information. I spend an inordinate amount of time saying, "You were right. I was wrong."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

This Just Crawled In

Note - Since this posting I changed my blogger i.d. from "Death Becomes Her" to "The Jotter". Neither is satisfying, but I did not want to confuse you any more than my ramblings already confuse.

Ever since I did not show up at the royal wedding the rumblings among my 18 fans have increased until this morning when they reached a dull roar at last. At least that is what I have interpreted the AM hollerin' in the Mickey D's parking lot beside my office to mean.

To settle a few things I have seen in the supermarket tabloids about myself lately - These assertions are false:

Ain't Looking for the Devil No More

"The Devil came down to Virginia,
he was looking for a soul to believe in him..."

Or something like that. I'm down to one degree of separation between me and Charlie Daniels - it gives me liberal misquoting privileges.

Since my post on evil I have attended two Black Baptist services, an Evangelical service, and received a personal invitation to a Jehovah's Witnesses event that mysteriously disappeared from the dining room table this morning. My husband knows I will go if I can only find the durn invite.

So how does this happen? How does an over-educated, liberally religious, politically progressive, feminist end up in three of the most patriarchal, devil-believing, biblically literal religious traditions to be found in a Bible belt capital?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Instead of Losing Weight...

I have decided to take a class to re-design this blog and fix my broken one.

"What broken one?" you ask.


I find it fascinating (which is sometimes spelled h-o-r-r-i-f-y-i-n-g) that I would rather spend money on a blogging class than go to a gym. But I will feel so much better about going to a bar after this than I would after the gym.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Schadenfreude and Evil

Is it possible that there is not enough evil in my life? How can that be? I read the news. I work in a criminal defense attorney's office and a bail bondsman's office. I am a minister. And I worked in food service for years. If anyone - I know the evil people can do to each other, themselves, and their entrees.

But this whole rapture scare makes me think I do not have a full appreciation of evil.

I feel for those who missed their chance at the destruction of this evil world as they know it. That has to be a major bummer for a true believer. I sincerely hope there are support groups for these people because if it were me and my judgment day passed right on by (spectacularly beautiful here in Virginia), I would be despondent.

Monday, May 16, 2011


I am fully comfortable with the fact that my readers come to me so that they can do something, anything other than work. You think I don't notice that you all comment at 2PM EST on weekdays? Should I be insulted? No way. You had a choice to take a stolen nap in the office bathroom, eat another Reese's peanut butter cup, or read my blog.

I don't even mind that you had already done the other two before you read this. I reward your devotion with some replies to great comments received this week.

Nothing like coming out as an anti-mashed-potato-tarian to provoke comments. The apostasy snippet of two posts ago also got some murmuring going. So here are replies to the questions of my 18 readers since I love you and good people should not have to slave away from 2:00 - 2:10.

1) Why mashed potatoes?

Why anything? They gross me out. Some seem to bother me way more than others. But since my dad is one of the 18 kind and brilliant souls who read my rantings/drivel/meandering life commentary (and he's retired so I'm not sure why)- I have to share his theory on my bigotry against all heated, smushed taters.

In Daddy's nostalgic world view, all was right in the tuber cosmos until I was three. Before then he had a beautiful, all American baby girl who was happy, wholesome, and ate mashed potatoes. Then one day she had an ear infection and went to her doctor and hero known as Dr. Riva because his last name was too long for a three-year-old to remember.

As beautiful baby girl and devoted mashed potato eater was laid onto the examining table, beloved Dr. Riva said, "We have to get the mashed potatoes out of your ears."

He then proceeded to extract ear wax out of an infected ear which probably caused the beautiful one to transform into a demon beast straight from the bowels of hell screaming in pain and lashing out with all limbs and teeth at anything within reach.

Daddy's memory is that after that moment I would not touch mashed potatoes again.

I don't remember any of this, only the subsequent decades of gagging at the smell of them in restaurants, homes, and the school cafeteria. I have tried them dozens of times in dozens of ways and do not like them. Not the texture, the smell, the look, or the taste. And my aversion is so strong that I am pretty snooty about all manner of potato.

Now that I am a parent, I give my father's theory way more credit. The proof is in the Riva. I adored Dr. Riva. Always. The guy yanked icky thick bloosk out of my aching under-auricle and I never stopped loving him. But someone had to pay for that misery. My guess is: it was the potatoes.

2) Apostasy

I abhor any spoken or written piece beginning with a definition. However, I keep getting blank stares when I approach the subject of apostasy. In case you do not know the definition I have supplied it as a footnote.

I know a gabillion apostates. In Unitarian Universalism we don't even use the word, preferring to call them new members.

What do you get when a lapsed Catholic, atheist Jew, order loving Pagan, and angry Presbyterian come together? A Unitarian Universalist choir.

So anyway... the subject gets mighty touchy when you get to Unitarian Universalist apostasy. I have heard so much bunk about the low census of UUism all my life. A few examples incude...

We're small because it is a difficult religion and people are lazy. We're small because of the corrosive effects of pop culture. We're small because there's too much fussing in our small churches. We're small because we shouldn't call them churches. We're small because the fellowship movement failed. We're small because American religion is dying. We're small because we don't have enough minorities. We're small because we have too many minorities. We're small because of bad architectural choices. We're small because our men are geeks and our women don't wear makeup. We're not that small. Look - we're dying slower than other religions! We are small because of that jackass ______. (Insert anyone including me in the blank. Last name I saw there was Thomas Jefferson.)

I've heard it all. And I feel it is all mashed potatoes.

If you ask me, which a few of you foolishly did, we are small because (like many other religions) we swing from orthodoxy to innovation and (unlike some other religions) this undermines our credibility as an open community with a unique theology. Due to this, in every generation too many of our devoted members become apostates. I believe every other credible reason fits into that explanation.

As I listen to disenfranchised UU's I hear people who long for a sacred place that stretches their minds. I hear people who feel written out of the boundaries of their community after years of welcoming everyone else in. I hear people who feel insulted by the path of the religion or of their congregation.

These people are not unreasonable, fanatical, or even outside of UU belief systems. They just don't appreciate being called racist, sexist, elitist, penny pinching, earth destroying, heterosexist, ableist, angry, and closed-minded during a time of the week when they want worship (whatever their definition of that may be). They are sick of the shaming attitude of what they see as money grubbing Sundays. They are tired of yet another round of hymns that do not speak to them as a cohesive community.

They do not want a political party - they want a vibrant and intellectually stimulating religion. They mourn the loss of respectful dialogue in favor of overly careful and watered down multi-culturalism. They are tired of the re-writing of history every fifteen years: Can we still sing that hymn? The Unitarians were racists. No, the Universalists were racists. Don't forget to put the multi-generational, multi-cultural faces on your website.

They are tired of the "new" approach to social justice. They don't care what 1/40th of the denomination decides during a few days in June that they should talk about in their congregation for a year. If there is one thing they do well, it is coming up with stuff to talk about, think about, try to change.

I listen to these people who seek me out on Facebook, this site, and in public. And I feel their pain. To not be a part of the religion you love is painful. To feel like you can't have your children be part of your religion is not a decision anyone makes lightly. To wonder what you should tell your family about your wishes for services after you die is heartbreaking.

But, contrary to popular speculation about this former minister, I am not an apostate, but I would not mind belonging to a whole congregation of them.

Let me explain - I don't want to run a church. I don't want to be THE minister, head honchette, finger-in-all-pies type for whom churches keep asking and seminaries keep trying to produce. It doesn't work and never has.

But a group full of people who care enough about their religion to wrestle with it on a daily basis? I'd like to hang out with them.

I'd like to attempt to translate their distinctive concerns into a shared vision for possibility. I'd like to help the wounded heal each other. I'd like to encourage connections between those who think they are in complete opposition. I'd like to be among a group of people who realize that no hymnal is ever going to make them happy. I'd like to be one small part of a flawed community instead of the leader of a high-handed one looking down on the so-called less enlightened.

And for those of you who think I am talking about your congregation - you are diagnosing it, not me. The religious communities whose failures have been most visibly abundant to me recently are Presbyterian, Evangelical, Jewish, and Baptist. In looking at the trials of these other religions I saw our image more clearly.

I am not yet an apostate because I am one of the faith filled in a religion that is not wholly comfortable with the word faith.

I still believe that people trusting one another to share their most deeply held beliefs when they disagree with each other is the key to a peaceful world. I still believe that what you give financially to the church is no one's business but your own. I still believe that we should draw from a wide variety of sources even when the individuals do not live up to our current expectations because we are far from blameless in our lives. I still believe that a group can work to be better without name calling and finger pointing. I still believe that the -isms are best conquered by our friendships and our lunch companions. I still believe in a divine presence whom I address in the feminine and I still believe she is a key to honest and deep connection with other people.

This is what I believe on faith. This is what I have seen to be true in my life. This is what I share with the apostates and soon-to-be apostates. They disagree with me. We talk about that. We love each other anyway. And I think, hope, faithfully believe that there is a place for all of us in my beloved and lifelong religion.

***Apostasy is accented like monstrosity and is pronounced /Uhpoztasee/. It means formal disaffiliation from or renunciation of one's religion. The ne'er-do-well who does such a nefarious deed is often called an apostate (rhymed and accented like /da prostate/). I prefer to call these folks, whether I agree with them or not, "courageous as hell" and "my brothers and sisters."

Friday, May 13, 2011

I Ain't Eating That

I will not be running off with Anthony Bourdain just in case we really are what we eat. That dude chows down on anything. He reminds me of my dog Chunk. This week Chunk has eaten a roll of paper towels, two crafts projects, sugar dots, a bike helmet, three types of garbage and something that caused me to have to bathe her within an hour of ingestion.

That's fine for a puppy but a dude is supposed to be kissable. Blech.

I was a picky eater as a child. One of those mac & cheese, hot dogs, french fry, pizza types. I did love fruit of every variety and freshly steamed blue crabs, but otherwise I was hopeless. I can remember when I started eating pork chops (14), when I tried beef stroganoff (16 - a boyfriend was involved), and my first baked potato was at age 22.

The greatest cure for picky eating? Poverty. I was a poor college student who became a poor Army wife who became a poor grad student and early in that process I began to try all kinds of food. There was an almost immediate snowball effect. Suddenly it was raw oysters, thai food, extra spicy enchiladas, tofu... if I could eat it for free I would give it a try.

Kharma is a bitch, however. A very reliable bitch. I'm getting it in the teeth right now with a beautiful, bright, loving daughter who thinks that pizza is a bit too exotic. As if that weren't fun enough, she has the family history of severe hypoglycemia. In case you don't have a medical degree - it is hard to control severe hypogycemia on a diet of grilled cheese and cheerios.

I read a great Parenting magazine article about manners recently. In the top 10 examples of how to behave as a child was: "No one cares what you dislike. Keep it to yourself." Amen, sweet Jesus.


As a former picky eater and a person who tries not to throw stones lest they ricochet off a wall and break my nose, I have been thinking through my own still powerful lists of things I do not want to eat and why. I have been sharing this with my lovely child in an effort to give her a sense that she is not pathologically picky.

The Stuff That Mama Won't Eat:

* Brains, innards, sweet meats, guts, general internal nastiness, and body parts that dangle.

* Oysters out of season. I read a book that said that immune compromised folks like myself can eat raw oysters if they are fresh and in season. In the summer months the bacteria are more lively and dangerous and the oysters are sometimes full of... well, let's just say if it were on a bull it would be in a dangling sack. That's an over-generalization of the oyster mating process but I still ain't eating it.

* Blood. Come on now. My people did not leave the tobacco farms so I could eat blood. In fact, I do believe their wish for me would be cornbread, corn on the cob, corn salad, fresh melons, green beans, biscuits, country ham, baked ham, pork rinds, pork chops, bacon, and bacon grease. God bless their sweet departed souls.

* Any general crap that has been soaking in booze. Worms are for catching fish and shrivelling up on a hot sidewalk. Moonshine soaked strawberries look like things that dangle. Oh wait -there's an exception to this. I will munch on all kinds of greenery that swims around in a spicy bloody mary and citrus sloshing in some sangria. Otherwise it looks like something from Dr. Frankenstein's lab and I am not touching it.

* Stuff you gotta get the poison or bugs out of before you eat it. I read a recipe in my Buddhist magazine that was for nettle soup. The sheer amount of equipment the cook has to wear to throw those weeds in a pot was daunting. In spite of the need for body armor I was still with her until these instructions, "Sort your nettles, gently freeing any insects whom you may have just displaced." Not just no, sister, but hell no.

* Mashed potatoes. Everybody has some perfectly normal thing that they just do not like. For me it is mashed potatoes. And no, I do not want to hear about how Aunt Loozie makes 'em with garlic. And no, I do not want your special gravy. And no, I do not believe that I would like them if... I do not like them, Sam I Am, and you can rhyme your squirrelly little ass off. I am still not eating them.

So there you have it. My kid will be eating all kinds of stuff if this recession does not clear up.

I'm right queer when it comes to mashed potatoes.

And Bourdain doesn't get to suck face with me.

His loss because if we are what we eat I am like all great Southern food: a little bit o' sweet, a little bit o' salty, a stick a' butter, and a dollop a' bacon grease.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gasp. I Know Kung fu!

There is no way this could be my life. I must be living in some gelatinous pod in a human warehouse somewhere thinking I am living but really just powering...

You know, I just realized I have trouble remembering the plot of "The Matrix." It is too much to expect a woman like me to watch Laurence Fishburne and Keanu Reeves while grasping a plot. Never mind. Let's go back...

There is no way this could be my life. Why?

1) Because I thought it was supposed to be more complicated.

I had an RA flare-up so I took roids. Roids are good. Roids are so very good. The first two days on roids and I have lots of unflattering things to say about you able-bodied couch potatoes who get to feel like that all the time and do not use that pain free zest to become prima ballerinas or olympians. Since you are my only blog fans I won't repeat the cursing, but you can guess.

Then the roids wore off really quickly and I was very ill. On the cane, hobbling, barely standing ill.

I finally went to the rheumatologist who told me something complex and expert: I had a fever. He went to school for a century and paid a hundred grand for the privilege to tell me something I should have known by wrapping some innard of mine around a thermometer. I did the math and I had been febrile for 9 days.

NINE. I had been walking around with a fever that made every inch of my body hurt but the roids had hidden all other symptoms of infection. I took daily Tylenol and a Z pack and was doing a jig within a week.

For those of you who keep track of these sorts of things: when the steroid warning says, "Do not take if you have an infection" you may want to, who knows... check and find out if you have an infection. From my $500 of medical bills to you for free 'cuz I am that kind of gal even if you are able bodied.

Next reason why this can't be my life...

2) Because I am courageous, aren't I?

During the crippling flare that turned out to be my 19th double ear infection, the boys had an intervention on me. The boys have to work with me, live with me, travel with me, and do all the stuff I can't when I am in the middle of a flare. So one downloaded the DMV forms and filled them out for a handicapped parking pass. The other backed him up when I protested. Then I cried for a couple of days and got my sassafras together to talk to the doc.

My primary doctor is a god among mere mortals with medical degrees. He has treated three generations of my family. He likes opera, but only in Italian. He keeps my Christmas cards in my medical file along with paper clippings of interviews I have done. I adore him and have known him for over 25 years. I weepily handed him the paper with a trembling hand. He gently took it and looked at it with serious concern.

Then he blurted, "Oh my God! You are such a drama queen! You needed this years ago. I thought it was some Kevorkian order and I was going to have to hook you up to a machine. Do you have any idea how many of these I fill out in a year?"

I love this man. I laughed for a week. The signed DMV papers are still in my visor, though.

3) Because I thought I was a grown up.

In the midst of my convalescence I "babysat" a 15 year old 6'5" baby who drove my car while I "supervised", stayed up late watching "Will and Grace" re-runs with me TV in his parents' comfy king size bed, and co-downed an entire box of Lil' Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. The next morning he was talking to my cousin on my cell while I ran my fingers through my hair to wake myself up. Or I tried. The innards of a Swiss Cake Roll had somehow lodged in my bangs. When I whispered to him, "What is this?!?" he covered the cell and mouthed back, "Spooge."

I would have grounded him but he's been grounded for something like 7 weeks and has gallows humor at this point. Besides, they never take you seriously once you snort while laughing.

4) Because I'm not looking for a job.

The only job I ever looked for, wanted, applied for, and got was my short-lived job as a 911 operator for the State Police. All my other jobs have come from someone saying, "You should do this," or "I'd like to hire you," or "SAVE US!!!" I realized this recently when I was preparing to teach a class and over dinner beforehand realized that the woman across from me might want to hire me. Because I am lightning quick I finally caught on to this subtlety when she said, "How can I hire you?" I should be a mind reader.

Then I realized my class was a job interview and my deodorant was not up to the challenge. I never did find out what the job is, but I think it is mine. Then again I might have dreamed the whole thing because, speaking of dreams...

5)Because I know the difference between dreams and reality

I woke up this morning at 4:30 AM because my hubby was packing for his canoe trip and I wanted to say goodbye. I woke up again when my daughter climbed into bed at 7 declaring, "God is bowling and he keeps getting strikes." (There was a thunderstorm this morning.) Before rolling over I mumbled, "What makes you think God is a he?"

Later I awoke at the end of a dream where I was in prolonged physical conflict with some stranger who kept lying about me to the border police. After much scuffling and punching I bent my neck and bit her hard on the forearm.

And suddenly I was both hero and villain as I awoke with a mouth full of my own arm and a sharp pain shooting to my fingers and elbow.

Finally - the Sixth reason why I am certain that this is not my life...

6) I think we may have adopted a person. A grown person. A grown person who is a stroke survivor with diminished cognitive capacity who would be homeless had we not stepped in. The good news? Unlike the world's stubbornest puppy, this was my husband's idea. The bad news is that we seem to have adopted a grown person. He lives in a group home that we helped get him an emergency placement in, but he spends time with us every day because as he said in his limited but astute language, "That place... that place... it's a whole lotta' I don't like it."

While the puppy I brought home has figured out how to eat my glasses and open the kitchen garbage can to remove smelly items, the person my husband and I adopted loves my cooking, has a charming sweet voice on the brief occasions when he attempts speech, is gentle with the children, and lights up when I walk in the room.

If this were really my life I'd be tempted to put a sign in the front yard that reads: Puppy - Free to a Good Home with lots of valium, Needed - reasonable contractor to build mother-in-law suite.

But since this is just a computer program, I will now return to my study of kung fu.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Talking Sex with the Kids

I need a court reporter to live with me. I would share the mountains of money we could make in movie rights, tv spinoffs, and offering case studies for psychology textbooks. The court reporter would have to do his/her own laundry.

My children are at the constantly quotable ages: 8 and 5. It is a good thing I have removed myself from the pulpit, because most of it is not repeatable. Except to you, of course. Let's pretend we don't know these children and let's just call them Sonny and Lori.

Lori is watching TV with me and Sonny in a hotel room. Husband man is reading the paper in the living area of the suite. The preview for "No Strings Attached" comes on with lots of shots of the actor Ashton Kutcher looking sweet, buff and cuddly while he jumps Natalie Portman.

As the next commercial begins Lori sighs and with the most innocent 5 year old liliting song of a voice says, "I can't wait to have sex."

No one says a word. The newspaper lowers slowly. A fierce glare becomes visible and it is pointed in my direction. Moi?

I return the glare with a "What did I do?" double eyebrow lift.

He responds with a single eyebrow lift that says, "You are the one who calls herself giving the kids the big sex talk during a commercial break in 'Big Bang Theory'. As if that was going to fly smoothly!"

Ok. Yes. I told the children about sex during a commercial break. Like all parents I want to save my children from the childhood trauma I experienced. I was a child in the 70's and my parents gave me the most awful sex talk in history. It was rich with biological terms inappropriately paired with talk about love and kissing.

The way I remember it, the talk lasted for days and was so disgusting that I vowed then and there to "never do that PV stuff." (Penis, vagina.) As far as I can tell I have kept that vow. I have done something and had two children out of it but my recollections are pleasant so it is NOT the same thing.

Here's how my sex talk went.

Me: Hey, kids. I forgot to tell you something. You know how babies grow in a mama's belly from a seed and an egg? Well, the way the seed gets to the egg is what sex is.

Lori: Where does the seed come from?

Me: The daddy's willie. (Sonny flinches and moves to protect his groin region.)

Lori: How does it get to the egg?

Me: Through the mama's girlie.

The children know the words penis and vagina because I taught them at the pediatrician's quickly after reading that at 4 Lori should know them already. I started with, "Hey, kids. I forgot to tell you something..."

When my husband walked in the door that evening from a long day at work I announced, "I taught the kids the correct anatomical terms for their genitalia today! Watch this. Kids what's the name for a willie?"

Sonny: Wait. I know this one. Ummm. Penis!

Lori: (jumping on the bed) Penis! Penis! Penis!

Me: Yay! What's the word for a girlie?

Sonny: Vonnegut! No, that's not right. Veshugah!

So, as you can see, I have an unblemished track record with speed teaching sexuality. Back to the Big Banging Talk...

Lori: So when people love each other they can have sex.

Me: Yep.

Lori: And that's how I can have a baby!

Me: Yep.

Sonny: So that means. (A dawning look of horror washes across his face...) You.... (gasp) and... (gulp) Dada?

Me: Yep. At least three times.

Lori: Three?

Me: Baby Fontaine. (The pregnancy we lost.)

Sonny: Oh no! Ehhhghhkhttttgggrrrr... (I'm not sure how to spell that gurgling, wretching, crying sound. But right then "Big Bang Theory" came back on and we all went back into our sit-com trance.)

When Husband walked in after a long night of meetings I announced, "I taught the kids what sex is!"

Lori smiled. Sonny put his head in his hands and groaned. My beloved spouse with whom I am not ashamed to put on public record I have had sex at least three times lost most of the color in his face.

Husband: Can I put my briefcase down please?

And so I think this is what he was trying to tell me when he glared at me over the newspaper in the hotel room.

Sonny, meanwhile, was in the bed next to me trembling and gripping his pillow as if at any moment he would have to shred it in two and fill his ears with the spilled stuffing. Poor little buddy. In spite of my best efforts, I traumatized him anyway.

We went to the Virginia Museum last week and he yelped every time we turned a corner and saw yet another naked statue or painting. He prefers the early adolescent Harry Potter movies. He hollers every time there is kissing on Star Trek. I agree with him there. He and I have a bumper sticker worthy mantra "No kissing in science fiction!"

If I scarred Sonny with my age appropriate behavior he got me back good (as they like to say on the playground.) He went to a sleepover this weekend. He came back home sleep deprived and wearing a sports jersey. All as expected for an 8 year old sleepover.

The friend's father said, "We let them make Super Bowl jerseys. I'm not sure what the name on the back means, but it is what he wanted."

I looked at the back and it said, "SHAWN!" We don't even know any Shawns. Evidently, Sonny sees his own football personality not as a real player or himself but as a greater than all of you one namer like Prince.

Me, laughing: I like the exclamation point.

Sonny: Thanks. Mom, I ate a worm today.

Me: (still laughing) What kind of worm?

Sonny: The crawling in the dirt kind.

Me: What?!?

Sonny: We watched this show called 'Man vs. Wild' and he has to eat whatever he can find.

Me: So... you...

Sonny: We went outside and turned over some rocks. We found three worms and rinsed them off. Then we chopped them up and ate them but Sam didn't because his dad wouldn't let him.

When my husband returned from work I gave him the fierce glare, the uplifted eyebrow, and I did NOT allow him to put his briefcase down. As soon as I figure out how this is his fault, he is in for it.

Lori: Mama! These jeans make my bagina hurt! Can you make a babushka for me?

My son eats worms but won't kiss a girl because she has a veshugah. My daughter thinks a babushka will ease baginal pain. And I'm now calling a girlie a bagina. That's it. No more Ashton Kutcher. No more 'Big Bang Theory'. That should be easy enough.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Vow to Let You Scrub the Toilet in Perpetuity

'Tis the wedding pre-season. I have a lovely batch of Spring weddings lined up and am in dispatching advice mode. Examples include:

"Do not make that guy a groomsman - he has a BO problem."

"The chocolate fountain seems great until you see the flower girl pick her nose and try to chocolate coat the green treasure."

"Perhaps your parents should get that valium prescription now so it won't be such a shock to their systems when they pop 'em like tic tacs on the big day."

"No, I will not wear a robe that matches the flowers."

"No, I will not speak in the Princess Bride priest voice without $250 extra paid now (cash) and a note in the program that it was not my idea."

"Yes, I would like the salmon."

"One word I want you to consider prayerfully and deeply: ELOPE."

"Should the time come, Gawd forbid, I will not testify at the custody hearing."

Just kidding. I do have extra-adorable couples this year and I do believe that this is the first year that I am biologically capable of being their mother. Oh, heavens.

A question on their minds right now is whether or not to write their own vows. Here's my real advice on writing one's own vows...

When writing your own wedding vows you want to cover the following things briefly:
Who do you see your partner as:
"You are my lifeline";
"You are my true love";
"You are the one who makes me stop being such a jerk."

Next - what is special about your relationship:
"I want to wake up to your warmth beside me for the next fifty years";
"You make me want to see U2 another 20 times"; (I have a couple for whom this is a meaningful truth.)
"Our work with AIDS patients in the steppes gave me my calling and gave me your love";
"I wake up and go to sleep with a smile on my face and peace in my heart because you love me."
Now the core of your vows:
"I give to you my heart, my devotion, and my trust";
"I vow to be open to the changes that will come in our lives together knowing always that my life is best with you as my partner";
"I vow to be your dearest confidante, your lover, your cheerleader, and your companion through all the valleys and peaks of life."
Then a quick ending like:
"You are my greatest love and I want you to be my wife";
"I love our life together and I want to grow old with you";
"You have been my love and today we become a family."

The big no-no's on writing your own vows include:

1) Work it out between you as to how long they will be. One of my grooms was a very romantic and loving man who was uncomfortable in saying too much and wrote a lovely paragraph. His sweet and devoted bride wrote a page. They felt awkward during the ceremony. Uncomfortable shoes and fancy lingerie should be one's only wedding discomforts.

2) Don't make the Jots mistake. I wrote my own vows. I was 20 and my husband was about to go to war. I sobbed through every word and have felt like an idiot for the past 20 years. Can't say them without boo-hooing? There is no dishonor in hearing the officiant say the magic words, "Repeat after me."

3) No one wants to hear about your phenomenal sex life.

4) Keep the jokes to a minimum. This is your wedding - the symbolic event that recognizes a lifelong commitment. I am all for humor, imagine that. But too much humor in the vows makes the Vegas oddmakers start tipping the payoff toward the miracle of your reaching a 5th anniversary. And no jokes about your inlaws, your redneck roots, your shared Herpes, that hot groomsman, or your beloved's birth defect. None. EVER.

5) Have them typed days beforehand and practice them. My friend Todd gave his completely off the cuff and they were amazing. We are not all Todd. If you met Todd, you would know that almost no one is Todd and the world is a duller place because of it. But also... sadly, Todd is divorced.

We all know that the most important parts of marriage are left unsaid in the wedding. But from all of us who have been married 20+ years, please consider that the following are what your vows really say:

"I am hitching my life to yours from now on. We will be together through miscarriages, burglaries, cancer scares, cancer diagnoses, presidents we hate, presidents we disagree on, some craziness our families will pull, unemployment, the baby having to be hospitalized, your addiction, my addiction, our addictions."

"We will not kill each other when we move. We will sometimes have sex when one of us is not totally in the mood. We will clean up puke and feces from animals, offspring, and each other. We will worry ourselves into insomnia and silently cry ourselves to sleep so as not to wake the other. We will at some point think of each other as a really bad phase we were going through. We will change and argue and quietly fume and forget really important things."

"And we will get up every day and try again because what we feel for each other is the truest most genuine emotion either of us selfish, imperfect goof balls has ever experienced. I am not equipped for much of what the future will hurl at us but I will face every challenge with the goal of getting to the other side with your hand in mine."

"I will say I am sorry. I will bury the hatchet. I will just plain forget that nervous tic of yours. I will work to make you happy and I will work to understand what makes me happy. I will go to counseling with you. I will make you a birthday card. I will teach the children songs I made up about how great you are. When I am dying, I want your face to be the last vision I have. When you are dying, I will hold you in my arms until your last breath knowing that the greatest part of me dies with you."

"I love you. It is the messiest emotion I have ever had but I vow to rise to being a better person for you, for us."


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Music Fantasy

I have lived every music fan's fantasy. I have also lived the nightmare. And I did them both on the same day.

I have already told the story on this blog about how I sent a fan letter to a honky tonk band out of Flint, Michigan and how less than 2 years later Whitey Morgan and the 78's were on my doorstep. And they even came back.

This is the music fan's dream. You fall in love with a band. You learn all their music. You send them a fan letter. They respond. They come to stay with you and tell you that you are marvelous. They are even better live than you had hoped. Then I go to Brooklyn to see them and Whitey picks me up with one arm and growls, "Hey, girl! How's the family?"

Oh, wait.

I guess that last part is just my thing and I didn't dream it because, at close to 6 ft. tall, the idea of someone lifting me is preposterous even in fantasy. But that did happen. And it was really cool. You short gals have all the fun.

Where was I? Ah, yes. Dreams come true. Then comes the nightmare part. I hesitate to even write this because somehow, some day Nick Hornby is going to find this blog post and he is going to die of embarrassment on my behalf. I don't want Nick Hornby to die. He hasn't written enough yet.

Nick Hornby has written six books that are pretty integral to my life. One is Juliet Naked which tells that fan dream story I have lived and another is High Fidelity. If you have not read High Fidelity, shame on you. It is the book that decodes the complete insanity that comes with being a music fanatic. And it will help you understand why I nearly ruptured a brain vessel when Whitey Morgan sat on my couch and started idly flipping through my CD rack.

(Just imagine me in the interview room of a cop show. I look sort of normal on the outside but as I recount my version of events it rapidly becomes clear that I am criminally insane.)

The cd's were not in order, you see. He was sitting right there. And the cd's. THEY WERE NOT IN ORDER. I don't listen to those cd's now. The children have knocked them down so many times. I don't even know what is up there. No. No. Those aren't the ones. Those might not even be mine. I had to kill him. Don't you see? He didn't see the real stuff I listen to! He might have told the rest of the band. I couldn't let Jeremy the bass player know about my Annie Lennox phase. I was just curious about 3rd Bass in 1992, but he wouldn't understand that. I should have given that away years ago. What if Travis the drummer found out about my Daft Punk or Billy Idol? Dear God, Tamineh the fiddler might have seen my Greatest Hits of Garth Brooks. Don't you get it? She would have told Brett and Stubby and it would have brought about the honky tonk apocalypse. Don't you see? He had to die. Yes. It was the only way. So I slipped a Koko Taylor disc in his bbq sandwich. He went peacefully. I did not disrespect him. I kept my Randy Travis to myself, officer. Koko is a great way, an honorable way to go. He knew I loved him.

So that is not how it went down. But my husband did think I was going to cry.

"You did not enjoy that, did you?" he asked today.

NO! This is my band and they are rifling through my husband's Doobie Brothers, my opera cd's. It just doesn't make any sense. As a fan, you want to show your musical idols what you are made of. It is not necessarily a kissup. I don't listen to that much honky tonk. But I do listen to its distant musical cousins that make for some good conversations.

Fans and musicians are people who sit around and wonder what would have happened if Jim Morrison lived, if the Smiths had not broken up, if Hank Jr. and Dolly Parton had a baby (it would be Whitey Morgan), if Janis Joplin and Marvin Gaye had a baby (sadly it would be Amy Winehouse.)

This is the band with whom I belted Dale Watson's (love child of Hank Sr. and Frank Sinatra) "Whiskey or God" in a van as we crossed a snowy bridge across the mighty James River. We bond through music and my uncle's Wagner cd's that I listen to annually are not going to further bonding.

So I am rewriting the nightmare. This is how it should have gone down. If they ever come back, these are the cd's that will be on the top shelf in random order, of course. I'm not OCD. I'm just fanatical.

This is my music, what I listen to. No one has to die. Just stick with this list and no one gets hurt.

Prince - (any of my 23 cd's)
Billy Ray Hatley and the Showdogs - More Years Than I Got, Deuce, Cryin' Shame
Lucero (any of 6)
Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears - Tell 'Em What Your Name Is
John Mellencamp - Life, Death, Love, and Freedom
Aretha Franklin - Queen of Soul
Delbert McClinton - Acquired Taste
The Gourds - Shinebox
Cedric Burnside and Malcolm Lightning - Two Man Wrecking Crew
Temple of the Dog - self titled
Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3 - (all)
Gladys Knight and the Pips - Greatest Hits
The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever
Mary J. Blige - What's the 411?
John Paul Keith and the 145's - Spills and Thrills
Allman Brothers - Eat a Peach
Independent Music Awards '09, '10 - Now Hear This
Whitey Morgan and the 78's - Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels, and self titled
Koko Taylor - The Earthshaker, Old School

Should the band never come back to my house, I would welcome some time on a bar stool with a similarly minded fanatic or two as we consider what would happen if Hank III converted to Judaism. Or the possible radical transformation of Richmond bluegrass if Jim Skelding of the Slack Family quit with the home repairs and devoted the bulk of his immense energy and talent to that fiddle of his. Or even who would you rather be stuck in a canoe with for two days: Waylon Jennings, June Carter Cash, or Elvis?

You buy first round.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And They Call it Puppy Love

I am mostly unconscious, drooling on my pillow in the middle of the day. Minding my own business, and thick with a cold I am trying to breathe through any possible vent in my face. Visions of friends and road trips are beginning to dance through my stuffed, dozing mind when out of nowhere a dog flies through the air and lands on my head.


Meet the newest member of our family: the puppy mutt named Chunk. Chunk is 8 months old. She likes to chew. She has a rather weak bladder. She digs when she is anxious. The outdoors make her anxious. The back yard makes her very anxious.

She is fortunate to look like a cross between two of our beloved who have died in the past two years. She is unfortunate to have already been named when we got her.

I consulted the Honky Tonk Dog Whisperer Whitey Morgan at a gig in Brooklyn last month about her issues. He said he would be glad to give her a lookover when the band rolled through town again. I was greatly looking forward to his advice. Whitey is an Alpha Male to the Nth degree, so I figured he would teach me a snarl and a menacing glare that would put Chunk in line and we would all live happily ever after.

Whitey and his glorious band the 78's came by last weekend. They shared a supper table with us and then rocked the house at the bar down the street. Our town has finally recognized their Honky Tonk greatness. The show was sold out and the dance floor did not empty for a single song.

But first Whitey met Chunk. Before I even had the chance to introduce them, Chunk sneak attacked Whitey's massive leg and kind of bumped off it with a stunned look. I have a personal rule not to sneak attack people with neck tattoos. Chunk has no rules and I think Whitey respects that, being a little free and untamed himself.

"Well, there she is, Whitey. What do you think?"

And that's when the Alpha Male of outlaw music in Flint, Michigan turned on me. I have a personal rule not to give giants with neck tattoos reason to turn on me. He gave me a mean stare that looked like a cross between Clint, Chuck, and the Duke.

"She's a perfect little baby!" he started to coo in an octave I didn't believe men that size could hit. Then he got down to Chunk's level and the only word I can think of is... snuggled her.

"What a good girl! Yes. You are such a pretty one, aren't you? That's a good girl."

Chunk and Whitey spent the rest of the meal together. She would sneak attack him. He would cuddle and coo. As the person who was hoping for a showdown, it was all a tad disgusting to me. They were in love. Completely in love. Love is all good and fine but anyone who has ever fallen in love with a baby knows: love don't keep the urine in the bladder, now does it?

After we finished our superb meal (that was blessedly hijacked by my best buddy and transformed from food into cuisine... bastard) Whitey began his pronouncements on Chunk.

"First of all, you can't call her Chunk. That's just gonna' give her a complex. She's a Princess. Or a Fancy. Aren't you, baby?" More cuddling on their part. More gagging on my part.

"You got yourself a fine dog here. She's gonna' be just great." Scratching behind ears. Hers. Licking on neck. His.

"I know that, Whitey. But what do I do in the carpet peeing, fence jumping, sneak attack meantime?" Chunk is teething on Whitey's huge hand. The band all start to chuckle.

"You think Whitey is gonna' help you get your dog to stop jumping the fence?" asks a man who, I kid you not, is named Stubby.

"Hahahahaha..." they all laugh together. Whitey and Chunk make more lovey faces at each other. I scowl politely in the corner because Whitey is my guest, Chunk is mighty cute, and let me reiterate: That Dude is HUGE.

Turns out the Alpha Male of Flint is a pushover for female dogs. His girl, Bella, jumps the fence at will and still gets the cooing and the loving, while his male dog gets comments like, "Angus! It's time we had a talk, boy" as he his led out of the house, tail between his legs.

Be that as it may, Whitey did have what is probably the only advice that will work.

"You're gonna have to wear her out. She's tired enough, she won't go jumping fences. That's it."

That's it?

"Just tire her out and give her plenty of love. She's a mighty fine animal. Aren't you, Princess?"

As I write this, Whitey and the 78's are back home in Michigan (and Austin, for their phenomenal fiddle player) for a break in touring. My cold has eased up. The back yard looks like a training ground for grenade throwing. The children are asleep. The dryer is doing its clack clack turning. The original dog is sleeping on the floor like a good dog does.

Meanwhile, the royal Chunk is curled up on the couch where she absolutely does not belong. I was going to move her but it is the very spot where Whitey sat during his visit. She is sleeping and no doubt dreaming Flint, Michigan Alpha Male dreams. I know how she feels. I miss the band, too. I wouldn't snuggle with them, but they make some mighty fine music. I relate to the misty reminiscing - me dreaming of the shows I've seen, her dreaming of the one person who understands her. I cannot deny a fellow fan her dreams.

Then I remember all the chewed up refrigerator magnets. The professional carpet cleaning appointment. The tiller we will have to borrow in the Spring. The BITE MARKS on my prescription GLASSES.

Oh, the hell I can't. Whitey ain't here to save you now, puppy-cita. SNEAK ATTACK!!!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Oysters, Atheists and a Mini-Skirt does not a Skank Make

This week at Jots has been full of celebrations: a birthday, the anniversary of the family business, the new year and yesterday - our 20th wedding anniversary.
In lieu of a post I am sharing excerpts from the note I sent my mentor, a brilliant Unitarian Universalist retired minister of refined taste and faith up in Maine. My letter was part of my thanks for his agreeing to marry us when we were young and D-U-M dumb. Six years later he and I shared leadership of a congregation. This was back when I was skinny and he was unbelievably patient - except with ministers in mini-skirts.
He had sent me a note that said "May your marriage last until 2040 when Trout Unlimited says my life membership is up and I will expire."
Dear Guru,
I am concerned by your recent letter. Is it really up to Trout Unlimited to determine your lifespan? If so, my theology is completely screwed up.
For our 20th wedding anniversary, we had a lovely dinner with the kids at the Robin Inn, the former hangout for the crotchety atheists at church. The fun-loving atheists always went to the Strawberry Street Cafe to eat salad out of the bathtub. These days I am related to all the crotchety atheists that are left, so ours is now a roaming show.
After I hissed at and threatened the children all afternoon, they were perfectly sweet to each other and did not bicker once during the meal or on the way home. In fact they were singing songs together at the breakfast table this morning which is an encouraging development. They weren't even anarchist anthems. But the lyrics seemed to inexplicably revolve around my parents' neighbors being in bed together. I'm trying not to overthink that one.
I am reading an important new work in faith and childrearing. It is called Stop Dressing Your 6 Year Old Like A Skank and is hilarious. Evidently any mom with a stripe of independence in the South has the exact same experience in raising rugrats. I have laughed myself silly. There is a great Maine vs. Disney World chapter. I think Maine wins.
Before that I read a GREAT book about oysters. It was called Sex, Death, and Oysters but that is a horrible title because it should have been "Oysters Don't Even Have (recognizable) Sex and We Keep Killing Them Off". Or maybe "Oysters are Not Clinically Proven Aphrodisacs so Don't Eat Them Out of Season Because They Could Kill You".In spite of the misleading title, the work has lit a fire in me to make a pilgrimage to Apalachicola, Florida to try their tonged-only oysters, in season.
As far as the quilting I had planned to do once freed from the bonds of a congregation, I haven't stitched an inch in months. Don't tell your bride. (Correction: I did make a pillowcase for a friend. It was covered with small roosters. The fabric sales-lady asked me my plan for it and looked perplexed when I told her. I had to look at her meaningfully and ask if she knew the other name of a rooster. When it dawned on her, her jaw dropped and I said, "Let's just say it suits him and leave it at that." She was still giggling as I walked out the door.)
The law practice is going well. The only drawback is that the boss is sleeping with his totally inept secretary. Since I also make dinner and care for his children he's keeping me around at both home and work. One year in practice and I still don't know the difference between the courts, can't read his handwriting, and I just finally completed all the insurance misery.
In one year we doubled our life insurance, picked up a disability policy for him, bought our own health insurance, and dealt with the phenomenally expensive malpractice insurance. And yet, when I confer with our many agents I still say things like, "I picked out that second one. The one with the $3,000 thing." Or more simply, "Don't explain. Just tell me how much and where to sign." (All of that was just included so that you wouldn't feel like an old geezer. I know that people of your vintage have a lot to bitch about when it comes to insurance, so I just thought I'd share a moan or two with you.)
Our eight-year-old decided this week that "braggadocio" is a word he should drop into casual conversation more often. The kindergartener asked for three braids this morning. You know me. As long as they are polite and don't freebase crack, I'm happy. Speaking of happy, as I write this from my office... I. AM. WEARING. A. MINISKIRT! Take that.
Oh, one more thing. Having learned to wrap his mouth around the words "Unitarian Universalist" at a very young age, our son likes to drop it often. During Hanukkah this year, our daughter asked if we were Jewish. I was cooking homemade latkes in the kitchen and the menorah was burning in the living room so it was a reasonable question. Little Man huffed and said, "NOOOOOOO! We are Unitarian Universalist." As if the child had suggested we might be something asinine like, I don't know... people who think Fox broadcasts news.
She dropped it for a few days. I walked through the kitchen recently as she and her father were talking. I did not hear her father's side but her response was, "Come on, Dad. Aren't we a little Jew? We celebrate Hanukkah!"
I picked up the bag I had come into the kitchen for. As I made my exit I said, "Plenty of Unitarian Universalists celebrate Hanukkah, too."
She perked right up and Dad looked relieved. Maybe I need to ease up on the trips to the synagogue? Or at least tell her that we are lanky Jews who like to hang with crotchety atheists.
Love and Shalom!
Death Becomes Her

Monday, January 03, 2011

Consciousness is a Turbulent Stream

Frankenstein wanted to pick flowers. Dracula wants a meaningful relationship. Aliens are just satisfying an innate scientific curiosity when they abduct and probe humans. And me? I'm just trying to work some things out aloud.

Someone mistook me for a budding author yesterday. An easy mistake since I did write a novel in November which I am editing now. There are forty-some pages of a memoir started years ago, and hundreds of pages of sermons that I try to pretend aren't taking up every inch of filing space. But I am not a budding author.

Here's how this works. As far as all that written on paper stuff - it's just a phase I am going through (like Frankenstein's lab destruction phase.) Some people do marathons. Some try eating contests. Some dabble in kama sutra. Me? I just write stuff down every now and again. I will grow out of it at some point. Probably when the weather warms up.

The blog on the other hand is my ongoing conversation with friends, family, former congregants, and myself. (As far as you strangers go, you are welcome as long as you don't weird me out, but I do strongly suggest you figure out what on earth brought you here.) When I wrote back in June about my clothing failures we all got to know each other REAL WELL. You write and say, "What do you think about..." and I respond. It isn't writing - it is just talking while saving our vocal cords.

Two friends whom I've known for over twenty years recently confessed to keeping up with the blog. Both did so a wee bit sheepishly. Let me put this out there once and for all: YOU ARE NOT STALKING ME IF YOU READ THIS BLOG.

The guy with the webcam outside my kitchen window? Stalking. The friend who sends me postcards? Not stalking. The one who drives by my house on purpose but does not stop to say hi? Stalking. Readers of the blog? Not stalking. Facebook and Google searches? Let me get back to you on those.

My friend Michelle published a critically acclaimed novel and she has to go around and read from it all the time. I was sort of hoping that writing it down would mean I could move on and do something else. I would rather read your grocery list aloud than to read aloud more than once something I've written. I haven't even re-read any blog posts of my own in years. It would be like replaying a telephone call. (This is my way of getting off the hook for being redundant in my posts. I forget that you have been on all my trips to rebuild the Gulf Coast, funeral conventions, and the funerals of my friends and loved ones.)

Enough of that - what did you get for Christmas? Is that not the weirdest question ever? In my house we did 16 days of Hanukkah because I flunked the first go round. We did the winter solstice, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and Day, and my husband's birthday. Somewhere in there I hosted a mini-reunion for my high school friends from out of town. Over the season I saw over sixty of my family and friends. What did I get? Great memories and indigestion.

I have been over conspiculous consumption so long I don't think I was ever under it. It was an easy step for me to take part in Yes! magazine's "No Impact Week" this week. It is set up in a way that seems inspired by Kwanzaa. Each day represents a different principle of reduction of our impact on the environment. Yesterday was consumption. Today is trash.

Those are two issues I think of often. It was impossible not to think of them during the holiday season. The blessing of a difficult economy is that we all were pretty creative in gift giving this year. There was not a giant pile of trash at the end of it all. As far as consumption is concerned, the days when I did not have to buy anything were the best days of the season.

So this is what I am up to this week. I am writing just for the hell of it. I am thinking about my family's impact on the environment and ways to cut back even further. I am still making resolutions for the new year. The number has gone up again but getting organized, losing weight, and stopping smoking are nowhere on it. Oh crap. I forgot to start smoking in 2010. Another lost opportunity for growth and change.

It would not be me if there weren't something kind of depressing: I am thinking about my uncle a lot these days. He died less than five months ago and some of the pain is really just hitting now. Much of the pain is not my own personal feelings but due to being part of a network of family who love each other and hurt for each other. My parents are sad. My children miss him. My extended family are all dealing with his absence in their own personal ways. But at the heart of it we are all wishing he did not have to die alone, even if it was his choice. We thought so much more of him than he thought of himself. And that just makes us sad.

Six of us went to a church service yesterday which included a ritual for those who died and were born in 2010. It was painful for us to stand in his honor wishing he had chosen life and not fully understanding his long struggle. But just as we were seated and passing tissues down the aisle, we had to stand up again in honor of my brother's baby who was born this year. And the tears that came with that one felt more refreshing than the earlier tears. She is an adorable addition to the family and we are lucky to have her.

Yesterday I was supposed to keep my trash for No Impact Week. I had panty hose packaging (recyclable), hard candy wrappers from keeping the kids occupied during the service, twenty used tissues (all mine), a receipt from the comfort lunch I dragged everyone to, and the tags I took off the new PJ's my mom gave me that I put on at 5:30PM. "For where your treasure is, there too your trash will be."

Happy New Year!
May you have more blessings than heartaches.
May you fall in love with the world all over again.
May you see something amazing in nature.
May you have moments of bliss and inspiration peppered in with meaningful work.
May you push yourself to be your best and forgive yourself when you fall short.
When it is time for you to leave us, may you be missed. But may that time be a long ways off.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to send your grocery list.