Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Bird and Deal are first generation Americans. It's a pretty momentous hallmark in our family tree, and they'll be remembered as such generations from now when their children's grandchildren research the crazy, mixed up lineage it will surely become. My parents are naturalized citizens, which means they took a test of American history and likely know more about the electoral process than most people who are born citizens.
When I was six years old I got the Dr. Seuss My Book About Me. I clearly remember counting all the spoons and buttons in my house so I could complete the book with utter precision. One of the questions was about what I wanted to be when I grew up. In my childish chicken scratch I wrote "President," only the S was backwards. You have no idea how disheartened I was when my teacher told me that I would never be President because I wasn't born in America. I was heart broken. Sad. Infuriated. Bummed out worse than any forlorn lover in a billboard topper country music ditty. What else was an ambitious six year old to aspire to? I crossed out "President" and wrote "Pediatrician." And um, that didn't come to fruition either. I could secure a spot in the record books as the only Indian in the world who's bad at math and science.
In any case, I'm not suggesting we change the Constitution. I applaud our forefathers (and the unmentioned, uncredited foremothers) for the ingenious framework they created for this fair country I call home. I was watching some Schoolhouse Rock with Bird and Deal and explained to them that America was founded on the principle of embracing the similarities of all who tend and walk its soil versus fighting over the differences.
My, how times have changed.
So pummel me for being an Idealist. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...
Something struck a chord in me when we were watching The Great American Melting Pot. Why can't a black man with roots in Kenya, Kansas, and Waikiki be our next president? Read the lyrics and you're sure to see what I mean. I'm living vicariously through Obama. After all, my teacher didn't say I couldn't be President because I'm a girl.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
To the hyper woman at Helios this afternoon who was worked up about how quickly she's aging: Get over it. It beats the alternative. I'll take some gray hair and wrinkles over a pine box or copper patina urn any day.
And here's a tip that I won't even charge you for. Ditch the Christmas socks. It's March 19 for criminy's sake! And by the way, holiday theme socks are a bad, very bad, idea (unless you're a preschool teacher, of course, but even those should be donned at the appropriate holiday). The wacky little red socks peppered with Christmas trees and stars ain't helpin' you look any younger. Or cooler. Or hipper. Or sassier.
It's no secret that I love shoes. I even dream about them. Seriously, one of my frequent dreams is that I open up my extraordinarily large, organized closet to find umpteen boxes of new shoes. Stacked high in clear Rubbermaid boxes and labeled with my new label maker. I delight in my options and try on everything in a frenzy to decide what to wear. It sucks waking up realizing that I'll be donning flip flops or cowboy boots...again.
I equally love shoes for Bird and Deal, even though they want to wear sneakers everyday. Apparently Mac Daddy told them those are the "fast" shoes so anything else I buy doesn't cut the mustard. We will be flying with the kids this summer so sneakers are not an option for expediting an already lengthy security regimen. With my luck, the boys will be fiddling with the laces, creating knots that Salvatore Sarno couldn't untie. Bird is particularly adept at screwing up his laces since he's in the I-want-to-tie-my-own-damn-shoes mode.
In walk Toms Shoes.
These canvas slip ons are as cool as Vans of yore but serve a higher purpose. For every pair you buy, Toms' donates a pair to a child in need. That means that by one simple act of buying shoes (!) that you'd buy anyway, you are doing a good deed. Is there any better motivation to shop?! That's a justification even I haven't used yet. Trying to ignite the economy one Amex charge at a time is a ploy that's not working on Mac Daddy, but even he can't argue with Toms.
The shoes are way cool in a hunky surfer kind of way. The boys can put them on themselves, a real time saver in the security jungle. Based on available sizes, only Deal can sport the Toms. Bird will undoubtedly get jealous, meaning that I'll be shooting off a note to Blake Mycoskie asking him to stock larger sizes. And don't think for a second that I won't be ordering a pair for myself too.
Note that this, like my other unsolicited endorsements and opinions, are unpaid. I'm simply sharing the wealth of knowledge that I garner from shoe surfing.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I hate to exercise. I am fully clad in work out wear as I write this. I am gearing up for Michelle's Butts n' Guts class that seriously kicks my butt. Note that it kicks my butt but so far does nothing to shape it. Perhaps all those nightly Dove chocolates left over from Valentine's Day are a distant contributing factor. Hey, I'm just trying to make room in the pantry for Easter candy. Just doing my part on the housekeeping front.
It doesn't help that I lack coordination, balance, strength, stamina...oh yeah, and interest. Basically all the athletic prowess chromosomes skipped over me to go swimming in someone else's gene pool. Looking in a mirror as I try to master some choreography while balancing on a step is nothing less than humorous and humiliating. My lack of athleticism is a constant source of humor and frustration for Mac Daddy. He is naturally athletic so he can't comprehend why I can't hit the ball off the tee on the first try. Nevermind that I haven't golfed in seven years. And have you noticed how dang small that ball is?!
It seems that Bird and Deal will take after their dad. Well, sort of. Let's face it, Deal is gonna be the star athlete in the family whose newspaper clippings we will paste into his scrapbook. Bird is going to enjoy sports but will not have the same talent as his little brother. Bird has grace while Deal has brawn. Bird will be the kicker (the most graceful position in football, I like to say) while Deal will be the gentle giant playing defensive end (like I even know what that is!). At least they see us exercising and taking time to do what's healthy so we are setting a good example. I don't dare let on that I hate every single painful, boring minute of it.
You know why I hate exercise? Because it doesn't end. Why must I work out day after day after day after day? I just want to do it, hit my goal, and stop. I'm the kind of girl who likes to cross things off her to-do list. Sometimes if I complete a task that wasn't on my list, I just write it down to feel the sense of accomplishment of crossing it off. Exercise is a task that shows up every single day, mocking me into submission. Buying cute workout wear isn't even motivation enough (other than buying tennis skirts, of which I cannot get enough!). I want exercise to be like painting a room. You toil, sweat, curse, and labor through it. At the end you have lovely Sherwood Forest green walls. And you're done.
Is there a way to make exercise fun? Is there hope for me? A magic pill? Where can I find the Kool Aid that the meatheads at the gym have obviously drunk? I refuse to let my body fall into the 40-year old sagging blubber factory that it's destined to become without Michelle. I just want my body to be all Jessica Biel but I don't want to work for it.
Monday, March 17, 2008
And here's the deal: I don't care how you vote. Just get off your ass and vote. Any TV you miss will be recapped online anyway. Register now before basketball frenzy erupts and your brain cells become a whirlygig of little orange bouncy balls. Read this post and register. Now. Go on. What are you waiting for? Dirt & Noise will be here when you get back.
In North Carolina, you must be registered as a Democrat or Unaffiliated in order to vote in the Democratic primary on May 6. The deadline is April 11th.
If you aren't a registered Democrat or Unaffiliated, register now:
If you are registered, learn more about what you can do to bring as many voters as possible into the political process:
Register. Bring a friend.
Vote. Bring a friend.
Give a lift to someone who doesn't have one.
You don't have a right to bitch if you didn't cast a vote. Don't take voting for granted. Do you realize how many people before us and how many people in other countries don't benefit from the democratic process? We owe them. Parents who vote raise kids who vote when they come of age. Turn off your mute button and turn up the volume.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
We've just marked the one year mark since my father-in-law's death. We didn't really acknowledge the occasion with a Manhattan toast or anything, though we stopped in our own ways to remember him. I miss his Sunday phone calls for a sports recap and weather update. I miss his funny voicemail messages because leaving a message on a machine is something he never got used to. I miss him.
In many ways, I was closer to him than I am to my own father. Perhaps because we came to know each other with no baggage, tangled relationship issues, or guilt attached. We simply met as two people who made each other laugh and shared an affinity for endless teasing. In that regard we had met our match. The man I knew is far different than the man Mac Daddy knew growing up.
We would all say that about our fathers, right? They are different men to others than they are to us. Sometimes better. Sometimes worse. Few of us really get to know our own fathers of a generation ago. Coming home at 5:30 to a scotch, a smoke, and Dan Rather was the norm. Changing into play wear and sliding around the house in sock feet to chase bad guys at 5:30 is a new fatherly phenomenon.
Nonetheless, the father-in-law I knew would play super heroes and spies with Bird and Deal. He must have realized that the universe gave him a second chance. And he relished it. He was quick to give a wheelchair ride and convince the kids that his wheelchair lift was as fun as any whirly ride at a carnival. He taught Bird and Deal that a wheelchair is nothing more than a seat on wheels. Cliche as it sounds, they learned at an early age to see the person, not the device, be it a wheelchair, scooter, crutches, or walker.
He teased me for being a wimp in temps below 50 degrees, and he laughed at my complete inability to identify tools or other such manly gear. We enjoyed Friday fish fry and were often the only ones getting second helpings. He laughed at how much food I could stuff into my five foot tall, slight frame. He made sure there were plenty of sweets for me when I visited, sometimes saving some of his special stash of chocolate bars for me. When I couldn't stomach the Sanka he so graciously bought for my visit, he wasn't offended. He just teased me for being a coffee snob and puckered up his face in mock disbelief at the price I paid for a cup of joe at the local coffee shop. Truth be told, he smacked his lips and enjoyed that coffee too.
He readily welcomed me into his family, even though I came from places that he had only read about. Born in India. Raised in Virginia. He didn't care what made me different. Keep in mind that he was raised in what I affectionately call Podunk, Wisconsin in a town of 500 people. Though we never identified with each other in terms of our past or shared experiences, we knew one thing: we both fiercely loved Mac Daddy.
I see traces of my father-in-law in Mac Daddy, in demeanor and bewitching good looks. A charming, toothy smile. Full body laugh that just makes you want to laugh right along, even if you don't get the joke. Gentle hands. Quick to laugh. Affectionate. Sarcastic, yet witty. An instigator. Passionate about the Badgers and Packers. And yes, that Wisconsin accent that sneaks out time to time despite Mac Daddy's best efforts to sound like a Midwestern news anchor.
Bird asks about Grandpa once in a while. I never know what will trigger it but I'm glad he's still thinking about him. Deal doesn't remember him, but recognizes him in photos. I am most saddened that my boys won't grow up knowing their grandpa, the fun one who'd be on the floor wrestling with them if he were able. Mac Daddy and I try to keep his memory alive so they will at least know about the chapters of his life that they played a part in. The other day out of the blue, Bird told me that he thinks Grandpa is in heaven petting Capote on his lap (our cat who died 2 years ago). I think Bird is exactly right.