Friday, July 11, 2008

Just plain water for me, thanks.

I dragged my sorry self to the gym this morning for a quick, and I mean quick, workout. 45 minutes is better than 2 tuxedo cupcakes with extra chocolate chips and a side of Regis and Kelly. I was stuffing my overloaded, poor quality freebie gym bag into the locker and knocked all my essentials off the bench, towards the floor. The gym locker room floor. The same locker room of toothbrush fame.

Being the crazy OCD woman I am, I leaped across the bench, coming just this close to knocking into the taut mama next me, trying to retrieve my precious essentials before they made contact with the floor. That floor. And if you must know, my essentials include an MP3 player, little towel, water bottle, and Chapstick. Is this news to you that I am addicted to lip balm? Because I am. It's stashed all over the place lest I go without. Shudder at the thought.

So now all the gym ladies are looking at me like I am auditioning for the part of crazy lady #1 in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Redux. They are thinking that things falling onto a floor are perfectly fine, perhaps just a skip away from dandy in fact. All on eyes on me to see what the heck is so precious. The way I see it, all things that come into contact with my person are precious.

I knew better.

Lady Luck was scattering her dust elsewhere this morning. All my stuff rolled onto the floor. Now I know how the kid with the damn meatball must have felt. In the midst of my panting from sheer heroic efforts and total whacked out stress, I retrieved my stuff. The essentials. I wiped everything down with a wipe (baby wipes are a misnomer...the marketing opportunities are endless if Kimberly-Clark would just do away with the baby image on the packaging!). Yes, I keep a package of wipes in my gym bag (and my purse, tote bag, and glove compartment...oh, and the emergency bag in my trunk). Not green, I know. Someone give me a better alternative.

I digress, as I am known to do on occasion. Forgive me. Dirt really stresses me out.

Everything was fine. The essentials were no worse for the wear.

Except my water bottle. The essentialist of the essentials.

I picked it up and dropped it again as if it were coated in Dick Cheney's piss.

Only this was worse.

There was a solitary pube stuck to the little spout. You know, where my MOUTH would go! And yeah, it wasn't mine (not like that would have made a difference).

Now excuse me while I go dry heave in the corner.

The moral of the story is: when the given the choice between tuxedo cupcakes and exercise, choose the cupcakes.
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5:00 Fridays

Today's cocktail is in honor of Mac Daddy's Wisconsin brethren arriving today. Four 40-year old high school buddies from Wisconsin converging on my house for the weekend. Did I mention they're all staying here? Four guys with a lot o' smack to talk, and perhaps a thing or two to prove, sleeping under my roof. Snoring. Boasting. Fart jokes. General bad influences on Bird and Deal. And yeah, that means Mac Daddy is absolved of all duties for the weekend.

Let's do some math just for kicks. Four men and two boys at Chez Dirt & Noise for the weekend. That makes six, count 'em SIX, sets of balls in my house for three days. Can you spell T-E-S-T-O-S-T-E-R-O-N-E? Dirt and Noise will earn its title in spades this weekend.

Actually, the fellas coming are great. They go way back with Mac Daddy and they have welcomed me into their Cheesehead fold with the ease of meeting a long lost friend. The guys get together every summer to golf, drink beer, tell tall tales, drink beer, talk trash, drink beer, eat chicken wings, nap, drink beer, and drink some more beer. They're from Wisconsin, what'd you expect?

Seriously, these guys are the ones who took time off from work, drove over two hours (one with a toddler in tow) to come to Mac Daddy's sister's funeral. Mac Daddy didn't expect to see them and he broke down at the mere sight of his friends walking through the church doors, ties adjusted just so, posture stick straight and perfect, expressions forlorn. At the death of Mac Daddy's father last year, these guys did it again...traveling through perilous winter highways this time. No words were exchanged. Just hugs, the really deep bear hug kind where no one wants to let go first. Shared tears. Eye contact that clearly said, "I love you, man." These guys are family.

As smelly as my house will be, I'm thrilled to see them.

In honor of the beer that will be consumed this weekend, today's drink is Wisconsin Limeade.

1 6-pack of Miller Lite (We're going with the Wisconsin theme here. Only a WI brew will do! Hmmm...that sounds like a fine tag line.)
1 can of frozen limeade (Go generic store brand here. Wisconsin is not a fancy place.)
sliced lime for garnish (Not that the boys from Wisconsin will appreciate garnish, but I aspire to be a proper hostess.)

In a really, really big pitcher, mix the beer (all of it, it's not like you won't drink this heat buster) and limeade. Mix 'er up really well with a metal spoon (reduces the foam). Serve cold in chilled glasses...redundant, no? Rest assured that I'd have some of those chilled glasses on hand if it weren't the for the three racks of spareribs, two pounds of shrimp, and two gallons of ice cream taking up all the space in my freezer...those boys have to eat something (OK the ice cream is for yours truly.)! Garnish (the ever important detail!) with a lime slice.

Make a toast to friendship and enjoy!

So refreshing on a muggy day. Those guys will think they've stepped off the plane directly into a vegetable steamer. Needless to say, we'll be enjoying our Wisconsin Limeade indoors in the comfort of a cool 78 degrees (several degrees cooler than the comfort of 82 that I prefer...my favorite temperature...see #22.)
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Good Riddance, Jesse Helms

I am not from North Carolina, though I've lived here for over six years now and have no intention of leaving any time soon (only because Madison, WI is too freaking cold!). It is home, and I have a lovely, happy life here. When asked where I'm from, I always answer Virginia (with a qualifier that I live in North Carolina). It's where I grew up after all. And let's be honest, once a Virginian, always a Virginian. My friend Will gives me grief about not claiming NC as my home state. He wonders how long I must live here for North Carolina to qualify as my answer when the knitting chick next me to on a plane asks me where I'm from.

At this rate, never. I'm a bit miffed at my state right now. They just laid Jesse Helms to rest this week. Good riddance. Mac Daddy and I saw him at a local restaurant when we first moved here. When Mac Daddy saw him, he muttered under his breath, "I'd like to knock that walker out from under him." Apparently his mutter was more of a snort, so lots of people looked our way. Only a couple folks smiled sheepishly in agreement, expressing their solidarity more with their eyes than their words. Ripping on "Uncle Jesse," as our conservative neighbor calls him, was clearly against the rules in our new state.

I remember growing up in Virginia hearing about the racist vitriol that spewed from his lips. I remember my parents shaking their heads, thinking damn, I'm glad we don't live there. My nanny, a black woman with grown children and four grandchildren, has lived in North Carolina for decades and had to experience Helms' racism firsthand. A local newspaper columnist summed up what the Helms way would have meant to the black people of North Carolina. This is a man who was a vocal segregationist, openly discriminated against AIDS victims by opposing federal research and treatment dollars (PSHAW to his later regret...too little too late, my friend), and was opposed to instituting Martin Luther King Day. Social conservatism, ha! That's putting it mildly. This is a man who referred to our state's flagship university as the University of Negroes and Communists (UNC)!

Jesse Helms was a divisive man. His first bid for the Senate centered on a separationist philosophy: "He's one of us!" barked his slogan in response to his Greek-American opponent. Remember Ryan White? The kid who contracted AIDS at age 13 and subsequently died? Helms refused to speak to Ryan's mother when she went to the Hill to speak to representatives about AIDS research funding. Know what he said about the horrific disease? "There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy." Oh, it gets better. Know what he did to Carol Moseley-Braun in the elevator? He whistled Dixie. Yup, sure did.

You gagging yet?

Simply put, Jesse Helms was not a good man. I don't care how affable or gentlemanly you perceived him to be. A tip of the hat and a hidy-ho with an offer of a glass of sweet tea to passers by do not a gentleman make. Does a truly friendly, good natured man wish for the demise of an entire race? Good people do good deeds and inspire goodness. Helms fueled a racism and xenophobia so deep and hateful that it is still palpable today. Is this goodness? Are these the kinds of values you want your children to live by and pass on? I am sick that North Carolinians voted for this man for so long. I am sick that in death, North Carolina revered him.

No flag should have been flown at half staff if you ask me. Just because a man is dead doesn't mean it is time to celebrate his life. Grace does not befall the fallen if it was not due in life. Helms lived his life trying to suppress the rights of others; his was not a life lived by the decree of respect for all. So tell me, Governor Easley, why should we bestow respect on this man by flying flags at half staff? He was not worthy.

You can imagine my outrage at this.

I want Mr. Eason to run for office. If more people lived by their convictions as he did, we might be a better place. Sounds like the spirit of Paul Wellstone to me. Man, would he have been a refreshing jolt to the red blood running through the veins of North Carolina. Now let's think about something, police officers accidentally shoot and kill people and get a temporary desk job until the proverbial dust settles. Eason refused to lower the flag for Jesse Helms and is fired...oh, I mean forced into "retirement." Just or unjust?

Here's a comment from a local blog that a delusional Kristy left. It's almost laughable to me that people actually believe this crap. Last I recall from my history class days with Ms. Malone (and I majored in history in college), the nation was not knit together by God and the bible. Um, separation of church and state ring a bell, Kristy? Oh, you were probably homeschooled so you missed that chapter. I guess you don't know who Darwin and Martin Luther King Jr. are either. For starters, Kristy, your message would be more tolerable with some proper grammar and a comma or two. Punctuation simply can't be overlooked, my dear. If you're going to spew a load of crap, you might as well do it correctly.
  1. "What a great Senator Jesse Helms was. To have never lost a political race is quite an accomplishment. I hope those who have opposed him realize that those who voted him into office are walking along side you even now and are continuing to vote for the values Senator Helms upheld. Knowing this state put him into Senate for as long as they did is only one of the many reasons I am proud to be from North Carolina. If you saw him in a negative light I implore you to look beyond secondhand information and read first hand his voting record (which is public information for those of us who like to make up our own mind about things rather than having our opinions handed to us by a third party). He believed every person was created equal in the eyes of God and voted to protect each one of this states citizens, even those who hated him. As for moral issues, if you disagreed with Jesse Helms and oh so many other more conservative thinkers please don’t take it out on us because sadly we can’t take credit for the ideals we try to uphold but rather look to God and the Bible from which the nation was knitted together. That is definitely who your disagreement is with."

    By kristy on Jul 10, 2008

In the South it would be perfectly appropriate to recount Kristy's story and end with a, "Bless her heart." Translation: "That Kristy is an idiot who refuses to take off her blinders. What a shame we have to deal with her."
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Green babies aren't scary.

I just discovered this great book that I wish had been around when I was hunting for baby gear. It's written by a very clever (and may I say lovely), talented, and creative classmate of mine from graduate school. We have kids about the same age, and she has eco living down to a science. Her tips and ideas are actually feasible, budget friendly, and she doesn't pretend to be perfect (for example, she doesn't compost...yet). This book would make an awesome baby shower gift with an organic cotton blanket used as the wrapping paper.
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What Not to Say if You Want to Be My Friend: Deal Breakers

I owe thanks to Poison Pen for slipping me this post idea this morning. She's the one of Ball Pit fame.

Back when I was in the dating game, there were certain deal breakers. Tighty whiteys for starters. Keep in mind I was dating before the days of boxer briefs, but those would be a definite potential deal breaker. Boxers all the way, man. Squeezing toothpaste in the middle: a deal breaker to this neat freak. Granted, things had already gotten pretty far if I was privy to toothpaste habits. A hairy back was a definite deal breaker. An ass smaller than mine: also a deal breaker. There are of course the obvious ones like voting Republican, wearing too much cologne, talking about his ex, bad table manners, being plain stupid, mussed up shoes (Aw, come on! Shoes tell a lot about a man!), or hitting on my friends (with a hotties like Shannon and Cathy as my closest friends, this one cropped up a lot).

Now that I'm learning to feel and find my way in the mom world, I find myself dating again. There are deal breakers in this game too. Here are a few recent ones I've encountered. These are for real, not figments of my imagination. I wish I had mugshots to warn you to stay away, far away, from these women.

"We home school our three children ages 2-6." Luckily my cell phone rang, and I just had to take the call.

"We're thinking about buying a pop-up camper." I wanted to say, "You're not Barbie, Lady."

"What do you think about a mom's weekend away? We could do crafts in our camper!" Again with the camper. Who are these people?! I reckon there would be no margaritas served in that camper.

"So maybe we could get together to do some scrapbooking?" Frankly I'm insulted she took me to be a scrapbooker. Anything I'd create from these hands would be a crapbook. And that sounds more fun because there would be alcohol involved.

"Oh, isn't it sad that Jesse Helms died?" WHAAATTT??!!!?? It was all I could do to not punch her in the gut. The world would have been better without the likes of him. Now sock it to me for saying something so disparaging about a dead man . Being dead doesn't make him sacred.

"I see my role in life to make my husband happy." Um, yeah. I'm all for that if he's making me happy too. Has she not heard the adage, "Ain't nobody happy if momma ain't happy?" That's rule numero uno at my house.

"My son is wearing a shirt from Target, but his shorts are from Talbotts." I'm not kidding you that these were the first words uttered out of this woman's mouth. What on my face made me look like I gave a shit what her kid was wearing? Little did she know that there was no need to be so apologetic about the Target attire; that carried more weight than Talbotts.

"Did you breastfeed? My daughter is five, and I still breastfeed her. She really enjoys it." DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THIS ONE. Shudder. Shudder. Shudder.

"I just vote the way my husband tells me too." And are you enjoying living in the year 1953?

"I don't like to shop and I don't care what shoes I'm wearing." Seriously? I thought she was joking. Find me a woman who doesn't like shoes for cripes sake! I'd rather hang with the homeschooler than a woman who doesn't drool over shoes.

So tell me, what are your deal breakers? I'd like to be armed with some examples lest I'm accosted at the park by a suspicious looking scrapbooker sporting lace up Keds.
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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Breast Cancer Rears its Head

I don't want to be a downer here, but please read this.

Now go check your breasts. Promise to do so every other month. Read here to learn why every month might be too often. I'm no doctor, though I aspired to be one, so check with a real doc to ask questions and find out what's right for you.

Here's an article on CNN's site about the mom from Toddler Planet whom I raced in celebration of. Check it out.

And by the way, my new favorite breast cancer walk T-shirt says Hakuna Ma Ta-Tas. Love it.
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Sick About Being Sick

I don't like to shake hands. Not because I'm snooty, though I admit I can be. Because of all those nasty freaking germs out there. Like tampons, handkerchiefs, and mascara, some things should not be shared. I'm uncomfortable touching other people's hands, especially strangers. Think about it. Do you know where that hand has been? What's worse is when you do know and someone juts out her manicured hand in a gesture to make corporate niceness. No thank you.

I'm talking to you, Roxanne! I know you don't wash your hands after you go to the bathroom, even though you're dressed to the nines, fooling your minions into thinking you are a maven of cleanliness and perfection. Even my boys know better, and they scrub extra hard after a few good plops in the potty. You, Roxanne, are a germ infester. And I know you don't give a rat's ass about sick days, considering you once sent a CAB to your 10-year old daughter's school to pick her up when the nurse called you at work saying your child had a fever. You were the boss, the head honcho, the big cheese, and you kept on working, even though telecommuting and working from home were acceptable and even encouraged at the time.

And by the way, you were still at your desk when I left at 6:00 that day.

Germs make us sick, and I don't want to get sick. I work for myself and don't have the luxury of paid sick days. On those days that mucus flows like Niagara Falls, I simply work in my bubble and stay away from clients. I do have the luxury to be productive in my own wee little world. I was struck to learn that about half of all private sector workers don't get paid sick days either. Are you as incredulous as I am? Did you naturally assume you have paid sick days? Better rifle through that new employee handbook that HR handed you on day one with the soggy sandwich in orientation.

Raise your hand if your kid has been in daycare/preschool/school/gynmastics with another kid who has clear case of the runs or a runny nose?

Raise the other hand if you have ever pumped up your kid with Tylenol/Motrin/Benadryl to mask a minor ailment because you couldn't afford to take time off from work?

Now how does it feel to be sitting at the coffee shop/your desk/library/McDonald's (yes, they have free wireless!) with your arms up in the air?

Seriously, those parents, most of 'em anyway, aren't to be blamed. The finger pointing goes beyond the mom and dad just trying to get by (especially these days!). The fault lies with the system. If bosses like Roxanne don't value paid sick time, who will? Clearly the people in the C-Suite have the pull, and they're pulling in the wrong direction. That leaves us parents being pulled in all directions.

As a culture, it's no secret that we value productivity more than people. It is a utilitarian (not to be confused with Unitarian) society indeed. I could even make the leap to call our philosophy Darwinism, but some folks out there don't want to hear all that crazy talk. Just take a look at the state of our healthcare, maternity and paternity leave, heart disease rates, and poverty levels. For a first class developed nation, we pretty much suck at the things that make, and keep, our citizens happy and healthy. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Does that ring a bell? All that productivity is literally killing us, but hey, those fine folks at Halliburton and their ilk are making a killing. Our culture, policies, politics, and philosophy must change.

If you think it's tough to juggle work and family when you're sick, just wait til you add ailing parents to the equation. Now that's some murky territory that you definitely don't want to be treading in. It takes a village, my ass.

THE MAN, you know, the one we all work for, is a bastard. Make that with a capital B.

Click here to tell THE MAN what you think. The hard work is already done, thanks to the fine moms at Moms Rising.
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Monday, July 7, 2008

A Baby Boy's Earth Shattering Beginnings

The earthquake in China got a lot of attention in the first few days, perhaps because a noted NPR journalist just happened to be there and brought some of the devastation to life. The catastrophic scale was clearly evident in the reporter's quaking voice. Professional as she is, even she could not dam up the welling tears during her broadcasts. Faithful NPR listeners felt the palpable pain and listened in horrors, mouths agape.

China to many of us is nothing more than one giant, albeit VERY giant, factory. It's a tag attached to our goods, sewn into our garments, with no faces, people, hearts, souls, and emotions tied to it. To many, China simply represents the new land of opportunity. Monetary, that is. Not the taste of freedom that defines opportunity for Americans. Greed, expansion, corporate bullying, government handshakes, profit margins. That defines opportunity in China. It has become a commodity. And commodities lack emotion or other humanizing traits.

And then the earth shattered.

China, for a brief moment in time, became real to us. We saw the masses as individuals. We were jolted awake to realize that these are people just like us.

I sat in my air conditioned home, seated on a scrumptious leather sofa, snacking on edamame and sipping 2 Buck Chuck while watching the horror unfold. The utter chaos was remarkable, heart wrenching, yet so distant, geographically and conceptually. I couldn't wrap my head around the seismic force of nature that instantly crumbled buildings and crushed lives. And the news went on. For days. Maybe a week. I walked furiously on the treadmill, headphones attached to my little TV monitor, so I could tune in to every speck of news out there. Of course the gym, with Bird and Deal safely playing in the Kids' Club haven, was the only place I could watch the news. Lord knows I didn't need to subject my little guys to that sort of devastation. I'm not ashamed to admit that I sniffled like a hay fever sufferer and wiped away some serious tears while burning rubber on that treadmill.

So what now? What's happened to those people? Where are they living? How are they faring? Will they ever rebuild their lives? And what, dear God, what about the children? What about the children left motherless and the mothers left childless?

My life is cake. And that's just mostly good fortune blowing kisses my way.

Here it is almost 2 months after the earthquake, and we don't hear squat about it. It was easy to watch the newscasts somberly, perhaps even shedding a tear or two, as I did. It was easy to get choked up and hug our kids extra hard for a while there. That wore off after meltdown #76. Then we simply switched the channel to watch HGTV's Design Star or something equally innane. Then media focused its fickle attention on matters like Hollywood's baby boom and the fall of Bear Stearns.

Our lives went on. And go on.

You must take a look at this. You will be moved, I assure you.
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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Too Tired to Type

Are you sometimes so tired that you cannot lift one more finger to strike the keyboard? So tired that your eyelids are closed for a good 3 minutes before you realize you've been drooling on your arm? That is me today. Too many late nights, laughs with friends, belly stuffing meals, ice cream, cookies, blueberry pie, cupcakes, and wine have officially caught up with me. I have so much to say and share but cannot bring myself to expend one more iota of energy on anything but sleep. Zzzzzz...........
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