Friday, September 11, 2009

5:00 Fridays

It was the breathing room I needed between the end of my summer residency and the beginning of my last semester of graduate school. Mother Nature was graciously hosting a soiree in the meteorological sweet spot of Chicago's seasons. I decadently slept in, briefly opening my eyes to bid Mac Daddy adieu before he headed to the train. As per my request, he left on the bathroom radio so I could lazily wake up to the tune of my internal clock.

The DJs, Eric and somebody I can't recall, were bantering about something banal. Their cornpone schtick was reason enough for me to drift back to sleep.

And then I heard the fright and horror and disbelief in their screaming voices. No 7 second delay that morning. What I heard was raw. On edge. And terrifyingly real.

The day was September 11, 2001.

And Mac Daddy was on the "L" heading to his office in the Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenue.

A building the radio was frenetically rattling off on a list of potential targets. A building that was being evacuated.

Phone lines were down. Trains were halted. The news was full of holes and questions and what ifs. The news was making me frantic thinking that Chicago was next.

And it was hours before Mac Daddy was home safely. Hours before I breathed.

Yet my measley hours of worry pale in embarrassing comparison to those who felt real loss and fright that day.

We all have 9/11 etched in our psyche in some fashion.

My calendar calls 9/11 Patriot Day. Even the book The Daily Cocktail serves up a 9/11 special.

American Glory

3 ounces champagne
2 ounces orange juice (pulp free calcium enriched, might as well make your drinking healthy!)
2 ounces lemonade

Pour all the ingredients into an ice-filled Collins glass. Garnish with blueberries and raspberries skewered on a toothpick.

Take a slow, cautious sip. Say a little prayer if you wish. Make a toast. Whisper thanks. Wipe a tear. Breathe.

Cheers, my friends. Here's to New York and Washington, D.C. and all the places scattered about the map that thousands of brave souls called home.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dusting Off Some "Me Time"

The weekend here was positively glorious. Sunny, with a gentle warm breeze, sapphire blue skies dotted with whipped cream clouds, and my favorite temperature. 82 degrees. Surely you're not surprised that I have a favorite temperature?

Mac Daddy took the boys to the park to play some baseball Saturday morning. They gathered their gear, a cooler of snacks (that I admit to checking on the sly to ensure Mac Daddy packed the right stuff), and sunblock, thanks to my nagging (no word on if that was actually applied). Hugs and kisses, smooch smooch goodbye. Off they went, downright dancing down the sidewalk. My three boys, to whom I owe all this dirt and noise.

And then I clutched the powder room pedestal sink to keep from falling to my knees onto the cheap plastic stool and wept. Fat monsoon tears that I didn't even bother to wipe away. I gripped the sink to keep myself from giving in to whim and bashing the weathered pewter mirror in front of me. I stifled the bellowing scream bubbling up in my gut and let a snarl escape instead, a rather unfulfilling impostor.

No park for me. No breeze was to grace my face. I stayed behind at home.

Ah, the house to myself. Just me. Unplugged and Twitter free. Illicit, decidedly un-kid-friendly lyrics cranking at rock star decibels on the iPod, hot, strong coffee in my favorite travel mug and another full pot in the French press.

And me, hair swept back in a blue bandanna fished out of the dress up box, tattered purple tank tank top, supremely comfortable baggy jersey knit shorts, not a lick of mascara. Just me.

And a dustpan.
Murphy's oil.
Toilet bowl brush.
Stainless steel polish.
Method cleaner.
And those damned yellow rubber gloves.

You see, the only "me time" I get in my house is when I'm cleaning. Forget what I said before, now I regret firing my cleaning lady. First of all, cleaning my house makes me utterly irascible, while having a clean house makes me deliriously jubilant. The stream of pee around the bathrooms, thanks to two little boys and one big man, with poor aim, is enough to make me gag. You should hear me yell when I catch Bird leaning back to pee so he can (somewhat) aim and watch Kim Possible at the same time. He misses. Every. Single. Time.

And then there's all the dust bunnies.
Crunched leaves, twigs, and other signs of nature.
Sticky floors.
Hand prints in the least expected spots.
Toothpaste goop.
And all the usual suspects.

I. HATE. To. Clean.

The proverbial silver lining is this: I am all by myself when I am cleaning. That alone makes it more bearable.

No one is there to tug on me. I can pee in peace, whether the door is shut or not (and for the record, I have no issues with aim). I can eat three popsicles in one sitting, one in every flavor. I don't mentally tally up the constant chorus of "Hey, Mommy" in my exploding head. I don't have to endure knock-knock jokes or the Dragon Tales theme song. I don't have lunches to prepare or LEGO fights to mediate or bottoms to wipe or time outs to impose. There is no whining, bickering, yelling. The banshees have left the building.

And I am alone.

Me time.

Problem is, me time is not the same as time for me.

I suddenly don't feel so guilty about ignoring my family all day Monday while I curled up in the rocking chair on the front porch, with the ceiling fans on so I too could feel a breeze in my hair, to indulge in Twilight.

Sometimes I miss my little one bedroom apartment on Excelsior Boulevard. The one where I had a God awful floral wallpaper border in my nauseously girly bedroom, battenburg lace curtains, umpteem throw pillows on my bed, two walk-in closets, a tiny balcony covered in AstroTurf, a wall of mirrors in the bathroom, my very own stereo, even though it was just a little Bose shelf unit, and wall-to-wall carpeting. The same apartment where my Sunday paper was stolen on a regular basis. The same apartment that smelled ever so faintly of a potion of cat piss, stale Swisher Sweets, and bleach. The same apartment where doing laundry in the basement required a chaperon. The same apartment where I was alone but never lonely. Alone. By myself. Doing whatever the hell I wanted.

When time was all about me.
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Adventures at Old Navy

The blogosphere is all atwitter with issues about integrity, transparency, honesty. For that matter, Twitter too is atwitter with such discussions. As a blogger who writes with my values and ethics at the forefront of what I share, I profess to bring you the whole truth, nothing but the truth.

So what does this have to do with the Old Navy sign up there?

Well, I get to be a brand enthusiast for Old Navy. I'm not sure about the details and what the year will hold but it's sure to be fun. What I do know is I'm not being paid, I'm not required to blog about the brand, I can write my own unedited opinions if I do choose to write, and I get treated to some free stuff every so often. When I get something gratis, you'll know it.

I don't generally do product reviews or giveaways unless they are for brands and items I adore. I often just share my opinions on a random assortment of thises and thats. All the long time readers of Dirt & Noise know, for example, that I am a raving fan of Lash Exact mascara. Cover Girl has never sent me anything for saying so. In fact, I bet their PR people have no idea. Ditto for the ingredients of all the 5:00 Fridays I post.

Old Navy is one of those go-to brands for me. Much of my maternity attire came from there, and the jeans fit me perfectly with no added alteration costs. Damn those petite sizes that aren't made for us short folks after all. Grrr....

I've written about my feelings on boy clothes before. Basically the continuum runs from high testosterone to sissy. My general rule is that if a boy can pee standing up, he has no business in anything smocked. Not to mention that the damn john-john snaps make doing his business all the more difficult, and with most kids, you don't have time to spare. I also eschew the iron on character licensed crap. I do have some favorite stores where I go for special occasions or just to find that something cool and unique. Moxie Kids is just that place. And no, I'm not getting paid to say that. I just happen to dig that store and am thankful I don't have a daughter every time I walk in there. No sense in my kids being better dressed than I am. But the dresses and tights and coats, oh my!


Old Navy treated Bird and Deal to a back to school shopping spree. Don't keel over when I tell you that I walked out of there with not a thing for myself, though I totally looked and will be back later when I don't have the boys in tow!

What I like is that the jeans are rugged with adjustable waists. They are hearty enough to be passed down from Bird to Deal with no holes in the knees. Considering the jungle gym mania that pumps up that kid, this is no small feat. Plus the vintage inspired T-shirts are cool without being cheesy or tacky. I don't mind Superman and Chewbacca gracing my boys' torsos every once in a while. It makes getting dressed for school fun. And hey, at 8:00 AM when everyone is cranky and rushed, I'll take what I can get to make the morning routine squeak by smoothly.

During our shopping spreee I doubled in the role of paparazzi. Have a look:

Deal could have cared less about the clothes at first. All he wanted was to pet the dog. The poor kid covets a dog so badly that he didn't even care it was fake.

Bird was happy to find a Star Wars shirt in his size. He was more happy I let him put it in the basket. He couldn't believe he actually had autonomy in the store. Like I said, the licensed stuff does not dominate the dresser drawers at our house. Plus, I really hate Star Wars so this was a big concession on my part. I actually lost followers on Twitter for saying that. True story. Anyway, Bird was a happy camper, and I was happy to oblige.

Deal, on the other hand, was totally bummed that there were no XS size Star Wars shirts for him. It's amazing that kid isn't ridiculously spoiled. Do you have any idea how hard it is to not keel over and give in to his every whim with a face like that? I mean really, look at him. If you feel the strong urge to pitch in to pay for his college or even a playset for the backyard, don't deny yourself.

Here we are in the dressing room. My kids have never agreed to try on anything before. The only time they've ventured into a dressing room was during a period in which I temporarily lost my mind and took them swimsuit shopping with me. It was ugly.

Here's our reserved dressing room. We were like rock stars. I totally should have made diva demands like only purple M&Ms served on sterling silver platters, Moscow Mules in copper cups, purple dendrobium orchids, Brown Eyed Girl playing on repeat, and a sisal rug underfoot.

While Deal looks like he is being helpful, he actually had just stolen the cart from Bird and was racing it down the aisle. Stinker.

Teamwork at last. Notice Bird's hand on Deal's arm. It looks like gentle guidance, but I have a hunch there was coercion involved.

Bird, thinking my shutterbug ways are an embarrassment to myself. With that bowl hair cut, he's the one who should be embarrassed. This is what happens when Mac Daddy takes him to Not-So-Super Cuts without me.

Serious shoppers need sustenance. The folks at Old Navy provided us with organic juice, bottles of water, and even organic snacks. They also had an assortment of toys and a manager on hand to chill with the boys while I shopped for a bit. I think Bird and Deal were doing their Mutt and Jeff routine for her.

So here we are, blending right in to the Old Navy mannequins. They are admittedly a tish creepy. I think some girls during sorority rush looked just like them, frozen plastered on smiles, taut cheeks and all. And pardon my poor posture. I am clearly weighted down by those shopping bags.

Gentlemen, at the tender ages of 6 and 4.

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