Warts and All: A Random Suggestion

May 2, 2008

You know the phrase “warts and all,” as in, “She loves me, warts and all!”

Well, I think it’s time to change it to “farts and all.”

Why? I’ve done a lot of thinking on this this morning (so much for my meditation session), and there’s a couple reasons.

1) In these days of laser dermatology, warts can be removed, so it really doesn’t matter if someone loves you, but not your warts – you can solve the problem and get them removed.

2) Farts are much worse than warts. You can fall in love with someone, date them for a year, get married, and THEN discover that your beloved farts all night long and isn’t adverse to giving you the dutch oven experience at random points throughout the night. Warts you can see right off the bat; farts can be held in or released in other rooms. Warts are ostentatiously offensive; farts insidiously so.

3) “Fart” is just a worse word than “wart.” To me.

The only way in which “warts and all” is a more powerful a mark of love is if the warts being referred to are genital in nature. Maybe that’s what the phrase has referred to all along. If so, this was a completely pointless post.

You might think it is either way!

Good Morning!!!

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JPA Extended Bridge “Crosswalk”

March 30, 2008

I was driving from JPA Extended toward Fontaine/Jefferson Park Avenue over the little bridge right before the Wayside chicken place – something I do all the time, as I live in the area – and a woman with two toddlers glared at me from the side of the road because I didn’t stop to let her and her kids cross.

I was thinking how dangerous it was for her to be crossing the bridge with two walking children – it’s very pedestrian unfriendly right there, with no real sidewalk on the other side and zooming drivers…

Only after my husband said that a new crosswalk had been put there did I know why she was giving me the evil eye.

You can’t see the crosswalk, as a driver. And being new, it’s not something you’re going to try and see.  And it’s at such an odd place.

Obviously, someone thought this would be a helpful addition for those walking on this road.

I think it’s a set up for disaster.


Hit the Refresh Button

February 3, 2008

We have this thing we do.

We’re talking about our kids, and eventually someone says something like, “… and that’s what little Frank will have to talk out with his therapist in ten years!” Or: “… hey, at least Frankie will have something to talk about in therapy!”

We’re joking, but we also kind of mean it. Many of us fully expect that our kids will end up in therapy – or avoiding it – and that there’s nothing we can do to help it. We accept the terms of parenting to be that we will screw up our kids, imprint them with Issues, disable them with emotional conditions, harm and scar them with all our good intentions and love – no matter what we do.

We go into parenting facing defeat and failure as givens.

And we joke about it because it’s kind of comforting to not live with the illusion that we can control the inevitable catastrophic breakdowns to come.

I for one have never questioned this position. My mother’s Perfect Parents – the Greatest Generation! – caused her tremendous amounts of mental and emotional suffering. She went to therapy. She, babyboomer, – the Most Moral Age of Aquarius Generation! – had me in the 70s, didn’t recreate her parent’s style at all, but still, I ended up in therapy. Now here I am, -Generation X! – having kids in the new century, and it seems like, along with preschools and colleges, I should be saving for and setting up my children’s future therapists as well. It’s just par for the course.

Or is it?

Having wanted to be an anthropologist when I was in college, I tend to read things in terms of cultural impact, so I tend to think that much of the family trauma of the past few generations has its roots in very large, cultural issues – like the fact that we (middle class, at least) moved to these isolated nuclear families – the fact that our gender roles became so hierarchical – the ideas about identity with regards to tradition that didn’t – that don’t – give adolescents a lot of room for becoming themselves and becoming adults in truly healthy ways. I could rant on and on. I could write a book. Others already have…

What I’m wondering, though, is if we are truly as doomed as we think. For some of us – for a lot of us – we’re not still reacting to our grandparents and parents – we’re post the postmoderns – we have our issues, we’re embroiled in a confused culture defined by a money-hungry mass media – but despite all that, we’re fairly sane. Even if we haven’t been to therapy, concepts about tolerance and respect and being true to yourself and other cultures and listening techniques have filtered through the seams of our daily lives (Tony Soprano seeing a therapist) and however wonky that is, it certainly has informed us – we sit at a different table than our parents and grandparents did. Things have changed.

The very fact that we accept therapy as a norm differentiates us.

And I don’t think of therapy as a sign of abnormality or sickness only – we DO live in a society without a lot of shamans or guideposts to provide guidance and meaning – we’re left to our own devices, and that can be a very lonely, sad affair.

But for all the ways in which we’re not, say, the Aborigines in Australia with their respectful and intimate relationship to the land and to their lifecycles and their history and identity – well, we’re also not like a tribe I read about where the women are constantly brutalized; and we don’t leave babies out to die… We may be ruining our planet, but many of us are doing what we can to change that…  No, we’re not perfect, but we’re also not the worst ever, either…

And I think it’s healthy to admit that. It’s a good thing that we’ve given up on perfection – we can focus on being honest and real. And if anything is going to keep our kids from being screwed up, in my opinion, it’s that: being who we are, flaws and all.


Me vs. Wii

December 30, 2007

It became clear over the holidays that I am the Most Stodgy Fuddy-Duddy Member of My Family. I am the only one who does not have or itchily crave a Wii.

My young niece and nephew having an affinity for it (and owning one, which they brought with them to Christmas) is something of a given. But grandad wants one now, too, and so does my husband, and my daughter liked it, and my mom – my quilting, baking, farm-fetishizing mother – wants one, too!

I have no desire for one, and I even have a certain philosophical contention against it. But to make sure I wasn’t dismissing the thing out of hand, I played “tennis.” I swung my arm around in the air with the control and watched the little animated figure on the screen huff around the screen acting out my movements. I tried to stay open-minded.

But I remain unconvinced.

1) Objection #1: It’s a dumb name. Seriously, “Wii” was the best they could come up with? All I can think is “wee-wee” or “weee!” – I don’t like saying it out loud because I sound silly. “Want to play with my Wii?” sounds vaguely disgusting. Yuck.

2) Objection #2: The pretense of exercise. Whatever you call it, it’s still virtual reality, not actual reality, and I have problems with that. Yeah yeah, so you wave your arm around instead of just wiggling your thumb on a joystick – virtual tennis is still a long way off from real tennis. I’ve tried both, and the latter was harder, more physically challenging, and, ultimately, more rewarding when I hit something because it was actually me doing it, not some representative of me.

3) Objection #3: The pretense is not your own. So, I’ve read arguments for virtual reality that say that fictional texts are a virtual reality so any objection to a visual medium is just a knee-jerk reaction. I don’t agree. I don’t have a problem with using one’s imagination – with pretending to play tennis, or reading about a tennis player, or dreaming about tennis, or drawing pictures of tennis rackets swishing in the sunlight – all, you could argue, versions of reality that are invented, virtual, but not real-real. But the thing is, these all require my mind to supplement and interact and create.

If I read a book about tennis, even a highly descriptive one, I am still using my imagination to piece together the writer’s words. I am still looking at words, not images, and using those to create the virtual reality. I am a co-creator in the experience.

Playing a video game, on the other hand, my task is to manipulate objects imagined and completely created by the game designers. I can pick my avatar, but I don’t draw her, dress her, give her speech. I make her walk, jump, climb, shoot – but only in the ways proscribed by the designers. Playing a video game does not require creativity – it requires mental agility. Which is not a bad thing to practice – and I’m a fan of video games (though I’m not very good at them). But we can’t pretend they supplement the physical experience of actual doing or the verbal/textual experience of reading – the Wii would have us do both.

The Wii argues that it delivers the world to us safely developed and packaged, delivered to our living rooms, no fuss no muss, no stress no mess, that we can engage in adventures and challenges with all the benefits but none of the dangers or downsides of the real thing.

The problem is, without having to move the major muscles of our bodies or minds, the “benefits” of this kind of enjoyment and pretend are comparatively pale, diluted, weak.

But you wouldn’t necessarily know that if you never have the real thing…

4) Objection #4: That thing is so darn expensive!  

Go get a real tennis racket and a ball, hop in the backyard, and play. (Or try badminton – it’s easier and more fun.)

Yeah, I know. It’s a losing battle. The Wii is “cool.” I and my books and my tennis racket are not. This little piggy goes weee weee weee all the way home…


My Mother, Mice, and Me

December 28, 2007

So, of course, they waited until my mother came to visit to show up.

4 a.m. and I hear her screaming bloody murder.  And then again at 7. Apparently a flock of mice were traipsing around her room (the one where the baby is supposed to go).

So, what to do? We’d get a cat – but the last time we had a cat, well, we had to get rid of the cat. He was ten years old and drooling and whining constantly, and with a tiny newborn I was going nuts. But a cat would do the trick. I know it.

So mom is visiting, we’re stressing over the mice, and then my two-year-old daughter has a blowout diaper and tells my mother very matter of factly that she has s-h-i-t.

WHAT??? I have NEVER heard my daughter say that, but she, too, just like the mice, has perfect timing.

So my mother, a Methodist minister whose standards for cleanliness, both physical and spiritual, would make Mr. Clean look like Pig Pen and Mr. Rogers seem derelict, is now contending with a dirty mouth, dirty mice, my dirty house, and I’m sure she’s still annoyed by all the buddha statues around the house.

She also told me last night that she found it horrendous that some mother she knew let her daughter climb into bed with her in the middle of the night and didn’t take the child back to bed because “she said she was too lazy and tired to do so. Can you believe it!!?? And then it screwed up the kid… somehow… can’t remember…”

Of course I can believe it. SHE’S TALKING ABOUT ME!  I’m the one who’s too lazy to take J back to her bed in the middle of the night. Good Grief.

It’s only fair. If I expect wayward men to be castrated to keep them from raping and abusing, I should have a sex change done on me at age 50 if I start to become the kind of old lady who nags and criticizes and picks and insults and damages her children. Seriously. I’m not saying my mother is completely like that, but a lot of mothers I know are, and I don’t want to be that. If medical science has to intervene, I am all for it.

But I will try meditating first… as the little mice prance around the buddhas…


There’s Still A Drought; I’m Old; So I Ate Ice Cream

October 30, 2007

Happy Monday! Here’s some links/thoughts from me, in between my boughts of crying at everything:

1) There’s still a drought. All that rain, but the levels are still too low – so keep it mellow yellow, people. It’s a great excuse for me for why my child hasn’t had a bath in almost a week – I’m saving the planet! Not avoiding her temper tantrums, no…

2) I listened to the Obama speech on CPN and realized I am an Old Person. He is very idealistic and energetic and, while I agree that Africa should be rid of its diseases and Darfur needs to be at peace and college should be affordable, I’m sorry, Barak, but you’re not going to do it all. It’s very sweet of you to say you will. But I’m too embittered about politicians to give credence to your ambition…

aplaying.jpg3)  My mom saw a picture of me jumping up and down on a bed with my daughter and accused me of being a playmate and not a mom for my daughter.

I got really, really angry and defensive, but I wrote her back instead of just complaining to friends. I see this as growth.

By the way, I love playing with my daughter. What else am I going to do? Yell at her? Ignore her? Arggghhh.

4) We watched some Sesame Street songs on youtube last night during dinner (dad was recording Obama). Brings back memories. I highly recommend this as a way to limit TV and advertising for your child – plus you get to select what you watch! Alice Cooper singing with the muppets was too scary, though – for me, I mean…

5) I finished up the evening by eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s New York Fudge ice cream. The entire thing. So there to all the blogs and books and doctors who think I should be eating a few peanuts and raisins to supplement this giant basketball that’s taking over my body.

6) Alert: Myth debunked!: Turns out that when babycenter.com advisers say “Don’t sleep on your back, pregnant women, because you’ll lose your blood supply and kill the baby” THEY’RE WRONG. At least, they are according to my ob doctor today. He said LABORING on your back is hurtful, but not sleeping while pregnant. THANK THE GODDESS! Because that’s how I end up sleeping every night, whether I like it or not. Yay! I think I’m going to stop reading everything but more Ian Mckewan novels till the birth…

So, there you have it – and again, Happy Monday!

Wait a second- I just realized – it’s not Monday, it’s Tuesday!!! Oh my gosh, I am truly losing my mind!


E-mail Etiquette: I beg of you, use some

October 26, 2007

It’s 2007, and there are still people out there for whom the Internet is a passing phase and e-mail in the same league as folded-up notes passed during junior high algebra.

At least, that’s what I am imagining, because frankly, when people don’t reply to e-mails, say, within 24-48 hours, I don’t have a lot of options on what to conclude, other than:

1) the person is rude, hates my guts, doesn’t have time for me

2) the person is unavailable due to emergency of some kind (power outage, vacation, death)

3) techncial glitch: this person didn’t get the e-mail at all – may require another e-mail, a phone call…?

So, I’m left staring at my inbox, wondering, which is it? What could it possibly be? Is this person okay? Did I offend? What’s wrong?

“Too busy” doesn’t work here. E-mail is too instant for that. Too busy to write back and say “I’m too busy to look at this and respond adequately – I’ll get back to you soon” – an effort that takes a few seconds of your time –  is too busy to be included in my life.

“Too flaky” also doesn’t work. Perhaps I am being unfair. For instance, I am chronically late – late at arriving to events, late with birthday cards, slow at picking up on subtle hints given off by the opposite sex, etc. People who are close to me and know me forgive this lateness of mine. Not so my mother. She holds every second a birthday or mother’s day card is late against me. And I can understand. She’s from a different era, when the promptness of physical mail served as an expression of respect and extension of familial feeling – every letter a reflection of the amount of regard residing in a person’s heart. For her, my flakiness is an excuse to be rude, not a personal glitch she’ll have to live with.

Well, like mother, like daughter: daughter of the digital age. I don’t care if you call me or write me on time or in time – but e-mail avoidance or neglect amounts to personal insult, whatever your intentions or lack of intentions might be. I am not going to hunt you down. Unless you are the victim of #2 or #3, I am not going to let it go, either. I am going to assume you are in category #1 unless you tell me otherwise.

Sound bitchy? It is. But I’m just sick of people not returning e-mails. Am I missing something??? Let me know.