The Dinner Drill

July 14, 2010

I’ve never been a cook. I don’t have the gene that causes a person to derive pleasure from constructing a meal and watching people’s pleasure as they scarf it. I love to eat, and I can find ways to enjoy meal – making – but really – alien territory for me, mostly.

(Just ask the people who have had to eat my bizarre food combinations.)

Anyway, as a single working mother, I have to make dinner every single night – for two picky children, and sometimes for adults who require more sophisticated creations. Yikes.

One of my favorite ways to deal with this daily challenge is as pictured – my fresh fruit and veggies with hummus and cheese plate, easily turned into a ridiculous happy face, easily put together, and easily ramped up into something more spectacular. (I would assume.)

Make Me Dinner!
I will never forget the radio story I heard on NPR about the place in Spain where mamas whose children have left the nest but who want to cook big, traditional meals have formed an online service where young professionals who don’t have time to cook can order this home-cooked food – even form a steady relationship with a local mother.

Collective Solution
Wouldn’t that be fantastic? I would like to see more collective-type enterprises like this start up in Cville. I’m thrilled with the new local Retail Relay service – that’s the right idea – a grocery delivery service that shops at a variety of local stores and CSAs.  Sure, Cville has a bunch of stay-at-home moms and those who can afford help, but there’s a lot of working parents, too.

Toy shares, toy exchanges, CSAs… all heading in the right direction. I don’t think the barter thing took off… but I like the idea…

The only problem: I don’t know that I have either time or money to put in the pot. Unless you can somehow quantify my children – certainly their health and wellbeing is worth something to the larger society?

Thoughts, ideas?

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What Twilight Tells Us (maybe)

July 14, 2010

One of my favorite podcasts to listen to on long commutes is Mark Kermode’s film reviews from Britain’s Five Live radio broadcast. He’s frumpy and funny and insightful, and complimented well by his sidekick, Simon. I don’t watch movies these days – too busy – but I can certainly listen to these reviews, which are entertaining, whether the movie was great or rubbish.

So, Kermode liked the latest installment of the Twilight series. Unlike some other haughty reviewers, he views Bella’s decision about which guy to go with – werewolf or vampire – not as just a whiny Which Boy to Date melodrama, but as representing her choice about who she is and who she wants to be, what world she belongs to – a deeper question of identity.

I have not seen any of these movies, nor have I read the books.

But this comment struck me, twice:

  1. First, I thought, How Refreshing, not only that the movie actually is more than just about superficial teen attraction, but that this very opinionated guy recognized that, beneath the hype and the hot film stars. Yay for feminism, I thought. Too quickly.
  2. Second, I thought, Yes, but would this story line work in reverse? Would there be a boy choosing which girl to date in the same emotional mood?

That is, why is a girl choosing her life path having to do so through the catalyst of a male/relationship, while a guy would be choosing – what – an action? Which adventure? Why does romance represent the most significant choice a woman makes?

Yeah. Boo, feminism.

I’m glad there’s movies demystifying the male aesthetic, but I want more. I want a teenage boy to get a makeover. I want a teenage boy to weep over his divided heart, and the choices that will have ramifications the rest of his life. I want men to suffer from relationship choices as much as women do. In the movies. In real life.

Do women still see the arc of their lives in terms of love and marriage? Despite all the careerists and working women and all the rest?

Do girls emphasize relationships at the exclusion of their spiritual, financial, and other considerations?

I think – yes. We have only to see the movie to know this – art is imitating life, and life is still true to the usual form. The power balance in relationships remains tilted towards dudes. It’s women and girls who get date raped, who get killed by angry boyfriends or pissed husbands. It’s the female of the species who carries the child to term – or not. It’s the woman who gets paid less for the same work. It’s women who have to contend with stereotypes and malignant assertions if they act at all uncouth, willful, strong, aggressive, and fail to procreate, settle down, domesticate, and send greeting cards.

Men get to be vampires and werewolves – hungry, hunting creatures whose animal instincts drive them and excuse them for their rash and often childish behavior.

Men get off easily (pun intended).

Women are left to choose between them. Or, failing that, to not choose men at all, and live with derisive labels. Or suffer their anger at her rejection.

Are there movies I’m missing?

Am I too callous and cranky?

Let me know. Also, I do want to see the movies. I love vampires and romantic triangles. They get me every time…


The Woes of Finding a Job

June 28, 2010

It’s getting ridiculous.

How many resumes have I sent?

How many interviews have I been on?

I’m not sure I can even tabulate.

I feel like I should somehow be exploiting this miserable process – a reality show?

A sponsorship? Kind of like one of those fundraising walks – you know, five bucks for every resume I submit, ten for every cover letter, and fifteen for every phone interview… Maybe it won’t help cancer, but it will keep me funded for all the coffee drinks I seem to need to fuel me through this ego-busting experience…

The problem is, when it’s been going on this long, finding a job starts to feel like a job, and you don’t really want to actually get one. Well, of course you want to get one, but part of you feels like you’re maybe getting used to the panty hose and the questions about your greatest weaknesses.

I think that even tripped me up a little on my latest interview.

The question came – What would your current employer say is your biggest weakness?

To which I used to kind of say something vague like “Oh, that I work too hard, that I’m a perfectionist.” I actually am a perfectionist, but I don’t know that any of my supervisors would complain about that. I don’t really know what they would complain about, and that question is so darn tricky. Who wants to talk about weaknesses to a possible employer?

I’ve been doing this so much, I actually was bubbly and enthusiastic about my faults, and I think it did me in.

The main hindrances to me finding work include –

  • the economy
  • my main job skills are extremely niche – web writing and strategy positions do not abound
  • the jobs that do exist in my general area of expertise tend to not pay enough to make it worth it
  • I’m overqualified for the jobs that are available – people are reluctant to hire me to be an admin assistant because they probably worry I’ll leave as soon as something better comes along, or won’t be happy enough to be productive
  • I’m pretty sure there’s a voodoo doll with my name on it somewhere

Okay, maybe not the last one, though sometimes it feels like there are forces at work that have nothing to do with the quality of my cover letter or the abundance of my experience. People have friends. Personalities have preferences.

I haven’t had the worst of it. If I’ve sent out fifty resumes, I have heard of professionals having sent out a hundred. If I’ve been looking for three months, I’ve heard of people unemployed for over a year.

To all you out there hitting the pavement – good luck and keep your teeth clean.

To all of you with jobs you hate – be grateful – at least you do not have to talk about your weaknesses to total strangers while sweating in your possibly running pantyhose while your bank account bleeds…


Not for the Thin-Skinned Mamas

June 11, 2010

Thanks to K for showing me this blog, Uncensored Motherhood.

I think.

I mean, it’s raunchy, it’s gritty, it’s a little gross. That is – it’s real.

The Julie Andrews side of me really wants to look the other way and go sing with some animated bluebirds after reading this.


Shout Out to you, EH

June 11, 2010

You were totally ridiculous.

There I am, in clothes I grabbed from the bottom of the “clean” heap that is growing like a landfill on my bedroom floor. My eyes as puffy as marshmellows, wrinkles like fault lines criss-crossing age spots, hair ragged and indecisive. I’m struggling to make ends meet, find work, keep chaos from crumbling my sanity.

Next week I turn 35, and I tell you how I haven’t accomplished the things I’d hoped to do by now, and it just feels crappy.

If I could only insert a YouTube video here now of your response.

You kind of started to do one of those car dances people do behind the wheel.

And you started brightly chanting in this giddy skippy way that was completely unreasonable for a Chinese restaurant – something like:

What are you talking about? You’re a single, working mother, you got two fabulous kids, you got great hair, you’re smokin’ hot, you’re super smart, you’re on your own …

You made it sound like these were GOOD things. No – not just good – admirable, sexy, and fun.

I am still laughing.

And that’s what I want to thank you for. I don’t for a minute believe any of your compliments – though, thank you – but making me laugh my ass off at my life – making me imagine, as bizarre as it is, for a minute that the circumstances of what has felt like utter failure and hell were things to be thankful for – to celebrate – to car dance about – well, that’s something to cherish.

You lifted my spirits. You injected me with some of your sassy vibe. You’re crazy, but I love you for it.

Funny how sometimes we can get so wedded to our self-sculptured concepts of who we are – like having one of those drama masks over your face with a permanent frown or smile, despite the reality underneath.

Sometimes it takes someone else pulling the mask up – or showing you a mirror – to remind you that you’re wearing it at all.

Here’s to Friday, here’s to reminding each other to dance and laugh at ourselves and not take everything so seriously. Here’s to friends!


Places to Get Water Bottles in Cville, etc.

May 30, 2010

So, I opened up the top of my son’s non-BPA Oggi water bottle – I think I got it from Marshall’s last year for $5.99 – and the mold was sickening. Gross. Those kid-friendly sippy-parts just ask for it, don’t they?

I didn’t think I’d have to do it, but I was in the market, yet again, for a metal water bottle for my kids.

  • Criteria:
  • Something short
  • Something easy to open
  • Something easy to drink from without spillage
  • Something easy to clean
  • Something cheap

What I Found:

  • Roses: For kids, only plastic – and even BPA-free, I’m against it when I can help it. Adult water bottles, though, are on sale now for either $2.00 or three for $10.00.
  • CVS: I bought two of their kid metal bottles for $4.99 each. Portable, easy to clean with plastic-straw on the top, easy to open – but they leak.
  • Target: Mostly the same prices as what you’ll find online for both Sigg and Oggi – though I did score a Hello Kitty one for my girl for about $5.00 – though the top is one you have to pull up on and she finds this too hard to manipulate, which is a pain in the butt
  • Big Lots: No kid-sizes available right now
  • Marshalls: No kid sizes
  • TJ Max: When I went, there was only one of the Oggi-style – a good price, but at that point my need was low and the cost – $3.99 -tempting but not a sale. They did have a new brand of short “safe” water bottles with twist-off tops that might work for older kids that were maybe $2 or 3 bucks and plain silver

I didn’t go to the Blue Ridge Eco Shop, Rebecca’s, or Whole Foods, because I knew the prices would be around $15.00 if the kid sippy style was available.

Online, I didn’t find anything as cheap as the Oggi-style from TJ Max, so I hated to buy anything that way, though some very cute designs are out there from some of the less-well-known brands….

If anyone has a line on inexpensive, easy kid water bottles – let me know!


Visit Sugar Snap – for toys AND clothes!

May 26, 2010

Great news! Sugar Snap – the awesome children’s consignment store that’s a few stores away from Whole Foods – now will consign and sell wooden and cloth toys as well as baby gear… I’m so excited for my pal Vijay and if you haven’t yet, check out the store!

Save money – support local / woman-owned business – save the planet by recycling materials/not buying new!

You can also follow Sugar Snap on Twitter or Facebook – talk about rocking the social media to promote a local business!