Monday, June 29, 2009

Young Timers' Disease

There's this commercial out now whose whole point is to scare anyone older than 65 into going to their doctor to ask if prescription Aricept is right for them. The thing is, it's got me scared enough to be contemplating that phone call for myself.

The commercial looks like this: a woman of a certain age is asking her husband about her car keys, and they find them in the refrigerator. The scene comes to a screeching halt, scary music is played, and we are all told that only the very expensive name brand drug we see in this commercial can help our grandparents find their car keys.

Oh, I know. Dementia is nothing to joke about. Especially since I'm 35 and judging by the scenario in this commercial, I just may have Alzheimer's. Because if finding one's car keys in the Frigidaire is the first symptom, well, I reached that milestone a long time ago.

It's riduculous, really. I mean, I seem to remember an email going around years ago listing all the places you should look for your car keys when you can't find them, and one of them was, honest to God, the refrigerator. (But maybe I shouldn't be trusting my memory now.) That tells me that other people have found them there. It's not (necessarily) the sign of a brain cell Apocalypse.

When it's happened to me, it goes like this: I've come in from a quick grocery trip and Jason wasn't home to help me unload. So I have loaded plastic grocery bags lined up from wrist to elbow as I trudge up the stairs, car keys in one hand. As soon as I reach the upstairs landing, my kid or my pet or both have started circling my ankles wondering what's in the bags. Then the phone starts ringing or someone knocks on the door and before I know it all groceries have been dumped in the fridge along with anything else in my hand, which includes my car keys. Hours later, I find them when I reach for the milk. Or beer. See? Not what my mom and her friends jokingly call "Old Timers" (it's all fun and games until someone ends up on Aricept), but a common misplacing of keys during a moment of stress.

Or is it?

Over the weekend, our friends were asking us about our upcoming cruise.

"Now, where are you all going again?"

"Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. other places that I can't remember. But I'm sure they're going to be fun!"

I looked to Jason for assistance at my failed memory.

"Um...some island in the Bahamas?"

Neither one of us could remember the other two stops of this cruise that we have planned and saved for and prepaid excursions on. Even now, after refreshing my memory after we got home that night, I can't tell you without going to the Carnival website and smacking myself in the forehead for being such an idiot that I can't remember where we're going on that big boat in three weeks.

So maybe it is dementia.

Or maybe it's that my brain has finally reached its capacity for new knowledge. Nothing else will hold. Or maybe being a mom has eaten up my brain. Or maybe it's just that I have so much going on and am so distracted all the time by wondering what to cook for dinner, or how I'm going to get Ainsley's laundry done, or when her next check-up is.

Wait, what were we talking about?

Ah, yes! My possible early onset dementia! Now I remember.

Oh, no. Young Timers' Disease.

Anyone else feel a call about prescription Aricept is only a day away? And where is the strangest place you've found your car keys?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Single Glove

I'm always amazed at how, when a famous person dies, it can shake you to the core, even though it's not a person you knew personally. When someone is larger than life and as famous as God, it's hard to believe that it's possible for them to actually leave this world.

I was already shaken over Farrah; anytime a well-known woman dies of cancer I feel a twinge of worry with my sadness. When, hours later, I heard on the news that Michael Jackson was didn't seem real. How could the King of Pop, simultaneously one of the most innately talented humans ever born and the butt of a million jokes, be dead at 50?

Yes, he had become unrecognizable. Yes, he probably was guilty of some kind of crime against children, though not convicted. Yes, his star had faded. But the Michael I'll remember, the Michael I think so many of us kids of the 80s will miss, was a man-child blessed with the kind of talent and charisma that either makes the person a king among men or an insane wreck. Sometimes both, each in their turn.

I really think that the universe can give someone such an incredible gift that their human brains and bodies and souls cannot deal with it. Watch Michael as a kid singing "I'll Be There" or "ABC" with The Jackson Five. It goes beyond the term "child prodigy."

Watch him years later moonwalking across the stage at the Motown 25th anniversary show. Listen to "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and try not to dance. Just try it. He was magic. It looked like he could walk on water.

Michael's magic got me through one of the toughest times in my life. I watched the famous Motown anniversary performance from my great-aunt Bertha's living room while my mother talked and drank coffee in her kitchen. I bought the Thriller album from a Barbourville TG&Y store with quarters, nickels, and dimes that my grandmother had saved for me for a month and gave me to go get that record I kept talking about. I listened to it over and over with my sole friend from that time, a girl who loved up the road from Mamaw's trailer and who didn't ask questions about our family situation. She just asked me to try to moondance with her.

For my birthday, I got some silver socks and a single white glove. From the thrift store and pawn shop attached to our laundromat, I bought a pair of Michael Jackson sunglasses in their own leather case with his picture on it with some money my mother probably couldn't afford to give me but did anyway, knowing that it thrilled me to squeals. Right before school let out and we moved back to Erlanger, Mom and I found an imitation "Beat It" jacket (in vinyl, not leather) on a clearance rack at a Sycamore clothing store for $5. Even though it was May, I wore it to my last days at Lay Elementary where I actually got envious looks from the well-to-do girls who had made my 4th grade year little short of miserable.

After dinner tonight, I got out my Thriller 25th anniversary CD with the DVD of his most famous videos from that album. I played the "Thriller" video, watching Ainsley's reaction, worried that she would be scared.

During the zombie dancing scene, Ainsley looked at me and grinned. And when it was over, she gave it her highest praise:

"Mommy, play it again!"

At least we'll have those videos of the young man in the cool jackets who could dance and sing like no one else. Forget the baby-dangling, forget the horror-movie nose, forget the Jesus Juice. Remember the scary-talented, handsome young man with the sparkling socks, penny loafers, and single glove who moonwalked across a stage and into a generation of young girls' hearts.

And who still has the power to mystify our little girls by dancing a contagious dance with a chorus line of ghouls.

Goodbye, Michael. Rest in the peace you didn't have in this lifetime. And sing and dance with the angels.


My sophomore year in college, I took an anthropology class. When studying the Dobe Kung, I remember the professor making an assertion about their hunter-gatherer society: those are the roots of modern human behavior. Men hunt; women gather. In other words, we shop.

I was a little offended at the time. It upholds every "Why do women always got to be shopping?" trope trotted out by bad comedians and shallow husbands. I never really enjoyed shopping. I resented being a "gatherer."

But Tuesday night I got an itch. I was restless. Then, around 7:30, I remembered that Jason needed deodorant and contact solution, and I needed face soap, and those things were way too expensive to get at Kroger, so a run to a certain place was in order. A place I don't like to be when I have to be there, but that is my happy place when I want to be there and I have a little to spend:


Whoever is behind Target is a genius, really. It's for people like you and me who have Wal-Mart or K-Mart budgets but have bad memories of school shopping and getting off-brand plastic shoes and Tuffskin jeans that were on Blue Light Special. Or who spent their college years visiting Wal-Mart not to buy things but to gawk at the special breed of humanity on display there after midnight. Wal-Mart is evil; K-Mart is uncool. Target throws the same brand of cheap at you but in a way that feels chic. Hip. Trendy.

Sometimes, I love it.

Tuesday saw me filling my basket with our family's health and beauty needs that are cheaper at Target: shampoo, deodorant, paper towels, sunscreen. I also stocked up on the granola-crunchy Method cleaning supplies which are sort of expensive even at Target but that I swear do a better job and keep Ainsley's asthma from flaring up as often. I was staying, if you'll pardon the pun, on target.

But then I hit the swimsuits.

I circled the racks. I compared cuts, colors, and prices. And I jumped for joy when I found two cute one-piece swimsuits on clearance for $8.74 each in my size. Oh, joy! Oh, rapture!

And as I left, grinning, practically glowing even from my bargain-hunting successs, it hit me:

I am a gatherer.

Darn you, anthropology. Must you always be right?

Monday, June 22, 2009


Homework time, kids. Don't worry, it's a fun assignment. Go take your favorite guy or girl to your local cineplex and see the best love story I've seen in ages:


Yes, I'm serious. A Disney Pixar movie does a better job telling a moving, real story of never-ending love between a man and a woman in its first 15 minutes than any traditional Hollywood 2 1/2-hour romance I've seen in years.

I took Ainsley to go see it on a rainy day last week, and I haven't been able to get it off my mind since. It had me in tears twice, and it wasn't a cheap gimmick-y sort of weepy cinematic manipulation; the characters may be digitally created, but they're real.

And judging by the number of males I heard leaving the theater sniffing, it's far from a chick flick.

The next night that Mamaw offers to have Ains spend the night, giving us a free evening to go on a date, I am taking my main man to go see a Disney film without our daughter. Ainsley enjoyed it, but I don't really think it's for kids. It's for anyone who was lucky enough to marry his or her best friend.

So go see it. I want to know what you think. Maybe it just got to me because it's been an emotional few weeks.

Maybe it's just that darned good.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

False Start

Ainsley participated in her very first swim meet ever last week. In her sole event, the 25 yard freestyle, she placed first in her heat. Yay!

Except for one small problem: she jumped into the water before the judge could even say, "Swimmers, take your marks."

She pretty much just went to the edge of the pool, looked around, and dove in before the other kids even knew what happened. I tried to call her back from my place on the sidelines, which got the attention of every living being at the pool except for my daughter, who pulled a Dori and just kept swimming.

Since the whole point of this summer swim team thing is for little ones like Ainsley to learn the ropes of competitive swimming and to have fun once a week in the outside pool, the coaches told me it was okay and that the times didn't really matter, anyway.

I can tell you one person they matter to, though. Ainsley.

When I told her she was disqualified for starting too early, she burst into tears.

"But I came in first! Only one girl was even gaining on me!"

"And that's good, but that's because you started way before anyone else."

"But I came in first!"

I had to explain that it didn't matter because she started out with a huge lead, and that she may not have won if she had started at the beep rather than when she felt like jumping in, and that made the crying worse.

"You said I did bad! Waaaaaah...."

"No, I didn't. I said you got disqualified. That means you didn't win, even though you got to the end first. It wasn't a fair race."

"You said I did bad! Waaaaah..."

Six-year-olds seem to always come back to the same conclusion.

For the rest of the meet, she sat with her Phineas and Ferb towel over her head, saying that everyone hated her, and that she was a terrible swimmer, and that she was never doing this again, and then asking if the coaches would give her a do-over.

"What a sore loser," I said to Jason on the way home. "Why can't she just learn from it and want to do better next time? Where does she get that?"

Jason answered me with a look. A look that said, "And how did you act last Saturday when you had the muscle cramp and had a crappy time at the 5K?"

She learned from watching me! Oh, I've seen commercials about that.

By the next morning, she had forgotten all about her disappointment and was talking about next week's meet. That's one good thing about six-year-olds: they forgive and forget and move on in way adults should do, but don't.

But they never forget how to be competitive.

"Next week, I'm going to knock their socks off!"

Here's hoping.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Funny the Way It Is

If I make a lot of errors in my writing today, it's because the little creature that sometimes jumps up and down on my optic nerve in a migrainic frenzy got a little extra fuel last night in the form of loud music, bright flashing lights, beer, and second-hand herbage fumes. I am hungover not (entirely) from alcohol but from the whole concert experience.

Jason is a big Dave Matthews Band fan. And while not as hard-core a fan as he is, I love them, too, and have been wanting to see them in concert. Jason has gone before with one of his brothers, but the timing of the concerts is always bad for me; he's always come to Cincy on a weeknight when I'm still in school or school has just started back up. Some folks have the stamina to stay at a concert until midnight and get up before dawn to go to work; I am not those folks.

When I heard that he was coming the very first week that I would officially be on summer vacation, I couldn't resist the siren call. So last night saw me at Riverbend, our best and biggest outdoor concert venue, with Jason, one of his brothers, and a few thousand of my closest friends.

Any concert is a learning experience. A Riverbend DMB concert is a senior seminar. Here's what I learned:

1. Bad second-hand pot smoke smells like skunk. I am simultaneously proud and embarrassed that I was 35 years old when I learned this.

2. It sucks to be a woman who needs to pee in a crowded venue. It does not suck to be a man who needs to pee at a concert or the way out of a concert, as all you have to do is go stand by a fence or, if you're really discreet, just take care of your business right there among the standing, singing, cheering crowd. Not that I know anyone who did that. Oh, wait, I do.

3. Nothing clears a crowd waiting in line for a stall in the women's restroom like a young drunk girl running in saying she's going to puke.

4. Paying $7.50 for a beer is ridiculous. But sometimes worth every dime.

5. You'd think with beer costing $7.50 that people wouldn't throw it. But they do. And nothing smells quite like beer hair.

6. When you come home from a concert with a hoarse voice, headache, beery hair, and wet shoes from walking in puddles of what may or may not have been rain, but all you can think is, "Wow. That was awesome!", then you just saw a really good show. Or possibly you just really need to get out more.

Any of you lined up to see a good concert this summer? What are the chances that you, too, will find yourself waiting in line to buy a $7.50 beer?

Monday, June 15, 2009


I wish my body had a Reset button.

It solves a lot of problems, doesn't it? I first learned about the glory of a Reset button back when we had our Intellivision (my Dad thought it was infinitely better than Atari, and maybe it was, but I was the only kid I knew who couldn't play Pac-Man or Kaboom at home) and spend at least a small chunk of my day doing Ctrl-Alt-Delete on misbehaving library computers. It works more often than not.

Which is why I wish I could press a button on my poor, aching body.

I feel old today. And I felt old yesterday. But I felt great for a little while on Saturday morning, and I guess that's where my story starts.

I have blogged before about running 5Ks in the summer. I'm not great; I am not an athlete now, nor was I ever one. But I can hold my own in that 30-39 age group. I finish right in the middle of the pack, which works for me. Once I even finished 3rd in a race. Never mind that I was third of 6; I just focus on the whole "3rd place" part.

This spring I've been running with a vengeance. With all the stress in the house with Kathie's illness and passing, there was only one thing I could do that would really get my mind off of it for a while: go out my front door in running shoes, turn right, and come back 4 miles later with a red face, jelly legs, and a clear mind. I was ready for that first 5K Saturday morning. I had it in my head that I was going to kick some ass and take some names and post my best time ever. It's a course I've raced in two other times, and it only has 2 nasty hills, and you get in line for a pancake breakfast when you cross the finish line. I love this race.

I started out with my best first-mile pace in years. It didn't feel like I was pushing too hard, though; I was comfortable. I was hanging with a pack of female runners around my own age who seemed to know what they were doing.

You rock! I told myself. And then I felt the pain.

I've never woken up in the middle of the night with a charley horse. I've had muscle spasms in my neck, and sometimes when my feet get cold my arches cramp. But I've never had a full-blown leg cramp.

Until right around mile 2 of the 5K.

It started as a warmth. And then I noticed I was limping. Not because I was trying to, but because my right leg wasn't really capable of holding my weight. It took a while to start feeling actual pain or to be able to isolate where the pain was coming from; I had a lot of adrenaline pumping. But when the back part of my entire right leg from heel to glute seized up in a fiery blast, I realized something uncool was going on.

I broke my cardinal rule of running: no matter what, don't stop. I see people stop to walk in races all the time, people who sprint then stop, sprint then stop. They usually finish ahead of me, and I find myself hating them. Because I can't let myself stop. Even if I am so tired that I am running at a pace that causes women pushing strollers, elderly speed walkers, and 8-year-olds to pass me by. At least when I cross the finish line behind these folks and behind the walker-sprinters, I get the satisfaction of knowing I ran the whole thing, darnit.

So I stopped. And stretched. And re-tied my shoe. And stretched some more. But the burn just wouldn't go away. I tried to run, and had to stop. Again. And again. Until someone in a golf cart came up behind me to ask if I was okay, and a lady stopped to help me stretch out. And still it hurt.

I almost cried. I was convinced that anything that caused me that much pain had to be a serious injury: a stress fracture, perhaps. Or something requiring amputation.

I got it together and crossed the finish line almost 2 whole minutes slower than last year. And engaged in some serious self-loathing when the pain went away and I was just left with the knowledge that I am a complete wuss.

As I told people my time, I was hoping for some kind of swelling or lingering pain to give credence to my poor performance. Is a little discoloration too much to ask for?

The next day, I did wake up with a very stiff calf muscle as the only proof of the horror I'd felt the day before.

I was complaining about it to Jason. I was frustrated; I hurt my shoulder this winter, and I seem to have something going on with my left big toe that causes it to sometimes swell and get stiff. When I first started running this spring, I had some pain behind my knee that caused me for two weeks to take as long getting into and out of a seated position as I did when I was largely pregnant.

"What do you think, Jason? Do I have some joint or muscle disease? What's wrong with me? Oh, God. It's arthritis. Or gout. Or something undiscovered that they will name after me later."

"We're getting old."


As I sit here typing, right calf still dodgy, big toe aching, left knee twinging, waiting for the Alleve to kick in, I wish for a way to be able to reset myself. To push a button and get a fresh start. To feel...if not 25 again, maybe 33 again.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Boy Bands

Oh-oh-o-o-oh, Oh-oh-o-oh, Oh-oh-o-o-oh...the right stuff!

Sorry. NKOTB are coming to town in their big reunion and nostalgia tour, and the local pop radio station I listen to in the morning has been going on and on and on about it. It's enough to make me want to rush out and gets tickets in the nosebleeds just to see my second-favorite Wahlberg and his band of former teen idols.


I just barely missed the whole boy band phenomenon. I was just barely too old and too cool to like the New Kids at their peak. At least, that was my public story. I remember declaring their stuff cheesy and meant for the "teenyboppers" (by which I meant "middle-schoolers who are all of one year younger than I am") and made quiet fun of the girls in my high-school who wore NKOTB t-shirts and buttons. Sometimes, though, when "I'll Be Loving You Forever" came on the radio, I would sing along. What 16-year-old girl doesn't like a ballad sung in an impossible falsetto? And I did think Jonathan was terribly cute and seemed sooo sincere and sensitive. I still do think he's terribly cute, in fact, which makes it so disturbing that when I Googled him just now to make sure I had the spelling right I learned that he is quite possibly gay. Oh, poor Tiffany. I was hoping after her turn on Celebrity Fit Club that they would somehow find each other again.

So I don't really want to go see them in concert now since I didn't like them so much then. I would feel the same way about Boyz II Men, The Backstreet Boys, N Sync, etc. There would be some nostalgia, but not a whole lotta love. I didn't own a single tape or CD by any of those groups. Sorry, boys. I'm just not that into you. You were a little too young for me when you hit it big; I was crushing on Jon Bon Jovi, Bono, and, sadly, Steven Tyler.

Ainsley, however, is already in boy band love.

Last night she said one of those things that make me so glad that I'm blogging and taking all this down for posterity. Because some day, she's gonna love reading that she said this.

"Momma, can we go see the Jonas Brothers in concert?"

"Well, Ains, they just came to Cincinnati in the fall, and I don't think they'll be back for a while. And by the time they do come back, you probably won't like them any more."

She sighed. "Oh, I'll love the Jonas Brothers forever. I'm always gonna want to see the Jonas Brothers live."

And there you have it. The reason why thousands of women in their late 20s and early 30s will be screaming like tweens when the New Kids come to town. Once a fan of the boy band, always a fan of the boy band.

Were any of you in love with any of the boys from Boston? Would you go see them in concert now?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Romance Doesn't Have To Have A Balloon In The Sky (Well, for Ains, it does.)

Our summer cruise is starting to get Ainsley's motor running.

At least once a day she mentions our July vacation plans and asks me questions, some of which I don't know the answer to. Will I get to eat ice cream? Most definitely. Will the plane ride be fun? For you, maybe. For me, certainly not. Will the weather be nice? Let's hope so. Will Daddy get seasick? Oh, mercy, I hope not.

Last night, she started talking about our anniversary. She's heard that her mom and dad will be celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary on the second day of the cruise; like many small children, she can tune out her parents' voices when we're asking her to do something but when we're in a private conversation she can pick up all the details with her amazing bat eats. When our cruise coordinator from Carnival called last to go over details and politely remind us that the final payment was due, Ainsley overheard me telling the guy that we would be onboard on our anniversary and that, yes, we would appreciate any kind of free special treatment the boat will be willing to give us. I don't like a lot of attention from strangers, but I'm all about free stuff, especially if it's in the form of a special dessert and a glass or three of champagne.

"Mommy, I can't wait for you and Daddy to have your anniversary on the boat."

"Really, Ains? Why?"

"Because it will be a celebration! And I LOVE celebrations!"

What can I say? My girl likes to party all the time.

"I don't know how much of a celebration it will be, Ainsley. They may not do anything special at all."

"But maybe we can all three have a really nice dinner like we do sometimes. And dress up! And maybe Daddy will get you some balloons that say, 'I Love You', or 'Romance', or something like that on them. I hope he remembers that. It is your anniversary and he should do something romantic for you."

Because nothing says "Romance" quite like a big mylar balloon with, well, "Romance" printed on it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Things She Does NOT Get From Me

Earlier in the week I wrote about the unpleasant things Ainsley says that she gets from me. Here's something she said last night that most definitely, most certainly, is not something I have ever said, ever thought, or ever will say.

She was looking at her little pink shower pouf and said,

"I love pink. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everything in the whole entire world was pink?"

Imagine all the life in pink...

Are you nauseated yet?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My Favorite Kid Ever

Here's an article in today's paper about my student who did the book drive during her last days as as high-school student.

If you read carefully, you'll see some quotes from yours truly. And I may or may not have taken the picture accompanying the article (okay, I did.)

Gosh, I'm gonna miss that kid.

Something You (Thankfully) Don't See Often In Suburban Neighborhoods

As Jason said to me around 9:30 last night...Just what kind of neighborhood do we live in?

Just when I think I know the answer to that question, one of our neighbors does something to surprise me. In a bad way.

At dusk last night, while Ains was getting ready for bed, I went to our front window to check out the storm cloud gathering. A man I didn't recognize as being from our street caught my eye; he looked to be about my age, and was walking briskly with a lit cigarette dangling from his mouth. He was walking like a man with a purpose.

I noticed he was carrying something down at his side in his right hand, the side of his body I couldn't see very well. It appeared to be a long, thin object. At first I thought it was a garden tool. Then I thought maybe it was just a pole. Then when I saw what it really was, I couldn't believe it, and my blood ran cold.

"Jason, is he carrying a..."

"Oh, my God. I think it is."

He was carrying a gun. Purposefully. Down a residential street. Heading directly for the house at the end of the cul-de-sac, which is inhabited by a woman who spends most of her time drunk and causing trouble.

We just stood there. I wish I knew more about guns so I could tell you, with certainty, what type it was. All I know is it was one of the long varieties: something in the rifle family.

Could it have been a BB gun? Well, one can only hope. But, firearm novice that I am, I still think I might have been able to identify a Red Rider.

We didn't know what to do. What, exactly, are the legalities there? Do concealed weapons laws apply when one is not concealing, but not firing or being threatening, either? Do you call 911? Or just wait until the shots are fired?

Jason and I just stood there, holding our breath. We watched the guy walk right into the house at the end of the cul-de-sac, knowing that he's not the guy who lives there, but observing that he didn't exactly knock, either. We waited. When several minutes passed, and when we saw that other neighbors who were actually outside at the time this guy passed didn't seem distressed or on the phone with the authorities, we calmed down. We didn't hear or see anything unusual, and life went on.

But it begged the question: What kind of neighborhood do we live in? I've joked here that it's a banging-class neighborhood; all of a sudden, that has taken on a new, not-so-funny meaning.

Gun control isn't one of my big political issues. Other people in my party and probably in yours get pretty fired up over it; I've always been just sort of "meh." I see the logic of "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" and "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" and all that. But I also get angry when a kid gets his or her hands on a parent's unattended weapon and accidentally kills a playmate. And I often wonder, when in a crowd, how many people have concealed carry licenses and just how mentally balanced they are.

Seeing a stranger nonchalantly carrying a rifle-y weapon at his side down my street while no one batted an eye or called the police because technically he wasn't doing anything illegal (at least I think he wasn't technically doing anything legal--one of you lawyer types please weigh in) could push me a little to the left here.

Guns may not kill people...but you don't exactly want to see one wander down the street you just got your kid off of 15 minutes before. either.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Get Stacy and Clinton on the Phone--Stat!

I don't own a full-length mirror. It's one of those things I've been meaning to do since we moved into our house 8 years ago, but it doesn't rank very highly in terms of importance; I have eyes, and I am able to look down, so therefore I know how I look in my clothes most days.

Or so I thought.

Coming out of my library yesterday afternoon, I caught my reflection in the just-washed glass of the double doors. I was wearing a just-to-the-knee, flowing tan dress, two-strap leather sandals that are Dillard's budget version of Birkenstock's, and my glasses. My shoulders were kinda hunched, and the total effect was not what I was going for when I walked out the door that morning. I was aiming for "bohemian, free-spirited young librarian."

What I actually saw was much more "love child of Marcie and Peppermint Patty."

No, seriously. From the waist up I was totally this, with my glasses and brown bob and ill-fitting ensemble, but then the hippie sandals were pure Peppermint Patty.

Nothing says "I need a wardrobe makeover" more than looking like lesbian cartoon characters (not that there's anything wrong with that!) (And despite their cover of a shared crush on Charlie Brown, you know, deep down in places you don't talk about at dinner parties, that you always thought they were gay, too.)

I have only watched a couple of episodes of What Not to Wear, and I must say that generally it irks me.

"Oh, let that woman alone!" I say when Stacy and Clinton ambush some poor mom. "Who doesn't go grocery shopping in their circa 1994 Hanes sweats and Crocs? You would rather she sport the Prada on those special occasions?"

But now that I have had a reality check about what I go to work looking like...bring 'em on.

Submit me for a makeover. Have them ambush me at Kroger, or the gym, or coming home after a hard day working a Peanuts comic strip, and tell me what I should be wearing. Because I am sooo not getting it right.

Or, help me out. What should Cranky's new look be? Where can I shop for clothes that a middle-class woman can afford, that will satisfy both the side of me that's a little earth-mother-goddess, and the side that needs to look like a grown-up, educated professional? Submit links and suggestions below--full outfits would me much appreciated. Because apparently I can't even get the shoes right.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Out Of the Mouth of Ains: Reaping What You Sow Edition

Sometimes something will come out of my kid's mouth and I will think, "Where the heck did she hear THAT? I don't talk like that! Those darned friends of hers..."

Other times something comes out of her mouth and I say, "Yeah, sadly, that's from me."

Over the course of the last few weeks, Ainsley has been attendant at a lot of solemn events, from meeting with the priest to go over the funeral mass to the services themselves to having the family over to sort through pictures for the memorial boards and video. Being six and all, she got antsy a lot. I will confess: I wasn't always a model mom in these moments. I had a lot on my mind. My catchphrase when Ainsley was tugging on my sleeve asking for something relatively unimportant while I was giving my attention to more weighty matter was,

"Ainsley, settle down. It's not all about you right now."

So, days later, she's playing Super Mario Cart with one of her visiting uncles. She excels at this racing game, but on this particular day it's getting the best of her.

"I hate Mario," she said. "He thinks it's all about him."

Of course, the uncle got a big kick out of this. And the fact that during their game playing she also told him that Mommy shaves her back sometimes. I swear to you with my hand on a million bibles, I do not know where that one comes from. I mean, I visit the electrolysis sometimes and all, but my back is not one of my problem areas. Thank God.

Another Cranky-ism that's been getting some airtime is, "You don't have to talk to me like that." Ainsley expresses stress by mouthing off; I have no idea where she gets this (you guys can hear the sarcasm, right?) Things have gotten a little better in the last few days as life has started drifting back toward what we called normal, but at the height of the drama she used her angry voice for most things she said to me. Thus, she got told to not talk to her mother that way, often in the same tone of voice I was getting on to her for using. I'm a mom; we're hypocrites that way.

She didn't make this connection for a while. But during a car trip last week, when I got angry with her for something or other she was doing or not doing in the back of the car (I think she had just spilled a drink all over herself), she said,

"Well, you don't have to talk to me like that!"

And it was such a direct copy of my inflection that it was like the voice of a Mini-Me from the backseat. Jason was amused; me, not so much.

Now as I write this, the song "Teach Your Children Well" is running through my head. I'll just look at her and sigh...and know she loves me.