Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summer break: Day 3

It's only the third day.

And already, I am looking for advice. Such as, how do I teach my children to load their dirty dishes in the dishwasher? How can I motivate them to keep their rooms tidy? Will they ever stop bickering? Can they learn where to hang the wet beach towels?

(The closet that should hold the beach towels is empty - ! They are likely all on the floor in the girls' bathroom.)

Actually, we were great up through the afternoon. Morning was calm - swim practice, a babysitting job. We had planned to go to Target, and when I went to check the rooms, I was not happy. You must understand, everything was perfect just one week ago when the grandparents visited. What has happened in the meantime?

No trip to Target - maybe today I'll feel nicer, but the girls have got to keep their stuff organized. I am anal-retentive about this sort of thing, so they must be, too. Maybe they can live with the disarray of their rooms, but I can't.

My two older daughters are busy with multiple babysitting gigs - I figure they are recouping some of the many dollars I laid out over the years. If they keep it up at this rate, they will be wealthy by the end of the summer.

I did enjoy my hour in the pool yesterday. It was pure zen, as the kids played peacefully and I floated through the water. I was enveloped by calm ... probably because I had my iPod (in the pool? am I crazy?) and could watch the kids but not hear them shrieking. And they did splash me - the iPod is sacred.

Today is a new day - we're all going to be more calm, more organized. I am going to try not to flip out over the messes. But I will not reward them. If you don't clean up, you don't get trips to the library or shopping or get driven to Tae Kwon Do. We'll see how this strategy goes ... results tomorrow.

Now that my 10 a.m. time slot is open (no more Rosie), my days are more flexible. Sad but true.

I think that covers it.

Saturday, May 26, 2007



This thing on my other blog (you know, the *secret* blog) has been incredible. And I don't mean that in a good way. I have had more than 10,000 hits, 300-plus comments.

When I post on that site - or this one - I really assume I am posting for a handful of people. Thus if I had known so many people were reading, I would have written it differently - different audience, you know. I have done a lot of writing in my life - I write magazine articles, and I have written newspaper editorials and commentary. So I know how to address a particular audience. With this entry, I would have been much less sarcastic, more balanced. But hey - I thought it was written for friends.

Sigh. I have been called terrible names, been called intolerant, and much worse. What happened to freedome of speech? I was merely sharing an opinion. Doesn't mean I'm right - they're just my thoughts.

Funny thing - and another blog friend said this, too - when I read a blog I disagree with, or don't like, I usually just move on. It would never, ever occur to me to leave a negative or mean-spirited comment. I just assume we don't have much in common and keep going.

But hey - nothing wrong with some spirited discourse. And you know? Out of this I have run across some really cool people - I have excellent new subscriptions, have read some great comments. And some of the more interesting comments have come from people who do not agree with me.

But they were nice about it. It is possible to respectfully disagree.

Oh - but I digress. It was swim meet day today - and it rained. Big time. Gary drove over with the tent, etc., signed Maddie in, then came home. He took Sylvia back with him - on bikes - and Alison and I followed later, also on bikes. I left quickly, told Alison to catch up, because I didn't want to miss the upcoming race. Got there just in time to see Maddie shave 8 seconds off her time - wow. Alison showed up late; she had a flat tire on her bike so she walked.

Then it poured rain. Poured. Meet called til Monday (which means many grouchy parents). So, Gary and Alison rode bikes back home, brought the van, and picked up the rest of us, the cooler, the chairs, the tent. We're home again, dry. But we canceled our evening cook-out, scheduled for the backyard. I didn't feel like moving it indoors; we'll try again tomorrow. Instead, we're going to the movies tonight. The girls are going to see Pirates, and Gary and I will see Waitress - the reviews are very good.

And one more thing: It's my birthday. The girls have been very sweet. Sylvia came to check this morning on whether the dishes in the dishwasher were clean or dirty - she wanted to load her breakfast things. What a sweetheart. I scored some new luggage (which, oddly enough, Gary has been wanting for a while ....), a bathtub pillow, some bath salts, a new pumice stone (because my husband mistakenly used mine to clean the pool - ???), sunglasses (which I do not need today, sad), and CDs of Aida, Porgy & Bess, and Carmen. What a haul - I am feeling very loved today.

Happy Birthday to me.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Unwanted attention

(Or, Be Careful What You Wish For)

I've decided to let a secret out the bag. Well, half a secret:

I have another blog.

It's a secret blog, one that I tell no one about. That way, no one I know can read it. In this way, I can be totally honest without fear of offending anyone.

And one person I know does read it. I set it up on advice from a college friend, who had read this one. Her advice was to set up one at this other site, a bloggers' site. First, I could be really honest. And second, because it's all other bloggers, you get a lot of feedback.

But that's all I'll say - I want to keep it this way. My friend said she got burned more than once when someone she knew read her blog. And it's true - I find myself editing here, not wanting to piss anyone off. So, the other blog domain shall remain a secret.

Much of what I post there I post here - often unedited. It's only on occasion I change things. Well, yesterday, I posted on my other site about the Jim Bob Duggar family, the people in Arkansas who are expecting their 17th child in July. I took a stand, which people may or may not agree with: 17 kids is too many. I elaborated, shared my thoughts on why this particular family dynamic is perhaps not the best for the kids. And I"m not going to defend my comments - I'm entitled to my opinion.

Well, somehow - don't know how this works - somehow, it made featured content, meaning when you go to the blog's home page, it was listed there, like Blog of the Day.

It's sort of flattering - I mean wow - I'm the most interesting blog of the day! Does it mean I'm the best writer? Maybe not. Maybe just the most controversial, most provocative. But it's kind of cool.

The flip side, however, has been the comments. Last night I did not realize what was going on, but I kept getting comment after comment. It wasn't til this morning I found out that I was featured.

Some - most - of the comments have been supportive. But the crazies are out in full force, and some of the comments are really mean. I don't know how many I've gotten - more than 100 at this point - but I had to quit reading. Once I got called a Jezebel, I decided I was done for a while.

So now I'm almost afraid to post again, in fear that the crazy people will continue to read and comment. I mean, I don't know these people, but I had built up a small community of blog "friends," and I kind of miss that.

I think I'll just take a break, perhaps post something later. Maybe I'll put up a protected post and only grant access to my usual readers,.

Sigh. Even my virtual life is complicated ;)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another year gone

No more 5.45 a.m. alarm wake-ups. No more packing lunches. No more trips to the bus stop, supervising homework, school projects, bedtime rushes.

And I'm ambivalent. I love summer vacation - who wouldn't? I love having the girls home, to swim, play with friends, go to the library, wtach movies, hang out. I loved it when they were little, and I missed out on a few years when I worked for the newspaper - talk about a job with no time off. Even holidays felt like an interruption of your work (it's the nature of the business).

Yet I'm sad, sad because it marks the passage of time. Never again will I have a second-grader. And my eldest will be a sophomore next year - which means she has only four summers left at home with us. And I'm not sure that senior summer counts - I suspect she will be mentally moving on by then.

But enough of the melancholy. I need to live in the moment, rather than dwell on what might have been. So, in that vein - hurrah! Summer vacation! Let the games begin!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Little bits of randomness

I've been tagged. My cyber and real-life friend Tammy has asked me to list seven random things about myself.

This is tricky - one, I'm not that interesting and b, I'm thinking most people know all this already. But here goes:

• I have had 20 different addresses in my life. (This includes my seven college residences.) Eight of these have been since my marriage. We've owned four houses since 1990. I've lived in five states and two foreign countries. Average length of residence since we got married? Three years.

• I wrote my master's thesis while my infant daughter napped. Wrote the bulk of it in a month on our Macintosh SE. Spent several more revising.

• Since grad school, I have gotten an offer for every job for which I've interviewed.

• It took eight months in Germany, studying intensively, before I had the courage to have a real conversation in German.

• I love to drive a standard transmission.

• I gave birth to my youngest daughter without any pain medication. Though I should probably add the caveat that we spent less than an hour at the hospital.

• I have what I consider eclectic taste, in clothing, books, music, movies. In my CD player right now I have Dean Martin, Asleep at the Wheel, MIchael BublĂ©, Maroon 5, Alex Chilton, and Steve, Bob & Rich.

That felt pretty random. Now, whom to tag? Sadly, no one comes to mind. But Jim, Pete, should you care to answer - you're the ones I deem most likely from my *large* and devoted readership. I'd love to read your answers.

Thanks, Tammy! (Why am I not linked on your blog? I'm trying not to take it personally, but hey, I'm as interesting as (most of) your other links. And I'm guessing I've known you longer than all but one ... not that I'm complaining ... )

Back in the groove

Routine. I cherish it. I value knowing what I'm going to do each day, doing it in that order. I love having the option of spontanaeity - when it can be planned in advance (!) In short, I like my time to myself. This is what I get after all those years of having kids home with me. My time is my own, for the present.

So, for the last few days, my house was overrun by my in-laws - Gary's parents and his sister. They are very high maintenance - and they're the worst kind - you know, they think they're low maintenance.

My relationship with my in-laws is not too unlike many others, I'm guessing. I suspect they would have preferred their son marry someone who had more in common with them - someone who came from the same part of Missouri they did, who liked to fish and camp and have fish fries. Their children are perfect (trust me - they've said so more than once), thus if we ever do anything they don't like (move far away, don't call enough, don't visit often) it must be my fault, because their *perfect son* would never do such a thing. (News flash: Their son is, like all the rest of us, a flawed human being.)

I truly think they have good intentions. They're provincial people, not well educated, not terribly sophisticated. They've lived in the same town of 5,000 people their entire lives and have limited experience. I think that they truly look at other people's lives, others' mistakes, and quietly think to themselves, "You know, we raised our kids this way, we did this. If other people simply made the same choices we did, they would have good luck too." I think it's beyond their comprehension that others might not have those same options - others' children are complex, with problems beyond their scope or realm of experience.

And I have real concerns for assuming your kids are *perfect.* I made a comment once about Gary being absent-minded. My MIL had a fit - she took it as a personal affront. What if someone called one of your children less than perfect, she asked me. Well, I said, it might be true. Just as I said about her son, my children are merely human, complete with flaws and imperfections. I think that if you set up your kids for perfection, then you're all in for a huge disappointment. Why not just be realistic? I think my children are wonderful, and I know I have to be their advocate - if I don't, then no one will. But at the same time, they will make mistakes. It's my job to make sure they don't make mistakes from which they can't recover.

So, needless to say, being around my in-laws wears me out. They mean well, but I need short doses.

It's all small stuff, really, all picky. But it all runs together and wears on me. Still, they are my in-laws, so I will bear it. And with a smile.

Still, I'm glad it's over. Two more days til summer vacation ...

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Reply from the assistant principal: The kids wer given the option to participate. Yes, they were told if they didn't they would be running that day. But it was not meant as punishment.

OK. But you know, they're sixth-graders. It's easy to see how that was grossly misleading, consequently misunderstood. I'm irritated - slightly - but I'll get over it.

However, maybe I'll make it clear that we're not doing any school fund-raisers. I'll choose my own charitable contributions, thanks.

My in-laws are here. And my SIL. My house has been taken over. They mean well - they really do. But the order and structure I crave has been thrown up in the air. My routine is shot.

I mean, will I get to watch The Sopranos tomorrow night? See what I mean?

But the house looks fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. Alison came home yesterday and said, The house looks fake. No, I replied, it looks the way it should always look.

It looks too Spartan [clutter-free, she means, ed.]. Fake.

I quite enjoy the fake house. I'm reveling in it.

I'm guessing that by next weekend we'll be back to the normal house. Good for Alison, but not so good for me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Charity by coercion

My daughter brought home a fund-raiser yesterday. It involved the heart association. The kids were asked to being in a minimum donation. If they did not, they would have to run laps as punishment.


I made the bare minimum gift. But the more I thought about it, the more irritated I got. So, I fired off an e-mail to the assistant principal:

I'm not exactly sure whom to e-mail about this, so I am starting with you.

My sixth-grade daughter brought home a fund-raiser this week, for the Heart Association, I believe. The kids were asked to make a minimum donation. But they were told if they didn't, the would have to run laps in PE.

I am all for the schools raising money for worthy causes. But is this the best way to motivate families to be generous, by using punishment in order to coerce kids and families into giving?

Plus, this turns running into a punishment, when it should be encouraged as a good physical fitness activity.

For the record, we made a contribution, so this isn't about my child being punished. But I really think this sends the wrong message to kids and families. Altruism should be encouraged for its own sake, not as a means of avoiding punishment or humiliation. I will be very disappointed to see this occur again next year.


We'll see what happens.

Is it just me, or is this a bad idea?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Where does the time go?

Has it really been since last Wednesday?


Time gets away from me. I was single-parenting last week, which, while not excruciatingly difficult (my girls are generally pretty good kids), is tiring. Just knowing that I am the only parent around, that no one else can ever back me up, that I have to do everything, well, it can wear me out. Good thing I don't have demanding kids.

Gary came home Saturday afternoon. In the morning I took Maddie over to school to get on the bus for her field trip, then took Alison to a clinic to get a TD booster. I then had to drop her off at church for a rehearsal. Figuring going a different way would be faster than back-tracking, I plugged the address into the GPS. It took me to I-10 (or as we call it here, the Katy Freeway). Which is under construction. Which I kind of knew, in the back of my mind, but it was off my radar. The horrors of traffic congestion combined with construction. It would have been faster for me to go back the way I had come - grrrr. Thought I was saving time, but in fact, no.

Live and learn.

I love Mothers Day. Sylvia gave me a charming little card, filled with coupons that I can cash in for different activities - reading with her, feeding the dog, picking up her room. (I asked her to set the table last night, and she made a bee-line for the coupons; she marked that one used - !) But is it wrong that I was disappointed that I only got that card? Nothing from the other girls, no real gift? I know, my husband was out of town last week, had no time to shop. But still.

Sigh. I feel greedy, but at the same time, it's nice to be remembered. My husband always, always gets gifts on Fathers Day. I felt slighted.

And still, it's really a small thing, in the grand scheme of things.

I took the girls to the theatre Friday night. Came home at 11, realized we were out of milk. So I made the 11.30 run to the supermarket. One line was open, and one woman had a huge cart full of groceries. Sorry, she apologized, it's the only time i could shop.

How can you be annoyed at that? God, we have all had those weeks, where it feels as if there is no time to get it all done. I could so relate. She felt bad, holding up the line, but the store should have opened up another lane. That way the guy in front of me with Killian's Red and Diet Coke, the guy behind me with three bottles of wine and ice cream, I with two gallons of milk (one was $3.65, but i could get two for $6), we could check out faster. (My arms were about to fall off, holding two gallons.)

Time. It is going faster and faster. I don't have enough.

And it's nearly time for the dentist. Fun stuff.

Time to go.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Even at 41 cents, a bargain

There is always a line at the post office in Cypress, Texas. Regardless of the time of day, the time of the year, there are perpetually 15 people in line and two windows (of four) open. Generally, the clerks are friendly enough. But I do tire of the wait.

I find myself there more than I would like to admit. At Christmas time, naturally, I have to go. Then I had to mail Girl Scout cookies to people who ordered them from out of town, the phone charger that Maddie's friend left when she visited, the odd baby or birthday gift, a return to Amazon or Land's End.

Today I purchased Forever stamps - such a deal - and two-cent stamps. Postal rates go up Monday.

But you know what? I'm not complaining about the rate hike. Because I think first-class postage is a deal.

I mean, think about it. For 41 cents, I can drop a letter in the mailbox (or put it just outside my front door for someone to pick up) and it will be delivered anywhere in the United States. Imagine - a card will arrive at my mother-in-law's in Missouri, another one will be delivered to my mother in Austin. If I have a bill or a paper or a card to get to someone else in Houston, for a mere 41 cents, someone else will get it there for me. I could hand-deliver it, but it would take me 30 minutes each way, fighting traffic, with gasoline at nearly $3 a gallon.

That 41 cents is sounding better, huh?

So, no complaints here on higher postage - I still find it an incredible bargain.


In other news ... I exchanged the pillows at BB&B - the new ones were too big. I like a fluffy pillow, but not one that makes me feel as if I'm sleeping sitting up. Or on a boulder.

Maddie wants basketball shorts. She is a total sucker for peer pressure, and ALL her friends are wearing basketball shorts for field day. I'm not quite sure I know what they look like ... I picked up a white skirt for her to wear to awards night tonight, so maybe that will make her happy. Gymnastics this afternoon, which means 70 minutes to sit and read (an hour is not enough time for little girls to do cartwheels?).

The adult woman in front of me at the post office had on a Britney Spears T-shirt. Sadly, I don't think it was meant to be ironic.

And on that note - later!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bed, Bath and ... Beyond

I am inundated weekly by Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons. Ironically, whenever I need to shop there, I can't find one.

Go figure.

Today was different. I am in heavy-duty clean-up mode. When all the furniture has been moved, everything removed from the built-ins, it's a good opportunity to de-clutter, to really get things in order. You should see the shelves next to the television - I hauled all the kids' DVDs upstairs to the playroom, so there is no longer an unsightly pile of them in the family room (ours are carefully hidden behind the television ...) Everything has been dusted and put away. Even the eldest daughter - not necessarily known for her tidiness - has agreed to part with some paraphernalia out of her room; the purging, in her case, is long overdue.

(And - on a side note - I am feeling very HGTV: I came up with an idea to use her broken Tae Kwon Do boards and create some wall art. We'll paint the boards and arrange them attractively on her wall. So creative. Move over, Lynnette Jennings.)

So, today, as I hung up bath towels - old bath towels, I might add - they're all Sylvia's age or older - the colors hurt my eyes. Major clash going on. So, grabbed my paint chip and headed to BB&B, coupon in hand.

Found the towels, even splurged for new pillows. You'd think they might be for Alison ... but no, they're for me. I gave Alison our old ones. Very thoughty of me. (*Obscure reference to animated Robin Hood, circa 1970 or so. Great little film - Alison watched it daily for what felt like months many years ago.)


My coupon was for a mere 20 percent off ONE item. Thus, the total savings on my $164 purchase? $2.20. Sound the trumpets.

I also dropped some cash on my Target run - no coupon there. Bought Mothers' Day cards, including one for my MIL, since Gary is out of town. (He never, ever asks me to do this, and I generally don't - if he asked, I would, but she's not my mother. I don't buy cards for his family's birthday, either - if he wanted me to, I would, but he doesn't seem to get too worked up about it. I just deal with my family.)

Bottom line, here? My bathroom looks stunning now that it's all color-coordinated. This all leads to a sense of inner calm.

One time, we heard a question, for women: Would you rather have OK sex in a clean house, or great sex in a messy house? I think you can guess my answer ... though it is hypothetical. My house is very clean.

And my husband is out of town (!)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Partied out

Not me. The 8-year-old.

Friday after school, the Brownie troop went to Build-a-Bear, then out to pizza. She was dropped off at her friend's house to spend the night. Picked her up at 10 Saturday (after I had already baked cupcakes), took her to the mall to buy two birthday gifts. Came home, she changed for her soccer pool party. Noon to 3 was spent at the swimming party (which was, luckily, just up the street). Came home, changed quickly for birthday swim party. I hung out here (the mom is a friend of mine and had invited me to hang out). Stayed til 6.30, came home, changed for party No. 3. While she changed, I packed the overnight bag.

Whew. Don't know if she felt worn out, but I did.

Today? We didn't do much. Gary left around noon for the airport, so I took the girls to IKEA to get the stuff for Alison's room. She made great selections - it looks fantastic. She is happy, I am pleased.

Maddie had watched part of The King and I in World Cultures class (?), so we pulled out the movie today. I love Rodgers and Hammerstein (really, who doesn't?) and we watched. All three girls loved it - they are smart kids with excellent taste, after all.

They're getting pajamas on. Soon it will be just me, left to finish putting stuff away, watch Desperate Housewives (guilty pleasure), The Sopranos, read my Agatha Christie.

The painters are gone, so I'll be alone again this week. Which is fine by me. I'm enjoying the last few weeks til the girls are home. Rosie leaves The View in June, so I'll be done with that. With luck, I'll be back at work this fall. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy my downtime.

Friday, May 04, 2007

When being overzealous does not pay

The paper piles up around here. Newspapers (the Houston Chronicle is one big paper). Junk mail. Old magazines and catalogs. Fliers in the door. Papers from school. And on and on.

And we have no curbside recycling. Fortunately all the schools collect paper and cardboard for recycling, in big dumpsters. Alison and Maddie both have after-school activities, so I am over there often enough.

This week I needed to make a run. I gathered up everything, went through Sylvia's backpack and gathered up all the errant notes. Got it all together, took it over Wednesday afternoon when I picked up Alison.

As Sylvia got her backpack together yesterday evening, she asked me if I had seen her language arts homework sheet. (The kids are given homework on Monday to do throughout the week, turning it in Friday.)

Ooops! I must have grabbed it along with everything else Wednesday. I know I left the math papers, but I guess I thought they were all together.

I wrote a mea culpa to her teachers - It's all my fault. I did it. She did the work. Don't blame Sylvia.

Her very nice teachers said no problem - she has a very good record of doing her work on time. No problem, no questions asked.

She's off the hook. But am I?

This is what I get for trying to get things in order, trying to stay on top of things.



I just read that Friday, May 18, is sixth-grade locker clean out. But school is in session through Thursday, May 24. Try to convince me again that those last few days are critical.


I am so much more relaxed with my paint colors. Hear my giant sigh of relief.


Poor Sylvia - she is going on a Brownie field trip today after school then home with a friend to spend the night. Yesterday she worried that she wouldn't see me at all, so I told her I would come by to see her. Then she was sad again this morning, worried that it was too long a day. I told her she didn't have to go, but she wants to. She is just worried. I reassured that her dad and I will come by to see her when they return from the Brownie trip to Build-a-Bear.

She's still little, you know?


Congratulations to Alison, the recipient of high honors in English.

Also noteworthy: Alison read - AND ENJOYED - a book that I recommended. Usually she disdains my suggestions. But for her science fiction report, I recommended A Clockwork Orange. She loved it. And did a nice report. I'm so proud.


Busy weekend. Then Gary leaves next week, missing elementary awards day, sixth grade awards, our theatre date on Friday. I guess I'll buy two more tickets, take the girls. Must remember that he has a very good job and not complain.


Next weekend is busy, too. The weekend after that, his family is coming. Blech. I think it will be a short trip. Let's hope so.


We unloaded our old wicker furniture and are now ... drumroll, please ... sixty whole dollars richer! I know you are all envious of our newfound wealth. I would have given them away, but Gary thought we should sell them. Glad I listened to him.

(Though he had the nerve to ask if our old wicker had gone to a good home - um, sorry, no background checks on people who are willing to hand over $60 cash for two 12-year-old faded wicker chairs.)


Alison left some sort of squoosh ball (is that a word? squoosh?) under her bed. It was filled with some sort of silicone substance. And it burst, adhering itself to the carpet. And that stuff is not coming out. I wasn't even sure what to try, so I bought two different stain/spot removers from Lowe's that said they would work on tar. Well, silicone-type substances are different than tar. Fortunately it's a spot that will always be under her bed, but I'm still annoyed. Really annoyed.

Alison has been lectured with a stern finger-wagging. But she is full of contrition and will NEVER EVER do anything like this again.


And that's it. For now.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Panic and friendship

Long post - bear with me.

The painters are making progress.

And I am only just post-meltdown.

The foyer/family room/stairway - the main part of the house - is too pink. I was going for a khaki color, and when I look at that paint chip I sill see the color I wanted. On the walls, however, I see an almost dusty rose. It was to match a color in the family room area rug (the rug is orange, red, gold, brown, and tan - looks great with our persimmon/orange couch/chair). And I think it does. But for the walls, it is too pink.

I thought I could live with it, thought it would grow on me, that once the pictures were on the wall, it would all work.

Then I saw the kitchen: too orange. And the top half of the dining room: too pink. And my main house walls? Still too pink. Panic is setting in.

I had that pit in my stomach, and I couldn't imagine that it would go away. I was going to have to live with my regret, day after day after day - right in my face. Gary came home at 11.30 last night and as he got into bed mentioned the paint colors.

Stop, I said. I can't talk about it. I couldn't sleep; I lay awake, pondering what to do. And I was exhausted.

This morning, I made up my mind: Redo the foyer/family room/stair well. They haven't done the living room, upstairs hallways, or computer area. So I only have to pay to have part of it redone. And the dining room main color (burgundy) will go above the chair rail as well.

So, step one was to visit my neighbor - she and I had talked about paint colors, so I went over to ask her advice. Compared my color swatches to her walls, and found my solution. Talked to the lead guy, and we're good - he even gave me a deal on having it redone. Nice guy.

Then I came home, peeked in the bedroom and - gasp - didn't like the color on the bedroom walls. I told the guys to stop, that I was changing to a different color. I told them to go ahead with the master bath. (Are you sure, they asked? Tee hee - fair enough!!)

So now I am feeling better. But I sill needed a little therapy - I needed to talk to a friend.

I love my husband. He's a great guy, and he's generally fun to do things with. We have a great time together. But when I really need to talk, I'll be honest: I do not go to him. I turn to my girlfriends. They know how to listen, when to give advice, when to support me, when to constructively criticize. We're women - we know these things.

Unfortunately for me, at this point in my life, my girlfriends are, without exception, long-distance. But it's OK - calls on the mobile are free, and we have plenty of long distance built into our home phone. So I can always call to chat. These days, the people I think to call first come from many different part of my life: Tammy goes waaayy back to grade school (fourth grade, to be exact); Peter and I have been friends since freshman year of college (I know, he's not a girl, but he's still a great friend, and always fun to chat with); Helen, my "kindred spirit" friend with whom I have almost too much in common sometimes (it can be scary); and JoAnn, my bowling/Mah Jongg/inside Lafayette friend - she and I totallly crack one another up with keen obervations on life in the shadow of Purdue.

Today, I called Tammy. I hope hope hoped she'd be home and, lucky me, she was. We haven't talked on the phone for a while, but we're in touch - blog comments, short e-mails back and forth on this and that. But you know? She is one of those people who, when we get on the phone, it feels as if we just talked yesterday. She knows waaaay too much about me, but she never, ever brings up embarrassing memories or reminds me of what a geek I used to be. She doesn't make me feel guilty for the times when I was a bad friend, nor does she try hard to sound superior in her decisions or lifestyle that may not exactly mirror my own. She doesn't try to pass herself as more sophisticated than she is, or sound phony, and she is not judgmental (unless she should be - you know, when we talk about people we never liked in high school. Which we usually don't do - frankly, we have better things to discuss).

Today, she was calm and patient and helped me work through the final moments of my paint crisis. With a great deal of humor. It's funny that I used to call her to discuss clothes and boys and homework and extracirricular activities; today I called and we discussed our home improvement projects. We had to hang up all too soon.

Now I am home, all relaxed, as I watch my walls transform to the colors I had in mind. I am reflecting on how lucky I am to have the friends I have - and for those whom I did not mention, you're in my thoughts, too.

Thanks, Tammy. For being there for me, then and now. For listening. For being you.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


The sounds of south of the border are lilting through my house. I offered the painters use of the radio downstairs - painting can't be the most exciting way to spend your day, so I figured they could use a little music. I'm upstairs in the office, so it's not bothering me.

I'm changing sheets, tidying up - moving all the furniture in order to paint gives me a good excuse to do some cleaning behind stuff. Not that I enjoy doing this stuff, but I do enjoy having a clean house. Really clean. How long will it stay this way; that's the big question. I need a full-time assistant, really, but let's face it - it's not going to happen.

I straightened up my shoes in the closet - it's almost embarrassing how many boxes there are. And I truly only wear some of them. Yet I can't part with any of them - nope, none. I would say how many pairs there were, but I'm not sure I care to divulge the number. Though I would if the right person asked, but only because I am sure she has more than I do. (I'm protecting your identity, but you know who you are ...) Maybe I'll reevaluate next fall if I end up working again and have to dress the part.

(I forgot to mention the application I submitted ... we'll see what happens.)

Which leads to a confession: Part of the reason I miss working is dressing for work. Crazy, huh? But I like to dress up. Wear all my outfits. At the newspaper I never, ever wore heels to work (I would have looked like a freak), but I always dressed nice. I wore skirts and tights, skirts and boots, skirts and sandals in the summer. Wore pants a lot, too. But I always looked good (trust me). And I miss it. I need to get out of the house, out of the habit of wearing jeans every day. Don't get me wrong - I love jeans. And shorts, and capris/crop pants. But I need a little change.

When I taught before, the class only met twice a week. So I wrote down in my planner what I wore each day. Otherwise I would end up wearing the same thing every Monday. And students notice these things. Don't know that it would damage my credibility, but you never can tell. Plus, during one semester I was pregnant, which seriously puts a cramp in the wardrobe - I never wanted to invest in too many maternity things.

So I charted what I wore, and how often. That's right: I can't remember to get the bills in the mail or to file papers, but I do have time to monitor my wardrobe. I'm sure this says something about me.

I'm equally sure I don't want to know what it might be.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Painters and Mormons and Gays - Oh, my!

The painters are here. Thus I am holed up, house bound. It's OK - I've gotten a surprising amount done. It feels a little strange to sit and read while they work. But after I folded the laundry, there wasn't much else to do. Tidying up seems a little pointless in the midst of the disarray.

And the color on the walls in the foyer/family room/hallways/stairwell ... it's more pink than brown. I tend to lean toward the pinks, I know, but I really thought it was brown. It is meant to match a color in the rug. I'll live with it - this isn't our forever home, anyway. Still ...

Caught Dina McGreevey, ex-wife of the New Jersey governor who came out to a scandal a couple years ago. She is angry. I have a friend who found out, after 15 years, that her husband was gay. And she, too, was pissed. Maybe I'm wrong, but don't these guys deserve a little empathy? How hard is it to live in a society where you are expected to be a certain way - ie, grow up to fall in love with a woman - and you have to deny who you are every day of your life? Must be tough. And I know these women were hurt, but weren't their husbands in some pain, too? I know she is angry, but writing a book and going on Oprah? That's a way to heal - but that's just me.

And I watched part one of The Mormons on PBS. A dear friend from Germany (another American couple we knew) is Mormon, so I watched partly in deference to Claudia - she was so good to me. Plus I find scholarly looks at religion fascinating (why do you think I'm a good UU?). And, as I think I've mentioned before, I am big fan of PBS, in particular, American Experience. This one is good - though I had a tough time with the woman who clenched her jaw as she spoke (!) Having lived in both Missouri and Illinois, I was familiar with the persecution Mormons suffered there, as well as the corresponding violence they perpetrated in the West. Interesting stuff - it's all part of who we are. Being a big believer in religious freedom, I firmly support that people are free - or should be - to worship as they choose. At the same time, I should be allowed to do as I please. (Someone should enlighten my sister-in-law ... I doubt she's watching about the Mormons, whom she considers heathens. But she doesn't know Claudia, does she?)

The painters come back tomorrow ... which means another productive day for me. Yay for that, anyway.