Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Sister is Insane

Friday, November 26, 2010 By

Emmie is watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when a giant float goes by: "LOOK! Ders da Wimpy Kid!"

"Yeah, Em. Do you like him?"

"No," she sighed. "He has diarrhea."

"... What?"

"He has diarrhea."

"What are you talking about?"

"Diarrhea of a Wimpy Kid. Das wut he is."

And then I know: "KELLLIIIII!!"

My sister cackles in the other room.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 By

"Mom?" Emmie says. "Do you miss da Native Amer-cans?"

Man, it is too early in the morning for this stuff. I am standing in the bedroom with one leg in my tights and one leg out. I have no idea what kind of stories the Richmond County School System is telling, but I am certain that it is filled with the kind of inaccuracies and outdated information I have seen all year. For example, how many types of matter are there? Four! Not three, RCSS. Get your information updated, please!

"Uh, well, it's not like they've gone anywhere, Em. What are you trying to ask me, sweetie?"

"Well, ders da people, dat are da Native Amer-cans, whut my teacher say Indians, but you say Native Amer-cans so dass whut I say, too. And dey're missing! We godda fine dem!"


What? What the heck is she learning?

"Honey, I think we know where they are," I say, and then mutter to myself: "because we marched them there."

"We do?!"

"Yes."

"Wull, we godda go get dem, because whut if we forget how to hunt?" she asks, brows furrowed in concern.

"Are you worried about that?" I ask, confused. I mean, I hunt my food at the grocery store - except for eggs - so I really don't know what would happen if we forgot how to hunt. I guess I'd learn quickly.

"Yeth! Whut if we forget to hunt, an' fish, and grow plants to eat?" she asks, palms out and worry framing her eyes. "We godda fine da Native Amer-cans, so dat don't happen!"

Ah. Now I get it. They're studying the first Thanksgiving.

"Okay. Well, first of all, Daddy knows how to hunt, and Mommy and Daddy know how to fish."

"Whut about da plants?" she asks.

"Well, okay, Daddy knows that better than I do," I concede. "But I think we'll be okay."

"But..." she interrupts.

"Sweetie, the people you think of as Native Americans? With the feathers?" I say, trying to access the images in her head. "They're just people, like you and me. Most of the time they wear jeans and T-shirts, like we do, and go to school, and have jobs, and live almost exactly like we do. Which may be a good thing, may not be. Because there are also beautiful differences, like their languages, and their music and stuff I don't even know about - like their fancy ceremony clothes, with feathers and animal hide, which they might choose to wear at special parties, just like they did when the Pilgrims first got here," I say.

"Yeth! An' dey help dem to not die! Because dey were cold and hungry, and dey were gonna all be dead! But da Native Amer-cans sabe der life!"

Sigh... yes, and no. I have a strong feeling that we're not doing our children any favors by relaying fairy tales. I don't need some dream of America to let me know what a great country we live in; I appreciate my freedoms every day. And being married to someone with a degree in history makes it difficult, to say the least, to allow these stories to pass without comment. But how to keep it appropriate for a kindergartner, and yet not undermine her teacher's authority?

I don't have a frickin' clue.

"Yes, some of the native Americans taught the settlers some very important lessons to help them survive in a new place with different animals to catch and plants to eat. But the Native Americans aren't missing, and they aren't dead. They're alive, and they live in this country, too. And it's important that we think of them as real people, with real lives and real feelings. And to remember that the story you're learning happened a long, long time ago. The people in the story have all grown and changed over the last two hundred years," I say.

"So, dey're not missing?"

"No."

"Good!" she sighed. "I was worried about dem. Der fambilies would be sad."

Oh. She was worried about their families. Maybe the lecture wasn't necessary after all. Do I take things too seriously sometimes? That's a big 10-4.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Notes from Anthony Bourdain's Atlanta show

Saturday, November 20, 2010 By No comments

Eat at Fat Mac's Rib Shack in Atlanta

Eat at St. John in London

Drunken Emory students, please shut up

Q&A session needs better questions

Ted Nugent's appearances on his show gets him the most hate mail

His wife, who is Italian, finds his Italian food only acceptable

No one wants to know how he cooks an omelet. It's a ridiculous question. Sit down, sir.

Why hasn't he done a barbecue tour? Because everyone else does it, and because the ratings spike up. So the network executives' expectations get too high.

His weirdest - but delicious - food was Guinea pig.

He's drinking a Sweetwater 420.

Why do so many people want to know his opinion on legalizing weed in California? Incidentally, he thinks it's more fun when it's illegal.

Aspiring chefs should go to culinary school, but not before you make sure you'll like heat, pace, insanity, no weekends or holidays off, and the neverending conversations about penis prowess.

Fave Ramones song is "Beat on the Brat."

He likes KFC mac n cheese when no one is watching and he's really drunk.

Bacon is the way to break vegetarians.

The 'next pork belly' is lamb neck.

He won't shoot in Burma or Iran, because of the government.

He's not welcome back in Romania.

He would like to see more 'democratic' approach to food - more food trucks and stalls, less snobbishness and velvet rope attitude.

He could do every show in China for the rest of his life, and still not know everything.

I think EVERYONE got drunk before they came to the show. Except me. Boo.

Nothing about his life has improved since he stopped smoking.

He likes to say 'fuck,' a lot. It's almost like he has Tourette's.

Last meal used to be roasted marrow. But now it's some kind of sea urchin thing. Whatever.

If you have your hand up, you should ACTUALLY have a question. Please. You are hurting my feelings.


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Friday, November 19, 2010

We'll start saving for tutors immediately

Friday, November 19, 2010 By

We're settling a vehicle seating dispute. There are two car seats that are exactly the same, but one is preferred over the other. It is "the big kid" seat, according to Emerson and Zequan.

"Okay, I'm thinking of a number between one and ten. What is it?" I ask.

"One," Emmie says.
"Ten," Zequan says.

It's five. Crap.

"No one is closer," I say, which would give lots of kids a hint. "Try again."

"Ten," Emmie says.
"One," Zequan says.

Really, guys?

"No, no, new numbers between one and ten," I say, my voice shaking with laughter.

"Twelve," Emmie says.
"Twenny," Zequan says.

"Guys! Between ONE and TEN," I say."

"Twenny one THOUSAND!" Emmie challenges.

"A BILLION thousand!" Zequan counters.

Emmie sighs: "Okay, you win, Zequan."

"Yes!" he celebrates.

(facepalm)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

And one for my mom...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 By

Text from C.B.: "Was good seeing you for that split second today. You had us worried a few weeks back."

Text from me: "My mother's been worried for years. She never figured out what's wrong with me, either."

C.B.: "There are some mysteries that last a lifetime."

Eh, I have a few more years. Maybe someone will figure it out.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Halloween costumes are getting inappropriate

I am rarely truly outraged.

(We interrupt this post for a message from Stacey's subconscious: Oh, snap, y'all! Bigmouth is about to go off on something. Here's a hint: It's gonna take awhile. You know she's gonna have to have three examples for everything, and a hundred smart-ass comments. So let me sum it up for you. Stacey did not appreciate the hoochie costumes for sale on Halloween. Y'all go on about your regular business now. Unless you have nothing better to do than read her stark-raving-mad open letter to the Internets.)

Where was I? Oh, yes.

I am rarely truly outraged.

Politics don't rile me. Religion only mildly annoys me. If those things don't make you mad, you're probably okay.

But I was really pissed about Halloween this year, when I watched girls no older than 12 prance by in skirts that barely covered their lady parts, paired with knee-high socks and heels. Really, parents?

Are you freaking kidding me?

I get it, moms and dads. We struggled, too. Emmie wanted to be Lady Gaga. I wanted to be something goofy, like a spelling bee or a cereal killer. Unfortunately, I am neither crafty nor able to sew. So I have to look for something "on the rack," so to speak.

But when I went to look at costumes - online, at Party City, Target, Wal-Mart, Spirit Halloween, and stores at the mall - with my sister and Emmie, I was mortified. Every recognizable and obscure female character from pop culture, history and literature has been turned into a gutter-trolling whore.

Cleopatra now wears a midriff-baring miniskirt. Amelia Earhart has ditched the chinos and bomber jacket, and now sports a low-cut top and impractical miniskirt. Even Hermione Granger, cerebral student witch, has ditched her academic robes for a robe more suited for the bedroom.
This is not okay, people!

What really got me were the bullcorn costumes available for girls ages 5-12. Alice, the virginal Victorian tween lost in Wonderland, now renamed Chalice, carrier of sexually transmitted diseases. Cookie Monster, a blue Seseme Street puppet whose only previous "action" was relegated solely to a puppeteer's hand up his butt, now gives her cookies away to anyone. And there was some kind of medieval/shepherd thing that I called "Little Ho Peep."

What's the big deal? You might ask. Didn't you just argue against sexualizing young children?

Yes. But it's not as though the boys' costumes featured ab-showing, butt enhancing cutouts in clothes the lengths of which wouldn't pass even the most lenient of school dress codes. They were normal, child-like costumes featuring a lot of superhero leotards.

But is it fair to compare boys' and girls' costumes? Boys and girls are inherently different. Isn't that like comparing apples and oranges?

Girls like to be superheros, too. But why does Wonder Woman need a mini skirt that allows drive-by gynecological exams? She doesn't. She needs cargo pants or stretchy spandex for her backflips and a tool belt for her awesome gadgets, like the lasso of truth. (Barring that, this is a way more entertaining interpretation of her costume)

Emmie's a super hero in 2011, and she doesn't have to worry about showing off her hoo-ha while kicking a bad guy in the face.
American women have fought for more than a century to be considered equals of men, and we're not going to lose that fight by dressing up as whores one night a year. In fact, younger feminists often embrace the idea that sexuality can be used as a weapon in that fight. On a side note, costumes have a long tradition in the boudoir - and, hey, what married folks do is between them.

But we're not talking about college-aged adults going to a tasteless pimps-and-hos party, or married adults engaging in fantasies. We're talking about prepubescent children being shown that, on a night when the clothes make the person, that person is mostly naked.

So what to do in 2010? Well, we cobbled together a costume from parts. Emmie wanted to go as Lady Gaga in her "Bad Romance" video. Not the naked part with the weird spinal protrusions; the dancing. So we bought white tights, a white leotard, white boots, and a hair bow. We were going to make the spiky headdress out of poster board, except mommy had a hair dye accident and spent several hours trying to fix it. Oops.

So Emmie essentially wore a ballet uniform with some crazy (but sheer) makeup that she put on herself in the car. And she was ecstatic about herself, singing the song's "rah-rah-ah-ah-ah" all night long and running from house to house. She didn't even notice that the street was filled with under-aged Vegas showgirls. She only noticed how much candy was in her plastic pink pumpkin head.

So maybe I'm overreacting. Hey, it wouldn't be the first time. And, like I argued before, adults are the ones who sexualize children. Children don't do it to themselves. For all I know, the bootie-short tutus so prevalent in tween costumes are there just for swishiness. I always liked a swishy skirt, myself.

But until Emmie turns 18, she'll be barred from clothing like that. Not only does it give off the wrong impression to other people, but the possibility of her internalizing those impressions is equally harmful. So I'll try to guide her towards more creative costume ideas, like an iPod commercial. Of course, Scott and I joke that the usual concerns for parents of tweens and teens won't matter to us, because the second she hits puberty we'll shuttle her off to a convent.

But I still worry. I've seen too many pregnant nun costumes not to.

This is also not okay.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Google me this, Batman...

Friday, November 12, 2010 By

So, you're smart enough to post an ad with photos on Craigslist, but you're not smart enough to spell "mirror" and "chest of drawers?" FYI, it is not - nor has it ever been - "mirrow" and "chester draws."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Well, there's a future option...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 By

I'm on the phone with a girlfriend when Scott calls my cell with an alternate plan for the evening.

"That's cool," I tell him. "Whatever you want to do is fine."

"See?" K.J. says, when I hang up. "You're so supportive. I wish you and I were married."

"Me, too," I rasp, trying to sound like the creepy "Wizard of Oz" kid in "A Christmas Story." "You are soooo preeeeettyyy..."

She laughs. "We're on the same page about relationships, you know? We'd make a great lesbian couple. I think we'd grow old together."

"I think that's the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me."

"Well, I have to go. It's date night with Ronnie," she says, breaking up with me before we even begin.

"Scott just canceled date night," I moan.

"See?! I would NEVER cancel date night!"

She's lookin' sexier all the time.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Economics 101: FAIL

Monday, November 08, 2010 By

"Mama!" Emmie comes running in. "I jus' heard on da TB dat you can get pizza and 50 tokens! Iss a coupon! For twenny dollars!"

"Oh, at Chuck E. Cheese?"

"Yes! But I gotta idea. We can jus' get ONE dollar, wif a TWENNY on it!"

Good thinking. Just don't tell the Treasury Department.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Because it's her world, we just live in it

Emmie is crying right now.

"But why is it in ATLANTAAAAAA," she wails.

I can't answer her, because I'm trying to keep my laughter to myself. It's a ridiculous outburst brought on by a weekend of art openings, late-night movies, all-day Putt-Putt adventures, and the confusion of daylight savings.

"I jus' want dem to build oooooooonnnnne," she continues to cry.

What is this outburst over? A theme park? A zoo? An aquarium? No. It's over a sushi buffet.

"'Cause I really, really like da octopuuuuuuss!" she wails.

Because that's what all normal 5-year-olds are craving these days.

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Friday, November 05, 2010

What the heck happened?

Friday, November 05, 2010 By

The migraine was not a big deal. Usually when I get a migraine at night, I can just pop a decongestant and go to sleep. When I wake up, almost all better. But this one was different. I woke to a thousand dwarfs pounding bricks into my skull. Bricks made of suns that clanged like a train bell whenever they hit me. Crap.

So I fumbled - eyes covered - to the closet and pulled out the Imitrex. I wanted to French kiss it. But instead I took it with water and laid back down. Scott understood and kept Emmie quiet.

Four hours later, no change. I popped another Imitrex. Four hours later - and an entire Sunday almost depleted - no change. So I pulled out the big guns: The $300 Max-alt I keep on hand just in case. It tastes like ear wax. But it works quickly. Usually...

But not today. The afternoon was waning. There was only so much time before the clinic closed. After 90 minutes, no change.

"Let's go," I told Scott. "I need some help with this." And he went into partial freak-out mode, driving like a maniac and repeatedly asking me if I was okay.

"Jus' don' panic, Daddy," Emmie called from the back seat, and I giggled weakly, despite the explosions it set off in my skull.

The doctor gave me a very painful shot in my butt. In 15 minutes, I felt better. In 25, I was ready to go. In 40, I was back to myself. It lasted three hours, just enough time for me to get everyone ready for the new week. Then, a fever hit me. I mean it hit me hard. Took me down like a ninja whoopin' up on an old lady. By 3:30 a.m., I knew I wasn't going to work. By 5:30 a.m., I was out of my mind.

Scott tells me that I repeatedly complained about an alarm clock ringing. There was no alarm clock. I also started kicking my legs and saying, "Feet gotta run!" Anyone who knows me knows that running is something I do only when someone is chasing me with a knife. So, obviously, something was wrong.

Scott took Emmie to school and me to the hospital, where they admitted me immediately and started testing. They gave me a shot. Very little changed. They did a CT scan, and thought they saw evidence of swelling in my brain. The doctor came back with terms like sinus thrombosis and cerebri pseudotumor. Geez. Go right for the fun stuff.

I tried to convince them that I'm just so smart that I need more room in my cranium. They did not believe me. I can't imagine why...

They did an MRI. It was freaky, like being inside HAL. I had a moment of panic, from experiencing claustrophobia for the first time. But a tech patted me on the leg and told me I had just 5 more minutes to go. That got me through it.

They took me to a room, gave me something for the pain, and let me sleep. I did that a lot for a couple of days. Then they wanted to give me a spinal tap. That was not an experience I'd like to relive - especially because they had to stop and take me down to radiology to complete it. And yet, just a couple of days later, I had to repeat the experience, because I needed a blood patch to get rid of the spinal headache.

They kept me in the hospital from Monday to Saturday. There were cultures to grow - meningitis was another possibility - and I was in so much pain that I couldn't sit up. The pain was less manageable because I won't take opiates, except in extreme situations.

At the end of the week, they had no concrete answers. So they chalked it up to a migraine and sent me home with a prescription for an anti-seizure medication often used off-label to prevent migraines. It made me so stupid that I couldn't remember people's names or keep up in meetings. They call that side-effect "psychomotor slowing." It felt like I had to think my way through Jello. So I took myself off of it, because doctors just love it when patients medicate themselves, am I right, medical community?

I'm mostly back to normal - but I'm having problems with short term memory loss and concentration, a constant headache, and neck and jaw pain. In the meantime, I'm seeing an otolarygologist for treatment of my ongoing ear/sinus issues. The neurologist says that has nothing to do with migraines. But the ENT specialist says he sees it all the time. It can't be worse than doing nothing, so this is the way I'm going right now.

In the meantime, I'm getting all sorts of helpful advice from people. Like the co-worker who told me a story about a patient with fungal meningitis.

"I know they tested you for viral and bacterial meningitis, but did they test you for that?"

"Heck, I've never even heard of it - I don't know!"

Or another fear factor:

"I had a friend who had an ear or sinus infection that got so bad that it spread to her brain. Are you worried about that?"

Well, now I am. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Giving my sister a hard time

Wednesday, November 03, 2010 By

My sister, Kelli, is a very loving aunt. She gets really excited about stuff like Halloween. Unfortunately, she lives four hours away. So she depends on photos and phone calls to stay in touch. Emmie and Zequan were going to trick-or-treat as Lady Gaga and Jason Voorhees. I was going as Joan Holloway from "Mad Men."

Text from my sister: Do you have pictures of Emmie and Zequan?

Text from me: No. Joan Holloway is making her pen necklace.

An hour later...

Kelli: How about now?

Me: Joan Holloway is busy watching children. Do not make me sleep with your husband and dock your time card.

Kelli: How about Little Gaga?

Me: Gaga is on tour and cannot be reached. Please leave a message.

Kelli: COME ON!!

Me: Joan Hollway did not get promoted to Director of Operations for Sterling Cooper by being easily distracted.

She didn't answer any of my texts the rest of the night.

Monday, November 01, 2010

They grow up so fast...

Monday, November 01, 2010 By

We're walking back from a meeting when a co-worker asks me about Emmie.

"She's doing great, thanks."

"And how is kindergarten? Is she enjoying it?"

"Most days. We just got her report card, and she got all Meets Expectations... the problem is that I know she's exceeding expectations in a lot of areas, so I worry about their metrics."

"Ah..."

Yes, I'm a helicopter parent. But I'm a really, really nice one, I promise!

"How is she doing with making friends?"

"She seems to be doing well. She has a little boyfriend, and apparently he proposed. So she's going to marry Trenae sometime soon, because 'he's so cute.' We're all invited."

"Oh, well, congratulations."

"Thanks. We're very proud."