Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's 11:00am, and I Feel Like Drinking

I am here to discuss my frustration with prerequisites.

I am so tired of being a part-time student.

You know what that reminds me off? When I was pregnant. I was all like, "I can't wait to give birth already," and Dave would be like, "Just wait. You'll be wishing you were pregnant again when the baby is crying for 5 hours straight."

And then I was like, "God, why do you have to rain on my parade of heartburn and severe pelvic pain?"

Why I'm frustrated specifically is that I need one remaining class, required for entry into BSN programs, and that one final class is one that I have to take during a summer session because all Spring 2011 classes (and wait lists!) are entirely full.

That wouldn't necessarily be a problem. I was thinking that I might have to spend part of my summer, prior to entering nursing school, in the lab. I just didn't think I'd have to spend 12 fucking weeks in the lab. Usually, summer courses are 6 weeks. I spent six weeks last summer learning the lovely principles of General Chemistry II. I survived.

But you might think that 12 weeks would be more manageable, and hence, a better experience, and you'd be right! Completely right!

Unfortunately, there's a beach house in North Carolina with a sizable deposit made on it, ready for rental during the waning days of July. By my family. My entire family.

Do you know how much I'm looking forward to that vacation? Do you know how much my girls are looking forward to that vacation? Do you know we've never taken a long family vacation, other than long weekends to see family?

I know, it's hard to get all worked up over it all on my behalf. One day, I'll be able to take a vacation. Right? Right?

I'm certain I'll have LOTS of time as a full-time nursing student. And then as a nurse, working full-time!

And do you know what happens if I can't manage to get into Microbiology during the summer?

Because I'll be trying to register at 12:01am with the rest of Delaware County and kids in neighboring schools who'd rather pay $500 for a science than $3500 and often times, the registering system crashes and by the time it comes back up, sections are full!

It's so much fun. It's like a virtual stampede, an online mob, and no one gives a fuck about what YOU need, because everyone else needs it too. I am not a special snowflake. I am one flake on a snowy hill filled with flakes.

I'm also feeling a bit selfish, like I just wanted some time to breathe this summer, before diving into the next two years. I'm looking SO forward to these two years, to finally being in nursing school and feeling like I'm getting there, after being in school since 2008. But I just wanted a few weeks to chill. One of those weeks I had intended on spending on the beach with my husband and kids and the rest of my family.

So I'm feeling just a bit annoyed and weepy right now. Really annoyed and weepy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Walkers, Geeks, and Zombies, Oh My!

How do you think you'd fare if the world were ending?

Yeah, I like to consider shit like that.

I seriously think it's one of the reasons I work out. I need to be able to run fast and maintain that pace. Endurance, my friends. It's all about endurance.

Well, that and being able to jump a car and fire a gun. (Note to self: learn how to jump a car and visit the firing range, soon.)

Now, if the apocalypse comes and it's divine in nature, we're all pretty much screwed. I may see you in heaven, or I may see you in that other really hot place I'd rather not spend eternity in.

But if the end time is purely a human creation (as is VASTLY more likely -- I'm looking at you global warming deniers!), do you think you'd survive, at least for a little bit of the post-apocalyptic nightmare?

Now that Lost is over and I feel like Damon Lindelof and J.J. Abrams unsatisfactorily screwed me for six seasons (Thanks guys! Glad I put the time in!), I've been looking for another drama to take its place.

And I found one, though I'm not exactly sure you could accurately call it a drama.

(You won't find these guys on Grey's Anatomy!)

When I heard AMC was creating a TV show based on the comic book series The Walking Dead, I was all over that shit.

Out of all the horror genres, zombies have to be my favorite. Who can forget the cemetery scene in Night of the Living Dead? Or the remake of Dawn of the Dead, where the survivors holed up in a mall head up to the roof to see the building completely surrounded? Or the driving scene in the funny Shaun of the Dead, where the car full of people keeps driving into zombies littering the roadway?

Shaun of the Dead even has Dawn in it from BBC's version of The Office.

(Spoiler alert: She doesn't make it. Very sad!)

So AMC's The Walking Dead is kind of like a horror/drama with a teensy bit of dark humor thrown in. You know, if you find jokes about organ donation -- while the survivors are coating themselves in zombie entrails to avoid smelling like the fresh human meat that they are -- humorous. Which, I completely do!

The show's hero, a police officer named Rick Grimes, wakes in a hospital bed after being shot by a criminal he was pursuing. How much time has passed is unknown. When he walks through the corridor after stumbling out of bed, you get a feel for how much has transpired while he was comatose.

Corpses litter the halls, the hospital looks like a war zone, and one set of double doors is padlocked shut, with painted-on words warning "Don't open, dead inside."

("Oh shit, what did I miss?")

Outside, the scene isn't much better. Military vehicles sit unoccupied, piles and piles of bodies are covered with plastic, and no one is around to tell him exactly what is going on.

Rick manages to find with some survivors, a father and son, who fill him in as best they can. Looks like something bad has happened. Like, really freaking bad, and there aren't many living people left. There are, however, a lot of these guys.

(These folks are totally NOT bringing you brownies to welcome you to the neighborhood.)

The zombies are ever present, and truly frightening. They stagger along, shuffling and stumbling, looking for food. If they catch a whiff of you, all sweet-smelling and alive, they'll pursue.

And it's terrifying.

There's a great scene where Rick rides a horse into Atlanta, thinking that he can find help there, and perhaps his wife and son, who are missing.

(Welcome to Atlanta! Spoiler alert: the horse doesn't make it. Again, very sad!)

He does manage to stay alive and hook up with some other survivors, some of whom are very unsavory.

And here we find the crux of the drama. What happens to people in complete crisis mode? Supplies are limited, or unattainable. Hideouts will most likely be discovered, eventually at least, by the walking dead. Who takes charge? How is society to be reorganized? And certainly, not only decent, law-abiding people have survived.

(The guy with the gun pointed to his noggin is an asshole. Trust me.)

So how do you not only survive the zombies, but each other? Well, guess what guys, I'm psyched to find out, and hopefully, the series will prove to be more satisfying than that other one about a plane crashing on a mysterious island. Because I'm totally holding that grudge.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Reach Out

I still have my grandmother's phone number programmed into my cell. I pass it by every time I go to call my friend John.

Or my parents.

I just scroll down and there it is.

I can tell you her area code was 315. I can tell you the rest of the numbers, but it probably belongs to someone else now. Sometimes I'm tempted to call it, just to see how many times it rings. Or to see who answers. And I could tell that person that I used to be good about calling her, despite how often she'd try to get me off the phone, because she didn't want me to spend money on that. On her voice. And of course, I could tell that person that's the one thing I want to hear, and sometimes cannot fathom that my chance is gone.

I can now go for days without thinking about her. But not much longer than that. Not weeks. Something will always happen. Her mass card will peek out of my wallet, or the girls, going through my jewelry box, will see one of the pins she gave to me. And they ask questions.

I've had two dreams that I remember. In one, she was younger, wearing horn-rimmed glasses, and looking sadly at me. I woke up wishing that my brain hadn't conjured that one up.

In the other, Lillian brought her to me, through a doorway, and said, "Look, it's your grandma."

Friday morning, at Hannah's Halloween party, I saw an older woman that reminded me so much of her. There was something about her face that caught me by surprise, even though I was certain she wasn't Italian. Maybe the shape of her nose, and how her hair was styled.

There are times when I'm in my in-laws' house, and I see a picture of my mother-in-law's Eastern European mother, smiling and in her late 60s, and I can see my grandmother there. They look strangely alike.

Driving to school the other night, I heard the Four Tops singing Reach Out, and there she was. Well, actually, both of them, my grandmother and grandfather, because at some point I'd heard this song at their house on a radio, or with them in their car, and hearing it again brought back the love that is there always.

And what it also brings back is the sight of them on their patio preparing green beans for freezing, or the smell of their house, the candy dish, or the raspberries along the fence line behind their garage. I think of these things and the love comes, and the longing, and it fills everything, right up to the entire surface area of my skin, and then I think I must release some of it.

The love and the longing, like scent molecules in air. It clouds and disperses, and I wipe away some tears and go about my business of being. Here.

In the Spring after her death, while we were raking the front yard, the kids were laughing and playing around us, and when I looked up and saw my girls, I also saw something else. In my head, I could see my grandparents sitting in their patio chairs watching their great-grandchildren romp around, giddy with Spring fever. I knew exactly what look my grandfather would have upon his face, the same face that seldom revealed much. I knew that he'd smile and nod. And my grandmother too, nodding her approval and love and affection with each bob of her head. It all left me a little breathless, like I'd been granted a gift, but the kind that you open and take in quickly because it will melt away.

I've been thinking about departure. I see the previews for Hereafter, and yes, I'd like Clint Eastwood to answer for me what happens after death.

Do you feel lucky, Kelly? Do ya?

I'd like to ask him and Matt Damon and the lady that survives the giant wave that swallowed up Indonesia. Where are my grandparents? Where is my husband's brother? Where did they go? I will take the light and love category, that set of beliefs. I will take the foggy but infinitely bright reunion, where the once sharply defined human form becomes amorphous. All the better to float around in complete happiness with.

I will take Heaven for $1000, Alex.

That's what my grandmother believed in.

This morning, while I was grocery shopping, someone said her name. And I smiled as I walked past the cold chill of the freezer cases, with a cart full of whatever.

That's the way they come back. That's the way they say hello, using the only voice they can.

That's what I believe in.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Lillian

Dear Lillian,

For bloggers who often write about their children, I have committed one of the cardinal sins of the blogworld.

Your birthday passed, without the ubiquitous letter I was supposed to post. I kept meaning to sit down, and it was certainly on my to-do list, but I had two tests in the span of a week, out-of-town guests and a party to plan, lots of things to bake and cook. It fell by the wayside.

Well, that, and every time I considered how to begin, I kept coming up with things like:

To my beautiful demon, or

Dear Child-Who-Keeps-Waking-Me-Up-At-4:30am-To-Use-The-Bathroom, or

Dear Lily, You're getting a little bit nicer these days, or

Birthday Girl, I'm almost over the PTSD brought on by your infancy.

And then I was like, birthday letters are supposed to be nice and lovely and filled with flowery language singing the praises of one's child. Not a run-down of all the things you were supposed to outgrow after turning 4.

But listen, I don't think there's any crime in telling the world that you're still a...challenge. You have been from the get-go. Most kids are, in their own unique snowflake kind of way.

Our chief priority is getting you to understand the world is a better place if we're all not assholes to each other. This includes trying to get you to realize you shouldn't close your sister's arm in the car door, or draw on her pictures, call her a poop poop, or throw things at her. I mean, I know she's not perfect either, but I'm estimating the bad behavior is really about 80/20, and guess who's the 80?

It's completely not easy being 5: having snacks brought to you, school days involving paint and glitter and dry-erase boards, watching Curious George and going to friends' houses to occupy afternoons.

(Wait a second, that sounds amazingly easy AND magical. It's a world I want to inhabit, now.)

But I have seen some improvements. You're at least willing to entertain logic. If I give you the chance, you'll often make the right decisions. You apologize more willingly for your infractions these days, and somehow you're sticking to your decision to be a vegetarian despite having one day that was full of bacon. That one is difficult for you. You love animals and want to protect them, so why do they taste good? It's a question I'm unable to answer for you, love.

God knows, you keep me all kinds of entertained.

The night before your party, we were all watching a stand-up routine by Jim Gaffigan on Comedy Central. It was generally kid-friendly, and you and Hannah enjoyed the bit about camping, and how crazy the entire concept is. Listening to you both laugh at his mannerisms and inflections killed me. On the way up the stairs to bed, you tried out your own routine on me, borrowing heavily from the material you'd just heard, and trying your best to mimic his every blank look and perplexed affectation. It's funny how sometimes you crave an audience. That's your personality: song, dance, comic bit, you like to have people's attention.

Except when you don't. Like when people sing Happy Birthday to you. I had to hold you for this year's song. One day, I believe, my children will be able to hear that tune without crying.

Lillian, I give you a hard time. And you give me a hard time. But I love you and couldn't live a day without you. (Well, maybe a day or two, provided you were hanging with your grandparents. I'd try that.)

You really are so special, and I know one day your creativity and assertiveness will suit you well, and turn you into a kick-ass woman.

Happy 5th Birthday, belatedly, on the blogosphere, to my girl.

Love, Mama

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Untitled Miscellany

What I have is nothing.

Nothing to give you, at least.

It was totally supposed to not be raining today, so the meteorologists are a bunch of lying liars. I just completed my application to the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, and instead of feeling relieved, I feel like some sort of poseur. Seriously, Kel? Seriously? (If you cannot tell, it's one of my 'off' days.)

I'm counting down to the cats. I have about two weeks until Anatomy & Physiology foists a dead cat upon me, ready for me to make sagittal or transverse or God knows whatever else kinds of cuts to, and I have to say, I'm disturbed less by the idea of cutting a dead animal than thinking about exactly where that animal came from. That bothers me.

And I'm a dog person. Probably these are cats from kill shelters? I don't know where else they'd come from, unless people who've had their cats euthanized can consent to donating their bodies to science? I find that less plausible than my former idea. Maybe because it's raining, and I'm feeling not-so-very confident in the world.

Also, I burned the hell out of some apple muffins this morning. Their bottoms were as black as coal, which is highly undesirable in a baked good. Although I'd like to pretend otherwise. (What, you've never heard of Martha Stewart's 'Mostly Fine Except for the Hideously Blackened Bottom Muffins'?) They actually were tasty and moist, if you ate it with a fork and stopped 1/2 inch above the bottom. Which is so NOT how to eat a muffin.

This led to three smoke detectors going off at the same time, and I frantically ran back and forth between rooms trying to fan them with an old New Yorker. Finally, I had to climb a chair and just take them off the wall. I had really good follow-up skills though, after finally ridding the house of the smoke. I actually went around and put all three back in their places, ready to call me out on my iffy baking skills some other time.

In other news, I've started and stopped an open letter to gay kids like seven times. Maybe eight. Why? I don't know. Well, I know the 'why' in terms of why I'd be writing one. Because I don't want any more kids to jump off bridges or hang themselves in their rooms or shoot themselves in the head. I don't know why I keep stopping the letter. It's really an epidemic, and we're sending these kids horrible mixed messages. On one side, there are the people I consider the smart ones, telling these kids they have value and inherent worth and need to stick around. And then there are the others, who are in favor of silly policies like Don't Ask, Don't Tell or who campaign on overturning such silly policies, and don't. When we're still trying to define what makes a legitimate couple, on a state by state basis...it's all rather disheartening. And we want to do something about bullies at the school level. Wouldn't the top be a great place to start? Government? Laws? Equality? I feel like wishing for a superhero to save bullied kids is actually more plausible than waiting for anyone in government to actively make a change that will stick.

It's raining, like I said. Maybe I'll try again when the sun comes out.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Squawkers Owes Me One

Meet Squawker McCaw. This computerized bird is as close to a pet as we're going to get here, until I'm gainfully employed and we can potentially afford $500.00 teeth cleanings for a non-shedding, non-yippy, non-drooly, very Zen dog that exists in some magical universe. I'd love a pet, personally. I've been lobbying for a guinea pig for years, to no avail. For a while, I was very hung up on a beautiful Border Collie found on Petfinder. I even wrote to inquire about her, only to find out she probably would not find my two small children delightful.

My husband is really stubborn about practical matters! Like the fact that woodchips and saltlicks for a rodent probably are not in the budget.

So I got this parrot for Hannah for Christmas a few years back. It's so lifelike (if you ignore the sounds of gears working) that Hannah has taken to telling people we have an actual parrot. Once, in class, she told everyone that her parrot was sick. Prayers for Squawker's well-being were commenced, and I had to gently tell her teacher that Squawkers runs on a shitload of double A's, gets the hiccups after 'eating' a biscuit too quickly, and farts via remote control. So it is a pet in the way that my children have strong feelings for it, but it is not a pet in the more traditional, beating-heart kind of way.

Poor Squawker's right foot has been broken for a while. Dropped by an overstimulated Lillian one afternoon, it came off. David has tried valiantly to repair the fracture over and over, and announced the last time it came off that one more break and Squawkers would unfortunately have to take up residence in the nearest landfill. I was not around for this proclamation, or if I was, I tuned it out as just another shit-said-by-dad kind of thing.

Well, yesterday was the day.

Squawkers, with right foot severed once again, was placed in the trash and taken out. This was done without anyone's knowledge but the offending party's. After the original McCaw-Destroyer had gone to bed, I found David and Hannah in the sunroom creating a Tinkertoy airplane.

Casually, David brought up Squawker's new whereabouts, and instantly, Hannah started a trembling cry, looking for me to intercede. Which I did.

"That thing cost me $75.00."

"I said it would be trashed the next time the foot came off."

"The kids really love it."

"I'm tired of trying to repair that foot."

"It's really a great toy. You know, if we can't get a REAL pet."

"It's in the trash!"

With an amazingly dramatic sigh and a few curse words, David made his way out to the trash cans. The brightness of the outside garage light silhouetted him as he lifted the lid. I watched as the dark shape of him blended in with the trash can and the bag. I watched his movements for a while, wondering if Squawkers would be covered in some kind of post-meal debris. I envisioned pizza sauce all over manufactured wings, or cantaloupe seeds in a mechanical beak. Finally, I saw David lift it up and turn, the hooked beak of our toy-shop pet recognizable in the spotlight.

Squawkers was back home, broken foot and all, completely clean. Down into the basement David disappeared, coming back up a few moments later with Squawker's foot wrapped tightly in wire. The bird leaned a bit to the side, but turning it on, we were greeted with a loud "Hel-lo!" and then a "What-ever!"

Apparently, it doesn't hold a grudge.

Hannah went to bed happily, without holding one either.

Friday, August 27, 2010

An Ode to Late Summer

I love late summer.

I'm probably not alone or unique in my adoration of this particular part of the season. But I love it for its glimpse of the future and its rather steadfast hold on the present. Right now, as I type, the kids are playing outside with jackets on. And shorts. In an hour or so, the kids will abandon them, leaving outerwear strewn on the deck as the summer sun does its job.

We've dug out the blankets: Hannah with her baby quilt that doesn't even cover her body when it's stretched out lengthwise, and Lillian, with her crocheted orange blanket made by her great-grandmother. In the mornings now, we might need them. With windows open, the house feels pleasantly chilled when we wake.

And I like this dichotomy. The need to cover-up and the need to shed. Cold and warmth, all in the span of a day.

The kids still have a sense of their freedom, and I suppose in a few days, the changing of the calendar to September might put a damper on that. But now they play with zero sense of impending doom. Now they play like it's June.

This weekend, with more heat approaching, we'll probably see friends and grill. And also find a place to stack the gigantic pile of firewood. The sun gives off signs of its impending hibernation. It hangs around less, its visits truncated. When it goes away, we light fires. And sit by them. We go through firewood like candy, and usually, when we go to bed, there are still embers glowing orange.

I look forward to this, but knowing I'll miss the particular fire of the sun.

We still have some trips to go. An amusement park up North. Ocean City, NJ. We go when everyone else leaves. We shun long lines and crowds. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'll miss summer, the kids driving me insane, the heat, a relatively unfettered schedule. I'll miss an outside welcoming and accessible, Coronas with a wedge of tart lime, people walking by. I'll miss iced coffee. I'll miss the trees, full and vibrant and green.

But there's still something about the bare tree, stately in its exposure. A group of them, all packed in together, as if for warmth, does something to my heart.

Skeletal in the waning light, the winter-bare tree merely goes to bed early. It's right there with us. Waiting for the sun.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things I'm Currently Wondering

Why is The Real World still on?

Because according to MTV, the 'real world' consists of an expensively decorated loft done just so for a group of 20-year olds, who will promptly vomit all over it as soon as introductions are made.

Remember back in the day when they actually had people with personalities on that show? Remember Heather B? And Julie from somewhere down south? Remember Pedro? I loved Pedro. They actually filmed people with jobs and aspirations. Jud was a comic book writer. Pam was a med student. The ubiquitous hot tub hadn't yet arrived on scene.

Remember how Rachel tried to hide her belly button piercing from her very Catholic, very traditional mother?

Can you imagine a time when a navel-piercing was controversial?

Do I sound like a curmudgeon? Because I totally feel like a curmudgeon.


How do stink bugs get inside my house? I find their little carcasses on the wood floor, turned belly (thorax?) up, and sometimes I hear them plunking against a window.


Why all the froth over the Ground Zero Mosque? And who was the wizard that came up with such a hyperbolic name for what is essentially a community center? It was probably Mama Grizzly herself, what with her 'stabbed heart' and all. She acts like Osama Bin Laden himself is the project manager. Sheesh.

This blog shows some places that are in the same general vicinity as the proposed house of worship, whose congregants which would worship, you know, God, and not planes flying into buildings, as Mama Grizzly would have you believe. Then perhaps they'd take a swim and a shower, and see a show in the proposed auditorium, and then buy some snacks.

So, just to be clear, we're down with sex and gambling on 'hallowed ground.' That's rockin'. But none of them Muslim folk. Gotcha.

Shouldn't we encourage voices of moderation? Shouldn't we listen to Fareed Zakaria when he says, 'If there is ever going to be a reformist movement in Islam, it is going to emerge from places like the proposed institute.'


Will the roofer show up on time to give an estimate of slate roof repair, chimney repointing, gutter replacement and all manner of other things that make the sound ca-ching? Or will I be spending all afternoon wondering where the hell he is?


What is up with all the 'Girl With' novels? Are these something I should be reading? I've gotten the cautious go-ahead from a trusted friend with impeccable literary taste, and heard family members talk about how good they are.

But, without even having read them, I'm wondering if the late author was a misogynist dressed up as the opposite. I'm not sure I have the stomach for them right now, although hearing that Daniel Craig is going to be playing a lead helps. I have zero problem with reading a book that allows me to envision him at length.

Still, with all that's happening in the world, The Girl Who Purchased an Ice Cream Cone and Ate It Under A Shady Tree is probably more my speed.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

GI Kelly Seeks to Impress Denzel Washington

Last night, my chemistry professor said we remaining kids were the Navy SEALS of summer students.

That's right. Not only was I able to slide under the 'kids' umbrella, but I can now compare myself to a guy that willingly jumps off a boat into the rough seas -- harnessed to a hell of a lot of gear -- who somehow has to swim to shore ready to bust out an AK and mow down evil-doers.

I was grateful for the comparison, without the requirement of a buzz cut.

We started out a class of 27, and now 14 remain. This shit is hard, yo.

And also last night, some asshole in my lab was trying to copy our figures last night. This is the same guy who decided to schedule a 9-day vacation in the middle of a 6-week summer course. And he wanted the professor to give him a make-up test for the one he'd be missing. And our professor was all like, "Um...no."

I wanted to take him aside and say, 'You're not Navy SEALS material, son, otherwise you'd know that you cannot copy our figures for your own acid/base titration. Now drop and give me 20, and then get the hell out of here.'

Speaking of push-ups, I had a dream about Denzel Washington last night. We were in a long hallway in some building constructed by the architects of my subconscious, and I was trying to show Denzel that I could do walking push-ups. (You know, where you do a plank and then walk forward and then do a push-up, walk forward again and then do another push-up? No? Okay, well I know for a fact that Jillian Michaels does staggered push-ups, so this is my own personal variation on them. (Note to self: copyright the walking push-up today.))

But get this. My hands were just covered in lotion. Just covered. And how can you impress Denzel Washington with your athletic prowess if your hands have just been dipped in a big ol' vat of Curel?

The answer, of course, is that you cannot. My hands were slipping on the beautifully finished wood floor of my brain, and so I had to stand back up and, rather embarrassingly, wipe my hands on my shorts.

I don't recall Denzel's dream expression, but I like to think it was this:

Practically smoldering. Despite my slippery palms, despite my questionable fitness routine. He was impressed, my friends. Totally. And then my subconscious was all, 'That's quite enough Denzel, Kelly,' and that was it. Gone, and most likely, never to appear again.

I do think Denzel would really enjoy the fact that I can do real push-ups, and not those wimpy on-your-knees variety. And I think he's be impressed by my Navy SEALS-like tenacity when it comes to chemistry.

I'm just not going to wait by the phone for him to call and congratulate me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ludacris: Comic Genius

The other night as I was driving home from school, I was scanning the radio stations. This, admittedly, was a huge mistake. One could spend 30 minutes driving and continuously press the 'seek' button only to find crappy stuff that's been labeled music by someone.

Merging on to the highway, I stopped scanning and the DJ announced that a Ludacris song was coming up. I listened to the entire thing. I spent approximately 4 minutes of my life listening to Ludacris.

When I got home, I put down my 20 lb. schoolbag and told David, "You're not going to believe what I just heard in the car. There exists a song that actually has the line, "Welcome to my sex room" in it."

"You're kidding me," David says.

"I am completely not kidding."

And then I proceeded to take the remote from him with the express purpose of trying to find the video, knowing if I did, I'd be greatly rewarded.

"What is a sex room?" I asked, while scanning the R & B videos on demand. "Is that something you can find on architectural drawings? And where would you place it? It doesn't seem a first floor type of room."

"I thought it was just your bedroom," David offered.

"I know, right? Clearly. But obviously 'bedroom' is a bit too pedestrian for Ludacris."

I finally found the video, and David and I watched it, laughing the entire time. It was the funniest thing I've seen in ages. And this is the thing I can't figure out. I think it's supposed to be purposely funny. But because I know current R&B is given to sexual histrionics, I'm not sure. I mean, this thing is over the top. If there is a top, it has been reached and jumped over with this song/video.

I'm posting it, so you can help answer my question. Just keep in mind that it's not suitable for anything. It's not suitable for work, it's not suitable for children, and it's not suitable to remain in your computer's history.

So is Ludacris trying to be funny with purpose, or is it all unintentional?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Chemistry of Family

In a chemical reaction, you have reactant and products. The equation of such can be written as:

A + B ---> C + D

Of course, the variations are crazy and myriad, so for the purpose of simplicity, we'll stick with that. Essentially, you have the reactants, which in this case, are A and B. When they are reacted with one another, C and D are formed.

I haven't stopped studying for 2 weeks, and I'll be going at this pace for another 4. I've ignored my children more in the last 2 weeks than I have in years. Mostly, they've been handling it well. As long as I keep providing snacks.

This morning, they were playing school, and I was designated as the 'cafeteria lady.' The cafeteria lady's role was to bring chilled watermelon and mango. Hopefully, in their play, they're not envisioning me with a hairnet and multiple moles sprouting terminal hairs.

(Sloppy joes, sloppy sloppy joes, yeah!)

I couldn't forget about them if I tried. I was thinking about them, about all of us, last night in lab.
A + B ---> C + D could be Dave + Kel ---> Hannah + Lillian. Though Dave and I didn't dissociate into ions or break any bonds, we combined to form some really cool kids. Reactants to products, our own family chemistry.

When I come back home, the house is quiet and mostly dark. The kids are asleep, and David fills me in. Lillian was scared of the thunder. She finished all of her tofu stir-fry, but complained of a stomachache. Hannah wasn't scared of the thunder, but didn't finish her dinner. She didn't like the soy sauce. Both girls missed me. Both girls made me pictures.

I can't save everything. They all pile up. But it's one thing I'll never forget. Being 80 and sitting on the porch, I'll be able to recall the mountains of white paper filled up by two girls in my absence, each having a reaction they try to color away:

Lillian + Hannah + student Mom ----> A Bit Sad

This is what greeted me last night. Lillian is getting better at writing. Her motor skills are picking up, and she no longer scribbles a picture. She draws with intent, every line has a purpose.

Hannah has big ideas. Her latest is a slight fixation on roof-top garden.

I'm hoping that perhaps she'll have one, where she'll be able to relax after a long day at her bakery Baking Queens. She knows that baking is chemistry, and tells me every chance she gets.

She also has a bit of a fixation on cursive writing. She wants to impress her second grade teacher, so she's been practicing non-stop.

I get the fruits. Somehow, they still think I'm the best. I'll take it while I can get it.

After the middle of August passes, I'm not sure if I'll ever see another chemical equation. It might be all over, and I'll tuck it away with statistics and abnormal psychology and the philosophy I've forgotten. It'll reside there, most likely never to be dredged up again. But we'll always have our own personal equation, where the bonds made are stronger than ionic or metallic bonds, stronger than anything.

No dissolution. No disassociation. Just, together, forever.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Repost: Will You Be My Therapist?

The re-posting continues. This week's offering comes from a time when I was feeling...oh, a wee bit stressed.


This is probably one of my favorite posts, because I think it sums up both the discontents and joys that come along with family life. (Is it wrong to like one of your own posts? I don't know, because suddenly I feel self-conscious about writing that.) Apparently, the subject of this blog post is a hot-topic right now, with people yapping all about a study purporting to show that parenthood leads to an overall decrease in happiness. (And fighting about it. And being snarky. And showing just how ridiculous we all can be about each other's choices.)

I'll tell you this. Sometimes being a mother leads to me to brink of a giant cliff and makes me want to hurl myself off of it. But I'll also tell you this. Being a mother also leads me to experience some of the deepest joys. I'll never forget the time spent nursing, the walks, the trips together. The love my children have for me is the best thing ever. Having a great time with my them, with my family together, goes beyond what I experienced at other times in my life. That joy, to me, provides a generally solid balance against the shit.

Anyway, here is the original post at my old digs. (Which also proves once upon a time I had more than 4 readers. Look, 25 comments! It's a miracle!) From way back in 2007. And it contains a lot of swearing. Sorry.

Here we go. Hope you enjoy it!

Will You Be My Therapist?


Thank you.

I appreciate your willingness to undertake what surely will be a tedious process, especially since you'll be doing this pro bono.

Sliding scale? Well, I guess I can pay, like, $10.00 per session. Will that work?

Okay, great.

I know all therapists like to spend at least one session on history, but we haven't time for that here, so let me try to sum it up for you in one run-on: I'm a former cutter with a depressive nature, prone to melancholy ruminations without acting for beneficial change, a classic procrastinator when it comes to fulfilling my dreams, and prone, also, to fits of rage and a strong, out-of-body, intense yearning for escape from responsibility (preferably somewhere tropical), and possessing of an insane desire to be appreciated, which in the career of the underpaid mother, is highly unlikely as well as quite comical.

No, no, no, I haven't harmed myself in a really long time.

Do I ever want to? Well, if wanting to includes a sudden desire to put my fist through a window, I suppose yes.

Of course I'm aware that it's not a good idea.

No, I never abused drugs or alcohol, unless you count that one time I drank so much at a college party that all I could do was prop myself up against a tree and vomit down the bark.


Is that necessary?

Yes, I have it. Actually, since I weaned Lillian, I have a lot of it. Heh, heh.

How many partners have I had?

I don't see how that pertains to the current situation, perv.

Well, thanks for asking. I'll tell you what the problem is.

Let's start with a generalized malaise, feeling like doing a whole lot of nothing but lying in bed; frequent headaches and a stiff neck; wanting to run away to the local K-Mart and hide in the racks of clothing while hoarding Doritos and Gatorade; worst-case scenarios running through my head when I try to sleep; hating dinnertime because I try to make yummy food and nobody could give a fuck, the 4-year old wrinkles her nose at it, the 21-month old takes a few bites, spills some milk and yells "Done!" and then stands up in her chair, and quite frankly, the husband always finds something wrong with it, too bland, not enough spice, where's the side dish; it takes 3 days to do one load of laundry, because I'm finally refusing to go up and down the stairs with a basket of laundry on one hip and a chubby toddler on the other; and if one little body climbs on me or screams or so much as rubs against me, I will lose it; and my husband is always asking why the kids' feet are so dirty, where is the dirt coming from, like I can fucking isolate a room or corner or space where the floor just looks so goddam dirty and just clean it and then the kids feet will return to a soft peachy pink and because I'm so entirely sensitive I feel like I'm being attacked; and the other night I went to dinner with some other moms and before I left I put the little one to bed and fed both husband and other daughter and got everyone all set and when I got home the kitchen was left a mess, and I think, well shit, I don't want to henpeck or nag or be a bitch, but how unacceptable is this, that I make life easier for everyone else but somehow I have to pay my dues for actually going out by still cleaning the goddam kitchen; and my temper kind of sucks these days; and why do I keep fucking up every garage door I come into contact with, trying to close it with the car's trunk still up, or crashing into the frame and getting the door all off its track, which was really because the car was silent, for once, and I was lost and coasting on the lyrics of this one song, and so then I don't turn the wheel enough, and bang; and I'm wondering if my last psychiatrist was right, that I was more bipolar than depressive, because I get these happy jolts where I'm crazy busy accomplishing and possessing of endless patience and cheer, and then it just goes away, I wake up one day and my kids are sullen and then I am too, gone, kaput, there goes the neighborhood.

And then, you know, I can just look at them, my family, and go all goo-goo, my eyes water with the sudden affection I feel for them, I need them so much, and my heart, if we're doing metaphors, is the ocean, and my love for them the Mariana Trench, that sweet spot in the Pacific, the deepest place on Earth, if you went any further down you'd burn up or something, and that's it. Sometimes I'm down there, my eardrums bursting, my body being crushed with the force, the pressure of that love, and I'm wondering how I keep them all safe, this unit we've created, and so this is the balance, the intensity of my love for them and the scratch-my-eyes-out tedium of this life at home.

It's like domestic apathy over here, and so all I want to do is pack the kids in the car and drive around with the music on high and try to get construction workers to stop waving their flags and wink at me. I need someone to tell me, every day, you're a great mom, a great wife, a great provider, to provide me with the compassion I give out, but instead I feel like a punching bag, and my family keeps landing these really painful----


Time's up?

Already? It's been like, five fucking minutes.

Well...okay, I'll see you next week then?

Oh, you're all booked up?

Oh, well, okay, I guess I'll see you around then?

Thanks for listening, or something.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Time to Use Old Posts!!!

The next six weeks are going to be a bit brutal. I was in class last night until nearly 11, and didn't arrive home until well after.

If you're still reading me, if you followed me through the URL change and have stuck with me through weeks of inactivity and lazy-ass writing, if you're still commenting....you have my eternal gratitude. I cannot foresee being able to write new material during this time, unless it's a new version of the same old oh-my-god-I'm-going-crazy bit. I have plenty of that.

The kids were pretty good this morning as I did my first assignment. I threw them some goldfish and turned on Phineas & Ferb got them settled nicely at the table to do some math enrichment worksheets with some cut-up veggies, and got to work on chemistry. But really, it's all a giant experiment. How to make sure my kids aren't killing one another while working to complete a course that is challenging at 15 weeks, but condensed maddeningly down to 6. (Villanova, you'd better accept me!)

So, anyway, I'm rehashing some posts from my old blog, A Child Is Born.

In honor of my latest summer class, I take you back to 2008, when I began my back-to-school adventure by taking Sociology during summer session. That teacher should have never been allowed near any students, ever. He was devoid of any valuable knowledge whatsoever, and was a complete waste of my time. Thankfully, I still got an A. Because otherwise, I would have gotten violent. And thankfully, every teacher I've had since then has been great. (Keep in mind it's from '08, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the only female on the Supreme Court. We now have Sonia Sotomayor, and perhaps soon, Elena Kagan. But I doubt my former Sociology professor knows this.) Here is the original post:


Pop Quiz

My last Sociology class is on Monday, and in honor of the last time I ever have to sit through that insane blender of inaccuracy and offensiveness, I give you a pop quiz. All you have to do is make some educated guesses as to which craptastic statements actually left my 'Professor's' mouth.

1. a) Called special education students 'Crazy wacked-out kids'
b) Said Sandra Day O'Connor was the only female on the Supreme Court
c) Referred to female Jamaican Professor as a 'double-minority,' adding, "But she knows her stuff."
d) all of the above

2. a) said San Francisco was the last place he'd want to raise his children, because of 'the gays'
b) when going around the class to find out about his students, stopped a recent immigrant from Poland from speaking to ask the class what some stereotypes are about Polish people
c) imparted great wisdom when suggesting we all go out and buy Forever stamps
d) all of the above

3. a) In regards to divorce..."Sometimes it's cheaper to keep her."
b) Described the philosophy of positivism (which is the application of strict scientific method to study sociology) as acting in a positive manner to keep people happy. A lengthy example of positivism, discussed for 45 minutes in class, was the customer service of Southwest Airlines.
c) said that Sen. Arlen Specter represents Delaware.
d) All of the above

4. a) "It's a shame we can't discriminate based on age."
b) Homeschooled children are 'just weird,' as they haven't had any socialization experience.
c) "Want to see something funny? Watch a fat person try to use a Blackberry."
d) all of the above

5. a) Referred to abortion as 'Getting out the vacuum.'
b) Expounded at length about the absurdity of family medical leave laws, especially concerning men taking time off after the birth of their children.
c) Stated that the FMLA was passed by Bush Jr. in his first term.
d) all of the above

6. a) Stated that Donald Trump is an architect of bridges
b) compared female genital mutilation to ear piercing
c) called the Amish a bunch of weirdos
d) all of the above

7. a) "Doctors have to stick their fingers up your butt to check your 'prostrate.'"
b) Referred to ambidextrous student in class as a genetic reject, stating that her dominant and 'regressive' genes couldn't decide what was in charge.
c) Stated that he could tell when the female students in the high school he teaches went on birth control, because they got fat and their breasts became 'ginormous.'
d) all of the above

8. a) "It's easy to tell in a lesbian relationship who the man is."
b) "Children are the worst financial decision you could ever make. They provide no return on your investment."
c) "There's nothing worse than a drunk woman."
d) all of the above

If you guessed 'all of the above,' you'd be correct. I give you 10,000 gold stars.

For 6 weeks, I've had to sit through this class, outraged that this clown receives a paycheck for his crap. One of the first statements he made was about O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Currently, there is only one female on the Supreme Court, and this is what she has to say:

I am neither a high school teacher nor a community college instructor, but I know that Sandra Day O'Connor resigned, a few years ago, leaving Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the only female on the Court. Also, if you reside in PA, you should know that our nationally elected Senators are Arlen Specter and Bob Casey. As much as I wish we could trade Specter for Joe Biden -- amazingly engaging Senator from Delaware -- alas, we cannot.

For 6 weeks, I've listened as comment after comment, displaying a wealth of intolerance, exited the mouth of a man who had most likely experienced some amount of racism in his own life. Perhaps it shouldn't surprise me that we all have the capacity to be assholes, despite our experiences. And for 6 weeks I scoured the classroom for someone else with mouth agape, and found no kindred spirits. I was left feeling vaguely isolated in my outrage over both his lack of general knowledge about current events and sociology, as well as his general demeanor, which was something more akin to a Howard Stern sidekick than a supposed professional. This man teaches high school students? The state of our schools is surely in peril.

Also outrageous was the fact that he gave me an 85 on my midterm. Simply for sitting through his bullshit without my head exploding into a gigantic cloud of bone fragments and grey matter, I deserve nothing less than an A+.

Here's hoping my Anatomy Professor is a vast improvement.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Don't Ground Me, Mom & Dad

Lillian likes to point to things using her middle finger. I'm not sure exactly where this comes from. Maybe her parents' penchant for vulgarity has passed itself down in some fashion, and before truly harnessing it, most likely in adolescence, she is unconsciously doing so now.

Everything get the treatment.

"Look at the bunny."

"Mom, a cicada shell."

"Ooh, that's a big plane."

Middle finger. Middle finger. Middle finger.

It's going to be a really sad day when she twirls it appropriately up and directs it at me.

If you have young kids, do you ever wonder what in the hell they're going to try to get away with? I mean, my parents kept a tight leash, and I STILL managed to do some damage. I'd write about some of it here, but I worry about my future employment. And I suppose my parents could STILL ground me, although it would be awkward explaining that to my kids.

Okay, I can give you ONE example only. And it involves the theft of construction paraphernalia. Namely, orange cones. A few co-conspirators and I set out to do this one night. And we did it. And I am duly ashamed. Sort of.

I am keeping a running list of things I hope my kids never do. This list involves syringes, getting in the car with drunk people, bypassing latex, and passing out drunk against a tree in college and having a female lacrosse player carry them home. Or to a friend's apartment, which is what happened to me one night. She was very strong. Okay, that was seriously it with the personal examples.

The list also involves squatting in vacant houses, joining a fight club, hanging out in the bathrooms of bars, and creating bonfires on a school's soccer field. That last one may or may not have involved me. I'll keep you guessing.

Have you ever seen that show 16 & Pregnant? For once, MTV has done something right, and shows the general realities of allowing your punk boyfriend to use the line 'but it feels better without the condom.' Watching that show made me want to scoop up all the adolescent girls and carry them somewhere to have a talk.

I mean, imagine. You're changing diapers at 15, and your boyfriend didn't even know what he was doing in bed. Lose, lose, if you ask me.

Not that a talk would make a difference. Because I'm thinking back to my late teens right now, and cringing heartily. Sigh.

So, what's the answer? I pay attention to my girls and love them and make them understand their value and worth. We set limits and keep them. My husband does the same. And we cross our fingers?

What I do know is this: if the worst thing that happens is a middle finger directed at me? Not so bad. Not so bad at all.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Getting over the 90s

Last night, coming home from school around 9:30pm and hoping to catch the last bit of the Phillies/Yankees game, I drove past the elementary school a few blocks from my house. The neighborhood had that just-dark feel to it, like even though the sky was black, I could swear I detected a faint light to it.

The scoreboard on the ball field was lit up, a numerological beacon. I kept thinking that it must be some kind of sign, those numbers. But what? I like the idea of signs, that someone much larger than us has something to say, directly, and so you suddenly feel spotlit and special. God says, Hey you. Listen. But for the life of me, despite my relatively new-found baseball fandom, I could not figure out what 0-5-8, 0-0-2 would mean for me. So maybe God was just saying, Hey you. Or, vastly more likely, maybe someone simply forgot to turn it off post-game.

It gave me this great pleasure to see it, though. Inexplicably. Lit up numbers in a dark field on a dark night.

Guess what?

I've been suddenly infused with a burst of confidence. I'm really tired of doubting myself. Doubting oneself is like so 1990's or something. I'm going to make a good nurse. Maybe even a great one. Maybe even a fucking great one.

Maybe when I enter patient's rooms and do my stuff and then leave, people will look at each other and say, "Who was that woman? That is one damn good nurse."

Okay, now I'm getting crazily ahead of myself. Because if you know anything about me, I'm a first-class waffler. I know the doubt will creep in again, when I'll start worrying about making mistakes or having to treat someone high on PCP. Or being faced with a spinal surgery. There is something about the spinal column that makes me feel faint. I actually feel a little queasy right now, just pondering it.

Whenever I visualize myself as a nurse, I always place myself right in the middle of something hard. I never visualize myself sitting on a stool in a fluorescent-lit room asking a teenager about their acne patterns. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But I wonder why my fragile mind goes to hospice care or oncology or, like most recently, the burn unit. I even ordered a book on burn unit work.

I mean, really.

Sometimes I also visualize Ricky Gervais getting right in my face and saying, "Oh come off it!"

(This is what I picture. Ricky as David Brent looking at me just like this. Except without that corporate seminar guy looking over his shoulder.)

There has to be a happy medium. Maybe I could handle those things. Maybe I couldn't. Most likely I couldn't. Oh boy, there's that self-doubt again. Circa 1996.

I wish the light on the scoreboard spelled something out for me. Like, Kelly, you'd make a damn good cardiology nurse. Or, because there isn't enough room for all that: try some heart.

Though because the scoreboard is only numbers, the best it could probably do in terms of messages is 80085. Which would be BOOBS.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Weeeeee.....Summer Classes!

Things I'm learning in my medical ethics class:

Amputating the wrong limb is bad.

Leaving surgical instruments in a patient, also bad.

(Also, if you leave instruments in a patient, in the future, those x-rays will be passed around a medical ethics class and the students will all laugh at what an idiot health care professional you are.)

If your medical co-worker is doing drugs, and you shun your responsibility to get that person some help, that is bad.

If your co-worker comes to work reeking of Red Bull and vodka, and you let that co-worker give a 90-year old man a tub bath, this is bad.

Over a dinner out with friends, do not name your patients and state all the crazy VDs they're currently in treatment for. This is bad.

Even if your patient is Johnny Depp, and it's his birthday, and all he wants for his birthday is you, sleeping with your patients is bad.

Even if your patient is George Clooney, and he looks at you the way he looked at Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight, and he insists that all it will take for him to get better is to spend some quality time in a locked car trunk with a naked you...resist, because if you don't, this is bad.

Even if your patient is Channing Tatum, and he comes in with nether regions scalded in an on-set accident, even if he professes to harboring fantasies of nurses in their mid-thirties, do not, I repeat, do not sleep with this patient. This would be bad.

Do not squirrel away Percocets for yourself. Also goes for Stadol, Demerol, Propofol, and a host of other pain-relievers that, in general, make the world a more hospitable place if only for a moment. Because this is bad.

Do not ignore a patient's head wound, resulting in flies laying eggs in that wound and then resulting in maggots in that wound, and then attempt to falsify documents to show that you did actually take care of the wound and oh my God, I have no idea how the maggots got there Your Honor. This would be bad.

(Also, a medical ethics class will then pass around newspaper articles detailing the charges against you and shake their heads collectively at what a horrible person you are being responsible for the vulnerable elderly and not fulfilling your charge. Jerk.)

Do not specialize in ENT and then bill yourself as a plastic surgeon and actually operate on people's faces and bodies. You will screw something up, perhaps kill someone, be sued, lose everything. And this is many, many layers of bad.

If you are an 18-year old, please rethink your decision to get liposuction. Because you might end up in the office of someone without the proper precautions and monitoring in their recovery room, who might not notice you turning blue and dying of a pulmonary embolism. In a doctor's office. Unbelievably. This is so horribly bad it's painful to think about.

Some people shouldn't be responsible for plants, much less human beings. This is frightening, and bad.

Perhaps for my own future well-being, I should reconsider my medical vocation, and instead focus on getting a job in Happy Kitten Sunshine Rainbow Land.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dipping My Toes in Crazy Lake

This morning I heard the bells of the church across the street ring five times. What that means is that I was awake prior to five, most likely opening my eyes for good sometime around 4:45. This has been my pattern of late -- falling asleep on the couch before 9, and then rising way too early -- and I don't know how to get out of it. Going to bed late does not mean I will magically sleep until seven.


I'm feeling way dysthymic. Blogger doesn't register that word, and so as I type, it remains underlined in red, driving me mad.

For those of you with little knowledge of mental health terms (be grateful, really), this means I'm about knee-deep in a depressive funk. I've been that way for several weeks now, coming out here and there, but mostly remaining in it. I sequester myself, hurrying to and from events, wanting to get out and simultaneously dreading it. I try to force myself to do things, chanting my pathetic mantra: I will do this, I will do this, I will do this. But it all seems too much.

This morning, my daughter's preschool is having a fair. I volunteered to make something baked, and you have no idea, it was like I signed up Dinner Impossible, and my task was to scour a forest for ingredients and then create an entire meal for a wedding party of 200. And I'm like, what the fuck can I make with tree bark?


Sometimes I think I should be in therapy. Except there really are no issues. So it would be a tragic rehashing of the story of yet another relatively privileged, lucky person, expressing their discontent.



Therapist: So what brings you in to see me?

Me: What do you call it when you don't ever feel like doing anything, ever?

Therapist: Laziness?

Me: Dude. Ouch.


I wish this dysthymia came along with zero appetite. During my last major depression, I got down to 116 pounds. It was great.

Wait. No it wasn't. Because I couldn't leave my bed. Forget I mentioned it.

You should have seen me yesterday, mopping up the brownie batter left in the mixing bowl. I used strawberries to do it.


My husband is already outside, putting me to shame with his industriousness. I had a load of clean laundry in the dryer for a week.


If you meet me out and about, and I seem fine, go with it. If you meet me out and about, and I start crying uncontrollably, I give you permission to slink away and pretend you don't know me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Hannah

I realized it as I stumbled to work one August morning. Coming out of 30th Street Station, making my way down Market Street. I was lightheaded, and uncertain I could make it to Penn. I leaned against one of the buildings along my way, out of the flow of pedestrians in a hurry. I was listening to Bjork, and she sang in my ear,

"It's not up to you....oh, it never really was."

Oh my God. I was totally and completely pregnant. Totally. Completely. Pregnant. That's where I was when I realized it: Market Street, Philadelphia, PA, August of 2002.

7 years ago, I'm not sure what was happening. It was such a long process, getting her out. The midwife who first examined me that August must have been a jokester, telling me I could easily deliver a 9 lb. baby. And I believed her, because have you seen my hips? I have a pelvis, people.

7 years ago, there was something called membrane stripping (um...ouch!) and castor oil, which is the midwife way of getting your baby out by first forcing you to poop uncontrollably for several hours. There were lots and lots and lots of those things called contractions, which feel like the turning of the Earth has come to a halt and at any minute, you expect to be hurled across the room at the speed of light, only to be reduced to the basic building block of everything. Your atoms, everywhere. Contractions feel a lot like thunder sounds, loud and ominous. Except they're not really ominous. It's hard work, getting a baby out.

7 years ago, my husband turned white as a ghost, and somewhere within his not particularly emotional soul, I know he worried about the outcome. He stood beside me, and behind me, rubbing the small of my back as I rocked and rocked and rocked.

7 years ago, there was a hospital transfer, and all the interventions I had tried to avoid. It wasn't working. My body, fickle and stubborn. My baby, positioned awkwardly.

7 years ago, my own mother stood by. She had pushed me out 27 years before, and now here she was, watching the baby she birthed birthing another.

27 hours. A fever. A scalpel. A girl. My girl.

She was lovely from the start, with very fine wisps of light brown hair and eyes so bright and blue I knew they wouldn't change color.


It's crazy. One egg. One sperm. One particular combination creates one person you love so much. One person you'd go to war for. Face fire or bullets or a hulking tank. One person and so much love.

We got her a bike for her birthday. It's seriously the cutest bike I've ever seen, absent of all things Princess or Hannah Montana or any other passing phase. It's truly a big girl bike, for a big girl.

7 years ago, she was still inside me, all balled up and feeling the pressure of wanting out. And now she's here and big. She runs and jumps and slides and sings. She loves to watch Paula Deen cook, and watches shows about tornadoes. She used to want to live in Hawaii, but now she's settled on Maine. (Does Maine get hurricanes? she asked me one day.) She wants to own and operate a bakery that serves free coffee on Tuesdays. She wants to make wedding cakes. She also wants to be a teacher and a singer and a poet and a mom. She wants two boys and two girls. One of the boys is named Marco.

I've told her she'll be busy. She always tells me that I can help her. And she's such a delightful person, I couldn't decline. I'm so glad she's here, and that she belongs to me.

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things My Daughters Can Learn While Standing in the Grocery Checkout Line

1. The clever gift-giver can get one's husband a threesome for his birthday! (I wish I were kidding. I Got My Husband a Threesome For His Birthday was an actual Marie Claire headline.)

2. You can be famous for simply being beautiful, or for having multiple plastic surgeries by the age of 23.

3. John Edwards is a douche nozzle. (True story, unfortunately.)

4. How quickly Kendra or one of those Kardashian women loses her baby weight can be of national importance. (Also, the term post-baby bod will eventually reside in their brains, taking up cerebral space forevah.)

5. Straight couples have been messing up marriage for an eternity. (And yet...we fear the gays.)

6. Your perfect weight is approximately 20 pounds underweight.

7. A celebrity's weight fluctuations are important! Really! We need to know that Scarlett Johannson lost 20 pounds for Iron Man 2, or that Gwyneth softened up for her next movie role.

8. Cosmo keeps coming up with new, never-before-printed ways to please your man, every month! Because the possible variations that exist between two people are limitless, thanks to their intrepid sex reporters. And you'd better learn them, otherwise...Tiger Woods, ya'll!

9. If you discover your future husband has a penchant for Nazi memorabilia, you might want to rethink the engagement.

10. Larry King STILL has sex. (There should be a cut -off.)

11. We're supposed to be thrilled when the rich and famous get caught at the beach with cellulite, and pissed when they're not.

12. Reese Witherspoon is moving on.

13. It's okay to mock fallen stars, and then pretend to feel just awful when they die broken and alone.

14. It's acceptable to pay $1.25 for a 12-oz Coke when you could get a 2-liter on sale for a dollar.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ace of Cakes, I'm Not

Hannah's birthday is coming up, and as soon as I can get over the fact that my firstborn is turning 7, (7!), I can pick my jaw up off the floor and proceed with party planning.

We have only done the family thing thus far, which is awesome, because I don't have to worry about protecting the grandfather clock or wood floors or freshly polished sconces when they're around, like you might have to with a house full of 6-7 year olds. Pop-pop won't be chucking toys in the living room and Nani won't be making deep tracks in the floor by pushing down too hard on the vintage Matchbox cars.

You think I'm kidding about protecting things? I'm married to a conservationist. This guy is down at Nemours making things pretty again on a daily basis, or at the Rodin Museum, or gussying up Joan of Arc. Stuff matters to him. So kids, in a lot of ways, are kind of like his nemesis. Well, kids, and time and the elements and such.

But, I can't blame it all on conservation. It kind of makes my insides shrivel up and die simply thinking about planning games for a group of children. Chaos makes my head spin. It's not my thing, and I think it's good that I can admit that to myself. Luckily, both my kids feel exactly the same way about chaos. It's quite convenient.

This is the first year, however, that Hannah has asked about a friend party. Specifically, she wants it at a bowling alley with everyone. EVERYONE. At least I wouldn't have to plan any games, because...hello...bowling, but still....hello...cash money. The kids party business is a racket.

And I'd feel weird about her getting that many presents. We have too much shit as it is. I'm not eager to add to the pile.

Family inquires, and thus we can steer presents in an appropriate direction: clothes, or a Magic Tree House boxed set, a DS game or craft kits. But with friends? Who knows. Suddenly you have a set of iCarly DVDs where there is kissing (kissing!) or a Twilight beach towel that has Edward stalking Bella. I'm like, look at the pretty paper dolls, and everyone else is already letting their kids get a taste of vampire desire. I don't think vampire desire is appropriate until at least 21, right? Nothing has turned me into a prude quite as quickly as parenthood.

I also profess confusion at her particular cake wish. Here's a taste of a conversation we had about it fairly recently:

Me: Hannah, your birthday is coming up...

Hannah: I know, it's in 45 days exactly.

Me: How'd you know that?

Hannah: I'm keeping track with my calendar.

Me: 45 days exactly?

Hannah: Yep.

Me: Okay, well, you need to start thinking about what kind of cake you want me to make.

Hannah: I want a dolphin cake.

Me: What? Dolphins?

Hannah: Yeah, I love dolphins.

Me: Well, they're very cool creatures, but.....

Hannah: Why can't I have a dolphin cake?

Me: I didn't say you couldn't have one, I'm just a little confused. I've never heard you speak of dolphins before...

Hannah: I really like dolphins!

Me: ....you have no books on dolphins, no stuffed dolphin toys, no dolphin posters...

Hannah: Mom?!?!

Me: ...no dolphin movies, no bookmarked dolphin websites, no dolphin coloring books....

Seriously, the dolphin bit completely came out of left field, and I tried mightily last night to convince her that this Joy the Baker cake would be preferable:


Click on it, it's so pretty! And it has berries, and frosting with a scraped vanilla bean in it. Oh, yum!

But I also realize that kids don't consider a birthday cake a cake unless it has some Blue #40 or Red #20 on it, and also a crapload of sprinkles. And if I'm not going to do a friend party, I should at least find a way to make the dolphin cake a reality.

And I suppose, even if after the last crumb of cake is finished, she never mentions dolphins again, it will have been worth it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Woman Tries To Study -- A Play in One Act

(Scene: It's a beautiful weekday. Man has the day off, and is puttering around the house. Child 1 and Child 2 flit this way and that, generally agreeable. Woman is at the table, textbooks and notes splayed out in front of her. A scientific calculator is there, turned on, and a pencil rests right next to it.)

Woman: (Muttering to self): I don't get this rates of effusion thing. It's the whole solving for some damn thing under the square root. Basic algebra.

Man: Huh?

Woman: Just talking to myself.

(She picks up the pencil and begins to write quickly. She changes her mind, and starts to erase.)

Woman: Fuck.

Child 1: Mommy, can I have a snack?

Woman: Oh my God. Ask your father.

Man: Why is it so dusty in here?

Woman: Because you never pick up the rag, or Pledge, and then dust with those two things.

Man: Seriously. There is like a layer of dust in here an inch thick.

Woman: Cleaning supplies are in the basement.

Child 2 (voice coming from the 1st floor bathroom): Mommy, can you wipe me?

Woman: Is this really happening to me? (She gets up and goes into the bathroom to help Child 2. She comes back and sits down again, picking up her pencil.)

(Child 2 runs out of the bathroom and into the living room.)

Woman: Get back in there and wash your hands!

Man: We need to dust more often. This is disgusting. For real.

Woman: For real? We? I think you just mean me. Because in a marriage, that's what 'we' means.

Man: Don't be so sensitive.

(Woman picks up her pencil, surveys its point, and briefly considers violence. Shaking her head, she renews her efforts and tries to concentrate.)

Woman (in a low voice): When hydrochloric acid is poured over potassium sulfide, 42.1 ml of hydrogen sulfide gas is produced at a pressure of 758 torr and 25.6 degree centigrade. Write an equation for the gas-evolution reaction.

Child 2: Mommy, can I have a snack?

Woman: Did you wash your hands yet?

Child 2: (guilty silence)

Man: Wash your hands!

Woman: Wash your hands!

Man: What is the deal with hand-washing? Why is it such an event?

Woman: It is ALWAYS an event.

Child 1: Can I use your calculator? (Grabs it.) Mommy, what is 457 + 32?

Woman: This is insane. You all just wait until I'm in school full-time. I will be biting off heads left and right.

Child 2: Can I have a snack now? I washed my hands. Smell them.

Woman (to man): Can you please get them a snack so I can hear the end of this line of questioning?

Man: It's 3:30pm. Isn't it too close to dinner?

Woman: Modern pennies are composed of zinc coated with copper. A student determines the mass of a penny to be 2.484 g and then makes several scratches...

Man (from in kitchen): What can they have?

Woman: ...in the copper coating to expose the underlying zinc. The student puts the scratched penny in hydrochloric acid, where a reaction occurs between the zinc and the HCl...

Man: Fruit snacks?

Woman: No, they already had those today. It's actual fruit or vegetable right now. That's it.

Child 2: Nooooooooooooooooooo!

Woman: ...the student collects the hydrogen produced over water at 25 degree Celsius. The collected gas occupies a volume of 0.896 liters at a total pressure of 792 mm Hg. Write the equation for the reaction and calculate the percent zinc in the penny assuming that all the zinc in the penny dissolves...oh my God. Seriously. Oh my God.

Child 1: Mommy, what are we having for dinner tonight?

Child 2: Poop! Eat the poopy. Cook it up. Fry some poop. Poop on rice.

Man: That's enough. Leave Mommy alone, she's trying to study.

Child 1: But I just want to know what we're having for dinner tonight.

Woman: I have no bloody idea.

Child 1: Is Chemistry hard?

Woman: For people with small children, yes.

Child 1: But you have an A, so we must bring you good luck.

Man: Look at the crumbs on this floor. We should sweep in here more often.

Woman: I should probably go to the library.

Child 2: Can I come?

(The curtain closes as Woman puts her head down on the cool expanse of her textbook and starts to cry.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Sliver of Philly Blogger Goodness.

I have zero in the way of photographic evidence (damn you, non-working digital camera!), but I spent Wednesday night in the company of some very delightful ladies.

I revealed some very juicy tidbits to her, chatted about Catholicism with her, beat her, her and her at bowling (boo-ya!), watched her take suggestive photos with bowling balls, and talked about hot gay men and the politics of health care with her. And I wanted her to stay later!

I had a tremendous amount of fun with all of these wonderful ladies who I read as often as I can. And it's a wonderful thing when we can come together in this effortless way, as if we see each other daily, when the truth is more like we see each other a few times a year. I love it, and need more of it.

Like, next week.

In fact, I think bowling and tater tots and gathering with Philly bloggers were recommended to me by my physician as a way to reduce stress and anxiety. Okay, ladies?

Doctor's orders.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Tea Party I'll Never Attend

Can you see that picture clearly? It shows a handgun with the catchy slogan, 'If Brown can't stop it, a Browning can.'

Apparently 'Brown' refers to Scott Brown from Massachusetts, and a 'Browning' refers to....well, a gun. You put that together. It's not difficult.

I've spent the last few days in a considerable funk, brought about less by biology and more by the ugliness -- masquerading as a political movement -- that has pervaded our country.

We all have our political differences. Whether you're definitely conservative or definitely progressive, whether you're strictly middle of the road independent or lean slightly one way or the other, whether you embrace a little of each side, making you a bit of a political taco. Red meat Republicanism with a side of organically grown liberal romaine lettuce.

Heck. Both sides have some great core concepts. Who doesn't love lower taxes? And who isn't in favor of a social safety net, because, let's face it, we're all a little closer to needing one these days.

But in the last few days, we've seen some masks fall away, revealing what some of us have known for a long time. The tea party movement is nothing but a front for hatred. No self-respecting conservative would ally themselves with it. Except, most conservatives seem to be. More than a few GOP leaders seemed quite happy spreading lies about killing Grandma, ignoring protest signs that were clearly offensive, and letting people digest and grow fearful on outright lies, all to advance the movement against reform.

Goodness gracious, folks. I never thought I'd quote David Frum (former speechwriter for G.W. Bush) on this blog, but here goes:

"Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise – without weighing so heavily on small business – without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law.

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat." (Source: Frum Forum)

Here's what the most radical voices in the party and in the movement were doing this past weekend. Members of Congress were subject to racial slurs by protesters on the lawn. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver was spit upon. Rep. Barney Frank was the recipient of homophobic slurs. Rep. John Lewis, who back in the 1960s suffered a fractured skull by Alabama police for daring to protest non-violently, was called the n-word. That same John Lewis had bricks thrown at his head as he marched with Dr. King. Rep. James Clyburn's office received faxes laden with racial epithets and drawings of a noose on gallows. These men have seen more in their lives than probably most of the denizens of that protest put together. And to find themselves targets of such hatred once again? And where were House Republicans? Busy whipping up that frenzy.

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And then there were the stories of some idiot on Twitter calling for the President's assassination. Could it get worse than that?

On my friend Fran's blog, I read about a counterprotester with Parkinson's disease being heckled and made fun of by Tea Partiers, and I couldn't brings myself to watch the accompanying video documenting this. I was already so disheartened, so disillusioned with this fake debate. I had already witnessed more evidence of man's inhumanity to man in these last few days, I could barely manage a fist pump for the concept of insurance companies being held accountable. I couldn't bring myself to watch a likely victim of insurance companies -- and a very ill one at that -- being mocked.

If you're a conservative, you may have some legitimate gripes about the bill. David Frum's post-vote comment contained a few.

But all the frothing at the mouth seems to be truly about something else: perhaps it's anger and frustration at the fact of there being a black man running the country and a female Speaker of the House from San Francisco. That appears to be just too much for some to handle.

As for me, despite my feelings of sadness, I have to believe that righteousness will prevail. And I'm not talking about politics here. I'm just talking about decency.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find some news about rainbows and kittens. Because my soul needs it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's a Boy!

Last night, I dreamed I gave birth to a giant baby boy. In my dream, I remember being in recovery wondering what the holy heck just happened. I couldn't bring back a memory of the operating table or of the needle in my spine, so I just kept thinking I had been put under general anesthesia.

And then I placed a phone call to tell someone, somewhere, that I'd had a boy and he weighed 10 pounds, 20 ounces. Perhaps because I needed a more unique way of saying 11 pounds, 4 ounces. "10 pounds, 20 ounces," I shouted! "10 pounds, 20 ounces!"

The kids keep chiding me about having another baby. Hannah's inquiries get downright personal. "You mean you don't want another kid?" she asks with these eyes that suggest a feeling of betrayal. Are we that bad?

It's impossible for them to understand the juggling act that comes with each child, or why my career aspirations are important, or why my body -- despite what my midwife told me seven years ago -- apparently wasn't made to give birth and that I truly do not desire the scalpel once more.

But I think they can sense it's a weak spot too; that, for all my talk and certainty, underneath lies a woman who could probably pull it off.

We talk about adoption sometimes. They still believe, despite what I tell them, that it's as easy as going to the baby store. You simply go somewhere and pick one out.

"We can go to Haiti!" Hannah says. "But can we please bring home a boy?"

You can't comprehend the large part of me that simply wants to see my girls as older siblings. Siblings to a baby. This is no reason to get pregnant, of course, but I can see Hannah, all skinny limbs and angles now, hovering and doting, being nervous when the baby cries and being giddy when the baby smiles.

She and her sister are still primarily these selfish beings. But as their world and experiences expand, that falls away bit by bit, leaving empathy and a desire to help. I know they would help, and I know my heart would burst with the sight of it.

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