Six Unspectacular Things

July 28, 2008 at 7:56 am (Uncategorized)

Leigh told me I had to do this. She didn’t put a marshmallow shooter to my head or anything, but here goes. She’s lucky that I am a very unspectacular person and have lots to share.

1. I refuse to use antibacterial hand gel. I don’t even use antibacterial soap most of the time.

2. I like playing with all dogs, regardless of size, but I will only own a big dog, and only a female. I don’t like those boy-dog penises shaking their leftovers everywhere.

3. I’m hopelessly addicted to soda. It will be my downfall.

4. I only watch foreign films in their native languages.

5. I still keep in touch with my best friend from preschool.

6. I’m an accomplished internet stalker and probably know lots of things about you, dear reader.

I am supposed to tag six people, which may or may not work. So instead I am inviting my readers to post their six unspectacular quirks in my comments section. Have a go!

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July 27, 2008 at 4:57 am (Uncategorized)

Batman: the Dark Knight was excellent. Definitely not a kids' movie. Not gory but very violent. Still, a great film all around.

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July 26, 2008 at 1:53 am (Uncategorized)

I am blogging from 65 north just below clanton. I have been sitting in my car, still, for 40 minutes now. Should have stopped at that gas station

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Seven Years in…..somewhere

July 25, 2008 at 7:25 am (Uncategorized)

Thinking back to seven years ago, almost to the date:

Ben and I are sitting in a Mexican restaurant on Valleydale Road, a place where six years later my friend Melissa the Public Defender and I will get food poisoning. Ben and I are eating cheese dip and I casually say, “I think I’m pregnant again.”

“Wow. Okay then. Did you get a test?”

“No, but I feel pregnant. So I think so.”

“Well, get a test on the way home then, okay?”

July 2001. To keep my son in the very nice child care center he’s been in since 10 weeks of age, I am volunteering in the kitchen, kind of working as the kitchen manager until I find a job with a paycheck. They’re being generous letting me do this. I’ve quit my job with a bank that doesn’t even exist today. I’ve survived what was very clearly to us Living Hell. I’ve had a major manic episode that neither of us was smart enough to see coming. After some very truly awful things happening, including inappropriate behavior on my part, horribleness from my husband and I both in equal measure, and me nearly losing my job before quitting it, I snap out of it.

We both know that day in the Mexican Restaurant that life is going to change. Having made it through the separation and near-divorce, near-bankruptcy, police coming to the house, and having our poor infant son in the middle of everything, we understand that it’s time to grow up and think of the future for real. Not just pay it some respects.

That night we have confirmation that little Alex is growing inside me. Just six weeks or so after we are putting our lives back together, we’re thrown a little curve ball (I have the opposite of a fertility problem). I spend several nights in the ER with strange bleeding and take lots of progesterone. I start a new job and don’t tell them I’m pregnant because I really need the job at the time (plus it was none of their business right then). A few days later the U. S. is attacked while I am home with Roland, sick with an ear infection and sleeping on the sofa with me. My parents get stranded in Iowa, where my mom has been celebrating her fiftieth birthday with her twin sister. My brother is…well, I know what my brother was doing that day but I’ll never tell. I’m a good sister that way.

A few days after that I am walking downtown from my office to the Cathedral of St. Paul for a special Mass. We sing “Finlandia” and I cry, and it becomes my favorite song. I trip and fall because I am stupid, wearing wedge sandals and having all the grace of a woman newly pregnant and taking hormones.

Later in September, Roland and I attend one of Ben’s autocross races. I see the daughter of someone who can’t be our friend any more and she comes to talk to me. She’s just turned 10 and we dance around why we can’t all be friends and she plays with Roland.

I’m telling you this because sometimes things seem like they’ll never change. But our lives are not static. Seven years after I had a breakdown and my marriage was on the rock to be sacrificed, I can look back in wonder that we survived. Things were bad. I am fortunate enough to be married to someone who gets angry but isn’t willing to give up. We now have a work-in-progress marriage (which in truth is what marriage is about–working, progressing) that is enriching for us and encouraging for our children–three kids who are fabulously splendid, even when the youngest does yell “nipple!” across the swimming pool so every teenager there can hear it.

I’m proud to be a survivor. There’s no ribbon to put on my car or door that says, “I survived a near-divorce” or “I am surviving my wife’s lifelong psychiatric disorder and will continue to do so until we are both dead.” But I can proudly bear the scars and keep on living this life I’ve chosen, where things are far from perfect but always good enough, and always tinged with love, patience, affection, and respect.

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Have you watched Persepolis?

July 25, 2008 at 7:07 am (Uncategorized)

If you haven’t watched the Marjane Satrapi film Persepolis, you’re missing something. I will now have to buy the book.

I watched it in the original language with English subtitles, but the English-language version is not too bad, too. I did watch parts of it just so I could tell you how aggravating I think dubbed-over films are, but it wasn’t bad at all. Some terms are really lost in translation, though, so sometimes it’s better to hear the French and read the convoluted English subtitle, because in the context of the film it just makes sense.

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July 22, 2008 at 6:12 am (Uncategorized)

A fear I had when I was six (and worried about into my twenties): what if the number six is really the number two? Then everything is wrong.

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Crazy Times, and letters to sarah and ella

July 19, 2008 at 3:52 am (Uncategorized)

Lots has been happening with Miss Bossy Pants and all the folks who live here in the Loudest House on the Block (really, even louder than the house down the street).

Earlier this week, a dear old friend send me an email from out of the blue. She had some wonderful news to share–a marriage, a pregnancy–and I got the feeling she was looking for a little encouragement. You know, “oh, marriage and parenthood are wonderful, Sarah. You’ve done the right thing.” Ha! I tell you, woman, run for the hills! Before it’s too late!

Mostly kidding there…Sarah and I have a long, loving, and bruised history. I was as excited to hear from her as I was when Ella, my roller-derby lesbian social worker friend from high school, contacted me through Facebook. We were all friends at one point, and when lives start to take diverging paths it’s easy to forget the things that held you together with certain folks. I feel like Gordie in “Stand By Me,” when he says (and I badly paraphrase) that you never have friends again like you do when you’re 12 (in my case it’s 17 but you know, I am still friends with people I knew when I was 12, too).

I think this is true because of adolescence. We’re at our best and our worst at 16. We can be catty, jealous, and petty while at the same time discovering the depths of compassion and unconditional love / affection / acceptance. I remember my first real and true heartbreak, the kind that sunk down into my chest and made my stomach burn. I’d left the boy I loved in Ohio when I was forced by the government to move to Montgomery, Alabama (Air Force kid). And then he, after pledging his eternal love for me, went bonkers and went out with every girl in my old high school, even having sex with one of them (a senior, no less). Yes, we were 15 and 16, so it seemed much worse at the time. And I had these three guy friends in my new town–Jason, Sean, and Matt–who listened to every sob and hysterical moment I had, and offered all kinds of awful revenge tactics in their efforts to help me feel better. Now, of course, the boy in question is married to this awesome woman, and I am married to an amazing man (he’s smart and looks good in Spandex–how’s that for a deadly combo?), and we are friends.

See, when you’re 16 you feel the world will end when something bad or sad happens. You almost wish it would. And when you’re 32, you are so jaded, you know that it won’t end. In fact, it will go on and on and on, and holding on to your heartaches just makes it drag more.

Thank you, Sarah, for telling me your good news. I love being in touch with you. I like it because I see that we are, at our cores, authentically friends. We have more that binds us together than your crazy ass older-man-boyfriend who tried to kiss me, and drunken teenage romps we should really be ashamed of but are still so fun to remember.

Sarah, we have Anne Sexton and Anne Danziger, and Kevin. I still have all those pictures of Kevin! And we have Alex, dear sweet wonderful beautiful Alex, and I have my Alex now. And I am assuming you will also have an Alex, since Sharon and Eric also have Alexes. And we have Jerry, Gerald, and that trip to Tuscaloosa where Dalton and Gina drove us mad, with all those boys calling all night! We have Gary. We have NOTA, but thank God we have more than NOTA because I would like to remember things from my senior year in high school that didn’t involve underage drinking, older men and their crazy almost-ex-wives, and my gay boyfriend (and my gay friend who couldn’t help but put the moves on my gay boyfriend even though we were still together). We have Mr. Brown, the diction coach and stage combat teacher. And never forget H.O.T.S.

Ella, I know you come here, too, sometimes. Heather asked me so many times if I knew where you were. I love you. We had our moments, didn’t we? My poor old truck being broken down in front of your house for days while I waited for my dad to get back to town so we could replace the alternator. Flashing all the people in my neighborhood the night that you, Melissa, and meredith spent at my house (my mom’s birthday weekend and she was so thrilled to have you guys stay over–she loved you). tori Amos, the first album that wasn’t Y Kant Tori Read. Being friends with Tracy, back in the day. Now, in our thirties, I am glad to see that while our daily lives may be very different, we always had more connecting us than music and movies and me almost killing you in that car wreck that nearly ruined us forever.


thank you for indulging my private/public moment there.


Today at the Helena Publix, a girl got in line behind me in, oh, let’s say it was aisle 8. I had five million things in my cart and she had a magazine and a bottle of wine. Despite my five millions things, and the fact that no one was in the “10 items or less” lane, she stayed. The cashier asked for her ID, and as I was walking out, she left empty handed. A couple of minutes later, she approached a lady in a car who had a form and was asking questions.

At first I thought it was weird that this cute girl in a Thompson Warriors teeshirt would be buying wine. I look young, too, though, so I thought maybe she’s a teacher or something there. But it appears that I caught a mystery shop in progress. They must have been checking to see if the cashiers were checking IDs thoroughly. So don’t go into the Helena Publix with your Yale shirt on and think you’ll buy some St. Pauli Girl just because you look like you’re 30.


We’re experimenting with our two daughters sharing a bedroom, which they haven’t done since the youngest was an infant. They’re starting kindergarten and first grade and we just need the space for something else now. We have four bedrooms and a basement but I think it’s good for them to share a room. Maybe they’ll keep a smaller space neater. Ha.


Next weekend will be a kids-at-grandparents’ weekend, and my husband and his friend are moving all the old race cars, car parts, and racing tires out of our garage! I couldn’t be more excited, seriously. I have been after him for years to do this. We also have plans to see the Batman movie. Yay. Nothing more romantic than film noir angst and a good steak and martini!

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Have you evah

July 12, 2008 at 9:41 pm (Uncategorized)

Chattanooga was fun. We did the touristy stuff since we had the kids–the Tennessee Aquarium, Ruby Falls, Rock City, the Choo Choo. Okay, the Choo Choo was the absolute biggest disappointment. I almost demanded my three bucks in parking money back (we had already checked out of the hotel–we walked everywhere the rest of the week). I had a feeling similar to when I went with Ben and some other math department people to see Highlander 3.

What I was really looking forward to, I thought, was a ride on the River Gorge Explorer. I’d read about it and it looked perfect. Except we got there and it was broken. I nearly slipped out a cuss or two in front of the poor aquarium girl but kept my cool. We enjoyed the penguins in the Ocean Journey building (really liked the penguins, though the sharks are not nearly as cool as they are at Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg). Loved the River Journey building because of all the regional stuff in there. The Butterfly Garden was amazing but a little daunting since they keep reinforcing how important it is that a buttefly not get squished or touched or be let out of the garden (federal laws, you know).

We decided to go overboard touristy and book a cruise on the Southern Belle. This turned out to be the best part of the whole trip. For the five of us it was $89–and this was with two kids getting on for free since it was “family night”–but we got a nice big dinner buffet, cake, all we could drink tea and soft drinks, and a magic show that was actually a lot of fun for all of us. The kids were so excited about being in the wheel house that we spent most of the non-eating time up there with the captain. I’m proud to say our kids were well-behaved up there, and plenty of others were absolutely not well-behaved. They didn’t get yelled at once, not even by me!

I have some great pictures of gnomes at Rock City. My youngest is now terrified of them. She calls them “fweeky.” We even got ourselves an official Rock City birdhouse–a big one–because my husband likes to do things that make other people mad. It’s desperately tacky and beautiful all at once.


I came to realize, after reconnecting with an old friend, that I am still afraid to face some of my beliefs, and afraid to stand up for certain things around my family of origin (great people) and even with my husband.

There’s also been a big shake-up at my husband’s company and I don’t think he’s happy about it. I can’t go into lots of details here but we may be really screwed, and we’re not the only ones. I’m thankful that he didn’t get fired, but at the same time, he was ‘restructured’ which means he’s not doing what he signed on to do, and not doing it with the people he signed on to do it with. I don’t know what the future holds and it makes me nervous. It’s not even about money…we’ve gotten through money problems before and are reasonably prepared for whatever might come our way now. The Big Bad Things of seven years ago taught us to do that. But when my husband is not happy in his job, he is miserable in every other aspect of life, too. I’m hoping things work out. A year ago, when he switched positions within the company, we never saw this coming. I guess when you’re dealing with technology, you can’t count on much to stay still for long, especially the good stuff.

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Independence Day?

July 4, 2008 at 6:03 pm (Uncategorized)

I wish I could go to the LPA Independence Day party. Libertarians sure know how to celebrate some liberty. But I am stuck at home, without a grill. Sadder states of affairs exist, I know. The grill, though, is stuck on our deathtrap deck that is rotting so quickly I’m surprised it hasn’t collapsed already. We’re still waiting for our “deck money.” When we thought we had it before, we had to replace the main air conditioning unit. Then from out of the blue, a Gobbler’s Knob Swim & Tennis membership came available through a friend-of-a-friend, and that was a good chunk of change (worth it, though). So we are still deckless, and trying to figure out how to get the grill off the deck, through the house, and down to the driveway so we can for heaven’s sake cook some burgers outside.

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How To Be Good

July 2, 2008 at 5:40 am (Uncategorized)

I’m no good at being good. I mean, I’m good, in that I do things that are good in the philosophical sense. Even with all the stupid I accomplish, I still also accomplish enough goodness each day to allow me to sleep at night (why can’t I sleep now?).

Being raised by a perfectionistic father has its benefits as well as its detriments. While he had exacting standards that could rarely be met, he also gave me a lot to be proud of. I never had to wonder, even for a second, if my parents loved me. The perfectionst attitude carried over into being sure my brother and I felt safe and loved (not always liked) and secure at home.

So why, when I used to be a “bleeding-heart liberal” (not an insult, I don’t think–I feel like these are people who care about the world and where it’s going), can I not make myself a liberal, or even a conservative? I find that I am becoming more and more a true libertarian every day.

I resist, but apparently resistance is futile.

Get us the hell out of the United Nations. Get us out of Iraq. Stop this ridiculous war on drugs and treat true drug addiction for what it is–a public health crisis. Let states decide their own educational systems. Don’t force kids to go to sub-par schools just because they are “in the school zone.”

Everything doesn’t have to be a constitutional amendment.

See, I tried to love Obama. Not just because I can’t fathom a world with John McCain as president but because I am, in my heart, a gentle and kind and loving person, someone who works hard to do my part to make the world better. Isn’t that what liberals are supposed to do? Want to make the world a better place, peace love and understanding and fa la la la la?

I can’t do it. I have to go with Bob Barr. Mostly because I just want to raise my kids, make the world a better place, and have the government leave me the hell alone.

Next chapter: Miss Bossy Pants drags her husband and kids to Montana to live on a remote “compound, complete with electric fences and “consultants” in trench coats and dark glasses.

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