Putting the "MO" in MOFO since 2004

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Unfinished Business

Dear Mark Anderson, formerly of Mark Anderson Photography Inc formerly Photos by Beth in Minneapolis Minnesota.,

I chose you as our wedding photographer because you had taken wedding photographs for 4 of my friend’s weddings. I had seen your work and I thought you had done a good job. Based on the 3 year span in which their wedding albums were created and delivered as promised, I thought the decision was a no-brainer. You were reliable. I basically had your resume in the completed albums of my friends.

Jim and I were married September 6th, 2003. I met with you a month after the wedding and you gave me a box of proofs and told me to choose the pictures I wanted so that you could create the wedding album I had paid for in advance. $2,500.00 in advance.

It is now October of 2005. I still don't have my wedding album. I realize you have closed up the business and live with your elderly parents somewhere near Saint Cloud MN. I realize you may be suffering from some kind of a breakdown. Perhaps you are addicted to drugs. Frankly, I don’t give a shit. I want my goddamned wedding album. I paid you for it and you owe me an album you rotten excuse for a human being.

I have left messages for you with your parents for a year and a half. I started out simply asking for a call back. Then I threatened to take legal action. I have had to leave these messages with your elderly father. Because he is old and he has a total shitbag for a son, I held back my venom and spared him my expressions of outrage and disgust. You have not returned a single phone call.

Wedding albums are family heirlooms. We have a daughter now. She is already over a year old. When she is an adult and her parents are dead, she will not have a wedding album to look at. There will be no book of pictures to look at. Just a box of proofs. You are a horrible person. I don’t care if you are as smack addled as the day is long. You are a horrible person.

I want my wedding album. I paid for it. You have left a black mark on my wedding day. I will think of you when I am 80 and rue the day I decided to pay you to take pictures at my wedding. You left me high and dry when it came time to produce the goods that I had paid you for. You are a crook. You stole my hard earned money and left me with no document of my wedding day. You stole $2,500.00 from me. Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. You really should be ashamed of yourself.

With a great degree if frustration and ire,


Tuesday, October 11, 2005


on second thought

So the detox diet still kind of blows, but I am beginning to realize that I might just be good old fashioned SICK. A caffeine headache does not typically last 3 days and come with a sore throat. Off for a throat culture! Wish me luck!

Monday, October 10, 2005


My fauna is just fine, thank you.

Jim and I have been on a detox diet for 2 days now. It is not going well.

What is a detox diet you may ask? I will tell you what is NOT in a detox diet. Caffeine, dairy, sugar, flour, corn, wheat, wheat gluten, eggs, meat, alcohol and chocolate are all things not allowed in a detox diet.

That means we can eat fruits, vegetable, nuts and olive oil. And basically nothing else. We went to the co-op thinking we would find some good snacks there. Nope. Damn near everything contains corn or eggs or wheat gluten of some kind. We ended up with rice crackers and Hummus.

We are drinking large quantities of water with lemon, and we are taking things called charcoal pills and capsules laden with some kind of bacteria that promotes intestinal fauna. Intestinal fauna. If that doesn’t leave you with a bizarre visual, well, I just don’t know what would.

One might think that purging all those nasty toxins from your system would make a person feel spectacularly good. I should be singing bare-chested from mountain tops. I should be leaping about and yodeling with the vigor of a person ten years my junior.

I have never felt like such colossal motherfucking shit in my life. My throat hurts, my head throbs, and I am walking around feeling more nauseated than a Dramamine starved flu-ridden passenger on the love boat in a hurricane.

All I want is a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese, and I don’t usually just daydream about pepperoni pizza.

Yesterday, I was practically frothing at the mouth like a crazed, rabid raccoon. I watched and waited, irritable as all get out, for Jim to make the smallest mis-step. Then I gave him a verbal lashing three ways to Tuesday. He left pistachio nut shells on the counter. Maggie got into them. I went into an absolute tizzy. Obscenities flew. Neighbors ducked for cover. Jim put a can of peas and carrots in the refrigerator with the top off and they spilled all over the floor as I extracted an eggplant from the four foot pile of eggplants. I absolutely freaked out. The dogs burrowed holes under the pine trees in the back yard to hide.

All I want to do is take a nap and you can’t just take a nap when you are responsible for the care and feeding of a 13 month old.

If living healthy feels like this, then I want nothing more to do with it. Hand me a slab of beef jerky, a loaf of wonderbread and a hunk of cheese the size of my head. I want a martini in one hand and a cigarette in the other faster than you can say carcinogenic.

I am giving this one more day, and it’s back to pizza and beer before I hurt someone.

Now please excuse me. I am off to gnaw on almond butter and apples.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I'm okay, your okay. Wait... Am I okay? I think I'm okay. Are you okay?

Yesterday, another report came out about the topic of mothers who work vs. mothers who stay at home and the impact it has on their children’s development. Another report that left me reeling with insecurity and guilt. Another report that made me question the choices I have made. Another report that made me feel like I am failing my daughter. I sat in tears as I watched the news and felt so incredibly trapped by my financial situation.

This is such a touchy subject. I am certain that every mother wants to do what is best for their child. I also believe that every mother worries that they are failing their children in some manner. I think this fear contributes to the judgments we pass on one another as mothers. We want so badly to convince ourselves that we are doing things the right way that sometimes we say things that imply other people are doing things the wrong way. Because it’s not our way.

I have never felt so blessed and so terribly guilty as I have since I became a mother. There are so many choices to make every single day. The options parents have available to them can be limited by financial resources. For some people it’s a choice between paying the mortgage on the house in a good school district, or staying at home. For some people it’s a choice between going on welfare or staying home.

The topic of stay at home moms vs. working moms evokes passionate opinions from women on all sides of the equation. I do know we all want what is best for our children and for our families. There is no one “best” way to do things. Every child is different, every family is different, every family’s financial situation is different.

I am a working mother, and I am fortunate enough to have in-laws who are retired and spend every weekday taking care of Maggie. Every day from 8:00 a.m. to the time her dad picks her up at 1:00, Maggie gets a 2 to one adult to child ratio. She is read to, and she is played with, and she is sung to, and she is hugged about a hundred times in those hours.

I am so incredibly fortunate to have been given this choice by my in-laws.

At 1:00 every day, Jim picks Maggie up and brings her home, and from 1:00 to 5:15 it’s Daddy and Maggie time. I get home at 5:15 and that is when I get to spend time with her.

From 5:15 to 7:30 I play with Maggie, feed her, feed Jim and I, try to clean up the kitchen, and field phone calls and random people knocking on the door. Sometimes I take Maggie with me for a walk or a run. Every other night I give her a bath. I have two and a half hours a day from Monday to Friday to spend with Maggie and to get all of this in. Meanwhile, I go through the typical working mother self-torture.

Here is a sample of my Inner dialogue on any given evening:

“Am I talking to her enough? Am I developing her language skills appropriately? Am I enunciating properly? Do I give her enough hugs? Is it better to use this time playing the piano or reading a story? If I get sucked into watching “the biggest loser” on television between 7:00 and 7:30 and reading to her during the commercials, does that make me “the biggest loser” as a parent? I think the answer is yes. Damn. Failed again. I don’t know if she had a nap today! I don’t even know what she had for lunch! Did she poop? I don’t even know if she pooped today! I am a horrible horrible mother. My mother in law has a bigger influence on her than I do! Do I even know what words she is being taught? Do I even know what games and songs she is being taught every day? No! I am allowing someone else to raise my child. What if the next time she falls down and hurts herself, she reaches for grandma instead of me? What if she does that and it hurts me so much I get insecure and close up? What if that makes me start detaching myself from her? Am I mature enough emotionally to handle that? On a conscious level, yes, but what about my unconscious? What could I do better? Can I even recognize where I am failing”?

And right about NOW my head explodes and brains and skull fragments slide slowly down the walls of the kitchen leaving red dribbles everywhere.

The dialogue above was ONE NIGHT’S WORTH. Yeah, Mothers really need more to question.

Factor in efforts to have a life of my own, work on my marriage, be a good friend, and take care of myself and exercise, and it’s no wonder I feel like I am doing a half assed job in everything. INCLUDING MOTHERHOOD. The guilt in that statement? ENORMOUS. Fucking Enormous. I have no idea how single mothers handle all this on their own. I think every single mother out there deserves a freaking medal for just getting it done, day after day. It’s HARD.

The report I mentioned concluded that children with stay at home mothers had significantly higher developmental skills than children who were in day care.

The report concluded that best scenario for kids goes like this:

1. stay at home with mom
2. stay at home with nanny
3. grandparents
4. day care center

My problems with this “study” are numerous. There is so much variation in the quality of child care available, and there was no mention of this in the blurb that I saw. There was no mention of how parenting style factors in. No mention of what working parents can do to minimize the negative impact that day care might have on their kids.

I live in the state of Minnesota. We have the HIGHEST percentage of working mothers in the country. Our children also typically have the HIGHEST test scores in the nation. How does that jibe?

Is anyone talking about how incredibly hard it is to raise a family and own home with one income? How it keeps getting HARDER? Is anyone talking about how we can help families with limited financial means stay home with their kids? Is anyone talking about women who earn more than their husbands? How these women can handle the incredible amount of guilt they carry for not being the one who has the biggest influence on their children’s day to day activities? For not knowing what their kids had for lunch and how many times they have pooped that day?

I know so many dedicated, loving mothers who work. Great mothers. I know these women struggle to come to terms with the choices they make. I know that it hurts to be informed that the choice you made might limit your child’s developmental potential

I also know many dedicated, loving mothers who stay at home. They have sacrificed careers to be at home with their kids every day. It’s hard to stay at home. It’s hard to deal with people who judge you for being a stay at home mom. It’s hard to deal with the lack of adult interaction. It’s hard to work with kids all day long. It’s hard to survive on one income.

I think my point, if I have one, is this: Yes, I want to have access to as much information as possible to help me make the best choices. But not so much information that I live in a constant state of self-torture, angst, regret, resentment and insecurity.

No, I don’t need any more reason to question myself. I do that plenty. Sometimes it does seem like motherhood is an uphill battle. Feeling like a GOOD mother is darn near impossible. Especially if you listen to the opinions of every Tom Dick and Harry out there. And if you are one of the people spouting off statistics and instilling fear, perhaps ask yourself if you are really doing it for the benefit of another mother and their child, or if you are doing it to reassure yourself that you have made better choices than someone else. Do you need to compare yourself to someone else to feel like a good mother?

I need to remind myself that the ultimately, it’s me who needs to be okay with my decisions. I need to feel like I am doing as much as I can with the resources I have. I need to give myself a break once in a while and accept the fact that I won’t always be perfect, but that does not mean I am not a good mother. It does not mean that I can not be a good friend, or wife, or employee. I just means my choices might be more difficult, and that I have to listen to my own heart more than I listen to sensationalized news reports with limited contextual information. I think I can do that. I hope I can.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


neuroses por moi

It’s a rainy Tuesday in autumn and I am not feeling inspired to say the least. Fall is not my season, people. I find the dark mornings and the early nights to be altogether life-sucking and stifling. I am not sure where in the recesses of my brain this came from, but there it is. Fall just depresses me. Fall really depresses me.

I wonder if that is because I was never crazy about school as a kid. I remember finding it all a little confusing. Life was predictable and easy before I started kindergarten. Then my mother’s father died, and our family went from 3 kids to 4, I went off to kindergarten, and things just got chaotic and never really went back to their happy predictable patterns. This is, of course a mixed bag. It may have created some neuroses por moi, but I also got 3 sisters who I adore out of the deal. Those limited resources come back in spades when you are an adult and you have not one, not two, but THREE sisters to cavort, play, eat, and cry with. They are my support system and my own personal comedians and I don't think I can properly express in words how lucky I am to have them.

I have a favorite perfume called mimosa por moi. I think I shall rename it neuroses por moi. I like the ring of that.

Speaking of kindergarten and sisters, I will share a story with you about my kinderwasp attack.

I was walking home from kindergarten. It was the day my sister Betsy was born. That would have made it September 14th, 1977. Or maybe it was the day before. All I know is that my mother was on her way out the door to go have a baby. Like IN LABOR. I have an impeccable sense of poorly timing my crises. My house would burn down the day of a family funeral. I would be diagnosed with a fatal disease the same day my sister won the Nobel peace prize. It just seems to happen that way.

I came running to the back door screaming, and covered in wasps. On my walk home from school, I had disturbed a nest of sleeping wasps wedged in a stone fence on the corner. The only vivid memory I have of this is standing in the middle of the kitchen looking at my sister Molly, who didn’t seem so small at the time, but was not even yet two. She had a wasp in her hair, one of the twenty or so that I had carried into the house trapped in my jumper, and she was screaming and flailing as my mother tried to get it off of her. I remember thinking to myself, probably whilst being stung by the wasps trapped in my clothes “I know she is little and all, but did SHE just get stung 17 times???? NO! I GOT STUNG 17 TIMES! I am covered in bee stings, and she is freaking out over one measly bee in her hair. I AM BEING IGNORED HERE!!!!! HELLOOO????? REMEMBER ME? Yeah, I am the five year old covered in welts! Help me!!!!”

Looking back on the situation I can not imagine how stressful that must have been for my mother. Molly was not much older than Maggie for crying out loud. Of course she was scared. She was practically a baby. I had just run screaming into the house covered in wasps and scared the bejeesus out of her. My mother was in labor for the love of Pete. It might have take all her strength to not fall on the floor in the fetal position, weeping. And my only memory of this is watching my mother tend to my sister instead of me and being very very bitter about it. This is what is imprinted on my brain.

I SO have middle child syndrome.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Groundhog day

There is so much in life that is one step up and two steps back.

You think you have it all figured out and then you realize you are learning the same lesson you thought you learned a long time ago, after making the same mistake you made a long time ago and should have learned from, but apparently didn’t. It’s like I keep waking up to my own personal groundhog day time after time.

There is such a gap sometimes between what I know theoretically, and what I end up practicing in reality. It can make a person feel really really dumb. And excruciatingly imperfect and human and densely thick headed and hypocritical. It also makes a person feel foolish for the times they allowed themselves a pat on the back for figuring it out the first time. If that wasn’t jumping the gun I sure don’t know what is.

Maybe the third time is a charm. Does a person get partial credit for trying? I certainly hope so.