Putting the "MO" in MOFO since 2004

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Friday, October 28, 2005


Liz Phair. And her hair.

If Liz Phair isn’t just the hottest cutest little rebel pop rocker I have ever seen, well, you can call me a monkey’s uncle. Go ahead. Try it. “Monkey’s Uncle! Monkeys Uncle!”

Honey, you can call me monkey’s uncle all you want. Go ahead. See if I care. I got to see Liz Phair in concert.

Mizz Liz played at First Ave. in Minneapolis last night. She has really good hair. I mean really fucking good hair.

She makes me wish I was short. She wore a little denim miniskirt, and a black top with a low cut v neck and cute little split cap sleeves and boots. And her hair. It was stellar.

Her legs might not be long but they are lean and muscular. She was at times dwarfed by her large acoustic guitar. She looked like a child strapped behind that honking monstrosity. She may be diminutive, but her presence is big. Her presence also reeks of coolness. She is possibly the coolest person I have ever been in the same room with.

And she has really good hair.

And then there was the music. She played some new stuff, but mostly old stuff from “Exile in Guyville” “ Whipsmart” and “whitechocolatespaceegg”. Did you know where the title “Whitechocolatespaceegg” came from? She said that is what her son looked like when he was born. I thought that was an accurate description and really quite clever.

Here is a smattering of lyrics from last night’s show:

“It’s nice. To be liked. But it’s better by far to get paid.
I know a lot of the friends that I have
Don’t really see it that way.

But if you could give them each one wish
How much do you want to bet

That they’d wish success for themselves and their friends
And that would include lots of money.

It would surely include lots of money

You have got to have shitloads of m-o-n-e-y, money”


“Baby got goin' but I can't complain, you know
It knocks me out when she acts so strange,
It's like a Big Mac truck cut across two lanes in my soul
Conductor, let's throw some metal down, roll!”

And one of my personal favorites

“and it’s true that I stole your lighter
And it’s also true that I lost the map.”

And of course, she played “Supernova”.

And some of her new stuff (yawn).

And the grand finale was “Fuck and Run” which is always a good listen.

Did I mention she has fantastic hair?

My only point of contention is that the show was way too short. She only played about 13 songs. The salve for that sore is that the songs she did play were sung well. I got my money’s worth. She started with some folky acoustic stylings and ramped up at times to full fledged rocking out with all elements of the band revved up in high gear. I didn’t notice that my feet hurt until after she had finished her last song. That is the sign of a great show. And possibly a short show. But I don't care.

I heart Liz Phair. I wonder who does her hair?

Is it me? Is it?

I have a question for those of you who have met me.

Am I an ass? Please tell me. Am I?

For some reason, several people today have treated me as though I was the world’s most colossal asshole. This is surprising to me, because I really am not an ass. At least not to my knowledge.

When I am treated as though I am a huge, giant asshole, and I know that I am not, in fact, a huge, giant asshole, I have to ponder where this attitude comes from. What is going on with the person who is making me feel this way?

Perhaps they woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

Perhaps they have some deep rooted shame issues.

Perhaps they carry anger in their hearts.

Perhaps their golf game is declining and they are helpless to stop the fucking “yips”.

When someone projects ickiness on to me, I have to stop and think where that comes from. Because, although I have been known to tell a little white lie, I am far from smarmy. So when someone treats me as though I am smarmy, it just doesn’t jibe. An alarm bell rings when I get “smarmy” from someone.

So if I am in fact a smarmy asshole, please tell me. I want to know. Until I am advised otherwise, I will assume that certain people are projecting their own excess of smarminess onto me. Because, where else are they gonna put it?

In the mean time, I will try to remember patience and kindness. Today, that is no small order.

I will try nonetheless. I will try.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Too early for this kind of talk

I dropped Maggie off at Jim’s parents this morning on my way to work, just like I always do. As usual, Grandpa met us at the car and hollered “HEEEEY, WHERE’S OUR MAGGIE?” like he always does. I removed her from her car seat and handed her over. I followed them inside the house, like I always do.

Grandma, Grandpa and I bantered back and forth, as is our morning routine. We talked about Maggie’s hair getting long, and how she pulls barrettes out the minute you put them in, and how we are trying to resist the urge to cut bangs. We talked about how much she likes to play in the leaves outside and how well she has been sleeping at night.

Then my father in law handed me a piece of paper and said “Look what we picked out yesterday.” I looked down and there in front of me was a computer generated outline of a gravestone with both their names on it. I am not sure if there is an appropriate response to acknowledging someone else acknowledging their own mortality. I was a bit shaken up by it.

The thought of seeing the actual granite in its completion, in person made my heart heavy. Jim is one of the youngest of a large family, and his parents are nearly twenty years older than mine. I want them to be around to see Maggie grow up. Not just for Maggie and Jim, but for me too. I have grown to love them both very much.

Jim’s parents are very Christian, and very conservative (I am Christian too, but the more lackadaisical kind. I find inspiration in many religions). I used to be afraid to let them know who I really was. I was afraid they wouldn’t like me anymore if they knew I disagreed with their views on a few hot-button topics.

We have had a few incidents.

Like the time they saw my John Kerry sign. I was afraid my father-in-law would never speak to me again. He walked right out of the house as I stood with my jaw hanging open. I was really upset, and trying not to cry, and wishing I had the same political views they did so I wouldn’t have to choose between telling the truth and disappointing them. I agonized for a few days, and in the end I decided I needed to be honest about who I was, and if he didn’t like me for it, then that was the way it had to be.

About a week later my father in law apologized to me. He is not a man of many apologies so I was actually kind of honored. He said that my mother in law mentioned that I was upset by his response, and he hadn’t meant to hurt my feelings. He said something about his particular moral issue with Democrats. I acknowledged that a lot of people feel strongly about certain topics, and it seemed we agree to disagree. It was a relief. And they still seemed to like me.

More recently, I had an editorial about Paul Wellstone (a beloved Liberal Senator who was killed 3 years ago in a plane crash) published in the local paper. I didn’t tell them about that either, but they saw it and read it and they told me they liked it.

They made me think about some the things I wrote in that editorial. Some the assumptions I made about people with different views. I was afraid that I might have offended them, and I clarified a few points. I made sure to tell them I was not referring to them when I criticized the current administration. I might not agree with them politically, but I admire them immensely on a personal level.

Since Maggie was ten weeks old, Jim’s parents have taken care of her nearly every weekday morning. They have showered her with love and affection. It seems to me that she has brought as much joy to their lives as they have brought to hers. I just love to watch them together. It hurts my heart to think that they might not always be there for her. For Jim. For me.

When my father in law showed me the design for their grave marker, I stammered a little bit. I wasn’t sure what to say. “Well.. It really is pretty, but I hate to think about it.”

I hated the way the words sounded as they came out of my mouth. They sounded so false. I meant to say so much more to them but I held it all back.

It really was a pretty design, and it had both their names on it, side by side, which was really lovely.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005


snow covered goodies

Halloween is a magical time. Ghosts, goblins are spirits are conjured up, as are images of colored autumn foliage, pumpkins and candy. It’s a time for kids to dress up and go banging on the neighbor’s doors, shamelessly begging for candy. Other times of the year, these demands might be met with frantic calls to 911, but not on Halloween. On Halloween this behavior is just fine. Expected and encouraged in fact.

In Minnesota, Halloween is really just like it is anywhere else, except for the ever-present possibility that all of the jack-o-lanterns and scarecrows will be tragically covered in a blanket of snow. Stupid, mean snow.

I remember many a Halloween fondly. Except for the cold snow covered ones. If Halloween was snowy or cold, we had to wear snow pants and coats over our costumes. This gear kind of defeated the whole purpose of dressing up. Many a full fledged tantrum was thrown over the donning of the pants and coat. My sisters and I had typically plotted and planned our costumes down to the last detail for weeks. Then, we were instructed to cover them up with puffy down-filled coats. It did not typically go over very well. The tantrums occasionally ended up in enthusiasm-squashing crescendos of harsh words and parental reprimands. At our house that would have gone something like “eat your goddamn dinner and put on your goddamn coat and go trick or treating or I’ll give you something to cry about. Goddammit!”

Our creations ruined, and our spirits crushed, the Minnesota trick or treaters sometimes moped from door to door like Eeyore. Thrusting our pillowcases out with a weak “trick or treat” and downcast eyes.

We would typically cheer up once we had consumed enough candy to be thoroughly sugar-addled. Then of course all was forgiven, because thanks to our parent’s keen sense of practicality, we hadn’t lost any fingers to frostbite. More importantly, we could then use our non-frostbitten digits to tear the wrappers from, and inhale the contents of our big honking bags full of candy. And it’s hard to be pissed at your parents when you are bouncing off the walls in the throes of a spastic sugar high. In between trading kit kats to your sister for Skittles and compulsively separating, counting, and color-coding the goods over and over and over again, it was hard to be anything but blissfully gleeful.

A mixed bag really.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Stop. It. Please.

Maggie follows me to the refrigerator as I fill her bottle with milk. It starts. She grabs my leg and pulls on my jeans because she wants to be picked up. It starts. She stands by the front door and wants to go outside. It starts. I try to keep her legs from flailing about while changing her diaper. It starts. The WHINING. The Cursed, torturous sound that children make so that their parent’s heads explode. That way if Maggie can just work that pantry open, she can have all the Ritz crackers she wants. Because mommy can’t stop her because of her exploded head and all.

Why do children whine? I think I know the answer. Because it works.

I observed my mother-in-law with Maggie last week. She watches Maggie every morning while I am at work, and I was trying to learn a few tricks from the woman who raised seven children. Things just went so SMOOTHLY. I didn’t know what to make of it.

“So, does she cry a lot over here? Have you noticed she has gotten a little whiny?”

“No! Maggie is so happy all the time! Just a happy girl!”


So, apparently it’s just me! Great.

This led me to think about what I might be doing to perpetuate this ugly, eardrum piercing, headache inducing sound.

Basically, it keeps happening because I respond to it. She whines, she gets what she wants. She does it because it works. Part of me actually wants to say “SMART GIRL! Way to go Madge, you clever wee one!” But then I realize that is not the best course of action.

A child of fourteen months has a limited vocabulary. It can be difficult for them to express their desires. On one hand it is great that she is learning how to tell me what she wants. On the other hand, Grandma seems to be figuring it out without the whining. This led to my next realization.

I work full time, and I want the time Maggie and I spend together to be happy. So I have been taking a few shortcuts to prevent crying. I succumb to the whining because I want to cut it short and move on to the fun time. I need to watch this. I have seen monsters created with this exact formula. I don’t want to be one of those permissive mothers whose child runs around shrieking and pulling hair and snatching toys from other kids. The kind of mother who in her oblivion, acts like her colossal brat is the second coming of Christ or something.

So I am thinking it might be time to think about the message I give her when I respond to her whining. There is a lot or grey area there. If she is hungry, I want to feed her. If she is thirsty, I want to give her something to drink. If she wants me to pick her up, I want to hold her. In certain situations, a whine is invariably going to get her what she wants. But I can start out with the little things. I can ignore her protests as I change her diaper. I can ignore her lamentations, and read the book when she approaches me with a hopeful expression and a smile. I can ignore her racket when she wants to walk out the front door in 2 degree weather.

I hope that this leads to her developing better coping skills. Like patience and problem solving.

It is still really hard to ignore a whining child. Especially if you have figured out what it is that they want. It just feels mean to deny them. I will need to fortify my resolve with the thought that in the long run, it will be better for her, and better for me to not reward the behavior. If feels a bit “behaviorist”, like that whole Pavolovian dog-salivating at the sound of a bell thing. I have always considered myself more Paiget than Pavlov. Developmental psychology has always made more sense to me. But the whining. It must stop.

This parenthood thing is starting to get a little complicated. I cringe to think of the teenage years. Pray for us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I wet the bed until the fourth grade and other things that make me more interesting. Perhaps.

I was a bed wetter. I wet the bed until at least the fourth grade. I wet the bed so frequently that I probably smelled of urine for the first nine years of my life. I wet the bed so much that my mattress was permanently concave and damp and musty right under the spot where my butt slept. The mustiness wafted to the outer reaches of my room. The room I shared with my sister Julie. Poor, poor Julie. She must have had nightmares about being gassed with ammonia on a regular basis as a pre-adolescent. All because of my overactive nocturnal bladder.

My three sisters must have wondered two things about my bed. Why the big dent in the middle? And why the God-Awful smell? For some reason, my mattress was never covered in a waterproof sheet. I remember from childhood, the stigma of having rubber sheets on your bed. Rubber sheets were in the same category as head lice (which we also had at more than one point) and B.O. (which I might have had if the urine smell had not drowned it out completely).

Would it have been worse to have a dented bed reeking of unrea, urorchrome and uric acid or a semi clean smelling rubber sheeted, stimga- filled juvenile boudious? I can't venture a guess, because I only experienced one half of that equation.

As a somewhat typical girl of 8, 9, 10 years old I went on my fair share of sleepovers. What was not so typical about me was that I left a trail of ammonia-reek at my unsuspecting friends parents houses about two times out of ten.

I keenly remember waking up to an "accident" at a sleepover at my best friend Jenny's house when I was about nine years old. I bolted out the door with a cat-who-ate-the-canary look on my face at the crack of dawn. I returned later that day to retreive my stinky, wet, forgotten-on-purpose sleeping bag. I think I hoped that if I left it, the bag would air out and no one would be the wiser. I desperately hoped no one would notice.

Jenny's dad had laid it on their chain link fence to "air it out". He was a rather stoic, Scandinavian man. He kind of scared me with all his detachment and his no-nonsense attitude. He looked at me, confused, and said "It's all wet. Why is that?" and looked to me for a response. I mumbled something about spilling a glass of water on it, quickly pulled the sleeping bag off the fence and threw it over my small shoulder for the three block walk back home. I was ashamed and humiliated and mortified. I don't think I called for another sleepover for three months at least. I was always scared it would happen.

Another time it happened my cousin Tiffany's house. Kerry, Tiffany's sister and my younger cousin, was gone at a sleepover. I got to sleep in her bed. I was terrified. I must have gone to the bathroom 4 times before we went to sleep. Again, I woke up with that feeling of dread. That damp, cold stink that made me feel like an outcast and a freak. What an embarassment. I had to tell Tiffany and she had to tell her mother, and she was obviously not happy that I had left a big stanky stain on their mattress.

I sulked in embarassment for another week or so. I Eventually got up the nerve and called Tiffany. She and her sisters were making pretzels with their mom (my aunt and godmother). The homemade kind of pretzels that are SO GOOD. I squealed with excitement "Can I come over?" There was a pause. And then:

"That might not be a good idea. My mom is still kind of mad about the bed wetting thing."

My excitement quickly turned back into shame. How could I have forgotten the scourge I had left in their home? The scourge of of a stinky pee-stained mattress. Of course they didn't want me sleeping over. Who wants someone's kid peeing on their nice mattresses? Good heavens. These people were always so nice to me. They just didn't want me sleeping over. I can't blame them.

Mercifully, I don't wet the bed anymore. I grew out of that unfortunate habit sometime during the fifth grade. And I sure hope Maggie doesn't have the same affectation. I would love to spare her the agony of the sleepover trauma. But I guess they have goodnites pants for kids who wet the bed now. We have that. We might not have much but we have that.

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,


Friday, October 14, 2005


Funk Shrieking at First Avenue

Jim and I went to see Sonvolt play at First Avenue last night.

In case you don’t know, First Avenue is the place where Prince funked out his big break in the movie “Purple Rain”. It is a Minneapolis landmark. It is where our favorite hometown musicians like Paul Westerberg and Soul Asylum and Husker DU started out their careers. We might not have a lot of Hollywood here in Minneapolis, but we have First Avenue Dammit.

Growing up in Minneapolis, we had a terrible shortage of celebrities. It was kind of pathetic. Every time we saw a Limousine we were all “It’s Prince! It’s Prince! I just know it is!”

If there are any single straight ladies looking for love who are alt-country fans, I highly suggest you go take in a Sonvolt show because it was a complete dude fest. The place was jam packed with men who appeared to be intellectual, slightly sloppy, a bit nerdy yet handsome, and soulful at the same time. The ratio was GOOD. Just an idea if you are into that sort of a thing.

While at First Avenue I picked up tickets for LIZ FUCKING PHAIR. And I am really pumped up to see her live. I heart Liz Phair. I have loved her music for a long time now (aside from her bubble gum total crap cd released 2 years ago). For some reason, every time she played a gig in Minneapolis I couldn’t go. And now I have tickets! Hooray! I am going with my sisters Molly and Julie. Julie has lived here her whole life and has NEVER BEEN TO FIRST AVENUE!! Shocking, I know. She is a First Avenue Virgin.

The ladies room at Fist Ave has two bathroom stalls that are exposed on one side to a big picture window that faces a busy street and a couple of bars. I am fairly certain that no one the outside can see in, but the person using the facilities can see out. It's kind of freaky. On a busy night, when the line is long, I have used those stalls. I have to admit I felt a bit of a thrill at my devil-may-care exhibitionism. Look Minneapolis! It's my butt! HA! Look! My bum! My bum! My big white bum!

I will have to make sure that Julie takes advantage of them on her first visit to First Ave.

We will also make her sing “Purple Rain” as she shows her ID to the bouncer, and if she is asked any questions while handing her ticket over we will make her respond in a high-pitched funk-shriek, Prince style.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Meghan needs a savage beating

I got this from Sweetney
You are supposed to enter a google search of "your name needs" and see what comes up.

The first thing on my list said "Meghan needs a savage beating". I couldn't agree more.

Here is the list in it's completion. I think it is beautiful and perfect just the way it is:

Meghan needs a savage beating.
Meghan needs a boyfriend.
Meghan needs 15 total points
Meghan needs a family that has experience with teenagers and the daily issues they face.
Meghan needs something I can't give her.
Meghan needs help as she has been caught in the middle of a conspiracy.
Meghan needs help with a good AIM screen names.
Meghan needs his help more than ever.
Meghan needs to rag On Granny some more.
Meghan needs you.
Meghan needs to know all the history.
Meghan needs to be tied in now somehow that Felicity moved out of dorms.
Meghan needs help.
meghan needs to start saving up for el nuevo caro.
Meghan needs the most vibes

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


The Home and Garden Channel and my bosoms

If you get the Home and Garden Channel, be sure to watch “House Hunters” at 9:00 CST Thursday night.

Two of my dearest, oldest, best friends Jen and Aimee are starring in their own show about the search and eventual purchase of their house in Minneapolis. They are friends from high school (and the present as well). We go WAAAAY back. The witty, freckled, blonde, and oh-so Scandinavian “E” sisters are starring in their own show. A perfect Minnesota pairing of half Swedish and Norwegian. Can anyone say Uff-da?

You might even get a glimpse of my hugely pregnant person, circa July 2003, a month before Maggie was born. I attended the wrap up party and barbecue which was filmed for the show. If I am on camera I will be HUGELY PREGNANT, and wearing an expression that screams “I totally freeze in front of a camera and plaster the worlds most idiotic grin on my face because I feel like an idiot, because, well… I am an idiot”.

I am hoping that any shots that include my enormous boobs and belly (a.k.a. the “trifecta”) ended up on the editing room floor.

Speaking of bosoms, I had to buy new bras yesterday because mine have officially SHRUNK to a “B”. Before I had Maggie, I was a “C”. How do they just shrink like that? If only the size of my ass would follow suit.

When I was pregnant they morphed into their own creatures, independent of the rest of my body. They swelled up to a double “D” and just got in the way. I couldn’t stop spilling things on them. It was like adolescence all over again. “What ARE these things? How do I walk with them? What do I DO with them?” I had to buy XL Maternity shirts just to cover them. I think they shot us up into a new tax bracket.

Friends I hadn’t seen for a while would gasp “Oh. My. God. You boobs are HUGE!” before they could even get a “hello!” out.

Jen and Aimee will prove to be very entertaining subjects. They are very entertaining people in general. And the house totally rocks. It should be a great show, so catch it if you can.

I am going to be at the Sunvolt concert at First Ave. during the airing so I have to Tivo it.
I am sad to miss the viewing party, but excited to see the recorded show. Thank you Tivo!

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.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Her mother's daughter after all.

Last week Madge and I spent about 20 minutes sitting in the middle of the floor in the living room sharing my mineral water. Maggie would look at me wide eyed with anticipation as I took a sip. Then I would give her a taste. Each time her expression shifted from hopeful expectation to gleeful shock as she took a mouthful and the bubbles tingled her tongue. Then she waggled her tongue down her chin, and let the mineral water stream from the sides of her mouth to dribble down to the front of her shirt.

We repeated this about 15 times before it grew a bit tedious. Then I slugged the rest of the water and handed her the plastic bottle to play with. After expressing her frustration that there was no bubble water left and trying in exasperation to extract the few remaining drops, she resigned herself to walking around the house with the empty bottle dangling from her mouth.

A few days later I grabbed a bottle of the same water from the fridge while Maggie was eating dinner in her high chair. My mind was elsewhere and I was pulled out of my daydream by her squeals of sheer and utter desperation. She was frantic to get my attention.


She stared, focused on my bottle of water. She gazed with the concentration of a telekinetic. She was trying with all her might to pull the bottle out of my hand and to her mouth using only her eyes. She bore holes into the plastic with her mere willpower.

She had caught me red handed. I complied with her demands and shared some with her.

That was only the beginning. Now she follows me around whenever she spots me with food. “MMMMM! MMMMM! MMMMMM!” looking up at me intently until I give up the goods.

If we ever forget to lock up the pantry doors, she’s rummaging around in there within 30 seconds flat. She emerges, triumphant with the box of Ritz crackers and holds them up proudly to show me. “MMMM! MMMMM! MMMM!” She beams as I pull out a cracker and hand it to her. Then she toddles off to leave her half eaten cracker on the bathroom floor.

I have to hand it to her. She’s got talent. She is thirteen months old and already knows how to find and obtain the goodies.

And we are working on the telekinesis thing. Boy howdy, THAT could really come in handy.

This of course, is coming from the author of this blog, who hid bags of chocolate chips under her bed when she was a child. I am told I had the same talent for sniffing out anything containing chocolate or sugar. And anything salty or crunchy for that matter. No matter how high the cupboard, I would scale the obstacles and emerge, covered in soot and cobwebs, from the heights and depths of the kitchen with the package in hand.

She looks so much like her father that even I wonder sometimes how it’s possible that we are related by blood. I can now rest easy with the knowledge that she is in fact, my daughter. What a relief.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I am so frightened for generation Z

Alien baby?

I sure hope Kate doesn't end up with PPD. That would be very very bad.

"Honey, I can't seem to get out of bed. I am just so sad and distraught. The Baby. Your Teeth. Enough. I can't take it any more"

"Here Kate. Have a vitamin!"

"Tom, I am having thoughts of hurting the baby. I am scared and sad and I feel all alone. Your teeth. They frighten me. "

"Kate, that is a bunch of poppycock. Why don't you try some jumping jacks?"

"Tom, I am having suicidal thoughts and I think I need help. I am frightened and alone. And your teeth Tom. Your teeth. I see nothing but your teeth. I can not take another minute of your teeth. For the love of L. Ron Hubbard! Your Teeth!"

"Nonsense Kate! You need to sweat it out! Now off the the steam bath with you! and no more complaining!"

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.