Putting the "MO" in MOFO since 2004

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Monday, February 27, 2006



Some days I feel like I don’t match with my life. I clash with my house, my neighborhood, my car, my job…. Nothing fits me right, and it feels like I am the square peg getting smashed into a round hole.

Sometimes I try to think of what my own Utopia might look like.

My utopia would include the following:


A rollercoaster.


A lot of sing-alongs and musicals.

Copious amounts of very bad, hysterical pee-your-pants laugh-inducing dancing.

An elaborate evening meal every day, with a bottomless carafe of really good red wine, and a dinnertime sunset every day.

There would be a swimming pool with water slides.

An endless supply of up-to-date US Magazines, and all my sisters and friends to dish with.

A never-ending supply of paintbrushes and paints and paper and canvasses.

Re-runs of Little house on the prairie playing continuously.

Closets full of dress-up clothes.

A library full of classics, and an ongoing book discussion.

Really good coffee.

An ongoing game of “my favorite thing about you”.

A masseuse.

This would all take place in a vineyard. With lights in all the vines that we would turn on every night.

And everyone would have their very own Betty Crocker Bake-oven.

And all of my favorite people would be there.

And there would be a huge garden with flowers and heirloom tomatoes.

And we would have our own Cheese cart, with an expert cheese guy and every kind of cheese imaginable. And chocolate croissants.

There would be a card table with an ongoing game of “hearts”.

And another table where people do nothing but make fun of people.

And happy children everywhere.

And a roving mariachi band at every meal.

And trivial pursuit every night.

And also a karoke contest.

And I could produce and star in my very own production of “Annie”. And I could be “annie” even though I am 5 foot 9 and 33 years old.

That about sums up my Utopia.

I just can't understand why I feel like a misfit in the land of suburban ramblers and Mc Mansions, overzealous sports obsessed parents, and home remodeling projects.....

Monday, February 20, 2006


Hot water

Yesterday was just one of those days, man. Madge was following me around like a whining, smack-addled Alice-the-Goon in need of a fix. She followed me from room to room, screaming belligerently at me. She wanted up! She wanted down! Wait! NO! She didn’t want down at all! What kind of a Mommy am I anyways? Stupid, stupid mean Mommy!

She screamed and whined and cried all morning at the audacity I exhibited in the following ways:

I refused to let her play with scissors.

I refused to let her eat a stick of butter.

I denied her the joy of playing alone on our bed that sits 3 feet off the floor. In turn denying her the God given right to break her face plummeting into the floor or bedside table. My incessant meddling kept her from her very first head injury or broken face. I really have to stop holding her back like that.

I dressed her.

I offered her a sippy cup of water.

And the final straw: I handed her a piece of banana. BANANA!!!

Oh, but for the heart-wrenching insult! Horrors upon horrors!

The nerve I have, in all my sanctimonious mother-esque efforts to feed and clothe my child and prevent her from injuring herself! Can’t I see how I crush her spirit with all the limits I place on her? There was much flinging of sippy cups and bananas and binkys.

I unceremoniously informed Jim that I needed an hour away from anyone who was 50% Dutch or greater, and abruptly slammed a few doors and left the premises to wander the mall in blissful silence for an hour.

When I returned, the child was happy.

Maybe it’s me?

At any rate, her Aunts Molly and Betsy came over and kept her thoroughly entertained until bedtime.

Oh, and then I completely flipped my lid on Jim. In front of my sisters. About folding chairs. It went something like this:


Stomp stomp stomp. Sigh.

So much for treasuring my weekends with my daughter.
I am a bad. Bad. Working mother.

Oh, and the hot water heater broke. So I got to play Caroline Ingalls. But instead of having to walk through the blistering cold to the water pump to freeze my finger-flesh to the handle whilst pumping up icy water, requiring a douse of scalding water to tear my flesh from the iron handle it had become one with, I just had to heat water in a pot on our electric stove. So it’s not all bad.

But still I have to say, HOT WATER RULES.

Friday, February 17, 2006



It was so cold this morning, after my dog went out for a pee, I had to chop him off a tree trunk.

I have always liked Canadians. I can't explain why. I just do. However, I have to ask you to STOP sending all your freezing-ass cold-front air my way. It's just plain mean.

The high today in MN is -1. THE HIGH, people.

That is -1 degree fahrenheit.

Have mercy on us, eh?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


There is so much LOVE In this room........

There is so much love going on over at Mommybloggers today I can hardly stand it. Actually, the love-fest has been going on for the last 3 days.

Grab a Kleenex and get on over there. If there is one topic these women have firsthand knowledge of, it’s L-O-V-E.

I was overwhelmed by the range of topics and the variety and quality of the essays. The writing and subject matter are truly beautiful. As are the women and men who have shared their stories.

And in honor of the day:

What is love

Love is my Grandmother Devoy telling me: “Meggity. You and I majored in the same thing in college. Having a good time.”

In one of the last coherent moments we shared, she looked me straight in the eye and said “Thanks for coming to see me”. She threw her arms around my neck in her signature vice headlock / hug combos as she was being wheeled to the operating room on a gurney. She was sick with encephalitis, and she died two months later at the age of 92.

Love is my Grandmother Townsend calling me into her bedroom to hand me two crisp dollar bills. I was 22 years old. She never had much, and what she had, she wanted to share with us. We never left her house without a baggie of cookies. Double bagged. With a twist-tie.

Love is my Grandfather Townsend, who made mice out of handkerchiefs and made them jump up his arm to make us laugh.

Love is my Grandfather Devoy, who let his wiggling young grandchildren sit in his lap even when he was freshly stitched up from Cancer surgery.

Love is my father, who is visibly pleased every time his daughters come to visit.
Who pulled a pencil lead out of my leg when I was in the third grade. Who once turned all the laundry pink when he washed Molly’s tie-dye with the white laundry, trying to help out with housework when my mom went back to work.

Love is my mother, who put a cold compress to me feet when I was sick as a dog and half crazed with fever. Who made sure I had piano lessons. Who took my girl scout troop camping with a broken toe. Who made a special dinner when any of us made the Dean's list in college.

Love is my sister Julie who offers honest feedback when asked. Who sets an incredible example for me in the way she raises her daughters. Who cares about my well being, and tells me so much. Who is as excited for my successes as I am.

Love is my sister Molly who’s love and loyalty abound. The way she wears her concern on her sleeve when she is worried about me. Her willingness to adapt to the crazy lifestyle changes that motherhood brought to my life. Her ear that is always available and trying not to judge. She offers her passionate thoughts on any subject. She is always there to cheer on life’s victories, and to listen to me bemoan the trials.

Love is my sister Betsy who is always willing to take the time to hang out and do nothing, just because we like to. Her presence alone makes me happy. Her humor and witty, supportive remarks have gotten me through some tough days. She shares the good and the bad with equal aplomb.

Love is the excitement in my sister’s expressions when they see my daughter, Madge.

Love is the way my nieces, the demigoddesses, ask when they can baby-sit next. When they don’t get mad at me for forgetting the $10 I owe them from the last time they babysat. Love is the awesome backrubs they give for a dollar.

Love is my friends, who maneuver the tough terrain of friendship with love and dedication. Who bear with me through life changes like marriage and motherhood, and handle the bumps right along with me. Who are patient with me when I don’t understand their lot in life, and who are patient with me when they don’t get mine. Who are willing to forgive my mis-steps. Don’t let my winter of discontent and introspection fool you. You are loved and valued more than you know. And you are still with me, Thank God.

Love is my husband’s parents, who offer unconditional love and a curious respect for being different from them in a few ways, politically speaking, for example. Who take care of my daughter when I am working, and offer her the same steady, unconditional love they offer to all their children. And for my husband’s brothers and sisters who slowly let me get to know them better as I slowly let them get to know me better.

Love is my husband Jim. The way he gets so excited to give me a gift, he can rarely wait until the actual holiday to give it to me. The way he is brave enough to work with me to make changes in our lives to make our marriage better. To make a better home for our daughter. The way he makes me laugh when I am tired and grumpy and worn out. He offers free and unconditional support when life bruises me (which lately, has been quite often).

Love is my daughter Maggie, who introduced me to uncomplicated joy. Who makes me want to be a better person. Who makes me stop and enjoy the small, pedestrian moments. Who makes me realize those are the best moments of all. Who makes me laugh with wild abandon. She makes my soul beam and swell at the mere sight of her sweet face. Who’s kisses are the most wonderful thing I could ever imagine in a million years.

I hope that in my life, I can give back as much as you have all given me.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Like taking candy from a baby. What IDIOT came up with that line anyway? Clearly they had no children.

My husband Jim can, at times, be a real task-master. Separating him from a goal can be as difficult as prying the jaws of a police dog from the leg of a drug dealer who has his hands around the neck of his master officer. The man is not easily deterred.

I am currently CURSING, LAMENTING, and DENUNCIATING a particular parenting magazine for publishing an article outlining the abominations of giving any child over the age of 15 months any liquid out of a bottle.

Since reading this article, my husband is on the sippy-cup warpath.

He appears to be convinced that every time we give Maggie milk from a bottle, we are killing billions of brain cells, stopping her dendrite connections dead in their paths, and rendering her the world’s most incompetent toddler. We are not only destroying her orthodonture, but also any chance she has of becoming a productive adult. Because of the bottle, she will never speak more than 15 words. We will send her off to college with her blankie, binkie, and bottle. She will utter phrases to her professors like “NYO-NYO!”, “AAH-DUN!” and “DEE-SAH!” (pizza) during her final oral exams. All because her spineless mommy delayed the transition from bottle to sippy cup. It’s a sheer and utter travesty. The child. She will be ruined.

Monday through Friday, I am the one who rouses Maggie in the morning. Or, rather, she rouses me. She is a morning person, and when I enter her room with a bottle of milk in hand, she greets me with a big “HI!”, and enormous smile, and then she grabs that bottle of milk with two hands and a bushel and a peck of zeal. Mornings are a happy time. I like them just as they are.

This morning, in an effort to placate my baby’s daddy, I walked into her room with a purple sippy cup in hand. She looked at me as though I had offered her putrid swamp water, teeming with bugs. “NO!” she said, swatting it away. “No no. NYO!!!”. I tried to stand my ground, and pushed the sippy cup back towards her. She hurled it across the room and set forth wailing and sobbing, completely bereft. I struggled to dress her as she convulsed and choked. Her face turned purple, and big fat tears rolled from her scrunched up eyes.

The moment I set her down on the floor, she bolted for the refrigerator, planted herself in front of it, red-faced and streaky, and whimpered despondently.

I caved. I poured the milk from the sippy cup into a bottle and handed to her. She took it, smiled through her tears, and walked back to her room. She set forth recovering from the devastating affront in short order. Still shuddering from the aftershocks of her sobbing meltdown, she quietly read books in her crib while I showered. She grasped her bottle protectively.

Am I creating a monster? Maybe

Working mother’s guilt is no phenomenon. It is real. I get 60 minutes with my daughter in the morning. I do not want to start out my day with soul-crushing rule enforcement not even of my own heart. If a bottle makes her happy, I say give her the damn bottle.

Lesson learned: Maggie now knows that if she pitches a royal fit, she will win.

Mommy now knows that if Daddy wants to wean Maggie from her bottle, it will have to happen on Saturday and Sunday, while mommy sleeps in, and daddy deals with the horrifying wrath of a 17-month-old scorned and bottle-less.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Happy Belated Birthday Dad

In all the Holiday craziness, I realized I never did a top ten list for my father’s birthday.

I have done a top ten list for everyone in my family on their birthday this year.

It struck me out of nowhere about a week ago that I never put one together for my father. His Birthday is December 17th, and I hope he did not take my omission personally.

SO! Without further Ado:

My very first BELATED top ten list in honor of my father’s birthday:

10. Steve is a walking contradiction in terms. You just can’t put him in a category. His favorite beer is Old Style, but he is also a wine connoisseur. He Loves Bob Seger, but also appreciates opera. He has a low tolerance for crap, and will rant and rave if he can’t find his glasses, but is very calm and focused in a crisis. A fine combination of yin and yang.

9. Steve is funny. He has a well developed sense of humor and can go on a rant like nobody’s business. He has no qualms about calling a government official a “fucking ninny”. He is really quite good at mocking people who deserve to be mocked. His tirades are an endless source of entertainment for the whole family.

8. My dad is a no-fuss kind of a guy. There is just no guesswork with him. You ask him what he wants for his birthday, and he tells you “a Blue crewneck sweatshirt from Old Navy in a size XL. They are $19.99 with a coupon from the paper. Here is the coupon.” My formula for the perfect gift for my father: Clothes that aren’t itchy, or tight around the neck. Works every time. You ask him what he wants for his birthday dinner and he says “hamburgers on the grill and potato chips”. He is so easy to please, it feels like cheating sometimes.

7. On the other hand, you don’t always know what to expect. Like the time years ago when I brought my old boyfriend home to meet my parents for the first time. My father had just gotten back from Karate class. He shook the guy’s hand and then said “pretend like your stabbing me!” The poor guy looked at him, totally baffled, and my father repeated “pretend you’re stabbing me!” My date laughed and with reluctant, nervous enthusiasm, plunged an imaginary dagger into my father’s chest. My dad promptly spun him around and put him in a headlock. Then we left and went to a movie.

6. Steve has done pretty well having raised four girls and no boys. God bless him, he still tries to get one of us interested in watching boxing and car-racing. From the next room, he will shout updates out to whoever is making a sandwich in the kitchen. It’s just not going to happen, but he still tries. There is a lot of smiling and nodding, which he seems to take in stride.

5. My father is a great tipper. In fact, he is very generous in general.

4. Back to the contradiction thing, one year he got all my mother’s Chirstmas presents at Walgreen’s. The next year he got her expensive perfume and jewelry. You really never know what you are going to get with this man. He really is like a box of chocolates.

3. He used to play a game with us at the dinner table. When all four girls were nearly done with their dinner, and after Molly had spilled her milk (like she did at damn near every meal we sat down to), he would bellow “Who wants……..Banana Cream pie?” and we would flail excitedly, and scream

“We do! We do!”

Then he would reply “Too Bad!”

“Who wants chocolate pudding?”

“We do! We do!

“Too bad!”

And then we would laugh our heads off. You know, we never did get any dessert. But we all thought it was great fun. We were really quite stupid.

2. He is the Cliff Claven of the animal world. He is fascinated by wildlife, and will call me at home after returning from the cabin to tell me about the trumpeter swans and the burgeoning Wolf population, and the local gossip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. You take it all with a grain of salt, because the man has been known to embellish a story. But he can tell a story and spout off fun facts like no one’s business. I love when he calls just to tell me that stuff.

1. My father is secretly a very sensitive man. I know he is proud of all of his daughters, and he loves to hang out and have a good time with his family. The moment you walk in the door, he is usually offering a glass of wine or a beer, and telling you about the latest neighborhood scandal. He has a great way of letting you know he cares without necessarily saying it outright. That would be too awkward. But he manages to let us all know, nonetheless.

Happy birthday Dad.

Monday, February 06, 2006



I got tagged by the lovely Mainely Madge

So heres a meme for youyou:

4 Things

4 Jobs I’ve had:

I ran a latch-key program for my sisters out of my parents home non-grata.
I worked as a sales clerk at a hardware store.
I worked for the Minneapolis Dept. Of housing inspections with a disproportionate amount of drug-addled women in abusive relationships. Oh and my manager had facial hair which she shaved, but sadly, not often enough. I Was LET GO.
I waited tables in a college bar for 4 years.

4 Movies I Could and Do Watch Over and Over (and quote and quote and quote):

The Sound Of Music
Waiting for Guffman (I hate your ass face!)
Sense and Sensibility (same as Madge but for a different reason. The part where Emma Thompson bursts into tears makes me weep like a little baby every time)
Welcome to the Dollhouse, because I am convinced that Dawn Wiener's character is based on my adolescent years.

4 Places I have lived:

In an overcrowded room in my sorority house. I later realized how lame my sorority actually was.
Uptown Minneapolis in a great Urban Apartment
A tiny attic Apartment that was the catalyst for a major breakup.
A tiny hovel of an apartment on Lake Harriet owned by a slum Lord and previously occupied by a very dark, hairy, sanitarily challenged man.

4 TV Shows I Love:

The Sopranos
Little House on the Prairie
Law and Order
Sex and the City

4 Favorite Books:

A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
East of Eden, Steinbeck
Me Talk Pretty One Day (or anything by David Sedaris)
The Color Purple, Alice Walker

4 Places I Have Vacationed:

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Puerta Vallarta Mexico,
France & England (in one trip)

4 Websites I Read Everyday:


4 Favorite Foods:

McDonalds French Fries
A Nice piece of steak
Caprese Salad with fresh mozzarella

4 People I’m Tagging:
Mary T

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Lake Turnover

I didn’t realize the magnitude of the infernal funk I have been in until I went for a walk today. The sun was shining, the snow was melting, and I walked without mittens or a hat for the first time in ages. The light felt warm and divine on my sun-starved face. I thought to myself “so THIS is what it’s like outside. I nearly forgot. And it’s been out here all this time.”

It seems like ages ago when I was not under house arrest. When I could put Maggie in the baby jogger when I got home from work and take a tour of the neighborhood before dinner. Each morning brought with it a number of choices, all of them pleasant. Do we go for a walk to the park first, and then the pool? Do I garden while Maggie naps? Should we eat dinner outside on the patio? Stroll around the neighborhood? Things are so much easier. Emotionally, I just weigh less in the summer.

For the last 3 months my choices have been much more limited, and much less appealing. Do we watch Sesame Street again? Am I turning her brain to mush? Is it lunchtime yet? Should we go to Target? Can I run on the treadmill in the basement during her nap? Can a person die from Seasonal Affect Disorder? YUCK.

I find myself wanting to change everything. Change careers, take singing lessons, start my own Cable Access television show. Re-vamp my life.

I started to think of a time 5 years ago. February, 2001. I was living with my old boyfriend in a tiny attic apartment. We had been dating for 3 years. I was impatient. I wanted to move forward, but I was terrified to admit it, even to myself. He and I didn’t talk about things like that. I floundered and he detached. I started questioning and he grew increasingly remote. I wanted to buy a house, he waffled. I wanted to get a dog, he said no way. He thought it was cute, his little girlfriend, wanting a dog. And he said no. I felt patronized and small and misunderstood. It was as though he was deaf, or he didn’t care, or both. I started to wonder if we were better at being friends than we were at being in a relationship.

His family, who I adored, planned a fancy dinner out. It was decided that the event was to be family only. I wasn’t family. I wasn’t invited. And I was crushed. I refused to admit it to him, but I was devastated.

The night they had dinner without me at the best Steakhouse in Minneapolis was the night I went to a friend’s house, drank too much wine, and kissed my husband. We stayed up talking until 5 a.m. in the morning. We slept in the same bed that night, fully clothed, mind you. I awoke, feeling groggy and hungover. I was smiling.

The next night, my old boyfriend and I went to Orchestra Hall. He felt guilty for leaving me out of the party the night before. He was afraid I was angry. We went to the show, and I thought about the previous night. How I felt kissing Jim. I felt small, and safe, and desired. I went over and over the previous night in my mind. Sitting next to my boyfriend, I was nauseated. I had sickening shame in the pit of my stomach. I was cold with guilt. We went out for a burger afterwards, and I tried to eat. It felt as though I was trying to swallow sawdust. I played sick, and we went home early. Everything was wrong.

A week later, I made Valentines Dinner for us. He criticized me for the time and energy I spent making a decadent cake, complete with a dark chocolate mold and long-stem strawberries. I cut my knuckle badly grating Gruyere cheese for the endive gratin. I made filet of beef tenderloin. We sat at our little table in our attic apartment and ate.

After dinner, we walked down the street for a beer. On the way home, I told him how I felt. I told him again that I was afraid that we were meant to be friends. That we wouldn’t work as a couple. I hoped that upon hearing my concerns, he would show me the glimmer of passion I desperately needed to see. That he would fight for me. He didn’t. He said he wondered too sometimes, if we were better as friends, and he shrugged. We went to bed.

I took the cake to work the next day, and a male coworker jokingly asked me to marry him.

I moved out 6 weeks later. Spring came, and the sun returned and brought warm weather with it.

I quit my job. I got a new apartment. I got a new job. I started seeing Jim. I tried not to look back. I have not spoken to my old boyfriend since that spring.

I ran away from my old life and I started a new one. Just like that.

They say a lake “turns over” every year in the springtime. It flip-flops completely. What was on the bottom moves to the top, and the top sinks to the bottom.

I wonder if it has to be so all-encompassing.

It’s springtime again. I feel compelled to make a change. But this time I pause and think. What it is that I really want? What are my instincts telling me? What am I running away from? What monster is chasing me? If I don’t muster up the courage to turn around and face it, that very same monster will be forever two steps behind me. I need to stare it down.

I am different now. I am a mother. I have roots. I think of the phrase “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”. This time, I will start small.

It’s springtime. Time to clean house. NOT time to pack up and move to a new one altogether. That was the old me. This is the new. Here I am, washcloth in hand, looking for a place to start.