Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Life: Always Look On the Bright Side Of....

    



 
This never gets old. 

     Yeah, I've got nothing this week but angst. This is becoming (already a done deal?) a bad habit.

     I'm trying to pack up the house so I can stage it and sell it, all the while thinking I'll never get back into the house market if I let go of this one. I wish I had the money to build one of those Tiny Houses.  ( http://tinyhouseblog.com/ ) and ( http://tinyhouseblog.com/tag/jay-shafer/ ). It's hardly any money at all, to build and furnish one, not much more than one of those purses that NYC fashionable types carry around. Unfortunately, hardly any money is still more money than I've got. I'm not quite at the stealing-an-expensive-purse-and-putting-it-on-ebay stage, not yet. I know we're not supposed to talk about money and/or money troubles, but I think it's pretty obvious where I'm at financially.
     Actually, the Tiny Houses from the Tiny House movement are sweet dollhouses, perfect for one, but speaking for myself, just a little too small. I wish I could build a Little House, which is a NEW new movement, freshly sprung from the Tiny House demand (http://smallhouseswoon.com/surrey-oak-frame-cottage/ ). The tiny ones are too small, happily, the little ones are juuust right.
     The older I get the less inclined I am to waste time cleaning house (I was of the opinion that a clean house = good, a spotless house = waste of time, and you might consider a more fruitful hobby, even before I got sick.) I can, and do embrace yard work quite happily, and normal chores are actually kind of comforting (dishes, laundry, etc), but I no longer get excited about Spring Cleaning or Deep Cleaning or Saturday Cleaning or....you get the idea. I'm also less enchanted with Buying Stuff For The House. I've had to do so much de-junking and de-cluttering over so many moves; I've gotten to the point where it would be easier to remove a tattoo than pry money out of my hands for More Stuff. I didn't set out to become a tightwad, and I'm sure I wouldn't be this extreme if I had more money (more mannerless financial talk, sorry) but the idea of buying random house type Stuff just fills me with dread, because I can see that very same Stuff in a box headed for Goodwill more easily than I can see it on a shelf in my house.
     This is not to say that my humble home is furnished and decorated in a tasteful, grownup way, oh no. My first home was decorated with clearance and garage sale items, but it was absolutely and deliberately decorated. This house, not so much. It is very neo-poverty, a step above Starving Student. I used to put up art, and photos, and paint the walls, and make lampshades that matched duvet covers, but I haven't done that in a while. It just has to be undone when you move. I've got the mentality of a teen who has to make the bed: why make it when you'll just be back under the covers in twelve hours anyway? Not a mature, hardworking ethic, I'm sorry to say. The fact that my home will be better decorated by staging it to sell than it ever was before? Bitter irony.

     I hate that I'm having to sell with no specific direction to another home, or condo, or apartment. I hate the idea of rent disappearing into a landlords pocket, instead of building my own equity. I cannot adequately express how much I love having my own house. It was so hard to break into the housing market, and so gratifying to own our first house. The kids and I adored that little cracker box. We'd wave goodbye and hello when we drove away and back again; for almost a year we kept waving, not caring that we must have seemed overly cutesy and saccharine to others.  Having our own patch of real estate, no matter how small and unremarkable to other people, was a dream come true for us. Being able to decorate however we wanted, to plant whatever we liked, to play music and yell and laugh...it was glorious. It still is.

      You can't buy a house, not even a fixer upper (realtor speak for a meth shack) unless you've got a job, and I don't and the ex doesn't appear to be looking anymore. He's always bounced back from his job losses with bigger and better jobs and paychecks (he was making a ton of money as an executive at this last job) but he seems to have reached some weird, critical stage where he doesn't care about pissing people off or treating people badly, even if it means not getting hired. I always thought it was just me that he hated, but as the years go by, it appears he hates pretty much everyone, and doesn't care enough to hide it and play nice, even if it's only playing nice at work. This scares me, because work is the one thing he has ever truly cared about. He is (was?) ambitious and wants to play with the big boys and girls (the ones who are rich and in charge). Money and job titles are the only thing that matter, he's told me repeatedly (he should have been in finance on Wall Street, those guys are his heroes) but the line of work he's in isn't as accommodating toward people with anti-personal personalities.

     He's at a bad place, hiring wise. He's forty five, and made a big pile of money at his last job, which counts against you in the job hunting market, and he was let go because even though he worked harder and more hours than three people put together, he treated his employees and coworkers badly. There's just no other way to say it. If he'd been a feudal lord in the middle ages, his serfs would have revolted, refused to stand for that level of abuse, even knowing that they faced certain death. He just is Not Nice to other people, and doesn't understand why he has to bother with certain daily social graces. It's naive to assume that other employers and companies haven't heard of him and his behavior by this point.  I suppose he could do consulting, and make quite decent money with that,  but you have to build up with friendly connections and social networking, friendly and social being key.

     I don't want to move from Kansas. I want so badly to have a little home where I can put down roots for the kids, so that they feel like they have a hometown, or at least a home, a place they can grow up and out of, a place to come visit or even move back to, if necessary.  I want them to have the familial and social safety net that I have with my parents and my childhood home; the place where they have to take you in. I don't want to go backward, where we're renting someone else's home, or worse, a scenario where the kids and I end up in the basement of my parents home. A safety net like that is precious, but when that net closes around you,  the knotted rope still quivering from your fall, well. It's the opposite of successfully navigating the Tightrope of Adult Life. You're grateful as hell to be saved, for sure, but the view was better from above.
Websites/reading I liked this week: (they are all quite positive, cheerful, or interesting, and full of 'We CAN do it' type attitude..in other words: not like the above or recent posts by my grumpyass self)

http://www.abowlfulloflemons.net/

http://penelopeloveslists.com/

http://thebrightsideproject.com/

http://fearlessstories.com/

http://signalvnoise.com/posts/3727-finding-your-workbench-muse

 http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2014/mar/14/men-fight-against-everyday-sexism-gender-inequality

 http://ask.metafilter.com/260188/Books-that-allude-to-books-that-do-not-exist


Videos I liked this week: 


A glimpse of teenage life in ancient Rome: 


  
Texting teens (French and Saunders comedy skit):

 


A walk through David Austin's English Rose Garden (I'd play it on mute, it's got terrible music, but jaw droppingly gorgeous antique roses):
 


Music by Hoodlem (Old Friend): Kid Number Two emailed this to me...it's wonderful: 


"I'll fly away" covered by a group of Big Country Stars (the whole concert is worth looking up on youtube, it's one of my favorites. I can't imagine how good it was live, because it's flat amazing even on video): 


Europe's first carbon neutral city: 




Knitting video (how to do a picot bind off; all of iknitwithcatfur's youtube uploads are excellent knitting tutorials...ok it turns out it won't load, here's the link): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JnrWVv0bUI&list=PL4ECE06A97F443049





Books I liked this week:

Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore: 
( http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Demonkeeping-Christopher-Moore/dp/0060735422/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397697010&sr=8-1&keywords=practical+demonkeeping  )

I can only recommend it conditionally. It's not as good as 'Lamb' or the 'BloodSucking Fiends' trilogy. It's funny and weird, the way all of his books are, and I'm glad I read it, but it's not my favorite CM book by long stretch. It is nice, light and lighthearted reading for a stressful time, and even the worst CM book is better than many others. For instance:

Books I despised this week:

On a pale horse by Piers Anthony:
http://www.amazon.com/Pale-Horse-Incarnations-Immortality-Bk/dp/0345338588/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397697175&sr=8-1&keywords=on+a+pale+horse+piers

     Actually, the word despised is too generous. I wish I'd never read it, it was a total waste of time. I can't believe that there are people who adore this book the way I adore, say, Harry Potter. I got the idea to read it off an io9  ( http://io9.com/ ) commenter-generated reading list of all time favorite scifi/fantasy. People, especially guy type people, really love this book, and the series that follows.
     I don't know what the hell they're on about - it's got the worst dialogue I've ever read, LITERALLY EVER (keep in mind I've read a lot of bad scifi/fantasy/and/romance). I cannot believe a caring editor signed off on the dialogue. It's painfully bad. And, AND, the protagonist thinks exactly like he speaks, which means you can't escape the bad dialogue for more than a few sentences. The plot was a little boring, kind of an obvious series set up, but not terrible, and the concept is kind of fun; a guy becomes Death incarnate after a botched suicide attempt and has to figure out his role without any job training. That's fun, right? Of course, right. It's a really good plot idea...I just wish someone would write a book worthy of said plot, because it emphatically is NOT this one.
     He meets a girl in his role of Grim Reaper and sort of falls for her.  I say sort of, because his misogyny colors his every thought and interaction with The Girl, to the point where I couldn't tell if he genuinely liked her or just really needed to get laid and she happened to be the only female in his path and he really mostly resented her for making him want her.
Piers Anthony would have been very at home with the Midcentury Misogynists like Kerouac and Roth. I couldn't believe the book was written in the 80's, the sexist protag's befuddled opinions and interactions with women seemed like helplessly angry anti-hero junk from the fifties or sixties (or from a Men's Rights Activist, MRA, happening on a Reddit near you, on this very date).
     I didn't want to throw the book against a wall, the way I wanted to with Odd Thomas, but holy cow, this book, THIS? is a cherished and classic re-read of so many io9'ers? What am I missing here? Are the Piers Anthony disciples so enamored of the Grim Reaper's gadgets and toys, a la James Bond, that they just don't care about how well or poorly the books are written? I mean, is that it...that this particular Grim Reaper is Agent Double 00, and Old Double 00 Death is so cool that he rises above bad pacing, execrable dialogue, one dimensional characters and relentless sexism?  What? Whaaaaat? Someone tell me...on second thought, no. Nope. Don't tell me. I don't want to know. 

Pictures I liked this week:

(you can click on individual pics to enlarge)

























end; have a good week

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I'm trying to pretend that I'm not so stressed I could FREAK; I'm trying to embrace LIFE as a CHALLENGE and a LEARNING experience, as Oprah would say

     So. The ex, upon whom I and the children are dependent, lost his job. He was worried it would happen, and indeed it did. How can someone so smart be so bad with people? Or rather, I get that some very smart genius types are impatient with us lesser mortals, but surely they can see patterns of destructive behavior, surely they realize that unless they're trust fund babies, they've just got to somehow FAKE a certain level of people awareness, if not actual people skills. How can you think that you can treat everyone around you like they're the slaves and you're the Pharaoh, and not have an inkling that there might be an insurrection around the corner?

     That was the beginning of Feb. The middle was surgery, which was a success and, aside from some lingering healing issues, has helped my neck/shoulder/back pain quite a little bit. I still can't exercise yet, until the incisions are closed properly (some of them came open and got infected, TMI), so I can't accurately gauge my out-and-about pain level, but I'm amazed at how good I feel even right now. I need to finish healing totally, because I have to start packing and get the house staged to put it on the market. I can't even really talk about this at any length. I really thought I was done with moving. I believed it. I planted an extensive garden, with perennials, not annual plants. I let one kid paint their room black and the other kid paint their room bright pink. I didn't actually put up any photos or pictures, or more than a few strategically placed curtains, though. I'm out of habit. Maybe if we'd lived here longer. I need to find a realtor who will be willing to do most of the work and deal with me and my bad attitude. I just can't fake any sort of energetic enthusiasm for moving at this point. I need a compassionate, patient go-getter. Does this exist in realty?

     I also need to get the kids into about five different medical checkups each, and have one myself, and get pelvic surgery before the insurance benefits dry up. Because the only thing that makes moving better (it hardly needs improving, obviously, it's so damn wonderful on its own) is surgery and recovering from said, etc. And then I need to find a job, even though I'm qualified for less than minimum wage and the market here is flooded with smart, bright, shiny young college kids with energy, health, and brains. I'm old enough to know that life is full of valleys and peaks and places in between, but gawdallmighty, I'm weary.

     Nothing but links and photos from here on...I literally can't bring myself to talk about life anymore.

Websites I liked this month:


This was my favorite thing I've read online in a long while:
 The Overprotected Kid (excellent article with photos/description of the coolest playground on earth) : http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/

How a conservative Mormon family did the Christlike thing and chose their son over their ward (people who are unfamiliar with The Church won't get how big of a deal this is):  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/28/wendy-gay-family_n_5042297.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Healthy homemade marshmallows (not sure if they really are all that healthy, but good recipe)  http://thehealthyhoneys.com/healthy-homemade-marshmallows/

What science tells us about the most successful relationships:  http://lifehacker.com/what-research-tells-us-about-the-most-successful-relati-1552386916?utm_source=recirculation&utm_medium=recirculation&utm_campaign=fridayAM

Small house swoon (for those of us charmed by The Tiny House movement, but think they are, realistically, just too small, frankly...these homes are slightly bigger and just marvelous) : http://smallhouseswoon.com/surrey-oak-frame-cottage/

Globaloria (Invent, Build, Share), award winning platform for kids (and others) to learn STEM, coding, game building, and software skills: http://globaloria.org/index.php/games

Study Group (comics by struggling artists) http://studygroupcomics.com/main/

Twenty year old Hunter S. Thompson's life advice on finding your purpose, etc: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/11/04/hunter-s-thomspon-letters-of-note-advice/

You're not going to read this (the Verge), re: link sharing and actual things being actually read (yes, this is a deliberate link, ironic but still good): http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/14/5411934/youre-not-going-to-read-this

Videos I liked this month:

I can't get my favorite discovery to upload here...it's a playlist on youtube of the book of Winnie the Pooh being read by the heavy hitters of English acting (Fry, Dench, Horrocks, etc)...all audio, and finally, Piglet is perfect for the first time ever. I can't get over how much I love this: http://www.youtube.com/user/amadeus9man





Christopher Hitchens on various stuff (I know there are a lot of angry, sexist fan boys in the atheist and logic 'movement' and they are just, well, mostly horrible and intolerable and intolerant ...it's enough to put one off Hitchens, et al, but I still like most of this vid



Time Team Archeology Special: The Real Vikings



Makeup artist Lisa Eldridge on glowing skin and pretty makeup at any age (it helps that the model is gorgeous beyond belief)...still good tips, for any age, esp forty plus.


Five hundred square foot home with loft


Pictures I liked:













end; have a good week

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Mermaid Documentary

Clap your hands if you believe...
     

   I believe in mermaids. Or I did, for a beautiful minute. I have a story about the now infamous mermaid documentary. And, unlike the Animal Planet doc, my story is true. 

      Last year I went to Florida with my kids for an ill planned, last minute trip before school started and we had a nightmare of a time getting there. We missed our first flight, drove back home for ten hours, got stuck in a traffic jam due to an accident on the return trip. I was so stressed about missing the initial flight that I cried the entire way back to the airport the second time around, an atypical reaction from me that made the kids go very quiet and worried. I should have saved my tears for later. We had a terrible time at the airport (waited forever for the transit bus from long term parking to pick us up, like an hour and a half before it showed up, even with repeated calls on the phone in the waiting stall, so that by the time we were through security we barely made it onto the last boarding call, and then, of course, we got stuck on the runway for hours, then a terrible layover (hours instead of minutes due to storms somewhere), a terrible time at the Ft Lauderdale airport (the person who was supposed to pick us up flat out DIDN'T, so we spent hours getting to our destination by train, then by bus (the people and driver on the bus were incredibly kind and helpful; like the type of helpful out of the way kindness where you wish you could somehow give them a plate of cookies wherever they are right now, the type of kind stranger you never forget) and then about an hour walking to the hotel with heavy luggage in freaking August in freaking FL), and terrible time getting settled in our hotel (they couldn't find our paid reservation for an hour, I don't know why). By the time I sat on that hotel bed, I was so tired and anti-vacation. If there had been a sudden (they're never sudden, but still) hurricane alert, I wouldn't have been surprised.

     But my kids had grown up in Florida and missed the ocean something fierce (me too, it must be said) and we agreed we would change into appropriate garb and find a bus to the beach. So. We go back to the sugar sand that they'd grown up on, and it was wonderful. Floating in that warm, clear water was a baptism washing away every hellish detail of the previous twenty four hours. We spent hours swimming and laying out and just being happy. We remembered the old times there and made new memories and it was lovely. We stayed for hours and hours.

     So. The mermaid part:

     By the time we got back to the hotel, I was in that state of exhaustion where you feel you'll never sleep again (where everything seems kind of slow and floaty and underwater...the kind of fatigue that gives you false peace and energy, where you feel you'll solve The Grand Theory of Everything or whatever it's called, if only you just stay awake for a few more hours) but of course the minute my head hit the pillow, I was out cold. When I woke up later, I found a note from my kids saying their father had come by the hotel and taken them out to supper, so I fell asleep again, still covered in saltwater and sand, too tired to shower. I woke up again after a while, saw the kids were still gone, and turned on the tv to wake myself up, because I really wanted to sleep some more, but I needed to check in with the kiddos. 

     The mermaid show was on. It was about halfway through, and I was hypnotized from minute one.  I don't know if it was due to exhaustion, disorientation, or because I was finally a part of the ocean again after years of living landlocked, but the hair on my arms was standing up. Picture me sitting in sandy sheets chanting "I KNEW IT, I KNEW THEY WERE REAL, I DID, I KNEW IT!" A small part of me was all, hmm, those scientists are uniformly good looking and youngish and intense and well spoken. But mostly, at that exact moment it was on, I believed. I KNEW the government had covered up the existence of mermaids, and my poor heart BLED for those hard working, open minded scientists, because MY GAWD WHAT A DISCOVERY! THIS WAS LIKE FINDING OUT THAT THE AVENGERS MOVIE WAS BASED ON A TRUE STORY. A dream come true for those of us who were blessed to live in this age of wonders.

     It must be said that I am usually accused on a daily basis of being a cynical killer of dreams, by my kids and other loving individuals. I'm not usually a godforsaken idjit. Occasionally, sure; we all have an off day...but not on the regular. I try really hard not to be so cynical, but equally, I try not to FREAK OUT until I have a salient grasp of the facts. Except that day.
    Which is why, when my ex showed up with the kids about ten minutes after the show ended, I turned to the person who most in all the world already thinks I'm a precious ass and said "You won't believe it! They've found mermaids, for really real and my gawd, it's so sad, all the scientist's work was destroyed by the government, but more important is the Fact! Of! Mermaids!"

      Which is how I handed my ex a quiver full of flaming arrows and painted a big, red target on my big, sunburned butt. The look on his face when he said "It's fake, it's not a real documentary, look it up, you moron," was....well....you can imagine the look. It's the look on your face right now, you smug bastard. He was dressed in his usual expensive clothes with his Florida native son perma-tan, well fed and rested, with my traitorous children gazing at him adoringly (they can be bought, like any reasonably intelligent child of divorce -  they'd been out for so long because they'd gone to the mall after supper...their love had been bought but GOOD) and I was in a sarong, with sand still sticking to parts of me, the most award winning case of bedhead ever to manifest on this mortal plane, and still not at all genuinely rested or truly awake. I was Off My Game. My rebuttal? "But it's on Animal Planet! It was an actual documentary. They wouldn't lie!" It makes me almost wither away from acute embarrassment just to type out that brilliant comeback, even though it's almost a year later. 

     But for a short, glorious time (even though the mermaid truthers online give me the whim whams every time one of their posts crosses my path) I welcomed my saltwater kin with all of my sand encrusted heart. The sixty minutes I believed were magical. The hour I first believed.  I almost wish you could all feel the way I felt, then. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Waaaah (or The Day Red Lipstick Let Me Down) (just temporarily...I still believe in you, red lipstick, mwah mwah)

Got so much cool she's selling it back to the city grid. When I'm officially old (I'm sure some women's magazine will let me know when that is), I'm getting this exact hat and cigar. Don't know if I can track those shoes down, though. They're word of mouth cool, way too cool for mere mortals like me.
     So I took a bit of time with myself yesterday, before heading out for life wasting soul draining errands. Was feeling downish, generally, not about the storm, just Life In General, so I did the fancy hair, fire red lipstick thing, and felt pretty good when I went out. I didn't go on a date, or to a club, it was only the grocery store, but still, I felt good. Red lipstick does that to me; instant pickup.

I'd finished my obligatory run to the grocery store, all stocked up for the snowstorm, when I realized I'd forgotten eggs. I nominated Kid Number Two to run into the closest still-open store and grab said eggs while I waited at entrance in the car, for minimum time wastage. I was knitting and listening to NPR getting all het up about the storm, but still feeling pretty good about life (witness the power of good red lipstick: Lipstick Queen Red Sinner http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/lipstick-queen-sinner-lipstick/3349094?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=2375500&fashionColor=&resultback=912&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-searchresults-_-1_3_C ) when my daughter slammed into the car, eggs in hand, and said "My God, you look like such a mom right now. I mean, like really, really old," as she turned off NPR and turned on Sweater Weather.

     I tell you, my ego is pretty solid. I mean, as solid as an ego can be as a human being with no current spouse and two abnormally beautiful teenagers. Kind of solid, kind of really not. But still, it's a good thing it's mostly sorta solid, because damn. DAMN.


TV I liked this week: Sherlock Holmes, the PBS one
 (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/sherlock/)


 I didn't like this Sherlock version, when I first saw it a long while ago. I'd loved the old Jeremy Brett one, and this one was just too different. Love the Guy Richie ones, just didn't take to this version for some reason. I eventually succumbed to it, and now I enjoy it. I'm not a Cumberbitch, by any means, although he does a pretty good job. I like this season because John has met and married Mary, and this Mary is terrific (and apparently the actors are really married to each other in real life, too, how cute, etc etc). Mary and John are marvelous together, marvelous separately, just really fun to watch. And Cumberband's Sherlock isn't nearly as cold fishy as he was earlier, so that's all to the good as well.

Books I read this week: (well book, not books): Lost in a good book, Jasper Fforde (http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Good-Book-Thursday-Novel/dp/0142004030)



It's a re-read. Between shoveling fifty feet of snow every two minutes and dealing with genuinely dangerous cold temperatures and bored kids, I went for brainless comfort. His books are always fun, always pander to bibliophiles (in a good way) and endlessly imaginative. He's not as hilarious as Wodehouse, but pretty good nonetheless.

Food I cooked this week:

Circle B's Oven-Roasted Spaghetti and Meatballs (yes, it is good enough to be in all caps):

(http://circle-b-kitchen.squarespace.com/food-and-recipes/2010/11/12/oven-roasted-spaghetti-and-meatballs.html)

It turns out you CAN cook pasta in the actual sauce even without boiling in water first, and it gives the overall pasta a wonderful taste. Circle B's recipe is a solid one; I use it again and again and the kids and I always enjoy it. I do add extra garlic, and a teaspoon of dried fennel seeds, and a skooch of sweet balsamic vinegar, in my version, but that's the thing about this recipe: it stays good throughout a lot of modified tinkering. Here's more about cooking pasta in sauce, not water: http://www.yumsugar.com/How-Cook-Pasta-Tomato-Sauce-18652784

Pictures I liked this week: 














end; have a good week


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cold.

It was three degrees last night. Three. 3. THREE DEGREES. I don’t have anything to share, any perspective or scientifically based wit, I’ll just repeat it till you grasp the fear and loathing I have for Three. Degrees. It’s just wrong. WRONG I tell you.
So It’s Christmas time. I guess I should start playing Christmas music, no? Eh, it can wait another week.
I went through quite a little weird stage (this one was no more or less weird than my other weird stages, nonetheless weird in it’s own special way) where I had, what was in hindsight perhaps an obvious reaction to living in Florida and never having seasons other than Hurricane and Thank Goodness We’re Past That Time Of The Year, otherwise known as Hot and Hotter, where I played Christmas music year round. I don’t know if my brainpan melted, I don’t know if I was searching for seasonal distinction, all I know is that for about three years I listened to Christmas music all the months of the year. This is not to say that I listened ONLY to Christmas music, in some nightmarish Walgreens type hellscape loop. I mixed it up with a lot of other stuff. This is not to excuse my behavior, or pretend it was the act of a reasonable person, I’m just clarifying the details. It’s not like I insisted on Ugly Christmas Sweaters at the beach, or kept the Christmas tree up all year. I just had a period of time where I was as likely to put on Burl Ives as Raffi or Bach. I have to tell the truth and say it lasted more than a year.
This Christmas Music glitch happened before the First Time My Body Tried To Leave Before The Show Was Over. Once that little turning point happened, my little house turned, musically speaking, from a home that All The Nine Trillion Parenting Books would approve of, to A House They Most Certainly Would Not Consider Optimal For the Growth Of Those Precious Perfect Magical Baby Brains. It went from Sesame Street to Pearl Jam (apropos of absolutely nothing, but doesn’t Sesame Street sound like the name of a rapper and Pearl Jam sound like the name of a brilliant children’s singer?).
I remember lying in the ER, hooked up to another in an endless series of IV’s, listening to a man next to me screaming about kidney stone pain, and thinking “I’ll be damned if I die without listening to rock again. Enough children’s pap.”  I wasn’t on pain meds when I had this epiphany, oddly enough. Everyone deals with imminent death differently. I’d like to be able to look back and say, yes, that was when I first realized I had a book to write first, a mountain to climb, a dance lesson in which to enroll, a last perfect day with my children….but shamefully, no. I reacted to extreme illness by Taking A Stance Against Wholesome music. This means that there was no normal build up to rock music for my little ones, no Shrek soundtrack type of fun but clean tunes, the kind of musical stepping stone that is the equivalent of middle school.  As if the kids weren’t traumatized enough by those horrible years, they also lost the comfort of familiar music and skipped critical self directed musical exploration, the kind teenagers naturally maneuver through. They skipped middle school and went straight to the second semester of their junior year, musically speaking. Picture this:  two sweet, angel faced children humming along to “I used to know a girl. She had two pierced nipples and a black tattoo, we lived on Mexican beer and Mexican food, I’m happy in hell with my heroin girl,”  while eating their morning oatmeal. Can’t you just FEEL the disapproval from the parenting books section of Amazon right now?
Did it occur to me that the children needed old comfortable things, including music, during what was truly A BadGoddamnedBad Time? I’m ashamed to say it never occurred to me. Understanding a simple fact like that is the first step in a game plan. I didn’t have a game to speak of. I coped the way drowning people cope. You kick your legs and reach out for a hand that isn’t there. Rational thought happened after, not during, at least for me. It’s even more shameful than it seems to an outsider, because the simple fact was I wasn’t listening to Everclear and Pearl Jam as a heroic soundtrack to an inspiring struggle back toward life and the living.  My only thought was for myself. I was worried about dying before ending my self imposed fast of rock music in order to foster A Gentle Loving Home for my little ones. So not only was it selfish in a weirdly stoopid way, it was pointless as well. I’m not saying that listening to a song about raindrops turning into lemondrops would have helped things,  but it’s safe to assume that a catchy little tune about a rich girl doing a guy just to get back at her father might still give the kids the whim-whams for reasons they don’t entirely understand.
It is still so hard to think of those dark days. I can hardly breathe if I let myself think about it. I still cannot bear, literally cannot bear the fact that the kids went through that kind of grinding, terrifying, inexplicable hell. One day we’re reading at the beach in the morning and playing at the park in the afternoon, the next day their mom can’t get out of bed, the day after that she’s in and out of rotation at the ER and they are left to fend for themselves. And it went on for YEARS, not months. I know there are kids out there who have been through much, much worse. Indescribably worse. I know that. But I hurt my kids, scarred them but good. And I did it. The one person in the world who is supposed to keep them safe, to make the house a fortress against the world. It was my fault. Not war mongering politicians, not corrupt police or the brutal poverty of a third world country. Me. It doesn’t matter if you mean to, with kids. What matters is what happens. And what happened is that I didn’t mean to, but I was the one responsible for their sweet sunshiny lives devolving into ones of abandonment and fear. Therapists and doctors don’t get this guilt. Outsiders certainly don’t. The only people who understand the special hell of a chronically ill parent are the ones shackled to that same parent. The only similar setup I can think of is the alcoholic parent and their child. The child fears and resents that parent, but needs to rescue them. It’s the same with the chronically ill parent. My kids are afraid for me, feel compelled to save me. You can almost see their scars, in a certain light. They panic if I fall asleep while we’re watching tv. They congratulate me on a completed errand list they way a parent gushes praise for an aced test with a struggling student. It’s entirely sincere and totally heartbreaking. The sick parent and child are chained to each other like prisoners of war. They can’t escape so they sing songs in the evening when the guards are at supper. Outsiders hear the music and think “How inspiring.” The prisoner thinks “If I can’t leave, at least take the children.”
Like I said, dark days.
Let’s shake this off, shall we?
 TeeVee I watched this week:
 Bob’s Burgers ( http://www.fox.com/bobsburgers/)
I love this show. The family dynamic is charming and unconditionally loving, the writing is smart and the humor is so weird, so wonderful, so funny. My only complaint is that there are only a couple of seasons. I’d like ninety more shows, like yesterday.
 South Park (http://www.southparkstudios.com/I’ve climbed down from the cross today, so I’m not going to ruminate about the type of mother who watches South Park with her kids (teen kids, but still). We’re all three of us stressed, tired, worried, and if watching nothing but South Park re-runs all week is a faulty coping mechanism, at least there’s coping of a sort going on. 
The South Park ‘Winter is Coming’ Game of Thrones parody is a trilogy and it is brilliant. Hey, HBO? When Trey and Matt think there’s entirely too much gratuitous sex and nudity in your show, you might have gone too far. THE GUYS WHO WRITE SOUTH PARK THINK GAME OF THRONES IS A BONEFEST. I’m agog. This is historical, folks. The guys who said they’ve never met a line they wouldn’t cross expressed concerns or at least pointed comedy about the endless, ENDLESS  sex. I have to be honest. I don’t watch Game of Thrones.  I’d LOVE to. It’s got dragons and monsters and barbarians and cool people of both genders doing heroic things and terrible people doing almost hilariously bad things and I can’t watch it because I am sick unto death, yea verily, of gratuitous sex scenes.  I read the first book looong ago, and I liked it very much, but I got  distracted and never followed up. I think I’d rather wait till Martin finishes the series (ha, as if) before endeavoring  to read the rest of the books.  Back to SP: the trilogy is about Black Friday madness, told GoT style, with little Butters making very pointed and irritated comments about Martin’s preoccupation with certain genitals and his inability to deliver on deadline. When South Park and The Daily Show are the voices of reason, we’re officially in uncharted territory.
 Books I read this week: 
King Richard the II, Shakespeare (or WAS it Shakespeare, hmmm?) “Thus play I in one person many people. And none contented: sometimes I am king; Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar, And so I am; then crushing penury. Persuades me I was better when a king.” “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.”
I want to roll around in the words like a puppy in a field. Ooooh those wordy words… Shakespeare wielded his pen like a surgeon with a scalpel, like a Scot with a broadsword. There’s a reason the plays will never die. I just wish we knew more about the person who wrote them. No, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. Although it’s entirely possible, based on the evidence (what we know about Shakespeare is precious little; the little we do know keeps the conspiracies alive, because I can easily see William Shakespeare as an agent/businessman of the real writer, and not the actual writer himself. William S. was a mean spirited, flinty, famously tight fisted miserly businessman. A world where he manages the person writing the poems and plays seems more reasonable to me, than writing them himself. I’m not saying we’ve got proof he didn’t write them, but I’m not saying we’ve got proof that he did, and the scant life facts of WS seem to point to someone who is rather the opposite of a soulful poet. It’s fun to speculate about, at any rate. One of the funnest, coolest mysteries ever, to my way of thinking).
Websites I liked this week: 
Trash to Couture (  http://www.trashtocouture.com/)  This is a sort of sewing, sort of fashion-y blog. She upcycles stuff by recutting old clothes into new designs; all totally do-able. She’s got a nice touch.
TreeHugger.com (http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/5-ways-get-free-seeds-your-garden.html) I am trying to keep a considerable flower garden going on my pitiful budget, so I’ve been looking for cheaper gardening methods. Don’t tell anyone, but I went to some of the city park gardens after the plants started dying in November, and grabbed some seed heads from some frozen flowers. If you’re ever in the business of pilfering deadheads from Black Eyed Susans, wear gloves. I didn’t, and I had to pick little pokey itchy thingies out of my hands for the next two days. I’m not saying this is a totally honorable way of cheap gardening, but my guilt was somewhat assuaged when I saw a gardening crew laying waste to any remaining plants a week later. I thought they’d collect the seeds and grow small plants over the winter to be replanted again in the same area but that didn’t seem to be the situation. I’m going to start winter sowing this week. I meant to do it all last winter, but it didn’t get cold enough for long enough stretches (not. a. problem. right now). I’ve done a lot of reading with winter sowing, but nothing in actual practice, so I’m interested to see if this really works. The advocates are passionate; they claim that winter sowing makes for stronger, healthier plants that have the advantage in development over plants that are sown from seeds in the spring. I fully expect The Lawn Nazi next door to throw a fit when I fill up the back patio with old juice and soda bottles that are filled with dirt. He’s the granddaddy of Lawn Nazis, the Hitler of Old White Men With Nothing To Do But Rule Their Lawn And Yell At Their Neighbors. He is nuts with a capital N. He doesn’t truly believe that my yard is really my yard; he thinks of it as his yard as well. He thinks he gardens, but he doesn’t. He makes nature his bitch. All of his sad little boring plants are fenced in and regimented. I’m certain he practices decimation just to keep the troops in line. My cottage style garden drives him wild. He’s complained repeatedly about my thousand plus zinnias, daisies, echinacea , roses and sunflowers. They’re all ugly weeds, according to him. He’s currently petitioning the city to force me to keep my plastic garbage cans in the garage; he doesn’t like the look of them on the back patio. They stink up the garage, even with recycling and composting, but if he wins, I’m going to have to put them back in the garage. I never knew it was possible to hate someone I didn’t know this much. It’s neverending with him.  I’m not allowed to build a privacy fence or believe me, I’d have Guantanamo Bay style fencing up overnight.
Seanan McGuire: Fifty Thoughts On Writing(http://seananmcguire.com/50thoughts.php)
This next one’s got brilliant dialog, clever plot resolution, it’s got everything:
Lifehacker: How to get a job with no experience, ask for a raise, start freelancing, etc:http://lifehacker.com/5850318/how-to-ask-for-a-raise-start-freelancing-and-get-a-job-when-you-dont-have-prior-experience )
Pictures I liked this week:
il_570xN.529254088_a0oh tumblr_mvjm0yXDDW1qg1ykso1_500 tumblr_muzatpn53O1s1uog8o1_1280 tornado exs tumblr_mtz9lmGofa1qzytuco1_500 tearablepun tumblr_mghvwaWM8Z1qb3v7ho1_500 rubynyc tumblr_mixz6w5WhS1rr6gt0o1_500 tumblr_mp8flkqJEM1raiye3o6_500 tumblr_mu0o5uBlGN1qb30dwo1_500 enhanced-buzz-5892-1369246845-12
end; have a good week