Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The little green butterfly is a'coming

My dear primary care physician is prescribing Lunesta for me. I'm thrilled. Perhaps it is because I haven't slept in 48 hours and I don't have an infant screaming at my tit. Perhaps it is because when I don't sleep my heart gets terribly congested and I end up not being able to breathe because I'm coughing too much. Perhaps it's because I'm hallucinating and I can't regulate my blood sugar anymore. I don't give a shit why, I just want the drugs. Unfortunately, I can't get them until Friday, but you bet your ass I'll be at my pharmacy bright and early begging for the damn pills.

They better work because I'm about to go off the deep end from lack of sleep. The Boy has declared that I've become nocturnal and he's right. But even worse, he's now worried that I'm going into hibernation soon. I wish. A nice warm cozy cave sounds pretty good about now. So does 3 months of sleep. If only I could get cable and ondemand in a cave, I'd be fine.

Every muscle in my body aches because I can't sleep. My head is about to explode from lack of sleep. How do I survive two more days of this? Anyone want to come over and read Pride and Prejudice to me while I cough up a lung?
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My Ipod Mini is Dead

I love my mini, but it's first generation and it's old. Got it when they first came out and I wasn't on poverty's doorstep, and I've used it pretty much constantly, especially when I'm waiting in doctor's offices and in the hospital. I've got a wicked playlist that was started back when Napster was free and I spent hours and hours downloading pretty much everything I've ever wanted but was too cheap to buy.

Now the mini isn't perfect. Or maybe it's that I'm not prefect, because those damn earbud headphones do not fit in my tiny ears. The only part of my body than can honestly be called tiny are my ears. Dainty, petite, and perfectly formed, but they do not hold an earbud type headphone. The damn things pop out constantly because I can't get them all the way in, especially on my right hear, which evidentally is even more petite than the left. Who would have ever known about my asymetry unless they invented earbuds.

So, now I'm stuck with my little silver mini. Oh, it still plays, sort of. But you have to hold down the wheel in just the right place and then it starts skipping and pausing and it's just not worth the effort. I'm afraid to take it to the Apple store in town because I know I'm going to end up with some high priced color screen that plays video, etc. You see, I'm an electronics whore. I love having nanotechnology in my hands, even if they break and I can't pay for them initially, never mind replace them when they malfunction.

Plus, I've never heard of anyone getting their Ipod Mini repaired. I've heard about plenty of people who replaced them, but does Apple even repair them? Is it worth it to ask?

This is the year of small appliance hell. Ok, it's better than a few years back when I was in large appliance hell and had to replace the washer, dryer, and fridge all in one year. That sucked. But this month I've killed my Ipod, my huge countertop oven that I use all the time instead of heating up the big over (see, I am concerned about energy conservation as I use all my appliances), and my blender. My Cuisinart, which is at least 25 years old, is on it's way out, too. I've already replaced my kitchenaid mixer once, and the one I have is broken, but still usable. You just have to turn it off by unplugging it because the sliding knob that controls the speed won't go into the off position. I only recently replaced my microwave with a new one found on craigslist, one I actually like better than the old one. Plus, my new gas dryer was a freebie on craigslist and it's a top of the line only 2 years old! I actually gave away my electric dryer in exchange, although I should have tried to see it, in hindsight. One good turn deserves another, right?

I need to rob a bank. I promise I won't use the name Ronald McDonald as my non de plume, like that moron bank robber did recently. He's going to make it into the Darwin Awards, I can just feel it.

Oh, and I've updated my wishlist appropriately. :-)
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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Wish list

I stayed up the entire night last night working on the family wish list. This wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. We're talking about three very different personalities with very different wants. Me, I'm only interested in books and stuff we need for the kitchen. The rest of the stuff is for the kids. We've had three full years of piss poor Chanukas, where the kids get little to nothing from me, and only a couple of items from other people. It stinks. All around them their friends are piled high with presents for the holiday season, and even if I don't buy into the whole Chanukah equals the Jewish Christmas crap, and believe me, I don't, I can't buy my kids even the things they need, never mind extras like games and toys. I'm so fricking tired of being po. It just sucks so much. And I'm even more tired of saying "no" when they aren't asking for the moon, they're asking for stuff like shoes and coats. Last month I caught up on the shoes and boots, and hopefully we're all set for a few months. We're OK on coats as well, thanks to a secret donor that bought the Girl a coat I could ill afford and would never have bought anyhow. White. A white coat. WTF? But the Girl loves it.

Man, I gotta go to bed.

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When truth is too raw

I've been thinking about how much I want to reveal about myself on this blog. I tell quite a bit, but there are things that I hold back, or allude to in very vague terms so that only people who know us in real life understand what I'm really talking about. Much of what I hold back is private information regarding my children. My feeling is that as they get older, so much of what goes on in their lives is becoming very personal and private to them, and they would not like me sharing it with the world at large. They get a huge kick out of googling themselves and reading all the posts about when they were babies, but it bothers them a bit when their friends google them and read the funny things they said at age 2 or 3.

I don't blame them. Had I known that DejaNews and now Google would have archived Usenet postings, I think I would have been a lot more careful about what I was sharing, but back then the internet was a small place where you only had an account if you worked in the computer industry or were in the sciences. Most everyone was an academic and the discussions were so very different than they are now on those moronic parenting sites like iVillage. When AOL invaded Usenet and it sank to levels lower than it had ever been before, parents who posted for years started to pull back and stop posting such personal information. By the time the second invasion, WebTV, arrived, many of us quit Usenet and went to private mailing lists in order to keep discussing at the level we had during the heyday of Usenet.

With the advent of blogging, again intelligent parenting could be discussed and you could vocalize about pretty much anything that crossed your mind. In a way, blogging is quite similar to the old Usenet except it doesn't have threaded discussions, but rather comments. I wish that commenting could be threaded, so bloggers can respond to particular commenters directly, but that's another post.

Back to the personal stuff. One of the things that bothers me about some of the blogs I read is that nobody really knows yet whether or not there is going to be some company like DejaNews that comes up with a way to archive blogs. Will our words all be around for generations to read? Will the rantings about the in-laws be discovered by the people we most don't want to read our blogs? We really don't know, do we?

Another thing about "mommyblogging" is that some bloggers use their blogs as a mouthpiece for adoration and don't consider that outsiders read their blogs and aren't up to the 'incrowd' chatter. I hate going to a new blog and not knowing who is being written about or what the hell the blogger is talking about. People want newcomers to discover their blogs, but they blog about their friends and family and add a lot of very personal information with no regard to privacy issues. That drives me bonkers.

But, on the other hand, these folks are just talking about their lives and are not even thinking about the exclusivity of who they discuss. This is something I've been pondering a lot because I've got friends that are going through some really tough times and I just don't feel like I can blog about them, even though their stuff directly affects my mood. I'm terribly sad right now, thinking a lot about a friend whose marriage is splitting up. I've cried a lot about it, the circumstances are ugly, and yet I can't share this with my readers. I've mentioned a bit about a friend of mine who has breast cancer while her husband has colon cancer, but I can't share how devistating this is for me, and how worried I am about her children. Because both of these things are happening at the same time as my medical issues and upcoming surgery (no date yet), I've been very weepy and depressed. It's all too much to bear at times and since blogging is my emotional outlet, it's difficult for me to be so sad and not be able to explain why.

If I've sounded fairly humorless these days, please understand that I'm burdened with a lot right now, at a time of the year that is extremely difficult for me even in the best of times, and due to our financial situation, it all is just overwhelmingly depressing right now. It doesn't mean that I won't bounce back, I always do. But in the meantime, please be kind to your friends who are hurting right now. We all need extra hugs at times.
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Monday, November 28, 2005

Why I don't hate the Xbox

I know I'm supposed to say that video games are evil and should never be allowed in the house. I know I'm supposed to hate the fact that both of my kids like playing with the Xbox. But you know what? My kids are playing with it right now in the room next to me, and they're having the time of their lives. They're playing with such spirit, just like kids are supposed to be. They're playing SSX3, a snowboarding game that the Boy bought out of his birthday money. He also bought the Xbox himself, as I am one of those parents who refused to buy one. I was wrong, kids can have a lot of fun playing perfectly normal non-violent games. I was wrong because they do use their imaginations and they do learn from their Xbox games. Today, the Boy was showing me that he discovered on MVP Baseball 2005 he can change the stadiums to old time stadiums like the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field. He went through all the old time stadiums learning where they were and what they looked like. History! The Girl likes to look at all the antique uniforms. Design! They both like to buy extras for their snowboard characters. Merchandising!

Much of the time, my kids bicker and fight. They are very different people and they have very different likes and dislikes. Some of their fighting is normal sibling stuff, and some of it is twin stuff, which is more intense and a bit scarier for others outside the family to observe. They're had their moments when they hit and kick and trip each other. They can fight to the death if they were allowed to, which they are not. Mealtime can either be enjoyable or a battleground. I never know when they're going to start attacking each other verbally or physically. Raising expressive teens is a good thing, because I know for a fact that they stand up for themselves and they are not at all afraid to challange authority. They are individuals who comform on some levels and are totally nonconformist on other levels. They are both loyal to their friends and don't tolerate two-faced behavior. Both of them are very aware of the dangers of being a teen, and are careful to steer clear of trouble. They both learned this the hard way. In fact, they learned it the very hard way, because I'm not afraid of tough love and I'm not afraid of saying that I need help when I feel overwhelmed by their behavior.

I mention all this because when I see them spending an hour together laughing and having a really fun time, so fun that I have to remind them over and over to keep it down to a dull roar, I can't say that what they're doing is wrong and bad. They need to unwind in the afternoons when they come home from school, just as we adults need to wind down after work. Instead of pouring themselves a beer or a glass of wine, they play on the Xbox. They make funny jokes, they tease each other, they fight over the controllers, and they yell stuff like "I can't play with someone that is sucking, it's very unhealthy for me" (guess who?). They totally crack me up and I so much love watching them play together. It's one of those warm parenting moments we all long for, and if it comes with the price of an Xbox, than so be it.

Now, who wants to buy us the Xbox 360 for Chanukah?
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I'm a'sulking

I just wrote this huge long post and frigging blogger froze. I know, I know, it's free and I should be thrilled that it works at all, but hell, Google owns this company and they should ensure that it works flawlessly, just as Google itself does. I know it's not as pathetic as typepad, and you pay for that service, but there are those times when I just want to tear my hair out.

I don't think I can recraft the post tonight, I'm too annoyed and too tired, but maybe tomorrow I'll rewrite it because it was fun. In the meantime, save save save!
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Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Photo Meme

Tagged via Aginoth, here is a Google photo meme attempt. The assignment is to find and post the first Google image for each of the following 7 questions:

  1. The name of the town where you were born
  2. The name of the town where you live now
  3. Your name
  4. Your grandmother's name (pick one)
  5. Your favorite food
  6. Your favorite drink
  7. Your favorite smell.
Those are my responses. You have to figure out what each is from the photo. Good luck!

I'm tagging Ellen, Carrie, Belinda, Nita, Pierre, and Carmi.
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Mmmm, I love me some pie

After polishing off the pumpkin pie, and watching the Girl eat about half an apple pie for breakfast this morning, I thought this little test might be appropriate. What kind of pie are you?

find your inner PIE @ stvlive.com

Funny thing is, Key Lime Pie is my absolute favorite pie. When they started carrying key limes in my Whole Foods, I was ecstatic.
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Friday, November 25, 2005

Funniest Thanksgiving post I've ever read

Tonight I happened upon this blog. The most recent post was a Tom Turkey rant about the secret danger of turkey. It is a must read. I promise you, you'll be laughing your ass off, especially if you find Tom Cruise particularly repulsive. And speaking of TC, did you hear that he bought Katie an ultrasound machine so they can do their own scans at home? These machines range in price from $20K to $200K. Tom said he would donate the machine to a hospital when they're done with it. Just where is St. Scientologist, anyhow? And when did Tom become an expert in radiology and sonograms. Have I missed something?

Here's a sample of "A Thanksgiving PSA" post you'll find on The Pop Eye.

I've never agreed with eating turkey, ever. Before I was a Scientologist I never agreed with eating turkey. And when I started studying the history of Thanksgiving, I understood more and more why I didn't believe in eating turkey.

You have to understand this. Here we are today where I talk out against drugs and psychiatric abuses of people, okay, against their will, of drugging children with them not knowing the effects of these drugs. Do you know what Tryptophan is? Do you know? Do you know now that Tryptophan is a street drug? Turkeys are being bought off of supermarket shelves every day. Do you understand that?

People. People...people...people. People! People. Here's the problem, people. You don't know the history of Thanksgiving. I do. All this tradition of turkey eating, saying it's giving thanks, it's all just masking the problem. If you understand the history of it, it masks the problem. That's what it does. That's all it does. There is no such thing as food that makes you tired. Food shouldn't make you pass out. This tryptophan, this is a mind-altering drug. This is dangerous. And the problem with the media and the Charlie Brown specials and all of that is that there's misinformation, okay? No one understands the history of Thanksgiving. No one understands the history of this turkey drug.....

Read more here.
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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Report

The Boy gained 2.5 lbs eating just the dinner. We haven't touched the desserts yet. The boy likes to weigh himself before and after the meal, just to see how much he can pack away in one sitting. Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday by far, and there isn't a food on the table he won't eat. He wolfs down really huge amounts of both turkey and sweet potatos. He has seconds, sometimes even thirds. Usually, in the middle of any big meal he'll get up, go into the kitchen, belch really loudly, and then come back with renewed interest after clearing more space in his stomach. Lovely.

Update: After 3 slices of pie he gained another 1.5 lbs, making his all time weight gain in one meal, a total of 4 lbs in all. He's so proud. Let me just mention that his total weight tonight brought him up to a whopping 110 lbs at 5'5". Kid can eat anything and remain skinny. I hate him.

Update #2: He's eating MORE. He's plowing through sweet potatos right now. How can one person fit in so much food?

Worthless Pet jumped up on the empty chair at the table, looking like a disembodied head floating in space. I caved and gave him some turkey in a small bowl, which he too wolfed down. He couldn't believe his good luck, as usually he's shooed away from the table. Heck, it's a holiday for him, too.

The Girl complained bitterly about how starving she was for hours before the big meal, and then picked at her food. She only ate turkey, sweet potatos, and cranberry sauce. She won't touch stuffing and didn't want a green veggie.

I ate everything on my plate and then some. I'm tired but happy and later we'll eat the pies and drink tea. Another delicious meal, another stress free holiday, and another peaceful evening. Holidays are so much better without relatives around.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Mailman Suffers

Me: My name is Margalit and I am a catalog whore.

You: Hello Margalit.

Me: It started innocently enough as a kid rifling through my mom's catalogs. Back then there weren't a lot of them, but she got the usual Hammacher Schlemmer, Needless Markup, Harry and David, Lilly Vernon, etc. I enjoyed them, especially circling the items I wanted, knowing I would never get any of them. But a kid can dream, huh?

You: Murmering agreement and nodding heads.

Me: A few years ago I started getting a ton of catalogs. I don't even know why, because I rarely order from catalogs, preferring online ordering. But they kept coming and coming, and one day I realized that I was addicted. I would sieze the mail from my overburdened mailman and shift through it looking at all the glossy catalogs with breathlessness. I couldn't wait to dig in. After bit I realized that I had several favorite catalogs. You know, the ones that are so exciting that you just sit down and read them cover to cover no matter what else you have to do.

You: Looking a bit askance, but still nodding in agreement.

Me: When the Chefs Catalog, or Pottery Barn, or Sur la Table catalogs arrive, I just have to look at them immediately. I can't look at them without a pen, because I love to circle them items I want, even though I know even now that I won't be getting that $3000 expresso machine. Sigh.

You: Now looking horrified start gasping.

Me: I used to get a bunch of the kid catalogs, you know, Right Start, and Storybook and Hannah Andersen, but my kids have long outgrown that stuff. Now the Girl is a big fan of the Pottery Barn Teen catalog and the Boy can't wait for the Guitar Center catalog. But me, I'm still a slut for JJill, and any kitchen catalog. I have a few I don't really love, but will leaf through, like LL Bean and Domestications (don't they have the ugliest linens in the world?) but any home decorating catalogs, anything to do with cooking or food, and some clothing catalogs really excite me.

You: Smiling, knowing that it's over.

Me: So what catalogs do you drool over, and which ones go right to recycling?
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Early Release Days

Or, as I refer to them, Bargain Days. Because every single early release day, my kids try to bargain not to attend school. Theoretically I agree with the, early release days are a huge waste of time. But with attendance being watched, it is better for kids to go half a day and get a full day's credit then to run out of absences at the end of the school year. My kids start the bargaining early, usually about a week before the early release day. As we move closer to the date, the ante is raised. The Girl starts in with "We're going to be watching movies all day" which is patently untrue as she has a big science test tomorrow. She isn't missing a test. The Boy claims they are having a party and he doesn't need to attend, but he has a guidance appointment so he's going to school.

The thing is, they go to school on early release days for 3.5 hours. In middle and high school the kids have all their classes for ridiculously short periods of time, like 15 minutes each, so they can offer lunch. They have to offer lunch every day due to the federal lunch program. I don't have an issue with lunch, it's the rest of the early release day that seems silly. I don't get why they can't have 3 classes for full periods and a lunch period. Doesn't that make a bit more sense?

The weird thing about early release days is, they both want to stay after school to hang out. Now, for kids that are begging to miss the school day, why do they want to stay after to hang out? Please explain this to me.
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Monday, November 21, 2005

I'm a Boomtown Rat

I don't like Mondays. I'm not going to shoot the whole world down, but Mondays totally suck. Today was no different. Our garbage disposal, the brand new one that was replaced when our kitchen was redone is as dead as a doornail. Dead, defunct, bit the bullet. A goner. I thought it was maybe clogged on something, but there wasn't anything it couldn't eat, so I pushed the reset button, and still not a sound. Then I went down to the breaker box and reset every breaker in the house (we just rewired and I have no clue as to which goes to what), hoping to hear even a tiny whir. Nope, nada. So there is no electricity going to the disposal, which means, of course, that it has ground it's last leftover. So convenient when cooking is a must, eh?

I left a message with our plumber, but he's "off for the week". Can you believe it? I asked a neighbor to come look at it, but he said he knew nothing. And of course, I have absolutely no money to repair the damn thing right now, never mind buy a replacement. This wasn't a really expensive one, but it lasted all of 6 months, and so I'm not getting another cheap one if I can help it. Recently I was watching that new This Old House show where they repair stuff in people's homes (oh, I should email them, I'm in the area!) and they showed how disposals work, which I found fascinating. What appears to be our problem, based solely on the knowledge gleaned by a 30-minute TV show on PBS, is that the trap thingy that all the ground up stuff shoots out to is completely clogged. We literally had to bail out the sink tonight and do the dishes in the bathroom sink. Gross, but effective!

I've got that stomach thing again. I might have to swallow my pride and call the doctor. Ugh. I'm totally anti-doctor right now. But I would like to eat something without it passing out of my body 20 minutes later.

The Girl was visited by Aunt Flo for the 3rd time in 2 months, right in the middle of her cycle. She's fit to be tied, and so am I because she is a roaring bitch right now, and I'm ready to lock her in a dog crate in the basement for a couple of days. She better shape up by Thanksgiving.

In entertainment news, Oprah is going to appear on David Letterman on Thursday, Dec. 1. This is a TIVO moment if ever there was one. Her last appearance was in 1989 and she and Dave have a pretty bad relationship. He made fun of her when she was fat, and she has said that she hates him. I don't blame her.

Also, Simon Cowell has said he may not return to American Idol next season. What reason would anyone have to watch the show without Simon?

I've heard that Verizon has made a deal to carry a Lost blurbette on their videophones. Damn, and that of course means a new phone and a new carrier.

Oh yippee. It's almost Tuesday.
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Consider this

Once posted on the Daily Kos, this has recently reached my mailbox and I thought it was worthy of another look, for those that have missed it. I think it's especially relevant right now, as the government discusses the Democratic demands for a Bush timetable for an Iraqi withdrawal of all US troops.

Service in the Armed Forces


* Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
* David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
* Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
* Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in
20th Engineer Brigade.
* Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
* Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
* John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V,Purple
* Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
* Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam. Paraplegic from war injuries. Served in Congress.
* Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53.
* Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
* Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
* Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
* Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars,and Soldier's Medal.
* Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
* Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
* Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
* Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
* Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
* Chuck Robb: Vietnam
* Howell Heflin: Silver Star
* George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
* Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received #311.
* Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
* Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
* John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and AirMedal with 18 Clusters.
* Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.


* Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
* Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
* Tom Delay: did not serve.
* Roy Blunt: did not serve.
* Bill Frist: did not serve.
* Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
* Rick Santorum: did not serve.
* Trent Lott: did not serve.
* John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
* Jeb Bush: did not serve.
* Karl Rove: did not serve.
* Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." (The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.)
* Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
* Vin Weber: did not serve.
* Richard Perle: did not serve.
* Douglas Feith: did not serve.
* Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
* Richard Shelby: did not serve.
* Jon! Kyl: did not serve.
* Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
* Christopher Cox: did not serve.
* Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
* Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
* George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard; failed to show up
* B-1 Bob Dornan: enlisted after fighting was over in Korea.
* Phil Gramm: did not serve.
* John McCain: Vietnam POW, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
* Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
* John M. McHugh: did not serve.
* JC Watts: did not serve.
* Jack Kemp: did not serve. "Knee problem, " although continued in NFL for 8 years as quarterback.
* Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
* Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
* George Pataki: did not serve.
* Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
* John Engler: did not serve.
* Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
* Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base.

Pundits & Preachers

* Sean Hannity: did not serve.
* Rush Limbaugh: did not serve
* Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
* Michael Savage: did not serve.
* George Will: did not serve.
* Chris Matthews: did not serve.
* Paul Gigot: did not serve.
* Bill Bennett: did not serve.
* Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
* John Wayne: did not serve.
* Bill Kristol: did not serve.
* Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
* Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
* Clarence Thomas: did not serve.
* Ralph Reed: did not serve.
* Michael Medved: did not serve.

Now, remind me again, who are the hawks and who are the doves? Something seems a tad bit off balance here, doesn't it?
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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Safe and Sound
My city has once again, for the second year in a row, been named the Safest City in America. You would think this would make me happy, but honestly, I can't believe that they pulled this off two years in a row. Either the data is skewed, someone's lying, or all you other Americans are living in really dangerous situations. I can't figure out which is which, but all I can say is that my city is where the Girl was accosted last year by an attempted kidnapper who followed her from our old house down the street to pick up her pizza slices in a very well-lit part of town. A neighborhood with a Whole Foods, 2 gas stations and a Walgreens on opposing corners, and the pizza place about 40 feet from one of the gas stations.

A city where the police are one step down from SS officers and are well known for being unreasonable. A city where the former police chief made it his business to arrest and prosecute children. Any child who got into any trouble whatsoever, from domestic disputes to petty theft was prosecuted. This was the era of kids and court. Both of my kids ended up going to court during this guy's short but prolific reign of terror.

We have two large malls here with stores like Tiffany's, Barney's, Borders Books, JCrew, Cache, Shreves, and Bloomingdales. Many other smaller specialty stores displaying upscale merchandise and clothing made especially for the size 2 crowd. We don't approve of the overweight here in Richy Rich city. There's plenty of stealing is going on at these malls according to the weekly police blotter that I admit is the first thing I turn to in our free weekly ragsheet. We have a lot of other shopping areas, as our city is made up of 12 distinct villages, most of which have their own little downtown area. My village has unbelievable shopping, the best in the city in my opinion. We have Marshalls, Linens and Things, Filenes Basement, the country's largest bookstore, Newbury Comics, Blockbuster, Lindt Chocolate, and many other stores and restaurants, all in easy walking distance from our home. It's a kids shoplifting paradise out there. They can feast on donuts from Dunkin Donuts, lunch at MickyD's or Papa Ginos, and still have time to pocket jewelery before dark.

We have kids selling drugs in middle schools and kids taking drugs in high schools.

We have one very large and well-known university in our small city. Well known for partying, drinking, and rowdy behavior at football games. We also have several smaller colleges that don't seem to attract a bad crowd, but as with any college town, we have more than our share of drunken apartment dwellers causing havoc. We also host one of the largest (and longest) sporting events in the city, the Boston Marathon, and we are famous for Heartbreak Hill which disects our city in half once a year as exhausted runners by the thousands struggle toclimb that hill.

Not to say that I don't feel safe here, because I do. We rarely lock our doors during the day, and I have forgotten more than once at night. I don't even think of locking my car. Actually I hope somebody will steal the damn thing. But I know people who have been robbed here, and I certainly am aware that we have WAY more than our share of sexual perversion. You see, my city has the distinction of being the home of the Catholic Priest Sex Scandal. Yup, it happened right here in our fair city first. We're so proud! That church is no longer with us, as it was raised a few years ago, but still, this is quite the distinction for the safest city in America. I pray for the rest of you!

Photographs of my city, from top to bottom, right to left:

City Hall
Public Library
Children's Library Sculptures
City Museum
My Local Starbucks and Pizza Place
Boston College
Charles River and Marriot Hotel
The Boston Marathon
Centre "T" (subway) station

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Cooking commences

I started cooking for Thanksgiving. Gulp. I'm one of those people who just can't leave it all to the last minute, no matter how much we have on the menu. I tend to start the weekend before with the cranberry sauces because they can be refrigerated for long periods of time. I make both the standard whole berry sauce, and an orange-cranberry relish that's my personal favorite.

Our Thanksgiving menu never changes. This is the Boy's favorite holiday because of the food, and he would be really upset if I tried anything 'gourmet' instead of the old standby's. In accordance with his demands desires we have turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green beans almondine, cranberry sauces, pumpkin pie and apple pie. I make the pies before hand as well, one on Tuesday, another on Wednesday. I'll also bake the sweet potatos and cover them to mash up and back on Thursday. Thankfully I have a very big oven that will fit everything.

My kids love the way I make turkey. I use fresh herbs from our herb garden. I mash the herbs with some olive oil, and then rub under the skin with this mixture. This flavors the turkey meat while allowing the skin to get really crispy. I usually make a bouquet of herbs that I place on either side of the breast, just for looks. I salt and pepper lightly inside the cavity, and then place a sliced lemon in there for aromatics. Smells great and adds a nice flavor to the bird. I don't brine because we use Kosher turkeys and they are already salted and very juicy. They don't need brining.

Standard stuffing, standard pies. Nothing special, but special because it's Thanksgiving. I love to cook for holidays.
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Friday, November 18, 2005

Dysfunctional Family Bingo, Anyone?

I was browsing on the Boston Mommy site, brought to you by the disgusting Boston Herald, the biggest rag north of the New York Post. The site is pretty good and doesn't have any of the Bill O'Reilly cheersquad reporting of it's parent newspaper. Today I note they have a game that I had totally forgotten about, but man, it looks like fun. I can't participate because my family has forgotten that we exist (no big loss there) and we're not having Thanksgiving with the relatives, but I don't want my internetties to miss out on this golden opportunity. It could be a really fun time, and I'm going to play host. I'm going to post the rules here, and you need to make your own card, and then report back when you get a Bingo. The first person to email me that they've gotten a Bingo wins a T'shirt. I promise to pick out something very appropriate.

Here’s how: Dysfunctional Family Bingo.

Five years ago, a Brookline, Massachusetts-based psychologist wrote a column about this ingenious holiday game. In his 2000 essay, and in a follow-up piece a year later, he expounded upon the rules of the game:

You make up faux-Bingo cards, with grids. Five columns, five rows. Twenty-five squares in total. In each box you write a hideous thing that could (or was likely) to occur during a garden variety, dysfunctional family holiday gathering, like Thanksgiving. (Think of a drunk uncle falling down or an elderly relative removing her dentures and putting them on the dinner table next to her lipstick stained wine glass).

You fertively bring your Bingo cards to your respective holiday gatherings. Each time one of the situations written on the Bingo card occurs, you put an “X” through the corresponding box. The first player to fill in five consecutive squares (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) wins and telephones the others to brag that his family is the most screwed up of all.

“We all know that holiday family visits can be stressful, so I adapted this game as a way to make them more endurable, and maybe even fun,” wrote Larry Cohen, the father of this darkly comedic Bingo game.

I’ve decided to commence the First Annual What was I THINKING Dysfunctional Family Bingo Contest, geared toward families with children at home.

We (the readers and I) will come up with items with which to fill our Bingo card. Here are a couple of examples of what I’ll put on the young family-oriented card:

  • Your child accidentally breaks something fragile that a relative insisted should be left out on the coffee table directly at the toddler’s height because it “goes with the room’s décor.” (Think Lenox candy dishes on a glass coffee table.)
  • Grandma tells you that your infant is "spoiled" every time you pick the baby up.
  • You get into a heated “discussion” with a relative over why you or your spouse insists on breastfeeding your baby. (“It’s so primitive,” one relative tsks.)
  • A relative comes over to you while you’re trying to cook something and physically removes the utensil/bowl/pot from your hand while shaking her head.
  • A relative begins a discussion about politics that support right wing ideology and calls you stupid when you disagree.
  • Your child refuses to eat everything on his plate and a relative negatively comments about picky eaters.
  • Someone makes a snide remark about how your children (or your teenager) are dressed.
  • Your spouse disappears somewhere and leaves you marooned with your in-laws in the living room after dinner.

  • Here’s how the What was I THINKING? Dysfunctional Family Bingo Contest will work:
  • There are 25 squares on the Bingo sheet. (That’s five spots per each row horizontally and vertically. If you’re clueless as to how to play Bingo, call an elderly citizen who’s a Bingo aficionado.)
  • I need 25 different potentially obnoxious things that could happen during your family’s Thanksgiving dinner next week. (We’re ditching the free spot in the middle. Ya gotta work for this.)
  • If you want to contribute an item for the Bingo card, post your suggestion in the “comments” section below. If you guys don’t offer up any suggestions, I’ll be forced to come up with my own (which will all be fictional of course, and will bear absolutely no resemblance to any of my personal family gatherings). I reserve the right to decide what goes on the Bingo card.
  • I’ll post the contents of the Bingo card on Monday.
  • If you’re like every red-blooded American family and are anticipating just a tad bit of dysfunction at your Turkey Day dinner, you can play along. Every time one of the incidents occurs, you put an “X” through the item on the Bingo card. When you get five items in a row either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, you win.
  • If you get Bingo, be the first one to post your so-called victory (after all, you will have to live through it to “win”) in the comment section of the last What was I THINKING post, listing the items that caused you to win.)
  • If you’re the first to declare, “Bingo” online, I’ll e-mail you, interview and feature you in a subsequent blog entry and will send you a T'shirt.

    All clear? Any questions? Now let’s get dysfunctional!

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Flashback Friday

This week's theme is remembering a broken bone or an injury you had as a child. Well, I've broken more than my share of bones, but one in particular stands out from all the others in both severity of the injury and severity of the aftermath.

The summer I was turning 10 I was in a very serious car accident less than a mile from my home. My mother was driving, and she's a bit dilusional on a good day, so her claims that she was being run off the road by motorcyclists is dubious at best. However, on June 19th, two days after school was out, my mother and I were heading down Atlantic Ave. heading towards the synagogue where she had something to do, and she ran smack dab into a very large tree. We were in a fairly new Chevy Nova (no go in spanish) without seatbelts. They hadn't been invented back then, I don't think. This was in 1962. I was sitting in the death seat. When she slammed into the tree, I went through the windshield, bounce off the hood of the car, and landed several feet away from the wreck. I don't remember this because I had a serious head injury and have almost no memory of my childhood before this time. Thanks Mom!

I was taken by ambulance to the hospital where it was discovered that I had cracked my skull, broken a few ribs, and had a compound fracture of my right femur. I got 68 stitches in my forehead where my skull was cracked, and then I was placed in a full spica (body) cast. The cast was then cut away on top so my leg could be in traction. It was like that for a full months, all of which I spend in the hospital. At the end of the month they replaced the cast with another spica cast (like the middle one in this illustration) and sent me home to recooperate. Because I was in this full cast, my parents rented a hospital bed and put me downstairs in the dining room, where I remained for months. I spent the whole summer in bed being cranky and miserable and horribly itchy. The only thing I had to wear was my father's boxer shorts. Really attractive!

Back then I guess it never occurred to anyone to give me physical therapy on the working part of my body, so my muscles atrophied all over my body. Dumb move on their part. The highlight of the summer was when my parents carried me out to the station wagon and slid me in back with a bunch of pillows, and took me to the drive-in to see The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming. When we got back home, my neighbor came over to help carry me into the house and he dropped my good leg and I cried for hours because it was so painful. Still no hint that physical therapy might be helpful.

School started and I was left in the dining room. Sometimes friends came over, but mostly I was alone, bored to tears, and miserable. They had a tutor that came a couple of times a week to help me keep up with my classmates but, not surprisingly, I refused to cooperate. The tutor hated me and I hated her. I had the cast replaced a couple of times, meaning I had to be slid into the car, taken to the hospital, and then wheeled around on a gurney. That was a big highlight because each cast change entailed a trip to the OR where they rebroke my leg (I don't know why) and reset it. I was under anesthetic and don't remember anything about that at all.

I was in the dining room for months. I finally got the cast off in late December, and I was unable to walk at all. Not a step, even with crutches. I had to learn how to walk again, and that took several weeks. I was in much pain and really beyond miserable. I was vicious, spoiled, and took out my frustration on everyone around me. Imagine being 10 and confined to a dining room for 6 months. Not fun. After New Years, I went back to school, but was not allowed to do anything for a couple of years. Not ride a bike, not hit the beach, not skateboard or go to gym or pay a game. Nothing. I had to sit in the nurses office whenever there was recess or gym. It sucked so much.

Since that time I've never trusted my mother, nor was ever comfortable driving with her. In fact, I don't like to be a passenger at all, I'd much rather drive myself. I think that this whole escapade made me a demanding person, and I still have remnants of that to this day. I expect more than I should, I think. I also have a lot of empathy for when a kid is hurt because I know first hand what it means to have pain as the most prominent part of my life.
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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Let's talk about teen sloth behavior

Everyone knows that having a toddler or a preschooler means that it's almost impossible to keep your house clean. Brightly colored plastic toys do make a home cheerful, don't they? Nothing like a floor covered in Cheerios and Kix, with spilled juice (watered down, of course) on the coffee table. The table that has rubberized corners so the baby won't crack her head open if she drunkenly careens into it when learning to walk. I do love the look of childproof gates on the top and bottom of stairs, too. It just add that certain something to your decor.

However, at some time you get rid of the gates, the socket plugs, the childproof cabinet locks that never work, and all those Lil Tykes toys. You psych yourself up for a house that looks like humans live in it, adult humans. You put the books back on the bookshelves, you put the CD's back in the racks, the tchatkes back on the shelves and end tables, and you even bravely put decorative objects on the coffee table. You've now got kids who are able to understand that things break and that jumping on the couch is verboten unless you're Tom Cruise on Oprah.

There's that sigh of relief when you actually think, "I can keep the house clean for more than 20 minutes. Life is grand." Yeah, well that's just ignorant thinking because those kids are going to grow a bit more and become.... Teenage Sloths! Yes, it's going to happen. I promise you. One day you're going to wake up and there is going to be the biggest fricking mess in your kitchen you could ever imagine because your teen has decided to bake a cake. Batter all over everything, every utensil left to dry and cake on the counters, not a dish rinsed, never mind washed.

Not daunted, you saunter into their teenage sloth bedrooms and whoa! What happened to the floor. There used to be a floor here, but now there's this interesting carpet that looks suspiciously like every single thing they've worn for the past month. Hmmm... didn't they just clean their rooms on Saturday? Why yes, but that doesn't mean that they have to keep it clean, does it? The mind of the teenage sloth is ever finding new ways to beat the system. So after your attack of the vapors, you decide to head down to the living room and sit in a nice calm space. Maybe watch some Oprah or something. But no... every fleece blanket is on the floor, the Xbox controller wires are all over the place, piles of past homework litter the coffee table where one sloth has cleaned out her binder and just left the remnants for someone else to clean up. There are, count'em, 7 glasses of water half empty scattered around the room. None of them were there last night. The sofa cushions are on the floor, the chair and a half is pushed back against the bookcase, the back massager is sitting on the oriental, there's a plate with a fork hanging out on an end table... and it looks like a cyclone struck this room.

How long have they been home from school? Oh, about 2 hours. Pass me the Xanax.
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LOST Thursday Discussion

Hop on over the Ellen's and join in the discussion we have every Thursday about LOST. I'm a junkie when it comes to that show. I can't get enough of it. I have no clue as to what's going to happen next, but I've got a ton of theories. Read all about them every week at Ellen's.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Unbelievable! Surgery cancelled at 4 p.m today.

I called in for my presurgery phone call after 3:30, as requested, and I find out that they have moved my surgery from 11:30 to 6 am. Meaning I would have to be at the hospital at 4 am Thursday morning. They rescheduled because they have an emergency open heart surgery and it moved all the elective surgeries around. OK. that's find, but it's impossible for a single parent to leave their kids on less than 24 hours notice, never mind the fact that it's a 4 am. I'm not even asleep yet at 4 am usually, which is a plus I guess, but still, how on earth can I just walk out of the house at 4 am, who is going to drive me to the hospital at 4 am, and who is going to make sure that the kids get up and go to school at 4 am? On no notice. Yes, this is the second time they've rescheduled me at the last minute and I haven't been able to make emergency plans, but are they learning for the experience? I think not. I understand the hospital's position, after all a seriously ill patient should take precidence over me, but damn! This just totally sucks.

I had to cancel all my plans, I still haven't reached my friend who would have been keeping the kids overnight, and I'm going to have to go through all this tsuris again in a month or two. I'm just wicked annoyed. Relieved in a way, but annoyed. Everyone at the hospital was nice, but the thing is, they need to understand that I don't have a support system in place that can change plans at the last minute. My friends have their own kids to deal with. Nobody can just drop everything to take me to the hospital when it's convenient for the hospital. It's not realistic.

Anyhow, reserve those prayers for another time, and yes, I so appreciate all the support you internets have shown me. Bless you all.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Churning and Burning, Oh My!

I woke up this morning with that crampy, churning stomach I dread so much. Gastrointestinal stress my ass, this is full-fledged stomach cramping. "I've been struck down by the drizzlin' shits", to quote Ken Kesey. All morning I kept thinking that I needed a long needle like they use in amniocentesis to poke in my abdomin and let all that gas out. My poor torso was like a rock. It looked like I was again expecting twins. I moaned and groaned, but that's no fun when nobody is around to impress. That's one of the sucky things about laying around all day long, you get kinda lonely when you're not feeling up to par. It got so bad that I did the only thing I could think of to do....I did all that paperwork I've been putting off for several weeks. Yes, I'm all caught up on the worst of the paperwork fiasco. Only one thing lost, and I'm getting a copy of it so I can fax it in to the right place. I'm so proud of myself!

The best thing about all this paperwork is, I found out that if that damn outstanding student loan my dear mother didn't ever pay is discharged due to my total and permanent disability, they not only stop dunning my SSDI, but they return all the payments I've paid up to the point when I was permanently disabled. That would be back to January! Back far enough so I can eventually get my car on the road with this unexpected windfall, if I ever get it. Of course they told me that THEY have to declare me permanently disabled. In other words, they don't take social security's word for it, nor my doctor's word, they, the student loan folks, do their own investigation. Not that I don't think I'm going to have much of an issue, since SSDI approved me on my initial application and I didn't even need to hire an attorney, which is highly unusual.

I'm trying hard not to count my chickens... but it sure would be nice to get that money returned to me. It's been so touch and go for so long financially. I'd like to have one month without worrying about how I'm going to pay this bill and that.

Once the paperwork was done, I took a short nap and then the Boy came home and wanted some attention before he sat down for his hour of Xbox. By the time his hour was over, the Girl was home too, and I must say she was so nice to me about feeling poorly. I told the kids that they had to make their own dinner and the Boy offered to make Annies Mac-n-Cheese for them, while the Girl made me some scrambled eggs and toast. Right about dinnertime I got a mean case of the farts, and boy, did that help! Next thing I knew, the Girl started complaining about stomach cramps and she was in the toilet much of the evening. Hopefully, we'll both be better tomorrow, because I don't want to cancel this surgery and I have to be healthy for it.

I'm planning to fart all night long. Aren't you glad you're not me?
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Monday, November 14, 2005

The December Dilemna comes earlier and earlier

It used to be, in the more civilized days of yore, that Christmas revelry was confined to that period between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. You would consume vast amounts of turkey and sit in a stupor watching football games as your family argued around you, and then you'd struggle off the couch, put on your coat and drive across the state to get plenty of rest for..... The Day After Thanksgiving Sales. The biggest shopping day of the year. That day when PETA protests fur purchases by marching around downtown department stores, mall parking lots are completely filled up so that even the handicapped spaces are taken, the day when you sharpen up your credit cards and take on the debt of a small Caribbean nation. We all knew that this time period was hell, but you got through it. As a Jew, I've always stayed completely out of stores except for the grocery, from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. There was little reason for me to shop anyhow, since we're not the kind of Jewish family that makes Chanukah into the "Jewish Christmas". My kids get small Chanukah presents, but nothing like Christmas at all.

As a Jew, I wasn't that happy that an essentially one day holiday took up more than a month on the shopping calendar, but you can't fight city hall on this one. However, Christmas now begins the day after Halloween, and people are already bragging about how their shopping is almost all done, and have planned their holiday down to what they're planning to eat at every meal. Sorry folks, but this is ridiculous. Christmas is a religious holiday that lasts all of 24 hours. Yes, it's a big one on the Christian calendar, but it isn't a secular holiday, it's all about the birth of the Christian version of the Messiah. That gifts are exchanged is a nice practice. We all love gifts, don't we? But to take over an entire culture for 2 full months out of the calendar year for this one 24 hour period is really overdoing it, doncha think? I do understand that this is the retailer's choice, but my feeling is, if you didn't shop for Christmas items until after Thanksgiving, maybe this would all be dialed back.

One year not too long ago, I was in a suburban Filenes the day after Yom Kippur returning something that I had bought the day before Yom Kippur. I believe this was in late September. When I bought the item, the store was completely normal. Two days later, the store was completely overhauled into Santa's Workshop Winter Wonderland. That they decorated the store on Yom Kippur was bad enough, but they did so WEEKS before even Halloween. That's just too ridiculous for words. I found it personally insulting as well.

It's hard to be Jewish this time of year. Fortunately, my family lives in an area where almost half of the population is Jewish and our town doesn't not go overboard at all. Most of the stores barely decorate, and if they do, they're tasteful and not overly Christmassy. You don't hear a lot of Christmas music around here in stores either. I rarely leave my town, especially this time of year. I'm not continually assaulted with the "Merry Christmas!" salutation, it's more like "Happy Holidays" around here. People don't usually ask my kids what they want for Christmas, or what Santa's going to be bringing them. We're pretty sensitive around here, but surrounding us on all sides are hordes of Bostonians who aren't that accomodating. It's better not to leave town but heck, I didn't expect to have to spend months holed up. I want things back to the old days when Christmas started right after Thanksgiving. Isn't that enough time?
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Sometimes I read a blog and I'm amazed at what people reveal about themselves. I like honesty and I appreciate when a writer takes stock of a situation and lets their readers know the pain they're going though. That kind of sharing is what blogging is about, the ability to let people inside your shell, to let readers get to know who you are beyond their monitor. But occasionally people have a tendancy to go a little to far, or give information that I don't feel I want to know. It's not that I'm the arbitor of what's proper netiquette, because I'm not. I certainly have shared more than I should about my kids and myself in the earlier days of the internet. It's that someplace deep down inside me I worry that the information we all put out there might be used against us in the future. I'm not secure in my trust of government and sometimes I wonder if it's smart for bloggers to be talking about illicit activities on such a public forum.

But to be honest, what does shock me are the bloggers that share very personal information about their sex lives. I have to wonder why anyone would want to be so honest as to discuss sexual positions, sexual desires and fantasies, and what kind of vibrators they use for masterbation. I'm not against any of those activities, heaven knows, but I don't think I'm the kind of person that puts that stuff out there in such a public arena, nor am I the kind of person that delights in reading or discussing such personal things online or offline. Maybe it's a generation gap kind of thing. I'm certainly from the generation that invented free love, and I'm not at all ashamed to admit that I went to college classes outdoors and did the topless thing when the sun was shining. I've spent summers in the south of France and went topless on the beach without a care in the world. I'm not a prude. But I have this nagging thing that says, "This is private, a matter between partners" and not for the world at large to know.

I'm in a space where I don't want to know how a blogger trims her pubic hair, or not, and I don't really need to know who has labial piercings and a clit ring. If you do, more power to you, but honestly, do you want your kids to be reading about it on your blog? I've read blogs that have descriptions of their genital piercings in gory detail. Yes, I don't have to read them, and for the most part I don't, but what does bother me is that our kids tend to get older and more interested in following their parents thoughts and feelings on their blogs, and I don't ever want my kids (Hi guys) to be reading this kind of information about me on my blog. If they're interested in the general topic, I'm happy to discuss it at length, but I'm not baring my soul or my private parts for my kids to read about in this blog. Sorry to disappoint you!
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I'm a Writer

Not that this is any surprise to me, as I spent about 18 years as a professional writer, and taught communications at Northeastern University. But those are in the past and now I'm blogging so I figured I might just take a test to determine what kind of blogging personality I am. I'm a writer!

I took the Blogging Personality Quiz at About Web logs and I am...

The Writer
Words captivate me. And, I like to capture words. Blogging enables me to write often. It also provides a place for me to share what I write with a reading public. I can be funny, inspiring, intelligent, cynical, or morbid. It doesn't matter what I write about in my blog. It only matters that I write.

Way cool!

This test was so successful I decided to take a second test called What's the Color of Your Blog Personality. This one wasn't that accurate. The problem was, the choices didn't really describe me or my blog. Or maybe it does and I'm living in an alternate reality. What do you think?

I took the What's the Color of Your Blog Personality? Quiz at About Web logs and...

My Blog Personality's True Color Is...

It's all about bitterness,
pain and envy.
Life sucks! The world is a mess. Of course I'll blog it all the way I want to. And, I'll even blog it better than that other blogger.

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

I won! I really won!

Today, after putting the groceries away, the Girl and I planned to head on over to the Container Store where they were giving gift wrapping and bow making demonstrations. Trying desperately to get into the swing of the upcoming holidays despite my surgery looming large and my financial situation blackening the cloud cover, I though a little class on how to wrap presents might entertain us. The Girl had never been to the container store, but the Boy and I had both assured her many times that she would absolutely love it. To enhance our assurances we recieved a catalog of stocking stuffers from the Container Store and she was coveting many of the items despite the fact that we don't have Hanukkah stockings.

Anyhew... we drove on over and were the first ones lined up for the demonstration. They had us fill out cards for a raffle where the prize was a $25 gift certificate for the store. First they taught us how to wrap a package using invisible seams. Turns out that I'm a fairly good wrapper because I knew most, but not all of the tricks. I learned that once you've wrapped the packages, if you go over the seams and pinch them with your fingernails, they make nice tight corners and the packages look more professionally wrapped. Call me Martha! Then we moved onto bows. I have to admit, I was kind of cheating here, because I worked in a florist shop between college and grad school and I made plenty of bows. But I haven't made any since, so I took up the ribbon eagerly and followed the directions and made myself one hella nasty red bow. It was gorgeous if I do say so myself. The Girl wasn't quite as adept and her bow was sad at best, but she didn't much care because they then introduced us to this totally excellent spiral tubular ribbon stuff that was way cool, and the Girl fell into it and created one wicked bow. We also learned how to make long bows and pointsettia bows, and they gave us a little booklet on bowmaking, just in case we forgot our lessons.

The next step was the drawing, and believe it or not, I actually won! I never win anything. I mean never ever ever. But I won the gift certificate and the Girl and I shopped the entire store deciding on what to buy. We're so damn boring. I picked out an OXO can opener because I don't believe in electric can openers and the two manual ones we have both suck pickles. This one is nice and I think I'm going to love it.

We also picked out two stainless steel over-the-door hooks for certain people's backpacks so they don't end up on the floor. I'm really going to like those. As soon as we got home I hung them up on the hall closet door and had the kids pick up their backpacks off the floor and hang them up. Nice!

I got a Filofax 2006 calendar, week on two pages for my trusty Filofax. And the Girl picked out this funny clear rubber duck that has colored lights that flash inside it. She thought it would flash in water, but it turns out that it flashes in response to body heat. Or at least we think so!

All in all a fun outing.
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Surgery Date and Time

A number of you dear readers have asked me to post the date and time of my upcoming surgery. I'll be checking into the hospital at 9:30 Thursday, Nov. 17th and the surgery will take place at 11:30 that morning. I'd very much appreciate any good thoughts, prayers, incantations, or whatever it is you do to pass along good vibes at that time.
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Need a reason to stay Blue?

Do you get those wonderfully sincere emails from your Red State relatives? You know, the emails filled with offensively right wing and religious dogma that condemn anything that might require thought or compassion, sent from your co-workers and right wing acquaintances you're met through your job? Those folks that assume you must be like-minded because you live in the south or don't have tattoos or body piercings and attend a house or worship? Well, now you can forward this link onto every last one of them, just to see how far that right to free speech can take you in one day.

Before you send it, watch it yourself. But empty your bladder before you do. It's well worth it.
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Saturday, November 12, 2005

No comment.

Need I say more?
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What constitutes a date?

The girl went out this afternoon with a friend. A male friend. I think it's not a boy she's at all interested in, in fact I think he might be the gay friend she was alluding to a week or so back when she talked to me about how different her current school is to her last school. I haven't met this boy, but I've spoken to his mom on the phone, and I've talked to him on the phone as well. So, as usual the plans changed as soon as she left the property, but she has kept in touch all afternoon, even telling me she was in a part of town she's not supposed to be in, but of course, currently forgot that rule. Then, late afternoon she asked if they could go see a movie. That made me extremely uncomfortable. I told her 'no', that I didn't want her to go to the movies alone with a boy. She wanted to know why, and I told her it didn't seem safe to me, especially since her behavior in the not to distant past made me very very suspicious. For once, she didn't even try to talk me out of it, she instead asked if it would be OK if they went in a group. I said that would be OK if I knew who else was going, if I knew at what theatre they would be, and if I knew what film they were seeing and the times of the movies. She called me no fewer than 6 times with arrangements, and until I had all of that information, I was firm in my resolve. But miraculously, she had everything lined up and I said she could go.

I know that this is a time where you have to let go and let your kids have a more independant life. I understand that this is important, that as a parent you have to show that you respect their social lives but have rules that must be followed as well. I get all of the intellectual parts of having a young teen, but the whole thing is just so scary at times. The Girl knows I have serious trust issues with her, and she's rising to every occasion by being honest and trying to stay out of harms way. I believe that she's learned the hard way how to be safe and stay out of trouble. I think I'm more worried about the fact that she's such a follower and will be again led astray by kids with less supervision. I'm hoping that this won't happen, of course, but in the back of my mind I can't breathe until she's home safe. Why is this so hard for me?

She just walked in, and I'm already breathing easier. This is another example of her respecting my rules, and doing what she said she would do. She's growing up and she's not fighting the supervisory rules anymore. With that said, why do I feel like my arm is about to be cut off every time she walks out of the house? Am I always going to feel like this? And what the hell did parents do before there were cell phones? How on earth did they let their kids go out in the dark without being able to contact them immediately?

Honestly, I think I'm going to end up like one of those nutty moms on Dr Phil who follows their kids on dates. Help!
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Friday, November 11, 2005

Flashback Friday--First Smootch

I've never participated in Karen's Flashback Friday before, although I've read plenty of them, but this one had me smiling and thinking back so many frigging years I'm embarassed to admit the number. Let's just say it was before man walked on the moon and leave it at that.

I had a boyfriend who lived in Seattle that was geographically impossible since I lived in Los Angeles. I met said fellow on one of our family's many trips to the Harrison Hotel in Harrison Hot Springs, British Colombia. This is one of those fabulously fancy hotels with kids clubs and restaurants to die for, horseback riding, swimming in one of their many hot springs pools, sailing or canoeing on their lake, etc. It's the Canadian equivalent of the Greenbriar Hotel. My family used to go there pretty much every summer, and we also went one winter, the very winter I met my Seattle love, Michael. He was a year older than I was, and quite urbane and sophisticated for someone 15 years old. Me, I was the Jewish girl from LA who wasn't particularly popular, wasn't particularly talented, and wasn't particularly loved by the boys at my school. I was fairly invisible amongst the other 5000 students at school, and I wasn't all that unhappy about it.

I met Michael and he was different than everyone I had met previously. First, although he was Jewish, he was secular. That was a new thing for me, a kid who attended synagogue regularly and who lived with observant and highly identified Jewish parents. Second, he knew about a lot of winter sports, not something that kids in LA in the 60's were all that cognizant of. Third, he was daring. I never saw his parents the whole time we were at the hotel. Either they ditched him or he ditched them, but they sure weren't hovering over him like SOME parents did. So we had time to explore and hang out by the pools, and even to take a sleigh ride in the snow.

The day before we were supposed to leave there was a tremendous blizzard and everyone was snowed in. Roads were closed, and we all hunkered down and had to entertain ourselves by the fireplaces. Michael and I found a private spot and spent time together talking about family and friends and school. He and I were snuggled up to keep warm and he looked up at me and reached over, grabbed my head and kissed me. It was the first romantic kiss I had ever experienced and..... it sucked. Absolutely nothing on the tingly toes scale. Blech. I was so surprised. I though I'd feel something, but this was just boring and sort of squishy and wet. Kind of disgusting in a way.

I was quite disappointed and thought that perhaps there was something wrong with me that I didn't even like, never mind love, the guy who kissed me first. It took me a long time to get over this, and it made me very self-conscious and unwilling to trust my own instincts about dating and boys. Already a bit awkward, this encounter set me back quite a bit. My parents, who usually never noticed that I was alive, suckered me into attending some Jewish camp thing that following spring. I didn't want to go, but I'm sure some bribary was involved and I reluctantly packed up and trudged onto the bus for a long weekend with a bunch of Jewish high schoolers glad to be heading out of LA into the mountains.

During that weekend I met what I consider to be my first real smootch, Vyto. If I weren't so careful, I'd tell you his last name because it's so wonderful and unusual that I'll never ever forget it. Vyto lived downtown in LA and I lived in the West Valley so we had totally different friends and our lives were very separate. I though he was incredibly interesting, not only for his name, but also because he was foreign, and I didn't meet too many people from eastern Europe aside from the Shoah survivors my parents knew. He wasn't gorgeous in a soap opera manner, but he was interesting looking, different, kind of romantically foreign like someone from a Tolstoy novel. And he was smart. Really really smart. At that time, I was in the throes of negating my intelligence thanks to my parents insistance that I was a moron, my complete lack of interest in high school, and my disrespect of anything reeking of authority, like teachers. I waas really really smart too, but it took someone like Vyto to uncover it behind the walls I put up. He was amazing.

One day I cut school and took the bus into LA and went to his house. He was cutting school too, and we took off in his Karmen Ghia and drove all over town exploring. We went back to his house for a big makeout session and this time it was like whoosh! Kaboom! This was way more like what I had hoped for a few months back. I remember being so excited and so hot that he mistook my excitement for an invitation to go further, and I wasn't then ready for that. That weekend Vyto asked me out on a real date to the planetarium in Griffith Park. We sat in the back in the dark and made out the through the whole program, and after that night I realized that there was nothing wrong with me, and that I could totally get into kissing in a big way. Yum.
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Pat, honey. Did you forget your meds?

My favorite TV evangalist Pat Robertson is at it again. Today he had comments regarding the Dover PA election results. For you not following that story, Dover PA is the town where the school board were sued for introducing the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in biology class. On Tuesday, eight of the nine school board members were swept out of office as the town voted to believe in science and to refuse to allow religious teachings in the classroom. Of course, Pat Robertson didn't like this one bit. This is what he had to say:

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."

"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there," he said.

My question is, if there was a nice big juicy natural disaster that hit the 700 Club's Virginia studios, would Pat get the hint? Would Pat think that maybe God didn't need to be voted out of Virginia, maybe he just hightailed it outta there in disgust.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pre-Surgical Hell

I had an appointment at the hospital for my pre-surgical exam. When they made the appointment they told me that it would take between 1 1/2 to 2 hours long. With that in mind, I made the appointment for 11 am, thinking I'd have plenty of time to get everything done and still be home in time for the kids arrival from school. You do know what's coming, don't you?

So first I forget to make an appointment with the Ride to take me. The Ride is how I get around, but you have to make an appointment 24 hours in advance and the hours are between 8-4. Not particularly convenient. With no Ride, I had to drive. I hate to drive to the hospital. It's quite close, down one busy roadway, and up a city street. Nothing taxing but the traffic sucks at all times. When I got close to the hospital I remembered that they're doing construction in front of the hospital so they've detoured traffic and it's totally snarled and a big mess. I struggle through lanes of SUVs with pissed off drivers screaming into cell phones, and lo and behold, there are two huge fire engines in front of the hospital blocking off the valet parking. Shit. I circle round the fire engines, hang a left into the parking lot driveway and wait. And wait. And wait. The lot is full and I have to wait until cars pull out. I'm getting later and later for the appointment and I don't have a working cell phone. I finally get into the garage and find that all the handicapped spaces are full, but I find a parking space near the door, so all is well.

I elevator it up 3 levels to the main lobby and hightail it over to the cardiology department where they tell me that my doctor isn't going to be in until 1. I say, "no, I have an appointment at 11". The receptionist checks and tells me I have to go to another part of the hospital to the pre-surgical center. Huffing and puffing, I find my way there and check in. The woman who checked me in was so bizarre, too. They send me to the waiting room, and I wait some more. After about 45 minutes I got so tired and annoyed because all the magazines were from last April, that I put my feet up and layed down and fell asleep on a tiny loveseat.

Finally they called me and sent me back to an exam room to wait some more. At 12:30 a nurse came in and asked me a bunch of questions including if I was pregnant. I answered with an resounding "No" and she wanted to know why I was so sure. That's getting a bit personal, I thought. I spoke to her for a while, and then waited and waited for the anestesiologist to show up. Dougie Howser arrived in the guise of Dr Daniel Fagin, and he too wanted to know if I was pregnant. We talked about the surgery, general anesthesia, etc. and then he told me to wait for the EKG and the phlebotomist. Now it's after 1:30 and there is no way I'm going to be home in time for the Boy's arrival from school, so I call the school and tell them to keep him there and I'll pick him up on the way home. Then I called his van driver and told her not to expect him, and the Girl's school to tell her to go home with a friend.

The EKG guy shows up and wires me up. It's alway so weird when a man does this because they have to fiddle with my left boob a lot. He does his thing, the phlebotomist shows up and takes 4 large vials of blood out of me, then sends me to do two urine samples. I go pee, return the samples, and they send me on to get a chest X-Ray. Across the hospital and downstairs I go, and sit in yet another waiting room with no magazines and only a bad soap opera on the TV. Finally they call me in, take the damn shots, and I can go home. It's 3:15 when I leave the hospital, and it cost me $8 in parking fees to spend most of the time waiting.

The surgery is getting more real now. I'm worried about how the kids are handling it. The boy refuses to consider taking any activity the following weekend because he wants to be home with me. He's worried, I can see it.

I'm going to take a nap now.
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