Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An alignment of words

Have you ever had the experience of noticing that you could go forever without hearing a particular word or phrase, and then suddenly, in a span of a day or few days you can't go anywhere or read anything or listen to the radio without hearing that word or phrase all the time?

Schadenfreude. This word has been popping up everywhere lately. Like here and here. Rude Cactus used it a few days ago in his post regarding a new Three Stooges movie being made. With Jim Carey, Benicio Del Torres and SEAN PENN in it. That is an unholy trinity and a bad idea for a movie.

The definition of schadenfreude is "to experience pleasure from another persons' suffering." Like some people wouldn't mind a little schadenfreude with regard to certain AIG executives.

Don't we all love the stories of other people suffering? A little "There but for the grace of God go I" reminder. I think some people like to hear those stories, and others like to be the top dog in telling those stories. You know the person, the one who always has it worse than everyone else. The worst spouse/in law/kids/boss/plumber/childbirth story ever. When I was pregnant I heard the child birth stories all the time. Or the stories about how sleep deprived as a new mom the person was. I try very hard with first time pregnant mom's I know not to go that route. I do have one friend who wanted the down and dirty on how having a C-section would go, so I told her. But only because I was asked. I think everyone should know that your spouse will see your internal organs if he isn't careful to look away.

I have another friend who I was just as honest with regarding how hard being a mom was going to be, because she is one of those people who lives with a serious disassociation disorder - all bad things happen to other people, never to her, until they do. "Why didn't you tell me how hard this would be" she asked me one day. "I did tell you. I told you constantly. You just have this disorder that makes you believe that you will have it better than everyone else." Inevitably she has just as hard a time as everyone else, but to her it is harder for her than everyone else. She likes to live in the extremes. But because she is in denial about reality so much, I wanted to try to give her a reality check every so often. Not that it mattered.

Anyway, I find that the alignment of words or phrases in my life is interesting. I like when it happens. It makes me stop and wonder how connected the world is sometimes.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

You won't find me auditioning for American Idol but...

I am too old to audition for American Idol, of course. And I couldn't care less what Simon Cowell would have to say about things. But I did sing again at Ryles Jazz Cafe this morning with my friend Harvey Finstein and his trio. I did three songs this time, and while the video quality isn't the greatest because of where we were sitting and the lighting, you can at least get an idea of what I was singing and how it went in the video clip I put up here. It is just the last 40 seconds or so of Fly Me To the Moon. It was not as terrifying as the last time, although it was WAY more crowded this time. I walked in and immediatley said "oohhhh nooooo". Lots of deep breathing. That also means you get the benefit of hearing everyone talking around Bob as he filmed. I think if I do this 12 or so more times I will get used to it and can begin working on things like stage presence. I figured out what to do with my hands this time. That helped. I need to ACT more. Put more pizzazz into it. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and improvisation is not one of my strengths. I learn a song and that is the way I sing it. I try to get a little loose with my interpretation, then I begin to forget what I am doing and what the words are and gah I am singing Itsy Bitsy Spider instead of A Train. If I was Bobbie McFarren I might be able to make that into a multimillion dollar show, but I am not. All in all I think it went well. People applauded, one guy said Thank you and I didn't pass out or anything.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Have some crank with a side of hormones followed by a delicious serving of snark

Hi, my name is Crankzilla, and I will be your hostess today. It would be to your advantage to observe the following guidelines, for your own safety.

1. Do not look at me
2. Do not touch me
3. Do not talk to me, but if you have to, make sure I am not in another room, with the water running, with a toddler babbling at me, while you are in a room with the TV on. Because that means no one can hear anything anyone is saying, and the "conversation" will degenerate into a series of "WHAAAAT" being yelled in increasingly hostile tones.
4. Don't cause any noxious odor to waft in my direction

I have entered the zone. The PMS with a dash of perimenopausal zone. OOOO LA LA it is a colorful place to be. If you don't mind being really angry about everything, being annoyed by every.little.thing and when you have to pee, you have to PEE.

If you even THINK the words "are you pregnant" you will be ionized to the point that even cadaver sniffing dogs won't be able to identify your remains. No, this is just regular PMS, on steroids. Or on testosterone, if I understand the mechanics of menopause correctly. Decreasing levels of estrogen, increasing levels of testosterone and hello, have I introduced you to the forest that is growing out of my chin?

I know, I know, how can Bob even stand such hotness. He stands it by going to Maine to visit his mother in the rehab facility. And for those who are new to this conversation, it is not a drug or alcohol rehab facility, but one for those who just had surgery to repair a broken leg and who cannot walk or get out of bed on their own yet.

Work yesterday was a festival for me. They delivered a new copier/printer for our building. That machine lives just outside of my office, and one of the delivery guys used the bathroom, which is on the other side of a small space that is outside of my office where my work study students sit. The bathroom became a toxic wasteland after he used it. The noise they were making putting the machine together, combined with the smell he created in the bathroom nearly caused a homicidal rage in my head. I left the building. I took my boss' dog, who was hanging out with me while her mother was in a meeting, and went home for lunch. Caper the dog LOVES the Bob, and the schnauzers, so it was a treat for her and I could use my own bathroom that was not a toxic waste dump. But it was bereft of toilet paper, which almost sent me back to the homicidal zone. I chose to go upstairs and use that one instead of shooting flesh scorching lasers out of my eyeballs.

This happened to me last month too, and I am thinking I might need to invest in some Valerian or rose hip extract or more wine...which reminds me - in what is probably the smartest act of self preservation Bob has demonstrated yet, I came home to find he had been to Trader Joe's and restocked the supply of 3 Buck Chuck Cabernet. And then left the state. Hopefully by his return Crankzilla will have gone back to her cave for another 28 days, give or take.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A guardian angel for animals

So there I was this morning, on the treadmill, crying my eyes out while reading an article in MORE magazine - which by the way, is really dangerous to do, crying and reading on the treadmill, I don't recommend it.

I was crying because I was reading an article about Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary in Calendonia MS. It is run by Kate McElroy, a 64 year old woman who has spent the last 20 year dedicated to saving all kinds of animals, but particularly big exotic animals, like lions and tigers and cougars. They also have a house for senior domesticated cats, and a variety of dogs as well as some pot bellied pigs on the premises. The website gives a history of some of the animals there and their rescue stories. That is what gets me the most, the rescue stories. I think tigers are among the most amazing animals on the planet. It is astounding to me how cruel people can be to animals. It makes you wonder how they treat the people in their lives. Or how they have been treated themselves that this is what they think is okay to do to another living creature.

I often joke that in my next life I want to come back as my boss' dog. That dog has a GOOD life. She comes to the office everyday, hangs out with the people she loves most in the world (she is under my desk as I type this) and gets long walks on the weekends in the woods. There are people in the world who just know how to treat animals well. Kate and her staff are those kind of people.

You can read more about the sanctuary here, or if you get MORE magazine, check out the March edition. The sanctuary is always in need of donations, which you can do at their website, via PayPal, as a one time or monthly donation. There is also a wish list for the animals. Kate is not a completely healthy individual herself, suffering from renal failure and having to be on dialysis at night. She has dedicated her life to this cause and has reinvented herself in the second half of her life in a way I can only hope to. Finding a cause like this and being able to make it a reality is such an accomplishment.

Check them out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Because he is freaking awesome

I decided to try to get some pictures of Cooper yesterday on our millionth outing to the backyard and the sandbox. He is still not old enough and wise enough to venture into the backyard solo, and be trusted not to walk out onto the pool cover. THAT would be bad. It would support him, it is one of those that is supposed to support an elephant, if I had an elephant that could get through the gate and into my backyard that is. The dogs get out there on it, as evidenced by the dregs of ick that was left behind after the snow melted. But Cooper would likely drown in the three inches of water he would end up in if he went out there. At the very least he would be very cold and sad and would not realize he could walk or crawl back off the cover, requiring one of us to go out there and get him, and then we would all be sad and cold. So we go out to the yard together. So far he seems to get that the pool is off limits. But I am not taking any chances.

Here are some of the shots I took. He is awesome. I got him to look at me finally by asking him to give me a dissertation on what sounds certain animals make. And then he graced me with his professional head shot pose. Seriously, he might have a career.

And this one is for Royce Cutlass. Cooper is applying for a position on the Nova Kane.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

45 degrees is the new 70

This is where my butt is hanging out for the next hour or so until Cooper wakes up from his nap or the sun goes in. It is nice and toasty on my deck and I am going to soak up as much vitamin D as I can. Because it is supposed to be cold and nasty later this week.

I have a problem with deck umbrellas. They keep breaking. We have had two here at this house so far in 3 years. Some how they just break. One of the arms broke in a storm on the first one. An arm broke on the second one at a knot in the wood. This time we are getting an unattractive one that is aluminum. And blocks UV rays. And tilts. I will let you know how that works out. I have been scoping out deals, and found a reasonably priced one at Solutions.com. We shall see.

Rats. I don't think I am getting another hour out of Cooper. I hear him now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Digby and his dads

I was downloading pictures from our camera, and found one or two left over from our honeymoon, which was a little over 3 years ago. We went to this FABULOUS place, spending more on this one vacation than I think either of us has spent on all of our vacations in our entire lives, combined. We went to Caneel Bay which a resort on the island of Saint John.

We were there for a week. We sat on this beach

and saw this view from our room

and saw these guys around the resort

and swam in this water

and met this guy while snorkling.

But possibly the most entertaining part of our honeymoon was Digby and his dads.

We first became aware of the two gay guys and Digby while sitting on the beach. The CGGs came through the trees and arranged themselves on some chairs, one adult sized one for each of them, and one kid sized one for The Doll. The doll was one of those lifelike ones, like the one that danced on those Ally McBeal episodes. At first I thought I would eventually see a child, since the guys were carrying this doll around. But no child appeared. The two guys did stop a woman walking on the beach and asked her to take a picture of them in the surf with the doll. Eventually we began seeing these guys, and the doll, everywhere. We would see them at meals, especially dinner, dressed exactly alike, with the doll, dressed in a little tiny outfit exactly like their own. They would sit the doll on the table, and put a plate in front of it, putting food on it and then one of them would eat the food like the doll ate it. One night we were eating near them, and one of the guys left the table, and the other sat there having an entire conversation with the doll, "feeding" it and then pocketing the mussel shells that were left over from the doll "eating." It was all very surreal. I was facing them, and could barely contain myself. These guys would get bottled water delivered to the table like it was champagne. One day I watched one of them pocket a handful of lemons from the breakfast buffet.

Over the week we saw them often, and finally one night, as we were leaving the computer room (this resort has no TV, telephone or computer access in the rooms) and we came face to face with the CGGs, and one of them was carrying the doll. Up to this point Bob had been preventing me from introducing myself to the guys and getting the full story. "Puuleeeease let me meet the crazy gay guys and find out what the deal with the doll is" I would plead. "Stay away from the crazy gay guys" Bob would say. But as we were leaving the computer room, through a door that only one person at a time could pass, I was face to face with one CGG carrying a doll. A doll dressed in exactly the same clothing as the CGG. The doll even had a tiny doll watch that looked just like the one on the guy. Not even Bob could stop the encounter. "Hellooooo" says me. "Who is your friend" asks me. "Digby" says CGG. "He is dressed exactly like you guys" says me, in a dazzling display of grasping the obvious. "Yes, they are by an Italian designer" says CGG. "He even has a watch exactly like yours" says me. "YES!" says CGG with a big smile. At this point I became aware of a gentle but insistent pushing against my back. BOB. He was PUSHING me out of the room, and away from the CGG and doll. GAH. I bid the two crazy gay guys and Digby (because now we were on a first name basis) good night and went on my way.

We left a day or so later and I was unable to find out anything more. For all I know they were two very wealthy gay guys with nothing better to do than mess with the heads of their fellow vacationers and brought that doll along just for fun. Or they really were crazy, and were treating this doll like a human child. I will never know, but every so often we see a lifelike doll, and both of us will say "DIGBY!" and wonder what has become of him and his crazy gay guy fathers.

And did you notice I figured out how to imbed a link??? Did you, did you, huh, HUH? Thanks Witchypoo!

Update: Now there is a link to my friend Witchypoo. Mea Culpa!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It probably should have been a red flag

A friend of mine planned an 80th birthday party for her father this weekend. He was in his day a jazz musician, playing with Herb Pomeroy's big band and teaching at the Berklee School of Music here in Boston. Part of the celebration included a jazz guitarist they hired to perform at the party.

Talking about the plans with her reminded me of my first wedding. In case you didn't know, The Bob is my second husband, my BEST husband. My first wedding took place in Oregon, where most of my family lives. My parents helped me plan this wedding, including finding the person who would play music during the ceremony.

This will sound odd, and in retrospect, it was, but the person we had play music at our wedding was my mother's barber. My mother worked at a book store in Oregon City at the time, and Dan owned the barber shop in the plaza. He was the only one in the shop who would cut womens' hair, which is how my mother got to know him. He was also a fairly talented jazz guitarist. We were getting married in a small chapel that was a historic landmark, and had very little to offer by way of music. I had this idea that a guitarist, playing "Here comes the Bride" in kind of bossa nova style would be great. And it was. In case you were wondering.

The ceremony was lovely, the music was pretty. A few weeks after the event my mother had some interesting information to share. Turns out Dan had a small cocaine problem. He apparently needed some funds, so in a moment that can only be described as "Poor Judgement Extraordinaire" he did the following:

Robbed a bank. The bank in the same plaza where he had his business, where he was known to the employees. And used as his getaway vehicle...a bicycle. Which at some point in his getaway he decided to abandon, and dump over a bridge into a river. Because NO ONE would notice that.

In retrospect, I probably should have taken this as a red flag, an indication perhaps, that things would not go as hoped or anticipated in my first marriage. Which is why it was my first and not only marriage.

Friday, March 13, 2009

On cry babies and aging parents

I got home today to hear that Bob's mother was in the hospital. She fell down today and broke her leg. She lives in Maine, near her daughter and grown grandchildren so she has people there with her now. Bob will be going up this weekend to check out the situation. She has been having problems with tripping and falling lately. She has been complaining about being in pain in her hips and back, and the doctors had diagnosed the problem as arthritis and spinal stenosis. This accident is awful but not a complete surprise.

She is not the cry baby I am referring to. My child is. He has of late taken to crying when he doesn't get his way. Full on crying, giant tears and hand to his mouth crying. We have become immune to his wiley ways but that doesn't seem to deter him. He actually practices crying in the mirror. I have mentioned this before. He loves to watch himself do things in the mirror, like fall down. The teachers at school have mentioned that he will watch himself cry in the mirror there too. GREAT. THAT is the reputation he needs.

The crying is relatively shortlived because his father and I don't get swayed by it, but it is still rather annoying and slightly embarrassing in public.

However, he does make up for torturing his parents this way by being funny.

Cooper loves to ask for "eyes" when he sees Bob wearing his glasses. So I let him use a pair of glasses that have no lenses in them I have. And he was totally into wearing his hat and sunglasses the other day. He really is a funny kid.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fathers vs. Mothers

This is not a new or remarkable observation, I just happen to find the differences between what happens when Bob is solo parenting vs. when I am solo parenting HILARIOUS.

Last summer I had to visit my parents by myself, so Bob was in charge of Cooper for about 10 days by himself. I came home to find that Cooper refused to fall asleep in his own crib, and definitely refused to fall asleep before 9pm. That was not so hilarious. The other things that I discovered were more entertaining. Like one of my cutting boards (IKEA, $2.99) had been colored on with crayons. I don't know HOW that came about. If I am in charge of Cooper, he not only cannot get into the cupboard where the cutting boards live, but he is never left with crayons unsupervised. So either unsupervised illegal activities were occuring, or Bob ALLOWED my cutting board to be colored on.

A few weekends ago I went out on my own for some reason and came home to find Cooper and Bob playing with the walkie talkies we have. Somehow Cooper saw them and HAD to play with them, so when I walked into the house, they were both in the dining room, with walkie talkies in hand, and Bob was talking into his "Cooper, come in Cooper" and Cooper was turning the knob on his to cause fabulous feedback.

Last night was jazz ensemble rehearsal night, so Bob did pick up from daycare and was in charge, alone, for an hour. I walked in to find Cooper wearing his big puffy winter jacket, and a diaper. Oh, and socks. No pants, no shoes, just a diaper and a puffy jacket.

Part of this is of course that Cooper is way more active and interactive and asserting his own special brand of Cooper-ness. Bob thinks that Cooper does these things just to make Bob look bad when I get home. I think it is funny. I think Bob is a fun dad. This is not to say that I am the unfun parent, but there is always one parent who is the FUN one, the one who lets you eat crazy things for dinner and wear nothing but a puffy jacket and a diaper. And I think Bob is the fun one.

Cooper and I end up doing things like coloring, playing with play dough, stomping in puddles in his new Lightening McQueen rubber boots. It is not to say I am NOT fun, I am just more traditionally fun. Bob takes it to this quirky level. And I am OK with that. Cooper will love and admire his dad for those moments.

But I would like to say right now I would rather not sacrifice anymore of my kitchen utensils to the cause. One day it is an inexpensive cutting board, the next time I will find that something has been mixed in the blender that has hardened beyond the point of being able to clean it out. Some things are NOT TOYS.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

How Bob cracks me up

Driving past a church today, we see a sign, advertising what the sermon will be tomorrow, which says "Words from the cross."

"Ouch" says Bob.

Shortest sermon, ever.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fun Fact Friday

*Another blaze of color to remind us what is in store in the not so distant future as spring creeps closer and closer.

* I am currently avoiding writing up an outline to a presentation I am doing at 11am this morning for the Admissions staff. It is currently 9:17am. Ahem. I should get crackalackin.

* My kid might be headed for a career in music or showbiz or both. He loves Jack's Big Music Show - which by the way is no longer being made...Hello Jim Henson Puppet people. Could you get back to making it again? It is GENIUS. I digress. There is this quartet of muppets called the Schwartzman Quartet. Whenever they are going to come into the club house, they ring the doorbell, and Jack and Mary sing "Whoooo is iiiiit" and they come in and hum one note "Hmmmm" before singing. Recently I discovered if I am in the bathroom with the door closed as I am wont to do, and Cooper knocks, if I sing "Whoooo is it" he will say "Hmmmmm. Tet." Meaning the quartet. It cracks me up every time.

* I have discovered that I went to the same high school as Patricia Heaton, who used to be Ray's wife on Everybody Loves Raymond. She graduated a year or two ahead of when I arrived at high school, so there was no overlap. Her dad was a big wig with the Plain Dealer.

*Another dude I went to HS with was in a semi famous band - Stabbing Westward. I don't think they are together any longer. But Bob knew the band as soon as I said the name. Not my kind of music. Now he is the owner of Sellers Markets, a chain of restaurants in CA that is focused on sustainability and using locally grown produce. Cool.

*I just found another friend on Facebook I haven't talked to in a million years and it is a blast to find Jean again.

*I love my shiny new president and all his positive mojo, but he has come up with a proposal for his budget that will bring wreck and ruin to the student loan industry. Chaos and mayhem will ensue. I truly hope as the budget negotiations continue that sanity will weigh in and the smoke and mirrors will be revealed for what they are, SMOKE AND MIRRORS. Sigh.

Now I really do need to go write that outline. Happy Friday everyone! Tomorrow it is haircuts for Mom and the Coop! We know how to rock the weekend, yes we do.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not much to say...it is snowing...again.

I haven't much to contribute today to the interweb discussions. It is snowing here. There is another 12 inches or so on the ground. I am not going to post more pictures of snow. I am going to post pictures from this summer when we were in Maine and it was warm and sunny and there was fruit on the trees and flowers in the fields. Even if it IS slightly out of focus fruit. Just to remind myself that it will be warm and sunny and fruity and flowery again. Someday.

We have a snowday today, so Cooper and the Bob and I have been enjoying more of each other's company. To say that I.LOVE.NAPTIME is putting it mildly. Understating the fact entirely. It will be over soon. It has been three hours now. So more coffee has been brewed. Winnie the Pooh is cued up on the VCR (it is the only Pooh video we have!!) since that is keeping a certain little someone occupied happily today and we shall weather the weather.

The only other news of note is our driveway has finally been fully repaired. They dug it up a bit more and leveled it and paved it and now it no longer looks like a hastily dug grave is in the middle of it.