Archive for February, 2008

because i’m a border-line pessimist and a little crazy

February 28, 2008

Almost every time I do something fun and tickley and cuddley and adorable with Jake, my heart stops and I wonder, “did Jeffrey Dahmer’s mom do this stuff? Was he a sweet boy? Did the Unibomber know all his ABC’s when he was one? Did everyone love him when he was two?”.

It’s awful.


this just means that you’re getting old.

February 25, 2008

The best time to go bathing suit shopping is today. Smack in the middle of fat season, directly after a handful of Girl Scout cookies, huge bowl of Pho, and a giant Cafe Sua Da, freezing cold outside, ass and thighs as white and dimply as they will get all year, unshaven, PMS in full rage.

Seriously, check your Farmer’s Almanac. Today is the day.

I got a really cute one-piece at Macy’s but I’m a bit miffed because I can’t find it online. I could probably use a size smaller, and was going to order one online and keep the one that fits best. No luck. Which means that it is probably from last year and it was probably marked half-off a few months ago but now it’s back up to full price.

Macy’s has awesome three-fold mirrors that are tons of fun because you can see if you have that roll that hangs over the bra strap and see what your butt looks like bent over vs. standing up (for me bent over looks much, much better. I swear that going from a standing 180 degrees down to 90 degrees takes like ten years off my assage) and look out for cancery moles or ripe pimples on your back and check if your neck needs shaved and see whether the fact you have on two different earring backs is noticeable to the public. In doing all this, I caught a glimpse of something shiny and sparkley and gorgeous and shimmery on the top of my head. Thinking it was a piece of spandexy thread from one of the suits, I pulled. And it hurt.

My first grey hair! I’ve noticed that my hair is getting coarser over the last year or so, and like the moustaches I didn’t know what to blame, age or baby. I guess I’m just getting old, finally catching up to my birthday. I love it. Now maybe people will take me seriously.


the big nine two

February 19, 2008

Today is my sole surviving grandparent’s birthday. My dad’s mom, my “Green Mimi”, named so because she had that old fashioned green carpet in the living room, turns ninety-two years old today. Notice how I didn’t say ninety something years young. Because one, that’s annoying, and two there is no such thing as young when you are over ninety.

I spoke to her for about twenty minutes this morning. She sounded better than she has in years, and she is excited about being eighty-two. I didn’t correct her, I think it is cruel when people do that. She talked about things that will never happen due to her health, that she needed to get done in her (long-gone) house since I promised that Jacob will be visiting Erie at the end of March, and how she will get to hold him and read to him whenever he wants a story, and how she will walk him back to the creek at the end of the triple-sized backyard to see the tadpoles and point out the rows of vegetables in the garden, things she did with all of us (my uncles, cousins, brother, and I) when we were kids. She said she hopes the violets, crocuses, and daffodils will be up by Jacob’s visit so he can see them, and she talked about how she will tell him the same stories she used to tell her boys about growing up in Sioux City, and the clover patch that grew three feet high and the field of violets that popped up every spring.

She told me how much my Poppa dotes about Jacob every day and always looks at and shows off his pictures because he is so proud of him. I think she used the word adored, I’m not sure because I was busy thinking about how much he loved me and how much I miss him now that he is gone and the old house which sold and the big yard I loved so much has been re-developed. I whole-heartedly believe that Poppa is with Jacob, and have a pretty good story to prove it, if you are interested and promise not to think I’m crazy.

She asked if maybe they can drive down to Philadelphia once the weather breaks and visit on a day of a good baseball game (her father loved everything about the sport, especially the stats) and she can take Jake while maybe I take the car to get some shopping done or take a little time for myself.

Mimi was a librarian, and makes sure that I am taking plenty of time out of boring, useless stuff like housework and cooking to read aloud to Jake and always asks if I am still reading new books for myself. She never believed much in daily chores and anything that could be slapped together to fill your belly at dinnertime was just fine. I have her old 1940’s cookbooks that convince you that canned is wonderful and anything can be substituted by something because of war shortages. I have the 1950’s cookbooks that praise all things frozen and quick. Don’t tell her, but I tossed the books from the eighties that taught you how to cook in a microwave. I hate microwaves. As long as you eat your raw fruits and vegetables all day long and drink your milk and have juice with every meal you can’t go wrong, says she. A cup of something hot with a half a slice of toast with butter and peanut butter after your afternoon nap can’t hurt either.

Mimi is all about eating a whole lot but keeping your figure. Her advice is to avoid junk unless you are at a party and exercise, exercise, exercise and the best way to exercise is to run around with your children. And never give in to sugary temptation while pregnant nor “near your monthly”. Always brush your teeth. Be well-read. Go to school. As much as possible. My Master’s Degree is nice, she reminds me, but not nearly enough for a woman these days. I have her college diploma in my basement, and I mean to have it framed when I get around to framing mine. Ladies never raise their voices but assure they are heard. I never raise my voice. But boy, am I heard.

Mimi always thought she was ugly, and often still describes herself as “witchy” because of her black (now white) hair and black eyes. I hate to admit it, but I may as well do it while she is alive when it is easier to do something like this. When I was little I thought she coulda been a ringer for the Wicked Witch of the West. It’s the eyebrows, and when mine go unplucked I kind of think I look like Mimi. And the Witch. The picture above was taken around about the time she was my age, right after she had my Uncle Charley. She thinks she looks like her mother, but I’ve never seen a picture of her mother as she refused to be photographed because she was embarassed of the way she looked. I would have loved to see her, my great-grandma Adda Louise Lear Van Horne. She died in 1955, the year after my dad was born.

I think some of the curl in the back of my hair comes from Mimi by way of my dad, and I like to think Jake has her eyes. I inherited her love of books and school, or maybe it was just forced upon me. Her father was a mathematics professor, and that love and ability stuck through the generations.

I’ve recently realized that my need to make everything as small as possible (like toothpaste tubes and bread bags and paper) probably comes from her, as does my tendency to worry about things that need not to be worried about. Mimi loves to stockpile, just like me. I’m working on stopping the need to do it, even though it is comforting for me to have 24 units of everything. Just in case. My name is a shortened version of Loraine, her middle name. She liked Lora better. Because it was shorter. And short is always better.

Unless you are talking about your height. Mimi is so proud that I am tall. She thinks it makes buying clothes easier and makes people take notice of me. She laughs when I tell her I have to have some of my pant hems let out but she tells me to be grateful I can wear flat shoes and still be taken seriously. She was so disappointed that I stopped growing when I was ten. She tells me she thought for sure I’d be six feet tall like my grandfather.

Every birthday that passes I think may be her last. I’m sorry I can’t be there today and she says is sorry she can’t save me a piece of cake, as a treat. “Just a bite or two to get a taste can’t hurt.”

After we said goodbye this morning she stopped me from hanging up to ask if I’m keeping a journal. She kept one, just like her father did. I know that the idea of a public blog would be lost on her, but I assured her that since I was pregnant I have been keeping an honest-to-goodness record of how I feel and what I’m doing and what Jake is up to and I keep it up at least once a week. I plan to give this to him for his thirtieth birthday, I said. Maybe even pay to have it bound in hardback. “Pay to bind a book!”, she exclaimed. “Why, you can do that yourself with a piece of pressed cardboard you’ll find in the basement in the drawers under the stairs with the kitchen tools and the maracas, some good glue, and some of that twine on the shelf by the back door!”.

I smile because of all the books she’s hardbound for me. Well-loved classics that she didn’t find the heart to throw away and cheap paperbacks that deserved a better cover.

I could go on and on but there will be a time for that, hopefully not too soon. I promised I’d get a letter off to her, which is a promise she makes to me every time we speak. She wrote me three times a week up until about seven or eight years ago. She still clips the funny papers for me when she has the energy, because she is sure I don’t have the time to read them each day. Oh, and she doesn’t stop talking. Ever.

I get that from her too.


February 11, 2008

Two friends of mine who are the proud owners of spanky new teenagers asked me what the pros say about talking to your children about sex.

Lots of parents like to shame their children into abstinence (insecure jerks who are probably afraid to hold a mirror to their dirty parts), others promise eternal damnation (bible banging freaks who probably do it in the dark with their shirts on), some say it’s a sure-fire way to get babies and AIDS and called a slut (republicans), and others avoid the subject altogether. I like to call that last group “grandparents”.

Others are open and honest and smart enough to bring up the subject before the kids do. Which is early, because if your kids aren’t bringing it up with you by the time they are ten or eleven, they are most likely listening to their friends. Who are sixth grade morons.

Way back in the eighties when I was a struggling pre-pubescent, sex talk among peers started in fourth or fifth grade, and people were actually doing it by the seventh. Or at least saying they were. By eighth grade one of my classmates had a baby and by tenth I understood why my high school had a daycare. For students. Teachers were stuck finding their own damned daycare. If things were that way twenty years ago I can’t imagine how they are now, with kids these days being the way they are and such.

My parents were very open about the subject. My dad- who was a much different person then than he is now, just in case you know him- would thoroughly answer any question asked but wouldn’t bring things up. My mom was more direct about things, which was probably her job since she was a girl and I was a girl and that makes everyone feel a bit more comfortable. When I was in fifth grade she stopped at a gas station and asked me- through the window while she was at the pump- if I had any questions about boys or sex or periods or how sex feels or why my underwear looks like someone blew their nose in it by the end of the day (spot on! I thought it was because snot couldn’t be digested and I had raging sinus problems. This is why you need to talk to your children because children are dumb) or how to react when someone asks me to touch them or makes a move to touch me. I couldn’t see her face and she couldn’t see mine. She probably didn’t know this, but that is actually the best way to have these talks.

Talk to your kids about this stuff in a way that they don’t have to look at your face. Talk about it early and often. They will listen, and they don’t need eye contact to hear you. Seriously, you are a grown up and I can’t imagine that you want to look your mom in the eye across the table and talk about crotch snot and doing it and regular absorbancy kotex vs. super plus tampax and asymetrical breasts and wet dreams, do you? And cover all the bases. First through third to home and around again. No orifice should be left unmentioned. Kids will stick it anywhere if they think that by doing so they won’t get pregnant.

Be respectful of your family’s beliefs and value system, but remember that no amount of Jesus will repress your child’s hormones and needs and urges and overwhelming desire to fit in and be cool and feel attractive and good enough and loved. Some of the biggest whores I know are Sunday Morning Superstars.

Which reminds me of the single most damaging statement to ever enter my brain, because one of my high school health teachers and her family were overly active in church. Six days a week her daughter was overly active with the boys. At least they were both on their knees…

Well, anyway. This teacher had the nerve to tell our class that we should pick our first sexual partner wisely because every time we have sex for the whole entire rest of our lives we will automatically think of that person and the first time we did it, which she promised would be terrible and violent and bloody and excrutiating and embarassing and could result in pregnancy and social stigma and if we chose to be with a non-virgin the likelihood that we would contract some horrible bubbling green leakage in our pants was very high.

Guess what. Now every time I have sex I think about that guy. Every time. Not for the whole time, but still.

Guess what else? It wasn’t terrible nor violent nor bloody nor excrutiating nor embarassing and it didn’t result in pregnancy and no one knew unless I told them because he was gentlemanly enough to keep his mouth shut and he wasn’t a virgin and my vagina didn’t rot over or crust shut or fall out or anything equally as horrifying. Plus he took me out for ice cream afterwards. Because everyone knows that six year olds LOVE ice cream.

KIDDING! I was sixteen. Sixteen year olds love ice cream too. I forget that not everyone did a stint working in sex crimes like I did so we don’t all have the same sick sense of humor. Sorry. But not sorry enough to take it back.

But I think of it and him every time I do it because I was told I would, and I’m nothing if I’m not out somewhere making a prophesy fulfill itself. So please don’t tell your kid something that isn’t necessarily true because they are listening, and it will stick.

Give them the straight facts, give them your opinion according to your experience and beliefs, but be sure they know that the facts are the facts and your opinions and beliefs are exactly that. Try to remember what it was like when you were that age. And times it by one hundred becasue times are different. There are a million and one good books out there to help you along with this. There are two million and two bad ones. Take some time at the bookstore or the library or online to research what you will say to and share with your child.

Give them reading materials to look over. The best way to do that is put them on the bed and don’t mention them for a month or so. If your kid brings it up, be prepared. If you feel more comfortable, get a counselor, a doctor, a social worker, a nurse, a trusted family member, whatever.

Just don’t get my health teacher or in twenty years from now you’ll have a kid like me who likes to type about this stuff in a public forum. And that would be awful.