29 March 2007

Sambuca Thursday

Do any other moms feel as self-conscious as I do about dragging their toddler to the liquor store?

I usually try to avoid the situation altogether. You know, the looks, real or imagined, really start to make me feel like a terrible parent, as if I am about to rush home and down my bottle of Pinot Noir through a funnel, my son bawling beside me, stewing in his own poop, crying for his drunken mama to pay him some attention.

But today I had to go. Because I needed to buy some wine. Not in the sense that I needed it, as in I just had to have a drink right then. (though it wouldn't have hurt.) But I was attending a little writers' soiree to which I volunteered to bring wine, and I was supposed to arrive at 6:30 sharp, which is exactly when Rich arrives home from work. So I had no time to spare.

So here I am with my son in his winter jacket and sneakers which are still smeared with mud from yesterday's little hike through the still-defrosting woods, dragging him into the liquor store to buy two bottles of wine inexpensive enough to not feel that I overcompensated for strangers, but good enough not to look cheap. His nose is leaking like a sieve and he's trying to roll the little fire engine I bought him as a reward for not completely breaking down at our latest over-extended visit to Target between the bottles of Yellow Tail.

I grab two bottles of Blackstone, then get in the long line. Who knew Thursday's were such a busy day in a suburban liquor store? The woman in front of me, who is buying a bottle of Chardonnay, smiles at us, no doubt deciding whether or not she should call DSS as, in one hand I hold two wine bottles by their necks, and with the other try and tame my son, who is doing that thing toddler's do when they try and sit on the ground while you're holding their hand, so he looks like a malfunctioning marionette. I am starting to sweat.

I am ALWAYS carded at this liquor store, even though I am well beyond the legal drinking age, and as I get closer to the checkout counter, I wonder if the barely-legal clerk thinks I am old enough to even have a kid. Certainly wishful thinking, as he not only doesn't ask for my ID (bastard), he also pays no mind to the fact that my son, a trail of green running from his nostril to his upper lip, is swinging from my arm and trying to grab a bottle for himself.

A man steps in line behind us. He has nothing in his hands, no bottle of wine, no micro-brew six-pack. He says hello to my son, who hides behind me. I pat his head and notice the man -- 40-ish, graying, dressed in business casual and what looks like a Member's Only jacket -- is wearing sunglasses. Indoors. I hate when people do that.

I plop my wine on the counter while at the same time trying to hold onto my son's hand and pull my debit card out of my wallet. I punch in my pin then move my things over until I get situated. The sunglasses-wearing man steps up to the counter and asks quietly for a fifth of sambuca. While he is paying, my son and I make our way out onto the sidewalk and the man follows shortly thereafter. As we head to our car, the man straightens his back, flinches, then slips the bottle of sambuca into the pocket of his well-pressed khakis.

Bachelor, I think. Then he steps into his gleaming, white minivan.

26 March 2007

Weekend at Parentsville

This weekend, we left the MA 'burbs, and made a beeline for the CT ones.

Funny thing is, we never left Parentsville.

We packed up the Camry and drove two and a half hours to see our favorite former Watertown peeps for a family-style soiree. We were joined by fellow party-goers hailing from Boston, New Jersey and Long Island and when the head count was in, we totaled 16 -- 10 adults and six kiddies. Food, company, and beer were aplenty.

The trip was a blast. However, it did serve as a reminder that the times, they are a-changing. The drinking started early (a.k.a. upon arrival, but it WAS noon). That part didn't change. Here's what has.

  • Our friends have a three-year-old. The terrible twos, they said, that's a farce. It's the 3's that make you want to stick your head in a pre-heated oven. They also have a nine-month old. They are emotionally and physically exhausted. And though, as always, they played excellent hosts, there wasn't the traditional psycho-analysis group therapy session or quasi offensive, yet thought-provoking mind game. Bummer.
  • We were never all in the same room at the same time. It was like the year my grandfather dressed up as Santa Claus. I began to wonder if certain people were actually real.
  • Practically everyone loves the movie Office Space. So when March Madness continued to disappoint, and the kids were busy in the playroom, our host threw it in the DVD player. When we noticed the five and three-year old staring blankly at the screen as Michael Bolton harmonized a string of obscenities with the Geto boys, we quickly put in Shrek, then WE were the ones staring blankly at the screen.
  • Normally a get-together such as this requires -- no, demands -- an overnight stay, but by late afternoon, people were dropping like flies.
  • Those of us that were in it for the long haul put in a respectable showing with the continued drinking. And after a couple of tasty lasagnas (one veggie, one for the carnivores), and some socializing out on the deck, we, the standing few, started to drag. By the time all the remaining children were put to bed and we tried again for Office Space, we needed toothpicks to hold our eyes open. But we persevered. Then, by 10 p.m., as Peter Gibbons and his crew of disgruntled techies plotted to screw Initech, our hosts were quietly snoozing on the couch. When they woke with a start, one retired to bed. Then another fringe movie-watcher dropped. When I was offered a beer at 10:15, I took it to preserve the pretense that I still had it in me. At about 10:30, we were three strong, but fading fast. My beer was still half full. I had to give in. Then everyone folded. By 10:45, Rich and I were in bed. Ah, heavenly, peaceful sleep. (Insert sounds of crickets chirping here). But at midnight, as I still lay tossing and turning, unable to achieve slumber in a strange setting, our son decided it would be a good time to wake and demand milk. Then he lay in bed with us for the the rest of the night, flopping around like a fish out of water. It was just like being home.......

19 March 2007

Urge to purge

It's the time of year when I feel the need to purge my home of unnecessary items - clothing, knickknacks, paperwork, small appliances, furniture, that sort of thing, and then wrap the whole cleansing event up by using a little bit of good ole fashioned elbow grease to sanitize, deodorize, and make sure all remnants of goldfish, raisins, animal crackers and the like are swept from underneath the couch before bug season arrives.

The proverbial Spring cleaning.

But there are certain items that, no matter how useless or forgotten, never seem to make it to the discard pile. Here are a few.

1. This tee-shirt that my mother bought for Rich before our son was born. She thought it would be cute for him to wear it in the hospital once everything was all said and done. I remember the day I went into labor (10 days late - and I had been testing the quickness of my skills, I guess, when I refused to pack a bag until the very moment when my contractions became less than 5 minutes apart). As I was tossing in personal items and clothing for both me and baby and we were making our way out the door, I asked Rich, "What about the shirt?" "What shirt?" "The dad shirt my mom got you." "Forget it."

But me, being the sentimental sap that I am, ran back to our room and tossed it in the bag. Needless to say, the shirt came home unworn and hasn't EVER been worn. But I can't seem to part with it.

2. This 100th anniversary Hummel collector's plate, which, according to the person who gave it to us, was supposed to yield us a pretty penny. After numerous hopeful checks on Ebay and crazy collector sites, I found out this hideous knickknack will bring in no more than about $100. Very disappointing. But, like the real estate market, I am hoping the market for creepy angel dinnerware will increase. So I am holding onto it.

3. My Girl Scout autograph book, which I used at the end of fifth grade for friends to sign before school let out for the summer. If you went through the autograph craze when you were in elementary school, you might also remember the nifty way of folding each page up and writing the person's name on the outside, (as shown in the photo below on the right, and yes, that really IS that boy's name, which shouldn't illicit laughter at my age, but what a way to go through fifth grade) so you could immediately turn to your favorite messages written by crushes and best girl friends.

There is some funny shit in this book. Mostly written by people I haven't thought of in years. You know, the normal stuff, about how I am a "super kid" and I should have a "super summer" and, my favorite, that I should "never change."

There are also some messages that shed a little light on the kind of person I was in elementary school. Nothing I am proud of, to be sure, like this matter-of-fact note shown on the left. Now that I am reading it again, I have the urge to seek out and call this guy -- whose real identity I'll keep secret but who, you should know, wound up beating me in the 6th grade spelling bee -- and apologize for my insensitivity. Looking back, I know now that my thoughtlessness was clearly a defense mechanism, as I too was taunted by insensitive jerks who felt the need to put others down to make themselves feel better. I am over it though.

Incidentally, this is the same boy who bought me a box of chocolates for Valentine's Day in the 6th grade, and who I secretly pined after until freshman year.
How can I be expected to part with this memento of my youth?

16 March 2007

I Love/Hate 'New York'

Reality TV has sunk to a new low when a reject from a show starring Flavor Flav that features the former Public Enemy time-keeper being fawned over by a group of trashy women, gets her own spinoff series.

"I Love New York," which I know has been on the air on VH1 for some time, is equally as trashy, disgusting and degrading as it's parent show. However, it's also as strangely and repulsively riveting. It features a woman, nicknamed 'New York,' a big-breasted, over-the-top hoochie who was kicked out of Flavor Flav's mansion, deemed unworthy of being his lady friend. Now she's got the mansion and with the help of her mother, is supposed to pick a man from the group of meatheads, drug addicts, babies daddies and plain, old jackasses that have been invited to live there.

The only reason I know so much about the show is because every time I go to the gym, it's on. It doesn't matter the day or hour. And when I hop on the treadmill, and see these guys duking it out in a boxing ring, dancing in their underwear or any other one of the "tests" New York puts them through, I roll my eyes. When I purposely plop in front of VH1, I EXPECT to see music. But they too have gone the road of MTV.

So, I listen to my ipod and strain my neck for distractions from CNN, which is informative and educational and all that, but, to be honest, not very entertaining for getting through a workout. And because my ipod shuffle, which can hold over 200 songs or something , contains only 28 that haven't been updated in about 2 months, I am constantly sneaking peaks at New York and her small gang of wannabes. It's like witnessing a train wreck you can't peel your eyes from.

Now that she's down to five guys, I am actually curious as to who she picks - the gay body builder, the pothead, the Eminem wannabe, the hothead, or the quiet one who has no personality. I am disgusted now, with myself.

Oh. Wait a minute. News flash. For the purposes of this blog, I have just checked the VH1 Web site and discovered that New York has whittled her selection of men down to three. So not only have I been watching an absolutely revolting piece of garbage, I have been watching reruns of an absolutely revolting piece of garbage.

But still, I think she's gonna pick the pothead.

15 March 2007


Let's see. If I were a 25-year-old, recently divorced mother of two whose personal and professional lives have both gone down the tubes in a major way, where would I look for a new man? I got it! Rehab.

Britney Spears, whose most recent fame has been derived from bad haircuts and making a revolving door out of rehab, is reportedly "close" to Riva rocker Jason Filyaw, a recovering alcoholic himself. Although the two have known each other since 2003, they recently met up at an AA meeting and Filyaw is helping her "spiritually." Yeah.

I don't know, maybe Filyaw will be good for the former pop princess. He's got experience and age on his side. (He's 33.) But when his band is self-described as having a liking to "a fine aged tequila," it makes you wonder how beneficial this budding romance might be to an alcoholic on the road to recovery. Meanwhile, on her official site, Brit is seeking further help by asking fans to send her their thoughts and words of inspiration.

I've got some for her:

Dear Brit:
Stop acting f'***ing crazy!

13 March 2007

The great outdoors

I am one of those people who wants to be an outdoorsy person, but is sooooo not, mainly because of my severe fear of bugs - of any kind, from ants to bees to spiders to flies. I hate them. I loathe them. They give me the creepy crawlies. They make my skin itch. You get the picture.

However, I do not want to pass this on to my son, though I am afraid that is already in the works. I want him to love the outside, and fear nothing. I want him to hike and explore and climb trees and yes, even examine insects. (Is it ok for kids to still pull the legs off of spiders? Probably not.) So, I am going to have to learn to love it. I mean, the real outdoors. Yes, I enjoy having drinks out on the deck of a waterfront restaurant, strolling around downtown, feeling the ocean breeze blowing through my hair. And, if Rich can stand to have me loudly clap my hands to keep the bears at bay, I even love hiking. But I want my son to love camping, white water rafting, tree climbing. I have always secretly envied the family who does those sorts of things together.

Writing this article gave me some inspiration for starting to ease my way into becoming a nature-loving person. The outdoors can be a great catalyst for learning, and even though I may not be it's BIGGEST fan, I certainly want it to be intact for future generations to enjoy. Maybe my son, given the right circumstances, will even help to ensure that.

So, when I finished writing the piece, I contacted the Joppa Flats Education Center to inquire if they too, like the Audubon Center in my piece, would consider starting a nature preschool, a place where, at a young age, children are exposed to the outdoors and taught to be aware of and appreciate their surroundings. The director of education there congratulated me on thinking "outside the sandbox" and said she would bring it up at the next board meeting.

Now, I am not REALLY expecting anything. But I feel good about possibly planting the seed. Who knows? Maybe, with a little bit of effort, I can even learn to LOVE the great outdoors. Maybe, in a few years, you'll hear from me, and I will be off hiking in the South American rain forests or climbing Mount Everest. Or maybe, I'll simply be able to go hiking without worrying about being attacked by a Grizzly.

11 March 2007

Isn't it ironic?

Irony has once again reared its not-so-ugly head.

This afternoon, after arriving home from a day-trip into Boston to spend the day with a friend, I walk through the door to find Rich at the sink doing dishes. Our son is still napping. I talk with the quick pace of contentment and tell him about my day - eating breakfast at a Charles Street Cafe, taking a leisurely walk around the River, lounging at my friend's North End condo without a responsibility in the world but to comment on her new built-in closet storage system.

Then, I sift through the Sunday mess of ads and pick up the Boston Globe Magazine. My eyes are immediately directed to this article, "The Job Without Benefits."

It begins with the story of Susan Luongo, a 41-year-old business owner, wife and mother. Luongo, who runs a technology consulting firm and works up to 80 hours a week, earns twice what her husband, a systems analyst, makes.

"But she's still the one who usually picks up their 9-year-old son at his after-school program each day, comes home and makes dinner, does some laundry, helps her son with his homework, and gets him ready for bed," the article says.

It's about gender-equality, and how women who "have-it-all" and then some (all the women in the piece are the dominant breadwinners in the family), are their own worst enemies. Even though they demand a fair split of household duties with their husbands, they are resigned to doing it all themselves because, they claim, their husbands just aren't as good at it.

This part, I can understand. And what I mean is, I can understand this type of OCD. I can't tell you how many times I have rewashed a dish or monitored vacuuming or inspected folded towels in the linen closet to make sure the crease was facing out. But this article says that even when the women make more money - a rational men have used, it says, to get OUT of housework - household chores are still broken down by gender. "In other words, women do most of it."

It strikes me as almost funny, the timing of this piece, as my husband retrieves our son from his nap, then changes his diaper. Then he runs downstairs to put the laundry in the dryer. "Can I dry your new, red shirt?" he yells from the basement. Then he's back upstairs, putting away dishes. Then baking banana muffins - after all, they were too ripe for just regular eating. Then cooking a pizza for our son. Then cutting up chicken and chopping vegetables and boiling rice for our dinner. Seriously.

And this day is not an anomaly. Of course, weekends are. And during the week, I pick up more of the household slack than today, but certainly not ALL.

Of course, my situation is not like these other women. I don'work outside the home. And I DEFINTELY don't make twice what my husband does. But it gets me to thinking how lucky I am. That I married someone who doesn't subscribe to these gender roles. He bakes. I take out the trash. He makes dinner. I haul in some firewood. Other days, it's the exact opposite. And then there are days, like today, when super-dad does it all, and mom, who has "the job without benefits" kicks back, and really does nothing at all.


09 March 2007

My little bruiser.....

"I'm tough," I taught my son to say, after scraping his cheek on the doorway earlier this week in an attempt to escape brushing his teeth.

Certainly, though, I am teaching him to embrace his emotional side by letting him know through example that it's ok to cry. Which he did, as I was sopping up what seemed like enormous amounts of blood with a cold cloth. (Not visible in this pic is the black and blue mark close to his left ear.)

So all week, I've been self-consciously carting him to gym and music class, and to friends' houses and stores, wondering if everyone is deciding whether or not to call DSS. Luckily, no one has. And the little man is doing just fine. He may be banged up, but at least his ego's not bruised. He's too young for that - yet.

06 March 2007

Straight outta Rhody - no longer

Straight Outta Rhody, not really sure where that came from. Well, yes I am, but it has no bearing on what this blog is all about. An ironic play on N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton, Straight Outta Rhody says yeah, mother f'ers, I'm from the Ocean State, so what you gonna do? But since very little of this blog is actually about RI, it's just not working. Not to mention that I'm not really very gansta.

So, while I am from RI, and no one will ever take that away from me (no matter how hard they try), I had to come up with something a little more appropriate for the content of this site. And what better than a made-up word?

Singuloso, loosely defined, means "all mine."

It was coined during a particularly heated game of Pictionary being played by myself, Rich, my brother, and my sister-in-law. We always play guys against girls, and because my sister-in-law is an amazing artist, the girls usually win. If you are a Pictionary fan, you know about the all-plays (a card, when drawn, that allows all teams to guess the clue) and in a game where one team is a sure thing, those dreaded all-plays can prove devastating to a couple of men who, when one draws a fire then a stick, and angrily points between each one with his pen while the white sand runs too quickly through the tiny hourglass, the other guesses "fire stick." What the hell is a fire stick? You guessed it - a match.

On each turn, when the girls drew their card, the guys would ask hopefully, "All-play?" because they desperately needed that chance. When we shook our heads, they would solemnly utter, "singuloso," meaning the clue was ours, and only ours, for the taking. On their turn, the sentiments, of course, were the exact opposite.

Anyway, this word, singuloso, has survived all these years of Pictionary-playing, and has come to define our game play. And, in the same vain, I hope it can come to define this blog, which is filled with my thoughts on things that may concern you, and others you don't give a damn about.
Whatever the case, it's all mine.
My own.
My precious.

Why I don't watch the news

I don't really watch the news anymore. Partly because my formerly free time is now occupied by being a parent, and there's only so many stories of shootings, rapes, fires, suicides, robberies and general death and destruction one can take.

And if I'm being honest, it's a bit desensitizing, learning about the world around you through the eyes of those murderers, burglars, arsonists - and victims. It's not that I'm unsympathetic. It's just that I'd still like to believe that there are good things going on in the world, even if they don't make headlines.

So I get much of my news from the Net, where I can pick and choose what I want to read about. Yesterday, I happened upon a video with a tease I couldn't resist, because it was just too outrageous to believe it could be true. In it, a couple of Texas teens place a joint between the lips of two boys, ages 2 and 5, who inhale and take off coughing, as the teens laugh and urge them back for more. I watch in horror, and over the blurred face of the toddler in the video, I picture my own son, being exploited for the amusement of a couple of dime store punks, and I get angry.

But not just angry, saddened. Because it reminds me that not everyone respects the sanctity of childhood, not even when the perpetrators are still children themselves. I hope those boys receive proper punishment, but I also hope that when brought to face what they've done - and I guarantee there's so much more than that 45-second clip can even begin to uncover - they are smacked hard in the face with their own stupidity.

02 March 2007

Happy birthday, old friend

Today is Kerrie Gannon's birthday. Now, unless you went to Warwick Vets, and graduated in '93, you probably don't know Kerrie Gannon. But you probably know someone just like her.

Kerrie is someone I only used to know, back when I was 16 and drinking Purple Passion from a two-liter bottle at the Sea Wall on a Friday night. She wasn't my best friend, but, for a time, she was someone who was very much a part of my high school years. There's not too much I could tell you about her, except that she had a hot, older brother named Scott, and that if you pinched her, she thought she would get cancer.

When I was in high school, I straddled several cliques, my foot just far enough inside the circle of each one to be called one of them, but not so deep that I could be pigeon-holed. They may not have been as well-defined as in other schools, sometimes the lines were blurred, a sign of unity, I suppose. And they weren't really named. But the cliques were there, and you knew who belonged where, for the most part. There were the kids in honors classes, a group of which I was a proud, card-carrying member, and from whom I drew my best friends. There were the the sort-of alternative kids, many of whom were also in honors classes, but hung in different circles after the bell. (Incidentally, this is the only group of people with whom I remain friends.) Then there were the "cool" kids, the kids who got wasted before the Hendricken Carnival and always seemed to be able to get beer, girls who, as upperclassmen, egged the houses of ambitious freshmen who stole the hearts (or pants) of the senior heartthrobs.

Kerrie was part of this last group, but not really. In part, so was I - but not really at all.

Anyway, for some reason, I guess because of my propensity to recall number sequences linked with my past (I still remember the telephone number of my second-grade best friend Dawn Steiner, whom I've not seen since I was 7) I remember Kerrie's birthday, even though I have not spoken with her since graduation.

Sometimes, I wonder about the people who seemed, back then, like they would always be there, like they'd never just disappear and morph into strangers whom I'd hardly recognize on the street. I wonder if they're married. If they have kids. If they work, or stay home. If they turned out to be gay. If they live in mansions on the ocean or have fallen on hard times. I wonder about them, and wonder, sometimes, if they ever wonder about me.

Today, I am wondering about Kerrie Gannon and wishing her a Happy Birthday, wherever she may be.