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Archive for December, 2008

Rearview Mirror

It’s not easy coming up with a “year in review” post title that hasn’t been done to death. So yea, rearview it is.

Looking back, quite a lot happened here this year, especially for a place where not much happened. I mean, I simply didn’t write much in 2008. And yet…

Early in the year, I got stoopid and ventured into online dating.

Not long after that, firmly pinned to the mat by WTF Disease, I announced my retirement from blogging. And I stuck by that until and unless, I’d get so pissed about something that my fingers just wouldn’t be still . . .

Like early in the summer when I worked really hard on a motherfucking children’s party. I must say, I enjoyed that little slice of profanity pie.

And so I was delighted to see that my muse from the previous link was featured in a national magazine with his motherf… well, with his mother.

Then, in late summer, at long last I found and shared what is the most likely culprit as a diagnosis for WTF. I continue to suffer many symptoms, and continue to pursue the treatment I began back then. I am told that it may take years.

Politics played an unusually prominent role here at WWIT this past year. Perhaps my most controversial post, and the one that invited the most passionate, provocative comments was my defense of underdog Sarah Palin. I reread those comments today, and I find that I still appreciate them; and I find that I still hold the preference that one actually READ my post(s) before commenting.

Finally, in the twilight of the year, I shared my dissenting view of the hot cold one. I have since seen the movie, and I really liked it. And I really stand by everything I said about that sucker.

Tonight we will stay in, and eat and drink good bad things, and play games and watch Times Square on TV. I hope that wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, you feel warm and loved and optimistic. And if you’re a resolution-maker, I wish you well with that. I’m kinda not; but I’m also kinda thinking about making one or two this year. Or maybe just changing some things and then announcing them, rather than announcing first.

I thank you for being here. You add much to my life. I offer each of you an imaginary gift for the new year, inspired by one of my favorite comedians, the late Mitch Hedberg:

I’m giving you a self-help book. It has all blank pages and a pencil.

And this quote from Edith Lovejoy Pierce:

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.

Let’s write this one well, dear friends.

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Christmas Bear

We had a lovely Christmas. It started with our beautiful daughter coming into the bedroom to wish us Merry Christmas.

::some backbround::Weeks ago, I walked past LG as she was reading her email, and I caught a glimpse of “fat man grabs…” and something that looked like “..ass.” I have cautioned her about friends sending PG-13 rated chain emails, and I thought that’s what this was.

“What is that?” I asked, suspiciously.

“Nothing. Just an email from Kristen.”

I’ve known Kristen since she was in utero. I was surprised that she would send a vulgar email.

“Kristen sent you something about a fat man grabbing your ass?!”

At this, LG fell out. She laughed hysterically, unstoppably. I don’t normally use any vulgar language around her, and my mistake plus my unladylike language was too much for her.

“What?!” I said, giggling in spite of myself. “I saw the email, LG.”

“Mom! The email says ‘If a fat man grabs you and stuffs you in a sack, don’t worry, I asked Santa for a really good friend this Christmas!'”

Oh. I guess I saw the “fat man grabs” and the “..as” and well, yea::end background::

Fast forward to Christmas morning . . . our beautiful daughter coming into the bedroom to wish us Merry Christmas. We respond in kind, and say our good mornings, ask if one another slept well.

“I hardly slept at all,” I said wearily. “And when I finally did get to sleep about an hour ago, I had a horrible, horrible dream.”

“Aw, Mom,” LG says gently as she sits on the bed and pats my leg. “What happened?” The concern in her voice is truly touching, as she continues to inquire about my bad dream, “DID A FAT MAN GRAB YOUR ASS?” And we all dissolve into what must surely be an inappropriate response to a child’s vulgarity on Christmas morning.

God help her, she is my daughter.

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OK, that is what my husband just said, while I was trying to think of a name for this post. They’re baking potatoes, and they’re in the microwave wrapped in plastic. (Don’t judge me.) It’s a post about quotes, and that is a quote, and it’s not one you’ll read anywhere else.

I liked giving you quotes last Christmas, and went looking for some for this year. One long “credo” seemed just right for now — it has children of the world, faith, hope, and unity:

CREDO AT CHRISTMAS

At Christmas time I believe the things that children do.

I believe with English children that holly placed in windows will protect our homes from evil.

I believe with Swiss children that the touch of edelweiss will charm a person with love.

I believe with Italian children that La Befana is not an ugly doll but a good fairy who will gladden the heart of all.

I believe with Greek children that coins concealed in freshly baked loaves of bread will bring good luck to anyone who finds them.

I believe with German children that the sight of a Christmas tree will lessen hostility among adults.

I believe with French children that lentils soaked and planted in a bowl will rekindle life in people who have lost hope.

I believe with Dutch children that the horse Sleipner will fly through the sky and fill the earth with joy.

I believe with Swedish children that Jultomte will come and deliver gifts to the poor as well as to the rich.

I believe with Finnish children that parties held on St.Stephen’s Day will erase sorrow.

I believe with Danish children that the music of a band playing from a church tower will strengthen humankind.

I believe with Bulgarian children that sparks from a Christmas log will create warmth in human souls.

I believe with American children that the sending of Christmas cards will build friendships.

I believe with all children that there will be peace on earth.
— Daniel Roselle

(If you can share other traditional beliefs of the season, please do, they’ll be most welcome.)

My favorite printed message on a Christmas card this year was on the card sent by my sister, Squirl, and I was tickled to see that the card was made by a fellow blogger, Tiffany, at www.electricboogaloo.net. The message:

“May your holiday season be filled with all of the things that bring you joy. You know, like reindeers or whatever.”

Tonight I am quietly celebrating with two good people and a bad dog, the birth of the One whom we believe is our Savior. I hope you are joyfully celebrating something, and that you know you are loved.

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Here we are again, friends. Welcome to the 4th Annual Blog Cookie Exchange! If you’re new, here are the basics for participating in the exchange:

Favorite holiday recipes
Special traditions
Favorite gift to give
What you wear when you don your gay apparel 🙂

But really, you can write or post pix of anything that tells us how you celebrate the holidays, or your favorite memories, or your wishiest wishes or scroogiest bitches.

Thanks to hand and arm trouble from WTF Disease, I’m afraid I’m not the hostess I once was, but you are most welcome to share all that I have managed to pull together.

Easy Reindeer Cookies

Susie’s Cookie Q and A
Q: Seriously, could these cookies BE any cuter?
A: No.

Nor could they be any easier. These days I am all about the rather impressive, but really, really easy. Like these reindeer cookies. Here’s how we roll:

Take a roll of store-bought cookie dough — sugar, peanut butter or ginger bread, and add 1/4 cup of flour (to make it roll out easier), and roll it out to about 1/4″ thickness.

Cut out the reindeer head shapes, using a bell-shaped cookie cutter. (An upside down heart-shape would work fine, too, don’t you think? OR, shape the long roll into a three-sided cylinder — kinda pyramiddy — and then cut it into 1/4″ slices.)

Use mini-pretzels for antlers.
Use M&Ms or chocolate chips for eyes.
Use M&Ms or Red Hots for a nose.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

Eat.

And I know I’ve shown you this before, but I don’t think I’ve told you how to prepare it:

The Fascinating Pinecone Cheeseball

pinecone cheeseball

1 (8-ounce) container garden vegetable cream cheese*
1 (8-ounce) container roasted garlic cream cheese**
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 scallions, finely chopped (use both white and green parts)
2 cups pecan halves, toasted
Fresh rosemary sprigs (or sprig of pine)

Stir together first 4 ingredients. Shape into an oval (pinecone shape); chill 2 hours.
Arrange pecan halves over cheese oval, pressing in lightly in overlapping rows, beginning at bottom and working upward. Arrange rosemary sprigs at top of pinecone. Serve with crackers.

*If Garden Vegetable cream cheese is not available, may use plain cream cheese with ½ packet of Knorr vegetable soup mix.
**If Roasted Garlic cream cheese is not available, may use plain cream cheese mixed with 2-3 cloves of crushed, roasted garlic.

***********

We were invited this year to join a long-standing tradition of some distant friends of ours.

“distant friends”= we really like them, and think we would like them even better if we got to know them more, and they seem to feel the same about us, but we don’t see them enough for that.

Their tradition is a Carol Party. You take a small house, fill it with friendly people, a few of whom have actual musical talent, the rest of whom like to hang around people with actual musical talent (I belong to the latter group), add a couple of guitars, a keyboard, an impressive variety of percussion instruments and a box of kazoos, plus some drinks and cookies and a bunch of photocopied Christmas song lyrics, and there you go. It really was fun. Until they got to “O Holy Night.”

That is (or was) my favorite carol. I know people make fun of it, but doggonit, I like it. Even — or especially — the “fall on your knees” part. When the orchestra swells, and the choir goes all forte — it’s thrilling. And it’s real. I mean, think about what they’re singing about. If you were THERE, back in the day, and you saw that amazing star, and then you saw and heard a bunch of angels (ANGELS!) up in the sky singing at you . . . are you gonna tell me that wouldn’t knock you right on your ass? OK, then. But they can’t really put “knock you on your ass” in a church song, now can they? So, yea, fall on your knees indeed.

Back to the party. When it came time for “O Holy Night,” the host says all the men have to get together. So it’s men in the dining room, and women in the adjacent living room, and we start to sing. But, as is the tradition at this party, the men put their arms around each other and do a can-can to this song. (Except Jif was new, and never having been part of an all-male line-dancing holiday revue, he thought they were trying to do the Munchkins’ Lollipop Guild dance from the Wizard of Oz, so his moves were a little. . . spastic.) And then, at the “fall on your knees” part, they all did. And it just continued to deteriorate from there. Not pretty. Nor festive.

So, I don’t know, I may need a new favorite Christmas song: this one would be a contender. I really love it.

My favorite gift to give this year is a toffee apple, from here. I had hoped to post photos, but we’re slow here, so they won’t be in our possession until this evening. Maybe I’ll slip a photo in later. One of my students gave me one of Lisa Anne’s toffee apples last year, and it was so amazing we went right out and bought a few to give as gifts. This year, we’re buying a few more. The thing is, I’m not a big apple person. And I really don’t like candied apples — waste of a perfectly good fruit and perfectly good candy, I would have said. But Lisa Anne converted me. Huge, tart apple covered in high quality caramel, toffee . . . YUM. And the large size, I unapologetically gave one to a family of seven, and they each had a dessert slice and some left over. The coating is so thick and rich, just a little goes a long way. So, yea, I think you’d like them.

This might be a good place to say thank you to everyone who reads here, comments here, and to those who write on your own blogs. Just a few years ago, I was a big internet cynic. I did not trust that enough people were real enough on the internet. And yes, since I have trusted cyberpeople, I’ve gotten scorched a time or two, but mostly I am thrilled and delighted by how much more of life I have learned, that I could not have learned, had I not met you all online. You make my life richer. You even help me like myself more. You make a horrid illness easier to laugh through. And now you make me cry a little. In a good way.

Merry Christmas, dear friends.

Now gimme some cookies!

If you have a blog, I hope you’ll invite us in for your holiday post (and if today isn’t good, put it up when you can, we’re easy like that). Leave a comment to let us know, and please, visit the people who leave comments. If you don’t have a blog, share your holidaying here in the comments.

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Just a little late this year, but yes, we’re doing it again! The Fourth Annual Blog Cookie Exchange will be held next Wednesday, December 17. A review: here was last year’s party, here’s what it looked like two years ago, this is what happened the very first time.

The tradition was born out of a wish that we “imaginary friends” could enjoy the holidays together. We’d love to share some holiday cheer in person, but since we can’t, this is the next best thing — a virtual holiday open house. Allow me to cut and paste from prior invitations — Here’s how it works:

Start with some variation of:

Favorite holiday recipes
Special traditions
Favorite gift to give
What you wear when you don your gay apparel 🙂

and/or anything else you’d like to tell us about your holiday celebration. As is the custom here, there aren’t many rules. Whatever you’d like to share is fine — carols, stories, decorations, something new that you’re trying this year, whatever. Here it’s Christmas, but all holidays are welcome. If you don’t celebrate ANYTHING, then your grinchy scroogey ass can just fake it for one day, for goodness’ sake! Make something up! And you don’t HAVE to include cookies, if cookies aren’t your thing. It’s just that “Cookie Exchange” has a nice, Christmas ring to it. Better than, say, “shindig” or “hootenanny,” although it may turn into either or both.

If you don’t have a blog (what?! why not?!), stop in next week and leave your contributions in the comments. If you DO have a blog, leave a comment here next Wednesday on the Cookie Exchange post, and we’ll all come to your party, too. You won’t gain any weight, and you won’t need a designated driver! So here’s the deal, again. We wanna come to your place and eat your cookies and rummage around in your things and stuff next Wednesday. (Oh, and do post an invitation at your place, if you’re so inclined — everyone is welcome, the more the merrier!)

Oh, and one new thing I hope to attempt this year, weather and health permitting — I want to show and tell some things about holiday attractions in my hometown. You know you have some, too. SHARE!

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I first became aware of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight,” a couple of years ago, when I read on a tweens’ blog-hosting site how a number of pre-adolescents would JUST DIE if they couldn’t get more Edward. I read how they LOVED HIM, and cried when they read about him, and thought of his cold lips as they snuggled their cold-sided pillows. And I recall thinking, “What the…?” And I went Googling to see who this guy was, both for the benefit of my daughter and of my young clients. I read reviews of a book that included descriptions like “seductive,” and “intensely passionate.” And it wasn’t long before I started hearing from my then-10-or-11-year-old that her friends were “obsessed” with Edward. Based on the reviews I read, and the fact that I became aware that Twilight was the hottest fiction book on college campuses (no good reason that a book that appeals strongly to 20-year-olds would be suitable for 10-year-olds, I reasoned), I told my daughter she had to wait. At least until I could read the thing and know what the mania was about.

In the meantime, she was left out of lunchtime discussions, email round-robins, and the wearing of Edward Cullen (the hot teen vampire) t-shirts. Here, I must give props to my kid. She could easily have read the book without my knowing it. But she is a person of honor and integrity, and she repeatedly told her friends “No, my mom won’t let me yet.” I know this because I overheard her conversations, and because she has kept up the pleading with me, and one of LG’s friends even asked me why she couldn’t read it. I don’t underestimate how hard this was for LG. And I don’t underestimate what a good, strength-building exercise it was for her, to keep resisting what “everyone else” was doing and trying to persuade her to do. I’m proud of her; can you tell?

I discussed the book with a few other mothers, whose children had read it, and not one of them saw anything wrong with it. And almost all of them said some variation of “Edward and Bella wait until marriage to have sex!” I finally read the thing. And yes, they don’t have sex, but . . . see, he’s a 100+ year-old vampire in a hot teen’s body, and she’s kind of a plain jane, new kid in town. And he falls fangs over heels for her, not because she’s kind or wise or even cute, but because her blood smells so good! And she can’t believe that this totally hot, sophisticated guy could love her. And she’ll do anything to spend the rest of her existence with him. She risks her life repeatedly, consistently, to be with him. He’s strongly tempted to kill her. He kisses her tenderly, urgently, but if she responds by putting her arms around him or any other natural human inclination, he pushes her away and becomes angry, scolding, rejecting. But he’s quick to assure her it’s not her fault, it’s just that he’s angry with himself for being so inclined to drink all her blood when he gets excited.

I’m used to being outside the mainstream. Truly, I am. But I’m just scratching my head about the intelligent, responsible, thoughtful parents who think this series (there are three more after Twilight) is a good idea for their children. I’ve read the first two books. I liked them. My daughter asked me, “Did you fall in love with Edward?” I had to think about it. Meyer has a very engaging, even seductive, writing style. I finally answered, “No, but if I were twelve, I would have.”

My biggest concern is that girls with no template, no precedent for romance, take Edward, and Bella’s and his relationship, as something for which to aim. And there’s evidence (message boards, media interviews, Twilight merchandise sales) that indeed, they do. Again, here is a “boy,” about whom the girl’s parents can’t know much; every time she’s in his presence, her life is in danger; the “love” that they share is based initially on his powerful urge to kill her and consume her blood; he stalks her, always watching her — as she has a private moment on a hike in the woods, as she lies in bed sleeping at night. This doesn’t creep her out; to Bella, it’s a sign of love. The two are entirely consumed with one another, to the exclusion of any friends or social life, except that which is required to placate parents.

Meyer is excellent at creating strong erotic tension without graphic language or even sex beyond a G-rating. I have no doubt this is part of the appeal for tweens. Edward and Bella’s erotic longing and abstaining awakens very enjoyable feelings with which these young readers are unfamiliar. In that sense, the writing is remarkably skillful; it’s also remarkably risky. Again, the way Meyer handles the kissing scenes: Edward kisses Bella passionately, as she stands still, arms by her sides. If she moves to puts her arms around his neck, or kiss him back, he storms off angrily. She feels rejected; he assures her that he’s not angry with her, but with himself. Because lust gets mixed with bloodlust and excitement might lead to murder. Messages: sex and violence are powerfully linked; your (female) sexual response must always be subject to my (male) rules of what I (the male) can and cannot handle.

More messages: Neither wants, nor intends, to live without the other. That is, they do not want to continue existing if they cannot be together. Elaborate plans are made as to how this ceasing to exist could be accomplished, should the need arise. Bella has a dreadful fear of growing old (because Edward never will) and losing Edward’s affections. She is willing — eager, even — to go to extremes to prevent this. In her case, the extreme would be having a vampire bite, but not kill her, thereby “changing her” into one of his kind. She begs him to do this, knowing that it will mean the end of her human life, and quite possibly, the eternal abandonment of her soul to the dark side.

Yes, I know it’s only a story. That’s why I find it so inherently dangerous. Have these pro-Edward moms no grasp of the power of metaphor? Why would we want to reinforce messages that a boy who is (waaaay) outside the acceptance of society, who is possessive, pathologically moody, a stalker, immeasurably more experienced in every conceivable area of life (and death), secretive . . . is a good catch? And why do we want to send the message that it is true, a girl must forfeit her life (health, lifestyle, future, existence) to keep a boy?

I told my daughter she can read it, but not as her first experience of literary romance. She’s immersed now in more age-appropriate first-time romance stories. So she’ll be able to recognize a bad guy even when he looks really (REALLY) good.

Yes, I may need to lighten up on this topic. I am no poet, by any stretch, but for my kid, I have been known to do things that I cannot actually do. With these things in mind, I give you (and my daughter):

Ode to Edward

The tweens, how they scream
When his name is mentioned
They’re swept up in the dream
But he’s not well-intentioned!

Most think he’s all that
And while I think he’s not
I do wonder how one so ice-cold
Seems so HOT

His moods swing like jazz
And he sucks like a Dyson
I say he’s bi-polar
and a lot like Mike Tyson

The mommies, they love him
“He doesn’t want sex!”
But is that so surprising?
He’s more into necks.

They say, “He protects her!”
Like that’s enough, in itself
But bright people must concur:
It’s mostly FROM HIMSELF!

True, his family is wealthy
So he’d be a good provider
Thanks to Alice’s stealthy
stock trades (can you say “insider”?)

My lovely tween girl,
Don’t join the masses
In the growing fan swirl
Of themselves making asses

The guy’s not for you!
A centenarian stalker?
Surely you can see through
That blood-sucking sweet-talker

Don’t give your heart to Cullen
While you’re so young and fair
He’s brooding, he’s sullen
And all that “product” in his hair!

Really, how would it be
If you woke in the night
And there sat big E
Watching you!? What a fright!

When you get your first kiss,
And you want to kiss back
I don’t want him to hisssss,
Threatening jugular attack!

I want your first beau
to be a dream, not a dud!
One who loves the real you,
not the scent of your blood

It’s true that the sun
Makes that vampire real shiny
But you’ll have much more fun
With one less grumpy and whiny

Never tell a boy (or vampire)
“I’m yours, take my life!”
The outlook is dire
For such a man’s wife

If a boy loves a girl
And if that love is true
And he knows he’s not best for her
Hmm, what would said boy do?

Sometimes loving enough
Means saying “goodbye,”
Removing all your vampy stuff
To make room for a real guy!

Such a strong advertisement
Promoting love that’s obsessive
Please take this under advisement:
Avoid males so possessive

Page after page Bella pleads
with the guy,
“Put the bite on me,
lest I grow old and die!”

When you find your true love
Growing old’s no big deal
Your mirror image will change,
But not the way that he feels

With adult supervision,
Bella couldn’t pursue this
But Dad’s busy, Mom’s ditsy
And they’re basically clueless

So, enjoy the story —
In all honesty, I did
But don’t give Edward the glory;
He’s one messed-up vamp-kid

Now I’ve said my piece;
I’m not looking for fights
My opinion won’t cease:
Edward Cullen BITES

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Christmas Bitch

True Christmas confessions: I’m very laid back about many things holiday, but I’m kind of particular when it comes to cardage. Somehow, I developed the formula that the cards we send must have either animals or Jesus on them, (bonus points for Jesus AND animals), and even with no Jesus, they must have some religious reference. A time or two we went with the kid pic, but only when she was dressed as an angel or Virgin Mary for some pageant. Often, LG made our cards, and she stuck to the official Fairchild card guidelines. This year, I’ve run amok. I didn’t feel like reminding LG incessantly about getting our cards done. I didn’t want added stress for either of us, we have enough. So we were in a card store, and Jif, LG and I all agreed that we liked a card with penguins on it. Penguins. And not only is Jesus not in sight, but this isn’t even a “Christmas” card, strictly speaking. It refers to the “holiday season,” if memory serves. I’ll plaster Jesus stickers all over the outside, just to appease the angel on my shoulder.

Now that I’ve confessed my Christmas sin, allow me to move on to judging others:

If you are SO busy, and have SO many friends that your entire Christmas card enterprise consists of inserting a pre-printed card, including pre-printed family signature, into an envelope with a computer-generated label and a postal indicia from your place of employment, allow me to give you the gift of a few seconds of time. Clearly, you have no time. Take me off your list and save those few seconds of inserting.

I’m not asking for much. Pre-print everything else, but just sign it, for Prancer’s sake! Just a “Love, Trevor, Esmeralda and the twins,” would be great. Or a handwritten initial, if that’s all you can manage. Just something that says, “your personal name passed in front of my eyes and I thought of you warmly for a second or two as I sent you this card.” If your schedule doesn’t allow for that, cut back. Start with me. Let that be my gift to you.

(I blame WTF. I used to be a nice person, honest I did. Or at least I could fake it a lot more convincingly.)

So what’s your Christmas bitch? And you can’t say me, I’m taken.

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