Monday, October 30, 2006

Masked Mom's Media Monday: Some Company For My Misery

I've been a blogger since May of 2005--going on 18 months now. Sometimes I've been lucky to post three or four times a month, others I've managed a few a week. I've never been a blog every day kind of blogger, but all that's about to change, thanks to NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, the illegitimate* half-sister of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which has been around to torture motivate fiction writers since 1999).

National Blog Posting Month is a challenge to write a blog post of some sort every single day in the month of November. Not only does participating give you a great sense of accomplishment and community, there are neat-o buttons to post on your blog.

I was going to go with this one:

Yoda's great, right? He's got The Force and he can use it without lifting a finger but when it comes time to lift fingers, he's all over your ass. (Or so I've heard since I've not actually seen any but the first two Star Wars movie (by which I mean Episode 5 and 6, which is reason #1, I stoppped trying to see Star Wars movies: what's with the funky numbering system? I don't want to have to pass a math test to get in to see a movie.) )

Yeah, Yoda's a bad-ass. But is he bad-ass enough to get me (lazy, disorganized, overworked, understaffed me) to write a post every day? Isn't he a little too, um, Ghandi-like to really be scary? Now, don't get me wrong, I think Ghandi was bad-ass and amazing in all sorts of ways, but I don't think I really would've been afraid of Ghandi and fear is where it's at for motivating someone like me.

So, I'm going with this button:

'Cuz nothin' says motivation like a firearm pointed right at your head. Of course, motivation and material are two totally different should be an interesting month--interesting in a just-how-boring-can-this-bitch-possibly-get? way.

Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Challenge.

*I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Always Something...

Quick! Why did the turkey cross the road?

To remind me of Mr. High School, of course. I was out on a back road when a chattering, fluttering group of turkeys crossed in front of me. I caught myself making mental notes--how many there were, where I saw them, how healthy they were--so I could tell Mr. High School, the hunter man, the next time he called.

Don't blame the birds, though. If it weren't them, it would be something else. A brief (and by no means complete) list of things that remind me of Mr. High School: a hundred or so songs,including pretty much anything at all by Journey, Foreigner, or Credence Clearwater Revival; big trucks and heavy machinery (especially pavers); camouflage; a car dealership a county and a half away that sells a stunning number of vechicles to people in our area and on every car they sell is a metal plate bearing Mr. High School's first name, which happens to be the name of the car dealership; the bread delivery truck from the company headquartered in his hometown; Ford Mustangs (Mr. High School, a confirmed Chevy (or at least non-Ford) man conceded that the newer Mustangs looked so sharp as to be worth owning even though they were likely to be pieces of shit, mechanically speaking*); Millard Fillmore**; antidepressants; NASCAR...

And on and on and on.

It's a funny thing, grief. The experts will tell you it happens in stages, neatly numbered like an emotional To-do list, you can feel a little sense of achievement as you mark off each one.

Here's something those experts don't want you to know: When you reach that final step of "acceptance," and come to terms, at least intellectually, with the idea of the loss, the person you miss is no less gone.

*Ford Motor Company and its legal department should note that not all opinions expressed by Mr. High School were shared by the author of this blog.
**Millard Fillmore? I know you're thinking, "How often could that possibly come up?" Well, pretty damned often, as it happens, since an old guy mentions Millard Fillmore in a Coke Zero commercial. What it has to do with Mr. High School was that we had a history class together in 8th grade and were part of a group of four people studying together for a test. I said, "Millard Fillmore had no..." foolishly waiting for the correct answer ("vice president") from three thirteen-year-old boys. Instead, GW, a blond and chubby pervert, blurted, "Dick!" And for the rest of the year the four of us talked long and often about how Millard Fillmore had no dick.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Three for the Duh! File

--Taking an order on the phone, customer's giving me the list of names she wants on the card: "Becky, Mark, Kelly..." I say, "Is that Mark with a 'C' or with a 'K'?" In a totally disgusted voice, she says, "It's with an 'M.'"

--From a local radio news report Tuesday morning, regarding a drunk driver, "The arrest was made after police reported following an EROTIC driver on Rt. 417 West..." I've heard of drunk drivers driving "erratically," I'm wondering just how drunk you have to be to drive "erotically." And what, exactly, constitutes erotic driving--I've had some weird pictures in my head for the past day or so...not that that's anything new but at least this time I've got someone else to blame them on.

--Here's a bit of random advice that has come to mind in my recent dealings with a certain person*: If you think the majority of people in your life are "too defensive," it might be time to consider the possibility that you are offensive.

*A person, it's important to note, who doesn't have Internet access at this time, but who will nonetheless remain nameless in case she/he ever does join this century. Worry not that the person in question may recognize him/herself without a name because this is truly one of the least self-aware people I've ever, ever, ever met.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Masked Mom's Media Monday: Public School

Have I mentioned my belief that public education, including "preschool" and even "day care," is merely a petri dish for viruses and bacteria? The whole thing is obviously a plot for the nasty buggers to spread themselves to as many humans as possible with the least effort on their part. And we stupid humans have fallen right into their trap!

Daughter-Only has strep throat. Everyone else just has a nasty cold--so far. You know when one of them has strep, you're just on the edge of your seat waiting for someone else to develop those lovely symptoms.

Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Diabolical.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

(Young & Immature) Men At Work

Don't worry, it's not another '80s music reference...

It's a trebuchet-in-progress reference:

Yes, that's Son-One being held aloft (twelve to fifteen feet aloft) during today's "weight test." Now I'm no physics expert (I think I have traumatic amnesia regarding most of the science I learned (or failed to learn) in high school), but I'm pretty sure that hoisting a 140 lb. 18-year-old (especially my 140 lb. 18-year-old) to test a trebuchet designed to fling small- to medium-sized pumpkins* might be overkill.

But what do I know? I'm just the mom. And anyway, no one was hurt--not even when the fools managed to rip the trebuchet's arm from its socket during even more rigorous "testing" (it involved jumping off ladders while holding the trigger ropy things (did I mention I remember next to nothing about physics?)):

*Granted, if they're actually going through with hurl-flinging the TV as previously mentioned, then a 140 lb. boy/man is a closer match.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fill In The Blanks: Lame Joke From the Eighties

The radio station I listen to in the van while out on flower deliveries has a "9 to 5 No-Repeat Workday" program--where they make sure they don't play the same song twice between 9 and 5. Great, good, wonderful--of course, they have nothing at all against playing the same eight hours of music five days in a row so, consequently, when you're only listening to the radio for the same hour or so each day, you hear the same DAMN songs over and over from one day to the next.

One of those songs is "Come On, Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners--one of those totally pointless songs that you could understand maybe two or three lines from but which nevertheless got stuck in your head and you'd find yourself trying to sing it and going, "ooooh--tooolooo-hmmm--C'mon Eileen--humpa--humpa--somepin'-else-far-too-young-and-clever" all damn day long and you kept thinking, maybe I'd understand it better if I knew all the words. To which I say, yeah, right, I understand it way worse now that I've seen all the words, but I seem to have strayed far, far, far from whatever sorry little point I've come here to make...

Every time I hear "Come On, Eileen" (which, I hope I've established, is entirely too often), I keep almost remembering a joke from the early '80s, the punchline of which was "come on Eileen." It went, I think, something like:

Q: What's worse (or better) than ______ on _______?
A: Come on Eileen! (Ah ha ha ha ha ha.)

Further complicating my search is that there was no doubt more than one variation on that theme. So does anyone remember any of those variations? Or have a guess that might quiet my geeky mind?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mixed Messages

--While out on deliveries last week, I noticed a large sign hanging over the main entrance of a local school. In letters about two and a half feet tall, it proclaimed: "All kinds of minds walk these halls." Now, I applaud what I assume is supposed to be a message of tolerance and inclusion (though I should mention that I do wonder how much difference this sign actually makes in, say, the cafeteria when a geek wants to sit at the cool kids table or vice versa. I mean, if it were making a big difference, there might not even be a "cool kids" table, but at least they're trying right?), but, especially in light of the recent school shootings, doesn't this message take on (an entirely unintended, but nevertheless powerful) ominous cast? Is it just me? Doesn't it seem like it could be just as much a warning as a welcome? "All kinds of minds walk these halls," so look out.

--On the same delivery trip, I was behind a car with the bumper sticker: "The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the Earth. --Chief Seattle." Great sentiment--would've meant a lot more were it not tacked to the back of a gas-guzzling SUV. At least it wasn't a Hummer, right?

--Meanwhile, over on Daughter-Only's planet...She says to me, in her best freaked out little kid voice: "Mommy...sometimes Nomi really scares me. I mean she really freaks me out. Every time I look directly at her face, she winks at me! With her right eye! Every time!" The sad part was I wasn't sure who I should call first: the vet or the psychiatrist.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

You Will Be Hungry Again In Thirty Minutes, A Post Composed Entirely Of Cookie Fortunes

Change is happening in your life, so go with the flow! If your desires are not extravagant, they will be granted. You will soon discover how truly fortunate you really are.

Luck is coming your way. Luck is the by-product of busting your fanny. The man on top of the mountain did not fall there. Each day, compel yourself to do something you would rather not do.

Well-arranged time is the surest sign of a well-arranged mind. There is no education like adversity. It's at the worst of times that you need to summon your optimism. All the water in the world can't sink a ship unless it gets inside. Never quit! Never give up. Bide your time, for success is near. There is no time like the pleasant.

You will become more passionate and determined about your convictions. Your determination will bring you much success. Know and believe in yourself, and what others think won't disturb you. Do not be overly judgmental of your loved one's intentions or actions. If you judge people, you have no time to love them. There is no substitute for good manners except, maybe, fast reflexes.

Many admire your social and physical appearance. You make people realize that there exist other beauties in the world. Maxim for life: You get treated in life the way you teach people to treat you. A kind word warms for three winters. Great acts of kindness will befall you in coming months.

You don't have to be perfect to fulfill your dream. Mediocrity is self-inflicted; genius is self-bestowed. Don't be surpised by the emergence of undiscovered talents! We must have old memories and young hopes. Strong lives are motivated by dynamic purposes.

Cultivation to the mind is as necessary as food to the body. Man is what he believes. The book should be a ball of light in one's hand. A feeling is an idea with roots. It's not what you know but what you USE of what you know that counts. Imagination is everything--it is the preview of coming attractions.

Rest is a good thing, but boredom is its brother. You won't be bored for long! New adventures are on their way. You achieve great peace of mind when you talk with an old friend. Old friends make the best friends. The person who learns to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. One joy will scatter a hundred sorrows. True love is only found in the heart.

You love Chinese food.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Things No One Should Ever Have To Hear (I'm Starting a Collection...)

"Mom, I'm going over to D's house to build a trebuchet."

For those of you lucky enough to be uninitiated in, as calls it, "the art of hurling," a trebuchet looks like this:

I have been assured that this is a sanctioned (required, even) physics project and it may actually be, which leads me to wonder: Don't physics teachers have children, too?

The goal is to create a trebuchet capable of flinging--oops, hurling--a small to medium-sized pumpkin. Son-One is aiming a little higher. We have an old (no longer functioning) 19" TV which he has deemed badly in need of hurling.

Hey, physics teachers, I can hurl without a trebuchet. Wanna see?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Masked Mom's Media Monday: Dating Is Murder

As a geeky, introverted teenager who spent a great deal of time at her grandparents' three-channel-cableless house in the summers, I was beyond addicted to the soaps. In fact, I remember once my mother was arguing with me about my "attitude"* and, since I rarely left the house for anything but school, she had nothing to take away from me but Guiding Light. (I also remember writing an impassioned "speech" in my journal about how I wouldn't let her take that away from me since it was the only thing I had in my life, but that's a topic for a whole other sort of post, one which it's probably in everyone's best interest for me to avoid writing.)

As another example of my addiction--I was in seventh grade when President Reagan was shot. I have a very vivid memory of rushing in the door after school, and being totally traumatized by the footage of the shooting. No, not by the violence of it, or the possible ramifications for world politics--no I was traumatized by the fact that As The World Turns and Guiding Light had been preempted by that coverage. I mean, c'mon! The guy was already in surgery, replaying the footage over and over again wasn't going to help anything and playing the soaps at their regularly scheduled times, in their entirety sure as hell wasn't going to hurt anything, right?

So, my purpose in revealing yet another freakishly geeky aspect of my personality wasn't merely to make all those other freakish geeks feel a little less alone but to lead into the story of a related freakishly geeky habit of mine. I have a startlingly good memory for faces and characters from the soaps in the early '80s--soaps, I feel it's important to note, that I haven't watched on any kind of regular basis since the '80s Not only do I know Meg Ryan was on As The World Turns as Betsy Stewart Montgomery Andropoulos, I vividly remember many of her scenes. It's actually kind of alarming to me how much of the stuff I can recall from soaps during that time period--not least because it makes me wonder how much of my brain space is being used up by such useless crap when it could be used for significantly more important things.

Anyway, I feel a sort of proprietary attachment to the actors I remember from back in those days. When I see Julianne Moore in a movie, I will say with a completely undeserved sense of pride (as though I "knew her when..."), "She used to play identical half-sisters on As The World Turns!" And don't even get me started on Kevin Bacon, who (briefly, but memorably, at least to me, not that that's saying anything) played bad boy Tim Werner on Guiding Light...

Imagine my delight when a few months ago, I found a short story in Ms. magazine written by Harley Jane Kozak, who a million years ago, played Annabelle Simms Reardon on Guiding Light. Even though her character eventually faded away into domestic boredom--um, bliss--with Tony Reardon, she was introduced to the show in dramatic fashion as the Mystery Woman in a decades-old photo featuring the patriarchs of all the town's Big, Rich, Powerful Families (as well as their "help," the poor beleagured Reardons)**. Harley went on to a career in movies, including Arachnaphobia and Parenthood.

So I read the story with the same propietary (undeserved) pride I usually feel toward my wayward soap buddies--and with maybe a little apprehension because, after all, writing and acting aren't at all the same thing. Turns out she's good at both and I was delighted, at the end of the story, to find a plug for not one, but two books she'd written.

I've since read both the books--which aren't really my kind of book (to the extent that I can be said to have "kind of book" since I read an absurd amount of books in a wide variety of categories) and the truth is, if it weren't for Harley Jane Kozak's name on the cover and my borderline obsession with former soap stars, I'd never have picked up Dating Dead Men. But, by the time I was finished with it, I couldn't wait to read the sequel, Dating Is Murder.

The main character, Wollie Shelley is the kind of accidental heroine who finds herself embroiled in murder mysteries and weird dating scams. She's so smart about so many things and so very dumb about men. In short, she's like a lot of women you know. And, really, the plots are interesting but what's going to keep me coming back is the goofily complex character that Harley Jane Kozak has created on the page.

Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Fun.

*I'm not sure whether I put "attitude" in quotes because what my mother perceived as my "attitude" still seems to me to be simply my personality at that shining moment in time and, therefore, not a deliberate attempt to drive my mother insane or if I put it in quotes because "attitude" didn't even begin to cover the challenge I probably presented my poor mother in those days.

**I'm not sure who this could possibly matter to (but me), but I feel the need to add that the woman in the photo wasn't Annabelle at all, but her long-dead mother, in whose death all those rich powerful patriarchs were somehow (though, lucky for all concerned, I don't remember how) implicated.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Weight Control or Mind Control?

Have you seen Quaker's new Weight Control Oatmeal ads? They feature pictures like this:

And this is their tagline: "Take weight off your mind with Weight Control Oatmeal from Quaker."

I don't know about you, but keeping weight off my mind is the least of my problems--keeping it off my ass, now that I could use a little help with.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Masked Mom's Media Monday: Perfect Post For September

Before I started a blog, I was a blog stalker. For weeks, I hopped from one blog to another. It was during all this stalking (I think) that I discovered Iowadrift, a blog written by Bihari, a writer and a nurse practioner with a lot of international experience under her belt who (much to her occasional confusion) has ended up living in Iowa, mothering two sons. Many of her posts are fascinating for their "what's it all mean?" quality--her search to define herself as both a mother and a contributing member of the medical community while still trying to find time to allow her creative side to shine is one that so very many of us can identify with--even if the specifics of our particular battle are different.

Specifics are something Bihari is really good at. This month, she wrote "One Day. Just One Day." about the overwhelming and unending demands of mothering small children. And, even if you've never been there, you can feel her pain--because this is not some abstract post about, wow, it's really hard being there all day with them--it's full of the kinds of details that really put you in her shoes. For those of us who have been there, the post hits home even more. We're right there with her, just wishing for one day of peace. I can't give her the peace she wants, but I've got a fancy little Perfect Post button!

So, here's my button:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And, Bihari, it's all yours!

Check out other winners at Suburban Turmoil and Petroville.