Stealing Saturday

There are a number of things I should could be doing right now. Dishes. Laundry. Cleaning. Preparing for the oncoming onslaught that will occur when my boys get back from their dad’s and force me into holiday décor submission. Something. But, I’m not. Obviously. I’m not alone, it would seem, for Avitable actually created a survey on this post-holiday Saturday. And, since I’m procrastinating anyway… well, you get the idea.

Just pick the first word that you think of when you associate yourself with that category. Don't overthink it.

If I was a/an _____, I'd be ______.

TV show: My Boys
Song: No Rain by Blind Melon
Movie: Bend it Like Beckham
Book: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Fictional Character:
Lara Croft
City: London
Verb: Regret
Color: Black
Animal: Cheetah
Emotion: Torment
Article of Clothing: T-shirt
Flavor: Sour
Food: Curry
Vice: Doubt
Plant: Flame Tree
Mythological Animal: Sphinx
Letter: Q
Inanimate Object: iPod
School Activity: Yearbook
Positive Attribute: Stubbornness
Negative Attribute: Stubbornness

That’s that. I’m off to find something else to do in an effort to not do what I need to do.

Procrastination is the thief of time. ~Edward Young

Conscious Treasures

I don’t do well with thanks. Seriously. I am not as grateful as I should be and I don’t accept gratitude very graciously at all. Usually, on this most American holiday, I post a tangent about my general dislike for the day. It isn’t that I don’t have things for which to be thankful… I simply don’t care for a holiday reminding me that I need to give thanks. I like celebration holidays not reminder holidays.

It’s been a particularly rough year for me. Griping about what I need or don’t have has been rather predominant. It’s easier than trying to recognize one’s treasures. My cache is so small that when I perch on it like a proud dragon my fat ass covers it all up and I have trouble identifying what is there. Let me move. Let’s see. I have …

My boys. They keep me sane… in a fashion. They also keep things crazy. We are quite insane together.

My parents. I received word that a friend of mine lost her father in a car accident yesterday. I am still lucky enough to have both parents and if something were to happen to my father the world might actually get to see me fall completely apart. He lives hours away but I still need him. Daddy’s little girl and all that jazz.

My sanity. Sigh. I tried.

My job. It isn’t my passion. It also isn’t where I prefer to spend forty or more hours of my week. But, it pays most of the bills and in this lovely economy I actually am grateful to be employed. Not to mention, we have the greatest crushed ice machine in the known universe.

My sucky apartment. It’s a roof and walls. Whew! Considering I don’t have a decent working vehicle right now… it would be no good for us to try living out of a car and I hate camping.

My health. For the most part, anyway. I don’t have cancer or any other form of terminal disease (that I know of). That’s a plus.

My plants. No need to call the Houseplant Rescue Team. I’ve managed to keep three plants alive for more than a year now. This is no small accomplishment for me.

My fat. No, not really… but winter is looming and I’m freezing and something has to keep my equatorial blood warm. Since I can’t seem to lose the fat I might as well find a reason, regardless of how retarded, to be thankful for it.

My music. Tunes drive away the demons. Granted, my purchased off eBay four years ago iPod chose this year to stop holding a charge and I’m too poor to replace it. I still have music. It merely is no longer portable. Damn it.

Treasures counted. I feel no more alive for this little exercise. Better? Maybe. Alive? Not so much. Hell.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

Dear Beth

I refer to the last two years I spent in high school as “my glory years.” It is an oddity. Most people seem to remember high school with a mixture of love and hatred. Me? I have nothing but fondness for those years. Junior high through ninth grade… not so much, but my junior and senior years were pretty awesome. Yes, even in hindsight. If I could pick a point in time to go back and start over… that would be it.

When I was tapped by
Mo for yet another virtual game of tag, this one challenging me to write a letter to myself at age sixteen, I couldn’t fathom what I would say to her. I turned 16 the summer prior to my junior year of high school… a year of my life that I loved. After a bit of thought I discovered I did have something to say. It would seem I always do. There was only one major decision to make… a decision that would shape every facet of my letter: Do I assume I can warn her and change my path or do I accept that my life cannot be changed and simply give her guidance? My impulse is to alter my existence. I’ve chosen to go against that desire. A miracle, I know.

Hey Chick-a-dee!

Yeah, I just called you Chick-a-dee. Get used to it. Sometime in the next few years you are going to develop this habit for nicknaming just about everyone you know. I know this because I am you… a really long time from now. Don’t give me that skeptical laugh thing that you do. I could convince you with tales of what we were doing our final weekend in Louisiana a couple of months back. Ha! See? You know what I’m talking about. So… sit down, shut up and read.

Happy Birthday! I know you didn’t expect your 16th birthday to begin this way, but I’m quite sure you will adapt. You’re good at that. Also, Welcome Home! Please take a deep breath of Kenyan air. It’s been a while for me. Don’t take it for granted. Ever.

I’ve decided to not reveal too much about our future to you. Don’t bitch about it. I’m not here to blatantly change events. If I do, however, change your …. our… (whatever) attitude or thought responses and subsequently you make different decisions than I did and change our mutual course then I’ll live with the outcome.

I do have some general advice and I would love it if you listened to me for a change. As this is your sixteenth birthday, I’ll give you sixteen things to think about and that statement leads directly into one of the things you need to know about yourself:

1. Learn to set limits… like me only telling you sixteen things. If you don’t set limits you’ll just keep going on and on and on and spending your energy on non-beneficial stuff.

2. Write more. Start compiling all those scribblings you have scattered around into a more central location. Journal a lot. Trust me. You can thank me later.

3. Speaking of the written word: Keep every note and letter you receive. Every. Single. One.

4. Think twice before consciously setting someone up to be hurt even if you think they are one of the cold, hard, unfeeling ones.

5. You’re beautiful. I realize you have no clue. I remember. That’s why I’m telling you: You are beautiful! That junior high scrawny ugly duckling phase is long gone.

6. Don’t settle when it comes time to choose a college/university. Push for what you want. It’s your future.

7. Boys. They are worth it. Truly. But, don’t settle on one of them either. You’re allowed to be picky.

8. You know that “I refuse to be assimilated into any group and just want to be friends with everyone” vibe you have going on? Good decision. Go with it. Don’t second guess yourself on that one.

9. Study harder.

10. Swahili fluency is highly suggested.

11. Sunscreen. Wear it. You live on the equator and have blonde hair and green eyes. Girl, use your brain.

12. Your humanity dictates that you will make mistakes. Learn from them, but don’t dwell.

13. Never beg. Never grovel. Ever.

14. Get your right knee x-rayed. No, not now. You’ll know when. Swallow your tough girl play through the pain attitude and just do it.

15. Cherish every memory.

16. Love yourself. Always.

Are you listening? I hope so. You should listen to us more often and trust our instincts. I look forward to discovering who we’ve become in about eighteen years.

“You are sixteen going on seventeen, baby it's time to think. Better beware, be canny and careful, baby you're on the brink.” ~The Sound of Music

If you like this idea... consider yourself tagged.
Photo from: We Heart It.

I'll Sleep With You For A Meatball

Halfway through week one of vegetarianism and I’m hungry. All. The. Time. Yes, I’m doing the multiple small meals thing and I have a bag of edamame (healthy snack food of choice) practically attached to my body. I also realize the seemingly permanent ravenous state I’m currently suffering is truly not forever. By the weekend I’ll likely be adapted to the new routine. I usually am. Right now, however … “I’ll sleep with you for a meatball.” ~Victor/Victoria, Film (1982)

My carnivorous cravings should come as no surprise; but, why a meatball?

1. Practically any type of ground animal flesh can be made into a meatball.

2. Fat. Meatballs are loaded with fat. All the other stuff (bread crumbs, often cheese, etc.) we put in meatballs add extra fat or hold in the natural fat (and flavor) of the meat. Fat = Flavor. It’s a sad truth.

(I’m very aware at how mildly disgusting points #1 and #2 sound. Thank you.)

3. Where do we normally find meatballs? Typically they are located in some sort of sauce and on many an occasion they are perched atop a massive pile of pasta. Sigh.

Did I mention I’m hungry?

4. Fact: The movie quote was there for the taking and I HAD to use it.

It’s a relatively safe claim, I think. I have enough willpower to not jump into bed with the first person that shows up at my door with a meatball. I might even have enough self restraint to not eat the meatball. Even if I do eat it, I’m a master at playing the semantics card. I eat the meatball… we take a nap. I love the English language.

Feeling Vainly Proustful

It makes sense now. We can all blame Vanity Fair or, more accurately, Marcel Proust for those astoundingly repetitive social media meme questionnaires that refuse to die.

This time though… I’ll blame
Finn. Following in the footsteps of the icons who have answered these questions on the back page of Vanity Fair for seventeen years, Finn posted her own answers over at A Life Less Ordinary (required blog reading) and invited us to play along. I think I shall. I feel, vainly so, that I am iconic. Vanity Fair, are you listening?

What is your most marked characteristic?
Undeniable bipolarity. Even medicated it’s quite obvious I am a creature of bizarre moods.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Intelligent humor.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
A man’s distaste for drama.

What do you most value in your friends?
Tolerance, understanding and quick wit.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I am the master of botched good intentions.

What is your favorite occupation?
Mom. Motherhood was accidental, but I am Mom. I am Mommy when they are sick or Mother when they are angry. Most of the time I am quite contentedly… Mom.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Films. Trust me, on my budget, movie going is a hefty extravagance.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Indeed.” “May the force be with you.” “Dude!” “Bloody hell!”

When and where were you happiest?
Consciously: Kenya, 1991-1992.
Subconsciously: In any airport or airplane going anywhere.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Is there such a thing? I hope, someday, that I can say I am happy enough. “You ask a serious question, I'll give you a serious answer: Happy enough. I don't expect much. I don't get much, I don't give much. I generally enjoy whatever comes along. That's my answer for you, summed up for your feminine consideration. I'm happy enough.” ~Waitress, Film (2007)

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Staring at my own eyes in a mirror only to realize that I’ve all but lost my own sense of identity is about as miserable as misery gets.

In which country would you like to live?
May to September: England.
October to April: Kenya.

Who are your favorite writers?
Dead: William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, J.R.R. Tolkien, & Jane Austen.
Alive: J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Bernard Cornwell & Gregory Maguire.

Who are your favorite poets?
William Blake, Robert Frost, William Butler Yeats, Sylvia Plath and, dare I say, me.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Hamlet: The most brooding, tortured and alluring soul of all Shakespeare’s creations.

Who is your favorite heroine of fiction?
Éowyn of Rohan from Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: The greatest of literary tomboys.

Who are your favorite composers?
Then: Tchaikovsky & Beethoven.
Now: Howard Shore & John Williams.

Who are your favorite painters?
Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali & Jackson Pollock.

What are your favorite names?
Girl: Sydney. Boy: Cameron.

What is it that you most dislike?
Those who choose ignorance over knowledge & enlightenment.

Which talent would you most like to have?
It would be lovely to carry a tune and have the lung power to back it up.

How would you like to die?
Quietly. I think I’ve made enough noise already. Should I die tomorrow or fifty years from now… I owe the world a silent departure.

What is your greatest fear?
To be paralyzed.

What is your current state of mind?
Slightly melancholic and a wee bit annoyed.

What is your motto?
My job is not to impress people. It’s to intrigue them. (A phrase I first quoted in my senior year high school yearbook. It still stands today.)

Ah, I’m done. In retrospect, perhaps only my children view me as iconic. That is enough… for now anyway.

Part-Time Parsnipian

Can one really be a part-time vegetarian? The concept does sound remotely retarded and yet it is something I have chosen to pursue. Apparently, I’m not alone. I was guided to the term Flexitarian courtesy of the great Google gods in response to a “part-time vegetarian” search. I like the "flex" part of that word. It is, I ashamedly admit, non-committal.

Those of you who know me well or have been reading this blog for a while (same thing) realize that my name is not even remotely synonymous with the term “vegetarian” in any capacity. In my world… vegetarians live on Planet Parsnip. I respect their choices but I don’t really understand them seeing as I don’t speak Parsnipian. I live quite comfortably on Planet Predator. Here, pig tastes good. Chicken tastes good. Cow tastes damn good and that baby sheep over there? Yeah, I’m going to eat it too. Hence, I predict there is a bit of shock and awe happening around the world in regard to this change of lifestyle revelation. Reactions are probably ranging from maniacal laughter to “Pfffft! Like hell.” to “May the force be with you.” to, dare I say, pity.

Here’s the deal: Drastic times call for drastic measures.

In July I launched
Operation Skinny Bitch in a desperate attempt to reclaim my health and my life… and it was working. But, by mid-August, I ran out of money. Eating healthier and paying for the gym proved far too much for my single-mother-with-two-boys-consuming-everything-in-sight budget. By September I had not merely fallen off the proverbial wagon… I had launched myself face first into the quagmire of muddy hoof prints as my team of motivation horses galloped down the path of good intentions with my wagon careening carelessly behind. Then, to complicate matters as I made feeble attempts at trudging through the mud of that very same path, my body began to rebel against any forward momentum. My right elbow began to act up… not wanting to hold any substantial weight and my left knee (the “good” one) started trying to slip out of joint. Great. Lovely. WTF? Is turning thirty-five an immediate death sentence on bodily joints?

Point being: I failed. Failure, my friends, is not a shade I wear well.

Another approach had to be taken.

I’ve yet to figure out the whole “working out” situation. With Christmas looming large on the horizon, there is no money for the gym. Even if that materializes out of thin air, my workouts (gym or home) have to be modified for these new my-body-hates-me developments. So, food consumption must be altered to the extreme.

Ideally, I’d give full-fledged vegetarianism a hearty go. And, perhaps, this part-time gig is a stepping stone to that eventuality. Beyond my fear of actually being able to adapt to living as a vegetarian all the time … (Hello? Didn’t I just mention that failure is not my friend?) … is the fact that my children, while very fond of vegetables, are primarily carnivores. They could easily be spokesboys in those bloody stupid “Go Meat!” Hillshire Farms commercials. (Sorry non-USA television watching audience for that reference.) The reality is that I do have to continue cooking for them … some of the time.

I live in the same town (dammit) with my ex-husband. This, combined with the fact that he’s not a complete and utter douche bag, means that we share physical custody of our boys. To most it would appear that I am a part-time parent because of this arrangement. It doesn’t exactly work out that way, but I do have more time to myself and far fewer meals to arrange on my “off” weeks. These weeks, when I’m feeding only myself, are when I have chosen to live life as a vegetarian. Menu planning will be easier, I think. This will definitely be easier on the budget. When I have my children I will proceed semi-business as usual. There are some changes happening there as well: serious portion control, no bread, fish (for me) instead of pork or beef, etc.

Here I go. New month. New plan. A very little bit of success would be lovely. May the force, indeed, be with me.

"You will profit by the failure, and will avoid it another time. Every failure teaches a man something, if he will learn.” ~Charles Dickens


"It is a wise father that knows his own child.” ~William Shakespeare

Big K is discovering and loving Shakespeare. I’m so proud. Then again, this development does have a bit of an inevitability ring to it.

When he was a year old I returned to the college classroom in a desperate attempt to finish my university education. Obviously that didn’t happen. I could lay blame but, really, twelve years later… it just isn’t worth it. The important thing is that two of Big K’s major development years were spent with me in school. I also had a very necessary full time job. This didn’t leave me a lot of time to be with him so I had to maximize those moments. Hence, his bedtime tales and story time readings included generous amounts of Shakespeare, Chaucer, Shelley, and Wordsworth amidst Where the Wild Things Are, The Velveteen Rabbit, Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs while I made a desperate attempt to parent and finish homework simultaneously.

The presence of William Shakespeare has always been prominent in my home. The picture above is from my current bookshelf. This is just a sampling. There is more. There is also a raging DVD collection, a quote card game and a Shakespeare finger puppet who used to live on the refrigerator but currently reside at my office.

Five or so years ago I was able to obtain a DVD copy of Shakesepeare: The Animated Tales. Big K was eight or nine at the time, but we watched them together and, while he had a lot of questions, he seemed to enjoy it.

Last year he began inquiring about the aforementioned DVD collection. Could he watch Hamlet? What about Romeo and Juliet? What is A Midsummer Night’s Dream about? I waited a few months because I wanted him to start high school first as he will be reading Romeo and Juliet in class this year. I saw no harm in having him watch a movie version prior to reading the play. Perhaps it would give him a better understanding. He is a teen, so I put in the visually modernized yet relatively textually accurate version of Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann. I enabled the subtitles so Big K could see the words instead of just hearing them and... I know my kid is bright, but he didn’t need me to explain anything. Nothing. He simply gets it. My teen understands Shakespearean English.

It would seem that we are now immersed in a full fledged mother to son Barducation. It’s awesome. He’s yet to read Romeo and Juliet in school. I predict, once he does, that we venture into reading some of the other plays here at home as well. We’ve already started on the sonnets.

This, my friends, is one of those events that make me realize a couple of things:

1. Parenting can be most excellent.
2. I haven’t completely screwed up my children.


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