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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Six Degrees Of Blognation

It's been said a million times, "Being a full time mom is hard work". Yeah, yeah, the rewards are invaluable - watching your children grow, blah-blah-blah, the smile of loving relief kids give you when you pick them up from prison - ah, I mean school. And then there's all the different hats a mom has to wear: the chauffeur, the doctor, the consultant, the cook and the poopy wiper - and then we torture ourselves by dieting on top of all that.

Let's face it, you'd have to be nuts to be a mom - it's not the other way around, that mom is nuts. Well...my mom, maybe.

Paragraph three, I shall get to the point. At the onset of insanity, I started to blog. Many people will tell you, it's therapeutic. As a matter of fact, I even wrote that on my application for a doo-hickey writing job(don't cross your fingers, the pay is a square of toilet paper).

As I filled out my lowly greatness, I realized that somewhere in time, blogging had become a respectable and legitimate calling. Bloggers are cyber entrepreneurs, they are activists and they are the every day schmoes that offer a reality show in RSS feed.

Sure, some people make serious money with it(not me) but the commodity is not just with the Google Adsense clicks or the Amazon.com commission or the Give-Away contests that have the same winning chances as those stupid claw-machines at the arcade - it's the community. The precious pool of people every franchise wants to bombard with images of their stuff.

I am honored, appreciative and grateful for the group of bloggers who follow me and especially thankful for those who comment. It's hard enough maintaining your own blog, much less taking the time reading someone else's and giving them a shot in the arm. I'm sure we'd all agree that a simple "Hello, my name is Peggy," could make the difference between "To blog, or not to blog - that is the question."

Before I give a shout out to the rockin' bloggers that often pay me a comment, might I say to bloggers who don't return a visit - or three - not cool. It gets on my nerves, you know?

Without further ado, my "Six Degrees" list of bloggers in no particular order. You may already know them because I pilfered, I mean, was introduced to them by you. If you don't know these guys, do pay them a visit.

All These Things -  Adrienne is a super cool gal and one of my first followers. She could make a day at the laundromat sound interesting.

Tatterscoops - Maureen's posts are inspirational, to say the least. A single mom in Indonesia, she puts my complaints into perspective.

According To Chip & Bobo - Booyah's Mama is a real pisser. As a New Yorker, I mean that in a good way.

Twinisms - You don't want to be reading Bridget's posts at the library or at work because you'll look insane laughing your ass off.


Educated Abroad - The Diplo Daddy has a rather unusual slant to stay-at-home parenting. Currently, his home is in Kuwait. That says it all, right there.


Wonton Chronicles - Real Life Reslers - and Grapes And Oranges get a holla-at-ya for some truly endearing and funny posts. And though Luke, I Am Your Father and Best Of Fates are recent visitors, I can't stop stalking them.

If I've missed anybody, I apologize - I'm detoxing right now. Please don't send me an envelope with anthrax, instead leave me a comment with your blog site and give your screen the finger - I'll get the message.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dial M For Misanthropic

Viagra for phone conversations - that's what I need. I don't know what happened to my phone stamina but I just can't gab like I used to. The ingenious design of the iPhone offers no inspiration - it's about as comfortable as pressing a toolbox to my ear. Who's ear did they design it for anyway, Van Gogh's?

Actually, my conversational debilitation started way before the iPhone. It's probably safe to assume that the adversity started right around the time "Baby Brain" kicked in. Keeping a train of thought was becoming increasingly difficult and if I had to rack my brain for a word, I'd often just replace it with a four-letter one to keep the conversation going. Okay for talking to friends - not okay for clients and co-workers.

I was feeling like Barbara Stanwyck in "Sorry, Wrong Number," answering calls with wide-eyed dread.

It's also the text conversations of social networking - the ideal way to socialize for a socially inept moron like me. No longer was there a need to hold thirty-minute conversations catching up - all you had to do was update your Facebook status or Tweet the latest bowel activities of the fam.

Instantaneous, perfect little comments about what's going on, regardless if you wanted to know. No more twirling telephone cords around your finger as you blah, blah, blah - now it's "Hey, call my phone so I can find it."

A kid at my old job once asked me what a land line was. I explained, he nodded and then he said, "cuz this dude asked me if I had a land line at home...who the heck has a land line at home?"

"Well," I said, "during the Flintstones era, about the time I grew up, anyone who had a phone in their home had a land line."

"No shit?" He said incredulously.

"That's right."

"What's the Flintstones?"

I've felt prehistoric before - like when I watched "Toy Story" and realized I've played with most of the secondary characters when they were originally manufactured - but this was ridiculous. It hadn't been that long since the cell phone graduated to ubiquitous accessory status surpassing Bic lighters.

Just wait, in another six months, you'll probably be able to light that Dooby with an application on your iPhone.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Parlez Vous Espanol?

The other morning I attended a Workshop For Parents at my son's school. It had all the right intentions - tips for starting the kids off right for school, help with homework, communicating with teachers, etc. The only problem was, about seventy percent of it was conducted in Spanish.

I could go ape-shit like those folks who drape themselves with an American flag screaming, "This is America - speak English!" But what's the point, unless I yell it out in Spanish. The stark truth is, the Spanish speaking population far outnumbers the English speakers, especially in areas like New York and Florida and that's just the East Coast.

You know what they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. 

Our education system offers specialized programs to help non-English speaking children, I'd like to see them offer native English speakers a chance to learn Spanish instead of depending on Dora The Explorer.

Oh sure, we offer French and Spanish in our schools but that's not until Junior High (Middle school). I'm no "Diary Of A Wimpy Kid" here but extreme self-consciousness hits most people around this time, they're not going to repeat "Mi nombre es Retardo" with enthusiasm. It's not going to stick.

I took French in Junior High and about the only sentence I've retained is fermez la bouche - shut your mouth. I remembered it because it's a useful phrase. And you have to admit, it sounds romantic. Only in French could you say, "your mother is a dog" and it would sound like poetry. Can you imagine if they dubbed "Goodfellas" in French - that would suck. It's probably why the French aren't big in organized crime; how threatening could you sound with a French accent? C'est impossible, baiseur de mère.

Getting back to the Parent Workshop - although it fell short of conveying the information it promised, it did hit home the need to teach my kids another language. The four-year old does well in learning Japanese. The big brother, well, like I said in a previous post - he's an air head. He has trouble enough with English why confuse him even more? If the most he can say is Domo-arigato, Mr. Roboto well...c'est la vie.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Here She Comes

"She's always dancing down the street with her suede blue eyes,
And every new boy that she meets, doesn't know the real surprise.
Here she comes, again."

If you didn't know these are the lyrics to "My Best Friend's Girlfriend" by the Cars, you know now. Yes, this is another reference to an 80's tune conjured up in the past couple of posts, but this is not a cry for help. It's just that lately, I'm reminded of this tune when I venture to investigate what misadventure my miscreants are brewing up.

They've taken to locking themselves away in the bedroom, bathroom or anyplace out of my sight and proceed to destroy-destroy-destroy. If my ears become keen to an uneasy quiet, I drop what I'm doing and stomp my way over. My footsteps pound like Sasquatch toward their soiree and then I hear the code words, "Hurry, hurry - here she comes."

Here she comes.

When I open that door or enter that room, I risk being blasted with sonar screams or pelted by water from a mildew-laden water gun or greeted to the aftermath of airborne toys and pillows - it's a bloody mess that could only be matched by Quentin Tarantino.

Last weekend, the four-year old dropped his precious little Lego figurine behind the spiral staircase. I went to retrieve it and in so doing, found a pair (why is it called a pair?) of underwear stuffed behind the big Lego box.

"How long has this been here?" I asked holding up the crumpled underpants.

The four-year old, happy that his Lego piece sustained no injuries, looked up at the evidence of chivalry and said, "Forty 100-days."

That's what happens when I fail to investigate - I find missing underpants in dark places and am left to ponder the premise of its concealment. It's disturbing.

Then there are times they inadvertently collect the evidence themselves, like when they get hold of my digital camera. From the depths of my drudgery - uh, I mean doing laundry in the basement - I heard the boys laughing while a camera shutter clicked away.

"Are you playing with mommy's camera?!"

The four-year old answered right away, "Noooooo!"

It's probably his idea because his tone is exceedingly condescending. As my footsteps announced my approach, the big brother sent the code, "Quick! Here she comes."

The camera is powered off but they haven't yet learned how to delete the images. Amongst pictures of doorknobs and life's view from their midget angle, there are a few funny shots. I really don't mind as long as they don't take picture taking tips from former Congressman Weiner.

Evidence that they don't eat breakfast, they mutilate it

The Megatron close up and temporarily blinded

Picture of a fingertip - boy with tongue not included

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Diplomatic Air Head

Well, he did it again - the six-year old broke his fall with his face. He tripped because he wasn't watching where he was going and SPLAT! He didn't throw his hands forward like most people, he just hit the sidewalk like Wile E Coyote (Super Genius) hits the bottom of the canyon. It sounds dangerous and yes, I was concerned but all he did was scratch up his nose because he fell the way he does everything else; very slowly.

I wish I could say he's flighty and easily distracted because he's an air sign - Libra (like John Lennon). But he's actually very dense. If he were a planet, he'd be Pluto. Small and solid. When he was a baby, people were often drawn by his smaller than average size and generous smile - they would attempt to pick him up. It was like watching someone pick up an anvil. I was afraid his armpits would be permanently wedged into his shoulders.

He is a certified air head, though. He'll ask me why birds can fly and I'll explain for five minutes how birds have feathers and hallow bones, etc. until I'm blue in the face and now hankering for rotisserie chicken and at the end he'll say, "So, why can birds fly?"

At first I used to chalk it up to him being a kid. Now, I just say, "Are you serious?"

I've toyed with the selective hearing theory. Like in the morning when I clearly - and let me restate - CLEARLY say, "Put on your socks." He'll say, "Okay."

I run upstairs, forget why I went up there and putz around until I remember and when I come back down, what do I see. The Air Head lying down on the sofa - with bare feet.

If I remind him that he should have his socks on, he'll say, "Huh?"

At least when the four-year old ignores my orders, he'll say something smart-ass like, "I'm doing something."

And he is doing something. He's turning over the toy chest to look for a tiny piece of plastic that's supposed to be Bumble Bee's arm. But the Air Head is in dream land where nothing is happening. I know this because when I ask him what he was thinking about he'll say, "Oh, nothing."

Air. That's what he was thinking about.

It's a good thing I had some insight to my own father's antics as a boy. I'm sure if my aunts, uncles and grandmother met my little Air Head, they'd say my dad and him are a lot alike. My aunt once reminisced how the community notebook (my father's family had seven children sharing five notebooks for school) would be laden with doodles whenever my father had it. My grandmother used to tell me my father was very "particular," which in her terms meant pain-in-the-ass.

I should know they spoke the truth - my dad was very "particular" as my dad, too. But he was a Diplomat. People loved him. There were a lot of things he couldn't manage like typewriters and ATM's but people - all people - would be eating out his hands almost immediately.

In many ways, my little Air Head has those diplomatic qualities. People remember him. Everywhere I go with him, some kid passes by and says, "Hi, Zuki!"

The air head that he is, he turns in the completely opposite direction to locate who greeted him. Sheesh. 90 degrees later he says, "Oh. Hi."

"Who is that?" I'll ask.

"He's my friend."

"Oh, what's his name?"

"I dunno."

Duh.

Lookin' Smart!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Homework Blows

I've heard of parents getting stumped by their kids homework before, but I assumed it was somewhere around grade four or five - not kindergarten. It wasn't a question of my knowing the alphabet, shapes or colors - although I recently learned my shapes and colors watching "Blues Clues." What had me stumped was the instruction.

"Find the letter B,b in the picture. Find words that start with the letter B, b. Color the picture."

The picture was a scene at the beach with items you'd normally find at the beach like a ball and a sailboat in the distance. Then there were the not-so-normal items like rain boots and a teddy bear. The picture looked more like a demented crime scene than a day at the beach - made me wonder if perhaps the same picture is used to test cadets of the N.Y.P.D. The instructions, instead of finding the letter b, would be, "Find the popular places to hide a crack pipe."

There must be some sick psychology involved because the first letter "b" he found was hidden in the palm tree - a branch and a coconut formed the letter.

Coconut.

I'm confused. He's confused. But I tell the kindergartner it's okay to color it in anyway and we moved on. I found a "b" nestled in the beach ball and tried to prod him to it.

"That's a b isn't it?" I say.

"No mommy, that's a 6."

He's got a point. It did look like the number six but I couldn't help it if the artist drew the picture with the precision of William Burroughs (he shot his wife in the head pretending to be William Tell).

"Well it looks like the number 6, but I assure you that's a small b."

"No it's a 6."

"Just color the damn beach ball!"

He colored then proceeded to look for more "b" items. Of course he instantly spotted the bottle half buried in the sand because he's seen enough empties half buried in our garbage can - even I overlooked that. The next hidden B we found was within a pair of glasses.

I never took acid but I was beginning to wonder if perhaps I was hallucinating. Am I missing something here - what's with hiding the letter in a word that doesn't start with it? Maybe I'm just taking this way too seriously.

I let it go and directed his attention to the banana.

"What about the banana," I asked. "Doesn't that start with b?"

"No mommy," he argued. "That's not a banana, it's a sausage."

Some things never change - homework blows.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Stepford Wife

I get a kick out of reading parenting "tips." Today, I came across an article on how to save time getting ready in the morning. Three women were featured with a low down of their morning routine but Patricia's solution, dubbed with "Military Precision," took the cake.

Are you ready?

Her husband wakes up at six am, he sets the kids up with Lego's or books, he feeds the pets, he makes coffee, he takes breakfast orders, he MAKES breakfast while mommy sleeps until seven. What does she do until the family leaves the apartment at a military-precise seven forty am? She gets dressed.

That's her solution?

C'mon girl. Surely there's some better advice you could give me besides making my husband and kids do all the work. It's why most moms are stressed out borderline alcoholics.

But wait, Patricia's Military Precision gets better. The kids have to accomplish the teeth brushing, jacket wearing, shoe tying tasks in a timely manner and when they do they get POINTS! And for fifty points they get a TOY. Fifteen dollars or less, of course - we wouldn't want to spoil them, now would we?

Patricia...I gotta hand it to ya, you're a Super Mom. How do you do it? How do you keep track of all those points? How do you manage to get dressed in forty minutes? It's just impossible for a normal chick like me. Not to mention, my kids aren't too keen on the teeth brushing thing. If I left them to do that on their own every morning, well, they'd just brush the bathroom mirror with it. I know you think it's letting them be more responsible but frankly, it just sounds like laziness to me.

So, no. Military Precision isn't going to work with my two boys and especially my husband. As a matter of fact, I find it hard to believe it would work anywhere except Stepford. I'm sorry, are my movie references too old?

On a final note, the last paragraph summarizes how she would eventually like to "ease up" on the strictness. Give the kids more responsibility so they can "micro manage" themselves and give her an opportunity to relax a little bit.

I'm wondering who's more insane, Patricia or the editor who published this crap.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Welcome Back, Sucker!

The first day of school is always a madhouse, especially at PS 150 in Queens. You'd think a school that focuses so vehemently on academic percentiles and reading scores would do better communicating where to meet in case it rains because it's only been raining for the past week or so. But no, they decide to tape up 8x10 papers with vague instructions on the outer doors, which are being pelted by rain.

If they can send me ten text messages about a PTA meeting, why can't they send a single text saying the drop off location was changed due to the weather?

No. That would be too considerate. As in the clueless mother who was giving parents the completely opposite information at the door, causing further mayhem. Sure, she was clueless but not as clueless as the parents who actually listened to her.

Now I know - the first day of school I should really drink decaf.

Although, some kids already started school like, last month, public schools opened on Thursday, September 8th. Despite the the late start, I can tell you honestly that nobody in my household was ready to get back to the school schedule.

We'd grown accustomed to the leisurely summer morning of waking up at eight, taking morning walks and enjoying a long breakfast with fresh fruit and laughter. Now, it's six-thirty, the boys can barely manage the stairs or their emotions and I'm snapping at every little thing.


At the breakfast table, the kindergartner was a nervous chatterbox, bouncing around with excitement. The second grader was a glum zombie. But little by little the mood exchanged until by departure time, the two looked like this.


Yes, the first day of Kindergarten was kind of traumatic for Samu but not to worry. He soon found a new friend and discovered that his teacher - who's name he couldn't pronounce and you'd think that after a year of saying Miss Tzannetis (Zah-nah-teece), he'd be able to say Ms. Ruffinati - anyway, he gave her a big thumbs up.

In comparison, the first morning of Kindergarten he was weepy when it was time to go in. Choking my finger until it was blue and begging me to come in with him. The very next day, we couldn't leave for school early enough and this is him, in the white shirt, marching in on his own.


"Okay, you can go home now Mommy. I'll see you in an hour," he told me.


P.S.: School is a full day now...Sucker.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chef Boyardee vs Kitchen Slave

When they said, "the key to a man's heart is through his stomach," they failed to warn you that Dutch Ovens are on time delay. If you're not versed on flatulence jargon, a "Dutch Oven" is when you fart under the covers and throw them over your partner's head. Whenever I complain to my husband how stinky his farts are, his reply is "well, it's your cooking."

Touche.

Truth is, after ten years I realized that music may have brought my husband and I together but it was definitely our gastronomic similarities that was the glue of our relationship. We both have the same tastes, literally. And DO we love to experiment, especially with cultural cuisines. Be it spicy, game meat, raw fish or the claim to the best damned Buffalo Wings in town - we're there. And it was the day we realized our perfect romantic dinner was a hunk of cheese, black bread, olives and a twelve pack of whatever was on sale that we knew we were each other's sucker.

Food is an unspoken issue with bi-racial relationships. If I may be so bold, agreeing on what is "comfort food" is probably the single biggest reason those relationships fail. He says Pa-tater salad and I say PO-teh-toh sa-la-dah, let's call the whole thing Frittata.

My mom, had a friend that had "secret" lunches where Asian wives would meet at her apartment and bring their stinkiest, nastiest, indigenous staple condiment and eat it with hot, white rice. Imagine that scenario where the husband catches his woman in the act of cheating but says instead, "Have you been eating that KIM CHEE, again?!"

Fortunately, nothing grosses out my husband. My mom ordered fried shrimp heads to test drive her future son-in-law and when he popped them in his mouth like popcorn she hung her head.

No contest.

Three years later, we gave him a tea cup full of hot sake with a grilled puffer fish fin. He barely finished it and fled the restaurant ranting mad hallucinogenic allegations. Who'da known?

We both love to cook and I appreciate the times he takes over the kitchen reigns, no matter what inflamed inedible concoction he turns out in the end. The boys always love it. It's Man Food - meaning, not made by mom. It's chili so spicy, it makes your ears ring and the same goes for his guacamole. But the guacamole is the kind of spice that only hurts when you stop eating it. Strange thing, that.

Even if it's too spicy for my liking, I get a kick watching the four-year old take a bite, fan his mouth and down a pint glass of water. It's like watching a dog eat peanut butter - highly entertaining.

As cooks, we are amateurs but at least we never had to end an evening with, "that sucked." If the boys say it did, we tell them to be grateful anyway. Not just for the obvious reason like the starving kids that Alyssa Milano asks you to fish out two quarters for but that there are "not starving" kids whose parents don't or can't make home cooked meals on a daily basis.

I could explain to them, the contents of a TV dinner. Or how blocks of dry ramen noodles were the staple of every American student's diet post 1980. But why open up that Pandora's Box? As it is, I can't tell my Italian mother-in-law to her face that her grandson thinks Chef Boyardee mini-ravioli's are the Bomb!

But that is the sad truth: Jack In The Pandora's Box. The convenient meal that replaced generations of recipes of kitchen slaves.

While the country grapples with obesity by taxing sugary drinks and displaying an actual carrot to inner city kids, I say why not offer tax write-offs for home cooked meals?

Well? Why not.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Evisceration

A long time ago, when I celebrated being weird, I accumulated a lot friends who were weirder than myself. We were all ambitious in our own way - attaching a wooden carving of a swan to a bowler hat with a bolt, wanting to take over the world riding the storm winds of music, politics or delusional espionage. We would spurt out random quotes from rated R movies over six pints of Guinness...each. It was inevitably followed by shots of cheap shit and we'd wonder why the world didn't take us seriously. You know, stuff like that.

Although, my friends remain among the "Questionable" people, I've felt as if I left my own "Wild Child" somewhere far behind - somewhere around 1999.

Sometimes a commercial for some anti-depressant airs - it shows a woman going about her day with a cloud above her head and I thank my lucky stars I'm not her. Yet.

If there really was a "Twilight Zone" or a sliding door that split your life from that moment you missed the train, then I'm sure I'm running around in many different universes as one of the seven different personalities that used to live happily under this one roof.

I know because every once in a while, some buddy of mine calls for that ghost-of-a-girl. Taunting me with that "incident" that marked our friendship in time. I pretend that memory had long since been buried but in truth, I'm surprised someone else took the time to etch me into their history.

Those life blemishes are cherished memories that mark what I've negated to accomplish. It's awesome.

With every good, albeit unconventional, friend that comes calling, they all seem to accumulate around September. It's the time of year I go through an ecdysis - a molting stage to try to exfoliate back to that quirkiness that once was. Crabs go through this. Crabs, apparently my four-year old's obsession is also my sign astrologically. Guess that makes it a natural process.

The month of September was always more bitter than sweet in my experiences. As a kid, the term "Back To School" used to give me hives and heart palpitations that I actually thought I was allergic to the slogan. After Labor Day, I felt like Damien, the son of Satan in "The Omen" approaching the church - only it was school.

My back-to-school-days are a torment of the past. But as of late, both my boys, meaning the four-year old included, is coming into that circulation.

It's hurtle number one.

Prisoners call it probation. Parents call it an empty nest.

It's the time that most moms look forward to re-entering the world. The Legitimate Freedom to the question everybody asks when you're alone.

"Where are the kids?"

"At school, mother-f*cker. The kids are at school all day, okay? Can I have another?"

But I had a "Big Plan" for arriving at this time. The problem is, when you plan for so long, it's almost scary to step off that ledge and set it in motion.

It's all in your head. The plan, that is. It stays there and prevents you from falling back to sleep when you wake up to take a piss at four am. It drapes heavier than your favorite blanket and clouds your decisions with a fog of doubt that's thicker than your mother-in-law's split pea soup.

I need to do something, I tell myself.

What? Go back to school? Swallow my pride and take a free Zumba class?

"No hun. Put away the leotard and tights," a voice from the past said. "Eviscerate."


Eviscerate?

Yeah, well that's where my weird friends come back into play. Had a friend who was obsessed with learning every word in the dictionary and came back with "eviscerate." It means to disembowel. Why not be happy with "disembowel," right?  Does the English language really need another term for that function?

Guess so. And it happened to be my answer to this juncture in my life.

Now, I'm not going to sit on top of the drain of a pool and literally eviscerate my bowels. But all the mental road blocks I've been setting up around myself - the ones that tell me to "Stop" or "Detour"... well, that's going into this Saturday's trash bag.

I suppose our educational system had it right starting the school year this month. If I'm not the only one getting rid of some Spiritual cow-pies, why not start the learning - or in my case - the re-learning process with a clean slate?

All we need now is a really cool "Back To School" song by Alice Cooper.
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