Play Ball!

Monkey started playing softball this week, and I'm pretty impressed with the program and the coach. The program is very well designed to teach the fundamentals of the sport, and the coach is knowledgeable about the game and also very nurturing. At tonight's practice, they divided the team into thirds and each group practiced something different - throwing, hitting, and fielding.

I grew up in a rural town with a softball league of about 6 teams, each comprised of girls from age 7 to age 14. My father was thrilled with my softball team because our colors were maroon and white, which happen to be Galway's colors. We never learned any fundamentals - the coaches pointed out where the bases were and which direction we were supposed to run in if, in fact, we managed to hit the ball. They put us out at various positions and that was pretty much it. I played shortstop, and I was pretty good. My aunt Maureen sent me a book called Creative Visualization when I was about 10, and I used to go out on the field visualizing myself as an unscalable, unpassable wall. I was never a very graceful athlete (hip displaysia, osteoarthritis), but I always did surprisingly well. After my first year, I got picked for the All-Star and Traveling Teams every year.

Loki, on the other hand, is one of the most unathletic people I've ever met. He doesn't even watch sports (which is okay by me - I don't mind watching a game if I'm there, but I cannot fathom watching a game on TV). Sweetness tries hard, and she's a great swimmer, but other sports are a struggle for her. Monkey, though - Monkey is a natural athlete, she's strong and graceful and daring. I don't know if she'll enjoy softball as much as I did, but I'm pretty sure she'll be better at it than I was.


A Tale of Two Mothers

This morning on the way to school, Monkey asked me what a period was. I asked her if she knew how babies were made, and she was sort of fuzzy on that, so I told her that in order for a baby to be created, there has to be a cell from the mother, the egg, and a cell from the father, the sperm. If the sperm gets inside the egg, (and everything goes well for the gestation period), a baby will eventually be born.

I told her that when a young woman goes through puberty, her body gets ready to eventually make a baby, and one of the things that happens is that an egg gets released from your ovary (which she was astonished to learn already contained eggs, and did before she was born) and travels through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. And that the uterus tries to make itself a comfortable place for a fertilized egg to hang out.

But most of the time, I said, the egg doesn't get fertilized and then it has to leave your body, along with the lining in the uterus. So when you get older, you will eventually get your period, which is when all that leaves your body, and it comes out in blood. She asked me if it hurt like when you cut yourself. I said some people (like me) get cramps, but you can always take ibuprofen or something to make the cramps go away, and I also told her that my cramps aren't too bad, and they really ease up if I make sure to get some exercise during my period. She wasn't thrilled about it, but she asked and I told her, and we can talk about these things.

I know, you know all that already, right?

Now I'm going to share the period talk I had with my mother, circa 1983. I should preface this by saying I got my period when I was 11, in 1980. I didn't tell my mother when I got my period because we didn't talk about these kinds of things. We didn't talk about boys, about sex, about drugs, about anything.

So it's a few years after I've been dealing with my period (because lucky me never went through a time when my period didn't arrive every month right on schedule, right from the first month), and my mother grabs me one evening and pulls me into the kitchen. It's probably about 9 o'clock, the house is quiet, and the lights are low.

Mom: Do you know about your thing?
Me: My what?
Mom: Your *monthly* thing?
Me: What? Oh, yeah. I've had it for a couple of years.
Mom: Okay


That is the most in-depth conversation I've ever had with my mother about the way a woman's body works. From a woman who had 5 kids herself!

It's Raining Again

I didn't post much this weekend or spend much time online, either, because it was beautiful outside. As a fair skinned red-head, I used to hate going out in the sun, but the older I get, the more I appreciate a sunny day. I took Stinky to the dog park again while Sweetness was in NYC with her friend Devin and Devin's mom and Monkey was visiting her wild child cousins with Loki. Stinky met another Basset Hound this week, and he also ran around for hours with an Australian Shepherd named Luke.

I did spend a little time on the abortion issue, obviously, although I feel like my story has resulted in everyone who visits here taking a few steps back from the crazy woman. Maybe not, but if you stop in, please feel free to leave evidence that you did so.

I'll leave you a question that you can answer in comments: what is your favorite television show of all time and why? (It's TV turnoff week so I'm in withdrawal while I set a good example for my kids.) I'm not even certain what my answer is, but I'm going to say Firefly just because it was so great for the few episodes it existed.


It's the 2000 election all over again!

I don't watch American Idol, and I have nothing invested in any of the performers on the show, so this story (registration/daypass required) came as quite a shock to me. Yet another electoral outrage. I would suggest to Hudson that she inquire about procuring James Baker's services to help her win her rightful place at the head of the table of crappy pop music. I'm not sure if they can do a recount of votes placed over the phone, but Hudson should see if such a recount would help her. If so, she should insist upon one, if not, she could have Baker make sure no such a recount happens. It's worked for other crap peddlars.

Rhymes with liar

Roger Ailes (not the evil one) does a nice bit on Crazy Peggy Noonan. This is the second time Crazy Peggy has invoked the name that gives her shivers in her girly parts in regards to a fire. The first time she discussed Bush and fire was when she shared that Bush seemed like the kind of guy who would know all the kids in the neighborhood, and send the firefighters looking for poor Billy (although it seems to me Bush wouldn't know his name was Billy, he'd probably call him Shorty or Red or something like that). This is how you know that Crazy Peggy is, indeed, Crazy. She imagines these events and then imagines how her hunka hunka burning love Bush would react to these imaginary events. She lives in a world of her own making, where a frat-boy bully who engages in "youthful indiscretions" until he's 40 years old and never ever ever ever takes responsibility for anything he does and can't admit he's ever made a mistake and can't even walk on the ground like the rest of us poor suckers is a heroic righteous dude. It's just not so, Peggy, not here in the physical universe in which we actually exist. It's all in your head.

This time, a former POW who reacts calmly to a fire at a restaurant table, which is not an extraordinary act in and of itself, reminds Crazy Peggy of her imaginary world's throbbing hunk of manliness, George W. Bush. I'm not sure how anything Bush has ever done would even suggest he would even acknowledge that the table was on fire, let alone calmly put the fire out. The guy can't even answer an unscripted softball question!

I know that calmly putting out a small fire is not an extraordinary act, because I've done it myself. Several years ago, I was in a play and my costume caught on fire on stage. I calmly patted the fire out with my hands and went on with the show. I reacted in such a calm manner that not only did no one in the audience notice I caught on fire, neither did anyone who was on stage with me.


Feeling Low

I don't know if it's the sickness talking, or if it's seeing Bush's poll numbers go up, or reading about some schmuck named John O'Neill talking shit about Kerry's military service, or just the built-up anger and frustration about pretty much everything that has happened since November 2000 in the world of politics, but I am feeling low tonight.

I really think one of the problems the Democrats have to face this time around is that many people believe in Bush with a religious fervor. My MIL doesn't give a crap about the truth, she thinks George W. Bush was given to us by God to lead us. It's like we are living in different realities. It reminds me of "Angel" from last season, where everyone saw Jasmine as a beloved figure of true love and caring, but the truth was she was a rotting worm-laden corpse, here to take away free will (and eat people). In the episode "The Magic Bullet", we learned that Jasmine's blood would show you her true face. But what will it take for people bewitched by Bush to see his real face? I see it everytime I open the paper. He's a smirking, lying frat-boy bully who holds a grudge. What revelation about Bush will make the true believers start to doubt him?


It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Spring and Autumn are my two favorite seasons. Naturally, they are incredibly short-lived. We usually get a good 6 weeks or so of Autumn, but Spring goes right from being gorgeous and pleasant one week to being sweaty and too hot the next. (For me, anyway - anything over 82 is too hot for me).

But today is a glistening and beautiful breezy spring day in Connecticut. And I'm sick as a dog. I have to thank my husband for bringing this particular virus into our home. He rarely gets sick, and unlike most men, he is not a big baby when he is sick. He goes about his business and usually doesn't say anything until he's feeling better. Thanks sweetie, I'm glad you're feeling better. Now could you run to the store and grab some Nyquil and a couple of boxes of Kleenex?

I'm not normally a big baby when I'm sick, but I couldn't take any time off from work because a whole bunch of meetings were rescheduled to this week, and I have to take minutes (which will later be found worthless because I misplaced a comma or didn't phrase something the way the Dictator would phrase it).


Dog Day Afternoon

We spent our day today at a dog park with our 6 month old Basset Hound, who responds to the name that best describes him, Stinky (although that is not his given name).

He played with a family of 4 Italian Greyhounds (it was quite a sight - Stinky can fly when he wants to, but he's sort of a goose compared to the darting hummingbirds that the IG resembles). He also played with several mutts, a Husky, and 2 Mastiffs, but he couldn't get anywhere near the Chihuahua even though he was desperate to play.

After a few hours at the park, we started getting ready to head home. Stinky was so tired I thought he might fall asleep on the way back to the car, but he simply dropped down completely flat and insisted we carry him the rest of the way.

He's surprisingly peppy tonight despite his busy day. On the other hand, I'm completely exhausted.


Blogger(tm) doesn't want you to know

that inspectors have indicated Iraqi nuclear sites have been looted. I posted a link several times, and it's published several times, and every time I come back to the site, it's gone, daddy, gone.

It's been posted on several more prominent blogs, so I won't bother to complain about the quality of my free service.


I think the world is TOO safe

So let's just do what we can to make it a little less safe, shall we?

Good job, American Occupiers of Iraq!

(registration or ad viewing required for link)

Necessity is the mother of invention

Or how desperation can drive new ideas...
Or how pathetic can Maurinsky be in her desire to eat lunch?

I didn't pack a lunch today because the Mr. (whom I shall call Loki after his favorite Norse deity) said he would come by and we
could go out together. At about 11:45, he called to say he was still
at his sister's house (she was reviewing our tax returns) and so I
should forget about him showing up.

No problem. I decided I would head over to the Berlin Turnpike, grab
a quick bite and fill my car up with the cheapest gas I know of
within 15 miles.

So I head out on the highway...and come to a complete stop. I spent
50 minutes sitting in traffic, caused by a horrific accident that
made me immediately stop feeling sorry for myself about being stuck
in traffic. But my lunch hour was over, so I only had time to go past
the accident, get off the highway and turn around and go back. No gas
for the car, no food for me (but gratitude that I was not part of the
accident, most definitely).

Anyway, I got back to the office, and as soon as my phone answering
time was over (3pm), I begin searching for food. Nothing in the
fridge, no snacks or goodies, no candy in any of the candy jars. But
then I spy a box of croutons sitting on top of the fridge. I figure a
few savory croutons will help ease my hunger. As I'm pouring a few
into a small cup, I realize that croutons aren't very much different
than stuffing, so I added some hot water and voila - impromptu
stuffing for lunch!

I'm feeling much less hungry now, and alternately proud that I solved
my problem and embarassed that I was that desperate to eat.

(edited to be better)

Today's Mob

My husband's company is run by a family that has ties to organized crime. I tend to forget that until something happens that reminds me that they don't really care about running a legitimate business. Yesterday as I was doing our taxes (nothing like waiting until the last minute), I thought the income reported on his W-2 seemed a little high. So I pulled out his pay stubs, and it turns out they reported paying him more than $9,000.00 than they actually paid him!

Things like this are the reason why you shouldn't wait until the last minute.


Slower thinking

(There was a time when I was sharp as a whip and fast as a cheetah in my thinking - I used to do improv and you have to be a quick thinker. This was before I had children and a job that sucks away my soul on a daily basis).

As I lay in bed last night, I was thinking that a better follow-up question to my "who attacked us on 9/11" question would be "how has the war in Iraq brought the ringleaders and financiers of 9/11 closer to justice?"


Slow thinking here

All day long I kept trying to think of a good question that someone should ask Bush at the press conference. And I finally thought of it:

Mr. President, who attacked us on 9/11? And what have you done to bring the ringleaders of that attack to justice?


My heartiest congratulations to Donald Rumsfeld on his promotion to Secretary of State.

Jeebus. Bush has succeeded in making me feel scared - but I'm not afraid of terrorists, I'm afraid of the possibility that people are actually going to choose to vote for Bush in November.

Who did a better job at preventing terrorist attacks?

MSNBC has a nice graphic up that shows terrorist attacks related to al Qaida from the late '80's to the present. (Scroll down to the "Time Line" graphic.)

Prior to Bush taking office, there were 22 successful or attempted attacks. More than 50%of these (12 of the 22) were thwarted. There were no attacks during at least one full year of Clinton's presidency.

Since Bush took office, there have been 22 successful or attempted attacks. Of these, only 4 were thwarted. So that's, what, a hair over 20%? (Math was always my weakest subject).

The numbers are not on Bush's side.

The state of the comics page

I read the daily comics page today, and I am deeply depressed. I suppose it's inevitable - when I started reading the comics, we had Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side, and my very favorite, Bloom County - a golden age of comic strips, really. But now - occasionally, Dilbert, The Boondocks and Foxtrot amuse, and Doonesbury will always be mildly satisfying, but there is no one strip that compels me to read the comics page.

Are there any good comic strip artists out there? Are there strips I should be asking my newspaper to carry (aside from Opus, which I ask for on a monthly basis)?

Sweetness takes on a new challenge

Sweetness has been tapped to direct a 10 minute play at a production of several 10 minute plays her school's drama department is doing early in June. She is going to direct Christopher Durang's "The Funeral", which was originally written as a teleplay for a Carol Burnett special. I'm very excited for her. I was (briefly) a Directing major in college, until I decided I liked acting much better. She'll do a great job - she is decisive and bossy, and I've checked her early notes about the characters and she's got a great start at what she needs from her actors.

I can't wait to start acting again. Later this year, the Mr. is switching to daytime hours, so I will have the opportunity to go to evening rehearsals. Here is my favorite local theater - they do a better job than many professional theaters I've been to.


Out of the park

Read this, please. Ezra done good.


Remembrance of a past Easter Sunday

When I was about 7 or 8 years old, my father came home, smelling of bar (beer & cigarettes), with a box in his arms. He set the box on the floor and we scooched close, and in the box were two black and white rabbits.

One rabbit was for my older sister, and she named him Snoopy. The other was for me, and I named him Bugs. (Very imaginative, no?) My father gave us a box of rabbit food, which came in the form of small pellets. After a little while, the rabbits pooped out those little round pellets of rabbit excrement. My mother, who grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and had only ever seen a stuffed rabbit at the Museum of Natural History, exclaimed: "Look! They're making their own food!"

The Easter Bunny, the Leprechaun and the Tooth Fairy

The Easter Bunny hit the house last night, leaving candy and plastic eggs all over the house, enabling Monkey to have a sugar high by 8 a.m. When I was getting dressed for church, I slipped my shoe on and found money in it - which is what my father always said Leprechauns do. And shortly after lunch, Monkey lost her tooth, which should summon the Tooth Fairy sometime tonight.

It's a trifecta of mythical givers-of-small-presents.


Light blogging this weekend

Probably. I have to get my house ready for an onslaught of visitors on Saturday. Just once, I would like to have my house already be in a state of readiness for visitors. (It will never happen - I hate cleaning so much. I like the house being clean, I just hate all the work that has to go into making it that way. I blame my mother for using cleaning as a punishment - when I got in trouble, I had to clean my room.) The thing I am most embarassed about is that early last year, I started painting my kitchen, and I still haven't finished yet. We will soon be celebrating the one year anniversary of painter's tape being on the trim in the kitchen. And my husband's aunt is a neat freak to the nth degree. Her house is pristine, you would never find a speck of dust anywhere. She will not express any judgement, but she will be thinking it.

We will be celebrating my better half's birthday on Saturday. So his family is coming over, and my sisters are coming over with their kids, and most notably, Sweetness' new boyfriend is coming over.

Yes, Sweetness has a new boyfriend. So far, he's used his influence over her to get her to join the Math and Chemistry teams. He is very keen to meet the Mr., because they both like the same sci-fi authors. My husband is not quite as keen to meet the boyfriend, because he's having a lot of trouble with being the father of a teenage daughter who has a boyfriend. I'm actually pretty relaxed about it, which surprises me.


Forgot to mention

Copious and very funny Air America advertisements all over the subway. When we were walking from the Times Square shuttle to Grand Central terminal, there was a gallery of right-wingers with funny little quotes over their faces. You could see Cheney's smirk, but his face was covered by a dialog balloon that said "Axis of Enron". Over Tom Delay's face, it said "The FCC wants a 10 second delay. We wish."

The Daily Show experience

It was snowing when we left our house at about 10am, but by the time we got to Grand Central, it was in the 50s, the sun was shining, and there was a lovely breeze. (Every time I go through Grand Central, I flashback to that scene in the movie "The Fisher King", that moment of magic when the chaos of people suddenly came together into order as everyone started waltzing.)

We stopped in at a bar (the generically named "The Irish Pub) to have a few drinks before we headed over to the studio. I do not usually drink because A)I'm cheap and booze is expensive, and B)my father is a raging alcoholic and I do not wish to find out whether that is one of the things I inherited from him. But I did have a Guinness with my husband. Now that smoking is banned inside bars, bars don't smell like bars anymore. I spent every Sunday of my childhood in a bar (chuch then bar - I think it's an Irish thing), and I guess that smell of beer and cigarettes will be something else my kids will never know about - I don't know why that makes me feel a little sad, but it does (even though I don't smoke, either).

It was recommended that we arrive at the studio an hour before the doors open, but we got there an hour and a half early, and we were 98th & 99th in line. Maybe 15 people behind us also made it in, so if you're going, get there earlier than they tell you to). Waiting in line was fine, for the most part, although we had lovely weather - I can't imagine it's much fun to wait in line outside in January. It is a little difficult for me to stand or really to be in any one position for an extended period of time, so I was quite stiff by the time the line got moving. Total waiting time in line: 90 minutes.

They ushered us (100+ of us) into a waiting room, where the VIP ticket-holders were seated. We waited, milled around, and waited some more. Bob the intern came out and gave a pep talk about how the audience has to provide the energy and excitement by applauding loudly and making a lot of noise. He had us practice. We did some more waiting - about 50 minutes worth. Then they ushered the VIP ticketholders into the studio. A little bit more waiting, then we got to go in.

The set looks much smaller in person than it does on TV. There are absolutely no bad seats in the studio, although as a short person, I'm glad we were in the second row, which meant we could see over the cameras. First the warm-up comic came out, his name was Paul Mercurio. He did a great job of connecting with the audience and reinforced that we needed to be loud and energetic. He told us that Jon was going to come out and that he liked to interact a little with the audience and we should feel free to speak to him and ask questions, but that we were not to stare in shock at how tiny Jon is.

When Jon came out (looking taller than he does on TV), there was huge applause and hooting and hollering, and Jon was doing his humble shtick "oh, you're too kind. I know you're entitled to your opinion, but I beg to differ". He went straight towards asking for questions. The first question was "Who do you think is going to win the election" and Jon said that one of the great things about having a fake news show is that he doesn't have to pretend he has any insight into questions like that. He asked the woman who she wanted to win the election, and she said "I just want Bush to lose", which got a huge positive reaction from the audience. Jon made a crack I've heard him make before, that Bush "couldn't get elected captain of the audience".

I kept raising my hand to ask a question, but he never picked me, which is good, because I couldn't think of a question, I just wanted the opportunity to give him the hat I knit for his yet to arrive baby (no, I did not finish the sweater or the booties - I'm a very slow knitter). One audience member did ask about Condi Rice's testimony, which, if you watched the show last night, you heard his response.

The show started, and it was just like watching the show on television except much more three dimensional and of course the energy of actually being there is different than watching it in your living room. During the breaks, Jon talked to crew members.

We had heard from Bob the intern that we were going to have 2 guests during our taping, but I didn't know who the second guest was. So the highlight of my evening was hearing Jon say "our guest tonight stars on the Fox comedy "Arrested Development" - I actually squealed. Jason Bateman was very funny (as you'll see tonight) and very, very sexy.

After the show was over, we made our way out - people walking out asked one of the staff for the stuff off the desk, and the woman who worked there gave one guy the papers Jon was writing on, and someone else got the pen he was writing with. I stopped and told her I didn't want to take anything (she said "good! we don't have anything left to give!"), but that I heard Jon & his wife were having a baby, which she confirmed, so I gave her the hat to give to Jon. She asked for my name and told me I was sweet (when really I'm just a suck-up), and we left. We met Bob the intern as we were walking away from the studio, and he walked a block with us as we talked about the show. My husband was all nervous about whether or not we were an energetic enough audience (I couldn't tell - the music was loud) and Bob told us we were a great audience.

It was a great way to spend the day, although I'm paying for all the walking today, and I'm paying in severe pain. (I'll be talking to my new orthopedist next month about when I'm getting a new hip).

So that's my update. I actually had written up all these notes to make a great post, but I left them at home and I didn't want to wait. I may update some of this later to add some of the thoughts I wrote down yesterday.


Last Post Before The Daily Show

The Mr. and I will be heading out shortly to catch the train to NYC, so we can go see The Daily Show. I wanted to bring a gift, so last night I knit a baby hat for Jon Stewart's yet-to-be-born child (I hear that he and his wife are expecting). I'm bringing the supplies with me for the sweater that goes with it, but my hopes are not high that I will actually finish it before we get there. But it gives me something to do on the train.

I'll update when we return.


Tonight on Air America

Janeane has improved exponentially since last week - she rocks. And one of my other sex symbols is her co-host tonight: Stephen Colbert. < swooon >

They were just talking about the myth of the liberal wimp, and how men who support women's issues are seen as feminine. As a woman, I would like to say that I would never sleep with a man who didn't support women's issues, and if all women would agree to do the same, then we could eliminate the macho assholes in a generation. I think it's something we need to consider.

Late Opinion on Kos

I didn't feel entirely qualified to weigh in on the situation Markos has been experiencing the past few days. I didn't see the original diary entry and have only caught up with the story after the fact.

But here's my oh-two: Even if I disagree with Kos' remarks, I recognize that he was expressing an honest opinion, fueled by anger. He was angry about the way the media was giving the deaths of these guns-for-hire so much weight, when our volunteer soliders were dying and being ignored (as they mostly have been for months now). And I don't want to impugn the dead guys, but my mama always told me contract killers are not nice boys. I'm going to assume that they were motivated by misplaced patriotism rather than by getting paid to kill people, just to help me sleep better at night.

But Kos is a good guy. He was angry, he expressed his honest opinion, he put it into context afterwards, and for me, that's the end of the story. I understand why politicians have to be sensitive for that kind of stuff, so I'll give them a pass.

But the pile on from the right, the ridiculous reaction to Kos' statements, has the whiff of eau de manufactured outrage. It's like Wellstone all over again. Frankly, I do not trust the character judgement of people who support the Bush administration, who haven't been honest with the American public since...well, ever, near as I can tell.

So Kos, I got your back, buddy. Solidarinose.

Today in music

Today was a big musical day for the family. First of all, even though I set all our clocks forward, I still was late to choir practice this morning. Important lesson learned: no matter what the time on the clock is, you still have to set the alarm if you want to wake up.

Today is Palm Sunday for Christians, and Monkey was going to sing a song with the children's choir.

I don't know if I got into this completely with my last choir post, but Monkey is a fairly devout Christian. She really loves Jesus and Bible stories, and she hates to miss church. She's not a fundamentalist - she is quite skeptical about Adam and Eve not having parents, because she's never met a kid who didn't get here without having a parent at some point. Anyway, she loves God and Jesus, and she is an enthusiastic participant in all church related activities, like the Children's Choir.

Our adult choir is pretty loaded with ringers like me, and we were all zonked. One of the soprano ringers had a show close last night, so she basically came straight from the cast party to church. I didn't sleep well because the weather is killing my hip. And, of course, we were all missing an hour. We were jet lagged.

So we weren't so great today. We had to sing a hymn in Spanish that none of us had set eyes on until our bleary, bloodshot peepers got it today. That's never good. Latin we can handle in our sleep, but anything else can be tricky, particularly something like Spanish where you have to allide the syllables together. It's too late to make a long story short, but we sucked today.

But the Children's Choir, oh my! Monkey was so excited about singing today, she wore her "rock star" shirt (black shirt with the words "rock star" written on it in shiny pink glitter.) They were singing a very typical Palm Sunday type of song "Lo He Comes, Sing We Hosanna". (Palm Sunday: big on the hosannas). Before Monkey was old enough to join the choir last year, the Children's Choir was always silent. They would stand there, the kids lips would be moving, but you could only hear the conductor sing.

But Monkey loooves to sing and they always put the microphone right in front of her. So today, "Lo He Comes, Sing We Hosanna" became a solo instead of a chorus. It was Monkey and the Pips. She belted it out American Idol style. Up in the choir loft, we all woke up. Sweetness and I were laughing so hard we were crying.

Monkey was very pleased with her performance, and everyone was complimenting her. She told me that she sang it like that because she had joy in her heart and she wanted everyone to feel it. (When she says stuff like that, it just kills me.)

The next big musical thing was that Sweetness *had* *to* attend a musical event of some kind before tomorrow. So we ended up driving an hour (just like the one I lost yesterday) to Torrington to go to a church (I must be the churchiest atheist ever) and listen to Gaudeamus (yes, more religious music). They are a professional choir conducted by Paul Halley, a multi Grammy-winning composer for his contributions to the Paul Winter Consort - most definitely not my idea of good music, but his pieces are enjoyable for choirs to sing (provided you aren't a soprano who has to sing one of his frighteningly high, for dogs ears only descants). Sweetness has to attend one musical event a quarter for her Chorale teacher (who is also a composer, IMO, a much better one than Paul Halley, although not nearly as successful). So that was it. We sat in a very lovely, but very cold, Episcopal church listening to God music for an hour and a half.

On the drive home, I decided I needed something appropriately blasphemous to balance out all the religious music I heard today, so I put on Tenacious D (skipping over all the tracks that involve kielbasa sausage, gentle fucking, Cleveland Steamers, and munching on tasty bushes - Sweetness would be mortified if I listened to that kind of stuff in front of her.)

So that was my day in music.


How pain can ruin your life

My youngest sister used to have these pains every now and then. She would complain to my mother, but by the time she had 5 kids, my mother stopped taking us all to the doctor regularly. She especially didn't take us to the E.R., because the doctors there had all kinds of questions for her, questions she did not want to answer.

But she didn't do anything about B.'s pain. She figured it was just growing pains, and she let it go.

When B. was about 17 years old, a senior in high school, she woke up one morning in so much pain that she couldn't move. Doctors were visited, tests were ordered, blood was taken. It turned out that B. had Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disease so rotten that if it were a person, I would gladly impale it in the gut, twist the knife, and mutilate the body afterwards.

Now, I know what it's like to live with pain. I was born with hip displaysia, a common birth defect that is very correctable when treated early. Mine wasn't treated early enough. I had an osteotomy when I was a little over a year old, followed by several months in a cast and brace from my waist to my ankles, then another one for several months from my waist to my knees. But I was a kid, and kids work around their problems. A kid who is born with no hands finds a way to do everything they want to do. And I did, too. My father made a cart for my legs to sit on, and I wheeled myself all over the place with my hands. I couldn't sit cross legged, but I could do cartwheels and handsprings, and because my arms were so strong after a year or so of dragging myself around, I was a pretty awesome shortstop when I was old enough to play softball.

But B. was contemplating graduation, college, what she was going to do with her life when RA hit. And the pain of RA has ruined her life. She still lives at home, where my mother, the queen of all enablers, waits on her hand and foot. She had a part time job for a year, and we were all so excited that she was finally getting out of the house and meeting other people. But she hated her job. She is quite shy, so she had trouble talking to people. And she hurt all day. Sitting hurt. Standing hurt. And her body would hurt so bad at the end of the day that she could barely move. So she quit. She lives in a basement bedroom at my parents house, obsessing over the UConn Huskies.

I alternate from feeling sorry for B. and being angry with B. for not having the strength to tell RA to go fuck itself, I'm still living my life. But I understand her surrender to pain. It's so easy to do. It's hard work to fight pain. (I'm not talking about taking narcotics to ease the pain. When I'm having a bad day, I take a Vicodin so I can sleep, otherwise the pain will keep me awake all night, unable to find a comfortable position. When you are suffering, pain medication is a good thing, and I'm a big believer in it - although I'm no Rush Limbaugh - it will take me 6 or 7 months to go through a bottle of 30 Vicodin). I'm talking about the mental battle to keep pain from ruling everything you do.

If the medical world doesn't make some more progress on treating RA, I really hope B. can find some strength in her to put up a fight. Life is too great to spend it sitting in a room watching TV.


Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias, and Will Baude are all talking about food, one of my favorite topics.

I've always had food issues. When I was a little kid, I was a horribly picky eater. I would rather have starved than eaten a peanut butter & jelly sandwich; I would get the dry heaves (and sometimes wet heaves, if you catch my drift) when forced to consume vegetables. I could only drink orange juice if it was completely pulp free and 1 part juice to 2 parts water. When eating with my friend Julie's huge Italian family, I would request they give me the pasta before they added the sauce.

And then there were fruits. Other people in my family ate strawberries like they were candy - all I could feel were those tiny little buglike seeds on my tongue. My mother would make me a ham & cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato, and I would have to deconstruct and eat just the bread, but not the part of the bread that touched the ham. If you had seen me eat a piece of toast, you would have seriously wondered if I was from another planet - I used to lightly toast the bread, then peel the two sides of the bread apart and scrape off the soft middle, which I would roll into a ball and eat, and then I would eat the slightly crunchy sides.

If a little bit of meat juice got into my spuds, I couldn't eat either. Gravy? No. Mayo? No. Mustard? No. Ketchup? Ew, no.

Now that I'm a grown-up who handles pretty much all the food preparation in my family, I am much less picky. I still don't like everything (I don't think I will ever like olives), but I have become an enthusiastic try-er of foods. I discovered that all melons are wonderful, better than apples. Peppers are great when they're raw. Fresh fish is the best thing to cook when you don't have much time. Olive oil and garlic make nearly all cooked vegetables taste better. Almost every kind of lettuce is better than iceburg.

I am especially enthusiastic about trying different cuisines. I grew up eating Irish-American food - meat, potatoes, root vegetables, and fish on Friday - all of it boiled. (We joke that my mother used both spices, salt & pepper). As an adult, I'm dismayed that I spent so much of my life afraid of so many foods.

So buck up, Kevin, and give something you don't like a try. I still haven't eaten a pb&j sandwich, but my life would be much poorer without dim sum or goi cuon with nu oc mom.


Quote Contest

MoveOn is having a misleading quote contest in conjunction with Al Franken. I think Billmon should win this one, easily.

I knew you when...

My mother asked you for your autograph the first time she heard you sing, when you were in 5th grade. Your brother (RIP, Tom) mixed martinis for us once, and we each took a puff off of one of your dad's cigars.

You could have been really easy to resent - good-looking, intelligent, disgustingly talented at every single thing you did. But you were also charming, delightful, and had a wicked sense of humor.

I'm glad to see that you are so successful today!

"April is in my mistress' face

and July in her eyes has place,
but in her heart a cold December"


Turning this over in my brain

Okay - we attacked Afghanistan - rightly - after the 9/11 attacks. There weren't too many good targets to take out, of course, and we let the primary, number one excellent target, Osama bin Laden, get away.

So we switched to attacking Saddam Hussein, which, of course, wasn't really attacking Saddam the individual (although that was part of it), it was more of an attack on Iraq. We attacked Iraq ostensibly because of the weapons of mass destruction, which all sane people now realize do not and did not exist. So the rationale changed to liberation of the Iraqi people - after all, no one can reasonably suggest that Saddam Hussein was a great leader who took care of his people (unless you use the phrase "take care of" in the same way the Corleone family might).

That's got to be a tough balancing act - we are invading you to save you! I suppose if the "post-war" had been managed better, if we got the electricity and water back on right away, if we didn't protect the Oil Ministry better than cultural treasures, if we put a value on learning about their culture and having our representatives be respectful of that culture, maybe, maybe, maybe the war on Iraq could have been something truly beneficial for the people of Iraq.

But here we are, a year after Shock & Awe, and some of the people of Iraq are rebelling in a fairly frightening way. So we're going to have an overwhelming response to the Fallujah attacks.

I just can't help but feel that nearly every step the Bush administration has taken in the War on Terror has been a huge mistake. We could have truly liberated the people of Iraq, but we're now at war with the people. My heart goes out to the families of those killed in Fallujah. My heart goes out to the Iraqi people who were victims of Saddam and are now victims of the U.S. My heart really goes out to our troops, who are being used so egregiously by President Bush.

White House says "Yahoo! smells bad!"

At least I fully expect to see them come out with some sort of slam against Yahoo!News, for having this page, which makes the Bush Administration look like a bunch of people wearing some fiery trousers.

My idea of a sex symbol...

...is Mr. Alton Brown. Not only does he give me retro-flutters with his Thomas Dolby-esque hair and glasses, and not only does he cook (which in and of itself makes me swoon), he is also deliciously snarky.


I wonder how many people have to tell John Rowland they want him to resign before he starts to listen? Because his support just keeps dropping. This article in the Hartford Courant puts the number of Connecticutians who want Rowland to resign at 70%. Seventy Percent! That's huge.

He won't listen, because he's an arrogant SOB who still doesn't really think he's done anything wrong.