Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gobble Gobble

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday of all time. So today, when I was at the grocery store, shopping for tomorrow's dinner, I was in a really great mood. But I was a little bummed by all the cranky people in the store, giving me annoyed looks for--of all the nerve--buying a can of soup. People sighing heavily at crowded aisles, briskly whizzing their carts past slower patrons. I mean, did they think the store wasn't going to be crowded the day before Thanksgiving?

I walked through Jewel thanking my lucky stars I could afford to prepare for a feast. Thankful I had a job. That this store was so full of food. So many things.

Tomorrow at dinner, we customarily make a toast with everyone shouting out what they're thankful for. It's not a prepared shout-out, and we don't really shout, it's just an opportunity to say out-loud all the things we're thankful for. Like jobs and food and health, and newly arrived daughters from Khabarovsk, a Mom that isn't so incredibly sick anymore. A husband I've been married to for twenty years. Handsome sons making great grades at their new school. A nice house to live in. Like I said, so many things.

Maybe all those cranky people at the store had real problems on their minds and so they just weren't thinking about all the things they should be thankful for. I know that on some days, even I can be one of those cranky people. Or maybe they were just a harbinger of things soon to come--when everyone at the stores forgets the real meaning of Christmas. Regardless,I felt every single one of us at that store should have felt grateful to be there, able to buy food for Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving. May you find many things to be grateful for. Even if it's just the ability to buy a can of soup in peace.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

O say can you say--our national anthem?

I was jogging past Wrigley Field at the end of this last season, (and thank goodness we’re not going to discuss that right now) a few minutes before the beginning of a game. A live performance of America the Beautiful was blasting over the stadium’s sound system. As I stopped for a drink of water at the fire station on Waveland, I noticed a lot of people were standing around, holding very still, looking at the flag with their hands over their hearts and hats in their hands.

Aww. I thought. How heartwarming. And to think I thought no one cared about our country anymore in this Me, me, me society with Goldman Sachs bonuses on the backs of the taxpayers and the I have my healthcare attitude so forget about you.

Then America the Beautiful ended and The Star Spangled Banner began.

“Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…”

And everyone went back about their business.

“What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming …”

It was like watching a scene from a movie when the action scene that’s been frozen in time ends and everyone starts to move again. Ushers put their hats back on their heads, vendors started unloading boxes and fans continued walking into the stadium. I even received a smug smile from a guy as he put his baseball cap back on his head, like, Look at how patriotic I am, you infidel, who dared to drink water during America the Beautiful.

Huh? I mean, did I miss a memo? The last time I checked The Star Spangled Banner was the national anthem. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Now, I stood there, frozen to my spot next to the drinking fountain, watching everyone moving past me. But then I just shook my head, turned west on Waveland Avenue and tried to continue my run.

“Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight…

I know there have been people who’ve argued America The Beautiful should be the national anthem, it being a little more celebratory and descriptive of our wonderful country and not the war anthem that The Star Spangle Banner is. But it’s not our national anthem. And thousands of men and women have fought for our country and the freedoms we take for granted. Men like my father.

“O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming.”

Something wouldn’t let me just continue my run. Maybe I channeled my inner Samuel Adams, I don’t know. So I stopped and turned around, faced the flag and put my hand over my heart. I stood there covered in sweat and took the stares of everyone who walked by me. Many of whom had been standing a few moments ago, during the wrong song, just as I was now.

“And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air.”

Ever since 9/11, a particularly tragic day for me and my airline, I’ve never been able to get through our national anthem without choking up. Invariably, I finish singing it with tears in my eyes. I’m not sure exactly why, but it might be that I’m just so proud of how our country not only survived, but came back from those attacks.

“Gave proof through the night, that are flag was still there.”

Do you know more people know the words to the Brady Bunch theme song than The Star Spangled banner? So I did a little experiment and asked my kids, “What’s the national anthem for United States?” Even my ten-year old daughter, recently adopted from Russia, whose been in this country less than one year…well, she had no idea what I was talking about.

One of my sons knew the words, but thought the song was called, “Stars and Stripes Forever.” The other son knew the title, and the first verse of the song, but that was it. Hmm. Guess I have a little work to do on the home front in terms of instilling more patriotism into my own family before I go off, waxing all sanctimonious on everyone else. Maybe I’ll start with having everyone recite the Pledge of Allegiance before they’re allowed to dive into their Cheerios. Although, I think I might enjoy an unconstitutional moment of silence at the breakfast table more.

I wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner here from memory, then did a cross check with Google. I’d switched “fight” and “night,” and made a few spelling errors, but on a scale of one to ten, I’d give myself an eight or nine.

“Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave…”

But has anyone else ever noticed, that the last line of our national anthem is a question?

“O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?”

Friday, August 28, 2009

Back Again to Me

My friend Gretchen's novel comes out today! It's called "Back Again to Me" and it's a story of adoption (close to my heart, needless to say!) All proceeds from this weekend's book launch go to the Dave Thomas Foundation. Here's... a link:
Help this writer help another writer and order a copy! And raise money for a good cause (you know, adoption, not, um, writers...)

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Art of Parking in the City

Family Time Magazine just published one of my acitymom columns, The Art of Parking in the City, in its June issue. Pick up your copy today--and may the Parking Goddess bless you with good parking karma!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mom Vision

They can spot a dust ball from fifty miles away, detect a dirty sock behind a couch and find keys faster than a speeding bullet. They can see a mess where no mess has been seen before. They’re Mom Eyes. The phenomenon is called Mom Vision. And it’s an affliction that I’m apparently stuck with.

At the risk of not being scientifically accurate, (and scientific accuracy is something I know you’ve come to expect from me) this particular form of keen perception is a phenomenon exclusive to women, especially women with kids. Here’s how you know you have Mom Vision: Everyone in your family can nonchalantly walk around the same hairball six times without “seeing” it. But you see it every one of the six times you walk around the same hairball.

Okay, I know. Your family members probably see the hairball, too. They’re just pretending not to see it. But this is not fair. And here’s why: you see it and know who will be cleaning it up. And here’s the part that’s really unfair. They know who will be cleaning it up too. If you guessed, “Me, that’s who!” You’re 100 percent right! Congratulations! And condolences. You are afflicted with Mom Vision.

Sometimes seeing crap (and by crap I mean stuff and also, sometimes, actual crap) on the floor doesn’t bother me. This is usually when it’s my crap (and by this I mean stuff, not actual crap.) If I see my jacket draped over a kitchen chair, I don’t get angry or upset, because I know who will pick it up. That’s right! It will be me! This is also the same reason I get angry and upset when I see someone else’s jacket draped over a kitchen chair, or on the floor or a countertop. Because I know who will pick it up. That’s right! Me again! And I also know that if I’m not the one who actually picks it up, I will be the one who facilitates its getting picked up, using a method I kindly refer to as “screaming.” (e.g. “Get down here and get your d%&* jacket off the kitchen floor, or countertop, or chair!”)

Yet, my sons and my daughter and my husband have the ability to walk past this jacket (or dirty socks or piece of trash or small dead animal, or, please-fill-in-the-blank-here_____) on the floor of the kitchen many times during the course of a day.

On some level, I think this is because they truly can’t see it. Perhaps their heads are filled with something better—the next new thing they’re heading toward. Whatever it is, I want some of that. I want to fill my head with something better, something that will allow me to walk through my house and not see dirt, detritus, or even worse, a project in every room.

I hate projects. As I’ve mentioned, I am not Craft Mom. Yet, no matter where I go in the house, I see a project. Even though these projects don’t involve yarn and Popsicle sticks, I still loathe them. In my husband’s office, I see the picture that’s needed to be hung on his wall for the last six months. In our bathroom, it’s the light bulbs in the ceiling that need to be replaced. (I’m convinced that if it weren’t for me noticing and replacing light bulbs, we’d have been living in total darkness beginning about six years ago.) In my sons’ bedroom, it’s the door on their closet that’s been missing. For eight years.

It feels endless and there’s at least one project in every room, sometimes more than one. Some are small—put the files in the filing cabinet. Sometimes, they’re huge—insulate and finish out the attic. Yet my husband and family can walk through our house on a daily basis and not see a single project. Not one! It’s like they have project blinders on.

If there were a way, I would trade my Mom Vision for Kid/Husband Blinders. I want to wear what they’re wearing. I want whatever it is that will allow me to not see mess and chaos and disarray. I want to not see a task, a to-do item, a project everywhere I look. I want to leap over messes and projects in a single bound.

I want to back a virtual car over my mythical Mom Vision Goggles—but then I know who would end up cleaning up the ensuing mess.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Fight Shoes

The cutest pair of shoes I own are a pair of silver Brian Atwoods with four-inch heels. I don’t know from Brian Atwood, but the lady at the store that sold them to me told me he was “all the rage.” When I saw the price, I understood the “rage” part. Fortunately, the pair that caught my eye had already been worn. Only once. By a little old lady to church on one Sunday. No, actually they were worn only once by a model in a fashion show and therefore, I received quite a price break. The saleslady told me they were runway shoes. Cool, I thought. Runway shoes.

These days, I call them my Fight Shoes. Not because I believe that, with the correct amount of torque, I could skewer the worthiest of opponents with an appropriately placed roundhouse, but because every time I wear them, anywhere, my husband and I finish the evening with a fight.

My pair of silver Brian Atwoods, with four-inch heels, make my feet hurt. A lot.

Being more of a Keds kind of girl, the same dialogue runs through my head every time I pull them out of my closet. (Picture a Good Shoe Angel on one shoulder and an Evil Shoe Devil on the other.)

Good Shoe Angel: “Don’t wear those shoes! They’re impractical!”

Evil Shoe Devil: “Yeah, but they’re sooo cute!”

Good Shoe Angel: “They make your feet hurt and when your feet hurt, you get crabby and dare I say it, sometimes even—unreasonable.”

At this I gasp: Unreasonable? Moi?

Evil Shoe Devil: “Yeah, but they’re sooo cute!”

Good Shoe Angel: “It doesn’t matter how good they look, or how well they go with your outfit, you know by the end of the night you’ll end up in some dumb fight with your husband, about him walking too fast, or making you walk too far or not hailing a cab quickly enough.”

Evil Shoe Devil: “Yeah, but they’re sooo cute!”

As for who triumphs on any given night, all the smart money should be on Evil Shoe Devil, which now that I think of it, would be a good name for a racehorse.

On the evenings that Evil Shoe Devil does triumph, said pair of silver Brian Atwoods wait by the front door, the very last thing I put on before we leave. And when I put them on, they do look fabulous. They make me feel fabulous—the way they lengthen my legs, accentuate my calf muscles and finally, for once, put me eye to eye with my husband. I continue to feel fabulous wearing them for ten, maybe fifteen steps. That’s all it takes before the pressure on the balls of my feet is extreme, my arches are in flames and I can’t feel my toes anymore. By then, I’m already anticipating the 3 a.m. wake-up call, when the aforementioned calf muscles twist themselves into vicious knots and seize up my legs with brutal cramps.

Each time I strap them on, I tell myself, Tonight will be different. I will be calm and rational despite my pain, that “Fight Shoes” is a misnomer, nothing more than a silly superstition. Yet my Fight Shoes have caused me to dance shoeless at weddings and walk barefoot through Lincoln Park. Less acceptably, they’ve also caused me to screech at my poor husband like a menopausal fishwife when he allowed a cab driver to drop us at the corner instead of right in front of a restaurant.

Whenever we’re preparing for one of our precious evenings out, the look of dread in his eyes is unmistakable when he spies the Fight Shoes waiting next to the front door.

“Not those,” he says.

I want to tell him, tonight will be different, that “Fight Shoes” is a misnomer, a silly superstition.

Helplessly, I stand there before them—torn between my kind, loving husband and my sexy pair of shoes. In the end, all I can manage is a pre-emptive apology and the words, ”Yeah, but they’re sooo cute!”

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

All My Children

I've got all these kids now. Three to be exact. Writing seems like the impossible dream. Hope to get back in the chair soon!! (I really need to sit down...)