You didn’t ask, but here’s what I think

What have I been doing besides cursing Gmail?  Well, watching “American Idol,” of course. 

I’m also reading Peace Like a River which is hogging all my spare time.  And I’m busy fixing snacks for my daughter who asks for, but does not eat, a snack every fifteen minutes, including the meatloaf she rejected at dinnertime.  She wanted it right before bed . . . but did not eat it.  Tonight, I was reclined on my bed, reading and she came flopping in, asking me to get her water bottle downstairs.  I said, “No, I’m too tired!” and she said, “No, I’m more tired than you.”  (I won the argument, just so you know.)

By the way, I think Lisa Rinna seems like a lovely, if overly-perky woman, but whenever I see her on television (a lot lately, due to “Dancing with the Stars”), I cannot stop staring at her upper lip.  I know.  I am shallow and I should be half the beauty she is.  But still.  STOP WITH THE LIP ENHANCEMENTS, YOU HOLLYWOOD STARS!  (If her lips are natural, I extend my most sincere apologies for my judgmental attitude.)

Sometimes, I feel like the most ancient woman in the world . . . especially when I read other mothers asking “how do I make my toddler son stop hitting me?”  Really?  Seriously?  YOU JUST DO!  I fear for our society in which mothers can’t figure out how to make little ones obey.  Pick up the kid, shout “NO!”, deposit him in his room.  No fuss, no muss.  Rinse and repeat.  Or, if you are opposed to shouting, stand up, walk out of the room and ignore the little ankle-biter.  Just be consistent.  Geez.  Do not tolerate misbehavior.  Either I have turned into a curmudgeon or I am the victim of hormones.  I think it’s the former.  I’m also old and will not tolerate tomfoolery. 

That is all.  Carry on.  

The Sun Shines and Yet, I Shiver

If you stand perfectly still in just the right spot outdoors, the sun feels warm. But move into the shadows just a bit and the chill cancels out the sun’s warmth. That’s spring here in the Pacific Northwest. The crocuses bloom, the green shoots of the tulips inch taller each day and the weeds grow. A week or two ago on a foggy morning, I looked out my back window to see
robins hopping along the grass, pulling worms from the ground. I glanced to the tree and counted twenty-one birds huddling in the damp branches, like Christmas ornaments evenly distributed among the branches.

And while I long for spring, I long even more for an end to the Plague which has overtaken our household. In the first part of February, I had a lingering cold for two weeks, following by a sore throat. On February 25, a stomach virus began a rampage through our family. In a family of six, an illness moves from person to person with the precision, though not the speed, of dominoes falling. It ended just in time for a flu bug (sudden onset, chills, fever, coughs/sneezing, headache) to settle in on March 4. My 8-year old was sick for an entire week and still hasn’t regained his appetite nor his strength.

Last Wednesday night, my daughter became suddenly sick. She’s still complaining of stomach pain and has a stuffy nose. Saturday night, the illness I had been denying (I told my husband I was NOT going to get sick, no way, no how, ha!), caught up with me and I spent much of Sunday semi-conscious, my whining daughter by my side, dozing. My twins came down with the bug, too, and have been preternaturally quiet. (The one benefit of having ill children.) Today, I am upright, but coughing my head off and working my way through the tissue box. At least the fever ended.

So, I don’t even care if the seasons change. I just want everyone in my house to be healthy at the same time. For six months, bare minimum.

* * *

Now, in more important news: Tonight is “24.” Last week, I settled in at 9:00 p.m. to watch the latest installment of “24,” . . . and wondered how Jack got that bad guy (Henderson?) in the car. Last I knew, Henderson tried to blow up (invincible) Jack. (When will they learn, those bad guys? Jack cannot be destroyed.) It was halfway through the episode when I realized I MISSED THE FIRST HOUR, the extra hour they tacked on before the regular time of 9 p.m.

Drat and double drat. I hate it when that happens.

What a Shame: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

The last art class I took was in eighth grade. I loved Mrs. Parr, the tightly-controlled, but quiet young art teacher. She assigned us to draw an item encased in a bottle. I drew a man upside down, stuck in the bottle. I adored watercolor painting and still have the fruit bowl “still life” I painted. My creative-souled father seemed to have passed his artistic gene to me.

And yet, the second I entered the ninth grade, I avoided all art classes. I did sign up for chorus, which was an 80-voice choir. I sat in the middle, between the sopranos and altos and, although I considered my voice unworthy of singing solos, I sang in tune and enjoyed the respite from academics. Until, of course, the choir teacher gave me a B+ for my final grade and destroyed my perfect grade point average. (Yes, I’m still bitter.)

That only proved my point. Avoid subjects graded subjectively. Art? No. Music? Never. Not if I can’t guarantee the outcome.

I thought of this again last night when I watched the Seattle Seahawks lose the Super Bowl. I never realized before how the subjective opinion of referees could affect a game. I mean, certainly, I’ve seen games in which bad calls were made, but none so heartbreaking (to a Seattle fan) as the bad calls which changed the outcome of the game yesterday.

My husband says winners never make excuses for their losses. I placed my right hand on my forehead, giving the universally recognized sign for “LOSER” and said, “THAT’S WHY I’M A LOSER!” I couldn’t be as gracious as the Seahawks players who were being interviewed after the show. And then I thought of how much I loved art and music and why I avoided those subjects in favor of academics, where 2 + 2 always equals 4.

Even this guy thought the officiating crew made errors. I wish I had live-blogged the whole Super Bowl, but then again, I don’t want French Onion dip on my keyboard. And I’m rarely a sports fan. I’d rather read.

After the half-time show, I said to my husband (who was playing Yahtzee with the 3-year old in the kitchen), “That was the most boring half-time show ever!” And he said, “That’s exactly what the producers wanted you to say!” (Because, really, those of us unfortunate enough to have glimpsed Janet Jackson’s bejeweled mammary region prefer being bored during half-time and who better to bore us than a guy old enough to be my dad? Please, Mick, don’t reveal your flappy triceps again!)

In other news, I’m squinting, blinded by the sudden appearance of the sun. We resist the urge to fling off our long sleeves and dive directly into the Puget Sound as it is still mighty chilly here. Sunshine awakens the gardener in me. I want to put the sunroof in my convertible down and feel the wind tangle my hair as I motor over sunlit country road, only I don’t have a convertible or a sunroof.

Soon, though, I’m heading into the muddy back yard to cut down last year’s perennial daisies. Hope springs eternal as the daffodils remind us by peeking out of the sodden dirt of the flowerbeds.

“You Just Don’t Fit In”

Almost all my husband’s family lives in the path of Hurricane Rita. Most of them are staying put, which my husband (aka Mr. Safety) finds incredulous. If he were in the path of a hurricane, he would leave a good week prior to landfall. Mr. Safety prefers to opt on the side of caution, always. Mr. Safety would always rather be safe than sorry. Always.

Rather than worry, we are distracting ourselves with reality television. Last night, we watched the Martha Stewart version of “The Apprentice.” I have always liked Martha Stewart and what she stands for: Absolute Perfection. Perfect paint colors, perfect lilac bushes, perfect creme brulee’. And now that she has this little blemish–being a convicted felon and all–I like her even more. And I like to watch people fray at the edges and sometimes implode or explode, so I like “The Apprentice,” too. The melding of Martha and “The Apprentice” is a dream come true for me.

And when the scene came where she had to release one apprentice and she said, “You just don’t fit in. Good-bye,” my husband and I repeated the phrase over and over with glee. I would rather be fired than be told I just don’t fit in, but then again, perhaps I’m still a junior-high student at heart, desperate for the cool girls to take notice of me.

Naptime’s over. Time to get back to work.

I Contradicted Myself and Then I Wrote This

Not even a month ago, I proclaimed
Jennifer Hyatte was stupid. And by “stupid,” I meant “a person who is not very bright.”

Because how bright can you be if your idea of living happily ever after involves helping a felon escape and murdering a prison guard?

Then, a few days ago, I wrote with some sympathy about criminals who look a lot like us. And by “us,” I meant me, of course.

Some time today, in the midst of my illness-induced stupor, I remembered my proclamation about Jennifer Hyatte a few weeks back. I stopped cold. My glaring inconsistencies flashed to neon light and I broke into a cold sweat (although, admittedly, that could have just been the fever). Why, when I read about Jennifer Hyatte shooting a prison guard to free her husband, the prisoner, did I roll my eyes and shake my head at her actions? I easily sorted her into the Stupid Category. And yet, when I read about Judy Brown, who taught at the college I attended, I sat with my mouth agape, stunned. I didn’t think, how stupid is she? in suburban judgment. I felt pity, sorrow that she essentially drove her life off a cliff for love.

I know for a fact that Judy Brown is not stupid. I could not easily slide her into the Stupid Category, which presented a problem for me. Why would someone do something so stupid if one was not stupid? It was so simple to stamp “Stupid” on the forehead of Jennifer Hyatte and move along. That could never be me, I thought, because I am so bright and all.

I didn’t feel any pity whatsover for Jennifer Hyatte and the thing she did for love. I figured if you are stupid and you do stupid things, you ought to pay for it. And none of that has much to do with me.

The truth is that if you do bad things, hoping that good things will result, you are mistaken. Never in the history of the world has it been possible to plant pumpkin seeds and have tomato plants sprout. You get what you plant. (I know all about this, being smarter than the average bear.)

Jennifer Hyatte wanted to live happily ever after with the man of her dreams. So, she did a series of bad things and ended up with . . . bad things.

Sabine Bieber wanted babies in her care to nap peacefully. So, she did a bad thing and ended up with . . . bad things.

Judy Brown wanted someone else’s spouse for herself. So, she did a bad thing and ended up with . . . bad things.

The small bad things ended up sprouting and growing into giant bad things, it seems. And did all the bad stuff start with self-absorption? Some people call self-absorption sin. (Just tonight, I came across that idea in Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I can’t think of a better description of what sin is, really. I’ve always been told that sin is “missing the mark,” as in missing a target, but why? What’s the motivation? Self-absorption.)

If I line up the pieces of these stories, I find self-absorption central in each one. I find self-absorption in my own life, too, even though the very nature of my life forces me to put other people before me. Isn’t that what Jesus asked us to do? To love our neighbor as ourselves? To serve one another? The farther we get from following His instructions, the more myopic we become, until at some point, we can’t see beyond our grabbing hands.

The more we do bad, hoping for good.

Just like Jennifer, Sabine and Judy. Just like me.

The Idiots on the “Maury” Show

I know. Can you believe that I–a bright, middle-aged mother of four children–actually watch daytime television? How can that be? Well, the middle of the day used to be the time when I put my baby down for a long nap. I would watch half of “People’s Court” and then she’d be sound asleep. Those days are gone.

Now, she snoozes for a short time or no time at all (like today) and then she’s ready for play! I nurse her and then if she falls asleep in my arms, I hold her and continue to watch whatever’s on. (If I lay her down, she wakes up. I’ve tried that, believe me.) Lately, “People’s Court” has been reruns, so I’ve been watching Maury, which has been horrifying. Almost every single day there is a mother who is trying to figure out which man is the father of her baby (or babies). Yesterday, a mother failed to locate her “baby daddy” after eight attempts. Eight attempts. This woman slept with over 8 men in a two week period? What is this world coming to?

Even the women who aren’t sure which of only two men are their baby’s father . . . uh, excuse me? When did it become acceptable to have sex with more than one partner? This is a perfect example of why it’s just wrong and foolish and plainly stupid to have sex outside of marriage. These women are making so many mistakes that they clearly need a good shaking. Of course, they were probably raised in similar homes, so can you really blame them?

All the same, it’s disturbing to see such a concentration of stupid people in one place and to see men represented solely by losers who are ruled by their reproductive organs. Idiots. (And I say that in the nicest way possible.) I feel like I need to wash my hands after watching a show like that.

And that, my friends, is my judgmental rant for the day.