Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Santa Stalker

I'm running out of time.

Christmas is in 3 days, and then he'll be gone.

The jolly fat man, my holiday muse and favorite myth, Santa Claus.

I love Santa. I always have. It got a little weird and out of control once my dad started to look like Santa. Now that I live on the opposite coast from my dad, Santa has become kind of a substitute, a doppelganger if you will. The Santa at the Glendale Galleria is a singing Santa, like my dad. So I love to go and see him and... well... just see him, I guess.

Every Christmas season I steal as many moments in Santa's presence as I can. I love to go down to the mall and just stand there, watching him with the little kids. I could probably spend a whole afternoon there, if I had a whole afternoon during Christmas where my presence was not absolutely required somewhere else. But even a few moments are enough to fill me up for a while.

It's the kids, of course. Mine are just barely too big to sit on his lap anymore. (I told Emma and Claire I'd give them a dollar if they'd get a Santa picture this year and initially they said yes, but once we got there they backed out on me.) The optimal kid age for Santa is up to about 5, I'd say. After that, they're just there for the candy cane or stickers or whatever.

Here comes a family with three kids. Big brother is 6, he's a pro, sits in the middle just smiling at the camera. Santa is just a lap for him. Little sister is 3, maybe 4. She is enthralled. Baby brother, age 1, perches on the right knee and Santa holds him up and as soon as Mom steps away from him he starts to cry, slowly, his face going from a little scared to contorted with fear... click!

Captured in time.

For the most part, from my observations, the 2 to 3 year olds don't like him. No they do not. They are either terrified, in shock, or outright enraged. "Mom!" their eyes say as the camera flashes, "Mom! How could you do this to me? I trusted you! And you gave me to this big hairy stranger!" Ah, that's a look to treasure. I have a couple of those pictures, myself. Crying gently or screwing their eyes up and screaming. Not happy. Those kids are fun to watch.

But the best are the little ones who stare in wonder. Jackpot! That's what I came for. Tiny little girls in fancy velvet dresses wearing white tights with lace on the butt, little boys with their hair slicked back for the photo, set gently on Santa's lap to gaze up at him with wide, trusting eyes. You can tell that's what he took the job for.

A little hand touches the beard (it's real) and I start to tear up. Okay, why? Why do I do this?

Santa has made me a voyeur. I'm spying on the small moments of another family's Christmas, because my own family is so far away. Every child I watch - maybe -  is me, or my brothers, or my baby sister. And every Santa is my daddy.

Aw jeez. Really? Santa is a father fixation? I had way too many psych classes in college. Can't I just, I don't know, enjoy the little kids, the innocence, the joy? Does it have to be so deep?

No, it doesn't, although thinking about it that way makes it even more special for me. So I watch the kids on Santa's lap, remembering all of us sitting on daddy's lap at Christmas time and it makes me feel happy. So sue me.

Oh, and Merry Christmas, Dad.

Here's me and Santa during his down time. He was available to walk me 
down the aisle at my wedding to Dan on August 5, 2007. Looking good, Santa.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What Christmas Is All About

My husband works for a pretty awesome company. Panda Restaurant Group does a lot of charitable work, both locally and throughout the country. They are big fans of Stephen R. Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", and have monthly seminars to encourage the personal growth of their employees.

Covey has a "Seven Habits" program targeted at children. Without going into details (because there are lots of details), kids learn self-esteem and empowerment skills to lay a foundation for success in school and later in the real world. Panda has sponsored this program in a number of inner-city schools, and on Thursday, December 10th, they held a Christmas party for the neediest kids from these schools.

Dan was Santa last year. (I found it a little amusing that a disaffected agnostic Jew was playing Santa... but I digress.) He's a jolly fellow most of the time and therefore eminently qualified for the job. As the party approached, Dan asked me if I would be his Mrs. Claus.

Now, if any of you know me, you may know that my dad is, in fact, Santa. By that I mean he plays one at Christmas. He's a stout fellow with a booming voice and a real white beard, the friendliest Santa you'd ever want to meet. My mom, in the past few years, has been his Mrs. at some of his appearances. With her glasses and silver-streaked hair, she is his perfect foil (as she has been for forty-eight years now). So the irony was not lost on me. I could not think of one earthly reason to say no.

Someone rustled up an elaborate Mrs. Claus costume for me, a long red velvet gown with faux-fur trim. I bought a wig at Party City and headed off for my debut.

Panda's huge dining and events room was packed with round banquet tables, full of elementary school kids and their teachers. A group of enthusiastic employees led them in a holiday singalong, and then it was our big moment. Dan -- I mean, Santa -- and I entered the room waving and smiling, saying hello to as many children as possible on our way to the stage.

Dan did his Santa bit, congratulating the kids on their Seven Habits work. Then he said, "I need some help bringing my helpers in!" and led them in a cheer, ending in Abracadabra, and the doors opened.

A group of Panda employees had each sponsored one child, and they streamed in with all the gifts as boisterous holiday music played. Some wheeled in shiny new bikes adorned with giant bows, and that's when I choked up a little.

Dan explained that the teachers and faculty in these schools had identified the neediest kids, and for many of them, this was going to be their only Christmas gift.

You know, I think I'm usually a pretty good writer, but I can't fully explain what I felt at that moment. I thought the kids would be jumping up and down and screaming with joy. Instead, as I walked through the room with my Santa, I realized that these kids were just stunned. I'm sure they had never been to a party like this, in an immense building with a waterfall inside, a 15-foot-tall Christmas tree in the lobby, and all the Orange Chicken they could eat. They opened their gifts with their mouths hanging open, slowly, as if it wasn't really happening.

One lovely little thing held onto a new bike and pushed it slowly past the crowd, all the time gazing at us with her huge brown eyes. She wasn't even smiling; her expression was more a kind of amazed disbelief. I was spellbound.

I bent down to speak to her. "Do you like your bike?"

All she could do was nod. I said, "You've been a very good girl this year."

And then she smiled the most beautiful smile I've ever seen.

I'm going to try not to think about what kind of life she returned to. I'm going to hope that she has enough to eat and that her parents are kind to her. I'm going to pray that, in spite of her tender age, she will remember the seventh habit, "sharpening the saw": preserving and enhancing the greatest asset she has - herself.

I'm going to remember this sweet, nameless little girl all my days, and I'm definitely coming back as Mrs. Claus for as long as they want me. It was my best present ever.

The Clauses pose with Dan's co-worker, Glenn. Nice square pillow, Santa.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A New Addition to the "What to Expect" Genre

(Now that I’m an “experienced” mom, I feel qualified to fill in a few gaping holes in the “What to Expect” genre. Call it “What to Expect When The Glow Wears Off”. This is part of an essay in progress and I thought it would be fun to share. Feel free to add your own experiences in the comments section.)

1. You will have to cook. A lot.

Oh, how I loved breastfeeding my babies. The problem came when they started to demand actual food. See, I’m not much of a cook. I had my first child at 34; prior to that, I’d spent my adult life in a completely narcissistic world where I ate out or ordered in all the time. The fact that I worked in restaurants for years only reinforced my opinion that cooking was something somebody else did.

Today I find myself feeding three small kids three times a day, and I can honestly say that I just hate it. They are picky eaters, which is weird, since I have a really limited menu available to them anyway. I do all the kid standards: mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, spaghetti and meatballs, etc. My kids will eat exactly five vegetables: green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and corn. I should really just write everything I can cook on a list and number it and rotate the meals. “Okay kids, we’re having number 12 tonight.” “Oh man, we just had number 12! Can’t we have 8 instead?” “Sorry guys, I don’t have any 8 left. Maybe tomorrow.”

2. You have to clean stuff. A lot.

Re previous comment: You cook, you also have to clean up the dishes. And the spills. And the crumbs. And the shit they throw on the floor when they’re little and the shit they throw at each other when they’re older. My advice: get a dog. That will at least take care of the floor.

You will have to clean truly gross stuff. It starts with the diapers, and goes downhill from there. Just wait until your 5-year-old eats a big ol' slice of NASCAR-themed birthday cake (black icing on the wheels) and washes it down with lemonade. You will be amazed at the color of the projectile vomit that hits your walls later that day. Oh yeah: don’t let the dog clean that one up, or you'll hurl too.

You will do laundry. Your second child will triple your laundry. Your third child will increase your laundry tenfold. If you have more than three, it will no longer matter, because just the word “laundry” will send you into a catatonic state until you wake up and find yourself folding the last little t-shirt and placing it atop a teetering pile of children’s clothes.

If you ask your husband to help you fold the children’s clothes he will look at you as if his ears just fell off.

You will endlessly wash your children. The first nervous sponge baths, gingerly cleaning around the umbilical cord with an alcohol-soaked q-tip, will become a distant memory in 5 or 6 years, when you are wrestling your rainbow-hued kindergartner into the tub after she learns the word “tattoo” and decides to go all Kat Von D on herself with her (washable? I think not) Crayola markers. I have, as of this Mother’s Day, been bathing children for 12 years, and I can tell you it’s getting old. I have been known to smell their heads to determine whether or not an actual bath is called for, or if we can just grab a couple of diaper-wipes and call it even.

3. Your children will hurt you.

And I don’t mean your feelings. You will be injured by the little darlings. The aches and pains of pregnancy, the agony of labor, even the first chomp on your nipple by your angelic teething nursing baby are just a warmup.

You will be poked sharply in the eye by the deadly index finger of a toddler having a meltdown. Your six-year-old’s enormous forehead will connect violently with your orbital bone during a tickling match gone horribly wrong, resulting in the kind of shiner that will make folks wonder if they should have the cops come by your house. Your son will swing his plastic sword (“I said, no weapons in the house! Ever!”) at his sister, but will instead connect with your shinbone as you walk by, resulting in a bright purple egg that takes weeks to fade. The little one will tip over while standing on a dining room chair (“I said, sit in your chair! Now!”) but luckily you will be standing there to break the fall; the impact of said chair against quadricep muscle will then result in a deep thick painful bruise.

They will be very sorry, of course. Their little faces will scrunch up in sorrow and then terror when they hear you scream some very adult expressions of pain. And that’s when you have to suck it up and apologize and tell them, “it’s okay honey, mommy’s just got an owie” when what you really want to do is cry. (Special note: it scares your kids when you cry.)

4. You will wonder what the hell you were thinking.

One day, before you know it, your sweet baby boy will be twelve years old and smell like teen spirit. He will go to a friend’s house for a sleepover and the next day the other kid’s mom will call to let you know that the two of them were caught looking at inappropriate videos on YouTube. When you ask him about it he will give you the eye roll and say “geez, mom. Are you gonna give me ‘the talk’ now?” and slam his door in your face.

And you will wonder what the hell you were thinking.

And your friends will be no help at all, saying things like, “oh just wait till it’s your girls”.

5. And finally: You will be blown away, pretty much daily, by how much you love them.

Okay, so maybe this one’s been covered in the other books. Really, everyone knows that’s why you do it in the first place: because (ideally, anyway) you and your spouse have so much love, you want to share it with kids of your own. But the utter ferociousness of that love will, every now and then, just clock you upside your head.

It will happen when you least expect it. When you tiptoe in to watch your little girl sleeping like an angel, a mere hour after she threw herself screaming on the floor because she didn’t want to go to bed. When you have read Green Eggs and Ham for the 73rd time and you realize that he knows the words by heart and is “reading” along with you. When you are up to your elbows in dirty dishes and she brings you a dandelion, offering it with the biggest grin ever, saying “it’s as pretty as you are”! When you watch your preschooler “graduate”, and your heart swells up as he walks by in his cardboard cap with the yarn tassel, and to your amazement you burst into tears.

And yes, when you hold your crying 5-year-old after he has spewed black icing and lemonade on the wall, because he is scared and sick and only mommy – no one else – can help him feel better.

My sweet baby boy, about 12 years ago. You can't see the dog in this picture, but he's there.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Weight, or, Take a Load Off My Fanny. (with apologies to The Band.)

I am turning into the Mom with the Heavy Bottom. It’s been a noble fight, holding it off as long as I have; but I’ve been putting on some pounds lately, and it’s all going straight to my thighs. Inner and outer. I seriously look like I’m wearing chaps. The seams of my jeans are wearing thin where my thighs rub together. When I’m wearing a skirt, they get stuck together even though the rest of my body is moving. It’s a strange sensation, and even stranger to duck into a corner to squat so they’ll unglue.

The thing is, I look pretty good everywhere else. Face, arms, belly… even my ass is fairly normal. But my thighs look as if they were injected with saline, like they do to plump up chickens.

I mistakenly told my husband the truth about my weight the other day. He was trying to figure out how much I weighed so he’d know what size scuba suit to buy me, and he told the salesgirl “I think she weighs about 145”, and that’s exactly when I knew I would love him FOREVER. Because he was WAAAAAY off. Like, I weigh that much, plus a toddler.

Sadly, I have no motivation to lose the weight right now, either. I feel fine. Okay, I don’t like the whole my-life-is-a-pair-of-corduroy-pants business, but hey, I’m pretty busy with the kids, and they sure don’t care about my thighs, and we’ve already established that Dan is completely oblivious (did I mention I’ll love him forever?). I can still squeeze into my jeans, until the inner seams rub off, anyway.

I’ve had weight issues since the day I turned 30. My doctor had informed me that “your metabolism just changes once you hit 30” and on that day my metabolism immediately took that as permission. I became a lifetime member of Weight Watchers that year, and have since done Jenny Craig, Atkins, Slim-Fast, various other deprivation diets, and at least three additional trips back to Weight Watchers.

The Weight Watchers program is big on tricks and affirmations to keep you on track. As a mom who (like most moms) tends to “clean up” the kids’ dinner plates (with my mouth), one of my favorites is “I am not a garbage can. [Point at real garbage can] THAT is a garbage can.”

There’s the 20-minute rule: you can have the one slice of pizza, but if you want another, get up and set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes. If you still want it after the timer goes off, go ahead. (Repeat as necessary.) It actually works: most of the time, you realize you’re full.

Then there’s the exercise where you look at the offending food (usually a dessert or sweet of some kind) and say: “I am stronger than this food. This food is not stronger than me.”

But there is always an exception to every rule, and mine is a tiny, brightly colored cone of corn syrupy deliciousness:

Candy corn.

Candy corn is Herculean in its power over me. I am but an innocent fawn in the presence of its leonine strength. In my imagination, it lines up and marches into my open mouth while I am tied to the chair, Gulliver-like in my helplessness. When I swear I will never buy it again, there it is at the grocery in a big happy orange cardboard Halloween display, glowing like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and I toss it in my cart while averting my eyes: “No one saw that, it didn’t really happen, it’s not really there.” And then I get in the car and rip open the bag and ritually eat each piece in three bites: white, yellow, orange… white, yellow, orange… over and over all the way home. Then I hide it from the kids like a heroin habit. I’ll snack on it until I’m so sick that I’m chasing it with Maalox, and yet I will not stop.

Maybe the cone-shape of the candy is why it’s all going to my thighs, turning me into a cone-shaped woman. And maybe this painful confession is the first step on my road to recovery. Hi, my name is Leanne, and I am a candy-corn-aholic.

That's it! I can do it! The healing starts today. I’ll have a couple of weeks to eat right, exercise and go through withdrawal before Thanksgiving, which should be a breeze compared to Halloween. Unless my kids have candy corn in their trick-or-treat bags. Then we might have a problem.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Streets of Fire

Dan bought me a bike today. And when I say a bike, I mean a road bike. Not a mountain bike, a touring bike, a cruiser or a hybrid bike. I am now the proud owner of a jet-black Cannondale Synapse Alloy 5, featuring “relaxed geometry and advanced vibration-damping properties.” Also, it cost about as much as my wedding gown.

Bikes have changed a lot since I was 161 and rode my 10-speed Schwinn Varsity in a road race in Mason, Ohio and came in second. For one thing, they are made of space-age materials, and the fact that my new bike is made primarily from aluminum and not carbon is, apparently, going to be a major source of humiliation for me. A carbon bike costs about twice as much as my new ride. Dan kept saying, “Here, lift this! Feel how light it is!” and I would lift the expensive bike, but the weight differential (approx. 20 ounces, as far as I could tell) was imperceptible to me. Bike snobs of the world, shun me.

My redemption will be in the “componentry”, as Dan calls it, or the “clicking stuff” as I call it. When I rode my Schwinn, as I recall, the shifter was a little metal thingy that sat on the right handlebar. It had the numbers 1 through 10 on it. Thus, you clicked to the number you wanted, and that was the gear you were in. Something like that. Now, the shifters are little paddles built right into the brake thingies.2 The little black paddle does one thing and the bigger one does something else, and the right one goes up and the left one goes down, or vice versa. Anyway that’s how you shift the thing.

And don’t get me started about the damn pedals. Did you know that bikers have to wear special shoes that they clip into special pedals so their feet are actually attached to the bike? Here’s me, falling over. Thud. I think this is written in the same Rulebook that dictates the long tight black padded shorts and the snug zip-up jersey with writing all over it that is supposed to make you look like you’ve been in the Tour de France even though you are riding down Foothill Boulevard past the Toyota dealership. But I digress.

Dan took me to Helen’s Cycles in Santa Monica, where I already know I am not going to be cool enough. I mean, come on, Santa Monica! We saw a dude drive up in a white Beemer convertible, unlit cigar hanging out of his mouth, white polo shirt with the collar flipped up, stacked little female companion by his side. He was like a tv character, seriously. Like maybe the cocky film producer who gets decapitated on CSI.

But Dan bought his bike there and really likes the place. He's become a real expert on bikes since he took up road riding with his sons; he tends to become an expert at everything he gets interested in. He took some cooking classes with Sam: ask him about pasta making sometime.

So we go in to look at this one Cannondale that’s on sale, and after a while I am out on the street test riding bikes. Damon, our sales person, talks technical stuff with Dan – “so this one has 105s, not Tiagras” “the head tube is a little longer, I think it fits her better” – while I pedal up and down a side street and try not to look foolish.

“How do you like this one? How does it feel?”

Dan wants me to get a bike sooo bad. He is already picturing the two of us out on the road, touring wine country perhaps, or cruising down the PCH.3

“It’s good,” I say. I have ridden exactly two Cannondale bikes, up and down the same side street in Santa Monica, and the main thing I am thinking is “wow, this seat is really crushing my lady business”. But I also want a bike. I want to recapture the feeling of complete freedom, riding through the countryside in Mason4, the wind in my hair5; I also want to be able to climb two flights of stairs without panting, and riding a bike is the only form of exercise that appeals to me whatsoever. So I say, “It’s better than the other one. I like it.”

He tells me it’s an excellent bike. I am completely dependent on him as far as this purchase goes. I look at Damon helplessly and say, “It’s like taking a 12 year old to a car dealership.” And even though it’s a bit more than we wanted to spend, Dan gets it for me. And then he gets me the bike computer. And the bike bag with the spare tire in it. And a pump and two water bottles that attach to the bike frame, and a new helmet, and some lights for the front and back, and some of those obnoxious padded shorts (which my lady business will appreciate, I’m sure).6 Oh yeah, and some gloves. Damon magnanimously takes 10 percent off the accessories for him.7 We load the bike into the minivan, and all the way home I map out the places I am going to ride. Good thing Dan’s driving.

Now we’re home, and it’s dark out, and I am actually looking forward to getting up early and going for a ride. Which, if you know me, is a miracle. Look for me on Foothill Boulevard; I’ll be the one wearing bike shorts and a Springsteen t-shirt.

11978. Same year I saw Bruce on the Darkness on the Edge of Town tour. Damn good year.

2 Give me a couple of weeks, I’ll know the right names for all this stuff.

3 I, on the other hand, expect to be cruising around the Rose Bowl parking lot.

4 Which has long since been razed and paved and overdeveloped into “Cincinnati’s Top Suburb”. I’m not lying. I was there recently, and they have banners flying along Tylersville Road, where I used to ride, crowing this great honor recently bestowed by Cincy Magazine.

5 You didn’t wear helmets back then unless you were in a race. It was awesome.

6 I did not get the Tour de France shirt, or the special shoes and pedals. Yet.

7 Which just about covers the 9.75% sales tax in L.A. County.

Life and Flames

"Among the notable things about fire is that it also requires oxygen to burn - exactly like its enemy, life. Thereby are life and flames so often compared." ~Otto Weininger

Monday, August 31st, 2009.

I am standing on a hotel balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is dark. I can hear the steady soothing crash of the waves, and although it is one of my favorite places to be, tonight in my mind’s eye I can also see the ocean turning into a monster, pounding at the earth that confines it. I look at the ocean and I can see fury, because today I left fury behind: a slow-moving, insidious fury that burned and choked La Crescenta, the town where I live and breathe, the place I call home.

It’s been burning since Wednesday. On the news tonight they said the Station Fire was over 164 square miles, the size of Las Vegas. Every morning we awoke to sick yellow haze and floating ash-flakes, delicate and light as snowflakes, lighting on our clothes and hair and cars but not melting, just sitting there, gray and dirty and toxic and sneering. The ash fell and the air was thick and we coughed and stayed inside. Each day we coped; each night we stood with our neighbors and pointed at the flames up the hill, wondering what would happen next.

Sunday morning, I started to feel like my bronchial tubes were trying to claw through my chest. Sunday night, my friend Becki and her family were on Day Two of mandatory evacuation from their house, a mile up the hill from us. Sunday night another friend told me about the 2 a.m. wake-up robocall telling her to evacuate. Sunday night I stopped watching the flames, turned off the news, took an ativan and surrendered.

Sleep is a wonderful thing, when your body is worn down from an oxygen-starved environment and the effort of keeping things normal for your kids, even though normal surrounded by fire is kind of like birthday cake surrounded by ninjas: things you haven’t had to deal with simultaneously before. Plus you probably haven’t ever personally dealt with ninjas, either.

So Sunday night I was sleeping soundly, as you can imagine, when the phone rang at 2:17 a.m. Before I even checked the caller ID, I knew what it was. LA CO SHERIFF said the phone. This is a mandatory evacuation, said the robovoice.

But it was a mistake. Somebody had pushed the wrong button. Within 25 minutes of our first fumblings with refugee status, we learned that we could stay. Within 5 minutes of that determination, I was asleep again, this time on the couch, because the bedroom smelled like smoke from the trips out to the garage. Dan tells me he got the “oops” robocall after I went back to sleep. Didn’t hear a thing. Yay, ativan.

I was in a peaceful, floaty dream when Dan came out to the living room cradling Alabama, our old cat, and whispering urgently, “Leanne, you need to wake up. Bama’s dying.”

Now, coming out of a deep sleep, it sounded a bit like “Emma’s dying,” and Emma is my 8-year-old daughter, and I was just about to scream when he said “she was under the bed and howling” and I realized it was the cat, who’s been very sick with kidney disease. She was 16 and probably couldn’t take the bad air.

It was 6:30 a.m. on Monday, day six of the fire, and I took one look at her and knew this was it. The vet’s office was not yet open, and the emergency vet was too far away. We wrapped her in a towel and Dan held her and she trembled slightly, her eyes blank. I caressed her sweet black head and whispered in her ear, “I love you Bama, thank you for being the best mama kitty,” and she gasped three little gasps and was still. I nuzzled her anyway and we were silent, and my hand crept over her chest and made sure there was no heartbeat and no breath and Dan said, “I think she’s gone.”

Numb, I made a fresh pot of coffee while Dan dug a deep hole beneath the bougainvillea in the back yard near her favorite sunning spot and we buried her right away, before the kids were awake.

The radio was on, and the dire news reports about the fire were more of the same. Raging out of control. Air quality was “borderline hazardous”. The evacuations started 4 blocks north of us. And fire crews were planning to set controlled burns at the top of our street in an attempt to keep the blaze from destroying homes in our area.

I sat listless on the couch, clutching my coffee, tears in my eyes, but I was too tired for even the effort it took to sob. Dan sat down next to me.

“I’ve been thinking. I’m going to take the day off. Let’s go to the beach.”

Alabama died at 7:20. By nine we had booked a room at a lovely hotel in Oxnard, right on the beach. By 11 a.m. the kids and the bags were in the van. I stopped at Baja Fresh for a big iced tea, got some cash, gassed up and drove as fast as I could away from the smoke and fury in my beautiful mountains.

It’s now exactly 12 hours since we hit the freeway. Dan spent the day with us poolside in the cool, clean air, and we all had dinner by the harbor. We had ice cream and watched the sunset. Dan went back to take care of the dogs and the house.

The kids are asleep. My lungs are lighter by small degrees, and I sit on the balcony listening to the waves.

But I’ve watched an out of control fire from my front yard, and I’ve held my kitty as she died, and it’s taking a little more effort for me to feel comforted and not overwhelmed by nature. So I close my eyes and breathe. It’s good to breathe.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The King of Pop

I cried while watching Michael Jackson’s memorial service. This fact surprised me for a moment, and then I just let the tears fall. I know I’m not the only person who has a sort of Anne Frank philosophy and tries to see the good inside everyone. After all, he was a father who loved his kids. As a mom, I will never, under any circumstances, be able to separate myself from that bond; the pain a child must feel at losing a beloved parent is unimaginable.

My 17-year-old stepson did not get it at all. “He was a freak show,” Sam said. “Too weird for me.” And that’s how most young people today will remember Michael Jackson: the accusations of pedophilia, the plastic surgery, the blanket-covered baby dangled over the balcony.

I was 7 years old when the Jackson Five reached their peak. My brothers and I watched their Saturday morning cartoon show; the Osmond Brothers had one too, but the Jacksons were so much funnier. We loved it. We lived in a white-bread suburb of Louisville, Kentucky, and the Jacksons were our first connection with people of color, and we didn’t really care. Yes, they were different but their music was cool and the show was funny and Michael was a kid, just like us.

He was most of all a brilliant artist and performer. Everything that was said at his memorial about his impact on the world of music was true. He was a generous humanitarian as well. But Al Sharpton, though his intentions were good, shouldn’t have said to his children “there wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy.” Because that’s not true. He was strange. He was very strange.

It’s apparent now that Michael Jackson was a tortured soul and carried around a lot of self-loathing. In my opinion, it all points to some kind of terrible abuse suffered as a child. Violence, perhaps, or molestation. His childlike obsessions, substance abuse, and ongoing voluntary disfigurement are clues. How much do you hate yourself if you want to destroy your own face?

It’s sad that he died, when he on the verge of touring and possibly mesmerizing us as a performer once again. But it’s a small comfort to know that we will not have to watch the man descend into any further acts of weirdness, accusations of impropriety, or self-mutilation. No more chimps or blankets (or kids named Blanket) or drugged-out interviews. For me. at least, I can sing “I’ll Be There” and remember the boy who touched my heart and opened my eyes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hello, again

If you are reading this blog for the first time, here's a brief explanation. It's pretty simple, actually. My previous blog was on Geocities and they closed up shop. So I've moved over to Blogspot, and have re-posted the incredibly fascinating wanderings that were on the other one. Original dates are noted at the top of each entry.

I would love to hear your comments, and even better, please sign up to follow me. This is strictly an entertainment situation; I'm not going to try to sell anything... at least not until I get a book deal. More about that later. >>grin<<

I'm also going to try to keep politics out of it henceforth. As I said, entertainment, not controversy. (Okay, maybe a little controversy sometimes, thrown in for good measure.) When new stuff will be added, I dunno. As the muse strikes, I guess. It's been a while since I've written anything blog-worthy (working on above-referenced book, mostly), but it's time to practice my Mavis Beacon and get back on it. I hope you find my musings pleasantly diverting. I hope they make you smile, ponder, open your heart, wink at babies in the checkout line, and maybe even hug somebody. That's what I'm shooting for.

Incidentally, re: the Puppied Out post: Clementine is now a year old, we have replaced all the flooring, and I love her again. In fact she is curled up next to me right now. Lazy ass dog.

Cheers, and thanks for your support!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Puppied Out, part two

(Originally posted August 11, 2008)

We have a puppy. Her name is Clementine and she is a mutt about 6 months old and she was Dan's idea.

I hate this f**kin' dog.

She barks at everything. EVERYTHING. And we live on a busy street so there's a lot to bark at. And it's not a woof-woof earthy real dog bark either. It's that yappity yap high pitched continuous string of yaps kind of bark. Although, not the toy dog yip-yips, at least. Because those are the worst. And I should add, those are the f**kin' poodles across the street that are outside all the time, and they also bark at EVERYTHING. Those dogs, they bust out of their yard all the time and run out on La Crescenta Avenue, and after about two months of living across the street from them, I started rooting for the cars.

But I digress.

Clem, she barks, and she won't stop pooping on the carpet, and she absolutely destroyed the new doormat I got at Target within 2 hours. (That was about $7.50 an hour for that doormat.) She is irresistible to my daughters, who chase her and torment her no matter how many times I tell them to stop, which makes her run and hide behind me, which makes the girls come after her on the floor at my feet, which makes it impossible for me to fix dinner or even move, which often makes me trip over the lot of them and don't get me started about the screaming mom stuff.

She and Nathan play, of course, which is great and funny, except that she's gnawing on him all the time since he's so much bigger than she is. So she swallows a bunch of Nathan hair and has taken to puking up hairballs like a damn cat.

She gets Dan up at 5 a.m. to go outside. He doesn't seem to mind. (I worry about him.) I sleep through it, usually. And Dan has her trained to respond to "good girl, go potty", which he says in a silly baby talk voice, so now I have to do the same thing when I take her outside. So there I am sing-songing "good girl, go potty, good girl, go potty" in the backyard, and John is next door tending to his heirloom green peppers and laughing at me, and I just want to kill both of them. Dan and the f**kin' dog, I mean.

And you know, I love dogs. I LOVE them. It's just this one, this puppy... I'm just too old and have too small a house and these lousy rotten kids and...

...and she's just curled up next to me on the couch, and her little face is nestled into my leg, and she's asleep, and I love her again.

And oh by the way, the cat just puked up a hairball on the carpet. (Seriously, I'm not making that up for the big close.)

So excuse me, I have cat puke to clean up, and then I have to go watch Top Model. Because those bitches are fierce.

Notes from the puppied out

(Originally posted June 24, 2008)

I'm sitting on my back patio, the one that Dan created in our tiny back yard. It is an oasis on a busy street; the wall fountain splashes merrily as the air conditioner competes for attention.

It's beautiful this evening. About 7:30, the sun is setting, and there's a puppy at my feet. The kids left for an overnight with their dad about an hour ago. Dan's in his scuba gear at the Aquarium, cleaning rocks in the big exhibits. I am eating leftover pasta and enjoying a glass of pinot and waiting for hummingbirds to fly to the new feeder we put up. There was a female out here a few minutes ago, but Clementine scared her off.

We have weathered the recent sweltering heat somehow. On Friday, the kids were home and we had "swaphouse playdates": first, Sabrina (Charlie's classmate) and her sister Daniela (Claire's) came to our house to play. Then they all went to their house. Sabrina and Daniela live 3 blocks down La Crescenta Avenue, and I really like their parents. The dad, Randy, is an old-school rocker who loves Rush and hard rock of that era. The mom, Josie, is a real sweetheart, and we usually end up yakking about our husbands' mutual foibles. The most recent discussion involved how the men bug us about our spending, but suddenly there's room in the budget for these ridiculous expenditures: Randy decided they needed a swimming pool in the back yard. (Which is okay with us, as it'll be done before the summer's over and we're invited as much as we want, yay!) Dan bugs me about my spending, but that Hawaii vacation... well, let's just say we have a different idea about what's essential. "Men... ya can't live with 'em... ya can't shoot 'em".

Saturday we went to see "Kung Fu Panda" at an afternoon show, always an excellent way to beat the heat. Emma is showing early signs of being the movie buff in the family. She sits transfixed, even through the credits. Charlie still waits out the previews in the lobby (they're too loud). I'm sorry to say that "Kung Fu Panda" did not pass the Claire test: she demanded TWO bathroom trips. We must have one or zero to be Claire approved. (Very few movies have passed the Claire test.)

Sunday was New Shoes Day. We have a New Shoes Day about 3 times a year, it seems. This time, it was for Camp Shoes. I was all set to weather the great drama known as Target With Three Children In Tow on my own, as I know full well what that entails. But hark! Dan wants to join us! All my entreaties to Stay Home, Stay Home fall on deaf ears! And thus I know, this drama will be even more drawn out and painful than usual.

See, I don't mind the drawn-out part. The kids like to look at stuff, and so do I. But I have yet to meet the man who sees a Trip to Target as anything other than a utilitarian exercise: buy your stuff and GET THE HELL OUT.

It just doesn't work like that for me or my kids. And that should be okay. And he insists it will be okay! He understands! Let's all do something together, he says! I fall for his convincing argument. I also think, well, there's a Lowe's right next door, maybe he'll just head over there for "one thing" and end up staring at sprinkler parts for 45 minutes like the last time (when, tragically, I was with him).

Well, it didn't turn out as badly as I'd feared. He did only get one thing at Lowe's, the first time that's happened in recorded history. We had a perfectly dreadful lunch at Wendy's. (I am still bloated from the sodium.) We found very suitable shoes for the girls. And Charlie revealed a new development:

He is too cool for Target shoes.

Yes, it has happened: my soon-to-be-sixth-grader has been influenced by his peers. Target Shoes are Not Cool. He had to have Heelys, or shame and humiliation would rain down upon him like, oh I don't know, rain in January in Southern California. (When it actually rains. For the whole year.)

Dan, for some reason, cannot get this. He wants to make Charlie like the hated Target Shoes. "There's nothing wrong with these shoes! Just try them on!"

"Listen dude," I tell my son privately, "I get it. I do. I think it's okay for you to have opinions about what you wear and how you look." (Did I mention the part about Charlie wanting to put silver streaks in his hair?) "I don't know why Dan doesn't get it. But I do. So let's deal with this later."

Anyway, long shoe story short, I take Charlie out and get him his $60 Heelys at Sport Chalet later. He swears he will wear them every day and love them like he himself carved them from clay.

So today was the first day of summer camp, the temperature has lightened up by 15 degrees or so, and Charlie still has no idea how to skate in Heelys. But it's a beautiful evening, and we have a little bit left in the bottle of Hitching Post 2006 Pinot Noir (yes, that's the place from "Sideways", and the wine is every bit as good as Paul Giamatti's character said it was), and I have a puppy curled up at my feet, and I think that's enough.

Wishing you all the same contentment...


Random Observations on a Monday...

(Originally posted March 10, 2008)

Why do people avoid the shopping carts that aren’t pushed all the way into the row of carts? You know, like if somebody leaves a cart out of “line”, like a wheeled leper or something? I mean I’ve seen folks literally walk around these orphaned carts as if they’d get cooties or something, and pull one (usually with difficulty, as they are often stuck together) (especially at Target) from the nice neat line of obedient carts. Let’s call it the Shopping Cart Cooties Evasion Tactic.

And then there’s the Toilet Stall Flinch. You go to a stall in a public place, and someone before you has forgotten to flush, and you do the Flinch and “ugh” and go to the next stall? Like it’s somebody else’s job to go around flushing after people? Why not just flush it yourself, seriously? Do you think their pee is somehow toxic, and if you should flush, some of it could get on you and disfigure you for life? And that washing your hands afterwards would somehow not be enough to cleanse you from the act you have just carried out? Seriously, how different is it from flushing your own poo? (My only thought is that the Flinchers have never had kids. Boy, after you have kids, man, there is no bodily excretion in the world you haven’t already dealt with.)

And don’t get me started about the Bluetooth Cyborgs. I can’t tell you how many times someone has been looking directly at me and speaking, and I say, “Excuse me?”, only to realize they have that obnoxious little bug in their ear and are carrying on some terribly important conversation into the air. Like some crazy homeless person in Santa Monica, except better dressed.

I said don’t get me started!


(Originally posted April 1, 2008)

When I’m feeling down and blue about the Democratic primaries, or sometimes when I’m feeling sassy or pissed off or even very confident that the country will wake up and smell the coffee, I will tune in to Air America on the internet. There I can feel the great comfort offered by “my smart talking people” (that’s what I call it with the kids) as I whip up the latest culinary treat for the kiddies.

Now, I realize that most of my readers – that is, my immediate family – have never tuned in to Air America's “progressive talk”. Linda, if you read this, I feel pretty confident you’re the only one who has. I won’t go into lots of detail about why I love the smart talking people. It is nice listening to pundits who share my views, as so much of the talk radio around leans to the right a tad.

But that’s not why I’m writing this today.

I’m writing this to tell you about the ADVERTISERS on Air America. From the first time I listened, I was amazed by the ads I heard, and could not help but wonder what sort of comment it made about the “progressive” listener. Here is a sampling:

“DO YOU OWE THE IRS MORE THAN $10,000?” Call Associated Tax Relief now at 800-697-3052!

“Do the ups and downs of the stock market upset you? Grow and invest in YOU and YOUR BUSINESS… contact General Steel and learn how you can build a warehouse pre-engineered steel building by calling 800-965-1295!”

“Thank you for calling for your risk-free trial of Proactiv Solution!" Call toll-free now, 800-515-9684!

“DROWNING IN CREDIT CARD DEBT?” Call U.S. Financial Management My Debt Negotiation at 800-651-5279, call now 800-651-5279! Hurry before the new law doubles your monthly payment! 800-651-5279!!!

“Do you know why you get more forgetful as you get older?” All natural Memoprove actually stimulates the growth of new brain cells! Call now to order, 800-477-1706!

“Are you self-employed?” Call the National Association of the Self-Employed for affordable health insurance, offered through Mega Life and Health! 800-370-4133, call today! 800-370-4133!!

“Hi, this is Willie Nelson for NORML.” To find out more on the legalization of marijuana, visit www.NORML.com, or call 888-67-NORML.

Wow, huh?

So, the lefties out there are apparently self-employed tax-evading zit-faced potheads with very poor money skills, and 800 numbers are their only salvation. (Seriously, "MEGA Life and Health?")

Although it was interesting that NORML was the only one to offer up a website in addition to the ubiquitous toll-free number. Guess the potheads at least know how to use computers.

Max Headroom

(Originally posted April 10, 2008)

Yeah, Wednesday night. The kids just went to spend the night with their dad, and Dan is off in Ventura County somewhere having dinner with his son Dave, so I have a couple of precious hours of freedom, alone in the house. There's so much to do: I have a logo due Friday, I have writing due Friday, laundry, cleaning, all kinds of stuff.

Let me tell you what I am doing instead.

I am sitting on my fat white ass, eating rice pudding straight out of the big bowl I mixed it in, watching "I Love the 80's in 3-D" (1987!) and laughing myself silly. Max Headroom! Baby Jessica! Bolo ties! (Yeah, I wore those!) I just opened a nice bottle of red, too. Goes with rice pudding, right?

I could not be happier right now if I were sitting on George Clooney's lap.

Emma Drives Me Crazy...

(Originally posted May 3, 2008)

"Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!"

I am sitting on the toilet. This is Emma's favorite time to approach me with some urgent matter. "Yes, honey."

"Mom, do we have Charter on Demand?"

"Ummm... yes..."

"Can we order Alvin and the Chipmunks? We can watch it whenever we want!"

Once again I am faced with a true Emma moment. I know that what I say next is absolutely, positively not going to be heard. With a sigh, through the bathroom door, I remind her, "Emma, we have Alvin and the Chipmunks on DVD. We can already watch it anytime we want."

"But mom! We can just press 1 on the remote and we can watch it on demand!"

"We have the DVD honey... we've already seen it twice..."

And with that she is off - "Claire! Claire!" - with who knows what urgent matter has just popped into her tousled little head.

I love her like crazy.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Politics: posts from the campaign, 2008

The first debate, 9/27/08
"When the economy sucks, you should talk about the economy sucking!"
--- Chris Matthews, post-debate

TENSIONS WERE HIGH in my house as I prepped to watch the debate. By that I mean: I was tense. "Eat your dinner fast, you guys. Mom's going to be completely ignoring you for the next 90 minutes."

Okay, maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic. But try as I might, I just couldn't make my children understand the importance of the evening. Claire, age 6, and Emma, age 8, were quite happy to be sent off to their room with a little bowl of candy corn; their Webkinz were waiting. (For the uninitiated, Webkinz are the Beanie Babies of 2008.)

I thought I'd be able to get Charlie, 11, to at least acknowledge the significance of the first presidential debate of this historic campaign. What I got was the answer every mom whose child is on the brink of puberty dreads hearing:

"I see your lips moving, but all I hear is bla, bla, bla, bla..."

So, he sat down to watch something on YouTube that was undoubtedly inappropriate for his age, and I perched on the edge of the coffee table to start watching. (It's a good launching pad for emergency takeoffs, like when kids start pummeling each other.)

First of all, it was unfortunate that someone on Senator McCain's staff chose that striped tie for him. It caused a rather distracting moire pattern on the tv screen. Oh wait, he probably picked it himself, without giving a lot of thought about if it was the best choice for the job... which reminds me of... well, you know.

Dan came home about 15 minutes in. He was grateful I had something resembling dinner for him, because he wanted to get out of there fast. He has run out of patience with me and my election fever. "I don't need to watch any of this. I'm voting for Obama, I'm done." Grabbing the keys to the van, he retreated to his escape, Home Depot, to get the quarter-round molding for the new floors.

It didn't take me too long to start thinking, My guy is killing this!!! But I don't even pretend to be impartial, so I'll just pass on the finer points, because I thought Obama did very well. He was every bit as distinguished as I'd expected him to be. A true statesman: polished, informed, thoughtful.

Meanwhile, John McCain was talking about the height of South Koreans. Huh?!?

And I really, honestly never thought I'd hear a presidential candidate in the year 2008 use the words "apparatchik" and "KGB" (okay, it's an acronym) in a debate!

And then it was over, and the candidates' wives joined them on stage. Not your best dress choice, Michelle, sorry. It kinda looked like the darts in the back burst open. But I gotta love her, I got junk in my trunk too. And what's up with the Goldilocks hair, Cindy?

Dan came home and took the molding into the garage to paint it. I think he might have set up a hammock, too, I'm not sure. By then I was deep into the spin on CNN, and the kids were watching "Zathura" on Cartoon Network.

Have I mentioned my unnatural obsession with Anderson Cooper, and how his pale blue ties make his eyes so dreamy? (Yes, I know, he's gay. Like I had a shot anyway.)

And Joe Biden... the whole time I watched him talking to Wolf Blitzer, I couldn't stop picturing him with big sharp pointy teeth, slobbering at the feast coming next Thursday in his debate with sweet sweet Sarah. Mmmm, moosey!

Seriously, though, on substance, it wasn't the big show we'd all hoped for. There were some good jabs. The early polls came in showing Obama with a pretty strong win percentage, which is cool. But there's a ways to go yet.

In the meantime, let us all analyze why Johnny Mac never looked at his opponent, and if it was disrespectful of Obama to call him "John".

Okay, finally! I've been waiting for this. Someone on Rachel Maddow said Obama "knocked it out of the park." I can go to bed now.

And, it starts...

The McCain camp has been mailing out misleading absentee ballot applications in Ohio, perhaps the most important swing state. The incident occurred in Hamilton County (Cincinnati), which traditionally votes Republican. In 2004 Bush won Hamilton County by a slim margin, and Obama has been targeting the large African-American population there in an effort to win the highly populated area.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/11/08:

"About one-third of the absentee ballot applications received at the Hamilton County Board of Elections have been ruled invalid because Republican Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign printed a version of the form with an extra, unneeded box on it.

In a narrow interpretation of Ohio law, Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner says many of the McCain forms have not been completed properly. If the box stating the person is an eligible elector -- or qualified voter – is not checked, Brunner said, the application is no good.

Even though the box is unneeded, by not checking it voters are essentially admitting they’re not eligible, Brunner said.

“I have not seen a ruling that indirectly impacts voters to the enormity of this since I’ve been here,’’ Hamilton County Board of Elections Deputy Director John Williams said of his nearly five-year tenure at the board.

More than 750 absentee ballot requests in Hamilton County have been invalidated because of Brunner’s ruling, Williams said."

Read the entire story at:


Sarah Palin: she's got spunk!

And in the famous words of Mr. Grant: I hate spunk.

I would like to congratulate the Republican Party for pulling together behind the hot mess that is Sarah Palin. You gotta give them credit: they are loyal. McCain was never a big hit with them, but once it became clear he was the guy, oh how they fell into lockstep. Not at all like those emotional, fight-to-the-end Democrats.

Like the rest of the country, I have been enthralled by this remarkable train wreck. Watching the RNC now is like watching the biggest advertorial in the history of television. The Selling of Sarah, starring the entire GOP!

She’s a great choice!!! says Tim Pawlenty between clenched teeth.

Her experience and grit, bla bla bla!!! says Kay Bailey Hutchison with a stiff smile, through the haze of the valium she took to make the nightmares stop.

There’s a group called The White House Project, which exists to promote women in positions of leadership and power. I got on their list by applying for a spot at a women’s leadership conference sponsored by O Magazine (didn’t get it). So anyway, when they sent me an email asking “what do you think of McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin?”, I went to the blog and checked it out.

My own comment was short but sweet. “Sarah Palin is so far removed from my views on women’s issues, she might as well be a man.”

I checked back later to see what the buzz was like among the other women associated with the White House Project. I was pleased to see a comment from another woman referring to my comment and saying, “I couldn’t have said it better myself!”

Overall the comments were about 4 to 1 against the choice. One commenter wrote, “… the McCain campaign must believe that women have the collective IQ of a Tampax in this blatant pandering to get the women’s vote.”

And this one really struck a chord with me:

“McCain WOULD NEVER PICK A MAN WITH SUCH INFERIOR QUALIFICATIONS. (my caps) I find this embarrassing and I feel insulted.”

So then I watched the speech.

And I kept thinking, oh my God, if I have to listen to that VOICE for the next four years… She sounds like my late Aunt Thelma (rest her soul) from Toledo.

Okay, okay that’s a cheap shot. But it’s true. For me.

The other thing I kept thinking was, she’s so darn cute! She’s just the cutest thing, I want to pinch her Mary Kay perfect cheeks! Oh, look at little Piper smoothing the baby’s hair! Awwwww!!! And look at Bristol’s boyfriend, holding her hand so sweetly… like he had a choice about that… but those Palins aren’t big on choice, are they?

Okay, sorry. Back to the speech…

Yeah, she’s spunky! Feisty! Funny joke! Lipstick, ha ha ha ha!!! And Todd’s still her guy! I turned to Dan and said, “I’d vote for her for PTA president ANY DAY!”

She was even spunky with her bullshit, and very convincing as she lied about Obama’s policies. Feisty as she tossed off her little slams (between the big ones). My favorite was when she said “after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet…” Big laugh. Healing the planet, yeah, snort snort, that’s funny.

Later, on CNN, Jeffrey Toobin called her “smug” and “sarcastic”. I prefer “snarky”. That’s a favorite word of mine. (That, and “bloviate”.) (and “pudding”, but I digress.) Yes, she was absolutely smug and snarky, no question. Unattractive, but perhaps necessary given her role.

Yet in the end, I felt cheated. It’s true, I’m not on her team. But still, I expected a little substance. I wanted her to tell me more than the same “thanks but no thanks” bridge-to-nowhere, sold my jet on eBay stuff. Where’s the meat? Where do you stand, Sarah? Come right on out in front of the 37 million Americans watching you, and tell them that you don’t believe mankind has anything to do with global warming! Tell them that you think abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape or incest! Tell them about shooting wildlife from helicopters, and wanting to drill in ANWR even though McCain opposes it! Health care, Sarah! You’re the advocate for people with special needs children: what about people with special needs children and no insurance?

We want to know! And it’s not fair for you to attack the media for telling us the stuff you won’t!

Tell ya what… I just can’t wait to see what Joe Biden does with the Hockey Mom. You’re in the big leagues now, spunky. Better sharpen your stick.

And anyway, has anybody checked to see if she’s related to Michael Palin?

Obama's acceptance speech, August 28, 2008

Beginning with U2 playing as he took the stage ("City of Blinding Lights"), I had tears in my eyes throughout Senator Obama's historic and inspiring speech.

I am so privileged to be alive, in this country, at this moment in our history. And so very proud to support this man as my candidate. What an honor. I will never forget this night: sitting on my comfy couch, kids playing at the neighbor's house, puppy at my side, watching a truly transformational moment in American politics.

Filled with hope like never before. Blessings on America.

p.s. a poem by Lean:

totally rocks.
At last we have
an anti-Fox!!!

Tivo Time at Saddleback Church

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I have watched Obama's portion of the program, and don't have much to say, because his views reflect mine with a few exceptions. Obviously I feel he is the better candidate. I am going to watch McCain's half and comment as we go along. Enjoy the ride my friends, welcome to Leanne’s soapbox!

Obama is a thoughtful, brilliant man who is not afraid to acknowledge the complexity of the office of president and the issues. Sincere. Smart. Talk about change.

I find Rick Warren to be very engaging. If you know me you know I do not identify as a Christian... or a Buddhist, Muslim, Shinto, atheist or wiccan. Hooray for Unitarian Universalism, where I am encouraged to explore my beliefs and universal truths. I agree with his statement in the introduction that we believe in the separation of church and state, but not faith and politics. It's a fine line when you talk about faith, as the so-called "evangelicals" want to co-opt that term. Faith does not exclusively equal Christianity, and I appreciate the fact that Pastor Rick acknowledged that.

Okay, so the first person McCain thinks of when asked "who are the 3 wisest people that you know, that you would rely on heavily in an administration?" is Petraeus? As if we needed more proof that he would be a war president, funneling our resources (already sapped by this useless war in Iraq) into more war, instead of domestic needs.

Scary. War, war, war. Military focus. Bummer.

Offshore drilling gets a big hand. Jeez. I guess all these people care about is cheap gas. And they are ignoring the fact that the result of offshore drilling will be pennies at the pump some 10 years from now.

NUCLEAR POWER? I am never going to support that. Forget it. Now we want to emulate France? Freedom fries, anyone?

I am very disappointed that both candidates have come out against marriage equality. Just too controversial I guess. At least Obama was able to be compassionate, which McCain seems incapable of.

Man, McCain creeps me out, and I am officially over the POW stories. (Politically incorrect, I know.) We get it, dude. You're a war hero. Move on and help us out, here. What about global warming? What about health care? It's 2008, man.

I admit I'm easily offended when people trumpet their religiosity. It's always struck me as arrogant. So I'm hating this whole "Jesus died for my sins" stuff. But that's just me. I respect their rights to their beliefs. I just wish it didn’t have to be part of a presidential election. Guess I could never run for office.

McCain: an absolutist on abortion. Typical old white guy. So sick of policy being made by men, who have no idea what an unwanted pregnancy is like. "Rights of the unborn." But once you're born in this country, boy, you are so f*cked. Health care? Education? Abuse, starvation, poverty... good luck to ya, fetus.

Defeat evil. War, war, war. America, America, the chosen ones to judge and police the rest of the world. Obama emphasized bringing the “global community” into the picture. Which is the right thing to do.

Hold it, hold it... the transcendent challenge of the 21st century is RADICAL ISLAMIC EXTREMISM??? Are you KIDDING ME? I guess as long as we get those guys we don't need the polar ice caps, the ozone layer, and sea level can rise 20 feet devastating the world’s coastlines. Global warming is the transcendent challenge of the 21st century! Not to minimize the crazy terrorists, of course they must be dealt with, but we need an EARTH for future generations. Period.

Thanks, John, for helping clear up why I am so SCARED OF YOU!

Does Evil exist? Yes it does. What's evil is sending our troops to DIE in a war thinly disguised as "on terror" when in fact it is for foreign oil. THAT'S EVIL. Finding an excuse for a war in Iraq so big oil and Halliburton and all the war machinery can get rich, while our young men and women are killed and maimed THINKING it's for "freedom", that's evil.

You know what's really evil? RULING THE COUNTRY BY FEAR. That is evil.

“I Will Get Osama bin Laden.” Surefire applause line. I don't think Obama talked about the war at all (perhaps a mistake) and it's, like, the ONLY thing McCain is talking about.

More stuff I hate: ummm... well, his entire view about choice in education... more federal support for religious schools. American children deserve a public education and all public schools deserve federal support. Yeah put all the poor, underprivileged kids with crack moms and gangbangers for neighbors in a religious school and BAM! They’re succeeding! Give me a break. It’s not just education and “bad teachers”. It’s a pervasive social ill and much more complicated than “school vouchers”.

OMG… he actually said something I agree with… “Spending got completely out of control. We spent money that mortgaged our kids’ future.” Like, for a ridiculous war. Not crazy about the rest of it. I am in favor of rolling back the rich dudes’ tax breaks, given under Bush.

Part 3… more war stuff. Obama talked about responsibility to “the least of my brethren” (one of my favorite bible verses) (yes I have read the bible). McSame is talking about shedding blood in defense of other’s freedoms….

Fighting genocide. Remind me now… did we send any troops to Rwanda, John? Oh yeah, I forgot.. They’re not sitting on our oil. No troops for you. Sorry.

Interesting he’s saying the Russian actions against Georgia has something to do with the big oil pipeline going through Georgia… hmmm….

Man, my blood is just boiling. He gives Obama shit about “hope” and then he turns around and uses it in his own closing comments. “America wants hope… America wants optimism…”

Bottom Line:
If you like War, Fear and the same old-white-guy politics: vote McCain.
If you have hope and want to change our country for the better: vote Obama.

And that's my opinion. Have a good day, all.

It's a beautiful day....

As if I needed another reason to love Obama. The song playing when he walked in to give his sensational speech last night was by U2.

"See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out...

"It was a beautiful day
Don't let it get away..."

And then after the speech? Okay, who did I idolize in high school and college? That's right: Bruce. "The Rising". Let's ponder that chorus:

"Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight..."

I think it's the rising of the spirit of Americans. I'm sure my brothers will say it's the rising of our taxes.

Signed, sealed, delivered: I'm yours!
(That was the song after Bruce.) (Stevie Wonder, Dad!!!)

That ball was IN!

You can NOT be SERIOUS!!!

You may recall the famous words of world champion tennis player and crybaby John McEnroe. The line judge ruled against him, and what ensued amounted to a temper tantrum seen the world over; one that has defined McEnroe's career as much as his numerous victories at Wimbledon and elsewhere.

Remind you of anyone?

Does Hillary Clinton have no pride at all? How many times does she have to hear "do the math" before it sinks in?

Frankly, I'm embarrassed for her.

I have just read on the HuffPost that she is scheduled to make a "major speech" tomorrow night. They are speculating that she will suspend her campaign.

However, I will not be at all surprised if the content has some reference to the DNC rules committee, her "decisive" victory in Puerto Rico (!), and "momentum" making her more qualified to beat McCain. And of course taking the fight all the way to Denver. I hope I'm wrong.

I just can't help but wonder what she'd be doing if the roles were reversed. I think she'd pretty much be the line judge, sticking to the rules.

The difference would be this: Obama's no McEnroe.

Okay, it's my blog, I just have to say this...

Hillary keeps yakking about including the voters in Michigan and Florida. We all know the details of that mess: those 2 states willfully broke the DNC's rules (dumb rules still have to be followed). Both candidates agreed not to campaign there. Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. She wants to count all her votes there, giving none to Obama (arguably, the "uncommitted" votes).

Now just imagine the tune she'd be crowing if the shoe were on the other theoretical foot. Seriously. If Obama were doing all this grandstanding, do you think she'd be okay with that?

Hell, no. She'd be all over the rules, and following the rules, and we agreed not to campaign there, and my name wasn't even on the ballot, and these states willfully broke the rules, and whatever else she had to say to get things to go her way.

Yeah, that's who I want as president. Someone who, from the get-go, ignores the rules or changes them to be in her favor. A delusional egomaniac.

In other words, more of the same.


Philadelphia Freedom?

The latest from your friendly neighborhood Obama mama...

Lately I've grown quite enamored of the Huffington Post, and especially of reading the comments by the members. No matter what the right wingnuts say, the MSM can honestly no longer be described as liberal; rather, it seems like a mishmosh of Entertainment Tonight, Fox News and Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader.

Hey, it's my blog.

Anyway, I like the HuffPost. People say funny things. Here's one of my most favoritest favorites from a thread discussing Hillary's latest campaign ad playing the "Osama" card:

"Hillary is Dick Cheney in a hideously ugly pantsuit."

Love it. Love it, love it love it.

Only 24 hours till the PA primary is in the books. I have not made any campaign calls yet. But I may suck up my phone anxiety for Indiana, as my peeps are there. Oh,by the way, grandma, do you need a ride to the polls?

No Country For Old Men...

(Warning: this here's about politics. I have somewhat liberal leanings, and no amount of argument from my more conservative readers will dissuade me from the beliefs I have accumulated over the 45 years I’ve been hanging out on earth, so save your cyber-breath. Hooray, freedom of expression!)

I’m on Radio Silence right now. I have turned off my beloved NPR, boycotted the LA Times (except for the Calendar section), and switched to Music Choice (Alternative uncensored) in the mornings. I simply cannot stand any more “analysis”, “spin”, “debate”, or whatever you want to call it about the Democratic primaries.

I’m a fervent Obama supporter. I just plain love the guy. And when a Hillary fan asks me why I support Obama, my one-line answer is usually, “Because John McCain would clean her clock.”

Of course there are many more important reasons. I could go on and on about the issues (come on, you know I could!) but just click here to read up on his positions, which, obviously, I support.

Here's the thing. Senator Obama represents the youth, vigor and optimism that will save this country. He speaks of lofty goals that have been unheard of in the United States for countless years. He shows the promise of being able to energize Americans, to get them to speak up for what they really believe in, and yes, to have hope for the future. WHEN DID HOPE BECOME A BAD THING?!? Think about it! Since 9/11 we have been mired in fear, hate and hopelessness. Suicide bombings, IEDs, RPGs, global warming, “Sicko”. Unbelievable bad karma.

When I hear Obama speak, I believe we can solve problems. When I hear Hillary speak, I just want to scream. She is, to me, every bit as disingenuous as Obama is inspiring. Hill wants us to believe Obama doesn’t have the experience to lead. What experience did her husband have? Governor of little ol' Arkansas? What about GW? Experience is simply not quantifiable. There’s no litmus test for who’s got enough.

I’ve always believed that the office of the President has an element of figurehead to it. It’s not like the prez makes every decision in a vacuum. There are a lot of other voices and influences, such as Cabinet members and advisors and oh, I don’t know, the Congress and Supreme Court and the American People. That’s how I see it anyway. Call me crazy, call me a dreamer, but the president sets the overall tone of the country. How wonderful would it be to have an inspiring, intelligent, positive, motivational president? One who has mastered the English language and can give a speech that doesn’t make you cringe? Wow.

Obama represents all the things I believe this country can be, and I believe under his leadership it will happen.

The bottom line, to me, is this. If Senator Clinton is the nominee, this is how the average American will see things. Compared to Hillary, a woman perceived as shrill, negative (see campaign ads) and hard, John McCain comes across as a nice grampa-type who was a war hero and will keep us all safe and warm. The winner: a no-brainer. Remember these are the same folks who voted for Bush because they thought he was someone they’d like to have a beer with.

Now, if the nominee is Barack Obama, a principled, engaging, brilliant man, McCain will, by comparison, be seen for what he truly is: a 71-year-old white dude from the old school who believes war is the answer, panders to the religious right, sees us in Iraq for 100 years, and whose health care initiatives involve “fostering competition and innovation” (read: ya'll on your own, bro). This country no longer has room in the White House for old men, friend-o.

In the meantime, Senator Clinton has gone negative in her desperate attempt to win. She’s fooling herself if she thinks she can prevail, and especially if she thinks what she’s doing is good for the Democratic party and for America. My Radio Silence is in response to the prospect of 2 more months of her attempted character assassination against a man who has more character (as they say) in his little finger than either of the other candidates. Makes me wonder if she’s on McCain’s payroll.

Ted Koppel did a commentary on NPR on March 5 (before my blackout) called “Democratic Divisions May Be Good For McCain”. His closing statement sums it all up for me.

“What Senator McCain and the Republicans most need to win the White House in November is a healthy number of embittered and disenchanted Democrats; a prospect which, today at least, seems like a safe bet.”

Especially if they can’t stand the news anymore.