Saturday, April 30, 2005

Hide the Salami


ew, originally uploaded by panthergirl.

This was Marge's first true love, George. I can certainly understand the appeal. After all, IMAGINING his belly button is so much sexier than actually SEEING it. And is it just me, or does it seem like he's squeezing his goods between his legs?

The poor chick on the left seems to show up in all these pictures. I think my mother must have gotten her from Rent-a-Homely-Friend. ("Be the prettiest girl on your block!") I bet her name was Lori Davis (remember that SNL skit?).

Looking at this photo again, I suppose I could have titled this post "Socks on the Beach". God, I crack me up.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Show 'em Who's Boss

horse

I have a love/hate relationship with horses. I love them, they hate me. We didn't have a lot of first-hand contact with horses in Brookyn (except for this one who was used as a prop for a photographer outside the local Thom McAnn shoe store), but I did have an uncle who lived in the country who had a few horses that we were completely crazy about.

In the city, my sisters and I would pretend to gallop up and down the block, whipping our butts and yelling "Yah! Yah!" The '60s was a big decade for television Westerns and I watched every one of them, falling in love with the lead cowboy in each show. Bronco, Sugarfoot, Maverick... I was going to marry all of them.

When I was about 14, my friends and I decided to go horseback riding at a stable near a park in Queens. "Dixie Dew" had quite the selection of nags, er...steeds. We would go out weekly, with the trail instructor screaming "Show 'em who's boss!!"

I was usually terrified, and apparently this fear is something these animals can feel or smell or something. One week, a horse brought me under low branches so I arrived home with a scraped up face. Another time, he walked into a deep pool of water, stirrup-high, and refused to move. The trail crossed a pretty busy highway, so of course another horse I rode decided to stop dead in the middle while drivers in both directions were forced to wait. (the car horn was invented in New York, so we like to use it as often as possible. That day was no exception.) Every week my mother would ask me WHY I kept going back, when it seemed like one disaster after another. I sort of agreed, but I was still determined to show at least one of these horses who was boss.

Finally, we went back and everything seemed to be going along just fine. My friend Andrea and I were riding side by side, clopping along like a couple of seasoned cowpokes. Suddenly, her horse began to do "the bump' with my horse. He swung his big fat hips right into my guy, and mine returned the favor. Andrea began to scream. The trail instructor calmly told her to please stop screaming because...Too late. At that point, my horse took off, galloping at full speed blindly through the woods. Off the trail. I lost the stirrups and was hanging on for dear life, arms wrapped around his neck. My body slid forward and I dropped to the ground in front of him. I looked up and saw his hooves as he stepped on my legs. (I had the presence of mind to think "wow...this is just like those stampedes on "Wagon Train'!)

Before I could get up, the horse stopped and turned around, apparently determined to run me over again. ("I get it! You're the boss! Alright already!", I thought.) In the meantime, the instructor had found me, grabbed the horse and hoisted me and my balloon (formerly known as a leg) onto his back. My injuries were limited to contusions in my calf and the unpleasant task of saying 'You were right." to my mother.

I don't ride horses anymore, but I still love them. And Andrea is still my friend.

The Sign Outside My Office


sign, originally uploaded by panthergirl.



Just doing a drive-by post. I put this sign up high, outside my office door...usually good for a chuckle or two.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Who's Your Daddy?

daddymarianbaby

I've written a lot so far about my mother, and a little bit about them as a couple, but not too much about my dad. That's partly because while I have a lot of pretty horrific memories of him from my childhood, I know now that much of his bad behavior was driven by my mother and maybe even by clinical depression, and I have forgiven him.

At heart, he was a very warm guy. He really liked us as babies (good thing, because my mother handled us like we were radioactive), until we got old enough to block the TV. He had a really strong Brooklyn accent, which made me laugh even as a child. He said "Oil" when he meant "Earl", and "earl" when he meant "oil". I remember pointing it out to him once, but I think he clocked me one. He was a gadget freak. We didn't have a lot of money...he was a mailman afterall. But we always had new cars (see below), air conditioning before anyone else, more than one TV before that was the norm, and electric EVERYTHING. Electric can opener, card shuffler, back scratcher...you name it, we had it. He even bought an electric cigarette-roller. That didn't work so great. (He didn't score the first COLOR TV on the block, though. My grandparents did! )

I think because I was the third girl and he was probably hoping for a son, he taught me everything I know about baseball, boxing, engines, and of course it was Sal who taught me how to handicap racehorses (a talent I displayed to a nun for Show & Tell in 6th grade). He even brought me to the track once and let me pick his horses, but I did so well that he thought it better not to bring me back.

One of the best things he left me with, although unknowingly, was a collection of bawdy 78rpm records by a singer named Ruth Wallis, the queen of the double-entendre. Her songs went something like this:

I took in a boarder and I treated him right
But he got into my pantry...one fine night
Now my house is out of order
How can I take care of a husband and a boarder?
What am I gonna do?
Mr. Boarder I put it up to you...

You gotta stay out of my pantry, Mister
That stuff don't come with the rent
You gotta stay out of my pantry, Mister
You're makin' too big a dent...


Other songs were called "Johnny's Little Yo-Yo" and "Loretta's a Sweater Girl" ("...how does she steal away each fella's heart? She's got two outstanding reasons...she's cute and she's smart!").

I played them, memorized them, and entertained the "troops" by belting them out on High School bus trips.

So, while there are a lot of mistakes he made that will stick with me forever (I cannot listen to the 10,000 Maniacs song, "What's the Matter Here?" without blubbering), I can also say that he gave me valuable gifts...humor, a penchant for trivia, a love for sports and movies and Soupy Sales...and he made his peace with me by loving my children.

A few years before he died, I found the perfect Father's Day card for him. On the outside it said: "Dad, you know how I drove you crazy for so long?" and on the inside..."I'm almost done."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Wednesday's Child

As many of you know by now, "Wednesday's Child" refers to a blog that I read that I would like to see "adopted" by other readers. Lots of blogs on my blogroll are wonderful, and I read them every day, but they already get lots and lots of traffic (deservedly so!). The recommendations for Wednesday's Child are little jewels that you may not have discovered yet.

Today's "orphan" is daddychip2. Chip's "2" site is different from his main daddy-blog. It focuses on gender and social issues, two subject that are very close to my heart (see factoid #60), especially on the eve of "Take Our Daughters to Work Day."

Read Chip. Weigh in. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Photo Friday: Famous

A rerun, but appropriate for this week's Photo Friday theme


emmas_hero, originally uploaded by panthergirl.



My daughter Emma (now 21) was a quirky child. Her favorite film at age five was The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. She was introduced to this film by Arthur, her gay babysitter (fodder for a future blog post), who made her the pop culture queen she is today.

She'd watch the movie over and over and over, and memorized the credits so she knew every character and every actor who played him or her.

At the timeI was married to husband #2 who is a Broadway stagehand and was working at "Miss Saigon"...starring Jonathan Pryce, also a star in that film! Although not her dad, husband #2 was wonderful with my daughter (probably the reason I married him...sadly our marriage only lasted 18 months). He arranged for Emma to go backstage and meet her idol. This was, for her, what meeting Barney would have been for other kids her age at the time. She was totally freaked out! and nervous! She wanted to do it, but to her this was the rock star of all rock stars. She finally built up her courage and this photo is the result.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Family Jewel

Portrait

OK, kids...watch out. I'm organizing pictures today and scanning as I go.

This particular photograph always makes me laugh. It's my mother's family, taken probably in the mid 1930's.

Bottom left: My grandmother, Lucy, previously seen sitting on a donkey. Probably the kindest person I've ever known. Kept us laughing with these attempts at English:

"Aunt-a Mary went to the Poconuts on vacation..."

"Aunt-a Jo Ann got a new car...a Veal Cutless."

"It's-a time for bed. Putta you pinjamas on..."

"I like-a candy, 'specially Hemena-Hemena Peanoots." (M&M Peanuts)

She cut the ends off most words, so "children" became "chill", etc. Once, when she asked me if I liked my aunt's new house, I said "Yeah, except for the living room floor." (which was vinyl) She bristled and said "Whatsamatta? You no like-a linol?"

Bottom right; My grandfather, Sal, who looks so mean in this picture...what a joke! Nice try, grandpa. He smoked those gross little Italian Panetela cigars that would make you puke if you just touched one to your lips (Yeah, that's right. I thought that was a good idea at the time.) He'd pronounce my name (Marian) as "Muddiyan", which spawned my childhood nickname: "Mudd".

Upper left: My Aunt Ginny, who is the only sane one of the four sisters. She's given me a lot of insight into why my mother is so nuts.

Upper middle: Aunt Mary and Aunt JoAnn, in this photo known as "The Fugly Twins". They, along with my grandparents, lived upstairs from us and got married very "late" (in their 30s). Apparently what they heard from the marriage downstairs made them a little gun-shy. (getting rid of those hair bows helped too. They look a little bit like Wendy Willcox in this picture.)

Upper Right: My mother, Margie-Dearest. The oldest of the four, and already in complete control of the clan. Here, she's thinking "That's right, Mom and Pop...someday I will be your LANDLADY!"

Friday, April 22, 2005

Photo Friday: "Soft"


Soft Paris, originally uploaded by panthergirl.

My entry: Lucas cuddling a friend's Italian greyhound named Paris. (In case you're wondering, IG's are NOT couch potatoes! More like whirling dervishes!)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Damn You, Hallmark


kitchen, originally uploaded by panthergirl.

I hate this time of year. Mother's Day this, Mother's Day that. All I know is, I have to go pick out a card to send to my 83 year old mother (you know, because I have to) and there isn't a damned one that tells my truth.

What is a dysfunctional child to do? Maybe I can write my own card, wtih little snippets to take her down memory lane...

....the adorable way she'd say "Who's gonna look at you anyway" to the pre-teen me as I'd brush my hair or look in a mirror before going out.

...the nightly game of "spin the knife" that my sister and I would play, to decide which of us was going to get to kill her.

...the loving way she said "Don't you have any respect for your body?", after my father beat the crap out of me for holding a boy's hand when I was 12. (it was so absurd that I actually laughed through my tears)

...those homecooked meals that were supposed to "taste better than they look."

...the way she tossed my favorite stuffed poodle into the back of a garbage truck as I sat, stunned and five years old, on my front stoop. She said it was dirty from me dragging him on a leash up and down the street.

...her sloppy technique when holding a towel in front of us at the beach, insisting that we take our bathing suits off before getting into the car. (cue "Who's gonna look at you anyway." It's a multipurpose expression, useful for humiliating children in countless scenarios.)

...and of course, her penchant for finding innumerable methods of inflicting physical pain when my father wasn't around to do her dirty work.

I've often looked at this photograph and compared it to those of my own children at about the same ages (I am 2 and my sister is 6 1/2). Thankfully, I don't think any pictures of my children show them as sullen as the faces you see here.

Maybe there's a card that says, simply, "Thanks for the memories."

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Wednesday's Child

As you know, 'Wednesday's Child" refers to a blog on my blogroll that just doesn't get enough attention, so I put it up for "adoption".

Today's child is Artsy Science. Tracy is the fucking COOLEST geek on the planet, turning science into riveting and beautiful pieces of art with his trusty microscope.

Go. Now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

An a-pope-priate time...

...for a rerun.

Apologies to those who have read this already. Having a mentally shitty day...a rerun was all I could manage. Thankfully, I had a good AND perfect one!

Pope-a-Dope

I had the funniest visual last night, while watching all the "false Pope" news. They really should apply reality TV techniques to electing this guy.

They could have Jeff Probst pull the votes out of a greasy cauldron.... "Cardinal Guiseppe Ricotta Lasagne...the tribe has spoken."

Or, Tyra Banks could stand up and scream at the cardinals who didn't try hard enough, and tell them to take responsibility for their lives. "I have NEVER had to yell at a cardinal like this before!!"

Best yet, they could have Ryan Seacrest call out "the bottom three", and then fake out the one who gets elected by saying "Cardinal Token-Third-World-Candidate...you....are....going...............................TO BE POPE!!!" [WILD APPLAUSE]

Clearly, I need other things to think about.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Oh Look!


Cardinals, originally uploaded by gfilm.

It's the new "He-Man Woman Hater's Club"!

(sorry for the drive-by blog post...it's too gorgeous out. I'll write something more substantial later!)

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Angel Face


Image hosted by Photobucket.com


There is a term used amongst people who adopt greyhounds called "chipping". It refers to the old Lays potato chip ad, "Nobody can eat just one". Of course, we are not EATING greyhounds, but the idea is that you always want another.

We adopted Kelso in February of 2003, and by July we were ready to "chip". A friend directed me to the website of a NJ group where I saw a picture of the most angelic grey I'd ever laid eyes on. She was in a foster home waiting to be adopted. I made the call. They told me that Rosie had suffered from heat stroke when she was transported from the Plainfield track in CT to south Jersey, but unlike some of the other dogs she made it through ok. (the dog haulers do not have to be airconditioned, and this one got stuck in traffic in the middle of summer). I spoke to the foster "parents" who told me that she was an amazingly loving dog...great with kids, easy to walk, affectionate. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive to get her, but I knew Rosie was the pup for us. Even Kelso seemed to like her, although she wasn't too sure about him at first.

Lucas fell in love with her immediately, and the feelings were mutual. Although Kelso had been a great dog, he was not a cuddler...Rosie could not get close enough. She was everything we were told she was.

In early November, about two weeks after Tony died, I was walking both dogs and we encountered a man who lives in the same complex who is slightly retarded. Rosie went crazy...barking and pulling like she wanted to kill the guy. I thought it was kind of weird, but figured it had to do with the fact that he walks funny. Still, it was behavior very uncharacteristic of greys. They rarely bark at all.

As the days went by, she began to bark at anyone who approached us. It became impossible for me to walk the dogs together, so in the dead of winter I was having to take each one out separately. (argh) Rosie and Lucas developed an amazing bond, but when my daughter Emma would come to visit for a weekend Rosie began to bark viciously at her as soon as she arrived. She'd calm down until Emma tried to go upstairs (which was weird, because the dogs don't use the stairs...it's a spiral staircase), and then she'd go crazy again.

At first I thought the barking was just that: barking. But the next time Emma came, she made a sudden move and Rosie lunged to nip at her.

I called a trainer that was recommended to me and she began to work with Rosie, but she was quickly aware that she was out of her league. She brought in another woman who tried using a bitter apple spray in the dog's face when she barked, throwing chains to startle her, and at one point she attempted to make the dog sit by pushing her butt and Rosie bit her. Drew blood. The woman wasn't upset, and admitted that she had been too aggressive with the dog. After spending about a thousand dollars, I knew we were getting nowhere.

I was at my wits end. By February of '04, Lucas could not have friends over. I couldn't go out, because I couldn't have a babysitter in. Emma refused to come to the house. Finally, I was walking Rosie one day and a neighbor approached to give me something she had found of ours. I told her not to come any closer, but she said "Oh, I work for a vet. I know animals." and kept on coming. Rosie got quiet, but as the woman got close enough she lunged and ripped a hole in the idiot's sweatshirt. I couldn't believe it. She insisted that it was ok, she was ok, and not to worry.

I knew better. I called the condo president and said I was taking Rosie to the vet for a thyroid test. That night, the neighbor went to the condo president with the sweatshirt. This was getting serious...I could lose my homeowner's insurance, and worse...Rosie could hurt someone.

The thyroid test was normal. Our vet works with hundreds of greys, and told me to call Mary Ellen Walsh who would know what to do.

Mary Ellen arrived and Rosie greeted her in the usual Cujo fashion. I kept Rosie on a leash, by my side, and she calmed down. We sat to talk about the problem, but Rosie would make a deep gutteral growl every single time Mary Ellen spoke to me. Then, when I'd speak, she'd gaze up and stare at me lovingly. Finally, the trainer said "I love dogs. I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of dogs with all kinds of behavioral problems, and can usually find a technique that works. This is not the case here. This dog has a dysfunctional attachment to you. I don't know how else to describe it. What I can tell you is that you are a prisoner in your home, your child can't have friends in, and your daughter and your neighbors are at risk. AND, there's no telling if she will decide that, as much as she loves him now, LUCAS is in her way as well. You need to return this dog." We also talked about the heat stroke, and she agreed that it could have left Rosie a little "off" in the brain.

I was crushed. I knew that Lucas would be crushed. But I also knew that she was right, and that I could trust her unquestionably. The eerie part is that the behavior started soon after Tony's death...a person who had a dysfunctional attachment to me. [insert Twilight Zone music here]

When a greyhound adoption does not work out, the dog MUST be returned to the adoption group. They don't want these dogs to end up in the pound, or with someone who doesn't understand the "rules" of keeping one. Poor Lucas was beside himself when I told him what had to be done. He had just lost his dad, and now was going to have to lose his "heart dog". I had to explain that Emma could be hurt, or we could lose our home if she bit a neighbor. I told him that Rosie would have to be put down if she bit a child. That sealed it for him...he knew we had no choice but to bring her back.

Incredibly, an amazing young woman that I knew only through a greyhound bulletin board drove 2 hours to my condo, to accompany me another 2 hours to the group's kennel. She knew how difficult a drive this was going to be. I couldn't have made it without her. And thank god she did, because the people at the kennel could not have been colder and acted like I was totally irresponsible for bringing Rosie back.

In the end, she was placed in a home way out in the country with a woman who has five other greyhounds. I email periodically to get updates, and it seems that she has done well. For whatever reason, our home was not the right one for her.

Since she has been gone, Kelso has become a snuggler and Lucas has become closer to him. Still, there was something about Rosie...

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Friday, April 15, 2005

Photo Friday: "Rest"


Rosie Resting, originally uploaded by panthergirl.

One of my favorite photos of a greyhound we had for a few months (a story in itself), Rosie. She absolutely adored Lucas.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Line Drawing


DontFallForthis, originally uploaded by panthergirl.

Thanks to Tara for this little gem. Like her, I could NOT stop laughing when I saw it.

And the Golden Cojones Award Goes to....

...Last Girl on Earth!

Deni, my fellow New York crazy-chick, has taken blogging to a whole new level. She roamed the mean streets of NYC (a silly moniker made more hilarious after you see her video), asking random strangers to say things requested by her blog-readers. She has posted the video and it's a piece of working deserving of many views and COMMENTS! Did I mention that she did this alone?

The last person in New York to become famous for asking people on the street to do strange things in front of the camera was Ugly George. (I will spare you the link.)

So..........I hereby award Deni her Golden Cojones. Watch the video, listen for the panthergirl part, and tell her I sent you!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Dog's Brag-fest

I'm so excited! I won a little contest over at "been there". I had to submit the best piece of parenting advice I ever got. If you want to read it, go there!

AND...somebody reviewed my little blog. Check this out!

OH and I also won Easy's "Randomeme 504" (where you have to guess what songs certain lyrics come from). I guess I should buy a lottery ticket this week, eh?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

My Little Tiger


Luke's Finish!, originally uploaded by panthergirl.

Well, this Tiger is definitely back after winning at Augusta today, but I've got quite the golfer on my hands as well.

Lucas is just not a team-sports kinda kid. Ironically, Tony was a major athelete in school: baseball, football, diver, golfer, basketball player (at 5'9"). I think he was a wee bit disappointed that Luke just never showed much of an interest.

After Tony died, Luke asked if he could join Little League. He played one season and hated it, except for hitting the ball. I decided that golf might be the game for him.

This past October, I took him to the driving range (when this picture was taken). I got him lessons right away, and he LOVED it. He's a lefty, like his dad, and an absolute natural. Although only 62 lbs., he has driven the ball as far as 170 yards (in winter!).

This week, on Thursday evening, the pro is taking him to the golf course for the first time. It's bittersweet for me to see him do so well...when I know how much his dad would have loved to see it too.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Great Book by a Great Friend

7191127

Since I know a lot of you have kids, or know people who do, I feel it is my duty as your blogfriend to tell you about this awesome, hilarious, disgusting and totally gross book. The author is a great friend of mine, Joy Masoff, whom I blogged about when I was going to tennis camp in February. She's a brilliant writer who REALLY has her finger on the pulse of what kids are fascinated by: snot, pus, vomit, poop, farts...you get the picture. But it's educational! Really!

The great news is that Joy is also working on a sequel, called Oh Yikes!, which is best described as an encyclopedia of gross historical facts (executions, etc.). I've helped with some research and now know lots of horrific facts about gladiators and Vikings and even the US Presidents.

Check out the "Oh Yuck!" using the link on my sidebar (and check out Amazon Associates while you're at it! I had no idea about that until I saw it on another blog. MUCH better than Google ads).

***What was up with Haloscan today? Comments have been down periodically, so if I haven't commented on your blog today that's why!****

Villainess of the Week


Michelle Gertz, originally uploaded by panthergirl.

Unlike my good buddy Brando, I watch a ridiculous amount of TV. When I hear the word "Survivor", I don't think about eyes of tigers. I blogged about "Supernanny". I gave my TiVO box a card on Valentine's Day. Get it? I heart TV. Even when I hate it.

My current guilty pleasure is season three of "Project Greenlight".


This year, they are making a horror film and have hired a director whose contest reel was incredible. He's John Gulager, the son of actor Clu Gulager, and a very eccentric dude (think Hitchcock, only less effusive). His work is dark and almost Fellini-esque...totally different from anyone they've chosen in the past.

One of John's idiosyncracies is that he has only worked with his friends and family, and wanted to cast them all in this movie. The casting director (the woman in this picture) fought with him tooth and nail over the fact that this is a BUSINESS, and you can't just hire your friends. You need to cast name people who will put asses in seats.

Well, guess what happened on last night's episode? This chick managed to get HER friend hired in the lead female role, after the director and the producers had all rejected the actress as totally wrong for the role. The actress? Navi Rawat. Yeah, a real box-office draw.

Gotta love Hollywood.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Fallen Angel


communion, originally uploaded by panthergirl.

See? I wasn't always the crazy wild child from two posts ago. In 1962, I was a devout communicant with dirty knees and Edith Prickly glasses. (Those glasses make me look like an escapee from the local mental institution, don't they?)

There were three things that eventually drove me away from the Catholic Church:

Inspired by I-don't-know-what, I went through a very pious year when I was 10. Attended Mass every single morning. I shit you not. One day, I was at morning mass with a good friend, and decided to tell her a joke that my sister had shared with me the previous day. (What is it about being in Church that creates an uncontrollable urge to tell a joke?) It went like this:

"There's a new man in our office. His name is John Benjamin Hind, but since he has red hair we call him 'Red B. Hind'."

This was, by far, the MOST hysterically funny thing we ever heard and we couldn't contain ourselves. We couldn't even look at each other without bursting out laughing. After Mass, the priest sent an alter boy to grab us. We had to kneel on a hard block of wood with rice sprinkled on it for about an hour. Strike one, Catholic Church. You have no sense of humor.

The more serious blow came, though, later that year. From the time I was about five, my parents had thoughtlessly left me to fend for myself against two male cousins on a weekly basis. They (my parents) were busy engaging in Sunday afternoon penny-poker games with my aunts and uncles, while I sat in a Cadillac getting a reluctant biology lesson from these two creeps.

I was wracked with guilt over this activity (even moreso than when I chewed a piece of gum that my friend Andrew had stolen) so I decided that the only course of action was to confess. Saturday after Saturday, I made my way to church, stood outside and rehearsed the words I would use to describe my "sin", hoping that I didn't have to spell it out for the old guy behind the screen. Each time, I became consumed with anxiety, turned around and ran home.

Finally, a Saturday came when I mustered up the courage to enter the confessional:

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been six weeks since my last Confession..."

I got no further than that. Six weeks?? SIX WEEKS? Did I have ANY idea how heinous that was? The priest lit into me, my little 10 year old church-going self, with such venom that once he finished I kept my sins to the standard, "Lied, cursed, disobeyed my mother", did my 10 Hail Marys and got the fuck out of there. I never went to confession again. (Well, I did go into a CONFESSIONAL one more time, but I'm saving that story for my book.)

That was strike two. Strike three came that same year, when I sat in my fourth grade class and listened to Sister Mary Whatsername pontificate about the evils of communism: "Everyone has to dress the same, and think the same..." I raised my hand and asked her why that was any different from what we were doing, right there in our little Catholic school. I was sent to the principal's office for "insubordination."

I stopped going to church, figured out that the Golden Rule was as effective as anything they could teach me, and decided that "I don't know" was a perfectly acceptable answer to all the hard questions that religion was supposed to sort out for us. I've never looked back.

My cousins grew up to be used car salesmen. Why doesn't that surprise me?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Wednesday's Child

Ah, almost forgot that it's WEDNESDAY. The day that I direct you to read a blog that hasn't established the readership it deserves just yet.

Please go read Ilsa, She Wolf of the Blogosphere. Another cyberfriend from the world of greyhounds, Melissa is an awesome writer and takes no prisoners when it comes to her views about politics and religion (go Melissa!). Her post today is gut-wrenching.

No Fear of Flying

mainegirl

Looks pretty innocent, doesn't she?

My parents fancied themselves to be just about the strictest ones around. I had absurd curfews ("be home at 9 o'clock!" when I was leaving the house at 7 pm, for example), rules about not riding in cars with boys...they even marked the liquor bottles when they were going to be gone for any length of time (by then, my friends and I were smoking pot and taking Qualuudes, so the liquor was of no interest to us. We just laughed when we saw the little pencil lines.)

As "strict" as they were, they were equally clueless. When this photo was taken, I had told them that I was spending the weekend with my friend Mary Beth who lived in Queens (about 10 minutes away). I was 16. Instead, Mary Beth drove me to LaGuardia Airport where I got on a plane (having never flown before) and rendezvous'd in Portland, Maine with a 28 year-old guy I had met at my part-time job in the city.

A few months later, my parents and I flew to Atlanta to visit my married sister as I feigned excitement and anxiety about getting on an airplane for the first time.

Needless to say, my antics as a teenager have in turn made me a very tuned-in parent (I would never have my kid spend the weekend at anyone's house without talking to a parent, for example). What it also did was teach me the importance of trust.

My parents began to accuse me of drinking and drugging and sexing at such a young age (around 12) that by the time I was 13-14 I figured I may as well be having some fun. After all, I was already in trouble! I had nothing to lose, and lots to live up to. With my own children, I have chosen to expect the best from them, trust them to make good choices, and catch them when they fall.

So far, so good. No one has left the state without my knowledge, anyway!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Where I'd Like To Be Today


While we're talkin' vacations... give me the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Unspoiled, beautiful, safe (oh, ok...ONE person was killed there in recent years, but probably by someone who popped over from St. Thomas).

The people are amazing and they welcome tourists because they actually BENEFIT financially from tourism. It's not unusual to go somewhere for lunch, chat with the waitress, and then have her serve you dinner at a completely different restaurant later that night.

We would lay on this beach in Cane Garden Bay, leave our stuff (including our cameras) to stroll down the sand to Stanley's Welcome Bar for a drink and some spiny lobster or conch fritters.

By 5PM, you have to decide on a place for dinner and make reservations, but not because the restaurants will fill up. It's because if you don't call, they just won't cook! When you call, they say "chicken or fish?", you place your order and when you arrive your table is set and they already know what you're having. Too cool.

The US Virgin Islands cannot shine the shoes of the BVIs. Pure unadulterated paradise.

(This was a Polaroid, taken in 1983, hence the funky color. But I like it. I have not been back since, but I understand that everything I've described remains true today.)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Making Memories


Lucas on the Wild Jeep Tour, Sedona AZ 2002


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Over the past five years, I have tried to take each of my kids on vacation. Sometimes together, but often separately. They are ten years apart in age, and my daughter Emma really prefers walking through cities to road trips or beaches (as I discovered when I took her to Bermuda for a week in 2000, when she was 15. She spent almost every waking minute in the air-conditioned room, reading 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".) She did deign to come to Orlando with us that year (that's her at MGM). She also traveled to Europe with my mother in 2001 (my mother was 80 years old but they had a great time together) and went to London with her dad. She and I also went to Atlanta, where she loved visiting the Margaret Mitchell house.

Lucas is a great traveler. We went to Jamaica in 2001 when he was 6 (stayed at a place called "FDR Pebbles" which assigns you a family nanny when you arrive. She entertained and watched after him the whole week, whenever I wanted time to myself. It was incredible. Not the greatest beach, but great for traveling with small kids). Like my cornrows?




In April of 2002, Lucas and I flew to Phoenix and met up with my sister Loretta. We headed north to Sedona, which was like visiting another planet. After driving for miles along dry, dusty and brown landscape, the road turned and suddenly we were faced with enormous red "rocks" (mountains, really). While there, we took a drive up to the Grand Canyon but it was so windy I was afraid Lucas was going to be blown into oblivion. Here's a picture of us atop one of the red rocks.

3Jeepsters


The year 2003 wasn't a travel year for us. Tony (Lucas' dad) had gotten sick and I was reluctant to go too far from home.

Last year was a BIG travel year for Luke and me. In February, we did our now-famous marathon drive to Florida. Then, in April (he had two weeks off last year), we took Kelso to a dog-friendly bed and breakfast in the Catskills. We were the ONLY people there, which was great. Even the owners were away on vacation, so we only got to meet them on the last day. The woman who owns the place was SO affected and strange! As it turns out, she had been Klaus Von Bulow's girlfriend during his trial for killing his wife.

lucascatskills


In August, we decided to take a "Science and History" trip to Boston for a long weekend. We stayed in Cambridge and visited the MIT Museum and the Museum of Science. We walked to Faneuil Hall, went to the Aquarium, and saw Spiderman 2 at the IMAX theater. We walked through all of the historical cemetaries. It was a blast. Lucas loved eating at Legal Seafood every nght, too.

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I honestly think my primary job as parent is making great memories for my children. Based on all of the nostalgic posts we see here in blogdom, my blog included, the things that are burned into our brains as kids stick with us forever. For better or worse. For all the bad memories I have of my own childhood, one of the very best has to do with a major road trip we took when I was five. That, however, is fodder for a future post...

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Read It Now...


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... before Oprah turns it into a crappy made-for-TV-movie. This book is amazing. I finished it yesterday and can't stop thinking about it. (as opposed to the Jenna Jameson book, which is getting pretty repetitive after page 300...I mean, how many times can she pretend to be shocked/uncomfortable/surprisingly turned-on by another woman's advances? I find myself flipping back several chapters, thinking "Didn't she do this already?") This book , however, is an incredible survival tale written by a woman who managed to make it to adulthood, in spite of two brilliant but clearly mentally ill parents. She not only made it, but she's a successful columnist AND she has two greyhounds. ;)

Friday, April 01, 2005

Comments That Count

Please go visit my friend Greg at The California Hammonds. He is running a comment-fundraiser to benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Greg lost his young wife to breast cancer just one year ago.

Go. Comment. Donate if you can. You can even win some cool prizes along the way! (I was the 300th comment, so I won a $10 iTunes Gift Certificate. Wheee!)

Photo Friday: Hot


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Lucas on a raft in Jamaica in 2002. Not "hot" in the way that a lot of other entries are today, but believe me...it was hot. ;)