Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A WMD Has Surfaced!

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Putting up a rerun just to keep things moving along until I'm able to post again on Thursday...Original Post Date 2/7/05

Imagine the timing. Since introducing you to my mother, I was contemplating a blog entry about the various items that she'd use to torture us. Let's call them "WMDs -- Weapons of Margie's Discipline".

I immediately began to search for a picture of the paddle and ball that you see here. She'd buy us this toy, and in her best Elvira Gulch tone she'd warn, "Now don't let it break!" We knew that meant once the elastic had broken she'd take the paddle and store it for a future whacking session. We hated that fucking toy.

I had just finished my image search when Lucas ran inside from getting the mail, breathless with excitement. "Look at what Grandma sent me for VALENTINE'S DAY!!" Yep, you guessed it. A special Valentine's edition of the dreaded paddle toy. Every single solitary hair stood up on the back of my neck.

The hard part is that I can't say "UGH Lucas...I used to get hit with that thing..." because I really don't want him to hate my mother. I've told my kids vague things from time to time, like when Emma called me a bitch (she was 10) I said, "If I had ever said that to my mother I would have been knocked from here to New Jersey. And because of that, I have to leave the room now." I tried not to get into specific details with them, though. I just don't think it's the right thing to do.

The second picture I searched for was a pincushion, but couldn't find a good one. See, my mother sewed a lot, so pins were also WMDs. There was one incident where she held me down and stuck a pin in my tongue for not saying "Yes Mommy" ten times like I had been ordered to. If a sewing kit shows up as my Valentine's present I think I'll croak.

New Tenant!!!

Go visit my new tenant (in my sidebar), Chatty. I'm not putting the link here, because you have to click on the thumbnail to go see her properly! :)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Will Return Soon...

Been away, then doing the family thing...I'll be back with a new post on Thursday. In the meantime, I've been tagged by Micah to do this:

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

How ironic! The sentance is this:
" I have two sisters. I only speak to one of them."

I saw the other one this weekend, and that's what I'll post about on Thursday. In the meantime, I ain't tagging anyone...memes come here to die. ;)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Joy to Your Kid's World

When I posted about my asthma ordeal this weekend, I told you about my friend Joy who is a godsend to us.

Three years ago, I decided to go to tennis camp for a weekend, alone. When I got there, I was grouped with three women who had made the trip together. I was living in Greenwich, CT and they lived in Westchester Cty., NY., about 25 miles from each other. Joy was one of those women, and she and I hit it off immediately. We were both art directors, we were both from Brooklyn, we both had a boy and a girl. At one point, I said "I know you're from Brooklyn, but no one is from my old neighborhood..." and she said, "No, no one is from MY old neighborhood." It turns out we grew up just a few blocks from each other.

We remained close friends, meeting mid-way for indoor tennis that winter. Eventually I decided to move closer to Joy and it was the best decision I could have made. We've continued to play tennis when we can. She and her wonderful family have helped me when I need to travel for business, taking Lucas into their home, leaving me totally relaxed to do what I need to do. And of course, in an emergency like I had on Sunday, I knew that it would be Joy to the rescue. I only hope I can always be there for her the way she has been for me.

In addition to her talents as a designer, Joy is a gifted (and published) writer. She has welcomed me into her monthly writing group, where we often read entries from this blog and I get a lot of encouragement to write my vignetted memoirs.

This holiday season, if you want to get a terrific book for a kid in your life, consider this one...written by my dear friend Joy:

It is totally gross and kids LOVE it. (boys AND girls... and it's actually very educational!)
Use the link here to buy it through Amazon, so I can tell Joy how many bloggers love her. ;)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Put Lucas Over the Top!

As you can see from my sidebar, Lucas is VERY close to the $2000 donation mark. We have not been able to get out to the driving range this weekend (see two posts ago), but if anyone is at all inclined to help him reach this milestone, please click on the Donate Now button...

Remember, this translates into $6000 for the Red Cross for Katrina victims after matching donations from my company. Not exactly pocket change for ONE kid to raise... Thanks to all who have already donated!

**Edited to say that Alan W. stepped up right away to help! Of course, if anyone wants to put him OVER $2000... ;)

My Tenant

Check out my sidebar and go visit Indigo! She's "Renting My Blog" via Blog Explosion, and she's a worthy advertiser. Currently writing her NaNoWriMo Novel, but always entertaining.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Not the Best Weekend or, "Understatement of the Year"

Well, just got back from being in the hospital all day. At about 8:30 this morning I started wheezing and nothing I did, including the nebulizer, was working. I wound up crawling into Lucas' room and had him call my wonderful friend Joy, who came right away and called 911. We had a houseful of cops, medics, ambulance corps people...it was quite a festival. My dog Kelso never got off the chair. Vicious watchdogs, those greyhounds.

Anyway...things got progressively worse so I had to be ambulanced to the hospital for a bunch of treatments and tests. I'm ok now... chest x-rays clear, given prednisone to take for a few days and have to see my doctor tomorrow AND make an appointment with a pulmonologist. Should have done that months ago, but life gets in the way.

The worst part was before we left home, when I thought I was actually a bit better and didn't need the ambulance, I started having real spasms in my chest and couldn't breathe at all. I was "whooping" (kind of like sobbing is how I would describe it) uncontrollably. This was very scary for Lucas, of course.

Once I was stablilized and on the way to the hospital, I said to the medic "I'm worried about my son. He's so scared because his father died of lung cancer two years ago." She looked at me and said (I kid you not): "So? What does that have to do with anything?" I sucked down some more oxygen, but she was for real. "Doesn't the kid know the difference between asthma and cancer?" I said of course he does, but frankly he's afraid of ME DYING... get it?? (Well, I didn't have the energy to say quite that, but I thought it)

What an asshole!!

Anyway, on the positive side my friend Joy was, as always, a life saver. I don't have any family nearby and although my neighbors have left notes saying they'd be happy to help out next time, it's so much better to have good friends that know Lucas. I guess I should get out more.

(Oh, and did I mention that my MINI Cooper died on the highway on my way to work on Thursday? Electrical system failure. Two months ago the power steering pump 'went' (their word). So...it's been a bang-up couple of days. Hope you guys are faring better.)

I'm better now though... just rested while Lucas cleaned and vacuumed the whole house. Looking forward to "Rome" tonight!!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Photo Friday: Imperfection

The imperfection may not be obvious to you, as it was not to me, but when my daughter was little she HATED the beauty mark on her upper lip. She said it made her look "too Italian, like Madonna".

I loved it, and got a particular kick out of Lucas' take when he was 2 (and an avid Wallace and Gromit fan): "Um, Emma? You have a little porridge on your lip!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Cry Tunes

Last night was Parent/Teacher Conference time at my son's school. During the course of our conversation, the teacher said that a few things had happened recently to make her realize how fresh the pain of his dad's death is for Lucas. One thing involved a health case discussion about smoking, and the other happened in music class. The teacher had them sing a song that was fairly melancholy (I haven't yet found out what song) and Lucas began to cry and had to leave the room.

He has always been very sensitive to music that way, and particularly to lyrics no matter how deep or sophisticated. His dad was a huge Tom Waits fan, and we'd marvel at the fact that a 4-year-old Lucas would begin to weep when TW sang about a lost love. Let's face it: Waits ain't The Wiggles.

Maybe he comes by it naturally. When I was a kid, the song "Tammy" from the movie "Tammy and the Bachelor" would leave me in a puddle of tears no matter how many times I heard it. And I heard it a LOT, because my parents were so amused by this reaction that they'd play it for guests, purposely, so everyone could watch me dissolve on cue.

Aside from not treating my children like circus animals, I cannot imagine ever taking pleasure or amusement in their "pain", even if that pain involved Debbie Reynolds.

What song makes you cry? (If it's "Butterfly Kisses", be warned. I might laugh.)

**Edited to add that I found out what song made him cry: "Seasons Change". It was this chorus that did him in:

"Happy turns to sad
Sometimes life gets bad
Things get rearranged
Nothing stays the same
It just never ends
here we go again
One thing
Still remains, uh
Seasons seasons change "

Monday, November 14, 2005

Bring it On!!

I've been interviewed by a pretty high-profile blog called Bring it On!. Pia, one of the contributors, is a fellow NY'er and babyboomer who asked me a myriad of questions about politics, blogging, motherhood and growing up in Brooklyn.

Check it out!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Rerun: Wiseass 101

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Sorry for the rerun. I'm extremely busy at work this week AND feeling kinda crappy. However, one bit of exciting news: The Dog's Breakfast has passed 50,000 visitors! Woo hoo!

Original posting date 2/9/05. Updated and expanded today.

All of the recent Pope news has made me nostalgic for my all-girl Catholic High School days. Boy, was I an exemplary student. I was in trouble a good part of the time, never for anything hostile or hurtful but more for antics like collecting the dissected worms from Biology class and putting them in various appetizing places around the lunchroom. (including the Coke machine and in an unsuspecting girl's sandwich). I was sent to the principal's office for organizing poker games that sometimes ended in fistfights (hey, not me...other chicks!). I'd bring a giant Scotch bottle filled with pennies to school, tie ribbons around my sleeves and wear a visor for the poker events (staged on the filthy floor of the cafeteria). Remember, this was the early '70s...pre-poker craze.

When called out in Science class for who-know-what, I enlisted two of my friends to join me in serenading our teacher, Mr. Arena (while sitting on his desk of course), in a plea to the tune of "Big Spender": "The minute you walked in the lab (boom boom)...I could see you were a man of demerits...a real five pointer..Hey, Mr. Arena! Take ....... this little demerit from me..."

For the outcome, read my 100 Things. ;)

I devised a way for us to go braless (under our white cotton uniform blouses) to drive the male teachers nuts. The nuns would actually approach us and say "Are you wearing a bra??" We'd glue little piece of bra-strap inside the shoulder area of our blouse and pull it out through the neckline and say, "Yes! Of course!"

Influenced by my still-in-the-closet best friend Andrew, I would also make decidedly inappropriate selections for book reports, like the one I did on a little missive called "Mother Camp" about transvestites and transsexuals. I still have the report, replete with all the frenetic red markings scolding me for not getting the book pre-approved. Hey, I thought it was really fascinating! A particularly juicy paragraph helped the reader (in this case, the prune-faced Sister Ruth Miriam) distinguish between the various types of "queens", including the "dinge queen, noted for having anal sex in public restrooms." That nun is probably STILL in an oxygen tent.

Anyway, I digress. What the recent Vatican events really reminded me of was an article I wrote for the school newspaper entitled, "The Pope: Who Died and Left HIM Boss?"

Although I probably spent twenty-six thousand hours in detention, I think they secretly really got a kick out of me.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Good Run

Emma watching the 1986 NYC Marathon

One thing I really miss about living in NYC is Marathon Day. When Emma was a baby and we lived in Brooklyn, we could walk one block to 4th Avenue and see the runners stream by. We'd read their t-shirts and yell and scream in support for every runner we could. It was so much fun, and the runners were so appreciative and still smiling at that point (about 5 miles into the race, I think).

A few years ago, I decided to train to WALK the marathon. I would walk 12 miles every Sunday and 3 or 4 miles a few times during the week. I applied for a number but I was not picked in the lottery. Maybe one of these years I'll try again. It will seriously cut into my blogging time, though. ;)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Orifice: Part II - Tales of Terror from the Gynecologist's Office

In part one of "The Orifice", I regaled you with horror stories about men I've worked for in years past, and in one case was smart enough NOT to work for. Today's post is a bit different. It's about men, and it's thankfully about the past, but it involves doctors. Gynecologists. Men who should have been nowhere near women, let alone in a professional and highly personal setting.

Actually my very first experience with an ob/gyn was a very good one. I was about fifteen and had developed a horrible urinary tract infection. Since there was no way I could go to my parents with this (I knew it was probably related to sexual activity), I let it go until I was doubled over in pain and literally peeing blood. (Interesting that my parents didn't even NOTICE that I was sick.) A friend of mine told me she had a wonderful doctor who would see me without my parents' knowledge. I will never forget him. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and let my friend stay in the room while he examined me. He gave me a prescription for a sulphur drug and told me that I had to go to Planned Parenthood, and that he would not treat me again. I did go, and they were great. (Talk to me about "parental consent" laws. I can tell you right now what would have happened to me if I needed my parents' permission to get birth control.)

A few years later, when I was nineteen and living on my own (sort of), I needed to find a new gynecologist. A woman at work recommended her doctor, and during the course of the conversation told me that she was scheduled to get mammogram. This was 1974...mammograms were not routine, and certainly not for very young women. She was 20. I didn't think too much of it until after I saw the doctor.

I arrived at his office and was pretty shocked at the number of women who were sitting in the waiting room. I thought for sure I'd be there for hours. Instead, woman after woman went in and out of the office in about ten minute intervals. The receptionist called my name and I went into the examining room and put on the standard-issue paper gown. The doctor came in, examined my breasts, put on a pair of rubber gloves and did a 2-second "digital" exam. He told me to get dressed and meet him in his office. When I got there, he solemnly told me that I had "cystic" breasts and needed to go for a mammogram. He gave me the name of the place to go, and that was the end of it. As I walked out of the office, I flashed back to my 20 year old friend who was going to the same radiology center for her mammogram and knew the whole thing was a scam.

The following year, I consulted another friend for a recommendation. She sent me to a 60-something year old doctor in Manhattan who she described as "so sweet and funny". Well, she was right about "funny", but it was funny-strange, not funny ha-ha. He directed me to undress in a cramped corner of the examination room. There was no screen, and no nurse present. I thought this was a little weird but was reluctant to question it. He did what seemed like an appropriate exam, even using instruments instead of a rubber-gloved finger. That is, until he was finished and kissed my inner thigh. I guess that was the "so sweet" part.

Fed up, I skipped the annual gyno appointment for awhile until my sister gave me the name of her doctor whom she thought very highly of. (This is the sister who is married to a cross-dressing maniac, but I didn't think about that at the time.) I liked this guy immediately. He was a man I would describe as genteel, with a slow Southern drawl. We'd sit in his office before the exam, just to talk about my concerns. That was the first time. I saw him a few months later for an in-office procedure, and when I went for the follow-up I saw him in his office as I had before. This time, in addition to talking about my concerns, he asked me several questions about my sex life...how many partners did I have, did I have orgasms, were any sexual positions painful for me, stuff like that. Then he said, "I saw you on the street last week." When he said where, I thought for a moment and said, "No, I don't think that was me." He looked me in the eye and said, "I would know you anywhere."

I said I wasn't feeling too good and left. When I called my sister, I told her that he made me really uncomfortable with the comment about seeing me on the street. She blew it off, saying that I was being paranoid. So I said, "Well, I don't know why he needs to know about my orgasms." She screamed "WHAT???" into the phone so loud that I knew he had never asked her those questions. That was 1979.

When I became pregnant with my daughter in 1984, I found a wonderful group of nurse-midwives who saw me throughout my pregnancy and for years afterwards. I went to them for my annual well-woman exam and back to them for the birth of my son ten years later (even though I lived 35 miles away at that point). I realize that bad doctors come in all shapes, sizes and genders, but I don't think I'll ever go back to a male doctor for my woman-stuff.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Photo Friday: Warmth

For this week's theme, I've chosen a photo that I think captures the warmth between dog and human beautifully. The woman is CJ, the President of Greyhound Rescue and Rehab. She nursed Boss back to health after a serious injury forced his "retirement" from the racetrack. After rehabilitating him for several months in her home with three other rescued greyhounds, she found a forever home for him and had to let him go.

This photo was taken at our annual greyhound picnic last year. CJ and Boss had not seen each other for over a year. Now named Mingus, it was clear that he knew exactly who she was...and still loved her.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Thanks to the adept police work of Officer Kelso, dreaded escaped convict Lucas was apprehended in time to collect a whole bagload of Halloween candy...