Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of the fam

addressing my minions
I'm not the president of my household; I'm the Queen, Supreme Ruler. There is no democracy here, unless I say it's a democracy, which usually means either I want someone else to make the decision or I just don't care. Probably both. But I've observed the goings-on here and, ultimately, I do want what is best for the welfare of our household and the family members herein so I have prepared some comments on the current state of our collective life and I'm willing to make a half-hearted attempt to improve things as long as it does not require too much of me.

Financially, the outlook is fair, despite the fact that not all household members are living up to their economic potential. I can't help it; I just don't want a job. I've had them before and quite frankly I was never a big fan. However, my contributions to the Downright Domestic Product (DDP) remain quite strong, particularly in the area of hours spent cleaning the kitchen, packing lunches, and the never-ending chore of “putting crap away.” And let us not ignore the astronomical amount of time spent providing comfort, solving problems and general tending to needs of others. To put it bluntly, I'm really working my ass off here, despite the lack of earnings. Let's not complain about the division of labor.

I see cracks in our foundation, which trouble me deeply. Actually, they are not cracks and they are not in the foundation. It's more like water damage on the ceiling and warped window frames from ice dams on the roof. But I believe that, with the help of the independent contractor, we can repair all cracks to emerge stronger in the face of the next winter of never-ending snow. Oh who am I kidding, we'll pay a bunch of money to fix the house and we'll just have ice dams again some other year. Fear not for our infrastructure however, because I’m almost positive that the house is not going to crumble.

Morale is not always good in our home and I spend a lot of time worrying about this issue. For instance, when the dog pees in the basement repeatedly, is he displaying anxiety related to aging? When the child engages in pretend play with her stuffed animals and the animals swear at each other, is this displaced anger she feels towards me? Is it wrong that when she says she'll be lonely if she sleeps all night in her own bedroom, I am totally incapable of formulating any kind of plausible argument as to why that's ridiculous? And should I be at all troubled by the empty Jameson bottles I find in the recycling when I never actually see anyone partaking of the drink? I have spent endless hours pondering the answers to these questions and others and in the end, I must conclude that I am overtaxed by the burden of all this pondering. I hereby vow to make an overhaul of the tax structure so that, in the future, I am not taxed at all and everyone else is required to invest much more time into worrying about how I am doing instead. I'm not feeling optimistic that true progress can be made in this arena but I am good at making the oath, nonetheless.

People, the bottom line is, life produces a lot of stuff, not all good. And while it is beneficial to review and evaluate and try to make positive changes, the clock is ticking and we don’t want to waste much time on scrutiny. We have to get busy living. I’m just glad I’m not the dude in charge of our country. There’s a lot of bad juju out there, and that's why I’m on the computer and not watching the television right now. If there’s anything in the State of the Union address that I need to worry about, please let me know.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A little intro...

This is not me

If you are reading this, chances are good that you already know who I am (more or less). However, in the event that Oprah someday finds her way to my blog or maybe even Augusten Burroughs or some equally awe-inspiring and influential individual, I thought I would provide a little introduction, something to describe who I am and why I am writing.

I am, among other things, a mom, and I don’t have paid employment, which I suppose makes me a stay-at-home mom as well as a housewife. But I am not fond of either title so I avoid describing myself in such ways. I like to think of myself instead as someone who is doing a bit of her own thing, while remaining available as a go-to gal for many people. I’m pretty sure no one else would describe me this way, but it’s true. I’m here for my daughter, my dog, my husband, my mom, my sisters, my daughter’s elementary school, my friends. I’m too busy helping out and taking care of people to do anything much different for now.

A long time ago, I had aspirations of fame and fortune. Ok, possibly that dream was more about what I hoped to look like someday rather than what I truly wanted to “be.” When I was 18 I went to a graduation party thrown by a grade-school friend, a reunion of our childhood soccer team. My friend’s mom asked us several questions about what we thought our future lives would look like and she saved our written answers, promising to have a second reunion in 20 years where we would look at these 18-year old hopes and dreams and see how close we came to those predictions. My ambition at the time was based entirely on a very short-lived (and very lame) television show called Jack and Mike about a glamorous and successful journalist played by Shelley Hack (remember Shelley Hack? She was one of the late Angels, as in Charlie’s, a somewhat forgettable replacement for Kate Jackson’s Sabrina, the smart angel, in case that helps). All I really remember about the show was that she was a newspaper reporter, she was both beautiful and intelligent, and she drove a spiffy red car. Yes, I thought, that’s exactly what I want to be when I grow up.

I went off to college planning to be an English major, thought I’d make my way into journalism, write, garner much success and all the while I would maintain the dye job on my blonde hair and also work on buying that sporty red car that would lend me the added sexy flair I needed to convey my beauty and success to the world. Needless to say, plans changed. I abandoned English after my first intro course where we had to analyze a lot of poems and everyone found symbols of Christ whereas I just assumed the poem was truly just about the beach or a pretty flower. I have never worked as a writer but instead spent many years in social service jobs (see? the helper, the caretaker… it’s my gig). I do have blonde hair, only because it cleverly disguises the ever-multiplying gray hairs. But I am definitely not movie-star glamorous and though I briefly drove a used red Toyota Tercel (ever heard it called the turd-cell?) for a few years in the late 1990s, I do not own a red car and I’m pretty sure the sight of me in my blue Subaru Forrester does not bring men to their knees when I speed away. So… you know, the Shelley Hack thing, it didn’t pan out.

My senior year of college, when asked what I wanted to do after school, I simplified my answer to this: “I don’t know. I just want to be happy.” I’m still hard at work on this dream but so far I think I’m on the right track.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January blog

It's January and I live in Minnesota and these factors should be enough to justify starting a blog. I really don't like the word blog. It's not a pretty word and it's not very descriptive even when you stretch it back into the two words it represents in its compacted little expressive sandwich. What is a web log anyway? Don't you think of Star Trek and William Shatner saying "Captain's log, stardate 2011.1.18, Spock told me a hilarious joke the other day..." or, you know, whatever it is he says in his captain's log when you hear the word "log?" When I think of writing in a "log," that's what I think, anyway. Maybe that's just me. But a blog can be so much more than that. For instance, when it's 10 degrees outside and there is a wall of snow so high in front of your house that you have to stand on tip-toe to holler a greeting to your neighbor and you are 5'9" so that's a pretty damn high wall of snow... well, then, a blog can be something to do, a guilty pleasure, a little indulgence.

I like to tell stories and I like them to be amusing. I tend to think I am much more amusing than any source of feedback should have led me to believe thus far in my life. I love people who appear to find me funny and entertaining. On the other hand, usually a blank stare or look of slight confusion is my first clue that a person does not, in fact, find me at all entertaining or amusing. And when I talk to someone like that, I subsequently try NEVER to encounter that person ever again in my life because, in all honesty, I don't have any idea how to talk to that person. The more confused they look, the more nervous I feel, and the more nervous I feel, the more "funny" jokes pop in to my head and they refuse to be ignored even as I try madly to act normal and think of a normal, grown-up-lady thing to say. I end up just muttering "so, anyway..." and then I trail off, sentence unfinished, and basically just get the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

But in writing? Oh yeah, I don't have to see anyone in my audience (and maybe that's because there IS no audience, ever think of that, smarty pants?) so I can just be as hilarious as I please. I can tell all the stories I want and if no one wants to listen, it's okay. You can just click on the little red X in the upper right-corner. Unless you're on a Mac and in that case, I don't know what you do but I trust you'll think of something.

So this is it: the January blog. It could stretch on into February and March, or it could just peter out and I'll say "It was the January blog. I'll write again next January when I'm bored and stir crazy." We'll just have to wait and see. Either way, I see a future of me telling some good stories and hopefully I will entertain at least one person, possibly just myself. It's January in Minnesota and the landscape is nothing but shades of gray but I found something to do.