Archive for January, 2008

TWBB

January 29, 2008

My dear friend NHBC and I went to see “There Will be Blood” last weekend.

A serious movie but we both burst out laughing at the same parts. Parts no one else was laughing at.

In one scene, a middle aged, beaten down, achingly lonely man says, quietly, to the main character:

I’m your brother.

The main character, played by Daniel Day Lewis, stares at him intently and makes to no comment. After a pause, the first man says:

“From a another mother.”

For some reason
“I’m your brother.
From a another mother.”
was just hysterical to NHBC and me (but no one else.)

Another part of the movie focused on a young, emphatic and energetic preacher named Eli. (Played by Paul Dano, the older, color-blind brother from “Little Miss Sunshine.”) Eli would give sermons and attempt to heal his parishioners. In attempting to heal one elderly woman he refers to the ghost that is causing her pain. He vehemently proclaims to the “ghost:”

“As long as I have teeth, I will bite you!
As long as I have gums, I will gum you!”

Again, NHBC and I were totally cracking up, while our fellow movie goers were silent.

It makes me wonder if we are really warped or if everyone else was humor challanged. (I mean, REALLY, who would not find “I will gum you!” hysterical?)

DCFS

January 20, 2008

Tonight I called DCFS on one of my daughter’s friend’s parents. I’m not sure if I did the right thing, or, more accurately, I’m not sure if it will actually help.

Some background, Reagan has been friends with the child, “Venus,” since kindergarten; Venus is a smart girl, funny and vivacious, however, she does have a tendency to take offense easily and to be pretty emotional about things. Unfortunately, Reagan has these same characteristics and it seems they are either getting along famously or having huge dust-ups.

This last summer was particularly rocky in regards to their friendship and, early in the school year, Venus’s mom decided she wouldn’t let her be friends with Reagan. (Background to the background, whenever Reagan and Venus have had arguments, the mom, Carrie, has blamed it 100% Reagan. Once, she even swore at her on the phone, making me question the mother’s mental health; I can understand being protective, but that’s completely overboard. Oh, and I promise, it’s never been a case of my daughter being viscious, just normal grade and middle school spats.)

I try to stay out of such disagreements, only meddling to remind my child “Don’t gossip.” “Own up to your part in any altercation.” “Be kind,” etc… Nevertheless, I was secretly relieved that Venus and Reagan seemed to be growing apart. The Carrie related drama had just gotten to be too much over the last few years and had caused my daughter quite a lot of heartache.

I was surprised, when, earlier this week, Reagan asked if Venus could spend the night. I said yes, and forgot about it until today. Chris and I went into Peoria, and upon arriving home, Venus was at the house.

The girls were getting along well, planning on watching a “Project Runway” marathon this evening and doing some baking.

Then the phone rang.

It was Venus’s mom.

Venus had lied and said she was at another girl’s house. Carrie was understandably upset, having called the other house only to find out her daughter was not there, and no one knew where Venus was. She called around, and found her at our house.

I felt for her, I think almost every parent has had that heart stopping feeling of “OMG, where is my child?” It’s awful. Plus, I’d be really, really pissed off that my child had lied to me.

Carrie asked if we could bring Venus home. I offered to have Chris take her in about an hour when he and Taylor left for the Bradley game and she acquiesced.

I told Venus to get ready and a little later she and Reagan approached me in the kitchen. Venus was crying and said, hesitatingly:

“I’m not scared of getting yelled at or getting grounded; I’m scared of my mom. Last night she was mad at me and put her arms around my neck and…” (Venus gestured with her hands around her neck like she was choking.)

Oh, shit.

I asked if Carrie had choked or hit her before and she said yes, which made some things Reagan had said previously click, in that, “Oh, my gosh, how could I have not seen it” way.

I asked what she thought would be the right thing to do.

(I know, I know, it seems silly to ask a child such a thing, but I was just dumbfounded, upset, and horrified for Venus, who I do not doubt is telling the truth and seemed honestly terrified of her mother.)

She said she has thought about calling DCFS for a long time but didn’t know the number.

I asked if she would like me to call and she said, yes, please. So I did.

Was it the right thing? I don’t know.

On paper, in terms of black and white, it was, because I don’t doubt Venus. On the other hand, will it do any good?

There are so many gray areas. She had no visible marks. It’s her word against her mother’s. The report-er (me) has had problems with the mother in the past. Venus had just done something really wrong in lying to her mother, so will they take her word?

And, if they do believe Venus, what will the consequences to her mother and her *family be?

*There isn’t a dad in the home, just Carrie, Venus, a new baby, a baby daddy and his two kids that visit on the weekends.

January 16, 2008

My kids received their report cards last Friday.

Not awful, but:

Reagan had a C in science and Taylor had a low B.

Worse then that, though, was their teacher’s comment:
“Could do better.”

A less pretentious way of saying “doesn’t work up to full potential,” but more subtle than saying “Your spawn is LAZY.”

I’m really upset with both of my children and gave them a lovely, rambling lecture, with the main theme being “Lazy is a choice, dumb is not. I’d rather have you be dumb, which you couldn’t help, than lazy which you can.”

Of course, dumb is forever, but hopefully lazy can be conquered. Right?

Honestly, it’s the lack of effort, their unwillingness to give every assignment their all that is upsetting me. If Reagan had worked really hard on science and received a “C,” I wouldn’t be thrilled, but I could accept it.

I’m just not sure what an appropriate punishment or motivator is at this time. Reagan is grounded for the C, that’s just our general house rule, “nothing below a B.” But I’m beginning to question that rule.

According to their teachers, both kids are capable of being A students, and both also seem (usually) equally capable of figuring out exactly how much work they need to do to stay out of the “red zone” of C’s and below. Since they could get all A’s, should that be our requirement?

I’m really torn about this and would love any advice. Am I overreacting? Is this laziness of the last year or so just a product of their ages? (13 and 14) Or is it something I need to “nip in the bud” before it worsens?

Reason 1,347 not to shop at Walmart (but sadly, I still do)

January 15, 2008

Several Januarys ago, NHBC and I were going to Walmart to buy art supplies for my girl scout troop, it was a rainy day and many people were cruising the parking lot, stalking people for a close spot. Choosing a row, we got stuck behind a car that was waiting for a someone to pull out. (Don’t you hate it when people do that? In my opinion, once someone pulls up behind you, you move on. It makes me want to shout “YOUR TIME IS NOT MORE VALUABLE THAN MINE!!!” or the less succinct “ASSHOLE!”)

Unfortunately, in attempting to pull into the (finally) available spot, the car in front of mine backed into my car. And, yes, I was at least a car length behind him; but he didn’t even look back, just put his car in reverse, and reversed, fast. I was actually in park (having sat for so long waiting for the douche bag to move) and was unable to shift into reverse in time to avoid the jerk. It’s one of those moments in time that’s frozen in my brain. My car, NHBC beside me, a car rapidly approaching, and panic.

NHBC immediately dialled the police. We found a spot. I approached the douche bag, and, politely told him, “ummm… you hit my car; my friend just called the police.” And asked for his name, insurance info, etc. He wanted to take care of it without involving the police; this seemed unwise to me. He asked me to sit in his car so we could “talk about it.” And safety (un)conscious idiot that I am, I did. He mentioned that there wasn’t much damage. Couldn’t we both just take care of our own repairs? Um, no, dude, you hit my car. I was in PARK. He offered to buy me a new headlight. I declined, not knowing how much damage my car really had.

The police arrived, and Howard E. Gregory told them that I had rear-ended HIM.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so flabbergasted, so completely shocked, as I was at that moment.

It seriously never occurred to me that he would lie. (Especially since, in the ten minute conversation in the car he NEVER once made the allegation that I had hit him, and, isn’t offering to pay for my repair basically admitting to guilt? Of course, he’d likely say he was just being nice.)

The police didn’t care. The accident had happened on private property and they seemed surprised and annoyed that we had even called and promptly left.

We left Walmart fuming. I called my insurance agent. NHBC called her mom. Her mother said “Maybe Walmart has it on tape, from security cameras in their parking lot.” Genius.

I called Walmart, spoke to a security guard; he offered to review the tape from that afternoon. I waited on the line, while he found the accident and confirmed that, yes, I wasn’t moving, that I had not rear-ended Howard E. Gregory.

Victory!

Or not. Walmart would not release the tape to my insurance. My lawyer even sent them a letter offering a signed release agreeing not to hold them in any way responsible and that we wouldn’t use the tape for anything other than proof that Howard E. Gregory hit my car. Walmart still refused, citing corporate policy.

Thus, it was my word (and NHBC’s, who, admittedly is my friend, but a very honest person) against Howard E. Gregory’s. The insurance companies ultimately decided that each company would handle its own client’s damages. My deductible was $500.

I wish I could say this story has a moral*. But it’s hard to find one. Maybe a theme “bad things happen to good people” or “lying liars lie and get away with shit” or “Walmart doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the ‘little guy’ even if their commercials preach about how much they care.”

*Okay, I just thought of what NHBC would say the moral is, “Park in the first available damn space.”

2008 Election, part 2

January 10, 2008

Yesterday I posted my “who to vote for” woes and today I visited Pretty in Pink’s blog and found a calculator for picking your candidate.

Neither of my self proclaimed “top 2” was the victor. Damn. But Barack was higher in the rankings than Hillary. So more to think about. Oh, and I appreciate everyone’s thoughtful responses to yesterday’s post. I really thought I’d get flamed.

2008 Election Hillary vs. Obama

January 9, 2008

I’ve been watching the debates and reading the newspaper in an attempt to decide who to vote for in the Democratic primary. I like Hillary. I like Obama. I would feel comfortable choosing either ahead of any of the Republican challangers. So now I’m left wading through the available data trying to pick who is most electable. And, so far, I just can’t decide.

The main anti-Hillary argument I have heard from other women is that they can’t believe she stayed with Bill. WTF? I think it’s fine to disagree, to say “I would NEVER have stayed.” BUT, the bottom line is:
SHE DIDN’T DO ANYTHING IMMORAL.

Why are we, as women, so keen to judge her? Bill was a rotten husband. She decided to stay, and whatever her reason, it was personal, and she shouldn’t be condemned for doing what she determined was right for her (and her child’s) life.

I can understand the enmity, the condemnation and the reasoning that was used against Bill, the argument that while his poor behaviour took place in a private sphere, they lead to lies in the public and were indicative of his character.

But what does that have to do with Hillary? I know some will trot out the “birds of a feather” argument; however, is one liable for the faults of one’s mate? I don’t think we hold other people accountable in such a way. For example, George W. has admitted to some pretty rotten behaviour in the early years of his marriage. Should Laura have left him? She couldn’t have predicted that he would straighten out his life and become president.

Furthermore, marriage can be so difficult; I can’t imagine the added stress of constantly being in the public eye. For Hillary, staying had to be tremendously difficult and I think it shows her strength in character, that she was able to hold her head up high and deal with the an obviously awful and humiliating situation.

Either way, I really feel the situation with Bill is a moot point in regard to her ability to lead, to govern our nation. She should be judged on her personal merit as a leader, not on the actions of someone else.

So I’m back to my beginning quandry, Hillary vs. Obama, and I would appreciate any input from proponents of either. (Ollie?)

Voting

January 8, 2008

Don’t forget, if aren’t already registered, today is the last day in IL to register before the primaries.

Tory? Whig?

January 4, 2008

We played “Catch Phrase” again last night, with adults on one team, kids on the other.

Taylor was giving clues to Reagan and said “Opposite of liberal.”

and Reagan responded:

“REBEL?!”

Oh, it was soooo funny.

Next, Chris had the word “snorkel” and was giving me clues. I knew exactly what he meant, but my brain was not cooperating. It didn’t help that he said “Rhymes with pork.” That lead me away from brainstorming about underwater apparatuses (yes, I looked it up and it’s not “apparati”) and onto “bork, cork, dork, fork, gork, hork… God, a lot of words rhyme with “pork;” snorkel, however, does NOT.

Puke

January 2, 2008

We had a nice New Year’s Eve. No one threw up the entire time! This was a victory because my house was vomitrocious for over a week. First it was my own family (everyone but me, knock on wood), then Taylor’s friend J. spent the night and threw up. And threw up. And threw up. Poor kid. It’s not fun being sick at someone else’s house. (Okay, he practically lives at our house, so hopefully, he wasn’t that uncomfortable. And, luckily, he’s old enough to clean up his own puke.)

New Years Eve my friend SS and her family spent the night, plus Taylor’s friends J. and B. Certain other people wimped out, claiming spousal illness. My sister, K., also decided not to come. She had the grand excuse of taking her car to get the oil changed. Hmmm…. And there was also an obscure gender neutral reference to a “friend” coming over to her house that evening. Boyfriend?

We all played games, including “Imaginiff” (fun) and Catch Phrase (also fun). In Catch Phrase you have to give clues to your teammates to guess a random word or phrase. On J.’s turn he would say, “Umm, ummm, I don’t know, Ummm…. this is hard.” B.’s method could be called “talking to the deaf/or non-native English speaker:”

“big”

“House?”

“NO!”

“Big”

“Giant?”

“NO!!”

“BIG”

“Dirigible?”

“NO!!!”

“BIGGGG!!!!!!!”

(game beeps, he’s out)

(I really shouldn’t make fun of anyone else; I am awful at games; the night before we were playing Catch Phrase and my phrase was “If the shoe fits” and my clue to my teammates was “you put it on your foot.” “Shoe?” Yes! Now: “blank blank shoe blank.”)

SS’s boys are still at our house and I’m back at work. Okay, back in my office, not exactly working at this moment. I can’t believe Christmas and New Year’s Eve are over. This school year is going by way too fast and it totally freaks me out, probably because next year my little guy will be in high school and my little girl will be in 8th grade. It just doesn’t seem possible.

There are a ton of resolutions I should be making. To exercise. To work on our finances (lack thereof!). To lose 30 pounds. To cook better. To clean more. To be a better wife/mother/daughter/friend/sister/aunt/employee. But all of those things seem overwhelming and, frankly, I’m afraid I would fail.

So I’ve narrowed my resolutions down to the following:
1. Eat better. (more fruits/veggies, less baked goods)
2. Be more patient with my kids.
3. No arguing in front of the kids. (Okay, now that I think about that, wouldn’t “not arguing” be a better resolution?)

Guess how many of these I’ve already broken? (BUT not abandonded!)