Sunday, December 30, 2007

Kids Back, Titans In, Everything Else Up And Down

My boys are home and the Titans are in the Playoffs! Yay!!!!!

It's so hard to blog during the holidays. I have mixed feelings about everything and none of it seems like it would be particularly interesting to anyone but me. The ups have included a kick ass job interview for Linus (thank you, oh senders of good mojo), third anniversary with Bet (we don't count the first thirteen), and a re-commitment to the triathlon (please not to laugh at the girl who has not run for a month). The downs have included Mr. Tapioca telling Havoc there is no Santa (I hate him, I hate him, I hate him - errr - I hate Mr. Tapioca - not Santa. If I weren't so tired I'd have gone back and retyped to make the antecedent clear instead of explaining, but do you see it's almost midnight? Goes to show you how much I love my Titans that I'd stay up this late.) The inbetweens have included six novels in four days (gotta love avoidance behavior + Borders gift cards!!!) and dogs with new names: Sir Stinks-A-Lot and Princess Fart-So-Fresh. (They LOVE the homemade dog treats we made - bacon biscuits and "snickerpoodles" but man, it is NOT pleasant to have them sleep in the same room with us anymore!)

Shout out to LT - who broke her clavicle immediately after retiring! The surgery went well, the metal plates or rods (or spirals for all I know) are doing their job holding her arm on. I can't see a mere snapped bone holding her back for long - but send her healing mojo anyway, ok? (I mean, you were such the bomb diggety on the job interview mojo that you know I'm going to be hitting up from now on!)

I'm rejoicing and rejoicing and rejoicing that all my chickadees are home to roost! My Grandpa Jack used to have a line about how he couldn't sleep until he counted all the heads in their beds. When he counted and got to the right number, then he'd "hit the hayfeathers" himself and surrender to the "arms of Morpheus" and often as not wish us "bony snowshoes" on the way (which was his goofy way of saying buenas noches. He was an odd duck, my grandpa, but oh how I adored him!) And now I understand him that much better. Heads in the bed tally: 8 (of the human variety) and 2 (of the canine (and smelly) variety). Bony Snowshoes! And Peace.

PS - Havoc's FF team (the Gridiron Chefs) won their league (which is no surprise seeing as how he had Tom Brady and Randy Moss) but Bet and I won our league too (which was a huge shock)! I know you all were wondering how that all turned out. :D

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Merry

Holiday Cheer to all!
Egg bake casserole, link sausages, sweet rolls and plain ones, fruit salad and mimosas - Christmas breakfast is all over except for the dishes. We've delivered our presents to the neighbors - bacon dog biscuits and "snickerpoodles" - nothing for the humans but our neighbors love us anyway. We've spoken to everyone except for the boys (Chaos, Mayhem, and Havoc) - which is a big exception. I've left two messages. What else can I do? I'm trying not to get into a snit that I've gotten to talk to my nephew and my godson but not my own children. (See this - this is me not pitching a hissy fit. Look quickly because it may not last long.) The tree is sparkly and the dogs are chewing on their new toys. We're down to video games on the PS3 and naps on the couch. Overall, it's a sweet and cozy Christmas. I hope everyone else is tucked in celebrating with those they love most.

Monday, December 24, 2007


I wonder. What would the opposite action of piercing be? Piercing is so decisive and immediate. It can be reclamation or destruction. Rite of passage or passing whim. Piercing is an act of invasion but also of willing acceptance. Vulnerability and toughness both come into play. It is intense. Whether it's disfiguring or decorative - it is intense.

Tattooing is completely different. It's more permanent for one thing. For another it takes longer in the moment but heals much more quickly afterwards. The intensity of acquiring a tattoo is drawn out, flattened. The experience of having a tattoo (once it's healed) is mostly visual.

Not that I mean to attach comparative value or to impose any hierarchy on body modification attempts. Whether you're into putting on or taking off weight, cinching your waist or wearing pointy shoes, painting your toenails or getting your eyeballs lasered, collecting ink or showing off metal spikes - to each his own, right? They are all valid attempts to change our bodies in certain ways for reasons that make sense to us (at the time).

I just wonder why I can't unpierce with the same satisfaction as I pierced. To change a tattoo - you have to get a cover-up tattoo or go have the ink painfully burned/sucked out of your skin. To take off weight you've put on or to put on weight you've taken off - you pretty much just reverse direction. But it's hard to unpierce. (In fact, my stupid spell check program keeps underlining it in red to inform me there is no such word, even.) Sure, you can take out the jewelry. You can wait for the hole to heal, but besides that not being what I mean by unpiercing is the fact that you can't count on that. Depending on how long you've been pierced (and where), it may or may not heal over. You might simply end up with an empty piercing. That is hardly the reversal of either process or result that I'm looking for. Maybe the issue is that I'm not seeking an about face. I knew going into the piercer's room that it was a permanent-ish line to cross.

No, I realize now as I write all this, what I'm looking for is a step as bold going out as I took going in. Piercing (for me) has an element of symbolic grief, a dash of decoration, a bit of intuitive fun and a liberal dose of "don't you fucking judge me" to it. Those are the ingredients that my piercings have in common - but they each have their own place on the spectrum too. I have a couple of piercings I'll never, ever even think about taking out. My earlobes - because I love earrings but also because not having pierced ears is really more of a statement than having them is in this day and age. My lip - because it signals my commitment to intentionality about what I say, what I eat (and about it staying down once it passes my lips), whom I kiss and also because unlike other piercings, it remains an intense experience after it's completely healed. The other piercings, though, cover the range from "Already took it out because what the HELL was I thinking when I got that pierced?!" to "Meh. Why bother taking it out? It's done, it's fine. It's no big deal." Somewhere in the middle of that range is "Hmmm. That was exactly what I needed to do at the time but not so much what works for me now. In fact, I need something completely different." It's that one in the middle (or rather two, since they're a matched set, if you get my drift) that I'm wondering about today. Where is the bold step? The next action that affirms the experience of the piercing but also affirms the validity of being done - done with the decoration and the sensitivity.

It is much the same way I didn't have a good ritual for the divorce. Yay - I wasn't married any more. This little (expensive) piece of paper said so. It even said that I'd been done being married ten days ago. The precise act of a judge saying (or stamping really) "I now pronounce your marriage sundered" had passed with no way for me to mark it in the moment. Discovering the embossed and official petition in the mail was anticlimactic. I could have thrown a party, but I didn't. (The rotting corpse of my marriage had sat around stinking up the place until I'd buried it long before the judge got around to engraving the tombstone. A memorial service after the fact might be just the thing for some folks but for me, it was too little too late.) Yet... tiny step by tiny step I began to feel whole in a new way. My ringless left hand stopped looking stripped and in need of covering up. Celebrating the daily achievements (like continuing to breathe in and out) helped. I may have even toasted my "single mother" status a time or two with a fabulous red wine - but on the whole, I had no definitive liturgy for "that was then and this is now". I leapt into that marriage much more decisively than I emerged from of it.

This is a much (much!) smaller curve in my life path - this impulse to unpierce. But it's got the same angle to the curve no matter the scale. I have no step, no act of demarcation to propel me utterly from "pierced to unpierced". The jewelry is out and sterilized. (Useless, but still pretty.) The sites are clean and healing even after four years of being pierced. (Bare, but still pretty - if I do say so myself.) Does this mean I am officially unpierced? This I wonder.

Maybe the answer is, I am if I want to be. The forest being easier to see when you're out of the trees and all that. Maybe the other answer is - who the hell cares, woman? No one* would know one way or the other if you didn't blab and blather all angsty to the internet about it. We all go around piercing and unpiercing ourselves (metaphorically) every day. You get to decide if you want it to be marked by the equivalent of the society pages or a few quiet words in front of the JOP** or somewhere in between. So, y'all (and especially St. Ann who was my confidante for the step in) - Guess what I got unpierced today?
Peace. And happy holidays!

*"No one" in this case meaning technically "only two people" who wouldn't have said a thing to anyone so the point is the same but I had to make a note of it because (on the off chance either of the two read this entry) I didn't want them to think I thought they were "no one's". Phew - cya'ing is torturous. And probably unnecessary. The word probably being the tricky part.

**Justice of the Peace. Isn't that the coolest job title ever? Sounds right up my alley - peace and justice all in one. Too bad, it's a mis-named side job usually performed by old, white men who spend their other days presiding over juvenile court and the like. Still, someday I'd like to meet a really cool JOP. If you know one, tell me!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pre-Christmas Chaos

Pistachios and peppermint, oranges and sugar cookies, exams and eggnog, wrapping paper and crackling fires - I am having a FANTASTIC time. I have pictures I want to post and ideas I want to share, but I only have 48 hours left with three of my sons in 2007. I'm going to go hang with them. I will leave you with two quick, Chaos-related tidbits:

Thing 1: Chaos is his very own person. He wore his brand new Christmas kilt to school today (with his converse shoes and his chains and a death metal t-shirt). He assured me he would ace his German exam because not only had he studied (a little), but he had been listening to Rammstein for an hour and a half. (We'll see how that plays out, shall we? At least he knew LAST WEEK what exams were on which days AND he had study guides days in advance. My longtime readers will appreciate what a huge switch that is. Previously, exam prep has been a tad slapdash.)

Thing 2: I was telling the family about a bumper sticker I saw that said:
If you were agoraphobic, you'd be home by now. (<--Which I thought was freaking hilarious, but then again, agoraphobia runs in my family.) Chaos laughed and then said, "But wait, why would you be home?" When I explained what agoraphobia was and how the name came from the Greek word for marketplace, he said, "Oh! I thought you said 'Al Gore-a-phobia' and I didn't understand why you'd be home unless it was to save energy." Bwahahaha.

Thing 3 (=Bonus Thing): At supper we were talking about the two house/apartment fires that have left two families in our school homeless the week before Christmas. We are grateful the people are ok because stuff can be replaced, but still. Replacing stuff - ALL your stuff - except the pajamas you were wearing when you crawled out the window - it's a daunting task. The kids were thinking of ways to help and what to give. Ideas were flying. Clothes, toys, toothpaste and deordorant, these folks need everything. Big and small, they've lost it.
Bet said, "We could give them the Steam-A-Wok we just won."
I said, "We could, except I gave it to Havoc."
Chaos said (with perfect timing) in an ah-ha tone, "We could give them Havoc!"
There was a pause and everyone burst out laughing. Havoc most of all (because he really does know his brothers won't give him away.)

But somehow I have to figure out how to let all three of them go away. I said it last year and I have to admit to not having evolved a bit in 12 months - I hate sharing my boys during the holidays. I am looking forward to getting them back at New Year's!

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's Beginning To Smell A Lot Like Christmas

This Saturday was Cookie Day at our house. Cookie Day is a tradition that we stole from share with some good friends. Everyone piles into one house and each person makes a few dozen of their favorite cookies. At the end, each person gets to take some of all the cookies that were made. It's cookie chaos, but gobs of fun. This year it was at our house. Our huge island was covered with cookbooks, flour, nuts and chocolates, extracts, rolling pins, and icing. We had three Kitchen Aid mixers mixing at once. Havoc was in the thick of things. There were a half dozen adults baking (including Bet's mom who came for the weekend). We also had a couple extra girls whose "help" consisted mostly of experimenting with leftover bits. Linus (after buying a Christmas tree and sending the boys to the attic for the decorations) pitched in here and there and everywhere. He loves to bake, but this time he was more of a troubleshooter. He helped Havoc change blades on the mixer; he pulled things out of ovens; he organized Qbert during the baking intermission, etc. I baked a little but then snuck away to put up most of the Christmas decorations by myself, unlike last year. It was ten hours of holiday cheer and socializing. By the end of the day I was happily exhausted and frankly, sick of talking to other people. I was very ready for a day of football.

And what a day of football it was! Sunday was well nigh perfect in Football land as far as I'm concerned. The Titans, the Colts, the Dolphins (and the Patriots for Havoc) all won. Icing on the cake? Dallas lost to the Eagles! (Sorry Jeff. Can you believe I have a friend who's a Cowboys fan?? Weird but true.)

I know some of my pals around the country are snowed in. I'm sending y'all some mojo for a day that's all hot chocolate and kids making snow angels and not like the day the weather channel is showing which is all cars buried in snow drifts and icy trees downing electric lines. Peace to the people!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In Which Lilymane Falls In Love

Linus has been traveling this week. He went to Boston and then Detroit (by way of Chicago where his flight was canceled and his luggage took five hours longer than he did to get to Michigan) and now today he's on his way home from Detroit (by way of Dallas). Sounds like fun, no? Yeah, not to me either.

While he's been gone, I've fallen in love. With a hair salon. Crazy but true. Among my other loves, now I heart the Aveda Institute. I went in simply to buy Bet some Blue Malva shampoo. While I was paying, I noticed the huge room full of empty salon chairs/stations. The little guy at the desk (whose makeup was flawless) explained that Tuesdays through Saturdays they offered full salon services provided exclusively by supervised students. I must have looked as skeptical as I felt when he tried to get me to book an appointment. He launched into a fairly dramatic description of how wonderful and fab-u-lous it was, only all-natural products were used, they were the first to have an emphasis on the whole person, and that it was more than a haircut, it was an experience at Aveda. I tried to pay and scoot out the door, but the festive lout insisted on showing me the salon price list. Eeek! A haircut was half the price of the shampoo I'd just bought! He smirked and asked if mornings or afternoons were better for me. He promised me I'd love it.

I admit I had doubts and almost canceled. I thought about the only beauty school I'd ever seen before which was called something like Elite Beauty & Style Academy. Wedged between the Books A Million and the China Wok in a strip mall, there were always sad looking waifs in smocks tossing their cigarettes to go in and little old ladies with bad perms coming out. The store section of the Aveda Institute was a gazillion times cleaner and classier than that so how bad could the salon section be? I figured I didn't have much to lose. I hadn't had a haircut in nine months and I'm planning to shave my head after the triathlon anyway. If worse comes to worst, I could shave it now. That was my thinking.

I showed up at 9:25 for my 9:30 appointment. I was not the only one. In fact, I was one of about 38. I was totally unprepared for that many people. Yes, I'd seen all the empty chairs but I didn't think they'd each and every one be taken! It was a bit of a cattle call. You gave your name and signed a sheet of paper saying you knew they were students and then you lined up along the side wall and waited to have a stylist call your name. I stood flat against the wall marveling at how many people there were. I was a trifle bit intimidated about how hip the stylists appeared at first: lots of spiky hair gelled into interesting geometries, quite a few piercings and tattoos, all black outfits everywhere, and several gals with great boots. I watched a bit more and noticed that there were folks of all shapes and a few older students than at first glance. I saw that some of the stylists that I'd thought were sneering at first actually looked more nervous than anything else. Stylist after stylist came and called a name and took away the women along the wall one by one. More people kept coming in, though. I began to notice that some of the ones who'd just come in were starting to get called too. It felt like grade school, standing there waiting to be called, wondering what to do if I didn't get called, trying to decide how long I should wait before I said anything. Feeling uncertain about the process and overwhelmed by the noise, I'd just started to inch towards the door to escape when a girl with a lovely smile waded through the crowd calling my name. She was maybe all of nineteen but she radiated kindness. I answered and she took me back to her station, which turned out to be in a room I hadn't noticed off to the side. It was MUCH quieter. Her name was Megan. She offered me tea (organic peppermint and licorice). She talked with me about what I wanted done with my hair. She got her supervisor. She told her supervisor what I wanted, her supervisor checked it with me and then advised her on how to go about it. Then she walked me back to the even quieter shampoo room where I got to choose whether to sit or to lie down while having my hair washed. What a fantastic thing, to get to lie down while having your hair washed! I highly recommend it. Megan washed my hair (lather, rinse, repeat!) and gave me a mini-facial (toner, moisturizer, short massage, steamy towel). Then we went back to her station where she gave me a stress reducing treatment (a short neck and shoulder massage). Then she cut my hair (exactly the way I wanted it) and styled it (way better than I can do myself). All of this pampering for the low, low price of $19. And they don't let you tip the students. It was nineteen bucks total. I'm used to paying upwards of $60 for about a tenth of the attention. I mentioned I heart the Aveda Institute, didn't I? It was quite literally my favorite haircut ever. I'm thinking of going back every two weeks. Haircuts: cheaper and more fun than therapy! Be warned, if you ever come visit me, I will give you a whirlwind tour of UNC and Duke and a day long saunter through Aveda. Peace.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Three Near Postings And A Virus

-I had started a post (that I may or may not finish and which I may or may not publish) about racism. (Hey, it might not be lighthearted, but it's better than bitching about my ex, eh?)

-Speaking of the Tapioca tide - thank you for your support and offers to stomp. It makes me wonder if I might not be quite as nice as I wish I were that those offers make me happy (even though I would never ever wish him actual harm.) On that note I started a post on the seasonal theme of naughty vs. nice. I won't finish it because mostly it ended up with me getting coal in my stocking this year. Maybe next year, I can get past wanting to smack the shit out of several key icky people.

-I will likely finish my post about Havoc wrestling again because it involves some complicated geography and interesting smells - but I can't do it today. I have Havoc home from school with a stomach thing. If you need me, I'll be fetching ginger ale and saltines to a wan little boy snuggled on the couch with Tallulah Rockstar. They're watching Harry Potter and trying not to puke.

-Hope your day has more finished posts and less vomit than mine! Peace.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I Need Some Cute Waders

I wish they made these in my size, because then maybe I wouldn't mind wading through the tapioca muck as much. I found out from my ex (= Mr. Tapioca Head) that he will be changing jobs AGAIN in about a week. "He really hates to do this" to me, but that means the insurance will change too, come Jan 1. For those of you keeping score at home, that makes the third insurance plan SINCE JULY and either the 7th or 8th job change since the divorce 6 years ago. (Linus insists I've forgotten two jobs so that it's really the 9th or 10th change, but no matter how you look at it, that's not what I'd call a pattern of stability.) Mr. Tapioca head went on to name the company he'd be working for and said he was planning on being with this one for a long time. He told me that they have one of the lowest layoff rates in the country. I won't name the company, but you'd know it. And, like me, you would probably know their reputation of having a ridiculously high turnover due to burn out. Now, I've never worked for them. I hope what "everybody" says is totally wrong. I hope the rumors of the long hours, back biting, and political wrangling are all false. I am not going to waste my time ferreting out statistics to prove or disprove the word on the street. What I am going to do is wonder out loud (and to my attorney) how the hell this man thinks that taking a "high powered job" (<--his words to me as he was patting himself on the back for advancing from being a manager to being a manager of managers) is going to give him any time to be with his kids if he (God forbid!) should win custody. Bleck.

I'm not even going to tell you about the furious email he sent me because he heard that I'd said something about Mayhem being ADD. (I will however let you know that he said something bulled him over when I'm pretty sure he meant "bowled" him over. We were married almost twelve years and I had NO IDEA he was such a moron. Typos are one thing, but general dumb-assed-ness is another.)

He sent me an email this morning saying he was DONE with me. All communication (except about kid logistics) would be through our attorneys. Yay!!! I can stop dreading my email.

Then five minutes later he sent me an email which a) had nothing to do with the kids and b) included the sentiment that my email responses were "not welcomed" by him. Ahhh, I should have know. Business as usual then. I am so sick of him! Aren't you? My to do list for tomorrow says "Find something else to blog about!"


Friday, December 07, 2007

From The Mixed Up Files Of Ms. Lily E. Maniac

I have just spent an hour on the phone with a television news reporter (anchor) from my hometown. Last week when I posted about Havoc's turning nine, what that meant to me and how it was connected with the traumatic disappearance and murder of my childhood friend, I linked to a story about a new suspect they had in the case. There have been stories every few years for the last few decades - new evidence, new speculations on old information, and recently new techniques to apply to old evidence. This week the case was broken - or maybe it's still breaking. It hits me on so many levels that I haven't been able to break off bite size pieces to blog about. The first level is gratitude to have some closure and to take some comfort that this guy has been in jail for a majority of the intervening decades. I feel vindicated on behalf of our neighborhood and particularly on behalf of the young boys that were persecuted unjustly in the quest to solve Marcia's case. I have extremely mixed emotions with regards to the police and with regard to myself as a writer. I have been working (off and on in between all the family drama) with a writer (a crime blogger) on a book project about this very case. We've been working to tell the story from the center of the ripples on out. How this one little girl's life and disappearance affected the neighborhood, the city, the region. How it brought people together and blew things apart at the same. I have written so much about this personally in order to settle it enough that I could write professionally the story I feel needs to be written. It's unsettling in the very best way to have the whole project go sideways. So much of the challenge has been to write and ask about something that has remained a disturbing mystery. And now, there is an expectation that it will not be a mystery for very much longer.

I want to talk and I don't want to talk. I want to say more of what is swirling around in my head and heart. I also don't want to link back or say specific things that could be searched and have my ex find randomly my site. I feel wide open to the healing process that comes with the new revelations. I feel drawn to add my voice to tell the part of the story that is mine to tell. I feel protective of my children and my life. I want to make peace with all the many layers. I feel rambly and incoherent. The news anchor was fantastic: warm, personal, easy to talk to, and insightful. I look forward to speaking with her again. I feel relieved, grateful, trustful (which is soooo unexpected for me where the media is concerned), angry, ambivalent, and drained.

And I have yet to open the ominous letter from my attorney that has been sitting on my desk for two days. Bleck. It is too cold to run. I don't have a pool or gym membership. I don't have a way to work my physical being into a state that will help absorb and process such big chunks of emotional/intellectual turmoil. Contemplative silence is the only other tool I can think of for this much churn. I don't know how to manage it, but I need to sit today. I will sit today. My head might explode otherwise. We don't want that now, do we? So, dear web friends, I will be sitting when I normally visit and comment. I won't be thinking of you because I'll be trying not to think of anything (which is a tall order for my buzzing brain), but I will be back as soon as I can. Peace!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Scary Items At The Pharmacy

Remind me never to wait for a prescription again. The pharmacist told me it would only be about five minutes. And it would have been, had the computer not frozen in the middle of processing one of the prescriptions. Natch. I don't know if you've noticed or not, but the drug store is not like the grocery store. The stuff by the checkout counter isn't candy and People magazine - it's Luden's cough drops and diabetes pamphlets. It didn't take me long to be bored enough to wander further afield. There is some powerfully creepy stuff on sale at down at the Eckerd's.

Did you know they even made "at home" drug test kits?! I had no idea. There were several different kinds: for cocaine, marijuana, and one for meth. They were out of the meth one, which makes me worry a bit about my neighborhood. The boxes that were on the shelves were cheery and cheesy to the point I expected to see "As Seen On TV!" in a bubble on a side panel. What were the marketing people going for with that? It was mighty peppy. I was going to post a link so you could see for yourself, but I got distracted when I found this site. Holy cow! Test yourself for ten drugs at once? Dude, if you've got the possibility of having ten illegal substances in your body at once, you maybe have more to worry about than testing in the privacy and comfort of your own home. I would think that at that point it would be a choice between rehab or the morgue. Worse even than that site was this one. Please god, I do NOT want to need that site. Ever.

But back to what else I discovered in the store and not on the web. I thought I'd be safer if I got away from the drug tests and personal lubricants, so I browsed the diet and weight loss aisle. They were having a huge sale on some fat blocking pill. The front of the package said that for every 5 lbs. of normal paced weight loss, studies showed that folks on this supplement lost 2-3 additional pounds. Huh. I read the back wondering exactly how that worked. I still can't tell you how it worked because I got freaked out by the warning "this product may cause anal leakage and gas emission with oily residue." Er, no thank you.

I tried to concentrate on relatively normal things like fake logs that burned the creosote out of your chimney but it was hard. Right next to that display was a row of plastic Santas that blurted out holiday greetings when I got too close. I am not a fan of inanimate objects talking to me. My kids would laugh if they'd seen me jump and nearly smack the crap out of a boxed holiday decoration. I did find some laundry detergent on super sale but even 50% off is not enough compensation for having to reach past packages of vaginal yeast suppositories or adult diapers claiming to be twice as absorbent for extended outings. I recognize how lucky we are to have products to treat such ghastly discomforts, but egad! Who has the stomach to face all that? Not me.

I was terribly glad when the computer system came back up. Almost glad enough not to curse Mr. Tapioca Head when the clerk tells me (on December 6th) that the new insurance he's gotten for the boys has a $200 annual Rx deductible. Almost, but not quite.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My New Favorite Bumper Sticker

This one is for my mom - who despite her best intentions, is almost never on time. It says:

I'm always late. My ancestors arrived on the Juneflower.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What A Day Dad Had

Linus story #1 -
Linus has a complicated job situation. The past year has seen flux, corporate takeover drama, RIF's, political wrangling complicated by cross cultural misunderstandings and being told by the company didn't need his services followed by "oops - we realized we can't run this technology you built without you". It is so hard for Linus because he's put his heart into this company. He believes in the product so much that he took a huge (30k!!) pay cut in order to work 60 hour weeks to help launch the company. (Do not ask me how we managed to eat that first year, I still can't believe we pulled it off.) He has tried to focus on his responsibilities in an ever-changing landscape of expectations and job titles. Linus is good at staying away from the emotions and politics of the situation as much as possible. Me? Not so much. Particularly the emotional part. I am bewildered and frustrated with his boss' waffling and ill considered policies that keep undermining Linus' work. I don't know how he can keep working in an environment with a boss who is actively trying to foul him up to protect her turf. He tells me not to get so riled up, it's business, and he'll just keep doing the best he can as long as he can.

Then he gets an email yesterday from his boss about the business trip they are taking together today. She said she had already booked herself a hotel room with a king size bed and a couch "settee" and (presumably in an effort to economize?) that they should stay in the same room. WHAT? and NO! (And even "Hell no!") What brand of crack do you think this woman is smoking? I wigged out. I know it can't be the come on it sounds like it could be. As in that's just not even a possibility. In some ways, it would make more sense and be easier to deal with if it were. I'm not some naive thing in denial about her man's wandering ways. It's just that this is so bizarre. I promise you that if he wanted to, Linus could stray and I wouldn't find out. He certainly wouldn't be dumb enough to be freaking out loudly in the other room to the point that I rush in and demand to know what's wrong. The second point being that if he were to stray, surely (heaven help us) he would have waaay better taste than to choose her. The third point being, if it is a come on, on her part, how stupid does she have to be to commit it to writing? And why hit on a guy she knows can barely tolerate her when she's 8,000 miles away? Which brings us right back to what on earth can she be thinking?

My mind ran around in circles. Is she trying to set him up for some crazy sexual harassment suit? He said that was incredibly unlikely. I am out of explanations. I realize that dealing with a non-US mindset makes some things hard to translate - but this woman is English. Not only that, but can anyone begin to believe that this is normal business practice anywhere? The words inappropriate, unprofessional, strange, and uncomfortable race through my brain. How did a woman with such horrible boundaries and an inability to follow rock bottom, basic business protocols get put in charge of anything? I mean, who needs to be told male employees should not being pressured by their female bosses to overnight in one room together to save the company money?! Linus is going to tell her that he most definitely requires separate hotel rooms. He said he will be polite but firmer this time and hope the issue ends there. This time?! I found out that - horrifyingly - it is not the first time she has made this suggestion. Linus thought he'd made it clear before - because, holy crap - who but a complete moron would have to be told not only once but TWICE how wrong this suggestion is?! When asked why he didn't tell me about the other time, he said it was only one of many stunningly odd suggestions/policies/ideas this woman brought up and not even the worst in his book. Mostly because he didn't have to go along with it they way he had to swallow his criticisms and go along with some of her other decisions. He said he'd be CRYSTAL clear in his response and consider obtaining legal advice if it happened again. I (intolerant of corporate games to begin with and waaaay past my ability to be polite/professional to a creepoid like her) would probably have written an email response back that would have gotten me fired. I guess it's a good thing Linus works for her and not me. (Although - hey, put some mojo out there for fantastic job offers to come flying in the door for him. I admire his commitment to the shareholders and to a product that saves lives, but enough is enough, don't you think?! It would not hurt my feelings for him to change jobs.)

Linus Story #2 -
Linus let his hair get a little long over the Thanksgiving holiday, when he wasn't traveling and meeting with clients. He went and got it cut yesterday, very short - very professional. (Side benefit being, he'd look great at those job interviews you're sending his way!) The kids were not so appreciative of his efforts. When he came home The Ninja Princessa yelped, "But you look so old now!" and Havoc asked (sincerely), "Why did you have them shave a circle on the back of your head?" Eeep. Poor Linus. He stuck his bottom lip out looking for sympathy. I wish I could have shown the sympathy I feel, but I was laughing too hard.

This man needs a break. He's promised to try to relax with a good book in his hotel room (alone!) tonight. I'm thinking we might bake him some chocolatey yumminess for when he gets home. Shhhh. Don't tell him.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Why God Invented Uncles

As a Christmas surprise, Unky Dunky took Chaos to an all-ages death rock, goth billy, metal something or other show at a local (and supposedly very hip ) venue. I immediately feel the need to explain that Chaos not only had done all of his regular homework, but had spent four hours at a friend's on Saturday working on a project that isn't due until after the holidays, AND that I'd made him take a nap before going to a late concert on a school night. (Can you tell how defensive I feel about every parenting decision I make? Gah. The court stuff is wearing me OUT!)

Chaos had a fantastic time. "It was pretty awesome," he said this morning in the car. He told me all about what I first thought were the Coughing Cats but turned out to be the Koffin Kats. There were also the Necrosomethingorothers and the Chop Tops (Pops? Cops? Hops? - I don't know.) It was great to hear all about it even if I didn't quite get all of the names. I love how much my fifteen year talks to me, though if he makes me crazy when he says things like, "There was this drummer who spun his drumstick around and hit the syllable over and over." Syllable? "You mean cymbal?" "Yeah, you know." (I do know, but why oh why doesn't he know? Why does he say things like this? He reads like a fiend and does exceptionally well on standardized tests but I can't help wondering if he has some bizarre language disease.)

Chaos then said, "I'm pissed about my bandana though." ?? He launched into details about how the new Koffin Kats bandana Duncan had gotten him was stiff. Chaos wanted it to look worn, not brand new, so he'd rinsed it and hung it to dry. This morning it was still too starched feeling so he rinsed it again and threw it in the dryer. I offered to wash it in the machine for him this morning. Silly mama. The point is to get to show it off at school today, of course. I got home from dropping him off and got a call from Duncan. I thanked him again for being a fantastic uncle. We are lucky to have such a wonderful village. What do people without hip uncles do? I am glad my kids get to do cool things in safe ways. Dunc said, "No problem. Loved it. By the way, how's his eye?" ?? "I was worried at first he wasn't having a good time because he was just standing there, but then he asked me if you had to be 18 to mosh. His face lit up and he jumped right in when I told him you didn't have to be. He got elbowed and we thought he might have a shiner. Is it bad?" Gack. Ok - so make that relatively safe ways. Chaos didn't have a black eye (that I saw). I'm sure he wished he did. I've thought about the scrapbook page I could make if I were that kind of mom: My Child's First Mosh Pit. I might do it anyway, because we haven't added anything to his Rehearsal Dinner Box in a while.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Birthday Parties You Remember

Havoc and Linus spent the better part of Saturday afternoon getting the pizza fixings ready for the party: grocery shopping for fresh ingredients; measuring, mixing, and kneading the homemade dough, etc. It was a LOT of work. Havoc said, "If I bake bread a lot, I won't have to work out at a gym." I helped chop and display. I also helped by preheating the ovens just before the party got started. The boys were arriving - some of the parents stayed to chat and help (which was WONDERFUL, AMAZING, and PERFECT - sorry to scream at you but it was so much fun to have new adults to talk to!!) About 15 minutes after the first guest arrived and just before the last three showed up, Linus came into the kitchen and yelped, "Who turned on the oven?!! Oh no!" Guess where all that homemade pizza dough had been put to rise? We had 10 nine-year old boys, six other kids, four newly met parents, our favorite in-town Uncle, dozens of ramekins of individual pizza toppings - and a GIANT bowl of BAKED bread, but no pizza dough, no longer. All my fault! I thought I'd ruined Havoc's party. Havoc was a wee bit shocked when he saw singed towel and the huge bread creature on the counter. He gave me a look and a hug to say it was ok, but he couldn't hide that he was bummed. I really felt like crying. Good thing all those other adults were around. They got creative. "When life hands you unexpected bread bowls, make garlic butter!" they said. Havoc jumped right in on the new direction of things. He gave me another hug and said it would be all right and maybe even better this way. Spices. He LOVES to add spices to things. He and Unky Dunky started went out to cut fresh rosemary, one of the parents chopped garlic - and voila! An appetizer to feed the children while Bet ran to the store for pre-made dough. It was a good thing we thought of something to tide them over, because they were hungry and smelled yummier than little boys usually do (having tromped around the herb garden together) - and I was a tad bit concerned they would start gnawing on each other.

It ended up being a GREAT party. Wine for the adults, crazy pizzas and milkshakes for the kids and a little Ratatouille on in the background. Havoc's pals know him well and got him fantastic presents. He got this cookbook, and a stack of silicone, red, mini bundt cake forms, and bionicles and legos, and mancala, and a wooden dragon to build. What did I tell you? His friends have him pegged. I enjoyed meeting the other parents; I thought the boys were great - even the three who were on their third birthday party for the day by the time they got to us were sweet in their rambunctiousness. Now it's time for the Christmas decorations to come out. (We make sure neither to let Christmas take over Havoc's day nor to let it linger into Bet's in January.) It's sixty degrees here today which makes it a bit harder to get into the holiday spirit, but I am NOT complaining. I love it. I'm going to run in the sun while I still can and send good vibes to my pals in the Northeast who are wading through snow. Peace.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

First Saturday In December

And you know what that means!! Go Navy!!!

Yay Australia!

I meant to post about this the other day and got too caught up in my own crapola. I am THRILLED for Australia. I wish I could pull Australia just a little bit closer and rub shoulders with her in the hope that whatever fever of sanity her electorate caught is contagious. Howard lost because he was seen as old and out of touch with the rest of the world. I do not discount the many positive things Howard has done during his long tenure, but it's like he missed the part where his people are concerned about the climate change and the war he's supported, and that cost him. The environment was a huge election issue and the younger generation voted vocally to support a prime minister who would ratify the Kyoto protocol. I am impressed by Australia's forward-thinking move. Gee, where can I get me some of that? Peace.