Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's a Cryin' Shame!

Today's flavor - tequila - reminds you of bad choices and worse consequences.

There's something about people declaring: "Shame on you!" or "You should be ashamed of yourself!" that really makes me want to start throwing tomatoes (or something else that will get messy - I really like tomatoes, so I wouldn't want to waste them). In the space of the nano-second following the remark's utterance, I always find myself having several of those JD-on-Scrubs types of imaginary scenarios. (If you don't watch Scrubs, I'm sorry, but see how I've conveniently provided a link because I'm awesome like that.)

Scenario 1: "Shame on you!" I respond by mooning the admonisher (entirely possible if I actually lose these last 35 pounds and am feeling really confident about my butt). 2: "You should be ashamed of yourself!" I retort "And you should be ashamed for wearing that outfit - it's making my eyes hurt." 3: "Shame on you!" I vomit on their shoes. 4. "You should be ashamed of yourself!" I sigh, "Well, you would know - with all that goes on in your house, you could give lessons on being ashamed." And here's my favorite: "Shame on you!" - I burst into tears and grab the person's hand, and holding it to my cheek, I sob, "I know. I know. I'm so ashamed! Don't look at me! I'm terrible, I'm worthless. I wish I were dead. I deserve no mercy. Punish me! You're so much better than me. Teach me. Please teach me, oh, superior one!" And then I laugh my ass off as I walk away.

Now, please don't think I'm having these phrases hurled at me very frequently. I'm not exactly Ruth Madoff , but I have heard it twice in the past 3 or 4 months, which is twice more than I can ever remember. The first was during the "Attack of the Game Moms" incident, and the second was when I posted a snarky response to a post on a Twittermoms group. The details aren't that important - the point is that the sheer bald-faced superiority and condemnation delivered with these phrases really makes the admonishment itself lose all meaning. Maybe I have an over-developed sense of irony. I actually got to thinking about this because it almost seems like the whole "shame" thing is down-right trendy lately. Between the AIG people, the Madoffs, octomom, and the rantings of Anne Coulter, there's enough shame going around to allow us all a few minutes of indignant superiority. But it fades so quickly, because then we're on the flip side for basking in our own faultless glory. Round and round it goes. Shameful.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Perpetual Tight Asses

- Minding your P's & Q's in the PTA

Today's flavor: burnt toast - starts out as something you wanted, maybe with a little butter or jam, but you didn't check the setting and now it's a hard, crusty mess.

WARNING: If you love your PTA, this might not be an enjoyable post for you. (Of course, this is only my opinion/experience - I'm sure your PTA is just faaaab.)

Five years ago, when my oldest started kindergarten, I was the epitome of enthusiastic, stars-in-the-eyes, get-involved moms. I didn't have that growing up, and envied the kids who did (my mom worked full time and overtime, and didn't speak much English, and I had no dad). My kids were going to see me as a regular presence at school, active where they were active, recognized by students, faculty and administration alike, hovering on the brink of being annoying. Fuzzy memories of Harper Valley and Carol Brady intact, naturally, I would join the PTA and jump right in! Slow your roll there, jumpy, you darn-near skipped the initiation. Ok, I guess all organizations (clubs, sororities, cliques, elitist networks of exclusionary bitches) have rules and protocol to observe. I just didn't realize that at this, um, mature stage in my life, I'd have to play these games.

Rule #1 - Know your place. PTA meetings are open to all, providing a forum for questions, new ideas and participation. Well, unless you're a newbie - then you're to just sit there quietly and don't be a bother until you've been granted speaking privileges.
Rule #2 - Just because a committee needs a chair, don't think you can volunteer for that position unless you've gone through the required rites of bunco games, home sales parties and cookie exchanges.
Rule #3 - If you have new ideas to present, be sure you've complied with rules 1 & 2 and then submit them in writing so that they may be formally rejected.
Rule #4 - Learn the language. If you hear them say "your enthusiasm is great!" it means, "shut the hell up"; they say, "congrats on the terrific work," they mean "enough already"; they say, "your feedback is so important to us," they mean ,"our way, or the highway"; they say, "you'll be most effective behind the scenes," they mean, "we're going to give the credit to the PTA leadership"; they say "your fundraising ideas are great, but it's not a good time..." they mean, "we will pressure parents into ponying up the amounts we've deemed appropriate for the programs we like"; they say "please keep us informed of your committee's progress" they mean, "don't even breathe without getting our permission." There's more, but this is the current best key to understanding the terminology.
Rule #5 -Be aware of who is in the "inner circle" of the PTA, seek their approval and don't question the obstacles put in your way.

Who are these women, and why don't they figure out a more constructive way to control their little worlds? They're like mall cops - wearing crappy JC Penney twin-sets, instead of ugly uniforms. They've got this teeny, tiny amount of power and it's convinced them they're on par with Supreme Court Justices.

[Alison Janey in Hairspray, very accurate representation of my school's PTA mom]

This year I stepped up to chair an event that my daughter felt was so important, that I had to do it so that it wouldn't be (her word) lame. My co-chair and I were blessedly like-minded in our goals - it was her first time too. We got all excited and sent a note to the committee members outlining some fundraiser ideas (ones where the kids didn't have to sell anything, the parents didn't get ripped off, and we would keep 100% of the profits) and venue suggestions. Bad move. The inner circle had a rep in our ranks, and when they caught wind of us sending out emails willy-nilly without their blessing, all hell broke loose. We got the language treatment: "your enthusiasm is great...!" etc. Ok. So, we'd check with them before presuming to share our ideas with our committee. Next we got the "you can't do fundraisers - the pittance we've given you will suffice. Oh, and those lofty ideas for a new and exciting venue should be stuffed in the nearest sack so as not to make the other classes feel out-done. Mmm'kay?"Right. Turns out they needed 2 chairs to check off little boxes on pre-approved lists of tasks - a job my 6 year old is over-qualified to do. Although to be fair, my 6 year old is probably more efficient than most of these people - she is certainly more imaginative.

So which piece of flair should I wear to the next meeting?

Would both be too much?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hello, Muffin

Today's flavor: dried cranberry - not exactly pretty, but still quite colorful and full of good stuff like vitamin C and antioxidants.

[no, that's not me, but is strikingly similar]

So I'm looking at my muffin top this morning -not the kind you eat, but the one on my body(you know, used to be called a spare tire) - and I wonder if I can turn this into a positive. Probably not. I mean, no matter how much my kids tell me they like me because I'm "comfy" - like a big, stuffed pillow - I just don't love this post-baby, can-see-40-around-the-corner, keep-walking-because-victoria-doesn't-want-your-secrets-body. Even more offensive than how it looks, and the fact that I have to choose between low-rise or mom jeans, I'm horrified to find I've become a cliche. Crap. Crap. Crap. How did that happen?

[I have never committed this sin.]

I had a plan, dammit! I was going to have my 3 perfect little angels, spaced 2.5 to 3 years apart - enough time to recover my hottie figure between each. And be a total MILF. (Yeah, I said it.) My results so far: the 3 little somethings - "angels" not being the most honest description now that they are here - check; time between preggers; check; enough time to recover the hottie body? Apparently not. MILF? Not even close. No check. My youngest is on the verge of his 1/2 birthday, so if he's 3.5, can I still claim baby weight? And let's be real here, most of this is not from baby #3. My oldest is nearly 10, so I'm pretty sure I can't claim that as "baby weight." Can I?

no, that's not me, but is strikingly similar

I'm not the nostalgic type so I don't often look back wistfully. But when I see pictures of my once size 4 body, I do wonder...Was I better then? So fit, so cute, so free to spend hours daily at the gym, full of promise and potential. On the other hand: quick to judge, melodramatic, impatient, intimidated, so generally clueless. Today's me: overweight, tired, distracted, easily annoyed, still judgmental, and often bitchy. On the other hand: confident, perceptive, self-aware, bold, logical, a word, experienced.

Now that I've put it into words (only slightly to my surprise), I find that I'd choose the muffin top of wisdom over the bikini body of insecurity any day. Go figure.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Serves You Right

Today's flavor: fruitcake - an odd confection we've tried before and vowed to never touch again, only to be tempted by a different variety with nasty results; looks lovely, never tastes as promised; starts out sweet, ends up a sticky mess with a hideous aftertaste.

"I stick my neck out for no one." Rick Blaine, Casablanca

Rick understood that every time you hold out a helping hand, you risk having it cut off. How cynical is that? I know, I know - your immediate reaction (especially you moms) is going to be that we have to take that risk, what good are we without helping others. And, yeah, I agree with theory. It's in practice that things get tricky. [Exception -for my husband, my kids, my sister (and her husband and kids), and my mother, I would hold out a helping hand, every other appendage, and my neck without hesitation.] But the stars are long gone from my eyes. Sadly, it seems that if you are feeling magnanimous and generously offer your time/money/space/ expertise/connections/creativity/labor/or a stick of gum, the recipient is quite likely to follow up with a request for a repeat, or ask if you might have a kidney to spare. Well, at the very least, you'll experience a pronounced lack of appreciation, but more likely you will have your altruism smack you in the face. What's the old adage? No good deed comes without a bitch-slap...? So be prepared, next time you offer to drive a friend, you might become an unpaid taxi service; next time you grab the check, you'll become the wallet; if you agree to let someone stay for a few days, your home might get a new permanent resident; your great enthusiasm for that school committee will be rewarded with a full-time work load and a lot of criticism of your performance; before you lend a friend a dress/dvd/cd/prom date, take a picture because that may be the only way you'll see it again; and a little cash between friends will cost you more than any dollar value. Serves you right - you good-karma generating, relentlessly good, do-gooder. You never learn - you want to have faith, so when the occasion presents itself you think, "I'll go for it, this can't go wrong." That's good. You're good. You're a nice person. Truly. And you should keep trying to do unselfish good in the world. That's what I tell myself too. What? Don't look so surprised - I can be nice too. Only, I'm thinking my next random act of kindness will be performed anonymously, because I don't need the credit - and I'll gladly fore go the credit to avoid any fruitcakey thanks being hurled in my direction.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Get things done!

Today's flavor: peppermint - crisp; energizing; sweet but with zing; full of exclamation points!!

According to Martha, I can start growing my own vegetables at home, indoors today! That is sooo going on the "to do" list today. Or possibly tomorrow. Or I might have to wait until Friday to get to the nursery for starter pots, soil, wire...Well, the point is I've put in on the list! And that's what matters, isn't it? Also, today I am definitely going to start running - there's a 5K in June and if I start now I can be ready for it. Well, my knees and ankles might not do well with that, but I'll walk, which is just as beneficial. Yes, perfect. It's a gorgeously sunny day with an inspiring blue sky. I'll start by stepping out and taking a deep, invigorating breath. It's so bright out there! Of course, most of that brightness is because the sun is reflecting the snow. And ice. Even though it's only 16 degrees outside right now, it's sure to get above 32 today - and that's all I need, just above freezing is fine. If the temp doesn't cooperate that's ok - it's a sign, actually, because I really do need to do something about the mountain of toys that is about to avalanche the family room. I remember when we moved into this house, the family room looked so grand and spacious, with its lovely fireplace and open, two-story design - come to think of it, I believe we (or the realtor) called it "the great room." Is it possible that the room shrank? No, that's ridiculous. I just have to organize a few things and maybe get one of those storage ottoman thingies that look so smart and hide the clutter. Well, I should take care of that today. That would totally inspire me to do so many other things. And I'm sure to get rid of a bunch of junkie toys and I'll have a big enough pile so that I'll need to go to the donation center to get it all out of the garage (which could really do with a clean-up, but tomorrow is better for that), and I might as well grab all of the kids' out-grown clothes. It's just a shame that they have some outfits and shoes that were worn only once or twice, but hopefully they can go to someone who really needs them. That'll be good, I'll go to the center today. Anyway, I've been meaning to sign up as a volunteer there. I mean, I'm busy and all, but I have look after my karma and show my kids how important it is to give. I wonder if I should bring the girls with me...Maybe I should wait until they come home from school. Yes, I should. They have been acting so entitled lately - would do them good to see how many desperately poor people there are right here in our community. Or near our community, anyway. Although...this has to be the last snow fall of the season, and they shouldn't miss this last chance to go sledding. Did I mention, it's so bright and beautiful out there today! Cold, but just inspiring - really makes me just want to get away from my computer and do things! So, I'm going to get started. Right after lunch. Definitely. Well, probably.

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