Don't destroy the only pants you have

Have you ever been going through one of those times of life when you didn't think things could get much worse?  I'd like to give you all some advice just in case you ever find yourselves in just such a situation.  First, do not, under any circumstances say, "at least it can't get any worse".  Trust me, it can get worse and if you say it out loud, karma/fate/God/voodoo will think you are double-dog-daring them and then... it will get worse.

Second, (and this may seem like a no brainer to the rest of you, but it is a lesson I recently learned), identify self destructive behaviors and run away from them - before the self destruction.  Now, self destruction can look like a lot of different things - it's the shape shifter of mental illness.  Sometimes it looks like 5 or 6 chocolate bars.  Sometimes it looks like a really great pair of shoes that you cannot afford, unless you sell one of your children... short term gain, long term loss there people - plus, they don't let you have fancy shoes in the pen.  Sometimes, however, self destruction is the phrase "how hard could it be".  Warning - if you think this, you have either grossly overestimated your abilities, or seriously underestimated the difficulty of the task which you endeavor to undertake.  Put on the music from "Chariots of Fire" (in your mind - obviously) and sprint in the opposite direction.  "How hard could it be" is like the plague of positive thinking and it will kill you.

My most recent "how hard could it be" moment started with a simple observation:  "I really need a haircut".  Yeah, I know - where was the voice in my mind that was giving this advice then, I ask you?  Probably drowned out by the loud and slightly crazed voice saying, "Use the razor instead of scissors.  That's what Stella does."  (Stella is the woman that has been cutting my hair for 10 years, and ps - she's probably going to break up with me now).  So...  I picked up my razor - the one I use to shave my legs- super professional - and I started hacking away at my hair.  I know.

I finished the front and sides and as much to my suprise as anyone's, it looked pretty good.  Unfortunately for me, and contrary to the lie I've been telling my children for basically their entire lives, I do not actually have eyes in the back of my head, and it's hard to hold a mirror and razor at the same time.  Well what would you have done?  I went with a kind of Zen-mystic style of hair cuttery, where you become one with the blade and feel your way through the task without actually watching what you are doing.  You use your spiritual eyes instead really.  Good for motorcycle maintence and midwifery, not so much for cutting your own hair.  I must admit that cleaning out the razor after each pass over my head was pretty rad.


My cutter's high came to a screeching halt when I finally looked in the mirror.  The funny thing is that I actually expected to see a high quality hair cut back there.  What I got instead was a jagged mixture of short and shorter hair with two literally bald spots where I had apparently and unknowingly taken my hair off at the scalp.  How I could not have felt this I do not know, I guess I was in "the zone".  (I'm blaming the Bible for all of this, by the way.  I think that those stories of people like Job that shaved their heads and covered themselves in ashes when things went wrong really spoke to me.  I'm not blaming God.  I like Him a lot.  I just think that those stories should come with some kind of warning.  Like blowdryers that say "do not use while sleeping" and stuff like that.)

My husband was called in to repair the damage - because he is a trained cosmotologist.  And when I mean trained, I mean - he cut lots of guys' hair on his mission.  He had about as many options as a field surgeon in the Civil War.  Amputate quickly or amputate slowly.  It wasn't pretty - what am I saying, it isn't pretty.  (My fault, not his.)  Actually, if he'd have cut the back to begin with it would've been... well not good, but not Schindler's List either.

So, the upside - I didn't eat myself into oblivion.  The downside - two bald patches  in the back of my head - have you not been listening?  At least it won't take any extra work to grow back my hair, (unlike pie induced weight gain) just a little time (exactly like pie induced weight gain).  And the next time things get worse when I thought it wasn't possible - I'll have my husband hide my razor.

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Who's pants would you rather have?

I'm going to keep this short and sweet people. - enough with the Great Depression references already. I get that things are not going that well right now - my husband does mortgages, trust me, I get it. But...

We are not at 25% unemployment. That's 1 out of 4 families without jobs (and the extent of my math skills.)
We are not suffering a drought that destroys farms and livestock and exposes us to real life starvation (not just the kind my kids talk about when they get off the bus. I'm pretty convinced that the school lunch lady is not actually feeding my kids, but rather taking our money and sending it to some Swiss bank in preparation for her flight to hair net freedom.)
We are not living in converted railroad cars, or tents, or chicken coops - although my family may be in a van down by the river soon. (It's what I like to call "the VW housing authority").

My grandfather lived through the Great Depression and I think he still lives with it. He never throws anything away. When we moved from California to Oregon we found scraps of wood that he'd strapped together and stacked in the storage space in our garage - just in case. (It was comforting to learn that we'd been living in an unlit woodpile for 5 years.) He can find more meat on a chicken wing than I thought existed on the whole chicken. He repairs his shoes with duct tape until there is more duct tape than shoe - (unless Grandma finally "persuaded" him to buy a new pair, and by persuaded I mean chasing the garbage man down as he is leaving the street so that there is no chance of my Grandfather retrieving his haute footwear.)

So...until I am literally digging through the city dump to find food and clothes like he did, I think it's a bit "after school special" of me to act like I understand his childhood suffering. I don't. I hope I never will.

Just remember as you look as these photos that we might be suffering a lot of things right now, but none of them is the Great Depression.

(ps- No need to thank me for the ray of sunshine that is this post.)

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Santa's pants are still in his closet and yours should be too...

Many of you have heard about my neighbors.  Let's just say if life was cheer camp, and you got the spirit stick for putting up the most holiday decorations, they would be a cheerleading urban legend.  (I  was never a cheerleader and hence, never went to cheer camp, but I have watched "Bring It On" - more than once I'm sorry to say.  I do not like this movie, or the people pretending to be actors pretending to be cheerleaders in it, but sometimes you gotta watch the train wreck.  Don't pretend you haven't seen this movie people- I can feel your judgieness all the way from here.)

Anyway, at Halloween the Griswalds put up - and I am totally not kidding - 4 stuffed persons in various chainsaw murderer/angel of death/psycho stalker outfits and propped them up all over the lawn.  One was actually climbing up the side of their house until the wind knocked it down.   Also, there was a head floating in a jar of ... something on a table by the door, about 30 cardboard headstones on the grass, a skeleton emerging from a grave, cobwebs, haystacks, orange/purple/magenta lights, and (my personal favorite) spooky music which we all got to enjoy for 3 weeks every night from 6ish - 9ish.  Luckily for us, this is when we are trying to put our children to bed.  There's nothing like family prayer and scripture study to a soundtrack of screaming, howling and moaning - come to think of, that's what bedtime's like everynight... so nevermind.

Now they have crossed the line.  Two words - Christmas decorations.  I know you are checking your calendars and wondering why you do not remember having your turkey and pie.  That, dear people, is because it is November 11th.  I find this behavior offensive and morally objectionable (you heard me - morally objectionable.)  It is not time to be looking around, trying to figure out what stuff we want, but for appreciating the stuff we have.  It is not time to be asking for more when we have too much already - and they do - I've seen their garage.  It is time for us to take a stand against the gullible consumerism that has bored its way into our culture and taken over our precious holiday time. (P.S. neighbors - just because they sell it, doesn't mean you need it.)

So, in a totally futile attempt to resist my neighbor's holiday coup d'etat I am concentrating on the things I am thankful for until after Thanksgiving, (when I will hopefully not turn into a big, fat hypocrite.)  Here are some of the things I've come up with...

1.  I am thankful for running water in my choice of hot or cold.  Did you know that according to the World Health Organization (2006) 42% of the people on the African continent still used "unimproved sources of drinking water".  (The internet is a handy thing, huh?)  It is a great thing to live in a place where you can have confidence that the water going into your child's mouth didn't just serve as a bovine day spa.

2.  I am thankful for my ears - specifically for two reasons.  One - so that I can hear the sound a basketball net makes when the ball falls through just right.  It's somewhere between a snap and a woosh - a snoosh, and if you've never noticed it, I'm sorry for you because it quickens my pulse - really.  Two - so that I can hear my three year old say "I just wuv you sooo much" at random intervals throughout the day.  Often when he's in trouble - the kid's no dumby.

3.  I am thankful for a birthday in December.  It is the fanciest time of year, with the prettiest lights and best food.  It's like everyone got everything all dressed up just for me.  For anyone who has a December birthday and doesn't like it I say - you're wrong, get over it.

4.  I am thankful for hair dye and anti-aging/anti-sagging/anti-ugly cosmetic products that are not tested on animals so that I don't have to feel guilty as I try to maintain my healthy, youthful glow.  (I have to be honest here - I would use them anyway.  Have you noticed that the only people that protest animal testing are those too young and healthy to need medicines and miracle creams.  I am not for animal testing, I'm just saying...)

5.  I am thankful for Al Gore's most famous invention - the internet...  without which, I would not be talking to you and wasting my time on my various moral crusades like this one - recently named "Citizens Against Untimely Holiday Decorations"- (nor would I be able to quote WHO facts as per #1).

6.  I am thankful for the surgeon that repaired my torn ACL 15 years ago.  I've run a lot of miles on that knee and the scar is cool.  Sometimes I pretend it's from a knife fight in a biker bar.  I know, I don't seem the type but...

7.  I am thankful that I can read.  Imagine the things that you would not know if you couldn't read.  No Walden, or Ikea assembly instructions, or street signs, or online suggestions for how to get vaseline out of your two year old's hair at 2 am (the answer is cornstarch and then shampoo - just in case).   Because I can read, no one can ever lie to me about what God says I should or shouldn't do, or control what I know and understand.  I feel a deep sorrow for women in other countries and cultures that do not have this blessing.  In the words of my 7 year old niece - "Books are powerful".

8.  I am thankful that I can laugh a big huge laugh and I'm not afraid who hears me.  Sometimes, especially when times are low, a laugh that comes from way inside you and rumbles around in your chest for awhile before it bursts out loud can clear a lot of sorrow from the soul, like the way duct tape can take all the fuzz balls and mystery hairs off of your pants in like 2 seconds.

9.  I am thankful for duct tape - since we were on the topic.  One of the most important lessons learned from my ancestors (specifically my grandfather, who is still alive so I don't know if he qualifies as an "ancestor" yet) is this - you can fix anything with duct tape.  (There may be duct tape holding my knee together.  Who really knows?)

I just hope when we finally do hang our blue holiday twinkle lights (my husband got them on sale and now everyone thinks we celebrate Hanukah) that I will remember that all of the holiday pretty is really about the most important things to be thankful for and not at all about needing more of the things that in the end mean not much.
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Her pants are really tiny

SHE - not exactly a morning person.
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My pants have an extra pocket for my wand.

First off - I love my new layout.  It's from Leelou blogs and I think the little owl rocks.  (I decided that a lot of her stuff is too cute for me, but I have a thing for owls so, I forgave her.)  I think I will name it Wentworth after my favorite Austen character and he will just sit there waiting for me like good ol' Captain Wentworth waited for Anne (sort of).  (I don't remember if Jane spelled Anne with an "e" or not, but I do... because it's right).

And speaking of owls, those of you who know me are probably surprised that I didn't go with "Hedwig" ala Harry Potter.  It is my one pop culture indulgence- (I refuse to get sucked into crazy teenage vampires in love).  I don't care what anyone says - Harry is good people and I love everything about him.

The month of November brings lots of good things to love.  My daughter for one.  She turns nine this month.  Nine years... nine breaths.  I am convinced that something happens to your sense of time when you have a baby.  Part of you is forever left there, on that day, in that place, having that baby - like a bookmark on a really important page of a really important book. Like the breadcrumbs that Hansel and Gretal left on the trail to be able to come back to where they started. Like some kind of emotional tattoo that never fades or looks ugly and trashy.

I remember clearly in this instant how she was all slimy and pink and bloody and fat and there was strawberry blonde hair on her head and her ears, just like I was holding her then.  I remember how she smelled like birth - I don't know how to describe "l'eau de birth" but let me tell you, if Eden or Heaven have a smell, that's it.  New, organic and juicy.  (By the way- Hell smells like a child with the flu at 3 am...  just in case you were wondering.)

 I remember thinking that the throwing up was finally all over and that I wanted a cheeseburger and a chocolate milkshake.  I remember her screaming and how I thought "a soprano - maybe we can sing together".  I remember thinking that she looked like her father, and that it wasn't fair at all, since I had done all the work.  I remember how I felt all  primal and wild like an animal standing between her cub and a predator... turns out it was only the nurse wanting to give her a bath.  Birth has a way of exposing a girl in more ways than one.

I look at my daughter now and she is so tall (not really) and so thin (really) and she has fantastic freckles on her nose like she was dusted with magic freckle powder, and she runs and talks - a lot- and reads and is - like a person.  I signed up to have a baby, and what I have now is a person.  I don't think I got that nine years ago.  She doesn't get to stay a baby, even though there is no convincing my memories that she is not.  Even though when she was 2 she promised that she would (apparently, she is also a big, fat liar.)

After her, November will never be November for me again.  To me, probably forever, November  is baby having time.  When I smell that fall smell and the pumpkin patches going by and the crisp air and red leaves, I can feel it deep in my body that she remembers what happened nine years ago and she's wondering when it's going to happen again.  (As evidence I offer exhibits 1 and 2 - my sons- born in October, all 3 within a month of each other. All I'm saying is that I had one other pregnancy that was due in May, but that ended in October - 1 month before my daughter's birthday, almost 1 year to the date of my 2nd child's birth.  I think we can agree that this proves that pregnancy voodoo is real.) 

 I am not having any more babies, unless there's some kind of terrible accident, but I am glad that I got to do it three times.  My daughter will never remember the first time she saw my face, but I will never forget the first time I saw hers.  When she was born, someone else's story became my story.  When she was born,  she stitched herself into my soul.  When she was born, so was I ... and that's a magic that not even Harry Potter can top.
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