Thursday, October 25, 2012

We Need to Talk About This Again?! Stop. Using. The. R-Word.

Ann Coulter's recent uses of the r-word have been in all the mainstream media, twitter users are retweeting, bloggers are posting... and I'm saddened that we still have to have this conversation.

Let's be very clear, using the r-word is hate speech.  It insults an entire group of people, many of whom are unable to speak up for themselves.  It is hate speech just the same way that the n-word is.  It's not acceptable anymore to use racial slurs or pejorative terms about a person's sexuality.  But somehow this one still hangs on.  Why?  John Franklin Stephens is fortunate enough to be a voice for his fellow Special Olympians and responded with An Open Letter to Ann Coulter.  He's also said this.

Maybe you know that my son Paul has Down syndrome.  He also has severe speech delay.  What he is able to express verbally or even with the help of an augmentative device is far far less than what is going on in his thoughts, his emotions, or his cognitive ability.  I know this because I see his frustration when I don't understand what he is telling me.  I see how he plays with his Disney character figures and know that he is telling amazing stories in his head about them (Scar and Cinderella having a picnic?) and I want to know the story too!  I also know, as every mother does, that he does not like being left out and he most certainly does not want to be made fun of.   And since he can't say it for himself, I am here to say it for him.  He'd like to be friends with everyone, even those who give him the side eye.

Our culture has become one of bullying and aggression.  There are campaigns against bullying and everyone is on board.  Absolutely.  Bullying is bad and should be eradicated.  Can you not see that using the r-word is also bullying?  Go back up there and read John Franklin Stephen's words again.

Does our country support free speech?  Yes.  Can Ann Coulter or you or anyone say whatever they like under the First Amendment?  Absolutely.  But that doesn't make hate speech acceptable.  And I am going to use my First Amendment rights to call you on it.

Every. Single. Time.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

This Year's Book Goal

Just finished Book #53 so I'm ahead of last year's pace.  Yay me!  Stay tuned for the end-of-year tally and recommended book list!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Can Speak Bird

Around 4:30 a.m. the birds starts singing their little heads off.  I used to think they were singing "Tweet tweet! Welcome to the new day!  Tweet Tweet!  The sun will be up soon!  Tweet Tweet!" accompanied by cavorting deer and scampering squirrels while tying bows around the trees a la  Disney.

But what they are really saying is "Tweet tweet!  Let's piss off all the menopausal women who are trying to go back to sleep!  Bwahahahahahahaha!  Tweet tweet!" while twirling teeny tiny mustaches.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Random Thoughts in the Middle of the Night

I'm blaming a lot of things on menopause lately (inability to lose weight, eyebrow hairs that decided to migrate to my chin, dry skin, the all-purpose insanity).  But the one thing I really hate is the fact that I wake up at night and can't go back to sleep.  My husband will attest to the fact that I love to sleep and that I get mean when I am tired.  (I can hear him in my head attesting strongly right now.)  So what to do? Once I got a basket of ironing done.  But as nice as that was, the next morning I was tired, mean and had a burn on my finger.  Reading doesn't work because if it's a crap book I feel disappointed and if it's a good book I won't put it down and then there's that tired and mean thing to deal with.  Housework is out.  I don't like doing that when I'm awake so why would I do that when I'm supposed to be sleeping?  So usually I just lie there trying not to wake everyone up. I make a lot of mental to-do lists.  I plan a lot of scrapbook pages, stitching projects, home decor and organization projects. I'm good about the planning and starting, not so good with the finishing. (There goes my husband attesting strongly in my head again.  What is with him?)  I plan a lot of parties that I may or may not have an excuse for.  I make imaginary recipes based on what I have in my cupboards.  I spend the money I'd win in the lottery if I ever bothered to buy a ticket.  I talk to folks in my head - things I need to remember to tell them, things I should have said, things I'd never say but wish I could.

In other words, normal stuff.

But more often my thinking goes like this:
  • You know that picture of Sissy Spacek that Amy Leibovitz took of her standing near a river with her husband on the horse?  The one where you can't see any of her husband except his leg?  Well, I sure hope that Sissy Spacek has a picture like that in her house where you can see the rest of her husband.  Because she'd like to see him, I'm sure.  And at Annie Leibovitz prices, you should have the whole person or at least get a heavy discount.  Why I care about the state of Sissy Spacek's picture frames is your guess as good as mine.
  • But Annie Leibovitz does take a good picture.  Except for some of those Disney ads, they were a bit creepy.  But those ones she took of the Queen were nice.  Except she wanted the Queen to take off her tiara to make it "less fancy."  How can the Queen be less fancy?  She's the Queen.  I think it's in her DNA.  There's a fanciness chromosome, I'm pretty sure.  Why not just take her photo in her pajamas if you're going for less fancy.  Just shoot the mystique right in the foot and be done with it.  Though if I was the Queen I'd probably wear the tiara with my pajamas.  Because, you know, why not?
  • I saw a documentary once where Queen Elizabeth was chatting with a painter as she sat for a portrait.  They got to talking about the corgis and she mentioned that they bite.  Do they really bite or is she just using that excuse to keep people from getting too close?  Because, you know, she's the Queen.  They probably don't get that close unless she wants them to.  And if so, presumably the corgis would think "well ok, this one can be trusted."  Does she just say that to wind people up?  "Oh ho, you should watch it, Prime Minister, or I'll have to set the corgis on you. Ha ha!"  What's the protocol if HM's corgi bites you?  Do you still have to call her M'aam while you're screaming and shaking off a corgi?  Swearing is probably right out of the question.
  • Maybe the Queen has plastic bags and dog biscuits in her purse.  I'm sure she doesn't have half the crap I have in mine.  No wonder I need chiropractic care.  But every time I try to pare down, I end up putting all that crap back in.  But at least my cell phone is little now.  Remember when they were new and were the size of a brick?  And getting service was a surprise every time?  And the phone company would just change your phone number whenever they wanted to?  Without telling you?  And you were getting a complex about no one calling you?  I bet my grandchildren will just have cell phones hardwired into their heads at birth.  They'll just pop out with all kinds of technology built right in.  
  • Grandchildren?!  Where the hell did that come from?  I've got a good 15 years before I have to think about those.  I better have that long or those grandchildren will be orphans.  But that would mean I'd have to raise them.  And then my back will still hurt because I'll still be carrying spare underwear and crayons and Happy Meal toys in my purse.  Ok, enough about the grandchildren.  Not thinking about them anymore.
  • Though a girl would be nice... and what would my grandma name be...
Is it any wonder that I don't get any sleep?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Life With Boys III

Overheard at the bus stop:

"I can too do the shoulder!"
"You're nuts, that's impossible."
"I can do the back of the knee."
"You're as nuts as he is."
"Bet mine is the loudest though."
"Bet it's not!"
"Bet it is!"

Armpit farts.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ten Celebrations for Ten Years

We certainly didn't set out to celebrate in this way, but it could become a trend... (not really!)

  1. Cake & ice cream with the local relatives.
  2. K. takes them to SkyZone!
  3. Actual birthday - wake up to balloons, birthday treats at school, then special dinner & presents with Mom & Dad
  4. Dinner out with Grandma
  5. Visit to Strong Museum with our friends the C's and we celebrate S.'s birthday too.
  6. MagicQuest with the NJ & PA cousins.
  7. Cake & ice cream with the rest of the NJ relatives.
  8. Dinner at Friendly's (free coupons!) with our friend J. It's her birthday too!
  9. Treat (more free coupons!) at Barnes & Noble.
  10. And to round it out... the all-important spending of the birthday gift cards!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ten Things About You at Age 10

Double Digits!

  1. If you could figure out how to play Wizard 101, Skype with your cousins, play on your DS, eat, and still be able to roam around the house, your life would be set.
  2. Ipod Touch!
  3. You and Dad are bonding over 3 Stooges episodes.
  4. You've got quite the witty sense of humor and are quick with plays-on-words and puns.
  5. Fourth grade has not been wonderful this year, but we're working on it.  Art Club was a bright spot.
  6. You've taken to calling your brother "B". At first I thought it was "Bee" but it's "B" as in Baby B (you, of course, were Baby A).
  7. I love that you use words like "shall" in everyday conversation.
  8. Making balloon animals is a new obsession.
  9. When you find a good book, you can't put it down.  A series is even better.  Last weekend you started and finished a 200 page book and wanted to know did we get books 2, 3 & 4 from the library too?
  10. You and Dad have been going to Mandarin Kung Fu twice a week and I catch you practicing your stances when you think no one is looking.

  1. You're starting to make up jokes and silly games and your teacher reports that you're very funny at school.
  2. If you could have the Christmas tree up all year you would.
  3. Dance class is still going great.  Once you get there, that is.
  4. The "David" books by David Shannon crack you up, and you'll sit there reading them to yourself now.
  5. You still love your hats and now you think everyone should wear one too. But oddly enough the hat love does not extend to baseball caps. You will absolutely not wear one of those. You look at me with an expression that says "Too common! Everyone wears those, darling."
  6. You've moved on from the Wiggles & Barney to Hi-5 and love to sing and dance with the show.  You also really love Signing Time and sing and sign and talk with Rachel, Leah & Alex.
  7. We got a touch screen laptop and you have been figuring it out quickly!
  8. This year at Fantasy Island we let you go on most of the rides without a grownup.  You were so proud of yourself!
  9. You love to buy lunch at school when it is spaghetti or turkey & mashed potatoes.
  10. You are only a morning person when there is no school.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Update on the Book Goal

Final tally for books read this year: 77!

Here are the books that stuck with me long after the cover was closed (in no particular order).

  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. The premise of this book, that the main character can taste the emotions of the person who prepared the food, was fascinating to me. Ultimately the book is about how we deal with emotions, our own and others, and whether we allow ourselves to truly feel.
  • The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer. I've been both a stay-at-home mom and a work-outside-the-home mom and from the very first line this book resonated with me. Each of the women in the book struggles with finding and accepting her role in the world, her smaller community, her family. You look at other moms and think "she's got it all figured out" only to be incredibly surprised that she's thinking the same thing about you.
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I loved the language and the intellectualism of this book. Putting these three three protagonists, a middle-aged French concierge (kind of like a superintendent of a building) trying to hide her intelligence, a depressed 13-year-old girl and a dapper Japanese elderly gentleman, together was pure genius.
  • Room by Emma Donohue. Haunting, terrifying, and intriguing. What is language? What is reality? What is home? What is family? What is safety?
  • Elizabeth I by Margaret George. I confess that anything by Margaret George will be loved by me before I have even opened it. Her work is so well researched, so intimate, so in-the-moment that it is easy to forget you are reading about a well-known historical figure. Perhaps it is the first-person narrative, but you really feel that you know the subject. And Elizabeth I (and her dad, Henry VIII) are two of those hypothetical people I'd like to have dinner with.
  • Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran. I love historical fiction. This book gave me a lot of insight into the French Revolution and the history of waxworks. I did not know anything about Madame Tussaud other than her name and the multiple museums that share it. That an art we now view as somewhat kitschy has its roots in the struggle to share information openly with all classes was riveting.
  • The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York by Chandler Burr. I originally found this book because of reading "Perfumes: The Guide" and "The Emperor of Scent " and it was fascinating! The author gives an inside view of the perfume industry and follows the creation of a perfume from idea to creation to marketing. It also talks about the fairly recent trend of celebrity perfumes, which is interesting in itself. I love how reading one book can lead you on a journey of discovery about a subject, to other things the author has written, to things you never would have thought you'd be interested in.
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Whether or not you have been touched by Alzheimer's personally, please go read this book. Your notions of what constitutes self, memory, and what is quality of life may get turned on their ears.
  • Faithful Place by Tana French. I don't normally read suspense, but this third book by Tana French, like her other two grabbed me and didn't let go until the last page. I particularly like it when books reference familiar characters. It's like greeting old friends and fosters my favorite illusion that these are real people living real lives somewhere out of our consciousness until we can check in with them again. There were so many twists and turns that it was impossible to figure out the ending until you got to it. I appreciate that in an author and in a book.
  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Nefenegger. Creepy but in a good way. As a twin and a mom of twins, I found this book about twin sisters of twin moms very interesting. I don't really have a way to describe this fully, you just have to trust me on this one.
  • The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean. I love fashion and I love history, therefore I must love vintage fashion, right? A sweet story of family and finding your way in the world with storytelling magic along the way.
  • The Harry Potter Epic, Books 1-7 by J. K. Rowling. Yes, I've read them before but I really do recommend that you read them straight through, one after the other. You get a better appreciation for J.K. Rowling's genius that way. And yes, even though you know how it ends all the little details still take you by surprise. That we can still be enthralled after 14 years, 7 books and 8 movies is a marvel.
  • The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs by Christina Hopkinson. I could have written this book. Why didn't I write this book? Hilariously funny in the way that has you looking over your head for speech bubbles. The author *must* be reading your mind and putting out there all the things you think but would never dare say out loud. Very British, reminiscent of Bridget Jones' Diary and a happy ending to boot.
  • Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor. Part travelogue, part spiritual journey, part family saga, this book really touched me. Partly because we had just seen "The Way" right before I started reading this and I was in the mindset of spiritual journeys, this book made me remember things I'd forgotten. My wish to travel, the ways travel can open your eyes to things you already know deep inside, the ebb and flow of family relationships, the many faces devotion takes. I also enjoyed all the references to art, poetry and literature. I googled myself silly for awhile! It was a bit of a shock at first to find myself identifying with the "mature mom" half of the team rather than the daughter half, but I can't be the only one who has to remind themselves of the passage of time and your chronological age vs. your internal age. Sue Kidd struggles with issues of aging, menopause, moving onto another stage of life and wondering if it's going to be productive and if so in what form? All things I realized I was struggling with myself but not being able to articulate or put into concrete thought. And in the laws of serendipity, after googling all the religious icons in the book and remembering how beautiful I find them, I found a small one of the Virgin Mary while cleaning out a box. I think it might have been a baby shower gift. It's on my computer desk now.
  • The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. A new favorite author. Like Tana French her work is so dense and has so many twists, turns and connections that you cannot possibly figure it all out until the last page. Every so often there is a little clue and you think "ah ha!" only to be turned on your head later on. Wonderful!
  • My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke. A class act and a gentleman. That he's one of my favorites didn't hurt either.
  • The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delaney Begins Her Life's Work at 72 by Molly Peacock. Fascinating retrospective of an 18th-century gentlewoman's life and her creation of 985 mixed-media collage (previously unknown) botanically correct flowers (now housed in the British Museum). Like Traveling With Pomegranates, it is a meditation of creativity late in life, how one's life history culminates in unexpected ways. For all those still wondering "what will I be when I grow up" this book offers hope and inspiration.
  • The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan. My deepest admiration goes to those authors who can take a well-known story like Santa Claus and re-imagine it to make something totally new, totally believable and totally loved. This year I got to share this book with M. and he loved it just as much as I do.
Special Shout Out to my sister, R. who recommended some of these and many others as part of our family & friends book club.