Archive | November, 2011

Gotta have faith (and a really cool menorah)

29 Nov

As I was making copies while volunteering at school the other day, a friend of mine and I started to chat. As I jammed up the blasted copier, yet again, she began to ask me about my husband and my religious upbringings. Upon hearing that I was raised Southern Baptist and he was a Catholic-Christian hybrid, she then asked why my oldest son thought he was Jewish.

Come again?

My eight-year-old has somehow decided along the way that he’s Jewish and has been sharing this new awakening with several friends. At first, I thought he must be intentionally making up a story. Somehow, he’s learned that our school has few children of Israel and he hoped to be rewarded for being in the first wave. You do get to wear a really cool cap, get beaucoup Hanukkah presents, and have a kickass 13th birthday party. What kid wouldn’t want to be Jewish?

I understood completely. I went through my phase of wanting to be a Scientologist just so I could meet Tom Cruise, but the whole auditing process reminded me of something from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Plus, Tom jumped on Oprah’s couch just to proclaim his love from the Dawson’s Creek chick. Yeah. That has mental hospital written all over it.

Back to the story. I asked my son why he’s been telling people he’s Jewish. He answered that he thought we really were followers. How? He confused my mother’s Southern Baptist church with a synagogue. I’m certain that this has never happened before in the history of the faith.

“Jesus was Jewish,” he said. “And people say we should be more like him.”

From the mouths of babes! Needless to say, I had to explain to him that following Jesus is way cool, as is the Jewish faith, but we’re not Jewish. We’re Christian. And although mama has been called a shiksa on more than one occasion (ah, those nice ZBT boys), she did marry a nice goya boy from Southern Indiana. Yeah, I can throw down some Yiddish just like Streisand in Yentl.

As with other errors my children make, I refuse to let them forget. Normally this consists of making references to said mistake and then chuckling under my breath. But this time, we actually used this as a learning opportunity. While at Target, I bought my family a menorah with some candles. We researched what the piece symbolizes and how we will light it during Hanukkah this year. It never hurts to learn about other cultures and religions. Now to ensure that the kids don’t blow out the candles like the flames on a birthday cake. That can’t be good.

In addition, I downloaded Adam Sandler’s “The Hanukkah Song” and played it for my oldest. He knew none of the mentioned people, but did like the tune. I forgot Adam sang of pot in it, so had to make up a story of my own. Thank goodness marijuana sounds like a woman’s name.

All and all, my son understands a little bit more of his own cultural heritage and about another kind of belief system as well. Plus, I’ll be prepared when he starts telling people he’s Buddhist because his mama practices yoga. So, on his behalf, may I be the first to wish you a wonderful Christmas season and a very Happy Hanukkah. Namaste.

30 Seconds of Thankfulness

22 Nov

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?” — William Arthur Ward

Everyone seems to be thankful recently. Daily, I see posts from people participating in 30 Days of Thankfulness, an undertaking where participants display one thing they are grateful for each day throughout the month of November. I like to call it Occupy Facebook. Friends have been appreciating everything from blades of grass to Aunt Milly’s callouses. I declined to join the movement. My sarcasm does not bold well around ladies that are trying to be solemn and endearing.

But low and behold, the thankfulness movement has infiltrated news organizations as well. On Monday, Carolyn Butler authored an article on The Washington Post website about appreciation entitled “Teaching kids to be grateful may have long-term benefits even though it’s not easy.” Butler reported on research by Hofstra University Professor Jeffrey Froh.  Froh states in the article that grateful children are generally happier and  “report better relationships with friends and family, higher GPAs, less materialism, less envy and less depression, along with a desire to connect to their community and to want to give back.”

You had me at GPA.

And, how do kids become more appreciative? According to Froh, they write about it. Kiddos who record their gratitude in a journal every few days report being more optimistic and plain out happier with their lives. Here’s the kicker, this thankfulness project benefits adults as well. The best part of the piece is the hint that we grown-ups tend to lead more contented, even healthier lives the more appreciation that we give.

Crap. I guess I should have taken this 30 Days of Thankfulness challenge more seriously. I didn’t know I could actually get something out of it. Who couldn’t use some health benefits that didn’t involve a long plastic tube and laying face down on a medical table? And everyone needs a little more happiness. Except maybe clowns. I already want to smack them in their cheery red, round noses, but I bet the spongy material would absorb the impact. That’s obviously why they wear them instead of big foam lips.

Anyway, now I must play catch-up. Oh hell, I’ll just go ahead a list all 30 of the damn things. I don’t commit well. Surely this works likes a bank; a storehouse of karma, if you will. And so it begins:

 

30 Days, ok… well, Seconds of Thankfulness

I’m thankful for:

1) Friends that would go to bat for me any day of the week. Except Saturdays. And maybe not when you have a carcass smelling rug rolled up in the car trunk. But otherwise, they’re great.

2) A song so pure and beautiful that it makes you shiver. And maybe leak a little urine too.

3) Great teachers. And aides.

4) Tongue cleaners.

5) Clean public restrooms. Or dirty ones with no visible brown streaks on the seats.

6) An education. So I can recognize stupidity in it’s most basic form. Male.

7) Staplers. Or as I like to call them, an emergency sewing kit.

8) Ritalin. Or Benadryl. For me, not the kids.

9) Kids that are cute, but not annoyingly so. McCauley Culkin’s adorable kid act made me nauseated. Thank goodness we made our kids watch 300 at a young age and warned them that their half Spartan dad would likely throw them off a cliff if they dared to try that routine.

10) The plastic ends of shoe strings.

11) Indiana University basketball and their undefeated season. It might not last too long. Must get this one in early.

12) The word “slurp”.

13) Hot Serbian male tennis players who grunt.

14) Old flames who dumped you for your body type only to look like the love child of  Mr. Clean and the Michelin Man by the time they’re 40.

15) Coke. The non-sniffing kind.

16) Brunettes who have more fun.

17) Snow. On the television. While I lay in the hot sun in Bermuda.

18) Our Congress. Wait. The “super committee” for debt talks produced nothing? Correction. I’m thankful for elections to vote these jokesters out.

19) Spam. The canned food.

20) A husband who doesn’t let me walk all over him. Trust me, I’m good at it. And, to be honest, he normally just likes to feel the piercing heels on his back and upper thighs.

21) Taco Bell at midnight.

22) The transformative sounds of crickets dying from the chomping jaws of our tree frog.

23) My daughter’s feet. But not her toes. Her second really shouldn’t be longer than the first.

24) Travelling around the world and actually making it back without being on the Interpol Most Wanted List.

25) Know-it Alls. They help to practice patience and assist me in writing new villains. Why, yes, you do resemble that serial killer in my book.

26) The inevitable collapse of the glass ceiling. While it falls, may it give every chauvinist a mile around tiny little cuts.

27) The Canadian Ryans. Oh, Mr. Gosling and Mr. Reynolds, you can raise my diphthong any day.

28) The intoxicating smell of a thick Sharpie.

29) Not having to write this journal every day for the greater part of this month. Haha! Suckers!

And last but not least…

30) Kind friends who read my mad ravings on this blog.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Running down a dream (or a fast pregnant chick)

15 Nov

I’ve completely lost my mind. In less than eight weeks, I’ll be walking, running and crawling my way to complete the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World. Any race dubbed “The Goofy” should have automatically thrown up warning signals. But like the strange creak in my knees and the stabbing aches in my hip, I ignored them.

See, in order to tackle the challenge one must compete a 13.1 mile race one day followed by a full 26.2 mile marathon immediately the following morning. Yes, that’s 39.3 miles in over a roughly 29-hour period. Now you see why I should enroll in a 10 step program for ridiculous runners.

Here’s the kicker. I am undoubtedly the worst marathon trainee ever. I refuse to stretch due to the firm belief that if you’re running that many miles, the first several should serve as an adequate warm-up for muscles that will hurt regardless of any stretching. I could contort my body like a Chinese acrobat illegally entering the U.S. cramped in carry on luggage and the results of my run will be the same.

So I choose the easy road as opposed to the rocky track. I do nothing. No training log. No carb loading. Few water breaks. Barely a training plan. I just run. OK. More likely I jog with an occasional quick walk and maybe a bunny hop or two just for the hell of it. When fellow runners see my unpredictable form, they think twice about getting too close to me. A little crazy is always a lot better than a little crowded.

And so here lies my conundrum. I want to become better. All my life, people have commented that I have a runner’s body. I’m still not sure what this exactly means other than my cocaine sniffing fingernails bare a striking resemblance to Flo Jo’s. Why couldn’t I have a competitive eater’s body? Or maybe a video game tester’s figure? I’ve seen writers’ physiques and they’re not half bad. But having a runner’s body really raises the bar to be a decent runner.

How do I become that decent runner who doesn’t get passed by nine month pregnant ladies on the first mile of a race? Work. Practice. Mental Strength. And steroids. Lots of steroids. Throw in a few Vicodin for race day and we may have a winner.

Until then, I’ll continue to run for the fun of it. My friend has always preached the best way to cross the finish line is with a smile. As I grow older, I tend to appreciate his advice. Of course, a shot at mile 20 might produce a few giggles too. It’s best to mix the tried and true methods with the new. Especially when you’re fixing to get just a little bit goofy.

PTA Purgatory and the Search for a New President

8 Nov

Three Hours. That’s how long I’ve been working on PTA event planning tonight. Believe it or not, I’m president of our school’s Parent Teacher Association. Yes, you may laugh now. And try as I may to get fired by teaching the children the correct ways to stalk Justin Bieber and how to shoot the perfect spit ball, I still somehow have managed to retain the post for a second year.

But alas, I see light at the end of this overly involved mommy tunnel. My term is up in six months and now I must find a worthy successor. Oh, heck with the worthy. I just need someone with a pulse and a clean background check to become president for next year. And herein lies the dilemma. How do I recruit someone to lead a volunteer organization without the use of roofies or a promise of a fully funded “convention” in Cancun?

Needless to say, I like to make lists. So why change a good thing? Below I submit the top reasons why parents should want to become PTA Board Members. Think long and hard about how all these great things could be yours in only six short months.

1) Becoming active in the PTA allows you to redeem all the bad parenting you have inflicted over the past five years. Sure, you feed your kids fast food six times a week, let them play four hours of Call of Duty a day and allow them to crank to the newest Lil Wayne song. But, by goodness, you care enough to plan and work events for all those other students in the school. Since you’re helping at least 100 kids at each function, the total number of children you’ve had a positive impact on is greater than the amount of negative interactions you have had with your own children. Isn’t salvation through substitute parenting grand?

2) Through PTA involvement, parents really get to know all the teachers and staff at the school. Seeing the long hours the teachers work for the good of the students really helps you appreciate all their hard work. Plus, it’s amazing how much blackmail info you can pick up in the teacher’s lounge. It’s always good to have something other than your kids’ intelligence to ensure that they maintain that 4.0 GPA.

3) Volunteering with local educational organizations allows you to feel like you are making a real difference in the community. And it’s much better than my “real difference” assigned work of picking up litter on the side of the road while wearing an orange jumpsuit. Side note: PTA does count toward community service hours.

4) Being President of the PTA offers you a wide variety of perks. Oh how many times I’ve said, “Don’t you know who I am?” to the local sandwich shop when demanding more olives and cucumbers. Power goes quickly to one’s head. I’ve also tried to get out of speeding tickets, jury duty and paying the occasional electric bill using my position. Ok, so it never works. But you can yell at rule breaking parents in the car rider line without fear of retaliation. I have done this on two occasions. And it feels good.

5) PTA will help you conquer the world. Every dictator started with a small position. I’m certain Napoleon got his complex after overseeing his daughter’s crepe sales to raise funds for her school’s fencing team. You too, could use this presidency to achieve greater things. Look at Sarah Palin. She jaunted from PTA to City Council Member to Governor to Vice Presidential Nominee to Nobody all in the time it took to write this sentence. Join PTA while seeing Russia, or the backend of a trailer, from your yard and you too could follow in her snow boot steps.

So there you have it. PTA rocks. You really, really should want to lead this fantastic organization. If you’re interested in the position or learning how to launch the perfect spitball, let me know. Otherwise, I will need to start learning Spanish and the correct manner of using a drug mule in order to fund an incentive trip to Cancun. El Presidente, por favor?

Halloween fashion: tricks or treat?

1 Nov

Hallow’s Eve always bring a sense of mystery and mischief to my house. But this midnight after Halloween has come and gone with far to little spookiness in our quiet home. The only thing frighteningly active at this hour is my mind. It churns out idea after idea for columns, blogs and ways to ensure reality stars stay married longer than 72 days.

Some of these thoughts, I should write about. Others most likely should stay in the deep recesses of my brain; somewhere between the memories of the hot pink polka dotted dress I wore to the eighth grade dance and my 1989 “Holy Crap That Chick Looks Like Mick Jagger” haircut.

So at this witching hour, I feel something brewing in my flat chest that needs to bubble out like stale pus in a popped blister. What has me all a flutter? Lately, I’ve seen numerous posts about women’s Halloween attire nowadays being quite scant. I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, it has become difficult to purchase a flattering costume that doesn’t show a lady’s London, France and a portion of that Aussie country from Down Under. When the only non-skin baring regalia I feel comfortable wearing around my kids are a dead Michael Jackson costume or a pregnant nun, there’s a problem.

However, I must say I also have an issue with so many people verbally insulting women for wearing these barely there get-ups. Comparing people to hookers just because they decide to show some skin one day a year really does little to advance our overall cause for equality. Women argue that the ladies that wear revealing clothes have poor self worth and reduce all females into mindless sex objects. I call bibbity bobbity boob.

If a woman feels comfortable enough in her own body to sport that costume, then more power to her. What really hurts the female image is defining a woman by what she wears instead of what she does. I might not like and most likely wouldn’t purchase some of these ensembles, but that doesn’t give me the right to degrade it. Hell, I can’t wear a bikini for more than 12 minutes at the pool without crafting a temporary sarong out of a Transformer’s beach towel. Who has the low self esteem now? Oops. I shouldn’t be proud of that…

Coming from experience, most of the shimmy shimmy cocoa puff costumes I’ve witnessed look nothing like prostitute fashion. And I’ve seen some prostitutes. If you haven’t sat and sipped coffee under a perfect Waikiki night while watching two ladies of the night try to pick up some Japanese Johns, then you truly have never lived. I could barely solicit an 80-year-old Filipino woman to snap a shot of my family at the beach. And I had to pay her a five and didn’t even get a handshake. Maybe I need to start a Hooker Vogue so that the ladies in the future have some basic wardrobe norms and don’t easily get confused with sorority girls from the local college campus Halloween parade.

All and all, females should be able to wear what they want for Halloween whether that be a delicious devil or a potato sack hobo. So, women of the world, treat each other with fairness and objectivity. Let’s tear each other down for other meaningful things like having a filthy house or how we raise our children. Maybe that’s the best midnight idea after all.

 

 

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