Category Archives: general family

Music


I was raised in a relatively music-free household.

My earliest (and only) memories of music are of my mother listening to an eight track of Neil Diamond in the car. We never listened to it in the house. Not that I can recall, anyway.

Oh, and my own pathetic attempts on the violin, but that’s a story for another day.

Maybe that’s why my tastes in music are a little… schizophrenic.

I first became aware of music in the late 80s, so of course, 80s music is one of my favorites. I’m still a sucker for a synthesizer and a drum set. I still like the 80s big hair bands, because I’m secretly an 80s big hair rocker slut (though without the big hair, and with the long-term marriage, mom jeans and the small SUV, perfect for carting kids to soccer practice).

But, like I said, my tastes run the gamut. My children are being raised listening to everything from Flogging Molly and Mumford & Sons to Lady Antebellum and Johnny Cash to Nine Inch Nails and Eminem. Just the other day, Chewey was singing “Girls” by the Beastie Boys while we drove to school, and just tonight, Sea Monkey was singing “When the Man Comes Around” and then “Elevation” by U2.

Chewey likes banjos (oh, so my boy). He tends to fall asleep to the Wailing Jennys and Alison Krauss. He also likes heavy metal, like his dad. Anything with heavy drums and a loud guitar. Sea Monkey likes anything you can dance to (though, being fair, she can dance to anything) and country. Both of them request that I change the song if I’m listening to melancholy New Age-y stuff. Or instrumentals.

I’ll listen to all of it. Depends on the mood I’m in, I guess. But it seems that music is in the background of my entire life. I listen to it while I’m cooking, while I’m writing, while I’m cleaning (if I’m cleaning). I haven’t got any rhythm, can’t dance, and I can’t play an instrument to save my life, but I love music.

So… What’s your favorite?

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Sleepwalking Giants


We’re sleepwalkers.

I’ve known that I talk in my sleep since sixth grade, when a friend said that I had a complete conversation about ninjas who eat lasagna in the middle of the night. The walking came later. When it was at its worst, I once woke up on the sidewalk in front of my house in my pajamas, after having a dream that I was being chased by ninja-terrorist-assassins (Dude, just try to convince me ninjas aren’t scary).

Because of course ninja-terrorist-assassins would pursue a sixteen year old kid with no discernible skills in anything but making an ass of herself.

Did I mention I lived on one of the busiest streets of my hometown?

At least I was wearing pajamas that night. Though that was the night I decided I must always wear shorts or pants to bed. Just. In. Case.

We get this from my father, whom I’ve caught on more than one occasion eating mayonnaise right out of the jar, completely asleep. It was a bit disconcerting the first time I was sneaking in after a slightly longer night than I’d anticipated and found my father eating mayonnaise, his face lit only by the glow of the refrigerator.

I totally thought I was busted.

Instead, as I walked past him, I said, “Hey Dad.”

He didn’t look up, just shoved another mouthful of mayonnaise (gag, barf) into his mouth. Offering me the jar, he said, “Want some? It’s marshmallows.”

“It’s mayonnaise, and that’s gross.”

He ate another bite, put the mayo back in the fridge (though I understood for the first time how we went through so much mayo when no one but my mother ate it). Shambled off to his bed, and I could hear him snoring before I even had the chance to go downstairs. This was not the only time I caught him doing this, so I know it’s not a fluke. But it was ALWAYS mayonnaise, and only mayonnaise. Though he did occasionally put his hearing aid in the microwave when he was asleep. And the freezer.

I’ve found it both places.

I don’t think I’ve walked in my sleep for years. Here’s hoping the girl child grows out of it. I’m really tired of finding her trying to pee in the sink.

All because she can’t find the toilet that’s right next to it.


The Trouble with iPhone, and a Massive Digression


It’s rather like The Trouble with Tribbles, is it not? You have one little issue, and they expand until they take over your entire phone.

Wow, I just totally outed myself as a geek.

In any case, my hub’s email address comes up as “neglects” when you type it into iPhone. Without fail, no matter how many times I change it. Which, when I’m not thoroughly annoyed, cracks me up. Sometimes, I type it in just so I can watch it change to neglects. I find it vastly entertaining. Though sometimes, doing so makes me wonder if maybe I need to get out more.

It’s kind of like the time I was home on maternity leave with one of the kids, and when M came home, I spent 30 minutes telling him about baby poop. And when his eyes glazed over with that dazed, “Oh, God, help me. This is both disgusting and boring” look, I thought to myself, “Shit. My entire life has been distilled into this one moment.”

It was then I realized that the highlight of my day had revolved around bodily functions. The entire day. To an extent, it still does. When a kid peed on my table recently (don’t ask, it’s a long and troubling story, though how she managed it was quite clever), that was the highlight of my day. Or, at least, the thing I talked about the most (after I went through an entire box of Clorox wipes).

I really do need to get out more.

I wonder if neglects will take me.

Attractive in a Red State Kind of Way…


A friend of mine once described her husband to be as “attractive in a red-state kind of way.” And my first thought was: “YES! That describes my husband too!”

My husband of 14 years and I are as opposite politically as we can possibly get. He’s the NRA-loving, gun toting Republican. A cop. Raised on a ranch in small-town Oregon, he actually sold his first lamb at five. And not as a pet, but at the faire. When I asked what happened to it, he looked at me like I was nuts. I imagined Booboo the lamb living on a farm somewhere, frolicking in the grass. Actually, the thing got slaughtered and someone had gyros for dinner. Booboo gyros.

He gets irritated if I even imagine living someplace with gun restrictions, like England. Or California. I fantasize about both.

Me, well, I’m left leaning. I voted for the Green Party candidate in my first presidential election. If I had to kill my own meat–if I had to eat something I had raised and then killed–I would 1) vomit; 2) be a vegetarian. I am fine with dairy. After all, if I can milk myself, I can handle consuming milk products. And I’d totally eat eggs if I weren’t allergic to them.

I’m the recycler. I’m the one who has the peace signs on the back of her car (and did when we first started dating), next to where my Autism Awareness ribbon used to be (whoever stole it: you bastard!). I’m the bleeding heart who feels bad for everyone (after all, I work in Special Ed–of course I’m a bleeding heart). I’m the one who reads Hobby Farm and Mother Earth News and Vegetarian Times. I tend to vote Democrat, unless the candidate in question is someone I a) know personally and dislike; or b) is crazy; or c) so damn dumb even I can’t reconcile it. And I can reconcile just about anything.

I sometimes wonder what the mailman must think when he sees the magazines we get. Swat, Mother Earth News, Guns and Ammo, Hobby Farm, The Rifleman. NEA vs. NRA.

As my friend said, my husband is attractive in a red-state kind of way. And I suppose, to him, I’m attractive in  a hippie-dippie kind of way. When I talk about the place I want to live, I refer to it as “The Commune.” He refers to the same piece of land as “The Compound.”

I once had a friend who asked me how I could live with someone so different from me in terms of beliefs. And I guess the answer is: while I feel strongly about my political positions, I don’t need to foist them onto everyone I meet. And the same goes for him. We can have a rational discussion about the issues–and totally disagree with one another–and remain calm. I can see his point of view and I like to think he can see mine.  We know we’re different. We know we won’t agree on everything. But we also know that we can actually come to an agreement… A place where we can agree that while each of us wouldn’t have the utopia we’re looking for–since he sees the world as Escape from New York and I see rainbows and unicorns through my rose-colored glasses–would be a place both of us would be OK with living.

I kind of wish that our leaders could be the same way. I hate how polarized everything is. It’s one thing to be firm in one’s beliefs. It’s another thing entirely to be so entrenched in ideology that you refuse to compromise. I’m pretty freaking liberal and my hub is pretty freaking conservative, but if the kind of snide, petty arguing that occurs in The House occurred in my house, we would have divorced long ago. And that wouldn’t have been good for us.

We need each other.

This hippie chick loves her red-state hubby.

Fake Irish


I was going to blog on Disneyland, Part II, but it was so freaking depressing, I decided to wait until later, when I am better able to see the humor in it.

So, instead, I’m going to blog on my status as a frustrated, wanna-be Irishman.

I say wanna-be, because, like all Americans, there’s Irish in there, but it remains to be seen precisely how much. My dad may be a quarter Irish (he claims half, but his grandmother was actually Welsh. He refuses to believe me on this front, no matter how much evidence I put in front of him. I’ve given up). My mother may also be Irish, at least in part. I like to claim Irish heritage, with the dark hair, hazel-green eyes and pale, freckled skin. Really, I’m just another pale, freckled American.

So, honestly, while I think I can safely claim Celtic origins (or, even more safely, ancestry in the British Isles), I don’t think I can necessarily claim Ireland as my ancestral home.

It’s too bad, because I love all things Irish. The Book of Kells, the Blarney Stone, the Cliffs of Moher. Dublin and Trinity College. Waterford crystal. Whiskey. Guinness. The accents (yes, I did once date a guy just because of the accent). I freaking love the Pogues, Flogging Molly, and The Chieftains. Huge U2 fan (but who isn’t? I don’t think that should even count as a love of all things Irish). I even liked the heather, though I discovered that I’m allergic to it (but then, I’m allergic to almost everything that grows, so it’s not like that’s a shock).

In short, like most Americans, I’m a frustrated Irishman.

I’m not the only one in my family with “wanna-be” roots. My aunt, who may or may not be part Scottish, insisted we get a freaking bagpiper for my grandmother’s funeral. That would have been fine, but my grandmother was Dutch. 100%. No Scottish in there–both her parents were straight off the boat.

Clog dancers in wooden shoes would have been more appropriate. I’d even have made allowances for a yodeller (it would have been funny. I’d totally go for a yodeller at my funeral). But a bagpiper? Since I’d planned the funeral, I had nixed the idea of a bagpiper completely. So when a guy in a kilt showed up and starting piping away, I was completely caught off guard.

After all, my grandmother, as I’ve mentioned, was Dutch. And really wasn’t into the whole Scottish thing. She once told me she only tolerated Braveheart because she thought Mel Gibson had a cute butt.

(Talk about throwing me for a loop. I couldn’t even say the word butt in front of my very proper grandmother. I just about did a spit take when she said that)

My dad is worse than anyone. I can at least entertain the notion that I’m not really Irish, but he can’t. My dad’s people have been here since before the Revolutionary War. I think, after at least 300 years, maybe we should be thinking of ourselves as American.

We have no ancestral homeland. Or, if we do, it’s Boston.

So I guess there are three categories of Irish: Irish, black Irish, and Fake Irish.

I am proudly the third.

From Mad Cow to the Clap


For Christmas, Husband got me my very own giant microbes. For those of you who don’t follow my Facebook page, in honor of my blog on syphilis, I bought my father a giant syphilis microbe plush toy. It was awesome, though he didn’t know what to make of it (but Baby Brother laughed pretty hard). Well, Husband bought me my own variations, all with some sort of memory for me.

1. Syphilis (of course), to remind me of kindergarten. Because who doesn’t think of kindergarten when they think of syphilis?

2. Mad cow disease, in honor of my time in Germany. While I was on a train heading to Austria (I think; it might have been when we were leaving Austria to get to Paris),  I claimed to have mad cow disease to keep people out of our compartment (this was at the time of the outbreak of mad cow disease in Britain, where I had defiantly eaten hamburger every day. Ironic, now I’m allergic to beef). Each of us had something to drive others away: Jen had her rock hammer, Naomi had her stinky feet (which, incidentally, I don’t remember as being overly stinky. The stench doesn’t stand out in my head anyway, not like Clint’s cologne does), and I had mad cow disease… It basically consisted of me mooing loudly on the one occasion someone stuck his head in our room and practicing frothing at the mouth a lot. I probably looked like I had rabies, but hey, I was twenty-one. Everyone’s obnoxious at twenty-one. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

3. Staph, to remind me of last year’s illness and how, no matter how much I complain, this year actually is better.

4. And finally, he got me the clap, because… well… I think STDs are funny. I suppose that’s only true if you don’t have them, though…

Anyway, I hope you all had a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a joyous Kwanzaa, or a good solstice. I did.

Now it’s time to go play with syphilis.

MCC

Thanksgiving


Of course I have to write a little something regarding Thanksgiving. It’s mandatory, like going through security at the airport…

I am thankful for:

* A smart, stubborn, beautiful daughter who challenges me every day and reminds me that, despite all the early childhood classes, a minor in elementary ed, and a speech pathology degree, I don’t know everything about child development. Sometimes I have to shake my head in consternation, because I’m really unsure how two smart, stubborn introverts could produce a child who is as much of an extrovert as she is. Sea Monkey can walk into a store and make a friend in about five minutes.

* A smart, stubborn, sweet son who challenges me every day.  He also reminds me that what I know about child development is just the tip of the iceberg.

* Chewey’s school doing everything they have to accommodate him, and I’m so grateful it’s working. He’s finally challenged. And I’m so pleased that he’s finally making friends and coming home to talk about the people in his class!

* A smart, fabulous, handsome husband who challenges me, rescues my work when I need him to (because I’ve accidentally deleted it… One of these days I’ll share the thesis fiasco), and encourages me to  keep on trying when I get overwhelmed.

* My job. While I want to start writing professionally, I love the job I have right now. I work close to home, have an awesome principal, I work with fabulous teachers, and the kids are fantastic. Many of the kids on my caseload are medically fragile, and they continue to challenge me to do more, learn more and do better. I’m learning more about AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) than I ever wanted to (but I’m finding it interesting). I love working with the preschoolers–both those with autism and those without–and celebrating milestones both great and small.

I’m very lucky. And now I’m off to enjoy my holiday tradition (the only one I get, since I always have to go somewhere every holiday): lemon poppyseed scones with clotted cream.

MCC

The Holidays


I never used to hate the holidays.

As I get older, the holidays seem to get bigger and bigger and more overwhelming, as if they are some out of control beast. The obligations never seem to lessen, they just get bigger.

I get that I’m totally selfish. I would really love to spend the holidays doing exactly what I want to do. I would like go sledding, take the kids over to a friend’s house, let them play, hang out for a bit and not overstuff myself (as mentioned in previous blogs, eating is not my thing these days, so gathering around a bunch of food I can’t eat really doesn’t appeal to me. After all, putting a fat girl who can’t eat at a table loaded up with goodies is cruel and unusual punishment). At my parents’ house, I will be expected not only to cook, but also to eat it. I will be made fun of if I don’t eat, and if I do… well, let’s just say, it’s not pretty.

All of this will make me pissy.

A friend of mine recently blogged about simplifying her life. She lives in a loft with her three year old and her husband, and I have to say, I totally respect her for that choice. I’m amazed she can make it work. One of her recommendations is to cut the fat–trimming away those things you don’t need.

As I sit here surrounded by piles of crap, I find I totally agree with her. There is so much junk in this house we never use and we don’t need. And it’s like that in other aspects of my life–my life is cluttered. Cluttered with junk, cluttered with stress, cluttered with relationships that are plainly toxic but I can’t seem to get rid of. The clutter in my house is an extension of the clutter in every other aspect of my life.

I carry around so much baggage it’s overwhelming. It seems to me like we’re all jockeying for position, for the power in the relationship. But if there has to be a loser in a relationship, is that relationship really worth having?

I should just start saying no, I should start doing things to make me happy, because I seem to collect obligations and relationships I don’t need. And every year at this time, I think to myself, “If I could do anything for X holiday, what would it be?”

Every year I come up with a scenario that will never play out. Every. Single. Year.

Every year, M and I will fight over something… The holidays are stressful, and because we can’t fight with the people we’re really mad at, we’ll take it out on each other. Luckily, we know we just have to make it through Christmas and then we’re good for another ten months or so.

Every year, I’ll be stressed out because something isn’t going right. Someone will be unhappy (my mother), someone will be angry (me), someone will be insulted (my father), and a fight will ensue (though, ironically,  not usually with me. I’m usually quietly stewing). And we’ll all warn one another what topics are off limits (my parenting skills, my mother’s cooking skills {or lack thereof}, medicine, politics, religion, the state of education, law enforcement, or my childhood memories), and after the list is complete, we will be relegated to talking about the weather, which itself is not always a safe topic.

I don’t want to go someplace and eat. I honestly don’t see why we can’t all get together on a day that’s not a holiday, if spending time together is so important. But the fact remains, it’s not the togetherness that’s important–it’s the day that’s important. And really, while I try to rationalize what I’m planning on doing, I think, it’s only two days a year. I can put on my big girl panties (thankfully, I have a lot of them) and deal with everyone else’s crap for two days. I get that it’s all about control in my family, and controlling the actions of others. I get that there’s no such thing as a holiday about me, or even one in which I have any sort of say in what happens. But it’s two days a year for the sake of a tenuous peace for the rest of it.

But my friend is right: there is happiness in reducing the clutter, whether it’s physical clutter or emotional baggage. I should try it some time. Because right now, I’ve got so much crap I should be featured on Hoarders.

And crap doesn’t make you happy… It just makes things messier.

MCC

Baby Megs and The Syph


Y’all might wonder why I am the way I am. I swear, there is a reason.

It’s my dad’s fault.

Now, when I was a kid, my dad was almost never around. And I mean it, almost never. When he moved from Alabama out west, six months before we did, it took me about a week and a half to be unable to recall what he looked like. Later, in high school, I came downstairs without my contacts on and didn’t recognize him. Dad was always at work or hunting. Occasionally, taking my brother someplace. I was the token girl and not the scion. That’s not to say my brother got a lot of attention: he didn’t. Neither of us did. But he took Baby Brother fishing and did stuff like that, and when he did, I got left at home.

Interesting, but I love to fish. So dads, take your girls out too. Seriously, I should be a stripper. If I hadn’t had a very rigid set of moral standards, if I hadn’t been painfully shy, if I had been more of an exhibitionist or rebellious, I would be working a pole right now.

Granted, no one wants to see that.

Ironically, though, my sense of humor comes from him. The bawdy sense of humor that knows few boundaries is all him, baby. Though I think I have some sense in regard to boundaries that my father lacks. After all, I have boundaries, I just elect not to use them very often. My dad, on the other hand, doesn’t.

This brings to mind the day I stopped talking in class. I was in kindergarten.

Mind you, it was a Southern Baptist preschool/Kindergarten in the deep south, back in the late seventies, early eighties, back in those days when the switch was still used. Fricking thing hurt, incidentally.

Bear in mind, I was already painfully shy, a fact my mother was aware of, but who knows if my dad knew. In any case, I’d been sick for a few days. And my very pretty, very sweet, very devout kindergarten teacher innocently asks, “Oh, Meg, what did you have?”

In all honesty, I had a cold or something equally minor. My father being a physician, I figured he must know a thing or two about medicine. So, I responded with all the confidence in my five-year-old body,

“I have the syph!”

I watched a number of emotions play across her face, and I knew I’d done something wrong. Something terribly, terribly wrong, and I recall shrinking in my seat. Her voice was very quiet as she asked,

“What did you just say to me, Miss Connors?”

By this point, I’m sure I was blushing like crazy. I was in huge trouble, but I had no idea why. Less certain, I said, “I have the syph?”

I promptly got sent to the principal’s office. Where I repeated exactly what I’d said to my teacher to the principal.

By this time, I knew that whatever I’d said was terrible. Was wrong. I had no idea what was wrong with it; after all, I was just repeating what my dad had told me. It’s what he always told me when he’d look in my throat or at the splinter in my finger or whatever. After all, one had to be sick or wounded to get my father’s attention.

“Baby Megs, you have the syph.” Sometimes, he’d even says, “Baby Megs, you have syphillis.”

I was five. I had no idea what syphilis was, or how one… procured… such an illness.

Anyway, the principal broke out the ruler, had me lay my palms flat. And he hit me with that ruler. Twice.

By this time, I was sobbing. I had no idea what I’d done wrong. I was painfully shy, quiet, and I wanted everyone to like me (yes, all of these things have changed. I’d like it if people liked me, but really, if you don’t, there’s not much I’m willing to do about it). I just wanted to do what everyone wanted. I was asked a question, I answered it, and I was punished for it.

“I have the syph!”

It’s funny now, like everything else… At the time, I was mortified. I’d be mortified again in seventh grade, while I had to lie to the school nurse and tell her that she was misreading the word “syphilis.” I most certainly did not have syphilis. I don’t know what I had, but I told her it was “strep.” Thankfully, my father’s handwriting is so bad that she at least pretended to buy it. By then, corporal punishment in school was illegal, so I dodged a bullet there.

But I digress. In any case, I can trace most of my reluctance to speak in class to that very moment. For years, I never volunteered information. Hell, I don’t think I began talking in class in earnest until college.

All because of syphilis.

MCC