High Art (Emphasis on the "High")

I have been having that Dream again, the one where I am standing near the stage of a high school auditorium in a pair of well-fitting jeans and bright yellow Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star low-tops and a black turtleneck with a long blue sweater-coat with what looks like deceased Muppets around the collar, and I have my hair up in a tousled yet sleek bun that manages to be messy without being bumpy, and my glasses are clear frosted rhinestone encrusted cat's-eye numbers and they look good, and I have between my fingers a long 20's-style cigarette holder and nobody is giving me any shit about smoking indoors, because I AM AN ARTISTE, dammit, and I am the director of the Best Goddamned Community Fucking Christmas Pageant Ever.

And yes, I know EXACTLY how many things are wrong with that paragraph, not the least of which is the fact that it is absolutely the run-on sentence from holy hell.

ANYWAY. One of these days I will tell you in great and embarrassing detail about TBGCFCPE, because in my head I have the whole thing planned out, but in the meantime, let me share with you someone else's Vision of Pure Entertainment Perfection:

via NPR's Monkey See Blog

I am struck, primarily, by the following:

(1) HOLY SHIT, THIS IS REAL. I mean, video of it exists on the Internet, so it HAS to be real, right?

(2) The backup dancers' outfits would make more sense if they included Solid-Gold-Dancer-style tinsel wigs instead of those ridiculous clown mops.

(3) I really, really love Florence Henderson's dress, in all seriousness, and if I could get it in my size, in a slightly more A-line cut, and with a shorter hem, I would totally wear that to the company Christmas party.

(4) You know you are a sad, irreparable dork when the woman who plays Alice, dressed as a duck, is way cooler than you are, Peter Brady.

(5) When I win the lottery and I buy my Pleasure Palace in Cabo, I am ABSOLUTELY going to make sure that I build my own personal nightclub, and it is going to look like this set.


(Sorry, but the Management of this Blog is unable to provide you with brain bleach after reading this post. Please consult your nearest mental health practitioner or drink Jaegermeister until you numb the pain.)


She Runs Away

The pictures from yesterday did not come out all that great because the light was bad -- rainy and twilight -- plus I am not feeling 100% today so I don't have anything witty to say, so this will have to tide you over until I get my groove back.

Dancing Queen

You can barely tell, but these pictures are post-haircut. And yes, she is wearing a dress -- a little Laura Ashley number that I picked up at TJ Maxx.


Shave and a Haircut

We took Shae in to get a haircut this morning. Yes, I do appreciate the irony of doing this after school picture day. But that's one the of things about being a terrible, inappopriate parent, isn't it? Having the gift of cosmically bad timing?


She posed for this mugshot before we left. She was actually very excited about getting a haircut, and she asked us when Mommy and Daddy were going to get haircuts. Like, good going, kid, like your mother isn't already neurotic enough, now I need to worry about what you think of my hair?


Last time she got her hair cut, it was before her birthday. This time they gave her a shampoo and condition in the big sink, because her hair is just so coarse and curly and damaged from the sun and chlorine all summer that a spray bottle wasn't going to cut it. Shae thought this was hysterically funny.


This time, she sat on the booster seat all by herself. She really was phenomenal; every time we go out somewhere, I am impressed with how well-behaved she is. Complete strangers were fawning over her. It's always great to see and hear (especially after the morning we had, which was ... not good).


She didn't cry, she wasn't scared of the scissors, nothing. She wouldn't sit completely still, of course, but she did a decent job, even after she got the hiccups, which kept cracking her up.

Long & Strong

And I didn't realize how much she really needed that haircut. Look how long her hair was! And if you look carefully (and perhaps click in the picture to blow it u), you can see her split ends.

Oh, and you know what I didn't take pictures of? THE AFTER.Worst. Parent. EVER!


Hot for Teacher

(Oh God, this one of those stupid walls of text: sorry.)

Photo from Panoramio.

That's a picture of Cottingham Stadium, "Home of the Red Rovers." This was supposed to be a "WTF!? Friday" about high school football. But while I was looking for pictures of the stadium, and then my high school, and then people I went to high school with, somewhere along the way I took a very sharp left turn and ended up discovering through my awesome Google-fu (and also patience, as this information was buried several pages deep in the links) that one of my very favorite teachers from high school is now a visiting faculty member at Wilkes University.

This doesn't surprise me in the least -- when I think back on his class (which was actually 8th grade, not technically high school, and perhaps that makes this story better, in a way), I always remember how much smarter he always seemed than any of my other teachers. Although I could not have possibly known it at the time, having never seen the movie (because I was a good girl and also I don't think we had a VCR, and I know for sure that we didn't have HBO), this teacher was very much Donald-Sutherland-in-Animal-House, albeit without the drugs ... I think. He certainly never encouraged me to use any, for whatever that is worth.

One thing I remember is how he loved shaking up the "establishment" of Enriched kids. This teacher used to change his seating chart every 5 weeks, based on your placement in the class. Students with better grades ended up in the back of the room, and the ones who needed more help were in the front. I transferred into his class two weeks into the marking period, so I ended up in the front by default, which is where all these "gifted" kids who had known each other since elementary school thought I belonged. I was practically a foreigner to them, and they all thought I was beneath them (especially the girl who would eventually become the Salutatorian of our class, who quite frankly I never thought was anything less than a bitch, anyway -- funny how the uber-religious turn out like that, isn't it?).

Anyway. I was only in class for three weeks before the seating change. Other students in the class used to snigger at me when I had to diagram sentences on the chalkboard, because rather than just do what I was asked, I always had follow-up questions: what if there is a semi-colon? what if that "if" is changed to "when"? wouldn't it just make more sense to turn this mess into two separate sentences, instead of this compound-complex monstrosity with passive voice and verb tense problems? The other kids hated it -- secretly I think most of the time they had NO IDEA what I was talking about -- but I know my teacher loved it.

Which is why he made a Very Big Deal out of the fact that, when he did the first classroom re-org in October, I ended up in the far back corner, the seat reserved for "Patient Zero," as he called me. I stayed in that seat for the entire rest of the school year, which just about pissed everyone right off.

That was the point at which I decided that these people might have more money than me, and they might be prettier than me, and they might have more friends and fancier pedigrees and maybe they might even actually be better than me, but by God: I was fucking smarter than all these bitches.

So I suppose you can see why I haven't been to a high school reunion yet. Been out of high school for 17 years, and I am still bitter.

Oh, what did I learn in that class? Don't remember. We read Great Expectations and Jonathan Livingston Seagull and wrote papers on the meaning of life (mine was "live well, laugh often, love much"). Mostly I recall this teacher very fondly because he was the first adult who treated me, even at 13 years old, like a Person with Potential and not just some punk kid. He empowered me, demanded that I work harder and be smarter and think different, and even though I can't always put an exact finger on what he taught me, I still can tell you exactly what his greatest lesson was:

Girl? You are fucking awesome, and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise, because you and I? We know the Truth.

And when I have those days when I want to quit my crappy cubicle job, when I get disgusted because my scratch-and-win early retirement plan isn't working, and when I think about what I want to do "when I grow up," when I am ready to have a job that my daughter and my husband can be proud of me for?

On those days, I want to be an 8th grade English teacher, just like Mr. Grier. Because he stepped in and saved me before it was too late, and I can't think of any better want to repay the favor than to be just like him.


Our Statistician Is Marge Innovera

I had to go get Shae some new clothes yesterday, because she's growing like a weed and none of her pants fit any more. (Yes, I know this is boring.) This has been an ongoing problem for us, this "new clothes every six months" thing, because she's kind of a tomboy (or perhaps Mommy is projecting?) and nothing seems quite "right" because everything seems to be violently pink and overtly sexual, even for the toddlers.

I mean, really: in what particular circumstances, honestly, would a bare midriff and low-rise pants be appropriate on a two-year-old in October? Or ever, for that matter? (Guess who hates low-rise pants because OH MY GOD the sciatica? And also OH MY GOD the love handles?)

Anyway, we're lucky to have a designer outlet mall near us, and in one of the shops there, I saw this dress --

I really kind of dig it, but I opted not to get it. Now I think I might be regretting changing my mind, but I just don't know. (Go figure.) I was going to get a pair of gray stockings for Shae to wear under it (and I already have a pair of purple leggings from the same store which would also match), and she has this adorable pair of sparkly purple sneakers that she could wear with it.

But I think my husband will hate it (and he definitely won't know what to do with her hair). Since I won the pick-'em football pool this week, I am thinking about going back and picking it up with the cash.

(Incidentally, I think I could rock the shit out of this, because it's totally my cup of Earl Grey ... if they made it in my size, which of course they do NOT, because why should a woman with real hips and actual breasts be allowed to wear anything cute? FASCISTS.)

So ... ?


Coolin' At The Playground

Saturday was a nice day, one of those gorgeous late-spring-slash-early-autumn days that makes you forget what season it actually is. Kind of like most of this summer has been: clear, cool, clean.

Clown Hair

So I really have no excuse for taking my child out in public with this ridiculous clown hair action that she's got going on in some of these pictures. I'd like to blame my husband, but that isn't fair: he's a boy, and he has his limitations. He doesn't really know how to work barrettes, even if he is an engineer. It's like knowing all the words to "I Will Survive" by heart: there are just some things that we girls have embedded in our DNA.

Natural Ingredients

I think maybe it's time for a haircut. I know split ends when I see them, since that's my hair's default condition. (That, and roots halfway down my head.) It's been a while, anyway -- I don't think Shae's gotten a trim since before her birthday. She's got great hair, but it is a little dry from spending so much time in the sun and the chlorine.

Swing Swing

These pictures were taken at the playground at March Elementary School, a couple of blocks from my mother-in-law's house. They recently did major renovations to the school, and while I am not crazy about what they did to the building (I was a huge fan of the original native stone fa├žade, and the new light brick exterior looks too bright and modern, and out-of-place in a neighborhood filled with old "painted ladies"), the revamped playground is pretty cool. And I do love the mosaic in the background here -- not sure if this is new, or what, but I really dig it.


Build Me Up Buttercup

Shae did a little gardening yesterday at my grandparents'. (Of course by "gardening" I actually mean "sitting in the dirt pulling out things that I hope to God aren't heirloom flowers.")


I love the gloves here. She saw my mother wearing a pair of gardening gloves, and so Shae needed gloves too. And while I probably have toddler-sized garden gloves somewhere in this festering ghetto black hole that we call a home ... wait, what was I saying? Anyway. Shae's gloves are my grandmother's winter "smoking gloves" that she leaves in the garage.


Oh, and by the way? How is it possible that this kid looks more and more like My Anonymous Mother everyday? Even my nephew Joey who is actually biologically related does not look this much like my mother.

Spit and Image of My Mother

It's creepy. I'd take my blood to the lab and demand a maternity test, but I know my mother is my mother because she gave me the migraines and the congenital crazies. And the Shively upper lip.


WTF!? Friday: Gleaming, Streaming, Flaxen, Waxen

I'm usually not really sure what I'm going to blog about until I actually start writing, but I assure you, I never in a million bajillion years thought that I would ever take up valuable bandwith talking about ... oh my God, I can't even say it, so here: let me show you instead.

This lovely woman is Shannon Waters, and she's a contestant on "Survivor: Samoa," the current (19th!!) season of one of my favorite shows. She's 45, from Renton, Washington, and she is the first female Marine Sergeant to play the game. At the moment, she does not annoy me, so she is allowed to live.

And let's not avoid the elephant in the room: she is also rocking one of the world's most spectacular fe-mullets.

Is this ... a thing, now? Because I am seeing more and more fe-mullets in the wild (if you can consider my office building in the suburbs, just off the Main Line, to be the "the wild"), and I would be remiss if I did not admit to being more than a little bit ... horrified. Scared for my life, even.

I am not really one to judge people on the basis of their hair; I myself have locks that are, on a good day, the approximate color and texture of moldy hay. My hair is baby-fine and poker-straight and, lately, ponytail-resistant. The Guinness people have not yet certified my collection, but I believe that I have one of the largest collections of scrunchies still in captivity, and I don't care if they "went out of style" five or five hundred years ago -- they can have them when they pry them from my cold, dead hands.

Damn dirty apes.

But this whole mullet thing, I just do not understand. A girl I know, who is young and tall and thin and stylish and probably lovely enough to win "America's Next Top Model," she recently got her hair cut into a sort of mullet-y ... thing. I don't know how else to describe it. She loves it, so I am in no position to judge, but I just don't get it. Like, she deliberately paid someone large American dollars to do that to her head? She wants people to mistake her for a hockey fan -- or worse, for a Canadian?

And don't even get me started on the return of leggings and, for the love of God, fucking stirrup pants. No, thank you. If this is what is passing for style these days, then I will continue to dress like Dorothy Zbornak in a bad Ann Jillian wig. Plus, everybody knows that there is really only one woman on Earth who actually looks good in a mullet, anyway:


If I Could Talk To The Animals

Much to our man-child monkey-cat's infinite delight, Shae has discovered where we keep the stashes of treats.


The girls are still afraid of her, even when she has goodies, but she's Owen's best friend in the world.


A House Is Not A Home

Way back when, I promised pictures of Shae's bedroom once I was done redecorating it to accommodate the big girl bed. Um, looks like I never did that, so I guess now that we have a new wardrobe and hanging lamp from Ikea, it might be a good time to give you the grand tour.


Here is what the bed looks like these days (L-R, mostly): Little Nutbrown Hare, a dalmatian Beanie Baby, Bedtime Bear, Cheer Bear, Gentle Heart Lamb (a Care Bear Cousin), Grumpy Bear, a stuffed cat, Linny from Wonder Pets!, a Cabbage Patch doll that Shae got for her 1st birthday but whose name we can't remember so she is called "Baby,"* a sock monkey that Shae calls "Monkeyhat," a stuffed crocodile, one of G's old Garfield toys, the stuffed bear that I got at my baby shower at work, and a stuffed dog that G gave me while we were still dating.

Yes, she actually sleeps in this bed.

Under all that mess are the "polka dot fairy princess flower butterfly" sheets (that's what she calls them), and at the foot of the bed is a "Nannie Hallman blanket." Shae can't say "Haldaman" yet. In these pictures I can tell how badly we need a dust ruffle -- I'll have to work on that tomorrow.

Girly Tchochkes

Probably the girliest stuff in the room are the things hanging over her bed -- a couple of tchochkes from her Easter basket, some ribbons from a bouquet of flowers that she got from my mother-in-law on Adoption Day, and her bouquet from my sister's wedding. We also have kite tails hanging in her room.


The night stand. You've seen the switchplate before. She knows most of those books by heart already. And that's our "travel monster," there on the right -- we take him with us when we go anywhere, because he fits in the side pocket of the diaper bag or, in a pinch, a jeans pocket.


Shae's name, in "lights." This is probably her favorite thing in the room, because she knows what it says. My mom picked these letters up for cheap at a yard sale or something -- they're some kind of foam that I painted and then coated with glitter paint.


The dressers. These were (one of?) my sisters'. A bed and at least one dresser to match are in my parents' house -- they've made up a room for Shae for when she sleeps over. I wanted to give Shae my old bedroom furniture, but that suite has a double bed, so it's probably going to end up in a guest room at some point in the future when we buy a house that isn't so damned small.

Hot Corner

Here's the new wardrobe and lamp in action, next to the bookcase full of books that I won't let Shae touch yet. I know, I know, I'm a terrible mother -- but I have complete sets of Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Unfortunate Events, and Septimus Heap novels, which are out of her age range, and I don't want them destroyed. (She's not really interested in them yet, anyway, since most of "my" books have minimal pictures.) Someday she's going to have the best damn kid's library ever.

Touchdown Dance

Shae really likes her new room, even though it's the same room with the dirt just moved around. (Yeah, that last picture is completely gratuitous.)

* = And you'll notice that even in a toddler room, nobody puts Baby in the corner. RIP, Johnny Castle.


This Would Have Been My WTF!? Friday Item If I Had Known About It At The Time

This is for real? This is for goddamn real? Chad Johnson really and actually changed his name to Chad Ochocinco? For effing serious? I mean, it must be true, because it's on Wikipedia, right?

That shit is just retarded. And you know how I feel about that word, so that is saying something.


WTF!? Friday: My So-Called Life

That mess right there is my official-as-of-this-moment fall TV viewing grid, and the title of this post could also be: "OMFG, she actually watches that shit?" because -- yes. Yes I do. Somebody has to, and it might as well be me. I'm willing to take one for the team. You're welcome.

It's kind of funny -- I have a degree in writing for television, and while I don't think it's going to waste (those emails to salespeople aren't going to script themselves, you know), it's pretty fair to say that I am not "living up to my potential." Sort of makes it more ironic that a good 20% of the shows on my schedule are reality shows, no?

And anyway, this isn't the full list of what I'll be watching. Some of our regular programs (Chuck, The Closer, In Plain Sight, and Psych) are done for now and won't be back until late in the fall or early in the spring. And at least two of these shows (NCIS: LA and The Good Wife) and possibly four (Modern Family and Community) night get scrapped if we don't like them.

I also didn't include my current guilty pleasure, which is on FoodTV on ... well, I have no idea when, but my TiVo catches it, and that is what matters: What Would Brian Boitano Do Make? Holy crap, you guys. If you like funny stuff, and people with actual personalities, and cooking shows for complete dilettantes, then I recommend checking it out. It's good, and you'll actually make at least some of what they feature on the show. (Unless you're busy watching 358 hours of TV a week, most of them targeted at the pre-K demographic.)

With all of the said: is there some kind of curse on Tuesday nights or something? Are programming execs expecting the entire television audience to have MNF football hangovers? Why is there virtually nothing to watch that day? I only have two TiVo conflicts this season (Weds. at 9:00 and Thurs. at 9:30), so I'm not complaining much, but why? Why can't somebody just move those shows to Tuesdays, which are by most accounts a total wasteland?

Also, you might notice that I will only be watching one show on NBC this year, and that one is only a half-hour comedy (which, as I mentioned, might not even make the cut). This is because NBC is apparently run by brain-damaged space aliens who think that taking up five hours per week of prime-time programming with that bullshit Jay Leno program is a good idea. Dillweeds. Making me wait until March for Chuck. That is some kind of asshattery, right there, and don't think I don't notice.

(For the record, I'd skip NBC entirely until my beloved Zachary Levi comes back, but Joel McHale owns the part of my soul that doesn't already belong to Mark Burnett or Jerry Bruckheimer.)

Oh, and one more thing -- Dear Lifetime, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BROADCAST IN HD, YOU LOONS. Project Runway is sumptuous, Tim Gunn is a demi-god who deserves better, and YOU CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FABRICS OR COLORS IN STANDARD DEFINITION. What is WRONG with you people? Those of us who followed the show from Bravo have high standards that you are not achieving. Work on it. xoxo, rockle.

So ... what are you watching?


Jungle Fever

Yet another inappropriate post title -- sorry! -- but the only other thing these pictures make me think of is The Byrds' "Turn! Turn! Turn!" which is all Biblical and Ecclesiastes and depressing and I am not yet prepared to recognize that the so-called summer is over and fall is coming.

Jungle Fever

We spent part of Labor Day weekend at my uncle's (again). You can see the changes in the yard as we get closer to the cold weather -- the flower beds are tall and leggy, not the bright green of early summer, but brownish now that they are spent after a summer of blooming and being gorgeous.

Tropical Foliage

Kind of like my kid, who is all leggy and brownish and gorgeous, after a summer spent blooming. She won't stop growing for the winter though.

Botanist in Training

She wants to know if she can grow flowers in her room. Somehow, she already understands that flowers grow from seeds, and plants have seeds, and plants also have leaves, and so if she brings home some leaves she will have her own flowers. It's kind of hard to argue with that logic, even if it isn't exactly right -- she's a smart one, that kid. I blame Noggin, because she sure as hell didn't get that from us.

One of Her Patented Smiles

(This picture is just here because it's awesome and I love it. Her smiles are my whole world.)


Cupcake Calendar: September


I'll start off by saying this: sorry about the logo in the background. Next year's calendar will be much better, at least as far as removal of trademark symbols is concerned.

This page totally contains a cheat. (Me? Cheat? Take the easy way out of anything? Preposterous! Lies, slander, and libel!) The picture on the left is from September of 2008 -- it was Shae's very first school picture (taken in September but not posted until we finally got them back from Lifetouch) -- but the picture on the right was actually taken in October, at Phil and Kim's wedding.

I hardly recognize this kid anymore. I keep saying that, I know, but I just can't believe how much older, how much more mature, how much more grown up, she looks now. She's not my baby any more; she's my big girl. And I can't deal with that very well, sometimes, without pharmaceutical assistance.

But I also see three other things in these pictures: two fantastically adorable dresses that she only got to wear once each before she outgrew them (especially that little green Laura Ashley number, which my dad picked out), and also a new beginning.

Because somewhere in here, around the time that our court order was approved and we were allowed to take Shae with us to Tennessee, was right around the time when we realized that the end was near. It would be more than six months after these pictures were taken that we would be able to finalize our adoption, but not much longer than that.


Never Was a Cloudy Day

O hai! *waves* It's the middle of the night and officially Saturday now and I should have been asleep, like, literally yesterday. Later on, when the sun comes up in a couple of hours, I'll be picnicking and gallivanting and wreaking my usual sort of havoc, PLUS it's Nanapalooza and stuff, so here is today's post, featuring (1) the latest in home video recording technology, (2) My Anonymous Mother, and (3) a toddler doing both the backstroke AND a backflip. YOU'RE WELCOME.

I do these things because I love you people, you know.

Whatever you're doing this weekend, be safe and be careful. And for the love of God: have a drink for me, too, okay?


WTF!? Friday: September Already?

I can't believe that this weekend is Labor Day Weekend.

Glamour Shot

The unofficial end of summer.

Tall Grass

Wasn't it just Memorial Day, like, a week ago?

Miles of Smiles

Where has the time gone?


I am not prepared for this.

My Two Favorites

Better try to get in one last gasp, before it is all gone.


Vacation Recap, Part Three Hundred and Seventy-Eight or Something: Thursday Night

So, my recaps of our mini-vacation have officially taken three times as long as the actual vacation. Life: I'm doing it wrong. Snerk.


Apparently there is this place? In Beach Haven? Called Fantasy Island Amusement Park? And it's been there for 25 years? And I've never heard of it before? Yeah. It's cute. They have a teacup ride, and Shae loved it. (Me too, but I cut myself out of the picture, so nobody can prove it, bwahahahaha.)


They also had this "traffic jam" ride with a shiny sparkly fire truck. Shae liked that, too, even though I know that in real life traffic sucks, and anyway, I wanted her to go on the old-fashioned jalopy-slash-dune-buggy looking thing. These kids today, with their wanting to make up their own minds ... get off my lawn!

Creepy Goofy Boat

And there was this so-called "boat" ride, which (1) did not involve any actual water or anything, and (2) featured this creepy looking Goofy boat with this gaping mouth and these strange light-up eyes that, as you can see, even Shae did not like. (Liked the ride, not the creepy boat.)

Carousel 1

Of course there was a merry-go-round. Otherwise what would be the point? We went on the carousel twice in a row. Shae was very tired at this point -- it's like 8:30 at night or something here, and this is the second night in a row that she's out past her bedtime -- but she saw those horsies and had to go on.

Carousel 2

And who am I to not make a little girl very happy?


Vacation Recap, Part Three: Thursday Evening

We spent Thursday evening by the bay, near the Brant Beach Yacht Club, while my cousins and my uncle went crab fishing, using chicken marinated in salt water for bait.

Brant Beach Yacht Club

They don't call it "the magic hour" for nothing.

Duck Hunt
Magic Hour

No, they most certainly do not.