Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

WWJSD (What Would Julia Sugarbaker Do)?

Dixie Carter gave an interview once where she expressed the opinion that being a Southern woman of a certain age was a joy, because you had full license to speak your mind.  And when she said that, I remember thinking, "Why wait?"  I decided that "a certain age" really ought to translate into "whatever age I am now."

Since then, I've found it hard to keep my Southern mouth shut.

A recent example of when I had to muzzle myself:  guy waiting for his car at the valet stand, carrying on a very loud conversation with . . . no one.  Because he was plugged into his Bluetooth.  He was yelling at someone named Jessica.  And I came this close to whipping out my own phone, holding it to my ear and carrying on one-half of an imaginary conversation as follows:

What's up?  Waiting for the valet and listening to this guy yell at some poor soul named Jessica who is probably holding the phone out LIKE THIS.  Yeah, he's on his Bluetooth.  Umm, thinning hair, medium height and build, striped oxford, khakis?

At this point, he would turn around and look at me, slackjawed, and I'd either wave at him or give him the thumbs up, and then resume my "conversation" while abruptly changing the topic to something 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

A recent example of when I didn't muzzle myself:  a local pub-style restaurant that my work friends and I frequent always has the soup of the day listed on the chalkboard by the front door.  Yesterday's selection looked interesting, so I searched the menu for "soup of the day" and found - nothing.  No soup-and-sandwich or soup-and-salad option, not a side dish or substitution item, NO MENTION OF SOUP OF ANY KIND, IN ANY CONTEXT.

So I called over the owner (who, over eighteen or so years, has come to know us pretty well, and knows what to expect).

"Hey, the soup of the day looks good."

"It is."

"Are you aware that you don't actually SELL soup?"

"I don't?"

"Well, not in terms of 'listing it on the menu and assigning it a price point.'  I mean, you may be selling incidental quantities based on anecdotal evidence that soup exists, but your menu certainly isn't doing you any favors in the soup-marketing department."

I was very upbeat and direct in my delivery.  And I could tell that he appreciated my unique blend of brutal honesty and sunniness.  As well he should!  I was doing him a SERVICE.  Just like when he printed new menus after changing locations several years back, and I asked him about the sauce on the fish sandwich:

"Tarter than what?  Regular tartar sauce?"


"The fish sandwich comes with TARTER sauce.  With an E.  So is it something different than tartar sauce, in that it is more tart?  Tart-ER?"


"Were they literate people?"

Like I say, he knows what to expect from me.

Last night, I had to fill out first-day-of-school forms for the Little Kid.  I hate this exercise, because of the sheer number of forms that require me to fill in my child's name, his student ID number, the school and the date, and then check a box confirming that, no, my child is not a migrant farmworker, or an Inuit or Aleut, or the child of a serviceperson, or sleeping on a non-relative's couch.  I understand why this information is important, but my objection is to the fact that the check-boxes come one to a page.  THIS form is just for checking yes or no to the farmworker question, and if you check no, there is a bold-type legend telling you to STOP THERE AND DON'T FILL OUT THE REST OF THE FORM.  Meaning that seven-eighths of a piece of paper just went to waste.  The Inuit Islander question appears on an entirely different form (another seven-eighths lost), and so on.  PEOPLE, CAN WE NOT CREATE A MASTER FORM WITH ONE GLOBAL QUESTION AT THE TOP?  "My child [IS/IS NOT] a migrant farm-working Inuit or Aleut sleeping on a non-relative's couch while one or both of his/her parents is deployed."  If you check "IS NOT," then you're done.  Boom.

That sound is the sound of grateful trees weeping tree-tears (would that be sap?) at my suggestion.

The form that bugs me the most is the one requesting permission to list our address and phone information in the district directory.  THERE IS NO DISTRICT DIRECTORY - and why would there be?  We live in a largish city, with a sprawling ISD comprised of a bazillion campuses.  Yet, year after year, the question is asked.  And, year after year, I check "no" on principle, and write some version of the following in the margin:


I tell myself that surely someone in the front office, or in central administration, will read my comment , actually GET IT, and mutter, "HA! Right?"  They might snort a little.  AND I WILL HAVE MADE THEIR DAY.  Yeah, I know that, more likely than not, no one ever reads my comment, and if they do, they probably don't get it.  But I don't care.  It makes me feel better to vent.  And it's sort of become a tradition.

Tradition is important to Southerners "of a certain age."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Scenes From a Wednesday Evening

Walk into the bedroom this evening, discover Little Kid has taken over said bedroom, and origami projects have taken over my bed.

Without preamble: 

"MOM.  I'm kind of in a bad mood right now."

I walk past him, enter the bathroom.  Ask him to explain.

He starts to explain.

And I cut him off.

"I'm sorry. We interrupt your bad mood in progress for this announcement.  I JUST SAT IN YOUR PEE."

[I have omitted the scream of surprise that preceded my announcement.  Mainly because I can't be bothered to figure out how to spell it phonetically.]

For the record, it was a lot of pee.  And (unfortunately) I have ample basis for comparison.

And so it is that ninety seconds after entering the house, I was in the shower.

Some time thereafter, Spouse put chicken breasts stuffed with Hatch green chile tamales into the oven for our dinner.  (By "our," I mean his and mine.  Both kids opted for something less adventurous.  I didn't fight them - mainly because we only had two chicken breasts.)

The chicken breasts were huge, and overstuffed.  They took a LONG time to cook.  Meanwhile, they filled the house with deliciousness, and made me very much aware of how hungry I was.  The weird thing is, I couldn't smell the chicken, or the chiles - just the baking tamale aroma.

No sooner had I commented on this to Spouse, Big Kid came out of his room:

"I am suddenly craving pancakes.  Or waffles.  Something in that arena."


"No.  Ick.  Toast?  I could go for toast."

"You're smelling the tamale stuffing in what Dad's cooking for us.  But, totally agreed that it's very pancake-y."

"Would you consider making pancakes at this juncture?"


"Just one pancake?"

"Even less of a fan of making one pancake than several."


"YES.  I distinctly remember seeing canned biscuits in the fridge.  Baby -"

Spouse (who was eavesdropping from a room away) was already on it.

And so it is that I washed down a tamale-stuffed chicken breast with two buttermilk biscuits tricked out with butter and honey.  And then I washed THOSE down with a delightful Cotes des Gascogne.  Because once you've gone carb, you know?

Pee-sitting incident:  water under the bridge.  Or urine under the buttocks.  Whatevs.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Apropos of Not Much: Meandering Musings for a Monday (August 11th Edition)

A baker's dozen things that make me happy after a Monday to win all Mondays:

1.  Nine year-olds who answer the phone when you call home on the way back from the doctor and insist on conversing with you in an oddly accented robot voice.  And ask "When will you be home, Mom?" and are genuinely excited about your unscheduled workday visit, circumstances notwithstanding.

2.  Sweet friends who pop in, sprawl on the bed and check up on you when they know you are sick and tired.

3.  Spouses who help you rationalize that (now that you have had a restorative steroid shot) sushi isn't really a weird thing to be craving on a terribly upset stomach because (a) I mean, you crave things FOR A REASON and (b) ginger.  Really, really good for the stomach.  So, duh.

4.  Spouses who fetch you sushi.

5.  Pancakes and margaritas.  This is what a friend who was also having a horrid day actually had for dinner this evening.  And now I really wish I had thought of it before the sushi thing.

It's now on my "near future bucket list."

6. Dogs posing in photo booths.  Best. Concept.  Ever.  (And proof of what I have always suspected:  Pomeranians are the life of the party.  And I want one.  A Pomeranian, not a dog photo booth.  Okay, possibly I do want both.  "Adopt a Pom:  Photo Booth Free With Purchase" may be the best marketing gimmick EVER.)

[Link to more awesome dog photos here.]

7.  THEM.

Like, if you set out to genetically engineer the coolest couple ever - YOU MIGHT GET THEM.

8.  Maybe, also, them?

Apparently, Gillian Anderson has been seen hanging out with David Duchovny a lot lately.  And now his divorce is final.  Never happy to see a couple split up, but if the break was inevitable . . . why NOT Mulder and Scully?  Nineties me who had a standing date with her fiancé/husband to watch every episode of "X-Files" (and actually paid to see the first movie in the theater, but not the second one) WANTS TO BELIEVE.

9.  MINISTRY OF SILLY WALKS is now an app.  And (speaking of divorce and my geekiness) John Cleese is using proceeds from the app to pay for his divorce!  Way to make the best out of a bad situation.

[This ends the geek portion of my post.  And now we turn to sports.]

10. THIS.  And Broadway Joe making stew with your mom and Archie Manning floating in space.

[Link to awesome Manning rap video here.]

11.  Hunter Pence signs.  The fact that they are clever and not mean-spirited. 

The fact that he responded by turning that last one into a meme, with an image of himself posing in a sleek convertible on a showroom floor.

And the fact that we are apparently calling all clever and not mean-spirited signs of this genre "Hunter Pence signs," EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT DIRECTED AT HUNTER PENCE.

 12.  FSU Football's questionable decision to set up a Web chat with Jameis Winston.  And insightful fan questions like:

Of all of the coaches you have played for over the years, why did you steal those crab legs?

Jameis, you went 13-0 on the football field and 2-0 in the court system.  What was your overall record?

 13.  This little girl (AKA "Bernadette Peters FROM THE FUTURE") and her relationship with her daddy. 

The fact that he sings "although" as part of the melody, she corrects him, "No, Daddy, sing 'although'" and he instantly knows that SHE IS ASKING HIM TO SING HARMONY.  The mouth trumpet sequence, and her big finish.

(The background:  the family moved to a somewhat remote part of Austria for his work.  Apparently firing off fireworks in the middle of the night to celebrate every minor holiday is a thing in this remote part of Austria.  (Having briefly lived in Austria - yeah, this doesn't surprise me.)  Fireworks were no bueno with the little one, and so Dad suggested a sing-along as a means of distracting her.)

Video here.

If you want to download the Silly Walks app, or see Jameis Winston get skewered on Twitter, just Google 'em.  I'm officially tired.  To paraphrase Natalie's mom in "Love Actually":  "Three is a lot of embedded links, David."  (For maximum effect, please read the last line in a working-class British accent.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Culturally Mormon(ish): Because Craft Closets Are So Last Year

Ripped from the pages of Southern Living's "2014 Idea House" issue, I bring you:


It's like a butler's pantry, except it's AN ENTIRE ROOM.  Where you can artfully display all of your serving pieces, and stage centerpieces and stuff for an upcoming party.


Except mine wouldn't look like this, on account of how my serving pieces are by no means matchy-matchy.  So, maybe, I'm not cut out for open-concept, but I can still covet, right?  Wait:  coveting, bad.  APPRECIATING, better.

For the record, I have an almost-clutter room.  We call it "The Larder," to differentiate it from "The Pantry," and because it's easier to direct someone to The Larder than "that wall of floor-to-ceiling 12-inch-deep cabinets that we put between the refrigerator and the door to the den because otherwise that wall would be useless space."  Technically, it's NOT a larder, because larders (as I understand them) are areas for storing food in relatively cool and dry conditions, so basically . . they're pantries.  But, whatever.  The top half of The Larder is supposed to be mine, and I do have a lot of stuff in there (dishes that we don't use that often, a punch bowl, a cookie jar shaped like a pig - like I said, NOT MATCHY-MATCHY) - stuff that you would commonly store in a butler's pantry, but, again, more than one thing called a pantry = overly confusing to male members of the household (big and small).  However, Spouse has overtaken some of "my" space and uses it as a place to hide tortilla chips, Girl Scout Cookies and other food items that he doesn't wish to share with the boys.  I think his rationale is that the place where Mom stores her punch bowl is probably the LAST place that young males would be prone to visit.  I proclaim this rationale sound.  Also, it occurs to me that, thanks to Spouse, MAYBE THE LARDER IS A LARDER AFTER ALL.

The bottom of The Larder is chock-full of pet supplies (an entire shoebox-sized plastic bin of dog bandanas!), with random stuff like spare light switch covers and cabinet knobs mixed in.  Again, not attractive, best kept hidden behind closed doors, but so grateful for the space.

When we redid the kitchen (incorporating The Official Pantry), The Hallway Broom Closet Formerly Known as The Pantry became my craft closet:

It's no Clutter Room - but only on account of the fact, that technically, it's not a room.  Any room of mind tends to be a "clutter room."

I'd like to think it's part of my charm.

Candle-Related Retraction

NOT going to buy a "Sweater Weather" candle from Bath & Body Works, because their Web site describes it as an "aromatic blend of eucalyptus, juniper berry and fresh sage."  Ick, and also, Spouse is crazy-allergic to eucalyptus. 

Frankly, I was expecting something pumpkin-based, because nothing says sweater weather to me more than pumpkin.  Fortunately, B&BW appears to have the pumpkin patch more than adequately covered, offering no less than NINE different pumpkin-based candles:

Pumpkin Apple
Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin
Caramel Pumpkin Swirl
Pumpkin Caramel Latte
Pumpkin Sugared Doughnut
Pumpkin Cupcake (pumpkin + buttercream)
Spiced Pumpkin Cider (pumpkin + apple, clementine and nutmeg)
Pumpkin Pecan Waffles (pumpkin + maple syrup and brown sugar)
Heirloom Pumpkin (pumpkin + nutmeg and brown sugar)

You might be asking yourself:  does the world need nine different types of pumpkin candles?  ABSO-BLEEPIN'-LUTELY.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It's For the Kids

Friend Melanie (amazing director of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - Fort Worth) to me: 

Kendra Scott revenue sharing night, benefiting CFF.  We get 20% of sales between 5 and 8 pm on August 5th..

Me to Spouse:

I have to buy trendy jewelry on August 5th.  IT'S FOR CHARITY.

Spouse to Me:

Well, sure.  I mean, it's basically a moral obligation.

(Yes, I realize that I won the husband lottery.)

Me to Spouse at 9 pm this evening:

You bought me the "Alexandra" in abalone shell and the "Danielle" in iridescent tangerine. 

[Photos below, for the uninitiated.]


Spouse:  Well, good for me.

Me:  Yes, you're very charitable and civic-minded.  You thought about buying the tangerine ones in the "Elle" [Elle is Danielle's petite sister], but the difference in price was only $10, and, you know, $2 of that goes to the kids, so that was that.  You also got a 15% off coupon good towards your next purchase.

Spouse:  And what else are we needing?

Me:  Well, I purposely didn't buy a necklace, because I saw you eyeing one the other day, and I know that you want to buy it for me.

Spouse:  No, you mistook intent for confusion.  It looked like [Name of Friend] had hung a single Danielle earring on a chain and attached a graduation tassel to it, and I wasn't sure if that was an actual thing or if she had gone rogue.

Me:  It's an actual thingAnd you should consider buying one before September 30th [expiration date on coupon].

[Necklace in question - the "Rayne," shown here in mystic iridescent - is below.]

[You can kind of see his point, right?]

Spouse:  I'll take that under advisement.

Me:  I also remembered to stop at Bath & Body Works, and use that coupon, and they were having a "buy three, get three free" sale on top of that, so I really cleaned up.  Small pun intended.  Oh, and I got another coupon, which I plan to use on candles.  [They have one called "Sweater Weather."  I have no idea what SW smells like, but I'm going to buy it based on the name alone, so GOOD JOB, B&BW MARKETING TEAM!]  I can give you a shopping list - you know, if you want to stop by there when you get my non-graduation-tasseled necklace.  I'm going to take a bath now, but first I'm going to do that thing where I try on different outfits with different accessories and ask your opinion.

[I didn't actually say the last part, because it's pretty much assumed.]

A few minutes later:

Me:  What do you think of this Mexican blouse with the abalone earrings and this [non-Kendra, previously owned] necklace?  You know, for tailgating.

Spouse:  I think the necklace is too much, given all of the embroidery up top.

Me:  You would be right, if my hair was down, but my hair is UP, so I can get away with the earrings AND the necklace AND the embroidery.

Spouse:  [Blank expression.]

Me:  See, when my hair is up, that's like one less accessory, and it also says "I'm kinda bohemian and devil-may-care and don't give a rat's patoot if you think I've got too much going on, because THIS IS JUST HOW I ROLL."

Spouse:  I learn something new from you every day.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Apropos of Not Much: Meandering Musings for a Monday (August 4th Edition)

As I have mentioned before, for some strange reason, I am on the American Girl catalog list.
And, for some strange reason, I am compelled to read it.  FROM COVER TO COVER.  It fascinates me.  And it makes me hate LEGOs less (although I still curse them when I step on them), because as annoying as the LEGO Store is, I feel like it's just a drop in the bucket - headache-induction-wise and expense-wise - compared to AG.
This go-round, I took particular note of "Julie's Roller Skates" ($20).  For the uninitiated, Julie is the 1970s-era American Girl doll, and as a child of the '70s I can report that these skates are ABSOLUTELY, 100% HISTORICALLY ACCURATE: 

By way of proof, I offer you the following:

My blue-and-yellow tennis shoe skates were by Braun-Bilt, and they were my most prized possession.  I wore them EVERYWHERE, including in the house.  Yes, just like Tootie on "The Facts of Life."  I tricked mine out with giant hot pink pompoms that had jingle bells in them.

The photo of "Julie's Roller Skates" ($20) in the catalog is accompanied by the following Italicized disclaimer:

Kids didn't often wear helmet in the 1970s.  Please wear a helmet whenever you skate.

Unlike "Julie's Roller Skates" ($20), this statement is historically INaccurate.  Kids NEVER wore helmets in the 1970s.  Fairly sure that helmets were not commercially available.

For the record, based on personal experience, kids in the 1970s also rode their bikes, sans helmets or adult chaperones, to the other phase of the subdivision to buy popsicles at the Stop N Go, and traversed public streets in the backs of pickup trucks and station wagons, unencumbered by safety devices of any kind.  Kid-specific rules pertaining to transportation could be accurately summed up as "flexible-to-nonexistent."

And, yet, we survived.

On the subject of survival (did you like that segue?), how did we get by for so long without One Kings Lane?   WITHOUT ONE KINGS LANE, IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT-TO-IMPOSSIBLE TO ACQUIRE FIREPLACE ACCESSORIES ONCE OWNED BY TV'S RICHIE CUNNINGHAM:

Now, Opie Taylor's andirons are merely a click - and $825, plus shipping and handling - away.

For the record, "acquire brass home décor from Steve-from-American-Graffiti" has never been on my bucket list . . . UNTIL NOW.