Tsali Epiphany

We'd ridden about 18 muddy miles on Saturday, which was a lot of fun, but my legs were still feeling like fettuccini when we started out on the "Left Loop" Sunday. This would ultimately take us about six miles up a mountain, a tough trail, especially considering I was following Biggy, who wasn't satisfied with my pace. After a particularly treacherous downhill--over stones the size of his head, he pulled me over for a pow-wow: "What gear are you riding in?" he asked. "I mean, are you actually pedaling?"

I'd expected congratulations, and here he was asking stupid questions. "I'm pedaling," I said, incredulous.

"Well, try to keep up with me. Challenge yourself. You like challenges, right?" he prodded. I was speechless. "Use a higher gear to get more power," he suggested, looking smugger by the second.

I know how gears work! I WAS pedaling. What's more, I was still in one piece, with my brains tucked safely inside my skull, quite an accomplishment for someone with the coordination of a box turtle riding a bike through quicksand. I'd come close to flying over the handlebars--a couple of times. I'd used more curse words in that three-minute descent than I'd heard in a full season of Deadwood. I deserved a trophy. Furthermore, I'd been having fun.

"And maybe you should just go ahead and assume I'm doing the best I can, considering I don't have your strength or experience," I suggested back. "And maybe you should also keep in mind that my bike is the K-Mart to your Lord & Taylor." With that last comment, we were now officially fighting. I turned up the music on my Shuffle to drown out any possible and ill-advised response he might have.

Another thousand miles, and we reached the overlook.

Sometimes the world seems colored differently, and in Tsali that was the case. I stood on the edge, caked in mud, dehydrated, wishing I'd eaten more than a bagel with sugar-free jelly for breakfast, thinking the same thing I did when I first read about giant sea worms: So much beauty and mystery I've never seen, never imagined. In North Carolina even.

Then Biggy shared his Cliff bar with me.

But here's the important part, what happened on the trip back to the trailhead. I went a little bit faster, was a tad less afraid. I was having fun again. I was listening to Roseanne Cash's new cd, Black Cadillac, and on one of the songs, you can hear an old tape of her and her father when she was a baby learning to talk. Johnny says, "Roseanne. Roseanne..." and she says, "Bye-bye-bye," and he repeats, "Bye-bye-bye." Heartbreaking.

As I listened to this, heading down the mountain, it occurred to me: What if this is all there is? One life. Only this one beautiful, tragic world. Shouldn't it be enough?

Shouldn't we make sure it is?


Don't Hate Me 'Cause I'm Here All Weekend

Friday Nostalgia

In 1979, when I was 17, I worked at Six Flags (Yes, Youth Prison Camp). I started out on "grounds," walking around with a broom and a dustpan. I opted for this position because it kept me close to the stage outside the Chevy Show, where my boyfriend's band, Toledo, played Chicago covers all day. I could keep a close eye on him while I was sweeping up cigarette butts and dreamsicle sticks. I put up with people spitting on me from the cable cars overhead okay, but the first time I was handed a shaker can of some stuff that looked like cat litter and instructed to clean up vomit, I demanded a transfer. I wanted a job where I could use my brains, I told them, so they put me at the front gate, selling tickets. There I sat all alone in a little glass booth, counting the minutes along with the pennies. Eventually, I dreamed up ways to keep myself entertained--little one act plays, starring George Washington and Andrew Jackson; changing the lyrics to songs to make them dirty (sometimes it only took altering two letters, as in my classic version of the Lionel Richie song, I Do Love You...Stiff); and one of my favorites, telling the little boys who wore Farrah tees that the shirts weren't allowed because they were considered inappropriate (you probably could have worn crotchless panties and a headdress into the park as long as you paid the admission). I'd tell them this after their moms had driven out of sight (this before cell phones), and they'd try not to cry, asking me what they should do. Then I'd offer the only possible solution in my sweetest big-sisterly voice: "You'll have to turn it inside out, and don't let security see you or they'll arrest you." These were 8- to 10-year-olds, mind you. Man, I miss that fun.

They Should Have Called It 'Vegas'

When I was growing up, Indian Hills Estates was THE place to live. Everybody who was anybody lived in one of those sprawling ranch or rambler houses, with a lawn that looked like a putting green and a patio flush against the golf course. In Indian Hills, the fathers were always home in time to get in nine holes, and the mothers volunteered in the school library and then got their nails done.

The rest of us slummed it on streets similar to the one I live on now, a hodge-podge of split levels, contemporaries, and something trying to pass as colonial. The more fortunate of us had trampolines in our front yards. Our mothers worked at Big Apple and our fathers put in long hours at Lockheed to pay for our band uniforms and then met their girlfriends at Gino's Pizza afterward.

Ah, those were simpler times.

Today, everywhere I look, they're knocking down the houses of my youth to erect those altars to excess, the McMansions. Not just a few. Three houses on two acres will be replaced by two dozen homes the size of Biltmore. It's such a regular event, we hardly notice anymore, except for Lo, who constantly mistakes a house for the mall and begs me to take her to Build-a-Bear.

I can see the appeal. Some of these homes are so enormous you could give your kids a credit card and the number to Domino's and not have to see them until their high school graduation. On the other hand, I see the dangers. Most of the new houses have hidden "media rooms" where the computer is so far removed from any family areas that they're Dateline Specials waiting to happen.

We do wonder how so many, many people can afford this lifestyle. How do they pay for Cinderella's castle and for the husbands' Boxters, the wives' Navigators, and their teens' Land Rovers that fill the five-car garages?

But more than that, we wonder why ANYONE would pay $900,000.00 for THIS:

Here are two of the ten or twelve "masterpieces" that adorn the front gate (Note the warning about the video cameras, installed after those pesky kids kept painting a mustache on Mona Lisa):

Keep in mind, these are not the largest examples of what I'm talking about. But while they may not be the Big Macs, they sure have extra cheese.

And now for the Bellagio, Venetian...


Email from Jesus Patterson

I almost never fall for spam these days. I have good filters--and good instincts when the filters don't work. I've pretty much put the world of Single Tonight, SlimDown, and Quick Cash Loans behind me. But this morning, I couldn't resist. I just loved the name and was curious to know what Jesus had to say:


Scene of the Crime: A Dramatization

By way of confession, I want to share the story of how I traumatized my poor son this past weekend. I have a long history of surprising my husband Biggy when he's working in the yard or washing the cars, etc. He's so serious about these things--like they're life or death--and he gets consumed. He gets this I-mean-business look on his face, a Do Not Disturb expression. So occasionally, when the kids aren't around, I'll flash or moon him from the windows, which for some reason still has the power to shock him. He never thinks of me as "that kind of gal." He generally thinks I'm a stick in the mud. Besides that, he has the memory of a goldfish, and he forgets the precedents.

To put this in some context, here's a poem I wrote several years ago, about the night before our wedding. It's in the new manuscript:


The architect is building
a treehouse for my children,
tool belt cinched around his soccer shorts,

with no tools in it, save
the green Bic pen, tiny arrow,
hanging from one loop.

I’m just out of the shower,
yes, a little wet, watching
from the bathroom window

as he circles the structure,
rubbing the sudden gray of his temples.
So much of what he does

is calculation: angles, levels,
risk; the thing towers. Our wedding
is tomorrow, the sun already

taking its seat. And this
is what’s important. Not his tux, which
still needs fitting; not his friends,

like boys in the woods, calling
and calling; not even his bride-to-be,
her breasts pressed against the glass.

Just this first tall promise he’s made.

Yeah, you know where this is going...

Well, Saturday, I'd just come back from jogging and was getting ready to take a shower. I'd seen Jack in the sunroom, socked in but good on the couch, watching the History Channel (Note the TV/sunroom's location in the picture below). Lo was upstairs in my bed, watching cartoons (what can I say?), and Biggy was out back, working on Lo's playhouse, that bottomless chore he began three YEARS ago.

There was no one else around. Our yard is completely isolated.

From my bathroom on the second floor, I can see the playhouse. I can also see the roof, which is pretty much right beneath the window. I suddenly have a brilliant idea.

I grab a robe and run across the hall to JackMan's room, because that window has no screen. I lock the door, drop the robe, climb to the top bunk, and crawl through the window.

Safely on the roof, I yell, "Greeeeeeeg!"

Biggy, of course, is INSIDE the playhouse and doesn't want to be bothered, so he screams, "WHAT?!"

I call again, "Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeg!"

"WHUUUUUUUUT?" He's getting really annoyed, which makes this even better.

Once more I try, "Greeeeeeeeeg!"

Then, I hear a new voice in the mix: "WHAT, MOM?! All is reduced to slow motion.

I see the top of Jack's head below the roof line. He's on the deck, walking backward to see what the fuss is about. At this very moment, Greg comes out of the playhouse.

He sees me: TANIA?!

He sees Jack: "JACK?!"

I drop to the ground that is the scorching roof (second degree burns on my hands and knees).

My son, who ordinarily wouldn't miss a single moment of "Nostradamus: 500 Years Later," who wouldn't go outside if you offered to let him be the water boy at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit photo shoot, had, for some reason, between the time I came in from my run and the time I got upstairs, decided to commune with nature.

Later, he told me, "I didn't see anything, Mom, but I can't BELIEVE you were naked in my room.

I should probably call the therapist.

Just Because I Can

I'm posting this stunning poem by Robert Hass, which is being discussed today on a Listserve I belong to.


All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you
and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.

© 1987 Robert Hass



Viva La Granny!

Yesterday, we celebrated my grandmother's 80th birthday with a big partee at Mamoo's house. It seems like yesterday that I was twelve, and we four kids--my sister, my two uncles (who were about our age), and I--were teaching my grandmother to ride a bike, her goal at turning 50. Soon after that, she would overcome her lifelong fear of water and learn to swim; at 65, she took up rollerblading, and we began to get concerned. By then, she also had a boyfriend 12 years her junior, who begged her to marry him for almost a decade--no dice. She was done with all that.

She insisted on living alone until just a few years ago, until her own dependent, her beloved cat Cindy, died a ripe old age. Then she conceded to move, splitting her time between my mother's house and my mom's brother and his wife's.

She's beautiful and stubborn, with a wicked sense of humor. I've got 37 years to get there.


Special Minus-Five Edition Nostalgia

This installment is for Sarah, who complains that my nostalgia never interests her, because I'm so old.

The whole time my kids were growing up (the first batch), this was running and re-running in the background, and the soundtrack of my life was the sound of Screech's voice.

Stolen from the web:
Saved By the Bell was one of the most popular teen shows shown on NBC. This show focused on Zack Morris and his friends: Samuel "Screech" Powers, Kelly Kapowski, Jessie Spano, A.C. Slater, and Lisa Turtle. They had adventures and funny moments at Bayside High School in Palisades, California. They often tried to fool the gullible principal, Mr. Richard Belding, but also sometimes got advice from him. They regularly hung out at a burger joint called "The Max," which was owned in first season by a magician named Max. As the years went by, they had adventures and relationships that lasted a long time. In the third season,
the gang spent the summer at Malibu Sands, an exclusive beach club owned by Mr. Carosi, and his daughter Stacey Carosi, whom Zack fell in love with. The final season saw the arrival of a new castmember, Tori Scott, who took the place of Kelly and Jessie when Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley left the show in mid-season. The show ended with the gang graduating and heading off to college in the spin-off series, Saved by the Bell: the College Years. There was also another spin-off to this show called Saved by the Bell: The New Class.


Heavens To Murgatroyd

In response to my noodlin' blog, my friend Tom sent this photo of his former PC classmate, art director Beau (man on the right), obviously an expert noodler. And Beau always seemed like such a smart guy...


Friday Nostalgia

I watched every Saturday morning from 1969-1971 and had the biggest crush on Jimmy (must have been his magic flute).

The theme song says it all:

H.R. Pufnstuf, who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf can’t do a little cause he can’t do enough.

Once upon a summertime just a dream from yesterday
A boy & his magic golden flute heard a boat from off the bay
"Come and play with me, Jimmy. Come and play with me.
And I will take you on a trip far across the sea."

But the boat belonged to a kooky old witch who had in mind the flute to snitch.
From her broom broom in the sky she watched her plans materialize.

She waved her wand. The beautiful boat was gone
The skies grew dark. The sea grew rough
And the boat sailed on and on and on and on and on and

But Pufnstuf was watching too. And knew exactly what to do
He saw the witch’s boat attack. And as the boy was fighting back

He called his rescue racer crew. As often they’d rehearsed
And off to save the boy they flew. But who would get there first?

But now the boy had washed ashore. Puf arrived to save the day
Which made the witch so mad and sore. She shook her first and screamed away.

H.R. Pufnstuf, who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf, can’t do a little cause he can’t do enough.
H.R. Pufnstuf, who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf, can’t do a little cause he can’t do enough.

Worst Mother Ever

Lo's class picnic was last night, a playground swarming with cherubic munchkins, beloved teachers, and dedicated room moms--not to mention my own family. Yet this was the ONLY picture I took:

Next, Lo brings this home from school, wherein each student in the class has created one page illustrating their assigned letter. The book is then shared with all the parents. Look closely to see what my li'l darling drew to represent the letter F.

Mamoo reminded me it could have been worse.

Yes, Mens-n-Wimmens, I still hold the title.


Don't We All?

After students made presentations this morning, one left his paper up on the bulletin board--a paper on which was written a highly personal, sensitive story he'd shared with the class. From my office, where I could see and hear everything, I heard a thoughtful classmate ask him,

"Hey Jack, ya want your truth back?"



Yes, I learn something every day at Portfolio Center. Designer/Illustrator Julie was just in Hank's office, and as one thing led to another--we went from talking about Saul Bass to the book Freakonomics to what she thought of someone's suggestion she have a pink portfolio box (much too foul to repeat), and next thing I knew, she was telling me about the sport of noodling, where men stick their arms deep into a mudbank, wiggle their fingers until a giant catfish bites, grab their guts, and pull the fish out. I wasn't buying a word of it. I had the same response I had when a class told me about sugar gliders, which they claimed were little squirrel-like animals that love sweets and fly around the room.
I called bullshit. And just as in that case, turned out I was w-r-o-n-g. These fishermen are obviously trying to earn a Darwin Award.

Anyway, I'm happy to share this wealth of knowledge with you. Use it wisely.


TV Mourning

I am in my pajamas, in bed with the dogs, watching the finale of Grey's Anatomy. I can't believe this season will be over in one hour and thirty-three minutes. This isn't as hard as the finale of Deadwood was, but very, very close. Deadwood (also on Sunday, hmmm) was the one bright spot in a pitch black year. After the last episode, I actually considered taking antidepressants.

All these years, people--my mother and my therapists--have been urging me to do just that, and I've resisted. I made it through the horrors of childhood, a marriage Vincent Price could have starred in, the war of divorce, postpartum times four...all without medication (well, okay, there was some Xanax and Ativan along the way, not to mention the rivers of chardonnay), but I wasn't sure I could survive the end of Deadwood, especially without the promise of another season (Yes, one more is coming).

As I said before, I'm pretty sure this is not going to be as bad as that, but there's still an hour and twelve minutes before I'll know. For now, I just have to wonder if Denny will get the heart, if Burke will lose the use of his cuttin' hand, and if Meredith and McDreamy will finally make it back into each other's arms.


Happy Mother's Day!

What I woke up to:

And next there was this, from George:


Food For Thought

So Lo and I are in the nail salon this morning, and I'm eavesdropping like I always do. There are two women in there together, which is not unusual--manicures, restrooms--and they're talking about where they should go to lunch. Then one of them notices the little sign that reads "Back Massage, $10 for 10 Minutes" and the conversation turns to massages. The one tells her friend, "I got the best massage ever at Chateau Elan a few weeks ago. I had to tell Frank it was a woman who gave it; I mean, an hour and a half in my hotel room... It was a Swedish massage and the guy was Swedish--tall, blonde, the biggest hands you've ever seen. He kept his oils in a little holster [She demonstrates his quick-draw]..."

I didn't ask her if she got a happy ending.

Maybe men and women are not so different, after all.

Lo's Art

Lo, cleaning out her book bag: "I call this one Green Square. The title of the next one, though, is pretty obvious. I call this Ant."


And Now For Your Friday Nostalgia

What I wanted for my 18th birthday.

Honey, I'm Home

My friend JCS is graduating from UGA tomorrow. She's just finished her Ph.D. I'm so proud of her, having witnessed the long struggle toward that goal. We've known each other since middle school; we went to UGA together for a while as undergrads, and both of us continued our educations through multiple marriages (four between us) and children (7 in all). I add them all up because, for me at least, our lives seem so entertwined. Her now-husband went to high school with mine; they both grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. Those boys were still wearing Geranimals when J and I were going on our first dates.

Yesterday, during our usual cellphone chat on my way to work, I was musing about how much she's managed to accomplish in the past few years--raising two teens and a toddler, teaching college, writing her dissertation, getting this degree. Like me, she earned her master's degree years ago, under duress, as a single mother. I used to meet her kids at the bus in the afternoons when she had class, and she helped me similarly. We've supported, encouraged, and celebrated each other for over 25 years. But back to the conversation, which eventually turned to our husbands and how they regard our successes. "He liked telling people I was working on my Ph. D," she said, "but the truth is, I think he'd rather I did the laundry."

This reminded me of last weekend, when I cleaned out the fridge for the first time in three years. Seeing those sparkling shelves, the neat rows of yogurt cartons, and the little baggies of cheese stacked in the deli drawer, Biggy fell in love with me all over again. I swear I saw cartoon hearts in his eyes and circling his head. When I got my book published--no such reaction. When I read in New York, when I became poetry editor of a respected literary journal, he tried hard to muster up some excitement, but it just oozes out naturally when the floors are spic-n-span.

The neighbor gal turns him on. She's young and cute, but that's not why. It's seeing her rake the yard, or watching her, on her knees, planting pansies around the mailbox. It doesn't matter if she's wearing sweatpants and a flannel shirt; he starts drooling.

The other day, I was standing in line to buy fried chicken at Publix. I was wearing a retro skirt like Donna Reed mighta worn, and a man practically ratcheted his head off his neck when he saw me. There was nothing overtly sexy about my outfit. The hem hit mid-calf, the shoes were flats--maybe a half-inch heel, but I might as well have been wearing leather hot pants.

He probably took that fantasy all the way to a white apron and oven mitt.

Here's something I found earlier today:

Tips for the Housewife, From a 1950's Home Ec Textbook:

1.Have dinner ready: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal - on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him, and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospects of a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed.

2.Prepare yourself: Take 15 minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift.

3.Clear away the clutter: Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up school books, toys, paper, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too.

4.Prepare the children: Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces if they are small, comb their hair, and if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

5.Minimize the noise: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of washer, dryer, dishwasher or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and be glad to see him.

6.Some Don'ts: Don't greet him with problems or complaints. Don't complain if he's late for dinner. Count this as minor compared with what he might have gone through that day.

7.Make him comfortable: Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.

8.Listen to him: You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first.

9.Make the evening his: Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment; instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and relax.

10.The goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can relax.

So here's what I want to know: More than fifty years later, have we really come no further than this? Let's hear from the men and women.


Step Into My Office

As I’ve said before, when I’m not at my house, I live here at Portfolio Center and, more specifically, in this room. At the moment, I’m going batshit, having spent all morning and early afternoon proofing the PC catalog, a tiresome, tedious task, akin to sanding toothpicks.

I did take a break for lunch with Biggy, though. We went to Chin-Chin, where I had the cashew chicken and too many of those fried straws they serve with the soup. So now I have to stop every five minutes and go upstairs for water, enough exercise, I hope, to burn off the calories (I did order STEAMED rice, after all).

Anyway, in here I’m surrounded with the things I adore: books (many sent by my generous friend--and poet--Allan Peterson), toys, pictures, music, and the comings-and-goings of some of my favorite people, students and co-workers, all of them friends, who sit in that chair to laugh or cry.

You are all welcome, dear readers, any time. Just don't mind the mess. I’m still waiting for the office elves to come clean up for me. I’ve been waiting for nearly eight years!



Lo spent most of the weekend with Mamoo, who seemed a little too happy and anxious to have her over. It's not that Mamoo isn't always quick to invite and glad about the visits, but there was an edge to the excitement this time when she called--extra early in the week, on Tuesday.

I had an inkling it might have something to do with her across-the-street-neighbor-kid, whom we'll call Tommy. The boy had banned Lo from his trampoline the previous weekend--had actually banished her to the sidelines, while all the other kids on the street took multiple turns. Well, Mamoo had witnessed this from her living room window and went over to give him what's what. Mind you, these are six-year-olds we're talking about, but Mamoo was pissed. And she wasn't about to let it go.

"I want you to drop Lo off on Saturday afternoon," she instructed, "and bring her swimsuit--the red one. Do you know what the extended forecast is?"

"Did you get a new wading pool?" I asked, beginning to worry.

"Oh no, even better. Rhonda and I were at Wal-Mart yesterday, and we found something that will teach that bratty Tommy a lesson."

Two hundred dollars, this waterslide cost her. It was like Browning's Pied Piper:

Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping, and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.

I didn't get my revenge gene from nobody, Ladies and Gentlemen.


Every Man's Fantasy

This is the closest Biggy will ever get.


I don't know what tastes so good behind Daisy's ear, but whatever it is, Stella's always coming back for more.


People Let Me Tell Ya 'Bout My Best Friend--Friday Nostalgia

Oh, how I loved The Courtship of Eddie's Father! It first aired in 1969, when I was six, and lasted until 1972, when Biggie was four. I was so jealous of Eddie, whose dad wasn't a member of the Masons or the John Birch Society. And I wanted a housekeeper like Mrs. Livingston, so I wouldn't have to rake the shag carpet myself.

My crush on Jodie Foster started here too.

Show summary from the Sitcoms Online site:

Magazine publisher (Los Angeles-based Tomorrow) Tom Corbett was one of television's many widowers saddled with the responsibility of running a motherless household. In this case his son, freckle-faced young Eddie (played by Brandon Cruz, who was seven years old when the series began), did most of the plotting. Eddie had a special penchant for getting his father romantically involved with prospective brides, which led to many warm and comic moments. Mrs. Livingston was Tom's dependable, philosophical, but sometimes confused housekeeper; Tina his secretary; and Norman Tinker a mod photographer at the magazine. Although not a regular on the show, young Jodie Foster appeared from time to time as Eddie's friend, Joey Kelly. The series was based on a novel by Mark Toby, and had a theme song ("Best Friend") written by pop singer Harry Nilsson.


The Prize for the Biggest Balls

goes to Steve Colbert, my new hero. If you haven't seen the video yet, watch the short commercial to enter the Salon site and view the spanking he gave The Administration, The Press Corps, and W Hisself.


I Do, For As Long As I Do

Today, I learned two more of my women friends are divorcing their husbands.

Another friend's was just finalized; they're still battling. So far, she's spent $50,000 in attorney's fees, and he's spent $70,000. The cost to their sons cannot be tallied, and she'll pay that for the rest of her life, the way I'll pay for my first mistake and the damage it did to my kids. None of us left our marriages easily. We fought the good fight for years, despite being lied to, cheated on, and worse.

In my experience--and my friends concur--marriage is the hardest job in the world. (Raising children, as difficult as it is, runs a distant second.)

I understand falling out of love. I even sympathize with the urge to leave the responsibilities of house, spouse, and babies behind. But what I can't fathom is the lack of respect some partners show the mothers/fathers of their children, the lack of honor for the history they've shared--the lengths people will go to in order to deceive their significant others, to have their cake and eat it too.

At the wedding we attended this past weekend, part of the traditional vows were conspicuously absent. I noticed at the rehearsal but thought they'd abbreviated for the sake of time. On Sunday, though, during the main event, it was the same: no "till death do you part." Not even "for as long as we both shall love," the twist on that promise I've heard at liberal weddings past. The basic vows just hung there, interestingly, with no real frame.

Could that be a better approach--to simply promise to love and honor each other, etc.? Might it take some of the pressure off? Maybe 'as long as we both shall live' creates such an unrealistic expectation that the first time someone screws up big-time, they worry they'll face a lifetime of punishment or that by wanting out of the marriage, they've already demolished the premise, so all bets are off--anything goes.

I'm finding it impossible to articulate what I really mean here. I guess it's just that if we stopped at promising to love, honor, respect, whatever, it might be easier to follow through. Those are basics, things we should be able to continue, even if mistakes are made along the way. Even if we end up splitting.

I saw a news show recently where they discussed our ever-increasing life expectancy (they claim 150 years, easily, a couple of generations down the road) and what that will mean to marriage and family. Imagine 120 years of your husband picking the dead skin off his feet in bed. Or a hundred years of adjustments to your wife's hormone replacements. It ain't pretty.

Still, we don't seem to be outgrowing the institution. Same-sex couples want in on the action!

I admit I want it. But I want it done right--the love, honor, and respect. I want to be cherished even.

I'll settle for as long as we live WITH EACH OTHER. That's good enough for me.

But I dream of being lucky enough to get my kids to adulthood with both parents under the same roof, and to some day look back in wonder on the hard times, to be able to write a poem like this one, by Ellen Bryant Voigt:


Forward his numb foot, back
her foot, his chin on her head,
her head on his collarbone,

during those marathons
between wars, our vivid
Dark Times, each dancer holds

the other up so he,
as the vertical heap barely
moves, or she,

eyes half-lidded, unmoored,
can rest. Why these, surviving
a decimated field?

More than a lucky fit—
not planks planed from the same
oak trunk but mortise and tenon—

it is the yoke that makes
the pair, that binds them to
their blind resolve, two kids

who thought the world was burning
itself out, and bet
on a matched disregard

for the safe and the sad—Look,
one hisses toward the flared
familiar ear, we’ve come

this far, this far, this far

Good F'n Morning!

So The Master of the Universe asked me to be here at PC for his 5:30 a.m. class, and when he still hadn't arrived at 7:30 and wouldn't answer the phone, he finally called me to say he'd FORGOTTEN. I give the man a break. He's very busy; being MOTU is no easy task. Plus, he's been out of town, judging somethingorother, and he loses track of the days when he isn't here to be reminded (He's not a logistics person). Still, I had to get up before the asscrack of dawn, pack lunches and bookbags, iron my skirt, feed the dogs, etc. etc., drive to work in the dark, during sheeot radio time, before the "adult" hour, when they can talk about who's zooming who on Q100. Then I stood out in the parking lot, watching the students play very sorry frisbee for over an hour until MyMan Todd came to open the school. But the icing on the cake of this morning came when I decided to make coffee in my office, something I haven't done in quite a while, as you can see. So much for that.


Just For Fun

The Three Cuz's--flower girl and two "ring barrels," as Lo called them, in full regalia.

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Writer, teacher, student, mom.

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