In the car, after picking Lola up from school:

TR: Guess what?! My toenail's coming off.

Lo: Ew, why's it coming off?

TR: I don't know. I noticed it in the shower this morning. It's not all the way off yet; it's hanging.

Lo: Diss-gust-ting! Why did you have to tell me?

TR: I just wanted to share.

Lo: Hold on. (silence...silence...silence...) I just farted. I wanted to share that with you.


The Joys of Teaching Second Grade

Lola had informed me long before the conference last week that her class was pretty much the worst one in the school. I figured Lo was exaggerating, but when I mentioned it to her teacher, Ms. C confirmed it and, at my slight cluck of sympathy, gushed forth with the whole sad story, including her emerging shingles.

Today, then, when Greg and I were in the car with Lola and she asked us if we knew Ms. C'd had to go to the doctor, we nodded yes.

Lo: Do you know WHY she had to go?

TR: Do you?

Lo: Stress.

TR: Mmm-hmmm.

Lo: Did she tell you why she had stress?

TR: Did she tell YA'LL why?

Lo: She told us she lives alone with a cat. So it's nothing at home.


There's No Such Thing as a Stupid Question

Brief exchange between my son and me:

TR: I didn't tell you--Greg and I bought a sectional sofa; it's being delivered tomorrow.

JackMan: What the heck is a sexual sofa?


There Will Be Blood

Biggy and I saw this on Saturday. When it ended, he and I both sat there laughing. When we could stop laughing, we looked at each other and asked, "Really?" over and over. 48 hours later, I still don't honestly know whether I liked it or not.


Mamoo to the Rescue

When I went to pick Lola up from my mom today, I was given a little package.

Nice try. But unless it's furred or flanneled, it goes in the bottom drawer until May.


Friday Nostalgia

Oh, the promises! Ah, the bitter disappointment.


Rock, Hard Place

Not only was yesterday Lo's hundredth day of school this year; it was also teacher/parent conferences. Biggy had a meeting, so I was elected to attend. Here's the call I made to my husband on the way:

TR: Hey, you don't know how much I HATE to ask you this, but it would be even worse to have to ask those ladies in the office.

Biggy: What?!

TR: Where's Lola's classroom?

Biggy: Wow, I wish I had a blog.


More Granny Gown Adventures

Today was the 100th day of school, so Lo's class was asked to dress up like centagenarians in honor of the occasion. Of course, we had just the costume! Add some gray hairspray, a pair of spectacles, and a walking cane, and voila!--a girfriend for Methuselah.

Once the kids got on the bus this morning, this exchange took place between Biggy and the husband from Thefamilydownthestreet:

H: Is that THE gown?

Biggy: That's it.

H: It's worse in real life.

Biggy: Yeah, pictures don't do it justice.

H: It's definitely a No "Fun" Zone. I can't believe you haven't burned it yet.


A Couple of Thoughts

1. When the cultural anthropologists of the future study today's SPAM, they're going to believe that all 21st century men secretly longed for a bigger penis and a replica watch.

2. Whoever came to my blog by googling "soft porn older granny" needs to get some help.


Rest in Peace, Shirley.

The Peace of Wild Things
--Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

*For lack of wood drakes and tolerance for the cold, I just sit by the cages of small, sweet, domesticated animals.

Where I Could Go

American Cities That Best Fit You:

70% Honolulu

65% Austin

60% Atlanta

60% Miami

55% San Diego


Serious Discussion

TR: Greg, I really want to move somewhere that's warm year-round.

Biggy: You wouldn't like it. Then you'd complain that you miss the change of seasons.

TR: Oh, please. Don't confuse me with yourself. I only like spring and summer--and can only tolerate fall for as long as I can wear my clogs without socks. You can have winter.

Biggy: Well, I don't want to move.

TR (gathering courage): So, what would you think about my living somewhere else for three months out of the year?

Biggy: SOLD!


Saturday Things You Might Not Know

Tommy Lee Jones and Al Gore were roomies at Harvard. Jones also roomed with John Lithgow.

Or was I the last to know this?

The Gap's New Branding Strategy


Getting What's Coming to Me

I usually listen to Q100's The Bert Show on my way to work in the mornings. More than half the time, the Bert Show blows, being a cross between a Jerry Lewis telethon and the Jerry Springer show, with the very worst of The View thrown in. Other times, however, it's like one of those rare and beautiful AA meetings where they actually have Splenda for the coffee and the stories rival Faulkner. During these other times, I can endure Melissa's freaky cackling over Jeff's stale fart jokes, Bert's self-aggrandizing over his good deeds, and Jenn's bawling because her friends with children don't properly appreciate her professional status. Why? Because the man who agreed to take the heat for his neighbor who was surfing midget porn makes it worth my suffering.

Regardless of the content, though, one thing is always the same. The hosts of the show butcher American English, screwing the most fundamental rules of grammar, using words that don't exist, and exhibiting all the command of a high school cheerleader with a reading tutor. And I'm not talking about the abysmal "conversate," which some argue for as colloquial. Think concoctions like "comfortability." Then heap every possible permutation of "get my blank on": Get my drink on, get my party on, get my tan on, get my smooth on, get my sex on...These folks are in their mid-thirties, mind you, and they still use "like" every other word and refer to each other as "dude," bad habits I try hard to ignore for the pleasure of hearing the caller who plans to crash the quinceanera of the teen her husband is seeing on the side.

Yesterday, though, I guess the lackluster interview with Andrew Morton wasn't satisfying enough to make it worth overlooking the show's faults. I snapped. What can I say? I rushed off an email to Jenn Hobby--a rant, if you will, that made her none too happy. Her heartfelt response has inspired me to take pause. In the service of full disclosure, I thought I should share our correspondence:

From: tania@portfoliocenter.com
Subject: Raising the Bar
Date: January 17, 2008 11:56:28 AM EST
To: JHobby@AllTheHitsQ100.com

Since Q100 is about to reach even more listeners, you might consider a little grammar refresher course. This morning, for instance, you said, "Melissa and I's interview with ...."
and you referred to the Tom Cruise biography as a "novel" during the interview itself. You do that me/I thing all the time, by the way--all of you, and it's extremely annoying.

It should have been Melissa's and my interview...Or if that's too complicated, try simply OUR interview.

Here's a tip: Mom took Melissa and ME to the store. (Mom took Melissa to the store. Mom took me to the store. Mom did not take I to the store.)

However, Melissa and I are going to the store. (Melissa is going to the store. I am going to the store. Me ain't going to the store.)

I love reality TV and listening to radio shows like yours to hear about the ridiculous situations people get themselves into. It's fun and entertaining. Your listeners/callers are really the stars of the show. I'm not some cerebral smarty-pants, in other words. But you guys, taking the lead, should do your best not to make the South look like a bunch of idiots lacking in basic language skills.

From: jenn@allthehitsq100.com
Subject: Re: Raising the Bar
Date: January 17, 2008 9:35:49 PM EST
To: tania@portfoliocenter.com

I would be happy to accept your criticism, if it didn't come with so much condescension. I was nervous in the hosting role today and was doing my best. If I mixed up my words and it irritated you, I apologize and will certainly try to improve. I would, however, challenge you to remember your own short comings before you click send on such a mean-spirited message in the future. You are sitting upon quite an ugly high horse. The view from up there must be blurring your memory of manners and common courtesy.

From: tania@portfoliocenter.com
Subject: Re: Raising the Bar
Date: January 17, 2008 10:31:47 PM EST
To: jenn@allthehitsq100.com

Dear Jenn,

I'll give that some thought and try to work on my manners. But shortcomings is one word.



Friday Nostalgia

Laverne and Shirley, 1976-1983

Tree, Acorn, and All That....

(This afternoon, Georgia called me):

Georgia: You never told me that when you get a pap test, they pull something OUT of you!!

TR: They just go in there with a cotton swab, George.

Georgia: Not according to K. She just got back from the doctor, where she was traumatized. They pulled out a hunk of her flesh and then said it wasn't big enough and went back and got another.

TR: They must have been doing a biopsy. Maybe they saw something odd. I mean, no one has ever done that to me.

(The conversation went on for a few more minutes before my daughter cut me off.)

Georgia: Well, I told her I'd asked you if that was normal and call her back.

(I got off the phone wondering if times had changed or if I could have blocked out something like that. A little later, I received an email from George with the transcript of the girls' next conversation):

K: Hey, what are you doing?

Georgia: Just got out of class early, waiting for another one at 2, you?

K: Absolutely nothing. I've been watching t.v all day, How did that conversation go with your mom??

Georgia: She said I need to Google Pap Smear because what you got was NOT a pap smear. She was astounded by the tweezing bit.

K: ewwww! Don't google it! Maybe it was called a culture sample....But I thought everyone did that...OMG if I didn't need that!

Georgia: She said shes never heard of that, and I got second AND third opinions who have never heard of that either. Your doctor is a sadist....

K: I'm so mad..I got molested by my gyno!

Georgia: and tweezed!!

K: Georgia! I don't want to have the same doctor anymore, she didn't even NEED to do that at all!! She just wanted to! She TOLD me that, shes is a FREAK, whyy me?!?!

Georgia: Why did she do it then?....more importantly, why did you LET her?!

K: I told her I didn;t want her to, and she was like, well it wouldnt hurt to just get it examined, and i didnt think that she would TWEEZE me!

Georgia: I think if your gyno gets enjoyment out of your pain and humiliation, its time to try another one on for size.

K: Seriously, and i STILL havent had my period, I have to call her today. Why cant my body be normal so I dont need to keep going back there? It will be my FOURTH time!

Georgia: Well, never is better than every two weeks... unless you're harvesting a fetus...

K:...God I hope thats not whats happening....

Georgia: God me too!

K: You should probably go, every two weeks is just not....right...

G: After your traumas!? No, way, I don't want my vag tweezed


Biggy is fixing his Eggo's in the kitchen, from where he can see the goings-on in the sunroom, where I am. Fay is tossing and rolling in something small and brown on the floor, and I'm feeding all the rodents:

Biggy: What's Fay got--a bug?

TR: No, it's a piece of dog food. She pretends it's alive.

Biggy: Stupid dog.

TR: She's not stupid; she has a good imagination. something you wouldn't know about.

Biggy: Have you given the guinea pigs anything to chew on?

TR: I'm taking good care of them; don't you worry.

Biggy: You know, you're going to be one of those old ladies with, like, a hundred cats and shit everywhere.

TR: Is that all you've got, really? Did you come up with that all by yourself?

Biggy: (silence)

TR: Make sure you leave the butter on the counter so I can put it up like I do every morning. I wouldn't want you to stretch your imagination and think of something else to do with it.



Monday night, as we're getting to the table, and Biggy's wrestling the remote away from Lola, who's tuned in to Josh and Drake on Nickelodeon:

Lo: This is my show!

Biggy: We're going to watch something everybody wants to watch.

Lo: But I called it!

Biggy: (channel surfing) ...Animal Planet...

TR: That'll work.

Biggy: ...Fox News...

TR: Completely inappropriate.

Biggy: ...Family Guy...

JackMan: Lola can't watch Family Guy.

Lo: Hey, Family Guy!

Georgia: That show's BAD.

TR: I KNOW. I don't even want you and Jack watching it. Find something more appropriate, Greg.

Biggy: ...Cops...

All Together: COPS!!!


Alternate Universe

Georgia and Blaise, decked out for the Monster Truck Show. I'm so proud.

A guy who'll don a mullet wig is a keeper.

From Lo's Birthday

When I think of all those mornings I woke up surprised that I have children...


Laverne and Shirley

The newest students at Portfolio Center. Come by my office to meet them.


This Year, Things Are Gonna Be Different!!

Evidently, Lola didn't behave at the Monster Truck Show last night.

Adding Insult to Insult

This morning, I was sitting on the floor, messing around with the gecko cage, when Lo walked by: "Mom, you really need to dye your hair. The top of your head is all black. . . . . And gray."


Saturday Things You Might Not Know

Looking for hard-to-find products from days gone by? Say, Body on Tap shampoo, a Flicker razor, or Clark Bars? Try the Vermont Country Store.


I Didn't Know that I Was!

When I bragged to Biggy about what someone had googled to get to my blog, he suggested I let you guys answer their question:

Friday Nostalgia

Unfortunately, this was the only clip available, and no dialogue.

The 1943 movie Song of Bernadette, starring Jennifer Jones, was the reason that, when I was a kid, I used to put a towel over my hair, stare at myself in the mirror, and imagine I was destined to be a nun or a saint. I spent hours mulling over my immanent holiness.


A Poem For Lola

From A Child's Garden of Verses, 1889
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Good and Bad Children

Children, you are very little,
And your bones are very brittle;
If you would grow great and stately,
You must try to walk sedately.

You must still be bright and quiet,
And content with simple diet;
And remain, through all bewild'ring,
Innocent and honest children.

Happy hearts and happy faces,
Happy play in grassy places--
That was how in ancient ages,
Children grew to kings and sages.

But the unkind and the unruly,
And the sort who eat unduly,
They must never hope for glory--
Theirs is quite a different story!

Cruel children, crying babies,
All grow up as geese and gabies,
Hated, as their age increases,
By their nephews and their nieces.


So simple. So well executed.


She Reads My Blog, Which Was Warning Enough

So when E!--and that's what we'll call her, because she'll be good for our entertainment--came into my office last quarter and said she was thinking of taking some time off from school, because what with working her restaurant job while trying to do things such as branding the entire Olympics, creating a scale model restaurant, designing and writing a children's book, and re-setting the type for the entire book of Genesis, she was feeling a bit overwhelmed, I told her to buck up.

Where there's a will there's a way, I platituded, to which she responded that she had considered everything, exhausted every possibility; she couldn't keep up with both school and finances. And when I came back with, "Well, until you ask if you can live at my house, I'll have to assume you haven't thought of everything," I imagined that would get her brain in gear. She sure didn't need to drop out this close to the finish. It would be like dropping out of the Iron Man with 1/2 a mile to go.

It was quite the challenge I issued, really. I figured that flipping pancakes at Huddle House and living in their broom closet would be more appealing than staying with us. So I expected she'd come up with a plan, or she'd puss out and quietly vanish. But E! had more fortitude than I gave her credit for. She really does want to graduate. Right now, she's sitting at the table in the sun room, laptop in the slime of hamburger casserole, elbows in the Oreo crumbs, doing her homework.

God help her.

No doubt, this will make her somewhat of a celebrity at school--a la a Fear Factor or Rock of Love contestant. When E! told instructor Melissa about the arrangement, Melissa was so astonished, she yelled, "With HER?!" pointing at me as I tucked my chin and skulked toward the stairs. True story. Anyway, don't be asking E! what REALLY goes on here. She's sworn to secrecy.
And she's way too busy to gossip.

But I am not.



Monday Is Garbage Day

The noise outside my window at 6:30 a.m. reminded me of this scene from Men at Work.


YouTube Comes Through

I always assume that when I come across something that tickles or annoys me, I'm probably the last person to see it, so I really hate it when I go looking for it on YouTube and can't find a clip. Take that Always commercial with the maxi pad riding a mechanical bull--still NOT on YouTube. What the crap?! (Worst. Commercial. Ever.) A couple of weeks ago, I saw a TV spot for Sunsetter Awnings and thought, Holy crap--is that John Edwards? Guy looked just like him until I squinted my astigmatism away. Well, of course I went straight to YouTube so I could share, but no one had posted it.

Today, I was watching Spongebob--the episode where Squidward promises to go jellyfishing with Spongebob and Patrick, then rides off on his bicycle, laughing to himself because he has no intention of going anywhere with them. You have to trust me that it's a funny scene, the laugh itself enough to make you wet your pants, because it is nowhere to be found among the various video forums. Yet. But when I went to find it, my last search came up, and here--finally--was the Sunsetter commercial:



Friday Nostalgia

I almost forgot. It's hard to keep up with what day it is.


I have an idea for a movie where the characters get an email describing their death and then they die.

In the sequel, the characters blog, and someone posts a comment telling them how they're going to meet their end, and then they die.

In #3, the death messages come in the form of thirty-second radio spots for Jared...

For #4:The Return, the song Love Rollercoaster (which is not even on their playlist!) plays over their iPod, and when the scream happens, the character has a heart attack.


And I Was Such a Good Grasshopper

Must I abandon my dream of Holly Hunter hair? The hope itself was Rio's fault. Rio--Jennifer's hair stylist--recommended by her. Rio was the master. Rio would change my life with a quick flick of a scissor.

I went along with Jennifer, to see for myself. I watched in awe as Rio cut her hair with the flair of a flamenco dancer and the care of a Mohel. I listened, feeling guilty myself, as he scolded her for various hair offenses. When we left, she looked beautiful-chic and I had an appointment for the following week.

I was even more impressed after my own session. Contrary to what I expected, when I left the decision of my style up to him, he opted NOT to cut all my hair off--a drastic departure from the clipper-happy pixie-makers of my past. He suggested I actually grow it out--to add weight to tame the pouffiness and to prevent "old lady hair." He trimmed the dead ends and added some long layers and spanked me with a hairbrush for using Pantene. His final edict: "The bangs HAVE to go." That was ok. I trusted.

Since then, I have adhered to all of his rules and training. I bought a shampoo and conditioner that didn't come shrink-wrapped together with a free sample of gel. I've strengthened my arms for proper blowdrying. I found a paddle brush I can also use on my own backside if I backslide.

Now, it's time for my next visit, and I've come to find out Rio has left the salon and gone to teach at the Aveda Institute.

Woe, oh woe, is me.

This is Some Awesome-ness


Thought for the New Year

I saw this poster at school a couple of quarters ago and the quote has reverberated through my skull ever since. I asked Andrea Foster, the student who designed it, to send it to me so I could share.



Happy New Year! Pay attention to your lives.

From "The Worlds in this World" by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

And all along that year the winds
kept blowing as they do today, above oceans
and steeples, and this one speck of dust
was lifted from somewhere to land exactly
here, on my desk, and will lift again — into
the worlds in this world.

Say now, at this instant:
one thornless rose opens in a blue jar above
that speck, but you — reading this — know
nothing of how it came to flower here, and I
nothing of who bred it, or where, nothing
of my son and daughter’s fate, of what grows
in your garden or behind the walls of your chest:
is it longing? Fear? Will it matter?

Listen to that wind, listen to it ranting
The doors of heaven never close,
that’s the Curse, that’s the Miracle.

About Me

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Writer, teacher, student, mom.

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