I have a great appreciation for all the various ways people make a living. Whenever I hear anyone make derogatory comments about, say, garbage men or fast food workers, I set them straight: "Never put anyone down for doing honest work. They deserve your respect." I've been around enough crooks who appear to have legitimate jobs or businesses that I admire those who choose the hard and narrow path.

With all that said, though--my disclaimer of sorts--I have to share my thoughts about these folks who dress in costume and stand by the street to promote income tax services or close-out sales or sub shops:

Is there any job in the world that requires LESS in the way of qualifications than that one?

I'm pretty sure you could be dead and propped against a sign post.

Truer Words Have Ne'er Been Spoken


They Say Web Writing Should be Short and to the Point

When Sadie first started pulling up on furniture, trying to stand, the grandmothers would say, "She's making way for the next one." It was too soon, of course, but I'd already had some pangs of infant hunger--that longing to hold a baby and disappear into its world. And sure enough, I found myself pregnant again when Numero Uno was only ten months old.

Georgia was a nightmare as an infant. She was half blind (clogged tear ducts) and colicky and screamed 24/7. She cried so loud and hard she always looked like her head was going to explode. Sometimes I secretly wished it would. No one could stand her. Out of my friends and family, Kathy did the best, pacing with her for an hour so I could jog, and handing her off like a relay baton when I returned.

I remember going through the KFC drive-thru one day when Sadie had had enough of the hell on earth that was three-month old Georgia strapped in a carseat. Not yet two, Sadie covered her ears and shouted her long-held confession: "I DON'T. LIKE. THE BABY!"

"I DON'T LIKE HER EITHER!" I returned. I sure as shit didn't want another one.

But when she finally started walking, it happened again, that trick of nature. That longing, that sense of loss. That urge to nurse a baby in the middle of the night while Victoria Principal tried to sell me face cream. A year later, number three was in the oven.

Truth be told, neither Jack nor George was planned, as I frequently remind them. I'd wanted them, though, in that deepest place in my heart, where my unspeakable fears and dreams hide.

I knew I didn't deserve them. As awful as I thought my marriage was, I wish it had been that good. Besides that, I didn't have the patience or sweetness a good mother needs. I don't even like kids.

Nevertheless, Jack was a beautiful boy! And somehow, Georgia transformed from a hot potato into the world's most perfect little girl. Sadie, the family darling, spent most of the time with her grandparents, being groomed for garden parties and Masters' Tournaments. By five, she was an adult, listening to Pete Fountain and quoting Tennessee Williams.

Jack took his first steps, in our first house in Atlanta, on his first birthday. Shortly after that, we moved to the suburbs, the repository for first wives. My children were 3, 6, and 7 when my ex moved back to the city. I assumed there would be no more babies.

Then I met Biggy, who sat me down six months into it and told me he wanted his own child, and if I didn't want more, we could still be friends. I'd already started a list of names. Less than three years later, we were married, with an embryonic Lo in attendance.

I had a tubal ligation after Lola was born, a decision I regretted before the soldering iron had cooled. I've read since that doctors should strongly discourage a woman from making that choice while she's pregnant. As much as I loved babies, I hated being pregnant, see. Every swollen, oozing, aching, crabby second of it. Trust me, it wasn't any more fun the fourth time, at 36.

I was done.

Every couple of years now, I trade my regret for relief. I'll smell a dirty diaper and be happy my house smells like a pet store. Or I'll watch a new mother trying to eat her wrap at Wild Wings between jiggling an infant carrier and looking for the pacifier. (Usually, the husband is plowing through a dozen Colorado Goldens and pumping his fist at the wide screen TV.) I think about how nice it is that Lola only cries at Mexican and Thai restaurants.

As I get closer to menopause, the regret-to-relief ratio seems to be turning in my favor.

So why is it that when I was a week late this month, and suffering brief bouts of nausea that sent me lurching to the toilet, I wasn't horrified or afraid? How did I manage so quickly to get past "I'll be 60 when this child is Jack's age!" to "I wonder how long I could work from home?" Where did I come up with the twenty different scenarios for breaking the news to Greg?

Why was I so disappointed when the test came back negative?


He'd Been Teasing Me For Riding My Brakes

I'm not saying he deserved it, my kamikaze husband--just that now he might understand what it is I'm hoping to avoid with my bit-o-more caution. I mean, we have kids for crying out loud. And I'm not that slow. I've actually gotten so much better in my two years of mountain biking that I stay about three minutes behind him.

But I wasn't thinking these thoughts when I came over a hill and saw him lying at the bottom of the next one, akimbo and still. Somehow, I was certain he wasn't dead, but I also knew it wasn't good. Turned out, he'd gone over a jump and his shoe had come out of the clip. He racked himself brutally when his tire hit the ground, and then flew off the bike, injuring his legs, back, and neck to add insult.

It took a while to help him to his feet. He couldn't walk. For all we knew right then, I had a new wife, but, by god, every time another rider cruised by and asked if he was ok--if we needed assistance--he was "fine." I begged him to let me call for the "cart," the four-wheeler they haul the losers out on, but he wouldn't hear of it. So he used the bike as a walker to hobble and shuffle the half mile or so--over rocky, rooty, rolling terrain--to the end of the trail.

A couple of times, his knees buckled, or he'd have to stop and slide his hand down his pants to check for blood. Before long, some of the initial witnesses to the aftermath were looping us, seeing just how "fine" he was, and asking for the second time if he needed help. He was bloody, his shorts were ripped, and he was walking like an old man with a load in his Depends--I didn't see how being wheeled out in the cart could have been more humiliating.

We did make it back to the car, though, and he refused to go to the hospital. He said all he needed was a long hot bath. He got that, but I had to help him out of it. I also had to put his drawers on him, and, while he was able to sit on the bed by himself, I had to pick his legs up and put them in the bed. Big shocker, then, this morning, when waves of nausea inspired him to call the doctor--who told him to head to the ER.

Evidently, the little ultrasound tech wasn't accustomed to scanning testicles. I'm sure it's quite the change from pregnant bellies or the occasional gall bladder. In any event, she didn't warm the gel (Ha! Welcome to my world.) and made him do all the heavy lifting. He also had a pelvic x-ray, which wasn't as much fun to hear about.

He was discharged six hours after his arrival, with a diagnosis of "deep bruising of the groin," a prescription for percocet, and instructions to keep the boys at home for a couple of days. Now he's upstairs with an ice pack in his panties.


The Oscars

Watching 98-year-old Robert Boyle accept his Honorary Award, I think I'd like to come back as a production designer. Seems like some of you PC guys should be looking into that.

Above, one of Mr. Boyle's early sketches for The Birds.


Saturday Things You Might Not Know

The average human head weighs about eight pounds.


Friday Nostalgia

I grew up watching Friday Night Frights, the weekly double-feature horror movies on channel 17 (early Ted Turner), as well as all the weekly thriller series--Twilight Zone, Circle of Fear, The Sixth Sense--and the soap Dark Shadows. This 1973 horror film Theater of Blood, starring Vincent Price, was one of my all-time favorites. It's about an actor who takes revenge on his critics. It was truly sick.


Parenting 101

Please recall my History of Failure regarding Lola's school pictures. This morning, being another Picture Day, and being that I had to be at school myself at 5:30 a.m., leaving Biggy to get our daughter ready, I called him after class to see how things went:

TR: Hey, did you get her on the bus without any problems?

Biggy: I sure did.

TR: How was her hair?

Biggy: It looked good. I paid her 20 dollars to wear it in a ponytail.



Subject: Dream
Date: February 19, 2008 12:26:40 PM EST
To: tania@portfoliocenter.com

Read article last week in NY Times about teacher/aspiring novelist who applied for housing program, forgot about it, then received confirmation months later that he was approved for studio apt on the upper east side. Purchase price -- $14,000.

So, I had dream last night - you were the lucky winner, but it was not just a studio. It was a fab penthouse apartment (similar to Julian Schnabel building in this month's Vanity Fair). And we were visiting. Nice dream.


From: gregxxxxxxx
Subject: The lady....
Date: February 19, 2008 10:37:48 AM EST
To: troche4606@aol.com

Across from me is flossing her teeth. Just thought I would share the glamour of business travel.
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

From: georgiaxxxxx@hotmail.com
Subject: RE: dinner
Date: February 20, 2008 7:45:53 AM EST
To: tania@portfoliocenter.com

did you sign me up for David Hasselhoff club of america??


Another Deep Dinnertime Discussion

Georgia's beau braved the family meal with us Sunday night. You'd think we'd have at least stabbed at "company" small talk and good manners. A little context for the actual conversation: JackMan's friend J had spent the night on Saturday.

TR: Hey, Jack, why did you make J sleep in the basement on that crappy futon? Your bed's big enough for both of you.

Jack: He was fine.

TR: You still didn't answer my question. You have a brand new, big, comfortable bed.

Jack: It's not that big.

Biggy: It wouldn't matter if it was [sic] a king-sized. We don't do that.

TR: What do you mean--'do that'--

Jack: Guys don't sleep in the same bed!

TR: Oh, c'mon. Blaise?

Blaise: It's true. After a certain age.

TR: Oh my God. Y'all are so homophobic. What--are you afraid that while you're sleeping, it's going to find it's way into the nearest orifice without your knowing?!

Georgia: Exactly!

TR: Blaise, you really wouldn't sleep in the same bed with a friend of yours?

Blaise: I've had to before.

Jack: Key words being 'had to.' When you didn't have a choice.

Blaise: But we did the pillow thing.

(Boy nods all around.)

TR: Which is?

Blaise (looking at me as though I'd asked him what the first letter of the alphabet is): You know, one pillow between you under the covers and another one between, on top.

Biggy: The barricade.

Jack: To make sure you don't touch.

Blaise: Or the head-to-feet thing.

TR: You have GOT to be kidding.

Biggy: We're not like you. It's not like we're going to talk.

TR: No pillow talk?

Georgia: Kristen and I like to talk in the dark. We can talk all night.

Jack: Why would you?

Biggy: Girls even shower together.

TR: No they don't! That's just your fan--

Georgia: Yeah, we do. I don't have a problem showering with Kristen.

TR: You don't?!

Georgia: It's no big deal. I'm not gonna kiss her.

TR: I just don't want anyone to see me naked.

Biggy: Sadie and Georgia used to take showers together all the time. Two brothers wouldn't do that.

Jack: Nope.

Blaise: No way.

TR: You're all freaks.


Freaky Sunday

Georgia commented last night that I'd passed on sharing some good blogging material, and she was right. Considering she was with me all day, I'm sure she was disappointed that I didn't write about it. I was tired--and I'm still too tired to write anything clever. But I've been thinking about yesterday all day today, Monday--about how it illustrated the ways Georgia and I are alike.

First, we walked early in the day, since her knee hasn't healed completely. I was happy to walk instead of jogging, because I'm old. Then we went to Robek's, and both of us got our usual, the Acai Fit shake, 24 oz. This was our lunch. Next, we went to Michael's so I could buy some yarn. I like to crochet scarves, and she likes for me to give them to her. As we got out of the car to head into the store, a middle-aged man passed us wearing sweat pants and (clearly) no underwear. It happened quickly, and he was gone. I figured my daughter had missed it, and as I was congratulating myself on the decision to spare her and not comment, she muttered, "Grossss," with a little shudder. We walked around Michael's discussing all the reasons a man might (and should not) go out in public like that.

By the time we finished that errand, we were finished with our smoothies and were ready to settle in at Starbucks and get some homework done. (We both always have homework.) Sears is at the other end of the Michael's strip, and when we passed it, we saw a group of teenagers picketing--signs saying something about a "cleaner catalog." Now East Cobb is full of Jesus freaks, so we couldn't be sure if they were for real, or if they were some knock-off improv everywhere group. They didn't really look earnest, in any case.

As we slowly cruised by, craning our necks, we almost hit another teen jumping the wall of the garden department and running out into the parking lot. He was wearing a backpack and looking like he'd pilfered himself some Miracle-Gro. We tried to watch as long as we could, but we were blocking traffic, so we finally crossed the intersection to the adjacent strip mall (there are six within stone-throwing distance) where Starbucks is.

We ordered tea and plugged in our laptops. We'd just gotten comfortable when a guy walked in wearing black jeans, black t-shirt, black jacket, and an old gas mask. He glided straight by us and into the restroom. I was thinking it myself when Georgia said in all seriousness, "This could be bad." Was he postal? His jacket was large enough to hide a pipe bomb and several grenades. We were both pretty afraid, but it had begun to storm really bad, and it would have been a lot of trouble to pack up all of our stuff and go out in the rain.

Turns out he was just another lame kid looking for attention, silently daring everyone to stare at him or say something--the kind of kid who makes you ashamed of yourself as a teenager. Yeah, he was sticking it to The Man, right there in the corporate coffee house, as he sipped on his grande latte. Like the teens who used to hang out in Little Five Points when I lived there in the mid-80's. The ones with the green mohawks, pierced tongues, and 3000 dollars' worth of braces, driving their moms' Volvo's. Revolutionaries.

The point is, in the time it took us to figure out his schtick, we could have been blown clear to TJ Maxx. But, Georgia and I, we did NOT want to get wet.



I've really got nothing for you this stormy Sunday, but since--according to the rules of Blog365--I must post daily, here's a little film. Lo and her friend B were sliding down the stairs on a sleeping bag this afternoon and left it on the floor when they finished. When Stella claimed it, Fay was not happy:


Like Father, Like Daughter

Saturday Things You Might Not Know

Excerpted from Wikipedia:

Miserere by Gregorio Allegri is a setting of Psalm 51 (50) composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably during the 1630s, for use in the Sistine Chapel during matins on Wednesday and Friday of Holy Week. It was the last of twelve falsobordone Miserere settings composed and chanted at the service since 1514 and the most popular: at some point, it became forbidden to transcribe the music and it was only allowed to be performed at those particular services, adding to the mystery surrounding it. Writing it down or performing it elsewhere was punishable by excommunication. The setting that escaped from the Vatican is actually a conflation of verses set by Gregorio Allegri around 1638 and Tommaso Bai (1650 - 1718, also spelled "Baj") in 1714.

The fourteen-year-old Mozart was visiting Rome when he first heard the piece during the Wednesday service. Later that day, he wrote it down entirely from memory, returning to the Chapel that Friday to make minor corrections. Some time during his travels, he met the British historian Dr Charles Burney, who obtained the piece from him and took it to London, where it was published in 1771. Once published, the ban was lifted and Allegri's Miserere has since become one of the most popular a cappella choral works now performed. The work was also transcribed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1831 and Franz Liszt, and various other 18th and 19th century sources survive.

Mozart was summoned to Rome by the Pope, only instead of excommunicating the boy the Pope showered praises on him for his feat of musical genius.



This is indeed a red letter day; Biggy bought me lingerie for the first time in the 12 years we've been together. Lo, arriving home from school, spotted the bright pink Victoria's Secret bag, went over to it, and proceeded to examine and play with the contents:

Lo: What's this?

TR: My Valentine's present from Dad.

Lo: Do you like it?

TR: I do. But I'm not sure it'll look good on me.

Lo: Where do you wear it?

TR: It's pajamas.

Lo: Oh. Then why do you care how it looks? Dad's the only one who's gonna see you.

Happy Valentine's Day!



So Reece, a boy in Lo's class, also had a Hummer Valentine box.

Lo: But his had a remote control and actually drove around. Everyone loved his.


Seasons Greetings

I've got the tree decked out in red baubles and beads ...

the puppy in pink...

and after all the years of helping my OTHER kids with the pretty little glitter hearts and doilies, Miss Lola's Valentine's box she made for school...

I Stoop

Separated at birth.

Public Notice

To whomever left their new Saab convertible running in the Publix parking lot with their infant and five-year-old sleeping in the backseat unattended: Congratulations on the charmed life you must have lived so far.


In a Pinch

The design history class went from 1:00 to 10:30 (which most of you know already since half my readers are in that class), so I didn't get a chance to post. I've got to get something up before midnight, though, or I'll fail in my Blog 365 goal, which is why I'm sharing this video I found yesterday while searching for the Emmylou. It made me smile:


A Sunday Valentine

One of those beautiful, simple songs I wish I'd written.



I read Biggy his horoscope for today:

TR: It says here that your most significant relationship requires avid attention.

Biggy: I give Daisy plenty of attention. I even took her with me to the barber shop this morning.

Saturday Things You Might Not Know

Everything you never wanted to know about dieting.


ick Flick

I called Biggy on my way home from work to make some plans since Mamoo has Lola tonight:

TR: Hey, you wanna go see that new Natalie Portman movie, The Other Boleyn Girl?

Biggy: Hold on a second while I check something....Yeah, I still have a penis. You can go with Georgia.

*Turns out, it won't even be out until the 29th.

Friday Nostalgia

Since Ads. recently mentioned Mrs. Beasley, I thought I'd post a clip from Family Affair, one of my childhood favorites, circa mid-60's.


Laure-Anne at Tech

This afternoon, I saw (heard) wonderful poet Laure-Anne Bosselaar read at Georgia Tech. As always, she was stunning in all ways--beautiful, warm, inspiring.

Here's a poem she read today, from her most recent book, A New Hunger:

Garage Sale

I sold her bed for a song.
A song of yearning like an orphan’s.
Or the one knives carve into bread.

But the un-broken bread
song too. For the song that a river
sings to the ferryman’s oars — with

that dread in it.
For a threadbare tune: garroted,
chest-choked, cheap. A sparrow’s,

beggar’s, a foghorn’s call.
For the kind of song only morning
can slap on love-stained sheets —

that’s what I sold my mother’s
bed for. The one she died in. Sold it
for a song.


The Bert Show Blows

As I've written before, I have a love/hate relationship with Q100. After Melissa Carter did the news this morning, reporting that "the officer catched the baby" in her account of this story, listeners were subjected to a snoozy twenty minutes of their collective expertise on the subject of depression. I really need to subscribe to XM radio.


Thoughts On Flossing

I'm not a big fan of audible or olfactory evidence of bodily functions, but I'm passionately anti-detritus of any sort. My kids might get away with burping at the dinner table, but cutting their toenails anywhere but over the toilet is a punishable offense. I don't even like it when someone uses a nail file in my presence, all that mortal dust.

My sister was even worse than I am. I'll never forget her horrified expression when Kelly caught my friend J plucking her eyebrows in our dresser mirror.

"Why aren't you using a tissue?" Kelly asked J.

What for?" J responded, tweezing away.

"To prevent THIS," Kelly said, wiping the mirror where myriad tiny brows were stuck by the root.

I'm disgusted by fallen hair, dead skin, or anything that comes from the body and is found on the carpet, in the sink, on a Q-tip, or in a Kleenex.

So it stands to reason I hate flossing. All that flotsam--cheese and pineapple from lunch, pot roast from dinner-- flying everywhere, sticking to the string, getting on your fingers. I brush first, so flossing won't be as traumatizing, and then, after I floss, I have to brush again because I'm so grossed out. Lately, I've started showering again after I floss.

I often see people flossing in the car. So sick.


Hang Her Britches From a Nail

Lo: How much trouble would I be in if I got sent to the principal?

TR: Lots.

Lo: I mean, would I have to write stuff, or would I be grounded?

TR: Probably both. Why do you ask?

Lo: Bryce got sent to the principal today. He got rit up.

TR: What did he do?

Lo: He brought up his Febbuary journal, and Ms. C said, "Now go back to your seat and write it again so I can read it," and he said, "Shut up!" Then Ms. C asked him, "Did you just say 'shut up' to me?!" and he said, "Yeah."

TR: Wow.

Lo: Then when she turned around [to bite her tongue, to count to ten?], he made a face, so I told her.

TR: Lolaaaaaa...

Lo: I got to go to the office to get the paper for her to write him up on. It was awesome.



Now that we have a new grown-up couch to replace the futon furniture, I suggested to Biggy that we move all the junk from Lo's "playroom" into the basement and put the old furniture from the sunroom in that space, but he didn't like that idea, because--as he put it--he NEVER WANTS TO LOOK AT THOSE FUTONS AGAIN EVER!

TR: Well, why don't we just put the chair and ottomon in there, and book shelves--make it a little reading area?

Biggy: That might be okay.

TR: And we could hang more art.

Biggy: Yeah.

TR: I was thinking about taking up painting, actually. We could hang MY art in there.

Biggy: I'm going to take up figure drawing.


Saturday Things You Might Not Know

* Coconut Water is more nutritious than whole milk - less fat and 0 cholesterol!
* Coconut Water is healthier than orange juice - much lower calories
* Coconut Water is better than processed baby milk- It contains lauric acid, which is present in human mother's milk.
* Coconut water is naturally sterile -- Water permeates though the filtering husk!
* Coconut water is a universal donor-- It's identical to human blood plasma.
* Coconut Water is a Natural Isotonic Beverage - It contains the same level we have in our blood.
* Coconut water has saved lives in 3rd world countries thru Coconut IV.

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Writer, teacher, student, mom.

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