Friday, April 27, 2007

Why Brian Williams and Bill Clinton and My Husband Take Up Space In My Brain

It's strange the way the human mind works, and mine is no exception. As a matter of fact, mine works in such oddball and incomprehensible ways that I, at times, cannot even possibly explain its complex and twisting pathways, even to myself.

But, stuck as I am for a blogpost this week, I have to try.

I was reading my email, and in it was this astonishing comment from Ortizzle on my most recent Brian Williams Tie Report of 4-26:
Before you go psychotic, why not send him a beautiful, uh, say, forest green tie? I looked him up on Wikipedia: HIS BIRTHDAY IS MAY 5th! (When he will turn 48, by the way).

My first thought was: Omigod, my birthday is May 3rd and *I* will also be 48! This is some sort of cosmic sign that Brian Williams and I...but is this really how I want to be remembered: as the woman who became famous as the One Who Sent Brian Williams a Tie and Subsequently Was A Segment On The NBC Nightly News? But, how will I really be remembered? And do I really want all those people staring at me, remembering me anyway? I don't like people staring at me when I'm alive, let alone when I'm dead, and can't really do anything about it.

The rest of her comment said:
Anyway, you still have time. You could send it with an explanation of how you started the Tie Report, give him a link to DoN, etc., etc.

Well, that sounds really worky to me. It sounds like looking up the address, getting to the Post Office, which is always a parking and traffic nightmare in our town, and also like a bit of a pain. I'd have to carefully compose a really charming letter that would sound engaging, yet chiding, but without being too snarky. It sounds like at least two drafts, and I don't mean beer. And, remember, I have no online archives of The Tie Report, so I'd have to include hard copy transcripts, and some of them are...well, downright biting. Easy for Ortizzle to say, and honestly, she did offer to share any expenses (which was really sporting of her--I like her! I really like her! see Sally Field Oscar acceptance speech), but I'm just in this for the casual nature of it all. I fear commitment at this level; it's the man in me....

And speaking of men, I then branched out to: I wondered if perhaps I was starting to become a bit enamored of ol' BW on a more-than-style level. He's kind of my type: boyish yet intelligent, not traditionally handsome, and a sort of sardonic wit about him, especially last night at the MSNBC Democratic Candidates' Debate. At which, by the way, there was no appearance by Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill, who I will forever love, as all of my loyal DoN readers know. He was in Russia, but I don't fear for his health anymore. I recently saw him on tv and he looked great and said he was feeling fine. He said he would do whatever he was asked to do, and I'm assuming he meant by Hillary.

I think that's a great policy. More married couples should have it. If more husbands had that attitude, the divorce rate would probably be much lower. Personally, I don't ask much of Rick. Lately, it's been pretty standard: get in bed first so it's warm when I get there; get up first so I don't always have to be the one to make the coffee; decide what we're having for dinner so that all I have to do is make it. Is that so terrible? Basically three jobs:
1. Warmer
2. Maker
3. Decider
That last one...seems familiar....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

DoN Re-Images Professional Sports

I'm not real sporty, but I do enjoy watching some athletic contests; mostly this is out of self-defense, sharing the home as I do with three men. But you all know that I do have a very definite fondness for fashion, and I am just irritated beyond all measure by some of what goes on, sartorially speaking, in the world of sports.

Let me get one sport out of the way right off the bat--how cute, a baseball reference--and that is football. I don't care about it, and they don't have much control over their uniforms. Not much opportunity for individual style there, although I do appreciate the flowing locks of such players as Troy Polamalu sticking out of the backs of their helmets. Other than that, they all look the same: tight jerseys, tight knee breeches, helmets, taped-on shoes. End of review.

Moving on.

The NBA (National Basketball Association) may as well change their name to the NCA--National Culotte Association. How these players can run down the court without a severe case of chafe-rash is beyond me. These men have on the equivalent of what was high fashion for me in the sixth grade when we were not allowed to wear shorts to school, but were able to skirt (!) the dress code by wearing the "shorts which looked like a skirt", the culottes. Look:

Is that ridiculous, or what?

Thank goodness the NB(C)A has eliminated the Ballerina Tights from the legal uniform. This look was popularized by Cleveland's own LeBron James when he had a leg injury and then other players started copying it because it kept their muscles warm and loose and for some, they felt it created a sense of confusion on the hardwood for the opposing players who were trying to pick up their defensive moves. Here it is, in all its fashion horror:

I know. Don't even say it.

At least the NBA coaches dress. They pace the sidelines in suit and tie. And some of them look wonderful. I have always admired Pat Riley for his well-cut suits, and the former coach of (pretty much everybody and) the Cleveland Cavaliers Mike Fratello for his ties.

Actually, let me insert here that the NFL coaches could take a lesson. They stalk the sidelines, some of them (most notably Bill Belichick), in clothes that look like they picked them up off of a frat house floor. What's up with that? I miss the days of Tom Landry, former Dallas Cowboys coach, who always looked dapper and well-dressed and wore the distinctive stroller hat.
Now to Major League Baseball, and let me tell you, I have some issues with these individuals. This league needs to come to a consensus right now, people, about PANTS. Let's decide: are we wearing the pants down, like jammies, or up, like traditional baseball pants? Because if we don't get some consistency soon, we are just out there, people, like a bunch of third-graders playing a pick-up game of stickball. I cannot take it anymore. I mean it! Personally, I like the pants-up look. It's baseball! The Great American Pastime! (Historically, anyway. Everyone knows that now, the Great American Pastime seems to be acting like you are the only one in the world and talking loudly on your cell phone whenever and wherever you like. But I digress.) If we wear the pants down, we might as well be playing golf. Pants up = baseball! Just look:

That's Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner, both Cleveland Indians.

Okay, finally, golf. This is a sport which has really cleaned up its act, and I would like to think that I had something to do with it. I didn't, of course, but I would really, really like to think that I did. Golfers used to have carte blanche to dress in terrifying plaids and disgusting flat hats and knickers and banlon stockings. (R.I.P. Payne Stewart. I know you tried to be retro and bring this back and it was a bold statement. But it is telling that, in your absence, no one has taken up this Fashion Cause/Risk.) I just wish that the ubiquitous billed hat was not so...ubiquitous. I am so very tired of baseball caps being worn if the wearer is not fielding a grounder or popping up a fly ball. At least Greg "The Shark" Norman wears a different sort of headgear:

I find it refreshing and interesting. And I can definitely get behind a signature look. Tiger Woods, take a lesson.
Finally, in a completely selfish, yet public-service announcement sort of way, here is a picture of the completely unabashedly stylish and cute cheetah-print slingbacks I told you I bought on sale with my son's (the shoe store assistant manager) discount. Many of you asked about them right around the time of my road trip.

Did you note the detail of the black leather button on the sling? I love these. You cannot believe what they do for a black skirt and sweater outfit. Okay, you probably can.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Miss Independence

When I was eighteen I started out at the local community college; I was paying for my own education and I needed to work part-time as a bank teller to finance my degree. Like most college freshmen, I was sort of undecided: in my heart I knew I was born a teacher, but having had a string of furry pets during my teenage years made me flirt with the idea of veterinary medicine. Bravely, I enrolled in some science courses until I realized I had a tendency to faint at the sight of blood and that my hatred of math--present since birth--only intensified and deepened.

Never one to dawdle at decision-making, I quickly changed my major to secondary education, reasoning that I could become an English teacher and blend the best of both worlds: I could still work with animals, but there would be a lot less blood. (rimshot)

I was caught in such an odd, in-between world. I was in college, but I was living at home. I was working and earning my own money, but I was living at home and had a curfew. It was the strangest thing. I had always been self-motivated and independent, but it felt like I should be somehow different now. What was the answer?


That was the Big Blow I Struck For Independence. I started smoking.

Laughably, though, I couldn't really do it much. I couldn't smoke in the car, because technically, it wasn't mine, it was my parents'. And I couldn't really do it much in very public places because my mom and dad knew everybody. Mom was a teller for the same bank I worked for. Dad was a security guard at the steel mill in town and knew every person, every cop, every family, and everybody who went to our church. It was ridiculous. So, when did I smoke?

In class.

Back then, in the late seventies, we could smoke in class unless somebody objected. And no one did. So, for my eight o'clock Eighteenth Century British Lit. class--oh my god, what a yawner!--I'd stop in the cafe, get a huge coffee, grab my pack of Salem Light Longs or Kent Somethings (I forget, but they were in a silver and green pack, I think), and head to the back of the room. That class nearly killed me for a variety of reasons. Can you imagine drinking like 24 ounces of coffee and smoking probably 4-6 cigarettes while meandering through the likes of Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift--and let's not forget Dryden. Dryden. I mean, I was supposed to read Tristram Shandy for that class. (I never did, you know. I just thumbed through it, came across those odd blank, black, and swirly pages and did an essay on those. BS'ed my way through it and Dr. O. thought I was a genius. I did, at least, have the grace to feel guilty about that.)

But I digress.

Back to My Rebellious Smoking. I smoked like a smudgepot during all my classes and felt very professorial and beatnik and English-studentish. I even gestured with my cigarette and used my empty styrofoam coffeecup for an ashtray. How pretentious I probably--no, surely--looked. But I wasn't the only one. There were lots of us, but I bet I was the only one doing it for a sense of dangerous independence. The only one who had to do it there because if she didn't, her mother or father would find out and probably ground her or lecture her and make her feel like a disappointment. Sigh.

But it didn't last. In November I met a boy, and that made me quit cold turkey. Because there was one thing I really detested about me smoking and it was this: I hated the way I looked when I was smoking. I thought it made me look hard and cheap and tawdry and trashy. I hated the way my mouth looked when I would draw in, and no matter how hard I tried, I never looked cool or sexy or even smart when I let the smoke out. So, when I met this boy, I just stopped. And that was it. Because I knew if I didn't, sooner or later, he'd see me smoking and it would be awful.

The funny thing is, that was almost thirty years ago, and every once in a while, I still get a yen for a cigarette. I completely understand people who try to quit, over and over again. I get it. But it looks ugly. And you know me. That's enough.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Spring Breakdown

It's been a sorta crummy Spring Break. The weather has been lousy: cold, windy, snowy and rainy by turns. I've retreated into a sort of Mushbrain Mode, and little by little, I have given up any semblance of adult dignity and household control. Yesterday, I didn't even get dressed and I washed my hair at 7:3o. P.M. Yeah.

Today, I knew I had hit bottom when I realized that I had been carrying on an entire dialogue in the kitchen with Jared in my Napoleon Dynamite voice. Complete with well-placed movie references. I stopped, chagrined.

Me: Oh my god. That's it. I am almost forty-eight years old and I'm doing the Napoleon Dynamite voice. This is all your fault. I won't have any friends left. No one will want to hang out with me anymore. No one.

Jared: Sure they will. Just be the one to bring the booze.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Visual Basic

Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words. (Panel courtesy this site. )

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Greetings, Road Trip Wrap-Up, And A Cell-Phone Story

Happy Easter, and to those of you who do not celebrate the holiday, why, hello there!

And speaking of Easter, let me just say here and now that once again, the opportunity to use copious amounts of bunnies was wasted. The Cadbury people did not use the Cadbury bunny ad in which the bunny clucks like a hen and lays the creamy Cadbury eggs. No fluffy cute bunnies were used to advertise Easter sales on spring dresses or hats. No bunnies were paraded around for frikking anything. So, in an effort to give cute bunnies their due, here is an absolutely terrifyingly, mindbendingly cute bunny.
So there. And I have absolutely no segue into the next section, which is about my road trip. Except to say...

I made it through The Road Trip With Mother, sanity intact, and all with only two pairs of shoes. She was so well-behaved, Mom was, that I was almost ashamed of my pre-trip trepidation. True, there were a few moments when we had to explain her cell-phone to her again--she's had it since Christmas--, and we did have a few "Nance and Patti as Shirley and Evelyn Moments", but all in all, the old girl did all right. I think most of this was due to the fact that she was sitting in the backseat of the van and couldn't always hear all of the conversation clearly all of the time. But I could be wrong. But I doubt it.

I must say that I was deeply touched--deeply--by the concern some dear Dept. readers expressed in the comments regarding my taking of only two pairs of shoes. You were so very kind to be worried about this obvious fashion risk. But rest assured that I am nothing if not fashion savvy. I made sure that the two pairs I did take worked perfectly well with the choice of pants I packed. And, our motel was right next to an outlet mall that had several shoe shopping offerings should a footwear crisis emerge. None did, and sadly, our itinerary was so packed and the weather was so inhospitably cold that the opportunity never presented itself even just to browse. But fear not: I have a pair of incredibly stylish leopard print point-toe slingbacks on hold already here at home. On discount. You would not believe me if I told you the price, so I won't.
But I digress.
The trip to take my mom to see her sisters was a ton of fun. I re-met cousins and my cousins' daughters and the wives of cousins. There was a lot of talking and my uncle mixes a helluva martini. He and my aunt are incredibly good hosts and democrats. I love them. And they are good to my mother--way better than I am. Someday they may look under the bed in the guest room and discover that I have been living there quietly for months.

Finally, I want to share with all of you what I came home to. No, not a messy hellhole of a house. It was clean and wonderful and Rick and Jared and Sam were glad to see me. They even wanted to wait until I came home to color Easter eggs. No, it's this:
Jared came downstairs this morning, still a little sleepy. We said good morning and he started grinning. He even chuckled a little. We started laughing, too, even though we didn't know what was so funny. "What is it?" we asked. "I got up," Jared said, "and I always grab my cell phone first thing. I noticed that sometime in the night I had gotten a text message. So I retrieved it to see what it was. It was from Sam. It said, STOP SNORING."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Time to Go...But First--

Just a real quick post; the Ladies are almost here!

I've tragically overpacked, as all American Road Travelers are honor-bound to do. In an almost visceral rebellion to the restrictions of air travel, I've packed all full-sized toiletries and all of them are in gel form. All of them. I've packed two pairs of shoes, several sweaters, two pairs of pants, and probably ten pairs of underwear.

And I've rehearsed my Speech to Mother for my Entry into the Vehicle. It is to ensure a nice, pleasant trip for all of us. But especially for Me. Here it is:

Mom, let's get a few things straight from the get-go. Number one, I've already counted my grey hairs, and they'd better be the same at the end of this little journey. I have 31. Number two. I will be riding shotgun and will have ultimate control of the heater and the vents. Number three will cover the topics of conversation, and they are: not the grandchildren, not Bobby, (that's the brother of ours who she lives with), not previous road trips if they concern the fact that I became carsick, not the time I got lost in the new church coming back from communion, not the time Dad knocked me off the dock and I almost drowned because I forgot to close my mouth, and finally Number four, you are not to start calling us Evelyn and Shirley (her sisters) before we even cross the Pennsylvania state line. We clear on all of this?

That oughta take care of a lot.

See you Saturday or Sunday.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Road Trip!

Kids these days!

They'll never know the glory of the family vacation like the rest of us experienced it. Nowadays--oh does that word ever make me sound like my hair belongs in a bun at the nape of my neck, skewered by a couple of knitting needles--kids travel in luxurious vehicles complete with their own I-pod jacks, specially cooled cupholders, reclining seats, and (this really kills me dead) DVD screens that magically fold down in front of them. Honestly, add their own laptops and Xbox game systems, the screens of which are built into the seatbacks of Mom and Dad's captain's chairs, and they are actually unaware that they have even left home. I could puke.

Case in point: each and every morning on my 2.5 minute jaunt to work, I observe the Catholic Family Van next to me. It contains The Children on their way to St. Wonderful School, which is a neighborhood school. No one lives more than about 5 minutes away from this school. Yet, there is a DVD of Barney or Dora the Explorer on the flip-down screen inside this vehicle every single morning. Now, I ask you: can these juveniles not be ripped away from these simpering characters for five freaking minutes? Are they even aware that they are in a car? And a moving one at that?

When I was a kid, we used to go on a family vacation every now and then. If it was a long ride, say from our home in NE Ohio to our cousins' in Gettysburg, PA, we really planned for it. That was a 6 hour ride, at least. We got our crayons and coloring books, we made score sheets for all the state license plates, and for those of us out of all four siblings who didn't get headaches reading in the car, we laid in a supply of Archie comic books and some Encyclopedia Brown paperbacks. Mom made us a bed in the backseat by putting the coolers on the floorboards and topping it off with blankets, and we were ready. If we were awake, we looked out the window and noticed stuff out there!

I wonder about this new batch of kids. They can crisscross the country and not see a thing but Grand Theft Auto and DVDs of The Wiggles and Harry Potter. To them, the countryside looks just like their livingrooms: a screen, empty cans, snack packages, and their parents' mouths moving.

Which all reminds me...

I'm going on a road trip!

My mother has decided that she wants to visit her sisters in Gettysburg, so I'm back in the back seat and headed east. With my sister. We're taking the old woman and dumping her off for a month. I figure this is the best way to get back in her good graces for never calling her. Ever. This should be good for...say, at least 30 phone calls, wouldn't you say? Mom said, "I know how you hate long car rides, Nance, so do take some Nice Pills or something, won't you, before you leave?" She knows me so well, it's almost as if she were my mother or something. So, I've promised my sister I will wait until we get out of my driveway before I start whining and asking "How much longer?" and that I won't put my feet in her face or say, "I think I have to--blaaarrrp--" and throw up as I'm telling her I might have to. Because I'm a grownup now.


It'll be fun.
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