Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Buying a birthday present

My husband's birthday is this week, and I have to say I was absolutely stumped on what to get him. I usually have some sort of idea well before the big day, but this year nothing.

So I asked and got the typically birthday reply.


I asked again. Everyone wants something.

"I really don't know."

Still, I persisted and finally got this response.

"I'm feeling very apathetic towards my birthday, but think it's nice you want to get me something. "

This is not a milestone birthday or anything, but I LOVE to celebrate birthdays. I just do. I decided to keep my ears open and see if he said the word "want" or "need" anywhere.

So, for weeks I listened. Besides some time out in the garage to do woodworking, he doesn't want anything. I'm not counting a new roof. Or the termites to go away. The man is content.

But then on Sunday he slipped. Oh yes, and I was there to hear it.

Going off to my parents for Easter dinner he said

"I just don't have...."

Sorry, can't complete the sentence as he may read this. But don't worry, his birthday is Thursday so I'll fill in the blank then!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday to you!

I did not eat meat today. Yet. I'm pretty sure I won't, which is silly because I've been eating meat every Friday during Lent, and haven't even attended church since my son was baptized last October.

But it just feels wrong to eat meat on Good Friday.

I grew up Irish Catholic and I attended a Catholic elementary school where I was taught by nuns and had to learn all the rules. I can tell you the holy days of obligation, many of the saints' feast days, and all the sacraments. Prayers roll off my tongue even though if I stopped to think about the words I would draw a blank. I don't like to hold hands during the Our Father because we didn't do that in my church. I automatically kneel at certain parts of the mass where my congregation knelt, even if the church I'm in doesn't kneel. And, when I kneel I keep a straight back and don't lean on the seat because the nuns used to poke you when you did that.

But now...well, I haven't been to church on a non-holiday (Christmas or Easter) in a very long time. And haven't been to even a holiday mass in a while. I wouldn't say I lost faith, but I am not in favor of all the rules to be honest. Even this rule of not eating meat--and I think that Good Friday is actually a fasting day. I'm not eating meat today because it was pounded into my head that I shouldn't. Not because it would be of great sacrifice for me not to...which I think the whole point of not eating meat is a reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus.

It seems fishy to me.

[Like what I did there? Cause you can eat fish on Fridays during Lent but not meat!]

I like the idea of the mysteries of the faith, but find that organized religion asks you to be limiting in what you believe. The Bible is a nice book of stories, but no, I don't think it's all true. You want to take something from the Bible and live by it as a rule, great. Go for it. Just don't make it the I'm going to stone to death anyone who practices a different religion. [Deuteronomy 13:6-1 and 17:1-7]

However, I will admit that I pray every night. But it's no longer the Catholic prayers of my youth as much as it is sending a thank you out there to the universe along with a collection of good thoughts for my family and friends. I'll ask for some special attention for those who need it. I'm big on the power of prayer, and think I would have done really well in the ancient days of praying to trees and the sky. I like the idea of praying to a tree.

Basically though, I guess I'm just sending out the good vibes. I'm pretty sure Jesus would be OK with that. Even I am skipping church this Easter Sunday.

I'm having fish for dinner though. I just feels right.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Muster me up a sangwish

When I was in first grade I was pulled out of class for a speech test. I thought that everyone was getting one and didn't think much of it. A lady took me down the hall and for an hour I was asked to repeat sentences, single words, and read aloud.

I still remember the way the woman looked at me when I said the word "sandwich".


I am not sure why I said it that way, but I did. She paused when I said potato. And then again with iron.

But I must have said everything else OK, as I was not chosen for speech intervention.

Like most things in life, I'm going to have to blame my parents on this. And for what happened because of it.

My parents have accents. I'm told.

They are Irish immigrants and I guess still speak with a soft accent, although I cannot tell. However, I've been in Ireland before and people don't always pick up that I'm American, so some of my speech inflections may be tinged with an accent as well. God knows I get a wicked Boston accent sometimes. Usually after drinking, but most when I'm trying to shout something. ["Where are my caaaah kees?"]

But because of my parents European word usage a few of my words are...mispronounced. But I've noticed that the rest of my family mispronounces them as well, so I've never felt out of place there.

Until I was 23 I pronounced the H in herb. Just saying.

But in school my interest in pronunciation after this speech test lead me to pay attention to vocabulary and the phonetic pronunciation of words. I loved phonics as a kid and always did well in it. I developed a great sense of sentence structure and vocabulary usage, and never worried about my English grades. For fun I would take notes in a short hand I created of how words should be spelled based on their pronunciation using phonetic symbols. In truth, I probably think about word choice more than the average person, but hey, I'm a writer and editor, so I guess it worked out.

This over thinking of words leads me to use the most correct one for the sentence. I'm not talking BIG words here. I rarely speak in big words. Just descriptive. But I do run into some rubbing for it, most of which is good natured. Some isn't. At least I can recognize it.

For example, yesterday here was Patriot's Day, which marked the start of the American Revolution. The western road that colonists traveled to the battle greens runs through my town, and at 5:30 yesterday morning a marching reenactment of the supplementary colonial forces went through banging drums and doing drills. Last night our neighborhood gathered for an impromptu spring cocktail hour and people were saying how they were awoken by the drums. Being that I'm such an American History dork that I've gone to the Lexington Battle green at 4:45 AM before to see the red coats arrive, I said:

"Yes, they march from Stow and muster at the green here before moving to Concord."

Ooohhh, said one neighbor. "They MUSTER!"

Yes, muster. The verb form. I guess you don't hear much of it because the rest of the night had her repeating it over and over anytime we talked about the reenactments. It was always followed by much laughter. Since this was a good natured event I will say WE all laughed together. Yeah, I see how that word doesn't come up a lot. But it flew out of my mouth fairly easily. Because it was the correct term to use. The were mustering.

Another time I was called out on my word choice it wasn't so nice. The exact words the girl used was something like "Can't you speak like a normal person?" but it was meaner and under the circumstances was uncalled for. Our friendship waned since then (and yes, I would have used waned if I was speaking) and I really haven't forgiven her.

If you hang out with me you will be subject to my perhaps odd speaking mannerism. But under the right circumstances you would hear my insanely unpredictable Boston accent too. It usually happens after a pitcher of beer. Plus, if you hang around me long enough, I may convince you that my way of saying some words is Old World and correct.

Just don't ask me how to say "iron"...my mouth refuses to make the sounds.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Some parenting advice...

No thanks. I really don't want your parenting advice. If I did, I would ask for it.

If I have asked you, then you are free to commence the lecture you have planned, and I will be ok if you pull notes out of your purse or back pocket. I may even take notes myself. If I'm asking you it means I trust and value your opinion, or remember you and your child having a similar problem/issue that I am encountering now.

But unsolicited advice is not welcome. You see, not only do I have a whole bunch of books offering me advice on the "standards" of child raising, I also have a natural instinct that most mothers have.

Basically, it's the make sure your child doesn't die or kill anyone instinct.

These are my goals each day. 1. A breathing, healthy child. 2. Ensure that he is well adjusted enough that he doesn't one day go on a rampage and stomp on other children.

Being that I have never gone on a stomping rampage or killed anyone, I am going to trust that I have the minimal social skills needed to survive in society. I think that with the help of my husband and our daycare providers we can pass these skills on to our son.

So, if you think that I should give my child whole milk now, that's he's too old for breastfeeding at 11 months, should have that potato chip, should put on the extra sweater, shouldn't play with the cabinets, or shouldn't jump down the step to the porch...

Shut up.


I don't care if you've raised 7 children or none, are just pregnant and reading all the scary books, or are a single man living with your various hook-ups in New York City. Any advice you give me on things that are not your business I will be ignoring. I will stare right through you as though you did not exist and perhaps even kick you accidentally. If I have offered you food, I may take it back and throw it out right in front of you.

I've had it.

The only time I will take your unsolicited advice is on safety updates. As in, did you hear about the car seat/formula/high chair recall?

This does not include having blankets in the crib or whether or not I should allow my son to jump on the bed. Because I encourage both. That's not an update, it's your opinion.

I will also take references on reading materials from experts who have researched the effects of highly processed food on the development of children, psychological articles about weaning and stages of brain development, and perhaps even the parenting articles on whether or not X, Y, and Z shoes are better for the bones of toddler. But let's face it, I'm more likely to give you those article references.

And to my good friend who is due TODAY!! I promise not to give you unsolicited advice. If you ask, I will tell you what I did, and that is that. I can't promise I did the right thing always, but if you are asking me, I'm gonna trust that you have some faith in the way I am raising my son.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring shoes

Every women loves shoes, right?

Not really. I like shoes. I wear them when I have to (which is most of the time). But if we lived in a society where people didn't spit on the sidewalks or there wasn't sharp pointy rocks along the roads, I'd be happier barefoot.

But since society deems it necessary to wear shoes, I follow suit. I like pretty shoes. None of my shoes are uninteresting (OK, up for debate) but when I shop for shoes--which is a rare occurrence--I tend to pick ones I like and not functional ones. This is why my feet often hurt. And why I love summer.

In summer I wear flip flops everywhere. To work, to dinner, in the garden. I have work ones that pass as sandals (really what is the difference), sparkly ones for the weekend, grubby ones for doing nothing in. You throw them on and it's like you aren't wearing shoes.

This morning I put on flip flops. Various weather reports said it was going to be warm. Really warm. And sunny. I walked out of the house at 6:30 to a gray sky, but there were patches of bluish (the sun had barely risen, so color here is "not dark"). I was happy in my flip flops if not a bit chilly. It had rained overnight. But it would warm up, I thought.

Silly girl. Breaking out the flip flops is just giving Mother Nature a reason to change up the weather.

Standing on the train platform my feet felt exposed. I think they started to turn blue. Too late I realized I had a good pair of heels in my back seat. The brown ones that give me blisters. They look good though. But the train was coming and my car was 1/4 mile away.

In Boston the weather was even grayer than the burbs. And cooler. Not open toe shoe weather.

But there was hope. In my office drawer I have a pair of emergency heels. For days the editor is in during the summer. I slipped them on and instantly felt better, even if they are purple fake crocodile or snake skin heels.

What can I say, I like interesting shoes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nonwork days

Since picking up some freelance work for the local paper I haven't really had many non-working days. On Friday I decided that this weekend I would put away the pen until Monday morning and then just jam 3 articles out.

Very reminiscent of my college days.

So yesterday I woke up bright and early (thanks to dear son) and turned my energies to our music class, the garden, cleaning, and bouncing about town. Free from work stuff, I could actually begin to enjoy the town, although I have to admit that future stories were trying to creep into my head. [Hello 6 empty store fronts on Nason Street...hey guys, maybe you should lower your rent!]

Today being Sunday (and the evening so my day is done) I had done enough in the yard and around the house to begin to relax. I had brunch with a friend and her daughter at the Beehive in Boston where I've been wanting to go since it opened, checked out a local art store where I contemplated buying an over priced book on weaving (made it out the door cash in hand), took kiddo for a nice run to work off the beignets I had with breakfast (not as breakfast...), and then meandered over to the neighbors backyard party.

Not very relaxing you may think. But I wasn't working.

If A is work and B is relaxing, then -A=B.

I don't care what I'm doing as long as I'm not in my office. Once in my office I become a clock watcher. Things wear on me quickly. My back instantly tenses and joints go out of alignment. It's where hatred is born.

Even with 3 articles looming I am less tense than I would be had I spend the day chained to my desk watching the manuscript files move from the left column to the right one, even if I did knock out the articles in my spare time.

The point of this post is to let people know that even if you think I'm crazy and doing stuff all over the place, I'm much happier digging ditches than sitting in my lovely office.

I am the guy from Office Space.