Uncategorized

So Tell Me: Supermarket Tales

I was standing there, rummaging through the turkeys.  For some reason, I was convinced that it was really important to find a 21-pound turkey instead of the 2o-pound one I already had.  As I rummaged, a guy on the other side of the freezer started chatting.

We talked about this and that — how many guests we were having, what kind of stuffing we like, and so on. We discussed various methods for thawing a frozen turkey. I said, “Ha ha, I just bring mine to bed with me!” and then thought, Hm, that was kind of a weird thing to say.  Oh, well. Then we talked about different styles of cranberry sauce, how far our guests would travel, and about a pig roast the guy had one time in Wisconsin.

Finally we found our turkeys, and I said, “Well, have a nice Thanksgiving!”  He answered, “You too!  Hope you get that turkey defrosted in time!”  And I answered, “Oh, I’ll just bring mine to bed with me.”

And then I left, even though I still had more shopping to do.  Because I knew that if I ran into him again, I’d once again tell him that I was going to bring my turkey to bed with me.

Which I’m not.  Why do I say these things?  What is it about supermarkets that makes people reveal too much about themselves?

Here’s a sad little window I looked into one night in the frozen foods aisle of the Walmart Supercenter.  A middle-aged man stuffed into a snowsuit, like an enormous toddler, was muttering in a sulky monotone, “I wish they had the Stouffer’s.  They used to have the Stouffers.  Right there, that’s where they had the Stouffer’s.  This isn’t Stouffer’s.  The Stouffer’s is really better, so why don’t they have the Stouffer’s?  I wishthey had the Stouffer’s.”

And the woman wasn’t saying anything, in her eyes was written: “K.I.L.L.”

Another time, in another aisle of the same godforsaken Walmart, I saw another couple.  The young man, bored to the point of semi-bonelessness, draped himself over the cart while his monolithic girlfriend surveyed the shelves of cereal.

“Well, do you like Cheerios?”  she asked.

“Myehh,” he said.

“Well, how about Wheaties?  Do you like Wheaties?” she asked.

“Mmmrr,” he replied.

“Well,” she went on,  “Well how about, do you like, like, Honey Bunches of Oats and Shit?”

I swear, that’s what she said.  Doesn’t that sound delicious?  I see a happy future for that couple.  As long as someone else makes breakfast.

How about you?  Any supermarket stories to tell?

Uncategorized

Little Drummer Boycott

I can’t quite bring myself to thank Melanie Bettenelli for bringing the following video to my attention.

In no particular order, my thoughts:

1.  This song should be taken out and shot.

2.  Oh boy, Shane McGowan!  Show us your teeth!  Show us your teeth!

3.  Who are The Priests, now?

4.  I don’t understand people who (apprently) say things like “Catholic priests shouldn’t be associating with that guy — he’s a perv and a drug addict.”  Hey, ever heard of the New Testament?  Sheesh.

5.  Also, music is music.  I don’t understand how people can make aesthetic choices based on the morals of the artist.  Music either sounds good or it doesn’t.  I guess I can see boycotting someone really disgusting because you don’t want them to have your money, but that what pirating is for.  (Oh, I’m just kidding.  Pirating is stealing, and I’m against it, and don’t know how to do it anyway.)

6.  What is it with this song?  “Little drummer boy?”  What little drummer boy?  You played your drums for a newborn?  Par-rum-pa-pum-what? What kind of drum makes that sound?  100% terrible!  There is nothing and no one that can make this song listenable.  My stars.

7.  Who thinks it’s a good idea to put together polished, trained voices with someone whose prodigious talent is from a completely other planet?  It makes everyone sound bad.  It doesn’t blend, it doesn’t make a new sound; it just clashes.  Bleah.  Never understood that.  Like that disastrous combination of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie in “Under Pressure”

–wait, David Bowie?

8.  Oh gosh, this all happened before, didn’t it?

Just because this guy sounds good and that guy sounds good, does not mean they will sound good together.  I guess it’s good that they didn’t ruin a decent song, anyway.

9.  Speaking of ruining something decent.  I’m sorry, is this Lent?  Why are we being punished this way?  It’s not a penitential season, it’s only Advent.

No, it’s NOT even Advent yet.  You know what?  Fine.  As long as it’s The Indeterminate Holiday Season for Singing, here is one of my favorite Shane McGowan songs.

I’m not trying to be a contrarian — I really love this song!  “I could have been someone./Well, so could anyone!”

Well, happy Thanksgiving, or whatever, everyone!

Uncategorized

Bless the Lord, O my sole

Guess what?  I’m fat.  About seven permanent pounds for each kid.  I usually manage to lose some between pregnancies, but after baby #8 was born, I just kept gaining.

My husband thinks I’m beautiful, but I don’t.  I hate wearing special sizes with labels like “Curvy Coordinates!”  “Luscious Lady Plus!”  “Gee, Your Ass Looks Enormous!”  Being fat feels bad, but knowing I’m still gaining feels horrible. The real misery is in feeling like I had no control.

Many and many a time I’ve tried to just snap out of my face-stuffing ways, and go back to the habits that have worked in the past:  counting calories, swearing off sugar, working out four times a week, etc.  These things always worked before.  But this time, I couldn’t even stick to them for a day.  I knew I was in trouble, I knew I was making myself unhappy, I knew what I wanted, and I knew it was achievable.  But for some reason, I failed and failed and failed like there wasn’t any such thing as not failing.

(Actually, I know the reason. It was so I would learn sympathy with other people who struggle.  Okay, Lord, I get it!  Now lay off.  And stay with me, reader:  I’m not just sobbing in public — there is a point to this post.)

Anyway, last week I decided to try something new:  I wasn’t going to have a goal. I was just going to make the teeniest, tiniest improvement I could manage, the slightest motion away from my emotional squalor, and try and do that for one day.  I was just going to try and get control for one stinking day.

Step one was just to take notice every time I ate something.  Just:  “Yep, I just put that piece of ham in my mouth.  That was me doing that.  Idiot.”

Step two was to admit that I was eating partially (sigh) to punish myself for being fat and weak.  (Yeah, that makes sense.)

Step three (a big one) was to realize that God doesn’t want me to treat anyone that way.  Mothers are so used to dealing out justice and compassion and punishment and rewards, we sometimes forget that we are somebody’s child, too.   I wouldn’t consciously treat someone I love with contempt and injustice.  I don’t love myself, but I know God does, so I’ll work with that.

Step four was to only eat things that I actually want to eat, either because I’m  hungry or because I think they’d taste good — and to try to enjoy them, because they taste good.

Step five was to decide, at least sometimes, only to eat something good if I’m also hungry.

And step six is to decide not to eat things even if I’m hungry, because I’m trying to lose weight, and I want that more than I want to feel full.  That’s the step I’m on right now.   Eventually, I’ll work my way up to a weight loss goal, and regular exercise, and meal plans — all the things that have worked before.  It’s humiliating to go so easy on myself.  It’s distressing to realize I need such gentle treatment.  But none of the drastic steps were helping, so what else can I do?

And why am I bringing this up?  Because, in all the comments that people have made in response to the Pope’s remarks about condoms, one phrase stuck in my head: conversion is incremental.  That’s how it is, whether it’s for me getting back into normal-sized pants, or for more dire lessons of the soul.  For the hypothetical male prostitute, the goal would be to renounce fornication and seek healing for his disordered sexual appetites.  But can he do that in a day?  Of course not.  You can’t just strip away every aspect of your old life in a single motion, and expect to live that way from now on.

But he does need a new life.  So how can he do it?   With tiny, pathetic steps in the right direction — by, for instance, at least desiring to protect his sexual partner from disease.  It’s not enough.  But it’s a small step that probably can’t be skipped.

Sometimes we get knocked off our horses, or experience a miraculous infusion of knowledge of the faith, or the angel has to come and break our bones for us.  Okay, then we’re converted.  But for most of us, we don’t go from sin to virtue, just like that.  It takes lots of time.  Some decent folks are outraged by what seems like mediocrity and dawdling:  All or nothing! they holler.  If a sinner isn’t willing to renounce his sin, then nothing of value is going on!  True conversion of the heart is a radical thing!  No man can serve two masters!  The Lord will vomit the lukewarm out of his mouth!  And so on.

But we’re not talking about being lukewarm here.  We’re not talking about beingsatisfied with halfway measures.  But we’re acknowledging that — well, at some point, you do have to be halfway.   That’s how you get places:  you have to spend some time in between before you arrive.   Not to say that there is no truth in a fiery conversion.   It’s just that, unless you’re on your deathbed, the fire is not sustainable.  It’s not even desirable, because stewing in your own weakness teaches you compassion.

As long as we’re talking about food:  you know how you get a nice, juicy roast?  First you sear it on the outside.  High temps for a short time seals the juices in.  But thenyou turn the temperature way, way down and let it stew for the rest of the day.  That’s how God makes us so tender and delicious by the Second Coming:  first He applies the heat, and then He turns it down and lets us stew.

Let’s be patient with ourselves, and with each other, and try not to lift the lid too often.  We’re not done yet.

 

Uncategorized

La Blabbatore Romano

I’m not a moral theologian, and every time I try and play one on the internet, I regret it.  On the other hand, it would be kind of weird not to acknowledge the brouhaha about the Pope’s comments that L’Osservatore Romano leaked, apparently following its mission to act as the poorly-informed, half-senile uncle who blurts out crazy stuff and makes things so awkward around the holidays.  Sorry about Uncle Romano — he . . . he doesn’t really represent our family.  Just give him some more pie, and maybe he’ll be quiet.

Nothing that the Pope said changes anything in Catholic teaching — both because (a) his remarks aren’t Catholic teaching; and (b) anyway, he didn’t say anything contrary to Church teaching.  Basically what he said was that the use of condoms might signal that people are starting to move toward a more humane view of their sexual partners, because at least they are thinking about not spreading disease.  The Church is in favor of people beginning to move toward more moral behavior.  This is not news.

For a lucid explanation about what the Pope really said, please read Jimmy Akin’sshort piece in the Register.  Akin also has a link to the full text of the Pope’s remarks and to Janet Smith’s guide to the uproar so far.

Hey, remember when that feeble old man was elected pope, and the press figured he was just a seat warmer until the College of Cardinals could find someone more suitable?

 

Even if you don’t like the guy, I don’t see how you can’t admire him.  He was ready to retire, and instead he got a life sentence to a job that any sane person would dread.  So he dove in head first and got to work, and hasn’t come up for air since.  May God bless and keep and strengthen him.  This is what true courage and fortitude looks like.

Final question:  what the heck is wrong with L’Osservatore Romano?  Were they were looking to boost circulation, or what?  My husband works for a newspaper, so I asked him what they do when their numbers are down.  He said, “Fire reporters.”  Not a bad idea.

Uncategorized

7 Quick Takes: “Glitches Galore” Edition

Oh yes!   A Seven Quick Takes that is truly miscellaneous, like it’s supposed to be.  If there’s a theme at all, it’s that I found appropriate pictures for everything.

Or, I found pictures for everything.  UPDATE:   pictures which apparently didn’t show up this morning.  There’s a theme for you:  glitchiness.  Sorry about that!  If the formatting is still all weird, then we’ll know WordPress is just being terrible again.

Don’t forget to check out Conversion Diary for everyone else’s 7 Quick Takes, and then stick with Jen for the rest of the week, too — she’s always worth reading.

7 Quick Takes

 

1.

I was halfway through Madame Bovary, because reading it makes me glad to be myself, instead of anyone who personally knows anyone in that book

WHO PUT THE UNDERWEAR IN MRS. MURPHY’S CHOWDER???

But then it fell behind the bed (that happens a lot).   So I picked up I Am Jackie Chan:  My Life In Action.  You will really like it, if you like that kind of thing.  I came across this passage about his birth:

“Of course, my arrival in the Year of the Horse was hardly a coincidence; actually it took an awful lot of stubbornness on my part to pull it off!  Most babies are born nine months after being conceived.  I, on the other hand, stuck around an extra three months, until my mother was forced to go to a surgeon to bring me into the world, kicking and screaming, by caesarian section.”
He seems to believe it, too, because that’s how it’s always been told in his family.  Maybe it’s just clumsiness by the ghost writer, but somehow it struck me as an extremely Chinese kind of story — he’s just going along, talking about regular stuff, and then suddenly asking you to swallow this ridiculous, fantastic lie.  And then he just carries on with the story.  So crazy!
2.
At 35 I don’t have any gray hair.  But it is suddenly mixed with about 40% coarse, black, wiry hair (my normal hair is brown and wavy) that hovers an inch over my scalp like concertina wire.  This bothers me because it was literally only a few months ago that I finally figured out what to do with my hair.  It involves mousse, a hairdryer, and a round brush — cosmetic devices that used to be as foreign to me as these:

19th-century eyebrows, spots, cheek plumpers, and breast pads.

“Cheek plumpers?”  Anyway, now I don’t know what to do with my hair again.  Not asking for advice, just complaining.

3.
I love our mechanic very much.  He looks a little bit like Freddie Mercury’s responsible older brother.

Fat bottom girls, you make the suspension system wear out prematurely.

He pretends not to notice the oppressive pee smell in our van, and I pretend not to notice the overpowering, um, hardworking mechanic smell when he gets through fixing it.  He even drops the van off at our house when he’s done looking at it.  Today, he dropped it off and said the entire front brake system needs to be replaced.  I still like him, though.
4.
In case anybody missed it:  Do yourself a favor and read A Right To Be Merry: Five Things That I Don’t Know How Non-Catholics Live Without by my talented and mostly merry younger brother, Joe Prever.  Oh, really, WordPress– now I can’t add links?  Fine, here is the thing:

http://tinyurl.com/2wat6kq

Definitely worth copying and pasting into your browser.  I think this article ought to be made into a pamphlet and put in the backs of churches, where sullen teenagers hang out because they think they’re wasting a precious hour every week. It will cheer you up if you’re already Catholic, and if you’re not — well, what are you waiting for?  We got the goods.
5.If machines really did want to take over the world and enslave mankind,
then causing the kind of confusion documented in Damn You, Auto Correct (sigh: http://damnyouautocorrect.com/ ) would be an excellent way to start.  I had to close it before my husband got home, because I was embarrassed to be laughing so hard.  Warning:  it’s full of dirty words and crass sexual and potty humor — but it’s the absurdity that’s so funny.Here’s one of the tame entries:6.I’ve always pooh-pooh’d the idea that children from wholesome, spiritually-grounded families will be seduced by the glamors of evil if they’re allowed to go trick-or-treating. And yet how else do you explain this?

7.

I’ve always weaned my babies at 15 months or so because I’m generally already pregnant, and can’t deal with feeling so surrounded.  It’s like the St. Patrick breastplate:  babies with me, babies inside me, babies beneath me, babies above me, babies on my head, babies crawling around in my pant legs; etc.  And then at the end, instead of “Amen” I go “Aieeeee!” and decide it’s time to wean.

Aieeeee!

You can tell by their glazed, roving eyes that an older baby is mulling over all kinds of strange and fascinating ideas when they nurse, but it’s a revelation to have a kid old enough (mine is 18 months old) to express those ideas. The other day, she unplugged for a minute to say, “Say ‘cheese,’ Mama,” and then chomped back on again.   Later, she interrupted her snack long enough to inform me, “Vvvvvvvvvvvvvv.  Sound hamat!”  (Hamat = elephant.)  And this morning we had the following conversation:

Her:  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!

Me:       Here I am.

Her:      I wan’ noishe, Mama.

Me:       Okay, let’s nurse.

Her:     I so happy.

Ahhhhh.  Happy weekend, everyone!

 

Uncategorized

I don’t want to be a dog person.

I don’t want to get a dog.

I don’t want the fleas.  I don’t want the stink.  I don’t want the hairs.  I don’t want the scrabbling nails and the chewed-up doormat, and I don’t want the noises of chomping and slobbering.  I don’t want someone else making me feel guilty for not paying them enough attention.

And I don’t want to clean up any more poop.

Which brings me to my final fear:  I don’t want to turn into a dog person.  Honestly, I think I dread that even more than I dread the dog itself.

Now, I am sure that there are tens of thousands of courteous, upstanding dog lovers out there who are utterly clear-headed and responsible about their pets.  All I know is that, of the four neighbors who live within woofing distance of our house, three of them are dog owners . . . and they are neither courteous nor upstanding nor clear-headed nor responsible.  They are The Other Kind.

Yesterday, I was stalking around in my blasted November garden, pulling up stakes and feeling slightly ashamed of the incredibly rinky-dink job I did of caring for the poor vegetables this year (I don’t actually remember using a deflated  punching balloon to tie up the tomatoes, but there it is).  I was there not because I’m a good gardener who was prepping the soil for winter, but because we had reached that section in first grade arithmetic when I knew I had to get out, out, out of the house for a couple of seconds, or I  was going to strangle one bright but very obstinate first grader, who would sooner die than admit he understands place value.

So I’m out in my garden, and what do you suppose I find?  I found evidence — EVIDENCE, I tell you — that at least two large dogs have been romping in our yard.   Romping, among other activities.   And one of them, apparently, recently ate a fuzzy white sock.  Ugh.  Ugh.  Ugh.

If you weren’t already impressed enough that I used the word “evidence” instead of “enormous turd” to describe what I found, then allow me to impress you even further:  Guess what I did?

I’ll start with what I didn’t do.  I didn’t grab a rake, scoop up the poop, and fling it at the house of the dog’s owner.  I didn’t scream obscenities, and I didn’t threaten anyone with a hammer.  (Yeah, those were all things I did in my old neighborhood.  And they deserved it!  Lucky for me, it was a street where that kind of behavior was considered fairly unremarkable.)

All I did was knock (okay, maybe pound) on the door of the house from which two large dogs were seen to bound that morning, and explain that, while I do not want to be a bad neighbor, I do not own a dog, and so I get very, very, very angry when I find dog poop in my yard.   And that I would appreciate it if this never happened again.  Ever.  Ever.  Ever.   I also rolled my terrible eyes and gnashed my terrible teeth a bit.  Then I threw the poop at their house!  Ha ha, no, I didn’t.  I put it in a bag and threw it away. But I was still so angry, I went and cleaned my car, too.  That’ll show ‘em.

Why is someone else’s dog poop so upsetting, especially to someone who lives on the highway and regularly picks up trash galore?  I guess it’s different from other litter because some litterbugs just don’t care at all about how they live.  It’s disgusting, but at least they’re consistent:  they throw beer bottles in your yard, they throw beer bottles in their yard, they accidentally swallow the occasional beer bottle — whatever.  A medium-thick carpet of clinking, rolling empties is just an integral part of their chosen lifestyle, and wherever they go, that’s how it is.

image source

But the whole invasive pooping thing is different.  It makes my blood boil because these are people who clearly understand that it is undesirable to have dog poop in one’s yard.  It disgusts them; they do not want it.  And so the only alternative they can see is to send out the dogs to poop in someone else’s yard!  Because that is not disgusting!  Problem solved!  Dogs come home, everyone’s happy.

Now why is that uptight neighbor lady headed this way with a hammer?

I tell you, if I do manage to put a Paypal donate button on this blog, it’ll be for my bail.

Uncategorized

X-ray Specs

My daughter, exterior view:

and interior view:

That explains a thing or two.

(Thanks to my wonderful sister Abby Tardiff who, for some reason, agreed to spend some of her precious time drawing out the true nature of my little monkey child.  And don’t you wish it were still summer?)