Previous month:
July 2006
Next month:
September 2006

“Hey, every night Saturday night with Cookie Monster”

11cookiemonster_1I would feel like my life was terribly boring if I wasn’t so frickin’ frackin’ busy all the time.  Between raising a kid, work, school, our social schedule, and housework (you notice that’s last on the list, right?) even in my downtime I sometimes hear the ToDo list perched on my shoulder, sticking me with his pitchfork, wearing red lame and faux pearls and giggling hysterically.  Not to say I succumb to anxiety (that emotion has been beaten to a pulp by far more pressing things than undone housework, or even school for that matter – I mean, I’m paying for it, I can screw up if I want to!), but sometimes I have to fight against my own instincts in regards to the ol’ ToDos.  As in, even though the mess on the table is crooning to me, driving me nuts, I force myself to finish my school reading or whatever else is at the top of the priority list

But still… even busy it’s pretty boring stuff.  Sample: Monday – email work vendor, do laundry, clean house.  Woohoo! (Inject your own note of stressed out boredom here.)

So I’ve been thinking up ways to spice up the routine. Or at least amuse myself, because nothing can break up that stress better than a good chuckle (well, besides home visits from a personal masseuse). 

Self-Amusement Tip #1:  Buy stickers, decorate your work assignments or notes with them, especially if you can find a goofy looking one to represent that annoying co-worker.  (This works better if you work from home; otherwise tell co-worker that it’s a “prioritization system”.)

Tip #2:  Set up target decals in the sink, give yourself points every time you make a direct hit with the detergent.  Or, even better, use pictures of political figures or obnoxious celebrities.

Tip #3:  Change up random words in children’s books while reading to your kids.  For example, change “brown bear” to “brown booger”.  See if they notice.  It’s continuity training! 

Tip #4: Make up your own opera while folding laundry.  Write entire stanzas about Velveeta and the clothes dryer.  (My favorite is the one where the heroine housewife becomes a pirate!)  Encourage children to sing with you.  Singing well is not a priority. 

Tip #5:  Make cupcakes for no apparent reason.  Tell extended family members (who drop by without calling first) they’re for “global warming”. Serve to said family members as “breakfast” while children perform opera.

Tip #6:  Dress your child’s toys in gender inappropriate clothing.  (Cookie Monster looks great in heels, by the way, it really slims down his legs.)  Display around the room. 

Tip #7:  Give yourself stars for each ToDo completed.  After you have accumulated a few stars, reward yourself with a prize of your choice.  (Please note: chocolate, girly drinks, and new shoes are just a natural part of every day and so are not considered “prizes” per se, but necessary items for sanity.)

              - the weirdgirl


Top Albums 1-15

Ordering this part of the list was so difficult!  As I said before, I suck at ranking.  I think my top five are interchangeable; and the remaining ten are a close second.  (I was tempted to not rank this part of the list at all, but Keen said that was a cop out.  Booger.) I was also struggling with what to say about my final list.  How do you quantify why something speaks to you?  Subjective preferences are intangible; that’s half the problem.  The other half is I just don’t have the technical knowledge to really talk about music.  My family is full of musicians… but I’m not one of them.  I learned to play some, but it was always by memory not aptitude; I can’t even read music, much less talk theory.  My family often speaks (way) over my head in technical terms about music. (For example, I would say, “Chance really seems to like this song.” And various family members would respond, “Oh, that’s because it’s based on the blah blah blah scale which appeals to many people because it triggers blah harmonic blah resonance blah blah in the brain.”  Me, “Um… yeah, squeeze this teddy bear and it plays!”)

My talents in life are just different. (Yes, being a smartass IS a talent.)

By the way, did I mention we saw Shakira last week?  That girl rocks out!  She’s like a Latina Joan Jett.  I was really impressed. And I wanted to share.

In any case, these are the albums that I go back to again and again, the ones I crave to hear.  For every album that lacks commentary, just assume that my comment would include the words “love it” and “awesome”.  Any questions, just throw ‘em my way.

15. Hole – Live Through This

14. Offspring – Smash

13. Foo Fighters – The Colour & the Shape

I think I’ve liked everything the Foo Fighters have come out with, so I picked this album out of the lot because it had my favorite song.  Now you know.  (It’s “Everlong”.)

12. Everclear – Sparkle and Fade

Is it just me or is that a clear reference to Kate Chopin’s The Awakening in “

Santa Monica

”?

11. Soul Asylum – Grave Dancers

Union

10. Cheap Trick – Greatest Hits

Yes, it’s a hits album, but it’s a damn good one.

9. Better Than Ezra – Deluxe

I saw these guys in a local club, drawn to the show purely by the Pound reference of the band’s name.  (I know. I’m such a nerd.)  They ended up being one of my favorite groups.  I love small club shows.  Interesting things always happen.  (OK, well, they’re the same things that happen whenever you go to a club, but it’s the band members who ask you to check on some poor girl puking in the bathroom instead of some random guy hitting on her.  Hey, wait a minute…)

8. Blues Masters: Vol 1 Urban Blues

One thing I know isn’t apparent by this list is that I am a big blues fan.  However, almost all of my blues collection is made up of compilations or box sets.  I just tend to buy blues that way.  Sometimes there’s nothing better than popping in a CD and hearing a variety of artists - it’s like reading a poetry collection.  Anyway, this particular compilation is just one of my favorites.  It calms me down, cheers me up, and let’s me groove – especially on those hectic days.

7. Beastie Boys – Ill Communication

Ironically, I used to hate the Beastie Boys because my older brother played the Licensed to Ill album over and over and over. Actually, he just played “Brass Monkey” and “Fight for Your Right” over and over again, for what had to be a month solid.  Thankfully my parents got him headphones and I gave the Beastie Boys another listen… but not until a few years later.

6. Toad the Wet Sprocket – Fear

5. Adorable – Against Perfection

This group put out just one album and some singles so I won’t be surprised if no one has heard of them.  But they have a great sound and great lyrics, a dose of crooning balanced against angst and amazing guitar riffs.  I’m a sucker for great lyrics, great songwriting.  (Probably because, unlike music, I could discuss and analyze poetry until my family was bored to tears.) It’s hard to find but I would recommend hunting down a copy of this album to anyone who’s really feeling my list.

4. Violent Femmes – self-titled

3. REM – Eponymous

Overall, REM is one of my all time favorite bands.  They actually are the group that I credit with getting me into alternative rock.  I remember hearing them on the radio for the first time (“It’s the End of the World As We Know It”), the burning need to run out and buy their albums (alas, no money… bootlegs!), and getting teased by other kids for listening to them (dorks).  I think this album might be another compilation (though sometimes it seemed they just shuffled things around with old and new songs to release so… I don’t know, what would you call that?) but I don’t care.  Favorite song on here, “Don’t Go Back to

Rockville

”. It also has “It’s the End of the World…” so how can you go wrong?

2. Weezer – self-titled, Blue album

Awesome!  Love it!  The songs on here are great and most are much better than “Buddy Holly,” their breakout hit. “My Name is Jonas” rings in my head, so does “Surf Wax America”.

1. Counting Crows – August and Everything After

There are so many good songs on this album; Adam Duritz’s lyrics are amazing (and often metrical if you read them).  Beautiful and melancholy, they are also fantastic in concert.  Like with Foo Fighters, I haven’t been disappointed with an album yet.  I was hard pressed to choose an album but I had to go with this one overall.  (This Desert Life is great too.) 

I’ve been procrastinating posting this because Keen has actually been working on his list.  He sure is being slow about it, though.              - wg


The Post in Which I Am a Vain Bitch

There is something that I read and hear all the time that has always really bothered me, but I’ve never quite articulated how I felt.  After reading these emotional posts by Her Bad Mother and Girl’s Gone Child last week I’ve been thinking about it a lot and wanted to address it here. It’s about the dichotomy of body image in our culture; the fact that we get many, many messages to look a certain way to be socially acceptable, but that if we do put any time, thought, effort into our appearance we’re also “shallow”.  I just saw it again on someone else’s site. A blogger calling herself shallow because she cared that she was almost down to her pre-pregnancy weight.

I think this is utter bullshit. 

There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel pretty.  For women (and men) there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel attractive and wanting to look good.  There is nothing wrong with caring; it’s part of human nature.

We’ve all heard (or been told) the usual lines about “looks shouldn’t matter” and being “liked for who you are” not your clothes, etc. etc.  (And I got an extra helping of those sentiments from my hippie upbringing – with a good dash of feminism to boot – and so, extra guilt.)  But here’s the thing… most people feel better about themselves and have more confidence when they like how they look. Regardless if that means you dress like a Paris Hilton clone or a punk rocker, whether you just dab on a little lip gloss in the morning or are readying yourself for plastic surgery. Not that I don’t think there are people who take it to unhealthy extremes, because I think there are many who do. However putting some effort into your appearance, even just thinking about your appearance in general, does not automatically mean you are shallow and vain.

Reading these stories that other women share about hating their bodies or appearance is heartbreaking to me, and really disturbing. Especially when those same women talk about being afraid to give birth to daughters, because they want to spare their daughters the pain that they went through about their body image.  Stories about women being victimized because of some aspect of their appearance are even worse.  And yet it seems women still feel guilty about caring about body image, even a little.  It’s as if we acknowledge that media’s version of beauty is unrealistic, then we must also reject all conventions of beautifying ourselves – even if those conventions make us feel good.    

There has got to be path we can walk between feeling guilty if we do anything to look nice and taking personal appearance to an obsessive extreme.  A place where we can feel good about how we look, even taking some care about our appearance, without being deemed shallow and vain. And this has got to be a path we can teach our daughters. 

It wasn’t like I didn’t go through an awkward period (a rather long one actually).  It’s not like I wasn’t teased in high school for being skinny and too smart (plus being a bit “creative” about my fashion choices) and very, very uncool.  And then, conversely, again disliked as an adult in the work place for being… skinny and smart, but this time it was accompanied with snide speculations about who I must be sleeping with (because god forbid I was actually competent).  I’m not a beauty queen in any sense. But even though I didn’t/don’t like my nose or my skin or had a lot of confidence in myself as a teen, I can say I have never “hated” my body the way some women talk about themselves. 

I would have really liked it if someone back then had shown me how to choose the proper foundation (so there’s no orange line along your chin in every high school picture) or told me to start using face cream early or helped me pick flattering clothes.  Instead I had a mom who was hippie enough and a creative enough that she didn’t really care too much about those things. I was left floating to find my own way to self-confidence, along a path strewn with mixed messages (like a damn hurricane went through).  It would have been nice if someone could have helped steer me.  It took a while but as I grew older I did find my way. 

And maybe part of that was I just never bought into the bullshit, on either side, completely.  (You know I first got called “weirdgirl” in high school.  I’m sure it was meant as a dire insult, but being a bit weird I thought it was kind of a hoot.  Because I really don’t think I’m all that weird.  You know, except for thinking for myself.  I guess that’s pretty weird in high school.)

I like to feel like I look good and I don’t think I’m shallow.  Does that mean I spend hours grooming myself?  No, but I’m not going to feel guilty for when I do take some time or the fact that I care.  Neither am I going to criticize anyone else’s choices to do what makes them feel good about themselves.  Thinking that I’m fucking fabulous might be a bit vain, but given the choice between thinking I’m fabulous and feeling crummy about myself?  I’ll take a little vanity, thanks.  And I hope to God my children will too.

Of course, teaching our children to be healthy, well-rounded individuals is ultimately the goal, but that starts with what we buy into.  Our generation has been caught between idealistic feminist values and the era of supermodels and it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  We don’t have to buy into this bullshit guilt, the labels of “shallow and vain”, of “real beauty” vs. “artifice”.  Just as we don’t have to fall prey to the “beauty industry” and media’s warped standards.

I say renounce the bullshit, ladies.  Its time is over.   

                    - the weirdgirl


A Bloggy (Foggy) Year

So today marks a full year since I’ve begun blogging.  OK OK, actually four days ago was the anniversary… which I missed.  Just like I missed my 100th post and then my 200th post and any number of notable marks of commentary multitude.  (Yeah, I don’t know if that made sense either, but look at the pretty alliteration.)  I’m not real good at paying attention to stuff like that.  I tell myself (cough) it’s because I’m doing “more important” stuff.  But really I’m just a bit vague on time.

It really doesn’t feel like a year.  (Well, I don’t think anyone was reading the first six months, so do those count?)  It’s strange to think that this coming Halloween I could actually take Chance out trick or treating.  He’ll be able to walk along and hold the bag. He won’t be able to only cry and squirm in protest as we cram him into a costume. Hell, he might even say a few words by then!  As in, “Knock it off Mom!  I’m not your monkey boy!”  Whereas last Halloween he seemed like a newborn and I was still struggling with being a “new” mom.  Soon he’ll be in grade school, bringing home worms as pets, and begging for bottle rockets (which I’ll have to make sure KEEN doesn’t give him). Shit.  Is it just me or is time suddenly careening out of control?

One thing I have noticed about this whole blogging enterprise, it not only provides me with a creative outlet it really is a measure by which I can see time move, the chronicle of changes in the last year.  I tend to remember things by way of, “Oh yeah, when I wrote that post Chance was doing this,” or “We took that trip when such and such controversy was going around the blogosphere”.  And so my sense of time may have become a little less vague because of its entwinement with blogging.

Wow.  I’m not sure if that’s useful or just really really sad. 

In any case, happy anniversary blog!  Let’s see how long I can keep this going.

                 - the weirdgirl

P.S. On another note, I’m pretty sure my cat has been trying to take over my blog.  Oh sure, it seems like she’s just sitting on my keyboard.   But if it’s truly innocent why is it every time I catch her there is an “Invalid Login Attempt” message on the Typepad login page?  Seriously, I think she’s trying to crack my password.

What would a cat write about?


Top Albums 16-30

Here’s the next installment of my top albums.  Sorry posts have been slow forthcoming.  Lately it’s been really hard getting any quiet time to write.  I haven’t written a whole lot for this list so please, if anyone has any questions drop me a line.

Oh, and since I’m not covering classic rock in this list I thought I’d share with you my favorite Led Zeppelin song (just so you know I’m not without any culture).  My favorite Led Zeppelin song is “Fool In the Rain”.  (I thought about making people guess, but that would have been too hard.)  Anyone out there with a non-traditional Zeppelin favorite?

(I just realized I’ve been doing the titles on these posts backwards, too. And I just corrected my list progression in the last group. Damnit! I can’t get this right!)

30. Cake – Fashion Nugget

29. Blind Melon – self-titled

28. Prince – Purple Rain

27. Sublime – 40oz to Freedom

Even though my favorite Sublime song (“What I Got” – really, it’s more of a mantra) is on their self-titled album (you know the one with “Santeria” on it) I just enjoy this album a lot.  How can you not smile at lyrics like “He was a nazi, yeah yeah yeah”?  (For those of you who are not familiar with the song, it’s not an endorsement of the third Reich in any way.)

26. Dave Matthews – Crash

I’ve liked other Dave Matthews stuff, but this album just caught me from beginning to end. I wanted to play “Crash” at my wedding, but we couldn’t figure out a way to work in a song about S&M without it seeming weird. 

25. Sex Pistols – The Great Rock & Roll Swindle

What?  Compilation album?  La la la… I can’t hear you.

24. Morrissey – Bona Drag

When I’m channeling my inner gay man and singing Morrissey songs, Keen says I sound just like him.  I pretend that’s a compliment.

23. The Presidents of the United States of America - self-titled

22. Soundgarden – Superunknown

21. Nirvana – In Utero

This is a fantastic album. I know Nevermind is still many people’s favorite, but this is just a fantastic album. 

20. The Flaming Lips – The Satellite Heart

19. Train – pre-album  My favorite Train album was actually this CD they burned themselves and gave out when they played in local bars.  It’s a great CD and is really just like the “official” album but the song progression is different (and really, sometimes that makes all the difference). I’ve been a little disappointed with the band since they’ve gone more mainstream. Not that I think selling your art for money is bad (I’m not into hating a group because they “sold out” or any of that); I just think they’ve lost some of their soulful edge.

18. Sponge – Rotting Pinata

Love it, love it, love it!  “Plowed” is so fucking awesome.  “Molly” is pretty damn good, too.  But “Plowed”… it used to be one of my at-work-angst songs.

17. Mary’s Danish – American Standard

16. Indigo Girls – 1200 Curfews, Disc 2

This album is currently MIA but I love it.  Any time I can hear “Closer to Fine” and “Galileo” in one sitting, I’m pretty happy.  They just make my day.


The Nuances of Dispersal

It seems a little light on the Internet lately.  (Actually I’ve been a little light going on the Internet lately, too.)  Lots of people doing other things than blogging.  This is the part of the summer that makes me start to long for Fall.  The frenetic time where everyone seems to be trying to cram in one last vacation, trip to the beach, summer picnic, backyard bar-b-que, house moves/remodels/repairs – everything you want to get done before the weather ends, school starts or work picks up again.  Oh yeah, and you have to get ready for those too.

In the last three weeks I’ve managed to cut open the top of my finger with a pair of pruning shears, catch a bit of Chance’s cold, pick up a stomach bug right after that, and then fall over a baby gate while I was holding Chance. That last one was the most emotionally disturbing (even over the, you know, pruning my finger).  And what did I do?  I did what any parent would do… I shifted mid-fall so that Chance wouldn’t hit anything and I took the hit.  He was fine.  I banged up my ankle and elbow pretty bad and limped around a couple of days. (My biggest concern was that I had gotten called in to the office for the first time in six months and I wasn’t sure I could get my gimpy foot into a heel.)

I haven’t felt rushed to finish up summer these last couple of weeks like some folks have, but I certainly seem to be having the physical equivalent.  I start back to school next week.  I re-applied for my graduate program, registered for classes, ordered all my books, and bought a parking permit all online.  I got email notifications for everything and my books and permit shipped to the house.  I didn’t have to step onto campus once (or even leave my chair).  Things sure have changed.  But not too much.  I know my classes will be in the same air-conditioned challenged building they’ve always been in… and on the fourth floor.

 

I’ve been dragging.  I have a million ideas rattling around in my skull like gumballs and no focus to get anything out.  Hopefully I won’t pick the wrong moment to belch out something half-chewed and spit-covered.  (Oh, wait…)  Or maybe it’s just this age Chance is at.  He just. Keeps. Going.

Fall always seems quieter. Movies on rainy days, the smell of baking. 

Ah, you can feel it now too, can’t you?              – the weirdgirl


little weirdboy

I don't know why my son is doing this, but...

Dsc01421

... it makes for some cute pictures. 

"Sometimes if you want to get in there good, Mom, you've got to leave a mark."

Dsc01424_1

"I'm so sexy,  I'm a rock star!"

Dsc01422_rotated

So happy, so proud.

Dsc01419

Silly kid, I love you!               - the weirdgirl


Top Albums 31 - 45

Next installment!  Sorry for the delay… it’s been a lovely week of a cold followed by stomach flu.  (Can you say “lowered resistance”?  I really should get back in the habit of taking vitamin C.) 

I just realized that I was ordering these backwards from everyone else (see my last list – as compared to other people’s lists).  Which would make sense - the way everyone else is doing it - because then the top albums are a surprise as you scroll down the page.  I think the latent rebel in me just has to be different… or ding-y… one of those.   Of course, I still don’t have any pictures... but I did manage to write a little bit this time. 

Again here are the rules.

  • One album per artist.  Keen has already nixed this rule, as how can anyone not have at least two Led Zeppelin albums in their top ten?
  • No greatest hits packages, compilations, or boxed sets. – This one might get stretched a little.
  • No artists that would make me look hip or cool.  – I seriously don’t even know what this means. Can someone give me an example?
  • I must own the LP, CD, or cassette tape of every one of these entries. No mp3s. 

45. Dada - Puzzle

44. Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense

43. The Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me

I realize much of my list (if not all) is like the reading list for “How To Be Alternative 101”.  But you must understand, this town o’ mine was a supporter of Top 40 and Spanish stations and that was about it. I had been picking up bits and pieces here and there of other music but was really too young to have the resources (i.e. money and allowed to go to clubs) to explore lots of alternatives beyond the radio.  And then… then one station started playing “Modern Rock” (I actually remember the day they switched from a Top 40 format) and it was like the heavens opened up and sang down joyous choruses of angry punks, moody synthesizers, and ironic, political pop.  My. Whole. World. Changed.  (Stop laughing.)

42. The Clash – Combat Rock

41. Devo – Now It Can Be Told (Devo at the Palace 12/9/88)

This is one of those albums that I bought for one or two songs as a teenager and then just fell in love with all the songs.  I suppose a concert recording doesn’t count as an “album” but tough titties.  Their version of “Satisfaction” would just ring in my head for days.

40. Pearl Jam – Pearl Jam

Favorite song, “Elderly woman behind the counter in a small town.”  I always have trouble getting open that dumb double notch CD cover, though.

39. No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom

38. Glen Phillips – Abulum

This is a great album. Glen Phillips was previously from Toad the Wet Sprocket but this is a different sound. I highly recommend it if you occasionally like some folksy rock.  “Fred Meyers” and “Drive By” are great songs.  How do you beat lyrics like this?

“And I prayed Dear God, if you save this dog / I will never get high, I will never jack off / I will be all the things that I should but have not / I’ll be a good boy from now on.”

37. Sarah McLaughlin – Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

36. Local H – As Good As Dead

35. Gin Blossoms – New Miserable Experience

34. English Beat – What is Beat?

I think I bought this around the same period as Devo.  Some favorite songs: “Tears of a Clown”, “Mirror in the Bathroom”.  I’m pretty sure my mother hated anything ska, reggae, or music with influences of either.  She probably heard me play this over and over again in my room.  Yet she only complained if I took it to the big stereo downstairs. (And why would I do that?  I was a teenager; if I wasn’t hiding in my room I was “out”.)

33. Green Day – Dookie

Yes, I know it’s their breakout album that everyone bought, but it’s still my favorite.  I saw them right before this album hit, opening for a million other bands at one of those giant concerts.  They had a great attitude and kept playing past their allotted time until they were threatened with getting kicked off the stage.  (And even though they have just as big a following and a similar sound Blink 182 will NOT be appearing on this list. It’s not that they don’t have songs that I like; but they’re attitude just irks me.)

32. Jane’s Addiction – Nothing Shocking

31. Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses 

I briefly thought I was losing my mind when I tried finding this album.  It was, yet again, one of the albums I had on cassette and had somehow neglected to yet transfer over to CD.  (Yeah, I don’t know how I managed that either.)  Anyway, I must have listened to this and Violator ten million times (oh, and Some Great Reward and all the other Depeche Mode albums… wasn’t it required for mod teens?)  I was starting to think that I must have had a bootleg copy with both sets of songs and that probably wouldn’t qualify as an “album”.  Then, finally, I found it. Thus validating my post-partum memory in some small measure. 


How Babies Show Love – An Observational Report

Classic examples, definitions, and stats

The Headbutt – unintentional; includes any collision with head or face, including orbital, jaw or (rare) back of head; frequency: rare; pain/love ratio: 9/3

Stomping on the Balls – unintentional, motivated by desired proximity; frequency: occasional; pain/love ratio: 10/6

The Nipple Pull, or classically, the “purple nurple” – research unclear whether this is a sign of affection or if the proteburance of said breasts simply make them an ideal climbing tool; frequency: occasional; pain/love ratio: 7/undetermined

“Love” Bites – unintentional to highly intentional; cutesy name does not make up for annoyance; frequency (lately): recurrent; pain/love ratio: 7/0

The Chest-Hair Swirl/Pull – intentional motivated by curiosity; frequency: rare; pain/love ratio: 4/1

Hugging – intentional; frequency: recurrent; pain/love ratio: 0/10

Hugging with Throat jab – unintentional, frequency: rare; pain/love ratio: 4/10

Hugging with Headbutt – unintentional, frequency: occasional; pain/love ratio: 6/10

Hugging with “Love” Bite – so not cool intentional, frequency: rare; pain/love ratio: 8/1

The Nail Scratch/Gouge – unintentional; this includes fingers as well as toes, more aggressive grooming recommended; frequency: occasional; pain/love ratio: 5/5

Drool, deposits of – initially unintentional, increasing intention with age; frequency: recurrent; pain/love ratio: 10/3  (if accompanied by “kiss”, pain/love ratio: 10/10)

Goofy Smile after a long day with all of the above – intentional; frequency: recurrent; pain/love ratio: 3/100

                 - the weirdgirl