Saturday, September 5, 2009


Every now and then, someone will use a word in a way that takes me by surprise and delights me. Here are two recent examples:

While reading technical medical jargon yesterday to learn more about a condition, I ran across this phrase: “exquisitely tender.” How fun to stumble upon a word that makes most of us think of beauty, but is used to describe pain. I also think it seemed dissonant to find such an elegant expression in the midst of medical-ese.

I heard an explosion described on the news as “terrific.” That sense of the word has definitely fallen out of use. When I have my next migraine, I’m going to tell people it’s a terrific one.

On an unrelated note, I overheard a conversation not too long ago that demonstrated how NOT delightful words can be for some people.

The first thing I heard was a woman saying, “NO! Don’t say it.” This is the rest of their conversation:

“Don’t way what?”

“That word. I can’t stand that word. I can’t buy the stuff because I can’t say the word. I use rocks instead.”

“You mean mul….”


“Okay. Can I say ‘fulch’?”

“It’s filthy. Just let’s . . . I know it’s weird, but that word hurts to hear and hurts to say. I thought I was crazy until I met a woman in Florida who has a word like that. Hers is cul-de-sac. If you say it around her, she’ll scream and cry. Whenever she buys a house, she has to avoid cul-de-sacs. Like I use rocks instead of chips. That’s what I call it: chips.”

“That’s what you call mulch?”

And then there was a terrific shriek.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spam I Am

For whatever reason, today I found myself fantasizing about responding to the gobs of spam I get. It was a good way to pass the time while trying to kick a headache. These are all real subject lines from e-mail in my spam folder.

So I didn't really respond to any, but it was a good cathartic exercise just to pretend.

Get a Risk-free CD to get started!
I prefer the risky CD. Thank you.

Need money for college?
Need money to buy better demographic data?

Welcome to the good life
Thank you. Good to be here.

Save 3 dollars on earth friendly cat litter
First, please hyphenate your compound modifier. Second, I find it hard to be concerned about the earth when it comes to cat litter. I’m more concerned about my gag reflex and the ghastly smell. I promise to recycle, buy the right light bulbs, and compost, but I like my cat poop buried in chemical compounds toxic enough to make me forget that animals eliminate in my house several times a day.

I found you a new job
That was so sweet of you.


Best-value packages for satellite TV
No thank you. I’m trying to avoid the whole mind-as -“savage torpor”-thing, as Wordsworth or Blake or Coleridge said. I’d probably remember which one if I hadn’t watched so much TV in college.

Get a free child safety ID kit from Gerber
Here’s a free marketing tip: Sending an e-mail that has “free child” anywhere in the subject line to a tired middle-aged mom will land you in the spam folder quicker than you can say “mini-van.”

Make your saxual dreams come true
It is so freakishly bizarre that you know about my tryst-with-a-bad-speller fantasy.

I HV???

Dual Cop Coffeemaker for Two Never Tasted So Good
We’re supposed to taste the coffeemaker??


Saturday, April 11, 2009

What I've learned during the first 17 years that might help me make it through the next 17 or so

Karl and I celebrated 17 years together on April 1. Here are my thoughts on what I've learned so far.

Joint property is a myth. His books are his and must not be dog-eared or held open so widely that “the spine might break.” My French fries are mine. If you want some, order your own.

Personal hygiene practices were not meant to be shared. We do not use the bathroom together or in front of each other. I know couples who do. I do not understand it. Sustaining a romance over the long haul requires a little mystery.

Housekeeping duties WERE meant to be shared. We’ve come a long way since our famous battle of wills over the dishes some 15 years ago, which ended in throwing out our entire stock and buying new ones after maggots invaded. Long story. We do better now.

Learn to be a good passenger. If you can’t, at least learn to be direct in your nagging. Karl’s “GOOD GOD B!” comes and goes quickly, and then it’s over. When I bury my nagging in sarcasm, it always leads to an argument: “Is there a reason you’re not braking until you’re within two inches of that bumper? Are you, like, testing them to see if they’ll work in the event we need to go from 60 to 0 in 2 seconds?”

Cook together. It took us many years to get to this one, but it’s done wonders.

You don’t have to share every interest, but the interests you share should at least complement each other. My evenings spent kickboxing in the living room did not go well with his evenings practicing lectio divina.

Make room for conversations that have nothing to do with the children. Our late nights spent discussing the merits of a movie or book remind us that we were once people who could think intensely about things that had nothing to do with how to manage this week’s soccer practices or what we should plan for the next birthday party.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cholera and Whores

I’ve just finished Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, and this sentence wants to stick with me for some reason:

“It was a meditation on life, love, old age, death:
ideas that had often fluttered around her head like nocturnal birds but dissolved into a trickle of feathers when she tried to catch hold of them.”
I don’t know why it grabs me the way it does, except maybe that motherhood makes me feel that way. Not only do the big ideas dissolve and trickle, but the little ones too: who was I supposed to call, what was I supposed to buy, where am I supposed to be tonight, etc. Reproduction has completely compromised my ability to hold any one thought in my head for too long before it flutters away.

Maybe it’s too easy to blame motherhood. It could be adult-onset ADHD.

Now onto 100 Years of Solitude.

And about those whores….

John’s inability to pronounce certain words correctly led to a profound misunderstanding last week. It went like this:

John: “Hannah and I are playing whore-land.”

Me: “Excuse me?”


Me: (exchanging bemused glances with Karl) “And what exactly happens in whore-land?”

John: “Well, there are whores and they have horns on their heads. Two horns.”

Me: “Why do they have horns?”

John: “Because all whores have horns.”

Me: “Where did you learn about whore-land?”

John: “In Goosebumps.”

At this point, I understood what was going on and cracked up. He was talking about horror land, something that comes up in the Goosebumps series, but the poor kid couldn’t say it right. Our main concern was that he’d play horror land at school, where mangling that word might get him in serious trouble with Sister Mary. For much of the week I worried I’d get one of her notes: “Must talk. John is playing whores at recess.”

Happy Sunday,

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oedipus R Us

Last night, John Matthew reached up to grab my face with his little hands. Holding each of my cheeks and pulling my face close to his, he said, “I’m going to kiss you like Lancelot kisses Guinevere.”

If he can hold on to lines like that, he’ll have a very successful romantic life.

Karl overheard and yelled, “Oh no you’re not.”

It seems John watched Camelot while visiting his Opa a few weeks ago. He’s been in a fantasy world of knights, kings, castles, and courtly love ever since.

Maybe the movie explains why he came home from school one day last week with a story about being “in loved.”

“Mommy, Maia hugged me and now we’re in loved,” he told me.

“You are?” I asked. “And what does that mean?”

John said, “It means I’m going to marry her. She likes animals like I do.”

“Where will you live?”

“We can live at Maia’s house.”

“And what will you do all day at Maia’s house when you’re married?”

“I guess just play a lot.”

Sure enough, I met Maia a couple of nights ago and her story is the same. She introduced herself to me and Karl—all the while with her arm around little John’s shoulders—and told us she loved John and was going to marry him. Bold little thing. And awfully cute. John blushed the whole time. Amazing.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas on the Road

We started Christmas at Grandmom and Opa's, where we spent Christmas Eve with the Wallhausser gang. After good eats and the family gift exchange, we scattered reindeer food on the front walk and turned in for the night. Christmas morning, Hannah and John awoke to find gifts and stockings from Santa and hoof prints in the half-eaten reindeer food. A quick breakfast fueled us for the trek to Louisville, where all the cousins were gathered. We ate first--the traditional turkey, ham, dumplings, banana croquettes, etc., and then Uncle Jason distributed gifts. We were buried in wrapping paper within minutes. After a few hours, we drove back to Berea to pick up a few things and drop off Hannah (who stayed with Opa and Grandmom for a few days), and then came back home. John was up until midnight playing with his new toys.

A good Christmas. Enjoy the pics.

Happy New Year,