Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Foul on George Blackburn

I was listening to WCBU on my way to work this morning and heard interviews with the two republican candidates for Peoria County Coroner, Johnna Ingersoll and George Blackburn. It's not a race that really fires up my political juices, but I did feel the need to call foul on Blackburn.

Admittedly, my knowledge of the coroner's office is pretty limited. However, it seems to me that someone who has been a deputy coroner and the coroner (Ingersoll) is more qualified for the job than someone who works for the Sheriff's office and owns a property management business (Blackburn).

But what really irked me this morning was Blackburn's statement that he was more qualified for the job because his schooling is in "the humanities, like psychology and sociology." What?? The Humanities are Classics, History, Languages, Literature, Law, Performing Arts (Music, Theater, Dance), Philosophy, Religion, and the Visual Arts. Psychology and Sociology are social sciences, not humanities.

You would think that, if he really had been educated in psychology and sociology, he might be aware of this fact. I'm pretty sure the first day of any psychology and sociology class covers the classification. And since one of my majors in college was psychology, I'm pretty sure of this fact.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What Not To Do When You Can’t Sleep

I was up from about 1:30 to 3:30 this morning, not by choice. My son woke up coughing, coughing, coughing and I finally got him back to sleep after some TLC and warm milk. But then I discovered I couldn’t fall back to sleep so I went downstairs to see what kind of late night bad television I could watch.

Bad mistake.

I turned on HBO and saw a show entitled “Middle School Confessions.” I thought it would be entertaining to see what was on the minds of middle school students these days. Now I really wish I didn’t know.

In addition to the expected discussions about eating disorders, academic pressure, cliques, violence, depression, and alcohol use, there was a portion of show dedicated to sex. The section started out with the statistic: “31% of 14 year olds say they have had sexual intercourse.” Okay, I thought, a little higher than I would have guessed and certainly not my experience, but okay.

But the rest of the show was devoted to profiling the sexual activities of two 12 year old girls. Both of them (and their friends) talked at length about making out, fingering, oral sex, blow jobs, hand jobs, anal sex, and on and on. OH MY GOD. They talked about how they had done all of these things with tons of different boys but had never “gone all the way” so they thought everything else was okay.

Twelve year old girls. One of them looked like she was about eight years old - long straight blond hair, bright blue eyes, rosy cheeks. And she was the one who boasted about her reputation for “giving good head” to the boys from her school. Another mother wrote this girl’s mother a note (anonymously) saying that she had heard the girl had this reputation. The girl’s mother confronted her and she admitted all of it and, frankly, didn't seem that embarrassed about it. She talked about oral sex like I would have talked about hair ribbons and lip gloss when I was 12.

The other girl looked a little closer to her own age but acted like she was in college. They showed footage of her drinking at a party with about 50 other kids and then hooking up with a slightly older boy. She said during her interview, “Yeah . . . some weekends, I get so drunk and then I wake up in the morning and can’t believe I did that stuff with that boy.” She’s twelve years old!! I can’t remember uttering a sentence like that until I was well into college. (And that certainly doesn’t make it right - just more age appropriate.)

It was just so incredibly sad. And scary. Most of all, it made me really scared to be raising kids right now. I turned off the TV and went back upstairs and laid in bed with my eyes wide open. For all of the troubles I have had as a parent, I was actually thankful that, at that moment, I knew for a fact both of them were safely asleep in their beds.

Because, even though getting up in the middle of the night with a sick baby is exhausting, it is much better than being up in the middle of the night wondering where your child is and what he is doing. Because, even though potty training has tested my patience and tenacity, at least I don’t have to have a conversation about why you don’t want a reputation for giving the best blow job in the 6th grade.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Monkey See . . .

When I picked up my little girl from day care on Friday night, one of her teachers said to me, "Oh, by the way, you might want to watch out this weekend. She might try to flush stuff down the toilet."

I turned to look at her and said, incredulously, "She DID that today?"

The teacher said, "Oh, no, but we have had several children do that today and in the past couple of weeks. We have had the plumber come out and even had to have the whole toilet replaced."

Oh my god. It shocked to me to think that this happened at her day care once, let alone several times. Several questions came to mind. (1) How closely are these two year olds being supervised if they can get a large item into the bathroom and flush it before a teacher notices and do it more than once? (2) What makes her think my kid would do this sort of thing? Monkey see, monkey do?

Well, my little girl is not a particularly destructive child and I would never think she would do this sort of thing. (My son - that's another story.) But, despite their individual personalities and destructive natures, I can't imagine that they would be unsupervised in my house long enough to accomplish this task. In addition, my house is small enough that I can pretty much see what is going on in all rooms on one floor at a time.

Just in case, she and I had a long talk about what goes in the toilet and what doesn't go in the toilet. Of course, this weekend I had decided to seriously start potty training and the talk fit right in to our plan. Pee and poop and toilet paper in the toilet, only! In her infinite two year old wisdom, she asks, "What about throw up?" OK, you got me - throw up goes in the toilet too. I say this as I am thinking in the back of my mind, "Yeah, throw up goes in the toilet. If I could only be that lucky . . . ."

Friday, January 25, 2008

My Groin, My Groin!

When my nephew, my parents’ first grandchild, was born, they put a great deal of thought into what they would like to be called by their grandchildren. We don’t use the traditional labels of "Grandma" or "Grandpa" in my family, so the names had to be somewhat unusual. My mother chose to be called, "Gran" and so that is what my children and my nephew call her.

Unbeknownst to her at the time, Gran happens to be a very hard word for small children to say. My nephew called her "Gee" for a long time. Pronounced like "Ghee" (rhymes with key), not like "Golly-gee" or the letter G. My brother and I got a huge laugh out of calling our mother, "Oh, clarified butter! Come here, clarified butter!!"

Well, my little girl can’t quite say Gran either - it sounds like "Groin." In the end, this turns out to be much funnier than calling my mother clarified butter. Last night, the three of us were looking at some pictures and my little girl saw a picture of Gran and said, "There’s Groin!" My son thought that was funny and reached toward the picture to grab it. (His language skills are not as good - he said, "Ugh!") Thinking he was trying to take Gran away from her, she yelled, "NO! MY GROIN! MY GROIN!!"

Neither one of them understood why I was laughing so hard. All I could picture was my brother and I lying on the floor, clutching our lower stomachs and yelling, "My groin, oh, my groin!"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Really Think About It

As a follow up to a comment I made on Peoria Chronicle, I thought I would expand on the serious collateral consequences of being a convicted felon. Many people focus on the effect of the traditional concept of punishment - time spent in jail or prison. However, for most felons, the more devastating consequences come after they have served their time and reenter society.

Of course, the consequences may depend on the crime and the jurisdiction of conviction. However, this is a basic list of the things convicted felons cannot do. Most of us take these things for granted. What would you do?

Convicted felons cannot hold public office. They cannot serve on a jury. They cannot possess firearms. They cannot vote. They are ineligible to serve in the armed forces. They may be denied public housing or housing assistance. They cannot hold drivers licenses in certain circumstances. They may be barred from adopting or becoming foster parents. They may be denied food stamps or other such benefits. They can be barred from being the personal representative or an executor of an estate (meaning they cannot serve as an executor for their parents). They cannot be designated as a Representative Payee for a Social Security benefits recipient (meaning that they cannot receive a disabled child's benefit payments, even if they are a single parent).

Here is a list of professions or jobs that felons are barred from holding in most states:

Acupuncturist
Air Conditioning Mechanic
Architect
Asbestos Worker
Attorney
Certified Public Accountant
Chiropractor
Clinical Laboratory Technician
Commercial Driver
Correctional Officer
Cosmetologist
Dentist
Dietitian
Electrician
Funeral Director
Insurance Broker
Insurance Agent
Investment Advisor
Land Surveyor
Marriage and Family Counselor
Massage Therapist
Notary Public
Nurse
Nursing Home Administrator
Operating Engineer
Optometrist
Pharmacist
Physician
Plumber
Police Officer
Principal
Property Manager
Psychologist
Real Estate Broker
Real Estate Salesperson
Real Estate Appraiser
Securities Broker
Securities Agent
Security Alarm Agent
Social Worker
Taxicab/Limo Operator
Teacher
Veterinarian

Even if they aren't barred from a particular job, would you hire someone to work with you in your business if they answered yes to the question, "Are you a convicted felon?"

And we wonder why the recidivism rate is so high. Where are felons supposed to work? How are they supposed to feed themselves and their families? Where should they live? How should they pay for all of this without a job?

Sure, they have all committed a crime against society in some fashion - some worse than others. But, after serving their time, many people feel they have "paid their debt to society." Just how long should society continue to collect this debt? Do we really think every crime is deserving of a lifetime of misery? I certainly hope not. Unfortunately, this is the system we have in the United States. Who is going to change it?

Well, one thing is for sure - not the felons. They can't vote or hold public office. And guess who that leaves . . . .




For more information, read this report published by the District of Columbia Public Defender's Office or this report published by the Department of Justice.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Well, I Would NEVER Write a Blog

My mother was in town this weekend, having fun while my dad was snowshoeing in the UP of Michigan. (That's a lie - since it was 23 below in the UP, without considering the windchill, they just sat around and drank, but anyway . . . .) So, my mom was in town for the long weekend helping me around the house, bonding with the kids, etc.

While fixing dinner on Saturday night, we got to talking about the books my book club is reading. I was really disappointed I had to miss our last book club meeting because I had a lot to say about the book. I was telling my mom that our next book is called Drunk, Divorced, and Covered with Cat Hair. We were laughing because I was kind of embarrassed to go to the store and buy it. Plus, when I went to Borders, I couldn't find it and I was too embarrassed to ask.

My mom was laughing with (at) me about this and asked why I was so embarrassed. Well, it just hits a little too close to home . . . you know . . . drunk . . . divorced . . . covered with cat (and dog) hair . . . still single after all these years . . . not getting any younger . . . or thinner . . . etc. My loving mother said, "Well, at least you're not divorced." Thanks, mom.

I admitted I didn't know much about the book but I did know that the author was a blogger and the book is substantially based on her blog entries. I also said I think a few book club members picked it because they have blogs.

As an aside, my parents are not aware that I write this blog. The only reason they don't know is that they would not approve of the way I talk about my sister-in-law. They agree with me, but they would not like that I talk semi-publicly about her in such an honest way. I find it therapeutic to bitch about my sister-in-law, so, my parents don't know about the blog.

Anyway, my mother says, emphatically, "OH, I would NEVER write a blog! Having all of that personal stuff out there in my profession? I mean, just like you, I feel it is not very professional to expose yourself to all of your clients and the public in such a way. Oh, I can't imagine all of those people reading all of that stuff about me."

Ummmm . . . so, I guess it was not the appropriate moment to come out of the closet about the blog. I guess I will wait until my book deal includes an nice big advance and then tell them about the blog.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dance Me to the End of Love

Every night before bed, I read one story to my son before he goes to bed. Being only 13 months old, he usually doesn’t listen, but I still read to him every night. Now that we have been joined by a little girl, she gets to have two stories before she goes to bed. She gets to pick any two books she wants me to read to her from our children’s books shelves.

I have quite a few children’s books because I was a preschool teacher and I worked in a bookstore for many years. I started buying books I liked even before I had children. When I was a bookseller, a beautiful picture book came in and I fell in love with it. It was book where the words were Leonard Cohen’s lyrics "Dance Me to the End of Love" paired with paintings from Matisse. It is an absolutely spectacular book, but the combination tends to be a little more adult than a regular picture book.

Last night, one of the books she picked was "Dance Me to the End of Love." I hesitated, but agreed to read it to her. I figured that it can’t hurt for her to know an expression of deep love for another person. Like every other time I have read the book, I get tears in my eyes. I’m not an overly sentimental person, but I like to think that when I find that person, these words would be representative of our bond:

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love

Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We're both of us beneath our love, we're both of us above
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love

After I was done reading, she looked up at me, smiled and said, "That’s a pretty book, Mommy."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Panhandling to a Cold Heartless Bitch

Maybe I am a cold heartless bitch, but I never give money to people who ask for it on the street. The main reason I don’t do it is because it think it is highly dangerous to open your purse in front of a stranger, take your wallet out, and let them see how much money you have. I just think that is stupid and, frankly, asking to become a victim.

I also don’t do it because I donate to charity and I volunteer quite a bit of my time. I really do feel as if I give back to my community. Could I do more? Sure - everyone could do more for their community. But I give what I can considering my circumstances. In addition, the very nature of my job could be considered charity, mostly because I could make twice as much money selling my soul as a corporate lawyer in a big firm.

But, deep down, in my heart of hearts, I know the reason I don’t give to panhandlers is because I think panhandling is rude. When I am walking down the street (particularly downtown Peoria), I am on my way somewhere. I am not just wandering aimlessly, strolling along waiting for someone to talk to me. I just don’t have time to listen to your sob story about your mother’s sisters’ uncle’s dog’s baby needing a foot operation and you can’t get there because you are too weak from the medical problem to hail a cab or eat or dress or whatever and just a few dollars will help you get there. I don’t have the time - I am going somewhere, or did my determined footsteps and failure to slow down not clue you into that?

And besides, I never buy these stories. Some people say, "I don’t give them money because they aren’t going to buy food - they’re going to buy drugs or alcohol!!" You know what, I don’t care if the panhandler is going to buy a Big Mac or an 8-ball of crack with the money he gets from begging. He can do whatever he wants with it - he earned it by duping someone into giving it to him. The problem lies with the people giving him money.

Yesterday, I was crossing Main Street downtown and a woman starting yelling at me from across the street. I was crossing toward her, but I couldn’t tell what she was saying until I was close to her. She gave me this big story about how her car ran out of gas (just down the block, next the Pere Marquette) and the gas station "just over there" wanted five dollars for a gas can and she only had three dollars and she needed to get to the hospital to see her mom.

I said, as politely as possible, "Sorry, I can’t help you" and turned to walk away. She said, "But ma’am, it’s really true - you can go get in my car and try to start it. I ran outta gas!" I said, "I’m sorry, but I am on my way somewhere" and turned to leave again.

It was then that I felt a hand on my sleeve. She touched me! I spun around to glare at her, but she only continued, "The man at the gas station just over there won’t give me a gas can without five dollars. Don’t you have a few dollars you could spare?" I held my hand out and said, "No, I have no cash with me right now" and backed away. She then turned bitchy and said, "FINE, WHATever" and walked away in a huff.

You see, I knew she was lying from the beginning. Aside from my dim view of all stories told to me by people in the street, this story’s facts didn’t add up. There is no gas station "just over there" in downtown Peoria in relation to the corner we were standing on. The nearest gas station is more than six blocks away, over the interstate. By the looks of her, there was no way she had just walked from her car (by the Pere) to that BP station and then back. Her hands weren’t frozen, her ears and cheeks weren’t red, and she wasn’t all that cold looking, considering she only had a sweatshirt on. But more than the lying, what really irritated me was that she felt she was entitled to a handout from a complete stranger on the street.

So as not to be misconstrued, this is not a statement about welfare recipients or any needy people who receive public aid of any kind. I believe we should, as a country, provide for those who are unable to provide for themselves in whatever ways necessary. I also believe we should do much, much more than we do now to address poverty and sub-standard living in this country. But this entails a system - a way of monitoring who is really in need of assistance and who isn’t and getting the right assistance to the right people. She couldn’t go into some public aid office and lie about her circumstances to get assistance. (Well, she could, I guess, but would risk prosecution.) She shouldn’t be able to get money out of me the same way.

Does that make me a cold heartless bitch? Well, I've been called worse.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

File Under "Not Helpful"

Normally, I wouldn't blog about my health problems so much, but since my hacking cough has pretty much taken over my life and I can't think because of the pain in my head, I'm obsessing.

Anyway, I finally got into the doctor this afternoon and, surprise surprise surprise, the help was not helpful.

Symptoms: sore throat, hacking cough, runny nose, fever, sinus headache, voice loss, ear ache, general crabbiness and extreme bitchiness (OK, those last two may be chronic conditions).

Treatments:

(1) Stop Talking.

Seriously, the doctor wants me to stop talking.

I probably don't need to explain how impractical this is for me. But I will because I am on full tilt rant right now.

First, I have two children under the age of three. And, try as I might to ignore their needs, they just don't care for themselves independently, dammit. Also, surprisingly, they don't respond to hand signals or the red marker on dry erase board technique of parenting.

Second, I'm a lawyer. I would cease to exist if I couldn't talk. Sure, I could send out even more bitchy written correspondence than I already do, but it really doesn't have the same effect as leaving nasty voice mail messages. And how would I tell my fellow lawyers my opinions of their pressing legal problems?

Third, I'm me. I'm verbal, for crying outside. I like to talk. I like to express myself. I'm not able to not talk. If no one is around, I talk to myself and inanimate objects. I talk to my car. I talk to my computers. I frequently talk to the phone (after I have hung up after talking with a stupid person - usually this is just one word: asshole.)

(2) A short course of antibiotics to protect the children.

To protect the children? They are the little shits who gave this to me in the first place!! Actually, the little shits who gave this to me are the children who attend their school whose parents apparently don't believe in keeping their kids home when they are sick. Protect those little shits? Puhlease!

And, to top it all off, the doctor is not exactly sure what is infected that requires antibiotics. Sinus? Maybe. Respiratory? Maybe. Ears? Maybe. But this will cover them all. Great.

Anyway, there was one good point - the whole experience took less than an hour (including my travel time to the office from my office and back.) At least I didn't have to take more sick time.

If I hadn't killed all of my productive brain cells by coughing so much, I would go on a rant about the state of health care in our country. But I just don't have the energy. Maybe tomorrow when my wonder co-therapies of silence and augmenten have worked.

Yeah, right.

I Get By . . .

With a little help from my friends. I get high . . . wait, no . . . wrong post. In spite of my never-ending sickness, I needed to get a few things done this weekend. In particular, I needed to move some furniture around to make room for my little girl.

One of the downfalls of being single is that there is no strong man to move furniture with you. (Notice, I did not say for me, I said with me.) In the not-so-distant past, I have been known to move every piece of furniture by myself around the house. In fact, I moved a full size mattress and box springs from the upstairs to the first floor all by myself. However, that just about killed me so I decided to admit I needed help and get some help.

That was when wonderful Katie volunteered herself and her boyfriend to help me move some stuff. And she brought along Mr. Gourmand-O-Rama and his beautiful daughter Chloe. I needed two big brawny men and she delivered!

Of course, the humor in this whole story is that my parents were also in town for the weekend. Some people might wonder why they couldn't just help me with moving some furniture. Several reasons, but mostly because I really don't need one of them hurting themselves by trying to do too much (my dad will never admit when he can't do something). Also, they had been helping so much all weekend - my dad finished stripping wallpaper off of the bathroom walls and my mom babysat most of the morning. The biggest reason, however, was that I didn't want my dad to mess with the TV/cable/DVD because he would have screwed it up. He would say he could do it, but I know he would have screwed it up.

Anyway, on Thursday night, I was talking to my parents on the phone and told them I had some help for the furniture this weekend:

Me: Good news - I was talking to my friend Katie about the furniture moving this weekend and she said she could help, which is good because she has . . .

Dad: (interrupting) A furniture trolley?!? Good, can she bring it?

Me: . . . um, no . . . she has a really strong boyfriend who can hook up a TV/cable/DVD system. But who knows, maybe she does have a furniture trolley too.

It was kind of sad that my dad thought it was more likely that I had a friend who owned a furniture trolley than a friend who had a strong boyfriend. Oh, well. I forgot to ask Katie about the furniture trolley, but the moving got done really quickly and I truly appreciated the help!

Monday, January 14, 2008

All Evidence to the Contrary . . .

I'm not dead. I feel dead, but since I actually dragged my sick body to work today, I guess I'm not actually dead. I rarely get sick. I have a very low tolerance for sick people, including myself. Which may explain why I am not able to just stay in bed and get better.

I got a tickle in my throat last Tuesday and was hoarse by Tuesday night. (I suppose the margaritas at dinner didn't help.) By Wednesday morning, I completely lost my voice and it was gone for Thursday and Friday as well. I was back to sort-of-sexy hoarse on Saturday and Sunday. (OK, it was only sexy if you like your deep-voiced women with a hacking cough, fever, and runny nose.)

The thing is, I would have gone to work sick. However, my son was also sick and my little girl wasn't feeling that well either. So, there is something worse than being sick - being sick and taking care of other sick people. Ugh.

And another thing, while I'm complaining, what kind of doctor's office doesn't have available appointments when you call on Friday until TUESDAY at 3:30?? Well, hell . . . I'll either be officially dead or better by TUESDAY. However, now it is almost Tuesday and I'm not dead or better, so I guess I'll take the appointment. Now that I have infected everyone else in the last four days. Sorry.

And another thing. I'm not going to go to any stupid "promptcare." For one thing, it is not "prompt" at all. It's more like, "If you're not dead, we'll see you now and then mis-diagnose you." No way. For another thing, they can't tell an ass from an elbow. The last time I went to promptcare, they diagnosed a scarlet fever rash as DRY SKIN. NOT HELPFUL.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

And Then There Were Two

For reasons that I can't disclose publicly, my family has just expanded to include a little girl I previously took care of for a few months early in 2007. She is almost two and a half and came to live with me on Friday evening. Things have been pretty wild around my house. It's pretty crazy being a single parent to two toddlers. I am trying to take it all in stride and find the humor in the situation.

Here are some of my observations about how life changes when you have two children instead of just one.

(1) Things become more of an assembly line. Diaper and dress girl. Diaper and dress boy. Food for girl, food for boy. Bathe girl, bathe boy. And so on . . . .

(2) Grocery shopping becomes more of a sport than an activity. I don't know who invented those truck-shopping-carts with two steering wheels (the two part is very important), but I am officially their biggest fan. I'm also officially a little embarrassed to be admitting that fact.

(3) You add referee to your list of parental responsibilities. You find yourself needing to know who had which toy first, gauging when to step in on the fight or let them work it out, and saying things like, "I'm watching you . . . don't touch her steering wheel."

(4) You laugh and smile twice as much.

Here are some of my observations about how life changes when you have a girl and a boy, rather than just a boy:

(1) Pink invades everything.

(2) You start thinking more about hair, particularly hair accessories.

(3) Dolls and art projects are very important.

Here are some of my observations about how life changes when you have a two and a half year old rather than just a 13 month old:

(1) You really do have to watch what you say. My 13 month old probably shouldn't hear me say damn it or son of a bitch, but he does. However, he can't really repeat it yet. My two and a half year old can - with surprising accuracy!

(2) You can almost have a real conversation with a two and a half year old. And she has opinions and expresses them in words, rather than grunts.

(3) You can give a two and a half year old some responsibilities like "put your socks and shoes on" or "put your cup of milk in the fridge" and she complies!

The new saying in our house: "One mama, one girl, one boy, one puppy, one kitty cat." I think we are full up now!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Hills Are Alive . . .

On Sunday night, one of the network television stations showed the Sound of Music, which is my number one favorite movie. (For those of you who might take this to mean I am some sort of strange Pollyanna of a movie lover, please note that other movies on my top 10 list include Old School and Blow.) I didn't watch it on TV, mostly because I own the deluxe DVD version (with 120 minutes of extras and a sing-along feature!!!!) and I had watched it a few days earlier.

Back when I was a child and there were only three good channels on our bunny-eared television, watching the Sound of Music during the holiday season was the equivalent of going to church on Christmas Eve. I sat right in front of our tiny Sony TV and dreamed of being Maria. I sang along with all of the songs. I danced right along with Liesl and Rolfe singing Sixteen Going on Seventeen and yodeled with the puppets during the puppet show. Every year since I can remember, my family repeated this tradition around Christmas.

My love of the movie extends to the rest of my life too. Members of my extended family routinely sing So Long, Farewell when we leave each other and once all of the cousins in my family acted it out for our grandparents. Do-Re-Mi was the first song I learned to play on the piano and is the only song I can still play. I sing Edelweiss every night to my son before he goes to bed.

However, the movie is long - three or four hours when shown on television with commercials (depending on editing) and I was a little girl who had to go to bed early. So, for many years, I thought the movie ended when the family performs at the Salzburg music festival and waves goodbye. I thought they were leaving to go on their musical tour and live happily ever after.

In high school, a friend and I were discussing our love of the movie. She said, "Oh, I love it so much but I just hate it when the Nazis come!" I sat there for a moment and said, "What Nazis? There aren't any Nazis in the Sound of Music!" She just looked at me and laughed. I was adamant - there were not Nazis in my favorite movie!

I marched home and confronted my parents with this silliness. Nazis in the Sound of Music! Lunacy! Of course, they said, they come at the end to get Captain Von Trapp. I insisted on renting the movie that evening and watching it to the end. Then I demanded an explanation as to why they had never let me watch past the music festival. I mean, these were people who never let me believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. But they thought it was OK to lie to me about my favorite movie and Nazis??

They explained, "We always turned it off after the music festival because there was always a commercial break and it was time to go to bed. There wasn't anything protective about it, other than protecting your sleep."

To this day, I am somewhat surprised when the Nazis come in the Sound of Music. In my memory of the movie, I can't even picture it. Despite my characteristically grim view on most of the world, I like to convince myself certain parts of movies don't exist. For example, I had an argument with my cousin about Titanic. I refused to believe the old woman Rose died in the end - I insist that she merely went to sleep and was dreaming the part when she fell in the ocean.

I hate the part of Pretty in Pink when she snubs Ducky. Who couldn't love Ducky?? I also can't watch the awkward sex scene in When Harry Met Sally because I can't deal with the reality that I, too, "am going to be 40 . . . ." and am still single. Maybe I still looking for my Captain Von Trapp.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I Just Wanted to Roast a Chicken

Since yesterday was a holiday, I decided to make one of my favorite cold weather comfort foods - roast chicken. Well, one of my favorite comfort foods that my 13 month old will also eat. I put the chicken in at 4 pm, so it would be ready by 5:30 (we are early eaters in my house since bedtime has been moved up to 6:30.) All was going well until I went into the kitchen at 5:15 to check on the chicken.

My kitchen is not terribly large (about 12' x 12') but a good size for a house built in 1941. But it feels really small when one is contending with all of the chicken-roasting chaos in my house. First, there is the cat. The cat usually keeps to himself and isn't much of a food-beggar. Unless I am roasting chicken. Then he wanders around the main floor meowing in this really low pitched voice. He walks in circles and drools (I kid you not, he drools). He rubs himself on every available surface, including my legs. This means I trip over him or just plain kick him at least once during the roasting process.

Second, there is the dog. She is also enamored of roast chicken, but she has an approach-avoidance complex regarding the actual roasting. She desperately wants to be in the kitchen to smell the lovely roasting smells and to be there to catch any loose pieces that might randomly fall off the chicken. However, she is scared to death of the overhead oven fan, which has to be on during the roasting. So, the dog stands in the hallway entrance to the kitchen and sticks her nose as far in as she can without her feet entering the room. Then she bobs and weaves in the doorway in the hopes of sniffing the best sniffs without being attacked by the fan. Then she moves to the dining room entrance and repeats the move. Then back to the other entrance (the long way - through the living room, of course - she can't step foot in the kitchen). The dog also thinks it is necessary to attack the cat when he gets too close to the chicken because the cat might steal her fortuitous piece of chicken when it drops to the floor.

The cat and the dog I can usually handle. However, adding in a 13 month old toddler to the mix pushed me over the edge. My son has just learned to walk well (after weeks of launching himself between walls and furniture) and he practices his new skill whenever awake. He also likes to be near me, which is fine, unless I am opening a 400 degree oven to check on the chicken.

Yesterday, I also discovered my son has an intense love of caramel corn flavored rice cakes. He stands in front of the cabinet where he knows they are stored and begs for them. And he has a very specific way of eating them. After I give him half a rice cake, he holds it in both hands and kind of licks/sucks all of the edges while constantly rotating it in his sticky little hands. After it is good and juicy, he continues to rotate it while taking little nibbles off of the edges. All of this must be accomplished while walking in circles and humming.

So, it is 5:15 and time to check the chicken. The dog is bobbing and weaving in the doorway. The cat is rubbing himself on the oven and sitting like a prairie dog to see inside. The toddler is walking in circles behind me and humming. I don my oven mitts. Using one leg to keep my son away from the oven and one arm to keep the cat away from the oven, I balance myself and reach in to poke the chicken thighs. Clear juice runs out, so we are done.

Now comes the tricky part. I really need two hands to take the chicken out. I give the cat one good shove so he is out of the way while keeping one leg out to protect the toddler. I reach to grab the chicken. The dog is still bobbing and weaving. I have the chicken halfway to the stove top and I am using a foot to shut the oven door. At that moment, my son tips over from dizziness and drops his rice cake. The dog forgets the fan and lunges for the rice cake, believing it is a chunk of chicken just for her. The dog knocks over the toddler, the cat rushes in to claim the piece of "chicken" on the floor, the toddler bumps his head on the floor, the dog snaps at the cat and eats the rice cake whole, and I lose my balance just as I place the chicken on the stove top. My feet slip out from under me, I hit my elbow on the not-quite-closed oven door, and my butt hits the floor.

My son is screaming (mostly because the dog ate his rice cake, the head bump wasn't that bad), the cat freaks out and runs upstairs (good riddance), and the dog retreats to the doorway. I crawled over to my son to comfort him, but he just points at the rice cakes. I struggle to my feet, hand him another rice cake and he stops crying. I lay back down on the kitchen floor and think seriously about spending the night in a hotel. By myself.