Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Growing Up Fast

I've never been the type of parent who mourns the lost babyhood of her progeny. While it's true that I love children of all ages, and each stage of their growth has its own unique pleasure, it's always been with teenagers that I've felt most comfortable. They're so bright, interesting and full of opinions. Granted, not all opinions held by the teenagers who have frequented my domain have been equally welcome, but it remains true that they are all pretty interesting. So, while it's fun going through each stage with my children, I've always awaited the next stage with eagerness.

As I've mentioned before, my youngest daughter will be twelve very soon.


This hardly seems possible. My eldest daughter just turned 24, my middle 19, and while it's true that I find myself marveling the fact that they are indeed adults, this last one . . . well, it's just different. She seems so much younger at this age than my other girls, although in reality she's clearly much older. More precocious. More worldly. I have a friend who has taught elementary aged children for over 20 years now. She says that she can tell the moment a child enters her classroom whether that child is an eldest or a youngest. The eldest child of a family often is just as a child should be. Naive, unaware and childlike. Those children born last? The babies of the family? Well, let's just say if they swept into their first grade classroom wearing a smoking jacket, swilling a martini, and magnanimously offering dating advice gained from watching elder siblings, no one would be surprised.

I know all of this. I also know my daughter. That's why it's a bit of a puzzle how thrown I was by my "baby" this weekend.

Scene: Local fire station. A birthday party. One that, after having received the invitation, my daughter declared would probably be lame. The party that she thought she might be a bit "too old" for at the ripe old age of nearly 12. I expected my daughter to be excited when we picked her up since we were headed to a close friend's house to play with their new puppy. What I didn't expect was her mile-a-minute chatter about the party at the fire station. Thrilled that she was able to transcend her blase' attitude, be a child and enjoy the party, I started to ask questions about what they'd seen and done. Sure she had a detail or two about the fire trucks, the work the firefighters did, etc. but would you like to know what most of her animated discussion was about?

Well, let's just say that while she was definitely interested in and admiring of the work firefighters do, she was equally enamored of how they looked doing it. (Not to mention trying to figure out a way to set one up with either of her older sisters). As I said earlier, I was a bit thrown. Why I was is beyond me. This is the girl who at 4, looking a gift given (not by me or my husband) to her oldest sister (then 16), a calendar entitled"The Men of Hawaii", casually declared how "hot" several men were. After stern looks at her older sister for not being a bit more careful with her dialogue around her baby sister, I corrected my 4 year old told her that the men should more correctly be termed "attractive", "happy", "healthy" and "handsome". She nodded solemnly and said "You're right, mommy. They are certainly handsome." She then paused for a long moment before adding matter of factly "And they're hot too." Apparently that logic applies not only to the men of Hawaii, but also to firefighters.

Growing up a bit too fast? Yeah, maybe.

But then again . . .
Who can argue with her?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Excess? You Decide

Most of the time I'm pretty content with the stage of life that I'm at. Fairly comfortable with being a woman of a "certain age" with the responsibilities I've maintained for over 20 years. Sure, there's a pang or two of nostalgia when the older girls (24 and 19) discuss exciting early adulthood experiences, but nothing terribly painful.

Most of the time.

The other day my middle daughter was chatting with me while folding her laundry. She mentioned that it had been a while since she'd done laundry, giving a completely logical reason as to why she was folding TWENTY-FIVE pairs of underwear.

TWENTY-FIVE. Nice pairs. Not an "emergency" pair in the bunch. Adorable, lacy little nothings. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. (As a visual aid, I've added a representative photo from Victoria's Secret) Now many of you might be saying: "Twenty-five pairs? Big deal. I've got fifty in the drawer at home." To those of you saying this, I say "Pfft! I have nothing to say to you other than turn in your Mother Martyr card immediately."
But wait. There's more.

She came home from work (she works at an upscale-ish department store) on Friday with TEN. More. Pairs!

Seriously. I'm so not kidding.

Now, I know I'm from New England, am thrifty, practical, pragmatic and all that, but honestly? It's clearly time to go shopping.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Unknown Perils of Online Viewing

So, here it is, Sunday night. I'm alone (everyone in the house is either in bed or being churlish). I'm bored. Nothing to do. Super Text Twist works for a minute until I realize that I might as well have someone sit next to me with a sign that says "Verbal Dullard" since I can't seem to get words like "sierra" and "disdains". Obviously Text Twist isn't exactly a self esteem booster tonight. Not only that, but I've eaten far too many of the chocolate/vanilla swirl marshmallows my mother bought me. Mom, I love you and you were a sweetheart to pick up a bag for me when you bought one for yourself, but since it's clear I have no willpower at all against them, I think it's best to eschew them all together in the future since they are clearly tools of the devil.

Normally, since I'm an American and all that, I would generally pick this time to turn on the television instead of doing something productive like work on the baby sweater. Sadly though, since we ditched cable and pretty much turned off the television to "regular" viewing when my oldest (now 24) was around 8 or 9, all those fun new shows are unavailable to me until they come out on DVD. (Full Disclosure Notice: Well, that was then, this is almost now - we're getting cable again in a couple of weeks. Price for the phone/cable internet/tv bundle was too good to pass up) So, I decide to see which new shows are available to watch online. I particularly wanted to see Life on Mars and Fringe.

Life on Mars wasn't bad, lots of fun music and appealing actors. but it's Fringe that I really wanted to check out. I'm definitely not much of a police procedural person, but Fringe still interests me because of J. J. Abrams and my Lost addiction. Off I go to the Fox Network.

I click on the "Watch Full Episode" tab, then "Fringe" and . . .

I get this:

A blank page with the ominous words "FATAL ERROR" and lots of intimidating code at the top.


Fatal Error?

What exactly does this mean? My fatal error? The computer? The network? I don't know about you, but if I hear the words "fatal error" after an attempt at anything, I think it's likely that I'm pretty much, sorry there's just not a delicate way to put this, screwed. I quickly hit the "back" button (like that's really going to help in a true "fatal error" situation) and closed out the entire browser. Since I'm here and able to write this post, I think it might be safe to assume that I luckily got out in time.

While it's clear there are obvious benefits to an existence without "real" TV, there appear to be significant perils too. To avoid any potential Fatal Errors in the future, I think I'll just be patient until the cable's hooked up to the television instead of just the computer.

I guess it's back to Text Twist and more humiliation.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Crafty Endeavors

If you spend too much time online perusing blogs, you could potentially find yourself feeling a bit, shall we say, inadequate.

First you have those clever, adept and cerebral wordsmiths who offer food for the not only the brain, but also the spirit. Whether it's offering deep, critical analysis of extraordinary books they've read (or written!), witty observations on culture, or amusing anecdotes of their lives, each day there's something fresh and new to look forward to.

But that's not enough.

Then you find those who are so accomplished and clever with their hands that their homes boast a cornucopia of creations, each more creative and detailed than the last, each one alternately inspiring me and sending me into a shame spiral when viewing my own feeble attempts at handwork.

My dear friend Kristin just welcomed a sweet new granddaughter. She's absolutely beautiful. Those of us around Kristin (and faithful readers of her blog) have known for some time of this grandchild. I tell you this not to offer a refresher course in basic reproductive biology, but to illuminate a basic flaw in my character.

Not only can I not seem to finish anything in a timely manner, nothing I create is in any way similar to the cozy homemaker/crafter bloggers' creations.

I decided, in my infinite wisdom, despite all evidence being contrary to any good outcome, to knit the expected grandchild a sweater. Since my previous knitting accomplishments include a handful a scarves and several botched attempts at socks, this was ambitious, but hey, there was 7 months to complete the sweater, right?

That's right. Seven months. A looong time. Lots of time to find the right yarn, the right pattern and the right talent necessary for such an endeavor.

Yarn? Fairly easy to find.

Pattern? Ditto.

Talent? Apparently missing in action if my progress on the sweater is anything to go by.

Yeah, that looks about right.

Friday, October 03, 2008


"If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair."
Samuel Johnson

As I just wrote to a friend, and as I've mentioned here, I occasionally have a love/hate relationship with the blogging world. So much of it feels intimate and cozy, warm and open. I feel pulled into people's lives through their blogs, experiencing with them the ins and outs of their lives, generally celebrating the good but sometimes experiencing the unthinkable with them. Or at least it feels that way. Sometimes though that cuddly feeling masks an empty intimacy. Something that lacks substance, context and true depth.

At times we are fortunate to truly share in each other's lives via the 'net and even form acquaintances that turn into something deeper and richer. Often though it has felt to me that we just seem to skim along the surface of each other's existence without the burden of the more difficult practice of maintaining relationships through hard work, effort and contact. We don't really know each other and have no idea what we're all really like. We're missing that essential nitty gritty contact that mandates the bad to be seen along with the good and allows someone to love you anyway.

Out of such thoughts and experiences was born my love/hate relationship with the blogging community. Until I realized something.

The 'net and its active blogging community doesn't have a lock on superficiality with regards to human interaction. "Real" life and its accompanying relationships can be just as fleeting, just as empty of true intimacy as any online relationship. Even deeply held and cherished friendships can fade without the effort necessary to sustain them. "Real" life and its accompanying stresses can erode away the time and will necessary to maintain and strengthen friendships. I'm truly fortunate to have some lovely friends, something for which I'm grateful every day. Surprisingly though, via a medium that I sometimes feel uncertain about or even antagonistic toward, I've rediscovered some old friends. Seen their blogs and read the details of their lives, details that I should have been aware and cognizant of. That experience definitely made me think and brought home to me how lax I've been in maintaining those lovely friendships and how much I've missed them. It also brought home to me how fortunate I feel being able to see these blogs, to connect via this medium. Something I truly wasn't prepared for.

The moral of this ramble? Well, there really isn't one. Other than to say . . . umm . . . I guess I was wrong.


Cherish your friends - online or off. Real world or cyber world. However you found them and however you connect. The world's a pretty nice place with them in it.

"I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with the roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know."
Ralph Waldo Emerson