Tag Archives: Confessional

Boughs of Folly

tree - old

Isn’t that picture magical? It’s an old one – and one of my favorites.

We just got this year’s Christmas tree which looked like this for three days:


It’s big. And it terrified me. Finally, last night I sucked it up and got some lights on it.

And it’s looking like I’m going to have to suck it up again and let the kids help me decorate it tonight. After nine and a half years of motherhood and never letting anyone (even my husband) help me decorate the tree, I think my time is officially up. Unless of course I want to ruin my daughter’s life and hear about it years from now in family therapy.

SO. A new chapter of my tree mania begins. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I actually combined several years’ worth of tree stories (all blog posts on TBPOC) in one essay that should at some point run in a holiday anthology (currently on hold). In the meantime, I thought I’d post it here to catch everyone up.

A little snippet of last night’s conversation to give you a taste of where this is going…

Chris: You are a psycho about the lights.

Me [lights wrapped around my neck like a Christmas version of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s…without the up do and cigarette]: No…I’m a psycho about the ornaments.

Happy holidays!


Just so you know? I can decorate the hell out of a Christmas tree.

It’s one of my great talents in life, and every year my home is graced by yet another Christmas tree triumph. You are probably thinking that my family is very lucky to have this kind of genius on their side. But it’s unlikely that they would agree.

I take my tree very seriously. Maybe a little too seriously. Okay – maybe a lot too seriously. But you know how it is when someone has a problem…they need to want to get better before you can help them. And I have no interest in getting better. All I want is a perfect tree.

I have definite ideas about where the ornaments should be placed and how the various colors and styles should be distributed. I like things to be symmetrical. The only way to achieve the level of perfection I demand is to be very rigid and controlling, and even strategic about the tree decorating process. And believe me – I’ve got this covered.

Our family tree decorating tradition does not include the sound of laughter, storytelling and favorite Christmas carols. There are no childish squeals of delight when someone finds the perfect spot for that favorite ornament (okay – maybe a few, but only if I’m really excited). And there is no closing ceremony of a tiny hand placing our angel at the top.

Instead, there are two to three hours of lights detail with meticulous care taken to make the tree appear to glow from within. Unlimited time is devoted to the actual ornaments, though I do prefer to limit this to a 24 hour window. By then, I am ready for a final editing process, which if all goes well, takes less than an afternoon.

This is a strictly solo mission. Even my husband, Chris isn’t allowed to help. The first year we had a tree together, I had to linger behind him rearranging his bizarre ornament “clumps.” He may as well be one of the kids.

In our first few years as a family, it was easy enough to put babies in pack n’ plays and toss goldfish crackers at them as I pondered the finer points of mingling new ornaments with the antiques. But soon enough, I had talkers who watched holiday movies, and I was getting requests for tinsel and popcorn to string – neither of which would work with my own holiday aesthetic.

Finally, I just bought a fake tree from Target to suffer their enthusiastic pawing.

One complication to my new two-tree system was that my husband, Chris has a tradition of taking one child with him to the Christmas tree lot. And once they were old enough to want in on the decorating action, this practice began to cloud the whole “ownership issue.” Even after I thought I had appeased them with their very own “kids’ tree,” they’d saw mine come through the door and assumed they were on round two. Luckily, they have very short attention spans and after 10 minutes of watching me drape lights, everyone tends to get bored and wander off.

We live in a small townhouse, and typically get a six foot tree. But one year, our oldest son, Oliver imprinted on an ENORMOUS tree. The six-year old had found his tree soul mate and was adamant that no other tree would do. So I ended up with two extra feet of branches to decorate.

This may not sound like a lot, but that was one beast of a tree trimming project. I swear it kept getting bigger as I circled around it arranging lights. Then several strands blew out and I had to search for connections to remove them. And full of joyous holiday spirit, I alternated between internally swearing like a sailor and glaring at an infuriatingly jocular Chris, who was puttering around the kitchen, singing Santa Baby.

The minute I decided that the lights done, the children sensed my hand moving toward the ornament box and came at me like a pack of Christmas-obsessed velociraptors. I was able to fend them off with some candy canes, but it was a close call. Clearly, I had to wait until they were in bed before I continued.

So I finished the tree later, listening to holiday music and sipping wine with Chris. For a second he forgot that he had met me before and tried to help. But I put an end to that. I mean – that random ceramic chili pepper on the front of the tree? Do you see what I’m dealing with here?

The following year, it was my daughter, Eleanor’s turn to accompany Chris. As soon as her tree of choice was set up, we could see that it was undeniably crooked. This of course, is an ever-present risk since I have no control over what is selected (just a long list of requirements and deal breakers). But I had such high hopes for Eleanor! My color-within-the-lines girl was the perfect candidate to find a “perfect” tree. At first glance, it seemed she did. But no matter how many times we tried to fix the obvious leaning, there was always something off.

Once the lights were on and the kids were in bed, I decided there must be a way to make it appear straighter. I assumed Chris would be 100% on board with this additional adjusting, but he announced that it was “good enough” and turned in for the night.

Whatever. He was holding me back anyway. I stayed up to fight the good fight.

That tree almost fell on top of me at least three times, and it’s a miracle that my children didn’t find me trapped underneath it the next morning. But a few hours (and several emptied prescription bottles wedged in the tree stand) later, it looked marginally better. I decided that I had reached my own “good enough.” Before tidying up, I went into the kitchen to wash my hands of sap (and the entire fiasco), and when I returned, I found that half the lights had blown out.

Then I dragged the damn thing outside and beat it to death with a snow shovel.

Of course I didn’t do that! For one thing, we didn’t own a snow shovel. But more importantly, I had put way too much time into that tree to give up. Instead, I took a deep breath and set about checking each strand. Luckily, there were only two that had to be replaced; and 30 minutes later, we had a very lovely, slightly crooked tree.

This new system of decorating trees in dark of night was exhausting. You would think I’d just give up and let my perfect Christmas trees devolve into chaos like the rest of my house. Not so much.

Last year, it was Eleanor’s twin brother, George who picked out the tree. He surprised us all by selecting a rather small one. Well – not exactly small…but much smaller than the six to eight foot trees his siblings had brought home. Apparently, he told the guy at the tree lot that “size doesn’t matter as long as it’s fat.” Oh George…

So small and fat arrived, and most decidedly did not fit into our tree stand. The trunk was too short, so I sent Chris out to buy a smaller stand. And starting right there, the smallest tree we’ve ever had became the biggest pain in the ass.

It was next to impossible to get it to stand straight and it was never really secure, regardless of how much we tightened the screws. This should have been the first sign of impending calamity. But Chris declared it “good enough,” and I decided I could at least tilt it in such a way that it looked straight…

It was midnight by the time I was done stringing lights, and I had to give up any hope of finishing. Unsurprisingly, the following morning was flooded with high pitched offers of help and ornament retrieval assembly lines. I have never been so happy to see the school bus.

After a busy day of running errands, I didn’t have much time before the children were due home. Luckily, with minutes to spare, I was able to tie the last ribbon and bask in the glory of the sweetest little Christmas tree I had ever seen. George chose well – it was possibly my favorite tree yet. Absolutely perfect. Perfect and…moving? Just like that, everything switched to slow motion as I watched the stand sliiiiide forward and the angel drop back out of sight. CRASH! The entire thing hit the floor in a crunch of breakable ornaments (my favorite kind!)

If I were a more emotive person, I would have screamed. Instead, I stood frozen in horror. Was this some kind of punishment for extreme Christmas tree hubris? No time for self-flagellation – I had children to collect from the bus and a play date to host. So I propped my now disheveled little tree up against the wall and resigned myself to figuring it out later.

“Later” ended up being close to 9:00 p.m. when the kids were sleeping soundly. I came downstairs with the intention of getting Chris to help me fix my injured baby. But before I had a chance to ask, he informed me that, “the tree fell again.” I must have blacked out, as I have no memory of the next 20 minutes.

Eventually, I rallied since failure is not an option. And just as I started collecting prescription pill bottles to wedge around the trunk, Chris decided that the top heavy tree really did need a sturdier stand. The solution was to saw off the lower branches and make it fit into our original, bigger stand.

After an hour of sawing, lifting, near misses with pine needle-blindings and just a little bit of swearing, we stepped back to see a very straight, very secure, slightly smaller Christmas tree. We could also see that the branch removal effectively made what I decorated as “the front” of the tree a better candidate for “the back.”

I employed some deep breathing exercises and big picture priority checks to get myself to as serene a state of mind as I could possibly manage…then I removed all of the ornaments and redid the WHOLE EFFING TREE! Done! Finished! No more lesson-learned moments thank-you-very-much! That was it. I had officially exceeded my limit for Christmas tree decorating mania.

Of course Christmas is only once a year… And I have every expectation that we will embark on systematically re-enacting the entire process as soon as our Thanksgiving table is cleared.

But next year, we’re going as a family to pick out our tree. It’s time for a new tradition. The kids are now old enough to work as a team and compromise on something they all like. And to know that from now on, we’re getting the tree that I want.


Epilogue: Chris and Eleanor picked out the tree. George didn’t want to leave a friend’s house, I was baking 2,000 cookies and Oliver wouldn’t go without me. So I couldn’t complain too much (out loud) about size. As soon as it’s decorated, I’ll post visuals. Of course.

BlogHer 2010 Voices of the Year Were Announced Today! My Reaction: The Good, The Bad and The (Sad but True) Ugly

Quick disclaimer for all of my non-blogging friends reading this: you will probably be incredibly bored by the subject…but if you skip down to the “ugly” part, I think we can all relate to some extent.First the good!When I glanced through the list of finalists this morning, I was thrilled to see that some of my very favorite bloggers (and even friends) will actually present in a couple of weeks at 2010 BlogHer Voices of the Year. I can honestly say that I’ve read pretty much every post from some of these writers (I mean – since I’ve been blogging…their pre-2008 material is before my time), and to think that they have been honored for words that made me laugh and/or cry makes me feel part of something bigger than my own little piece of Internet real estate.So the very first thing I want to do is congratulate…

Jill from Scary Mommy – Social networking and design dynamo – just try to match her. You can’t.

Marinka of Motherhood in NYC – one of the the funniest women online, hands down.

Amy of The Bitchin’ Wives Club – a perfect storm of creative talent and undeniable charisma.

(By the way – both Marinka and Amy are two out of three for the humor category. Apparently, I have very good taste in funny people.)

That’s three out of fifteen presenters. And believe me, I’m not nearly plugged in enough to be familiar with even 20% of the people whose posts were submitted. So I’m feeling quite proud on their behalf.

I can’t wait to hear them read their words on stage AND to see the art that will be auctioned off reflecting each piece.

And that’s part two of “the good!” Kirtsy has teamed up with BlogHer to curate an exhibition of works of art – each of which will represent one of the 75 posts that were finalists. These pieces will be auctioned off to benefit The Nature Conservancy and help in the long-term healing of the Gulf Coast.

One of my favorite photographers, Robin of Around The Island, will be there in spirit as her own work is shown and auctioned. Again! My friend! So proud… (She writes more about the reception HERE.)

But what about the bad? What could be bad about that?

Well – here’s the bad.

One of MY nominations that I was so confident would be in the top 15 didn’t get picked. But it’s not all bad… Anymommy (of Is There Any Mommy Out There fame) was still a finalist for Matching, and I very much look forward to seeing the art created to represent her breathtakingly poignant writing.

I could say the same of Ann from Ann’s Rants, Jessica of Bern This, Sue of Laundry for Six and Renee of But Why Mommy who were also finalists. I’m thinking it was a hard call on their entries (and I could even say that “they were robbed!” but I won’t go there…)

So yeah – many wonderful blog friends have been recognized in one way or another. I’m really happy for them – and can’t wait to tell them so in person.


There’s the ugly…

I’m sorry – but I’m trying to keep it real here because…well no reason really – I just feel like it today. And lucky you – you get to hear about it!

Before I get into the muck and grime, I’ll start with a little tale about a three year old angel of a girl named Eleanor. Eleanor is a delight. She’s lovely and full of fun (and – cough, cough – my daughter) – and she is at a very impressionable age.

The other week, we were in California on vacation with my in laws who had a fantastic time being a very bad influence on my children. Late night baseball game outings…unlimited snack food that they never get at home…special presents just because they want them… You know – grandparent stuff. And one evening my sweet little girl was lucky enough to have their undivided attention. They played a kids’ bingo game with the odds drastically stacked in Eleanor’s favor.

And then the sh*t talking started.

Mama Sue: Eleanor – we’re not going to let Papa win! YOU’RE going to win.

Eleanor (very much liking this line of thought): Yeah! YOU’RE not going to win Papa. I’M going to win. You CAN’T win!

And so on and so on and so on [insert uproarious indulgent grandparental laughter here].

SO CUTE, right?

I actually thanked them at the time for my own future hell to come when faced with the next preschool gaming situation.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we are playing another bingo game at home (what is it with us bingo anyway? We may as well hustle on over to the community center for seniors’ night out this Friday…) Anyway – we were playing a very fair game that included Eleanor, a semi-involved George and a completely disinterested Oliver. Eleanor immediately started in with her “I’m gonna win” talk, even though her brothers couldn’t have cared less. Since no one was getting special treatment, George (who may have been in the kitchen looking for snacks at the time) won.

Chris said, “Hey look! George is the winner!” And…Eleanor fell to pieces. She really believed that she would always win. No one ever talked to her about the reality of losing. So after some piercing glares and and semi-subtle head tilting from me, Chris took Eleanor aside to talk about what it means to lose.

And as I listened, it occurred to me that the bottom line is the same for everyone regardless of age. If you lose – you have to keep trying. Don’t get mad – just try again. It’s not anyone’s favorite answer. In fact, it’s tedious at best…but it’s very simply true. You really can’t win them all. In fact you might lose them all – but you have to try to have a chance.

SO that brings me to the ugly involved in this year’s BlogHer Voices of the Year selections. As much as we are over the moon excited for the winners – it’s unavoidable that some others were very disappointed.

Because you know what? I’m one of them. And I’m hideously embarrassed to admit that.

When a good friend asked if I’d like her to submit anything for me, I honestly hadn’t considered even trying. I mean, I like what I write, and my small circle of friends and readers give me positive feedback – but I’ve never been the one picked out of the crowd. Always a bridesmaid and never a bride and all that… And really that’s been kind of fine with me because I’ve always felt far more comfortable in the faded perimeter of the spotlight.

But just the idea of submitting something of mine gave birth to “what if.” And that is a very powerful concept. So for once I was bold and asked for recognition. I forwarded two links to posts that mean a lot to me – ones that fill me with emotion when I read them – and said “send them in.” Doesn’t sound like much – but it’s a BIG deal for a mild mannered girl such as myself.

Then time passed and my “what if” was put into the proper perspective. It was a “wouldn’t that be nice – but it’s highly unlikely” (the overcompensating, insecure hope of “what if”).

Most of the time, I really didn’t consider it, but every once in a while something would be mentioned about Voices of the Year, and I’d notice that pretty little “what if” sparkling on my right hand ring finger. I’d taken it for granted, but was happy to admire it now and again.

At some point last week, I read that the 75 finalists as well as the 15 winners would be announced today. And I did something previously unthinkable.

I hoped.

I dreamed.

I even planned.

Why not? I typically live so small – what would it hurt to think big for a little while. Even knowing that disappointment was probable, couldn’t I weigh the universe in my favor with my longing? The Secret said it totally works! Ah well…I think we all let our imaginations get the best of us sometimes.

Last night when I was talking to Chris about BlogHer and the agenda (he’s in the conference planning world, so he’s actually interested), I explained how the Voices of the Year session was planned. I mentioned that I had a couple of posts submitted, “but – they’re two out of a thousand – so you know…

His reaction was a little more positive though. He said “why not you?”

And that small part of me that wants to be bigger than I really am thought, “that’s right! Why NOT me?” So for one whole night I believed in myself. Not just “what if” – but “why not?”

Well – I don’t need to give too much detail on the obvious outcome. Even if you’re not familiar with the list of finalists, you can pretty much guess that I wasn’t one of them.

And I was disappointed. Not so much that I wasn’t one of the top 15 (remember – I like the peripheral area of the spotlight), but more so because the words that once poured directly out of my heart weren’t even an almost.

It’s not pretty – but it’s the truth. And we’ve all experienced this at some point in our lives, so I’m not afraid to put it out there. I would be very surprised if there was anyone who couldn’t relate to this on some level.

But you know what? I don’t think disappointment or jealousy or envy are so bad. They’re just feelings. And at the very best, they are a sign of trying. Of wanting. Of putting ourselves out there and risking rejection. There is honor in that. And I’m proud of my battle scars.

Envy isn’t a particularly attractive emotion – it’s even classified as a sin (one of the top seven!). But a little green eyed monster never hurts anyone if kept on a short leash (and kenneled as quickly as possible). At worst – it shows our ugly. At best, it keeps us real.

So for anyone else who felt a little “why not me” today (or even “why never me?“), I’d like to honor you for trying. It takes courage to try. You’d be surprised how many people never do.

And in return, I’d like to ask you one thing. Please read my own small attempts:

I am so proud of those words. This blog is the first real writing that I’ve ever done outside of work documents and personal e-mails. I always lived so small – never tried to be noticed. I had ideas but didn’t bother to recognize their value.Then I started a blog. A small thing really – but so big in my own cautious little world. Putting words online is literally putting yourself out there. Asking to been seen and heard – and it’s opened my eyes to endless possibility for me.I may never win anything – but I’ll keep trying. Because “what if” holds far more power then “why bother.”And what about you? I want to hear your voice too. Did you submit something there or elsewhere? Did you find out that a friend did so for you? OR did you not even try for fear of disappointment or exposure? E-mail me at bigpieceofcake@gmail.com. Send me a link to the words that make you proud, the ones that make you believe in yourself – or should. I will read them.

I still believe in myself. And I’ll probably submit something of my own next year. I hope you do the same.

Have courage. Be bold. Keep trying.

Hey – it worked for Susan Lucci.

One of Those "Housekeeping" Posts That’s Only Interesting to People with Blogs…and Mom of Course

And by “housekeeping” I’m talking about my blog – not my house. This is probably one of the most boring genres of blog posting out there…yet at some point we all do it.

Even if we only have five readers, we feel the need to update them on how we feel about blogging, changes we’re making, and of course those apologies for letting days go by without a single word, image or flash of brilliance. “Don’t feel abandoned loyal readers – let me explain.

And for those of you with huge readerships, this is probably warranted. But for the rest of us – it’s a bit like talking to ourselves in the mirror (or maybe chatting on the phone with Mom).

Either way – we all do it eventually. And today – I can’t resist the pull. The siren call of “blogging about blogging.” Because I have been a big blogging FAIL lately.

Here are the reasons why:

1. I started a new blog for my parents’ shop Style Key West, and while they are writing and providing content, I set everything up for them. And I also write all of their Monday posts – just so you know.

2. I have been trying to post more frequently on Wishing True. I love my little pretty things blog even if it does have a tiny readership. So I don’t want it to go the way of Underdogs Unite.

[See – I told you – BORING!]

3. My twins have recently decided that we are once again connected by umbilical cords. The separation that took place three years and almost four months ago has completely slipped their minds. Much like agoraphobics with their homes, they become increasingly uncomfortable as the space between us begins to widen. And if I leave their sight for more than a few minutes, the panic attacks begin. If I want to be on the computer, I generally have to work around the two squirming three year olds on my lap.

[Oh god – now she’s blaming her kids. Shameless!]

4. I have a son named Oliver who has some special needs. He’s a handful. The end. Epilogue: I’m now taking him to extra therapy which requires driving everyone to appointments, WHICH entails getting three children suited up for the cold, getting them out to the car, getting them into the car, driving to the appointment, getting them out of the car, getting them into the building…you get the idea. The appointment and round trip drive time is approximately an hour and 45 minutes. And the rest of it takes approximately an hour and 45 minutes.

5. I’ve decided that after about five years, it’s time to start noticing that I have a husband and pay some attention to him when he’s around in the evening. We do things together that we both enjoy (translation: watch television) and surprisingly, this doesn’t involve me using the computer.

[Mooooommmmm! Are we there yet?!]

Not yet. 6. The number of television shows that I watch either real time or later on the computer has become out of control. Especially now that Lost is back. Sorry Deep End – I have a full plate right now. If you’re around in three years and I’m the only one who has no idea what people are talking about at cocktail parties, then I’ll have my regrets and add you to the Netflix queue. But for now, I’m already in the process of making cuts. Private Practice – you have a lot of potential and if I had the time, I’d definitely keep you on staff. But you know what they say, “last to come, first to go…” (Pssst! Flash Forward – make yourself scarce. I don’t want her to remember when you joined the team until after she’s gone.)

[Now that’s just pathetic… ]

So as you can see (if you’re still reading, that is) I have very good reasons for my dismal performance in posting here and HELLO! commenting. Seriously – I still love you – but if the name of your blog starts with any letter after L, I’m having a hard time reaching you in my reader. And that is going to be a big priority this week: catch up on my reader and visit some of my new commenters.

So to wrap up one of the most ennui inducing blogging about blogging posts, I’m now going to kick the eye rolls up a notch by adding some pictures of my kids!

Aren’t they the cutest ever?! I knew you’d enjoy that. Almost as much as my fiction writing. Which I skipped today…more apologies on that. Will the disappointments never end…?

*ALSO: I have some reviews and news up on As Good As Cake. Check it out!

Friday Confession: I’m Getting Sick of Friday Confessions

It’s true – I’m having a hard time finding inspiration for these. I mean – hey, we all have stuff to confess, but how much of it is interesting or funny? And about 75% of the interesting stuff probably isn’t appropriate for recounting outside of my head, let alone on a very public blog. So I’m constantly challenged with thinking of something funny and/or interesting to confess. And seriously, how many times can I talk about what a prude I am? It’s getting a little old. So sorry Friday Confessions – I’m just not that into you (anymore).

The same goes for Materialistic Monday. I had the idea that I would feature something I want but don’t need every Monday. But the truth is, I’m not just materialistic on Mondays – it’s kind of an every day thing for me. So I don’t think I should be restricted to Mondays only. Besides – I’m kind of poor right now, so writing about things I want but don’t need is a bit depressing.

Then of course there is the fact that the alliteration thing really corny. It’s just a little too cutesy for me. I’ve never done cutesy well – so it doesn’t feel natural to have cute theme day labels on my blog. I mean, talking about how much I want a grab everything you can in 10 minutes shopping spree at J. Crew or making fun of a popular chair comes naturally…it’s just the cutesy names thing that makes me feel like an awkward Spirit Bunny.

So no more Friday Confessions or Materialistic Mondays. I’ll just confess or be materialistic whenever I feel like it. The whole idea of having these “theme” days was to give myself the excuse to keep it short twice a week. A brief paragraph about something embarrassing that happened to me and a picture of something pretty. Such a simple concept. Yet impossible for me. Case in point: the fact that I have just written four paragraphs on nothing. It’s the Seinfeld of blog posts – a post about nothing.

Apparently, I don’t do “brief.” It’s pathological. But at least its’ consistent.

Lord Almighty, I Feel My Temperature Rising

Do you know that I got FORTY comments on my Special Needs post? That’s like twenty more than I usually receive. Who knew that I would be such a hit being all serious and stuff…

So I thought that it was only right to follow up such a triumph (which it is for those of us with only about 20 regular readers), with something just as thought provoking. Something that really speaks to the reader. Something close to everyone’s heart: tattoos and piercings.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a little bit of a prude. Not a self righteous prude of course – but more of a “hoping no one will notice when I cringe every time they reference their unusual sexual preferences” kind of prude. And because I’m so hopelessly prissy, I tend to be a magnet for innuendo and embarrassing conversations with semi strangers.

Maybe it’s a primal kind of thing. Like predators sensing fear, these uninhibited types sense my prudishness and go right for the jugular. Not through malice of course – but like magnets, they are inevitably attracted to my utterly opposite nature.

Probably the best example of this was an experience I had at a wedding almost five years ago. The wedding was that of my husband’s friend from work. A very funny and intelligent guy who took great pride in his blue collar roots. He rode motorcycles and abhorred ties. His bride was a lovely girl who called herself “frou frou” and her own background “country.” She was a doll and we liked them both immensely.

And along with this colorful combination of lovebirds, came a just as colorful group of friends and family to fill the seats at the party. The party itself was planned to exclude all of the formality so common to many weddings. This was the bride’s second marriage and she claimed that as long as she got to wear a pretty white dress, her only concern was that everyone relax and just be themselves. And be themselves, they did. At least in my corner of the room.

There were uncounted tattoos peeking out of shirt collars and sleeves, jackets and ties were quickly tossed onto chairs, and Uncle Joe’s long black hair fell out of its braid and into flowing waves down his shoulders as the night progressed. As the music played and drinks were poured, the various gatherings of friends began to scatter and mingle.

Work friends with preppy haircuts talked microbrews with pony tailed biker types. And most of the women crowded onto the dance floor to join the bride as she boogied to the ubiquitous reception music play list. I’m sorry – but no matter how much of a music snob a girl claims to be (which I don’t), they all flock together when the DJ plays I Will Survive. Especially when there’s an open bar.

The event truly peaked when the 90s boy band song faded into something a little more techno though. Or at least it sounded techno at first. As the dancing women slowed their steps and glanced at each other with confusion, we all realized that the new music seemed to be the theme from 2001 A Space Odyssey. Now the DJ did look a little weird, and the suppressed laughter so obvious in his expression made this even more likely. But suddenly the tempo changed and Elvis’ Burnin’ Love blasted through the room. And then two Elvis impersonators burst through the doors, gold capes flashing as they charged onto the dance floor.

They gyrated their way through a full set of Elvis’ best loved Vegas performance numbers and ended the show to thunderous applause. There may have even been an encore. I’m not entirely sure since I think I may have passed out from laughing so hard. They weren’t the best Elvis impersonators – one was a little too tall and skinny, one was a little too short and plump – but they made up for this with enthusiasm. Oh yeah – and the best part? They were the mother and father of the the bride.

I apologize for derailing a bit and losing track of my original topic, tattoos and piercings. But I find it impossible not to talk about that night without referencing the Elvis impersonators. It was quite possibly my favorite wedding moment. Ever. As much as I’m very traditional in my own life, I thoroughly enjoy the pageantry of someone else’s wedding Elvis impersonators..

But back to the point of this scene that I’ve painted… There were a lot of characters at this event and it was fated for me to find myself in unlikely conversations with several of them.

Chris already knew many of the guests from a barbecue that he attended in the recent past, and made sure to introduce me to all of them. Chris is what many people like to refer to as, “The Mayor.” He just has to meet and greet, and is genuinely interested in everyone. So of course he’s a big hit wherever he goes. He is not a prude.

One woman we talked to for a long time had a giant scar on her chest in the shape of a snowflake. I had never seen anything like this before, and she explained that it was a kind of body art much like a tattoo. Without the ink, it appeared to be white. So really, the snowflake theme was a good choice – I mean as far as scarification goes.

Then I found myself in another long conversation with a couple. Initially, they appeared fairly conservative, him in his suit and her in her old school Laura Ashley floral. But then they started talking about their many tattoos and piercings. And I’m not kidding when I say “many.” Just like the typical tattooless person usually does, I inquired about the pain that is involved and exclaimed over how much one would have to endure for “a sleeve.” Apparently, they were willing to suffer for their body art.

It wasn’t lost on me that they were just as amused by me as I was by them. Putting myself in their shoes, I imagine that it must have been very much like talking to a sweet little old lady: “And now how many tattoos do you have dear? Gracious! You’re practically covered in flowers. It’s like a little garden on your back – how lovely.”

So we enjoyed each other’s differences as we enjoyed our fifth drink, and then the subject turned to piercings. As her husband left us to retrieve round number six, the flower covered lady leaned in conspiratorially. “Once I got bored with ink, I started experimenting with piercing,” she said. I shuddered internally as, of course, I remarked upon the pain involved in that. She claimed that it was completely worth it. Especially the one she got “down there.” She laughed, “I mean, I love my husband, but now I really love my husband…”

As I felt my entire head light up in flames, the much loved husband returned with the much needed drinks. Once he was caught up on our current topic of discussion, he admitted that he did not have much interest in piercings for himself, but was very happy with his wife’s experiments. I scrounged for something that I could contribute to this, but only came up with, “well that’s very interesting. And what is that kind of piercing called again?” [I vaguely knew it had something to do with royalty.] In unison, they responded “clitoral.”

“OH!” I sputtered, “it’s called what it is. For some reason I thought it was called something else.”

“You’re thinking of the male version – the Prince Albert,” he said.

And then I fainted dead away from mortification and had to be revived with smelling salts.

Just kidding. It was at that point that Chris walked up and asked what we were all talking about.

“Oh – we’re just corrupting your wife,” she said. And then we all laughed and then I went to get another drink.

So what was my point again? Oh yeah – I’m a prude and people like to talk to me about clitoral piercings and I might have to become an alcoholic to survive this. But I do enjoy the odd Elvis impersonator.

More Random Things About Me

As a continuation of the “Twenty Five Things About Me” post from yesterday, here are 12 more things about me:

14. I had an unfortunate short haircut in the fifth grade that made me look like a somewhat chubby ten year old boy. No photographs of me from that time exist. I think I destroyed all of them (and the negatives) when I was a vain teenager.

15. If I’m carrying boxes or bags into the house from the car, I feel compelled to do this in as few trips as possible. One trip is my goal. It is not uncommon to see me staggering up my steps with 20 grocery bags draped over my arms. (And my parking spot is about 10 steps away from my door)

16. As much as I love the internet, I still prefer flipping through magazines and catalogs to scrolling through websites.

17. My mother is my best friend. Even though I did go through a really bitchy phase in high school when I criticized her clothes. According to her, that is. I have no recollection of this, but I’ll take her word for it.

18. Sometimes I say things in business meetings and think “I have no idea what I’m talking about.” Usually people look at me like, “she really knows what she’s talking about.”

19. I love the beach – but I don’t really like swimming in the ocean (see #9 re: sharks).

20. I’m fairly certain that I have the most adorable children ever born.

21. When we were engaged, my husband and I took a dance class and I loved it. Not only did I love it – I discovered that I’m really good at it. It’s a talent that would have gone undiscovered if not for the class. Unfortunately, Chris hated it and our future as the next Fred and Ginger ended before it ever got off the ground. I sometimes have a sick little fantasy that one of my sons will be gay and take me out dancing in my golden years (gay guys do that right? I’ll have to ask one of my gay friends…)

22. I can’t remember numbers in long sequences. It requires a lot of effort on my part to memorize phone numbers.

23. I love travel – especially international travel – but I do tend to get a little nervous on planes. Unless I’m sitting in business class – then I just drink a lot of wine. Once when I was on a flight crossing the Atlantic, we had terrible turbulence. I just kept accepting the drink refills that the the flight attendants were offering and watched the first movie that appeared on my screen. It’s amazing how funny Monster’s Inc. is when you’re wasted.

24. I watched Homeward Bound with my kids about 20 times over the weekend and I always cry at the end when Shadow appears on the horizon – just when they think he couldn’t make it. In fact – I’m tearing up just thinking about it. (If you haven’t seen it before, I apologize for the spoiler.)

25. I usually fall asleep on my back with feet tucked up under my knees (like sitting “Indian style” but lying down). I think this started when I was little and so afraid of the dark that I couldn’t bear to have my feet anywhere near where the covers ended (just in case something tried to reach in). Then it probably had more to do with the fact that my feet are like ice when I first get into bed and this is the only way that I can warm them (unless my night owl husband happens to be in bed early – then I just put my feet on him). I know it looks bizarre – but for some reason I find this position very comfortable.

Not the strongest finish – but I’m having a busy day…

I’m not tagging anyone since I think EVERYONE has done this (or is ignoring everyone that tagged them). But if you haven’t been hit by the 25 Things About Me Facebook tsunami, feel free to say that I tagged you.

So What Have I NOT Told You About Myself By Now?

Several of my friends on Facebook tagged me for “Twenty Five Things About Me” (and possibly a blog friend or two – but I can’t remember…) Anyway – I feel compelled to do this. So here it is:

Twenty Five Things About Me

1. I have never colored my hair. Not once. Not even highlights. I made the conscious decision to wait until I got older and “had to.” My grandmother once said to me, “dear – I hope you won’t color your hair…I DO think that gray hair can be awfully attractive.” I concurred with her opinion as I was expected to, but in my heart, I knew that I will never go gray. I’ll go RED!

2. I pick favorites among my children. But it changes every 30 seconds – so I figure it evens out in the end.

3. I was the only girl in my high school class who didn’t wear boxers under her uniform skirt. I thought they made me look fat. Sadly this caused a very embarrassing incident for me in The Quad one day when a big gust of Spring air gave all of nearby construction workers a view of my not fat thighs.

4. I dream of having a career that I love. But I only started thinking about this in the past few years. Prior to that I was fairly apathetic about the connection of my job to my sense of identity. Sometimes I wonder if this is a sign of a midlife crisis.

5. I have already confessed to an obsession with recorded books. I listen to plenty of current fiction, but one of my favorite authors for listening is Jane Austen. Even though I have actually read all of her books and know the stories well, I find something very soothing about hearing them read in a clipped English accent. Is it me or do days of nothing but needlepoint and gossip by a roaring fire sound really appealing sometimes?

6. I wish I knew how to do needlepoint or embroidery. I would create fabulous throw pillows and whip up Anthropologie-quality tops out of plain vintage shirts and embroidery thread. I should have learned these skills when I had the time…

7. I like being by myself and tend to treat a night on my own like a personal slumber party. After I put the kids to bed and clean up, I’m all about raiding the refrigerator for junk food, giving myself a pedicure and watching “girl movies.” Of course, my husband doesn’t travel that often – so I might have a different attitude if these personal slumber parties were more frequent.

8. I can’t stand gum. I find it revolting. The way it looks just hanging out in someone’s mouth, the sound of it snapping and even the smell of it. ESPECIALLY the smell of it if it’s fruit flavored or even worse, bubble gum. The smell of bubble gum flavored anything makes me want to pass out. Not to make light of actual torture, which is not funny and a terrible reality from which I am lucky to be sheltered…but seriously, I think you’d have to pull out a few of my molars with pliers before I’d allow you to put a piece of bubble gum in my mouth.

9. I have an incredibly high suspension of disbelief threshold when it comes to books, movies and television story lines, but I do tend to obsess over everyday details that I find a little too unbelievable. For example, I can enjoy pretty much anything from Harry Potter to Lost; but I just can’t get past how the Cosbys had all those kids and a TV in their living room, but their couch always looked so clean.

10. I’m terrified of sharks. A condition that has grown worse as I’ve gotten older. All of those news reports about shark attacks in Florida a few years back didn’t help.

11. This blog is the first real writing that I’ve ever done outside of business documents.

12. My wedding cake was the best dessert I’ve ever had in my life: chocolate cake with fondant icing and a buttercream and marzipan filling. I knew that I wouldn’t get a chance to have any at the reception, so I asked my planner to make sure that there was a large piece waiting for me in my room at the end of the night. This was quite possibly one of the brilliant ideas I’ve ever had in my life.

13. My writing style tends to be a little verbose. So “25 Things About Me” can be loosely translated into “Twenty Minutes of Your Life That You Will Never Get Back.” Therefore I will be breaking this into two posts. Check back tomorrow more for 12 more things about me!

Just Me and My Shadow

My Friday Confession for this week comes on a Saturday. I just didn’t get around to it yesterday. Partly because I’ve been busy with life and partly because I’m just exhausted by it. Every night this week, I’ve wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed the minute the children are tucked in.

My early evening yawns may also be the result of staying up late every night last week when Chris was away on business.

I married a night owl, so it’s kind of a given that he will always be up long after I’ve fallen asleep. It’s easy to just ask him to run the dishwasher or to clean up the basement while he’s watching TV. But when he’s not here – I feel like I have to put everything away so that the house (or any part of the house that I choose to acknowledge) is tidy before I turn in for the night. Not that he has the same definition of “tidy” that I maintain – but in theory, I don’t have to do it all myself.

The other reason that I probably stayed up too late that week is that having full evenings to myself was kind of a treat. Some people are lonely when their significant other is out of town. But I actually enjoy it. And that’s my Friday Confession (on Saturday): I have a very strong loner streak. And you don’t tend to feel lonely when you’re a loner.

I don’t want to give the wrong impression, so let me be clear – I love the time that I do spend with my husband and I’m very grateful that he doesn’t travel as often as some other people in his industry do. It’s just that I don’t generally get lonely. So knowing that he’ll be back in a week and won’t travel again for several months makes it easy to view that time as an opportunity to indulge my reclusive nature.

Okay – “recluse” is probably a strong word to use for my Garbo-esque leanings. But I can honestly say that I could easily spend a pleasant day all by myself without saying a word to anyone. I have always had many close friends, and I love a good party, but I also love a quiet night at home with a book.

Many of my favorite things to do are solo activities. Reading? Yeah – I don’t need a partner in crime for that. Writing? My keyboard only accommodates one set of hands. Movies and television? I don’t like chit chat while I’m watching Lost. It requires my full concentration. I’M allowed to talk – that doesn’t bother me – but I don’t want anyone else’s commentary causing me to miss a crucial detail. I once had to explain this to him in the middle of the Sex & the City finale episode. I don’t even know why Chris was watching it with me (although he would tune in every once in a while if he thought there might be nudity). I was enjoying a glass of wine and entertaining myself with the occasional witty comment (I find myself very witty when I’m drinking wine). Out of nowhere, Chris made the gaffe of trying to have a witty comment of his own (I do NOT find Chris witty when I’m drinking wine – at least not while I’m watching S&TC). I lost precious seconds of viewing time to look at him and say, “I’m sorry – I probably should have explained this: I’m allowed to talk – but you are not.”

So every night after I put the kids to bed, I would think about what alone time activity I would enjoy that evening. Watching girl movies that Chris would never consider, catching up on Grey’s Anatomy, plowing through the Twilight series… To me, these are all guilty pleasures – simply because I can do them alone.

I used to not like this quality about myself. I thought that being introverted made me somewhat unfriendly. But given a few years and some perspective, I’ve realized that everyone has at least a little bit of a loner streak. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to survive the inevitable time that we’re left to our own devices. We all appreciate a little time to ourselves now and again. I just appreciate it a bit more than most. And that suits me well enough – particularly if I’m due for a home pedicure.

A Tragic Heroine’s Confession

Chris left early this morning for a nine-day business trip. And I have the hubris to not be worried about this. That’s my Friday confession this week. I am incredibly arrogant about my ability to take care of a three year old and two year old twins all by myself for over a week.

Remember, I work full time and my children go to daycare five days a week. So I don’t have a set schedule for our days, like a stay at home mom* would. And most weekend days, Chris is there to help out. Being at home all day with them may not sound like anything out of the ordinary for a mother – but it’s not the norm for us.

The reason that I’m not all that concerned about it is because I do spend a lot of time alone with them. I get up with them every morning, and on the weekends, I may be alone with them for three hours before my husband gets up. I take them to daycare every weekday and bring them home without any help. Sometimes I have them in bed before Chris gets home from work. It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that I could just handle everything by myself for nine days.


This will be a long weekend. A four day weekend – and it will NOT be the same as dropping them off at daycare and picking them up by myself. I will be here at home alone with them for four full days. And they are young enough that I can’t take them out by myself unless the twins are trapped in the stroller. As two year olds, they can’t be trusted to stay with me and not run in two different directions. And I can’t count on them to be content to sit in the stroller. In fact, I know they will just shimmy out of their straps and escape (a new trick of theirs). And it’s freezing outside. Far colder than it usually is in DC this time of year. So I can’t let them play out back where they would be safely fenced in. We will spend four full days trying to stay entertained inside with very few activities outside the house.

And I’m not anxious about this. Because I have an incredible talent for dissociation, as well as a strong invincible streak that I never quite lost with age.

I have hubris of classical Greek tragedy proportions (as well as the classical flair for melodrama – at least late at night after a glass of wine or two). And I should be pitied for this because like any other fatal flaw, it will be my undoing.

But I am a survivor. And this will not be the worst challenge I have ever faced. Possibly the most tedious or the most likely to make me want to set my hair on fire and run through my suburban neighborhood begging for someone to put me out of my misery. But not the worst.

At the very least I will arrive at work on Wednesday with fully functioning eyeballs. I’ll just have to remember to hide all of the toga brooches in the house.

*To moms who are at home full time raising their children: Please take no offense to the SAHM label. I am aware that you are not at home all day with the kids. That in fact you spend most of your day racing around running errands and ferrying kids to and from activities. I feel exhausted just thinking about your average day. I’m only using the SAHM term for lack of a better one. Thank you for your understanding.