Monthly Archives: December 2008

Further lessons in humility…

Heaven knows I’m sure I need them.

We found lice eggs on my baby son’s head, so it was time for the buzz.  He’s 20 months old and had just grown in the sweetest curls.  But he’s too squirmy to have to search through his head all the time, and I hate the thought of putting poison on his baby head, so we just buzzed him.  It made me sad.

Even sadder, I keep finding eggs and bugs in my littlest daughter’s hair, and she has never had her hair cut (only bang trims) in all her 6-1/2 years.  Her lovely brown ringlets went all the way down to the small of her back.  But enough is enough.  Luckily she and her Dad just finished the Matilda book and movie, so she is thrilled to have a cute bob just like the lead character’s.  And it does look sweet.  But me and my sentimentality, I had to shed a tear first before chopping it off.  

I feel totally drained.  Every morning this week has been spent/wasted dealing with bugs.  I poisoned all our heads Monday, but today I still found bugs in my little girl’s hair.  Back to the store, more poison, more expensive stronger brand.  Damned if there weren’t still LIVE BUGS in her hair an hour after treatment.

Sigh.

I’m going to try the oil treatment tomorrow, see if something more natural won’t do the trick (oil is supposed to suffocate them if you completely saturate your hair and leave it on for a couple hours.  And it’s not poisonous!)

Anyway, enough bitching.  Just in case anyone wondered why I haven’t had anything intelligent or insightful to say in a few days, it is because my critical powers are focussed on searching every strand of hair for bloodsucking parasites, and my eyesight has been encompassing nothing of interest.

Hope to be back in the game soon.

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Pigskin-r-ific

Yesterday was a fun end for us to the 2008 regular season of NFL, watching Carolina and Miami carve themselves a path to the post-season excitement.

First off, let me say congrats to Joy and her Vikings, and best of luck in the playoffs!

Secondly, my son’s Panthers ended up top in their division, as did my husband’s Dolphins.  In fact, Miami did so well compared to last year that they are one of the all time top turn-around teams in NFL history!

My father’s Lions, well.  I guess if you’re going to stink, you may as well do it perfectly!  Really reek up the joint!  And you know, first round draft pick, and all the rest.  I guess if you’re a Lions fan you’ve gotten used to the view from the bottom by now.  And with a record like theirs, you are 100% guaranteed not to do any worse next year!

Similar to my Raiders.  They did win one more game than last year, so perhaps they are on a slow crawl back to a winning season.  Maybe in another decade they’ll actually make it to the playoffs!

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49er Fantasy

No, not the football team.  Euw.

The miner kind of 49ers.

I’m from California, and the Gold Rush of 1849 has always been one of my most favorite periods in history.

The other day my daughter and I were watching a documentary of the pioneers and the Gold Rush.  It told the story of a family who went west to seek their fortune.  Usually men went without their wives and children and just hoped to make a bunch of money to bring home, or send for their families later.  But this family took off together.

When they arrived, the lady found that the miners would pay five dollars to have a meal cooked by a woman, which of course was a lot of money back then.  Well, maybe not to a guy who just found a bunch of gold nuggets in a creek and has blown phenomenal amounts of cash on booze and prostitutes.  Five bucks for a “home cooked” meal would be nothing.

But anyway, these miners had gone so long without being fed by their womenfolk, not to mention even seeing a woman up close, that she was greatly appreciated.  So much so that she was able to open a restaurant and make a tidy living off her culinary skills.

Now I know that some people fantasize about being Eddie Van Halen, or Angelina Jolie, or maybe even Bill Gates.  Having fame, fortune and glory is a commonplace desire.  But I haven’t felt as envious of anyone’s life as I felt hearing about this woman feeding all those men, winning their innocent affections and being compensated handsomely.  

I imagine, being her, I would feel like the most beneficent goddess mother, appeasing the boys’ stomachs and comforting their loneliness (she had her husband there, so I’m assuming that she was relatively safe from untoward advances.  Either way, nothing inappropriate figures into this particular fantasy of mine!)  They would adore me, looking up at me with their sad, scruffy, hungry puppy dog faces as I set before them some stew and biscuits still hot from the oven.  It would fill their bellies and warm their hearts and their homesickness wouldn’t sting quite so badly for just those few moments.  After their many months of perilous journeying, miserable gold panning, lousy food and rough male company, just the swishing of my clean skirts as I went to fetch the coffee would be like music to their ears.

Silly, I know.  But if a person’s fantasies reveal their essence, then I am all about food, earning a good living and being an adored mother-figure.  

I can live with that.

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“What is the What”

Since I have almost zero time free to read, when I do read something it had better be good!

The book I just finished fit the bill.  What is the What by Dave Eggers is part autobiography and part fiction, recounting the life of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese man who survived the civil war that destroyed so much of his homeland.

I find the mixture of truth and fiction intriguing, but as Mr. Deng explains in the preface, “It should be known to the readers that I was very young when some of the events in the book took place, and as a result we simply had to pronounce What is the What a novel.”  But he goes on to assure readers, “The book is historically accurate, and the world I have known is not different from the one depicted within these pages.”

It is also interesting that Mr. Eggers helped him write it, and is the only author listed on the cover.  One might ask, whose story is it, really?

Having studied in college the genre of testimonio, a category of writing that includes texts which tell the true story of individuals who have survived oppression and hardship, I am sure that theorists would go nuts over the truth/fiction blend going on in this book.

For me, I find it worth reading for the history as well as for the perspective of a person who has lived in both the US and Africa and can inform us of the contrast.

It is a story that never stops for a moment.  It will take you out of wherever you are and move you through a world that few of us, thankfully, will experience otherwise.  

It was worth reading just for the moment when my husband was watching a rerun of a goofy sitcom while I had my nose in the book, and I could hear the characters on the TV joking about their party-gone-sour while in the book young Achak is riding in the back of a military truck with a load of dead bodies… I had to stop reading.  Just to let it all digest, that we are all on this planet together but our realities are separated by light years.  Just to feel that moment when our realities existed, paradoxically, in the same space, when they came together in my conscious mind.

If you get a chance, join Mr. Deng’s reality for a moment.  How can we resist someone who wants so badly for us to hear his story?  As he says in the book, talking to us, the readers, about his storytelling, “…I speak to you because I cannot help it.  It gives me strength, almost unbelievable strength, to know that you are there.  I covet your eyes, your ears, the collapsible space between us.  How blessed are we to have each other?  I am alive and you are alive so we must fill the air with our words.”

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Vanity

I like having my hair long.  I think it’s fun, and it exploits my hair’s natural tendency to curl, which used to manifest itself as tight ringlets (what I like to call “sproings” on my daughter’s head) but now, my hair being old and laid back, is usually no more than loose loop-dee-loops.

My husband likes long hair as well, but I know he supports whatever I want to do with my appearance, as well as in any other facet of my life.  Other advantages to length: easier to make it behave, makes me look younger, can have more fun with it.  

Sure there are disadvantages: a pain in the rear to brush, often looks scraggly unless I wear it up, can’t take a shower too close to bed time because it takes so long to dry.

But there is one major disadvantage that caused me to employ the assistance of my daughter plus the clippers to buzz my coiffure down to within an inch of its existence:  long hair is a haven for lice.

I know… gross.  I don’t know where we got it from this time.  I’m thinking it might be the kid up the street that my son started hanging out with about a month ago.  They sit on each other’s beds while they play each other’s video game systems.  

We had them once before when we lived in Oregon… well, twice, actually, because I don’t think we did a thorough enough eradication the first time and so we had a second round.  I had long hair then and it was hours and days of picking through every strand to get all the nits.  Sick.  Barf.  Completely grosses me out.

The thought of asking members of my family to lose entire swathes of their lifetime in a, literally, nit-picking pursuit was more than I could stand.  If you just miss a couple, just a mere fraction of the teeny, miniscule, nasty little eggs, then you’ve failed the entire mission.

I wanted to buzz so badly, but it made me sad to think of giving up my hair.  I was sickened not only by the bugs but also by my own reluctance to give up looks for practicality.  I hate to feel vain!  I hate to feel my head crawling and itching and still want to maintain the warm tangly ecosystem that the parasites call home.

I am proud of myself that I cut it off, even if it took five minutes of crying to pick up the scissors and make the decision irrevokable.  My time and my kids’ time is too precious to waste trying to make Mama look a couple years younger.   

I’m glad we spent the afternoon playing Monopoly instead of fretting over Mama’s infested locks.  Vanity be damned; life’s too short to be wasted worrying about being pretty.

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Top Five: Historical Figures

Okay, you’ve found a genie in a bottle, and instead of three wishes you get five!  

Unfortunately, the only thing you are allowed to wish for is a visit with a person from history (you would also be able to understand each other, no matter if they spoke English or not).

Which five is it going to be?

Mine:

1. Mark Twain (he just HAD to be an entertaining guy to hang out with – and I’d love to know what he thinks about what’s been happening in the world since he stopped being able to comment on it…)

2. Beryl Markham (famous aviator/ bush pilot in Africa – I’ll bet she has even more great stories than what I read in her autobiography)

3. Leonardo DaVinci (I’d want him to show me around all his inventions and sketches and everything, just hear in person what was going on in his head)

4. Josephine Baker (entertainer and fascinating personality – I’d want her to show me around the castle she owned in France and answer about a million questions I have about her wild life)

5. Jesus – I mean, who could resist the chance to be face to face in our clay vessels.

What about you?

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Laziness is not civilized!

Okay people, por favor, don’t let’s get completely pathetic.

I was walking through the parking lot at Target yesterday and I saw a perfectly able-bodied woman who, having loaded her SUV with Christmas surplus, was standing there watching the hatch close itself!!!  

I am disgusted.  This is not an awesome use of technology, people!  This is an example of why we are a flabby, soft, lazy, weak population!

Okay, maybe I’m overreacting a little.  Maybe having to close the hatch of her SUV is the bane of her existence.  I know if I could get something that would make it so I never had to touch a dirty dish again as long as I lived, I would buy it in a heartbeat. 

And really, there are lots of contraptions helping us out.  I haven’t beat my clothes against a rock in the creek in quite some time.  But seriously.  When will it stop?  When will we take some pride in having strength, agility, endurance?

When will we see “automatic hatch closer” on the list of car features and say, “Honestly, no, see the flab hanging off my upper arms?  I think I’d better close the hatch myself, thanks.”

Considering the economic state of our country, we’ve got a lot of work to do.  I suspect it is the roll-up-your-sleeves, elbow grease kind of work that makes you sweat, and not something for which if one pushes the correct sequence of buttons one might remotely signal the economy to restart itself.

Let’s stop being proud of our new laze-crazy devices and start being proud of ourselves and each other for our genuine human abilities.

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