2008 In Review

Okay, not that you care, but here's my entire year broken down into a simplistic bullet-point presentation. What can I say, I like lists. I like 'em a lot.

January 2008

* Worked A LOT of really long hours
* Hung out with Christians
* Drank A LOT of wine
* Worried about the unstable conditions in Lebanon
* Got a haircut

February 2008

* Mourned writers strike and delayment of LOST
* Got a raise
* Survived flu
* Met Daniel's mom for the first time
* Took French lessons

March 2008

* Moved from first apartment in Nashville to Daniel's townhouse
* Survived Nashville snow storm
* Attended Bar Mitzvah
* Went to my first Open Mic poetry reading
* Got speeding ticket
* Saw the play "Doubt"

April 2008

* Worked A LOT of really long hours
* Went to the opera
* Used fire extinguisher for the first time in my life
* Turned 32
* Played some tennis
* Went to the Nashville Film Fest

May 2008

* Joined a CSA for the first time
* Visited Seattle for the first time
* Played more tennis
* Ate cake

June 2008

* Ate A LOT of squash
* Played more tennis
* Went to the dentist for the first time in like 6 years
* Nearly took up a smack habit just to get through the "godforsaken" project at work
* Ate more squash

July 2008

* Visited Erie for Independence Day
* Ate lots o' blueberries
* Went to Nashville flea market for the first time
* Freaked out about marriage

August 2008

* Hosted a family visit here in Nashville
* Went to Shakespeare in the Park for the first time
* Drank vodka tonics at Cheekwood
* Drank more vodka tonics at Jackson's
* Resolved to be healthier
* Lost resolve when confronted with cake

September 2008

* Dealt with the stress of Gwennie's hospitalization and kidney failure
* Joined book club
* Took Spanish lessons
* Went to job site in Myrtle Beach
* Began NACA qualification process for home mortgage

October 2008

* Purchased my first crock pot
* Freaked out about my garage door
* Saw the movie "Religulous"
* Shit my pants

November 2008

* Voted for the first time in my life
* Freaked out about my sister's date
* Visited Columbus
* Had Thanksgiving with Daniel in Nashville

December 2008

* Freaked out about being surrounded by pregnant women
* Went to Christmas Parade
* Purchased live Christmas tree from Boy Scouts
* Celebrated first Christmas in Nashville

Funny how you can condense 365 days into a few words compiled into a list. Where'd all that time go? What the hell have I been doing all year long? As it turns out, not much. ~sigh~

Happy New Year!...from Ja-pan (don't ask...it's for Bethany's and mother's amusement only)


Christmas In Nashville

So, Christmas is over. Aren’t you glad I’m here to tell you important stuff like that? Yeah, I thought so.

As I may have mentioned before, this year I did not travel anywhere for the holidays. Nope. I stayed right here in Nashville and celebrated MY way. It was definitely a welcome change of pace from my normally frantic, exhausting whirlwind trip to Erie which ends up leaving me tired and fussy after my Christmas “vacation”. No waiting around in airports for hours on end. No driving from house to house to house (in the snow). No living out of a suitcase or imposing on someone else. No vague feelings of not belonging anymore to a time and a place. No guilty expressions of “sorry I can’t stay longer”.

Instead, I enjoyed the most relaxing Christmas holiday I can remember in a long time. It’s true that I missed seeing family and friends who I normally see at this time of year…but there’s like 362 other days in the year to see them. Days that don’t require an appearance at 4 separate family gatherings in a mere 48 hours. Days that aren’t dripping with the bittersweet nostalgia of long-gone traditions. Days that aren’t emotionally and physically overwhelming. Like lazy summer days, for instance. Or lovely fall days. Or bright spring days. Yeah, those days.

Daniel also did not travel this year for Christmas. A first for him as well. We sent Christmas cards and packages filled with Christmas cheer to our various families and friends and called it good. We enjoyed our tree (our tree that is STILL standing – woo hoo!) We enjoyed going out to our mailbox everyday to collect the Christmas booty our postman left for us from family and friends we wouldn’t be seeing. We made praline pecans and peppermint bark and watched A LOT of Christmas specials on TV. And there was no stressful anticipation of imminent holiday travel.

On Christmas Eve we drove around town together scoping out the Christmas light displays in various neighborhoods. Christmas morning was a leisurely celebration featuring bacon and eggs and toast for breakfast and the opening of the few simple gifts we got each other. We watched the Yule Log on TV. That’s right. Have any of you ever seen this thing? I didn’t know they did this, but on one of the channels they have a giant log burning and they play Christmas music all morning. Huh. This, of course, led to a discussion (and internet research) of Yule logs and where they come from. And naturally the discussion turned to food when we discovered there is an edible Yule log called a Buche de Noel. It’s complicated, so you can bet Daniel will be attempting it next year. Y'all are welcome to come visit and partake in Yule revelry!

I had made Christmas Dinner Reservations for us at a restaurant called Prime 108 in the fabulously historical Union Station hotel downtown. The restaurant is luxuriously small and intimate. It was decorated so purdy with a big roaring fire at one end and Christmas music playing in the background. The menu was titled The Twelve Tastes of Christmas and it was SO delicious. All you interested foodies can CLICK HERE for the full menu. Can I get a YUM?

Also, it was just nice to share a fancy shmancy dinner together, have others wait on us AND not have to clean anything up afterwards. Awesome. The next three days of Christmas vacation included an abundance of lounging. Lounging on the couch watching movies. Lounging in bed reading books. Lounging in the chair playing computer games. Yes, much lounging. It was glorious.

And now it's over. But, damn, it was good. Can't wait for next year! I know, I need help...


Dear Santa

Okay, I'm a copycat. Mars Girl posted a letter to Santa on her blog and it got me thinking...

I haven't written a letter to Santa since I was four years old. And the only reason I remember writing a letter to Santa when I was four is because my mother submitted it to the local newspaper and they published it.

Here's what I wrote to Santa in December of 1980:

Dear Santa Claus:

My name is Cathryn Mary Johnson. I live in Emlenton. If you don't know where that is just look on your map, we're under the bridge. (Apparently I did not have much faith in Santa's abilities to a.) automatically know who I was and b.) automatically be able to locate me. My mother probably deleted the longitude and latitude coordinates I included for his use)

I have been pretty good this year so far. (No need to bring up the tar incident or the dead cat incident) Since we don't have a chimney, I will leave our door open for you.

If you have these things, please bring them to me: drum, Holly Hobby stove, rocking chair, dolly doll house clothes. Could you please bring a few things for my little sister Bethany too. She's too little to know what she wants but I'm sure you'll think of something. Thank you.

Cathryn Mary Johnson

Pretty simple and straight forward - although my letter was the longest by far of the letters that were published (I never really got over the "wordy" thing). And, I'm rather proud that mine was the ONLY letter to say thank you. I was such a well-mannered little thing...I don't know what happened. And, mine was the only letter to include a sibling (Lookin' out for ya boty!).

How times have changed - back then all it took to make me happy was a drum and a rocking chair (By the way, what four year old asks for a fucking rocking chair!? Isn't that what senior citizens ask for?). Since I haven't written to Santa in over 28 years, I thought maybe I should give it another go. Perhaps he reads this blog.

Dear Santa Claus:

Hi again. It's me, Cathryn Mary Johnson. I no longer live in Emlenton. I'm in Nashville now - I'm sure you'll be able to find me. I have faith.

Sorry I haven't written in such a long time. Just busy I guess. Ya know...life happens and you just sorta forget to keep in touch.

I hope you and Mrs. Claus are in good health and all is well at the North Pole.

It's hard to say how good I've been this year. Sometimes I don't feel like I'm doing enough good. Sometimes I feel I should be doing more for people. I'll leave that assessment to you and promise to try to do better next year.

My "Wish List" has evolved a bit over the past 28 years. Honestly, Santa, I've learned it's not the material things in life that make me happy. A new car would be nice. But do I need a new car to make me happy? No. A house of my own? I would LOVE a house of my own, but do I need one? No. A new purse, a new pair of shoes, diamond earrings and a Sephora shopping spree? Nice? Sure. A trip to somewhere exotic and exciting? That would be awesome. Do I need it to make me happy? Nah.

I am pretty damn grateful for what I have and what I am able to do. I have so much already that I would be ashamed to ask for more.

So, instead of bringing me things this year, what I'd really like is for everyone I love to get everything on their Wish Lists. Especially Bethany. Just bring her whatever she wants cuz she's awesome and pretty much the most deserving person I know. And my mom. She doesn't ask for much so you may have to do some digging to find out what she really wants. Daniel wouldn't dream of asking you for anything so just use your infinite intuition to bring him something very extra special that will make his eyes light up. You may have heard from Jennifer already but I want you to disregard anything she asked for because I can guarantee it's not what she really wants. She wouldn't ask for what she really wants, so just bring it to her please. And Donna...I know what she wants and so do you. Make it happen, big guy!

I'll leave the rest to you. I have faith.

I apologize for the late hour appeal. Again, I chalk it up to the busy-ness of life. I know that's not a good excuse, but it's all I've got without accusations of slothful lazyness ~shrug~

Thank you for your continued efforts to spread Christmas cheer and goodwill. And I will try to keep in touch on a more consistent basis.

Merry Christmas!

Cathryn Mary Johnson


A-Hunting We Will Go

House hunting.

Yes, Daniel and I have officially decided to buy a house. Officially. Of course, it’s been UNofficial for a while now. We’ve been chewing on the idea, going to random open houses, scouting out neighborhoods, and perusing online real estate sites for months. And now, with the economy tanking and the real estate market going through a crisis, we thought, “hey, this might be a good time to buy!”

We’ve decided we want to be homeowners for a variety of reasons, and contrary to our innate sensibilities, want to go about it in a responsible manner. This is why we’re attempting to secure financing through an organization called NACA. The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. It’s an established and legitimate, non-profit advocacy group that targets predatory lending practices, saves homes from foreclosure and offers homebuyers excellent fixed-rate mortgages. It’s a way to ensure, without a doubt, that what you are about to do (buy a home) is something you understand, something you want to do, and something you can actually afford.

Thus, the process of acquiring a mortgage through NACA is a thorough and arduous process, but in the end, there are no better mortgage terms out there. None. Period. No downpayment is required, no closing costs, no private mortgage insurance, and interest rates are always 1 point below the national average. What’s the catch, right?

Being the highly skeptical people that we are, we researched NACA backwards and forwards before we even attended the free mandatory workshop which explains (in no less than 4 hours) the history, mission, and process of working through NACA. The information I found online was both encouraging and discouraging.

They really do offer THE BEST mortgage in America. No question. They really do help people and campaign strongly to end predatory lending practices across the country (this, of course, appeals to our liberal activist cores and we nearly jumped up out of our seats at the workshop to start chanting, “Hell no, we won’t go!”). That’s the good stuff. Their mission is genuinely altruistic. And the product they offer is genuinely excellent.

The drawback (as evidenced by the numerous hostile discussion threads found online): one must have buckets of patience. I came across many, many….many disgruntled NACA members across the country, who claim that NACA’s poor customer service, distinct lack of organizational skills, and unnecessarily long process caused them to eventually go with a traditional loan even though the terms weren’t as good. Reading these very negative accounts of individuals’ experiences with NACA was disheartening to say the least.

NACA’s mission is to offer safe, affordable home loans to people who do not own a home – those who do not have the substantial downpayments banks are now requiring, or money for closing costs, or perfect credit. They do this in an effort to stabilize neighborhoods and to end predatory lending practices. They use a rigorous character-based lending process in order to offer these loans. This process takes a long time. Let me say that again. THIS PROCESS TAKES A LONG TIME. NACA wants to make absolutely sure that they are providing mortgages to people who can prove to them they are competent to undertake such a huge financial commitment. To me, that makes sense. It’s like the exact opposite practice of giving out loans to anyone with a pulse. And we all know how well that worked out.

If you’re going to pursue a mortgage through NACA, expect the process taking 3-6 months, right? Expect that you will have to provide LOTS of documentation (probably more than once). Expect that you will be required to create and maintain a strict budget. Expect that you will have to keep meticulous notes and financial records. Expect that your patience will be tested and your frustration levels will reach all-time highs. Admittedly, it is an exasperatingly tedious route to take.

Despite our skepticism, we began meeting with our NACA mortgage counselor at the end of September and are crossing our fingers that we will be approved in the next couple of weeks. Woo hoo!

It's exciting and maddening all at the same time. Fortunately, we pay month-to-month rent, so we don't have to wait for a lease to expire. We also already have a real estate agent we've been working with who has helped us research neighborhoods and houses. So, once we are approved, I'm hoping things can move along rather quickly (this is never a smart thing to hope for when dealing with NACA, but I simply can't help it).

All I have to say is, THANK GAWD our mortgage counselor is AWESOME and so that makes the process a little less exasperating. She gets just as frustrated as we do sometimes with the tedious qualification process. Also, we didn't go into this with the idea that we needed a house NOW. If we had, I imagine it would've been too much to bear before this point. It's difficult - once you've made up your mind that you want a house, naturally, you want it NOW. That's just how our culture operates.

I want something and I have every right to have it now. I don't want to wait. I shouldn't have to wait

Just call it Varuca Salt Complex.

What's that quote?...Good things come to those who wait? Let's hope so.


A Successful Erection!

Ladies and Gentleman...we are erect! Our tree, that is. Our Christmas tree. Remember? It was all propped up in the corner and stuff after crashing to the floor a couple of times? 'Member dat?

Yeah, well it is now standing tall and proud in our brand new heavy duty, enormously ugly, Wal-Mart special, plastic tree stand. Tah-Dah! When we went to Wal-Mart to procure said tree stand, they had three left. Three. Naturally, we picked the one that was missing one bolt. Yep. We have an uncanny ability for doing stuff like that - truly, it's amazing.

I was so excited to finally be able to decorate our tree! But when we got home and started to put the thing together, we realized there was supposed to be FOUR bolty things to hold the tree in place and we had a mere THREE bolty things. Christ Almighty! It was more than I could take and I sullenly declared "fuck the fucking christmas tree...it can stay in the fucking corner leaning against a fucking wall for the next fucking three weeks for all I care".

Daniel, who is much more patient than I, drove back to Wal-Mart to exchange our inadequate tree stand for one of the other two stands which had all four bolty things.

And now we have a tree that stands on it's own. Yes, it may be a tiny bit crooked. Yes, the tree topper is still somewhat problematic. Yes, it is decorated with one strand of white lights, one strand of green lights and two strands of multi colored lights. Yes, it is also decorated with fake gold plastic strings of beads and ornaments with faded glitter. But, by gawd, it is STANDING. And the tree skirt hides the Big Ugly tree stand. And the cats are enjoying pulling the tree skirt to the side so they can stuff their faces in the tree stand and drink the nasty tree water. And it is good.

AND, I also put up my Christmas Village...which, granted, is not much of a village (yet), but it makes me immensely happy to gaze upon the miniature buildings all lit up on their bed of fake snow.

A close-up of the Christmas Village. C'mon, admit it, it makes you happy too!

Yay for Christmas!


And So It Begins

I love Christmas. I love it so much I might as well just marry it.

This weekend was filled with festive, twinkly Christmasness. Friday night was the 56th Annual Nashville Christmas Parade. I’m kind of a freak when it comes to the Christmas Parade (yeah okay, I’m a freak when it comes to a lot of things). You see, the first year I went with Kelly we did not anticipate several things about the nature of the Christmas Parade: 1. The enormous amount of traffic, 2. The limited amount of parking, and 3. The bitterly cold temperatures. But, despite getting to the parade late due to traffic and having to walk 3 miles to the parade route due to limited parking and being nearly frozen to death due to the unseasonably cold temperatures, it was AWESOME. I became an instant fan of the Christmas Parade.

Parades at night are just SO much better – dontcha think?

This year, having learned from years past, I packed the car the night before with camp chairs, blankets, hats and gloves – I laugh at coldness! – with the plan of driving directly from work to downtown to avoid the traffic jams. This plan, though clever, did not work very well. The problem was that we left work at 5pm, which is earlier than we normally leave but not early enough to escape the daily rush hour traffic. Doh! Plus, we had to stop and get cash – I packed hats for gods sake! I can’t think of everything!

The up side was that we got downtown in plenty of time even though we got jammed up in some traffic early on. We even got a parking space not TOO far from the parade route (about 7 blocks or so). The down side was that we got there early with all of our Christmas Parade paraphernalia and thus had to wait for like an hour outside in 30 degree weather.

The 30 degree weather thing is a strange phenomenon. See, this is technically THE SOUTH. In my opinion, there should be no temperature recorded below 45 degrees down here. But for some unknown maddening reason, whenever there are massive outdoor activities scheduled, the temperature does crazy things. For instance, this summer we had lovely 85-89 degree weather for weeks on end. BUT, the weekend when I was scheduled to play in a tennis tournament, the temperature suddenly rose to 102. This same sort of thing happens with the Christmas Parade EVERY YEAR, except that we go from lovely 45-50 degree weather to bitter 25-30 degree weather. What the hell man!?

Aaaaaanyway, we staked out pretty good viewing spots towards the beginning of the parade route across the street from the grand stand and there we stayed. For the next 3 hours. Daniel walked over to Rippy’s to get us some dinner, and the hot food helped somewhat in the prevention of hypothermia. But by the time Santa rode by, our extremities were numb with cold, and possibly frostbitten.

It was a great night!!

Naturally, I forgot my camera…but I found a couple of photos online which are pretty good snapshots of the spirit of the parade.

The Christmas festivities did not end with the Christmas Parade. Oh no they did not.

Saturday, we were on a mission to procure a Christmas tree. Since I’m not traveling anywhere this year for the holidays I can have my very own tree to love! Hooray!

So I carted up the two boxes labeled “CHRISTMAS” from the basement and began to gleefully un-pack the holiday treasures that have been resting in purgatory for the past three years.

Daniel and I decided to purchase a tree from a local tree stand run by the Boy Scouts. They cut your choice of tree, trim it if need be, and even tie it to your vehicle. Plus, I enjoy helping out the Boy Scouts in their Boy Scouty endeavors. One of my co-workers, who gets a tree from the Boy Scouts every year, told me that if you bring along your tree stand, they will also put it in the tree stand for you, so then all you have to do when you get home is plop it down and begin the decorating extravaganza!

The problem was this: I couldn’t find my tree stand. Bloody hell!

So we went to Target to get a tree stand. They had two. No, not two types. Just two. Both of them were those gigantic ugly plastic numbers. I declined. We then went to Lowes. Lowes had NO tree stands. Sold out. WTF!? But the helpful sales clerk said she knew that KMart still had tree stands available. So, we went to the depressed little KMart in the Ghet-to and found a lovely red metal tree stand and also a sparkly tree topper.

Finally we made it to the Boy Scout tree stand and picked out a sturdy looking little evergreen. The Boy Scout who helped us, wrangled our tree to the chopping block where he used the world's tiniest chain saw to cut a few inches off the bottom. He screwed our new tree stand onto the base, hauled it on top of our car and tied the sucker down using very complex Boy Scout knots.

Driving home in the hoopty (Daniel's car, which has no heat, no radio, no hub caps, one burnt out headlight, stains on the seats from unrecognizable sources, and a nearly rusted out roof) at 30 mph with a tree (already in a tree stand) tied to the top of the hoopty. Awesome.

We (he) untied it, shoved it through the door, carried it up the stairs, set it gently upright on the living room floor and immediately it crashed down sending tree debris flying throughout the room.

So typical.

After many minutes of tweaking and careful examination of the tree stand mechanisms, Daniel decided that the Boy Scout did not trim the bottom of our tree evenly and that was why the tree stand was not able to hold it upright.

We (he) needed to even out the base of the tree. For that, we (he) needed a saw. So, I went to Home Depot and meandered through the aisles, unassisted, until I found some hand saws. They weren't exactly what I had in mind, but I was annoyed and fussy and so I just grabbed one and stomped home.

Long story short (too late, right?), the saw I got sucked ass, so we borrowed a real hack saw from our neighbor, evened out the bottom of the tree, realized that the stake in the bottom of the tree stand pan had broken off, re-tightened the screws and brought it back into the living room, where we tested it and then put lights on it. All was well.

Then Daniel had the great idea to use an eyehook to tie it to the wall so it wouldn't fall over. So we (he) rigged it up and then we sat back and looked upon our lovely tree and our hard work only to watch it go crashing to the floor. Again.

Since then, it has sorta been propped up in our living room until we can either A.) figure out how to keep it from falling or B.) get a different (ie. more reliable) tree stand. Gawd I love Christmas!

It Was A Pretty Mouse

My mother cracks me up. She sends odd emails to my sister and I. Random stuff like, "Do you want a fax machine for Christmas?" Part of the funnyness of her emails is that she never wastes cyber space with any kind of introductory chit chat or conclusionary wrap-up. Do not underestimate the abrupt factor for funnyness.

There's this humorous website called Postcards From Yo Mamma. It's an often hilarious "repository of modern day maternal correspondence", and I can SO relate!

Bethany and I received this email from my mom this morning:

Eeeeek !! that’s what you see in the comics. I keep a box of cereal in one of the drawers in my filing cabinet. This morning, as soon as I opened the drawer to get the box out, a mouse jumped out at me and ran under my desk. It was a pretty mouse, but it scared me half to death ! He must have had a pretty nice weekend, being all nice and toasty warm and having a huge box of cereal to munch on to boot. Needless to say, no cereal today.


See what I mean about random? Hee! A bizarre little rodent story comin' outta nowhere! And I love that she didn't type out any kind of "Good Morning Beloved Daughters" or "Guess what happened to me at work this morning!?" But, she did take the time to mention that the rodent was pretty! Ha! Love it!


A Review...and A Rant

I recently finished reading the book The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels. Before you ask, NO, I’m not pregnant. I just enjoy feminist social commentary…especially when done by two very well informed and very snarky women (who are mothers themselves). It’s a thought-provoking read which takes a critical look at how the media and the government have molded mothers into obsessive, competitive freaks with unattainable standards of perfection.

When I saw this book listed on PaperBackSwap.com, it caught my attention, I guess, because I’m at that age where people like me (and by “like me”, I only mean women who have, for whatever reasons, put motherhood on the back burner) are suddenly realizing that if they want a kid or two, they better get on board the Baby Train pretty damn quick! And true to form, it seems as though everyone around me in my age range is pregnant or trying to get pregnant. A couple of co-workers here, a couple of co-workers’ wives there, a colleague or two, random bloggers. . . One of my co-workers had a baby 5 months ago and I never saw her again. She has disappeared into the Baby Abyss! One of my colleagues also had a baby 5 months ago (and at age 37, she was put in the Geriatric Maternity Ward, much to her dismay) and is happily back to designing load-bearing concrete beams after a brief maternity leave.

Oddly enough, only one of my close friends is a mother, and for some reason we don’t really ever talk about how she deals with motherhood. One of the things The Mommy Myth points out is how fucking HARD being a mother (not a parent…not a father…a MOTHER) is and how no one is allowed to really express HOW hard it is. Mothers have been forbidden to say “GAWD! This seriously sucks!” It’s not all rainbows and sunshine and organic produce and fair-trade cotton diapers. But we all have to pretend that motherhood is glamorous and sexy and the one and only thing in life that makes every damn one of us feel the most satisfaction we have ever felt. Puhleeeeeze.

Mothers should all be nurturing SAHMs (stay-at-home-moms) teaching their children to speak multiple languages, organizing meaningful outings, giving only educational toys and healthy food, and providing classical music for the young minds they are charged with forming. Basically, June Cleaver…on steroids. Everyone that is, except of course celebrities who have teams of nannies and educators and baby nurses and chefs and personal groomers and any other serviceable person who is able to make her life in motherhood the most satisfying, most thrilling, most fulfilling thing she has ever done. Oh, and also mothers who are on public assistance. Those goddamn welfare mothers SHOULD NOT be SAHMs…shame on them for wanting to stay home and raise their kid. Right?

The authors of The Mommy Myth take an extreme dislike to people such as Dr. Laura (and really, who can blame them?!) who preach to white, upper middle class women that being a mom (not a mother, a mom – this is another interesting point the book addresses; the distinction between the terms “mother” and “mom”) is the only priority they should even be thinking about, and being a mom, (the right kind of mom, of course) is the highest service she can perform.

And here’s the thing, women buy into this bullshit! I realize it is sometimes incredibly difficult not to be duped by the omniscient media, but many mothers-to-be happily adopt the whole motherhood = righteous, holier-than-thou attitude and it’s nauseating.

It’s also a little more than frightening.

I know a woman who is currently 3 months pregnant. I genuinely like this woman. I do. For the past three years that I’ve known her, she has been adamantly anti-baby. She proclaimed that being a mother was not something she needed or wanted. It wasn’t something she craved. She couldn’t imagine being pregnant. She couldn’t imagine being a stay at home mom. It wasn’t for her and she just couldn't understand how women gave everything up just to have a baby.

Then seemingly overnight (although now that I think about it, probably back in the Spring when she turned 33), her and her husband were trying to get pregnant. She started taking special vitamins and charting her menstrual cycle (and keeping me informed – too informed). And then one day she glowingly declared that she was two months pregnant. It has been downhill from that moment. Downhill.

The baby talk never ends. Never. Every conversation (and I mean every conversation) includes at least some reference to her 3-month pregnant body, or her 3-month pregnancy experience, or the latest pregnancy article she’s read, or the most recent pregnancy-related advice she’s been given. She reads books about infant care and early childhood education (and graciously shares that information with me).

Yesterday her and her husband toured daycare facilities (yes, she's 3 months pregnant). The one they want to get into has a two-year waiting list (unless you’re lucky or extremely wealthy). She enthusiastically recounted every detail of this Harvard of daycares which offers 6-week olds to 4 year olds everything from computer classes and drama classes, to ballet lessons and sports development, to sign language and Spanish lessons. She told me – with a totally straight face – that she intends to teach her infant sign language because it’s been shown that children who are able to communicate their needs before they are able to grasp language arts, are simply happier. I didn’t really know how to respond. Part of me wanted to channel some kind of crass Roseanne comment and part of me just wanted to pat her on her head and send her on her way.

Everything she eats, she prefaces with, “don’t judge me, I’m pregnant”. Don’t you worry, you crazy little motherfucker, I don’t care what the hell you put in your mouth whether you’re pregnant or not.

This sudden and complete devotion to the New Momism (another term used in The Mommy Myth – basically the ultra-competitive, extreme mothering of June Cleaver on steroids) is unsettling to say the least. It’s kind of wigging me out. How? How the hell did she go from not wanting to be pregnant to being an uber-annoying pregnant woman of the highest degree who is already plotting ways in which to make her unborn child smarter, healthier, and just generally better than all other children? HOW?

But I digress. Read The Mommy Myth for a dose of humorous reality and a hard look at how our society has idealized motherhood.


These Times, They Are A-Changing

This year was a turning point in Thanksgiving traditions. I didn’t go anywhere. I stayed home. With Daniel. We cooked and laughed and lounged around and it was relaxing and completely stress-free. It was a first.

It was also the first year since I can remember where my mom’s side of the family didn’t get together. Aunt Susan and Uncle Herman decided to migrate to Florida a month ago and are hibernating there until Spring. Aunt Linda, Uncle Keith and Cousins all went to Los Angeles to visit Cousin Kaitlin for Thanksgiving. Uncle Tom, Aunt Becky and Cousin Claire all stayed home in West Virginia. Cousin Jason was working. Cousin Robert is missing. Sister Bethany stayed home in New Jersey and fasted. And Mom and Grandpa went to Perkins for Thanksgiving dinner.

It feels weird…and a little sad.

On the other side of the family, there used to be upwards of 25 people gathered at my Nana’s for Thanksgiving dinner. This year there were 8.

I don’t know if having close extended families is unusual or not, but I’m used to every aunt, uncle and cousin getting together at nearly every major holiday (including the 4th of July). And while I really despise traveling over the holidays, still there’s lingering nostalgia for the way things used to be. Even if I’m not a part of it, I still want everyone else to continue the family traditions. Silly, I know.

My immediate family includes just me, my sister, and my mom and we all live far away from each other, which kinda sucks in the family holiday traditions department. But what can you do? People just don’t stay put anymore. Things change. Traditions evolve. And there you have it.