Happy holidays!

I was going to write a post comparing the holiday season in the UK to that of the US, but no time, no time! Instead, I leave you with this, the best contemporary Christmas song I can think of. Sorry Britons, through saturation you'll probably disagree!

Fairytale of New York, The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl:

Happy holidays you dear, dear mother suckers!


Things that make me laugh

A short post, simply because I must share the hilarity.

I feel I must support this artist and buy all of his work, because, hello? How funny and creative are they? Well, I think he/she is humorous anyway. Almost apologies to any who are offended.

I fucking love Etsy.


Guess how much I love you

For the past two years I have hassled you poor souls to join my card exchange, going against my non-participatory personality for the sake of receiving cards in the vain attempt that I will at least, in my head, be awash in popularity. Both years I have cursed this odd desire to orchestrate such an event, which always seems like a good idea at first. However, as soon as I realise it's the second week of December and Christmas is a mere handful of days away, I wonder if I've made a huge mistake.

I spent the middle part of last week trying to catch up on work (who knew so many kids want to go to university?), and writing those damn cards. I'm a firm believer in putting personal messages in cards, so in essence, fucking myself over. I can't just write, "Merry Christmas!" and be done with it. I need to write a paragraph. Or two. At the end of it all my right hand was temporarily in the shape of a claw due to nasty hand cramp, and I vowed never to do this again. No doubt next year I will forget all of it and cheerily invite you all to exchange cards. I will then curse you, as well as myself, and then moan about it on here. I'm good like that.

With about 40 cards in claw, I made my way to the Post Office last Thursday. I went to a different Post Office, as the main one in the city is known for its hour long waits this time of year. They have serious comprehension issues regarding the staff required for lunchtime periods over the holidays. Two windows open for a huge queue at 12.30pm? Makes sense to me!

I'm rambling. At New to Me Post Office, I was greeted by a haggard, toothless old crone who shouted at me to not stand at the service window as one would logically do, but to go to the till next to the Post Office window instead. I did as commanded, and gave the gummy bitch the first of my group of cards. She grabbed the cards out of my hand, paged through the envelopes whilst examining the addresses and said, "Too late, too late, too late", slammed them back onto the counter and pushed them back to me with a self satisfied smirk. I looked at her, waiting for her to take the cards back, or at the very least tell me to put them on the scales so postage could be determined, but she said nothing.

I told her that I was aware that I had missed the last recommended posting day for cards going to the US, but this did not please her. She sighed heavily, and gestured at me to weigh the cards. When the weights were determined, she said, "You can't have any Christmas stamps, or self-adhesive ones for that matter. Since you're so very late posting these there aren't any left. That's what you get for waiting this long to post your Christmas cards." Pardon? Was this woman really lecturing me on my card-writing punctuality? I'm not even trying to hear that shit when The Dude is rabbiting on about it. I even had the courtesy to separate my cards into same-weighted groups and by continent, yet still she was vile, the dentally challenged cretin.

Hoping that the aggression would subside, I got my card out to pay for my massively overdue haul. When the total of £35 was announced (that's $70 American dollars kids, which is just how much I love you, no more), Madame Sans Dents snapped, "That's a lot of money to be spending on Christmas cards." I said it was just a side effect of living 4000 miles away from where your home country, to which she sniffed, "It's perhaps a bit too much money to spend on cards." And with that, my dreadful exchange with the evil old bat was finished.

Anyway, carrying on the so-very-festive nature of this post, I thought I'd post a photo inspired by Cecily's caged tree post. As the mother of a very destructive and inquisitive toddler, we also had to barricade our poor tree. Otherwise, P would eat the tree (fake) and wrapping paper, and likely crack some teeth swinging around and gnawing on the heavier ornaments. We don't have a suitable gate to surround the tree as Cecily does, living in a mousehole-size British flat and all, so we stuck our bedroom blanket box in front of it instead. There is a gap between sofa and blanket box, so we have stacked about 4 cushions in the space. However, P is also a climber and often tears apart our cushion wall in mere seconds. I need a nap from this preventative activity alone.

The kid loves this tree. It's the first thing she rushes to see in the morning, and the last thing she says goodnight, or in her case, "ta ta" to before bed. I don't want to think about the tears when it has to come down.

Stupid blanket box! Trying to keep me from my beloved! Hey - you with the brown hair and boobs too big for your frame, stop taking pictures of me!

P after making peace, however temporary, with the blanket box. This is her winter casual look.

So taking off on this - what sort of tree blockade do you have to set up? Pictures on your blog people, pictures!



Carrying on with this why-blog-about-real-topics-let's-call-the-whole-thing-off theme I've got going here, I have a favour to ask. The Dude and I LOVE The Wire. We want to have sex with it. I want to bear its petri dish children. Unfortunately, it is not one of the TV shows like 24, Prison Break, and Lost that the UK thinks is important enough to air close to the US air dates. This breaks our tiny little Anglo-American hearts.

January 6 marks the premiere on HBO, and The Dude and I cannot bear the thought of waiting the better part of a year before the show airs here. This is where you kind souls come in - would anyone be so nice as to record the episodes on DVD as they air and send us the episodes when the series finishes in the US? You will be handsomely rewarded in a manner which has not yet occurred to me. I'll buy you a necklace on Etsy (which, by the way ROCKS almost as much as geology), I'll send you an Amazon gift card, I'll pay for your IVF. Uh, ok, perhaps not the last one, but I'll hook you up with something.

Heeeeeelpppppp meeeeeee!


White Flag

I have many ideas on posts floating around in my tiny little pea head, but no time nor inclination to write them at the moment. Work is out of control busy, P is sprouting what better be all her fucking molars simultaneously, I've had a cold for weeks, and a 24 hour day is about 24 hours too short. I don't have a sense of self at the moment, and each day is a blur of fuzzy headedness.

With that said, I'm going to take up Oro's challenge, even if it is lazy blogging. Oro sayeth:

"Out yourself! What musician/genre/song do you love, but would never ever ever enjoy outside the privacy of your home/car/mp3 player for fear of being ridiculed by friends and loved ones? Furthermore, I dare you to go to YouTube and either embed said songs onto your blog or provide links - c'mon, you know you want to share...if you're totally chicken, I suppose a link to Amazon or WikiPedia would be acceptible. I'd love to be able to go to sites where I could hear the music."

As you hopefully know by now, I looooove music. I need to listen to lots of music every day, and I trawl music blogs looking for new stuff all the time. I have very eclectic tastes, and with that variety comes a love of music which some might mock. They can bite me. So, here is just a smattering of some of my music loves that I'm usually not *too* ashamed to confess to adoring.

Styx: Come Sail Away. My fondness for this song started when it was used in a great scene in one of my favourite TV shows ever, Freaks and Geeks. I have mentioned before on this very blog that P and I have Come Sail Away danceathons when we party and get down like a couple of madwomen.

Destiny's Child: Bootylicious. I like Beyonce and Destiny's Child. There, I said it. Though I don't own any albums of either the group or Beyonce solo, I have many an mp3. Sorry Helen, I know you shed a tear or two of frustration every time I declare my Beyonce love.

Girls Aloud: Call the Shots. When it comes to British girl bands, I'm usually a Sugababes kind of girl, as is The Dude who ADORES the Sugababes. His mp3 player is packed with the most pop-oriented, camp music you can imagine. He has at least 2 Erasure songs on there, I'm just saying...

Limp Bizkit: Break Stuff. I'll even go out on a limb and confess that when YouTubing this, I thought to myself that I liked a few of the results in the Limp Bizkit search. Hmph. Thanks to Major Bedhead for for giving me the strength to admit that I too enjoy a little Fred Durst. Anyway, I like some shouty music that isn't too metal-like. When I'm being a serious music lover, I'd say System of a Down filled this requirement, not Limp Bizkit.

The final video is one which I genuinely embarrassed about. Don't tell anyone, please, as my street cred will be completely compromised.

Here it is...

Brace yourselves...

Paris Hilton: Nothing in This World. There's nothing I can say to make this right.

Also, as an aside, I may :::cough::: be able to :::cough::: convert YouTube videos to mp3. Cough. Just in case there are any of you to whom I owe a favour.

Your turn - either on your own blog or in the comments section. I suspect it doesn't get much worse than Paris Hilton, but have a go anyway.


Le sigh

I'm sitting here synchronising my brand new spanking iPod, feeling rather sorry for myself. Not because I have said brand new spanking iPod (Creative Zen, I gave you two chances and you failed me, thus my cross over to the dark side, and may I say the dark side is simply divine), but because jesus heffalump people, what is going on here? 5 comments? 7 comments? It's like the grim old days of this blog's birth. I thought that any talk of the Brain Trust would garner at least 10 comments.

I had an email yesterday from a D(ear)D(ear) friend, ahem, and she tells me that she has had more than two dozen people take her up on the personal card exchange? Would you like to know how I'm faring in that respect? One. Uno. Nico, you generous soul, you. I'm finding it hard to believe that I actually have more than a handful of Bloglines subscribers at this rate. Is this your way of telling me that I really am hard to get? Shiiiiit.

This virtual waste of a post is just your reminder - only a couple of days until the card exchange is done and I compile the final spreadsheet. We still have fewer people participating than last year, which is frankly almost as upsetting as the notion of Britney adopting twins from China. If mass communication is not your bag, you have a bit longer to contact me if you want to do a one-on-one card exchange, :::cough, cough:::, so if you want to get a card from my fine Anglo-American self, email me. I am a whore.

To prove that it isn't all about me, me, me, what are your thoughts on blog ads? I don't want to choke the already stuffed sidebars, but here's my deal - I do one ad already, the Bellydance Maternity one over yonder. When I get paid by them every month (which admittedly hasn't occurred in awhile BELLYDANCE MATERNITY), I like to use the money for good internet-related causes. In the past I have surprised a blog friend or two with special gifts, and it also frees me up to give to those lovely fundraising events for deserving bloggers. I would like to make a bit more money via this method, but not to line my own pockets. I have only, and would only use it to give to others. Do you think this is a good idea? If I buy you a gift certificate to Amazon spontaneously then will you send me a motherfucking Christmas card?

Ahem. I'm off to synchronise and lick my new iPod. Do you think it would send me a Christmas card?


Spreading holiday cheer

Initiating a holiday card exchange, and now doing a post about Thanksgiving...I must be getting sentimental in my old age.

I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Thanksgiving. Growing up, Thanksgiving was almost always spent at the trailer of one of my paternal aunts. It was more like a small ranch-style house on a uh, trailer thing, so quite a few of us could fit in for the festivities. Football would of course be on in the background, and my aunt would save up all of her Star magazines in the weeks prior so I would be entertained. In that respect, a lot of things haven't changed. Give me a horrible, gossipy tabloid or ten and I'm in heaven.

When I was a teenager I started to preach against this idea of Thanksgiving - a holiday celebration centred around the extermination of an entire race of people. I like the idea of Thanksgiving, and I choose to focus on the notion of having a designated time at which to spend time with family and reflect on what we are thankful for. However, there will never be any Pilgrim and Native American stories told by me to P, as the fairy tale of a happy little feast between the poor victims of religious bigotry and the staid, noble savages is not a story I wish to perpetuate. Yes, I am that parent. There is also residual guilt that even my interpretation of Thanksgiving is still horribly disrespectful in that I'm looking to be thankful and spread the warm fuzzies on the back of a holiday with a rather bloody and appalling historical framework.

Despite all of my analysing, I do miss that family time. Being 4000 miles away from your family will make you miss even the most minor of events, so when the holidays come around it is particularly difficult. Oddly enough, I miss certain things even more because I know that I'm missing an assembly of the Brain Trust.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of my Mom's house today. Not only are they getting the old gang back together - my Mom, Ralph, Phyllis, Aunt Florence and Arthur, but, BUT there is a new honorary member, my Mom's next door neighbours Ferret Stroker and Ferret Stroker's braless wife. Ferret Stroker is thus called, because as one might surmise, he strokes a ferret. Braless Wife is the same, cavorting about the yard in all her non-restrained wonder. Molly expressed a fondness for Ferret Stroker when she visited me in PA, but how can you not instantly warm to a skinny guy with long hair wearing cut off jean shorts stroking a ferret by the side of his house? I know you would have been instantly smitten as well, dear reader.

I'm hoping they avoid the catastrophe of last Thanksgiving when Arthur stomped off in a huff because no one complimented him on the fire he started in the fireplace. Florence pulled my Mom and brother aside separately, instructing them to find Arthur and expand floridly on the magnificence of his fire. Arthur has already informed my Mom that he is hopeful that she has enough wood for him to do his Fire Whisperer tricks yet again this Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving is somewhat more restrained here in the UK. P is home sick today, as am I for the third day straight. She has been calmly reclined on the sofa for over an hour now watching Baby TV, so she is definitely not herself. If she was well I wouldn't have had a block of time to write this post. Despite our current state of unwellness, I am thankful. I'm ever so thankful that I am in a position to be able to post this:

That's my girl!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!


As I can't go a post without mentioning Ye Olde Card Exchange, I had a genius idea - I added links to all the participants in the sidebar, so now you can stalk freely and determine whether you'd like to get cards from these people. Look at the names over there people - we're talking big time stuff!

Like I (think I) said before - you don't need to send cards to everyone, so if time, creativity, finances or holiday cheer are in short supply, don't worry. You'll be put into a smaller group so that you are only obligated to send cards to 5 or 6 others. Obviously you have the option to sending to everyone on the whole list if you're feeling particularly giving.

You don't even need to use your real name. Blog pseudonyms are fine too. At least two people last year used pseudonyms I think, and their cards got where they needed to go. The list is largely comprised of Americans, with a few Australians, the two non-British UK residents, and that's it. Canadians, where are you? British people, where are you? Europeans, where are you?

Check out some of those links, be confident they aren't skin flayers or deranged stalker types, and then email me at barrenalbion at gmail dot com. Remember, you can also just exchange cards with me and not the group. So far I have one taker. One. Seriously, what the frick?


A question of devotion

Shit man, this kid-raising gig is just one question after another. Because I have now vocally entered the realm as a mom blogger (pardon me whilst I give a 1000 watt smile and tend to my baking muffins), you'll be forced to endure more and more of this stuff as time progresses.

As you know, I am one of those cruel mothers that institutionalises my child by putting her into daycare all day, 5 days a week. The poor kid must suffer through endless cuddles from her adoring caregivers, many hours a week spent painting and gluing, and trips to the seafront, parks, and the daycare's very own playground. Things really were much better for her when she spent all day, 7 days a week with me - desperately vying for my attention whilst Mummy topped up her martini, took slow drags from endless cigarettes, and watched Bold and the Beautiful.

Anyway, as children in the care of Evil Daycare are wont to do, P has come down with a few illnesses since joining a few months ago. I'm inclined to think it has been increased succeptibility due to lack of breastfeeding (ok, ok, I'll let it go now, sorry), but kids are just going to pick these things up occasionally. However, dear Evil Daycare, please do not ring me at work each and every time P is not her shining star of a self. The girl cannot be on every hour of every day. She is going to have days when she doesn't want to flash you a grin for just looking at her. She can't always be just so damn charming that kids cry when she leaves, which, I might add, happened a couple of weeks ago. For reals.

I have had some time off sick lately myself, despite having been breastfed for 14 months (SORRY, ok, I'm really done now), so I need to actually get work done when I'm, you know, at work. After having off Thursday due to a random 24 hour retching disease which saw me vomit for the first time in years, I was back to work Friday like a happy little clam who wanted to get shit accomplished. My mobile rang its standard 24 CTU ringtone, which is never good because no one but P's daycare phone me on it during the day.

I was told that P was hovering between being well and likely unwell. She did not have a fever, nor had she thrown up or expelled any odd liquids or foreign bodies. She was, in the words of one of her caregivers, "not herself". I paused, waiting for her to tell me why she had interrupted my work-induced mania, but no such statement was to be had. She suggested that P should be collected earlier than usual, despite not having anything other than this possible unwellness. I called The Dude so we could figure out if he could pick her up earlier, but neither of us could figure out if we were to rush to P's aid due to lack of cheeriness on her part.

I phoned daycare back to let them know that if one of us could swing it that we would pick her up a bit earlier, but that we weren't going to hastily drive/book taxis and get there in 5 minutes just because P was a bit quiet that day. Apparently the staff at P's daycare disagree with my parenting style, as I could hear them discussing my indifference in hushed toneswhile I was supposed to be on hold. The most I could make sense of was something along the lines of -

Mean Nursery Manager Lady: "She doesn't want to pick her up?"

"She has been told that P is NOT WELL, right?"

:::heavy, laboured sigh:::
"Ok. We'll keep her here then. NOT WELL."

So I'm a horrible mother. I have a lot of work to do and I don't want to pick up my daughter when she is simply "not well". I didn't appreciate being
metaliaed and judged for the decisions that I make. What is the point of me working full time if I have to rush to my child's aid every single time she is a bit under the weather? I'm a paranoid person with anxiety, if I thought something could possibly be wrong, I would be there quicker than you can have a panic attack. I don't know what jobs some other parents have which enable them to leave work at least once every week because their child is crying more than usual or is picking his or her nose four times a day instead of two, but I don't have that job.

I am curious to hear from others - how sensitive do you have to be? Would most parents drop everything at the slightest hint of an unwell child? For the record, The Dude picked P up two hours early and she was absolutely fine. Hmph.


Obligatory holiday card exchange reference: At last count there are 13 participants, well short of last year's 20. C'mon people, live a little.

If you are on the fence about participating, feel free to email me to ask who else has signed up. I'm more than happy to tell you. I assure you they are all people at least some of us know. You may not read them yourself, but I'm sure you know someone who does. If you don't want to use your real name, that's fine too. A couple of participants last year only provided their blog nicknames, and it all managed to go without a hitch. Also - UK people, what the fuck? There are two UK-based participants including myself so far, and we're both American. Stop drinking tea and watching EastEnders (or whatever it is you limeys do) and email me.

Because I'm not just a whore I'm a thieving whore, I'm taking
DD's handy little button and her idea about personal card exchange as well. What are you going to do about it DD - write a pithy little smart ass email to me? I can take it. Anyway, if you are keen on the card idea but don't want to send one to a group of people you may or may not know, why not send one to me? I'll do the same if you provide me with your address, just make sure you specify which card scheme you want - mass or me. No flat ass photo requests please, I'm ever so tired of them.


Glutton for punishment

Remember last year when I orchestrated a Christmas card exchange? Well guess what sunshines, I'm doing it again! I had so much fun tinkering with my spreadsheet and getting cards from far-flung places that I can barely restrain myself this year. I wanted to get a slight jump start, as last year things were a bit rushed. I still managed to drag 19 other people kicking, screaming and cursing to participate, and together folks we can make it even bigger this year.

In case you lack the drive or attention span to skim my posts on this subject from last year, here's the gist of things:

1) You email me (barrenalbion at gmail dot com) your name, postal address, blog address and whether or not you are happy to receive mail with photos of bellies/babies/kids. Please do not let the photo aspect of things deter you from participating - you really are free to say no! I think the participants (largely readers of this blog I imagine) would understand.
-I hate to do this, but bloggers only please. That's the only way I can ensure that legitimate people are getting involved. When it comes down to it this whole infertility/mom blogger sphere isn't really that big, so it's easy enough to make sure that no one who makes furniture out of pelts of human skin signs up. Sorry Rockmama, blog or not that weird hobby of yours has forced my hand and you are out.

2) I draft a spreadsheet (woo hoo!) with all these details, and send it off to all participants soon after the deadline. Depending on the number of those participating I will probably be dividing people into groups as I did last year. That way, rather than having to send cards to loads of people, you're dealing with a much more manageable group. That said, you can also send to people in other groups if you want! You win either way.

3) Deadline: last year we had some very crafty participants and people from the US, Canada, Australia and the UK involved, so the more time before the holidays the better. Therefore, the deadline for this will be Friday, 30 November. I would then *hope* to have the spreadsheet sent to everyone that weekend.

4) If you would like to send cards but not receive because of privacy issues, we can do that too. Just email me to say that you'd like to do this and I'll send you the spreadsheet when it is complete.

5) The emphasis here is holiday rather than Christmas. We're all about the ecumenical approach here. If you don't celebrate Christmas, please don't make that a barrier to your participation.

6) Please feel free to mention this on your own blog, the more the merrier and all of that cliche shit.

With the whoring of this programme wrapping up, may I just say that I think it's quite a wonderful thing to be involved with. I'm a cynical soul, but I got positively giddy at the thought of getting more cards from bloggers again this year. I was introduced to some great new-to-me blogs through this last year, and I hope doing it again will enable me to do the same this year. Also, at least one UK reader has to get involved, for the love of God, I'm a foreigner on your soil and I was still the only UK participant.

So come on people, bring a little light into my life. I have broken tits, a fucked up reproductive system, a flat ass, I work full-time and have a toddler with boundless energy. You owe me.


Down with breasts

My difficulty with breastfeeding is well documented. Some may curse me for bringing this up yet again, as one would be forgiven for thinking this ship has sailed when it comes to me utilising it as a blogging topic. I suspect my comments will be hovering in the low single digits on this one simply out of reader boredom and disgust, but I have some things I need to get off my chest. CHEST, get it? My humour is just astoundingly complex, I know.

I'll be honest, breastfeeding - don't like it. I am so over reading about the myriad ways I'm putting my daughter at a disadvantage because I didn't breastfeed her. As most of you will know, I pumped for the first two months of her life, but I supplemented with formula from birth. I tried desperately to get my supply high enough that I could give P mostly breast milk, but that opportunity dwindled quite rapidly. I felt guilty at the time, but now I just find myself angry at rabid breastfeeding proponents, and ambivalence toward breastfeeding itself. If anything, I'm edging toward putting it in the category of things I'd like to banish from my brain entirely, along with thoughts of spinach, animal abuse, and tights.

If I were to have another baby (there I go with that humour again), I don't know if I'd try to breastfeed. I think my early relationship with P suffered tremendously as a result of my largely breastfeeding-related depression and lack of sleep. Her reflux and colic were other obstacles preventing me from gushing about loving my preshus baaaaaybee for months and months, but my difficulty breastfeeding was paramount. It's kind of like name association - if you knew a vile little creature in elementary school called Amelia, you aren't going to name your own preshus baaaaybee Amelia no matter how lovely the name might be. It's like that for me when it comes to breastfeeding. I'm sure it's a fabulous thing to do, but it pushed me into a cubbyhole and pinched me on the arm way too many times for me to want to try it again.

I know as female bloggers we are always begging women not to pick on others for their choices, but things don't ever seem to get better. Amongst the more enthusiastic breastfeeding contingent I often read statements granting exception to women who cannot breastfeed for medical reasons (oh, thank you wise, sanctimonious breastfeeding mothers), but those who choose not to breastfeed are self-absorbed and not concerned about what is best for their child. Who are they to judge? It's just so insignificant in the wider scope of things, I can't possibly grasp why perfect strangers feel it suitable to comment on the matter. It's a boob. Milk *sometimes* comes out of it. Who cares? Move along.

As a full-time working mum who didn't breastfeed and possibly doesn't plan to for a subsequent child, I am probably at the head of the queue to be designated as a selfish mother who shouldn't have bothered having children. I fail to understand how it is anyone's business but my own whether I choose to breastfeed my own child(ren). I did not hurt P in anyway by ceasing the pumping session at 2 months, and if it makes anyone feel any better, she has been no more ill than any of the breastfeed babies in her cohort, she says more words than most of them, and she was the first of the 8 babies to walk. Not bad for a kid who was fed poison for the first 12 months of her life, I dare say.

For me, it all comes back to the fact that my breastfeeding troubles made me depressed for a few months and affected my relationship with my child. What more reason do I need to not want to do it again? Is it really worth sacrificing the fantastic potential to bond with a newborn? If I decide that boob is off the menu for petri baby number 2, so be it.

To stand up for the rights of potential bottle feeders everywhere, should I create my own little icon saying "Suck on it rabid breastfeeders", with the image of a baby being fed a bottle to combat all those "Suck on it Facebook" breastfeeding icons?

I shall retire to my hole now and prepare for the flames.


No looking back

It doesn't look good folks. It appears I am a mere few years away from a destiny which will designate me as the kooky lady with mad hair who lives on her own with a menagerie of dogs in the big, old rambling house. Like mother, like daughter.

An IM between my brother (bless his little cotton socks) and my crazed mother. Names have been changed to protect the insane and gossiped about.

BrotherDear: whats up
BrotherDear: okay you're talking a mile a minute
BrotherDear: what about a foster child!?!?!?
Fruitbat: furbutt
BrotherDear: what?!
Fruitbat: cairn
BrotherDear: oh, so not a real child. a dog.

The manic nature of caps and exaggerated punctuation makes this particularly entertaining for me. Please ignore her usage of "prostrate" instead of "prostate". This woman has a master's degree, but she's a bit flighty, poor soul.

I am aware that no one will find this funny but me, oh, and Cheese Hand, as she's met the crazy old bat. I just had to put it somewhere - spreading the insanity on an otherwise average Friday morning.



No you don't got it, get it?

You know how I just wrote a post about my daughter's immense popularity at nursery? She of the multitude of adoring fans? I mentioned how I am so very far from that issue myself, and as if to illustrate this point further for me, nay, underline it in very bold, capitalised type, I was told this the other day by a friend regarding a mutual friend of ours:

"X says that she doesn't really get you."

Pardon? She doesn't get me? What is there to get anyway? I'm an open bloody book, me. I had a Miranda from Sex and the City moment when Carrie's new boyfriend told her that Miranda's date wasn't calling her because, "he's just not that into you". Miranda was shocked at this revelation, then upon further musing decided that "he's just not that into you" was the key to all of her should I call/why didn't he call?/how long should I wait to call dilemmas in her dating life, and she was thus enlightened, passing the gospel on to other women in similar positions.

I have been mulling over this statement over and over in the past few days, but now I've made peace with the fact that X doesn't get me. She doesn't get me - a flaw of hers surely rather than an indictment of my own personality. The Dude disagrees, cruelly labelling me as cold and detached. Yes, my loving husband, father of my child, views me as cold and detached. What hope do I have to make friends? I'm up against it here people.

The Dude claims that his family are scared of me, and that many people I meet are intimidated by me. I can't work this out at all, as I am quite possibly the world's most meek and reserved person. I gradually come out to be the person I am on this blog, but it takes awhile. X has known me since before our babies were born (she's in my Mums and Babies group), and we have spent quite a lot of time together, so I'm a bit surprised she still feels as if she doesn't know me. She has cracked this "cold" exterior, what's the problem?

I'm guessing it's the sarcasm. The cynicism. The very, very, bone dry wit. It's not even the swearing - I curb that in real life around people I don't know spectacularly well, so I would have kept the swearing to a minimum. No errant "motherfuckers", no casual use of the much beloved "fucktard". None of that. I have been very mannered and more or less me. That makes me ungettable.

I would call on those of you that know me personally to comment, but then I'm forced to acknowledge that only one person from my non-blogging life reads this, and he only came upon this blog due to my stupidity. Tim - if you haven't been put off reading about my menstrual cycle and lady problems, am I ungettable? Am I hard to get to know?

The only other person (to my knowledge) who reads this blog and has met me is The Cheese Hand, and she'll just tell me whatever I want to hear in the hopes of being able to feel me up next time we meet. :::cough::: SLUT. Molly - this is your shout out now - am I hard to "get"? When we joined lips and souls in the airport arrivals lounge, did you pause to think how inaccessible I was? When we were driving to Gettysburg, hands entwined over the gearshift, did you lament my ungettableness?

So, please do tell me - do I come across as hard to "get" on this blog? If I do just within the context of a blog, I suppose getting to know me in real life is an impossibility. A once regular reader of my blog left a comment long ago stating that I have a barrier up when I write, and I always seemed to be hiding something, never feeling as if I could be myself. If that was true at one time, it certainly isn't anymore. Look at my posts from early in P's life. If I was witholding any emotions then I dread to think what depths I was truly in.

Maybe it isn't a witholding thing, but perhaps I'm just objectionable. Who knows? I will just bear this burden of ungettableness and soldier on, ever seeking to be "gotten".


Party like a rockstar

You may find this hard to believe, but I was never popular in school. My unique fashion sense meant that I was sure to be remembered in some capacity, but I was certainly not going to be recalled fondly by ex-classmates as a person with a magnetic personality that hordes of high school students would flock to.

My child appears to be different. She is, by some distance, the absolute rockstar of her nursery. P is in the baby/toddler room, and kids in the older classes shout to her when she arrives in the morning, and are often known to corner her so they can kiss her blessed little ginger, mulleted head. I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I tell you that when I drop her off, we are often met with a chorus of small children chanting, "P's here everyone, P's is HERE!" They stand at the gate as we pass by and wave furiously at P, who ignores them completely. Peons.

Twice now I have arrived to pick her up and little girls sans underwear stand in the kid-sized bathroom, saying, "P is leaving, say goodbye to her, P is leaving!", obviously not concerned that it might be in good taste to put underwear on before bidding a baby goodbye for the day. When some of the other toddlers are dropped off by their parents, they often say, "Look Sophia/Jack/Lilly, it's your very best friend P!" The child's eyes light up, they smile and look in P's direction, but are always met with P's absolute indifference. Plastic fruit is far more entertaining than adoring children constantly falling at your feet.

So for all of the kids at P's nursery who just want a single wave or glance from the Golden Goddess herself, here you go. This one's for you:
I wonder if she could teach me about this charisma and magnetism that she must ooze and I severely lack?


The Man sucks

"When did you stop being The Man, and start being The Man?" -Michael Ian Black on "Ed"

In case the humour isn't translating given that it's really hard to make the distinction in print, "The Man" as in "you're the man!", and "The Man", as in, "The Man is trying to keep me down." Incidentally, Michael Ian Black is the man, I so adore him. Any people who used to watch The State on MTV in the mid 90s? Watching this last week made me all nostalgic. Sigh. Cue silence whilst all of you silently wonder what the fuck I'm on about this time.

Anyway, The Man has pissed me off last week. I was under the grossly incorrect assumption that a working parent is not penalised when one must stay home with an ill child. Now, I am not the type who expects to be rewarded for shooting a baby out my vajay - millions of women do this every year and remain mere mortals. However, however, I do expect there to be some sort of system in place which understands that I am an employee and a mother. As these two events are not always compatible, some flexibility may be required.

P came down with a fever early in the week, and though The Dude and I are 50/50 parents, my part of looking after P still meant I had to take two days off work. I stupidly assumed that it would be classified like a sick day of my own - paid. Go on, laugh at my ignorance and naivete. Americans may scoff at such a notion, but the US screws workers all the time, parents or not. Britain treats their employees far better. For instance, I get 27 days of annual leave (vacation days in Yankspeak) not including university holidays, and my maternity leave was more than gracious - 12 months off, the first 6 months paid in descending amounts. We even get 13 weeks of parental leave for use with each child up to the age of 5.

All of this gave me a false sense of security as far as my employer's attitude toward working parents was concerned. Some may say that UK workers are gifted enough as it is based on the information provided above, but I'm pissed off at how they are accommodating up to the point where you need to return to work. Surely that is when you need the most support?

I do have three options. I can take the leave from my flexible working hours (additional hours I have accrued working overtime), as unpaid leave as part of the Time Off for Dependants, or as one of my annual leave days (paid). I can be paid, but that means cutting into my own well-deserved leave, or I can not be paid and just bite it. Hmph.

It's a selfish and arrogant viewpoint to be sure, but I am doing my employer a favour. I have come back to work full-time, thus preventing them from hiring someone else entirely, or hiring a second person to enable me to do my job part-time. Oddly enough, The Dude works at a local college, a fraction of the size of Large, Corporate, Faceless University, yet his employer considers his sick day for P just as any other sick day that he would have for himself, ie paid. Sweden my employer ain't. Go on, tell me how unreasonable I am. Bring me back down to earth.

Apropos of nothing, I had an odd blip on my stats the other day. Statcounter must have had a massive hiccup, as it noted that last Thursday I had nearly 6000 hits. I'm back to my usual piddling amount now. The absence of Julie's blogroll is a statkiller, shit. I would like to carry on deluding myself that for whatever reason, 6000 hits genuinely occurred the other day, so let us just pretend the BBC did a small feature on me or something, ok? Naturally it's not just one of my stalkers manically refreshing and refreshing. Dudes, get a life. Go look after your kids and/or your uteri. Yeesh.


Hey kids, rock and roll

I know you're all a bunch of music haters (still no takers on my music offers except for my Cheese Wife, who is always trying to curry favour, the crazy slut), but surely some of you simply must be REM fans, past or present, right? Depressing note - it has been fifteen years since Automatic for the People was released. Fifteen bloody years. I am old as fuck.

From about 14 years old I was insistent that I needed to be different. I started to wear bellbottoms and t-shirts advocating causes - Earth Day, vegetarianism, Save the Trees, that sort of thing. We shall put aside just for a moment that I wasn't even a vegetarian, though I did dabble with pescetarianism for a couple of weeks after I met a cute vegan boy. I felt I could give up red meat and chicken, but couldn't deal with the thought of my beloved crabmeat and lobster being taken away. It was my idea of a compromise.

I made mix tapes for friends based on music I heard on 120 Minutes (R.I.P.), REM being one of the mainstays. I no doubt had to save up a few weeks' worth of babysitting money in order to afford the bright yellow, translucent cassette tape which quickly became, and remains, one of my favourite albums ever. I played the shit out of that thing, spending quite a few nights sitting in the dark listening to it and wondering why I couldn't meet a boy who was quite as clever and gifted with words as Michael Stipe.

Imagine my glee at being led to this courtesy of Jen at Fertility Now. Upon discovery, I plopped the child before the laptop, fully expecting her to possessed by the devils of dance as soon as the video started because sister loooooves to dance. Rather than being enraptured by the combination of the Muppets and a band so integral to her mother's adolescence, P ran away to play with a sock. Sigh. My heart, it was crushed. I thought about some sort of isolation torture exposure, a la locking her in a windowless room strapped to a chair with the video put on loop for hours on end, its flickering image reflected in the goggles I forced her to wear to enhance the experience. For whatever reason I picture her wearing goggles, it seems to fit the vision so much better. Not swimming goggles, but more like WWII aviation goggles:

Yeah, I don't know why either.

Incidentally, if any of you do like REM and aren't too busy listening to Rod Stewart or some such, the fabulous music blog Stereogum has compiled a tribute album to celebrate this momentous occasion. It's free to download and certainly worth a casual listen.

So for those of you who don't click away as soon as I say the word "music", what music framed your adolescence?


I liked you more when you were barren

I have spent much of my valuable blogging time complaining about my body's fierce and determined hatred for me. PCOS and its four years of resulting infertility, an aversion to the drug which eases some symptoms of PCOS (Metformin), and the final icing on the eff-you-Pru cake - inability to breastfeed. Guess what? My body and I are total BFFs now. No, really. It's cooperating.

"How?!", you ask, tripping over yourselves. Patience dear children, patience.

I haven't had normal, timely periods ever. They were irregular from when I had my first at 13, and I would often go half a year without bleeding once. When I went on the pill at 18, they were finally predictable, but would stop as soon as I stopped taking the pills. I just assumed that I was doomed to a life of irregularity, but...but...

I now have a regular menstrual cycle without the aid of birth control pills. REGULAR. As in, my uterine lining is shed once a month on a REGULAR basis. Sloughing people, sloughing. It's like fucking clockwork, and I looooove it. Yes, I love my period. I'm almost moved enough to refer to it as "Aunt Flo", just so I can cheerily proclaim, "Sorry, I'm unable to swim at the moment, Aunt Flo is in town" ::wink wink:: Oh, how I've always wanted to live this life, the life of the regular bleeder...

Attentive readers may recall that I had no period post-baby until one was thrust upon me courtesy of birth control pills, and it lasted for one whole month. Ah yes...fun times indeed. That was my penance for not having a period in fifteen months, and I think I was a faithful and willing servant. I let my ladybits do their thing, and other than the occasional near-fainting spell during which I had to secure the baby lest I crush her or expire, leaving her with only my rotting carcass for sustinence, I issued nary a complaint.

I'm letting myself think that perhaps, just perhaps, this regularity might mean that my innards are not as dysfunctional as they used to be. I suspect my hopes will come crashing to the ground if I decide to attempt getting pregnant again, but it's fun to be optimistic if only for a little while.

This glimpse at physical normality has lead me to think more about natural pregnancy. You know, the kind that doesn't involve this:

That's my Baby Lab. I cooked up a P. using all that shit.

I was reading about a non-infertile blogger's recent pregnancy, her second. I was jealous of course, even though I can't say I fancy a pregnancy of my own at the moment. Her level of ease won't come naturally for me, I'm almost sure, even with this recent physiological perfection that I'm experiencing. I think I'll always be jealous, but most noticable in its absence was the pang of bitterness I so often felt before. Before, pre-P.

I guess it seems logical that my bitterness would wane somewhat, now that I have the prize, which, by the way, shit in my bathtub tonight. I just never thought I would reach that point, but I'm glad I have. Even though it's my nature to be bitter and cynical on so many matters, I always felt horrid for begrudging women their pregnancies. I think back to posts where I complained about others' fertility, and I think how I must have seemed like such a hypersensitive, callous bitch.

I can't say unequivocally that I'm over this. I would love to be, but I suspect it would only take a few negative cycles until I would be back into crone mode. It's almost an unfathomable feeling for me - not getting prickly about someone's pregnancy. Can you imagine such a world?


Blogging diarrhea

Sorry to invoke the mental image of runny feces. It's not the kindest word to spring on you, I know. Nor is feces I suppose.

I feel this blog is dying a slow death for many reasons, but I'm going to just keep talking even if it's just the same handful of you that are listening. I have thought about some things to write, but as they are generally too brief to address in individual posts, I'm throwing them all on this one.

First of all - forgetfulness. Was this stage not to disappear once P emerged from the womb? If anything I'm more forgetful than when I was pregnant, and I was really absent-minded then. In the past few weeks I have locked us out of our building, as well as leaving my wallet at Starbucks. There have been other stupid things I have done due to my lack of connecting thoughts, but they have little influence on anyone else so I tend to...forget them.

Locking us out of our building meant that we had to ring up my brother-in-law, a house painter, and get him to drive into the city with his big ladder. Said big ladder was then extended to its maximum length and propped up on our bathroom window (on the second floor) which just happened to be open. Two days later was the wallet-leaving incident at Starbucks, which necessitated me running back there right before closing time to, much relieved that some honest soul turned it in rather than going wild with my Boots Advantage card and my work ID. God forbid someone should get 5 loyalty points from Boots, or check out books at the uni library in my name.

The irony here is that there was another incident of forgetfulness that happened just yesterday, yet I almost forgot to mention it. Ha. I walked out of a shop without paying for milk. Just like that. I put it in the folded back hood of P's stroller and just walked on out. I only realised when I was two buildings down, and felt something cold and wet when I moved to extend the hood. Oops. Like a good girl I went back in and paid for it, and thankfully no one noticed that I walked into the store with milk that I had yet to pay for. Believe it or not I have a fairly responsible job and I'm also responsible for the life of a small child. So yeah, I don't know if you know this, but I'm kind of a big deal around here.

I can't bring myself to call it "mommy brain", as that elicits a feeling of self-loathing in the pit of my stomach for even daring to use such a cliche. I might as well start gushing about baby dust, people who are preggers, and sticky embies. Suffice it to say, I'm forgetting some shit. There.

Apropos of nothing, I had another dream about Paul Rudd last night. I love Paul Rudd dearly as he is adorable and all, but he's so not my type. Paul Rudd takes you to the theatre. Paul Rudd happily spends hours listening to your mom talk about your childhood. Paul Rudd writes you poems. Paul Rudd does not shove you up against the wall and have his very dirty, aggressive wicked way with you. Paul Rudd does not look like he could bite a man's ear off and spit it back in his face. Basically, Paul Rudd is not him. Or him. In my dream Paul and I were running away together, but there was no sex. Well, unless I forgot it.

I spent 15 minutes trying to find the picture of Joaquin that I linked to but it was worth it in the end. If my dreams are about him tonight, you can bet we are having sex. Great sex. Toe-curlingly fantastic sex. I can't even think about that photograph because The Dude is sitting in the same room as I am and that's just plain wrong. But oh, to be the owner of that thigh...


Working stiff

Here I am, emerging from a pile of work-related paperwork with deadlines from last week, and emails from desperate Nigerians hoping that God will bless my family. When I'm able to leave that behind, it's all about finding a dinner my previously bordering-on-Prader-Willi-syndrome toddler will consume without the involvement of violence. Once we get Consumer of Large Quantities of Yoghurt to bed (an episode often fraught with emotions), it's time to do dishes. Once the dishes are done, it is bedtime for a very tired Pru and The Dude, resting their bodies for a moment so they can start it all again.

I misled you with my post about horrible mothering. P doesn't hate nursery. In fact, she rather loves it. I don't hate being back at work either. In fact, I rather love it. I thrive under work-related pressure and I'm quite happy to be back in that environment. Do I dig the collective overwhelming nature of my life at the moment? Not so much. I can handle work stress and household stress on their own, but throw them together and the days begin to blur.

P's main problem on the days she cries at drop off is that she is the first one there. At 8am. What the fuckfire do these parents do that enables them to not have to drop their kid off until 8.15-9am at the earliest? I need to be at work by 8.30am and an 8am drop-off is too late for me, not remotely too early. Additionally, she is one of the last to be collected when The Dude picks her up at 4.15pm. 4.15pm. I'll repeat that again. 4.15pm. I need to know where these men and women are all working 9am-4pm shifts and get my run down ass a job there.

P hates to nap at nursery as there are apparently too many madcap adventures going on around her to sleep. The daily P-centred journal kept by her caregivers say things like "today P dressed up as a watering can and sang songs about boats", or my personal favourite, "P very much enjoyed dancing, smiling, and playing with a cardboard box." No, seriously, it really said that. The sad part is that I can completely envision her sitting in a corner for an hour on her own studying the design intricacies and textural attributes of said cardboard box. This is a kid who thinks my mp3 headphones are a fascinating, interactive web of endless delight.

Eccentricity aside for a moment, such excitement makes her a very disagreeable girl come 6pm. Weekday interaction with her is largely a struggle of morning grumpiness and evening tiredness, so how fun for me. I desperately want this limited amount of time to be precious (shut up Statia), but it leads me to want to be back at work in the arms of last-minute university applications and melodramatic, hard done by academics. On the odd occasion that she has napped sufficiently, she is her usual delightful, amazing self. Tonight was one of those nights, and it made me feel so much lighter to be able to watch her doing her best Pru impression - toddling around with my purse on one arm and a wooden bangle of mine on the other arm, saying "bye bye ta ta bye bye" - rather than wrestling the screaming mulleteer into her high chair.

I have no interest in staying home again. The Dude has a week off for half turn in a month's time or so, and yesterday said, "You'll feel so jealous of me when I'm off and spending all that time with P." Dude, dude, I stayed home for almost 14 months and I'm finally an adult again, there's no way I'm jealous of you. I miss my Maury re-runs sometimes, but I do not miss feeling like I was chained to my child every hour of every waking day. I'm the mother those "why do you have babies if you just stick your kid in daycare?" bitches have nightmares about. My earlier Melancholia post would indicate there is some guilt there, and some days it's worse than others. However, I don't regret my decision to go back to work full-time. I'm a good, loving mother to my daughter and she still worships me even if I stick her in a prison full of other snotty nosed children, nursery rhymes, and trips to the seafront in a 9 baby stroller.

When I was walking to work on my first day back, the very last song on my creepy mind-reading mp3 player was Jeff Buckley's cover of The Smiths' "I Know it's Over", and I couldn't help but think as I walked through the doors of my building to work for the first time in over a year - thank sweet baby jesus it is over, because mama wouldn't have been able to take much more of life as a SAHM. I did it for 13 amazing, gut-wrenching, depressing, life changing months and now it's time for a new challenge. Bring on the simultaneous union of working and parenthood because I'm going to pretty much rock it like you know I can.

P.S. I got the hook up on the song mentioned above if anyone is a Buckley and/or Smiths fan. Not that any of you bastards will take me up on it, as my pleas to illegally supply you all with good music are largely ignored.


Baby got moderate back - confirmation

You know how I sometimes write about my alleged flat ass? I have always maintained that there is some ass there, despite protests to the contrary. Even my dear Cheese Wife mentioned on her blog post-visit that the ass is flat. I think her exact words were, "Girlfriend has NO ASS", emphasis hers. I know she was checking out my ass for flatness confirmation when we were going up the stairs together at times, but damn. She can be so cold sometimes.

Because I can no longer cope with the debate that is surely raging through the internet now and will for time immemorial, I must put this to rest. I am here to prove that the ass is not completely flat. Brace yourselves, because here comes the ass.

Look, it's a rounded ass! Surely I'm not the only one who can see it, right? If I in fact had "NO ASS" as Molly so politely put it, you would see just a flat plane - no roundness. I edited another version of this picture a bit to show what a truly flat ass would look like, but Blogger clearly objects to flat assed-ness and refused to upload it. Anti-flatassite bastards.

I think the verdict is clearly that there is some ass to be had. I hope this brings the eternal discussion to an end. That is not to say that if I ever meet any of you fine folks in person, you know, if we all actually exist in the real world, that you can't check out my ass to determine its shape yourself. I welcome it. Frankly, I would be insulted if an ass glance didn't occur. After all the ass talk I suspect you'll be disappointed however, so I apologise in advance.
Ass dismissed. Haha, er...yeah.



Number of times crying child is left at nursery while her mother walks away : 2

Quality time squeezed into the 2 hours post-nursery, pre-bed: minimal

Thoughts of maternal inadequacy : constant stream every day, all day

Internal conflict re: desire to work full-time vs role of mother : raging and guilt-inducing from both sides

General fuckupedness and discontent with all matters life-related : present and causing an omnipresent lump in throat, upset stomach, and obscene amounts of bodily tension

Melodrama : reluctantly reported above



No longer a one trick blog pony

I've gone and done it - I've started a second blog. I know, I have barely enough to complain about here, but this new one is different. It's about baby and toddler food.

As some of you may recall and others may have forgotten in a haze of who-gives-a-shit, I have been making most of P's food for the past 7+ months. In an attempt to share my knowledge with the world, I decided to start a food blog. Coincidentally, Kristi of Interrupted Wanderlust decided to do the same, so we have united to do a blog which will revolutionize the way you think about baby/toddler food. You know, if you ever thought about such a thing.

Eventually we hope to have a vast database of first stage purees, slightly lumpier foods, and almost-table food. I may even throw in a little standard table food stuff for the crazier and more adventurous of you. There will be original recipes, those borrowed from the professionals, as well as readers' favourites. Or, I suppose, readers' childrens' favourites. Those without babies are welcome to join if not just to read me when I'm trying to behave myself. It will be a struggle, but I hope to stifle all bad language and promote goodwill.

It's in its infancy at the moment, but it's finally off the ground. Spread the word at playgroup, rhymetime, storytime or baby gym.




Not too long ago I asked you dear readers a very important question which you graciously answered, thus giving me a bit of ammunition the next time that issue arises. I have another question for you - is it wrong for anyone, let alone a mother, refer to another baby as ugly, or otherwise odd?

P started nursery full-time yesterday. There is another baby there only a week older than P who I kindly refer to as Gargantuan Man-Child, Gargantuan Freak Baby, or just simply Freak Baby. Take your pick. There are a multitude of reasons this 13 month old has inspired me to come up with a series of nicknames - she is older than P by a week, yet more than a head taller. GMC/GFB/FB is almost as tall as some of the 2 year olds in the nursery. She has hands finger segments longer than P's, and she crawls up the steps to the slide like she has been scaling them for years.

It's not just that she's bigger than P, but she just appears very unbaby-like. When I first saw GMC/GFB/FB, she was eating toast alone in a corner a few months ago. I'm not talking about jamming the toast in her mouth, or squishing it between her fingers like my (then) 10 month old would do. She ate a full piece of toast, unsliced, like I would. Bite by bite, with no need to grind it on the floor or wipe it over her hair. Her entire demeanor is so...adult and so very alien. She freaks me out.

In conversation I refer to her as one of the names above and The Dude lectures me, saying, "Mums don't talk like that!" The man has been with me for 11 years, surely he knows by now that I am not your average person, so I was never going to be that mother. Some babies are ugly, sorry. "Unfortunate looking" doesn't always suffice. Some babies are just not cute, and others are Gargantuan Man-Babies. The decent person may even use "breathtaking", which as we all well know is just code for "hideously ugly child". I'm not that gracious.

I'm sure some people, including the rather eccentric commenter from my last post (now deleted, but it was an absolute gem) would ask what I would say if P was referred to in the same way I talk about GMC/GFB/FB. My answer is, go right ahead. Do I want to hear it? No. I'm not about to go up to GMC/GFB/FB's mum and say, "I'm sorry madam, I think your kid is the freakiest small human I've seen in my life." I keep that shit to myself. Oh, and my husband. Oh, and all of you. But otherwise, it's a completely private thought.

Say what you want about my kid. Refer to her as Stupid Mullet Head, Freakish Tiny Walking Baby, Pock-faced Ginge, Lemur-eyed Grotbag, whatever. Just don't tell me you're slagging her off or else I'll send GMC/GFB/FB over to climb up a slide in a park near you in that creepy, adult-like lurch that she does. Be very afraid.


Ducking responsibility

I have an embarrassing confession to make. I read DD's post and thought I was finally getting one of these Rockin' Girl Blogger things that all the crazy kids are winning these days on top of the meme she tagged me for. I then read the post closer and realised that I was tagged for the meme, but I am not in fact, "rockin". I even left a comment about how flattered I was to be an RGB, which is now rather humiliating. Thank god I didn't actually do my own post about being an RGB and thus nominating others as that would have been really bad.

I know meme's are often construed as lazy blogging, but I haven't done one in awhile. Besides, DD told me to, and I always listen to DD. She's very wise you know.

My meme responsibility is to list seven habits/quirks/facts about myself, and there is no shortage of material.

1. I don't like touching my boobs. Self breast exams are a struggle because it totally gives me the heebs. Not in a puritanical, God-will-smite-me way, but more in a rather-eat-dirt way.

2. When I do bother to clean, I do it in the most thorough way imaginable. Fine, right? The problem arises when I then don't want anyone to mess up said cleaning. No usage of the kitchen counters, no dirtying dishes, no walking on the newly vacuumed floors, and certainly no crawling into a just made bed. If there is a sullying of my cleaned space, I can't look at it. I've had to leave the room when someone has stepped on my vacuumed carpet.

3. Just like Suz, I hate surprises. I can imagine no casual fate worse than a surprise party. My fear of the element of surprise extends to walking around corners as well. I take a wide berth because I inadvertantly jump when someone is coming the other way. Even if I hear them coming the jumping still happens. I have told The Dude that P is never having a jack-in-the-box because Mama will poop herself.

4. I have a strong aversion to certain words, the worst offenders being "moist" and "chunk". There have been times when they are used together (usually in reference to cake), and I shudder.

5. I have an innate ability to hook up electrical items. Need a TV/DVD and stereo set up and functioning? Call me.

6. I collect Ewoks. No, really. I don't display them in my house or anything weird like that, in fact, they are in a box in my Mom's attic at the moment.

7. I was the Best Dressed girl in my senior class. I can't possibly expand on how far I am from that person now. Ugh.

I like hearing how other people are freaks too, so it is my job to bestow this meme on 7 others. Who knows, you might even discover some new-to-you blogs. Consider yourselves tagged.

1) Georgia @ A Rocky Place
2) J @ Cheese and Whine
3) Kristi @ Interrupted Wanderlust
4) May @ Nuts in May
5) Rachel @ www.racheldirollzack.com
6) Molly (password protected in a secret location...oooo...)
7) Rockmama @ Prawn Cocktail


Happy days are here again

You know, because I'm back and all. Back from the land of bulk shopping and rude drivers, back to blogging again. I've felt so alienated in the past month - no comments for unwritten posts, very scant blog reading, existing in a world which largely doesn't include blogs. Except, except...

I met my Cheese Wife! Cheese Aunt to my firstborn, Molly, otherwise known as Mollywogger! Owner of a great rack and an even better sense of humour. A tiny, tiny little whirlwind of red hair and may I say rather pleasing personal scent (thanks to her assload of BPAL oils). I was afraid the poor dear probably thought I wanted to eat her, given her cute petite frame and my gargantuan status in comparison. Seriously, in our photos together I look like I might envelop her in a wave of boob and fat rolls, my chubby face looming over her like a satanic moon.

Enough self-deprecating for now, let's talk about the visit. Molly is a bold soul, willing to fly to Pennsylvania to stay in the house which is a known hangout of the Brain Trust. Sadly for her she was only able to meet two members of the Trust, my Mom, and Ralph. Perhaps the most unstable member of the Trust, my Aunt Florence, who I named randomly for blogging purposes and then realised that she is then Aunt Flo, which is quite possibly the dumbest fucking term for a period ever. Anyway, Flo up and had a heart attack and emergency open heart surgery as mentioned in my previous post, thus putting her out of commission for Molly to witness a full meeting of the Brain Trust in person. Shame. Oh, the stories she then could have told...

I was going to approach this chronologically, but as it has been about a month since her visit and I can't even remember what day of the week today is, I'll just stick with some memorable events.

Molly is an archivist in training, or perhaps she considers herself an archivist currently, I'm not quite sure. Either way, she loves old shit, and guess what? So do I. I cannot emphasise how thrilled I was to be in the company of someone who enjoys driving around looking for old houses, designated "house porn" by me since I have to make everything dirty and rude. Poor old P. was stuck in the back of the car on these missions, most likely chewing on her pacifier and hoping that she turns out more like her Dad. We went to Gettysburg, hopping in and out of the car to take random photos of memorials to those from MN and WI to fight in the Civil War. I barely even consider them states now, let alone the years 1861 - 1865. Heh.

Molly mentioned on her blog (password protected now because she lives in shadow) that we sat around one evening looking at a WWII scrapbook I got off eBay and watched PBS. I can testify that this is totally true, as we are quite possibly the biggest nerds alive. We excitedly passed WWII letters back and forth to each other until midnight, giggling at the old-fashioned phrases often used by the writers. It gets even more tragic when you realise that this was an ideal night in for both Molly and myself. We wouldn't have spent it any other way.

On her own blog Molly mentioned a trip to Denny's with The Dude and P, but failed to mention that the waiter was so very warm for her form. I was just waiting for them to swipe the table of its Moons Over My Hammy and Very Very Cherry drinks and just get it on right there in front of all the old gits and young families. The sexual tension was thick and the flirtation rather scandalous. Molly probably hates me right about now for mentioning this experience, as the waiter was not a Clive Owen lookalike, but rather a stumpy, sweaty little cretin with an attitude problem and far too much enthusiasm for waiting tables at Denny's. Seriously people, he gave my husband a high five for being English. The Dude was confused at this outburst of American gusto, but gave in eventually and reluctantly high-fived the poor loser. By this time Molly needed a change of panties so we totally needed to get out of there.

Lest you think that was all the fun we had, oh no! My Mom threw a retirement party for herself at the house, signalling the arrival of a couple dozen menopausal/post-menopausal women. We tried to hide upstairs in the TV room, but the need for sustenance forced us downstairs to the gathering of crones. Confusion abounded, as it is wont to do in a room full of people of a certain age. Molly was referred to as Cheese "Hand" instead of Cheese Aunt, a mix up which will continue to entertain me until I'm too old to remember it. Just thinking of Molly with one hand made of smoked gouda makes me chuckle. Next there was the person who thought she was me, expressing, "Wow, you've really changed since I last saw you". I would guess so. Anyone who has been to Molly's blog and has seen photographic proof of our visit will tell you that we don't look remotely alike.

Another woman in attendance fancied herself a sassy, risque kind of late 40-something, failing to realise that it came off as pathetic and kind of gross, not in fact cool. When told Molly lives in Wisconsin, said woman loudly shrieked, "I had pasta shaped like penises there! Do you know you can get that??" Poor Molly made a quick exit, hand made of cheese and all. I found out later this woman has a habit of trying to shock, regaling my brother with tales of how she used to "fuck" (her words, not mine sensitive readers) one of her professors in college. Note to self, though you may be bold now on your blog when you're still in your 20s, refrain from carrying on such behaviour when you're the very wrong side of 40.

Unfortunately Molly's visit had to come to an end, even if I did want to just pop her in my pocket and take her home to England with me. It was fabulous to finally meet her after all these years of internet flattery and talk of boobage. I was also supposed to meet a handful of other bloggers, but Flo's heart attack scuppered those plans completely, selfish Flo. I have some hilarious post-op stories about Flo (no, really), which will hopefully be relayed in the next post. I got a few harassing emails from Statia, all "what the fuck" and whatnot, even after I relayed the heart attack tale. That girl wants to meet me, and I her, but seriously, keep the adoration within legal stalking parameters will you? I was also supposed to meet up with dear Millie, a blogger whose story I have been reading for ages, but we were never able to connect. We spoke on the phone fleetingly, and her poor husband had to endure a brief nonsensical conversation with me earlier as Millie was driving. Millie's husband, my apologies for my extreme scattiness and general weirdness. You're probably grateful your wife and I never met up after all.

So that's my Central PA and blogger-meeting summary. I wish it had been a bit more diverse, but I can at least thank little baby Jesus that I was able to meet my Cheese Hand, er...Wife.


I've just recently decided that I hate Yahoo like I hated Hotmail before it, and I'm joining this century and moving to gmail. I can now be found at BarrenAlbion at gmail dot com. No need to remember this little tidbit - it's over yonder in the sidebar when you need it. Because, you know, I get so very much email.


Busy doing nothing

Most of my days here in the States are filled with nothing of import, yet somehow time for blogging never presents itself. I'm saving a lot of blog reading for my return, so hopefully I have a spare hour or 20 (exaggeration perhaps) to catch up with the 500 (no exaggeration) feeds I have yet to read.

There are things I want to talk about - The Brain Trust, walking babies, being a stranger in a strange land, my aunt's heart attack and emergency open heart surgery on my birthday, and of course the visit of one Cheese Wife. So much to say, not enough internet time without peering eyes to say it.

It will all be with you shortly, much to your great amusement I'm sure. Guess what? I might not even talk about flat asses.

See you in a week or so when I'm back in the land of people who don't think that 110 years for this most disgusting, appalling crime is excessive. Believe it or not, the local newspaper actually spoke with many people who still maintain that he is just a nice guy caught doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Sigh.


Murphy and his stupid law

Some may say I'm too cynical, but I say there is a reason. Longer post later, but remember how I was supposed to leave for the US on the 16th (last Monday)? Yeah, remember too how I have a baby who was one on 19th July? Also, recall that I'm an internet addict who needs to read and/or write blog-related things multiple times a day. Welllll...

From last Friday (13th, go figure), there was a pox on our house. A big, nasty case of it. Thank you universe.

My poor daughter spent her first birthday itchy, snotty, and all around miserable. As did her parents.
We were without internet access for over a week and only regained it today after much shouting at internet providers. Yes, internet access 18 hours before we leave for a month. Cheers.
Keep your fingers crossed for us tomorrow when we *may* actually depart. The fates have certainly been against us so far.


Let's be friends

I am a total loser who reads fabulous blogs and steals inspiration from them. I was reading Jonniker's recent post about making friends as an adult, thinking the entire time, "That's me! That's me! I am an uncomfortable freak and seemingly obsessive psycho when it comes to making friends!" For instance, would I actually email Jonniker to say how much I enjoy her writing? Hells no!

I know for me to write about this in the shadow of Jonniker's post it's like a gorilla painting with its own feces as compared to Caravaggio, but I need to take inspiration as it grabs me. Otherwise I'll just sit here looking at a blank screen on Blogger wishing I had something...anything to say.

I didn't have many friends growing up. A quick glance at the limited number of friends on my MySpace (yeah, shut up) page yields almost the entire contingent of my friends throughout my life. That's even with my brother and various bands padding that space. I made no friends in college as I was a commuting student who really didn't have much time for anyone in my classes. I *finally* made friends working at Large Chain Bookstore, most of whom I am still in contact with more than 5 years later.

Once I moved to the UK, my distinct lack of friends and friend-making ability became readily apparent. I made one friend through my job, and that was only because she's a rather forceful, outgoing personality who is hard to not befriend. I adore my other co-workers as well, but they are all in their early to mid 50s, and much as I love them, it would be too strange to hang out with women my Mom's age outside work.

I wouldn't know where to even start on this whole friend-making venture. How do you make new friends outside work when you are an adult? For whatever reason I think of a dating tip I have read on far too many occasions - meet a member of the opposite sex while grocery shopping! Bond over a common love of nearly ripe mangoes or orange juice without pulp! I think of making platonic friendships the same way. What, when I'm shopping for a new pair of jeans do I compliment the woman standing next to me on her stellar taste in denim? Is a friendship really going to be forged over a mutual love of Gap apparel?

The internet, thank fuckery, almost puts this touchy subject to rest for me. I have friends! Real, live, breathing people who think I'm a cool person. They think I'm occasionally clever and witty! No, really they do! I send emails to people in which we have long conversations about babies, music, movies, celebrity gossip and even s-e-x. I won't tell you who I talk about that with though, lest her (or his?) cover as a buttoned up old prude be compromised.

I suppose the internet doesn't completely avoid that uncomfortable will-she-think-I'm-one-step-away-from-wanting-to-wear-her-dirty-panties-on-my-head-if-I-email-her situation. There have been many times that I have sent emails to bloggers I admire greatly, proofreading what I've written 10 times and pausing before I hit "send". I have a great fear of seeming a bit too friendly, which is frankly absolutelyfuckinghilarious given my real life persona of detached, anti-social mute. Yet in initial emails, I'm terrified of coming across as a) simple or b) like I am fully ready for some action.

I think this arises from my girl crush from the previously mentioned Large Chain Bookstore. I blogged about her before, long story short - hot girl, funny, smart and lovely, Pru has a very sapphic-influenced dream about said girl, and as such got all stuttery and nervous around hot, funny, smart, lovely girl. She was surely freaked out by me, since I was doing my best impersonation of a pubescent boy who has never gathered up the nerve to talk to a girl before without his voice cracking or getting a slight boner.

Six years later and I'm still suffering from this paranoia. I sometimes want to spontaneously email a blogger that I've never contacted before, but I don't want to come off as a sociopathic fangirl. I do wonder sometimes how I've managed to make so many wonderful internet friends who don't think I'm a complete freak, unless they are freaks too of course.

If I do ever decide to email you out of the blue to say how much I love your blog and your writing, rest assured that I am boner-free and have the very best of intentions. I don't even want to wear your dirty panties on my head.


A question for the ages

Please help settle an argument The Dude and I have been having for years.

When wrapping a present, do you tape the first fold of the paper to the object being wrapped? Assuming it is not a book or something with a surface which could be damaged that is.

I am a gift wrapping maestro with unparalled abilities to wrap a present with ease and perfection. All of my presents are aesthetically pleasing, regardless of the shape of the object. Give me a box, I'll wrap it like you've never seen before. Give me a hexagonal prism with spikes comign out of it, I'll do shit to that beyond your wildest dreams. That is, if I'm allowed to tape the first segment of the paper to the present.

The Dude's family have still not gotten used to this method, and constantly moan at me that they can't simply pull the present out of its wrapping. Yet, YET, they ask me to wrap presents for them. People, either you're with me or you're against me. Decide.

So, the eternal question remains begging - do you, or don't you do the first tape?


Meet P. Dirt

Have you ever seen the epic David Spade tour de force, Joe Dirt? No? I have. More than once. Oh, and I liked it. Guess what? I also like Dude, Where's My Car?, Saving Silverman, and Billy Madison. As you can see, I have a very sophisticated sense of humour.
P shares my love of low-brow comedy. That is why she has chosen to emulate Joe Dirt's fabulous hairdo.

Joe Dirt:

I present P's hair, what we call "Hommage à Joe Dirt":

Not only is she rocking the mullet like only the spawn of a central Pennsylvanian can, but she rocks the assymetrical mullet. Ah yes...the left side of her head features long flowing locks in the back, but the hair on the opposite side is about an inch and a half shorter. What a trendsetter this kid is.

P wants you to know that her slogan is "Business at the front, party in the back." Read it, digest it, live it.


Other peoples' kids may be annoying, but they sure are funny

So today I'm in my own personal eighth circle of hell, otherwise known as your average toy store. I was trying to manoeuvre P's stroller around the odd dawdling child staring at overpriced Thomas the Tank Engine paraphernalia and lumpy women without an awareness of how much space they and their own strollers take up. I'd already "accidentally" rammed into the heel of a pokey Crocs-wearing woman earlier in the shopping expedition, so bloodlust was at the ready.

Amazingly, two little girls, about 8 years old, lightened my mood. Witness, an exchange including a child that I hope P to be like someday:

Future P (saying to her friend, who was drinking Lucozade - a fizzy energy drink like Gatorade but carbonated): "I once saw a thing on TV where people poured 5 litres of Lucozade on a pig brain and the brain turned to mush."

Friend of Future P: "Nuh uh."

FP: "Did too."

FFP: "Well, that's a pig though and I'm human. It's not the same thing."

FP: "Actually, humans and pigs are related." (glancing at friend's Lucozade) "I'm just telling you what I saw." (shrug)

FFP: (looking at Lucozade incredulously and a touch frightened) "Ok."

Yes, so I want my child to be a fear-mongering know-it-all who scares her friends into submission. I'm surprised you think there is something wrong with that.

Ironically, Future P used the magic word - "mush". The name of my new, as-yet-created baby food blog. Congratulations J for being the lucky winner. Much virtual love and a pat on the head, as promised. Thanks to everyone for your great suggestions, unfortunately for you I have had a long-standing admiration of the word "mush". So there it is. For those who offered their own contributions, they will be very welcome once I get it up (heh) and running. I hope Monday is the day, but it all depends on whether P decides that 4.30am really is the optimum waking time or not. I vote no.