Music Monday: Reader Requests

I have bequethed my blog to you, oh readers, if only for a day. Actually, it may carry over to two Music Mondays, as it seems that a third swift kick in the ass inspired many of you to offer up some suggestions. I'm in the process of working out the logistics, so we shall see where the post takes me.

First up, we have a whole host of recommendations from Major Bedhead. She was even thoughtful enough to include comments, show-off that she is, so they are included here. I hope you don't mind MB!

Cigarettes & Chocolate Milk - Rufus Wainwright. "I fucking love this guy. His voice kills me. And this song is me - everything I like is a little bit sweeter, a little bit fatter, a little bit harmful for me."

The Last Good Day Of The Year - Cousteau. "This song epitomizes the last days of fall for me, the chill, the leaves that have given their last burst of glory, the painfully blue skies. Bittersweet."

At The River - Groove Armada. "Another end-of-summer piece of gorgeousness."

The Outdoor Type - The Lemonheads. "I couldn't find a non-live version of this, unfortunately. I love this song. It's me to a T. SO not an outdoorsy kind of girl."

Killer Queen - Queen. "Because this song fucking rocks."

And since I know of MB's major love for The Boss, I'll put Thunder Road on here for her anyway. It is her favourite song ever, so it's the least I could do.

Next up we have Alexa, mistress of Flotsam. I'm sure you all read her, so I needn't tell you endlessly of her fabulousness. Alexa's pick is "If I Ever Feel Better" by Phoenix, about which she says:

"This was my favorite song second year of college when the album came out--I had just gone through a terrible breakup, and I played this song over and over and over, until my roommates wanted to beat me senseless everytime they heard the THUMP of the beginning beat. It was (is) a bit sad but hopeful, danceable, generally fabulous. I was all excited to recommend it, and now I see that it was on some show recently, so probably now everyone has heard it a million times. I don't care, it is still one of my favorites."

As if to completely validate the point of Music Monday, Magpie from Magpie Musing has suggested KD Lang's version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. I didn't even know such a thing existed! Jeff Buckley's version is my favourite, which I have alluded to before, but it is very interesting to hear a female singing it. Interested parties might also want to hear the Regina Spektor version.

I've decided that I will have to carry this on to two weeks, so numerous are the requests. Who would have thought? You are to be commended.

So though Thalia didn't request anyting specifically, she has been pushing me to include some Dar Williams for about ten years now. As you wish Thalia, as you wish.

Dar Williams - The Christians and the Pagans

As Cool As I Am

That's week one of Reader Request Music Monday wrapped up. I tried to pick and mix the greatest variety in order to keep it as diverse next week. New music for your iPod mayhap?



As usual, pop out if it doesn't want to play!


Music Monday: Abort! Abort!

Ok, perhaps not abort, but it will need to wait until tomorrow night when I'm watching America's Next Top Model and Lipstick Jungle. That is, assuming I'm not buried under a pile of ironing, which is a disturbingly realistic assumption.

Music Monday, even when completely at the recommendation of readers, still takes some time to compile believe it or not. I'm a bit obsessive compulsive, so I'm going to need to provide videos and a playlist and all of that takes time. It's now 11.20pm, I was ready to fall asleep at 6pm, and I've run 2.5 miles since then. I don't have it in me to spend an hour on this post and appreciating all of the music you have suggested.

Until tomorrow...I leave you with my favourite P comment of the day:

Setting: Me, sitting on the couch. Her, sitting on the floor, wanting me to get off the couch so I could sit on a cushion placed on the floor.

P: "You do what I want Mum! Sit here!"

Need I remind you that this midget dictator is barely two? I am f-u-c-k-e-d.



I applied for a job today - application number four since I decided a few months ago that my current job was acutely draining my will to live. The first application did not even yield an interview. I was shortlisted for the second position, which was rather funny considering it was at a top 10 university and the first job was at a university ranked even lower than the one at which I currently work. I felt my presentation was strong, though the interview would have gone much better had one of the panel not been there. She was a trickster, asking all the right questions, difficult little fuckers that they were. After each one tripped me up, I wanted to nod my head at her slowly and say, "Well played pretty glasses lady, well played."

I didn't get that one either. I forget why. Something about focusing too much on marketing during the presentation and interview, despite the fact that the tone of the interview implied that I was to tell them more about that side of my job rather than the other business that forms the content of my job title. That's ok, I didn't really want to live in Bristol anyway. They all talk like farmers.

Job three was at my current institution, a position involving managerial responsibilities in another faculty, but still doing the same area of work. I was shortlisted, and the interview went blissfully. All exchanges were in a language only insiders would know, and I left the interview confident that the panel thought I was the finest candidate one could ever hope to encounter. I was pretty sure that they would have licked my face, so pleased were they with my abilities and confidence. Later that day, they called to say that much as they loved me and thought I was really hot, the job was not mine. They decided to go with another internal candidate, a woman whose managerial experience was as a result of her boss's part time work hours. My boss is a lumpen, worthless deskfrau who, unfortunately for me, chooses to carry out her incompetency full-time. This is my loss, and seems to be the reason I can't progress in my own institution.

Job four, the current one, is the same job title as job three, just in another faculty. I suspect the lack of managerial experience will again be my downfall, whether that presents itself in the shortlisting process, or in an interview if it comes to that. I am endlessly frustrated by this, as it was fully acknowledged by the bad news bearer in job three that in my current position there is no scope to increase managerial responsibilities. They want someone with a background like mine, but with managerial experience, something someone in my precise position is unlikely to have. Job three appointed the only person I can think of internally who would fit that requirement, so maybe I will get lucky this time around because I'm the best of a less-than-satisfactory bunch. I could be looked over in favour of an external candidate, but universities are very exclusionary when it comes to outsiders, so that may help.

I'm going over this here rather than just in my head, because I want advice. If it is widely acknowledged by the decision makers who are familiar with my position that I cannot gain this experience I am expected to have, what the fuck am I supposed to do? They wouldn't want me if I took a job outside my area just because it had managerial aspects, so I'm stuck, and too bad for me! It's especially frustrating because they are aware of the structure within my university, and know its limitations very well.

If the feedback was something simple - that I lacked confidence in the interview, that I needed more experience within my current position - fine, I can work with that. Those are issues which can be developed. Telling me I need managerial background in a place that doesn't offer that opportunity until I get the very job I'm applying for, how does that help? Everyone in management has started somewhere, so risks were taken for every member of management staff at some point. I know there are a lot of professional women reading, including those of you in management, so what do you suggest? It is driving me mad to be stifled in this way. I'm an ambitious person who WANTS more responsibility and challenges, so this whole situation makes me want to kick a puppy. Bastards. Help.


Final warning - this is the last post before Reader Request Music Monday. I've had a few more since the previous post's petition, but I would love more. Seriously people, you don't need to pick stuff you think would be perceived as cool. I just want to know what you like for pete's sake. It ain't hard. You have just under 48 hours: barrenalbion at g mail dot com . I really can't make this any easier for you.


Bad hair life

This post seems like the the epitome of parental self-indulgence, as it is about my daughter's hair. I am not short on subject matter to blog about, much as this topic would lead you to believe. I know some of your children are slave to the mullet, much as mine is, or was, depending on how you define mulletness.

The Dude recently decreed that the mullet is defined by a clear curl at the tip of the offending party in the back, a matter which is clear evidence that he is not American. That is not to say that the British are not au fait with the mullet, I can attest having resided here for over six years that the mullet is sported perhaps a bit too often. I do, however, think they have yet to refine the art of the mullet quite to the standard that we expect of our bemulleted Americans.

I am pleased to say that the mullet in our household is in decline. I'm not confident that the resulting formation - at times Jereth the Goblin King, at others the beginnings of a very fine-haired Anton Chigurh, is much of an improvement. I'm a film fan, so I'm pleased that P is keen to replicate the look from movies enjoyed by her mother, but jesus, could she not sprout a cool hairstyle for once? It all started with Joe Dirt, and progression has been stagnant at best.

To wit:





Can you understand my concern? What hair formation should we fear will descend next?


Or, with any luck...

Thankfully, we are at a point that the mullet can at least be a bit tamed and pulled into ponytails/pigtails, or as they say here, "bunches". Praise the lord above, we can make cute hair. Finally.

Please don't mention the cheap ass My Little Pony top and socks with Tevas. We kind of let her dress herself on weekends since she's in her uniform all week, and this is what she chose. I think we all know it's 50 kinds of awesome.


Music Monday: Man Bands

After last week's male singer/songwriterathon, I thought I'd inject my own chosen genre of male singers - that of man bands. If I'm going to like a singer/songwriter, chances are it will be a female. I need my men to be rocking out in a band, not singing about tear-stained eyelashes on some broad. My brother is a sensitive soul, bless him, and he loves that shit. Me, not so much, generally speaking. C was also offended that only 4 people had anything to say about his choice in music. I suppose he expected dozens of plaudits, so the four resulting comments crushed his bruised music ego, such is his love of singer/songwriters. He's like some sort of shifty Svengali with the amount he pushes his music on poor, unsuspecting people.

The sound is kind of the same here, as I've chosen man bands that have deep-voiced singers. You'd be surprised how many there are out there! I'm trying to restrain myself from throwing the Kings of Leon's "Sex on Fire" up here just for the hell of it, because damn I LOVE THAT SONG. Ahem.

It all starts with Joy Division. I know some of you girls are Joy Division fans, hollah!

Love Will Tear Us Apart

And just for fun, some man band covers of the song

Arcade Fire feat U2 (God I hate Bono, sorry Rachel)

Fall Out Boy

The Cure

The National

Mistaken for Strangers

Fake Empire


Dying Slowly

Another Night In



No I in Threesome

The Editors (only live shows since seemingly every video has disabled embedding)

The Racing Rats (Live at Later with Jools Holland)

Munich (Live...somewhere)

Not all of the songs were available on playlist.com, so I have substituted where appropriate. The usual - if you can't see the player, pop it out.



As mentioned previously, I am doing Reader Request Music Monday next week - the 29th. So far only two measly people (not that you two are measly in the least, I just mean the response of course!) have emailed me, so I trust that the rest of you haven't emailed me because you're too busy brainstorming. Seriously, you needn't impress anyone with your unique/hip tastes, that kind of defeats the purpose. I'm a woman who has unashamedly put a Paris Hilton video on here as an out-and-proud guilty pleasure. Nothing can be worse than that! All requests sent to me at barrenalbion at g mail dot com. You have until next Sunday night. Don't let me down. I might turn to Oreos if no one else requests anything, so you shall be responsible for the Decline of New Me. If you want that on your already-burdened shoulders, so be it...



I have always been a lover of television. When I was growing up, my Mom would occasionally draw up treatises which would outline our daily television viewing. We were limited to 30 minutes of TV per day, possibly an hour if it was PBS. These restrictions didn't last very long - I was usually back on the 21 Jump Street and Roseanne within days. Nonetheless, it was never an environment in which the television was blaring, largely ignored, in the background. We might have pushed the limits to a couple of hours a day sometimes, but anything more than that and my Mom would see brain matter dripping out of our ears and force us outside, or convince us to read instead.

I think it's because of this that I am like a desperate crackhead when it comes to TV. I watch far too much of it, and I admit, most of it is rubbish. Rock of Love? Um, I may be hiding behind my hands, but yes please! America's Next Top Model? That would be fierce. Right now I'm watching a silly programme where a shrill-voiced, hobbity, geriatric ex-politician (UK folks, is Ann Widdecombe a former politician, or current? Too lazy to google) hangs out with a bunch of drunken slags to confirm that yes, England is full of intoxicated assholes after all! Who knew?

My defense of my television viewing always has been that I manage to balance my intense love of TV with other pursuits as well. Yes, I read books. I am a good mother, and I manage to contribute to the running of our household. I exercise three or four times a week. I may even watch a brainy television programme or two sometimes! It drives me mad that a correlation is drawn between TV watching, laziness, and lack of intellectual stimulation. Yes, it is a problem if all one does is sit around, ass melded to sofa, immobile except for the occasional venture into the kitchen for crisps, soda, and ice cream. If I want to sit here and watch Bret Michael's freakish bloated face take up the entirety of my 42" screen, so be it. Leave me in peace.

There is a point to all of this. As UK television execs are only just starting to hear whispers about this (not so) newfangled notion of downloading American programmes right after they air in the US, we are still months behind on some US shows. The shows we get with virtually no delay are Lost, 24, Prison Break, Heroes, Entourage, and soon, Desperate Housewives. Project Runway, one of my dear, dear loves, always takes ages to get here and as bloggers don't believe in spoilers (bear us non-US residents in mind please!) I knew Christian won the last season about 6 months before I saw him win it. Law & Order, as well as SVU, are at least two seasons behind I think, which is a shame because after seeing Mariska Hargitay's new hair when I was in the States, I want to view her all day, all the time.

There are some new shows I want to check out, and as they have already aired in the US I'm curious if you think I should spend my ever so precious times viewing them.

-Fringe: I like Lost, so I'm interested in this. I have no long-lost Pacey love, so that won't convince me to tune in.

-Lipstick Jungle: I seem to remember some meh reviews of this last year, but I need a silly, glossy programme to watch every once in awhile. I tried Gossip Girl and couldn't bear more than a few episodes, and the new 90210 hasn't even been picked up here yet much to my supreme annoyance.

-Life: I know nothing about this show, just that it starts here in November and is on NBC

-Breaking Bad: Again, I know nothing, but see it's on AMC. Now with Mad Men (which I totally need to buy if The Dude would lay off me a second about my desire to buy TV shows on DVD all the time), is AMC the new HBO?

-Burn Notice: If I remember correctly, Alexa watches this, which is really enough of a go-ahead for me.

Oh my god, the desperation of my addiction just radiates from this post, doesn't it? I suppose now is not the time to mention that The Dude was talking about cutting corners tonight and suggested that we go with another cable company. The cable company he wants to go to does not have the channel which airs most of my American shows, and when he told me this I nearly cried. No, seriously. A tear gently nudged its way out of the corner of my eye, and in that moment I kind of hated myself. Admittedly, I cry singing "You Are My Sunshine" to P each and every single time, so I'm not working with much here.

While we're talking of media, I had an idea today - reader request time on Music Monday! I won't do it until Monday, 29 September, so you have over a week to get your requests to me (barrenalbion at g mail dot com). Just a song or two you think other people should hear in order to be functional in today's society. No pressure. I hope I get at least 8 requests, or else I shall just make shit up to save myself the embarrassment of no bugger feeling inspired enough to make suggestions. If you do email me with a request, be sure to include your blog address if you have one so I can track back to you. Feel free to include a little blurb as to why you have chosen that song(s) to recommend to the masses.

Now I must go see what total and utter bollocks I can watch now. Ooo! The Dude is watching UFC. Maybe I'll even go pick up a book. I might even read it!


Music Monday: Fraternal Takeover

As I'm now all out and proud with my brother about my blog, I have thought that he could help me out on MM every once in awhile since music is his thing. Lo and behold, he offered to help me out this week, which is great since I am a single mother today thanks to a sudden illness which The Dude has come down with.

C (the brother) and I have overlapping musical tastes, but admittedly I do find a lot of his singer songwriters dull and unimaginative. Some of the artists are just the singer songwriter equivalent to elevator music, a fact which C disputes quite vehemently. Judge for yourselves.

Josh Ritter: C was extolling the brilliance of Mr Ritter this evening. I joked that I didn't like Josh Ritter because I didn't like John Ritter, but the humour was lost on the miserable Ritter-lover.

Right Moves (live on Jools Holland)

Monster Ballads


Piers Faccini: You know how I am with preaching the good word of the New Self? C is this way about Piers. It's like a religion to this kid. C met Zach Braff awhile ago, and even thought to recommend Piers to him. C is on the lookout for his music in the next Zach Braff vehicle as he suspects it would be as per his recommendation.

Each Wave That Breaks and If I (La Blogoteque sessions)

Grinning in Your Face and Death Don't Have No Mercy (La Blogoteque sessions)


Ben Harper: I know some of you like Ben Harper, and though C may not believe, I have featured him on here before. Uh, I think.

Please Me Like You Want To (with Jack Johnson)

When It's Good


Priscilla Ahn: C says, "I like her. I think her voice is amazing. I would love for her to lull me to sleep every night for the rest of my life." I know for a fact he actually wouldn't mind engaging in rude relations with her, but we'll just pretend it's all about the music. I feel as if I must like her because she's a fellow Pennsylvanian.

The Boob Song


Brett Dennen: I'm sure C has told me about him in the past, but like I said, so many of them sound the same and I struggle to tell the difference.

Ain't No Reason


Here's the playlist, as per usual. Josh Ritter's "Monster Ballads" is missing, as I couldn't find it on playlist.com, but I have substituted "Harrisburg" because it's my hometown, and woot! There aren't many options for Piers Faccini, so I have only been able to use "If I", but I have included two additional songs in case you have Piers fever. No "Boob Song" on playlist.com either, so you'll have to make do with "Dream" and "Leave the Light On" from Priscilla Ahn. Remember kids, if the playlist doesn't show up, just pop it out. Words to live by.




This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

-Philip Larkin

Admittedly, my knowledge of Larkin is limited beyond my awareness of this poem. I hear he liked a drink (what poet doesn't?), and that his father had an odd zest for Nazism. I came across the poem in the Family section of our favourite weekend newspaper, The Guardian, a couple of years ago. I took a liking to it immediately as a new mother fearing her own inadequacies, as well as a person who appreciates highbrow literary types - Larkin was asked to be Poet Laureate but declined - beginning a poem with a line so strong as "they fuck you up, your mum and dad..."

The first line of this poem is on a constant loop in my head as I muddle through days as a mother. It was present when I was in a coffee shop with P last week, our conversation consisting mainly of "P, please sit down", "P, Mummy says no shoes on the chair", "P, Mummy would like you to eat your muffin nicely and not like a savage." It hovers as I'm letting P run the length of an aisle in the supermarket, ensuring that she doesn't run into other shoppers, but not quite motivated enough to deal with the certain tantrum which would result from stopping her. Larkin's words echo as I allow her sweet face and big, pleading blue eyes to convince me without speaking that she needs yet another horse from the generic My Little Pony collection which she is so fond of.

My Mom has always said that no one is ever truly ready to become a parent. Even with my relative new presence in the sphere of motherhood I've also realised that you won't know for years whether you have done more fucking up than raising well. My general approach to parenting is a relaxed one - I encourage P to explore, I don't overuse the word "no", I ensure that she doesn't eat rubbish, I give constant cuddles, we sing songs all the bloody time, and I make sure she knows how clever and wonderful she is.

This all points to being a good mother, but looking at the examples provided above, you can flip all of those to be negatives - exploring leads to recklessness and ignorance of boundaries, lack of exposure to being told "no" can mean your kid is a spoiled, entitled brat, too much strictness with foods can be a gateway to eating disorders/food issues, too much physical contact can affect independence, and showering a kid with praise all the time could leave you with an arrogant prat of an adult child.

I know that like everything else in life, it's about the blessed happy medium. However, also like everything else, finding that balance is difficult. One day I think I'm far too accommodating, then on another I feel like a cruel tyrant. I happen to think P is as well-behaved as a two year old can possibly be, but I suspect all those bastards that cast us numerous hairy eyeballs when she tantrums would beg to differ.

I think of my own parents, who must have raised me well as I think that if P turns out like me, then we would have avoided Larkin's bold assertion. It's tremendously arrogant of me to hope my daughter is like me because I'm so great or something, but I'm really not too bad. Ok, I'm a flake, which I get from my Mom. I'm hard to get to know, a gift from my Dad. I hear some people are intimidated by me, so again, thanks Dad. I love the arts and culture, something else I managed to inherit from my Mom.

All in all, I'm kind of alright. I'm hoping P will be the same and I don't fuck her up. Not too much anyway.


A little light banter on racism

We have a bit of a problem in the Prufrock household, or rather, with the extended family of one of the household's members :::cough:::, not me, :::cough::: . Said members of one's family have an itsy bitsy issue of being massively racist. Of course they preface or follow nearly every epithet with "I'm not racist, but...", which is one of biggest pet peeves right up there with, "I'm not racist, some of my best friends are black/Asian/Latino!"

Up to this stage, our mutual reaction is to tense up and glance nervously at one another, which I know is a copout. My life's philosophy is to fight very few battles, so I don't ever speak up despite how much their behaviour disgusts me. However, now that we have a small parrot residing with us who mimics every single thing we say, regular utterances of vile, racist terms is unacceptable. The thought of my daughter saying "Paki" (their favourite racist term - used to describe anyone of Asian descent) makes me feel ill.

My in-laws view me as a snobby, domineering, career-focused, far too liberal person, so I have no doubt at all that I will shoulder the blame when The Dude speaks with them about this issue. Whatever. I'm not very happy that our tenuous relationship will suffer further, but at the cost of my daughter's well-being it's a very necessary sacrifice.

I'm curious if others have had this problem, with your own families, or that of your partner's. If so, what did you do? What would you do? This is such a make it or break it situation for me, and if they are not willing to make an effort to watch what they say around P, they won't see P. The ease with which these words and vitriol spill out from their mouths is disturbing, but all the more worrisome is the fact that they would not view what they are saying as problematic. I don't want my daughter to grow up around people who think displaying such hatred and ignorance is ok.

I have a fair amount to say on the issue of racism in this country versus that of the US, but my battery is dying and some breastfeeding programme is about to come on so all of that will need to wait. Until then - what say you?


Music Monday: New Music from Old Artists

The next couple of months seem to be awash with new musical releases - Oasis, Dar Williams, Calexico, Okkervil River, Lucinda Williams, Of Montreal, THE CURE, Keane, Kaiser Chiefs, and most importantly Tesla. Yes, Tesla.

I've picked out some new songs by artists with upcoming albums because I like what I hear so far. I'll include some old school stuff as well in case you need to familiarise yourself (again, or from the start). Also included are US release dates. You're welcome.

Jem (16 September) - quick little Jem-related fact: Jem was P's first intraruterine concert. Moz was her second. Somehow, the quality of music she was exposed to in utero has not carried into the real world, as the kid's favourite song is "Umbrella" by Rihanna. She loves it even more than "Ladybug's Picnic". That's a lot.

The New: "On Top of the World"

The Old: "Come on Closer"

The Verve (out now)

The New: "Love is Noise"

The Old: "The Drugs Don't Work" (Bittersweet Symphony is brilliant of course, but a bit...expected)

Ben Folds (30 September)

The New: "You Don't Know Me" (featuring Regina Spektor)

The Old: None. I fucking hate Ben Folds. Alone, or folding Five. Sorry.

Kings of Leon (23 September)

The New: "Sex on Fire" (not the real video, which has embedding disabled. Again, BASTARDS)

The Old: "On Call" Incidentally, my favourite song of last year

And to conclude...one of my guilty pleasures, Fall Out Boy. I know, I know, shut up. I don't really like the new song (yet), but lord help me if I don't like previous Fall Out Boy songs.

Fall Out Boy (4 November)

The New: "I Don't Care"

The Old: "Dance, Dance"

Here is the playlist for those that way inclined. Again, pop it out if it doesn't show up on the blog:



Now, if you'll excuse me I must go finish adding songs to The Dude's mp3 player. So far highlights have included Sophie B. Hawkins, Carrie Underwood, and Kansas. See what I'm up against?

P.S. US James fans - "Hey Ma" is out on 16 September in your part of the world!


Bitch is crazy

It may have taken me a month, but I'm finally ready to tell the tale of the Aunt Florence experience from our trip to the States. I would hope to have a massive response to this post given the subject matter - people spitting coffee at their monitors or laptop screens, so overwhelmed by the sheer hilarity of my fucked up family - but even two whole pictures of The Stroker only got me 15 bleedin' comments, THE STROKER people, THE STROKER. Recognise.

Last time Aunt Florence was discussed, I mentioned her new party trick of asking my Mom if she could have a) a stone rabbit keyholder and b) one of her dogs. You know how it is when you don't hear or see something firsthand you doubt its occurance? Say, if someone told you of the existance of an open-minded Republican who didn't always yammer on about September 11th, defending our freedom, and denying civil liberties*. You would wonder if this mythical beast existed. Such is Aunt Florence.

Aunt Florence lives about 5 hours away from my Mom, so she(thank god)is unlikely to just drop by. She came to P's birthday party and was as sane as she could bring herself to be. Aunt Florence didn't want to share us, so she demanded that we set aside a day soon after the party where we could monopolise The Crazy. The Dude was pissed that we had to cross off an entire day of our trip to humour her, but if we didn't, she would no doubt spend the next six months whining to my Mom that we didn't spend enough time with her.

So on this visit day Flo wasted no time providing blog fodder. For this, I thank her. We were sitting around awkwardly, with the TV on in the background serving no purpose but to give us all somewhere to look so we didn't feel pressured to make idle chat. She glanced at the table to her left, piled high with dozens of pieces of paper, magazines, a nail file and assorted other detritus. She picked up a lone sock and said to my brother C, "Whose is this?" When it was confirmed by C that this raggedy old sock was my Mom's, Flo seemed instantly buoyed by the good news, then asked, "Do you know where the other one is? This is niiiiice." C and I tried desperately to act as if this was perfectly normal behavior and somehow managed to pull ourselves together as Flo fondled the sock.

C and I had to go run some errands, and luckily for The Dude and P, Flo wanted to come with us, allowing them a few moments of rest and recuperation. Flo was in top form in the car, pointing out a house she lived in at 23 when she was a student nurse in a local hospital. Harmless enough, right? It is, on its own, but not when the addendum is, "...and I was still a virgin then. At 23! That's practically unheard of. I wasn't what you'd call sexually experienced. When I did lose my virginity at 24, it was to Arthur (her current boyfriend). Of course, I was his first too!" After this revelation, I just sat in the back of the car unsure of what to say. C, because he is one of those freaks who knows the right thing to say in the most awkward times, managed to say something funny in response. Somehow, in this alternate universe, we found ourselves laughing at the loss of my aunt's virginity.

The rest of our car trip was like a scene from a surrealist film from the 30s. All three of us sang along to "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" by The Carter Family, playing on C's iPod hooked up to the car stereo. At some point, likely apropos of nothing, the subject of pot came up and Flo volunteered that she still had a bong somewhere, and perhaps some roach clips too. We somehow managed to avoid the topic of aunt sex for the rest of the journey.

When we got back home, we reassumed our places on the sofas in the TV room. My Mom was there, so Flo took this opportunity to ask if she knew where the mate of the 12 year old sock could be found. My Mom, a bit shocked but able to tell where this was heading, declined any knowledge of the whereabouts of the absent sock. Flo, dejected and more than a little disappointed that she wasn't able to score a free pair of used, decade-plus aged socks, put in a request that should the mystery be solved, that she would like to be the heir. For the benefit of you all, I took a picture of said sock, so that you may understand the lure of its beauty.

Thus endeth Socks, Pot and Virginity: A Sordid Tale of Flo.

*To quote Sarah Palin's speech - "Al-Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America ... he's worried that someone won't read them their rights?" I nearly choked on my own throat when I read that. America, send help!


Cohesion schmaschmesion

I've had random thoughts flitting around this little head of mine for awhile, ones which may be best served as tweets. I can't believe I even typed that. Tweets? Seriously? Regardless, minor thoughts perhaps best served in 140 word blips. I do battle with brevity though, hence me thinking I can make an entire post of aborted tweets. To be even more annoying, I'm even going to abandon the notion of segue all together and go with actual bullet points. I owe you all big time.

-Child temper tantrums. I have one of those tempermental toddlers. You know the type - "No want 'nana Mum, want gwapes." mother gives child grapes "NO MUM! 'Nana MUM, NO GWAPES!" I can cope, most of the time. Ok, there was last Saturday when I desperately wanted to lock her in the car and walk away, but other than that, I have a fair amount of patience. I do not, however, have patience for the seemingly thousands of people who feel as if a screaming, tantruming child is the most unusual sight one may see when going about their day. Aliens are not landing. Elvis has not just sauntered down the street. It is just a little girl, inconsolable over a trivial issue, feeling as if she needs to communicate to everyone within a half a mile radius how upset she really is. This does not warrant blatant staring and head-shaking. I happen to think I'm quite a good mother, but even the best mother can't reign in a 2 year old possessed by perceived injustice.

-Basic, one minute a day yoga. Thanks to carrying/birthing the being mentioned above as well as having big ol titties, I have quite bad lower back pain. There is some kind of nerve pinching going on, so quite often my legs ache, even when I've not been doing anything physical. With the whole running thing occurring 3 to 4 times a week, I was struggling some days. I googled "lower back pain", and was lead to the cat cow progession pose, which, hello, LOVE. The first time I crawled into the oh-so-flattering cow pose, my ass stuck up in the air, ripe for mocking/come-ons by The Dude, I felt a crack. It was as if some blessed soul's gentle hands grabbed a part of my spine previously immune to stretches and back twisting attempts and lovingly tweaked it back into place. After a few minutes of the poses, I went running and it was completely pain free. Since then, I have done the progression pose in the morning and evening, et voila - no pain at all. This now means I can run every other day, or even on subsequent days if I so desire! I now preach the gospel of the cat cow progression pose like some sort of entry level yoga fundamentalist. I'm rapidly becoming a zealot in general - first this whole "new me" thing, now the yoga. I can change your life! Look into my eyes...

-My brother has found my blog. He wasn't looking, but my casual nature when using my Mom's computer when in the States led him to it. Thanks to Statcounter I suspected he stumbled upon it soon after we left the US, then my suspicions were confirmed last week when Statcounter told me that someone in a computer lab at his university googled my blog and read two posts. Conveniently, he had emailed me just moments before from a computer at uni and randomly started talking about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, last week's Music Monday subject. He assures me he doesn't read it much, and when asked if he reads the comments said, "No, I respect your privacy somewhat". What a dear. He told me that my Mom doesn't know about my blog, but advised me to be more careful in future. Always looking out for me, this one. Hey C - VAGINA! VULVA! CERVICAL MUCUS!

-I've just finished reading Jhumpa Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies", and I would like to hear others' opinions on it. I have this annoying habit of needing to be bombarded with the feedback of other people concerning most matters...music, movies, and books. Whenever I watch a film I go straight to imdb to read user reviews. With books, I trawl Amazon reviews.

I'll be honest, I didn't get this book. Pulitzer Prize winner? Really? Her? I admit I do sometimes struggle with the structure of short stories. I need a longer narrative. With short stories, I feel as if I'm just getting into it and then it is finished. In this collection, I felt the author was a bit too forced in her descriptions of Indian people and households from the perspective of the white American. I don't have the book in front of me, but it was observations along the lines of, "Their shoes were lined up along the wall - weird!!", "Mrs X had a funny red dot on her forehead - kooky!", "Their house smelled strange, with all the spices they used in cooking - how foreign!" I know the Americans characters were hardly the most wordly, but Lahiri attempts at getting the reader to learn more about Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani culture was too blatant, too forced. I will say that I greatly enjoyed the final story, which is ironic given my ambivalence toward the book in general.

I'm now reading Tom Perrotta's Little Children, which I'm devouring at a pace of knots. I only started it this morning, and somehow even in the midst of a busy day full of work, child-wrangling, and running, I have gotten to page 125. It's just such a straightforward, easy read, and I've not had that luxury in awhile. I worry that when I finish it, I will of course have to buy the DVD of the film version. This means heavy Amazon analysis of the book, then protracted analysis of reviews on imdb when I watch the movie.

-I love Johnny Depp. Just thought you should know.

-P's term officially starts tomorrow. She has been attending nursery sporadically throughout the summer, but as the private school her nursery belongs to begins their term tomorrow, her school year, as such, commences. This is usually inconsequential, but she is now moving up to the next age group, which means a school uniform. Yikes. The kid is 2 and needs a uniform. Ohai England and their love of uniformity (fight the power!). In her case it's only a sweatshirt or t- shirt with the school's logo and navy trousers/skirt, but it's a uniform nonetheless. That, and she's started wearing her hair in pigtails, or as she calls them, "ponies". Oh my god. I'm becoming one of those mothers and she's not even potty-trained yet. Send help.

Ok, I think I'm done now. Blogging is the domain of the self-absorbed? You don't say!