jeopardy! and you may ask yourself, where does that highway go?
Jan 31st, 2008 by wrekehavoc

i know, i know. i’ve been negligent in the whole jeopardy! department. life happened, y’hear?

remember i mentioned that BS gave me a world almanac? i never cracked that baby open in all the months i had it, which were a few, considering the taping didn’t happen until the end of august/beginning of september (to be aired in early december, no less.) i was working, i was exhausted, and i was not interested. pity i couldn’t have changed places with BS. he would have made a smarter contestant than i did.

anyway, BS and i made it out to sunny CA and realized merv griffin (and that clip is a must-see) had heaquartered his show in a sh**hole. hollywood is not exactly the garden spot of america. (at one point, when i was eating lunch with the crew, BS went for a walk outside. he heard gunshots. he came back inside. but i’m getting ahead of the story here…) we stayed elsewhere (north hollywood? who remembers) and crossed over on mulholland drive to get to the studio, which was then located in the middle of downtown hollywood. then, we separated. due to stringent studio rules, we were not allowed to see or talk to each other. off he went, and off i went.

i spent some time with the contestant coordinators and the other contestants, talking about how the day would go. they taped five games per day, two days per week. contestants would be picked at random. if i made it past the third game of the day, i would be fed at the canteen with the rest of the staff. and no one, not a soul, would see or talk to the great and powerful wizard of oz alex trebek until they were playing the game. we had a chance to try out our buzzers and write our names. we even played a few questions just to test out the buzzer. i was heartened by the fact that i was fastest on the buzzer. (yippee. i excel at something for once.)

we practiced our entrances, and i was then slightly disheartened to learn that i had to walk in on the slipperyshiny floor in my hells heels and step up onto a box! all contestants had to be at approximately the same level, and i come up short in the height department. crap. i’m a klutz, and this required concentration and coordination. i went from fear me, fastest buzzer girl to fear me, i may take you out when i try to enter the studio in these shoes in about 2 minutes. flat.

so i settled in to a nervous day. fortunately, i found a nice lady (unlike some of the nervous freaks who just made me sick to my stomach) to sit and chat with named linda, and we settled in in our little, dark, segregated corner of the audience and waited for our names to be called. they weren’t. not for game one. not for game two. not for game three. we ended up eating in the canteen, which i swear was outside, but memory fades and i’m probably delusional on that. i don’t even remember what i ate.

i lost my buddy linda to show four, when she became champion. and then, show five. i was called.


sistahs are doin' it for themselves
Jan 29th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

i often enjoy radicalmother’s posts, and this one has me inspired.

in a related vein, i once got into a horrifically-awful shoutfest in grad school. i took a feminist theory class. there were two men in the class, two of the most thoughtful and wonderful people i’ve ever known. two men i knew then to definitely be feminist. the prof asked whether men could truly be feminists. a chunk of the women in the room were screeching that men could not, in fact, ever be feminists because they could never experience oppression like women do.

i am a staunch feminist (though i do not play one on TV), but i had a very difficult time stomaching that idea. a) i found it divisive — a movement needs all the members it can get, imho; and b) men *can* get oppressed. generally, the oppression comes from other men; but due to racism, class-ism, and sexual preference, men can be oppressed. (ask some of the recently-emigrated guys from african or asian nations how they are treated here.) therefore, in my mind, they, too can be feminists.

the womyn in my class went on to tell me that i could not be a true feminist because i’m a heterosexual woman, and i can’t really know what it’s like to be a lesbian. well, that last bit is true — i don’t know what it’s like to be a lesbian. but i do know how it feels to be beaten up over my religion. and like lots of other women, i also have experienced my fair share of oppression. not being allowed to join the little league because girls did not do that back in my day. having the identical qualifications as BS and having to take a typing test when he did not for a job. losing a promotion because i looked so tired when i brought my six-week-old to visit at work so we didn’t think you’d come back from maternity leave. i can keep going, but i don’t want everyone feeling sorry for me. i don’t.

i guess where i’m rambling is this: there are so, so many doofuses (doofi?) out there who will denegrate what they fear. there are men out there who can and want to participate in a real dialogue about sexism. there are women who want to refine the definition of feminism to the enth degree until it’s a very limited club. it’s tough sailing when you’re negotiating these waters with your kids in the boat. so i just try to teach my kids the golden rule: do unto others as you’d have them do to unto you. i hope that somehow translates into just doing what’s right. in the end, that, to me, is what being a feminist is all about: treating women and men, boys and girls, fairly in all arenas of life.

i just wish i could call it humanism.

fifty years
Jan 25th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

on january 25, 1958, my parents married. (that’s 50 years, for those of you who are a little slow in math.) i’ve seen the pictures – my mom looks gorgeous and polished, my dad looks handsome and strong. my grandmother had a fever, but she finished sewing pearls onto my mom’s dress, and the proverbial show went on. my aunt barbara looks like a pretty bobbysoxer, and my aunt sandy looks like a china doll. it’s vintage late 1950s stuff. oh, and there’s a mysterious lady in red who shows up in photos, and no one has a clue who she is. and no one ever will, i suppose.

people might say, oh, why did they marry on a weekend when you bump up against superbowl sunday? of course, there was no superbowl sunday when they married. they did, however, have people with crazy nicknames, like dad’s friend bunny who introduced my dad to my mom. (bunny would be a man, by the by. i never met this person, as he faded out of the picture long before i came along.)

and i look at the pictures; and i wonder if they knew on that day that they’d still be married 50 years on. so many of my friends’ parents divorced, but not my parents. my parents made it through endless car trips and temporary relocations to places like oklahoma city (not exactly an inviting place for jews in the early 1960s). my parents made it through two bouts of breast cancer. my parents made it through various kids’ phases: the anarchist cookbook phase, the vomiting on planes and cars and other peoples’ white sweaters phase, the what do i do with my life now that i quit law school phase. among numerous others.

these are not things you tend to think about on your wedding day. i can’t recall what the hell i was thinking about on my wedding day beyond my fondest hope that the DJ would not play anything by madonna and whether or not i looked okay. (i didn’t. i am probably one of the uglier brides out there.) i do remember my best friend warily eyeing a bee that was close to landing in her cleavage during the ceremony and wondering whether i would ever be as composed as she was. (to this day, i’m impressed that the chick didn’t flinch. murphy – you are one tough bee-yotch. and i say that with love.)

but your wedding day is only one day. what really matters is the day after that, and the day after that, and beyond. if people focused the sort of energy they do on their weddings onto their marriages, then maybe a few more wouldn’t be so easily discarded. obviously, some unions cannot last for so many good reasons, and they shouldn’t; but i look at my parents, and i see two people who probably never even knew that divorce was an option. they’ve been working with, around, and through each other for most of their lives. and in spite of each other — and because of each other — they’re still going strong.

this weekend, we celebrated my parents’ 50th anniversary: my bobbysoxer aunt (and uncle), my brothers, our respective families, and me. my mom looked gorgeous and polished, my dad looked handsome and strong. some things don’t change, even in 50 years.

thank G-d for that.


jeopardy!: and you may ask yourself…well… how did i get here?
Jan 22nd, 2008 by wrekehavoc

in the beginning, i never wanted to be on jeopardy. i know, that sounds really disingenuous. but it’s true. i mean, i was a huge fan of the show — i’d been watching it ever since i would toddle home from preschool and watch the stellar art fleming read the answers. (i know, i know. i was a very strange preschooler. but it was better than watching dark shadows, which was also on in the afternoon and which scared the bejeebers out of me.)

maybe i was destined to be on the show. my mom tells me that she was selected to be on the show in the early 1960s. but, as my hero junie b would say, too bad for her. she was preggers with my middle brother larry, and she really couldn’t risk going into labor on national television. (just proving my childhood contention: larry always does ruin everything. first jeopardy. then, we had to get rid of the cat because of his asthma. buzzkill!! hehehehe, seriously, just kidding there, lar. really. i love you even if you’re politically on the wrong side of many issues.) so maybe subconsciously, i was doing this for my mother.

the truth is, newlywed me was homesick. i missed my family, i missed new jersey (okay, you can stop laughing now) (really), and i did not yet consider the DC metro area home just yet. (that wouldn’t happen until last year. maybe.) but i also knew my BS was not really interested in schlepping up I-95 for yet another weekend of family fun.

but then, the epiphany: they were holding a massive cattle call at merv griffin’s old casino in atlantic city at the same time as easter AND passover. BINGO! BS was a jeopardy fan — couldn’t we go, try out, and then drive up the coast to see our respective families? of course we could. so we drove up, took the ten question test, passed it, received the date to return for a longer test, and went on our merry way to visit our families.

only, too bad for BS. he had to go on travel on the return date. so he never got to try out further. now me, on the other hand, i did. and, weirdly enough, i was able to try out at the same time as my dad, who also passed the 10 question test. so augie doggie and doggie daddy drove off to AC together, swearing they would pretend not to know each other so that no one would ever think we were cheating. which we didn’t. and couldn’t. we stayed far away from each other as we entered the big testing hall and took the test.

both of us passed.

they then made us go elsewhere so that they could observe our personalities and how quickly we could think on our feet. as we waited in the hall, we still did not speak to each other (i’m neurotic). that was, until, i tried to make small talk with one of the other potential contestants.

me: hi, i’m wreke. and you are?

personality-deficient freak: did you know that burma is now called myanmar?

after a few of these perverse little exchanges, i walked over to my dad, thrust out my hand, and introduced myself. daddy, i said sotto voce, these people are scaring me. can you please just stand near me and pretend we are making small talk? and because my dad is the best dad on the whole entire planet, we pretended to meet for the first time until they called us into the room.

we had to stand up and play a pretend game of jeopardy. we had to talk about what we’d do with the money if we won. (i believe i told them i’d send BS to phillies camp. still waiting, right honey?) and then we had our pictures taken and were told that we’d be called within the year if they wanted us on the show.

the end. or so i thought. see, a year passed, and i didn’t hear from them. not until one day, when a woman with whom i had worked the year before came running down the hallway. hey, she said, out of breath, you’d better call geraldine and find out what the hell is going on. i overheard her talking to someone about you and jeopardy and i heard her tell them you didn’t work here anymore.

geraldine was the very sweet but not exceptionally bright receptionist in my old office. i had moved to a different office during the year; but unfortunately, jeopardy still had my old number. i booked up the stairs to geraldine. gerry, i said, panting, did someone call for me?

oh yes, she answered in her drawl. i told them you don’t work here any more, but i took their number. she handed the scrap to me. i found a payphone (government building; can’t call on your taxpayer’s dime, you know), called back, and they told me to show up the end of august. bring 5 changes of clothing. and it’s all on my dime.

honey, i screamed to BS on the phone later. guess where we’re vacationing this year? hollywood!

the next day, that romantic guy bought me a world almanac.

i lost on jeopardy. baby.
Jan 18th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

me on jeopardy. really.

inspired by testosterone zone and her recent experiences on jeopardy! (YAY!), i will one day explain this picture and formally tell the tale of my 4 games of fun. that’s right. 4 games. with HUGE, early 1990s earrings, to boot.

but i won’t do it today. i’ll just be a major tease, cos i can’t write much when i have an IV in my arm, yasee.

i may be a product of the new jersey public education system all the way through graduate school, but by G-d, i learned a thing or two.

(before i had kids, of course.)

lost in the supermarket
Jan 17th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

yesterday was not my day to be a consumer.

first, there was target. my beloved target (motto: walk in here for one item. walk out with $50 worth of merchandise.) the store where there’s probably an aisle with my name on it. someone somewhere heard BC’s pleas to make the C9 running pants and shirts for girls as well as for boys. (she’s told me that she often wears the same outfits as three boys in her class.) they are great buys (compared to underarmor) and especially terrific when girlfriend engages in sports. two days ago, when jools was home with me, we had to run an errand at target (that would be before we went out to the park in the 20+ degree freezing weather and played) and i noticed that there were spring versions of the C9 shirts and pants in the girls department. in colors like pink and purple, even — which, for BC, is a major coup since she really hates trotting around in black and grey (at least one shirt is red). so i guessed at her size and picked up a few things.

only, in the words of junie b, too bad for me. i picked the wrong size. i had to make a return. when i looked at my receipt, though, that ms. target had overcharged me one extra pair of running pants. usually, i check my receipts like mrs. pathmark (mrs. pathmark is what my dad calls any grocery checkout person who checks every single item to make sure every coupon has a corresponding item. clearly, this term predates computerized checkouts.) but with jools in tow, i didn’t even get a chance to look at the receipt. i was lucky i found my keys.

so back i went to make my return. i told the lady that additionally, i was overcharged for an extra pair of pants which i did not buy. she proceeded to call security. (note to self: you really ought to start wearing makeup. you scare people on most days without it.) the burly security woman looked me over, then went into some place some where. i don’t know whether there are tapes of every single transaction made or whether they just want to see whether you’re pissed enough to wait 15-20 minutes to get your money back. but wait i did; and after 20 minutes of wasted time, the burly lady came out, pronounced me honest, and they gave me my money back.

on to sears, where a return went so much better. i never shop at sears (i was returning a lands end item); i think i might have to reconsider.

then, on to shoppers food hellhouse house of babel warehouse. i hate SFW, but BS received some giftcards there from the credit card company as a reward, so off i went to do marketing. other than the fact that the stench of their meat department makes me want to hurl, the place isn’t so bad. in fact, their international food offerings rock, reflecting the incredibly diverse population that hits this store. one pleasant moment was noticing that the middle eastern foods sit peacefully beside the kosher foods. somewhere, someone is smiling. (besides me, i mean.)

but at checkout time, i showed the gift cards to the cashier. how much they for? she asked. the cards don’t have a denomination on them. sorry, i don’t know, i replied. that’s great. just greeeeeaaaat, she replied, passive-aggressive smile gleaming. hello and excuse me, but don’t you use computers that let you know precisely what people have? all the other local stores do. or should i alert stockholders that you’re still in the dark ages of mrs. pathmark? i had to run those things through several times before peace reigneth.

ugh. home at last with just an hour to spare before i had to pick up BC (because wednesday is half-day elementary school day throughout the county. i love having extra time with my girl, but there’s something weird about the kids having a half-day every single blessed week.) i get home to a voicemail from my beloved pal, the nurse whom i adore, the one who gives me my IVIG every four weeks. please call, she says. i need your help.

the poor thing spent the entire morning trying to get the pharmacy to release my gammagard, which i was supposed to have today. it had been authorized by health insurance last week, but somehow, the people who actually release the IVIG hadn’t gotten the news. and hours of trying, in between actually helping patients, was not working. could i help?

so i started to work the phones. the pharma told me they needed prior authorization. Blue Cross told me that i’ve been authorized since last week and that the pharma needs to call, just as they always do. i called the pharma back; the woman told me that she had to ask a certain someone a question and that she was not there at the moment; could she call me back? AAAAAARGH. all she needed to do was call BC/BS and they’d tell her the news. but noooo. by about 3 p.m., you really wanted to keep me away from sharp objects. fun things i had planned to do with BC were shelved as i waited for the phone call. (we ended up making funky rice krispie treats, so all was not lost. but still.)

by 4:30, my favorite nurse told me that she was about to call a VP at the pharma. she called back a few minutes later. my meds would arrive Thursday (today) at noon. so let’s move the appt to friday.

ironically, the woman from the pharma company called about a half hour after my favorite nurse (who reads this blog, incidentally — so hi!!! and thank you!!!) and told me that she had been working on this all afternoon. call your doctor’s office in an hour and see whether there’s any progress. my doctor’s office closed ten minutes ago, i replied. but by that point, i was past caring. i clearly wasn’t getting the gammaguard on thursday.

some days, you shoulda stood in bed.

message to my girl (and boy)
Jan 14th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

this one’s for you, kids. this one and this one, too.

no matter how you try, there will be days when you cannot keep the permanently-brave mommy facade up. maybe your day has just been a series of idiotic, unbelievable events that continue to pile-up in that way that some days do, like a never-ending car crash. or maybe you’re just not feeling well — you’re exhausted in a way that only other people who have a condition on top of parenthood can really understand. maybe you’re just tired of dealing with a never-ending panoply of wankers.

today was a combo of all three. and then some.

by the time the afternoon rolled around, i knew i needed to get some sleep or i would burst into a flood of tears. i picked up BC from school, told her to do her homework, and then, if she felt like it, she could curl up with me in my bed and we could watch something together. she dutifully did her work, consulting me on a few word patterns, and then we settled in to finish the 1949 version of  little women (you know, the movie i had originally intended for us to watch before BC decided to pick jesus camp instead? — oh, and by the way — we’re also working on a Nova about intelligent design. that’s a laff riot, too.)

not even june allyson’s terminal perkiness or elizabeth taylor’s frightful look as a blonde could keep me awake. i dozed off until the very end of the movie. i knew the story, though, and i wasn’t sure how madame would take it when one of the characters (SPOILER ALERT!) kicks the bucket. but she was fine.

later in the evening, the sadness hit. sad. sad. sad. buzz, i said, thanks so much for hanging with me. i’m sorry, but sometimes, i suck as a mom.

oh mama, she replied, you don’t suck. you’re the best mom in the whole world! 

and jools, sitting nearby, chimed in, you’re the best mama because you like to play with us! that child may not listen when i address him sometimes, but i’m always amazed at the strategic moments when his ears are open.

somehow, the clouds of the day lifted. it was an ordinary evening: BC disliking my culinary endeavor, jools wanting me to give him a bath instead of BS, stories a go-go, and then nighttime chats before bed. but there’s something so wonderful about the ordinariness of the evening, especially with little people who seem to reach me when no one else can.

Jan 13th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

before i get to today’s topic: because this week has been a bit crazy, it’s time to slow down and watch otters holding hands. (awww. you’re the shmoopie!)

sorry. i saw one too many blogs this week where the bloggers allow their pets to post. i lovelovelove animals like the next person, but seriously? i nearly hurled each time.

so, now that we’ve all chilled to nature’s calming, Hallmarkian, and emetic ways…

BC is trying to create a new style craze (how new it is i ponder, but anyway) by wearing a different, unmatched sock on each foot. it’s a royal pain in the patoot come laundry day (when i have to guess whether i need to look for a pair or just one-of-a-kind), but if this is the worst fashion rebellion we’re working on at the moment, i’m okay with that. so far, none of her little 3rd grade buddies has made fun of her for it, so i guess it will continue for the foreseeable future.

i’m waiting for the next round of but so-and-so’s mother lets her wear makeup/belly-baring-shirts/etc.
i’m a mean mom (remember?), so i don’t really care what other moms are doing. and it’s not like i make her walk around with her entire body covered. but i just don’t think she’s ready to send a more grownup message to the world yet, with all that entails.

so i can absolutely live with the mismatched socks. hell, she can have mine, if she wants.

Jan 11th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

the district of columbia social services strikes again. and this time, too late.

four girls are now dead, allegedly by their mother’s hand. the mother, clearly a very sick individual, would not let social workers into the house (apparently, she refused entry to a police officer without a warrant, too.) hmm. you would think that at some point, doors would have been broken down. at one point, social services thought that the kids had moved (and, i suppose, had become someone else’s problem.)

saddest was that a school employee contacted social services after one child was missing from school for 33 days. the mother would not let the school social worker in her house; and when the school social worker reported that the mother appeared to be having mental health issues and expressing concerns that [the child] was being held against her will, not a whole lot happened. the mother had also withdrawn the other children from public school, stating that she’d educate them at home. and somehow, a police officer was judging whether the kids were making educational progress? how about day-to-day living progress!

what the hell is up with THAT?

murders are always horrific. but somehow, i am always particularly horrified when a parent murders her own child. the level of distress and illness she must be experiencing must be all-encompassing. i am heartsick, too, that the DC system failed.


every encounter i have ever had with DC services — from the police to the people who monitor DC child care to the DMV — has been completely frustrating and excruciating. i actually had to have two members of congress intervene on my behalf when i could not move my way through the bureaucracy after six months of trying. that’s how frustrated i was. i knew how to do that. i suspect plenty of people, though, don’t. it should not take two members of congress to accomplish things that are a daily task of an agency. it shouldn’t even take one. it should just take one citizen talking with one district employee. and it should be an employee who actually cares about the mission of her agency.

the children of DC deserve better. the people of DC deserve better.

those four children surely deserved better.

feed the tree
Jan 10th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

now that i’ve firmly entrenched myself as a mean and instransigent mom, i may as well go all the way with it. in short: what the hell is up with picky eaters? specifically: whatever happened to people being guests and not giving a giant list of what they eat versus what they don’t eat?

let me backtrack here for a sec. BC can be miss picky-picky when it comes to food. in short, the list of foods she likes is a lot shorter than the list of food that she does like. she can be a royal pain the patoot come dinnertime when she refuses what’s on her plate. and there was a time when i lived out my dream as a short-order cook, making one meal for us and another for our lady of macaroni and cheese. but once child #2 came along, all bets were off. i had no time, no inclination, and no interest in making a third meal (considering the baby needed his own substances, something which i obviously couldn’t begrudge him, considering he was a baby and all.)

so the new rule went into effect. i try to make at least one part of the meal that i know missus will eat. the rest, though, might be something she likes, and then again, it might be something she loathes. if she doesn’t like it, well, to borrow from john belushi — she goes hungry. tuesday night is kid night, aka chicken nugget and macaroni and cheese night. but otherwise, it’s chef’s choice. and, 6 out of 7 nights (at least) je suis le chef.

ego crustulum , proinde ego sum. (i cook, therefore i am.)

(have i mentioned before that i’m a terrible cook?)

well, i get an A for effort in terms of trying to introduce my kids to different foods, foods that usually involve veggies, chicken or vegetarian protein sources, and fruit. and G-d bless jools — when BC isn’t around, he usually is quite complimentary… like last night, when i cooked a mild tandoori chicken. M I L D. like i actually sought out the recipe based on reviews that said things like lacks spice and real tandoori fans should look elsewhere. jools and BS liked it. and i made jasmine rice and peas to go with it, knowing BC would at least eat those things.

and she hated the chicken.

BUT, i digress. per usual.

i am trying desperately to train her so that when she is a guest at other people’s homes, she tries her best. she doesn’t get rude. she’ll note that she can’t eat pork or meat with cheese, but beyond that, she gives it a try. if she doesn’t like the food, she should just leave it and deal with the consequences of being hungry until she comes home and can fix herself a peanut butter sandwich or eat a cheesestick. (and hey, if she’s a guest at anyone’s house and she is a PITA about the food, i want to know about it so that madame and i can have a friendly little chat about being a guest.)

so i continuously get amazed when young playdates visit and tell me what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in my pantry. i always ask about food allergies, of course, as i don’t want anyone getting sick. i am willing to give whatever i have. but i have what i have. i still remember when i was a teen and a friend of mine from out of town stayed over my house. (a BOY. not my BOYfriend. actually, i think he was my aforementioned friend wah’s boyfriend at the time. but i digress. again.) i still remember him walking up to my mom and asking her whether she had a certain brand of frozen pizza. the look of shock burnt onto my mom’s face was priceless.

i think we were so shocked simply because everyone else who visited was so polite about food. as i was, of course. i knew that if my mom heard that i was being rude to my host, we, too, would have a friendly chat. so it’s a shock to me when people of a certain age tell me that my food is unacceptable. like i can do anything about it at that time? one word, one word i share with a sympathetic smile.


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