Dec 31st, 2008 by wrekehavoc

happy new year, everyone. i present to you exhibit a: a poll. enjoy it. i know i will.

[polldaddy poll=1234381]

happy new year!

guilty pleasure monday: message to my girl (split enz)
Dec 29th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

this one’s late. and for a good reason.

we just returned from a trip to NJ to see family and friends during the holiday. it was a great visit; but when we woke up in the hotel this morning, BC started experiencing barf-fest 2008. the poor darling;  she barfed all the four hours home; she barfed while home; she’s just starting a teeny bit of ginger ale right now, which i expect will come back up shortly.

this is just not the best way to have a holiday.

whenever girlfriend feels sick — which is fairly frequent if you count her breathing issues and all the tough luck she has had the past few months — i always feel terrible. as a mom, i want to wave a magic wand and make it all better. that’s my job as a mom, you see. and of course, there are so many, many things i will not be able to make better.

one of the things i can’t make better is the fact that i get sick. when i became seriously ill two years ago, the one who really bore the brunt of it (besides BS, of course, who had to do everything) was girlfriend. hellboy was so little that, while he missed me when i was in the hospital, he truly didn’t understand as much about what was going down. girlfriend did. and there was a period of time thereafter where, whenever i went to a doctor, i ended up in the ER. it may take years, if not forever, for girlfriend to not freak out whenever i have a doctor’s appointment — which, as many of you know, is frequent enough. it makes me sad that i am actually the cause of her pain.

so  whenever i hear message to my girl, i think about all the things i wish i could do for madame. i want so much to be less self-involved, but being so ill has required that i actually stop being selfless and start taking care of myself. it’s a tough balance, believe it or not.

but then i hear these lyrics, and everything becomes clear:

No more empty self-possession
Vision swept under the mat
It’s no new years resolution
It’s more than that

No there’s nothing quite as real
As a touch of your sweet hand
I can’t spend the rest of my life
Buried in the sand

i have my new years resolutions all ready. many involve things i need to do to make myself healthier. and i have to remind myself it’s okay to do them — i need to do that in order to be there for my family.

but i will still need to take the time to be there during the journey, too.

happy new year to everyone!


guilty pleasure monday: step into christmas (elton john)
Dec 22nd, 2008 by wrekehavoc

it isn’t christmas season until i walk into a grocery and hear this over the PA system.

(what the hell is going on at 2:44 in the video, though?)

between sometime in 1973 and 1975, sir elton john could do no wrong on the pop charts. even his albums that were less-than-loved (like one of my true guilty pleasures, rock of the westies, which i love in spite of the fact that critics everywhere panned the hell out of it) went platinum in nanoseconds.  songs that will spend eternal life on both classic rock stations and lite elevator stations got their start during these years.

i suspect sir elton, overwhelmed by his crushing success  (goodbye yellow brick road) in 1973, composed this lovely ode to christmas.  one reason i love it so much is while it is completely a-religious, it is about being thankful. sir elton realizes that he has made a mountain of money doing what he loves best, and it’s only because people applauded and bought his music that he could continue making music.

a mystery: how the hell does one step into christmas? just like one falls in love?

but no matter. the song rocks; it’s cheery and peppy but never sacharrine.

to those of you who celebrate christmas, happy christmas to you all. to my fellow red sea pedestrians — have a groovy chanukah, however you spell it. and for everyone who celebrates other days or a combination of them (as we do in wreke-land), i ill quote my best bud murph with what she wishes me every year:

appropriate greetings!



p.s. yes, i had glasses like those, too.

guilty pleasure monday: the helsinki complaints choir
Dec 15th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

this one will cause neither shock nor awe for anyone who has been reading my blog for awhile.

consider the complaints choir project, started in 2005 by Finnish artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen. apparently, there is a phrase in finnish (not a language i’ve tackled yet, btw) Valituskuoro, which literally means complaints choir, or lots of people complaining at the same time. the two artists thought it would be a hoot to organize a real complaints choir.

the first group to take up the call was in birmingham, england (featuring immortal words like:  i want my money back, my job is like a cul-de-sac, and the bus is too infrequent at 6:30.) the song is amusing but not terribly musical or moving.

the next group taking up the call was the helsinki choir. i have to tell you, i voluntarily listen to this. my kids actually like hearing this (and attempt to read the english. whenever we pass the metro on Route 66, BC likes to randomly note: tramline 3 smells of pee.)

these poor folks: they lose to sweden at hockey and Eurovision each year. metre pizza is only a half a metre long. their tights always fall down. they are plagued by people with annoying ring tones (a very clever part of the song.) and their ancestors could have chosen a warmer spot. among many, many other things.

On se niin väärin! (it’s not fair.)

many other places have started a complaints choir, but helsinki’s choir remains the very best. the lyrics balance the picayune with the poignant:  my flat is tiny yet it eats up all my money. so i’m left with nothing to save the world with. the music is superior to most of the others i’ve heard, and i’ve heard most of them.

i would love to start a complaints choir, though i don’t know if anyone would be willing to participate.  i suspect i’d get a lot of entries that mirror the complaints from the helsinki group, but it would be fun nonetheless to attempt this.

in my copious free time, of course.

thank you
Dec 12th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

pet peeve alert. pet peeve alert.

yesterday, i had a wonderful lunch with a friend i hadn’t seen since i was a teenager. sometimes, there are people in life who you may not see for years and years, but when you do get together, it’s as if you hadn’t seen them since just last tuesday. one of the many things we discussed (besides every single person we remembered from our hometown and how i  apparently tried to kill a yule log in college, which is a whole other matter) was the concept of thank you notes.

(stay with me, even though i know i am the queen of non sequitors.)

see, when i was little, my mom drummed into my head that i was responsible for writing a thank you note whenever someone gave me a present. it didn’t have to be a novel (though, as i was verbose even as a child, it often wound up as one), but just something to acknowledge the kindness of the person for thinking of me. to this day, i eventually get around to thanking people, whether by note, email, or pigeon. it’s an ingrained habit; and i also think it’s simply the right thing to do. i often get very busy, but i do make an effort to at least get the word out.

now that i have children, i am trying to do the same. sure, one doesn’t write much at the moment beyond a few sight words he has learned in kindergarten; but i do try to put the kids on the phone or at least sign their names to thank you cards i have written.  i want them to understand that they are not simply entitled to things; in fact, i want them to learn that someone took the time to think of them and do something nice for them or get them a present. that person didn’t have to do anything — but he or she did. and so, it is my child’s obligation to be humble and appreciative.

or, in the words of my wonderful mother-in-law, we give gifts graciously, and we receive gifts graciously. (she and my mom went to the same mom school on this, i think.)

where am i going with this, you may ask.

i am saddened by the interactions i have had with so many younger people lately. i am saddened because i hear in their voices and in their words a sense of entitlement:

because my parents have money, i should have money, too.

because i finished college, i should immediately start out in a high-paying job with huge responsibilities.

because everyone else in the pop world seems to have clothes, bling, cars, etc., i of course am entitled to these, too, whether i’ve worked for them or not.

i smile knowingly, as i am not in any position to actually criticize people i don’t know well. but behind my smile is a mom who wants to scream.

see, i’m a left-of-center gal, so i do believe there are things people are entitled to have. things like food. shelter. safety. love. health care. rights, and a political system that respects them.

but beyond the basics, i don’t have a lot of empathy. in fact, this sense that the world owes you every material success seems to be rampant and infectious. i want my kids to understand that there are so many people in the world who don’t have the basics, let alone the latest sneakers or the hottest car. i want my kids to be as grateful as i am for all the things we have and for all that we are to each other.  i can’t stand the thought that some of their friends may one day impress upon them that they are owed more than they have earned. those friends will be doing them a great disservice. those friends need to learn a thing or two about gratitude, something they don’t necessarily grasp.

and perhaps its  in part because they didn’t have a mom who forced them to write thank you notes.

silent night
Dec 10th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

this is for all the people who don’t feel very shiny or happy this time of year.

december is a whirlwind kind of month around here. we have BC’s birthday. we have chanukah. and we have christmas. it’s a crazybusy time. i never remember whether i’ve gotten the whole presents thing right. BS usually has one full day of cursing out the christmas tree lights (because apparently, there is always one bad apple that spoils the whole bunch.) the kids are wound up on cookies and frosting and dreams of what presents will be coming around for them. i know we should be feeling the joy, but there are moments…

see, there’s this tacit assumption that during holiday time, everyone should be feeling happy and peppy and bursting with love.  it sickens me, to be honest, in it’s self-centeredness.  if you’re depressed, well, it seems like the world around you is having a great big party and you have not been invited. (n’yeah n’yeah.) and even though people will often try to involve you and get you in the spirit so to speak, they may become angry when you simply don’t have it in you.

and then you’re sad and rejected. goody.

depression is very real. having experienced it myself after giving birth to BC, i can honestly tell you that you feel like you have dug yourself a deep hole and nothing will pull you out of it. fortunately, it’s a bit less stigmatized than it once was.  if you’re lucky, you might either know you need help, or perhaps someone close to you will suggest it. you might needs meds; you might need to talk to someone. hell, you might need both. and if you don’t have health insurance, call your local health department, as they may be able to let you know how you can get help you can afford.

but please. get help.  no one has to be happy. but no one should have to suffer this sort of pain, either.

guilty pleasure monday: 2000 miles (the pretenders)
Dec 8th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

i love me some holiday music. and i always, and i do mean always, love me my chrissie hynde.

i may not have grown up with christmas in a big way, but i always love songs that evoke the holidays in a meaningful way. and this song is a sad but meaningful meander into hynde’s soul.  and what a soul that must be. hynde has been a part of rock for most of her life: she has been linked to everyone from the sex pistols to the kinks (well, ray davies, to be precise) to the mccartneys to simple minds.

i love her swagger; her talent; her independence, even her animal rights activism. a boyfriend once told me i was irritating because i liked to hide behind my chrissie hynde bangs. yes, i think  i always wanted to be a lot more like chrissie hynde when i grew up. the lady has balls.

and even so, you can hear a tenderness in her voice, the way it breaks, all through 2000 miles. a creaky loneliness is evident, brushed with hope.

it crushes me whenever i hear it.

alan parsons in a winter wonderland
Dec 5th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

anyone out there remember alan parsons? any out there lurve over-production?

this cracked me up.

(removing embedding in case that nasty virus wants to be here.)

good day sunshine
Dec 2nd, 2008 by wrekehavoc


10 years ago today, i was in quite a predicament. i was pregnant beyond all recognition with a little person: you, my darlin’, a challenge even before you entered the big world. after an ultrasound every month for the previous 9 months (due to low amniotic fluid), you just didn’t want to let me see whether you were a girl or boy. (i’ll be darned if one time, you actually held your tiny hands in front of your naughty bits so we couldn’t see.)

but i knew.

you didn’t seem to want to move a lot at first; and since i had read all those stupid baby books that all first-time moms read when they’re expecting, i was suitably nervous — were you okay in there? then, when i was resting one day, six months along, watching some VH1 show on the Beach Boys, you started suddenly to kick the living crap out of me every time the Beach Boys sang. and yes, daddy went out and bought a Beach Boys CD to test out the theory: yes, every time you heard the Beach Boys, you got really, really excited. (so much for my lyin’ in bed just like brian wilson did.)

so there i was, very pregnant. and my blood pressure, normally picture-perfect, was zooming into the stratosphere. on december 1st, when i showed up to the OB-GYN practice, the doctor on call put you and me on a monitor, and sent me home. come back tomorrow, she said. if your blood pressure is still so high, we”ll bring you back in the evening. see, dr. loewith is solo tomorrow, so we’ll let her get through her day and then induce you in the evening after she’s less busy.

so enter december 2. i had assured daddy that he could bring the car into the shop and take the bus and metro downtown to work; the doctor the day before told me that they’d make me wait until the evening and then put the proverbial jumper cables on to get you moving into this world. enter the indomitable dr. loewith: she put us on the monitor again, told me that you didn’t need to be in me anymore, and i surely didn’t need you in me anymore, either. i should waddle my wisconsin-sized ass across the street and admit myself: it was time to have a baby.

but your partner dr. X  told me that i should have to wait until you’re less busy since you’re on your own today, i explained to her.

pffft, she replied. that’s stupid. who cares how busy i am – if you need to go in, you need to go in! (i will point out to you, darlin’, that the other dr. somehow left the practice soon afterwards. and oh, how i miss the refreshing candor of dr. loewith and wish she hadn’t moved west.)

so, i waddled my gigantor self across the street, then up to the third floor of the hospital. and i made a phone call. BC, i would have paid money to see the look on your father’s face when i told him that i was, in fact, having a baby. now. yes, right now. and yes, i knew that the car was in the shop, and i knew you had to figure out how the hell you are going to get to the hospital after taking a bus to the train and the train to a train and then walking to work. but your daddy, in typical daddy fashion, just. figured. it. out.

that’s just what he does best.

so at some point, daddy showed up, huffing and puffing. i know he was there in time for my epidural; i know because something went wrong when the doctor first put the needle in my back and a wave of weirdness went straight down my leg for a split second. (your daddy, man that he is, never explained to me what happened. well, not until i was about to get my epidural when i was in labor with your brother, that is. honey, he pointed out, the needle bent in your bone. you broke the needle.) (yes, ladies. this is exactly what you want to hear when you’re about to be stuck again in a terribly sensitive place, a place where if something goes wrong, you don’t walk. ever.) but then, it was working, and i was working with it. ah, childbirth… a walk in the park, right? oh, it hurts, but i can manage it, i’m a pro, i’m…

huh? OW!

guess what, sweetie? mommy goes through epidurals like your brother goes through slurpees. i needed my fix. and i needed it now. i tried to talk to daddy in my sweetest voice ever.

honey, can you please tell the nurse i need more epidural?

daddy, who had been there with me throughout the lamaze classes; who had suffered through all sorts of unmentionable baby information sessions, tried to talk the supportive patter he had learned so well:

honey, he said, try to breathe through it.

now, BC, you know i am not a violent person. but trust me, darling, that when you are in the throes of labor pains, you may end up swearing like a longshoreman. you may end up making promises, insane promises, just to make the pain go away. you may even pledge to vote republican; it makes your head spin how it feels. i am telling you this because i need you to understand this next bit, something i have never before and never again done. you need to know that i was out of my head in agony. and your father’s supportive alan alda jibberjabber made me think he didn’t really understand me. and sister, i needed to be understood. right there, right then. i grabbed hold of your daddy’s nice clean oxford shirt, right at the collar. i pulled him close to me so that he could hear me. i looked him in the eye. and i uttered as clearly as i possibly could:

you. fucking. breathe. through. it. get. me. the. fucking. nurse. NOW!

your father, looking like a deer in the headlights of a speeding HumVee, immediately snapped out of his nice-guy stupor and hopped to it more quickly than i have seen him do anything in his life. voila! my epidural arrived. and evil exorcist mommy receded and happy, halcyon mommy returned.

in fact, dr. loewith nearly missed you arriving; i was chillin’ and coolin’ like a snowman so much, i had no idea you were making your way down the highway. whoa, stop pushing! she cried. huh? i’m pushing? oh, so that’s what i’m doing!

well, sister, i had literally 10 minutes of pushing that i knew about before you arrived. and there you were, all red and screaming your little head off. i was thrilled beyond belief to see you, to meet you. (you know i cried. that’s what i always do, major boohoo that i am. i’m happy: i cry. i’m sad: i cry. i’m hungry: i… wait. that’s what YOU did back then.) i counted your fingers and toes: pinky, you were as perfect as the 4th of july.  we snuggled before you were whisked away to be cleaned and tested and probably grilled on your involvement in the disappearance of jimmy hoffa.

because at that time, babies had been switched at the university of virginia hospital, i told your father that under no circumstances should he take his eyes off of you.

true to his word. he never did.

he still hasn’t.

all’s this to say that 10 years ago today, you changed my life forever. you made me a mom. and while every day has not been a shiny, happy cakewalk, i would not trade you for all the tea in china (in spite of what you might think some days.) you manage to smile, no matter what. which makes me smile, no matter what. you are the sunniest, the funniest, and the bunniest. i love you to all the pink, purple, and rainbow moons and stars.

happy birthday, Beloved Child.

a rare moment asleep.

a rare moment asleep.

guilty pleasure monday: blessed (simon and garfunkel)
Dec 1st, 2008 by wrekehavoc

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit.
Blessed is the lamb whose blood flows.
Blessed are the sat upon, spat upon, ratted on,
O lord, why have you forsaken me?

-Paul Simon, Blessed

it’s World AIDS Day; and it’s also a return to Guilty Pleasure Mondays around my little world. i’m sure you’ve OD’d on your fair share of blatantly bad 70s songs; and i promise that the only bad songs around here for the next month or so will be bad only because you don’t like what i like. i realize i set off some nasty earworms. here’s hoping your minds return to their regularly-scheduled programming. and soon.

anyway, what you didn’t see over the past month is the fact that we’ve had some pretty crappy times here in wreke-land. in fact, when i think about it, it almost sounds like a monty python skit gone very, very wrong, like G-d was trying out new and improved plagues and we were the test kitchen. death; lice; floods; surgery; bronchitis… it’s just unbelievable how it all went down.

there are moments in life when you just feel alone in the world. and this song, for me, is always the soundtrack, in spite of it’s dated ’60s sound.

nevertheless, whenever i think about how it is for others in the world, i am always reminded that we are blessed.

at least, most of the time.

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