Buggin’ Out

It all started when both of my girls refused to take their damn naps. There is something sacred in that 1.5 – 2 hour time frame that sets the tone for my entire existence as a mother…and I missed it.   Story time at the library runs a little too close to nap time, sometimes forcing me to rush home belting song lyrics at the top of my lungs in order to keep the kids from falling asleep in the car. The only problem is my kids are already used to me doing that and have since become immune. In fact, at this point a completely silent car devoid of music might be more alarming to them.

Either way, I failed to keep Zoey awake on this particular trip and upon arriving home I was faced with the most dreaded decision any mother has had to make: do I leave her sleeping in the car or attempt to transfer her to the crib?

This is a very complex dilemma. The leave-her-in-the-car option either becomes a one-act play of me checking her breathing in the car seat every 5 minutes with enough paranoia and obsession to rival Shakespeare or worse; she wakes up immediately because the car has turned off. My children could sleep through an earthquake, a zombie apocalypse, or the very real scenario of falling out of bed flat onto one’s face (true story), but the minute I take the keys out of the ignition its as if I’ve dumped a bucket of cold water over their heads. I say this because this is exactly what their reaction would suggest. They don’t just wake up, they WAKE UP SCREAMING!

The transfer-her-to-the-crib option comes with just as much anxiety. An attempt like this requires planning, skill, and the kind of daring bravado seen in complex heist movies on the big screen. I start by preparing the room. I set up the mood lightning, the sound machine plays a soothing ocean noise, and my shoes are off. A failed attempt ends in a full day of supervising two toddlers with NO BREAK so the stakes are high.

On this particular day I failed miserably. Zoey awoke immediately after I unbuckled her seat belt. My afternoon of solitude was now impossible. Instead, I would try to enforce some quiet play while attempting to do all the amazing, indulgent things I had planned during naptime like putting away the dishes and folding clothes. A girl can dream.

I glanced at the clock out of desperation. Yep, still four hours to go until my relief pitcher would get home from work. I was going to have to rally. I opened the sliding glass door for the dog to come back inside and was immediately hit with a smell so rotten it could only be one thing. Death, the dog smelled like death.  Forgetting I was in the company of toddlers I screamed aloud at the filthy canine, “Ugh Cooper, you stink! Did you roll in a dead rat or something?” I rushed him back outside and slammed the sliding door behind him. I could see the wheels turning in Emma’s brain as she made a connection to her favorite nursery rhyme, The Three Little Kittens, “Yeah, I think it was a rat, mommy. I smell a rat close by.”

Just as I was contemplating how I was going to find the time to scrub the stench of decomposing flesh off of my sheepish looking beagle I saw something terrifying out of the corner of my eye. It came flying towards my face like a bat out of hell. I use that analogy because this thing was roughly the size of a small bat.

I do not know what insect it was that was dive-bombing at me in the middle of my kitchen straight down from the skylight. It could have been a huge queen bee or a giant flying beetle. I’ll never know. Because I immediately did what any good mother would do. I grabbed my youngest child and screamed at the older one to follow me as I darted towards my bedroom and slammed the door behind me. I of course opened it again when the older kid came knocking; she’s still not very quick on her feet.

As we huddled together on my bedroom floor with no toys or television in sight I was taken aback by what it must have been like for all the mothers before me who had to do the world’s hardest job without any of the very necessary tools in my modern day tool belt. Mad respect, mamas!

The kids began playing with whatever hidden treasures could be found in my night stand and rolling around on the carpet when I realized I would have to face my fears sooner than I’d hoped. Zoey approached me with a little sag in her pants, an odor in the air, and a naughty smile while shaking her fist by her head – the sign for potty.

There were no diapers or wipes in sight and Zoey is particularly prone to diaper rash so the clock was already ticking.  Meanwhile, Cooper could be heard howling outside the sliding door as if whatever creature he rolled in had come back from the dead and was thirsty for blood. Emma could sense the fear in my eyes as I realized I was going to have to go out of the room for reinforcements.  “Mom, is we gonna have to wait for Daddy to come home and get dat bug?” she asked.

That’s when the feminista in me about exploded. Wait a minute I can do this! I had just watched Wonder Woman the previous night so I was a bit inspired.   I grabbed Emma by the shoulders with a little too much intensity.  “Emma, I need you to stay here with your sister. Whatever happens, don’t open the door and keep her safe! I know you can do it big girl!”

I snuck out of the bedroom door and stealthily made my way to Zoey’s room to grab some diapers and wipes while the theme song for Mission Impossible played on a loop in my head. I headed back toward the bedroom without seeing the unidentified flying object in the kitchen along the way, which somehow made me even more nervous. I gave Cooper a shrug as I slipped past the slider door and made it back into the bedroom.

The girls were hovering in the corner awaiting my return and I realized this was my chance to prove to my daughters that women are brave too. Women can kill bugs. Women can fix stuff. But, also that women are smart. And this woman had made sure to snag her car keys, purse, and everyone’s shoes in order to make a quick exit out the front door. I’d like to think there are some battles that Wonder Woman wouldn’t fight either.

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Two’s a Crowd

It’s been a while since my last blog post. In fact it’s been ten months. Or to put it another way, the last time I contributed anything to this site, Donald Trump was still thought of as a long shot. Since that time my husband and I have added another baby girl to our brood. Now is when the fun truly begins so it seems.

I myself was the second child. I know what it’s like to peruse through all ten of the first born’s baby photo albums while asking my mother if the camera was broken for my first three years of life. I remember the second hand clothes and constant fight for attention. So I was determined to make sure my second daughter wouldn’t feel as disenfranchised as I. Of course, my best intentions lasted all of three hours after bringing her home.

Let’s just say the whole “new baby” experience has been a little different this time. Now I understand where my own mother was coming from. When my first daughter was born I wrote her lullabies and played them on the guitar until she fell asleep. She slept on my chest for every nap, so I could savor every little breath that escaped her lips. But within minutes of bringing our newborn home to a baby-obsessed toddler I realized I was going to have to switch gears from new baby euphoria to new baby survival mode. The love drunk smile that remained glued to my face after Emma was born was replaced with two different looks alternating between panic and exhaustion and suddenly my entire vocabulary had been reduced to two words, “Careful, Emma.”

The true test of my skills came last week when my husband went back to work and I could no longer rely on a man-to-man defense. There were certainly adjustments. I was not accustomed to playing zone, but I’ve been figuring it out slowly. While my maternity leave with Emma could be described as a G-rated version of Netflix and chill, my bonding time with baby Zoey so far resembles a game of hot potato in which I can only hold her for five minutes before putting her down to go chase a toddler around the house. I’m not going to lie, there have been times I’ve asked the dog to keep an eye on the baby…out loud.

My first outing with two kids actually went pretty smoothly. I decided to bribe Emma with a cookie in order to get the grocery shopping done. It worked so well it made me rethink my entire parenthood model. Bribery was extremely effective with her and I am not above it. It made me wonder if this type of lazy parenting is how the childhood obesity epidemic started. But who am I to judge? My daughter thinks the word “happy” refers to the meal not the emotion.

Afterwards we went to the library to kill a few hours until nap time. Well, mostly we went to the library so that the other moms at story time could see my newborn in the stroller as evidence that I have been pregnant for the last nine months and am not just perpetually fat. Of course with Zoey in the stroller that left Emma unattended. This was very new to me. Until now, I have always enjoyed having Emma restrained wherever we went. Whether it be in a car seat, stroller, or shopping cart, I always knew she was somewhere safely tied up. As she wandered around the library pulling books from the shelf and banging her hands on every keyboard in sight I couldn’t fight that feeling you get when you’ve let your dog off leash for the first time. I may have even whistled to get her back to my side.

It’s a whole new experience to be a mother of two and I learned a few things last week. I learned that I’m way too exhausted to check to make sure the baby is still breathing 15 times a night like I did with the first one. I learned that my oldest is going to lose her shit every time I have to feed her baby sister. Luckily, I only nurse about 28 times a day, give or take. I learned that each day is broken up by how many hours are left until naptime/night time. I learned to play a little fast and loose with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation regarding screen time for two-year-olds because if watching you-tube is the only distraction that will allow me to keep both of my children alive and my sanity intact it’s a worthwhile sacrifice.  I can at least rest easy knowing most of the videos my toddler watches are very educational. In fact, just the other day I overheard her singing a song about photosynthesis. Take that, tiger moms!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe or Disaster?

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It may surprise some of you to learn that I am not the picture perfect housewife. Or, for those of you that know me, this is no surprise at all and you’re laughing your ass off at the mere thought of me putting forth an ounce of effort in this area of my life. I would like to say that motherhood has helped me grow into a fully functioning adult and I have made it a goal of mine to improve upon my wifely duties, but really it’s pure desperation. Between working full time and helping raise our daughter my husband is no longer free to make me dinner every night, wash my dishes, and fold my laundry. One more thing to add to the list of luxuries I’ve had to give up for my child.

So, I took it upon myself to find some easy dinner recipes, spend a little time meal planning, and try to keep the house a little more orderly during the week. Of course I had to scratch that last one because three goals seemed like too much and I didn’t want to get too overwhelmed.

Now, to clarify, when I say “easy” dinner recipes, I truly mean “easy.” I’m talking novice. Imagine a dish you would feel comfortable letting your eight year old prepare for you and you will start to grasp my culinary abilities. Not to mention, my laziness. I was also looking for some recipes that required less work than the three or four steps found on the back of a Mac and Cheese carton because that’s just too much.

I made a trip to the library and returned home with a book that had a promising picture on the cover showing a gorgeous fake mother and her beautiful fake daughter enjoying a supposedly seamless meal together. The book included a plethora of recipes for busy moms who didn’t have time to cook but still wanted to provide a healthy weeknight meal for the whole family.

A quick glance through the table of contents showed some encouraging chapter titles. There was one section titled “Recipes for Partners Who Can’t Cook.” Aside from the fact that I was the clueless partner who can’t cook in this scenario, I liked the sound of that. There was even a section titled “One-handed, Nap-friendly Meals for the Busy Parent.” Now that’s what I was looking for. Cooking for the disabled. It sounded right up my alley.

During one of Emma’s naps I dove right in, pen-in-hand, ready to write out my shopping list and meal plan. It wasn’t long before I realized I had been trapped. I started with the “Recipes for Partners Who Can’t Cook” chapter and immediately had a panic attack.

The first recipe was titled Gazpacho with Honeydew and Peppadew. First off, I only recognized three words in that title and one of them was “and.” In fact, while typing out that sentence even my spell check underlined the word Peppadew as if to say WTF? Google tells me a Peppadew is the trademarked brand name of sweet piquanté peppers (a cultivar of Capsicum baccatum) grown in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Oh yeah, that should be easy to find. Trying to brush it off as a fluke I flipped the page to the next recipe. Surely that last one was out of place. Partners who can’t cook have an even harder time cooking when they don’t even know what food they’re supposed to be cooking. The next recipe was called Herbed Panzanella. Okay, screw this.

I was still holding out hope for the one-handed, nap-friendly meals so I shuffled through the pages to the start of the next chapter. The nap-friendly meals seemed to be three or four pages in length, each with three separate steps. It was like reading a stereo manual. Apparently, the author thought it would be a good idea for the stay-at-home mom to be able to make dinner in three steps that could correlate to the three scheduled naps of the day. Chop veggies during the morning nap, mix the meat marinade during nap number two, prepare the salad during the late afternoon nap, etc. The system was efficient, orderly, and the exact opposite of everything I was trying to do. I couldn’t imagine trying to sell the idea to any busy mom. “You know how you hate having to cook a meal at the end of the day? Well, what if you spent all day cooking instead? See how much better that would be?”

Needless to say I didn’t find any magical recipes that fit the trifecta – healthy, quick, and easy. When my husband came home and asked if I found any killer meals in the book that amazon labeled “A must read for every new parent” I replied, “Yes!  It’s called Thai food take-out.”

Image Source: http://belovedshirts.com/products/we-can-cook-it-mens-tee

Tantrums Are Normal and Expected

Nobody told me there would be no more popcorn. I’ve seen the parenting blogs, read the BuzzFeed articles, and heard the secondhand tales from the mothers of past. Everyone seems to have a “nobody tells you” line about motherhood. But nobody said anything about the fucking popcorn.

At our last pediatrician visit I was given a handout of upcoming milestones for my one-year-old daughter. The paper listed some of the common developments to look out for including walking, speaking a few words, pointing, etc. Underneath all of these exciting things to look forward to was a phrase that I have been whispering under my breath over the past few weeks and sometimes out loud to my husband in moments of unadulterated frustration, “Tantrums are normal and expected.”

As a first-time mother, now comes the part where I rant about said tantrums as if no other parent before me has had to deal with the sheer obnoxiousness of a one-year-old losing her shit over a block, or a box of cereal, or the sky. It’s times like these that I reminisce about the helpless little infant she once was when there was nothing a boob in the mouth couldn’t fix. I have since given up the whole breastfeeding thing and am missing a very large weapon from my arsenal. And that’s not all I’m missing up there. Let’s just say I have discovered a whole new meaning of the term “deflategate.”

If there’s one thing that’s always been there for me throughout my entire existence its popcorn. Popcorn is my happy place. It was there during my awkward teenage years, which were largely spent trying to hide the fact that I played the trumpet in honors band. It was there in college when I had to make the daily decision between dinner or rent. It was even there on the first date I ever went on with my husband. After the movie he asked me, “Where would you like to go for dinner? What’s your favorite food?” After answering his question with the very same cuisine we just finished consuming in the theater he then asked me for my second favorite food and we immediately went out to ice cream.

So you can imagine my despair at discovering I can no longer enjoy the sweet, sweet nirvana that is popcorn. You see babies can’t have popcorn. Either it’s the fact that it is a terrible choking hazard or doctors are worried that once these babies start they’ll never stop. I can relate. The problem is that these one-year-olds of the world that are in that cute stage of discovering their surroundings will murder anything in their path if it means getting to touch, lick, swallow, sniff, or throw whatever Mommy has in her hands. And if the touching, licking, swallowing, sniffing, or throwing of said object is not allowed to happen, a meltdown ensues. It’s no lie that on more than one occasion I’ve found myself stuck in the pantry with the door closed, hands rifling through the last of the kettle corn, while listening at the door for footsteps like a frightened extra in a horror film.

Perhaps I should look at the problem a little more objectively. If limiting my popcorn consumption to twice a day during naps and anytime after Emma’s 7 PM bedtime is this difficult, it may be time to admit I have a problem. Like most addicts, I thought I could quit at anytime. I suppose rehab was inevitable.   I guess I just wasn’t ready because nobody ever told me…

Mommyhood

Looking back at my last blog post, I realize it has been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve last written anything on here. I’d like to blame my dismal attempt at staying current on my lack of free time now that I have an infant, but truth be told; I was just as lazy pre-parenthood and I work less now. Perhaps I was hoping that my wordpress account had been hacked by that Heartbleed virus and someone else had been writing posts in my place this whole time. See how current I am? But not to worry, I’m back! You probably thought you lost me to the black hole that is parenthood. Believe me, it was a close one. It’s true what they say. Motherhood changes you. It engulfs your very being and before you know it, you own a minivan.

I’m trying to embrace these new changes. I understand I have lost a considerable amount of “coolness” and my time spent dancing in front of the mirror pretending to be a rock star has certainly taken a hit. After reading that last sentence I realize perhaps I never had any perceived “coolness” after all. But it’s not like I’m completely lost in the haze yet. I don’t spend every waking minute on sites like Babycenter and Pinterest in an effort to be a better caregiver by learning how to properly fold a fitted sheet. In fact, I try to limit my time spent on mommy porn to 3 hours a day. My remaining time is usually spent worrying about something ridiculous and then making a mental note to Google it during the next 3-hour slot. Will that one fingernail always be crooked? How do you teach your baby to chew? How much is too much carpet licking?

Sure there have been times when my husband returns from work and asks how my day was and my response has been “Well, I unloaded the dishwasher, so ya know…winning!” There really is nothing like realizing you haven’t even found the time to urinate all day. Heck, I’m still trying to get around to taking some photos of my little one for her 3 month photo album and she was born last May. But seriously, look how cute she is:

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It is because of this newfound change in lifestyle that I have often thought of changing the theme of this blog to something having to do with the hilarity of being a parent. But I’ve decided I will not sit idly by as my entire definition of self transforms from a complex set of indefinable qualities to “Aren’t you insert name here’s Mom?” So, I will do my best to vary my future posts to include topical current events as often as my brain allows me those thoughts (currently about 20% of the time and dwindling).

I would commit to more frequent posts from now on but realistically, it’s far more likely that my time will be spent making silly faces while playing guitar, changing diapers, dancing around the living room in my bathrobe, changing diapers, playing peek-a-boo…42 times in a row, and changing diapers. I just didn’t want anyone to think I lost my edge. I’m sure as hell not getting a minivan…yet.

Sugar, Spice, and Everything Pink

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It’s a humbling experience when you find out for the first time.  Will your world be filled with monster trucks, superheroes, and sports paraphernalia?  Will you instead find yourself shopping in the Barbie section and learning how to French braid.  Will your husband get to have the father-son relationship he fostered with his own dad?  Will you have a shot at the lasting mother-daughter connection you’ve been lucky enough to experience yourself?  Of course, the finding out is much more dramatic when you don’t have access to your own ultrasound machine.  My discovery moment involved taking multiple ultrasound photos at work and returning home to my husband saying, “Yep, still no penis.”

And so it was to be.  We are having a girl.  My mind races at the implications.  I’m having a daughter.  It means I may get to feel that unbreakable closeness I feel with my own mother.  It means there’s a chance she won’t grow up and move away (a little hypocritical of me to say – sorry Mom).  Maybe she will spend more time with us than the in-laws.  At least I won’t have to worry about her marrying some ditzy blonde bombshell without a head on her shoulders – well, maybe.

It also means I’ve got my work cut out for me.  Being a tomboy growing up, I know a lot more about Terminator action figures than I do Strawberry Shortcake.  It’s going to be a tough road to adulthood.  I’m sure I’ll have to learn the difference between a plié and a tendu when she wants to sign up for ballet instead of karate.  I’ll have to refrain from making sarcastic comments when she prances around in that pink tutu with the ruffles above her butt.  There are also a few things she will have to learn.

She will learn very quickly to ask another adult besides her mother to do her hair.  She will most likely become familiar with the entire catalogue of Metallica and The Beatles.  She will come to understand that asking her Mom to mend her torn doll clothes will also get her nowhere.  She’ll have far more luck asking Dad to get his sewing kit out (thank God for boy scouts). She will have a cultural awareness of all the great movie comedies and be able to quote them verbatim (most likely at an inappropriate age in the middle of an embarrassing dinner party).  There’s a real possibility that despite her gender she will have a running knowledge of firearms, Star Wars, and Superman villains.  What can I say?  Her father has his charms.  She may be a pretty little princess when she’s young but someday she’s going to be a woman and it’s up to me to make sure she becomes another addition to the many intelligent, graceful, hilarious women already on the planet.

So, Emma, here’s my promise to you.  You may be able to name all of the power puff girls by the time you’re six, but not before you know the names Harriet Tubman, Mother Theresa, and Eleanor Roosevelt.  You may ask for the $100 American Girl doll that serves as another way for corporate America to take advantage of the average consumer.  Heck, you may even get one.  But when that thing loses an arm, don’t think for one second we are sending it to the “American Girl Hospital” and paying for it to be repaired.   We’re going to send it to an even better place, called Dad’s garage, where you will learn a lesson in the resilience of duct tape and the financial benefits of being crafty.  When your teacher asks you who your heroes are you will name someone worthy instead of whoever the latest Hannah Montana Disney darling is.  Trust me, when that tween grows up, you’re going to want to change your answer anyway.  You will know what the U.N. stands for before you know what a mani-pedi is.

Who am I kidding?  I’m sure five years from now when we’re trolling the supermarket aisles you will reach for the newest addition of what looks like a dominatrix wrapped in plastic and exclaim, “Ooh, pink! Pretty!  Can I have her Mommy please?  She would be perfect to marry Frat Boy Ken I have at home. After I paint her toenails, of course.”

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Unnatural Childbirth

Alien Stomach AcheWARNING: May contain graphic imagery that will haunt your dreams.  Side note: This warning only applies to men.  In my experience women can handle their shit.

Being 20 weeks along now I can’t say I’m surprised that the subject of childbirth has found its way into my everyday conversation more than once.  In fact, with just a few more sessions of Mommy talk I might feel qualified enough to approach a total stranger and tell her everything she’s doing wrong with her newborn. That’s how you know you’ve graduated right?

In all seriousness, I actually can’t stand the judgmental Mommy wars that start with “You don’t use cloth diapers?,” and usually end with “What do you mean you still work?”  I’d like to think I’m more of a believer in the to each his own credo.  Any day that the kid isn’t electrocuted is a win in my book.  Of course, I am still a newbie.  Give me time to form my unflinching opinions and maybe then I’ll fly off the handle when I hear that some other woman chose to do something different than me.

There is one subject, however, that I do have a pretty firm opinion on right out of the gate.  To be clear, the following analysis of said opinion is not meant to persuade other women to agree with me.  It’s simply an examination of why their opposing view is stupid.

That’s right ladies, I’m talking about the age-old debate regarding “natural” childbirth.  I would like to know the term for the other type of childbirth.  Surely, there are some that might call it the “drug-infused, failure-as-a-mother, numbing baby water slide.”  However, I prefer the term “medically advanced childbirth for the non-insane.”

Now normally, I’m a pretty forgiving person that would agree to disagree in most debates.  But, being a member of the medical community (and having a brain), I find it very difficult to wrap my head around the idea of a “natural” birth.  Let’s explore, shall we, just why on earth a person would desire such a thing:

  1. Most mothers who have had a natural birth and recommend it to others claim that there is a special connection you feel to your baby and the whole process.
  2. Some claim that we’ve been doing it the “natural” way for years.  Why stop now?
  3. Some mothers state their fear of needles and/or the possible negative effects of an epidural.

Now to explain why all of that is hogwash.  Firstly, that “special connection” that you feel during a natural childbirth – yeah, it’s called pain.  This is the same connection you could feel with your tooth if you asked your dentist to perform your root canal the “natural” way with no anesthetic.  Don’t you find it odd that in every other medical procedure (some far less serious and painful than childbirth) we are automatically given some form of numbing agent and/or pain reliever? According to webMD, the uncomfortable procedure of undergoing a colonoscopy is aided quite a bit by modern medicine:

The doctor will gently put a gloved finger into your anus to check for blockage. Then he or she will put the thin, flexible colonoscope in your anus and move it slowly through your colon. During the test, you may get a pain medicine and a sedative put in a vein in your arm (IV). These medicines help you relax and feel sleepy during the test. You may not remember much about the test.

Did you catch that last part?  People who undergo a colonoscopy (e.g. 1 cm flexible scope vs. 10 cm non-flexible baby head) are given not only pain medication, but also sedative agents that help them forget the whole traumatic experience.  I propose that anyone who touts the benefits of natural childbirth must experience all other medical procedures the natural way so as not to look like a hypocrite – starting with root canals and colonoscopies.

Secondly, there are many, many medical procedures that one could claim have been done a certain way until recently.  That’s called progress.  Now if you would like to could go back to amputating limbs with hacksaws and whiskey be my guest.  Perhaps a good blood-letting from some local leaches could cure you of that fever.  But, hey, it’s your choice.  If you want a natural birth because it’s been safely done for years and years than commit to an actual natural birth.  Forget the hospital. Forget the OBGYN.  Set up a corner in the dirt floor of your log cabin and call the nearest veterinarian, dentist, or blacksmith while Pa fetches some water from the well.

Lastly, for the mothers who spent far too much time browsing the internet for negative side effects of epidurals, I urge you not to look up the negative side effects of anything else ever.  It’s much easier to go through life without worrying about the slightest possibility of cancer from your cell phone or microwave.  Have you ever looked up the plastic content in tea bags?  That one will throw you for a loop.  Perhaps with all of the folly in modern science you would prefer to rent out that log cabin when pregnant woman #2 is done with it.

If it’s the giant needle that is scaring you away from what will most likely be the most alleviating experience of your lifetime, just remember that you are instead choosing to suffer through every contraction, every twinge of pain, and every scrape and cut that that baby makes on its way out – and it has fingernails.  Also, don’t forget about the much smaller needle that you will certainly feel when it’s all over and the doctor is sewing up the most sensitive tissue in your body in an attempt to put everything back in its place rather than leaving you with one hole where there used to be two

So, please, spare me the lecture.  Obviously I’ve thought this through.  When that nurse asks if I’ll be getting an epidural I will look deep into her eyes and say, “Fuck Yeah!”

And The Oscar Jose Goes To:

oscarThe wait is over.  The 85th Annual Academy Awards will be broadcasted this Sunday and all of us film fanatics will be sure to catch everything from the pre-show red carpet awkwardness where stars try to feign politeness for the camera while secretly wishing they could just pull the wedgie out of their butts, all the way to the last award (Best Picture) being handed to a group of unknowns while the stars from the other nominated films clap with joy for their comrades and silently swear under their teeth.

It has come to my attention however, that the Oscars are not what they once were.  Gone are the days of the luxurious Oscar parties.  Many people even skip the whole ceremony all together.  As a true movie lover, I have decided to throw my hat in the ring and make some suggestions to the Academy as to how to bring back the appeal.

This is no easy task.  In fact, the Academy (very much aware of its plummeting popularity) has already tried to spruce up its image by allowing more nominations for each award.  This was meant to leave room for more blockbuster successes in hopes that the millions of people who went to see “The Blind Side” on opening weekend would also tune in to watch it receive the Best Picture Award.  No such luck.  This ended up backfiring immensely with the cinefiles once they realized it wasn’t a joke.

But why not make it a joke?  Stay with me here, movie geeks.  In order to achieve more viewership, the Academy would have to cater to two different demographics that tend to have conflicting views.  They would have to have something for the blockbuster crowd (these would include women that paid to see “This Means War” and men who basked in the glory of “The Expendables 2”), while still offering something to keep the artistic film nuts happy (those that actually saw Amour and didn’t just lie about seeing it).  What better way to cater to both of these crowds than with humor?  The blockbuster crowd would love it, as evidenced by the popularity of not-so-well-written comedies, and I’m guessing the pretentious movie goers would have an easier time swallowing another terrible best picture choice if they knew it was all fun and games.

I do realize it’s much too late now as the mildly funny presenter speeches have probably already been written for the teleprompter, but here’s a comparison of what the Oscars could have been this year:

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:

My Pick: My bet is that this one goes to Daniel Day Lewis for “Lincoln.”  In fact, I bet this goes to Daniel Day Lewis any time he is in this category.  He could have had a role in the unfortunate flop “Movie 43” and still picked up a nomination.

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Biggest Laugh: However, if the producers really wanted to make this Academy Awards a big hit, they would choose Joaquin Pheonix for his role in “The Master” on the off chance that he would have another lapse in sanity and accept his award as the homeless rapper he pretended to be for a year.  That would be killer for the ratings.  Everyone would be talking about that in the break rooms on Monday morning and nobody would dare miss the Oscars again.

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BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:

My Pick: This one goes to Jessica Chastain for her role in “Zero Dark Thirty.”  No matter how many times it has been done, Hollywood is always amazed when a strong female character can be taken seriously and not just labeled as a harpy bitch.

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Biggest Laugh: Quvenzhané Wallis for her role in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”  Come on, just having to watch whichever Hollywood elite was chosen to present this award try to sound out her name will be comic gold.  Plus, look how cute she is:

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BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:

My pick: Christoph Waltz for “Django Unchained” deserves the award here.  His presence on screen is almost as consistent as Daniel Day Lewis’s.

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Biggest Laugh: Although I’m not trying to downplay Tommy Lee Jones’ portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens in “Lincoln,” it would be funny if he showed the same level of excitement he showed at the Golden Globes:

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BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:

My Pick: The Academy will probably go with Anne Hathaway for her role in “Les Miserables” mainly because she’s too nice to snub.

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Biggest Laugh: Helen Hunt’s role in “The Sessions” may not have been as widely talked about but it included a fair amount of on screen nudity.  If only the Academy could convince her to accept the award in her birthday suit.  Now we’re talking ratings!

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BEST PICTURE

My Pick:  This one’s probably going to “Lincoln.”  What can I say?  Spielberg’s a genius.  I’ll give credit to “Argo” and “Django Unchained” for giving Spielberg a run for his money but let’s face it, a Golden Globes win is like a pity Oscar.  The big one’s going to Stevo.

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Biggest Laugh: I can’t think of anything more hilarious than the Best Picture Award going to a movie like “Life of Pi.”  Never mind the fact that it happens to be in a category of really strong films this year, it’s also a movie about an Indian boy on board a small boat with, what else, a tiger!  Oh wow, I’m still laughing that it’s even a possibility.

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I don’t expect the Academy to embrace my call to action right away.  Afterall, turning the Oscars into a laugh factory would take away a bit of the prestige.  But really, since when is anything on television prestigious anymore?  Which reminds me, we really must work on that nickname.  Oscar sounds a little too high brow…

Jury Doodie

jury dutyThis morning I opened my mailbox and discovered they had found me again.  The government seal that marked the outside of the letter confirmed my suspicion.  The yellow forwarding address that had been taped over the envelope by the post office to confirm my new address just stood to prove that there was no stopping these guys.  Once again, I had been summoned for Jury Duty.

Now, I know that sounds harmless, but first let me explain my personal history with that of the United States Judicial system before you make any judgments.   This is my fourth time being selected for Jury Duty.  That’s right, four!  That means I have received the call to duty about once every other year since becoming a registered voter. I know people who have eluded their local court system for over 30 years.  I’m not even 30 years old.  I realize that the selection process is supposed to be random.  In fact, the clerk is kind enough to type that information out in the letter every single time.  Apparently, I am not the only one feeling cheated.  I have since come to realize that there is a mathematical translation to the word “random” and a legal translation.  The legal one has a little wiggle room like everything else in the justice system.

Of course, I can’t say I’ve ever actually served on a Jury.  In fact, every time I’ve been summoned there have been extraordinary circumstances preventing me from performing my civic duty.  The first time I was summoned I was a student in my home state of Oregon, which automatically granted me exemption.  You would think that Her Highness the Jury Fairy would have learned from this experience. Unfortunately, semantics don’t seem to slow the process down.  The second time my presence was requested in court I was still a student, busy completing my internship out-of-state.  My third time occurred here in Washington, post-graduation.  True to form, I happened to receive the notice during the busiest time of year at work while we were short-handed due to an employee being out on maternity leave.  I was able to claim undue financial hardship as well as extreme inconvenience for the physician who employs me.  As for this particular time, the letter couldn’t have come at a more convenient occasion.  Not only are we short one employee at work who is out on medical leave, but also that other employee who came back from maternity leave is now only working part-time.  Thank you municipal court.  You’ve really outdone yourself this time.

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I became very curious as to why my insight was deemed so much more important than all you other mindless goons who have never been tracked down and tagged by Big Brother.  Like any other concerned citizen, I reacted by sitting down and doing 2 hours of research and a few statistical math problems.  Now I understand it.  You see the jury selection process is very deliberate.  These people really care about their demographics.  It’s a part of that whole “jury of your peers” thing they keep trying to convince us exists.  So, I decided to find out just how special I was as a number.

I started with a flat number.  According to the 2011 census, there are 750 citizens of my county in my age group of 25-34.  Using the average percentage of females in my county that equates to about 377 women in my age group.  Using the average percentage of people >25 years old with a bachelor’s degree, that shrinks my category down to 89.03 women of similar status.  Of course, only registered voters are included in the selection process.  Using the percentage of registered voters in my particular county (54.8%) that brings the number of women in my select group down to 48.8.  Comparing that to the overall population of the county, that would mean I represent .006% of the population.  Lucky me.

So it seems I am doomed to be hounded by the powers that be for quite some time.  I had no idea what a rarity I was in my little corner of the world.  Now if only those other 47.8 bitches would step up to the plate.  It’s their turn at bat.