Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stuck In My Head

Get out of my head, Johnny!
I am at the point right now where I am ready to make an appointment to go to the hospital to have the lyrics of "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year" surgically removed from my brain.

In fact, forget the hospital.
I don't need sterile fields and sanitary practices--I am ready to be voluntarily strapped to a table and have a man in a goulash stained lab coat and his assistant, Igor, enter my brain and scoop out the portion labeled "Christmas Song Retention Zone" with an iced tea spoon.
I'm ready, boys.
 A packful of toys means a sackful of joys
For millions of girls and for millions of boys

Please make it stop.

In late November, these songs were welcome in my head, even invited in when I first nodded my assent to Seth who, day and night in his pre-holiday vigil, stood eagerly by the CD player from October on, waiting for my permission to press play for his favorite holiday CDs.

I cheerfully sang along to "Silver Bells" for a week or two and, in the car, allowed the radio stations that switch formats to all Christmas early in the season try and convince me that "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," while I merrily cut people off and gave the finger to old ladies driving Buicks.

Soon after, however, initiated by Earth Kitt's purring rendition of "Santa Baby," I realized that something had gone awry.

A jack in the box waits for children to shout,
"Wake up, don't you know that it's time to come out!"

Christmas music had gotten stuck in my head.

Like the time, one of the boys (very recently) stuck an uncooked lasagne noodle into the VCR, this music wasn't going anywhere without a screwdriver and a prayer.

Toys galore

Scattered on the floor
There's no room for more
And it's all because of Santa Claus!

Every Christmas, it tends to be a different song. This year the honor goes to "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year," reedily delivered by the inimitable Johnny Mathis.

It plays over world news in the evening, the voice of the checkout girl admonishing that I can only have four cans of tuna for a buck apiece and drowns out Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in the car when I finally find a station not playing holiday music.

It got really bad last night. As I lay in bed, the lyrics ricocheted off every available surface of my frontal lobe until I staggered into the kitchen to search for the meat tenderizer/brain liberator that I used on the flank steak the other night. Thankfully it hadn't yet made it out of the dishwasher and into its drawer and the music in my head was so loud that I was unable to deduce this simple fact.

A scooter for Jimmy, a dolly for Sue
The kind that will even say "How do you do."

Those kids better watch out. 

I want to mangle that little bitch Sue and her friggin' dolly as well as wrap that deviant Jimmy's scooter around his head but I cannot think beyond the chorus, repeated by the delirious Mr. Mathis again and again and again and...

When Christmas Day is here
The most wonderful day of the year.

I fear there is no hope. At least not until spring when the strains of "In my Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it," enter my brain, finally evicting Christmas.

I'm leaving the meat tenderizer out on the counter.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Prodigals Return--and They Want Lunch!

I have been trying to reach this keyboard for a few days now so I could write a proper post but every time I roll up my sleeves and aim my tuchas at  the roll-y chair, someone yells, "Ma, I'm hungry!"

Like Pavlov's dogs were conditioned to drool, I drop everything as if it were on fire and tumble towards the fridge...the stove...the kitchen because, to this day, I cannot resist those words if uttered by my babies.

I, literally, fear that if I do not feed them immediately, they will starve to death.

My mother and her mother before her -- and I can only imagine the line of ancestors dating back to cave women wearing fur aprons and anxious expressions --  operated on this very same premise with their own children.

Why would I be any different?

It might be noted here that since I have no daughters this behavior may come to a screeching halt once I have grilled my last cheese sandwich or flipped my final pancake but until then, on my watch--you EAT.
Garanimals--the clothes that always match

And, boy oh boy, they are always hungry.

No longer growing bunnies but large adult males, they still seem to eat as they did in the days when they'd head off to bed in one size of Garanimals and wake up the following morning needing a larger size.

And, with the exception of when they creep into my bedroom in the middle of the night and wake me from a dream in which I am trimming Tom Selleck's mustache with my teeth in order to make them a sandwich, I love every minute of it.

It's not all food prep. There's noise: debating, ranting, singing, laughing, comedy, nonsensical blathering, burping, sniveling, threatening, meowing, an occasional fight complete with running and pummeling as well as huge sneakers strategically placed in spots to maximize unexpected tripping and falling by me.
Tom, when he's hungry.

You'd think they'd want to make sure I remain healthy and ambulatory since I am the meal hobbit but they've explained that the sneakers are their way of keeping me alert. They are so thoughtful.

When the boys aren't here (which is most of the time), Seth and I rarely speak to one another other than when participating in the puppet shows starring the little wooden boys we dress in the kid's old clothes. So, you can imagine our joy when they're here consuming everything in their path like voracious locusts, monopolizing the television with sports and clapping their little hands when I do a somersault in the hall as I careen to a new injury after tripping on their shoes.
Charlie prefers the use of irony when hungry.
One of the best aspects of visits from the boys, bestowed spontaneously when the mood strikes, are the unscheduled chats when, as a parent, you get an insight into what makes these creatures, who bear only a passing resemblance to the children you remember, tick.

And since a steady stream of snacks, treats, tidbits, sandwiches and edible doodads fuel all this activity, I am more than pleased to be the lady standing vigilantly at the cutting board.

In other words, I'm really, really happy they're home.

Maybe I shouldn't have stored them in a box when they were little.....

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Letter to My Readers

Dear Readers,

Here come the holidays for real.

Up to today, really, it's been the prep stage but, if you're lucky, most things are done by now and you can start to kick back just a bit.

Bake the cookies, shop, wrap, sob quietly in a corner--you know, that sort of thing, mostly, has been checked off and now we can start drinking like everybody else in America.

Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, is the day that we -- as a family -- take our annual ride to critique local Christmas light displays, place the gifts beneath the tree, quaff lots of hot cocoa and I gird myself for the huge breakfast that I cook to distract people from the fact that I don't cook anything else for the remainder of Christmas Day.

That's our, breakfast, and movies in our pajamas for Christmas.

It may sound unambitious and while the day's activities stem from the fact that there is very little family to be had around these parts, many friends who stress out about who goes where and when, have expressed envy of our totally laid back day.

And once breakfast is over, it is very laid back.

Breakfast is usually a scene because, inevitably, I singe or char something and the smoke alarms go off as the bacon grease heats to the point of near combustion.

Once the crisis is averted, things calm down but there is more hysteria on the horizon as a few of us, who shall go un-named, reliably sob every year as George Bailey announces that he is the luckiest man in town or laugh as Ralphie nearly shoots his eye out with his Red Rider rifle.

Popcorn is made, cookies are munched and Chinese food is ordered as the light starts to fade, indicating that another Christmas is drawing to a close.

To spend any day with my husband and sons is a gift from above. Throw in gifts, popcorn and Chinese food and you have achieved near perfection. The year the Mormon Tabernacle Choir shows up to sing "Adeste Fidelis," on our doorstep, will cinch the deal.

Not to say every Christmas is peaceful. Once or twice Seth has been called in to work and and a few years ago, my sons had a fight that involved such mayhem that Santa, recovering from an extreme case of "sleigh -ass" back at the north pole, could hear it.
Crazy, right?

And one year I went totally berserk when Seth gave me a pair of children's dolphin earrings but my response was justified. Who gives the woman who shopped, wrapped, baked, cooked, decorated and virtually delivered Christmas on a platter, dolphin earrings meant for a little girl? Apparently Seth does. But it's guaranteed that he will never do that again.

Anyway, here's my point--Merry Christmas, dear readers.

May your holidays be sweet and full of family, laughter, good health and happy times. And, while we're at it, let's take a moment to reflect on how lucky we are to live in a land of such plenty and opportunity.God bless America.

Love, Susan Says...

P.S. In case you need to know--here's how to wrap a cat for Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Danger Zone

"Do I smell cookies?"
It's baking day.

Every year I vow that I will not do it again--that I will go to the Pepperidge Farm Broken Cookie Outlet for my holiday treats, steal them from an orphanage, anything but go through this annual ordeal...but in the 365 days between, I forget and willingly sign up for another "big bake."

While I am, indeed, sitting here with a cookie and a cup of coffee, the ice pack pressed to my lower spine is shifting and I awoke with a head ache and a sugar hangover.

Here's the script for a standard holiday baking day...

Start with a clean, tidy kitchen.

Put on favorite retro Christmas music CD (the one without "Santa Baby") and, feeling like Martha Stewart right after she was sprung from the clink, assemble supplies and ingredients.

Feel in control for about five minutes.

Try to find Seth to pull out the marble pastry board that your mother gave you when you got married but he cannot be located. Learn later that he was in the garage, performing the all important pre-holiday task of organizing his hammers. 

Knowing you should not attempt to move this thing yourself, in the name of both expediency and martydom, lift it out of the closet yourself with a dramatic grunt. Acknowledge first twinge of pain.
"Give me those cookies, Iceman!"

Work begins routinely...

Singing along to your holiday CD, stop only to pet Buzzy and yell down to ask Seth, who has reappeared and put on his DVD of "Top Gun," whether he's gone deaf because the TV is so loud that you cannot enjoy " It's A Marshmallow World" by Dean Martin.

Remove first batch from oven and, despite some breakage, slide them good-naturedly from tray with spatula and admire. Taste. Continue.

Open fridge for more chilled dough and only curse moderately when bottle of Hoisin sauce leaps from shelf and opens on floor. Smell batch in oven burning while cleaning sauce from grout. Drop everything and remove cookies.

While not yet actually burned, they are "crisp." Remove from tray and, despite continued breakage and first wave of frustration, maintain composure.
"I will share my cookies with you"

Continue working. Interrupt rolling and cutting only with unsuccessful attempt to put brand new elastic Santa hat and little jingly collar on Buzzy.

Observe cookies accumulating on counter as lower back pain starts to build not unlike a flower bud, in one of those slow motion sequences, opens. Note that temper shortens in proportion to pain. 

Locate and take four Advil in pre-emptive strike.

Walk to front window and see neighbors strolling by. Envy their freedom as timer goes off indicating another batch is ready. Nearly fall on way back to kitchen trying to avoid tripping on -- very ironically -- Cookie, the cat who has waddled into your path. Ask her what she thinks she is doing and, since you're in the vicinity, ask Seth again why the TV is still so loud down there.

Ignore him when, in response, he demands to be addressed only as "Maverick" from now on.

Remove next batch and return to rolling and cutting. Slide next tray into oven and try again to convince Buzzy that a jingle collar is a good idea. Go to bathroom to wash wound and find bandaid.

Ask Buzzy, reproachfully, what is so disturbing about a little jingly collar. Seth wears his all the time.

Observe gratefully that you are almost done but when cookies break again when sliding off tray, let loose with a torrent of profanity that rouses Seth and draws him upstairs to see if you've cut off a finger.

Scream "I WISH I HAD!!" as loud as humanly possible and, as Buzzy runs away, ending the dream of seeing him in his new Santa hat at least for the time being, realize that since you have had your meltdown, baking day is now complete.
Mission accomplished.

Eat half of what you baked to the musical accompaniment of "Danger Zone" and the sound of Seth cheering.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Sewing Teacher and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Me in seventh grade.
Recently, a dear friend and fellow blogger (ninehundredandseventytwelverecipes) while taking a philosophical yet typically can-do attitude toward her upcoming new year's resolutions, mentioned that she would like to learn dressmaking in 2012. 

Being one smart cookie, she will accomplish this with ease but her announcement awakened a submerged memory, forcing me to take to my bed and twiddle my hair until I could make myself forget about....

...Mrs. Allston and the sewing machine.

Once in the land of long ago, Mrs. Allston, a good-natured and apparently stable woman in her 60's, was a long-time sewing teacher in a word where needle arts was still a requirement for young ladies of a certain (extreme coughing) era.

I, descended from a long line of talented seamstresses (some professional, some of necessity, some strictly recreational), always inately knew that the talent of my predecessors had not swum through the gene pool into my own muddy backyard puddle. 

Not to mention, I had a psychological aversion to needle and thread.

This may have been because family members were constantly disappearing into the "cellar" of our brownstone (another post, entirely..) to hunch over the ancient Singer machine that had been installed down there only a day or two after God created the firmament and divided the waters.

Or since,when at leisure (a very different concept then than now), my grandma and mother always had a sewing basket at their side and thread between their teeth.

In any case, here comes seventh grade...

Our first project was to construct an apron for ourselves (oh, world, how thou hast changed!) adorned with cross stitch embroidery. I screwed that up in so many ways that there aren't enough twisted, ass-backward cross stitches in the world to count them.
Nightmares are made of cross stitches.

From cutting to piecing to sewing to the dreaded embroidery, I was a total moron--bringing my pitiful mess of an apron to Mrs. Allston's desk every 3 nanoseconds for help. She was patient and good-humored, and said things like "I hope you have other talents, "Susan Says..."

Then came learning to use the sewing machines.

For me, this was impossible...and  I do not use that word lightly. I couldn't even thread it much less make it sew.

I could see Mrs. Allston's good humor fading as I sputtered and repeatedly failed in the large sewing room located in the heart of the shop classes on the first floor of Edward B. Shallow Junior High School in Brooklyn, USA.

It went from bad to worse and, incrementally, Mrs. Allston started to emotionally decompose.

I noticed that she would no longer make eye contact with me. When I raised my hand for help, she was slow in coming over and her tone was growing nasty.

And, believe me, I was trying. I did not relish the reputation of imbecile and sincerely wanted to please her but then it happened...

One morning, on a sunny day toward the end of the year, I broke the machine. Snap.

Approaching Mrs. Allston's desk warily, I told her closed and hostile face what I had done and braced myself as she rose and, on legs that no longer appeared to bend at the knees, walked over to assess the damage. Discovering that I had, indeed, murdered the innocent machine, her poor face crumpled and she burst into tears.

I, and the rest of the class, froze in horror as she shouted something we couldn't make out and ran from the room. This was a first for all of us. I felt like Charles Manson if he'd had a conscience. The class soon ended but Mrs. Allston did not return.

I was fine until they made me take a sewing class.
Was Mrs. Allston a burn-out? Was she frayed to the point of madness, balancing on the edge after a long career of teaching domestic skills to disinterested girls? Did my idiocy shove her into the abyss? Or, was I just that annoying.

I suspect the latter. 

I don't remember how this event was resolved. I know she was back in her classroom the following day but did we have to pay for the repairs? Did she call my mother? Was Mrs. Allston eventually institutionalized and did she shriek my name as she was strapped down by the men in white?

I do not have the answers but I can assure you that I have not touched a sewing machine since.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Grinch Who Stole "Susan Says..."

So there I am watching "Glee," squirming with discomfort as usual as Rachel gets all crazy and Finn acts like a moron even though I know that in roughly 48 minutes, Rachel will have an epiphany, realizing what a selfish nut job she's been and Finn will come through, with some sort of humble wisdom, in the end.

I'm seriously hating them. Plus, I am less than pleased with myself for wasting heartbeats watching a show meant for adolescents.

Yet I keep watching.

My deteriorating mood would make the Grinch -- before he got all soft --  look like Jimmy Stewart after Clarence the Angel got through with him.

Not only do I feel totally disconnected from the beaming faces on the commercials as gifts are exchanged while the K-Mart logo infringes on the blissed-out montage, but I wonder whether these kind of euphoric, super-cozy holidays are real for anyone.

And, if they are, who do you have to be to have them?

It is now I remember that I actually DVRed the show and could have been fast-forwarding through these anxiety-producing commercials...and my mood grows darker.

Yet still I watch.

My discontent expands. Its borders open and its fences topple as the plot of a Glee Christmas moves forward so the gang can do the right thing as we, the dribbling, half-hypnotized viewers, knew they would.

Okay, maybe I was the only one dribbling.

Of course the "kids" (whose real ages range between 25 and 70) end up entertaining the homeless children in the shelter after all and, despite previous turbulence, conflicts resolve, Sue Sylvester smiles warmly and kisses are exchanged at open lockers all over McKinley High (I'm genuinely scared that I know the name of the school). 

Deeply vexed and feeling twitchy, I squeeze my eyes shut, hardening my heart further...and then I hear it...

The first strains of a song against whose joyful power I am helpless.

A song at which I will weep in public or private. A song that will undo me in the car or an elevator or on line at the DMV (although I'm usually crying there, anyway)...

A song that make me love my enemies (Yes, Justin Bieber, you little moppet), want to bake cookies and hand them out on street corners, hug everyone in sight and sprinkle glitter on Seth as he snores in the recliner...

A song that makes me want to be a better person who, ultimately, makes better choices about her TV viewing habits....

"Damn," I thought in my last coherent moments before I was sucked into the emotional vortex of the music, "I didn't want to feel better tonight. I want to be mean and dysfunctional -- for no apparent reason -- until at least midnight..."

Here it is, in its original form. Warning:  if you have a hard time dealing with 80's hair, you  may want to keep your eyes closed....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Mall at Christmas..the Finale.

Ahhh, the mall.

The song "Santa, Baby" playing in every store.

Mr. Claus, himself, looking bored in his roped off wonderland, his deactivated-with-a-bottle-opener ankle monitor barely visible under his Santa pants and about three million people milling about in the Apple Store, patiently waiting to plunk down enormous sums on the latest techno-gadget.

It was as I expected.

I did encounter several "department store men" stumbling about helplessly but there was no "coupon lady" to be found. In her place, I witnessed an exhausted shopper have a total meltdown over the fact that there were too few cashiers in Macy's. I almost joined in but was too busy looking for a cashier.

There were, as predicted, huge numbers of freshly-minted collegians on the premises--the girls squealing and exchanging air-kisses while the guys did the "bro-hug" and clicked budding antlers.

If none of this makes sense, please refer back to yesterday's post--it will give you a frame of reference for shopping at virtually any mall across America during the holidays.

Every single year I forget how the combined scents in the Bath and Body Works almost put me into pulmonary arrest but wander in anyway just to experience the love from the small army of manic employees who instantaneously welcome me to the store.
The battle for olfactory domination is on!
Almost immediately, I am bid adieu by the same apron-clad army as I beat my way back to the exit, reeling from the coconut, lime-verbena, vanilla bean, lavender, cucumber-melon, lemongrass, blackberry, ylang ylang, pomegranate, mango-mandarin, sensual amber, citron and honey suckle fumes.

I did find a place to sit and enjoy a bottle of water--miraculously, directly in front of Sephora (again, refer back to yesterday's post), squeezed between one apparently dead man wearing a Northface jacket and another who was self-comforting, while his wife cavorted amidst the lipsticks, with pretzel nuggets dipped in warm cheese.

Despite the fact that I immediately began pointing to my mouth, rubbing my tummy and wiggling my eyebrows at him, he did not offer me a single one.
Men, take note: the perfect gift.

While resting, I wanted to applaud a man who emerged, smiling, from the store clutching a little Sephora shopping bag that looked just the right size to contain a gift certificate buried in colorful tissue.

For all the men reading this, take a lesson--his wife will not want to disembowel him with a fireplace poker (or, in my case, an immersion blender I keep handy for just such occasions) on Christmas morning...and, judging by the expression on his face, he knew it.

I avoided the pet store because I would have come home with a puppy and turned my face away from the giant chocolate strawberries in Godiva's window lest I be tempted to blow this month's mortgage payment and buy a half dozen. 

Or, would I have eaten a puppy and brought home the strawberries...I was still too addled from Bath and Body to have gotten that one right.
Buzzy's new pal?

Illegal in some states.
I also had fun faking out the assassins at the cosmetic kiosks who wanted to rub lotion into my wrists by appearing to approach them with my flaky skin at the ready but then backing away quickly. It was the fastest I've moved since 1981.

So, I did my thing, emerged alive and came home to two taped episodes of Cash Cab and one of Hoarders.

Though I didn't finish my holiday shopping, my shoelace did not get caught in the escalator like last year so it was a very good day.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Mall at Christmas, Part One...Revisited

When this blog was a wee baby, I'll make a $10,000 bet a la Mitt Romney, that most of my current readers missed last year's two-parter about the mall at Christmas.

Also, since I must occasionally leave the house and walk amongst my fellow man for material for the blog, I think I actually have to go out today and -- as much as I'd prefer not to -- get a few things done. 

So here are my holiday mall posts again....timeless and grimly festive, I hope you enjoy them:

I am going to the mall today.

I've put it off as long as possible but next week Charlie will be home for Christmas break and I won't want to leave his side to finish my holiday shopping. 

Instead, I will offer him hot chocolate with marshmallows every ten minutes, ruffle his hair nearly as often and bend down to smile directly into his face at unexpected intervals....this is standard behavior and cannot be interrupted by a trip to the mall.  

I hate the mall.

It's always terribly hot inside and today, it's simply too chilly to leave my jacket in the car since, at this time of year, the lot is packed and I may have to hitchhike to the entrance.

The first level has become an obstacle course, packed with holiday kiosks (Crocs, calendars, smoked sausage from Hickory Farms) and filled with salespeople hell-bent on grooming my eyebrows, rubbing cream made with salt from the Dead Sea into my skin or giving me a massage.To avoid confrontation in the past, all one had to do was walk by them briskly, avoiding all eye contact.

They're more determined now that it's Christmas and eye-contact or no, will approach with jars and bottles at the ready.

If you refuse, they shout after you, calling you filthy names and accusing you of having crepey skin or a chicken neck. Okay, that only happened once but it really scarred me.

Then there are "the men" in the department stores. They have apparently never shopped or handled money before in their lives and, quite possibly, only recently emerged from some type of larvae in which genetically enriched mucus has been transformed into a small army of male shoppers who haven't a clue--about anything.

Emerging, in December, from the chrysalis in which they've developed, they find their way to the mall where they stumble about, blocking your way, looking helpless, whimpering softly and asking women they've never met for help. Holding up a bright red blouse, one will say something like, "My wife's favorite color is blue, will she like this?"

Or, how about that woman ahead of you on line?

She's got an immense armload of stuff and has offered to let you go before her but, for some inexplicable reason, you laugh and say, "Oh, no thanks--I'm fine!"

You've both been waiting for quite a while and have been making pleasant conversation but when it's finally time to put her purchases on the counter, her head spins 360 degrees and, vomiting pea soup, she whips out a huge wad of store coupons held together by a rubber band.

She and the cashier then proceed to painstakingly match each one to the correct item, debate about whether they can be combined and summon a manager to referee the conflict as you feel your arches slowly falling and your hopes for ever leaving the store, fading.

There are the hordes of giggling teens by the escalators. College freshmen home for their first Christmas break, wearing Uggs and bright new sweatshirts from their new schools, they are popping in and out of J. Crew in a steady stream. They are to be avoided at all cost...even if that means lowering oneself from level two to level one with mountain climbing equipment.

If you're tired and need to sit a moment, forget it. All available public seating is taken by men who are waiting for wives who are either in Sephora or Victoria's Secret. These men are either obviously impatient--tapping a toe and fidgeting, or appear dead.

The food court is too crowded if you want a snack, the bathrooms are too far away if you need to go and there's a gigantic close-up photo of a set of abs in the window of Abercrombie that has attracted a noisy crowd.

I ate a healthy breakfast, limited my coffee intake, have dressed in layers and set the DVR to record two hours of Cash Cab.  I'll let you know how it all went tomorrow.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm Still "Us." Are You?

I love movies.

Old, new, noir, thrillers, chick flicks, epic, low budget, historical, indie, rom- coms, drom-coms, bro-coms, thrill-coms, noir-coms, name it.

I saw two in the past week that attempted to cover the theme of percieved stagnancy, loss of romance and the accompanying estrangement of long term marriage. Blah, blah, blah.

Julianne Moore starred in both movies.
Miss Moore in both films.

She of the skin so pale, the nostrils so quivery, the chin so stalwart yet fragile...and, she of the perfect age to be playing women, still beautiful but in their middle years, who battle the tide of this conflict. Miss Moore was the picture of loveliness--alternately setting her jaw in determination or dissolving in tears.

In both movies, the character portrayed by Miss Moore emotionally utters a very slight variation of an absurd movie line to her movie husbands as their movie marriages struggle to survive their movie crises

Miss Moore's nostrils: "We've stopped being us!" Or, "When did we stop being us?"
Aging well

I waited for either husband, the ever-delectable Liam Neeson and the lovably goofy Steve Carrell to say, "I know who I am. Who the &*%$#*&% are you?" But neither did and they all went down the expected path of conflict, rediscovery and reunion.

Allow me to step in. No one stops being "us." We continue to be "us" but "us" changes.

The "us" of our carefree dating stage is not the "us" of the early married or new parent phase. That young "us" to which Miss Moore refers is the "us" who had rambunctious sex on the washing machine or behind Santa's Village at the mall.
Typecast but appealing.

Miss Moore's movie discontent harkens back to a young "us" who ran through the raindrops in the park as a song by Harry Connick played in the background.

And, may I remind you that all these versions of "us" are creations of the movies. Rarely, are they anyone's reality and if they are, I don't know whether to envy you or report you to the police.

"Us" grows up.  

"Us" starts to get more serious as the problems accrue. Rents must be paid so "us" must hold a job. Babies must be fed so "us" must get up at 2 a.m. and thump their backs until they give "us" a nice, milky belch.

"Us" now has a more mature sense of humor, a wider ass and a hairline that's a little more Bruce Willis than Zack Ephron.
Gimme that hairline!
Buzz off, Bruce.

In the first movie, Ms. Moore is sure that her flirty but devoted husband is cheating on her. In the second, she decides to endanger a solid marriage of 25 years to a predictable but great guy for no apparent reason. She blames loss of us-ness each time. 

If this is what us-ness is all about, Seth and I lost it a long time ago.

It got trampled by the check I had to write when we needed a new roof, the time Tommy and I got chicken pox together and he had to take care of both of us and the cat vomit I slipped in on my way to the kitchen.

But, hold on a minute, what's this in its' place? Oh, yeah--stability, friendship, compassion, maturity and, wait, what's that, stuck there on the bottom? Oh, yes, romance, too.

So, please, women of America, do not fall victim to this foolishness.

Next time you're in a movie theater and someone on screen blathers about having lost "us," I want you to stand up. Let the $20 box of Sour Patch Kids slide off your lap, knocking over the bathtub of Diet Coke you'll never finish and shout to the acoustic tile on the ceiling, "I AM STILL US! MAYBE YOU ASSHOLE SCREENWRITERS ARE NO LONGER YOU, BUT I AM STILL US!" 

Good luck to the 16 year old usher who tries to wrestle you to the ground and drag you away 'cause you're all fired up now!

You can contact me here at The Susan Says... "We are still us...Legal Defense Fund" care of this blog.

Thank you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Christmas Wish...Hint: It Belongs to Jerry Sandusky

Joe had to know.
I  like to keep this blog kind of light.

Though occasionally tempted to veer off on a tangent of political indignation or topical fury,
I restrain myself because I prefer to attempt to distract or amuse my readers in a world where amusement and distraction can be paramount to maintaining sanity.

However, as a mother and a human, I'm a little distracted myself today, but not in a good way. 

Having read a news story this morning about additional molestation charges against Jerry Sandusky, the assistant football coach at Penn State, I am going to confide what's at the top of my Christmas list this year: I would like Jerry Sandusky's penis in a jar. A bow on the jar (or the penis) is optional.
A "Hit-Elf will be needed.

I would also like those who knew what was going on, to face charges and appropriate jail sentences. But, since I have wavering faith in the judicial system and this is a Christmas wish list, I want Mr. Sandusky in jail for life. Death is too good for him.

Since convicted child molesters are on the lowest rung of the prison pecking order and are often dealt with aggressively by other inmates, what say we throw in a solid, daily beating for Mr. Sandusky, as well?

Okay, Santa?

Based on what we know of how such things affect people, Jerry Sandusky robbed his victims of their childhood, the ability to sleep without nightmares, healthy sexuality, a normal adulthood and, possibly, the potential to successfully function as spouses and fathers. He was a bully of the worst kind.

Thanks to his despicable charitable organization--a veritable stable of victims-in-waiting, he victimized victims--children already in need of a helping hand from a caring adult but who, instead, were groomed for abuse.

The information that a child, during an attack in a basement bedroom of the Sandusky home, screamed for help knowing Mrs. Sandusky was upstairs but that no one came, suggests Mrs. Sandusky needs to be in a cell herself.

If one of my cats farts softly in his sleep, I hear it. If Seth gets up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I am aware of it. Unless Mrs. Sandusky is stone deaf and was tied to her bed, she heard that child's screams and should have done something about it.

Mrs. Sandusky, a mother herself, also insists that the victims are making it all up.

And, no, I don't care if she was afraid of him. A large man with feral teeth and cruel eyes, he is obviously terrifying. But where there's a will to do the right thing, to save a child--there's a way, Mrs. Sandusky

I have controlled myself mightily, dear readers. I wanted to use words like bludgeon, castrate and wood chipper in this post but thought I'd spare you.

But I do hope I get what's on my Christmas list this year. 

Perhaps instead of keeping the jarred penis on the mantle, I might donate it back to the football program at Penn State with the stipulation that it be placed, front and center, in their trophy case so that everyone who turned a blind eye to the situation over the years, can see it every day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Fugitive

There was a disturbing article in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal about the latest animal escapee in New York City.
Not too long ago, a female cobra from the Bronx Zoo slithered away causing a city wide panic* among men and women alike who imagined the cobra taking the elevator to their apartments, breaking in and making a sandwich in their kitchens. Cobras do not like sandwiches so they had nothing at all to worry about and, besides, she was found within the reptile house a week later.
I love your hat.

Soon after, a peacock, whimsically referred to by the press as "mischievous," who lives in Central Park made a break for it in order to "roost" on the windowsill of a nearby apartment house. He was soon returned to his home in the park.

Central Park Zoo Director Jeff Sailer said in a statement. "A thorough understanding of the peacock's natural behavior allowed for the successful planning of its recovery."


We all know what that means: The guy who discovered the peacock on his windowsill simply made eye contact with the bird and said, "Hey what the @&%$*# are you doing on my windowsill? Get the @*%$#$ outta here." End of story.
Planning the escape
Most recently, a box turtle, prejudicially referred to as "plodding" by the press, escaped from an uptown nature center.

Indigenous to the northeast, it is hoped that the turtle can survive in a nearby park but having often eaten lunch in that park when I worked in the neighborhood, I'd say that turtle is very likely going to get mugged if he isn't careful.

Besides, the full name of this turtle, which does not grow longer than eight inches, is not simply "Box turtle." It's full name is "I-Fully-Intend-On-Getting-Out-Of-This Box Turtle" and they are known to make brazen attempts at escape on a regular basis.

But the focus of today's post is not the turtle.

The focus is an out-of-control elderly couple in their 70's who, hoping they could help find the turtle -- all eight, green inches of him in a giant park full of  leaves, bushes, ponds and good places to hide especially if you're really, really low to the ground -- took a subway from their apartment in Brooklyn to the northern tip of Manhattan where all this was going down.

This kind of energy and initiative totally blew my mind.

I, for one, have been known to manipulate an item on the floor with my toes for upwards of 20 minutes rather than bend at the waist to pick it up and will sooner hide Seth's glasses instead of making the effort to find the rubber band that fell into the macaroni.

You can imagine how impressed I am by Ann and Sid Feldman.

First, like all self-respecting New Yorkers on any given Sunday, they had brunch at a local restaurant (Turtle soup? Hahahahahahahahaha! Sorry.) and then, still digesting, went into the park to look for the turtle.

Ignoring one reporter's suggestion that the turtle was already on a bus to Florida, having masterminded an "Occupy Sea World" rally from his sunny terrarium at the nature center, the Feldmans admitted they were skeptical of their chances at actually locating the turtle.
Find me now, Feldman.

Suspicious by nature, Mr. Feldman suspects foul play, adding that he thought someone may have "stolen the turtle." Wondering aloud how far a little turtle could have made it on its own, he actually uttered the words, "It's just too fishy."

Why on earth would Mr. Feldman, despite a possibly bilious reaction to the lox upon his recent bagel, use a fish reference when discussing a turtle?

Turtles are reptiles, Mr. Feldman. Pure and simple. Fish are aquatic vertebrates. Thank you, Wikipedia. 

Though known to socialize, the two are separate species and I would like to request that, in the future, you please keep it straight.

Just because, at the age of 70, you have the stamina to ride the subway for two hours (one way) to hunt for a turtle while some of us prefer a nice nap after breakfast, does that make you a better person than, let's say-- I am? 

I think it makes you a show-off, Mr. Feldman.

And who among us really likes a show-off?

Be that as it may, I hope the little box turtle is safe. I will keep you posted.
       A recent escape attempt that went horribly wrong. 

*No joke. People were pretty worried about the cobra making a sandwich in their apartments.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gone to Look for America...A True Account

I had to discover if this map was accurate...
I recently wrote about an imagined bus trip -- fleeing my husband's righteous wrath -- but I actually did ride a bus home to New York City from Phoenix, Arizona in the late 1970s. It took nearly four days.

Was I crazy?
We flew everywhere, sucka.

Possibly, but I'd been listening to lots of Simon and Garfunkel and thought this might be a good way to "look for America."

As many of you know, I am a fearful flyer but I wasn't all that fearful at 21. I had no children yet and didn't feel I had much to lose so my decision to purchase a bus ticket home, after an odyssey begun in Los Angeles, was based on economics (the bus was much cheaper than a plane), modest wanderlust and the fact that my ass bones were still flexible enough to not cause me terrible pain from all that confined sitting.

Was there really a country between the coasts? I needed to see for myself.

Unfortunately, I left my only jacket, a warm hoodie, in the ladies bathroom of the Phoenix bus station. Wearing sandals and short sleeves, I boarded the bus but by the time I realized I was freezing (almost immediately), the driver had no intention of turning around. I was out of luck.

The air conditioning in the bus was set at "freeze Ted William's head in a hurry" and I began to shiver and turn the awful mottled blue of imminent death before we were even ten miles out.

These were the days before every rest stop, airport, bus and train station sold assorted t-shirts, sweats and mugs adorned with their state logos so there was nothing to be purchased along the way.

Plus, I'd already spent most of my cash. Did I mention that ATMs were not yet even a twinkle in their daddy's eyes?

The bus stopped every three hours but all I could find in the small dusty depots were packs of gum, cigarettes and porn...but a sympathetic woman gave me a long-sleeved, but lightweight, shirt when she exited the bus in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

In Santa Rosa, not only did I gratefully don the shirt of my benefactress but, feeling sick and craving dairy, ordered a glass of milk at a lunch counter which remains one of the most memorably delicious things I've ever had in my life.

Cold, creamy and decadent, I wondered whether it might be fresh from some New Mexican cow as I drained the glass, wiping away a frothy mustache and sizing up my fellow travelers over the rim. I was the only one drinking milk, I can tell you that.

But Santa Rosa hadn't been out first stop. That would have been Fort Courage, Arizona which might ring a bell in the memory banks of someone my age.

Anyone? Think hard 40-60 year olds, TV Land viewers and small screen nostalgists everywhere...

As I stepped down from the bus, I felt as if I'd seen this small, old fashioned town before. I recognized the buildings, the tall watch tower, the saloon. All of a sudden it hit me...
The show was actually set in Kansas.

The bus depot was steps away from the actual set of one of my favorite shows as a little girl..."F Troop." I loved that show about bumbling soldiers at a western army outpost sometime after the civil war and it was here that I sat and ate a "Navajo Taco" served at a circular counter by a circular woman with long black hair coiled into a hair net and a big smile.

A fresh tortilla filled with rice, beans, spices and cheese, it filled my empty tummy and made me forget for a moment how damn cold I was.

I got to chatting with the waitress who, upon discovering that I was from Brooklyn -- a spot as foreign to her as this place was to me -- wouldn't take money for the meal. She actually told me that it was "Brooklyn Day" in Fort Courage and, noticing my blue fingertips, made me drink a cup of hot tea.

Say what, bitches?

In the imagined bus trip in Friday's post, I mention that a fellow passenger confided that he hadn't paid taxes since the Nixon administration. In reality, I sat next to a total weirdo who claimed he hadn't paid taxes since the Truman administration.
This badass-in-his-own-mind insisted on illegibly writing his phone number in the fly leaf of my book in case I wanted to contact him and learn more about how to successfully avoid taxes, myself and, as previously reported, did tell me -- rather ominously -- that I had better not tell a living soul
I wish I had that dude's phone number....
Me, too....

His secret was safe with me. Until today.

I saw Native Americans with shiny braids carrying babies on their backs, a pimply cowboy in Oklahoma wearing a t-shirt that read "I'm here because she appreciates perfection" and sat in the sun to thaw my frozen, sluggish blood wherever we stopped, often chatting with friendly strangers, one of whom gave me a small turquoise nugget for luck that I still have today. 

A man who got on in Tulsa tried to kiss me while I was napping and a woman sitting near me in a truck stop in Amarillo,Texas told me, over delicious fried eggs, that she'd slept with over 4,000 men.

Back then and, still to this day, I aspire to this number myself, so I was very impressed. It took me several miles east to realize that she was probably a prostitute.

Speaking of Texas--it was amazing. The sheer sense of its immensity and the visual endless stretch of the wide streets we passed through -- for hours upon hours -- were awe-inspiring to a girl who'd grown up in a congested city. I have never been back but I really want to return and see if it feels that big to me now.

I saw the arch in St. Louis and nearly died of boredom in Ohio and Pennsylvania (no offense intended), pulling into the Port Authority in New York in the early morning with ankles so swollen from sitting and joints so stiff from cold that I could barely walk.

I had picked up beautiful rocks in the Arizona dessert and slipped them into my suitcase and when the baggage handler grabbed my bag and lifted it, he said, "Hey, whaddya got in here? Rocks?" "Yes, actually," I responded but he appeared skeptical.

Welcome home, I thought. No one believes anything here.
The dog.

So, I did see the country...on a Greyhound bus. A lot of it was at night but I sat next to interesting people, many of whom were happy to chat. I've forgotten most of their stories but do remember the bus drivers loving to say "Thanks for riding the dog," when people got off.

If I ever do it again, I will bring more cash, wear socks and closed shoes and not leave my jacket in a ladies room in Phoenix. 

I hope whoever found it needed it and that it kept her nice and warm.
Warning: If you watch this, you will want to listen to lots and lots more of Simon and Garfunkel.