Sunday, June 19, 2011

He's a Little Nuts

And Other Attributes of a Great Dad

For many years, this was a weird holiday for me. I felt compelled to celebrate with my mom, who did the work of my dad, albeit dressed in flowery housecoats and wearing soft perfume. I also felt the need to thank and recognize the men in my life who filled in the gaps where a well-intentioned mom really couldn't. I was as warm as I could be with this conglomerate of men - uncles, friends, neighbors - the village that Hillary was talking about - who raised me. But the truth was they were busy with their 'real' families on this day and I was an add-on. The older I got - although it was always true - this day made me so uncomfortable, at odds with my own self, because I really didn't want to celebrate with my mom and my uncles and friends' husbands. I wanted a dad. And I didn't have one of those.

So in my young life, I began to design the ideal dad, who would some day appear in my life and make everything good again. This man was tall and strong and had calloused hands because he worked hard to take care of me and my mom. He smelled faintly of soap but most often he was sporting eau de motor oil and bore the scent of work and a long day. He had a bright smile which was quick to flash around me - I was the light of his life. My dad was smart, but quiet about it - he didn't need to show off his intellect, it was just understood. He was intuitive and warm and a little clumsy in his affection because he had to trip over his manliness to get to his softer side. He was charming and funny and had a way of drawing a crowd even when he didn't mean to. He kept us comfortable and safe and even if we didn't have the best of everything it felt like it because he made us feel so grateful to be together that everything else was cake. My dad was a little nuts, he'd have to be to get along with me, but it was a funny sort of nutty and we laughed together about our quirks and oddities. Sometimes he was hard, mad and unreasonable, but that just made him human and real and all the more mine - I can be a little unreasonable too! Above all my dad loved me, loved me, loved me and never left me. Never would. Couldn't live without me anymore than I could without him. He was constant and good and sincere and I could count on him.

I waited for this dad for many, many years and - oddly - never lost hope.

On August 5 1995 I married the man of my dreams.

And on April 28, 1998 (and again on August 17 2000) he became the dad of my dreams. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The World Has Gone Mad and other observations

I was preparing lunch this morning and went to vaporize my 'healthy' lean pockets and was the victim of an involuntary snort/guffaw when the nuke-pack exhorted me to "FIND US ON FACEBOOK!!" Find 'us'. Lean Pockets. On Facebook. In what alternate universe would I be finding myself 'friending' a microwaveable sandwich?

I'll tell you which one.

The one in which I've been educated in a public school system that is shockingly, SHOCKINGLY, distressed, dysfunctional and de-funded. What in God's name (or anyone else's) do we think we gain by cutting funding for education? Cut the God-blessed electricity so the kids can get off the damn idiot box and read a book for crissakes. Cut the bloated budgets that allow my state senator's assistant to receive a pretty decent wage while she sits around a room with three other state senators' assistants chewing the fat when I come in to the office. Cut the moronic free lunches that force our kids to waste time playing Star Wars with cheese sticks instead of learning. Cut breaks for irresponsible businesses, cut interest deductions, cut waste and for crissakes, cut the CRAP. That is, if you care.

If you don't care about our future, keep cutting eduction. Keep dumbing down the society and pretty soon you'll find history books that write-up complete morons as geniuses because by the standards we're creating, they will be!

And speaking of standards, we might still have some if we stopped making every idiot's idiotic move news. Men are cheating on their wives and/or sending lewd photos of themselves in an attempt to lure some hapless gal into an affair? Folks, that's not news. It's not new, either. I don't care what Arnold does with his free time, what I care about is what he does with MY time. I don't care how Anthony handles his wiener, I care how he handles MY... uh, wait.

The point is this: stop pandering to the lowest common denominator. I'm out here! I'm starving for some class, some dignity, some decorum - even if that means you have to hide half of society from me. I prefer it! I like the fact that we don't have tawdry photos of JFK getting it on with Marilyn Monroe. I prefer the notion that he flirted with Marilyn but he was true to his wife. I know it's not real, but not knowing what I know is better than knowing what I know about what Clinton does with his cigars. It's better.

Also, stop pretending you care that politicians are playing politics with our lives. Newsflash: they are P O L I T I C I A N S. That's what they do. Baseball players play - you guessed it! Baseball. (Although I have my sad days when this is not entirely true... sigh... #cubsfanforlife) Politicians play politics. If you wanted people to stop playing games you'd hire more serious, intelligent, responsible people. Then, when we hire serious intelligent people, ElizabethWarrenSayWhat?, we'd give them the tools and support they need to get done the serious job that needs to get done. But we don't. We don't even do half of that. So it's our fault they're playing and we've nothing to do but take the hits.

Also, stop being a sore loser. Obama wins. He wins because he got BinLaden and nobody else did. Suck it. Obama may be too cerebral in many situations. He may be frustrating the crap out of Boehner, turning him more an orangey-red than his normal tangerine. He may be interested in social justice (GASP!) more than some would like. He may be a lot of things but he made the call, he got BinLaden and that's it. He wins. If you keep blustering about how it wasn't him you're really only making yourself look like a sniveling, sore loser. Stop it. Have some dignity.

And while we're on the subject of dignity, Time magazine should apologize to me for not having any. Because if they had any self-respect they'd be embarrassed about the virtual cigarette they smoked as they lay under crumpled sheets after writing that, now that I know, absurd review of Jonathan Franzen's latest book, Freedom. I read the review and was compelled to read the book and feel entirely cheated. I intuited then but can now definitively tell you that using "Chardonnay splotch" as a description of a character's complexion is hardly the literary feat that was ascribed to it in Time's review. Franzen is a 'Great American Novelist?' Ok. But if he's the standard for what a great American novelist can do, I really ought to get my butt out there and write that book. The Franzen book is all ramble, self-indulgence and righteousness lost in the uninteresting pocket lint of damaged characters. If that's greatness I fear all is lost.

Write a book about a good marriage, healthy children and a happy family. Make that the "wide shot, the all-embracing, way-we-live-now novel". Because contrary to Time's declaration that Franzen's writing "has an unshowy, almost egoless perfection" I don't think "Chardonnay splotch" is all that unshowy and in any case I don't think it's all that hard to write about unsympathetic characters with dysfunctional upbringings and lust for younger women or hottie wannabe rock stars. That's not real. That's bull.

What's real is loving your spouse and caring for your children and trying every day, slowly, methodically, to do good in the world. Write that piece so that it's not boring. Make it insightful and rich with the scent and savor of your own life but the mystique of someone else's.

I've got more but I'm sure I've exhausted your patience, as I have my own, obviously. More on a day when the sun is not shining and I don't have some excuse to break away from this dastardly machine and live a little. I'm off to enjoy my FREEDOM and lunch with my husband, whom I love and am happily married to. We're having lean pockets.