Academy Awards liveblogging

Hey out there! Long time no blog! I’ll do a real post later, but tonight is the academy awards and so I must liveblog. Or actually it will probably semi-live-blogging since I’ll probably have to pause the ceremony while Chad puts the girls to bed. MY LIFE IS HARD. Anyway, keep checking back in throughout the night for my HILARIOUS or possibly just insane observations.


  • First observation: Good god, Jennifer Lawrence is taller than Kristin Chenoweth. I realize that everyone is taller than Kristin Chenoweth, but seeing J-Law and Chenoweth together made it look like one of them was a special effect.  It’s cool, though, because I kind of want to put Chenoweth in my pocket, and I want to be BFFs with Jennifer Lawrence.
  • I’m actually not finding the red-carpet convo as annoying as usual. Like, some of the questions are only slightly idiotic. And they’re actually letting the actors talk about things other than their outfits. J’approve!
  • OK, could Bradley Cooper’s mom be any cuter? SO CUTE.
  • Is anyone else over Nicole Kidman? Anyone?
  • LOVE Charlize Theron’s hair. I want that cut.
  • Just one of the many ways in which Hugh Jackman is awesome is his lovely relationship with his amazing wife. I heart them.
  • Jennifer Anniston: big points for not wearing black or nude dress – love that color red – but could you EVER do something different with your hair? It’s the Oscars! Go with an up-do!
  • Um, I *think* Halle Berry was going for “Old Hollywood” as in Joan Crawford, but if you ask me, that dress is more “Dynasty” as in Joan Collins. NOT GOOD.
  • Mmmm … George Clooney with a beard … drool … Continue reading

The 13 Original Colonies blues

Ellie has entered the “Colonial History” phase of first grade this past month, and let me tell you, it is AWESOME. The other day she had an assignment to draw the Battle of Lexington (!) and her ink rendering of patriots and redcoats running hell-for-leather at each other, loaded .45’s (sorry, Dad) gripped in both hands (those colonials were HARDCORE, y’all), with little dotted lines to mark the bullet trajectories … well, if they don’t hire that girl to illustrate elementary school textbooks when she grows up, it’s a crime, that’s what.

The colonial era is one of my favorite historical periods, and one of the only periods of American history that interests me. (Yeah, I prefer European history. I also voted for Obama, eat arugula and yearn for a single payer healthcare system. I’m a pinko, is what I’m saying. Try to contain your surprise.) It never occurred to me until this month that one of the probable reasons for my enthusiasm about the American Revolution is that I grew up in one of the original 13 colonies. And you better believe that even in the free-lovin’ 70s, every little Georgia scholar had it drummed into their brains that we were among the first – the last of the first, to be precise, squeaking into that elite group at the late date of 1733. It’s cool, dammit! Even as a first-grader, I was awed by the ineffable link between my boring daily life and the exciting days of Boston Tea Parties and cruel winters in Valley Forge. Starvation! Marching with your feet wrapped in rags! The Redcoats are coming! SHIT JUST GOT REAL, YO.

I kind of wonder if wee Minnesotans have that same sense of wonder about something that happened not only so very long ago, but also so very far away. Anachronistic illustrations of weaponry aside, can they comprehend the reality of the Revolutionary era? Or is it just another story from “once upon a time?” I don’t know, but having volunteered in Ellie’s class recently I can tell you that (1) Ms. Larson, Ellie’s teacher, is an enthusiastic and creative leader on this historical journey (her in-class reenactment of Jefferson throwing out discarded pages from the Declaration of Independence is a sight to behold), and (2) first-graders think the word “Monticello” is HILARIOUS. I have no idea why.

Continue reading

Just call her Po

Driving to preschool today:

SYLVIA: Mama, I see the sun!

ME: Yep, there it is.

SYLVIA: It’s followin’ us!

ME: (feigning interest) Is it?

SYLVIA: Yeah, lookit! Ober dere! Maybe I fink it wants a playdate.

ME: (pause) A what now?


ME: Well, that would be pretty interesting. What do you think you’d do on a playdate with the sun?

SYLVIA: (thinking) Mmmm … the sun can’t talk.

ME: No, the sun can’t talk, that’s true.

SYLVIA: Yeah, it gots no face.

ME: Right, it’s not like the sun on Teletubbies. No face, no way to talk.

SYLVIA: I luuuuuub dat baby-in-the-sun.

ME: I know you do, honey. You love all kinds of babies.

SYLVIA: Maybe I can have a playdate wif a BABY.

ME: That sounds more doable, yeah.


Things that have been cancelled in the past five days due to the illness of one family member or another:

  1. Playdate to maintain sanity on school day off.
  2. Ballet lesson.
  3. Any errands to any store that don’t involve buying juice or ibuprofen or decongestants or cough medicine or …
  4. Playdate to maintain sanity on MLK day.
  5. Chad going to work this morning.
  6. Me going to a yearly ladies’ night out this evening.

I don’t even know why I MAKE plans this time of the year. I think the high – THE HIGH – today was zero degrees fahrenheit. The only reason I left the house at all was a) prior to this morning, I had not stepped outside for four days running, and b) it was the only way to have four glorious child-free hours.

On the plus side, I myself am not sick. Yet. And I showered, so at least I’m clean. And … lessee … I made pumpkin bread last night, and we have a house with a functional heater. Also I don’t have leprosy and the sky isn’t raining blood. THINK POSITIVE.

Winter. Discontent. Is now.

This is the time of year I start planning my escape. I’m sitting here, watching the Vicar of Dibley – because that’s what I do when I’m feeling not-wanting-to-be-hereish, I watch British TV, usually Sherlock but I’ve just finished my 4th re-viewing so I felt it was time for a switch – and mulling over my (lack of) options for living somewhere that doesn’t make me want to off myself 3-4 months out of the year.

(Ed. note to my mother: this is one of those times where I’m using hyperbole for effect, and also alleviating depressive symptoms by writing about them. Pray do not take alarm: I do not actually want to off myself. For one thing, I just ordered some super cute shoes online.)


Of course, I realize that I’m nuts. Don’t think I don’t realize THAT by now! Let’s review the facts, shall we?

  1. Born in Athens, GA.
  2. At age of ten, ruthlessly uprooted from southern soil and forced to move to the wilds of St. Cloud, MN. Stupid academic job market.
  3. Middle school-High School years spent in central MN with brief exception of semester in Salzburg.
  4. College years also spent in central MN (thank you, tuition remission for faculty brats!) with brief exception of semester in London and summers in Michigan or New York.
  5. Graduate from college and high-tail it out of state for grad school, first to Columbus, OH, and then to Santa Barbara, CA.
  6. Get first real job offer from alma mater, move back to central MN.
  7. Meet future husband, fall in love, get married, move to Minneapolis, have kids, quit job, etc., etc., the rest is history.

So as you can see, even with the most generous accounting, I’ve spent about 25 of my 41 years here in this godforsaken tundra-like misbegotten land of ten-thousand lakes. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. Continue reading

I Write Letters

woman-writing-letters-by-charles-dana-gibson Dear January,

Nice try with the rain and all, but I still hate you. Next time try some free first-class tickets to Belize.




Dear Idiots Out on the Lake Calhoun Ice,

Are you OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MINDS? It rained all last night. It’s still above freezing today. There are large swaths of melty patches all around the lake surface. You really think it’s a good idea to hang out on the ice with your shitty collapsible chair and nothing but a bargain-bin parka to protect your ass? Really?! Well, don’t come bitching to me when you fall in and die of hypothermia. IT’S NO MORE THAN YOU DESERVE.

OK I don’t really want you to die but COME ON,



Dear Brain Chemicals,

AGAIN with the seasonally affected depression? Can we not move past this phase? I mean, winter blues are so early millennium. Plus, it’s hard to get anything done from a recumbent and/or fetal position on the sofa. Start a new trend.




Dear Oscar voters,

You guys, I haven’t even SEEN Argo yet and I know Ben Affleck was robbed. Ditto Kathyrn Bigelow, you misogynist douchebags. Nice job on Silver Linings Playbook, tho.

Now send me some best picture screeners, dammit,



New Year

Well, that was a refreshing little blog-cation! If by refreshing you mean disease-ridden and sleep-deprived. Which I do. We spent Xmas week in Knoxville, TN with my family, and while it was lovely being in a normal climate again, and seeing my sibs, and watching all the kids play together, it was also possibly the most sickly vacation I’ve ever been on, and that is saying something. Over the course of a week and a half, we experienced:

  • two burst eardrums
  • two urgent care visits
  • one single ear infection and one double ear infection
  • one case of strep
  • three penicillin prescriptions
  • one case of (possibly car-sickness induced) puking
  • two bouts of bronchitis
  • one 103+ fever
  • and zero nights of uninterrupted sleep

And that was just in my immediate family! As one of my friends observed, it was like some kind of fucked-up Twelve Days of Christmas. I can now definitely state that I prefer the traditional version.

However, we ate like kings, and we played many card games, and sang carols and engaged in other festive family bonding activities. AND I got some grade-A loot, which, let’s face it, is the whole point. (I’m kidding! Kind of!) I had a red letter year, in that I got both a handbag:

Fossil Bag


AND shoes:

Dansko Ainsley Shoes


AND Jewelry:

Labradorite and Opal Pendant Necklace


PLUS Chad actually got me a real, honest-to-god, hardcover book. Like, that takes up shelf space and everything. (My book addiction may or may not occasionally be a bone of contention in my marriage. Particularly when we have to move said books. Hypothetically.)

So I basically made out like a bandit, which I feel is a totally authentic way to celebrate this time of year, in that I need some goddamn material pleasures to get me through the months of January, February and March without going sui- and/or homicidal. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I HATE WINTER. I mean: HAAAAAAATE. And I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but Minnesota is a helluva stupid state to live in when you hate winter. I have many friends for whom this is a joyous time of year, filled with wholesome pleasures like ice-skating, skiing, sledding, snowman-building and hot-chocolate drinking. And I say bully for them. But here’s the thing: I haven’t skated or skied since about the 6th grade, I hate sledding, and having enough snow for snowmen means that the outdoor landscape might as well have serotonin-reuptake accelerator written all over it, which is my mind-bogglingly nerdy way of saying winter can SUCK IT. (Hot chocolate, being neither cold nor white, is still OK with me.) So while other, admittedly healthier, people are out enjoying all that the season has to offer, I will be indoors, preferably in a reclining chair, wrapped in multiple afghans, reading a novel, while stroking the soft leather of my purse and occasionally stopping to admire the sheen of my shoes and necklace. Happy sodding New Year.

He’s the reason for the season

Whoa, where did that week go? Christ, the Christmas prep is killing me this year. It’s like a perfect storm of no money, no time, no ideas. Speaking of Ol’ Jesu, our kids, who have darkened the doors of a church I think once in their young lives, have recently adopted their parents’ blasphemous epithet habits. Ellie, on stubbing her toe: “JESUS CHRIST, my foot hurts!” Sylvia, on anything that affects her in any way whatsoever: “OH MY GOOOOOOD!” We cringe, we reprimand, we give them more acceptable alternatives (“say ‘Oh my gosh!’ instead! Or ‘holy cow!'”) , we talk about being respectful of other people’s belief systems (yeah, I’m THAT parent) … nothing has really made a dent. The irony is that, of course, Chad and I say those things primarily to avoid saying something even less appropriate for a 3 or 6-year-old. And I guess I’d rather hear the occasional (ok, constant) “Oh, my God” than “Holy shit!” or something. It’s just our little way of appreciating the Messiah, in this, the appropriated month of his birth. Speaking of which:

2012 Xmas CardYou know how in most family photos, there’s that one kid who never looks quite right? Yeah. I’m that kid.


2012 Xmas Letter


This was our Xmas letter this year. I love being married to a graphic designer, I tell you what.

We’re heading out to parts southern tomorrow, to spend Xmas with family. Blogging will almost certainly be light. Hope you get lots of good loot! Also world peace!



Zen CircleI was all set to sit down today and write a lighthearted little post sharing some hilarious things my kids have said at the dinner table – you know, a happy change of pace from the ponderous tone of my last entry.

Then Newtown happened. And suddenly I’m not feeling so lighthearted anymore.

Which is a little odd, when you think about it, since this is, what, the seventh mass shooting THIS YEAR? (No, really.) And that’s not even getting into Columbine or Virginia Tech, or Fort Hood, or … And yet somehow I’ve been able to wax comedic when the mood took me. All killing is heinous, it’s true. But the murder of children is surely a special kind of evil. When I first heard about the shooting it was before there was any count for the victims, and as the numbers started coming out I was increasingly aghast. My horror culminated when I read that the deaths were “concentrated in a kindergarten classroom” – I think that’s when it became difficult to hide my sobbing from the three-year-old. Because oh, my god. Kindergarteners. Five-year-olds. My kids’ age, or thereabouts. And all I could see in my head was Ellie’s kindergarten class last year, all those precious little faces and bodies following behind their teacher like little ducklings in a row, every day after school. And all I could imagine was how terribly frightened and confused those children in Newtown must have been, with the noise and the shouting and the bullets and the palpable taste of panic. And how cripplingly awful it must have been for the teachers and staff as they realized what was happening and tried to keep those children safe. And all I could think about was how Christmas is coming, and Hanukkah is here, and those families all have these huge, raw, gaping holes in them now, that nothing will ever fill, and the holidays can be rough enough when your family is alive, so how will they ever make it through to the new year? Continue reading

The Spirit of Giving

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, stave 1

Like many people from a basically privileged background, I have a complicated relationship with poverty and homelessness. I mean, I’m against them, obviously, but when it comes to their eradication or even their alleviation, things can get a little … well, fraught. When I was little, and my dad was still in grad school, were definitely poor. Like foodstamps-and-subsidized-housing poor. Powdered-milk poor. In other words, grad-student-with-a-family-to-support poor. Which is a kind of poverty, for sure, and I’m sure it was stressful for my parents. But at the same time, as kids, my siblings and I never felt particularly deprived. We never had to worry about where our next meal was coming from, or where we’d be sleeping that night. We had clothes and shoes and enough money for school supplies. We were poor, but not destitute. Continue reading