“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
- Khalil Gibran, “The Prophet”
“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
- Khalil Gibran, “The Prophet”
“Mom, where is your family from in India?” Shaila asked me the other day.
“Your grandparents are from a state called Bihar.”
“Well, it’s in the North.” I explained, “If you were looking at a map of India, it would be at the top, near a country called Nepal.” I explained.
She looked at me blankly.
“Here, I’ll show you.” Rather than pulling out a handy map though, I had something much better.
“Mommy! What are you doing?!!” Shaila yelled at me, diva hands on hips and all.
I had pulled up a pant leg in the middle of the mall, figuring I could find some vein formation on my legs to show her the geographical landscape of India. It didn’t take long to find an imperfect asymmetrical peninsular shape of India on the map somewhere on my right cankle.
Or should I call it my rankle?
The map of India I had found even had a vein that looked like the Ganges river running right through it. If you felt it the upper-left corner, you could probably feel the mountainous ranges of Kashmir in it.
I don’t know when my legs became so veiny. It’s not something I particularly pay attention to since they are hibernating behind jeans, warm pajamas and yoga pants most of the year. But I know that the years have not been kind to them.
Previously one of my best physical features, my legs now look like they should be used to teach my kids lessons on geography. Instead of taking my kids to the planetarium, I can draw out the Big Dipper and Ursa Minor on my legs instead, giving them hours of joy as we trace the constellations and tell stories about vengeful Greek gods who cursed some women with varicosity.
Childbirth can be terribly unkind and humbling for many mothers. Despite the way that I represent myself on Facebook or on this blog, the pictures are often a facade. It’s like I am wearing one big SPANX girdle thingy and have found a way to wrap it around my life to make all the loose skin, muffin-top and puffy eyes that are going on, somehow look pretty.
There are days when I look back at my body pre-baby and then compare it to the one I have post-baby.
I will not tell you which side is “winning,” because technically, we are all “winners.” But I will say that my butt is a lot bigger, my hips a lot wider and even my feet have grown.
So, like I said, not calling anyone a winner or loser here, but do want to make sure that if “more” is “better” than I am doing something very well and am ahead of the pack. Like a fine wine, you could say I have improved.
I would say that this is all just part of the miracle of being a mother. That I find this all quite rewarding. But there are days where I don’t at all find it fair. Right now, Nico is going through a “I love my daddy so much and who the hell are you, woman who calls herself my mother?” kind of phase. He goes through this every few months and it does little for my ego as a parent.
Tonight he started crying when he realized I would be putting him to bed and not Daddy.
“Nooooo!” he yelled. “But I don’t want you. I want Daddy!”
In an attempt to distract him, I took off my knee high boots and rolled down my sock.
“Do you want to see Disneyworld? Florida?” I said, trying to find it somewhere on my legs. Like Murphy’s Law, I could spot Georgia, Kansas, Utah – lots of other states against the landscape of my legs.
But not Florida.
Not until later anyway. Just for the record, It’s on my left leg, upper thigh. It does sit next to California, but I’m not going to be a purist about my leg art.
I try not to let Nico’s words hurt. He’s too little to appreciate the 10 months I had with him in my belly. Maybe one day he will get that and some of the other ways I love him as a mother.
In the meantime, I am going to go and trace New Jersey on my right quad. There, it’s next to Wisconsin, but my kids are American and prone to geographical ignorance anyway, so I’m not too worried.
The ladies at our dentist office love my husband, John. I think it has something to do with how friendly and smiley he is. Maybe it’s because he never gets cavities. Whatever it is, they are seriously crushing on him.
I have thought this was cute. It doesn’t really bother me. When John missed his appointment a few weeks ago because of some last minute work travel, he forgot to call the office to cancel. I had an appointment two days later and as soon as I walked in, the receptionist looked up from her desk and jumped up to greet me.
“Oh my God! Is John okay? We are so worried about him!”
I could feel the eyes of the other patients in the waiting room looking me up and down. What had happened to this John person? I could almost see them asking. (They had not yet updated the fliers, so his celebrity was not yet on the rise in Northern Virginia). I was so confused as I hadn’t realized he had missed the appointment and I also didn’t realize his teeth were that bad that the office staff would be so concerned.
At this point, one of the hygienists ran out from the back and said, “Oh, what happened? This is so unlike him!“
As opposed to so like him? Based on what?
And so I apologized for John (thanks, John) and had to spend the rest of my cleaning listening to how great my husband is, and how funny he is, and oh wow, he must just love our kids soooo much.
Seriously. They got this from his teeth?
“He seems like such a great husband. And he’s Italian! I love Italian food!”
“Es, ee ith ithalian, buth thigh I the thun that thoes the thooking” I also tried to explain that he is half Puerto Rican, but it was hard to get out with that suction thing making a ruckus and my mouth wide open.
“Oh bless his heart! I bet he cooks for you all the time!”
“Thar thou thucking thidding mhee?” I tried to say, except she told me to spit.
I don’t know what John talks about when he is in the office. And I don’t know he can get a word in edgewise during his cleanings because he is a bad flosser, so they must have to use the time he is there to really get in there.
So all I remember thinking was “How the hell did you get this from his teeth?”
As I left the office that day, the receptionist yelled after me from her desk, “Tell John to keep his next appointment! We don’t want him to break our hearts again!”
So then the next day, John goes to the office for his appointment and comes back home all happy and beaming like Ponch from CHIPS with a story to tell me. Most people would probably get reprimanded for missing an appointment and get smacked with a “no-show” fee at most places.
But not John. And not Dr. Han’s office.
Instead, they asked him to become one of the “faces” of their office and be on their website and all over their office walls. They want to hire a photographer and have a photo session so he can flash his pearly whites so his fan club can swoon all over his pictures every day.
“Now we can look at you every day!” they told him.
You could tell he was trying to be humble about it, except of course the part where he wasn’t trying to be humble at all.
“Isn’t it funny how you used to model and I’m the one who gets asked to be in the pictures?”
“Yeah, it’s hysterical.” I said, not really laughing but still finding it odd that his teeth have some special “something” that mine will never have.
The “IT” factor. For teeth.
He was so excited. John’s best friend has modeled as a side job for years and we see him on TV in commercials and in magazines all the time. I could see John already putting his portfolio together and thinking about how many commercials there might be where he could play a call center rep from Mumbai. But then I had to remind him that while he has the loveliest smile in real life, anytime a camera is pointed at him, he becomes Chandler Bing and clams up.
And of course he remembered that is a bit of a problem but I think he is going to try and wing it. I mean, you don’t want to lose an opportunity to have your teeth displayed all over the office and website of your local dentist.
Once in a lifetime opportunity, John. You MUST take it. Carpe the hell out of this one.
I will let you guys know how it goes!
And so now you know about how John’s promising modeling career started. I haven’t quit my job just yet, but if he keeps smiling like that, I’m hoping he can even land a Bollywood gig or do stunt work for Wilmer Valderama.
I am as guilty of loving Disney princess movies as any pre-adolescent girl in my neighborhood. And I love sweet movies about unconventional romance, like Pretty Woman and Bend it Like Beckham. Boy meets girl, girl is feisty and cute and somehow doesn’t realize how beautiful she really is. Boy and girl fall in love, despite social differences (race, socio-economic status, religion). Those differences result in some kind of conflict which are ultimately saved by one overwhelming thing.
And when you go through life, you realize that love is complicated shit. It doesn’t work out as clearly as in the movies and there is no musical crescendo to notify you when you are kissing someone that this is the one. No laugh track when you accidentally bump heads reaching for a pen you dropped. No fairy godmother to dress you up in an outfit that’s just the right amount of pretty, classy and slutty to let him know what a goddess you are.
There are a few things I want my kids to know about love, and with it, sex. Some of it’s straightforward. Some of it’s not. But I want them to know the good, the bad and the ugly.
1. Love is a powerful thing
Yes, it makes you want to run through fields of flowers and change your Facebook status for the whole world to see. But when you love someone and they love you, there is a power that you both wield which could be used for both good and evil. When someone gives you his love, don’t throw it on the floor and stomp on it and break his heart. Similarly, know that when you allow yourself to love someone, that you are becoming vulnerable in a way that you might never understand till it happens.
So give yours wisely. Accept it from others gracefully.
2. It’s going to make you want to do the sexy time
Sometimes you think you’re in love. Or maybe you know you’re not in love but you know that you’re in something and you don’t know what to do with it. Before you go giving it up like free Dum Dums at the doctor’s office, ask yourself:
“Is this how I want to remember it?”
“Is this the person I want to remember it with?”
“Will I ever be able to tell my kids about my first time without lying?”
And I know these things are going to be hard to objectively answer, but humor me and try it before running out to Walgreen’s for a value pack of Durex.
3. Love in the time of Chlamydia
Giving a shout out to one of my favorite authors Gabriel Garcia Marquez on this one (HOLLA!). I am going to teach you about STD’s and you are going to listen. If you’re going to engage, do it wisely and know what’s out there. And if what I tell you scares the shit out of you and makes you want to wait, well, good.
I don’t care how “good it feels.” If someone asks you to do it without a condom because it feels good, you better get your ass out of there fast. Because this is not the first time she/he has uttered those words and you don’t want to catch that shit. It itches, leaves you all raw and makes everything hurt really bad down there.
What? How do I know that? Books. Here’s one about Cholera. Now, scoot.
4. You are too young to be a parent
I thought I was wise enough. Old enough. At 31, I thought I knew everything I needed to know. And I’m not saying there is a right age and there is a wrong age…
But I am saying that I prefer you wait until you are settled. Until after you have been in relationships with a few people. Until you have a means to support yourself, your child a family. I had all of that at 31 and still ended up in a state of shock for the next six years of my life. Sometimes I think I still am. I think it’s a permanent condition after you pop kids out of your vagina.
I will say that I prefer you to be married too. I do. I think that while marriage doesn’t ensure against separation, it does offer some stability that a child needs.
And let’s just say that for some reason (say, if you’re gay) marriage is not “legal” for you, just know that I will be fighting tooth and nail alongside you for that right. I hope by the time you are old enough, the Supreme Court has already made a historical decision that won’t allow that basic freedom be denied to anyone.
5. I don’t care who you love
Ok. Maybe I do a little bit. But let me be clear. When I was growing up, there were a lot of “no-nos” when it came to relationships. I don’t really have many. As I said above, I don’t care if you are gay. I don’t care if you fall in love with someone who is a different race, religion, or is rich/poor as sin. As long as I can serve dinner in paper plates when I want to and not have anybody judging me, then I’m ok.
Yes, avoid sociopaths. Murderers. Rapists. Racists.
I want you to fall in love with a person who respects you and your love and wants to hold a boombox over his head like John Cusack in Say Anything. When you find a love like that, don’t ever let it go. Which brings me to my next point.
6. When you love somebody, don’t set them free
Ok, that’s the dumbest shit I ever heard. And I know Maya Angelou says it and Sting sings it. And as far as the whole caged bird thing, I don’t like birds as housepets, so I don’t really have a point of view on that.
When you love somebody, tie that person down. Don’t set them free so some other bitch can get her hands all over him.
Seriously, kid. Have I taught you nothing?
7. Don’t make decisions about love when drunk
Now, I am not saying I have done this. I prefer you just sip alcohol on very rare social occasions once you are older than 21. But let’s just say that hypothetically, you and your friends don’t eat that much one day and you decide to do shots of Shmirnoff and chase it down with Diet Pepsi (tastes great! less filling!) and you go to a party and you meet a really good looking person that night who holds your hair out of your face when all that cheap vodka comes back up and walks you home.
You do not love him/her. You appreciate him/her. And you can email when you are sober and offer to buy dinner to say thanks, but you don’t have to say I love you or offer any hoo-ha up. Why?
a) Because you are wasted
b) You smell like puke
c) You just need to get the fuck back in bed – RIGHT NOW
d) Didn’t I raise you better than that?
e) All of the above. Oh and drink some water before you go to bed. That’s better, dear.
8. I can tell you all of this but you will make your own mistakes
We all do. It’s part of growing up. It’s part of learning. Your father and I will always be here for you no matter what that mistake is. No matter how hard it might be.
I have hardly touched on anything when it comes to love in this post. All I ask is that you go forward with your eyes open, your mind somewhat clear and with the end goal of loving a wonderful, decent human being who will love you – the perfect parts and the not so perfect parts. Trust me, people who expect perfection are exhausting (another post, another day)!
I’m trying to run interference on a battle between my three year old son and my five year old daughter.
“Nico! I can’t believe you did that to me! You are NOT COMING TO MY PARTY!” She yells at him.
“Shaila….” I interject.
“Oh yeah?!” yells Nico back, finding his voice. However high pitched it might be. “Well you’re not coming to MY party!“
“Nico….” I start.
“Well MY party is going to be bigger than your party. And I’m going to have pinatas!” She yells. She turns to me. “Mommy, I can have pinatas, right?“
“No, MY party is going to be biggest-er than yours and I’m going to have a water slide and you can’t go on it!” He screams back.
“At MY party, I’m going to have ice cream. And I’m going to eat it right in front of you and say, ‘Do you want some ice cream?’ And you won’t be able to HAVE ANY!” She points her finger at him. “And you won’t be able to talk to any of the princesses that are there likebelleorarielorjasmine!” Her words stumble on each other and she is short of breath from her proclamation.
“Well at MY party, you won’t be able to ride the elephant!” Huh? This ain’t no show about rich kiddy bitches on MTV, kid.
“OOOOH. I can’t even believe you, Nico! Mommy! Nico says I can’t ride the elephant!“
“Mommy! Shaila won’t let me have ice cream with a princess!“
This can go on for hours.
Let’s be clear about something. It’s February. Their birthdays – both of them – are in August.
They’re planning for hypothetical parties that are over six months away.
But I understand how mortifying it can be when you’re the only one not invited to a party. How much did that suck? I always hated feeling left out when I found out about a party that my other friends were all excited to go to, only to find that I was the only one not invited. It’s worse than getting picked last for kickball.
If not worse, than a close second.
As an adult, I don’t really care if you invite me to your party. Or to your wedding. Seriously. I’m tired and would rather hang out in my pajamas that night.
I wonder what would happen though if I ever started using the same cold, calculated method of alienation that my children use on each other. I mean, what would I even say?
“At my party, you are so not getting REAL wine glasses. Here’s a paper cup!“
“At my party, you’re are so not going to roll VIP.” You have to drink Bud Light and wine from the big ass Woodbridge bottle.
“At my wedding, you’re going to be at THAT TABLE.” You know. It’s the one furthest from the bride and groom and you’re so close to the bathroom that you can see a groomsman peeing in the urinal.
“At my party, you are so not getting any Tostitos!“
“At my party, my ass is going to look so much better in these jeans than your ass does.” Well, just because. It’s my party.
I don’t know. I don’t think I carry it off with as much aplomb as my kids.
Whatever. There’s more than enough space for all of you at my party. Send special food requests in advance if you are vegan or I have to make gluten free cupcakes or something else I probably suck at.
And try not to step in any elephant poop. It’s impossible to get off!
I wrote a post yesterday about how I feel about recent gun violence in America. It’s over at Scary Mommy today. I want to make a few points clear:
1) My post does NOT call for the disarmament of Americans.
2) My reference to technology is to bring the discussion back to the point of perspective. We keep going back to the 2nd Amendment as if it is infallible or impossible to believe that it needs to be revisited. I am not suggesting the revocation of the law, but for us to evaluate what that means under the context in which we live.
3) Yes, driving a car without a license is illegal in all states, despite the Twitter storm that tried to tell me otherwise. For the guys who were on my back yesterday trolling the guncontrol hashtag on Twitter, if you have found some nuanced way under some provisional law where you can operate a vehicle without a license and not have the vehicle registered, congratulations. Those are not the guidelines most Americans live under.
And I don’t know many cops who would pull someone over and say, “Oh, you don’t have a license? Don’t worry. I just need your Passport. You only need a license to buy booze anyway.“
4) This post does not in any way imply that we DON’T have a mental health situation on our hands in America. Proper mental health care, support and evaluation are a necessary component to a healthy society. We have a LOT of problems in America that contribute to crime. This post is strictly talking about what kind of regulation and enforcement should be in place around guns.
5) I believe that people should have the right to own guns for self-defense, protection and hunting. That is not being contested. What I am asking you to do is to set aside the guns for a moment and ask what the limits are to keep society safe and civilized. To keep our children safe. If you really believe that arming every American is the answer, I ask you to tell me what your vision is for this country. For our children.
Tell me with a straight face that you believe that’s what the Founding Fathers envisioned.
If anyone tells me that Thomas Jefferson’s vision was for us to applaud the idea of a Rambo nation in America, that person is clearly not familiar with anything about TJ, the founder of my Alma Mater, UVA.
6) Since Newtown, I have heard people call the massacre a “ploy” by the Federal government. I have seen a man who saved children that day being called an actor and a pedophile by gun control advocates. I have seen parents grieve but I feel like their grief is tarnished by those who are so extreme to call this a conspiracy.
I mean, I can’t even believe I have to write this, it’s so completely ridiculous.
I don’t know much about you people, but I have feeling a lot of you are part of the discussion over at Scary Mommy.
Thank you for confirming what I have thought.
I really should be scared. We all should.
My post was written with the knowledge that even if I just asked why we don’t call for greater regulation and enforcement around gun laws, that I would get a lot of opposition. That my words might be twisted or misinterpreted.
Excuse me. It happened.
You’re either here because you agree. Or you’re here because you have issue with my sentiments.
In either case, thank you for visiting.
Before you comment I ask you to read this incredibly important piece. Wrestling With Details of Noah Pozner’s Killing. It’s a hard piece to read. One person in the article said, “I didn’t need to read that” about the kind of detail that was shared about what the guns actually physically did to the kids in Newtown. And what their bodies looked like when the parents wanted to cradle them in their arms.
We can handle the inconvenience of reading that. Just like those children had the horrifying inconvenience of living that and like their tormented parents have to remember after seeing that.
Every American needs to know what that means before they weigh in.
Most of you have probably seen this picture by now, which is making its rounds online. It’s a young woman’s coming out letter to her parents. The young woman, Laurel also leaves a cake for her family to sweeten the message.
The message reads:
Good morning parents,
I’m gay. I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time. I thought doing it this way would be a piece of cake. I hope you still love me. I mean, it’s hard not to love someone who baked you a cake.
All my friends know and still love me. Your acceptance would be the icing on the cake.
I hope you, much like this cake, are not in tiers.
I hope we can look back at this and say, “boy, this one really takes the cake.”
It gets batter.
(Sorry for so many puns)
I posted this on my Facebook wall as soon as I saw it. Because I think it’s brilliant. It’s funny.
And I have wondered after posting this how Laurel’s parents received the message. What approach did they take when they heard the news?
And of course, how the cake tasted.
Approach One – Love it and Embrace Her for ALL of it.
It’s obvious from the letter that Laurel has a great sense of humor. I wonder if her parents were the ones who imparted Laurel with their humor and spirit. Did they laugh and throw their arms around her? Grab a slice of cake and tell her how proud they are of her, no matter what? And, how did she know they had been craving cake?
Approach Two – Greater Reservations – Need Time to Process
Or…. did they look at each other in shock, the father absentmindedly going through the normal routine of brewing the coffee while the mother read the letter again, licking some frosting off her finger. Did they take a slice of the cake to the table with their coffee before they sat down and held each others’ hands to talk about the message?
To talk about what all of it means.
That response would be okay too. Not everyone would be jumping up and down in the air about a declaration like this. Some parents need time to process this.
When did Laurel know?
How long has she been trying to tell them?
They might need time to figure out how this changes their expectations of things. To understand how they need to support their child.
To maybe even grieve a little.
Because that mother may have had an idea since Laurel was born that she would have a traditional wedding. That she would have a traditional family. That she would one day be a grandparent to Laurel’s beautiful children from her husband.
And while some of those things can still happen, what she envisioned won’t ever align to what will play out in reality. So it’s important to acknowledge and understand that she might need that time.
Approach 3 – Don’t Accept
And maybe, just maybe. Did one of the parents look at the cake and throw it across the room while the other parent looked at the note and say, “You thought you would buy us a cake to tell us that you’re a goddamn lesbian? What the hell kind of message is that to give to your parents? With a Duncan Hines cake?”
And I am really hopeful that Laurel did not see that kind of reaction.
What Approach Would I Take?
So here’s where I am going. I don’t know what happened in Laurel’s house. I pray that her family is loving and supportive and will do everything they can to make sure she knows that their love for her does not changes.
If my kids left me that cake? I would probably cry. Tears of joy and love and happiness that they feel they have enough support from their parents to know that we will always love them. I would be ecstatic. Even if I don’t like cake. I would eat every calorie in that cake.
I have always said I will embrace my children, no matter what their sexuality is. Things I worry about as a mother are my children falling down the wrong path at some point in life. I worry not about the sex of the partner they choose – but the quality of partner that they choose. No matter what, I just want them to find love in the truest way with someone who loves them back as selflessly as I know my own kids will love.
There are so many things I want for my kids in this life, but ultimately, it’s their happiness that matters the most to me. Their fulfillment.
So I guess the question is, how would you respond if a child came out to you this way?
For now I am off to bed. But when I wake, let them eat cake!
The other day (okay, a few weeks ago), I was working out at the gym, taking a break between sets during an intense leg workout. Well, let’s be honest. It was a leg workout, made intense by the fact that it involved work.
I don’t know what triggered the thought, but as I finished taking a sip from my water bottle, I remember thinking to myself,
“If a shooter were to walk in right now and start shooting up this place, would I have anywhere to hide? Where is the emergency exit? Do I know how to play dead?”
Not so bizarre. Not anymore.
I find myself thinking about those things more and more these days. I don’t think it’s hubris – I’ve never been one to be paranoid about protecting my life. I will jump on a trans-Atlantic flight, go on the most daredevil, heart-pounding roller-coaster and can go on a passionate carbohydrate binge that would have me banned from South Beach forever.
When I was in elementary school, we did fire and safety drills all the time. Every year, the firemen would come in and reiterate the same message about how the real dangers of fire were not in the flames, initially, but in the fumes.
“Stop! Drop! And ROLL!” We were taught and we would have to demonstrate one by one that we knew how to do the roll.
“Roll away from the smoke!” The firemen would indicate where the fake smoke was coming from.
And we would have to get on the floor and roll down the hallway or the pavement, with our arms pressed against our sides.
And now I wonder if I am supposed to be teaching my children how to play, “Stop. Drop. And play dead” instead.
I watched the news the day of the Newtown shooting from my office. When I first saw word of the gun shooting online, it had estimated two dead. When I was leaving the office to grab lunch and passed by the TV, my heart dropped when I saw the revised numbers.
A few of my colleagues were standing with me and one of them said, “Yeah, just watch the gun control freaks have a field day with this one.”
My idea of field day is quite different than anything I saw in the news that day or in the following weeks about what happened in Newtown. See, having a field day involves doing things like a 50 yard dash or playing tug of war. Jumping towards a finish line in a potato sack.
It doesn’t involve children being slaughtered to death.
“It’s not guns that kill people!” my co-worker explained. “People kill people.”
Yeah. No shit, Sherlock. People kill people. Usually with guns.
Of course there are other weapons and other means to kill. But that doesn’t mean that anything has the power of an assault weapon of the caliber used in Newtown.
So call me a freak. But first call me an American.
I am an American. Born and raised on this soil, I am proud of my country. I’m a patriot. I love my country. Like most things I love, like my husband, my children, my family, my friends and even myself – I love my country, not with the false belief that it is perfect. I am under no illusions that my country is perfect.
A blind love is never a healthy love, you see.
Being a patriot to this country is not just in honoring those who fight in the name of this country. It’s not standing with a hand on my heart during the pledge or even the fact that I often cry during the National Anthem.
Being a patriot to this country also means acknowledging the imperfections that tarnish the soil that we love. It means acknowledging that what was done to the Native Americans in a quest to drive them away from their homes was a travesty. It means acknowledging the stains of our own intolerance in the Japanese internment camps that were a part of this land.
“This lands was made for you and me.” It’s a beautiful song. But it’s hardly one that we have always sung together.
Being an American patriot means acknowledging that slavery existed in this country even while the Founding Fathers were writing a document that we immortalize with reverence. There was a time when American fought against American in this land because of the difference in opinion that we could “own” the bodies of other men and women. Our fellow brothers and sisters. It means recognizing that segregation in this country existed until just a few decades ago.
So I’m an American. I love this country but I won’t ignore the flaws of our past and look at anything in our history or any document in our history as beyond questioning. As unquestionable or perfect in any way.
The Founding Fathers. They were mortals. They wrote the Constitution under the crushing pressure of trying to obtain freedom from England.
They were people who made mistakes. They were people who did not have a crystal ball. They were Renaissance men, the lot of them, yet they had no concept of things like the Industrial Revolution. They never imagined cars. They didn’t ever foresee large vessels that could fly across oceans in the air or do the same things in the deepest recesses of our oceans.
They never saw a television. They never saw a man walk on the moon. They never imagined the mass production and unethical means in which we would harvest our animals. They never had the internet. Or a phone. Or electricity.
They owned muskets. They had harpoons.
They never imagined gang wars. They never saw the technology that could create guns that could kill so many people so quickly. They never saw an AK-47 blow someone’s head off. They never imagined the number of civilian deaths, that would take place and grow each year on American soil
I will tell you one thing. They never imagined Columbine. They never imagined Newtown.
“Don’t take away my Second Amendment freedoms!”
Settle down. First of all, let’s stop looking at this as religious scripture. And stop attacking anyone who asks if guns should not be better regulated in this country. Well, if the laws we have are not enforced, then we don’t need more laws. We need enforcement and we need laws that make sense.
I feel like we are sitting at a critical juncture as a country. There will be another shooting. There might be another Newtown. There is just a sense of when, how, where? that I feel smothers us like a blanket.
I just want to know why I feel like the moment I question better regulation, people feel like their rights to own guns are being threatened? Hey, nobody’s saying you can’t hunt. Nobody’s saying you can’t own guns for self-defense. Heck, keep your arsenal for your hypothetical militia.
We have a problem here. An epidemic, if you will. Why is proper licensing of guns not considered acceptable? Why are more stringent licensing practices not being issued?
I keep hearing, “Well people will get guns without licenses!”
Probably. But it will be illegal and they should be penalized under the law. A person cannot legally drive in this country without getting a license. It doesn’t mean that people aren’t driving illegally every day. But that’s no excuse to stop overseeing it.
And why do we do that? Why do we require driver’s licenses? Because we like waiting online at the DMV? Because we like the way we look in the pictures? Does anyone actually like to go through the process of car inspections, vehicle registrations and wasting half a day at the DMV. Every stupid year? For every vehicle you own?
No. It’s a goddamn pain in the ass is what it is. But you do it. And it makes sense.
We do it because we know the power we hold behind the wheel. We know that we can kill, we can destroy, we can maim if we don’t know what we’re doing.
So why then? Why, why would we allow people to own guns without the appropriate training? Without appropriate documentation of what guns are where? And if it’s because we are going to talk about the people needing a way to raise a militia against the government, the people who are raging about wanting to have a right to raise a militia are usually the people I would NEVER want to see raise a militia.
That’s right. You people scare me.
I don’t know what will happen if I am at that gym in a middle of a workout and a gunman comes in raging. I haven’t thought through that yet. But I know that I think about my children every day. And my friends’ children. And my neighbors’ children.
And I’m not ready to teach them to stop, drop and play dead.
Something needs to change.
Sorry, this post is a little later than promised and I know many of you are biting your nails and waiting with baited breath for me to hit publish. Oh, you’re not?
So I started my adventures in “Les Mis” over the holidays, writing in this post about how I had seen it twice in one day. I consider that to be pretty extreme, hard core movie lovin’. Sure, I didn’t sleep in a sleeping bag to get to see the first show – I’m not that pathetic. Especially not on Christmas. I mean, even for people who are crazy about something like “Twilight,” – well I think even those guys would look at me weird, which is pathetic because hello. They are in love with vampires.
It’s about perspective people.
So yes, I saw it that second time. And I walked back into the house twirling and singing and dancing.
“ONE DAY MORE,” I belt out, making large operatic gestures with my hands. My kids usually enjoy it the first few minutes. But then they are like, “Mommy. You sing nice. But can you please stop?” and I have to be like, “Come on, just one more verse?” or “Wait, wait, but this is the best part!” And they just look at each other, roll their eyes and turn back to me and let me finish.
And just know that I sing the ass out of this soundtrack. I do it all in the character voices. So what if I sound a bit like Sean Connery when I do Jean Valjean’s parts?
It’s authentic, guys. And has anyone thought it odd how only “Les Mis” makes it totally reasonable for a play that takes place in France to have everybody talking in an English or Scottish accent.
Even if they’re American? Or Australian?
And then I put out a poll on the blog’s Facebook page. Which is a smart way to parent, I think. Put it out there and make it democratic.
The gist of the question was this: “Can I bring Shaila, age 5, to see “Les Mis” with me, one of the things I am so passionate about in this world. John thinks I am crazy, but I’m not. Right? Right?”
I was waiting for all my friends and readers to tell me that “mother knows best!” and all that stuff. But it didn’t quite work out that way.
The answers were a resounding:
Hell to the no.
These were the responses I got. Opinions ranging from “Guuuurl, you be CRAZY,” to “I’m calling Child Protective Services on yo’ ass” were thrown out and I realized I would not bring Shaila. This would be a love we could not share for some time. I was on my own.
See how I did that? Get it? Eponine sings that song … Ok, fine I get it. I am a geek. My “Les Mis” jokes are a bit obscure.
So, when my parents came to visit us a few days before New Year’s and while Ma was making her amazing chicken curry, I sat around the kitchen table with a bottle of champagne making mimosas and set out three glasses. I reached out to serve Ma and Papa.
Me: “Ma, do you want some?“
Ma: “No. It make me too much gas.”
You might not understand what that means, but it made perfect sense to me. Papa declined too, but I had already popped the cork so what could I do?
So I sat there with my parents shooting the shit while they each had a glass of red wine and I had a bottle of champagne to make apparently enough mimosas for a sorority tea party.
It was FUN. And then I came up with the GREATEST idea EVER. If I couldn’t bring Shaila to see “Les Mis,” perhaps I could bring my parents? I mean they were of age and we could also take advantage of a senior citizen discount.
And so in my slightly buzzed state, it was decided. I would be taking Ma and Papa to see “Les Mis” in the movie theater while John watched the kids the next day at noon.
So the next day, the three of us bop along on our merry adventure. We get to the theater and grab some popcorn and head to our seats. This is hard for my dad because he has a cane and is legally blind, so he had to go really slow. I don’t have a particular need for speed, but I felt bad not realizing how uncomfortable and long the walk must be for him in a movie theater with no light on to guide him.
I felt terrible about that. So, better planning required on my part next time.
He was a trooper though. We got settled into our seats, me sitting in between the two of them. The previews started. I couldn’t really hear them, though I was aware of the loud crunching of popcorn resonating in my ears IN STEREO.
Am I the only one who realizes how loud her parents chew in public?
So, the movie started and I was immediately swept into another world. I sat there and watched when about ten minutes in, I heard someone snoring. Yes, it was my father on my left. Completely passed out. Now I was not going to wake him up, because it won’t end well. When he used to fall asleep when we would re-watch seasons of “24,” he would awaken in a panic and ask as he adjusted his glasses, “But where is Chloe?” It didn’t even matter if Chloe was IN the episodes. Heck, it didn’t even matter if we were watching “24.” I couldn’t wake him up and risk having him yell something like, “Has Chloe broken the code? Did she find Jack?” during “Les Mis.”
I let my father sleep and miracle of all miracles, he seemed to come to on his own.
I leaned over to my mother. “Do you know what’s going on, Ma?” I asked.
“Yes honey. It’s not too bayd.”
Good. So about 30 minutes in, when one of the characters becomes a prostitute and the audience is watching a gut-wrenching, terribly sad scene, tears running down many a face, Ma leans over and taps me on the shoulder.
“OH, THAT’S BAD,” she announced in her Megaphone Voice. Yes, having to turn to a life of prostitution because you can’t get a job to feed your daughter is a little bad, I would think. Um, to say the least.
“yes, ma, it’s bad.” I said, trying to whisper.
“VHAT?!” she asked, leaning in to hear better.
Now, I don’t want to give anything away, but Jean Valjean is the main character that is in the movie. It starts with him, it ends with him. About 40 minutes in, during a critical scene between Fantine and Jean Valjean, you know, the guy whose life we have been watching develop the LAST 40 MINUTES OF THE MOVIE, Ma leans over, grabs some of the popcorn I have taken back from her and says, “Yeh kaun hai?” (Who’s this guy?)
“Ma,” I whispered, just loud enough to be heard over Papa’s snore. “That’s Jean Valjean. You know, the same guy from the beginning of the movie.” ?
She looked perplexed.
“Ma, he’s been here since the movie started.”
I still don’t think she got it.
And it hit me. How could I forget that my mother has trouble telling white people apart? I mean, she has trouble telling anyone apart other than Indian people and she messes that up sometimes too. The only white person she could pick out of a crowd is Tony Danza and that’s because my mom thinks “he’s the boss.”
If you know what I mean.
At that point my father’s head fell on my shoulder and he started snoring fully in one ear with my mom eating popcorn at the highest volume in my other.
We went on this way for the remainder of the movie, Papa popping in and out of nap mode, waking up and catching himself before he yelled, “Has Chloe broken into the mainframe yet?!” Ma sat there and kept hitting me if I cried.
“Oh Gawd. It’s just movie, dohn’t be crybaby.“
We had a good time. No, seriously. It was awesome. I am so glad my parents went with me and I kind of love that they went to go see something I loved that much, just because I asked them to.
Well, asked. And then begged. And then begged some more.
Something still tells me that Shaila may have appreciated it a little more (no, don’t call CPS!), but I was glad to be able to have that day with my parents.
When adults would read me Snow White as a child, I always marveled at the beautiful Princess’s beauty. Her loving mother had wished for a daughter with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hair as black as coal.
Wow. She sounds pretty.
Except…. (Sound of a record scratching)
Back the fuck up, yo.
Skin as WHITE as snow?
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