Sunday, August 30, 2009

Readers' choice

I just read this very interesting article in the NY Times called The Future of Reading
A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like
.

I am a traditionalist: kids must be exposed to classic literature in school, otherwise they will never read it. Also classic literature exposes students to good grammar. They certainly don't hear it from the people around them, and what they read and write in social networking and texting is directly harmful to their language arts skills. I've even heard teachers mixing up grammar on a regular basis... I try very hard but know I'm not perfect either.

Kids need to read Romeo and Juliet, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, Huck Finn, etc. etc. etc. The schools have to assign it. Are kids going to read it at the beach during the summer? Hardly!

On the other hand, I get their main point. C reads for pleasure for herself. We are certainly lucky. She reads and reads and reads. Its a mixture of trash and good literature. But I know the struggles most people face. N reads Calvin and Hobbes for pleasure but little of substance without being prodded. We bought him a ton of C&H. The purpose: to fuel his enjoyment in reading. It's isn't my first choice, but it does expose him to a lot of 4-syllable words he otherwise wouldn't read and he enjoys reading it!

When C started in school I was concerned about the crappy grammar and direct stupidity of the protagonist in Junie B Jones books. The ETS assured me that any reading is good reading. I went through the same anxiety when N discovered Captain Underpants. I still wish they preferred something more traditional, but like their obsession with the Telly Tubbies, both Junie B and Captain U have grown out of fashion.

Why can't there be a balance: kids get to read Captain Underpants or Twilight at home on their own time, but still get the core of our literary tradition at school. Or mix it - maybe one marking period they read substance, and then, as a prize, they can read what they want. Can't we make it hip enough - give them some choice, but limit it to great books? I want my kids to continue reading. But I want them prepared for college without asking "who's Sylvia Plath?" (as I did when I went off to college).

What do you think?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ah-ah-ah-aaaaaah-Choooooo!

Don't get too close to your computer when you read this, I've caught a cold. I've been sneezing all over Bridgewater, Somerville and Manville today. With my nose running, I walked out of a big box store with a 3-pack of Puffs.

If it's what my husband had last week, by this time tomorrow I'll be running a low-grade fever and feeling pretty miserable.

It's a Saturday night. N is at TM's, C & T just left for a movie and if I were a smart woman I'd finish the laundry in anticipation of a sick day tomorrow.

But anyone who has been to our house knows that I don't prioritize housework or laundry when I can be having fun. So, it's off to Bridgewater Commons to meet up with my friend to see a chic flick.

In the 10 minutes I've been writing this, I've used 6 tissues - so it's not the smartest decision to go to the movies! But I don't always have to do the right thing, do I? Please say that just because I am a suburban mom and I wouldn't have let my daughter go to the movies in this condition (and my much smarter husband would have gone straight to bed) that I can't be irresponsible sometimes. Especially when it is to have a little fun.... hope my friend doesn't catch it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Soccer Mom becomes Cheer Mom living in a glass house

This fall my daughter is cheering for BFL, in-town.

I am enough of a feminist to admit that I simply don't like my daughter practicing to cheer for the boys. (Maybe I prefer that the boys cheer for her???).

Tonight T said "let her cheer! It's something she is choosing for herself and she really wants to do it".

I preach that parents shouldn't judge one another by the choices their children make. Why should I judge myself (or maybe my daughter) for cheer leading? Many people consider it a viable sport and social activity. My criticisms are all based on hypocritical stereotypes. Yesterday when I was thinking "What would my Mom have thought about this?" I assumed that she would have never let me do it.

Then I remembered that I did try out for cheer leading in 9th grade. I hadn't a prayer to make even the JV squad - I didn't have any of the qualities they look for (except being thin, perhaps - and maybe 5 years of ballet lessons). My Mom must have said "whatever you want to do, dear", guarding what she really thought.

So maybe my judgment is jealousy? I'm not nearly as cute as my daughter and far from as talented. "Face it," one friend said last week, "C has the body and personality to be a cheer leader!"

To which I say... (as I gulp, fingers crossed!) "Rah!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The next step

I'm always wondering what my next step should be, yet I often tread forward aimlessly.

This is one of those times. I'm trying to figure out the best career for me. A year ago I was gun-ho about getting a job and was hired after my first interview, only to be downsized a few months later. Now I ask myself again, what next?

Reading an article in Sunday's times magazine called The Women's Crusade I realized that I am looking at this all wrong. I'm a woman of incredible privilege - living in a safe home, in a country where women have significant professional and personal opportunities, and I was born into a family where higher education wasn't just a gift, it was an expectation. If the women in this article can break out of their circumstances to attain a goal, I shouldn't be so scared to set one!

My lifelong struggle has been finding the answer to the question, what do I want to be when I grow up. My life has happened to me nearly as much as I have chosen it. I don't know where to start in deciding what is the right professional path to take, so here I sit in a messy kitchen wondering.

Yesterday, I took one baby step. I spoke with an admissions counselor at a nearby university trying to figure out what path I could take if I want to teach. I found that despite my degrees, I'm missing some very basic classes.

Do I want to be a teacher? If so, I have to be 110% sure since getting certified would be at significant cost.

That's the hardest question for me to answer. Perhaps I've been handed things too easily. I wasn't forced to look pragmatically at my future. I feel guilty that I don't know yet. I'm afraid to say, "this is what I want to do!" Because it may have negative consequences for my family.

Not saying so apparently can have a negative impact on myself.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Time management

Tonight I thought I would blog, but then I realized that both Saturday's and Sunday's New York Times are sitting on the sofa untouched. I have interesting things to write from time to time, but tonight the time would be better spent reading the NY Times, than writing/editing (for me) or reading (for you) this blog.

The Magazine Section
is focused on women's issues. My kind of stuff. Some of it will be painful to read - one article focuses on true oppression: rape, lack of education, sex trafficking, etc. Painful stuff.

I will read about Julia Child's best seller in the Business section (which I often put into recycling unread).

Finally, I'll have to check out the Travel section where they wrote about 36 hours in Oslo. Who knows, maybe I'll get there someday...

Looking forward to my PJs, Fresca and the Times. It'll be a good use of my time this Monday night!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rainy Saturday

I have a couple of friends with whom we go to the beach for day trips each year. We all, kids and parents, look forward to these days for months in advance. In May we pick dates that we still have free (with 7 kids' activities and camps to consider, plus one mom working full time we need to block dates early).

Usually we have great luck. The dates work well and the weather holds out.

This summer we are 0 for 0 (with one date still to come in September).

Hurricane Bill nixed our plans for yesterday, but it turned out to be a fantastic day anyway.

After running errands all morning we went ice skate at Aspen Ice at Flemington. It was cleaner and nicer than BSA in Bridgewater - albeit less convenient. I was so happy - N loved it and it gave him confidence to feel like he was one of the best kids in our group, for once.

After the obligatory money suck - the arcade games - we went home, dropped the boys and two of us with our daughters headed to Bridgewater Commons. C had earned money last weekend dogsitting and it was burning a hole in her pocket. We started with a very nice dinner, and then hit the shops. Exactly what you'd expect of suburban 11 year olds: Holister, Abercrombie, PacSun, Justice, Aeropostale...

It was just such a nice night - no pressure to buy things (C was very understanding - I was only getting her a few things) and no crowds. The girls were happy and not whining. The boys were at home watching movies. All was well with the world.

I have learned to really appreciate these pleasant evenings amidst the changing relationship between Mom and pre-teen daughter.

Friday, August 21, 2009

it's hot...

It's really hot and humid in Bridgewater this week. I've tried to cool things down - went to the pool Monday, the beach on Tuesday, the pool again on Wednesday, and yesterday we went to Dorney Park.

Today I see that my week of leisure has left the house in shambles. Tomorrow it's back to the beach, so I better get something productive done today.

Unfortunately its just too hot to motivate myself to clean.

And it's too humid to blog... so I'll leave it here. Keep cool!

Monday, August 17, 2009

New York City with kids...

Several friends have asked what we do with our kids when we hit NYC for the day. It depends a bit on the weather and the kids we bring. Much to my kids' collective groans I usually include a museum in the mix. Then comes THE WALKING! My kids know in advance that NYC day trips mean walking. Dress accordingly!

Train to Penn Station. Taxi to either the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the American Museum of Natural History. Start there. I plan on about 2 hours roaming through the exhibits. I always try to catch a show at the Planetarium at the Natural History Museum and my son has the task of counting mummies at the Met. We usually have something to eat at the museum between floors/exhibits.

We exit the museum and head for the park. These museums are conveniently located at a doable distance from the Central Park Zoo at the southern end of the park. Click here for Central Park Conservancy's website where you can download maps, etc. Another useful site is run by the NYC Park's department.

As we meander from the parks (usually with ice cream in hand) we hit some or all of the following:
The turtle pond
Belvedere Castle
The Boathouse Restaurant - Sometimes Mommy needs a midday cocktail! So while I haven't eaten at the much fancier restaurant, I have used its clean restrooms! I've enjoyed many afternoons in the comfort of the outdoor bar while the kids are entertained feeding ducks. Treat yourself to the cheese plate. My kids loved their crackers.

Relaxed we continue South, hitting one of the playgrounds and the mall. On hot days the kids cool off in the playground's fountain.

We people watch - sometimes we take the Carousel. Generally we save our money and don't do other amusement rides.

We often end up at the zoo. I love the Central Park Zoo. It's clean and not too big. The animals are fun to watch (so are the guest who come from all over the world).

Done with the park - or are we? Sometimes we treat the kids to a horse and carriage tour. About $35 for 20 minutes - it's pricey but not overwhelming if you are 4 people. Tourists love it and if you get a good driver, it's informative and entertaining.

Just south of the park is The Plaza. Another clean bathroom and opportunity to see the stars! But we can't afford to feed the kids at the Plaza - and at $12/glass, we can't afford even the first glass of wine, so we head for more child-friendly environs.

Across the street, FAO Schwarz. Remember BIG? Well, the piano isn't the only treat. You can design and purchase your own barbie or matchbox cars, pick up a cabbage patch doll... and so much more. It's too expensive for my kids to get many treats - much to their disappointment.

Luckily ToysRUs - which is much more in our budget range - has given FAO a serious run for it's Midtown money. For less than $5 you can take the indoor Ferris wheel. There is a "live" dinosaur, huge Lego displays, a 2 or 3 story barbie dream house (that you can walk through), and plenty of toys in the under $10 category. Our helpful rule: if your kid can't carry it through the city yourself, don't buy it.

OK. Now your park snack stops have warn off - where can the kids eat and have fun?

The kids' hands down favorite? MARS 2112. Take the space ship and you land in Mars. It's really fun! The aliens visit your table and the wait staff are rather entertaining. We've had mixed experiences with the food but the ambiance is always a hit. I've had the spaghetti squash several times without complaint. With your bill you get a card for the game room... which is easier to say yes to after a signature drink...

As my kids have gotten older, Jekyll and Hyde's has been a hit. It's rowdy, lively and fun. They don't accept Visa or MC, so either remember your Amex or your cash (and lots of it!).

Both places require an entrance fee.

My kids have also liked the Ellen Stardust Diner if you want music with your food. They've eaten at California Pizza Kitchen and liked it. We have also tried a variety of non-touristy restaurants. Some are very good, others.....

So this is MORE THAN ENOUGH for one day... are you staying for two, check out one of the following:

  • Hit the Intrepid
  • Or try Chinatown (N likes the seemingly endless pokemon card sales, C like the cheap tchotchkies. As she gets older, fake designer bags and sunglasses are catch her eye. My kids love Chinese food, so eating isn't a problem!
  • The Staten Island ferry is how we usually take guests to see the Statue of Liberty (I'm afraid of 4 hours lines, winding stair cases and crowds), the kids love Battery Park's street theater that you can catch before or after the ferry. Oh, and the ferry is free and kids like it! Also, it's walking distance from Ground Zero.
  • Make sure your kids get to ride a subway and taxi
  • If two museums aren't enough - MoMA is fantastic for kids. It's art they know - have them find spiders on Dali paintings, the dots on Seurat, or they can count Water Lilies. The have free headphones to explain the most famous paintings to kids.
  • We've been to both the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock. Never on the same day, never in the rain.
  • If you have a girl, you can take her to American Girl Place. With the lunch and theater, plus getting the doll's hair done, this is really a 1/2 day venture. Bring a lot of money! It's probably twice what you expect to spend!
  • If you have a boy, I hear that the Sony Wonder Technology Lab is fabulous, but we've not been there - yet.
  • For a calm break in the hectic city, I LOVE the Bryant Park Reading Room. We haven't been to the ice skating rink yet, but I hear it's fabulous. And I believe it's free.... unlike Rockefeller Center which is on the list for a future trip.
Anyway, there is plenty to do with kids in NYC... and we haven't even talked about theater. That'll have to be for another blog. BTW - I have been writing this blog for several days on and off, and if I don't publish it, I won't. Please ignore any mistakes - the editor is in Martha's Vinyard with the Obamas....

Sunday, August 16, 2009

First one out...

As you may have heard before we are often the first in Bridgewater to let our kids do certain things. Both kids were on airplanes before they could sit up - N flew overseas before he was 3 months old. Sleepovers started at age 2 or 3. C had a TV in her room in Kindergarten. That was a straight bribe. She was also first with a phone in her room. My son followed suit. We have taken several friends with us on vacations. Both kids have flat-screened tvs in their rooms as well as laptops. As I write this my son is upstairs with a friend online playing a game I've never heard of...

Yes, they are spoiled. And I have spent many an uncomfortable coffee defending these things or agreeing sheepishly to other mothers' criticisms. "My mother-in-law bought the cell phones" is something I've probably said about 100 times to various shock-faced BW parents.

What do I do now? Approximately 10 of my daughter's friends have friended me on Facebook. How can I say C is too young when her friends aren't, and by friending them I have condoned their use. C had a short-lived experiment with MySpace that went sour when I read about how horny her friends were!!! EL, VM, HS and others would never write anything like that in their FB statuses (I HOPE!). Their pictures are all tasteful. Their use of FB is completely legit.

Why should I worry? If C is allowed to join the FB world, her first order of business would have to be to friend me! That would give me access to see what she is posting and whom she is friending.

I guess the question is, do I want to friend my daughter? Does she need to read my status updates? About once a week I write about my love for a stiff drink. I have several former boyfriends/lovers/wish-I-were-so-lucky-to-get-them-guys on my friend's list. Do I want my daughter to know about them? Absolutely not!!! With over 350 friends I am guessing C will get bored looking through the names before she gets to the letter C. And then there is the link to this blog...

But do I want my daughter to go clandestine online and not be a part of it? NOT A CHANCE. My cousin said last week that she is on partially to know what is going on in her kids' lives. That sounds good enough for me! My neighbor boy (babysitter of my kids) wouldn't friend me and ever since then I REALLY want to know what's going on in his life!! So if I have this opportunity for my daughter to friend me, maybe I SHOULD take it.

Then again, I friended my Mother-in-Law. She still respects me but I know enough to self-edit. Maybe it's not my daughter's status updates that scare me, but my own! How old is old enough to be on facebook? I'm almost 40 and not sure my stuff is totally appropriate. It's certainly not rated. G. Yet, I'm not ready to friend C which means I'm not ready yet to say yes to her request to join facebook.

Status update: L is... conflicted.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Compliment

Don't get used to 2 blogs a day, and 3 per weekend... I just don't have that much interesting stuff to say, but this is something worth repeating.

I spoke with my Dad this morning. He said, "I love visiting Bridgewater because I love being with your friends!"

What's in the news again? The $100,000 question

I want education professionals to do well, but I have never understood why the administrators make 6-figure salaries and teachers struggle. That has never made sense to me.

This was in today's Courier online regarding six figure salaries in Central NJ school districts. The article doesn't mention Bridgewater specifically, but all our figures are on the BRRSD website, or you can click here.

But it's a beautiful summer day. I don't feel like getting hot and bothered about salaries on this lovely morning, especially not before coffee.

Have a good weekend!

Friday, August 14, 2009

... the envelope please...

My son got his classroom placement today. We're not sure whether to be pleased or not. I am trusting Miss Teacher from last year to make a suitable placement for him this year. I'm sure she's done a good job.

Technology has changed so much. It used to be that we were always on vacation when "the letter" would arrive and my husband would call us with the news because he was back home. We'd either e-mail or call friends and exchange information. Today we were at home. One mom was very smart. She made an evite and listed every e-mail she had for our grade asking people to post their placements as the RSVP field. We already know about 35 kids through this method. So far N has no close friends in his class. We're still waiting for a couple of his closest BFFs to get back from vacation. Keep your fingers crossed that someone close will be in N's new class.

It's an exciting time, anticipating the new year. Optimism and hopes are high. I like that feeling!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Heathy thoughts on health care

Everyone seems to be talking about health care reform. The problem is people are saying a lot of ignorant things.

I am one of few Americans who can say they have lived extensively in a country with the real deal, socialized medicine.

Clearly, to me, Obama is NOT suggesting that we adopt a social welfare state. Talk of the socialization of America is utterly ridiculous. Obama, it seems, is focusing on making a national option for health insurance. Where I lived I didn't have any health insurance (yes, we had insurance for the car, house, travel, etc.) because it was all provided by the state. I paid a nominal co-pay for regular office visits or trips to the ER. I paid for any medication. But I never paid a cent for my children's health care beyond prescriptions. My kids' well-care and "sick visits" were free. I paid nothing for the hospitalization when my kids were born, nor did I pay a co-pay for prenatal or postpartum check-ups.

It was all very simple. No insurance dilemmas. If something wasn't covered, like a tummy tuck, it would have been entirely out of pocket. But real health care issues were always covered.

People don't realize that there are lots of pros in countries with health care available for everyone. Yes, there are waits for certain non-emergent procedures. Yes, sometimes in smaller countries people travel abroad for a 2nd opinion or a new treatment. No, not every hospital can specialize in everything. That is true here too. We in NJ are lucky to live in an area of the country with many so options for health care, but in other areas of the US, people have to travel significant distances to see specialists.

In my experience the care I got in a regular "welfare state" hospital was fantastic. I had one baby in the US and another baby abroad. There were certain things I preferred about the US system. I chose my OB/Gyn/midwife team and had a birthing plan in advance. I liked having several hospitals to chose from. I did not get hassled about requesting an epidural (although the anesthesiologist was an idiot and had to stick me 6 times before she got the epidural in my back!), and the hospital staff was great save one mean nurse. I swear that C waited to come into the world until her shift was over!

My overseas experience had pros too. Although I didn't know the midwife (midwives and OB/Gyns where N was born are hospital employees, so patients see whoever happens to be on when the time comes), all she did was deliveries, so I was presumably in experienced hands. Also, in the US my insurance company limited my hospital stay to 48 hours. With my son I stayed 3 nights and could have stayed even longer. They are not in the rush to send newborns and their anxious mothers home.

The postpartum care was much better over there! In addition to the regular office visit, about a week after the baby was born a nurse came to the house to check on the baby, see how he was nursing and checked me for signs of postpartum depression. The health care center organized mothers groups to prevent you from feeling too isolated. I have several friends who still meet with these other mothers regularly more than a decade after their babies were born.

There were also cons. In the US I had a lovely private room after the baby was born. When I was abroad, I was "lucky" and shared a room with only one other new Mom. Several friends of mine shared a "common room" with six other new Moms and their crying newborns.

I have been to the ER several times in both countries. Except for the fact that our local hospital abroad charged for parking and I had to pay the co-pay in cash (which I never seem to carry), I can honestly say that the wait times are similar (LONG), that ER doctors are a bit of a crap-shoot (you are going to like some and not others).

If our pediatrician or primary care doctors were open 24/7 I would rarely need an ER in either country!

My primary care physician? Over there I saw two (the first one, who I nicknamed "Doogie" moved, so I saw his replacement). Both Doogie and the new doc were fine. No complaints.

Here I go to Martinsville Family Practice where I usually see Dr. Price. I love the practice and love her.

But I am very fortunate. We have excellent health insurance. I don't need a written referral to see a specialist. My insurance includes a prescription drug plan.

Nonetheless, I do feel that healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. I don't know where all the money goes in our system, or why it is so complicated, but I am glad I have tried both systems.

I just wish people would think about both sides before crushing this nations hopes at reform. The costs are high but we do many wasteful things in this country, like have a significant portion of the population without general practitioner care using an ER for their primary care needs. Things need to improve.

Democrats: get your act together and stop fighting amongst yourselves... I'm glad our finally in a position of power. But you make me want to leave the country sometimes!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reality check from the comfort of the living room

For Mother's Day this year I asked for Wii Fit. I am using it more than I used my gym membership last spring. Don't get me wrong, I loved going to Exerwise Woman, but I like a "personal" (albeit electronic) trainer in the privacy of my home.

The Wii pushes me to weigh myself every time I go on. While I've lost a few pounds, I did not come anywhere close to my original goal. The best and worst thing about the Wii, is that it just doesn't sugar coat things. When I weigh myself, it says in a frank, but not unfriendly tone, "That's Overweight!"

My husband has started to use it too. I use it more regularly, so it bugs me when it smiles at him and describes his weight as, "That's Normal!"

This morning I heard this about so called "Fat Acceptance" on WHYY. It said most overweight people have a skewed view of their weight. Apparently I do too, I see myself as normal. At least normal for having had 2 kids.... While I really do plan on dropping the pounds that are between me and my pre-pregnancy weight goal, I am most concerned about my general health. And no matter what Ms. Wii says about the weight, it's pretty good.

Or is it? The best person to determine that is my doctor. I wonder what she's going to say when I see her in September. If I get this feedback directly from my doctor and not from the TV, society in general or my own skewed view of myself, I'll be better able to gauge my exercise needs.

Until then I will try not to take the condescending "That's overweight" too personally as push up and side plank.

Monday, August 10, 2009

An important visitor


My niece is here! She's starting her senior year of college and has turned into this wonderful adult. We picked her up near my hometown where she was doing a very cool internship with my cousin's company.

She's been hanging with us all weekend and it's been lovely to talk about old family stories. Some are myths, really. We've also spent time looking at old pictures. I have always felt that I am the near-baby of the family, and never took part in the coolest years. I have a brother who went to Woodstock, and my siblings and cousins spent the 60s and 70s doing very cool things.

Who knew that I would see myself in a new role, a connection between MP and relatives who died years ago? It's great to be given this opportunity to spread the family lore and I love thinking about too.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Friday night time travel

Every few months I go back in time.

When I drive West on 78, North on 33, West on 80, etc. as I head closer to my hometown, I sense that I am traveling in time. The radio gradually goes from NPR news programs, to NJ traffic reports, to 80s music, to my hometown station that I have been listening to since I was a kid, 94Rock.

Friday night I spent the evening with some of the most important people of my past: my high school girlfriends, plus Steve. Steve isn't a girlfriend, but only because he isn't a girl. Like it or not (and I think he likes it) he is part of our little girl friend clique. He hung with us senior year of high school, but marrying MC sealed his fate as "one of us". This time he was really lucky, there were two other men there, but often he is the only guy when we gather. We had a BBQ and caught up while 12 kids ran around, played with the dogs and lost a flip flop in the river. Steve also acted as Grill Meister and puppy police! After dinner Steve and B's teenage daughter VO babysat 8 kids so the rest of us girls (plus two dates) could go out on the town.

Normally when we go out I put on makeup, use contact lenses and put handfuls of gel in my hair to tone down the frizzy curls. On Friday I put on a little lipstick and walked out the door with low expectations.

So of course we run into HIM! Everyone has one (well, everyone should): the upper classman who you just couldn't have no matter how strong the crush. Picture the unpopular, frizzy-haired, glasses wearing geekie freshman obsessed with a talented junior. It wasn't even a secret. It seems everyone in my high school knew. He had a great voice and was pretty popular even though he wasn't "classicly good looking" (his best friend DP was). Kids teased me when we held hands for seconds during corny dance scenes in practice for Lil' Abner (he played the lead, Marrying Sam, his "classic looks" BFF played Abner). At the end of the year when the Concert Choir sang "We Are the World", LM hammed it up as he covered Springsteen's contribution and I was in awe. When there were auditions for Godspell the following year, it was no contest. Of course LM played Jesus (his gorgeous BFF was in Australia). I was in the chorus. By then it was clear I would never date LM, and I had accepted that fate over time. Nonetheless he was always nice to me, even though he dated several of my close friends. We didn't exactly run in the same crowds, but we certainly had mutual friends. He was neighbors with two very important people in my life (including Steve), and he lived two blocks from my Grandma, we were in ski club together and bumped into each other pretty often.

But we never dated.

Anyway, we're in this crowded bar dancing ourselves silly. It was already a good sign when I flew onto the dance floor for "Living on a Prayer". Then some guy came over, greeted us and said to me, "You don't recognize me?"

Nix. But by the shocked look on his face, I realized I really should know him pretty well. An OH-MY-GOD a split second later, it was indeed my high school crush.

Later one of my friends, LK, said "this is awkward"! I thought she was talking about me. Turns out, she was talking about herself. She and I had a falling out many years ago. I couldn't remember why. But now I do. She dated LM, knowing full well I was crazy for him. She wasn't the only friend who did this, but she was my closest. I sort of remember her saying something like since he wasn't going to date me, she wasn't really taking him.

Thankfully, it's all water under the bridge now.

I didn't find it awkward at all! Maybe I should have recognized him, but seeing him was fun. The best part was he was even happier to see us! He blew off his friends and danced with us until we closed the bar. Had the tables been reversed, I would have stayed with my friends.

I have to admit that I'm a bit smug that I didn't recognize him. After all the tears and crushing of my self-esteem (guess that's why they call it a crush), I've come out unscathed. It only took 20+ years to figure it out.

My friends told the singer that we were out celebrating my birthday (We were??? It was 3 weeks ago!) and the whole bar sang happy birthday! I even requested the final song. The final song he played? Click here... A perfect ending to a great night!

The band played almost only 80s music. A bit of the 1980s has lived on in my hometown! Nonetheless, time has marched on. I am clearly over the boy I never thought I would forget. Progress I didn't know I had made. :-) I'm already looking forward to the next trip home. Wonder who I'll run into next time? My favorite teacher from elementary school? An old neighbor? One of my Mom's friends? The options are nearly endless.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Teen angst

I started two other blogs this week. One about how clean my cabinets will be now that I've spent a couple of weeks at my in-laws perfect homes. I didn't finish the blog, so you can imagine the state of the cabinets...

The other is about our dog who cut himself playing yesterday and that the estimate for stitches was $800 so we opted to let him heal on his own. In the marital battles of wills, that one ended Wife-0, Husband-1.

But now I just read that someone I really hadn't heard of but who was a very influential figure in my life, John Hughes, has died. So I'll blog about him instead.

I was lucky. I was a teenager during the time when he started making classic movies about teenage angst. In fact I just referred to one last month. In the drama revolving about my sister's life my father forgot my birthday! If Sixteen Candles is a reflection on my life, I didn't get the hot babe with the cool sports car making me a luscious chocolate cake, but I did marry Anthony Michael Hall who can fix an iPhone when I shatter it's glass screen. So it's still a happy ending.

I can almost cite the entire script of The Breakfast Club verbatim. I was never sure who I was supposed to be. I wasn't quite weird enough for Ally Sheedy's character, and clearly I wasn't the Princess, maybe I was the geek?! The whole point of the movie was that we aren't cookie-cutter stereotypes. We are all composites. I always felt I needed a little more Molly Ringwald in me.

In my current life as a suburban Mom, wife, unemployed writer, etc. I have to remind myself that people see me as they want to see me, in the simplest terms and most convenient definitions. But that I don't have to see myself that way!

Anyway, I wish there were someone out there writing movies that spoke to me about who I am now. The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off (didn't I just elude to that in a recent blog too???), Footloose, even St. Elmo's Fire (I was in High School when that movie came out, so new college graduates seemed so old - ha!) were movies that I looked to for reflection on my experience in the mid-late 1980s America.

I'll ALWAYS love these movies. Where are the movies about the Mom who is too lazy to clean the fish from the frying pan after tonight's meal?

Or the Mom who can't lose weight even though she is cutting back on cake and exercises four times a week, because she still drinks wine?

Or the stay-at-home Mom who feels she should be living in a parallel universe where she is taking the career world by storm.

Where are those movies?

There's one less in-touch writer/director on the earth to create them. RIP, John. You'll be missed by some, but your movies have touched countless others.