Thursday, January 31, 2008


I'm writing this from the Laughing Goat. Ordinarily, that would be just a super thing. But in this case, it kinda blows.

I'm here because I have no Internet at home. And no phone. And no cable (No! Not NO CABLE!)

This morning, while Rick was nursing a sick Tea (nursing = putting her on the couch to drink orange juice and watch Dora all day) he noticed that we were in a communication vacuum. Everything was off. Yet, he couldn't call because we didn't have a phone. And he couldn't look up the number online to dial Comcast on his cell. Because, well, you know. So I called them from work, and I guess Rick resorted to some kind of Senor Wences-inspired Dora puppet show to keep Tea from losing it.

The surly Comcast dude informed me that somehow we had missed a payment several months back (did I mention how much I love moving 3 times in four months?) I had somehow skipped over that late payment every month while paying our regular bill. So, voila! No mo service. And now we know the dark side of the Comcast Triple Play--complete isolation.

Anyhoo. I was going to pay the bill over the phone. I reached down for my wallet, wasn't there. It was there when I went to lunch. It was there when I paid for lunch. It was there when I rode back with my friends from lunch. I THOUGHT it was there when I sat down. But it was not. I searched and searched my vicinity, the restaurant, even crawled around in the parking lot to see if it fell anywhere. I searched through at least four garbage cans. But no wallet.

To review: I had no money, no credit cards, no driver's license, no Costco card. I was planning to leave early to relieve Rick from sick duty, and when I got on the road I realized that my empty light was on. That drive to Boulder was a nail-biter to say the least. And once I got home I realized that I also had no way to connect back to work. Because see above.

So here I am at the Laughing Goat, drinking a latte that I bought by scrounging through the couch cushions, working as long as they'll have me and NOT relieving Rick from kid duty even for five minutes. I have no money, no gas and limited communications.

Ever read Johnny Got His Gun? I feel like that guy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Someone just lost the rodent vote

Soon to be re-branded as Ronco's MISTER SQUIRREL

Please, please give Mike Huckabee his own cooking show. In yet another installment of "You can't make this shit up," the most affable creationist freak I know turned up on the Morning Joe last week before the South Carolina primary and gave the most bizarre rationalization ever why he is The Man of the People in South Carolina.

Apparently, South Carolina is one of those fine places, like West Virginia or Southern Indiana, where squirrels aren't just cute and puffy-tailed--they're good eatin'. Huckabee claimed on the show that he is the candidate of choice for South Carolina because when he gets hungry late at night, he likes himself some squirrel. Not only that, but he devised an ingenious way to cook up our little friends, sort of the inbred toothless version of heating up soup on a hot plate in your dorm room.

And I quote:

"When we were in college we used to take a popcorn popper -- because that was the only thing they would let us have in the dorms -- and fry squirrels in the popcorn popper."

Woo hoo! When's the dinner party, Mike?

Here's the link (because every time I try to embed it I fuck it up):

That quote is the first best part. Second best part is Scarborough's retort:

"Sounds good, but I prefer grilling possum on the hood of my Ford Bronco."

Ahahahaha! LOVE.

I have two observations. First, if I were a resident of South Carolina, I'd be a little miffed at Gov. Huckabee for his blanket observation that my peeps and I are all squirrel-chomping yokels. And second, if I may channel Thomas Frank for a moment, if woodland critters are a staple of your diet, perhaps you are voting against your own self interests if you side with the Republicans. (Of course, you may be upper-middle class and just LIKE squirrel meat. Not judging.)
What's the matter with South Carolina?

Nice try, Mike. But I hear Hillary will eat ANYTHING if you dare her.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Marketing the slopes

Gianni and I went skiing at Breck yesterday (Weather: A. Snow coverage: D+. Wind on top: F-). Or rather, Gianni went to ski school from 9 to 3 and I ditched him to ski on my own for 6 hours. I took advantage of my innate ability to go skiing the day before a resort gets huge heaping dumps of snow. Mostly I cruised around on whatever now hadn't been skiied off or otherwise dissipated since the last storm. It was both a great chance to get away from it all and yet another opportunity to remind myself that I'm getting older.

It's not that I can't ski like I used to. I still can. It's that the names of some of these runs are having an adverse affect on me. I used to look at runs with names like The Burn, Boneyard, and Lower Boneyard and think, oh hell yeah. In my younger days, I could go for The Burn from first chair to sundown. But now I look at The Burn and I think, "OWWwwwwww." And let's face it, as a 38-year-old white mother of two, I just feel like an asshole skiing something called "Psychopath."

The thing is, I have no trouble skiing Horseshoe or Cucumber Bowl, even though those are plenty tough. Maybe they just need a renaming campaign aimed at women sliding down the ramp toward middle age. Instead of "The Burn," call it "You Go Girl!" And rechristen "Boneyard" as, "Hooray, My Knees Still Work!"

Naturally they can't really do that because the slopes would strongly resemble a taping of Oprah. So I'll just have to do my own attitude adjustment and admit that after all these years, I'm still pretty much a psychopath.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Never say never

That's GOFUCKYOURSELF for the triple word score.

Gianni recently discovered Scrabble. He is enamored and wants to play every night. That's wonderful for two reasons, the most obvious is that it boosts his spelling and vocabulary. But the other is that he has unwittingly brought peace and diplomacy to an area of the Polito family where for 17 years, there has been none.

Long long ago when Rick and I first moved to California, we went on our first weekend getaway. We rented a cute little cottage in Mendocino for next to nothing. We spent the days beachcombing and mountain biking and the nights curled up in front of the fire. One night we attempted to play Scrabble. We failed. Or rather, Rick failed.

We had never played Scrabble together before, and let me tell you it was an eye-opener. I quickly realized that the love of my life was not only a great Scrabble player and a formidable opponent, but also the worst sport I had ever seen in my life. He gloated when he pulled ahead. He swore and sulked when he lost. It was like playing Scrabble with John McEnroe. I finally took the board, dumped the tiles, and swore that I would never engage in Scrabble with him again. And since then it's been a running joke, a sore spot, and common knowledge that it's best for the relationship and mankind that we leave the game box untouched on the shelf.

Since Gianni started his love affair with Scrabble, he's played with me. He's played with Rick. But he'd never played with both of us--until last night. After much deliberation, we decided to think of the children. We established word game detente and Scrabbled together for the first time in nearly two decades.

And it worked. Rick was a good sport. He only said, "you BITCH," once, when I blindsided him with a huge triple-word score. And I could tell he was using every bit of restraint to not jump up on the table and do the cabbage patch when he pulled within three points of me. He's all grown up. He didn't even make a fuss when I crushed him like a grape at the end, which is of course not important to me at all because I'm not competitive in the least. (WOOO!)

We're ushering in a new era of peace, prosperity and Scrabble nights that we hope will last for decades to come. It's amazing what you can put aside for the good of the children.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

If you feel disenfranchised, raise your hand

Tsunami Tuesday is coming. On February 5, Colorado gets to join with approximately 752 other states to help determine who will be our Democratic nominee for the presidency. And given who the choices are, we'll get to play a part in history.

At least, SOME of us will. I won't.

I just found out that I registered to vote a month too late to participate in the Colorado caucus. Because I was too busy feeding my children and reading graphic novels to register in time, I will be sitting at home on Tsunami Tuesday like a college freshman who lost her fake ID. I feel so cheated--I don't get to cast my vote for the candidate of my choice. Or rather, I don't get to show up at the gym in Gianni's school between 9am and 11am and raise my hand. (I really don't understand this crazy caucus shit.) Quel bummer.

That just means that all of you other Democratic Coloradans better represent and hie yourselves to the polls on Feb. 5. One of the beautiful things about being an American, and about registering for your Colorado driver's license before December 5, is that you have that right to vote. Just ask those of us who were too lazy to drag our butts out to the DMV before then. So get out there and make me proud.

Unless you're a Republican. Then stay home.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dodging the bullet

God, what a week.

We had layoffs at my company. Lots of 'em, relatively speaking--about 10 percent of the staff. My head is spinning. I've been really fortunate in my career that I've never worked anywhere that had any intense layoffs, at least not while I was there. I always seemed to jump ship long before it sank.

But wow. To sit there, learning in the morning that it's coming, and watch your cube-mates and co-workers march one-by-one into The Room (and then into The Other Room, for grief counseling) is more emotionally wracking than I expected.

I know it has to be done. I know that our current administration and the Fed and the American financial markets have been beating on our economy like a pinata and it's about to burst. I know that our clients are cutting back, so we must do it too. I know that we're being proactive, and one deep cut in the beginning is better than death by 1000 knives later on.

It still sucks.

And let's talk about survivor guilt. Frankly, I am lucky to still be here. I've only got six months' tenure at my job. The writer who started the same day that I did is gone. So are a helluva lot of people who have been there longer than I have. It's a big gold stroke that they kept me. I hope it's a vote of confidence, and I'm not just next up on the chopping block if the shit goes down again. I prefer to see the glass as half full.

The funny thing? It's definitely sad. But I'm in awe of the power of human resilience, and the strong spirits and professionalism of those who had to go. They are amazing and they will be just fine.

Ditto the professionalism of the company and the compassion they showed in executing a hard business decision that affected so many people personally. I saw the head of the company go around to each person who was let go, tears in her eyes, and tell them that they still matter. And mean it. I doubt we'll see the chairman of Citibank do the same thing.

It's like when we had our bikes stolen out of our garage. We came down and they were gone. We calculated that it had to have happened in about 15 minutes' time. They jimmied the garage door, cut the locks, and took any bike of any sort of value (leaving our neighbors' crappy bikes.)
They were pros. As I told Rick, if we were going to get robbed, at least we got robbed by the best.

Getting laid off by the best is definitely no huge consolation. But it beats a complementary copy of What Color is Your Parachute? and a swift ass-kick out the door. Deep down amidst the suckiness, I appreciate that.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tea's first haircut

It had to happen some day. I'm not talking about the ceremonial first haircut--the one where your precious little angel sits in a chair that looks like a car, plays with toys, and walks away with a lollipop and a lock of hair tied with a ribbon. I'm referring to that other first haircut, where someone under the age of 8 finds a pair of scissors in a drawer and decides to have a party.

The other day the kids were playing nicely in the basement while Rick and I attempted to remember how to have adult conversation. We were interrupted by Gianni, who came up the stairs holding his spiffy new RC car.

"Can you fix this? It doesn't want to go."

We looked at it. No, it didn't want to go. Mostly because there was a huge chunk of hair wrapped around one of the axles. We had to ask.

"Whose hair is this?"

"It's Tea's."

"How did it get there?"

"She was holding the car up to her head and the wheels were going."

"Why were the wheels running?"

"I don't know." (uh huh)

"How did you get it unstuck?"

"I cut it."


The world stopped turning for a second, we all ran downstairs. Gianni can be such an articulate little person sometimes, you totally forget that he's capable of truly awesome 7-year-old boneheaded judgement.

Thankfully, the damage was minimal. Tea has so much freakin' hair, you can't even tell where she lost some. And we did get Gianni to rethink his answer about the wheels and admit that his finger on the button and some direct pressure may have been involved. (The offending car has been put on tiny toy blocks for a week, out of reach.)

On the bright side, he was just trying to help, and he did free Tea from the clutches of the car. The road to hell, etc. And we're very fortunate it wasn't Tea doing the cutting, or I imagine it would have been waaaaay worse. Instead we have our precious first lock of hair--wrapped around a plastic wheel--and a reminder that we need to hide the scissors.

Those kids. They do the darndest things.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The two-ton telephone

Dammit, I did it again. My bag overturned in my car and I've lost my cell phone. Yet, I can make calls because I have Bluetooth connectivity in my car. Once again, I have turned my car into the world's largest phone. I guess I'll need to have Rick call me on the way home so I can actually locate the damned thing by the sound of the ring.

Tragic. Next time you're starving to death or being held as a political prisoner, think of my plight.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Doesn't anyone say "Stop the presses" anymore?

Parade Magazine is about more than Walter Scott's Personality Parade. It's also about publishing interviews with pivotal world figures about their hope for peace....after they get assassinated. The cover of yesterday's issue was an interview with Benazir Bhutto. It's by Gail Sheehy. And as it turns out, it's her last interview. All of those things? Huge. Except....the whole thing was written and went to press before the Dec. 27 shooting.

So Parade is running this juicy interview and the only thing bitter old ex-journalists like me are thinking is: You couldn't have changed the headline on the cover? Or added a preface? You realize you had a great scoop and you've now overshadowed that by looking like complete boneheads.

I guess there are two possible explanations. One, the story went to press and because there was an archaic system or something, they couldn't change anything once it shipped (which in my opinion is totally inexcusable in the digital age, but whatevs.) Or two, the issue was already printed and ready to go before Dec. 27 (likely, since they were probably getting the jump on xmas.) Doing another print run over the holidays would have been pricey and complicated.

Is it worth the money to correct the cover and not appear to be totally not paying attention? Or better to just explain it on the Web, as Parade did immediately after the assassination? Who knows. All I know is that it's journalism. The one thing you're supposed to be is timely and factual. If that's not worth the effort, then hmmm.

I guess it's a good thing no one reads print media.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cindy Crawford--what a hag

We took a trip last week to the world's largest model train shop, conveniently located in Denver. It was pretty amazing...for the first half hour. Then I grew weary of looking at what must have been about 7,000 miles of train track and arguing about which is better, G gauge or HO.

Fortunately, this store knows their audience and the parents of their audience. They have a nice little sitting area next to the Thomas train table with mom-sized chairs and copies of gossip mags. I settled in with Star Magazine to read about the Best and Worst Beach Bodies of 2007.

The best bods were the usual suspects: Hayden Panettiere, Jessica Alba, Eva Longoria, and other hot young things whose vocation it is to look like babes on the beach for the paparazzi. But guess who was the worst? Roseanne Barr? Barbara Bush? No. It was Cindy Crawford. And indirectly, it was me.

Why was Cindy Crawford such an affront to the eyes of beachgoers this year? It's not like she was 750 pounds and wearing a G-string. She didn't have a life-sized tattoo of Yosemite Sam across her front section. She had the nerve to be a mom over 25 wearing a bikini. You could see her stretch marks, which apparently causes the editors of Star to throw up inside their mouths a little.

Because, ew! Here's a woman in her FORTIES who has had two kids and still looks pretty awesome. Every curve is where it's supposed to be. The only difference between her and the best bods is a little extra skin on the abdomen. But gosh, that really offended Star Magazine. So much so, that of all the people on the beach this year, she was the WORST. Never mind that I was sitting in a model train store and every single person in there would look several orders of magnitude worse than Cindy Crawford were they on a beach in Mustique.

Seeing that really kicked me in the ass. Or the stomach, as it were. I am 38 years old. I am a mom. I am in pretty good shape. Yet, I have stretch marks. Oh, the humanity. I wish I could have kept the smooth belly of my 20s forever, but a funny thing happened. I carried two gigantic children. That tends to stretch things out a little. I didn't think that was a huge deal. But apparently every time I walk out on the deck of Spruce Pool, I'm tempting the other patrons to gouge their eyes out. According to Star Magazine, am I now relegated to bathing skirts and demure mom cuts? God I hope not. Yesterday I walked by the racks of extremely cute bikinis at Target and thought, can I really not wear that anymore? Really? 'Cause what a shame.

Oh my god, the comments about Cindy's bod. How can you go out like that? Cover up! Get a tummy tuck! Let me tell you something. At one point after Tea was born, I looked into a tummy tuck, to reduce the sheer amount of extra skin I now have there. And you know what? Not only does it cost about $10,000, but it is MAJOR SURGERY. With a fairly unpleasant recovery time. Do I really want to spend ten large for the privilege of sitting on my ass for two months, waiting to heal? Just so I can look 22 from the neck down? NO. I'd rather buy an awesome custom bike, or go to Thailand for a month. I hope Cindy feels the same way.

Context aside, I was inspired by that photo. Here's a woman who has spent her whole life living up to the beauty myth. Now she has done her time and she is being herself, with her family. And she is still beautiful. More beautiful than 99 percent of beachgoers. And infinitely more stunning than the Star Magazine staff, who, on their best day, probably resemble the cast of Fraggle Rock. No tummy tuck will fix that, bitches.

I hear Jessica Alba is pregnant. Jessica, just remember--you can buy a lot of baby clothes for 10 grand, and still have enough left over for a rockin' bikini.