The fate of the world balanced between my Mom’s fingertips and my oldest sister’s mood. Every morning started the same for me and my three skinny sisters; rattled out of our beds— making them even before we peed, then breakfast, then dressing and lining up to get our long hair put up.  Mom sat in her favorite teak lounge chair watching the morning news, and we sat between her knees one-by-one, Indian style, holding onto her calves.  We mocked the hairstyle calling it “sprouts”, the only hairdo Mom could manage beside a ponytail.  Mom would pull up our bangs and side tendrils with all her might and wrangle them into rubber bands that she saved from the daily paper.   Most days we’d complain of headaches before leaving for school.

There was always a race for the sprouts, and my oldest sister always won.   She always ticked off Mom by wiggling too much or having too many tangles, or she would wait until the moment when her sprouts were all smoothed out, when Mom held them just right and was about to twist on the rubber band …  and my oldest sister would fake a cough or a sneeze.  Mom would have to start all over.  As a consequence, last one done always got a few extra thwacks to the back of the head from Mom’s rattail comb.   My oldest sister took such hilarity in watching us get our heads yanked back hard by Mom’s relentless brushing and seeing Mom get so upset that she’d light a cigarette and take a long drag to calm her trembling hands.

She would sit, my oldest sister, on the sofa with shoulders shuddering in a silent giggle.  Maybe it was sadism or maybe just payback for having to wear the same hair and outfit as her younger sisters.  Those two had the same old argument that ended the same way everyday by Mom saying, “sure it’s fair, every one gets the same treatment around here and that’s the end of it!”  Only it was never the end of it for my older sister.

Maybe in my Mom’s childhood there was favoritism, maybe her sisters got jealous over clothes, maybe my Mom got jealous of a prettier skirt or nicer shoes.  In Mom’s house, we were treated the same, dressed the same — to a fair-thee-well; Mom’s little matryoshka, her little Russian nesting dolls.  Out in the neighborhood we’d cause a scene, just a stir, at the baker’s or the butcher’s, my Mom smiled as we followed behind, her little matryoshka all in a row by age, and she laughed as the old cheek pinching babushkas bubbled and rushed to my doe-eyed baby sister, the cutest.


By the time we were teenagers Mom was long out of the hair battle.  And, no match for my older sisters contesting for time in our one tiny bathroom, I went to school with long kinky greasy brown hair.  Certain that the powers-that-be had it in for me, second semester sophomore year I got first period gym class, swim instruction for the entire semester.  I got an ear infection the first week, but my parents thought I was just faking it to get out of swimming and they didn’t take me to the doctor after school.  That night a 102 temperature and a piercing pain behind my ear woke me up, unable to stand it, I woke up my Dad.  He felt my forehead, frowned and told me how I could relieve the pressure.  I held my nose, closed my mouth and blew air through my ears.  I heard a loud pulsing, then a high squeal and a tremendous whoosh.  Shocked and seeing stars, I grabbed my ear, and screamed before I passed out next to my parent’s bed.  When I came to, blood was in my palm and down my neck.  I spent the rest of night sitting up in my bed, the only position that didn’t make me bawl.    In the morning we went to see the doctor who looked directly at my father when he announced that I had burst my eardrum.

I missed swimming for a week and by doctor’s orders I had to dry my hair.  My teacher let me leave early — for a head start over all the older girls that monopolized the wall mounted hand dryers.   My kinky mop transformed.  It was shiny and straight and wisped back just like a shampoo commercial as I walked through the hallways.  By the end of the week I got asked out on my first date.  By the end of that year I met my future husband.


When I was thirty I had three small children of my own, two boys and a girl.   In my house, our day began with cuddle-time, then bed making, then breakfast, then dressing and hair.  My boys were easy; I brushed their bobbing heads while they brushed their teeth.  My daughter would come to me as I watched the news and sit between my knees, legs akimbo, her arms around my calves.  Her long and thick hair had a mind of its own, no matter what style I tried it would never stay.  It curled every which way and hid her pretty face.

My daughter was asked to her first dance when she was a sophomore.  I took her to a real hairstylist for her first up do.  It took the stylist over two hours to wash, dry, and style her hair.  She used an old-fashioned rubber band to hold her hair in place, my daughter’s eyes welled up and she grimaced when the stylist twisted her hair into place.  The poor stylist had to use all her might to whisk up her hair in a high ponytail and a can of hairspray to hold the long cascade of curls.  Before my eyes my daughter transformed, a mirror holding onto a thirty-year-old reflection.

When we got home she slipped into her dress and heels, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  She twirled around and began to pose like a model when I noticed a little wrinkle on the back of the dress that I had to iron out.   I insisted that she put on a little lip-gloss.  I fussed with her shawl until she became tired of standing still.  I noticed her shoes had a bit of a scuff that I needed to rub out, but she refused to step out of them, and she stomped into her room and wouldn’t come out until I went away.  She shouted through her bedroom door that she didn’t want me to come to her girlfriend’s house for pictures.   I went to the kitchen, sat at the table and wondered when it happened, when had I become my mother?

A few minutes later my daughter tapped me on the shoulder.  She stood there with one hand on her hip and in the other was a hairbrush and lip-gloss.  She told me that if we were going to make it to the pictures I had to get my hair out of my eyes and put a little color on my face.

Coming next week….check back soon.  Happy Easter everyone thanks for visiting.  Kathy

Tea Party women may prove to be the counterpoint to the “Single Mom” demographic courted during the 2008 Presidential Election.

Tea Party women are older, whiter and angrier, and some are, dare I mention it, menopausal.  These disconnected, stay-at-home, Christian moms were looking forward to a few years of peace before retirement, but life and reality caught up with them and maybe even passed a few by.  Their youth is gone, their looks are gone, and unless things change, the chance to retire in comfort is gone. The economy forced their kids to return and their nest eggs and homes to devalue, and some have unemployed husbands hanging around the house collecting unemployment and worker’s comp.  And that makes them angry and wondering who’s to blame?

Many of these women have not yet given a name to their anger or found their voice, but regrettably Sarah Palin may provide a real life heroine for their Harlequinesque predicament.  She’s the beautiful, smart-mouthed political “rogue,” saying and doing what a Tea Party woman never dared.   And, Sarah Palin aggressively courts these adulators to join her new band of Wannabees.  She absolves these women of looking in the mirror for their part in this economic dilemma while pointing her bedazzled finger at Washington.

Will the Tea Party women’s new champion morph into a new political phenomenon requiring them to actually formulate a coherent political ideology?  Or, will she merely facilitate their easy slide into familiar roles learned as teenagers and adolescents, becoming abject followers of their new Queen Bee and “Mean-Girl-in-Chief”?

Don’t kid yourself.  Sarah is a Mean Girl adroit in classic Mean Girl tactics:

  • She calls people names. Barack Obama is a community organizer. Levi Johnston is Ricky Hollywood.  Bloggers are kids in pajamas.
  • She starts rumors.  Back in Wasilla, she insinuated that her mayoral opponent was Jewish as she claimed she would be the first Christian mayor of Wasilla – a Christian town.  Barack Obama pals around with terrorists.  The health care bill has death panels.
  • She blames others for her problems.  When she couldn’t answer Katie Couric’s simple interview questions, Palin claimed to be the victim of “gotcha” journalism.   When she was called out for wearing designer clothes on the campaign trail, it was the RNC’s fault.   When her choice for Alaska’s Attorney General (Wayne Anthony Ross) wasn’t confirmed, she blamed the bloggers.
  • She can’t admit a mistake.  Her rollercoaster performance during the Presidential campaign was blamed on McCain senior staffers, not a bit of postpartum depression, or even the start of peri-menopause.  When she had to pay the state back for family travel expenses, she blamed the state’s dizzying and circular rules.  When caught looking at cheat notes on her palm during a cream puff interview, she took a swipe at the President, stating she had to use a “poor man’s teleprompter.”  Newsflash Sarah, you’re not poor anymore.

What’s most troubling, Sarah Palin can’t apologize for or correct her mistakes.  Not only is this the main characteristic of a Mean Girl; it’s the worst trait for a leader.  To never admit you are wrong about anything is bad enough.  To never correct a mistake is more than divisive and anti-Christian; it’s out-and-out dangerous.  You can never, ever solve a problem if you refuse its origin.

No offense (which is a Mean Girl way to announce you’re about to say something offensive and don’t really care), but when those on the whacky fringes like the Tea Party movement become disrespectful, physical and violent, a credible leader strives to tone down obvious violent rhetoric.  But that’s not Palin.   She’s doubled down on dangerous talk in order to be right, to get her way.   Who will she blame if it backfires (sorry)?

However, there is a way to defeat the Mean Girl.  Beat her at her own game.  I don’t mean lobbing typical Mean Girl comebacks like, “You wouldn’t have to call the media lame if you weren’t so lame yourself,” or “You’re just jealous that I’m a community organizer because you’re such a community divider.”

Don’t take her seriously.  Don’t micro-manage, let her have a long leash, let her obvious social anxieties take further hold of her reason.  Don’t give more weight to her middle school allegiances.  However, not giving her weight would mean ignoring her, the ultimate defeat, which unfortunately will be tough since the media can’t get enough of her, and it’s the negative attention that feeds this beast.

Fortunately, adults don’t usually play by the same rules as those stuck in high school.  Adults pride themselves on the honesty of their relationships and don’t shun people for wearing a particular brand of shoes, or a particular brand of political beliefs.  As attractive a figure as Palin at first blush appears to some, like every Mean Girl she will end up simply damaging the self-esteem of women in the Tea Party and the country.

To get the attention of the Tea Party woman away from the shiny object that is Sarah Palin, it will be necessary to get the economy going.   Get those kids and husbands out of her hair and back to work.  And, don’t forget Grandma, she wants to get the hell out of Dodge.  Get the housing market humming so Granny can move, kit and kaboodle, to Vegas.

Finally, Tea Party woman needs to understand some basic things about civility in politics.  Traditionally, a get-out-the-vote campaign graphic is a check mark on a ballot, not a sight and crosshairs over a congressional district.  Anyone who claims to not understand the difference is a liar.  And, the Tea Party woman should know that today’s Palin courtier is tomorrow’s Palin bootlick.

I have no actual proof that Eric Cantor’s claims of phone intimidation and office vandalism are false.  I don’t know if he is lying outright, but he at least is lying to himself.  And, I don’t buy into his nonchalant demeanour about personal threats and a shot up office.  His behavior reminds me of a GOP supporter’s stunt back in 2008.

In October of 2008, weeks before the presidential election Ashley Todd, a supporter of John McCain, lied about being attacked at an ATM in Pittsburgh by a dark-skinned man.  Katharine Zaleski at HuffPo wrote that Ashley alleged her robber turned attacker when he saw her McCain bumper sticker.  He pinned her down and carved a “B” on her face.

Anyone with eyes could see the fraudulent nature of her story.  It was as plain as the backwards “B” on her face.  Unless the robber had a problem with dyslexia he wouldn’t have carved the “B” backwards.  And, as we all know, most of the liberal elite don’t have learning disabilities and tote Harvard degrees, including the criminals.

Cantor’s timing and his employment of the typical GOP  “I’m rubber and you’re glue” strategy makes me wonder.  Why, when a highly influential and visual member of Congress, the minority whip no less, and the only Jewish Republican, has his office shot up, we don’t hear about it? I don’t buy it. Then to casually announce that the attack happened sometime this week.  I don’t trust it.  Cantor claims not to whine, that  he doesn’t make a federal case out of it, so why do the Democrats? And, when he answers his own question with the claim that the Democrats seek to fan the flames of hatred,  he in fact fan the flames himself.

Mr. Cantor. Threats are a federal case, so are false claims of threats.  We would know to a fare-thee-well the where, when, why, how and who of this attack, if it was real.  As of today, the shot was ruled random by the police.

Threats and attacks aren’t a joke, or something to be used for political gain or sympathy, or to underscore a point.   When Congress members’ addresses, family members names and photos are posted on hate sites, there needs to be concern.  People were killed by politically fueled crackpots in the sixties.  And, people have been murdered by those seeking to intimidate our officials today.

Recall the murders of Judge Joan Lefkow’s husband and mother.  Lefkow presided on a case against World Church of the Creator and it’s leader Matthew Hale.   Hale made threats against Lefkow calling for her extermination. Another white supremacist organization, posted her address and pictures of her husband and children.  But, it was Bart Ross that committed suicide after admitting to the murders.  Although he referenced Nazi’s in his suicide note, no connection could be made to Hale or Stormfront.  But, Lefkow ruled against him on a personal injury case.  When people believe they can change the system by ridding the system of its servants we all have to worry, and was it possible that Ross saw the address on Stormfront?

Cantor has the gall to claim that the Democrats fan the flame of hatred.  It takes one to know one, Cantor.   As Sam Stein wrote on HuffPo, when Republican leaders addressed the  Tea Party Protest at the Capitol they played on the Partiers’ worst fears about healthcare.  Cantor channels his inner guidette when he talks shit to the Dems in hopes of picking a fight.  What will he do when a big, strong, juicehead wingnut jumps in to finish what he started?  And, if it’s all no big deal, nothing to worry about, then why did Congressman Cantor ask for increased protection?

Our move to the suburbs shocked our family and friends.  Most people took us as dyed-in-the-wool city dwellers, hardcore party animals on the power couple path.  Looking back in hindsight twenty-five years later, our decision to move was not made with our usual over-thinking, over–analyzing, over-plotting-to-the-point-of-mental-paralysis style.

Mike’s Mom had passed away that year.  Helplessly watching her struggle after a major heart attack and her months long stay in the ICU left us numb.  At the time, moving to her condo in Glenview and thinking about starting a family seemed like the thing to do.  Especially considering the ‘life is hard and then you die’ mentality we held at the time.

In hindsight, if things had progressed a bit more naturally, more according to our ideas of what ought to be, I believe we would have remained in the city and raised kids there.  Betsy, my daughter, said after learning that we really wished we had lived in Chicago all these years, “We would have been way cooler if we were city kids.” Nah.  If Betsy was any cooler she would pee ice cubes.

I looked up hindsight.  I was unaware of it’s meaning in relation to marksmanship.  It’s the hindsight of a gun that guides the bullet in the direction you wish it to go.  Furthermore, the hindsight must be set in the opposite direction of the bullet’s preferred path.   If you want the bullet to travel left you set the hindsight to the right, if you want the bullet to go right, set your sight to the left.  Which, I guess makes sense when wondering if you made a mistake, if you have missed your mark.  Only, it’s too late anyway if you have set your sight in the wrong direction.   Ultimately, for us, I don’t think we would have been any happier in the city.

At first, I used to joke with my friends. “At least the parking is good.”

In reality, the opposite is true.  At least in the city people are honest that the parking sucks. They admit they have to drive around the block a hundred times, circling further and further away before finding a legal spot.

Suburbanites have no excuse.  There are plenty of spaces in Outer Mongolia, as Mike calls it.  So why do we all take that extra lap or two or ten around the parking lot to get the premium space?

It was winter, just before Christmas and I had to take all three kids with me to the grocery store.  I had run out for milk in the middle of a blizzard.  Danny at 9 months wasn’t walking yet and he weighed almost as much as Matt, who was five.   I lucked upon a guy pulling out of a space right next to the store entrance and pulled up in queue before anyone else did, and I waited.

The driver was a total dolt.  Not only did he take forever to turn his car on, he committed the dreaded act of turning out of the space into me, making me vulnerable to nefarious car space usurpers.  These people are evil.  They take advantage of those of us with patience enough to wait around for the parking challenged idiocracy to get their acts together.  These people have the balls to swoop in and steal your well-deserved spot.

When this major bag-a-douche pulls a classic pimp move on me, I could not let him get away with it.  I stayed right where I was and laid on the horn until he got out of his car.

“Hey, real nice.” I shouted.  He was a big healthy guy; he didn’t need to park so close. “I’ve got three kids to schlep, you big jerk.” He wouldn’t look at me.  “Hey, I’m talking to you.” He stared ahead. “Yeah, well, Merry Fucking Christmas!”  I drove off and parked in Outer Mongolia.

I forgot about the rude stranger until Christmas dinner at Mom’s.  We all decided to squeeze in at her dining room table.  We sat elbow-to-elbow. Dad ended grace by saying, Merry Christmas.  Then, one by one, each of us said Merry Christmas.  When it came around to Matt’s turn, he was filled with emotion and glee and he shouted at the top of his lungs.  “Merry Fucking Christmas!”

excerpt: …

The driver was a total dolt.  Not only did he take forever to turn his car on, he committed the dreaded act of turning out of the space into me, making me vulnerable to nefarious car space usurpers.  These people are evil.

I believe that  I have invented a new word. And, I have been using it all around the house.  I blurted it out a few mornings ago.

I couldn’t get my high school senior out of bed for school.  I was agitated and doing too many things at once.  Danny, my youngest, was ignoring my shouts to get up.  Which meant I had to trudge all the way to the back of the basement to roust his lazy a out of bed.  (Yes, I have turned into a woman with a son living in the basement.  The horror.)  I trompe on down the stairs with my 15-year-old border collie leading the way, or getting in the way was more like it, while thinking of an appropriately firm, no threatening, no joking, no PISSED OFF thing to say to let him know that I meant business.

“Danny! Come on.” I said trying to pull off his comforter.   “Let’s go, fucko!”  Which, if you think about it, is somewhere between fartface and bucko, which is what I was thinking.  Bad things happen when I have too much going on in my mind.  Danny shot up and hurtled out of bed like monkey on a space shuttle.

“Ge’ez, Mom! I’m going.” He said.

I laughed all the way up the stairs not even bothering to explain that I couldn’t find the right word and didn’t mean to say something so offensive.  I get way to much flack for my tip-of- the- tongue disease as it is and it’s just fine with me to keep the kids guessing.  And, I’ve discovered a sexy little french phrase for this memory phenom too, Presque vu.  At least the French understand me.

Of course Mike, my dear hubby, believes that I must have heard the word from somewhere else.  Today as we were driving around and he was about to run the car up a curb I said, “Watch it fucko!”  And I giggled at my proper use of my new invention.

“You didn’t invent that word.” He said.

“Sure I did, you know I did the other day with Danny in the basement.”

“You must have seen it on Goodfellas or some movie like that.” He said.

“Nope, I invented it.” I said.  “Goodfellas! They don’t say fucko in Goodfellas, I would have remember that.”

“Well, I’m sure somebody else said it before you.” He said.

“Maybe so, but have they used on purpose? I don’t think so. Beside it’s up to someone else to prove that they invented it.  I’m going to claim it tonight on my blog.”

Fucko: noun, the proper name to call your husband when you jump into bed feeling a little hopeful only to be greeted by his sniggering and a wicked SBD. Proper usage: Thanks a lot, fucko.

This past fall Mike and I dropped off our youngest son for a overnight visit at the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse.  On the way home we made a quick pit stop at the local AM/PM MiniMart.  We both headed for the back of the store.  By the time Mike was out of the men’s I was still waiting in the line for the ladies.  He rolled his eyes as he passed me and the women and children in front of me.   I shrugged.

A women with long, translucent blond hair, and a pink face pushed past our small line and tried to open the bathroom door.  It was locked.  She let out at loud sigh and turned around.  Her red face deepened as she realized we were standing there ahead of her.

“You can budge ahead of me.” I said to her.  “I don’t mind.”  I was the last one in line.

She took her place between me and another woman who was busy chatting with the mom and her kids. The kids were holding their privates and teetering on tiptoe.

Finally, the door opened and old woman exited.  An odor of rotten eggs followed her as she passed by all of us.  The family squeezed their way into what had to be a small one-holer, holding their  breath as if they were jumping into the deep end of a pool.  Mike walked by me holding his nose.  He asked if I wanted chips and diet coke.  I nodded.

The blond woman shifted from one foot to the other and sucked wind between her teeth.  “I don’t think I can stand it.”  She said just above a whisper.

“Why don’t you check and see there is anyone is the men’s.  I’m sure no one would mind.” I said.

“No, it’s not that.” The woman said facing me now.  “It’s that I just came from my ex-husband’s house.”

“Oh, that can be hard.”  I replied.

“He’s dead.  I had to be the one to find him.  Dead like that, just laying there”  She said giggling.  She wore large dark rimmed glasses that were teared stained and greasy.  “Why would anyone laugh at a dead man?  I’m pretty sure I’m traumatized.”

“I’m so sorry.”  I looked down at my feet.  Don’t make eye contact.

“He was face down, in a pool of blood. Or I guess it was blood.  The big stain was dried all brown.  His body was huge and bloated. Ugh, the smell.”  She faced me now, she moved in closer.   I looked around for Mike, he was in the next aisle and had a big smile on his face.  I know he had to have been within earshot of our conversation.  He had that look.

“We raise a boy together, but he’s away at college now.  My ex was supposed to pay the tuition.  Our son, left a message.  I left one too. Then his work called me.  He still had me as the emergency contact I guess. Can you imagine?  After all these years still had me as his emergency contact.  He must have had no one.”

“Hmm, I can’t imagine that.” I said.

“When I went to his house, the papers were piled up and the mail too.  I went inside.  Do you think I should have done that?  You don’t think anyone will think I had something to do with it?”

I looked around the mart, pretending to have lost something.  Mike, after hearing her last question, spun a quick 180 degrees on his heels and headed for the door.  He waved at me.

The woman moved in close to me, to put her head on my shoulder.  I had no option but to give her a hug. “Why would they think that?” I said as I watched my devoted husband make his way to the car.   I patted the woman on her back and flipped him the bird.

“Oh, honey that must have been awful for you.”  I said.  “You just went in to check on him right?”  I tried to back away from her, but she moved with me.

“Yes, that’s what I told the police.  He had a heart condition and stomach condition.  Maybe his stomach exploded.  That would make all that blood right? But, where would that blood come from, his mouth?”

“I have no idea.”  I didn’t even want to think about where exploding stomach blood would exit a body, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be the mouth.

The woman and the kids finally got out of the bathroom.  The other single woman in front of us stepped in.  She gave the blond woman a good once over and shook her head at me.

The blond lady stepped a bit closer to the bathroon. I hung back.  “I’m so worried.  I don’t think the police believed me.  They didn’t want me to leave.  But, I just had to get out of there.  You should have seen the way they were looking at me, like I was some sort of suspect.”

“Maybe you should step into the men’s room. Splash a little water on your face, freshen up and head back.”

“Ha! I don’t think so! They would just love that.  I know what they’re thinking.”  She walked over to the window and looked left and right.   Finally, the other woman left the bathroom.  She ignored us both as she passed by.  The blond took one more look around outside before she entered the bathroom.   She turned on the water full force and bayed like a bloodhound.

I went for the car.  Mike was inside laughing.

“Were you just hugging a murderess?” He asked.

“I don’t know.  Thanks, for leaving me hanging in there Sir Doucher.  Her hair smelled like sweaty feet.  I can’t get it out of my nose.”

Mike just kept on laughing.  I hit him on the arm.  “Super.  I have my new motto.  Have you hugged a murderer today?”

It’s gorgeous out today so I decided to take my spring cleaning outdoors.  But, before I stepped outside, I quickly emailed my daily reminder to all 19 Illinois Congress members of my support of health care reform.

What’s with these politicians anyway?

Well, I’m pretty sure I know what it is with the Democrats.  Even with the  mandate of winning the House, the Senate and the White House, Democrats behave like politic’s little brother, constantly in need of approval.  Unfortunatly, they aren’t going to get props from their mean big GOP Brethren in Congress. And the Party did it’s job by getting out the vote, and handing them unprecedented majorities.  All this inaction and waffling has left the voters confused. Grow up and do what you said you would do.  Finish!  Realize that you can finally beat up big brother.  And, when you finally deliver that well deserved sock in the nose he will respect you.

It’s the Republicans I can’t figure out.  What is with them?   As I survey the yard, and the hundreds of my dog’s dry white turds left from winter I realize the GOP’s problem.  They have lost all nutrients, all usefulness, sans even a molecule or two of bilirubin to show some respectable shitty brownness.  But, they are everywhere you look, these not important lumps of dung.  Even though they have lost their smell, no one wants to step in them, or even around them.

However, they must be dealt with.  So, how to deal with them quickly and efficiently?  Run them over with the lawnmower and forget they were even there. And, getting rid of the white turds is just as easy.  Just get out the ol’ pooper scooper.