Sunday, May 2, 2010

Underneat That, It's All Good

Hey, Friends!

We're moving this party to a bigger and better joint!  Please join the party at

The move is a really, really good thing.  It’s means I’ve attracted enough followers to justify having my own website.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Profuse enough?  Not yet?  I’m getting there . . .)

Here’s where I really need you:  To get a book deal, I must have a kabillion (give or take) followers and a jillion hits to my new site.  Comments – good, bad, or downright evil – are also valuable to me. 

So please.  I’m begging here.  Please visit my site, register, and leave a comment.  And if you really want to keep the party going, subscribe to the RSS feed or follow me on Twitter.

I promise to love you forever and to sign every copy of my book you purchase (ha!).   As a matter of fact, I’ll do pretty much anything for you except babysit your kids.

Friday, April 30, 2010

When in Rome, Do as the Enquirer

Rome was the last stop on our Italy trip.  Sandra, our tour guide, led us to the top of the Palatine Hill, where legend has it the twins Romulus and Remus were kept alive by a she-wolf after being abandoned by their mother.  Romulus later founded the city of Rome on that hill, and excavations have determined that people have lived there since 1000 B.C.

As we reached the top of the hill and looked down at the remains of the Forum on one side and Circus Maximus on the other, Sandra said, “The history of Rome is this:  if you dig, you will find something.”

She meant, of course, that digging in Rome means finding, say, the ruins of an ancient temple or an arch some emperor had constructed and named after himself.  In fact, it’s extremely difficult for Rome to add new subway routes because digging almost always uncovers an ancient ruin that must be preserved.

If you dig, you will find something.  Those words are true about a lot more than just the city of Rome.

Take, for instance, good old John Edwards.  His mistress, Rielle Hunter, was pregnant with his child while he was posing with his wife at Wendy’s and making a big hooha over his 30th wedding anniversary.   A tabloid dug and, by golly, found something.

(And for the record, I love how Ms. Hunter told Oprah yesterday that she trusts John Edwards.  She’s special, you see.  He would never cheat on her.)

In fact, I'll bet Elizabeth Edwards, Sandra Bullock, Elin Woods, Shawn Southwick (the girl married to Larry King, himself an ancient ruin), and Tiki Barber's wife all wish they'd done some digging before the tabloids did.

Several years ago, my teenage daughter came into my bedroom and told me she’d found evidence her father was cheating on me.  Then she crossed her arms over her chest and, with eyebrows raised, said, “How much more are you going to take?”

See, I already suspected he was cheating.  I just didn’t want to know.  But when your daughter thinks you need to get out, it’s time to do some digging.

So I dug.  And of course I found something.  It wasn't the Arch of Constantine, but I found the email of Niedra and the airline ticket of Delta and the “three new flirts” confirmation of his AdultFriendFinder account.

My advice:  when in a troubled marriage, do as the Romans and dig.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dollars and (a Lack of) Sense

I try, and I try, but I can't comprehend this one:  basically, while our financial system was melting down, our financial watchdogs were watching porn.

According to reports that came out last week, employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission were, quite literally, playing with themselves while my retirement account was vanishing.  That pisses me off!

Apparently, one senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington was logging 8 hours a day on porn sites while he was at work.  One accountant, a woman, viewed porn sites 1,800 times in two weeks.  Another employee made 16,000 attempts to view blocked sites in one month.

Out of 31 serious alleged offenders, 17 were senior employees who made between $100,000 and $222,000 a year.
Makes Tiger Woods seems like an innocent little pussycat, doesn’t it?  And the comparison begs the question of whether serial cheaters like Tiger and Jesse James are really sex addicts.

I mean, Tiger was at least working 8 hours a day and winning major tournaments while getting his action on the side.  These idiots at the SEC were working full-time with their porn.  It makes one wonder if the people around them didn’t notice that productivity had taken a nosedive.

I love what author Mike Leahy said about the SEC boys (and girl, apparently).   The author of Porn Nation:  Conquering America's #1 Addiction, he candidly said on Good Morning America, “Trust me, these guys are addicts.”   And for those who must know exactly HOW in the name of Hugh Hefner someone could jeopardize a $100,000-a-year job with pictures of things that make some people lose their lunch, click on Leahy's link.  He explains it well.

But really, I'm not so interested in how those folks got to be so addicted to porn.  I’m just wondering if the whole mess could have been avoided if Bernie Madoff and the boys at Goldman Sachs had just been wearing leather chaps and spiked collars while they were screwing with our financial system.

Come to think of it, Bernie's prolly wearing chaps these days.  Punishment for the SEC idiots should be having to turn their retirement funds over to Bernie's investment expertise.

That would give me a little satisfaction.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Next Stop: Sanity!

Positano, Italy, might be the most beautiful place on the planet.  It’s certainly the prettiest place I’ve ever visited, and that’s saying something, given that I’ve been to Paris, Venice, Hawaii, Jamaica, the English countryside, and Columbia, South Carolina.

Or maybe I just have strong feelings for Positano because I almost didn’t live to see it.

I should explain that, accompanying my group was a guy named Rick Steves, the travel guru, in the form of his 8-pound guidebook.  In the section on Positano, Rick encouraged us to take the bus from Sorrento to Positano, and he specifically said to get off at the second Positano stop.

Positano, you see, is built on the side of a mountain.  Its narrow streets wind back and forth down the side of that mountain to its gorgeous beach.  And on the way down to the beach, Rick Steves said, Positano has more women’s designer clothing stores per square foot than any other place on earth. In addition, the Positano sandalmakers create custom-made sandals while you wait.  I had found my mothership.

About thirty minutes after we left Sorrento, the bus stopped, and the driver yelled, “Positano!”  and people started getting off the bus.  Just to be sure we didn’t miss our stop, the SECOND STOP, someone in our group asked the driver.  

“No, no, this is first.  You get off next stop,” he said.

We sat back down and gawked at the view from our bus seats.  And ninety seconds after the first stop, the bus stopped again.  We stood up and got off and watched as the bus pulled away.  A woman who had gotten off with us then said, “Where are you going?  This is my house.  If you want the bus stop, you have to walk down the road.”

Holy hairpin turn, Batman!  We were on a narrow mountain road with a rock wall on one side and a sheer cliff on the other.  The shoulder on each side of the road was a good 18 inches deep.  We began walking single file, hugging the rock wall and cringing as cars whizzed by and the people in them pointed and laughed at the estupido Americanos.

We griped about the bus driver the whole rest of the afternoon.  Why hadn’t he stopped us from getting off when he did the woman a favor and let her out at her house? 

Then again, why hadn’t we thought to look for the bus stop sign and the crowd of folks waiting to board our bus?  

We got off at the wrong stop because of a rigid adherence to a guidebook.  Rather than looking around at the circumstances and thinking for ourselves, we were committed to getting off at the second stop because that’s what Rick Steves said to do.

That was the last day I read the Rick Steves guidebook.  That day in gorgeous Positano, I decided that I’m not going through life any longer with my nose so buried in a guidebook that I miss the view. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weighing In on the Pompeii Porn Debate

Mt. Vesuvius blew its top in 79 A.D., spewing molten ash and poisonous sulphuric gas into the air for two days.  Because of the way the wind was blowing, the city of Pompeii was buried in nearly 66 feet of ash and perfectly preserved before it was rediscovered in 1592.  Careful excavation, which began over 200 years ago, has yielded unbelievable insight into what life in Pompeii was like.

The people of Pompeii obviously understood the importance cleanliness played in preserving public health.  The four public baths – two for men and two for women – were available to all citizens. 

The city had an aqueduct that provided fresh water to the public baths, to wealthier private homes and businesses, and to some 25 public street fountains.  Most interesting is that during a drought, the water supply to less essential places could be cut off so that it was directed solely to the public street fountains.

Pompeii also had its nightlife.  The Lupanar is the most famous brothel discovered in the remains of Pompeii, and archaeologists know it was a brothel because of two things: the graffiti scratched into the building’s stone walls and the frescoes above each doorway.  The frescoes served as sort of a menu for clients, who merely had to point to a picture of what they wanted or say something like, “I’d like the number 4 combo, please.”  The name, Lupanar, by the way, means “she-wolves,” and it apparently got the name because the prostitutes stood outside in the evenings howling to prospective customers.

Needless to say, the moral codes of Pompeii were a little looser than what we’re used to.  In fact, the city was full of erotic frescoes, and even many household items had sexual themes, leading some to call it a second “Sodom and Gomorrah,” and pointing to its destruction as God’s judgment on the city’s immorality.  But others argue that the ubiquitous sexual imagery is really religious fertility imagery invoking the blessing of Priapus (pictured above), the god of fertility and protector of male genitalia.

Note the scale in the picture of Priapus and let me know what you think:  religious fertility imagery or porn? 

I just wonder if someone is going to uncover a nude photo of Pamela Anderson 2,000 years from now and ponder the question of whether it’s porn or some religious offering to the Baywatch ocean goddess of saline implants.  

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Things To Do on the Back of a Vespa

Raffaele Esposito was a chef in Naples, Italy, at the end of the 19th century.  He was asked to create a dish in honor of the Queen consort of Italy, a woman named Margherita.  Different versions of pizza – sauce on flat bread – had been around, oh, since the Neolithic Age.  But Esposito, who wanted to use the colors of the Italian flag (red, white, and green) garnished his bread with tomatoes and basil and brilliantly added cheese.  He named it Pizza Margherita.

Cheese makes everything better, doesn’t it?

So Naples, Italy, is the birthplace of pizza as we know and love it.  Ten minutes after we got off the train in Naples, we were in a car headed to Pizzeria da Michele, purportedly the best pizza place in the place that invented pizza.

The line was out the door.  Michele had a 45-minute wait, and we had a tour of the ruins of Pompeii in one hour.  We asked our driver, Franco, if Michele had carryout.

“Si, si,” he nodded.   He elbowed his way through the crowd and ten minutes later came out carrying six large pizzas (a bargain at less than $6 each).

We were on the sidewalk of a crowded city street.   Cars and scooters were randomly parked up and down the street, three cars deep in some places.  Franco set the pizza boxes down on the back of a Vespa, and we inhaled those pizzas while standing around that bike.

Yes, it was delicious.  And yes, it would have been worth the 45-minute wait. 

And yes, we wiped the wayward sauce off the stranger’s Vespa before we climbed back into our cars and headed to the ancient city of Pompeii. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A New Appreciation for Mondays

After only 1 ½ days in the world’s most romantic city, our tour guide, Vania, a native of Venice, met us at our hotel and guided us, suitcases in tow, through the narrow cobblestone streets of Venice, over two bridges, and through two campos to a waiting water taxi, which took us to the Venice train station. 

At the train station, Nathan’s lovely wife pulled the group train ticket out of her packet of travel documents and confirmed that we had 45 minutes until our train, the #10 to Florence, departed. 

Thirty-five minutes later, Nathan’s lovely wife had every person in the group searching their bags for our ticket.  After I searched my bag, I sat down on my suitcase in the middle of the train station and began playing iPhone solitaire. 

Five minutes after that, a panicked Vania went to the train office with a photocopy of our ticket and begged on our behalf for mercy.  She came back sadly shaking her head.  I could tell she was worried about having to take care of the stupid Americans for another day.

That was when a conductor for the #10 train, seeing the looks of dismay on our faces, approached us.  “Did you lose a ticket?” he asked.

“Si, si!”  we all yelled in unison.

He held up our ticket.  Apparently, someone had found our ticket on the ground and turned it in.  I turned to the relieved Vania and said, “You’ll have a good story to tell at dinner tonight.”

She smiled for the first time all morning.

If Venice is the world’s most romantic city, Florence has to be the most artistically inspired city on the planet.   It’s the birthplace or chosen home of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Dante, Botticelli, and Galileo. 

And for those impressed by art that's a little more modern (not to mention the architecture of today’s high heels), Florence is the birthplace of the great fashion designers Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Guccio Gucci.

It’s most famous resident, though, is a 17-foot marble statue named David. 

David’s story is interesting.  He was commissioned to a sculptor named Agostino in 1464, who hacked away at the legs for a year or so before losing the commission in 1466 when his master, Donatello, died.

A guy named Rossellino took over the job but quickly lost the contract.  The hunk of marble lay neglected and exposed to the elements for 25 years before a young Michelangelo thought he saw something in the miserable piece of marble and beat out Leonardo da Vinci for the job of completing David.

He got the commission on August 16, 1501.  And then the 26-year-old got up and started the job on a Monday morning.  

Michelangelo famously worked under the premise that David – now the standard of artistic perfection -- was in the stone all along.  The rough edges just had to be chipped away.  It’s a metaphor for us all, I think.

And isn’t it great to know that inspiration is possible on a Monday? 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Finding Romance in Venice

What do you do when barbarians keep attacking your city, stealing your money, ravishing your women, and burning your houses?

If you’re a group of northern Italians who like to color outside the lines, you begin rebuilding the city on an island in the middle of a lagoon.  Then you build on the island next to it, and the one next to that, until you have almost 120 islands connected by bridges combining to form your city.

Somehow, that city evolves into one of the wealthiest republics in the world.  And hundred of years after that, it becomes known as the most romantic city on the planet.

The history of Venice, of course, has all the elements of a good story:  money, sex, religion, tons of conflict, and a little irony.

Every little island had, and still has, its own campo (our word for plaza) and its own church, which means Venice boasts nearly 120 churches.  Of course, the biggest and most famous of all the churches in Venice is St. Mark’s Basilica, also known as the “Gold Church” because its domes are inlaid with gilded mosaics.

Venice was an extremely wealthy republic until Napoleon conquered it in 1797. During his campaign, the four horses on St. Mark’s fa├žade were taken as spoils of war (they were returned by France in 1815).  Interestingly, those four horses were booty taken from Constantinople during the Crusades, and the church itself was founded upon the remains of the Apostle Mark, which were stolen from Alexandria, Egypt.   Supposedly, his remains were smuggled past Muslim guards in barrels of pork.

Even the grandest cathedrals of the world have a slightly checkered past.  I love that.

As for the sex in Venice’s history, housed in the Venetian arsenal along with hundreds of swords, spears, guns, and shields, was a 16th century chastity belt.  And from the looks of that belt, the Venetians were obviously concerned about protecting every form of booty in their town.

That belt has to be the envy of every redneck dad who sits at the kitchen table cleaning his gun when his daughter gets picked up for a date.

The chastity belt made me wonder how Venice came to be known as the most romantic city in the world.  I was pondering that irony as we left the Doge’s Palace and headed for the famous Rialto Bridge.

Lenny Kravitz sings a song called “What Did I Do With My Life?”   The words of the chorus get me every time:

You can live any way you wanna
All you have to do is dance
Achieve anything you thought of
You just have to take the chance
You can fall in love with your life
'Cause that truly is romance
What did I do with my life?

During my gondola ride in Venice -- with a third-generation gondolier singing “O Sole Mio” and pointing out Casanova’s residence -- I had this thought:  I freakin’ love my life.  I am, quite possibly, the happiest girl in the world.

Venice, I get it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chewbacca Would've Had Trouble in Italy

As the keeper of three incorrigible dachshunds, a three-legged Australian Shepherd, and a Bengal cat prone to STD’s, I was hardly surprised when my trip to Italy was jeopardized by a wayward pussy.

Since we live in the same neighborhood, my traveling companions offered to give me a ride to the airport.  Our flight was at 9 p.m., and they were to pick me up between 6:30 and 7.  Knowing my traveling companions, whom I’ll refer to as “Nathan” and his “lovely wife,” I expected my pickup to be somewhere around 7:10. 

At 7:15, they pulled into the driveway, where I was sitting on my suitcase playing solitaire on my iPhone. As the mother of teenage daughters, I learned to play solitaire while waiting to hear the clop-clop of their high heels on the stairwell, meaning they were FINALLY ready to go.   Somehow, solitaire keeps me from getting nervous and upset about being late.  This time, I was too busy worrying about uncovering the Ace of Hearts to obsess over the rule that you should arrive at the airport two hours before an international flight.  That schedule, my friend, was gone with the wind.

Nathan and his lovely wife were late because they couldn’t corral their cat.  They were having the hardwood floors in their home refinished during the trip to Europe, and the cat was discombobulated by all the furniture moving and suitcase packing that had gone on that day.  When it came time for them to leave and for kitty cat to go stay with the wife’s mom, kitty was nowhere to be found.  And when she was found, she was a bundle of claws and teeth.

We made good time getting to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport .  Thankfully, efficient curbside check-in and light traffic in the security lanes on a Thursday evening had us at the gate with time to spare.

I’ve never been a huge fan of flying, and those overnight flights in economy class are the stuff of nightmares for me.  Well, they used to be.  On this trip, I discovered the magic combination of Ambien plus KLM’s complimentary glass of wine with dinner. 

I woke up when the captain was saying the Dutch equivalent of “Put your seat backs up and store your shit.  It’s time to land.”

As a public service to my readers, I offer this advice:  Don’t EVER change planes in Amsterdam’s Schipol airport.  That’s the airport the crotch bomber bluffed his way through back in December.  Now, they’re cavity searching all blonde-haired Americans to make up for their grave mistake.  A direct flight to Italy is the better choice, especially with that unpronounceable Icelandic volcano still causing trouble.

All the travel hassles were forgotten, however, when we landed in Venice.  A ten-minute walk took us to a water taxi that delivered us to a spot on the Grand Canal just a short walk to our hotel.

John Berendt, who wrote the bestselling Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, wrote a book about Venice called The City of Falling Angels.  The book opens with a devastating fire that destroyed the Fenice Opera House in Venice in 1996.  The Fenice has since been restored, and our hotel, the Fenice Hotel, was within steps of the Opera House.  I’d also picked up a book called A Thousand Nights in Venice by Marlena de Blasi.  It opens at a small wine bar called Vino Vino, which I spotted while pulling my suitcase over two bridges and several cobblestone walkways on the way to the hotel.  Having already recognized two spots I'd read about, I began to feel right at home in Venice.

Right at home, that is, until I got to my hotel room. The shower in my room was nothing more than a hose and nozzle attached to the spigot, and it was not attached to the wall.  It had to be held by hand.  Since I have as much hair as Chewbacca, it’s pretty much impossible to lather my hair with one hand.  

And shaving in Venice?  Wasn’t. Going. To. Happen.  I now know why European women are legendary for not shaving their armpits.  They can’t.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I Found the Perfect Man!

I get tickled every time I hear the George Strait song “She Let Herself Go.”  In case you’re not familiar with the song, it goes something like this:

When he said he didn’t love her no more, she let herself go.
Let herself go on a singles cruise,
To Vegas once, then to Honolulu,
Let herself go to New York City
A week at the spa, came back knocked-out pretty
When he said he didn’t love her no more, she let herself go.

Last week, my friends, I let myself go.  I went to Italy, where I ate plates full of pasta and drank red wine every single day.  I enjoyed a sunset gondola ride in Venice.  I brought home an Italian man named Umberto (pictured above).  Okay, he’s a vase from the Murano glass factory in Venice, but as men go, he’s perfect; I’ll always know where he is, and he won’t try to tell me what to do.

I visited a winery in Tuscany and shipped home a case of both red and white.  They arrived today.

I saw Michelangelo’s David (another perfect man -- strong, silent, with abs of marble) and the Sistine Chapel.  I stood in the ruins of the Roman Coliseum. 

I ate pizza at Pizzeria da Michele, the one Elizabeth Gilbert raved about in Eat, Pray, Love.  And yes, it is quite possibly the best pizza on the planet. 

In short, I had the time of my life.  And for the next week or so, whether you like it or not, you’re going to read about my trip. 

And for the record, I’ve done everything else in the song except the Honolulu thing.  That one, I did three times. 

A Boy and His (Three-Legged) Dog

Pancho the overgrown puppy is having the time of his life at my house.  He jumps into the pool approximately every fifteen minutes, which means he stays wet all day long.  So he got a haircut yesterday (a shave, really, since he can't stand on three legs long enough to brush his hair out), and he wears that neckerchief with a jaunty swagger.  I admire him, my damaged dog, for the simple reason that he doesn't mope around focusing on what he's missing.  He's over it.  I find myself wanting to be like Pancho.

The dachshunds have grudgingly accepted him.  They wouldn’t look me in the eye for the first two days he was here, but a large plate of cheese and pastrami scrambled eggs fixed that situation.

Bella the crazy, tainted pussy probably will be pissed forever.  She jumped onto the kitchen counter and punched a hole in the package of beautiful pasta I brought home from Italy just to let me know how much she hates me.

Following is my kid’s version of Pancho’s story:

“What happened?” Mom asks.

“Pancho just lost his leg,” I choke.

“You’re joking,” she says with a chuckle while she fills my bowl with more soup.
I hold up the sweaty phone to show her the text. I feel sad and angry at the same time. Not angry at his new owners, but angry at myself. The best dog in the world just lost his leg because of a careless mistake to put him in the bed of a truck.  What were they thinking? More importantly, what was I thinking letting them have my dog, my best friend?

She slides the bowl away as if she can read my mind. There is nothing I can do. It was my decision to let him stay in the mountains with them.  Images run through my mind of a sad dog that drags through life because he is missing a leg.

A few days pass, and he returns to his house in the mountains. We decide to go visit him and see how he is recovering. I walk around the corner of the house expecting to see him lying in pain.

But boy, was I wrong.

He dashes around the corner and jumps straight onto my chest. He kisses me like he thought he would never see me again. I stand up and look straight at him. He looks at me and settles down. He’s a few feet away, but I know what he’s thinking.  Any sudden movements, and I was sure to be attacked with more licks to the face. I slowly raise my hand and creep over to him.  He knows what’s going on.  I start sprinting the other way in hope for a game of good old-fashioned chase.  But I look over my shoulder and see him sitting there with his head tilted. I sit down on the grass and he trots over to me. He rests his head on my knee as if to say, “Can’t you see I’m missing a leg?”

I pat his head while tears stream down my face.  He immediately answers with a lick to tell me it’s not my fault.  So as we sit on the field watching the kids play, I know who my best friend is.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I've Been Called Worse!

I can now officially be called the crazy dog lady. I have a new one, a three-legged Australian Shepherd named Pancho who is the reason I cry when I see those Pedigree commercials about rescue dogs.

But Pancho isn’t a rescue dog. Not really.

About this time last year, my son began begging for an Australian Shepherd puppy. He even had him picked out. He found a puppy online, called the breeder, and found out that Pancho the puppy was, indeed, available. All that he needed for the puppy to be his were a major credit card and mom’s consent.

We already had three dachshunds and a crazy-ass Bengal cat. And in the past, he’d begged for a Chinese Water Dragon and quickly returned it. I told him no.

A couple of weeks later, I was awakened by an Australian Shepherd puppy licking my face. My ex had purchased little Pancho and brought him to my kid.

Here’s a tip for all the divorced people of the world. Hell, it’s a tip for all the people of the world: don’t buy a dog for another person’s house. If you buy a dog, it’s yours.

My kid left for school that morning, and little Pancho looked up at me as if to say, “Looks like it’s just the two of us. What’s the plan?”

I drove the puppy to the condo complex my ex was developing and put him in the clubhouse. Then I sent my ex a text that read, “Your dog is in your clubhouse.”

His reply: “That’s our son’s birthday present.”

My response: “His birthday is not for four months. Try again.”

Pancho lived with my ex for a day or so, spending his days in a crate in the garage. I drove my son over to the house in the afternoons to walk Pancho. Then the dog was sent to obedience school for two weeks. But the thing about obedience school is that it only works if the owner participates. Pancho’s owner did not.

My ex found Pancho another home about two hours away from us. My kid was sad, but he knew the people, so he understood that it was a clear case of making the best of a bad situation.

But then the situation worsened. A couple of months later, my kid got a text from the man saying that Pancho had broken his leg and that he might have to be put to sleep. He read the text aloud to me as I was cooking dinner.

I laughed out loud. I thought it was a joke. But then I looked up at my kid. He was crying.

I called the man. He had put Pancho the puppy into the back of his pickup truck for a trip to the vet. Pancho jumped out of the truck and broke his leg so badly it couldn't be fixed.

“But he’s not a horse,” I said to the man.

“That’s what the vet said. He doesn’t know if it can be fixed, but he went crazy when I suggested putting the dog down.”

That was last summer. Pancho healed quickly, and he got around on three legs very, very well. In fact, he’s quite a handful on just those three legs. I know, because my son and I took him to the beach with us in January. I carried that heavy dog up and down the stairs for two days before I realized he’s quite capable of managing stairs on his three legs.

Two weeks ago, I got a text. “We don’t want Pancho any more. He keeps eating our other dog's $70 radio collars. Do you want him?”

Yes. I did. For starters, I couldn’t bear to see my kid hurt again. And I knew that the three-legged Pancho might not fare so well in the rescue dog system. But maybe the bigger reason is that he’s another someone that my ex pursued and then decided he didn’t want. Like me, he got terribly hurt in the process. Pancho, as it turns out, is a kindred soul.

Call me crazy.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fame is Gonna Cost You

Have you heard about Donna Simpson? She’s the woman who’s trying to become the fattest woman in the world.

Right now, she’s in the 600-pound range, up from the 532 pounds she weighed three years ago when she gave birth to her daughter.

Her Baby Daddy, who she says is “a belly man,” is a scrawny little thing who weighs a mere 150 pounds.

I need to picture slaughtered hogs just to stop thinking about how in the hell he actually managed to get her pregnant. It’s like a male Chihuahua with an obese English Mastiff.

Obviously, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Prolly a step stool had to be used, at least for the Chihuahua.

To accomplish her goal of becoming one-ton Tessie, Ms. Simpson eats 12,000 calories a day. She loves sushi, she says, and eats 70 pieces at a sitting. So much food is expensive, of course, but she has men who love to buy her dinner. People actually pay $11 to download a video of her eating. Or you can join her fan club for $15 a month.

The only thing that might keep her from reaching such a weighty goal she says, is “running” around after her daughter.

Or dying.

Why, I keep wondering, would a woman want that title? I realize that people will do crazy things to be noticed, but I can think of some attainable titles for the average woman that wouldn’t jeopardize her health, land her in jail, or involve giving birth.

How about Woman with the Most Screws Loose? The diaper astronaut would be the likely frontrunner if she hadn’t been disqualified by a felony, although Jon Gosselin’s girlfriends, any of them, probably have a good shot at this title.

Woman whose picture is posted most often on This is not to be confused with the Fashion Police section of Us Magazine. Those are celebrities dressed like People of Walmart. There would be some serious competition for this title, but it’s definitely winnable.

Woman Who Dresses Completely in Duct Tape. This one would be helpful for anyone interested in attracting a Tin Man.

World Noodling Chamption. Noodling is the sport of fishing with the bare hands. It involves muddy, snake-infested water and cramming a fist down a fish’s throat. Not exactly my cup of chai, but it beats eating 70 pieces of sushi or dating Jon Gosselin.

Thank God, I can’t muster enough desire for fame (or infamy) to do something crazy. And I think most women feel the same way. In fact, when it comes right down to it, I believe most women have a pretty clear distinction between what they require and desire. Happiness, it turns out, boils down to a pretty simple list.

It reminds me of a woman I heard about several years ago.

Picture a chain-smoking 80-year-old with skin like a piece of shoe leather and bleach-blonde hair. She’s driving around in a big white Cadillac and chain smoking with the windows rolled up. That’s our girl. Her theory of life went something like this:

“No woman can live on less than $100 a day. Every day, she needs a pack of cigarettes, a tank of gas, a bottle of wine, and a present for herself.”

Okay, and maybe in some cases, a step stool.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Not Even in the Running

I pass a tiny church on the way to my friend’s house. Being a preacher’s kid, I probably notice churches more easily than most, but the sign in front of this really little church just screamed at me.

It read: “Woman of the Year. Luncheon Wednesday afternoon.”

It got me thinking about what a gal would have to do to be named Woman of the Year. I mean, I won Mother of the Year once, but Woman of the Year? That’s a whole ‘nother Hillary!

But you’re probably distracted by my Mother of the Year win and are wondering what I did to win that prestigious prize.

Actually, the MOTY committee cited what I didn’t do as the reason I won.

I didn’t do their homework for them. And I didn’t clean their rooms for them.

I didn't stand over them with hand sanitizer and a bottle of Fiji water at the playground. Come to think of it, I was usually too busy cleaning house, cooking dinner, and doing laundry for us to do much hanging out at the playground.

When I discovered empty beer bottles stashed under my daughter’s bed, I didn’t tell her it was okay because everyone drinks when they’re teenagers.

When a daughter told me she hated me and wanted to go live with her father, I didn’t argue. She went, and three weeks later, she came back, ready to live in my home with my rules. A year later, the same thing happened with her sister.

When I found an emergency escape ladder hidden in my daughter’s room, I didn’t push her out the window.

Some might think that the mother of teenagers this unruly should never have even been nominated for “Mother of the Year.” But I’d like to point out that this isn’t the “Offspring of the Year” Award. My kids aren’t the ones being evaluated. “Mother of the Year” is about what a mom does – or in my case, doesn’t – do right.

The most important thing I didn’t do, however, the thing that most impressed the judges, is that I ultimately did not confuse my value as a person with my children’s behavior. Yes, I was tempted to blame myself when they misbehaved and was inclined to get mired down in the “mom guilt” so prevalent in our society. But I pulled myself out of that quagmire of parental regret, and that’s part of what makes me a great mom.

Here are my two secrets to being a great mom: First, love your kids, but don’t make your job as their mother your identity. Second, don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t overlook the big stuff. Junk food and tap water are small stuff; sneaking out and underage drinking aren’t. In other words, picture a huge scale, one side being caring deeply and the other side not giving a shit. Try to find the balance. Even if you’re never nominated for “Mother of the Year,” you’ll know you’ve done a great job when your kid hands you a pink slip. You’ve done a good job when your child is self-sufficient and ready to take on the world. In the end, being a good mother is all about what you don’t do.

As for Woman of the Year, I didn’t get invited to that luncheon.