Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Alas, Alack

Due to several calamitous and catastrophic (and all sorts of other fancy adjectives) events that have recently occured in my life, I find that I am not able to post as much as I used to.  I'm sure you've noticed my absence, but I tend to state the obvious on a regular basis.  Not to worry, I anticipate many sleepless nights ahead, so you will likely be hearing from me sooner rather than later...and, yes, that is a threat.


Friday, August 19, 2011

The Southern Belle vs. That Martha Stewart B!tch

I try to be a good mother, I really do.  I snuggle, cuddle, kiss and tickle.  I read stories and have rockin’ tea parties.  I color and draw pictures and do manicures and pedicures.  After seven years of hitting and missing and cussing, I can also do hair reasonably well.

The thing is...well...the thing is that I’m pretty challenged when it comes to the domestic arts. 

At first it was lack of interest.  Food tasted good and I certainly appreciated it, but I wasn’t overly interested in how it got to the table.  I was a klutz and ovens were hot and knives were sharp.  It was also really cool that Mom could make me a Toto costume for the Wizard of Oz play or a Cat Woman outfit for Halloween, but that was where my interest trailed off.  I am a klutz and needles are sharp, etcetera, etcetera. 

After that, it was kind of a Women’s Lib thing.  Just because I was a woman, I was expected to know how to cook and sew?  Why not slap me barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?  Down with The Man, dude!

Then, the perfectionist in me held me back.  The needlepoint I labored over had a mistake and I would get frustrated and put it down.  The cookies crumbled all the hell over the place.  The Christmas pillow that was supposed to be all smooth and plump ended up looking like some sort of mutant amoeba.  No, if I couldn’t do it perfect, I didn’t have the time for it.  I had plenty of other things to do.

Then I had the Baby Belles and that’s when the prides began to feel like deficiencies.  The mommies could hem pants and sew costumes and bake nifty cookies.  They did arts and crafts and all sorts of crap.  I am still in total awe of the mom who makes her own Play-Doh.  Sweet baby Jesus.

The best costume money can buy falls woefully short to the costume made with love. 

I remember being at craft time with my kids during a vacation.  I can’t remember what activity was occurring at the craft table, but I didn’t have the skills for whatever it was.  In an attempt to do my part, I set up a set up a little side table where I did mani/pedis if any of the girls wanted them.  I heard Baby Belle 1 as Scott, “Why can’t Mama do stuff like that?”

Ever the sweet pea, Scott answered, “Honey, that’s just not her thing, but she’s doing what she does!  Look at the awesome nails!”

Bless his heart.

Well, I’m not going to deny the veritable Hindenburg of guilt that rained down on my head after overhearing the aforementioned remark.  Still, the whole mother-wife-attorney-daughter-sister-writer-evil mastermind thing put the kibosh on attaining the Martha Stewart heights to which I aspired.  (Actually, I don’t really mean that about Martha Stewart.  The woman gives me the hives.  Most cooking show/decorating show people give me the hives.)  Of course, if I’m being honest, a lot of that stuff really just isn’t my cup of tea.

For the record, I actually decided that “even I” could move the buttons on Baby Belle 1’s school uniforms last year and, after stabbing myself so many times that I could barely type on the computer for the following week, every last one of those damn buttons came off over the years.  Damn buttons.

...and then common ground presented itself...

When I first found out that I was pregnant with Baby Belle 1, I suddenly had this feeling that I needed to learn some sort of domestic craft right away.  Accordingly, I ran to the bookstore and bought Knitting for Dummies. 

I shit you not.

I read Knitting for Dummies and taught myself the rudimentary ropes of knitting.  I was nowhere near sweaters and booties and bonnets and all of that, but I did get out a blanket and a dodgy looking scarf.  I actually really enjoyed it.  The knitting was hypnotic and it was so rewarding to have something to show for my work (totally not the case in the legal arena).

Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, Baby Belle 1 arrived and there wasn’t even time to shower much less knit.  The knitting needles and the yarn got put away into the deepest recesses of the storage closet. 

This summer, Baby Belle 1 learned how to finger weave from one of the camp counselors and she really got into it.  She brought some of the yarn home one day and watching her clicked a light on in my head.  I said, “You know what?  I can knit.”

My child look at me as though I’d told her that Martians disguised as penguins and were taking over the entire planet.  She said, “No way!”

Somewhat offended, but also understanding the source of her disbelief, I said, “Yes, way!  I’ll even take you to the store to get the supplies and you can watch and learn, missy!”

Accordingly, Baby Belle 1 and I went traipsing across town on Friday night to the craft store (hives!) to get needles and yarn because I had no idea in the world where my old stuff was. 

I attempted to refresh my recollection on Youtube.  I couldn’t get a row started to save my life and it nearly drove me barking mad.  My rheumatoid arthritis is pretty well controlled, but it sure was kicking up with the old needles and yarn.  As my daughter watched me avidly while finger weaving miles of rainbow colored yarn, I endeavored to keep the sailor-like cussing in my head. 

When my hands hurt, I got frustrated beyond the telling of it or I wanted to stab myself in the eye with one of the knitting needles, I put my project down and walked away for a break.  If I was gone for more than ten minutes, my little task master in pig tails found me and handed me my yarn and needles.  The poor baby was so excited that her mother might just be able to do something motherly.  “Get back to work, Mama.  You can do it!”


So, by Sunday night, I was more or less making a mass of yarn knots that could loosely be construed as knitting.  Baby Belle 1 was so excited and encouraging.  “Mama, that is so beautiful!  I’m so proud of you!  I could actually wear that.  Do you think you could make it a scarf?  Hey Daddy, Mama’s knitting me a scarf and then she’s going to do a blanket.  She can do one for you, too, if you want.”

I guess I’d better get to work...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Parents in Crime

I’m hard pressed to play Go Fish and I am utterly unable to comprehend Poker.  Card games just aren’t my cup of tea and it’s just as well, I suppose.  I have been informed that I have a bit of a tell.  Yes, when I get peeved and I am trying like the devil not to explode all over the place in a Sam Kinison-esque rant (God rest his talented soul), I get a twitch in my right eye.  Trite, I know, but I’m so unusual in so many other areas of my life that you have to throw me a bone somewhere for Heaven’s sake.

As you’ve probably already deduced, my poor little eye twitches numerous times a day.  I’ve even woken up in the middle of the night because the darned thing was twitching from an apparently annoying dream. 

Of course, there are some things that make my eye twitch more than others.  In the non-attorney arena, aggressive drivers trump dumbass lost drivers.  Temper tantrums trump [most] whiners.  Clutter around my house near about trumps everything because I SWEAR TO GOD I JUST CLEANED THE FRIGGING COUNTER OFF AND NO ONE CARES OR TRIES AND I’M JUST BEFORE SETTING A TRASH BAG ON ONE END AND SWEEPING EVERY DAMN THING INTO IT STARTING AT THE OTHER END WITH THE ONE-ARM SWIPE METHOD.

Oh yeah, now it’s really twitching.

When it comes to my life in the legal world, there are a gracious plenty of irritants and I do so hate to speak it certainties (that’s one of the first things they tell you not to do in law school), but I do believe that the winner and continuing champion is...THE ANGRY PARENT!!!

The irony about the Angry Parents from Hell is that—nine times out of ten—they aren’t in Juvenile Court.  Yes, it’s the mothers and fathers whose “precious babies” have entered into court for the big boys and the big girls who go all Parental Perry Mason on me.  The oh-so-fun parents tend to break down into two subsets:  (1) The I Don’t Care What You Say, My Baby Didn’t Do Its;  and (2) The My God, It’s Not That Big a Deals! 

I can tell before a parent even opens his or her mouth if they are going to be in denial about their one-person crime wave offspring.  They have this air of injustice about them as though it’s appalling that they even have to address the baseless charges.  Of course, they don’t have to address any charges at all, but there’s no point whatsoever in reminding them of that little detail. 

Once they do open their mouths, it’s:  My baby wouldn’t do that!  My baby might have been there, but she was with her friends and they were the ones doing it, not her.  The police are targeting our family because my baby’s daddy has a warrant out for his arrest and they think they can get one of us to tell them where he is. 

The higher the evidence piles up in favor of the State, the more vehement the parent gets that their baby didn’t do what they were accused of doing.  Media has been doctored, witnesses have been paid and cops are crooked.  There is a vast, intricate and overriding conspiracy reaching up into the upper echelons of Capitol Hill and the White House and every last iota of it is directed at bringing down their precious baby. 

Naturally, I’m not doing my job because I don’t have 100% confidence in their baby’s innocence and because I can’t get the District Attorney to drop the charges while simultaneously filing a civil rights lawsuit against the police department and negotiating a multi-million dollar settlement.  Yeah, I know, I suck.

One time, I even had a kid come out and tell his mother right to her face that he did it.  He smashed the window and stole the radio.  She sat there for a minute and then launched into a theory about how the police were targeting him and following him unfairly so they were watching and waiting for him to “make a mistake” so they could bust him.  That woman probably should have considered law school.

Yes, the “My Baby Didn’t Do It’s” are a real barrel of monkeys, but the “C’mon You Must Be Kidding” parents can be some serious SOB’s: 

Daddy sends Pumpkin down here to UNC-Weed where Pumpkin proceeds to get a truly “higher” education and gets busted on possession of marijuana charges.  Daddy gets a call from the police and he is understandably irate, but not in the way you might think.  No, Daddy is irate because “it was just a little pot, for God’s sake!”

Daddy is indignant at having to take time out of his busy schedule to deal with Pumpkin’s “little pot problem.”  As a matter of fact, all of us folks here in New Hanover County are holy rolling, backwater, hillbilly morons for making such a big deal out of some weed.  Honestly, if the problem had occurred where they were from, not only would the matter have been swept under the rug, but Pumpkin would have received an invitation to join the Country Club!

P-Daddy:        This is absurd.  My wife and I have taken time off to come down here and deal with this.  I mean, who didn’t smoke a little pot when they were in college?

            Ashley:            Me.

Yep, there goes my eye again.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Legal" Caterwaulers

Well, my rant about the trailer judges just set me on a roll.
Let me first say that I absolutely love a flamboyant attorney.  In the immortal words of Johnnie Cochran, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!”  Indeed.

Let’s face it, evidence gets tedious and witnesses talk in monotones.  Juries are human and they get bored.  An attorney almost has to jump around and holler a little bit to wake folks up and get a point across.  Plus—as I’ve said before—theatricality can sometimes be employed to distract from the fact that you have absolutely no case whatsoever. 

That being said, there is a distinct difference between a flamboyant attorney and a media whore with a law degree.    

Oops!  Did I say that out loud?  Dammit, I might just have to take remedial deportment classes.

Here’s the thing:  Flamboyant attorneys actually set foot in a courtroom.  The force of their personalities might drive you completely crazy, but they walk the walk and they talk the talk.  They might lose in the end, but they leave no room for doubt that they gave the case everything they had.  Yes, attorneys are expected to zealously represent their client and the legal loudmouths tend to get it done in spades.

Then there are the attorneys—well...we’re just supposed to take their word for it that they are or were attorneys at some point in time.  They might very well know their way around a courtroom, but who doesn’t these days after relentless airings of The Practice, The Good Wife, L.A. Law, Boston Legal, and a legion of other courtroom dramas?  Every news network keeps several of these McLawyers stocked on the shelf to pull out for statements of the obvious and other general platitudes during tacky and sensational trials.  “Yes, Bill, it was an absolutely jaw-dropping day in the courtroom and we can expect to see the same tomorrow.”

McLawyers are way down on my Love List, but there is another group that not only hit rock bottom, they kept digging when they got there.  Who are these bodaciously atrocious individuals?  To even think their names makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth, but...ew...Nancy Grace and Gloria Allred. 

Not only do these females make me ashamed to be an attorney, they near about make me ashamed to be female.

Nancy Grace.  Sweet baby Jesus...where do I start?  She was allegedly a prosecutor at one nebulous point in time, but what District Attorney was dumbass enough to hire her?  Okay, maybe she interviewed well, but a toxic personality like that couldn’t possibly have stayed hidden for long. 

I can’t imagine sitting on a jury during one of her trials.  I’m afraid that I would have such an aversion to the squawking jackass that I would vote against her rather than the existence or inexistence of reasonable doubt.  Juries are only human and imagine how many criminal defendants may have walked free based on repugnance of Nancy’s venomous presence alone.

I’ve made no secret of my dislike of people interrupting each other and Ms. Grace is one of the worst offenders that I have ever seen.  She tolerates no opinion but her own.  She is perfectly entitled to her own opinion and she has her own television show (for better or for worse) so she can spout her opinion ‘til the cows come home.  Bearing the aforementioned in mind, why in the hell does she bother having anyone else on her show who might have a differing viewpoint if she’s only going to let them get five words into a response before interrupting them with that nasally, glass-shattering, indignant, braying? 

As a matter of fact, it doesn’t even matter if the guest agrees with her, she interrupts them regardless and I feel fairly safe in saying that she is the only one enamored with the tone of her own voice. 

I remember seeing some news clip where it was mentioned that Nancy was married with twins.  Bless their hearts.  I can only imagine what life in that family is like:

            Dad:                Okay guys, time to go to bed.  Pick out a book and I’ll—


Dad:                But—


Dad:                I’ll be on the window ledge if you need me.

I know this is catty and I promise that I’ll go to church extra for saying it, but the woman also needs to stop the face lifts.  If she gets pulled back one more time, she’s going to be putting mascara on her ears.

Gloria Allred.  If you run into Scott, ask him what happens to his wife when Gloria Allred comes on the television.  That woman is positively revolting.  I’m not sure that she can pass a camera without sticking her face in the lens.  Where Nancy likes to pontificate when the pretty girls go missing, Gloria likes to jump in when the pretty ho’s get caught. 

Of course, Gloria claims to have a noble purpose for her crusade:  Women’s Rights!  It’s not hard to predict her entrance.  Any salacious news story involving the mistress, the stripper, the hooker or the nebulous “other woman” brings Allred swooping in on her broom.  Ho’s have rights, too, and Gloria’s going to see that she [mostly Gloria] is going to get as much air time as possible for her story to be told [with Gloria doing the telling].

Gloria:             Okay Diane, let’s get moving.  I’ve got more interviews set up with NBC. CBS, CNN, HLN, MSNBC, FOX, WHQR, CSNBC, C-SPAN, OMG, BTW, FYI, ROFLMAO  and ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ.

Diane:              Gloria, what can you tell us about your client?

Gloria:             Well, she’s a wonderful person who is a blameless party in this matter, yet she is being exploited.

Diane:              Okay, but your client is a sex worker—

Gloria:             Actually, Diane, we prefer the term “Adult Physical Trainer.”

Diane:              Okay, your client is an adult physical trainer who took photographs of herself performing sex acts with the senator and then sent the photos to his wife in a Christmas card.
Gloria:             That was after the story already broke in the press as the result of the tabloid taking photos of the senator and my client exiting a hotel room.  My client cannot help that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  She deserves vindication and I intend to see that she gets it.  She also deserves the book deal and Playboy photo spread that she contracted this morning.

By the way, “vindication” is called cold, hard cash and it is the only thing that shuts Gloria up and sends her back into her little cave until the next ho comes around. 

Has anyone ever actually seen these women in a courtroom—and I mean past the bar as attorneys, not behind the bar as observers?  Of course, you realize that both of these women will probably try to sue me just for writing this blog if for no other reason than they get more media face time.  When will the lambs stop screaming, Clarice?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thank God THEY Have Rhythm

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am a ridonkulous klutz.  When God formed the line for grace, I was apparently in line for seconds at the Heavenly Diet Sun Drop kiosk. 

I flunked out of tap and ballet at an early age.  To the best of my recollection, I only had about two years under my belt.  I cried a lot.  Unfortunately—even though the length of my sentence was brief—photographic evidence exists to this day of me clad in horrible 70’s costumes and striking mortifying poses.  I even remember that one of my tap routines was to the tune of “Zippity Doo Dah” and trust me when I tell you that I get a chill when I hear the tune to this very day. 

Lord have mercy.

How bad am I?  Well, have you ever watched a dance class or an aerobics class where the whole class steps to the left except for the poor clueless soul who steps to the right?  You know, the one who claps just a second after the rest of the group claps in unison?  The one who stands up when everyone else squats?  Yeah, that would be me.

Even my beloved husband, on our second date at the Peace College Spring Formal, had the nerve to tell me that I was dancing like one of the chicks from the Robert Palmer “Addicted to Love” video.  The only thing that saved him was the fact that he was right.  Nonetheless, that fateful evening was the last time I ever attempted to cut a rug (slow dances notwithstanding seeing as they require no rhythm whatsoever). 

With the memories of my past debacles in the forefront of my mind, I was dubious about signing Baby Belle 1 up for dance when the time came around.  She looks so much like me and she acts so much like me that I had visions of temper tantrums and sequin studded disasters and—as those of you who have children in dance can breathlessly attest—that shit is too expensive to “take a chance” on.

Well, we dropped the money on the shoes and the tights and the leotards and the registration fees and the monthly tuition and the costume fees and the recital fees and...she liked it!  Woo hoo!  I was so in awe of the fact that I had a child who enjoyed dance—and apparently could dance—that I actually sat in on several lessons just so I could stare at her in awe. 

When recital time rolled around, I was just the biggest fool you’ve ever seen.  I sat there in the audience watching a beautiful ballerina and I couldn’t believe that she was related to me.  She actually stepped to the left when the other dancers stepped to the left and she dipped when the rest of the dancers dipped!  She had timing!  She had rhythm!  She must have gotten it from her father. 

Baby Belle 1 will be starting her fourth year of dance this fall and she’s not showing any signs of letting up.  She has mentioned adding gymnastics to her repertoire and that makes my blood run cold.  I was more sports-oriented in my youth and I would have benefitted greatly from a patient rewards card with my orthopedic surgeon. 

Now it’s time for Baby Belle 2 to take the stage.  There’s no doubt in my mind that she wants to do it, if for no other reason than it will open up a whole new world of shoes to her hot little toddler hands.  She sat in rapt attention at her sister’s dance recital this year when most of her contemporaries were running up and down the aisles in desperate bids to release pent-up energy. 

I’m not worried about rhythm and grace when it comes to Baby Belle 2.  No, the only thing that worries me about her is that she’s a maverick and she is going to do her own thing.  Yes, the rest of the dancers are stepping to the right, but that might not work for my daughter.  As a matter of fact, keeping in step with the rest of the dancers will make it harder for folks to see her.  Accordingly, if she goes to the left when the other dancers step to the right, she can stand out.  She’s not going to fall in line with The Man, dude!

I can’t even think about cotillion. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Trailer Trash Judges and the Death Knell of Dignity

I certainly don’t view the world through rose colored glasses.  As a matter of fact, I bet that most of you would agree that I am a pessimist of the highest caliber.  Some might think that my pessimism was born from my profession and—although I readily admit that being an attorney hasn’t helped my attitude—those of you who know me well know that I was cynical in my bassinette. 

Lawyers aren’t exactly the worst sons of bitches in the universe (thank you Enron, ginormous evil banks, Bernie Madoff and Kanye West), but when it comes to “What Does Your Parent Do Day” at school, I’m not real a hot ticket when faced with doctors, nurses, firefighters and policemen.  Actually, I think that one of the parents even works for the movie studio, so I’m completely screwed.

Lawyers have a crappy reputation.  We’re greedy ambulance chasers, sharks, pot stirrers and bottom feeders.  Hell I’m not going to lie to you, a lot of us actually are, but bad apples don’t screw up the whole bunch and whatever that saying is.  Lord knows I’ve tried to lead by example.  I’ve tried so hard to take care of my side of the street while studiously ignoring the flashy letter writers and the obnoxious commercials.  God it’s hard to keep my mouth shut.

It’s one thing to deal with all of the absurdity of the profession, but one thing that helps to keep a lot of attorneys focused is the sanctity and dignity of the Court.  The Court is supposed to remain impartial in spite of the various legal circus acts going on around it.  Those famous scales must be balanced at all times. 

Who does the public typically associate with the Court?  Judges, of course. 

Judges are supposed to be impartial and above it all.  Yeah, right.  Still, they’re at least supposed to put on a damn good show of it.  Dignity, people dignity! 

...which is why my blood boils, my eye twitches and this weirdo vein in my head throbs at the very mention of the bane of justice, the bullet in the head of integrity and the death knell of the nobility of the legal system:  Those Godforsaken finger snapping, head cocking, sound bite dropping donkey voiced television judges.

The trailer trash of the judicial world.

Without digressing into a civics lesson, judges are appointed or elected depending on the State in the Union.  I am also familiar enough with the political and judicial systems to know that one can appoint or elect someone to a position who appears perfectly normal only to have said person go just as crazy as a fruit bat after a couple of months in office (some only make it mere days).  The problem is that I don’t see how in the world Judge Judy and Judge Jerry and Judge Whoeverthehell could have possibly appeared normal and dignified for 5 consecutive minutes, much less the time it would take to claim an actual judge seat.

By the way, that’s the grabber and claim of legitimacy on all of these parade of morons court television shows—yep, somewhere around the opening credits, the dude that does all of the movie trailer narration promises you up one side and down the other that the judge is a real judge, the parties are real parties and the decisions are real decisions.  One thing I’ve noticed on the scant few introductions I have listened to before quickly changing the channel is that they don’t claim the bailiffs to be real bailiffs.  I suspect that real bailiffs would be way too tempted to open fire on the proceedings.  I would watch that.

Although it seemed innocent enough at the start, the whole mess began with Judge Wapner and his trusty sidekick, Rusty, on The People’s Court (dun dun DUN).  There were really only two types of cases:  (1) Photographers being sued for gloriously screwing up wedding pictures; and (2) Dry cleaners being sued for gloriously screwing up various items of clothing (often wedding dresses).  Don’t mess with a bride. 

Wapner was a crusty old fart, but he was more like the grandpa who could say whatever he felt like saying because he was old.*  I’m sure that watching the re-runs would feel like a slow and torturous death now, but it was uncharted territory back then and its late afternoon run time made it the undisputedly preferable choice to sitting down and doing homework.

When it comes to the cases on the legal shows today, producers drag the bottom of the talk show leftovers pond.  They aren’t picking cases for merit.  They aren’t even necessarily picking cases for salaciousness.  They are picking cases that will give their particular trailer judge the most opportunity to butt in, cut people off indignantly, pontificate, berate, cock their big ‘ol head like a clucking chicken and maybe even snap a “Z” if they get on a roll.

First of all, a court that does not show respect to those coming before it cannot demand respect for itself.  It’s a simple enough rule and they even teach it in preschool:  If someone is speaking, don’t cut them off.  I can assure you that Judge Gotagavel would take great umbrage if Caitlynn (being sued for injury to personal property for destroying her fellow stripper’s hair pieces) interrupted him to explain how Tammy brought it on herself by jamming Caitlynn’s pasties in the coin slot of the soda machine.  His “Honor” isn’t exactly presiding over a cotillion or anything, but common courtesy is due in all venues.

I have never watched Divorce Court and I never will, but I’ve read about the areas that the program covers and I don’t know how cast and crew can bear looking at themselves in the mirror.  I hardly know where to start, but let’s just dive right into the middle, shall we?

Domestic Violence.  Domestic Violence is an abomination and I will admit to you that my problem with this particular issue spans beyond the dumbass court shows.  Domestic Violence is something that people need to be educated about.  It is something that people need to be angry about and it is something that people need to hop on the bandwagon to eradicate.  Domestic Violence is NOT something spicy to be gawked at for entertainment value and TV ratings.  I don’t give a crap how much these trailer judges squawk that, by “shining a spotlight on the issue, they help to bring awareness to the problem.”  All it really means to them is that they get to holler more and drop more sound bites so they look super cool.  Woo to the hoo.

Child Custody.  Child Custody is a terribly sensitive issue.  Even if a child’s dumbass parents don’t think that custody is a sensitive issue, I can guarantee you that their child is quite worried about it in one way or another.  It’s still hard when mommy and daddy fight—even if they don’t live together anymore. 

Mom wants to take out child abuse charges on Dad because the kids got a little too much sun when he took them to the beach over the weekend.  The merriment of children’s holidays are being hacked to pieces so that parents can get equal time for themselves regardless of what it does for their kids.  Kids are afraid to talk to their parents for fear that some innocent comment to one parent will be turned around and used against their other parent. 

It’s a frigging nightmare when it’s conducted behind closed doors, but no, let’s compound the trauma by throwing it into the most public arena possible!  Ooh, let’s also make sure that it’s recorded for posterity so that our child can watch us act like rabid, retarded possums over and over and over again.  Yeah, that’s gonna be a therapist’s retirement plan right there. 

So, boys and belles, I am more than used to talking to brick walls and tilting at windmills in this profession, but at least think about changing the channel if one of these shows comes on, or at least try to remember that we aren’t all as bad as the worst example showing before you on your TV screen.

Here endeth the rant.

*Holy cats!  I just googled Wapner and the dude is still alive!  Wow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tripping Toddlers and How Not to Harsh Their Mellow

It happens to every parent at one point or another.  Little Precious simply won’t go to bed.  Sometimes there is kicking and screaming, sometimes there is pouting and whining and every now and again, there is running and hiding. 

Then there are the stall tactics:  Drawing out book time is always a favorite at my house.  The Baby Belles do their level best to pick out the longest book in their collection.  One day they are going to come at me with the unabridged version of Crime and Punishment.  What parent hasn’t heard the “One More Story, One More Story!” plea?

There is also the “Let Me Finish Watching this Completely Inappropriate TV Show that My Mother Didn’t Know I was Watching!” tactic  Has anyone else noticed that content of Nickelodeon centers entirely around bodily functions?

Let’s not leave out the “I Need a Drink of Waters.”  On the rare nights when I actually have things together, I anticipate the water plea and take a cup upstairs, my little angels don’t want it.  Of course, when water is on the menu, it does add the “I Need to Tinkles” to the bedtime avoidance repertoire. 

Baby Belle 1 provided plenty of the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth in her day, but she’s practically asleep before her head hits the pillow these days.  A full day of school or summer camp with no nap wears her little tookus out.  These days, we are firmly under the thumb of Baby Belle 2’s reign of terror.

In true Baby Belle 2 style, she has added a whole new and unique facet to drawing out bedtime:  Stream of consciousness rambling.  The child is a bit of a chatterbox anyway, but adding the late hour and exhaustion to the mix makes for a loopy, trippy ride.

How weird does it get?  Well, I think that the best thing to do is give you a sample of our conversation from last night:

SCENE:  8:45 PM.  Upstairs in the parents’ bedroom—oh who am I kidding?  Upstairs in the family bedroom of the Council house.  Mama and Baby Belles are snuggled in bed watching Wonder Woman.  Daddy is at a meeting and is due back home shortly after 9:00 PM.

BB2 finishes her bottle and starts to get squirmy and fussy.

Mama:  What’s wrong, sugar?

BB2:  I need to go and see Daddy.

Mama:  Well, Daddy isn’t back just yet.  Hang out in here with me.

BB2:  (Eyes sparkling with unshed tears)  But I need my Daddy.

Mama:  Honey, he’s not at the house right now, but he’ll be home soon.

BB2:  (Tears now being shed with complete abandon)  Daddy took my purple hair!

Mama:  I’m sorry?

BB2:  I had purple hair and it was sparkly and glittery and he took it and put it in his car!

The next twenty minutes consisted of consoling a desolate Baby Belle 2 about the loss of her purple sparkly glittery hair and her naughty father.  When “Naughty Father” returned home, he faced brutal interrogation as to the theft of his child’s fab hair.  Bless his heart, the second he stepped into the bedroom, three fingers pointed at him in quite the J’accuse! moment.  What can I tell you?  Baby Belle 1 and I had been dealing with it for about half an hour at that point.  As I suspected, Scott had absolutely no clue in hell what his youngest child was talking about.

Once we finally got everyone settled down, Baby Belle 2 popped up, put her elbows on my chest and put her chin on her hands.  I could tell that my little angel was just getting warmed up:

(For purposes of clarification, Baby Belle 2 is quite taken with “The Jungle Book.”)

BB2:  Baloo Bear stayed and held up the castle with the monkeys, but the monkeys were mean and the cat and Mowgli ran away.  Baloo Bear let the castle fall.  Why did Baloo Bear go and get the cat and Mowgli?

Mama:  Well, Baloo loved Mowgli and he wanted to be back with him.

BB2:  Oh.  Okay.  Well, Baloo was holding up the castle and the monkeys were mean.  They were bad to Mowgli.  Beatrice [her BFF] was at school today and we played on the playground.  I got on the swings and then we did slides.  I played in the kitchen and I painted.  I washed my hands.  We had cheese crackers for snack.  I got a booboo on my knee.  I need a band-aid. 

Mama:  We’ll get one in the morning.

BB2:  Okay.  I also have a booboo on my foot.  I need an ice pack and I want a Dora band-aid.

Mama:  We’ll get one in the morning.

BB2:  Okay.  Diana Prince is Wonder Woman.  She spins in circles and turns into Wonder Woman.  I spin in circles and turn into a mermaid, a princess or Wonder Woman.  I have very sparkly crowns and I have feathers, too.  Wonder Woman fights the bad guys.  Princesses don’t fight.  Mermaids bite people like sharks.  I want to go swimming.

Mama:  I’ll bet we can do that this weekend.

BB2:  Okay.  Are there purple puppies?

Mama:  Daddy, did you happen to slip any PCP in her cup of peaches at dinner?

Scott was silent, but the bed was now shaking with uncontrollable laughter.

BB2:  Mama, I have to go poop in the potty.

Well, that’s always a good conversation ender.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Belles in Pink Plastic Heels

Some women say po-TAY-to, some women say po-TAH-to, some women say to-MAY-to, some women say to-MAH-to, but all women say, “the black slingback Ferragamo heels in size eight, please.” 

It happens to all women, but it happens to us at different times.  I think it happened to my mother when she was in elementary school.  She was only allowed to get one pair of shoes for the entire school year and she decided on a pair of red ones.  In light of the fact that red is a rather limiting color, my grandmother tried to talk Mom out of her purchase, but she would have none of it.  Not surprisingly, Mom pretty much loathed her red shoes by the end of the year. 

Now, my mother’s closet is a testament to the feminine love of footwear.  I couldn’t begin to estimate the number of pairs that comprise her legion, but I do know that they span and nearly overtake two closets.  The shoes range from well-worn and loved pairs, to pairs in pristine condition to pairs unused and nestled in the box of the store from whence they came.

Mom’s physical and psychological inability to pass a shoe store is a long running joke in our family.  Even Baby Belle 1 gets in on the act with her consistent and gleeful declarations of, “Bon Bon, you just have too many shoes!”

In light of my shoe worshipping genes, it is particularly shocking that my love of shoes didn’t evolve until later in life.  Let me be specific, the wonder that is footwear didn’t fully reveal itself to me until 2002 as I stood amidst the Fred Segal shoe sale on Melrose Drive in Los Angeles, California.  Oh, the shoes!  There wasn’t one practical pair among the bunch and that was a point in time where less practical was most appealing.  I would have worn spike heels to a garden party back in that day and age.

Of course, I’m still a flip-flop girl at heart, but I promise you that I have so many pairs that there aren’t enough days in the summer to wear them all...which is why I wear them year round.  I can’t pass a flip-flop display in a store.

Although the shoe gene was somewhat diluted in me, it passed on to my Baby Belles in full strength.  When Baby Belle 1 was 2 years old, my mother took her to the mall to ride the carousel.  When they were leaving, they walked by the Nine West Store and the little monkey pulled on her Bon Bon’s hand to go inside. 

Baby Belle 1 had a fine time sitting on the floor and trying on shoes and Lord knew that her Bon Bon was more than happy to indulge a budding adoration of footwear, but it eventually became time to go.  Unfortunately, Baby Belle 1 did not take kindly to the news that it was time to move on.  It was at that point when my precious angel did her stop, drop and roll.  Yes, the stop, drop and roll (or S.D.R. for short) is great for a fire and bad for a toddler temper tantrum.  Poor Bon Bon had to drag her grandchild kicking and screaming from the store.  Some would say that payback is a bitch...not me, per se, just "some."

I couldn’t have believed it possible, but Baby Belle 2 might even surpass her Bon Bon in the shoe department.  Even when she was an itty bitty baby Belle and she couldn’t even crawl, she would somehow get a hold of shoes to play with and—on more than one occasion—snuggle.  Lord she would pitch a fit if you tried to take her snuggle shoes away from her.    

When Baby Belle 2 began toddling around, she became the rogue shoe thief.  She indiscriminately donned her daddy’s, mama’s and sister’s shoes.  If one left a pair of shoes lying around, one cast their ownership rights to the wind and that was that, thankyouverymuch. 

Then, Baby Belle 2 discovered the pretend dress-up shoes.  For some unknown reason, Baby Belle 1 was never all that into the play dress-up stuff.  Yeah, she’d don a Disney Princess gown here and there, but I can promise you that her feet were most likely bare underneath the fluffs and ruffles.  Of course, if I’m being honest, Baby Belle 1 is a bit clumsy like her mother and her avoidance of heels likely comes from a deeply ingrained survival instinct. 

Anyway, the plastic dress-up shoes were stored somewhere within the dark recesses of the playroom and were long forgotten until Baby Belle 2 suddenly started clicking and clapping around the house in them one day.  Apparently, we had a whole mess of left shoes, but Baby Belle 2 was doggedly determined to wear them regardless.  After a mad search, we finally found a right shoe amongst the pack and, from that point on, the love affair blossomed.

The very second that Baby Belle 2 gets in the house, she takes of the shoes that she was wearing and slips on her pink plastic high heels.  The child walks in the high heels better than most grown women.  She even wears them while gardening on the weekends. 

Naturally, when Baby Belle 2’s 3rd birthday rolled around last weekend, the kid cleaned up in the shoe department.  She got lavender shoes with feathers and silver heels.  She got red heels with blue ribbons.  She got more pink heels with feathers.  It was insane. 

Now, I’m sure that some of you are thinking, “What in the world?  A child can’t possibly need that many dress-up shoes!  She’ll never even wear them all!” 

I beg to differ.  As a matter of fact, Baby Belle 2 has been doing her level best to wear every single shoe given to her.  On many occasions, she has been spotted about the house with a different shoe on each foot.  She has also been spotted about the house with shoes on her feet and on her hands.  It’s also not uncommon to see her pushing her pink plastic shopping cart full of shoes about the house so she can change up “mid pretend shopping trip.” 

How bad is it?  The night of Baby Belle 2’s birthday, I was snuggling her in bed.  She looked adorable in her little purple Tinkerbell jammies as she drifted off to sleep from the post-cupcake sugar crash.  Somewhat pooped myself, I began to drift as well...until I felt as though I was hit in my right cheek by a meat mallet. 

I shot straight up wondering what in the hell happened and whether or not I was bleeding from the eye.  I looked down and the answer was sprawled before me.  One of my darling dear’s favorite sleeping positions involves propping her feet up on her mama’s head.  I’ve gotten used to it, but on that fateful night, Baby Belle 2 somehow managed to get in bed with her purple high heels and one of those hard plastic heels was unwittingly deployed against my cheek.

Yes, they say we suffer for fashion, but damn.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Defibrillating the Heart of Peace College

Since my last blog entry regarding the death of Peace College, I’ve heard from many of you who share my despondency over the fact that our daughters will never get to experience the nurturing and growth that we were lucky enough to experience during our time at Peace.  Like you, I have leafed through my yearbooks and shared stories with my Peace Sisters.  At first, the reminiscence made me cry and I hate to cry.  Now, I just get all angry and defiant...ahh, that’s more like it.

I certainly don’t like to repeat myself, but the end of Peace takes away so many amazing opportunities for young women that I don’t intend to stop squawking about it until Townley hammers the last nail in the coffin she crafted.

I’m sure that other exclusively female colleges have perfectly fine professors, but so many of my Peace professors went out of their way to help me grow.  I can promise you that no professor in the enormous lecture halls of the big universities would have bothered to learn my name let alone take an interest in me.  To be perfectly frank, I don’t think that I ever made it past the teaching assistants at Carolina—they guarded the profs like pit bulls. 

One Peace professor in particular reached out to me before I ever became a student at Peace. 

I knew early on that Peace was the place for me.  The first time I stepped onto the campus as a visiting junior in high school...well, there’s no other term for it:  Instant serenity.  I knew right then and there that I was a Peace Girl.  The certain knowledge of where I belonged kept me calm as my fellow high school classmates flipped and flopped and panicked over where they were going to spend the next four years after graduation. 

During the fall of my senior year in high school, I got an unsolicited call from a very pleasant lady named Dr. Valerie Hall in the History Department of Peace College.  In a lilting Scottish accent, she told me that both she and Peace would love to have me as a student and she asked if I had any questions or concerns.  Dr. Hall was very complimentary of the perfect language/reading score from my SAT’s and that’s when I began to get a little worried. 

I did have a perfect language score, but I had a seriously imperfect math score.  When I hesitatingly mentioned my trouble with numbers, Dr. Hall brushed it off with, “Oh, there’s nothing to that.  You’ll just take bare minimum required and then you can move on and leave it behind.”

It was at that point when Dr. Valerie Hall sprouted wings and a halo.

Dr. Hall was my advocate and my friend at Peace.  I spent hours in her office discussing my passion for history and writing and sobbing over math.  She often had me stop by her office just to check on me and chat about nothing in particular.  She added a couple of debates to her world history class for the purpose of getting me over my fear of speaking so that I could feel comfortable about my decision to become an attorney. 

After one particularly um...lively guest lecture by a Republican political figure, a very fired up Dr. Hall called me to her office and said, “Peace needs a Young Democrats chapter.  I’m the faculty sponsor and you’re the President.” 

How could I say no?

To think that the amazing female voices and influences that made such a difference in my life will now be denied to my daughters—well, it’s infuriating. 

·         To Dr. Bauso, who put the fear of God in me about the use of passive voice.  You may not think that I got the point while reading my writing, but I promise you that I feel loads of guilt every single time I do it.

·         To Dr. Bonner, who performed the impossible by making biology understandable and interesting.  Incredible.

·         To Dr Vick, whose use of adorable monkeys and amazing stories actually had me leaning away from law school toward anthropology for one brief shining moment.  I do have to say that the rascally glee she derived from showing the child birth video right before lunch wasn’t appreciated.

·         To Dean Edwards, who scared the bejeezus out of me and who was the master of the uncomfortable pause.  She would simply stare at you until you were so nervous and fidgety from the silence that you found yourself saying all sorts of incriminating stuff simply to fill the conversational void.  It is a technique that I employ in depositions to this very day.

·         To Dr. De Luca, who also scared the bejeezus out of me, but who had me speaking fluent French by the end of “le boot camp” a/k/a honors French.

·         To Dr. Buckner, who presided over an incredibly fun creative writing class and who gave me a bit more backbone when it came to expressing myself through writing.  She might be kicking herself now, but I still appreciate it.

I know that a great many very distinguished educators were laid off during the Administration’s effort to trim costs.  It’s Peace’s loss and another institution’s amazing gain. 

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m not casting judgment from my ivory tower.  I know very well that times are hard.  People aren’t exactly rolling in cash and a private college education is astronomically expensive (my mother loves to remind me that two years at Peace cost more than four years at Carolina).  I know that some students have been forced to drop out with only a semester or so left before graduation.  Peace can’t afford to be what it used to be—I get that, but that doesn’t mean that the plug should be pulled on the whole thing. 

I can promise you this:  If the Administration had been honest with the Alumni and told us that they were facing the earth shattering, catastrophic, last-resort action of turning into William Peace University, we would have found a way.  We would honor the wonderful women who taught us and helped us grow so that more women could have the fantastic opportunities that we had.  Instead, we were lied to. 

Despite the deeply unappreciated deception, I’m still willing to try.  As long as Peace College stays Peace College, I am there for her.  I know that other Peace Girls share my sentiment and I’m happy to join you in making our point.  Peace Girls never shy away from a fight.