Friday, September 24, 2010

Girl vs. Girl

Dear Mini-Van Mommy-

Hi. I'm the Blue Explorer you just cut off. I realize you were distracted and busy. Talking on your Blackberry and replacing the cap on your child's cup while driving. I realize I was probably in the way as you were racing to get to a playdate or the grocery store or a Starbucks. But it was fairly tough to not run into you as you skidded to a halt next to me at the stop sign. In the parking lane, not an actual lane. And turned, just as I was starting to turn right.

I see so many mommies and mini-vans just like yours these days. The ones going way too fast, running through stop signs, cutting in front of other people on 495. All I can see as you leave me in the dust is those family stick figures and a soccer bumper sticker seared to my eyeballs. I run into you and your friends everywhere I go. You all cluster together like little cute suburban lemmings. Identical college or breast cancer ballcaps with a Mommy-cut ponytail, some kind of Gap shirt and khaki capri pants with perfectly white running shoes on. Top of the line stroller and other baby accessories. Your kiddos of various ages are dressed like they're on the way to a magazine shoot. I bet you shop in the Petite department.

You see me coming and I can just feel the narrowed eyes. T-shirt, jean shorts, sandals. My hair not highlighted, down to my waist, tattoos showing, no makeup on. I'm not petite in height or hip-size. My kid, who is twice the size of yours and not as impeccably dressed, squeals, "Awww! A baby! Mommy, see the cute baby?" (He loves babies - he tells me he wants a brother). He tries to go up to your baby and you immediately shift, looking at me like I can't control my child. Because he thinks your baby is cute. I'm such a horrible mom.

You know the problems girls have with other girls? It never goes away. I don't know exactly when it starts. For some, it's high school. You've been friends with Joe Next Door forever. But once you get to high school, the two of you can't be friends anymore. Because Hot Cheerleader Girl likes him - but she doesn't like you. Or Type A Girl decides to make you miserable because both of you want to be the editor of the yearbook. For other girls (like myself), it starts as early as kindergarten. I can remember playing dolls with Amy Down the Street on a regular basis. But about a week after kindergarten began, she wouldn't come over. I asked her why. Amy told me dolls were for babies. She wanted to practice putting on makeup. I can remember distinctly thinking, "But we're 5."

Just when you think it could be over - (after graduating high school or maybe even college) - just when you think, Ok, maybe we can all grow up and stop hating other girls now (because goodness knows, dealing with guys at that age can be enough. Sorry boys) you have an encounter again. It's either Kristin Ice Queen at work who thinks she deserves a promotion over you or Random Sorority Chick at the bar who thinks she can steal your boyfriend away from you. Maybe a friend even, Anna Who Loves Scrapbooking, who gets mad when you give her an honest opinion about her latest project. Then it just keeps going - your fiance's cousin Sally who liked his old girlfriend better than you. Your former boss Mary, who sent your co-worker Elizabeth to the amazing business conference because they were best friends, not because she was better qualified. Gwen, the girl at your husband's workplace who goes to him for dating advice and thinks he's "so great". On and on, until you're an old lady, arguing with Maude up the street about who looked better back in 1999, Ricky Martin or Will Smith.

But what's with all of the girl hate? You'd think that we could at least have some kind of mutual respect for each other, as women. Maybe it's not even just a woman thing - maybe it evolves into a class or race or working mom vs. stay at home mom thing. Whatever the deal is, it sucks. I'm just as guilty as anyone else out there, but it's still lame. I wonder if other women are internally criticizing my body when I randomly get dressed up. I think bad thoughts about the mommy in the fast food line who lets her kid drink Coke with her fries and cheeseburger. I get irritated with the mommy struggling with her kid having a tantrum at Target when you know for sure, I've gone through the exact same thing with both of my kids. Who am I to criticize anyone else for what they go through?

The worst part? No one can come out and call anyone on it and move forward. I can't ask the mommies at the mall, "What is it that freaks you out? My son likes babies and he thinks yours is cute. I'm a mom, just like you. Just because I don't look like you, doesn't mean I don't love my kid or don't make him wash his hands." I can't follow you, Mommy in the Mini-Van to your next destination and say, "Hey, I know you're busy, but you cut me off and I almost ran into you because you were talking to your friend about a post on Facebook and helping your child with a snack. While you were driving.

I think guys have it easier. Yes, seriously. Most guys I know, they can get along with everyone. If they have a problem with someone, they either call them on it, punch them and have a beer later. Or they avoid the guy. Maybe girls make things too personal - we think everyone could be our best friend. But we can't exactly go around bitch-slapping everyone, either. (My husband says that Jello wrestling would be a better idea. Yes, I punched him in the shoulder).

Why can't we just be honest with each other? Why can't we respect each other? We are all different, we are all different kinds of women - career-driven, creative, readers, talkers, fashionistas, mothers, pet-lovers, independent, etc, etc. We're not all going to be like Meredith and Cristina or the Sex and the City girls or Mary and Rhoda, even - but enough with the hate.

So, on that note, I'm going to try to change. Enough with the Girl Hate.

Sorry for the long tangent, Mini-Van Mom. I hope you at least heard me screaming out the window as you cut me off. Aside from making the rest of us Moms look bad - you're f*cking dangerous. So get off the phone, get your kid's snack ready before you get in gear and PAY ATTENTION.

(What? Just because I said I was going to change, didn't mean I wasn't going to be honest).


*Disclaimer: I know more than a few women who drive better than the average taxi driver. I have nothing against mini-vans or women personally - more often than not, the combo results in crazy.*

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Hi, gang -

I'm working on a handful of posts right now, inbetween school dropoffs, soccer practices, Girl Scout meetings, finding a new job and spending a third of my day at the kitchen sink cleaning. Blah. In other words, I'm busy like everyone else. :(

But I'm hoping one post in particular will be done for posting tonight, so yay!

In other news, I'm changing the address of the blog. I've never been good at the titles of things and I'm not liking this one too much. So I'm going to change it and I hope that you'll find me still here. If anyone needs help, send me an email:


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Afternoons at the Movies

I love to watch movies with my kids. We like going to the theater as much as staying home and watching something on the couch (though these days, the couch option is much more affordable). My kids are still learning the trick of asking questions after the movie vs. during the movie, but otherwise it's always a great time. Popcorn, usually the younger child ends up in someone's lap and a warm feeling of having gone on a trip when it's over. One thing about this ritual that I love much more now, with my own kids, than I did when I was a kid and I went to movies with my parents, is the content.

I remember going to see movies like Benji and Fantasia with my parents. For both films, my dad was asleep 20 minutes in. There was no conversation before or after or even during the movie. Just a basic, "Did you like it? Good, let's go home." The films themselves, while good kid-aged fare, were nothing that broke the mold. Yes, everyone knows the sequence in Fantasia with Micky Mouse called The Sorcerer's Apprentice. I liked it then, I like it now, but I'm ok with not seeing it again anytime soon. Live action kid movies from my childhood, while they appear dated (it was the 80's, come on), hold up fairly well: The Goonies, ET, Never Ending Story etc. Cartoon movies, not so much. I can think of only 2 that stand out - The Land Before Time (1st one, not the many, many direct-to-video releases) and An American Tail. But animated movies were not in the same quantity that they are in today.

We live in the Pixar age. I seriously believe that the guys over at Pixar could take any half-finished computer-generated cartoon movie and turn it into a work of art. My husband disagrees with me on this one, but I have enjoyed every release they've put out. Yes, even A Bug's Life. Yes, even The Incredibles. Every one of them. My kids even have favorites that I wouldn't have expected. My son is currently in love with Ratatouille. A movie about a rat that can cook is the favorite of a 4-year-old boy obsessed with trains and tackling people for fun. How cool is that?

One of my more favorite scenes from the Pixar movies is the ending of Ratatouille. I watched the movie with my kids expecting a funny movie about a rat in Paris who can cook - ironic circumstances leading to laughs. It was deeper than I expected and the ending hit me right in the chest. I watched one of the obstacle characters, a renowned food critic known for his scathing reviews named Anton Ego, become transformed by one bite of the main dish served to him - ratatouille, a "peasant dish" as another character calls it.

Aside from breaking my heart as I remembered my own comfort food from childhood, my brain was screaming, "Awesome!" It was like the food was just talking to Ego. "Hey, so you're a badass food critic? Check this out - we're serving you a peasant dish. A gourmet peasant dish. The same one served to you by your mother to feel better after your bike kicked your ass. Remember that? See how badass we are?"

At the end of the day, who is anyone to say what is art and what isn't? It all comes back to a feeling, a connection that the artist had with the resultant work which is carried over to the person experiencing the art. The food was so good, he had a flashback to childhood. The food was so good, he believed that a rat had cooked it. The food was so good, it made him question everything about who he was and what he was doing in his career as a food critic. I adore the review he writes for the restaurant - "But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new." The choice of Peter O'Toole to bring Ego to life was exemplary casting. I also love that the movie had another small twist ending - that despite the excellent review, the restaurant was still shut down because there were rats in the kitchen.

I love the unique messages that Pixar movies have - it's not always Good vs. Evil, not always Do Your Best and Be Rewarded. The endings feel true, feel like struggles that we average people deal with. An ant who leads his colony to a better life they didn't know existed, a rat who proves that art can come from anywhere, a toy who just wants to be appreciated but knows his purpose is to make a child happy. These are the New Fairy Tales. In a Pixar movie, you can aspire to and be anything, even if it's not what you originally planned. The little guy can be great and the big guy can step aside and let someone else shine. There are other computer animated movies that we love, but no company has been as consistent for us as Pixar has, parents and kids.

So while I look back at my childhood movie experiences and grimace a bit, I really hope that the excitement and entertainment that my kids have with my husband and I (and occasionally, Grandma) stays just as exciting when they're older with children. Hopefully, they'll live in a Pixar world, too.