Saturday, June 30, 2007

Consider My Independence Declared

I'm off to the Cape to spend time with my family, friends, and that bitch who criticized me for being thisclose to albinism.

In related news, did you know that they make 70 SPF sunscreen now? It's like the world is finally holding open its screen door and telling me to go outside and play with the properly pigmented people.

I'll be back at the end of next week. Break out the bathing suits and barbecued meat and happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Freeze Frame

Did you listen to New Kids on the Block?
Listened to them, lived for them, something like that. I was around 11 when they became popular, which of course is the age that guarantees that you will not only love the boy band du jour, but that pictures will exist forever of you, gap-toothed and permed, wearing sweatshirts proudly sporting the band's pictures. And of course I had every Bop, Big Bopper and Teen Beat with their faces on it, pictures of them on inexplicably ginormous buttons on my jean jacket, and a poster of Joey McIntyre on my bedroom wall.

Did you ever own a slap bracelet?
Yeah, a bunch. But we should really talk jelly bracelets.

The Babysitters Club or Sweet Valley High?
Okay, why don't you just ask me to choose between food and water? Both were finely crafted tomes about the struggles of growing up, coming of age, and Kristy was definitely gay, right? If I had to pick one (siiiiigh), I was probably more obsessive about Sweet Valley High. I started reading them in the third grade and I really felt that it helped me get a sense for what being a teenager would be like. Which worked out well because when I was finally in high school myself, I had an asexual boyfriend named Todd, drove a Fiat, and had eyes the blue-green of the Carribean. And my mischevious twin sister finally showed up! (Incidentally, you forgot Sleepover Friends. And what's up, Taffy freakin' Sinclair? I could talk a blue streak about all those bitches, too.)

Salute Your Shorts or Hey Dude?
I didn't watch either. Lame, I know. Where the hell was I?

Kids Incorporated or The Mickey Mouse Club?
I vaguely remember Kids, Inc. I think they recreated the Mickey Mouse Club when I was older or something.

Did you want Dylan to end up with Brenda or Kelly?
Okay, listen. This isn't an 80s question, but I'm perfectly happen to discuss this. Basically it doesn't matter either way because Dylan was a fucknut. The husky voice, the stupid hair, the motorcycle, the tortured past...BLEH. I liked Brandon, but I do understand that he wasn't a viable option for Brenda. The funny thing is that I still remember the creepy, pseudo-sexy dialogue between Dylan and Brenda right before he poked her on prom night. In any case, I never forgave Kelly for stealing Dylan away. So uncool! But then Brenda grew her bangs out and got boring, so whatever.

Who was ALF?
The little puppet alien guy who lived with the family and dispensed wisdom. The 80s were weird. Why did we just accept that shit? Hello, Small Wonder.

Do you remember the show Dinosaurs?
I mostly remember that my cousin Andrew thought it was really funny and I didn't. But he was also probably around four at the time, so that may have accounted for his tastes.

Do/did you know the words to the Fresh Prince theme song?
Do and did! In West Philadelphia, born and raised...

Kimmie Gibler or Urkel?
Gah, those feisty, weird-talking neighbors. What about Boner? Skippy? Mrs. Poole? (No idea what remote pocket of my brain I pulled her out of.) Also, didn't Laura end up with Urkel? Realistic.

Blossom or Clarissa Explains It All?
Blossom, although I kind of hated her and loved that her boyfriend wouldn't sleep with her. Also, can I just throw in that Elusive Jen once told me that she couldn't understand why the Huxtables' oldest daughter was white?

Bobby Brown or Tevin Campbell?
Either way, you really can't go wrong.

Step By Step or Full House?
Hmm, probably Full House. I was a little more committed to the family members and their compelling character arcs. How rude.

Did you listen to Milli Vanilli?
So much so that I didn't really understand the big deal about them lip syncing. Hello, did a complete lack of musical integrity mean that their songs were any less awe-some?

Mr. Rogers or Reading Rainbow?
I loved Reading Rainbow! I think we all outgrew Mr. Rogers pretty quickly, and some of those puppets were pretty disturbing. There was a strange dictatorship happening there with the king and queen and the rest of them.

Did you own a Glo Worm?
I don't think so.

Paula Abdul: better now or then?
Well, I was a BIG fan of Coldhearted Snake and Straight Up and Forever Your Girl and Opposites Attract and basically everything else that came out of her mouth in the 80s, but nothing beats her being drunk during live TV interviews nowadays, so it's really a toss up.

Wild 'n' Crazy Kids or Double Dare?
Um, did someone order a PHYSICAL CHALLENGE? I loved Double Dare. Didn't it seem like it was on every day? Was it? I wanted to kill the kids who didn't know that in order to go up the slide covered in hot fudge, you were supposed to put your feet on either side where there was NO hot fudge, otherwise you were never going to get that goddamn flag at the end. And I actually don't know what Wild 'n' Crazy Kids are/were.

Remember Legends of the Hidden Temple?
No, but if I was eight years old and you were suggesting that we play it in the backyard, I'd be totally into that.

The Mighty Ducks or The Little Giants?
I never saw either one.

Did you watch Saved By The Bell?
Hell yes. Jessie and her caffeine pills!

Who was hotter: Zack or Slater?
Zack! Slater was and is totally scuzzy.

Camp Nowhere or House Arrest?
I have no idea. What about Camp Cucamonga? Anyone?

Did you own a pair of Reebok Pumps?

Care Bears or Smurfs?
Again, a very tough call. I'm going to have to side with the bears on this one. They really cared.

Rainbow Brite or Strawberry Shortcake?
Rainbow was cool, but Strawberry dominated my world in the 80s.

Did you watch Miami Vice?

Did you own a pair of Jelly Shoes?
About ten.

Did you own a Trapper Keeper?
Of course! I love John Mayer's quote from I Love The 80s on VH1: "Trapper Keepers were the genesis of obsessive compulsive disorders for my generation. You started out strong and then by the third day of school, the Louisiana Purchase was crumpled at the bottom of your bag and you just told yourself, 'next year.'" In related news, John Mayer is a douche.

Atari or Nintendo?
They were both addictive. I remember that Atari had some program you could buy that let you write your own game, and my dad showed me how to use it and then came back a few hours later to play the game I came up with. The first thing that came on the screen was the question, "Do you like blonds, brunettes, or redheads?" Apparently I tried to develop an escort service.

Do you remember when the A-Ha video was the pinnacle of modern technology?
Remember when? It's still the shit, thank you very much. Their love survived the trash!

Ever owned one of those embarrassing crimping irons?
I can feel the judgment in your question. YES, in seventh grade I was the proud owner and obsessive user of a pink crimping iron.

Did you have Michael Jackson tapes?
Records, even! For one of my birthdays, my dad told my grandmother that I liked Michael Jackson, but instead of Thriller she bought me old Jackson Five records. Boo.

Do you remember the first time you ever kissed someone at a dance during Crazy for You by Madonna?
I never did, but my God, I WANTED TO. When I was 12, I couldn't imagine a more romantic song.

Did you play with Transformers?
No. Mostly My Little Ponies, Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and friends, Barbies, Jem, She-Ra, that kind of thing. My dad had a Transformer, though. He was probably 35.

What life lessons did you take from 80s movies?
Sweep the leg, angry marshmallows will kill you, in the future we turn into assholes or something, never say that Thor is a homo, Elisabeth Shue is the perfect girlfriend, my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great, the empress likes you to say her name, and when the pirate ship sails away filled with jewels, don't let it go just because you have enough in your pockets to save your freakin' goon docks. Swim after the damn ship and then you can buy the whole WORLD!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Patty O'Furniture

I have a tiny backyard with a concrete slab overlooking green patio that needs furniture. And by furniture I mean stuff that can be rained on repeatedly, snowed on a little when I forget to bring it inside until after Thanksgiving, cleaned halfheartedly, periodically doused with wine, margaritas, and crab dip, and still look impossibly stunning. (I could also use a housekeeper who works for compliments and Diet Pepsi. If you know anyone.)

The "furniture" that I have out there now is 100 years old and so grimy that when one of the cushions somehow sailed over the ledge into the wetlands (my neighbor's and my affectionate term for the unidentifiably marshy land of Oz behind our homes) I didn't even bother to retrieve it. I looked down at it, thought "huh" and left it there, to think about what it had done, I guess. In the past few days it's actually reappeared, but the fact remains that I need decent patio furniture.

First I was thinking of my dear friends Crate and Barrel, because yum. Honestly, I should get married just for the registry gifts. And, um, also to celebrate love and fidelity. Anyway, in between lusting after their veranda wine glasses and wire outdoor candleholders, I realized that they don't actually seem to sell much patio furniture. But boy, will they accessorize it adorably and expensively. Sausalito striped picnic blanket, whee! Of course, I haven't been on a picnic since... okay, well, I remember one that we had after my cousin Chris's christening. He just turned 19.

A google search for "patio furniture" returned some Walmart options. So I tried googling "nice patio furniture" and got JC Penney and some listings on Craigslist. "Really fucking great patio furniture" got me a review of a place called the Spider House in Austin. Okay, apparently I'm not the efficient googler I once considered myself to be. So how about Target? Worth a look, right? And at least while I'm there I can pick up some body wash, batteries, and board games. (What, you have your weekend your way, I'll have mine my way.)

And who would've thought? You sly sons of bitches, you've got gazebos! Deep seating and conversation sets! I don't know what that last one is, but I do know that I want to sit deeply and converse! I nixed the bistro set because I've been on enough awkward dates at cafes and I really don't need to simulate one at my own home. I feel like I could sit there with Dorie and suddenly I'd be nervously asking her how long she's worked for her company and uh-huh, oh really, five years, how interesting, and how many siblings do you have?

Some of the patio stuff looked nice but then I realized that what I really liked was the sparkling pool or bright blue ocean or rolling hills of Tuscany that they conveniently placed the furniture right beside for photographs. Nice ploy, folks. I almost bought a bean bag chair filled with styrofoam peanuts because I thought it came packed alongside that weatherbeaten Italian villa.

Target has plenty of outdoorsy things that I don't need but that I really think no one should have to go through life without: Tiki bars! Cast iron fire pits! Wall fountain with lion head! Okay, okay, too far, Red. Just stick to the furniture.

Wait a second... color-changing solar party path lights? I'm sorry, did someone order a DANCE PARTY straight up? Picture me, if you will, throwing my hands up in the air and waving them around like I just don't care. Who needs a practical chaise lounge when you can have a backyard filled with tequila and pretty colors?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Jerk Store

I found out that my mom's friend's wife, who is a GINORMOUS BITCH, is coming to our Fourth of July barbecue on the Cape. Now, some might argue that this is a bad thing. However, she said something mean to me years ago* and I didn't hold her crabby ass accountable. Since then my poor family has had to hear me go on about how I should have handled the situation. No one cares about this except for me, which makes me George Costanza. Witness:

Me: You know, if she says anything like she did last time, well, I'm totally going to put her in her place.
Dorie: Okay.
Me: Don't expect me to be nice! Because I'm going to let her have it!
Dorie: Are you staying for dinner?
Me: I'm just warning you, because there might be an uncomfortable moment. A very long, uncomfortable moment.
Dorie: Do you want to make a caesar salad?

The funny thing is that I still don't actually have a comeback for her, nor am I the sort of person who can deliver blistering, well-timed, cut-you-to-the-bone comebacks. But if the time is right, I do have big plans to announce to her that the jerk store called, and they're running out of YOU!

*She was harping on me for being so pale, which I'm sensitive about to begin with, plus I don't even know her that well and she was just really nasty about it. Basically, bitch is going down. DownTOWN. You know, where the lights are much brighter. And you can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares. Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova, you'll be dancing with them too before the night is over...

Ahem. See above where I mentioned that I'm not the best at comebacks.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ahh, Binky, My Old Nemesis. So We Meet Again.


One of my kindergarteners, soon to be a first grader, is unbearably cute. Not cute in the way that you have to pronounce all kids to be when their parent shoves a picture of them under your nose while you're just trying to heat up your Lean goddamn Cuisine. I'm talking the kind of cute where you know people must just stop and gape at him in supermarkets. The kind of cute where, in fifteen years, he will simply look at girls and their pants will fly off.

A couple years ago, he could only speak in vowels. You can imagine what your speech is like without consonants. You sound like you're doing a one man version of the Survivor theme song (ahem, not the clinical term for it). Now he's just about to turn six (six! remember that) and while he still has some speech errors, he's very intelligible, which is huge for him. He's had to work so hard to get to where he is, and I'm just glad it never seemed to affect his confidence.

Still, there's a part of me that could never figure out why the hell it was so hard for him to develop speech normally. I asked his parents, teachers and pediatrician every question under the sun, but everything pointed to a normal developmental history with his speech being the one huge exception.

I met with his parents this morning. First meeting of the day, there with my whole team, but it's mostly my show since he doesn't receive any other therapies. I run through the whole thing: making good progress, here are some things to work on over the summer, any questions?

Mom has one. "You know how you asked us all those questions about the things Kid could be doing at home that could've been hurting his speech?"

I can already tell that this isn't going anywhere good.

"Well, he's been using a binky when he sleeps for years. Could that be a factor?"

We all try very hard to always to be professional with the kids' parents, meaning that we only mock them when we're safely tucked into a corner at happy hour. But I couldn't help my reaction. I put my head in my hands and said, "Oh, no. No, no, no. You're kidding me. Please tell me you're kidding." Our school psychologist later commended me for not turning the table over.

How did I never think to ask if he was still using a goddamn pacifier? How did she not think to tell me after I assaulted her with questions about everything he could be doing with or putting in his mouth throughout the course of his entire day?

Then I read Darren's latest blog entry about seeing a four-year-old with a pacifier and I thought, yeah, it's about time for a public service announcement for parents of young children. Take away the mouth plug. It can profoundly hinder their speech development (and their ability to learn sounds, letters, interact successfully with their peers, need I go on?). Make use of the pacifier fairy, a daily star chart, or a popsicle, whatever works. Just get rid of it.

It's fine for infants, but the old saying holds true: If they can ask for it, THEY'RE TOO OLD FOR IT.

We now return to our regularly scheduled snarkfest.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Apparently Now Every Little Damn Thing Makes Me Cry. What Of It?

1. The trailer for A Mighty Heart. It seems like a nice tribute, but ohmygod. I'm able to take it down a notch by reminding myself that the guy who plays Daniel Pearl also played Charlotte's gay-straight boyfriend on Sex and the City. "Ooh, is that dress Cynthia Rowley?"

2. My Daddy The Crocodile Hunter on Animal Planet. You can imagine where I'm going with this one, right? I spend all day around kids, and somehow I'm completely blown away by how unbelievably freakin' cute the footage of Steve and Bindi is. By the time the show was over, I was so thoroughly convinced of the unsurpassed adorability of the two of them together that you'd think I'd been married to the guy and given birth to Bindi myself. Khaki has never brought out such emotion in me before. I couldn't even post a picture of them here because the tears, crikey, the TEARS!

3. Dave Roberts' standing ovation at Fenway. He plays for the Giants now, but for those of you non-baseball people, he was ours in 2004 and in the bottom of the ninth inning of game four of the playoffs, down by one run against the Yankees and seconds away from losing it all, out of nowhere Dave stole second base and later scored, which changed THE WORLD (i.e. started a chain of perfection which eventually led to the Sox winning the World Series for the first time in 86 years). Anyway, he was back this weekend and received the Boston lovin' that he so richly deserves. I also like the idea that a fairweather Giants fan could've put on the game and wondered why the hell Sox fans are so nice to visiting teams. (Okay, done with the baseball talk.)

4. The fifth grade graduation last week. I'm pretty sure fifth grade graduations didn't exist back when I was in fifth grade. Neither did getting letter grades in first grade or long and involved conversations about central auditory processing disorders as opposed to "that kid just doesn't listen," but that's neither here nor there. They read Oh The Places You'll Go and sang (wait for it!) the Graduation/Friends Forever song by Vitamin C. I'm sort of glad they're done practicing, because for awhile the halls were starting to resonate with the sound of bad late 90s radio. What will next year's class do? Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of 2008, Wear Sunscreen? When it came out ten years ago I hoped that by now it could've been Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of 2008, Get In Your Flying Cars. Incidentally, where the hell is my flying car? I believe it was promised to me years ago. I'm talking to you, Marty McFly.

5. An email from a friend with whom I had a falling out several months back, which said:

For what it's worth fucking up my friendship with you is one of the things I most regret about 2007 so far. I don't regret the ecstasy, the blow, the alcoholism, the poor judgment in dating a sociopath in February, the handjob from that sickly, latino prostitute outside my office in downtown Chelsea, or even trying to masturbate to Brokeback Mountain "just to see..." But I regret losing a pretty cool friend.

Aww. Nothing like good old-fashioned sentimentality.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Promiscuity On The Playground, On The Next Dateline

1st Grade Kid at Recess: Miss Red, Suzy and Joey* are in the corner doing something they're not supposed to be doing.
Me: What are they doing?
Kid: [long pause, searching for the right word, and finally, in a tiny voice] Weenie.

*Names changed to protect the no longer innocent.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Virgin Territory

Friend A: My friend wants to fix me up with this guy, but there are two catches. He's...
Me: Wait, let us guess!

Let the record show that Friend B and I guessed that he has a kid, is married, separated, a cross dresser, an alcoholic, too old, too young, too short, been in rehab, been to jail, had sex with Paris Hilton, had sex with Paris Hilton in jail, or that he has herpes, AIDS, and/or syphilis before we arrived on the actual two catches: that he's a virgin who doesn't drink. For religious reasons on both counts, apparently, which means the proverbial chastity belt isn't coming off anytime soon. Once the dust settled, we all agreed that we'd much rather date a guy who has been around the block a little bit so long as he's not crudded up because at least he probably knows what he's doing bootyless sobriety is a valid and beautiful choice.

But seriously: A hush has fallen over the suburbs of Boston this evening. What does one do with a potential suitor like this? Go to the zoo? Analyze the civil war between Netflix and Blockbuster? Anyone?



Do you have plans for this weekend yet? Because I'm here to tell you that you should go see a little movie called Once. It's sweet and simple and the soundtrack is really lovely. Yes, soundtrack... I purchased a CD for the first time in I don't know how long. Actually, I only bought it because I couldn't Limewire any of the songs.

Speaking of, is it just me or do all of your Limewire searches inexplicably retrieve an audio file called "How to land a girl"? Are they trying to tell me something? Because, well, I don't mean to brag, but I'm hardly hurting in that department. What's up, ladies?

Anyway: Once. It's a love story, sort of, but not overtly so, and I agree with the reviewer who said that if it had been made by Americans it would've sucked. We would've taken whatever delicate bud of potential existed there and turned it into a revoltingly sappy pandering sobfest where someone died in a plane crash while Maroon 5 played in the background. But even though it's not American, it takes place in Ireland which means they speak English, which means no subtitles, which is also good because in addition to Celine Dioning your movies, Americans are lazy and devoid of culture.

And if my recommendation for how you should spend your weekend doesn't work for you, you could always come watch the Sox play WhoCaresIt'sTheNationalLeague with me in Harvard Square. I'll buy you a margarita at the Cactus Club and we can mock Ringo Starr's art exhibit. Because... why? Why does that exist?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dear Ferret Rights Society, I Apologize In Advance. Sincerely, Red

Not to come off like the girliest girly girl living on Princess Planet, but I hate every member of the rodent family. That means mice, gerbils, hamsters, and all the other species in the animal kingdom that fall into some variation of that category. You can argue that the little fuzzies that you keep as pets aren't rodents, but if it's tiny and hairy and should be living in nature or animated and singing about Cinderelly, I want no part of it.

When a friend's hamster died and the huddled masses gathered to bow their heads and mourn the loss, I was not asked to deliver the eulogy. Possibly because it would have started with, "I never understood why the hell you guys even bought that little wheel-running woodchip-gnawing ball of disgustingness in the first place."

Ahem. May she rest in peace.

A few months ago, one of the kids at school did a good job on something and earned the honor and glory of feeding the classroom gerbil. (Interestingly, the exact opposite technique could've been employed to get me to behave back when I was in school: "Do your homework, Red, or else you'll have to hold the wiggly ball of terror for five whole minutes.") Anyway, the teacher was preoccupied with something and I happened to be in the room, so she asked if I'd take the gerbil out of the cage and hold it while the kid fed it. Um, what? I'm sorry, WHAT? I stood there, not knowing how to articulate the depths of my squeamishness, and wanting to be helpful but not at the expense of actually having to touch the godforsaken creature that I'd been careful to avert my eyes from all year long. Eventually one of the classroom assistants noticed my cold sweat and stepped up.

I could go on, but suffice to say that mice, in all their incarnations, are not high up on my list. So imagine how thrilled I was when I got to spend Saturday night with three ferrets, one of which didn't have any hair. Let me back up. My friend discovered that two of her coworkers had totally random connections to me, so we all got together for dinner. Afterwards, we went back to one couple's house for chocolate martinis and continued conversation. I don't believe I'd ever been around a ferret before, let alone three at once, prancing around like they owned the place. It was like the animals had taken over the zoo. AND DID I MENTION ONE OF THEM WAS HAIRLESS? It looked like a sad shrunken camel.

I tried my best to laugh it off and not reveal the extent of my hysteria when they darted over my toes and almost up my pant leg. They skittered across the floor, jumped from the couch to the coffee table, slipped in and out of cushions, and aged me about fifteen years. You never knew where they were! Was one of them behind you? Was it about to jump on you? And more importantly, WHO LIVES LIKE THIS? Dogs, I understand. Cats, sure, knock yourself out. Maybe I could even forgive the errant reptile. But FERRETS? And multiple ferrets at that? This is your home, not Petco!

It posed even more of a dilemma that, while I actually went to high school with the ferret owner, I had just met his wife that night and I felt like it would maybe be a faux pas to dropkick their family pets and then whip off all my clothes and burn them in their living room, all the while screaming uncontrollably. I waited until I got home to do that.

I almost included a picture of a ferret at the top of this entry, but every time I started to upload it to Flickr, I could feel it crawling on me. Sob.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

So, It Was A Land? Made Of Feathers?

Me: ...and I have a lot of work to finish before the end of school, but tomorrow is Field Day so I'll be able to get a lot done.
Mark: Field Day? Is that like a field trip?
Me: No, the kids play kickball and have relay races and stuff like that.
Mark: So they're just outside all day, jumping around and shit?
Me: Pretty much. Didn't your elementary school have something like that?
Mark: No, I don't think so.
Me: Oh, mine did. It was the best. It was called the Goofy Olympics, and it was held at this big grassy area down the road from the school called Featherland.
Mark: ...
Me: I just heard myself say it. Where the hell did I grow up?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

After Awhile, Crocodile


So, what are we thinking about Crocs? Ugliest shoes in the world, right? Who would buy shoes that are sold on a rack and attached to each other by a plastic strip that you actually have to cut?

Well, my mom started swearing by hers and then bought me a pair. I made fun of them and then tried them on. People, I have never known comfort like this. Would you believe that you can wear them all day long and not feel the need to take them off when you get home? It's like magic.

Good thing I work in an elementary school in the sticks and not a schmancy office in the city, because I now wear them EVERY SINGLE DAY. They make my feet look like Shrek's and I may as well not even be dropping money on pedicures. In my defense, I only wear them to work. The rest of the time I wear my favorite $7 pink flip flops.

In case you hadn't already guessed, I may be the least fashionable person ever. In fact, I'm so unfashionable, I'm thinking that the word fashionable might not be very fashionable anymore. But when I'm walking down the hall and one of my first grade BOYS says, "Miss Red, look! We're wearing the same shoes!", well, I can't help but wonder if things have gone too far.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


I've been trying to avoid my mom this weekend. It's not that I don't want to see her or that she's been annoying me (well, ahem, the latter may be bordering on the truth, but that's just a mom thing). It's because I organized a 60th birthday party for her and it's happening later on tonight. She thinks it's just dinner with my dad, the Dories and me, but when we get to the restaurant, fifteen of her closest friends will be waiting, hopefully geared up for a fun night thanks to the hour they'll spend with an open bar prior to our arrival.

Her best friend, my godmother, made a scrapbook of my mom's entire life. I made her a scrapbook too, but the theme is that it's from all of her kids... Dorie's kids, my three closest cousins, and me (both godchildren and goddamn children, as my mom would say). Everyone has their own page with a picture of them as a baby and a picture of them now. The best part is that everyone included something special that they did themselves... a birthday message, a funny poem, or a recreation of all of Harrison Ford's biggest movies, incorporating my mom into the plot in some way. I think it will mean a lot to her.

When I wrote my birthday message to her, I talked about how I'll never run out of Sudafed because when I had a stuffy nose years ago she bought me a lifetime supply, how when I say that I like her jewelry she takes it off and tries to give it to me, how she takes people who were once just neighbors and turns them into family, and has lifelong friends where other people just have occasional acquaintances. Everyone who meets her wants to be her friend. I've never known anyone else who cares more about the people in her life and really knows how to show it. She and I don't always see eye to eye, but I'm really excited to be able to throw her this party. She'll really appreciate it, because she's a person who is always thinking about everyone else, and this is a chance for other people to toast her. I found myself thinking that everyone the scrapbook is from is someone who didn't exist thirty years ago, and how different the second half of her life so far has been from the first half. She's lost a lot since then, but she'd tell you she's gained even more.

Last night I was at Dorie's, admittedly not the best place for taking refuge from my mom since she and my dad live across the street. Dorie and her husband were supposed to go to her college reunion, and she was psyched. I was supposed to babysit, but then her son got sick. Nothing serious, but he wasn't up for being left. It was a last minute decision to stay home and that was that. After time in a cool bath, he felt better, and spent the rest of the night lying in the family room watching the Sox play the Yankees with his dad. Dorie washed off her makeup and we sat on the porch drinking wine, enjoying the humidity as you can only do in June when it's still a novelty, her daughter playing with my hair and then standing back and saying things like, "Maybe it looks better when you do it yourself."

It seemed like a good metaphor for how life can change: You really, really want to meet up with old friends... and then a person that you made needs you, so you don't go. And it ends up being a different kind of night, but still a good night, because for better or worse you're where you want to be. You lose and you gain, sometimes in the same moment, and what you end up with at the end of the day isn't always what you expected, but maybe it ends up being exactly what you want. Not a bad theme for a milestone birthday. And also maybe, inadvertently, the lyrics to a new Jimmy Buffett song.