Saturday, April 29, 2006

One Weird Fish

This has been a stressful week. Larry had strep and did not go into work once. I took him to the doctor on Wednesday (that's about 2 1/2 hours just driving!) which pushed my day in the kindergarten room to Thursday. Junior Garden Club has started back up. And I've had two "put-me-to-bed" headaches, which I rarely get these days. So it is one of those weeks that I feel like nothing has gotten done, but I've been constantly busy. I hate it when that happens.

Which brings me to the subject of this post. I haven't had energy to think of anything shockingly profound or even mildly amusing to write about. But I did get "tagged." This would basically be a survey in the email circles. I am supposed to write six "weird" things about myself. Hopefully this sort of thing will not become a blogging trend. If it does I will most likely, in the future, opt out. But between the week I've had and the fact that this friend is not only my freshman roommate but the mother of one of my two namesakes, looks like I'm "it."

Weird thing #1. I cannot answer questions with one word very easily. You know those "personality test" things. I can't take them. They always want you to pick one choice. I prefer to answer with at least one paragraph of explanation. Not that an inability to effectively take these sort of tests is a major hindrance in life, but it is a great intro into this exercise. I mean, what exactly IS weird? What may be just a personality quirk? Maybe something seems weird to me, but if many others share that trait, is it still weird? For instance. I love a good hummus but HATE garbanzo beans. That sounds a little weird--until you think of all the people who hate tomatoes and love ketchup or vice versa. It becomes clear that there is a great difference between a whole food and one that's mushed up and seasoned. Plus my cousin has the same taste with the garbanzos and the hummus. I guess both of us could be weird though . . .

#2. I have a great fear of uncovered windows when it's dark outside. It can be dark or light in the room, no difference. The windows NEED to be covered. Or I might have an anxiety attack.

#3. Lots of people have texture issues, but I've not heard anyone else with this one. I can't deal with fingerprints against fingerprints (or footprints, for that matter). So only rub my feet if I have on socks. I also need to put lotion on with the palm of one hand against the back of the other, then I switch. I love that Bath & Bodyworks hand soap because there are little grains in there, so I can wash my hands like a normal person without freaking out. I can hold hands with my kids or Larry, because that doesn't rub. But I can't imagine ever getting a manicure or pedicure. Blech!

#4. I think my forearms are fat. They aren't. They never have been. But I can't get over thinking that they are.

#5. I'd rather be talking off the cuff in front of hundreds of strangers than one on one with someone I sort of know. Clearly, good friends are a different story. But even my extended family who I haven't interacted with that much are much scarier to me than a crowd. A microphone is a great barrier. It's kind of like this blog. No interaction needed. No need to think of interesting questions to ask. No fear of negative response. If you don't like what I have to say, you can politely ignore me. No hurt feelings. Everyone's fine. Yeah, I really like this blog thing! Maybe even better than a mike.

#6. Larry says this is weird, but I don't know. I am highly annoyable. HIGHLY. Maybe it doesn't seem weird to me because I come by it honestly. Comes from my dad's side of the family, and I was trained from a young age. There are seemingly infinite things, sounds, and people that annoy me greatly. I really can't go into much detail here, or else all of you may start worrying that you will annoy me. In fact, there is a high probability not only that you will, but that you already have. I promise to try to keep that information to myself. And please know that I am FULLY aware that it's not you, it's me.

There you go. I don't really have anyone to tag. Not many friends yet with blogs, and I doubt the Monce Family would be interested. But if you REALLY want to see weird. . .you can check out my friend Jenny's list at

***Two notes: One--you'll have to cut & paste the url, my browser doesn't support the text formatting buttons that uses. Sorry. The second is just plain funny. The spell checker on this site doesn't recognize "blog." Wants to replace it with "bloc." What a kick!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Easter 2006

At Larry's parents' house
Saturday, April 15

Friday, April 21, 2006

Hooked on "Idol"

I saw an article in the "Your Life" section of the paper today promoting TV Turn-off Week. April 24-30, families are being encouraged to keep the tube dark, and find renewed interest in family and couple togetherness, nature, fitness, reading, etc. I think this is a super idea. Unplugging for even one week I'm sure can open eyes and minds to what we are missing out on with TV and what we wouldn't miss at all without it. I sometimes pine for the fortitude (and agreement of my spouse) to disconnect the satellite once and for all.

I wish I could say that these are the thoughts that immediately came to mind on reading the article. Instead I thought, "But what about 'American Idol'?"

Um, we're fans. All six of us. It's a little embarrassing. . . for me, anyway. I tend to be anti-reality-TV. Overall, I think it's dumb. It's not reality. It's contrived. No one really gets stuck on some desert island and needs to make alliances in order to NOT go home and have the chance to win money. Honestly, I think "Gilligan's Island" was as realistic a situation. (My apologies to anyone who watches "Survivor," having never seen it, I may have the premise wrong. I may even have the title wrong--but I think that's the one.)

Nevertheless this is the third season that we've faithfully watched or taped and then watched "Idol." I think the show is well produced. It has a long season, so there is a different focus on each stage of the competition, keeping interest through variety. Everyone loves the try-outs--watching people make fools of themselves. Why is it that we all seem to find great humor in others' sufferings? I get frustrated with people who are obviously not there to try out, but to be ridiculous enough to make it on TV, thus earning 15 SECONDS of fame. I feel a combination of bewilderment and sympathetic embarrassment for those who clearly think they are fantastic but, in reality, are tone-deaf and horrifically musically challenged. There is a girl I think of every season, not a contestant--someone I actually knew, who thought her voice was much better than it was. I imagine her trying out, singing out her soul, and being told on a national broadcast that she had one of THE worst voices Simon Cowell had ever heard, and he's heard the worst. I believe she'd not handle the news well.

The final 24 is where you can begin to vote for your favorites, and so that's where my girls get especially excited and start to take the contest personally. Larry calls in two votes for each of them until the count is down to 12, and then they get one vote. Each week the girls make hand written lists of the contestants. #2 makes smiley faces that look somewhat like each singer with an emotion that rates their performance. #3s votes are a study in primacy and recency. #1 is more likely to develop a favorite and vote for that person regardless of how they sing on any given night.

Myself, after the try-outs I have a hard time keeping interest until they are down to the final 12. I can never remember names until about the final 10 or 8. Currently, they are down to 6 for this season, so I even know the last names. I always say that if it weren't for the girls, Larry and I wouldn't watch at all. I wish that I knew that to be true. Deep down, I'm afraid it's not. Much like Jerry Seinfeld's interest in "Melrose Place," I fear can talk about Paula's uselessness and Randy's weekly claims on ties to the famous with the most loyal "Idol" viewer. I know who's "bringin' it" and who was "just ah-right for me, dawg." I almost cried last season when Constantine got voted off. This season I swear I'll stop watching if Chris gets kicked off before Kellie.

Ironically, I found solace in the same section of the same paper, when I turned the page and read a quote by filmmaker Paul Weitz of "American Pie" fame. He got the idea for his new film, "American Dreamz" from his own obsessions which he realized he shares with much of the country. "I would start my day reading the papers and feeling anxious about terrorism and worrying about whether the administration had an exit strategy from Iraq; then by evening, I was watching TV and worrying about whether Constantine was going to get kicked off 'American Idol.' I thought there was something strange about this picture." Starring Dennis Quaid and, my favorite, Hugh Grant, and being rated PG-13, this will definitely be a must-rent! Maybe it will help me feel better about my "Idol" habit. But only if Kellie gets voted off next.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Welcome to the Hermitage

Larry and I are not good neighbors. Don't get me wrong--we're not obnoxious, loud, or messy. I don't think that anyone minds us living next door or across the street. But we are not very good neighbors all the same. We're not mean or rude, but neither do we go out of our way to be very friendly. We often don't even know names of people living around us. We're not the big-barbecue types or even the hang-out-in-the-front-yard-and-chat-with-passersby types. We rarely give any useful or meaningful service simply because we aren't aware of our neighbors' needs.

There are several reasons for this. Maybe they are really excuses, but I'm calling them reasons. Larry's health ranks high on the list. He rarely has energy for the people we know already, or our own family for that matter, let alone energy to go meet more.

Another reason is all of the volunteer work that I do in relation to the kids. This gets me meeting people in other places, but not in my neighborhood. I'm often gone more than home. The time spent at home is therefore precious: full of getting homework and chores and cooking and cleaning done--or at least worked-on. Soccer season, which for our family is August-November, is the worst. Moving to a remote area hasn't helped with that, either. A 50 minute round-trip to the grocery store doesn't help at-home time.

Things were a little better in the previous town we lived in. There were very nice people and lots of children on our street, which was great, but my kids attended a school out of our boundaries within the same District. So there again, we were largely playing and volunteering with people elsewhere.

Our current neighborhood has been interesting. Ours are the only kids on our end of the 1-1/2 mile long street that we live on. Everyone else is retired or nearly retired. I met one neighbor when we first moved in, an electrician who came to switch our drier to work with the propane hook-up. They live two houses down, he and his wife. I saw him again once when he came to fix my dishwasher about a year later. Now their house is on the market. (Any friends or family interested in being our neighbors, let me know. I promise we'll be great neighbors if we KNOW you.)

Our next door neighbor we "met" when last 4th of July she drunkenly called my children all sorts of profanities from her back porch because she thought they were playing too loudly in our pool. We met her truely this fall when her live-in guy knocked down a rather large oak tree in our front yard with a run-away Ford Explorer and another fantastic round of explatives. She apologized for our last encounter, we chatted for a few minutes, and now rather than hate her with every fiber of my being, I just feel tremendous pitty for her. I haven't seen her since.

But that's it, that's all we have met in almost two years here. I will readily admit that we have not yet ventured out to introduce ourselves. I did have cookie plates all made up to go around this Christmas, but Larry got sick, and I can't bring myself to do that sort of thing without him along. The cookies got thrown out after a couple of weeks sitting on our window sill. Anyway, I always thought that introductions were the main repsonsibility of those already living in a place. Maybe I need to get my head out of Jane Austen novels and Andy Griffith Show re-runs long enough to check if that is still the case.

Ultimately, however, none of this means very much. Ultimately, the fact is that I married a hermit. He had even disclosed that information pre-nuptually, but I didn't believe him. He was always incredibly outgoing with my apartment and in other situations that I saw him in. When he wants to, he can still be very social. He just doesn't want to be very often. And I have found that it is much easier to become a hermit onesself than to socialize someone else.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Measuring Success

I guess I need to start by noting that in January I started with Weight Watchers. Between the last three kids there was an extra total of about 25 lbs to drop. And #4 being 4 years old, I finally decided that this was it.

It's gone pretty well. It is a great program for me, making me accountable for doing what I know I should in the dietary department. But it is hard not to be a slave to the scale and not only celebrate every pound lost but mourn every tenth of a pound gained. Occasionally I find other sucesses that this journey brings.

This week Larry and I went to Disneyland for a late 12th anniversary trip. There were showers in the morning, keeping crowds away. The longest line we waited in was 20 minutes, and most were 5-15. Amazing. We went on every ride we wanted, shopped, and left the park at about 5:30 or 6pm and spent time in Downtown Disney--the shopping/restaurant district just outside the park.

Well, I decided a couple of weeks ago that I was not going to journal or even estimate points on this little trip. I was going to eat what I wanted and maybe just watch my portions. I did order salads and veggies instead of soups and potatoes, and I ordered water instead of soda. Amazingly though, I didn't have to make an effort to watch my portions. I filled up at EVERY meal after eating about half (not including the salads and veggies). Now, I am embarrassed to admit that I could in the past be very piggy and eat almost any amount of food put in front of me if I loved the taste. I would be stuffed, and while that is never comfortable I would think it was worth it. These two days though, I really had no big desire to keep eating after I was on the full side of satisfied.

It may seem a little silly, but this seems like a big deal to me. I've been afraid that after I loose all of my weight it would be insanely difficult for me to keep up these new eating habits. And while I'm sure that I can pretty easily slip back into the old ones if I don't watch it, I see where my tastes and desires are actually beginning to more naturally reflect what I am trying to do with the WW program.

And boy, if I can change myself in this way, maybe I can make other changes that seem to constantly weigh on me, more important ones involving my character and my attitudes. There I would find true sucess.