Monday, December 31, 2007

Sick Leave

My apologies for not checking in sooner.

I've been sick. Very sick. Sicker than sick. Miserable, awful, dreadful sick.

I admit it. I didn't give any of you much of any thought at all in the midst of my malaise. Except my mommy. I thought a lot about her. Where was she? Didn't she care how wretchedly I suffered? Didn't she love me anymore? Why doesn't she come? Why am I ALL ALONE? MOOOOOMMMMMMEEEEEEE!!!!!!

The terrible head cold that I had going into Christmas Eve turned into a general infection of nearly everything: ears, nose, chest, throat, mind, and spirit. I swear to God, I didn't know my face could hurt that bad and not explode. It just didn't seem physiologically possible.

Anyway, this is my 4th day of antibiotics, and I'm feeling better. Not ready to run a marathon better, but willing to brush my teeth and put some clean underwear on better. It's a start.

Mister gathered up the kids and took them off to his mother's on Friday. I've been convalescing alone since then. I watched both seasons 1 and 2 of Grey's Anatomy in their entirty in just three days. It was a little much, I must admit, even for me. I couldn't even bring myself to cry when Denny died. Am I the only one who thinks it's a little implausible that Izzy didn't do any jail time for what she did, let alone that she was eventually allowed to practice medicine again? It's just silly. Honestly.


Apparently I'm still a little weak and distracted. I can't seem to pull coherent thoughts together. And my ears don't work properly. Makes me feel a little clausterphobic, actually. I still want my mommy. And the antibiotics have fucked up my stomach. Soon they will fuck up my cooter....and not in the good way......(that one was for you Dad, try not to visualize)

I have to go. A taxi is picking me up in an hour to take me to the ferry. I'm going to Rosendal to spend New Year's with my family.

I have a thing for ferry boats.

No I don't.

But I know a guy who does......

Happy New Year's everyone. Hope you all feel better than I do.

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's After 12 Noon On Christmas Eve. Can I Start Drinking Yet?

Seriously, it's darker than dark out there today. Forecast is for full storm (a term which looks like English, but is in fact full-blooded Norwegian and means 'mini-sort-of-hurricane-thingy-during-which-it-will-be-dark-and-windy-and-generally-miserable-out'). So once again all our dreams of a white Christmas have been crushed and broken on account of pissing rain. How utterly predictable. Enjoy your snow American family. You have no idea how lucky you are.

I don't have much to say. Just wanted to wish everyone a merry Christmas. Hope you all have a wonderful couple of days.

Personally I'm having a bit of a hard time getting into the spirit this year. In addition to the wretched weather, I've got a terrible head cold and have been temporarily robbed of all sense of taste and smell. It's weird and more than a little disconcerting to have a mouthful of say coffee or pepperkake, and know full well what these things should taste like, and yet have only the sensation of warm water or gritty mush in my mouth. Makes it hard to get excited about all the cooking I'm about to do when I know I'm not going to be able to taste anything at the end of it.


On the other hand, the kids are happy and healthy, and perfectly delighted with everything. Boy thinks he hears sleigh bells everywhere. Missy won't leave the ornaments on the tree alone. And Elder Miss has her pretty party dress all laid out on her bed and keeps caressing it lovingly. They haven't much noticed the weather, and they could care less about how moist the turkey may or may not turn out. This is their night, and they can hardly wait for all the fun to start.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The True Meaning Of Christmas

There is a song; a carol, actually; a Christmas carol, to be absolutely precise, called “Et Barn Er Født I Betlehem". I thought it was a uniquely Norwegian piece, but a quick search on iTunes revealed versions in several Nordic languages, including an attempt in English by one Garrison Keillor. So 'Scandinavian', I think, is as narrow a label as we can put on it.

Whatever its origins, it’s fairly awful. So don’t feel too bad about having never heard of it before.

A child is born in Bethlehem
In Bethlehem
In Bethlehem
Something about rejoicing Jerusalem

I see no point in attempting a full translation. A good quarter of the words are archaic enough that they don’t make any sense to me anyway. Suffice it to say, it goes on and on about virgins, cribs, visitors from the East, something about a star, and blahdy blahdy blah for about 10 verses, each verse ending in a paradoxically mournful “hall-ehhh-luuu-jahhhhhh”.

So it’s your fairly standard Christian carol. Fair enough. God knows I love a good carol. Only this one is so mind-numbingly plodding and slow, with none of the soaring beauty of say “O Holy Night”, or the gentle lullaby hush of “Away in a Manger”, that it's damn near impossible to endure, let alone love. Nothing but lackluster and dull. Honestly, I can’t say enough about how much I hate this song.

Did I mention my kids know it? Would you believe me if I told you they like it, and sing it often?

Monday morning I’m in the kitchen making lunches for the smaller two before I send them off to barnehage. Elder Miss has long since left for school on the bus. Boy is sitting at the table rifling for the two thousand and first time through the Toys R’ Us Christmas catalog. Missy the Younger is sitting next to him, happily coloring in her Hello Kitty coloring book, mindlessly humming something decidedly atonal (thank you Grandma Gae). All is relatively quiet and peaceful. My mind has drifted past Christmas, past New Year’s, side-stepped January and February altogether, and is mulling over possible ways to wrangle together enough money to buy Mister the kayak he so desperately wants for his 40th birthday in March. Suddenly, Boy lets out a great, jubilant gasp. His chair, which he’s been teasing out on its back two legs whilst he browses, falls heavily forward and lands on all fours with a loud thud. He triumphantly plants a finger in the middle of the page he’s been looking at as if he’s just now, right here in this very spot, located the precise center and meaning of the entire universe, “Missy! Missy! Looklooklook! Et barn er født i Betlehem Right! Here! In the magazine!” And with out further ado, he launches into the song.

Missy, whose attention was caught with Boy’s gleeful snort of discovery, has dropped her crayon, leaned over the table to get a closer look, and is now droning a long, slow accompaniment to Boy’s song, “Hall-ehhhh-luuuu-jahhhhh, halllll-eh-luuuuuuu-jah, hall-ehhhhh-lu-jahhhh, hallelujahhallelujahhalleluuuuu-jahhhhh….”

Both continue to stare in transfixed wonder at the image on the page as they sing on and on…and on.

I had told the kids when we got them that these catalogues were sent out by Santa as a sort of preview of what his elves are working on. “These are the things you can choose from this year,” I said, “Santa says this is what’s available.” And I’ve flipped through them half a dozen times or so time myself. So I know, in that extra-special, extra-sensory way that mothers just know these things, that this is the item that has got Boy so excited.

I know they have a small Nativity set up at the pre-school. Since I’ve spent exactly zero time explaining the whole birth-of-Jesus, true-meaning-of-Christmas thing to my kids, I assume it’s the teachers at the school who have either used the Nativity to explain the song, or the song to explain the Nativity to them. Either way, I think it’s mildly interesting that the song and a random picture are so closely linked in their minds. It’s like one is the other to them. And I’m pondering this curiosity when Boy abruptly stops singing mid-verse to ask, “But Mom, why would Santa’s elves make a toy Jesus? Is it even allowed to play with the baby Jesus?”

What do you say to that? How do you even begin to answer that question? It’s a fantasy, wrapped inside a myth, cloaked in commercialism so profane it’s almost sacred. But how to you tell that to a 5 year old?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bad Santa

You’ll all be happy to know that the same crap-ass vagrant that was staggering around the Christmas tree farm posing as Santa last year was there again this year.

EM and Boy were still too chicken to knock on the door of his little shack, so naturally they sent Missy. She marched right to the front of the queue (which, to be fair, was little more that a loosely assembled group of 2 or 3 other families with parents trying to coax their equally timid children into knocking on the door) and demanded an immediate audience, which she was granted forthwith. Her newly emboldened siblings climbed shamelessly onto her coattails, and followed her in, as did her dorky parents.

So there we stand—the entire family—in a dimly lit, dusty hovel, before a shaggy bum of questionable sobriety who, in turn, is seated behind a wobbly, makeshift desk. Christmas in Norway folks. Ain’t it a gas! Our host wastes no time in fixing his rheumy eyes on Missy—my precious baby angel—and asks, “Well now. And what might your name be?”

Suddenly shy, Missy bows her head and mumbles, “Mithy.”

“Eh! What’s that now?” His gaze darts from me, back to Missy, then over to EM, “Whudd’ she say?” he barks thickly.

“Missy. She’s Missy,” EM answers. Like DUH-UH.

“Missy. Riiiight.” He picks up his greasy quill and carefully writes her name in the large ledger lying open in front of him. M-I-S-S-Y. “And where does Missy live then?” He directs this question at EM whose shyness apparently only applies to knocking on doors; grizzly old geezers she’s all bright shiny sunshine for.

EM doesn’t miss a beat as she mechanically recites the address that she’s only recently memorized. My grip tightens a little over Missy’s hand as I watch this shoddy, second-rate Santa write our address next to her name, and I wonder, “Um, is this such a good idea?” Too late.

EM has even kindly corrected him where he’s written a 3 where there should have been a 4 for our house number. Then he asks, “How old is Missy?”


“Very good,” he mutters, as he scrawls a 3 in the age column, “Now,” turning back to Little Miss, “What would Missy like for Christmas?”

Silence. Apparently, not even EM has the answer to this one. The silence drags on as we all look at each other and shrug. Boy pokes Missy in the cheek. Missy sticks two fingers in her mouth.

“Humph,” grumbles the old man, “How ‘bout I just surprise you then?” he says, and writes the word ‘present’ in the last column. “Best to put a little reminder here see. Just so I know you’ve been good. Heh heh heh. Right. Next?” He shifts his attention over to Boy, “And what’s your name?”


“You live with your sister?”


“And how old are you this year?”

Santa’s hand trembles a little as he writes the 5, and I think if he asks if he’d like to sit on his lap we’ll just run. I’ll grab the book, and we’ll just run.

“So then. Do you know what you’d like for Christmas?”

Boy thinks for a minute, steals a quick glance at his dad for a bit of encouragement I suppose, then says quietly, but clearly, “An X-Wing Fighter.”

“I’m sorry?” Santa leans forward, “What was that?”

“An X-Wing Fighter,” Boy says again, louder this time.

Santa looks up at Mister with a blank, Dude help-me-out-here kind of look.

“X. Wing. Fighter.” Mister says slowly, “It’s from Star Wars.”

“Star Wars. Riiiiight.” He mutters something droll about santas needing to take an English course to do the job these days while he’s doing his best to spell ‘fighter’ in his ledger. From where I stand, it looks something more like ‘feiter’, but I let it go.

“And finally we come to big sister,” says Santa, sitting up straight again, confident that the articulate, intelligent young lady who’d just been so helpful with that address business wouldn’t have anymore surprises for him, “What’s this pretty lady’s name?”

She spells it for him, then adds helpfully, “I’m 7 years old.”

“Of course you are. A very big girl, indeed. Ho ho hoooo!”

And again I’m thinking: grab the book, run, grab the book, run, grab the book, run….

“Do you know what you’d like for Christmas?” he asks with what I think is meant to be a jolly wink and a grin, but succeeds in being little more than a drunken leer.

EM takes a deep breath, then lets it rip, “ALittlestPetShopRoundAndRoundPetTownPlaySet,”

Everyone blinks.

Santa grunts, “Eh?”

EM takes another deep breath, “ALittlestPetShopRoundAndRoundPetTownPlaySet,” then, ever helpful and eager to please, she adds, “Like on TV.”

Santa looks to Mister and I for help, but we can’t stop laughing.

“Say it again EM. Say it again!”

So she does, “LittlestPetShopRoundAndRoundPetTownPlaySet.”

And we laugh again. Harder this time.

I don’t know what he eventually wrote in his book. He might have settled on just “pet shop”, but I’m not sure. Doesn’t really matter, as I later explained to the kids. Clearly that skinny, rumpled degenerate was not Santa. He was just one of Santa’s many Norwegian helpers come to make sure there aren’t any last minute changes to be made to the master list. And a good thing too. As I know for a fact that Santa had indeed set aside one brand spanking new LittlestPetShopRoundAndRoundPetTownPlaySet with our address on it. Only trouble is, he had put Missy’s name on it. Elder Miss was only supposed to get the pretty pink Nintendo DS.

What to do? What to do?

Santa went shopping again. And Elder Miss is, without question, the most spoiled child on the entire planet. But clearly with good reason.

Monday, December 03, 2007


I'm already regretting having suggested this Christmas picture deal. It's not like I'm a good enough photographer to pull it off with any sort of panache. But I wanted to show this one off anyway. It's the kids' advent calendar. I bought the 24 velvet bags from IKEA last year, spent Friday night filling them and sewing the gold ornaments on, and am ever so pleased with the results now. I make them share one calendar--a crime of parsimony so despicable my sisters-in-law are still talking about it like I cancelled Christmas altogether--so each kid gets to open a bag every third day and will receive 8 presents total. That's more than enough, if you ask me. And EM has only spent 10 or 12 hours total whining about it since Saturday, so I think she's coming around to the idea too. Especially since she realized that she gets to open the last present on Christmas Eve this year. Shhhhh! It's a red watch with slutty silver studs on the arm band. She's going to love it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

This Is All Well And Good, But Where's My Lawn Chair And The Cooler Full Of Shasta?

The city of Bergen does this quaint little thing every year on the 1st of December. All its good citizens make a collective decision to ignore the pissing rain, the perpetually falling dark and oppressive gloom, to throw a great, big, lighting-of-the-lights party in the center of town. Lysefestivalen they call it—The Light Festival. Clever, isn’t it?

Mister and I have never been. Mostly because we’re both about 87 years old at heart, and frankly, we worry that we can’t handle that much festive good cheer, but also because it sounds like a lot of work, what with all the layering of the clothes, and the finding of the gloves and the hats, and the dragging of reluctant toddlers through crowded city streets. And Christ, what if one of them has to pee in the middle of it all? A logistical nightmare best left untried.

But the kids are getting older, more mobile, increasingly continent. And with EM in school now, she hears about these things, and isn’t shy about asking why we never get to do anything fun like that? So when she asked us last week couldn’t we please, please, please go to Lysefestivalen this year, neither Mister nor I could think of a single good reason why not. And, indeed, both of us kind of harrumphed and thought, “Yeah, we really should do that. Might be kind of fun. Yes, EM. Let’s do it!”

So off we went.

We started the day (yesterday) off early at a local arts and crafts market. Similar, I’d guess, to local arts and crafts markets the world over—small town artists hawking their small town hobbies at—shall we say—optimistic prices. There were soap makers, glass makers, pottery makers, jewelry makers, quilt makers, cheaply repainted ceramic tat makers. Lots of rosemåling, for local flavor. Along with a hefty number of stands selling small knitted doll clothes, and seemingly the same collection of hats, gloves, and knickers that the naked ladies at my gym were so agog over.

It was a nice little market, and personally, I would have been happy to spend a few hours there, milling about and fingering the merchandise. I happened upon the perfect gift for Grandma ‘Nita. I swear, the very thing. It practically screamed at me, “Buy me and send me to that good woman NOW, you stingy, ungrateful daughter, you!” And I would have done it too, if I had been about a billionaire. Nor did I have a chance to talk Mister into ponying up the ridiculously inflated price, because the kids had decided just 47 seconds after entering the building that this was absolutely the most boring place in the whole world and they demanded, rather persistently, that we leave immediately. Eventually they won, and we headed into town before I’d had a chance to see everything.

We weren’t exactly sure what to expect once we got there. We knew there would be an outdoor concert of some sort. Some speeches. Some rallying together of public spirit. And fireworks at the end. So a little like the 4th of July, right? We were stumped as to what any of that had to do with Christmas, but we were game to find out.

As it turns out, Lysefestivalen isn’t just a little like the 4th of July, it’s a whole heck of a lot like it, only with hats, and gloves, and rain boots instead of tank tops and cutoffs. And the rather than having to languish all day waiting for the fireworks to start--drinking beer and eating snow cones--the whole shebang is over and done with by quarter to 5 in the evening cuz’ that’s when it’s dark. Hard to say if that’s a bad thing or not—less beer is nothing to cheer about, but I was mighty glad to be heading home before bedtime.

There were other differences, of course, both for better and for worse. The cold, wet, city pavement, for example, wasn’t nearly as cozy as a sun warmed grassy knoll. But instead of sparklers, we were all given open flame torches, which, let’s face it, pretty much kick all kinds of sparkler ass—fire hazard notwithstanding. There was indeed a stage where local choirs and bands performed carols and other seasonal favorites. A minister was forced on us at one point. She was kind enough to remind us all of the true meaning of Christmas. We, in turn, were kind enough not to boo her off the stage. And at the end of it all—fireworks! A reasonably awesome display of fireworks. After which, 5,000 people headed, en masse, for their cars, where we all sat in a parking lot for 40 minutes waiting to move a single car length.

Happy 4th everyone! And furthermore—Season’s Greetings!

I’m so glad we went. It turned out to be exactly what I needed to shake me—however briefly—out of my funk.

I’m toying with an idea to do a daily post from now until Christmas featuring a picture of some holiday scene or other from my home to yours. I don’t know. Might be a bit of a strain to come up with that many pictures. But I like the idea….so stay tuned.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

This And That

Otherwise known as various and sundry items of little or no interest to anyone, least of all myself.

Here’s a little known factoid that you might want to file away as I’m sure it will eventually appear on The Great Blogger edition of Trivial Pursuit in 20 or 30 years time when I’m, you know, famous and stuff. The very first incarnation of this blog was published under the title Various and Sundry. I thought it was so clever. Unique even. Until a quick Google search pulled up approximately 15,000 other blogs titled the same. At which point, I logged out of Blogger and didn’t return for nearly a year.

Whatever. Not important. Back to this and that. Where are my bullets? Ah yes, here they are --

--Thanksgiving. Was okay. It was fine. Food was neither spectacular nor revolting. Company was what it was. They were all gracious and pleasant. But, I can never quite shake the sneaking suspicion that they’re only here and eating to be polite. I realize that this is probably a stupid and irrational way to feel as they’ve been coming year after year now for going on 10 years. But I can’t help myself. My cooking, at its best, would be charitably characterized as ‘adequate’, and sometimes it feels like they gush a little too effusively over the moistness of the breast meat, rave a little too hyperbolically over the sticky-sweet goodness of the yams to be taken seriously. Know what I mean? Eh—ignore me. I’m just being moody and precious over a less than wonderful meal that I nevertheless worked very hard on, and some friends who have recently turned out to be—I don’t know? less close? than I had previously thought they were. I’ll get over it eventually. I always do. Moving on.

--Growing pains. Literal, in this case. A couple of times this week, Missy spent the evening huddled on the kitchen floor moaning about pain in her “feets and legs”. I must admit, it took me a while to figure out exactly what was going on. Neither EM nor The Boy has ever complained about this sort of thing, and I don’t really remember experiencing it as a child myself. But Mister has told me that he has vivid memories of some very miserable nights during his childhood spent with bones that throbbed and ached for no apparent reason at all. I was annoyed with her at first. I mean God! You’re right in the middle of the bloody floor! And lookit’ kid! No scratch. No rash. No blood. No protruding bone. THERE’S! NOTHING! WRONG! Then I put two and two together and felt like a total shit, because clearly she was in some pretty serious pain. I joked with Mister that after all that writhing and carrying on, by all rights she should wake up a good 5 centimeters taller. I was more than a little disappointed when I got her dressed the next morning to see that her Raggedy Ann overalls still fit just like they did last time she wore them. But then this morning while I was brushing her teeth, I noticed for the first time she didn’t need to stand on her tippy-toes to spit. She still needs the stool right enough-but then, so does Boy. But last week she could barely reach over of the porcelain lip of the sink and invariably ended up spitting down the front of the cupboards instead. Today, suddenly, she can just sort of tip forward, aim, and spit. Easy peasy. So there ya’ go—that whole pain/gain principle at work right here in my very house. And to think, last year at this time we were queuing up at the hospital to have her tested for low growth hormone. How silly were we?

--Book report. First The Kite Runner. Then The Book Thief. And just this afternoon: A Thousand Splendid Suns. A perfect literary trifecta of grief, despair, and tragedy on a massive humanitarian scale. And just in time for the holidays too! You’re right mom. It’s too much. I was so emotionally raw after finishing A Thousand Splendid Suns this afternoon; I was forced—compelled—to inhale half a box of pepperkake and polish off an entire liter of milk just to feel like life was worth living again. Then I made the mistake of reading the latest in this ‘Baby Grace’ case. “Because she wouldn’t say ‘please’ and ‘yes sir’”? Words fail. The next time somebody asks me why I don’t believe in God anymore, I’m simply going to refer them to Riley Ann Sawyers. I defy anyone—anyone at all—to place what happened to that child—or any other child, for that matter, whose mother sat idly by and watched as she was beaten to death—in the hands of Almighty God, and then tell me that that is a being worth worshipping. You will tell me that it wasn’t God who beat the child; it was a weak and evil man who did the killing. And I’ll tell you that if God had any sort of decency whatsoever he would have struck that evil man down of a heart attack after the first blow. Or, at the very least, let the baby die after the first blow. But no. Apparently God’s plan was scheduled to take up most of an afternoon. Hmm, seems words didn’t fail me after all. Afghanistan will be Exhibit B. Thank you Khaled Hosseini.

--SAD. In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, I’m a bit on edge. We’ve entered the perma-dusk portion of the year. Mørketiden they call it here. About a three month period from November through January where you swear you’re camped out on the foothills of Mordor so dark and bleak and grey is the world every time you look out your window. The lack of light gets to me every year, but it seems to have set in a bit early this time around. I’m usually fine through Christmas, and then by January I’m a prickly, snappish lump of raw nerves. Not so, this year. Sleep is elusive. Starch my only solace—it was all full-fat carbonara and French bread for dinner tonight, and I’m not even a little bit sorry. I’ve been crying like, a lot, lately. And I’m finding it very hard to shake the bad thoughts loose once they’ve settled in. Your fairly classic case of SAD. This too shall pass. But in the meantime—no more fucking tomes of woe and misery! It’s going to be all Wodehouse and Pratchett from now through March. And clearly I should steer clear of CNN for a while too. It doesn’t help that I’ve cut way back on the running lately either. I need to get back to that. Exercise saved me last year. I need to let it save me again this year. But ugh! So seriously not in the mood. Know what I mean?

Dude. Hope I didn’t bring anyone down, or anything like that. And sorry about the God rant, but He was way outta’ line on that one

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So I'm At The Gym The Other Day

First I should say, by way of explanation, that my particular gym is very popular with the retired, “golden age of living” crowd. In fact, I’d venture a guess that 60 and over’s make up a good 40% or more of the total membership. Which, don’t get me wrong, I think is great. I’m all for the pursuit of continued physical fitness into the twilight years. Good on ‘em! Plus, you know, the muffled chorus of tooting and squishing they tend to produce during some of the more strenuous Pilates maneuvers adds a certain element of, shall we say, ‘whimsy’ to an otherwise now routine class for me. No complaints. I love how they’re never too busy, too engrossed in a task to stop and chat with whomever about the weather, their grandchildren, the good old days when a cup of coffee cost less then one kroner and anyone suggesting they try some yoga in the living room would have been run out of the village as a heretic and a pervert. Doesn’t matter about what really, they just love to talk. And it doesn’t matter where or when either. Could be in the lobby right in front of the check in. Could be in a cluster near the treadmills where the noise of the machines makes it necessary to talk extra loud in order to be understood. Could be, as we shall see, in the locker rooms.

So there I am Monday morning—post workout—sweaty, vile, and ready for a shower. I slink into the dressing room all limber and lithe after an hour of Pilates, round the corner to where my locker is, and bump smack into a clutch of 10 or 12 of the cluckiest old hens you’d ever hope to meet—all in various stages of undress. Charming, think I, all selfless good cheer and forbearance, a clothing optional bee of some sort, how cute. It only takes a couple “ahem’s” and an “excuse me” to get to my locker. After that, it’s a few mumbled “oops, sorry’s” and “no really, I’ll just step over here maybe’s” to retrieve my bag and towels, and squeeze past them into the shower room. Honestly, they barely registered my clumsy intrusion, so engrossed were they in their congress.

One of them, it seems, is a knitter. Who am I kidding, more than likely ALL of them are knitters of at least some ability, this is Norway after all. But one of them has brought her entire cache of knitted hats, scarves, gloves and knickers for all I know, and is using the bench right in front of my locker as a display table to show them off. She could not have found a more enthusiastic and appreciative audience in a Dickens novel. They manage to ooh and ah and haggle over prices for the entire time it took me to shower, sauna, dress, dry my hair, and slap on a bit of make-up—a good 30 minutes at least.

But here’s the thing—the hitch, the crux, the reason I’m bothering to mention it at all—in all that time, not one of them bothered to, you know, get dressed. Some had bras and panties on, some had panties but no bras, some just had a ratty old towel slung absently over a shoulder.

Now, is it just me? Or is that odd? I mean, I’m not an overly prudish or shy sort in the locker room. I understand that a certain amount of nudity is to be expected in such a setting. I myself am perfectly comfortable doing what needs to be done in terms of showering and changing in front of other women. But this business of standing around chit chatting—at length even—in your bare nothings is just weird to me.

For God’s sake ladies, there’s complimentary coffee out in the lobby! Put some clothes on and do this OUT THERE!

Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to address a few additional newsy type items in Nan’s favored bullet format.

--Happy Thanksgiving everyone! My own turkey feast will be on Saturday, as per usual. Very small and intimate group this year, which is good. It has been my feeling that my guest list has gotten a little out of hand these past few years, so I’m glad to trim it back to just the most regular of the regulars. More left-overs this way too.

--Having finally given up all hope for last minute Christmas guests from the States, I gave Mister the okay to go ahead and invite his sainted mother to spend the holiday with us this year. And I’ll be God damned (which I know I probably shouldn’t be on Christmas, but I am anyway) if she accepted. She’s never spent Christmas with us. I just assumed that she’d rather be with one or the other of her daughters, both of whom celebrate with very traditional Norwegian food and customs. But she didn’t hesitate to say yes—one might even say ‘jumped at the chance’—which makes me think maybe—just maybe—we should have invited her sooner. The kids, especially EM, are thrilled. I’m ambivalent, but mostly okay with it. Should be MY mother here, but whatever….

--And speaking of Christmas, I’m a total loser and started listening to Christmas music last week. Yesterday, at EM’s behest, I downloaded 5 different versions of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”. Personally, I like the Cyndi Lauper version best, but EM’s a sentimental sap and claims the LeAnn Rimes ditty is the prettiest thing she’s ever heard.

--Oh, and furthermore on the subject of Christmas music, if I may. The little nuggets of awfulness that Jilly fed into my iPod before she left continue to reveal themselves. Mariah Carey, Jilly? Are you kidding me? Mariah why-sing-it-if you-can-screech-it-in-key Carey? Even at Christmas, there’s just no excuse.

--Missy’s sick again. And The Boy experienced the greatest trauma of his young life so far last night when he touched Crocky’s nose to the fire place glass. It took all of about 2 seconds to melt and start burning. The mix of shock, fear, and sadness on that dear boy’s face was priceless, absolutely fucking priceless. Mom’s going to be pissed, but CROCKY’S NOSE IS ON FIRE! WHAAAAAAA! I didn’t have the heart to be mad. We all gave Crocky a cuddle and put him to bed to rest after his ordeal. Sadly, I don’t think there’s room in Boy’s heart for a damaged crocodile. He told Missy this morning that she could have him. If he’s willing to let Missy touch a thing of his, it’s more or less dead to him.

--Done for now. Eat yourselves sick tomorrow! Wish I could be there with you! All of you! Where ever you may be

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sometimes A Little Neglect Can Be A Good Thing

I’ve recently been accused of neglect. I’d defend myself, but, eh, she may have had a point.

What can I say? My writers are on strike. Bah-dum-bum.

Seriously though folks….

The blog stoppage this time around has had mostly to do with sickness. The kids kept getting sick—each in their turn, thank God. Then I’d be sick for a while. Then one or the other of the kids again. Then me—with a series of exercise induced migraines this time. Then finally even Mister succumbed to the trend, and very nearly died—or rather, gave a pitch perfect performance of a man on the verge of death. Please believe me when I tell you that there is nothing more galling, more offensive to regrettably lucid eyes and stubbornly functioning ears, than a husband with a head cold. How is it exactly that these delicate creatures—namely the white male of the species—have managed to rule the world as long as they have when they are so completely undone by a mild headache and a little phlegm? I suppose the experience of coming thiiiisssss close the hand of God two or three times a year, and miraculously living (barely) to tell the tale (hallelujah) would tend to induce a sort of CHOSEN ONE delusion in anyone. Silly gits. Get over yourselves already!

But I digress.

There has been very little in the way of inspiring subject matter happening anyway, so you really haven’t missed much. There was a brilliant, utterly silent battle of wills played out between Mister and me last week. I’m not sure who ultimately won, but I believe the prize for Most Inspired Salvo goes to moi. Monday night, after a full 24 hours of cold, stony silence, I chose to exact my revenge by whipping up a pork loin stew so good, so lip smackingly delicious that the eyes of said Sir popped spontaneously out of his head and fell aghast to the floor after a single spoonful.

I waited—tweezed brow arched coolly in an expression of smug self-satisfaction—while he fished his fallen oculi out from under the table. I was curious to see if he’d break his self-imposed vow of silence to compliment me on the rich, yet subtle blend of meaty perfection I had created.

Alas, he did not. But he wanted to, I could tell. It damn near killed him not to. And I believe he knew a moment of regret for his chosen method of warfare, so I counted the victory on my side. He finally broke his silence the next night to ask me, however grudgingly, if I’d like a cup of tea, but got only a tart, “No. And furthermore go fuck yourself,” from me. I jest. I didn’t really say all that, but he understood that it was ever implied.

Fear not! Peace reigns supreme here at Chez JEDA. Since then we’ve talked, we’ve joked, we’ve even fooled around a little. So once again, it seems the union will stand. I still say it’s a moronic way to have a fight, but it does get him out of my hair and leave me blissfully alone with the remote control while it lasts. So I guess it’s not all bad.

It occurs to me that this is shaping up to be a sort of crap-all-over-Mister kind of post, but I didn’t mean for it to be. In fact, my heart is brimming over with goodwill for the grizzly old Viking at the moment because, not 40 minutes ago, he packed my babies up in the car and took them away to my sainted mother-in-law’s for the weekend.


I’ve got wine. I’ve got pizza. I've got 3 new DVD’s and 2 new books.

And listen……

Can you hear that?

No. Neither can I.


Ahhhhh. Life is good. Now where’s that bloody cork screw?

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I’m not sure exactly when or how it all started, but at some point during the last year The Boy became an avid collector of stuffed animals. Of course, he’s a connoisseur of some discernment; his tastes running to the more exotic end of the spectrum—as you can see, not a teddy bear in sight.

Sadly, he’s not very imaginative with naming these treasures. There’s Draggy and Crocky, the first proud members of the troupe; Rexxie, Steggie, and the awkwardly handled Tri-ee; Baby Dog, Brother Dog, and Big Sister Dog (always in that order, naturally); Turdy, whom I can’t bring myself to address by name, but I’m constantly looking for him and dragging him out from under couches, beds, and piles of quilts because he’s a fast favorite, and he just can’t seem to stay put; and finally, there to the left, Finey—the big crocodile. If you ask Boy why Finey is called Finey, he’ll tell you with all the little boy bravado he can muster, “Because he’s FUNNY!”

Every night The Boy gathers this motley crew of cuddly beasties in and around his bed according to some gentle, fluid hierarchy that only he understands. Draggy is always draped across the foot of the bed, the Dog siblings curled snuggly in his tail. Sometimes he graciously allows Crocky or Finey, and Big Sister Dog to sleep with EM. But I know he prefers at least one of the crocodiles on the floor next to his bed, under the heater. The rest he gathers in a furry mass on his pillow. One lucky soul, usually Turdy, gets to sleep under Bobby, his still and ever constant blankie—a crutch which, by the by, he feels more justified than ever in clinging to because “he’s seen that boy on Charlie Brown has a Bobby too, only his is bigger, and that mean girl always locks it in a closet, and that’s not nice, because then that other Charlie Brown boy can’t sleep, right Mom?” And if it’s on TV? It’s legit man—it’s ‘fer real.

I’ve told Boy that when we’re gone, Draggy comes to life and flies around the house taunting and playing with Puss like the naughty, great magpie he is. “And,” I’ve told him, “When you’re asleep? Both Draggy and I fly around the house together, chasing away bats and eating spiders.”

At first, he scoffed and refused to even discuss it.

Draggy isn’t REAL! And MOMS CAN’T FLY!

But so adamant and steadfast was I in my rebuttal, that I now believe he’s at least open to the possibility.

It occurs to me that it’s wrong to fuck with him this way. But I ask you. What’s the point in harboring and so carefully tending such a colorful band of brothers if you’re not going to apply at least some imagination to the practice? And besides, how is a flying mother any worse a fantasy than all that Santa crap we shove down their throats?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Somebody Should Write A Song About This One

The lofty subject of MY LIFE and what I’m eventually going to make of it has come up rather a lot lately. After all, as most of you know, my Littlest Miss started pre-school full time in August, and with no kids at home to look after, what—the world would know—do you do with yourself all day? And Jesus! But don’t you get bored with that?

Now I’m not naming names, or anything like that (aaaa-ahNanMisterMarkMomsnootybrother-in-lawJillychoo), but over the past month or so I’ve found myself in the middle of several heated (albeit, solely from my end) conversations where they’re all like, “You’re young/smart/talented/wonderful enough blah blah blah you can do anything you want blah blah.” And I’m all like, “Yeah but.” And they’re all like, “What?” Then I’m like, “Well, but, see.” Then them, all impatient-like, “But what?” Finally shaken out of my stupor, I come at them like, “The kids, the language, the cost of day care, my age, the war in Iraq, melting glaciers in Greenland, and the recently explained, but still troubling loss of the honey bees blah blah blah. Plus, when would I run?” Which is generally an excellent opportunity to segue the discussion into, “No, my calves aren’t bothering me anymore. But yes, my left knee is still rather twitchy, especially when I run more than 10 kilometers.” And, “Oh? Had I not mentioned that I passed the 10K mark? Last month sometime. Actually it’s more like 12 now. Yes, I am rather fabulous, aren’t I? Blah blah blahddy blah blah.” Then I congratulate myself on another touchy subject well thwarted.

In all seriousness though, I’m not saying there’s pressure, pressure, everywhere pressure, from all sides pressure. But I do have—whether imagined or not—the uncomfortable feeling that everyone’s sort of waiting with baited breath to see what I’m going to do next.

I have said, and I genuinely mean it, that the only thing I’m interested enough in and care enough about to go back to school for is midwifery. It’s a five year commitment that would, sure enough, be a right worthy accomplishment, and finally give me something interesting to say when asked that nettling, ubiquitous question, “Yes but, what do you do?” Plus, you know, with such a career tucked smugly under my belt, I might finally consider looking into attending a college reunion. Because, let’s face it, I’m pretty sure Smith doesn’t accept reservations from SAHM/blogger alumna. Unless they happen to be married to wealthy corporate bankers who have recently contributed thousands to the construction of the new campus center. Which, eh, I’m not.

But that’s neither here not there. Stick with me for a minute. I promise, I’m going somewhere with all this.

One of the perks of having all three kids in some form of school during the day, is FINALLY, after seven years, I’m free to sneak in a bit of recreational daytime television. The luxury! The decadence! The shear perversion! I’m all over the various Discovery Channels and National Geographic, even Animal Planet when they’re not showing episode after episode of that boring Pet Rescue crap.

Also for the first time in seven years, I’m caught up on all the ironing. Because let’s face it, a two foot deep pile of Mister’s pants and shirts is nowhere near as onerous a chore without farking Sponge Bob or those tedious Winx chicks yapping at me in the background. Give me an hour of that Dirty Jobs guy, followed by another hour of Lonely Planet, and I’ll give you a closet full of stiff collars and crisp-ish pleats. (There’s a dirty joke in there somewhere, but that would take me even further off course than I already am, so let’s just leave it. Shall we?)

Just over a week or so ago, I happened upon a program on the History Channel about the Mayan calendar—Doomsday Prophecy or some such thing. It wasn’t all that good. Light on the archeological/historical significance of the calendar itself; heavy on the sensationalized, innuendo-laden conjectures of some stoned-out Mayan shaman somewhere along the line; the dramatic, crescendo driven soundtrack and steady stream of morbid, death-and-destruction video montages left no doubt that the only message the producers wanted the viewer to take away from the program was that we’re all going to die violent, ugly deaths on December 21, 2012—the precise last day of the Mayan Long Count.

Yeah. Believe it? Not so much. But it did engage my imagination long enough to make me think some darkly profound thoughts.

Hang in there! We’re as close to the point as we’ve ever been! Two, maybe three more circuitous tangents at the most! Promise.

December 21, 2012. That would really suck, would it not? That’s just a little over 4 years away. EM would probably have started her period by then, but would she have come as far as that singularly disconcerting muddle of pleasure and embarrassment over her very first kiss? The Boy would only be 10, and I would never get to hear how his voice—his REAL voice—deepened and filled out. And Missy, granted it might be seen as a small mercy to have escaped her teen years, but all that fire and grit lost? She would have made one splendid woman, but if those pesky Mayans are right, I would never get to meet her.

Shit. It wouldn’t suck just a little bit. It would suck a whole lot! Oh eh, and not to mention all that Christmas shopping, and wrapping, and decorating, and baking I would have done by the 21st. Talk about a waste! Perhaps that’s the year we should pack up and go to Thailand for the holidays. Just in case.

But what about me, I mused. If the world were to come to a screeching, shrieking halt in 4 years, would I regret that I hadn’t made more of an effort with my life? Would I regret not having put the time and energy into mastering Norwegian well enough to go to nursing school, and bust my ass building that career everyone keeps telling me I’m so capable of? A career that, as my Smith sisters would have me believe, my very pride should compel me to pursue? Or would I be able to stare down the bitter end, content with my place in my home at the very center of my family’s well-being?

I wish I could say that the answer that came to me was exactly clear-cut and easily broken down in pie-graph form. There are certain things I would regret. The language, for one. My stubborn, inexplicable laziness with regards to fully absorbing and mastering the primary language of my family after nearly 13 years of living here is a guilty thorn that I have nursed for far too long now. And perhaps I should have written more, as I have always wanted to do. But writing is hard work! And I’m nowhere near convinced I have enough of the word mojo to move beyond the self-indulgent journaling stage. Still, the end of the world is no time for excuses. It would be a regret that I hadn’t tried, plain and simple. But of all the theoretical events and accomplishments I could think of that I might bemoan the loss of on December 21, 2012, a career—be it in teaching, or nursing, or midwifing, or cataloging books in a library—was not one of them.

Home then. I choose home. For now anyway. And for the foreseeable future.

I wish I knew if I’ll look back at that sentence 4 years from now and regret it. But how could I? I don’t even have any real sense of how I’ll feel about it a year from now. Perhaps because my kids are still so young, and their wants and needs are still so tangible and immediate, I have a hard time imagining myself with enough freedom to think beyond dinner tomorrow, dance class on Wednesday, and perhaps swimming next weekend.

Of course, something tells me that I should be planning for, and moving towards that level of autonomy now. But I can’t. For whatever reason, I don’t want to. I want to get EM finally reading at grade level. I want to teach The Boy all the sounds of the alphabet, and get him excited about some sight words. I want to help poor, befuddled Missy sort out her colors. And I want to run a half-marathon by early summer. These are my immediate goals. Because I don’t seem capable of planning for the long term, I’ll set my sights on shorter, more manageable chunks of time. You may talk to me again about MY LIFE after Missy starts school.

Oh hey, and if the world really does end on December 21, 2012—I win because I’ve got the cutest kids!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Her Father's Daughter

I don't know why I find this so amusing, but I do.

EM is still drawing the same stiff-haired fairies and princesses that she's always favored. But this year, instead of squiggly lined jibberish, the dialogue bubbles are filled with math equations.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Note To Self

Never go into the showers at the gym right after the Aerobics III class gets out. As it turns out, only the very young and childless bother with Aerobics III. And even if you've just spent an hour on the treadmill running 10 kilometers and you're all Eye of the Tiger psyched on yourself, the sight of all those lean flanked, firm breasted torsos can be extremely dispiriting.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

B-L-O-O-D-Yyyyy M-O-U-S-Eeeee

We’ve always lived with mice.

Mister tells me that they get into the house through small gaps where the cement foundation meets the wooden frame, and sorry toots, but there’s really not that much we can do about it.

That’s fine. In the past, I haven’t really bothered all that much with them. Ours have always been a decent breed of mice—quiet, retiring, willing to keep to the walls. They really haven’t been a big problem in the house itself. That is to say, the part where we live.

And, that is to say, up till now.

Round about this time every year—as the nights grow colder—we hear them crawling around in the ceiling, especially in the downstairs bathroom. It must be their primary point of entry, probably at the vent where the fan is. To be honest, my attitude towards them has mostly been one of benevolent indulgence. I mean, they’re so cute. And it is awfully cold out. Of course they need a nice warm place to sleep at night, and, you know, birth their 4 billion babies. Besides, it’s not like they’re causing anyone any real harm.

Well (chuckles quietly under her breath) there was that one time they chewed the wires to the bathroom lights and shorted out the electricity. But that was a one-off deal that happened five years ago. Right?

And yes, yes, yes. I did have to change the place where we store the bread because we kept cutting into a fresh loaf of a Saturday morning only to find a large hole in the middle where some industrious little critter had spent the night burrowing.

I should have known it would eventually get out of hand. They long ago grew bored with their warm sanctuary above the bathroom, and began venturing to parts northward. They followed the water lines up into the bowels of my kitchen--through the hole where the pipe feeds water to the ice maker in the refrigerator, then around the corner to the sink, under which, the garbage lies. Basically, anywhere a hole has been cut into the cabinetry to accommodate water pipes; our mice have felt at liberty to roam.

We’ve set traps. We’ve killed dozens. But, of course, where there are dozens, there’s sure to be scores. And I’ve gotta say folks, they’re really starting to piss me off.

A couple of weeks ago we noticed signs—puzzling clues, tantalizing riddles—that seemed to suggest that the electric shock they received when they chewed through the wiring in the bathroom sparked a sort of rapid evolution into an uber-class of super devious, thrill-seeking rodent. First they figured out how to remove the bait from the traps without springing them. Then, as if that somehow weren’t challenging enough, they sported with springing the trap AND getting away with the bait in one clean action. Finally, they grew tired of dicking around with the traps at all, and started simply skirting them altogether. Opting instead to make a beeline for their holiest of holies—the garbage bin.

The picky little bastards aren’t content with just any garbage either. Oh no. Apparently they’ve all seen Ratatouille, and they’ve made a collective decision to take their cuisine to the next level. They leave the discarded bits, the stuff that doesn’t meet with their delicate palettes, in a neat pile next to the dishwasher detergent.

My loathing of them has taken on near Bill Murray/Caddyshack proportions.

With Mister being away in Brazil all week, I’m in dire need of a bit of intellectual diversion. So, I decided to fuck with them a little bit. Simply removing the garbage can from the cupboard every night seemed too easy. Instead, I started emptying the garbage right before going to bed, and leaving them with an empty bin. HA! Take that! You mangy, beady-eyed, little varmints!

They, in turn, have seen my call, and raised me.

They don’t come into the cabinet under the sink anymore, but they have ramped up the noise quite a bit. We can hear them, EM and me, in the wall between the kitchen and her room scratch scratch scratching away endlessly into the wee hours of the morning.

Scratch. Scratch. Scratchscratchscratch. Scratch. Scratch. Rustle. Rustle. Scratch. Scratch. And so on, and so forth. All.Night.Long.

Touché scabby varmints. Well played.

The mind boggles at what they might be up to. Some sort of Trojan horse type of deal lashed together with cobwebs and dusty insulation? An elaborate, Rube Goldberg inspired maze that they will use to test and challenge their young before sending them on a mission to find new sources of food and water? Or perhaps their only aim is to avenge the souls of their slain brethren by driving me mad ala The Tell-Tale Heart?

EM can’t sleep. I can’t sleep because EM can’t sleep. Mission very nearly accomplished.

It's almost a shame to have to crush such an advanced civilization. But, I assure you, humanity will prevail. I’m dialing the exterminators as we speak.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

In Which Elder Miss Makes Me Proud

Yesterday EM and I went shopping at our local little mercantile. I had a hearty, nutritious meal of frozen pizza and popcorn planned, and I needed, well, everything for it. So off we went.

Afterwards, back in the car as we were strapping on our seatbelts to go, EM pointed out the window and asked, “Why is that teenager smoking?” I looked in the direction of her accusing finger, and there indeed, huddled in the corner, attempting to gain some shelter from the cold, autumn rain under the store's scant eaves was a lank blond puffing away like she was all that and a bag of chips.

“Uff, hard to say EM. I um. I really don’t know.”

“But cigarettes are bad for you, right?”

“Yes. Bad, bad. Very bad.” Ever the smooth-tongued weaver of words, I.

“Then why do some people smoke?”

Knowing that ‘because it’s not healthy’ is one of the few explanations EM will accept without further debate, I said, “I guess some people just don’t care enough about their bodies to stay away from such unhealthy things.”

“Mmm,” she murmured thoughtfully, “But how old do I have to be to smoke?”

“I sincerely hope you never will smoke, EM.”

“Oh I won’t. I’ll never smoke. I never will. But why do some kids think it’s good to smoke?”

So we talked a bit about peer pressure. About how some kids think it’s cool to smoke, and how kids want to be like their friends so they smoke just because they want to fit in. Then she asked didn’t they know smoking is bad for them, and why didn’t they just stop if everyone knows it’s bad? So we talked about addiction. I explained that there’s something in the cigarettes that makes your body want more and more, and it’s very hard to teach your body not to want them anymore after it’s hooked on them, so it’s best never to start smoking in the first place.

After absorbing all this, EM, ever the problem solver said, “Well, I think they should just stop making cigarettes if they’re so bad for everyone.”

Ah, yes. Excellent point darling, however…..

So then we talked a bit about evil corporate greed, and the lying liars who peddle their tainted goods to weak-willed consumers the world over. I think it’s safe to say she absorbed significantly less of this part of our discussion, but in the end we both agreed that lobbyists and special interest groups were a bad thing and immediate steps should be taken to limit their power and influence at the federal level.

We had long since pulled out of the parking lot, and were well on our way to the daycare to pick up Boy and Little Miss. After several minutes of silence, I figured we had put the matter to rest, and my thoughts drifted to dinner and whether or not I could sneak some peppers or tomatoes or anything even remotely crisp and fresh onto the menu.

“What if one of my friends smokes?”

“Well, it’s very likely that as you get older some of your friends will start to make some bad choices like that. I hope you’re smart enough to stay away from it.”


“I know. I know. I’m just saying….”

Now, because I’m such a good mother and all, and because I wisely recognized this as one of those seminal moments during which I’m supposed to take the time to drill further instruction into her, I decided to push the matter a bit further.

“What do you think you might say if one of your friends offered you a cigarette?”

“Mah-ommmmm! I SAID! I NEVER WILL!”

“I’m just asking. It’s good to be prepared, you see. To practice what you might say in these situations. So what would you say if someone offered you a cigarette?”

“Ummmm…….I just don’t know.”

“Well, it’s probably best to keep it simple. Just say something like ‘NO THANK YOU!’ and walk away.”

After a thoughtful moment, EM asked, “Why do I have to say thank you?”

Yeah, she's got it. I think she's going to be just fine.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sou-pah-pah, Trou-pah-pah

EM came home from school yesterday in a state of electrified excitement. Not only had her class spent the ENTIRE! DAY! at the the AQUARIUM! where she saw a clutch of brand spanking new BABY! SNAKES! But her teachers, in their infinite wisdom, had hatched among them a new policy regarding the lunch hour, which they announced just before school let out.

Presumably, one of them has recently read somewhere that music aids digestion, or tames the wild beast, or....something. It's the only reason I can think to explain why they've suddenly invited each of the children to bring in one of his or her favorite CD's which they'll take turns listening to while the class eats lunch. (Short explanatory note here: school cafeterias don't exist in Norway as they do in the States, or indeed, everywhere else in the civilized world. Kids eat their lunch in their classroom, at their desks, with their teachers. Lucky teachers, eh?)

I invite you to take a little trip back in time with me, if you will. You're 7 years old, and you don't know a blesséd thing about music. You like to sing and dance though. You've watched your mom cut loose and shake her groove thing during a handful of her more 'unguarded' moments. You like that mom. She's fun. You want to practice looking just as dumb as she does for when you grow up, and sing and dance in front of your kids. But she won't let you anywhere near the stereo. And she snaps irritably "no I really don't want to listen to that GOD! DAMN! Hooked On Classics again, thank you very much!" everytime you ask. That's okay. You'd really rather practice in the privacy of your own room anyway. So your mind turns to that bitchin' little cassette recorder you got for your birthday, and the shoebox full of old tapes behind the loud speakers that Mom doesn't care about anymore. You go digging through that in search of a suitable beat.

Now, be honest, what did you come up with? For you older kids on the reading list, the details will vary slightly on account of you all being 7 years old during the Middle Ages. But the idea is the same. You borrowed your early musical taste from the crap your parents left behind. So what, other than Gregorian chants, are some of the first songs you remember jamming to?

For me it was Abba's Super Trouper and (oh gawd) Air Supply. But mostly Abba. I listened to that Abba tape over and over and over and over again. I thought On and On and On was the coolest song evah! I knew all the words, but would have been hard pressed to tell you what it was about. Er, still would be, I guess. Whatever. Not the point. Focus.

We're here to talk about what EM found at the bottom of my pile of rejected crap, and how mortified I was this morning when she left with it proudly tucked under her arm in a cracked jewel case.

The Judds, people! The Judds' Greatest Hits. Volume 2, if you must know.

What can I say? I went through a phase in my early 20's where I had this thing for tight country harmonies. I'll also admit to owning greatest hits collections of Alabama, The Oak Ridge Boys, and The Bellamy Brothers. Judge me if you must, but I bet at least one of you fools out there has a copy of New Kids on the Block under a bed somewhere!

I haven't listened to any of this music for years, not since long before the kids were born. I don't know how or why EM came upon this ancient relic of my misspent youth. But she did. And she loves it. Listens to it every single day, as loud as the cheapass disc player in her room will play it. Loves.It. And did I tell you? She got to SHARE IT WITH EVERYONE IN HER CLASS TODAY!

I can just picture her teacher taking the disc from EM's happy hands, "Mmmmm, The Judd's. No. Never heard of them. Something new from those talented folks at Disney no doubt." Then innocently pushing play, and hearing that first tortured twang--"Had a dr-eeeeem about ya' ba-beeeee. Had a dr-eeeeeeem 'bout me and you-oooo...." Frantically looking at her watch, she quickly calculates how much of this dreadful (albeit perfectly harmonized) screeching she has to listen to before she can turn it off without seeming unfair.

"Right," she says between clinched teeth, as she hands it, daintily pinched between thumb and forefinger like a rotten lettuce leaf, back to EM. "That was, quaint little piece of Americana, EM. Thank you for sharing. I suppose we have your mother to thank for this, do we?"

Ah well. Could have been worse. Could have been The Bellamy Brothers. Now, they really were crap!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's A Horse! It's A Frog! It's....It's....Flaxseed?

There's something caught in my throat. No, I mean it. Literally. Something small. Something sharp. Something very, very tenacious wedged behind a tonsil or something. And it's driving me CRAZY!

Seriously folks. It's about to do me in. Stupid, fancy, whole-grain Norwegian bread with all its unrefined bits of cereal flotsam! Caught in my throat I tell you! I've been hacking, gagging, gargling, retching all day long trying to disgorge the offending nugget, but to no avail.

Help me! How do I get rid of it?

In other news--there is no other news. In fact, lately I've been giving serious thought to shutting down this two-bit operation due to the exhaustive thoroughness of my lack of news.

I guess I could always turn this into one of those newsy, updatey types of family affairs (which, granted, I guess it is anyway) where I do nothing but recap the weeks events from EM's first day of Jazz dance (loved it) to my record breaking run around Kalandsvatne (rocked it). But, honestly, who the hell cares?

From the very beginning I thought it would be more interesting to focus on single moments of whimsy or snark worthy folly to keep you all in our family's loop rather than a more pedestrian run-down of the weekly minutia of our life. But lately, it seems my radar for these rarified gems and vignettes has gone off. Or, more to the point, my ability to write about them as gone down the toilet.

To wit, I spent three days last week writing a long entry about how EM's 101 questions about God and his ilk have finally filtered down to The Boy, and how my artless avoidance of the subject has now got Poor Boy in such a theological muddle I fear Thomas Aquinas himself couldn't set him straight. But by the time I got through the whole piece, I realized that rather than conveying how charming their curiosty is versus how hapless I am at fielding these awkward religious matters, I only sounded like a grumpy atheist. Worse--a grumpy atheist with a thesaurus.

I ended up dumping the whole thing in the recycle bin, and left to find nirvana in a yoga class instead. Which is pretty much where I've been since.

Oh, and hey, speaking of which, if God could be said to be found in a really deep hamstring stretch...there ya' go EM! Two hands to Jesus! I'm a believer! It felt just.that.good.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


It's been a while since I shared any of Elder Miss's daft yet oh-so earnest truisms.

So without further ado:

"Mom, you are my greatest love. Without you I would die. But don't ever tell my friends that I kiss you."

"Boy! You always get it wrong! If it's two foots, it's feet. If it's just one feet, it's foot. Get it right now, k'?"

And finally, this, which I found stuffed in one of the three dozen notebooks she keeps scattered around the house:

Which reminds me--Alpha Grandma, as far as my memory serves, you didn't read my diary. You read a spiral notebook you found while helping me clean out my desk. And clearly, snooping through notebooks is part of the job description. Stop beating yourself up already. You're off the hook.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Little Freedom Is A Dangerous Thing

Is anyone out there sufficiently compulsive enough to save, rewash, and reuse plastic ziplock baggies?

If so, do you happen to have any sort of brilliant advice on the most efficient way to dry them?

Since school started, I find myself making three packed lunches everyday, and my conscience (not to mention my wallet) just can't tolerate tossing all that perfectly evil plastic into the garbage day after day. I've been washing them, but I have no idea how to get the insides dry enough to reuse them the following day.

Mister talks longingly of the days when we didn't have half a dozen baggies hanging off every cupboard door in the kitchen, and it's only the fourth day of school. Please, help me to help him stop whining.

Friday, August 17, 2007

This One's For Jilly. Everyone Else--Avert Your Gaze

We didn't really get to say good-bye.

That's okay. I'm fine with that. Good-byes are not really my thing. All that awkward, compulsary hugging--in my vast, intimate experience with leaving-taking--has a tendency to lead to tears. And crying in public, my dear Jilly, simply will not do. So I will say my final farewell to you here, in my space, under my terms, where hopefully I can make you laugh instead of cry. Because, ultimately, that's how I hope you will remember me. Laughing. At you.

I, in my turn, choose to remember you this way--flesh colored kneehighs and goofy red polkadot converse, with that crazed, histrionic glint in your eyes--on your way to find more tequila. Bless you.

I will remember your birthday: the Scissor Sisters, and the strange eager boy who kissed me in the cold because you wouldn't let me go home when I wanted to.

I will remember the Samsonite.

I will remember last winter when you made Michelle stop talking about her sister long enough to hear that I was tired and lonely and in need of diversion.

But there is no need for this to read like a eulogy. You are not dead to me, and the chance of us never crossing paths again is exactly nil. I'm very good at long distance relationships. In fact, much like a fine work of Impressionist art, I'm best viewed from a distance.* Something to do with movement and blending colors. Whatever. Clearly the charm of my writing does not lie in the strength of my metaphors. The point is, the stongest relationships in my life were built--or are being actively reinforced--from across continents and oceans both. Alas, our children will no longer be playmates. But you and I are solid.

Don't get me wrong. I still think you're a total bitch for leaving. I don't care how much tea you left me. I will eventually run out, and then what? Well, then I'll take what's left of M's stash. But then what? Plus, who's going to watch the girls while I sit vigil at Boy's nad-fishing operation? And I never did get to go running with you. And there's still the whole matter of Breakfast at IKEA which just won't be the same without you.


Life goes on.

I do wish you the best in this next phase of your life. I'm told that sheep-shaggers are some of the most special people in the whole world, so you've at least got geography on your side. And, just so you know, New Year's is still on the table.

Until then--and I say this with my whole heart--so long, and thanks for all the rum.

*If you really must compare me to a work of Impressionist art, please let it be a darkly elegant Degas. Or possibly one of the later Renoir portraits. But never a clumsy, clotted Van Gogh. Or worse, one of those sweetly prosaic Monet's that you find stapled to the walls of college dorm rooms the world over.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Self Discovery

Missy has discovered coloring.

She prefers EM's markers, but EM is disinclined to share her markers, and has a tendency to use voilence when repossessing property that she sees as exclusively hers.

That's okay. Missy is content with regular ol' Crayola's as well.

Over the past few weeks, Missy has spent countless, quite hours patiently filling in the pages of this coloring book which I picked up for her in Salt Lake just before we left.

Red appears to be her favorite color.

The character you see is Missy's very favoritest thing at the moment.

Her name, according to Missy, is

Hello Klitty!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I know all you're seeing is a baby wrapped in a pink blanket, but that is, in fact, Boy-- my boy--barely six hours old, five years ago today.

I must admit, his father and I were somewhat disheartened at what an odd looking duck he was during the first few months of his life. Ah, but did he ever flesh out nicely over the years!

And such a sweet, gentle little soul! A genuine pleasure to be around. You know...when he's not whining about Elder Miss touching him, or Missy breathing on him...

He can be a finicky, prickly little thing, but for some reason, seeing pictures of him as a baby--more so than seeing pictures of the girls, or even more than holding a real live flesh and blood baby--makes my ovaries tick, my boobs twitch, my arms itch for another one. Mostly I avoid the file marked "Boy" like the plague, but on this night of nights, I just couldn't help myself.

I never wanted a son. When I found out I was carrying one I was sullen, and disappointed, and not just a little apprehensive about the prospect of having to bond with such an alien creature.

How silly was I? His puppy-like buoyancy, his easy enthusiasm, and his screwy circuitous logic--foreign as they all are--feed me.

His Fairy Godmother, La Dragon, gave him a book for his baptism. It's kind of a sappy, hippy-dippy, this-is-your-planet-now-respect-it-in-all-its-infinite-majesty little elegy called "On the Day You Were Born" by Debra Frasier. From the very beginning, and still to this day, I have a hard time reading the last page without getting all teary-eyed and choked up. Please forgive my trite, hackneyed sentimentality as I share them with you:

"Welcome to the spinning world," the people sang,
as they washed your new, tiny hands.

"Welcome to the green Earth, " the people sang,
as they wrapped your wet, slippery body.

And as they held you close
they whispered into your open, curving ear,
"We are so glad you've come!"

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

See, The Thing Is

I've sat, and I've sat, and I've sat.

And I've mused, and I've ruminated, and I've pondered.

Still. I can't think of anything interesting, or even mildly amusing to write about.

I think I must be stuck in some sort of crippling, summer duldrums.

Drained by tedium of all energy and creativity, I'm left shuffling listlessly through the house looking for some quite corner where the frenzied, fussy bellyaching of the children's own ennui can't find me.

Jesus summer sucks!

And it's not just because we're in Norway, and it's cold, and it won't stop bloody raining--though these circumstances certainly don't help. August feels a little bit to me like God put the world on pause while He ran to the john, only He got stuck there doing a crossword puzzle that He's almost done with, and can't quite tear Himself away from. But in the meantime, we mere mortals are left hanging in animated suspension with nothing to do, and no one to do it with until: First Day of School: Act I, Scene I. Action!


Throw some comments my way. Tell me what you're up to.

Entertain me before I implode!

Friday, July 20, 2007


Home Sweet Home

But it's not. Not really. After being shut up for four weeks, it's taken on that musty, abandoned odor that I tend to associate with second-hand stores and root cellars. Not exactly a warm and inviting welcome, but it sure beats the shit out of an airplane, so I was glad to see it nonetheless.

Everything went as smoothly as possible. Flights were on time. Food was surprisingly tasty. Kids slept some. Luggage followed us. And customs officers ignored us. We dragged our furry teeth and sore asses through the door around noon yesterday and went directly to bed.

For now, we have succumbed entirely to the jet lag. Maybe tomorrow I'll get the kids out of bed before 10 a.m., but to be honest, I don't really see the point. It's summer. We've got nothing to do and no where to be. Who cares if it takes us the next two weeks to fully adjust our internal clocks? Mister maybe, but we stopped listening to him years ago.

I've spent the afternoon trying to come up with some clever way to segue into the following odd aspect of my trip. But seeing as its apropos of nothing very important, and I'm not really all that smart anyway, I'm just going to leave it dangling awkwardly out there, third nipple like, to sink or swim on its own merits.


The nature of my flying phobia continues to morph and grow into ever more irrational mindfuckery. Last year, with the threat of liquid explosives fresh on everyone's mind, I was haunted by the image of large holes being blown in the fuselage and my babies being sucked one by one from my meager arms. I was a total bitch about seat belts, constantly nagging the kids to keep them on, cinching them tighter and tighter across their thighs like maybe that would help. The summer before last it was hijaking--being seperated from my kids, or worse, killed in front of them--that worried me most.

This summer the menace of terrorism lay strangely dormant in my imagination. Instead, at odd times during the flight, my mind would seize upon enormity of the dark distance seperating my feet from the ground. Lame as it sounds, I could quite literally feel the abyss opening up under me--my toes would curl, my knees would pull upwards into my belly, and I could feel vertigo pulling me downwards until I could settle my mind back on whatever inane movie I'd put on the screen infront of me

P.S. Blades of Glory is, without question, the dumbest movie ever made, but it served its purpose well on that airplane.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Goodnight Salt Lake, Goodnight

I just wantonly stole this picture from an album Auntie Wag sent this afternoon. This is the sunset from Alpha Grandma's veranda sometime last week. It seemed like such a fitting way to say good-bye. Hopefully she won't mind too much.

It's been a hectic day of packing, last-minute shopping, and leave taking. But it's done. This time tomorrow, I'll be like half way home maybe. Hopefully. I try hard not to think through the specifics too far in advance lest I fret myself into some sort of fainting episode.

Good-bye my family. JEDA loves you!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Of Swimming Soups And Sunscream

Show of hands--who misses me? I mean, obviously not Jilly Baby, who did her level best to ruin my summer by blithely informing me via SMS this morning that she and her entire family are moving back to Scotland next month. But everyone else, right? Everyone else wishes me well, and wouldn't dream of upsetting the delicate balance of my life by taking their stupid ball and going home in the middle of the game. Right? I said...RIGHT?

The first week we were here, my older brother and his two kids--one of whom is the fabled Eefin--were in town from Chicago. I hadn't seen this particular brother in over six years, and it was the first time I'd ever met his kids, so we packed as much quality family time into six days as we could possibly stand. Eefin and Boy hit it off splendidly, and a fine time was had by all. Despite my brother trying to bum everyone out by announcing he and his wife of twelve or something years are seperated and filing for divorce.

No worries, though. After several middling to decent heart-to-hearts, I'm satisfied Big Brother's going to be just fine. And besides, news of his divorce served as a nice poetic foil to my little brother's wedding which occupied pretty much the entirety of the second week of our vacation. My family is good for full-circle symmetry that way--like the time in the 60's that my flower-power mother gave herself away as a birthday present to a total stranger in San Francisco, but had to hurry home Sunday morning to teach Sunday School. Or the way the groom's cake at my wedding was so weighted down with strawberries that it sagged and eventually flopped uselessly to the side, while the chocolate glaze on the bride's cake was so stiff and hard it took four hands and a serrated knife to crack through the damn thing.

The picture is of Missy and Boy--flower girl and ring bearer--at the rehearsal. Elder Miss and her cousin were flower girls. They all performed just beautifully, and I've almost forgiven the bride and groom for making me wait so long to get my food at the fancy pants barbeque (I say again--a bold choice for wedding fare) after the ceremony.


I mean, it was a good 40 minutes I sat there waiting, and the chicken was all gone by the time my turn finally rolled around, and, while I was at the buffet table, I did miss the one fucking waiter who was doling out the wine. But it all worked out in the end. The ribs were delicious, my blood sugar evenutally normalized, and Cousin Sean and his naughty girlfriend hooked me up with some alcohol (a-lot of alcohol) after dinner. So, bygones. No worries. Except...all the deviled eggs were gone too. I love deviled eggs...

Since the wedding we've mostly just been cowering in shady pools trying to avoid sun stroke and heat exhaustion. There have been a few excursions here and there. In the evenings it cools off two or three tenths of a degree, and we venture out onto the veranda to argue politics and astronomy while we kill off a bottle or two of wine.

The kids are having the time of their life. But Elder Miss has begun to wonder if her friends in Norway have forgotten all about her. Boy is anxious about his upcoming birthday, and worries that his friends don't know the way to Alpha Grandma's house. Missy is relatively neutral about her surroundings, but I do think she's missing her honey and brown cheese sandwiches. So I guess it's just as well that we'll be wrapping up our visit over the next week.

It's not been nearly long enough for me. I'd stay another month if I could. But I do find myself yearning for a slightly more humane climate. I've had to stop running because the heat and the altitude make me weaze and gasp like a diseased donkey after just a mile or two. I need to get back to sea level, and back out on the road before my body forgets everything it's learned about running over the past 8 months.

Over and out from Utah.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

One More Thing I Can Check Off My To-Do List

So, I made it to the top of my mountain. And, for the record, if there had been any streams in my way, I so would have forded every last one of them.

As it was I just walked along one for a while then crossed a bridge when I came to it. But look, that was the easy part. After the bridge we started going uphill--straight uphill. And then we came down. Sweet, merciful, ringlets of Jesus.....then we came down.....

I kept stopping every two or three hundred meters to say, "That's it. I'm done. Seriously. I won't step another bloody foot down this miserable, fucking hill! I! QUIT!"

Mister just stood quietly behind me, gazing serenely out at the view. When I was done, he'd hand me the water bottle and say, "Look, you can see the cars now. Next time you give up maybe we'll be able to hear them too."

Here are a few pictures (less than expertly placed because I'm lame and can't figure out a prettier way to add mulitple images to my text).

A nice flat bit at the beginning. The trail head started at the end of this valley.

Once we got to the top, we walked along this ridge to the peak, which is off in the distance there.

This is the view of Rosendal from the peak where we had our lunch.

And finally (for a bit of perspective), here's Mister and Boy the next day on the beach, and that's Malmangernuten--the monster I climbed--in the background. I'm happy to report that Mister was limping just as badly I was around that beach. Apparently, the monster is known for eating the toes of even its most smug and vainglorious of climbers on the way down. It's a wicked steep descent even for the most seasoned of hikers.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Could Have Just Belted Him and Sent Him To His Room, But That Would Be Too Easy

"Mom, I spilled some spaghetti."

"Oh good, Boy! That's just great. Because, you know, I spent the whole afternoon cleaning, and the floors were so spotless and shiny. And I know how none of you feel very comfortable or at ease when the house is actually clean, so it's just as well, really, that it only took 30 minutes for someone to spill something. Now everyone can just go ahead and feel right at home. Brilliant! No, seriously. That's just great!"

He stares at me blankly. Squints a bit, then chews his lip as he reexamines his mess. Clearly something does not add up. Finally he adds, "No, Mom. I mean I spilled on the floor."

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Our Annual Week O' Birthdays

Over and done with. Thank God!

It was poor, poor family planning indeed that landed us with two birthdays three days apart in May. Sex in September is banned forthwith in the JEDA household for the duration of our fertile years!

There was a big party here last Monday for Missy. Tante Farmer-in-the-dell and her four brooding offspring spent Sunday night with us, thus were here for the party the following day. Farmor came. Jilly Baby and The Vibrant Ms. M were both here, families in tow. As well as Linda and her kids (I'd give Linda a clever nickname to along with all the other clever nicknames which populate my blog, except her personality somehow precludes it. Which is not to say that she isn't a lovely person and doesn't deserve a little levity in her life. It's just that, she has none. Levity, that is. Linda gives the impression of being a deeply pragmatic person who'd simply rather not fuck around with art and metaphor. Linda is Linda. Not to be confused with my Auntie Linda who has a whopping, great personality and will fuck around with just about any flight of fancy or article of whimsy I might throw at her, even if it's only to blow smoke at it and tell me to stop being such a dipshit).

Where was I?

Ah yes, Missy's party. Nice enough, I suppose, if a little hectic. My chili was divine, if I do say so myself. But a plague upon all my children who do not seem to appreciate the delectable poetry that is my Grandma Taylor's chocolate cake. Stupid children and their stupid Norwegian palates.

Moving on.

Elder Miss's 7th birthday was Thursday. She hemmed and hawed, dithered, and flip-flopped for three days over what she wanted me to make her for her birthday dinner. She went from chicken wings to spaghetti to salmon steaks and back again before finally landing on (of all things) chicken noodle soup and a spice cake. Being the really shitty mother that I am, I ignored her final request, and made grilled chicken and rice instead. She loved I knew she would because I'm her mother and I know her better than she knows herself.  Chicken noodle soup..........pfft, whatever!

Her class party was Saturday afternoon at one of these monkey jungle gym type places with huge cages full of balls and slides and nets. Horrid. I was dead-set against the idea on the grounds that a) it's where she had her party last year, and b) she's just too damn old for such a place. Her rebuttal went something like a) I went to a different school and had different friends last year, and b) So-and-So had her party there just last month and we weren't too big then, and besides I rilly rilly rilly rilly rilly rilly wanna *stomp sulk pout*.

Can't very well argue with that logic now, can I? So Monkey Jungle it was.

It turned out fine. Every last one of them was pink-cheeked and sweaty by the end of it, so I think it's safe to say they all had a good time. Though at one point, I took a round about the place just to make sure everyone was still there and still behaving themselves, and found five of them (Elder Miss included) creeping about in the 2-foot crawl space between the tops of the cages and the ceiling. After I got them all safely down and told them under no circumstances were they to go up there again EVER! I asked the girl who was supposedly supervising our party how on earth they got up there. She just shook her head, seemingly baffled, "I have no idea. Kids are awfully clever, aren't they?" Yes, but one would have hoped that the geniuses who designed these contraptions were a bit more clever, don't ya' think?

So my girls are now officially a year older. And I can go ahead and start worrying about the next big to-do item on my list. Salt Lake City here we come!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Happy Day-After-Your Birthday, Missy!

Please God make it stop calling my name!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hope Chest

I spent several hours this morning sorting through the kids' toys. It's time. There's 7 years worth of accumulated plastic crap up there.

Most of it I put in a box marked "Salvation Army". But some of it--the nice wooden stuff, the stuff that won't age--I put in another box destined for the attic.

This year my kids will be 7, 5, and 3. Today I put a stash of toys away for my grandkids.

Jesus. What a leap of faith.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Role Play

"Oh, isn't that a splendid idea!"

"What did you just say, Boy?"

"It's such a splendid idea!" This time clapping his hands and hugging them in to his heart for added emphasis.

"Seriously, Boy. That's weird. Why are you saying that?"

"It's something I just say when I'm being a girl."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Life IS Pain, Princess. Anyone Who Tells You Otherwise Is Selling You Something.

Ah, the politics of little girlhood. It has begun. Two weekends ago the weather was gorgeous and the phone was ringing off the hook with Elder Miss's little friends wanting to play. Last weekend the weather was something significantly less than gorgeous and no one called, which was just as well really, since she was sick and feverish and weak as a runty little kitten. But she still asked, "I wonder why anybody hasn't called me."

On Sunday, Mister was playing and giggling with Missy at the kitchen table. They were apparently whispering sweet nothings in each other's ear. Elder Miss muttered from the couch, "It's not nice to whisper. Martine is always whispering in Elin's ear, and it makes me feel bad."

On Monday, for the first time since autumn, she dragged her feet at the door, begged me not to make her go to school because "Elin was my very first best friend, but Martine won't let me play with her anymore." And yet twice last week EM missed the bus home because "Martine didn't want to play with Elin anymore, and she said I should miss the bus and play with her instead. She said it would be okay."

At her parent/teacher conference a few weeks ago, her teacher warned us that the three of them--EM, Martine, and Elin--were quite the turbulent little trio, one minute thick as thieves, the next bickering little ninnies. Natural. Normal. To be expected, I guess. But Christ what a headache!

Then there is the issue of birthday parties. It's a huge class, 66 kids split into 3 smaller groups. The information we were given at the beginning of the year was, of course no one expects you to invite every kid to any given party. It's traditional--recommended even--that you invite all the girls or all the boys, depending, in your group, but please be descreet about how you hand out the invitations.

Early last week, EM came home and matter of factly stated that she saw a whole bunch of party invitations being put in backpacks, but none of them had her name on, so she guessed she wasn't invited. She did not act terribly upset about this at the time. But this morning I went into her room to hurry her along, and found her sitting in her bed with a sad, grumpy pout on her face, so I ask, "What's wrong?"

"Today's Iselin's birthday."

"Ah," say I, Iselin is one of the girls EM has recently spent time with on the weekend. "Is she having a birthday party today?"

Elder Miss shrugs, "I don't know. Why don't the party cards (she means invitations) ever have my name on them?" EM has only received 3 invitations for the entire academic year.

Because people suck, baby. And life stinks. And little girls aren't terribly nice to one another. Get used to it. Of course I don't actually say this, but I want to. I'm certainly thinking it as I put her off saying maybe she's not having a party, maybe the party is this weekend and she'll get an invitation today, maybe Iselin's mom decided to only invite the girls in her I group and since EM isn't in that group there's really nothing I can do about any of it. So quitcher' belly achin' and GET DRESSED already!

Later at breakfast, EM says over a mouthful of Cheerios, "Elin and Martine don't like Iselin. They say mean things about her."

"Like what?"

"Mean things."

I can't get her to be more specific, probably because they say these mean things in Norwegian and she doesn't know how to translate them. So I ask, "What do you do when they say these mean things?"

"Don't know," she shrugs, which I think it's safe to say means nothing. Back-stabbing little bitch.

I'm not complaining. Nor am I terribly worried about her. I remember grade school. I remember playing this game. I remember taking turns being all the relevant characters in the drama. One day I was Martine turning one friend against another. The next day I was Iseline wondering why Elin was being such a bitch. And two days later I was EM, crying because I hadn't been invited to the party where all the cool kids would be.

It's had me thinking an awful lot about my childhood nemisis Jennifer Murray. It makes me want to find Jennifer Murray and give her a great big hug. No, actually, it makes me want to find Jennifery Murray's slightly off-color mother, Carlene, and give her a great big hug and apologize for being so mean to her baby girl.