Monthly Archives: August 2007

Friday’s Feast Deux

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Appetizer
Who is the easiest person for you to talk to?

DB

Soup
If you could live in any ancient city during the height of the quality of its society and culture, which one would you choose?

Montmartre (I know, it’s not exactly ancient, but I’m a closet bohemian.)

Salad
What is the most exciting event you’ve ever witnessed?

This is terribly “mom-cliché” but I have to say the births of both my kids. I mean, what’s more exciting than knowing you’re having a baby that day? And hearing, “It’s a girl!” the first time then, “It’s a boy!” the second time was absolutely thrilling! And I know I “experienced” it more than “witnessed” it but believe me, being doped up on an epidural and having a baby extracted from you (C-sections both times), is sort of a witnessing kind of experience.

Main Course
If you were a celebrity, what would you do for a publicity stunt?

What do mean “if”? No publicity stunts here, my stardom stands on its own.

Dessert
What do you consider the ideal age to have a first child?

Older than 18, younger than 60. Twenty-six worked for me.

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Filed under by Malia, Friday's Feast

She Made Me Do It

Malia pictureSince I skipped the part in the seminar we had to take before entering adulthood about taking responsibility for one’s own actions, I can easily assign blame for all time sucking activities I get myself into. Blogging? Brandon’s fault. Twitter? Katherine’s fault. Facebook? Tanya’s fault. See, I told you so.

Yes, that’s right, I’m on Facebook now. How is it Tanya’s fault? Well, she invited me. She requested that I be her friend! And while we’re on the subject of friends. I know numerous folks on Facebook and did any of you ever invite me? Request me to be your friend? What, was I not worthy of joining you on yet another navel gazing format? Wait, don’t answer that.

Somebody stop the madness!! (Not me of course, that would be taking responsibility for myself.)

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Filed under by Malia, random

Invasion

Malia pictureSeveral years ago I became aware of new phenomenon in our country. I saw commercials about it, heard people talking about it, saw merchandise for it, etc. My nieces and nephew would frequently utter words that under normal circumstances were quite common but they were using them in odd ways. But this was all before I became a parent and so I didn’t give it much thought.

After my first child was born I was so consumed with diapers and feedings and sleep and diapers and feedings and sleep that I completely forgot about said phenomenon. And as my little girl grew up she was mostly interested in baby dolls, My Little Ponies and playing dress-up. Even once she started school, this thing that after so many years on the market was as popular as ever, never once lured her in.

Until now.

“Did you have a good day at school?”

“Yes. Guess what Mommy? I got to play Pokémon on the bus with Jane and John! Jane has a thingamabob and John’s got a whozit and since I don’t have any I just used this! (Holds up random fast-food kids meal toy.) It’s powers are the lime squirt and the strawberry freeze. We’re going to play again tomorrow and I just know I’m going to win with all these new defenses I made up for my whateverthisis!!”

“?”

A few days later…

“Hi sweetie! How are you? Did you have a good day at school?”

“Uh-huh. Look Mommy! Look what Jane gave me! She just gave it to me today on the bus. It’s a Pokémon card! My first Pokémon card and I’m going to keep this one forever and never trade it because it’s my first. See this symbol it means electricity and this shows something else and I can use it to battle this other card that John has…..”

“?”

Next day…

“Hi….”

“Mommy, Mommy! Jane gave me three more Pokémon cards and now I have a twin and I can start trading and this one here has the electricity like the other one and this one does this and this one does that and I think I can even come up with a game to play with these cards if you look at them for 10 seconds and then put them down and then match them up again just like Memory wanna play with me Mommy? Do you?”

“?”

And so begins our induction into the world of Pokémon. Please send any instructions, advice and tips to lostintheinvasion at confusedmother dot net. Why can’t she be trading My Little Pony cards? Ponies, I get. But Pokémon? I need serious help!

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Filed under by Malia, kids & family, parenting

What This Mom Can’t Do

Malia pictureJBelle has a couple of books by the same author, one is titled, What Moms Can’t Do and the other is, you guessed it, What Dads Can’t Do. The premise is, there are things that regular people can do that moms/dads just can’t do. For example, from What Moms Can’t Do, “Moms can’t make the bed without lots of help (picture shows the kid “helping” mom)…and they have trouble keeping things cleaned up (picture shows the kid throwing clothes on the floor while mom picks them up behind him).” I can relate to a lot of the things that both the mom and the dad in the book “can’t do” but I felt there were a few missing. Here a some things that this mom can’t do.

This mom can’t take two steps in any direction with someone asking, “Where are you going?”

This mom apparently needs help using the restroom because she is always has company while using the facilities.

This mom also needs help putting the groceries on the check-out conveyor.

This mom can’t take just one picture.

This mom can’t pick out ice cream all by herself.

This mom has trouble keeping the laundry folded.

This mom can’t say no to requests for hugs and kisses.

This mom can’t stop praying for her children.

This mom can’t finish a blog post without being stopped a zillion times to answer questions, assist with bathroom trips, fetch drinks, let the dog out, answer phone calls and retrieve “missing” items.

And like the mom and dad in the books, this mom can’t ever stop loving her sweet children!

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Filed under by Malia, parenting

Def Leppard – Bluegrass Style

180px-opus_blue.jpg We were all nostalgic this morning for some good ole-timey music.  So we went to iTunes, our favorite place to waste some money, to listen to some Def Leppard (hopefully not to purchase….Malia was at the controls).  Little did we know that there is a bluegrass tribute album that was produced that includes some of your all-time favorite Def Leppard hits, like Pour Some Sugar On Me.  Nothing hits you like a rock tag transformed by some mandolin pickin’ and bluegrass harmonies.  YEE-HAW!!

It turns out there is a whole series of these bluegrass tribute albums known as the “Pickin’ On” series.  You too can have all of your favorite songs from the stars “bluegrass-ed”.  Groups such as the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Franz Ferdinand, Sara Evans, Kelly Clarkson, Clapton, Eagles, Beach Boys, R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers and many, many more.  Rock and Roll Ya’ll!!!

Note: We stumbled upon this and have no affiliation with that website or these tribute albums.

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Filed under by DB, random

Friday’s Feast

Malia pictureI’m in a bit of a writing rut. Putting those last two posts together kind of wiped me out. Last Friday, I was perusing the Internets and saw this fun little meme of sorts on another blog. Since it’s a food theme, (well, sort of) it’s right up my alley. And it gives me something to write about other than my kids, my husband and my crazy ideas. So here is my first edition of Friday’s Feast.

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Appetizer
Say there’s a book written about your life. Who would you want to narrate the audio version?

To date, I’ve lived the majority of my life in southern states, yet I don’t boast a typical southern accent. It would have to be someone from the South but who doesn’t really sound like a Southerner. Julia Roberts comes to mind. She’s from Georgia and she can bust out a twang now and again but for the most part, her accent is fairly neutral. Or maybe Sandra Bullock. Hmmm…..I’m definitely going with Sandra Bullock because I love the way she narrates the story in the movie While You Were Sleeping (one of my all time faves!)

Soup
Take the letters from your favorite kind of nut and write a sentence. (Example: Perhaps every avenue needs understanding today.)

Can ants send home entomological warnings?

Salad
If you could go back in time and spend one week in another decade, which decade would you choose?

The 1940s. I think it would be fascinating to view the world during the decade my grandparents were married and my parents were born. It would definitely bring a new perspective to my life.

Main Course
Name a song that brings back memories for you.

A song? Just one? Sheesh. Def Leppard – Hysteria*. What memories does it bring back? Well that’s just for me to know and you not to know!

Dessert
Do you prefer to wash your hands in cold water or warm water?

Warm water, actually I prefer it as hot as I can stand it.

*DB and I found something very funny while I was searching for Def Leppard music. (I can’t believe we don’t have any in the house!!) Look for his post about our hysterical discovery!

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Filed under by Malia, Friday's Feast

He Said/She Said: Memorializing Violence

A few notes before we get started. First, if you haven’t already, please read the preface post before reading this post. It’ll make more sense. You can click the link or scroll down, the preface is the post immediately following this one. Second, these posts were not easy to write. They’ve been swirling around in our gray matter for several weeks and one version sat in drafts for weeks as well. It is not our intention to minimalize the pain, grief and suffering of those directly affected by this tragedy. These feelings expressed here are our own, these thoughts are confusing and hard to adequately explain. And in the end, there remain more questions than answers. Third, the comments on the previous post were turned off simply so that any conversation about this subject would occur here, on this post, instead of trying to keep up with conversations on two separate posts. Please feel free to express opinions, comments, questions, etc., from the previous post here.

180px-opus_blue.jpgHe Said:
There are three issues that I see that are a problem when it comes to memorializing violence like Virginia Tech is doing: 1) heinous acts and those that perpetrate them are given a permanent voice and are remembered, 2) there is a sense of glorifying vicitimization in the memorials, and 3) a permanent, altered perception of Virginia Tech accompanies any memorial.

Firstly, one of my biggest concerns with the way we as a society reacted and continue to react to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 is that we gave the perpetrators of the acts what they wanted: an audience for their cause and a reaction in our changed behavior. It is my contention that the best reaction to barbarism (once the event is over) is to have no reaction, a collective shrug and yawn, clean up as necessary, and move on. Someone who murdered 32 people should not be given honor or remembrance. However, instead of outrage at how someone could do something like “that dude” did on April 16, 2007, a stone was set up to remember him as well as those murdered in some misguided, dare I say politically correct, attempt to treat the loss by suicide of a murderer as if he were a victim of this crime who was worth remembering. If that is not enough, I point you to the tapes that dude sent to NBC in an attempt to brand himself as some sort of action hero. The producers at news outlets went along for a time. Thankfully, someone with common sense spoke up and said that showing the tapes immortalized such behavior, but I am afraid removing the images from public view was too late, the images are already out for any nutcase to take as inspiration.

Secondly, while grieving and remembering those that have passed on is appropriate, there are better ways to remember the lives of those murdered that day than prominently placed memorials. For example, a new jewish student center to be opened in Blacksburg will be named for Dr. Liviu Librescu, a holocaust survivor, professor of Engineering Science and Mathematics at Virginia Tech, and pioneer in the field of aerospace engineering who was murdered that day at Virginia Tech. Rabbi Elazar Bloom, who will lead the center, stated that the naming of the center was to “carry on Professor Librescu’s message of life and goodness over darkness”. He is not looked at as a victim, but as a champion for the good of humanity in his mentoring of students to his groundbreaking research in aerospace materials. His life was one well spent and one worth remembering, and I will certainly do just that.

On the other hand, there is a sense that the memorial at Virginia Tech will try to encapsulate the feelings of grief and pain associated with the impromptu memorial set up in the days following the incident, reducing and binding the memories of those murdered with the event rather than the accomplishments of lifetimes well spent or cut short at the crux of their potential. In addition, Virginia Tech President Charles Steger, during the dedication of this “intermediate” memorial, stated that this memorial was for the wounded as well. Why do the wounded need a memorial, they are still around? This, above all things tells me that the memorial is more about remembering the incident than it is about those murdered (or wounded).

Thirdly, as an alumnus of Virginia Tech, I am concerned that, rather than being held in high esteem as an excellent academic and research institution, Virginia Tech will be thought of as “that place where those 32 people were murdered” and the university is perpetuating that idea through its prominent and permanent memorials to the random violence that occurred that day. Monuments are meant for things we want to remember, things we hold in high regard or want to honor. I find no honor in the murder of 32 people by a psychopathic killer and it is certainly something that does not bear remembering. Remember and honor those that were murdered, but let’s not remember and honor the incident.

Malia reacts to DB:

It was not my perception that the 33rd stone placed in the initial, makeshift memorial was put there out of any political correctness or misguided behavior. Instead, I perceived it as coming from those who wanted to show compassion for the person who was so troubled, so misunderstood and so lonely that he felt his only way to make a voice for himself was through evil and violence. The thirty-third stone was not about immortalizing, it was about forgiveness.

I have to wonder what your views on war memorials/monuments are as well. For example, does the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial honor the dead sufficiently or does it only serve as a reminder of the highly controversial war that saw the deaths of so many innocent people?

Malia pictureShe said:
Back in June as we made our way north for our week at camp, we ended the first leg of our trip in Christiansburg, VA. We had plans to stay overnight and to visit with family members who live there. I wanted to go into Blacksburg to have dinner and to visit the campus of Virginia Tech. I needed, personally, to see the campus again. I wanted to view its Hokie-stone buildings, drive on its familiar roads, and walk the grounds I knew as a student. I wanted to see, with my own eyes, the outpourings of sympathy and love that came from all over the world. The temporary memorial in front of Burruss Hall of thirty-two Hokie stones which was set up by a student group. Posters, books, letters, pictures, stuffed animals, personal artifacts, etc., that were being temporarily housed in one of the dining halls. And community remembrances like the 32 flags representing the countries of the victims in front of a church on Main Street.

For me it was part of a healing process. I’ll never forget April 16, 2007. I’ll remember it much like I remember September 11, 2001. But grief and healing are personal matters and what helps one person can be offensive to another. And as much I want there to be something that remembers the thirty-two who were taken from us that day, I also don’t want Virginia Tech to be solely remembered for that tragedy. I don’t want what that young man did to be somehow immortalized. Because in remembering the thirty-two and how they died, his final act of selfishness and cowardice is forever ingrained in Virginia Tech’s history and how the school is remembered. Because in erecting public monuments, his legacy of violence remains.

Yet, I don’t know what I would have the administration of Virginia Tech do in this instance. It is much more likely that if the university officials hadn’t planned a memorial they would have been considered heartless and uncaring. Somewhere along the way between 1966 and 2007, the way we deal with grief has altered. In our culture today, we don’t want to sweep feelings and tragic events “under the rug” to not be talked about or dealt with. We want them out there in the open for everyone to experience, for everyone to feel. I don’t know why this is. I don’t know if it has anything to do with September 11 or not. I don’t know if it’s something that only time can answer. Is the fact that sixteen people were killed by a sniper in Austin at the University of Texas not well remembered in our society because it happened 40 years ago or is it because the city and the university didn’t erect grand monuments to the event? I wonder how the families of those who died that day feel about the lack of a memorial there for forty years. Did it help them move on? Or was it a gaping absence in the process of their grieving?

I guess the one thing I do know is that however we deal with grief; we must in fact deal with it and move on. We can’t stay rooted in tragic events forever. If we do, we slowly die and forfeit the potential that life holds for us even if that potential was taken from those we dearly loved. Life goes on and so has Virginia Tech. Students, faculty and staff have returned to campus and today have started another school year. Great things will continue to come out of that university despite what happened last spring. My hope is that it will be those achievements that history truly remembers.

DB Reacts to Malia:

I had no desire to look at stuff when we were in Blacksburg in June. I don’t know how restoration and healing can occur by looking at stuff people sent to the university from all over the country or at flowers and trinkets placed on small stones near Burruss Hall. It reminded me of that day and I don’t want to remember that day. The people and their accomplishments bear remembering not the event that brought about their deaths.

Concerning the university administration: my cynical side thinks that the university is erecting monuments to placate the litigation sure to head their way, that somehow showing care and compassion for the victims will win points with juries. On the other hand, there does seem to be some cultural shift that I can’t pin down either.

I echo your hopes that people move on and don’t let this define who they are, especially the university.

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Filed under He Said/She Said, Virginia Tech

Memorializing Violence

This post is a preface to our next He Said/She Said regarding the topic of memorializing violence. Comments are turned off for this post but will be allowed on the following post.

On August 1, 1966 a lone gunman positioned himself in the Texas Tower on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin and began shooting. He killed sixteen people and wounded 31 others before Austin police shot and killed him. Forty years later, “university officials added a bronze plaque to a garden near the tower as a memorial ‘to those who died, to those who were wounded, and to the countless other victims who were immeasurably affected by the tragedy,’ according to an inscription on the plaque”*.

On April 16, 2007 a lone gunman entered two different buildings on the campus of Virginia Tech, killed 32 people, wounded several others and then turned his gun on himself committing suicide. Less than two months later, an “intermediate” memorial was designed and the dedication for that memorial was held on August 19th. Plans for a final, permanent memorial are underway.

Do you wonder what the difference is between these two events and how they have been and are being memorialized? Does the difference have to do with what happened on September 11, 2001? Is Virginia Tech setting itself up to be most famously remembered for having the worst act of violence (to date) occur on a college campus?

Consider the responses of these other schools that saw violence and death on their campuses. A memorial for the victims of the Columbine High School shootings, which happened in 1999, is under construction but has not yet been completed. The memorial is not located on the school’s campus but at a nearby park. Westside Middle School, in Jonesboro, AR, has a memorial garden on the campus. It is located away from the actual location of the shootings that occurred there in 1998 and was placed there more than two years after the fact by a community group.

In the book, Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings by Katherine S. Newman, the author starts a section titled “Remembrance” with this thought, “If mental health is not an exact science then ritual observance is even less so.” Our natural tendency as humans is to memorialize loss. Many feel that memorials are an appropriate way to grieve and a comfort to those who will mourn for their entire lives. Anniversary services and remembrances mark the passage of time and ensure that loved ones who were taken from us are not forgotten. Yet it seems that there is no formula for remembering and memorializing, we only know that it will happen in some form or fashion.

But what else do we inadvertently memorialize? Does it not etch into permanent, collective memory acts of violence so devastating, so horrific that an entire nation and even much of the world was riveted to their television sets in utter despair and confusion over unimaginable tragedy? Do memorials not make the troubled, disturbed and lonesome souls that committed these heinous acts somehow immortal?

*Citation

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Filed under He Said/She Said, Virginia Tech

I know I said I was going to have a better attitude…

Malia picture…but seriously, if you want any further reason why I loathe the SSA so much. Go here.

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Filed under by Malia, Rant

Waterproof

Malia pictureSo I read somewhere in a magazine awhile back that taking a shower can help stir your creative juices. Something about the warm water raining down on you, relaxing your mind, expanding your thoughts, yadda yadda yadda. I was not terribly surprised by this revelation because it happens to me all the time.

I’ve spun the most brilliant blog posts while showering. My words are witty, my points are well reasoned, my stories are captivating and of course I’ve managed to solve all the worlds problems in the duration of one shower. There’s only one problem. At some point, I have to leave the shower. And the moment those inspirational jets of steaming water cease to caress my skin, my muse dies. I step out of the shower, towel off and completely forget what it was I was going to write about.

I could be a millionaire if I could only create a product that could be used by those of us whose minds are brilliant while wet but soggy after we’ve dried off. Sounds to me like it’s time for another shower…

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Filed under by Malia, musings