Monthly Archives: February 2012

Whatever…It is what it is…

So a friend asked me what part of speech “right” is.  Not the old “right” that meant the opposite of left or correct or a conservative wing of politics.

No, she was referring to the new “right.”  The one that is used like,” Angelina looked like a fool at the Oscars–right?! Like she was carrying a skinny white prosthetic leg and sticking it out of her dress periodically. Right?!”

I pondered her question and as a former English teacher I decided the new “right” is a noun of  exclamation, affirmation and agreement.  Right?!

It’s funny how often I make fun of these buzz words, the words of the moment, “the hear it once–use it three times in a sentence it is yours” words but then, as if by osmosis, they are a part of my own vocabulary.

This first started with  me when my kids were younger and I corrected their constant use of “like.” I would say, “It was like or it was?  Which was it?” And then, to my own horror and disgust, I would hear myself telling a friend their new habit was “like” my worst nightmare. These regular words or phrases with new usage just creep in like mud on our shoes after the snow melts. And brush and sweep and try as we may, they burrow into the fabric of our vocabulary and hang out for awhile. At least until the next “it” word arrives and the old is shuttled out with spring cleaning.

I’ve tried to follow the origins of these words.  They don’t just appear like the ghosts in Scrooge’s dreams, but practically. With email, texting, facebook chatter, twittering, television ads and Siri to the rescue, they break into the talking world in a flurry. Hear it nowhere then suddenly everywhere.

“Obvie” had its day in the sun.  “As if” hung around for awhile. “Whatever” came and has stayed longer than I would have thought but I think it has become more dismissive than when it started.  At first it was a “whatever” thrown out in conversation in a whimsical sort of devil may care kind of way and now it seems to be  more of a “Get out of my face, off my ass, you are dumb,I am right, what you said was stupid.  Whatever.”

“It is what it is” seems to be the mantra of 2012.  The economy, jobs, the weather, the presidential candidates. We were looking for change at every corner and we haven’t seen it. It is what it is.

I heard Randy Jackson of Idol fame (yes, I am still hanging out on the couch recuperating) on Ellen the other day and she was trying to get him to say his favorite word of address, Dawg.  But he wouldn’t or didn’t say it.  She had some bet with the audience as to how many times he would say it in his interview and when he failed her, she finally asked him what was going on–where was Dawg??  He said,”I don’t know. I just moved on.  Now I say Dude.”

So there you have it.  He did some early spring cleaning and I am going to, also.  But I’m like how do I get there? Do I need to drop a few words? Obvie.  Can I do it in a day? As if!  I’ll start with one word at a time. Not. (Oh, I forgot that one!) Whatever. I’m over it. (How could I forget that one, too?)

It is what it is.  Right?!

Thanks for reading, Dude.



I am probably breaking the cardinal rule of blogging by reblogging something my twenty three year old aspiring actress in Hollywood posted on her blogsite.  (Yes, we come from a long line of bloggers.)

Anyhoodles. (Love that word.  It’s hers.  A guy actually said that to her in an email.) She shared the following experience with her readers and I would like to share it with you. Men like this deserve exposure and since my daughter and I speak to a completely different demographic, I thought I’d widen the net of a heads up to his bad upbringing.

Her words (annotated here for brevity):

Adventures in Dating got a whole lot spicier earlier tonight. I went on date numero two with a boy named Brett Futtner tonight (that is not his name but it should have been). So far things had been pretty normal. Tonight, Brett suggested that we watch a movie at my place. Let me be clear:  I live in the basement of the apartment above me that was converted before my arrival into a tiny studio apartment. The bed is my room, essentially. When Brett said he would come over to watch a movie, he meant in my bed and I am just not really into that plan ON DATE TWO. So I found a place nearby playing a Wes Anderson double feature. Ding ding ding, said my brain, what an ideal night.  I suggested this plan instead of the one that involved not only my bed but also my lap top given that a TV does not exist in my cubby hole.

I arrived at the meeting place open-minded. He had seemed nice and funny and confident. What a trifecta.  He is a friend of a good friend’s boyfriend, look at that. The long-and-short of what went down occurred during the 10 minutes that transpired from the line outside to the popcorn to the seats. Somehow because I had changed the plan, I was quickly deemed “high maintenance.” Literally. He told me this. I laughed and tried to casually respond to which he said “…it was something a high maintenance girl would say.”

Strike one.

I paid for our tickets, a gesture I found to be normal and did not resent as I am a modern woman. I am debating as to whether strike two took place when he created a small pile of Cheddar Cheese Seasoning Powder atop my beloved popcorn or when he said that conversation with me was “a labor.” Let’s just say that it took place when we sat down and he said that the way I talk is like “being part of a bad sketch show.”

Strike two.

At this point, I no longer wanted to see the movie. The Life Aquatic is one of my favorite movies and I did not want this ass clown ruining it for me. The only way I was going to stay next to him was if I was guaranteed that Indiana Jones would remove himself from the poster outside and punch Brett in the throat. I got up to leave. He insisted on walking me to my car. The torture continues, people.

As we walked I was apparently not keeping a straight line, because Brett said I kept “walking in his way.” Then he made a comment about the aforementioned plan change, and I told him that I simply did not want him in my bed. He responded that “I don’t seem very sexual.”

Brett. Honey. Just because I don’t want to go home with you, doesn’t mean that I am opposed to men altogether. It’s a lovely assumption to make though, kind of like the assumption that everyone loves their popcorn with fake cheese powder thrown upon it in a celebratory manner.

Strike three.

Here it is. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. There is, in fact, a strike four.

1. I said that I have been burned by going home with someone too soon, so now I like to take things slow.

Brett’s insight:  “Word of advice:  you have a cynicism towards men that we can sense. You won’t ever have a relationship with that chip on your shoulder.”

2. I finally arrived at my car, HOME FREE, I thought. Alas, no, Brett needed a ride to his car.

Bretts response to car silence:  “I am just glad you didn’t kick me in the nuts back there.”

3. We got to his car.

Brett suggested that we “got get tacos and wine as pals.”

Fuck no, Brett. I am going to my friends’ house where not only things make sense but people are able to understand me. Where people are able to sense normal social cues. Friends who don’t ruin their junk food with fake cheese or use the word “pals.”

Oh, and to answer your last question that you asked me before you got out of the car, Brett:  Yes, you were the worst date I have ever had. Not in a cute way. Not in a funny way. Just, the worst. I hope you wake up tomorrow with a weird smell in your apartment that you can never find the source of.

My repsonse:  “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”  Nobody.



Call me cold and heartless, but since I am trapped on the couch for much of the day recovering from recent surgery (see Dec. 1, 2011 post) ,  I have become more familiar than I care to admit with daytime/nighttime/late night TV. And after nearly two weeks of non-stop Whitney Houston–her life, her career, her gorgeous face, her ugly drugs, her lying piece of trash ex-husband, her precious daughter, her extreme highs–both drugs and record sales–and her extreme lows–both drugs and record sales, I am done.

I supported it all and was enthralled, often teary, at the beginning. I “You Tubed”  her Star Spangled Banner which she knocked out of the stadium like no human being has or ever will do. She conquered that impossible melody.  She nailed it. I went so far as to rewatch The Bodyguard after hearing Kevin speak at her lovely and understated funeral.

But, now I say enough.

Pierce’s whole show, for at least the sixth time it seems, was Whitney last night. The Today Show this AM was Whitney. Every E Entertainment special is Whitney. At what point do we say she was a beautiful, special talent; an icon of our generation but she was a train wreck? She wasn’t hit by a bus unexpectedly.  She was an incredibly talented but self-destructuve drug addict who by her own hand, ended her life.

I can just see Dr. Drew shaking his grey head in disgust that “we” are partly to blame for her demise.  He feels (yes, I watched his Whitney special, too) that hopeless addicts need our help and support and it was “our” responsibility to get her a sponsor or a handler to help her keep her self-destructive behavior at bay.

And I agree with him to a point. Yes, all addictive personalities need support and help and therapy to fight the heinous demons that haunt them. And it is a sad day when someone, especially someone as apparently sweet, genuine, talented and charismatic as Whitney Houston loses their life to their worst enemy and fatal flaw.

But there are less famous but just as young and special and beautiful  people all over this country–and the world–fighting demons they did not ask for either–cancer, sexual abuse, famine, social injustice.   I think it’s time to let Whitney lie peacefully in her grave and move on.

Ok there I have said it.  I am sure I am going straight to hell as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton spit on my grave. And by the way, why was Jesse on the podium at that funeral?  Did he even  speak? Why don’t they just make a life-sized doll of him and stick in the center of any Black event.  Maybe Oprah should be attached to his arm.

Oh, man.  Now I have really done it.  I can feel Maya Angelou spitting, too.

That tiny voice…

We all hear it.  For some it is a subtle rustle in the grass, a whisper in the wind.  For others it comes in as loud and clear as a squad of cheerleaders chanting from mid-court at halftime. But I believe it is there for all of us.  Our inner voice that talks to us, warns us, supports us and admonishes us.  Periodically or sporadically, we may listen to it or even admit it exists. But I feel that when we heed its tug at the elbow, follow its “do” or “don’t” direction, life can be better and we feel more at peace.

I also believe that nine times out of ten what that voice is saying is correct.  When we keep it on mute, we falter, we stumble. And when we turn up the volume, our decision, our direction, the view ahead can be crystal clear.

Now don’t think I am going all Oprah on you.  I assure you I am not.  I have just become acutely aware in the last few years of this gut response, the aforementioned inner voice, is there and it is calling to us in the most complex and simplest of situations.

For instance, on the most basic level, how often do we ignore the voice that says, “Don’t say that.  Don’t go there with him/her.” And when you do ignore that waving red flag, how is it workin’ for ya, huh?  Your boss liked what you said about the timing of your lunch break and the size of your paycheck?  Your daughter thanked you for telling her she had gained a few over the summer?  Really? For me, most often the big voice is my own ego which is incapable of keeping my mouth shut in a situation where I know before I utter the words they are going to cause me or someone I care about nothing but pain.   But yet, I blurt them out as though I have no control and they forced themselves past tact, empathy and good sense.  And once out, we all know there is no rewind.  Those words just hang there between you and the recipient in an often awkward and ugly silence or erupt into an exchange laden with resentment and hurt.

And nothing can reel those words back in.  Or erase them from the offended’s memory.

Lately, I have been trying to heed that little “don’t say it” warning in my gut.  I would guess I am batting with around 30% success.  It’s so difficult to do because for some reason our mouths move much faster than our pea-sized brains and by the time self control catches up  to “the voice,” the damage is done.

I am worst with those closest to me, my husband being most often the victim of my forked tongue.  If I am in the other room and I hear the snack drawer open or the Dibs box hit the counter, I can’t keep myself from calling in to ask if he didn’t like or have enough dinner. Or if he can see the mandarin oranges in the red mesh bag in the fruit bowl.  What is wrong with me?!  “The voice” is screaming the whole time I am talking that this will get me nowhere but a place filled with silence and resentment.  And yet I harangue on and get what I deserve.  He puts the Dibs on top of coffee ice cream and tops it off with half a bag of cookies just to spite me and remind me he is a grown man with a mind and stomach of his own, neither of which could or should be within my control.

On the flip side, “the voice” can point a new way, a fork in the road and bring a spontaneous string of events that would have been missed if you had stuck strictly to the plan and ignored it.  This happened recently with my two daughers who were shopping with me after Christmas.  Everything about the day has been a bit out of the ordinary.  I rarely have them in the car together since they both live on the west coast.  The stores weren’t crazy crowded like they usually are during post holidays sales.  It was raining which bugged me but they loved since they seldom see it in ever-sunny LA.

Anyway, we were on a tight schedule to do a thousand things during the length of a two year old’s naptime.  We had a list and we were checking it twice.  We were clicking along at a great pace until panic set in that the baby was awake and we had to go home.  I was at a stoplight.  Home was straight ahead but “the voice” said turn right. Really it did.  And I did.  We called home and low and behold the child was still sleeping and Pops was prepared to take over if he woke up.  We pulled into the parking lot and went to a shoe store the girls and I had not visited together in years.  Within minutes, they found exactly what they needed/wanted.  On a roll, we went to another mall and as soon as we stepped into the first store I called my dentist for the fourth time that day to see if he could see me about a tooth problem I had been plagued with all during the holidays and he said he had just had a cancellation, could I come in five?  Which I could and did.  The girls went on. List in tow, check, check, check.

At the end of the day, I had a fixed molar, they had three exchanges, two new pairs of jeans and Pops had 45 minutes alone with his grandson.

A win/win.  All because “the voice” for no apparent reason said turn right.

So the next time you are too embarrassed to move away from the person who has whooping cough behind you in a movie theater and “the voice” says it saw two empty seats five rows back, heed it.  If it says put on your seat belt and you argue you are only two blocks from home, do it.  If someone is smiling and “the voice” says if you open your mouth you’ll kill their day, clamp it.  And the real killer, when you finish an email and hesitate for even a second to push send, hit save and sleep on it.

Or, if your dear friend is driving you hither and yon to help you get to doctors and supplies after surgery and, as she is distractedly calling for directions to the next stop, she pulls away from the gas tank with the nozzle still in her car tank making a big mess all over the concrete of the Amoco and the side of her car.  Don’t ask her if she is normally a good driver.

I think it goes without saying I did that, but my voice told me to tell you.

30% and counting.  Hope springs eternal.

Questions from readers…

Herbert T from Swissvale, Pennsylvania has written to ask about the proper care for an Irish knit wool sweater.  I get questions such as this from time to time and sometimes I think, well, I am “askmrsmom,” so if asked a question, I should answer it.  But at other times, I hesitate because I don’t want to become a Helpful Hannah or Dear Abby column.  Not that that would be so bad actually.  But I am still feeling my way as to where I hope to land with this site and since in the first blog I billed myself as a researcher’s researcher, I decided to poke around the web and find the best answer to Herbert T’s question.

I am fond of fisherman knit sweaters.  They conjure up images of damp but steamy pubs perched on some precipice off the coast of Ireland filled with pipe smoking, bearded fishermen or just  sweater-wearing locals.  I can smell the charred aroma of the roaring timbers in the single fire that warms the whole place.  The sassy waitresses with their red curls and fair freckled skin or dark locks and ice blue eyes, depending on their part of the country, sashay table to table taking drink orders. Or slide their trays across the table and pull up a chair to chat. Dogs are curled at feet or nestled by the hearth, snoozing lazily as twilight slowly passes over the North Atlantic.

Yeah, I can wax poetic about a fisherman sweater or I can tell you how to wash one.  I guess for Herbert T’s sake, I’ll do the latter. I am keeping the wording I found on the Irish website because things like “caring instructions” and “wilst” just make me smile.

Care of an Irish Knit Sweater:

First, follow the care instructions found on the tag attached to your sweater.

Home Caring Instructions:
Wool is a marvel of nature. It has properties which still cannot be beaten by man-made products. If it is cared for in the correct way, your Irish sweater can last a lifetime. However, this wonderful natural and renewable fibre can be ruined unnecessarily by incorrect aftercare.

Busy modern lives makes hand washing an inconvenience you can do without so many newer sweater brands, can be washed conveniently in your machine. Whilst our care instructions may seem like a lengthy guide, wool is no more complex to care for than synthetic fibres.

There are, however, some golden rules:


Check your washing detergent or powder is wool friendly by reading the small print.  Modern biological detergents, or ones containing bleaching agents, can be catastrophic to any animal-based fabric.

These detergents, as well as the non-biological detergents which contain bleach, will cause the garment to become corroded and thinned. They should not be used to wash fine British knitwear. Your new wool sweater could loose its shape, and the finer wools will go into holes very quickly. (Does that mean they burrow into the ground like a fox? I doubt it and assume they mean holes can appear in the the knit but gotta love the style.)

There are some excellent detergents which will condition and protect your wool sweater. Look out for the wool mark symbol on the packaging.

Spin Speeds:

Most woolens are best washed and spun in your washing machine at around 600 revs per minute. Higher spin speeds could cause a heavily water laden jersey to grow. You will find wool releases moisture much more easily than cotton, and does not need such a fast spin.

Check your machine before using the wool program. When selecting the wool program, some machines automatically switch to the correct spin speed setting for wool, whilst others will require the spin speed to be set independently from the wool program.


Check your machine is set to no more than 40 degrees when washing wool sweaters to help prevent shrinking. Again, your machine should pre-set the wool setting temperature. However some machines have a separate temperature setting.

If a disaster occurs, and you pull a shrunken jersey out of the washing machine which has been run on the correct setting, we advise you to have the thermostat checked by a competent engineer. This may indicate a failure in the your machine’s temperature control. (I doubt that Sears has a competent engineer but I’m sure the pub I pictured would.)


To keep your woolen sweaters in shape, and ensure no shrinkage occurs, high temperatures should not be used when drying.  Once the garment has been gently spun, pull it into shape and allow it to dry whilst supported, allowing a natural airflow.

A banister rail is excellent for this process and you will be amazed at how quickly wool dries! (Love this image!  No editorial necessary…)

Once dry, fold your sweater and store it flat. Avoid hanging your sweater on a hanger as this may stretch the garment.

Long-Term Storage:

We recommend that you clean your sweaters before storing them, since this will prevent moths from being attracted to them.  Since mothballs release toxic chemicals and can smell unpleasant, we recommend using cloves, lavender, rosemary, thyme, dried orange peel, and cedar chips to repel moths. Tie any of these items in a cloth sachet or handkerchief and place it near, although not directly on, the garment.

If I can find a hanky and an orange, I am all over this last idea.
The entire instructions make me feel like an ugly American who tosses my woolens in my green nylon dry cleaning bag and hang it on my front door to be picked up by my Korean dry cleaner who will fill each thread with dry cleaning fluid and bring it back spanky clean and full of carcinogens.  My excuse for this is my fancy American washing machine spins the hell out of everything on all the settings and locks shut as soon as the lid is put down, sounding like a Nascar race for most of the cycle until it shakes to an eerie halt.
And it’s probably made in China.


I have been travelling. I went to see my grandson and his parents as well as his aunt (also known as my daughters and son-in-law) in California and now am home again. I say that as though I didn’t have access to a computer there which I did. I had plenty of time to write and more to write about.  My grandson’s first words, his ingratiating grin, the cute space between his front teeth, the way he giggles when I threaten the gobble his toes, how much he loves his cars, the park, the moon. He provided plenty of daily subject matter that I could have shared.

I really have no excuse for this break in my blogging.  I have been busy, but aren’t we all.  Maybe I haven’t felt the muse on my shoulder urging me to share little tidbits of my daily “here and there” or haven’t had a life altering insight into the meaning of all of this.

I think I was just enjoying living without narrating.

I’ll be back when I am out of my self-involved slump. We all deserve them every now and then but I know it can be dangerous to stay in one for long.  Also, I find the world beyond my own nose much more captivating.  Well, at least on most days when I am posing as an adult.