Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Winter Doldrums

The problem with winter is it's cold. And dark. It snows. Your skin gets dry and cracks around your knuckles. Hair darkens. Skin pales.
The problem with winter is you're not on the open road, driving home from a summer vacation. Winter can't produce a memory as palpable as this: suntanned bare feet on the dashboard, Good 'n Plenty and lukewarm Lemon Propel rattling in the console, singing along out loud to James Taylor or Counting Crows or Tom Petty. You gaze out of the insect-splattered windshield while I make tiny Xs over the mosquito bites on my legs. My body is exhausted, but in that good, worn, tired way that only comes from a day spent in the water. There is an irritating tightness on my shoulders from sunburn and the slight indentation of swimsuit straps. The landscape is mountainous and arid and empty, the sky impossibly high and open, and we fill the time with idle games of 20 Questions and I'm Going to Grandmother's House. We've forgotten what the N item on our list is, but are certain of Mongoose and Lima Beans.
We stop at a convenience store as the sky bruises into a purplish darkness. The air smells of gasoline and fried food and is just cool enough to raise goosebumps on bare arms and legs. Our flip-flops smack against the blacktop and make dirty half moons on the store's just mopped tile. Ice cubes thunk and clunk into 64 oz plastic cups and the refrigerated cases buzz and the till bings open and shut. The sounds are familiar and oddly comforting. Restrooms are bravely visited, snacks are selected, and then florescent lights are replaced with headlights on the highway.
We are quiet in the car now, the yellow and white lines of the road in stark contrast to our wandering, scattered, patternless thoughts.
That's the problem with winter: you're not on the open road, driving home from summer vacation, the freedom of your undecided life ahead tempered by the safety of the straight, even road vanishing into the darkening horizon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Henry Dan

Looking good after another home-style haircut.

Enjoying a nutritious dinner of powdered sugar and raisins.

Really into the soccer game on T.V.

In heaven in the wagon with all his comfort items: blankie, teddy bears, and yellow tractor.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


"Budget" should be a four-letter word. Because when you're talking with your spouse about money and the word "budget" gets thrown out, it feels bad, like getting reprimanded by your 2nd grade teacher for talking during the lesson. When someone says they're on a budget, it's a nice way of saying they don't have any money. A hopeful euphemism that isn't big enough to hide the truth.

As of January we are on a budget. Which is a nice way of saying that the money I didn't realize I was spending on Bubba's halloween costume (Grimace), groceries (luxury fruit smoothies), and preventable emergencies (the locksmith's fee for retrieving the only set of keys from our locked car), is maybe more than is coming in.

We've decided to try having a cash allowance. At the beginning of the week, I retrieve the allotted amount of cash from the bank, and I try to stretch the money out until the next ATM withdrawal. To be honest, at first I thought I would hate this budgeting techinique, but it's actually starting to grow on me. It's made spending money into a game that rewards me for spending less. If we get to the end of the week and have money left over, then we can upgrade from Wendy's to say, Red Robin for dinner.

Plus, spending cash feels more like spending money than using a debit or credit card. If I opt for the generic brand of a product at the grocery store, I'm actually walking out of the store with a dollar more in my pocket. Chi-ching.
Even still, this new money managing method comes with some drawbacks. Like this week, Bubba had exactly 2 Pringles in his sack lunch on Friday because the cupboards were pretty bare. And sometimes the game of spending less than the determined budget amount isn't as fun as other less fiscally restricting activities. I'm already craving carefree shopping sprees at Target, under florescent lights, tossing a knit sweater into the cart, raiding the sale rack in the children's department, perhaps strolling down the frozen foods aisle and spontaneously splurging on a pint of Ben and Jerry's ...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Playtex and the Amazing 18-hour Bra

Have you seen this commercial? An attractive woman wearing a bra asks "What could you do in 18 hours?", and then, to the beat of some generic background music, proceeds to tell us what she could do in 18 hours. Out of the seemingly infinite number of options, she chooses the following 2 things: 1)go to lunch with her Milan, or 2)"shake things up a bit." After awing the audience with this array of options, the woman looks directly into the camera and concludes, "In 18 hours, I could do anything."

In interest of full disclosure, neither my physique nor my lifestyle require the support of an 18 hour bra. That being said, I find the logic of the advertisement faulty, if not downright ridiculous. First, there is the incongruent rhetoric of the 2 examples given. The first activity is extremely specific, identifying the who (husband), what (lunch), and where (Milan).The second activity is extremely generic and, consequently, absolutely meaningless. What, exactly, does she plan to shake up, and how? The only thing the two activities seem to have in common is that both would be considerably more interesting without wearing of said bra.

Rhetoric aside, the two activities seem to make a poor argument for the commericial's thesis that a woman, if freed from the restrictions of run-of-the mill brassiers, can do anything. The question must be asked: what activities require a woman to wear a bra for 18 hours? What woman on a typical day is on the go from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m.? An executive? Maybe. A single mother working two jobs? Perhaps. Maybe the female pilot of the plane to Milan? Or the candidate for President on the campaign trail? None of these activities are offered in the advertisement as possible 18-hour fillers . In fact, the thesis of the advertisement (woman can do anything) seems if anything to be jeopardized by the chosen activities. Shaking things up a bit and lunch with hubby seem opposed to the feminist slanted message of woman can do anything.

You may be thinking that I've spent way too much time analyzing a commerical that you've probably never paid any attention to. You would be right. Whenever this advertisement airs, Bubba and I are launched into a long discussion about how absurd the whole thing is. Even when this commerical isn't on, we somehow find ourselves laughing about it. And for that, at least, I am grateful, that this seemingly benign ad has provided unending entertainment for us.