Personal Entries

It’s not a stroke

I think this is a good idea; how could it not be a good idea to educate children about the symptoms of stroke?  After all, the faster a stroke is recognized and treated, the better the chances of recovery,  and so more people in any household knowing the signs of stroke is better, right?  Right,  in theory.  In actuality it only helps if  the people educated on the symptoms of stroke are of sound mind, and I think we can all agree that middle school-aged children are not of  sound mind.

Novant Health: arming 6th graders with too much information.

Any parent could have told Novant Health that the result of educating eleven year olds on the symptoms of  stroke was going to be, well… Blogosphere, I’ve been diagnosed with stroke symptoms several times in the past few weeks.  It’s just all-stroke, all the time.  And I don’t want to make a joke of this, because what if I do have one someday?  I’ll be lying on the kitchen floor, the stroke damage becoming more permanent with every passing second, while my children navigate around me, saying “Oh, Mom’s just messing with us again.  Whatsa matter?  You paralyzed, Mom?”

And so, with every muscle spasm or foot fallen to sleep, I submit to Matt’s stroke test.

“STOP!” Matt commands. “Smile!”

I smile.

“Hold it, hold it,” he says, as he checks first one cheek and then the other, comparing them for symmetry.

We go through all the steps of the test, finishing once I’ve clearly enunciated the words  “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

I’m hoping that Matt will mellow once this information is no longer so novel, much as he did after going through the school’s D (drug) A (abuse) R (resistance) E (education) program last year.   After his D.A.R.E. education, and newly armed with more knowledge of illegal drug use than your average flophouse junkie,  it took a year for that program’s effects to fade.  A year before I could pour the occasional glass of chianti and not have my son react by looking at me–a haunted, crack-baby look in his eyes– and asking, “Moooom?  Are you an alcoholic?”

On the other hand, many parents are probably unaware that their children have been involved in Novant Health’s stroke awareness program.  Were they to know this, they  might appreciate a bit more concern as they are lying paralyzed on their kitchen floors, thinking: “I’m lying paralyzed on the kitchen floor and you’re asking me for more ice cream? Did you not learn F.A.S.T.? Do the T, child, the T!”

I’m just saying that perhaps the people at Novant Health, when they decided to sponsor this educational unit in the local schools, were on drugs or something. Because there are good reasons why we don’t put eleven year olds in charge of our major medical decisions.

Media and Art · Personal Entries

I like liberty!

“Why don’t you guys come up for dinner?”  Karen asks.

“Oh, that would be great, ” I say.  Karen’s Dad is in town, and it will be nice to see him. ” What can I bring?”

“A ring.  You can bring a ring. ” says Karen.  “A solid gold ring, with the Bells of Canterbury on it.”

“Piece of cake,” I say.

“And I want the bells LIFE SIZED–“

“Oh honey, I was going to run to Canterbury to get you the ACTUAL bells, and mount them right on the ring for you.”

“Well,” says Karen, “that would be nice!”

I am thoughtful when designing my pretend, ridiculous jewelry.

“Or!” I say,  “Or!  Maybe the Liberty Bell, instead?  It’s closer.”

“Ohhh, I like liberty,” says Karen.

“OK, then.  I’ll go get the Liberty Bell, and I’ll mount it on a ring for you and bring it to dinner.  Anything else?”

“Yes,” says Karen, “I want the word ‘LIBERTY’ written on the ring.  On the outside.”

“No problem.  In big letters?”

“Yes, an inch high.  And, I’d also like the poem from The Statue Of Liberty inscribed on the inside of the ring.”

“The ‘bring us your poor, your huddled masses‘ poem?”  I ask.   I need to be clear about what poem it is that I’m inscribing.

“Yes.  That one.  The whole poem.  On the inside.”

“Sure!  I can totally do that!  Anything else?”

“I want all the ‘i ‘s’ dotted.  With diamonds.”

“OK.  So.   Gold, Liberty Bell, the word ‘LIBERTY,’ the huddled masses poem, diamonds for the dots over the ‘i ‘s’, by dinnertime tonight. Is that all?”

“Yes,” says Karen.  “And I’d like you to deliver it on a white horse.”

“Naked, a la Lady Godiva?”

“Yes.”  Says Karen.

“And your price range?  What’s your budget?”

“Five dollars.”

I think that’s fair.


Personal Entries

Tiaras and fake babies

Pointing to a display of rhinestone and pearl-encrusted plastic tiaras, I tell Karen,  “You know, Ima wear me one of them ti-aahh-ras when me and DaWyane get married, ’cause DaWayne  says I’m his princess. “

We’ve  stopped by AC Moore to pick up gesso, and we’re shocked to find they now have a wedding craft aisle.  The aisle is full of….. well, it’s full of really questionable items, blogosphere.  No part of your bridal attire should come from this aisle, and I don’t care that AC Moore says otherwise.  They lie.

Wistfully fingering the tiara, I confide, “We just wanna wait ’til L’il DaWayne’s  outta diapers.”

Karen nods.  Tiaras and potty-trained babies are a reasonable part of wedding plans.

“I wore a tiara when  me and Harlan got hitched,” she says.  “It was pink with real faux diamonds.”   Karen holds her hands up to her head,  gesturing to indicate that the pink faux diamonds were the size of eggs.

“Ohhhh!” I say, ” Pink diamonds?  Like JLo!”

“Yes m’am,” agrees Karen.  “They’re the classiest kind of faux diamonds.”

A  woman standing in the adjacent framing department is covertly watching us, listening, perplexed.  Poor dear.  Eavesdropping is tacky, and Karen and I are too classy to notice.

“DaWayne said he and Harlan was goin’ bowling,”  I tell Karen.  I shake my head and purse my lips,   “But they got that whole case of Budweiser, and  I just know they’re going to a titty bar.”

“I know it,” she commiserates, “I told Harlan if I find ONE MORE PAIR OF PANTIES in the pick-up truck….”  She trails off,  and I’m left wondering what Harlan’s fate will be if he’s caught packing panties ever again. It won’t be good.

My heart breaks for Karen; pretend Harlan can be a dog.  My pretend DaWayne is too much of a gentleman to bring home panties when he goes to the strip club.

We’ve moved on from the wedding department, and as we walk through the store we comment on various items we pass, speculating on how we might use them.

Glitter-covered feather boas would be perfect with the tube tops I picked up at The Walmart: L’il DaWayne was NOT good in The Walmart, I tell Karen,  “…and I told L’il DaWayne: ‘ You eat any more of them Cheetos and I’m gonna SMACK YOU!’ You gettin’ orange all over my tube tops!”

Day-glo panties made for the application of decals: “Ima put ‘PROPERTY OF DA WAYNE’ straight cross my butt,” I tell Karen.

She nods, but she’s clearly not in the mood to consider the same for her Harlan, what with all the stripper panties in the pick-up.  Now I feel badly about pointing out the panties;  panties are a sensitive subject in Harlan and Karen’s pretend marriage.

Plaster columns and pedestals: “We used to have one of them pedestals on each side the door,” I tell Karen, “and my DaWayne used to make me stand on ’em all the time, and I said ‘DA WAYNE!  I cannot be getting up and down and up and down all day!’  We got rid of ’em cause they kept falling over on the baby, but DaWayne says I’ll always be on a pedestal to him. But I don’t even know what that means..”

“Harlan says the only reason to put a woman on a pedestal is to look up her skirt,” Karen responds.

Karen is just jealous, but I’m secretly tickled that my pretend DaWayne wants to look up my skirt.

“Well, I am definitely gonna need them decal panties now!”

Personal Entries

Don’t pee on the couch

Karen and her kids, Emily and Patrick, have come down for dinner.   Karen and Emily sit down to keep me company while I finish cooking, and the boys head into the living room and the PS3.  Patrick, 12,  is the last boy to leave the kitchen.

“Hey Patrick,” I say, “don’t pee on my couch, OK?”


“Please try not to pee on the couch?”

“Miss Katie, why would I pee on the couch?”  The boy is understandably perplexed.  I’ve known him since he was a year old, and he’s never peed on anything in my house.

“I have no idea,” I tell him now, “but the bathroom is right there if you need it, OK?”

“But…why…..  Why would I pee on your couch?

I don’t know.”  I say. ” But just don’t, ok?”

His head cocked to the side and his eyebrows knitted, Patrick heads into the living room while Karen grins at me, shaking her head slowly from side to side.

In a moment Patrick returns.

“When did I pee on your couch?”  Patrick demands of me.

“I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?”

Through a fit of giggles, Emily shouts at her younger brother, “JUST DON’T PEE ON THE COUCH, Patrick!”

“No, wait. ” I put up my hand to forestall another outburst from Emily.  “He was about to tell us when he peed on the couch.”

“I DIDN’T PEE ON THE COUCH!” Patrick exclaims.

“OK.  If you say so, I believe you.”

“I didn’t.”  He insists.

“That’s great!  And I really appreciate that.”

“So…why are you telling me not to pee on the couch?”

“Because it’s a leather couch, and once that smell gets into it, there is just no getting it out.  I don’t want to have to replace the couch.  It’s expensive.”

“But… why do you think I’m going to pee on the couch?”

“Patrick,” Karen puts up a hand to stop her son’s questions, and with each word clearly articulated says,   “just   do   not   pee   on   that   couch. “

“But, why would—“

“Just don’t!” Karen orders.

As Patrick leaves the kitchen, Karen, Emily and I double over in silent laughter. Each of us knows what will happen next, and almost immediately, it does.

Matt bursts into the kitchen, “Why did you tell Patrick not to pee on the couch?”

“Because I don’t want him to pee on the couch,” I explain.

No one should pee on the couch,” adds Karen.

“When did he pee on the couch?!” Matt demands.

We didn’t say he did.  We just don’t want him to pee on the couch.”

“You shouldn’t be peeing on the couch, either.” Karen informs Matt.

“I’m not going to pee on the couch,” says Matt.

“I hope not…..” But Karen sounds dubious.

“I’ve never peed on the couch!”  Insists Matt.

“You sure? ” I ask him, “You haven’t? “


“We don’t know.”

And then suddenly the kitchen is full of  boys, all talking at once, all insisting that they have NEVER peed on my couch or any other couch, anywhere.  Ever.

“And no one said you did!”  I explain, “And we want you to keep up the good work.”

Karen sums it up for them, “Don’t pee on the couch. It should go without saying.  Now, we’ll call you when it’s time to eat.”

Muttering and confused, indignant and questioning each others’ urinary histories, the boys leave the kitchen to return to their game.

“And don’t pee on the chairs, either! ”  Emily calls out.

Really, how do people amuse themselves when they don’t have children?


Personal Entries

Full of awesome

Matt had the best weekend in the history of ever, because his team won their age group finals at this weekend’s soccer tournament.

Awesomeness in motion

The boys’ Dad took them to their Sunday morning games, and this is the text message exchange I had with Matt after his last regular game win, letting me know that there was more awesomeness to come:


Matt always introduces himself to me at the start of every phone call and text. Otherwise, I might not know who he is. I love him so much.

The finals were seriously badass, going into overtime AND requiring ten penalty kicks (one made by Matt) to decide the game.  The final game was similar to the World Cup finals, in case you’re trying to picture it.

Matt is now so full of soccer awesome, you could poke him with a stick and awesome would ooze out.  You could squeeze him like a sponge, and you’d soon be standing in a puddle of rainbow-colored soccer awesome.  He is the valedictorian of soccer awesomeness.

AND, if you want any part of any of his four games reenacted?  He can do that for you, because he is also the valedictorian of soccer play reenactment.

Such awesomeness is very tiring, however, especially for one so young.  The boy and his awesomeness  have gone to bed early this evening.

Personal Entries

Cousin brothers

Making breakfast, I’m softly singing as Riley joins me in the kitchen.

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together, ” I sing.

“What are you singing?”

” John Lennon.  It’s a Beatles song.”  I tell him, and sing the lyrics again.

“Was John Lennon on drugs when he wrote it?” Asks Riley.

“No Riley,  he wasn’t on drugs!”  Yes, Riley,  he was on drugs.  Lots and lots of drugs.

“I’m he, and he’s him, and you’re me and we’re all together… That doesn’t even make sense.” Riley says. “Mom, he was on drugs, admit it.”

“I does make sense,” I insist, laughing.  ” ‘I am he as you are he, and you are me’… he’s saying that I’m you and you’re me.  That we’re all the same, we’re all one, we’re all interconnected.”

“Oh,” says Riley.  “So, it’s a song about West Virginia?”


My words come out in another burst of laughter, and because laughter is a rallying cry in this house, Matt has joined us in the kitchen.

“What’s inbreeding?” My eleven-year old asks.

“It’s what they do in West Virginia,” explains Riley.  “John Lennon wrote a song about it.”

Oh, that one.  What am I going to do with that one?




Personal Entries

Muffin lechery

Mr. Muffin

The boys settle at the table while I finish making a pot of tea.   I’ve made blueberry muffins for breakfast, and as they help themselves to the muffins in the basket,  Riley notices that one muffin resembles a human face.

Soon the muffin is serving as his puppet, and it has a lot to say.

“Heeey Matt,”  the muffin says, “heeeeey.  I’m Mr. Muffin, yeaaah.  How you doing?  Heh heh, heh.  Yeaaah.”

Mr. Muffin sounds a lot like a cross between Beavis and the late, gravel-voiced DJ, Wolfman Jack.

“Hey! You better look at me when I’m talking to you,” Mr. Muffin tells Matt.  “No respect, no respect.”

Matt is ignoring Mr. Muffin.  This is remarkable, as Matt’s hobby this morning is being easily offended.  It’s a hobby he’s really, really good at, as good as Riley is at his chosen hobby: being offensive.

“Hey kid,” Mr. Muffin continues, “you better look at me or I’ll kick yo’ a** !”

“RILEY!” I tell my 14 year old as I join the boys at the table. “No!”

But Matt and I are both laughing, and this only serves to encourage Riley.

“Mom,” says Riley in his own voice,  shaking his head and throwing up his free hand in a gesture of defeat. “It’s the muffin.  He has a really bad attitude. What?”

“Well, your muffin needs to behave,” I tell my son.  “Your muffin better take it down a notch, OK? “

Riley sighs and looks admonishingly at his muffin. Then the muffin is turned my way, as if noticing me for the first time.

“Heeeeey baby!” Says Mr. Muffin. “Hey pretty lady!  How you doin’?”


“How ’bout you give Mr. Muffin a kiss?” Suggests Mr. Muffin.


“Just a little kiiiiiiissss.”

I am not kissing a muffin, and I tell my son so.

Mr. Muffin turns to Riley, now.

“I just wanna little kiiiiss.”  Says a sad Mr. Muffin to Riley. “I just need love.”

“Oh, I’ll give you kiss, Mr. Muffin, ” says Riley, giving the muffin a quick peck between his blueberry eyes.  “Geez Mom, can’t you be nice?”

“I’m NOT kissing your muffin,”  I laugh.

“Just a little kiss. ” sniffs Mr. Muffin, inches from my face.  “Just ooone.  One little kisssss.”

It’s kind of sad, and maybe if I kiss the muffin we’ll all be able to eat breakfast.  I give in, and lean forward to give Mr. Muffin a peck between his eyes.  As I do, Mr. Muffin opens his huge muffin mouth and makes lascivious noises:

“He hllllllaa, heh he he ehhhhhhhhhhh.  Heh he he!  Tongue Kiss! Heh!”

I feel so dirty, and a bit disturbed.


Personal Entries

What do you want on your headstone?

“You sound stuffy,” says Karen, “are you coming down with something?”

“No,” I tell her, ” I was sanding back a painting, and I didn’t put on a mask—“

“And why would you? THAT would be silly!  Why wear a mask when lungs are such excellent filters?”

“Shut up, Karen.  AS I WAS SAYING, I was just going to sand it back a speck, but I ended up sanding a LOT because it really made me mad.”

“Of course.”  Says Karen.  “And…safety glasses? You had them on, right?”

“You should totally shut up. “

“So, no safety glasses either?  It would be silly to wear safety glasses when you’re using a rotary sander, because that’s what blinking and eyelashes are for!”

And it’s then that I have an epiphany.

“Can you put that on my headstone when I die?  Have them write  ‘Of COURSE I wasn’t wearing my safety equipment.‘   Because I think that about sums up my entire life.”


Personal Entries

Two Whales

Sam and Mary–two whales–are swimming through the ocean when they spot a boat on the horizon.

“Oh no, ”  says Sam, ” we’re in trouble!”

“What is it, ” says Mary, “whatsa matter?”

“That ship is a whaler,” says Sam, “and if we don’t do something they’ll harpoon us and kill us!”

“Oh Sam, no!” Says Mary, “What will we do?”

“Stay calm, Mary!  What we’ll do is this:  we’ll swim up underneath that boat, and we’ll blow out of our blowholes, again and again, until we capsize it!”

Mary agrees, and off they go.  They swim right up under the boat, and blow and blow until the boat flips, sending all the sailors into the ocean.

“Whew,” says Mary, “we’re safe!”

“No,” Sam says, “look on the horizon!  It’s another boat!  They’ll save the sailors, and then they’ll come after us!”

“Sam,” says Mary, “What’ll we do?!”

“We need to go scoop those sailors up out of the water and eat them, Mary,  and then they can’t chase us!”

“No way, Sam!” Says Mary. “You talked me into the blowjob, but you’re crazy if you think I’m going to swallow the seamen!”