Thursday, December 18, 2008

F-Bomb Etiquette: What's Really Obscene

Patti Blagojevich (43), wife of FBI indicted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, can really express herself, and she's not afraid to use profanity to do it.  "Hold up that effing Cubs bleep."  she said emphatically in the background of one of Rod's wiretapped phone calls, "Eff them."

This vulgar language used by the first lady of Illinois has set off quite a furor in the press, which has caused me to evaluate my own views on swearing. I'm no stranger to it. First of all, I live with an Irishman, and cursing is an integral part of his vocabulary.  He can get away with it because his accent makes everything sound charming and and also because Americans don't fully appreciate the nuances of his invectives. "That's complete bollocks!" may sound jolly and quaint to us, but it's actually considered very rude back in Cork, along the line of our "bull-bleep."

Also, I live with a 15 year-old boy. I'm sure Nick and his friends swear cheerfully at each other all the time, but rarely in front of me. I'm not too concerned with the adolescent potty talk, but I constantly remind the boys to be discreet. "Guys, while 'sucks' and 'pissed' are not technically curse words, it is disrespectful to use them in the presence of adults."  Yes, Mrs. Killeen.

I think the heart of the issue comes down to respect and knowing your audience. Therefore, when I am all alone in the car and some jerk cuts me off, I feel no shame in calling the guy a stupid dumb-a**. Using the term makes me feel better and doesn't offend anyone.

But what about the F-word? I admit, I do use  the "ing" version on occasion, mostly to add emphasis or humor to a story I'm telling socially.  It makes me feel a bit naughty too, a feeling that's harder to come by in my forties. But perhaps using the big bleep detracts, rather than adds to my conversation.  As the saying goes, "Profanity is the weapon of the witless."

At least I'm selective in my use of F-word variations. For me, the F-you, the F-er and the foul Mother F-er forms are absolutely taboo. Based on the FBI tape,  the Blagojeviches (especially Rod) have no such scruples. They used the word in all it's flagrant forms. But honestly, the language isn't what shocks me.

What shocks me is the Governor of my state seems to have been auctioning off Barack Obama's Senate seat to line his own pockets. Now that's obscene.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kelly Corrigan's Inspiring Words for Women

Two of my friends sent me this video yesterday, saying it reminded them of me. I think it's a sign to post it here. Kelly Corrigan, 41, author of The Middle Place, is a writer, mother and breast cancer survivor. As she illustrates so beautifully, we women handle a lot and our support of each other is how we make it though. It takes about five minutes to watch.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Only 10 Damn Shopping Days Left

Today is December 15th and wham!  the holiday stress just hit me. Yesterday, I was feeling good about decorating the tree with the kids, but today I'm overwhelmed by all the housework, shopping, cooking, mailing, wrapping and card-writing I haven't begun to think about. What the heck have I been doing all month?

Everyone I know is much further along, and they're pulling off gracious holiday feats that won't even make my list. Tricia spent five hours making candy for thank-you gifts for teachers and bus drivers. Jenny took her daughter shopping for presents for needy kids. My elderly neighbor is packing up boxes of goodies for the troops in Iraq. Barb down the street is hosting her annual neighborhood coffee. Handmade holiday cards, gingerbread house decorating parties, monogrammed gifts with six-week lead times - I can't keep up!

I'm sure I have a horrible character flaw buried deep in my psyche that's causing me to be such a holiday slacker, but I don't have time to analyze it. I gotta get to the mall.

There is one unique gift of comfort and joy I am able to offer this season. No matter how behind you are in planning for the holiday, I'm far worse.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Label Lit: Nail Polish Bottles Make Good Reads

I'm a recovering nail biter and regular manicures are an important part of my therapy.  I've discovered a new source of amusement at my local nail salon -  selecting my shade of polish. The colors are pretty, but what really gives me a lift are the names at the bottom of the bottles.

OPI nail lacquer names are the best.  OPI was one of the first companies to ditch boring labels like Pink #2 and give a shade multifaceted cachet with a name like Aphrodite's Pink Nightie. Their bestseller, I'm not Really a Waitress, is a shimmery red that conjures up a daringly trampy image.  My favorite color is Oh to be 25 Again, a deep burgundy that makes me feel playful, yet knowingly mature.

Other OPI colors with witty, inspired names are: Friar, Friar Pants on Fire, a red so hot it's almost scandalous; Baby it's "Coal" Outside, a naughty gray for the holidays; and I'm Fondue of You, a saucy chocolate color from the French Collection.

For frivolous fun right here on your computer, click over to the OPI website and browse their entertaining selection of shades. It'll give you a giggle, and is easier on your eyes than having to squint at the tiny labels on the bottles. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

All I Want For Christmas - From You

Even though the economy is dismal and we're all cutting back this Christmas, I still want presents.  So, to help guide my family and friends, I've put together a wish list of gifts that are low on cost, but to me, priceless.

From My Children
Nick and Emma, just give me a juicy novel and an uninterrupted day by the fire to read it. No, I won't make you a sandwich or help you find your snow pants, I'll be too busy reading. A couple novels I'm yearning to curl up with are The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penny and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. They're out in paperback, so the price is right.

From My Husband
Liam, take me out on a real date. To refresh your memory, a date is when you invite me to join you for an activity that you've planned in advance. It doesn't have to be fancy, just buy the tickets or make the reservation and figure out what to do with the kids. Then, give me an hour alone in the bathroom to primp. Once we're out, ask me questions about myself, appear fascinated  by all my answers and tell me I'm pretty a few times. After all, I will be wearing the sexy new lingerie I bought on clearance at T.J. Maxx. That's my Christmas present to you!

From My Friends
I know you're feeling the pinch gals, so I've come up with a couple gift ideas that will cost you next to nothin'. Give me a funny old picture of us together, send me a holiday card with a handwritten message, or post an affectionate shout-out on my Facebook wall. You'll make me feel appreciated and special - just what a gift is meant to do.

From My Parents
Mom and Dad, all I need from you is your continued love and support. But you could hand over Grandma's silver. Wouldn't cost you a dime.

I guess when you step back and look at the big picture, with all that's going on in the world, what's really important this Christmas is... I still want gifts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Seizing the Hump-day

It's just a ho-hum Wednesday, but I'm not in the mood to have the same old type of day. So I'm taking inspiration from Eleanor Roosevelt, who said
"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences." 
Off I go to experience something new and rich today! Right after I load the dishwasher, take out the recycling and shovel the stinkin' sidewalk.

Monday, December 8, 2008

“Do you want to be an artist and a writer, or a wife and a lover?” - Stevie Nicks

  One of the  cool things I've been doing since I turned 40 has been singing in a band. Our band plays classic rock songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s; as a result, I've become enamored with groundbreaking rock chicks like Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith, and Stevie Nicks.  Back in the day, these talented women had to make tough choices to succeed in a music industry dominated by men.

For Stevie Nicks, this meant taking a pass on motherhood.  "I made a conscious decision that I was not going to have children. I didn't want others raising them, and looking after them myself would get in the way of being a musician and writer."

Whoa - Stevie Nicks clearly viewed committed relationships as roadblocks to reaching her full potential. Isn't this kind of anti-feminist? Come on, Stevie, I know you're pushing 60, but even in your day, women could be both mothers and artists, lovers and writers. It just takes hard work, resourcefulness, and a little compromise.

But Stevie Nicks didn't want to make compromises - instead, she made a choice. The radical thing about her choice was that she put the highest value on her own creativity and self-expression.

Not all the early rockers made the same decision. Chrissie Hynde has two daughters; even the the androgynous Patti Smith has a couple kids. Did their art suffer by becoming mothers? Well...maybe. Patti Smith was quoted as saying, "If I have any regrets, I could say that I'm sorry I wasn't a better writer or a better singer."

Stevie wouldn't change a thing. Recently, when asked if she regretted not having children, she answered, "Would I really want to give up all those years of singing? Would I just have been not that great a mom and not that great a singer because I tried to do both?"

I put my career on  hold to stay home with my kids, so I definitely didn't follow Stevie Nick's path. Still, I admire (and maybe even envy) her for prioritizing her life as an artist and being brave enough to live on her own terms.