Repeat After Me: NOOOOOOOO

Those who have known MomBrain since dinosaurs roamed the earth know that she plays the piano. I studied classical piano for many years, and finally quit when I realized I wasn’t willing to work hard enough to make up for my lack of talent. Imagine it. Four hours a day all alone in a little room insulated with acoustic tiles. My back hurt all the time. My forearms ached. My hands and fingers were ice cold from playing so much. And I was beginning to hate something I had loved since I could remember. So, faced with a lifetime of playing Twinkle, Twinkle to a bunch of third graders, I did the sensible thing and bolted.

Now, more than twenty years later, I have stunning proof that we cannot escape our fate. A week from Monday, MomBrain will be performing The Crawdad Song with a third-grade chorus. Their usual pianist is AWOL, and somehow – despite Oprah’s best advice to Just Say No - I agreed to fill in. Now, I know The Crawdad Song isn’t exactly Rachmaninoff. But it still requires learning, and practice, and a black skirt. And there’s the whole shoe problem, namely that I don’t have any. Skirts require heels, but piano pedals require flats. It’s an issue.

And now, rereading this, I realize that as a writer I often spend more than four hours a day alone in a little room. My back still hurts all the time. My arms ache, and my hands get cold from typing so much. But this time I don’t hate what I’m doing. I run to my little room every chance I get. I hunger for it. I guess that makes all the difference.

Holiday Sneer

Here at MomBrain HQ we have kicked off the Season of Light with something less than holiday cheer. In fact, we launched the festivities with a Major Meltdown, in which MomBrain suddenly and deeply realized she was hosting three families for Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas party in mid-December, and the Parental Units for two weeks over Christmas and New Year’s.

The Big Guy hid all the sharp objects in the house while I doubled my meds and tried to stop hyperventilating. WHAT WAS I THINKING? I immediately resolved to simplify, prioritize, and wash many towels.

Resolution #1: Cater. Those of you with fond memories of Thanksgiving dinner have probably never cooked it. The planning, the shopping, the cooking, the cooking, the cooking, the dishes, the dishes, the dishes. What is Thanksgiving without tradition? EASIER. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners will be catered, plus whatever other people want to cook. And I’ll have pizza delivered for the party in mid-December. I feel better already.

Resolution #2: Buy a fake Christmas tree. For over twenty years I have insisted on a real Christmas tree. The choosing, the schlepping, the sawing, the watering, the vacuuming, the dead tree on the side of the road … what is Christmas without tradition? SIMPLER. I’ll store it in my basement and buy the smell in a can.

Resolution #3: Shop 100% online. God invented the Internet for a reason, and that is to make Christmas shopping faster and easier. Who am I to ignore manna from heaven?

If you have other ideas about simplifying the holidays, leave your comments here!

The Key to Women

The Da Vinci Code – handbook to all that is true – tells us there are five stages in every woman’s life: Birth, Menstruation, Motherhood, Menopause, and Death. MomBrain is here to remind you that The Da Vinci Code was written by a man, and AS USUAL the man has it all wrong.

Yes, there are five stages in a woman’s life. But they are all about attention from men, and they go like this: I Love You Too Daddy (ages 0-11), Do You Really Think I’m Hot (ages 12-25), Shut Up Jerk (ages 25-39), Thank You for Making My Day (ages 40-90), and Peas Are My Favorite (90+). MomBrain is squarely in stage 4, as evidenced when I batted my eyes at the Dump Guy.

I make a dump run about twice a year, and the Dump Guy always says exactly the same thing; “What’s a beautiful girl like you doing in a dump like this?” I die laughing every time, even though I suspect he says it to every woman with a car full of garbage. This time there was a new Dump Guy, though, a Mr. Reggae Mon with dreads and beads and probably some chicken blood in his thermos. I asked him where I could put a propane tank, and he said “Has anyone ever told you you’re beautiful and should be worshipped every day?” Dear Readers, I am ashamed to say I actually giggled. A lot. I drove home smiling and feeling pathetic at the same time. I mean, really, the Dump Guy? But when you’re in Stage 4 you gotta take it wherever you can get it, even if it smells bad, wears a breathing mask, and charges you $14 for the privilege.

Pretzel Mama

MomBrain has joined a yoga class, and I have only one word to say about it: OUCH. I am sorry, but the human body was not designed to do yoga. At least not my body. My body is shaped like a question mark, and for good reason. My body was designed for sitting in a comfy chair with a fleece throw, a cup of tea, and a stack of books. It was not designed to twist like a dishrag while supporting my knees on my elbows and drinking Coke through my nose.

I will say the spiritual lessons of yoga may be useful. In fact, I learned the first spiritual lesson at the very beginning of my first class: “Things are not always as they appear.” That is because I was so relaxed, sitting on my cute little blue mat, in my bare feet, wiggling my pedicured toes and waiting for the instructor. And how happy was I when Santa’s Elf appeared? A little twinkly man with gray hair and rosy cheeks and squinty blue eyes. How hard could this be? MomBrain was happy happy happy. Then Santa’s Elf wrapped his kneecaps around his ears and morphed into the Yoga Nazi. My toes stopped wiggling. Fear froze my spine. I may have even stopped breathing. THIS IS NOT WHAT YOGA IS ABOUT. I AM SUPPOSED TO BE RELAXED AND HAPPY DAMMIT. Santa’s Elf was not a nice man. Santa’s Elf seemed to be enjoying his domination. Santa’s Elf has Issues with frightened, inflexible women. I may have to stop celebrating Christmas after this.

Things I Have Seen Today

Witnessed Today:

A very tall, very buff black man going for the whole Morpheus look. Leather trench coat, combat boots, major shades, and the ‘tude, man, the ‘tude. He was swimming in a sea of white people at the local suburban shopping mall, and all kinds of security folks were just sipping their coffees in a fifty-foot radius. I had that whole white guilt thing going on, kind of feeling miffed on his behalf. I mean, jeez, can’t a guy just stop at McD’s for a Coke? On the other hand, no one dresses like that unless they want to A) attract attention, and B) scare people. He succeeded on both counts.

A human pretzel who kicked my butt in yoga, and also happened to weigh about 250 pounds.

A middle-aged Scout Master in full scouting uniform, buying six bottles of Washington merlot and a case of Miller. Party on, dude!