movin’ on up…

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14, 2010 by wrekehavoc


i’m staking my claim and moving off the farm. you can find me for real at

girls, girls, girls

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), BS (beloved spouse), FAMILY, jools (also a beloved child) on January 28, 2010 by wrekehavoc

mommy’s six-year-old heartbreaker…

we’ve been horribly remiss in setting up playdates for jools for awhile now. part of this stems from the fact that our house has been a complete disaster from the ceiling caving in; but part of this has just been probably laziness on my part. see, back in my day (when dinos roamed the earth), you just went and knocked on a neighbor’s door to see whether they wanted to come out and play. sadly, there are not a ton of people jools’ age or temperament nearby, so the boy usually ends up home playing wii or trying to go and play with BC’s friends (which seldom ends well.)

this past weekend, i decided to get of f my ass and be proactive. as the weather was not going to be bone-freezing, i figured i would take jools, BC, and any friends they could find over to a nearby park to play for an hour or two. first, i called up jools’ main squeeze, mo. mo and jools were in the same kindergarten class last year and became fast friends. mo is lively, sweet, and absolutely adorable. best of all, she is a great friend to him. (once, mo tried to talk jools out of a meltdown he had at soccer practice when the other boys weren’t sharing the ball.  if anyone was going to reach him, it was her.) i suspect when they are teens that jools will be lucky if mo is still talking to him, as she is going to be an absolute knockout when she’s older. in the meantime, though, both mo and jools have shared with their respective parents that they are going to get married when they grow up. it’s heart-meltingly sweet.

unfortunately, mo’s mom wasn’t answering the phone; and thanks to the short timeframe we had, i didn’t leave a message. instead, i asked him which friend i should call next, and he picked his newest best friend, a cute school newcomer named L. the previous evening at the school ice cream social, jools and L sat together at a table inhaling a few bowls of ice cream. when they were done, jools was a gentleman and took her bowls as well as his to the trash while BS and i looked on in shock. (i can barely get this kid to bring his dishes to the dishwasher some days without nagging him two or three times.) the two of them looked like they were on a date; it was a bit surreal.

i called L’s mom. sadly, they had plans for that saturday, but could jools come over and play monday after school? sure, i replied, wondering if i would be able to get the boy to do his homework once he came home. so jools was booked for another day, but we still had that afternoon to think about.

who to call next? jools had no hesitation. call P, mom! he announced. i figured if things didn’t work out with P, we were going to have to punt for the day. P, you should know, was also in jools’ kindergarten class. a bright and precocious little girl, P likes to sit on the schoolbus with BC, who is four grades ahead of her. BC, being good-natured, often lets this happen, even though there are kids her own age she’d rather be joining on the bus. last year, this worked to my parental advantage, as P would report on all of jools’ antics, good and bad, at school… which BC of course would then share with me. P kept me better informed than the teacher did. i missed that this year, now that P and jools were in different classes.

so i called P. it’s tax season, so i won’t be seeing her accountant mom for probably a few months, i suspect. but P’s dad gladly let her join us. so i picked up P and off we went to the park, where P and jools played beautifully together (my favorite moment: they decided they were on aircraft in an airfight: he was going to be luke skywalker, she was going to be hermione) while BC ended up practing her mother’s helper skills by befriending a toddler and her mom, then a preschooler and his mom. (she is still the baby and toddler whisperer, i swear. i wish i had her skills with young children. too late for me, of course.) afterwards, i took them for ice cream (it would have been hot chocolate, but all three kids said that dunkin donuts’ hot chocolate was awful, and when a kid passes up hot chocolate, you know it must not be very good) and then returned P home.

jools apparently prefers hanging with the girls in his world than with the boys for the most part, save for a few of the guys. i’m not entirely sure why this is, but at this age, i guess i’m glad he’s playing with anybody that isn’t in a video game. and i must say, the girls he has as friends are really all lovely people, so i’m just glad he has found some kindred spirits who love to play tag, pretend they are fighting evil-doers, and simply giggle a lot.

of course, this comes at a price. on saturday night as we drove to a restaurant, jools was troubled. what am i gonna do? he mused out loud, shaking his head sorrowfully.

what’s the matter, honey? i asked, perplexed.

well, Mo is my girlfriend, and she’s gonna be mad at me because i played with P today and have a playdate with L on Monday.

i thought for a second. you know, honey, it’s okay to play with other friends, and you don’t really have to report about your playdates to Mo anyway if you don’t want to.

the boy looked alarmed. but mom, he protested, i’m her boyfriend. and boyfriends have to tell the truth to their girlfriends. i have to tell her!

BS, who was driving the car, looked at me for a second, probably mirroring the same confused expression that i offered back to him.

is this boy six or 16?

pablo picasso

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), FAMILY, jools (also a beloved child), music on January 12, 2010 by wrekehavoc

pablo picasso was never called an asshole.

i have two children: one, BC, who will tell me anything and everything about her day from a minute-by-minute perspective; and jools, who may occasionally share a nugget or two beyond my day went okay if the sky is a certain shade of blue, the moon is in the seventh house, and jupiter might be somehow aligning with mars. i usually get my best info from jools while walking home from the school bus in the afternoon if he hasn’t decided to run ahead with other children or hang back, picking up sticks or plodding along with our neighbor’s mellow, slow-trudging lab.

it was one of those wonderful days when i just had to pick the boy up from the bus and he held my hand the whole way home. (well, almost. sometimes, the snow on the side of the road is too hard to resist.) as usual, i asked him about his day; whether classes went well, whether this one bully continued to torture him by telling him he had a small head, that sort of thing. he had had art that day; and i asked how that went.

well, he mused, i have decided that i am not going to get upset anymore whenever art teacher tells me that my work is scribble-scrabble. i’m going to like my work anyway.

hold the phone?

did art teacher actually tell you your work was ‘scribble scrabble’? in those words?

yes, the boy replied. he doesn’t like when people color outside the lines.

i have almost had enough of this art teacher. BC, who is creative and imaginative as the next kid, who normally LOVES art, especially when she has had art teacher #2, used to come home in tears last year because of this teacher. he would berate her for not drawing the way he wanted people to draw. he would criticize her every work. mom, she once told me, he only likes you and your work if you are an actual talented artist. i’m not.

i still remember his one line comment on her report card. and i quote: BC seems to like art.

yeah, well she did before she had you as a teacher.

so now, while BC has the nice art teacher, jools is stuck with the less-than-supportive art teacher.  and he has been taking it on the chin for a few months now, trying his best.

i think this art teacher might be laboring under the impression that he is preparing these children for the sorbonne or something.  maybe my thinking is a little too basic, but i like to think that an art teacher’s job is to try to get kids excited about art — to see art all around them, to provide them another way to communicate to the world their vision of what they see and how they feel. absolutely, there are technical ideas that they need to convey about colors and perspective and such.

but not every kid will be pablo picasso.

it doesn’t mean you have to make that child feel like an asshole.

world aids day 2009

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), BS (beloved spouse), CVID, FAMILY, health, jools (also a beloved child), miracles of science, political animal on December 1, 2009 by wrekehavoc

(no awful ’80s earworms today. promise.)

today is world AIDS day, a day started in 1988 to bring awareness and education to the plight of those living with HIV and AIDS. years ago, when i worked at the US Dept of Education, i had the privilege of putting together two years’ worth of WORLD AIDS Day commemorations plus helping to develop training materials for fellow employees so that they would understand how to deal with employees who were HIV+/AIDS patients. (in short: treat them as you would want to be treated. you won’t catch the disease from working with people.) i was proud to volunteer the Department’s building to house part of the AIDS Quilt, which was at the time laid out on the National Mall for all to see.  while sadly, the quilt has gotten larger, we seem to be learning more about slowing the disease and helping those afflicted live longer.

i know people who have died of complications from AIDS. i also know people who are living with HIV/AIDS.

yesterday, i was talking with my kids about AIDS, which is not easy to do when the kids are 10 and 6. i explained that it stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. BC looked at me a little scared. don’t you have immunodeficiency, mom?

in fact, when i was first diagnosed with CVID, some people thought i had AIDS. i do, honey, i replied, but that’s different from AIDS. the A in AIDS means “acquired” which means doing something to get the virus. i didn’t do anything to get this immunodeficiency; i just was born with these particular genes. and you can’t catch it from me unless you have the same genes, too.

hellboy wasn’t getting this, really, but girlfriend was. and she continued. so what do you have to do to get AIDS? she asked.

well, basically, you can get it from other people’s body fluids.

she crushed up her nose. you mean, like pee?

once again, i am the one with the fun topical conversations, not BS.   well, things like blood, for example. before they knew more about HIV, they didn’t know much about the blood supply, so people who were hemophiliacs who got transfusions sadly ended up dying of AIDS.

what are hemophiliacs?

people whose blood doesn’t have the stuff in it to help them stop bleeding. a little cut could kill a hemophiliac if not treated properly.

girlfriend was connecting dots again. you mean, like when you had no platelets and were bruising? she looked sad.

that’s a different problem, and i’m better now. but sort of. (time to divert the attention in order to get her away from the thought of my demise.) anyway, people who share needles when they shoot up their drugs can give it to each other. so don’t do drugs and that’s one problem solved.

ewww! who would do that!!!! she exclaimed.

not anyone with any sense, i said. anyway, another way of getting HIV is… i looked over at the boy, who was probably busy thinking about star wars and continued cautiously…through sex.

girlfriend’s eyes now got HUGE.

we can talk about that part away from your brother right now since i don’t think he understands this the way you do. but know that there are things you can do to keep yourself as healthy as you can be.

girlfriend seemed satisfied with that answer, only stopping to note: mommy, isn’t that guy on EastEnders a guy with AIDS? (we’re so far behind in our episodes here in the US that Mark Fowler is still alive.)

yes, honey. and he still is living like everyone else on the show.

i got a nod from her, and then we moved on.

it’s never easy talking with your kids about AIDS, but i figure if i start early at ages when they can understand and in words that they can comprehend, maybe i’ll help them out somewhere down the road.

then again, maybe somewhere down the road, there will be a cure for this scourge and moms won’t have to have these sorts of conversations.

egregious ’80’s music: we built this city (starship)

Posted in egregious '80s music, music on November 30, 2009 by wrekehavoc

my nominee for worst song of the 1980s. quite possibly one of the worst ever.

by the time the classic rock group jefferson airplane / jefferson starship had morphed into starship, times indeed had changed. for one thing, no one in the band was legally permitted to use the terms jefferson or airplane when they performed. that left them as simply starship: a band consisting of a bunch of guys around founding member grace slick (she with the haircut i’ve worn on and off for the past 30 years.)

anyway, everything about we built this city screamed of the bad, commercialistic state of the music industry in the mid-1980s. sure, the music industry is always commercial — but this song is like an emblem of that crass, homogenized, pre-digested pap that was served up to people… and sadly, they loved it. (at least, they did at the time.) the song speaks of los angeles, but the band allowed different radio stations to dub traffic reports over part of the song as it played to make it seem much more local. to ensure airplay, an MTV executive had a voice-over part in the song.

you might be interested in knowing that bernie taupin, sir elton john’s longtime musical collaborator, is partially responsible for this one. (bad, bernie!)

in 2004, blender magazine decided this to be the worst song of the 1980s, and i quite agree. one of the magazine’s contributors locked himself up and listened only to this song for a 24-hour marathon.  one wonders whether the powers that be ought to have considered this prior to interrogations at gitmo.

as an aside, i was always troubled by a particular part of the song:

Marconi plays the Mamba,
Listen to the radio
Don’t you remember?
We built this city
We built this city on rock and roll!

thanks to the magic that is google, i now know the correct lyrics. but for years, i thought they were singing about a high school friend of mine. i couldn’t figure out for the life of me why they would have the nerve to sing marc cote (pronounced ko-tee) plays the mamba. listen to the radio. as an artist, he would never, EVER, allow himself to be attached to such a collosal trainwreck of a song. i am much relieved to know this to be true.

knee deep in the hoopla? i think they were knee deep in a completely different substance.

egregious ’80’s music: do they know it’s christmas (band-aid)

Posted in egregious '80s music, music on November 29, 2009 by wrekehavoc

’cause there won’t be snow in africa this christmas…

i suspect there isn’t snow in much of africa, this christmas or any other. but in 1984, there also wasn’t a lot of food for people in ethiopia, which led to sir bob geldof and midge ure (of ultravox) to pen a song to raise money for their relief. a great idea, a generous idea, and yet a naive idea in hindsight, as no one knows whether the money ever for to the places it needed to go. not to mention the song just basically sucked.

no one said it better than morrissey:

The main reason I’m dangerous is because I’m not afraid to say how I feel. I’m not afraid to say that I think Band Aid was diabolical. Or to say that I think Bob Geldof is a nauseating character. Many people find that very unsettling, but I’ll say it as loud as anyone wants me to.

In the first instance the record itself was absolutely tuneless. One can have great concern for the people of Ethiopia, but it’s another thing to inflict daily torture on the people of England. It was an awful record considering the mass of talent involved. And it wasn’t done shyly — it was the most self-righteous platform ever in the history of popular music.

ah, st. moz…

anyway, it’s hard to talk about this one without including the video. you watch the video, and even someone heavily entrenched in ’80’s music ends up scratching her head: hmm… who the hell is THAT? there are plenty of gimmies: righteous bono and his mullet; sting with his sir lancelot hair; phil collins with a tiny vestige of his natural hair remaining; george michael with more makeup than a tranny; and of course, boy george, who looks like, er, well, boy george. after that, it begins to get a little murky. i know bananarama are the three girls in the front with very unwashed hairt… hmmm. who the hell ARE these people?

anyway, it’s christmas season now, so get ready to hear this one repeatedly. somehow, i think it will never go away. pity that.

egregious ’80’s music: total eclipse of the heart (bonnie tyler)

Posted in egregious '80s music, music on November 28, 2009 by wrekehavoc

turn around, bright eyes

am i the only one who watches this video and gets creeped out by the voice that keeps repeating turn around? i keep waiting for the serial killer to pop out of somewhere. it’s bad enough tyler seems to be dreaming about the boys in her school. but the serial killer? eek. fortunately, there are people who took the video on and made it a bit less scary for people like me.

a must-see:

we have jim steinman, man behind meatloaf, to blame for this song. somehow, it wasn’t enough to spread the schmaltz just with the ‘loaf. or maybe the ‘loaf rejected this one… i don’t see anyone calling him bright eyes.

fun trivia factoid for you brooooce fans out there — mighty max weinberg plays drums on this one. yeah, i feel proud now, too.

egregious ’80’s music: shake your love (debbie gibson)

Posted in egregious '80s music, music on November 27, 2009 by wrekehavoc

oh, is THAT what the thing i’m shaking is called.

it’s difficult to pick just one debbie gibson song for the purposes of this post. lost in your eyes makes me weep but for reasons not intended by the artist. foolish beat reminds me of all the melodramatic crap i used to write and then hide away when i was about 15 years old. and electric youth makes me want to go out and touch a live wire, just to make it all stop.

but shake your love is probably the worst.  the chorus does not make musical sense to me. it sounds like she didn’t know how to end the chorus, and so she cuts it off. admittedly, the chorus is so overwhelming, i cannot actually remember the rest of the song. i think i probably blocked it out after awhile. how does it go again? wait. don’t tell me.

seriously, i will give deborah (that’s how she rolls these days) extreme props, though. she wrote and played and sang and danced. even if i didn’t like the package, she was the full package. britney and all the other musical wannabes that the disney factory creates don’t actually possess the talent that gibson has in her pinky.

(and secret guilty pleasure admittance: i like only in my dreams. some hooks are even too good for me to resist.)

egregious ’80’s music: i eat cannibals (total coelo)

Posted in egregious '80s music, music on November 26, 2009 by wrekehavoc

happy thanksgiving day. for you, a real turkey.

you’re all too busy eating to read, anyway, so i’ll spare you the blather. besides, if you can’t tell why this song is so bad, you ought to have your ears revoked.

bon appetit!

egregious ’80’s songs: i want your sex (george michael)

Posted in egregious '80s music, music, political animal on November 25, 2009 by wrekehavoc

wham! bam! no thank you, ma’am!

after splitting from wham! partner andrew ridgeley (a duo which created the much covered, wretch-worthy careless whisper), george michael put out a solo album in 1987, faith, which simply became HUGE. a big part of that hugeness was caused by the controversial song i want your sex. despite the fact that michael kept towing the proverbial party line about the song being about monogamy (a particularly important and interesting message during the seemingly and sadly uncontrollable early days of AIDs), there was a lot of discomfort with the song’s content. MTV would only play if after hours. american top 40‘s casey casem couldn’t even bear to utter the song’s title. apparently, there’s something very naughty about a man writing explore monogamy on a woman’s back in lipstick. who knew?

anyway, i had a few issues with the song myself, but none of them involved prudery.  for starters, there’s something so crude and dull about a chorus where michaels just sort of drops the words i want your sex… i mean, who the hell talks like that? i would expect that sort of stilted conversational style from those wild and crazy czech brothers, but that sort of line in real life would probably just earn you a smack for being so forward.

secondly, by 1987, did ANYONE think that george michael was heterosexual? SERIOUSLY? well, i certainly didn’t; and i have a serious problem with people who masquerade as something they are not. i recognize that coming out has got to be one of the hardest things to do for a GLBT person; much of society has yet to just get over it and live and let live. we still don’t recognize gay marriage in most of these united states, so i get the whole stigma — everyone from your family to your nation has an issue with your sex life.  i don’t even think i can understand this sort of pressure, having never experienced it; but i can only imagine it as being horrifically, horrifically challenging for some. lord knows it leads to suicide for so many. even so — it is one thing to live closeted. it is another thing to try and portray this wildly hetero (and wildly false) image. and that’s what george is trying to do with this song.

in short, that infuriates me.

years later, i have read the stories of his drug use; of his arrests as he cruises around for anonymous sex. i know he’s out now, but i feel sorry for him.  i just don’t think he’ll ever be comfortable just being who he is.

and that saddens me.