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Archive for October, 2008

Raise your hand if you remember this book (or at least some variation of it):

That’s what I thought. It caters mostly to the ten-year-old crowd – right around the same time you probably saw “the movie.” You remember the one I’m talking about. It was that time in elementary school when the girls were shepherded off to the library to learn all about “Aunt Flo,” and the boys sat in the auditorium learning…well, I don’t know, exactly. I wasn’t there. I do know that at the end of the movies every kid was sent home with an information packet and a travel-size deodorant. Because kids get smelly.

And from that point on, health class was never quite the same. After learning about our own bodies, we eventually got into the good stuff. The Sex. Duh. I really wish I remembered that particular class explicitly, but I don’t. Lord knows why I wasn’t paying attention. It wouldn’t have been the first time I’d heard about it, though. I had friends with older siblings – I knew what was up, more or less. But here’s the thing: even after these well-structured health classes at, what I can look back on now as, an appropriate age, I was still scared.

Yes, you read that right: I was scared of sex.

And, okay, yes, that should be fairly normal for a middle schooler (at least back in my day), but this fear lasted a little past middle school. It may have lasted into high school. And by “may have,” I mean it did. “I don’t ever want to have sex,” I’d say, “I just want to, one day, have a baby.” Some of my friends (especially the older ones) would look at me with eyes that said, One day you’ll understand. And one day, I did.

But that’s beside the point. This all came rushing back to me, recently, after, not only sex education being a campaign issue, but also seeing this headline the other week, England adopts compulsory sex education, and reading that “children as young as five years old will be taught some of the basics of anatomy and relationships.”

My first reaction was, “Oh.My.God.” But now I wonder: would I have been as scared of sex if I’d learned about it so early? Or just completely de-sensitized to it?

I really have no way of knowing, but five does seem a little young. Just a tad. Ten-year-olds today already know more than I did at that age (and possibly more than I did in middle school). If the trend continues, teaching sex ed younger and younger, my one-day kids may end up teaching me.

Talk about terrifying.

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When I was little, I used to try to control my dreams before I fell asleep. I’d lie in bed, think back to all the dreams I’d had, and decide which one I wanted to have that particular night. (Ah, the “control freak” signs were there so early…)

I know now that I can’t control my dreams, but it doesn’t stop me from wishing I could. Especially when I wake up feeling rattled from whatever went on in my unconscious. It actually happened twice in high school, and one of those times involved me waking up angry at my then-boyfriend. I must not have hidden it well (story of my life) because when he saw me, his first question was, “What’s wrong?” I explained that, while I knew it was a bit irrational, I’d woken up mad at him, after having a vivid dream of him cheating on me. Thankfully, I couldn’t have asked for a better response from him: “Liebchen, I’m so sorry. [Yes! He apologized!] You know that would never happen, but I’m so sorry that you even had it on your mind.” That, of course, made everything better, simply because it was him, and that’s the magic of a first love.

Unfortunately, the aftermath of last night’s dream was not as easily remedied. Not only did I wake up in the middle of the night, but when I thought back to what woke me up, I wanted to cry. (I’d been sobbing uncontrollably in my dream. My mother had told me that she was dying, and that my father had already passed away the week before. Not exactly an upper, huh?) So this morning, pulling myself out of bed took extra effort, and I started the day by berating my unconscious for such an ugly dream.

If I had my druthers, I would choose to “dream in Disney.” You know, “a dream is a wish your heart makes,” and all that. (Yeah, I just quoted Cinderella. What of it?) There’s enough stress in my life when I’m awake – I don’t need it when I’m sleeping, as well. Sadly (and surprisingly), it’s not easy shutting down my brain at night – it actually tends to go into overdrive as soon as I crawl into bed. But I think the first step may be cutting back on the TV before bedtime – except tonight, of course, when we finally continue the World Series!

And maybe, after watching the Phillies tonight, my dreams will be Hamels-filled. Now, that’s a fairy tale dream if I ever heard one.

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I’ve toyed, for a while, with the theory that there are a few, very key, similarities between men and babies. After babysitting Alexander last night, I, very scientifically, of course, compared his behavior to that of the guys I’ve dated in the past, and realized that whether the male in question is thirteen months or thirty-something years old, you can’t go wrong if you remember the following:

1.  Cranky behavior generally means one of three things.

He’s tired. He’s hungry. He wants attention. Or, all of the above. Babies have limited means of communication. They can’t tell you how they’re feeling, so you have to guess. (Sometimes you can distinguish between a “hungry cry” and a “tired cry,” but it’s still tricky.) Men, on the other hand, have the ability to use their words, but often choose not to (at least, not in a way that’s helpful in determining how they’re feeling). So you’re stuck playing the guessing game again. My advice? If you can’t attribute the crankiness to one of the aforementioned things, just leave him alone until he realizes he’s acting like a child.*

2.  He will try to impress you, and, in turn, be very impressed with himself.

Men show off their gadgets (iPhones, in particular), sports knowledge, and amazing feats of physical strength (such as, opening that jar with the stuck lid). And they often end up impressing themselves (or their friends), more so than the initial target. Babies do the same thing. Alexander impressed me by taking a few solo steps in my direction (he’s not really walking yet), and then promptly sat, bouncing up and down happily in self-congratulation, completely forgetting about my presence.

3.  Even if he’s capable of accomplishing a task by himself, he’ll try to get you to do it for him.

It’s my belief that men are a lot more capable than they let on. (When he says he can’t cook? Even a child can operate, at least, a microwave. Hello, Easy-Bake Oven?) So it turns into a game, to see what he can get you to do. And it starts as a child: during Alexander’s dinner time, he was quite capable of feeding himself. But every so often, instead of taking the raspberry or Cheerio from my hand, he would simply open his mouth and wait for me to drop it in, all the while grinning and banging his hands on his high chair. (I, of course, complied, because, well, when you’re cute you can get away with nearly anything.)

4. He loves shiny things.

It’s a fact. I don’t know why, exactly. Alexander liked (pulling on) my necklace (and earrings, and bracelet, and watch); nearly every guy I’ve dated has commented on one of two rings I wear. And, mini-confession, I once dated a guy who word-for-word said to me, “I just really like shiny things.” See? I’m not making this up. (For the record, it was a short-lived relationship.)

5. Stop paying attention to him, and he’ll start paying more attention to you.

I’m pretty sure you can read this in any magazine’s “dating tips” section – it’s that whole “playing-hard-to-get” thing. And I would venture that it works nine out of ten times. When a baby wants attention that you’re not offering (and opts out of the cranky route – see #1), he’ll crawl right up into your lap. Some men do the same thing.

Conclusion: Maybe things are a little more complicated than these five observations would lead you to believe. Maybe. But not by much…

*To be fair, I, also, get cranky when I’m tired or hungry. My family can attest.

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First things first: Phillies won the first game of the World Series! Yay!!! What a game, Cole, what a game. (More on that as the series continues.)

Okay, now that’s out of my system (for now), on to less important things.

There’s this one particular house I walk by every day on my way to and from work, that has been showcasing its Halloween spirit since the beginning of the month, easily. There are fake cobwebs all over the front gate, a few plastic tombstones in the front yard, one of those jack-o’-lantern bags full of leaves by the door, and other odds and ends, in an attempt to up the spooky factor. But all of this decor reminds me of one very important fact: I don’t know what I’m going to be for Halloween yet!

This isn’t quite the conundrum it was in elementary school. There are no parades I have to participate in. There will be no trick-or-treating. But that doesn’t change the fact that I love dressing up. (That might be part of the reason I loved our themed sorority parties so much.) Costume choices have, admittedly, changed a bit as I’ve gotten older. There was a time when it was cute to be a ladybug or a butterfly or, in one my of my less creative years, what I deemed a “fancy lady.” (Oh, the cleverness of me.)

Now, in searching for costume ideas online, everything is “sassy” or “sexy” or some type of “vixen.” Really, it boils down to this: pick something you want to be, and dress like it in as little clothing as possible.

AND

Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” ~Mean Girls

*Sigh* If I have to, then I have to. My life is really hard. For now, I have it narrowed down to two choices:

Wonder Woman

Pros: I get a lasso, a tiara, and hot red boots. (And an invisible jet, duh.)

Cons: The boots could potentially uncomfortable if I’m on my feet all night.

Genie

Pros: I love the colors in the costume, and it makes me want to channel Barbara Eden, granting wishes with crossed arms and a head nod.

Cons: An exposed midriff could get chilly.

But I’m always open to suggestions. Thoughts?

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The last time I really played tourist in D.C., I was ten years old and on my super special 5th grade class field trip. We woke up at 4am, got to the school by 5am, and then drove from Philadelphia to D.C. – four charter buses full of excited kids and their already-exhausted chaperones. And what do I remember from that field trip, that every 5th grader so highly anticipated? I remember what I wore (thanks in large part to pictures), buying a pair of earrings at the Natural History Museum, and taking some pictures with (and then getting in a fight with) my three best girl friends. Ten-year-old drama is rough!

So, when my college roommate and her boyfriend decided to come down to visit this past weekend, I knew I’d have the chance to play tourist again.

Yo & Jus head to Lincoln (Yo was very impressed!)

Yo & Jus head to Lincoln (Yo was very impressed!)

Jus (the roommate) had been to D.C. several times, but not in a while, and Yo (her boyfriend) is Israeli, and had never been. We hit some of the major sights – the White House, Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial – in addition to our general stroll up and down the Mall, and did a brief tour of the Air and Space Museum right before closing. Somewhere throughout the course of the day, though, I felt myself transition from tourist to tour guide. Yo would ask, “So what exactly is this monument for?” or “What else goes on in the Capitol/White House?

Jus & Liebchen

Jus & Liebchen

And he’d turn to Jus. And she would turn to me. And I, with no one to turn to, would frantically wrack my brain, trying to remember each relevant American history/government lesson. Talk about pressure.

I’m fairly certain that everything I said was accurate. Or, at least, mostly accurate. Shit.

In any case, the memories from this weekend are a little different than those of twelve years ago:

  • To begin with, there was none of this 4am business.  A 10am wake-up is much nicer after a 2am bedtime.
  • I didn’t buy anything. In 5th grade I was spending Mom and Dad’s money. Now it’s my own. And I’m poor.
  • No drama!
  • When we visited the White House, the cops cleared the sidewalk just moments after Yo had gotten his first picture. We never did find out why.
  • And the best comment I heard all day from a 20-something guy on his phone during our second visit to the Washington Monument: “Hi, Mom? I need you to turn on channel 2, to the Jets game. I need the quarter, time left, score, possession, and position.

Clearly he’s as interested in the capital’s history as I was at age ten. Since when do the Jets trump D.C.?

The Eagles, on the other hand…

*An example of one of the questions I could actually answer.

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Hamels comes through again

On a lighter note – I love winning! Last week, when the Phillies beat the Dodgers to advance to the World Series, they defied the popular predictions that, not only would the NLCS last all seven games, but that the Dodgers would emerge victorious. Ha. My excitement, however, was slightly tempered due to the fact that most of my friends down here either a) despise Philly teams in general, or b) don’t give a damn about baseball.

But the Phillies winning the NLCS (I just love saying it!), is the gift that keeps on giving. I made a bet at the beginning of the series with die-hard Dodgers fan, Arjewtino, that my Phillies would take it. I never win bets. Actually, I refrain from making them because I’m not so great at losing. But the stakes of this one weren’t too troublesome for me: if I’d lost, I would have had to wear Dodgers gear. Yeah, it probably would have stung a bit if I’d been wearing it in response to a Philly loss, but Philly fans are used to disappointment. If I could get past that, it would just be another t-shirt.

Of course, it’s easy to say that now…because I won! And Arjewtino (begrudgingly) paid up, looking stellar in my Cole Hamels t-shirt:

I just hope he doesn’t jinx the team.

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I’d been seeing a lot of commentary regarding Bill Maher’s new movie (I’m hesitant to call it a straight up documentary), and had been reading things about it that both piqued my interested and annoyed me at the same time. So, of course, I had to see it. To be honest, there were a few moments in the beginning when I wanted to get up and walk out of the theater. But once I resolved myself to stay, I was glad I did. In all fairness, I laughed out loud nearly as much as I cringed. And when I cringed, it wasn’t so much because I was offended, but because Maher had clearly found (in several cases) interviews solely designed to prove his point.

After coming home and processing, I remembered a conversation in which a friend had recommended I see Jesus Camp. So, being on my religious movie kick, I decided to Netflix it. I watched it the other night with, what had to be, an incredulous look on my face the entire time. While Religulous made me cringe and laugh, Jesus Camp made me cringe and cry. It actually pained me a little bit to see kids crying after being yelled at by an adult for being hypocrites and sinners. I’ve been to God camp (I never called it Jesus camp before, and I especially won’t, after this) for the past ten years and have had extremely positive experiences – that don’t involve tears.

I won’t get into every detail that bothered me (we don’t have all day), but I was astounded when the pastor stood up and said, “Okay, now it’s time to speak in tongues. Ready, go.” (I’m paraphrasing, but it’s not too far off.) The last time I checked, you can’t force yourself to speak in tongues. But hey, what do I know?

I figure that there has to be a happy medium to the two extremes of Religulous and Jesus Camp – something that gently pokes fun at the religiously intense but doesn’t make a total mockery of believers. And then it hit me: Saved!

What a fabulous movie. You have super goody-two-shoes Hilary Faye who is “a warrior on the front line for God.” You have her brother, Roland, who doesn’t believe in God and consistently mocks his sister and her friends. And you have Mary, who gets pregnant in high school (trying to turn her gay boyfriend straight) and comments on the virgin birth: “I know this is wrong, but do you ever wonder if she just made the whole thing up? I mean, it’s a pretty good one. It’s not like anyone can ever use virgin birth as an excuse again. I don’t really think she made it up, but I can understand why a girl would.

Honestly, I think Saved! reflects more reality than either of the other two films. People doubt. They question. They turn away, and sometimes they come back. Sometimes they don’t. And it’s all a personal decision. If you believe, you don’t need Maher telling you that you’re either stupid or arrogant. And if you don’t believe, you don’t need Pastor Becky Fischer telling you you’re going to hell.

Watching Mandy Moore ruthlessly trying to save everyone she meets, and throwing the Bible at them when “necessary,” though? That makes me laugh, every time.

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Fall has always been my favorite season. You’ve got the cooler weather, the changing colors, and, of course, back-to-school time! Maybe that makes me a dork (as, I’m sure, so many things do), but I’ve always relished the beginning of a new school year. This is now the second fall that I haven’t been a student, but recently I’ve had a craving to go back.

It started with taking language classes at GW. Being on campus, in the student union, reminded me of how much I loved college. And the other day, I was at Georgetown for a conference during what was, apparently, some sort of campus fair. I walked out of the conference hall (where I’d been close to falling asleep) and found myself in the middle of students grilling, cheering, laughing, and playing in a moonbounce! If I had visited Georgetown as a prospective student during something like that, my college choice may have been a little bit harder. As it was, I had a completely different experience.

When I decided to go college hunting, Mama and I took a road trip down the east coast and stopped at four different schools. Georgetown was number three. I wanted to love it; the campus was gorgeous; I already loved DC. But I was uncomfortable from the moment I entered the information session. I felt unwelcome. I felt out of place. Even before the tour started, I suspected that I wouldn’t be applying here.

And then my tour guide began his spiel and more than confirmed my suspicions.

I may be prone to exaggeration at times, but I could swear that this guy was talking a mile a minute. He was in love with every aspect of Georgetown and wanted all of us to share his love. I could respect his enthusiasm, but I drew the line when he shared a story about a party he went to, in an effort to highlight the campus’ Safe Ride program. “And it was the best safe ride ever in the history of the world!” Mama and I looked at each other, and from then on mocked that poor tour guide whenever we were really excited about something. “Really?” we would ask each other, “It’s the best? Is it the best ever in the history of the world?” Poor guy.

Last winter, when we were looking for muffin recipes for our Christmas brunch, we stumbled across one for the “Best Ever Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins.” Perfect. Even if they hadn’t looked delicious, I think we may have made them just for the name alone. Luckily, the muffins completely lived up to the hype

So, inspired by Lemmonex, whose story-related recipes I’ve come to love, I’ve decided to share this nice and simple muffin recipe, courtesy of Rise and Dine. Enjoy!

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

3 large ripe bananas

3/4 cup sugar

1 slightly beaten egg

1/3 cup melted butter

6 oz chocolate chips

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375. Mash bananas. Add sugar and egg. Add the melted butter, then add the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour into lined 12 cup muffin pan (or 2 6-cup) and bake for 20 minutes.

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I heart Cole Hamels

Not only is he pretty to look at, but he pitched a hell of a game last night. Sure, it may have been a bit of a rocky start with the Dodgers scoring in the first inning, but Cole kept his head in the game. And even had a hit! I was so proud.

To be fair, I’m ridiculously proud of the entire team. Yes, I’m aware that there are (potentially) six more games to go in the NLCS (the nervous butterflies in my stomach are a constant reminder), but what a way to start the series off.

In preparing for the series (as a Philly fan I have minimal experience with post-season games), I started Googling “NLCS 2008 predictions.” I was especially interested in finding someone, anyone, who was predicting that the Phillies would take it. I’m still looking. Everyone (that I read/skimmed/heard) has the Dodgers winning in either 5, 6, or 7 games. Even my father, an avid Phillies phan (ha, see what I did just there?) told me, “I think the Dodgers will take it in 6.” When I yelled at him responded with, “What kind of a fan are you?” he said, “You asked me what I thought, not what I wanted.” Fair enough, Papa, fair enough.

Regardless, during my Google quest, I did come across a set of 20 predictions that I found quite entertaining. I’ve posted a few here that I particularly like (and one that I don’t) – the rest I’ll just hang on to as a sort of checklist for the rest of the series. As if I needed anything to make it more interesting.

4. The Phillies’ fans will boo players on both teams. (I don’t doubt it for a second.)

5. The Dodgers fans will throw at least two beach balls onto the field and boo the fan who did it. (More boos? That will just egg on the Philly fans.)

6. Chase Utley will hit a home run and blow a bubble with his gum within three seconds of the ball leaving his bat. (Didn’t that happen last night?)

20. The Dodgers win in six! (Grr.)

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“That one”

When it comes to politics, I’ve always considered myself able to see both sides of any argument. In a post-debate analysis, I’m usually able to give a fairly equal amount of pros and cons to each participant. That’s not to say I don’t have my own [strong] opinions on whatever went down, but in civil conversation, I prefer to be a little more moderate, and often end up playing devil’s advocate. But, frankly, McCain is not making that easy.

Unsurprisingly, I watched the town-hall Presidential debate last night. Also unsurprisingly, I didn’t find it nearly as entertaining as the Vice Presidential debate the other week. In fact, I found it a bit painful. I wasn’t able to watch the first debate, but received some minimal play-by-play:

  • “[McCain] is being rude, interrupting Obama and being dismissive.”

Followed by:

  • “I’m trying not to be biased but McCain is coming off as petulant.”

I didn’t want to believe it – not because I’m pro-McCain, but because these are grown gentlemen. Who wants to see them (or him, rather) acting like children? After watching some post-first-debate coverage, I had to conclude that the play-by-play was fairly accurate. I hoped for a better showing during this second one, but was ultimately disappointed.

I outwardly cringed when McCain uttered the phrase, “That one,” pointing at Obama. You are 72-years-old and you’re pointing fingers like a tattle-tale? Yeah, that’s who I want running my country. And, lest I forget any other cringe-worthy moments, Andrew Sullivan caught them all while live-blogging during the debate.

Listen, I know it’s important to watch the debates, stay informed, and get involved in politics. I know this. But, to be honest, McCain fights like a child and it’s just not worth my time. If I wanted that, I’d go back to being a nanny. At least when Biden and Palin were trading jabs it was somewhat amusing. (Although, not as amusing as this.)

27 days until the election and then these finger-pointing campaigns are over. It can’t come soon enough. And in the meantime, there’s one more debate to go. But if they keep fighting like children…that’s it, I’m telling Mom.

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