April 29, 2004
Ladies Night Out

I’m trying to write amongst the sounds of a yapping, battery operated dog, regular interruptions from the kidlets (“Mommy, how do you draw a hundred?”, “Look, mommy!”, “Mommy, she’s bothering me!), and trips downstairs to switch laundry loads. But all is well. I get to go out with some girlfriends for dinner tomorrow night!

A little background: I recently became a stay-at-home-mom, having left behind a 12-year career. I don’t miss the old job one, tiny bit.

What I do miss about working though, are the people I worked with. They’re the smartest, funniest, most kind people with whom you could hope to be stuck in cubicle-land. Even my boss was a good guy.

Although it was a fine job, toward the end I was tired of it. An equally burnt out colleague and I would half-joke that the main reasons we liked coming to work anymore were for the coffee breaks, the chance to dress up, and to have lunch out together. Not real great reasons to keep a job. But the true motivation for my leaving, of course, was that I wanted to be home with my family and we were fortunate to have come to a point where we could afford to have me do so.

So, tomorrow night I’m going out to dinner with three of my work friends. It will be the first time we’ve all gotten together since I left. Coincidentally, two of them also resigned around the same time that I did—one to go to another company, the other to retire permanently. The third friend is still there but working in a different department. I’m really looking forward to seeing them, chatting about old times and new endeavors. Should be fun…and a chance to experience something lacking in my new “job”: adult conversation!

April 28, 2004
I’m the Manager, Not the Maid

In my newspaper today, there’s an article suggesting that parents who don’t require their kids to do chores are spoiling their children. I agree that doing all of the work around the house by myself would ultimately train my children to be helpless and irresponsible. I want to teach my kids to be independent and self-sufficient. Plus I want some help around here.

The sidebar to the newspaper article listed suggested chores by age (older children can also continue those chores started at younger ages), as follows:

AGES 2 & 3
• Clear place at table after meals and put dishes on the counter.
• Put recycling items in their containers.
• Hang up coats on low hooks
• Set the table (not necessarily in the correct positions).

AGES 4 & 5
• Feed pets (when reminded).
• Get the mail.
• Put dirty clothes in hamper.
• Help fill the dishwasher.
• Make a peanut butter sandwich.

AGES 6 & 7
• Water plants and flowers.
• Wash dog.
• Pull weeds.
• Make beds.
• Put clothes away.

AGES 8 & 9
• Clean sinks.
• Take out garbage and recycling.
• Sweep, mop or vacuum.
• Carry dirty clothes to laundry room.
• Cook simple foods with supervision, such as eggs and toast.

AGES 10 to 12
• Do laundry, with assistance.
• Load and run dishwasher.
• Wash the family car.
• Change sheets on beds.
• Assist with younger siblings.

I was pleasantly surprised that my three year old and five year old are actually doing some of the things on the list. As we had lunch today, I read the list aloud to them and they became excited about doing the tasks (it’s all in the presentation…). After lunch, the three year old cleared her dishes and the five year old got the mail. I’m envisioning future days where they’re cooking dinner for us, mopping the floors, doing the laundry. You think?

Admittedly, sometimes it’s easier to do things myself. I can do a task in a few minutes that would take ten times as long for the girls to do, and sometimes I’m too tired to be Perfect Parent and make them do it. But I try to make them clean up most of their messes. I use leverage whenever possible, such as, “After you clean up your room, then you can watch the movie.” That works a lot of the time.

It's my job as a mom to teach them how to do things, to build their confidence and competence. That means they’ll be doing some chores, helping out the family. Learn it now little ladies: Around here, I’m the manager, not the maid.

April 27, 2004
A Little Silliness

A good friend sent me this (I think the proper source of this material may be Area 51). Perhaps you will find a few things that you can do today to cheer yourself up…

How to keep a healthy level of insanity

1. At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and
point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.

2. Page yourself over the intercom, and don't disguise your voice.

3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want
that "super-sized."

4. Put your garbage can on your desk and label it "in".

5. Put decaf in the coffeemaker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has
gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.

6. In the memo field of all your checks, write "for sexual favors."

7. Finish all your sentences with "in accordance with the prophecy."

8. Refuse to use punctuation

9. As often as possible, skip rather than walk.

10. Ask people what gender they are.

11. Specify that your drive-thru order is "to go."

12. Sing along at the opera.

13. Go to a poetry recital and ask why the poems don't rhyme

14. Put mosquito netting around your work area, then play a tape of
jungle sounds all day.

15. Five days in advance, tell your friends you can't attend their
party because "you're not in the mood".

16. Have your coworkers address you by your wrestling name, "rock

17. When the money comes out of the ATM, scream, "I won, I won!
Third time this week!!!!!"

18. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the parking lot,
yelling "Run for your lives, they're loose!!"

19. Tell your children over dinner, "Due to the economy, we are
going to have to let one of you go."

and the final way to keep a healthy level of insanity....

20. Send this e-mail to everyone in your address book, even if they
sent it to you.

April 26, 2004
This and That

~Lead me not into temptation….it’s being delivered to my front door. A neighbor who recently opened a coffee shop came by yesterday with a platter of extra baked goodies. Today we had a little tasting of each thing for breakfast—banana bread, bran muffins, zucchini bread, scones. All soft, fresh and warmed up a bit in the microwave. I’m saving the snicker doodles for after lunch.

~Can someone tell me why does lovely, warm weather go hand in hand with sneezing, coughing and itchy watery eyes? Perfect weather should not be linked with such misery. It isn’t right. Also, according to the Allergy Action Plan website, on list of the most severe cities for people with allergies during the 2004 spring season, where I live is #82. So I’ve got that going for me.

~Here’s my #1 housecleaning tip: invite people over so that you must clean up. Even if it’s family or good friends who wouldn’t care if your place is messy, you have a little pride, right? About five minutes before the neighbor bearing treats rang the bell, our living room was covered in toys, the Sunday newspaper, sippy cups and water glasses, shoes and mail. But we power-cleaned that morning because my sister was coming to visit—as a bonus, our neighbor saw a tidy house too. This weekend, we’re having friends over for dinner, so I don’t have to stress out about the disarray that is sure to occur throughout the week. It will be handled by Saturday because there will be a fire under my a**.

April 23, 2004
The Friday Five

This is my very first Friday Five. Since there isn’t a new one available, Heather says to pick one from the archives, so here’s the first one from September 2001…

1. Where were you born (city or state or just country)?

Abington, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia area).

2. What is your favorite number?

Lucky 7.

3. Vanilla or chocolate?

[whispers] Vanilla. I’m reluctant to admit that because you’ll think I’m boring. It’s true that I’m not much of a risk-taker, but I’d like to think that I know how to have a good time. Oh yeah.

4. What section of a bookstore would I find you in?

The first stop is the magazine rack or the reference section (yes, you heard me right). The ref section is where all of the books on writing and creativity are found. Thanks to amazon.com and my fabulous local library, I’ve already read many of them but I’m always looking for a new gem. Other sections I visit are psychology/self-help, home decorating, and business/personal finance.

5. What kind of mattress do you have on your bed? soft? firm? water?

I’m not even going to tell you what we spent on our mattress because it’s fairly obscene. (But hey, if you divide the cost over hundreds of nights of sleeping, it’s a bargain, right? Can you really put a price on good sleep??). It’s a King sized Simmons Exceptionale--not a California King but an Eastern King, so it’s w i d e . Plenty of room for our family of four to hang out on weekend mornings.

April 22, 2004
Splitting hairs

I took the girls in for haircuts, something my husband usually does on weekends. They go to a salon in town, where Patty has given them every haircut that they’ve ever had. It’s kind of an “old lady” place and the girls are certainly the youngest customers that walk through the door. Despite the strong smell of perm solution it’s a somewhat inviting place. The big draw is the candy. There are little dishes at every seating area, filled with lollypops, little tootsie rolls, mini chocolates and taffies. We have no trouble convincing the girls to go to hair appointments.

I mentioned that the girls have had every haircut there, but that precludes the hairdo that my three year old gave herself two months ago. I found her in her room with a scissors in her hand and piles of long, shiny, light blond hair on the floor around her. It took me a moment to find my voice and yell, “No!” It was funny but it wasn’t. The kid had really fabulous, Heather Locklear hair. We got an appointment with Patty that same day, who did a very good job of fixing the little imp’s hair. In fact, people have complimented the new layered hairstyle. (There’s still a lone chunk in the back that looks silly and will take awhile to grow out).

This visit was our first time back since the self-styling incident. I brought them to the salon in the early afternoon. There were no other customers, so the other stylists and the manicurist were checking us out. “Aren’t they the little girls who come in with their dad?” one of them asked Patty.

“Yeah,” I interjected. “I’m the mom”.

“Oh,” the lady replied, looking me over. “It’s so nice that your husband usually brings them down.” Yes, it is. But geez, why does he get a medal for it? I don’t hear anyone telling me how great it is that I changed a diaper or took them to the doctor or gave them a bath—all things we both have done but that husbands seem to get so much more credit for. But I’m not bitter.

Back to haircuts, I was thinking about getting the girls that 1980’s toy called the Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper Barber & Beauty Shop. Does anyone remember this toy? You loaded the play dough inside the little people, who are placed in a styling chair and then you turned a crank to make the “hair” grow, oozing out of dozens of little holes in the character's head. Budding stylists then arranged and cut the hair using the plastic scissors, comb or razor.

Since my daughter seems to love cutting with scissors (her hair is not the only thing she’s chopped), I was thinking that this might be a legal cutting activity for her. Plus the girls played with play dough for about an hour the other day and I’m all for any creative kid activities that allow me a chunk of time to myself.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the Fuzzy Pumper Barber & Beauty Shop is not such a great idea after all. According to online parent reviews, they changed the toy so you don’t turn a crank to make the hair grow anymore; now it's some kind of button that’s hard for kids to work. Plus the cleanup is apparently a pain. But I remember having fun playing with the original version as a kid, down in our basement with my little sisters.

April 20, 2004
Coffee or tea?

It’s the middle of the afternoon and I’m sipping a mug of Café Vienna, my warm drink of choice. I wish this were not my preferred beverage. It’s pretty gross really, this powdered “coffee drink mix” from a tin with a list of ingredients far too long to be healthy. I feel bad every time I prepare it for myself but I can’t stop doing it.

I either have it mid-morning or mid-afternoon, and it needs to be at a time when I can sit down for at least ten or fifteen minutes and enjoy it with a newspaper, a book or some writing time. “Break fluid”, as R.R. Anderson calls it. It’s something to help me relax and there’s no use having it in a rush or if it’s going to get cold while I’m tending to other things. There are a few mugs that get heavy rotation despite all of the choices in the cabinet—my drink seems to taste better when it comes from one of my favorite mugs.

It’s a coffee drinking world we live in, but I’m not a frequent user (I’m talking about real coffee, not the fake crap discussed above). I like an occasional coffee but I doctor it up with milk and vanilla syrup until it’s practically liquid candy. I’m also trying to keep my caffeine intake low due to some health issues, so I don’t really want to get to a point where I rely on a daily cup of joe.

When I sneak away on weekend afternoons to a coffee shop, my usual order is a decaf, vanilla, soy (hey, I’m from California) latte. I always get a cup of ice water with it, so at least that’s good for me, right? My husband watches the kids for an hour or two while I hang out, read or write. It’s a pleasant break and I always come home a nicer mommy and wife.

I like tea, but I never really seem to want it when it’s time to make something for myself. It doesn’t have the weight, the creaminess, the “something” I’m looking for at that moment. I wish I would like it more. The health benefits of certain teas are undeniable. Somebody, please help me love tea.

What’s your favorite warm drink and when do you partake?

April 19, 2004
Burning the midnight oil…at 10:00p.m.

I’ve become a morning person. Or at least, not a night person. I can barely stay awake for even fun things anymore.

My husband and I had an evening to ourselves this weekend. A little break from parental responsibilities, a chance for some uninterrupted conversation, some time alone to remember why it is that we love each other.

We like to spend our “date nights” eating good food. Any after-dinner plans are just a bonus. This time we started with crab cakes, moved on to butternut squash soup, spinach salad, then veal scaloppini with roasted potatoes and fresh vegetables for me and lamb shanks with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach for him. Did I mention the crisp crusted bread hot from the oven? The wine? Perfect.

But then we were tired. Satiated and practically immobile. The idea of waiting for an hour until a late movie started, sitting through the two hour show and then driving home just wasn’t viable. We walked through the garage door by 10:00p.m., surprising my mom who was up reading a book.

Do you call our behavior pathetic or wise? Because we’ve been leaning toward pathetic. But we did enjoy our (limited) time out.

April 16, 2004
Will the real Marcia please stand up?

I got this idea from Lani's blog. If I knew how the **** to use Trackback, I'd do it but anyway, hi Lani, nice to meet you!

Apparently, you can type your name into Googlism, a tool to see what Google thinks of certain topics. So this was the googlism for my name:

marcia is a pastor's wife and mother of three girls [false]
marcia is a real estate agent that is known in the community of saint john for her dedicated client service [nope]
marcia is recognized as america's dream coach [I don't think so]
marcia is such a qualified leader [no]
marcia is the author of "awakenings [no]
marcia is losing it by squeaky "hi [what?]
marcia is a very good friend of mine [I hope so]
marcia is an airframe & powerplant [obviously, no]
marcia is results [This one is true.]
marcia is frequently quoted as an expert in marketing [absolutely not]
marcia is producer and popular television host [sorry, no]
marcia is an alien [you decide]
marcia is available for [I may be...what did you have in mind?]
marcia is a wonderful teacher because she has moved beyond the ego [sure]
marcia is jacki's sister and michelle's twin sister [no, but I have 2 sisters and they are twins]
marcia is the president and chief executive officer of the monterey bay aquarium research institute [no, but I've been there]
marcia is a certified property manager [false]
marcia is quick to stress that the guide is not only for the professional [sounds good]
marcia is an intense young society girl with specific thoughts on love [interesting. but no.]
marcia is a graduate of the university of california and is a former kindergarten and elementary school teacher [half true. The first part]
marcia is always calm and consistent [I'm working on this, ok?]
marcia is writing her next book for business and professional women [intriguing idea]
marcia is in high demand as a speaker for companies and [not in this lifetime]
marcia is licensed with the state of connecticut as a cpa [no, but I took some advanced accounting courses to get my degree in economics]
marcia is happiest when she has a paint brush in her hand [a book or a pen for me please]
marcia is a member of the us amateur boxing [I do Taebo, does that count?]
marcia is extremely knowledgeable about the area schools [no, but I probably will be once my kids are old enough to be in school]
marcia is a licensed attorney in california [I've worked with too many attorneys to ever want to do this for a living, thanks.]
marcia is typical of a woman at risk for osteoporosis [aren't we all? Take your calcium supplements!]
marcia is a woman of purpose and intention [hmm...]
marcia is the author of three books [if this were true, I'd be on cloud 9]
marcia is currently an instructor of transpersonal psychology at santa barbara city college adult education [I could see myself enrolled in such a course...and I did go to school in that same city...]
marcia is featured singing [nope. My sisters are highly talented singers though.]
marcia is currently in jail on theft charges in grande cache [that wasn't me. I swear.]
marcia is a quilt and quilted textile appraiser certified by the american quilter’s society [no but sounds interesting]
marcia is crazy about animals [sorry, not really]
marcia is now living with an upcoming movie star [I don't think so. Kids?!]
marcia is running out of room [just about]
marcia is played by two different women? in the first episode marcia is played by a women with long light brown hair [I have blond hair.]
marcia is really sherwood schwartz [you found me out]
marcia is appearing in "the vagina monologues" on broadway [ha ha]
marcia is inspiring [in my own little way...]
marcia is one of the few vendors at the ferry plaza market to offer these wonderfully meaty beans [no comment]
marcia is careful not to touch the sprue because it might still be hot enough to burn her hand [don't know what a sprue is but if it's hot I won't touch it]
marcia is gone to a better place [yikes]
marcia is from california and married with two children at home [true]

So now maybe you know a little bit about me.

April 15, 2004
The Wisdom of Others

One of my favorite sections in Esquire magazine is called “What I’ve Learned”. Over time, I’ve saved some of the interviews and share some of my favorite parts below:

Mark Burnett, television producer (Survivor, The Apprentice, etc.)

 If you have some success, you’ll find many new friends.

 If you believe in something, go with it. Rarely listen to others.

 The anticipation of a problem is far worse than the problem itself.

 You must learn to have confidence when you’re only half sure. If you need to be 100 percent sure, that’s called procrastination.

 Some people are frightened of failing. Some people are frightened of succeeding.

 I’ve known hardship. I don’t really want it anymore.

Bill O’Reilly, talk show host

 There’s no excuse for eating rice cakes at any time. It’s like eating dust. What are they doing here?

 You will never teach your kid anything more important than discipline.

 If you don’t care what other people think of you, you can feel comfortable anywhere.

Bobby Bowden, football coach

 A meal is not complete until you’ve had some chocolate.

 Happiness is not money and it’s not fame and it’s not power. Those are nice, but they only last a finger snap. Happiness is a good wife, a good family, and good health.

 If you don’t discipline your children, the sheriff’s gonna.

 Why does everyone make such a big deal about “wide right”? If you’re gonna miss, you can’t be anything but wide right or wide left. It’s bound to be one of them.

 Routine is imperative in football. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Until it becomes habit, habit, habit.

 I look back and say, Why, I’ll be doggone. Where did it go? I was just in college. How come I’m seventy-one?

Roseanne, entertainer

 If you think you’re getting bad love, that means you’re giving it too.

 Self-esteem is the goddamn root of all evil.

 One of my missions on earth is to tell people how full of shit they are.

 You have to participate in a marriage. That was news to me.

 Fame makes you a target, but it also puts your ethics into play.

 I’m way funnier in the morning.

 The good life is free.

 Inner peace means inner silence.

 I’m tired of asking anymore. I’m just doing.

April 14, 2004
Love is a Battlefield

I just finished another provocative, honest and whiny book that explores our roles as mothers and wives: Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life : Or How I Learned to Love the House, the Man, the Child, by Faulkner Fox. Another good one is The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage, by Cathi Hanauer.

It seems like there are more and more books like these coming out. The authors are highly educated, over-analytical and just a tad angry. Yet I’m compelled to read them even when I sometimes don’t like what they’re saying. I think we all can relate to the stress and overwhelm that women feel… and the occasional (or in some cases, continual) dissatisfaction with the men in our lives.

I often wonder how any marriage can thrive considering all the responsibilities of parenthood, home and work. Yet I’m hopeful and I believe that my own situation is pretty close to ideal. In this month’s Esquire magazine, famed New York City chef Mario Batali offers this: “Flexibility, tolerance, thoughtfulness, love—that’s what makes a marriage work. But love goes away quickly when kids are around for awhile. There are going to be days when the love in your relationship becomes a secondary factor. It’ll come back. So you hold on. What choice do you have?”

As I read these tell-it-like-it-is books, participate in online discussion groups and forums, and catch peeks of the lives of people I know, it seems that we’re all facing similar challenges in our lives. The stories of our marriages and relationships aren’t unique, which I find comforting.

By the way, soon the wives will hear what the husbands think. Daniel Jones, the husband of Cathi Hanauer (Bitch in the House), has a companion anthology coming out later this month called The Bastard on the Couch : 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and Freedom. In this book, the guys get to explain their side of things. Love the title.

April 12, 2004
Welcome to Kid Day
Be nice to your kids. They'll choose your nursing home.

We’ll start with an unplanned trip to a large playground in another town. You’ll swing, slide, visit the ducks in the pond, drive a train (this is a really cool park) and swing some more.

Then off to Mommy’s dr. appointment, where there’s a fountain to throw pennies into and make wishes that Mommy can overhear and then do her best to make come true. Fortunately, these wishes are easy to manufacture, as they tend to be for things you already have or that we already have plans to do.

Next, lunch at the kidlets’ favorite restaurant, Hubcaps (voted best diner in the East S.F. Bay area for the last two years). Even though the balloon making machine is out of order, the complimentary mint chocolate chip ice cream saves the day. Don’t bother sharing your ice cream with Mommy; she already stole some of your French fries during lunch.

Drive home slowly over the traffic-clogged bridge (oh yeah, it’s Spring break for the school-aged kids and people must be going on vacation--duh). Arrive home, all tired out.

But the fun doesn’t stop—it’s movie time! The kid-chosen feature is a Disney video from the library called The Brave Little Toaster. It involves freaky household appliances who roam around the house, clean up (hey, that sound s good) and pine over their “master”, the boy who used to live in the house. There’s an angry air conditioning unit, pissed off that he’s stuck in the window while the vacuum and desk lamp get to play. Um, okay. I think the voice of the a/c unit is Phil Hartman from Saturday Night Live….and Jon Lovitz is the radio.

Hey, only 27 days until Mother’s Day. I’d like my own mint chip ice cream please.

April 08, 2004
Please release me, let me go

Clutter is energy constipation.
-Vicky White, Feng Shui expert

I started sorting through some of my younger daughter’s clothes yesterday. Before I knew it, I was emptying and reorganizing her entire closet and several of her dresser drawers. Five hours later there were piles of bags and boxes filled with clothes, toys and books sitting by the garage door waiting to be taken away to charity. Whew, what a relief!

Some thoughts following this experience:

• Getting started is the hardest part. It can be overwhelming to consider tackling a big mess. I tricked myself into doing my daughter’s room by just clearing out a few things. As I went along, it felt right to keep going.

• I often let myself get overwhelmed by everything that needs to be decluttered and reorganized in our house. But things don’t have to get done all at once. I couldn’t possibly do everything that needs to be done in a day or a week or probably even a month. Projects can be worked on in steps or stages. Over time, this will still lead to major improvement.

• Procrastination stems (for me) from unmade or put off decisions. Almost every unused item sits where it is—in a closet, under the bed, in the garage—because I haven’t figured out what to do with it. Keep it or not? Where to store it properly? Sell it or give it away? I’ve realized that I am not the garage-sale type, so I’m just going to donate or trash most of it. The stuff is doing me no good here.

• Despite hard work and significant progress, it always seems like there’s more to do. Marie Curie said, “One never notices what has been done; one only can see what remains to be done.” I won't lose sight of all that I’m accomplishing - even if there's more left. Somehow I need to learn to pat myself on the back along the way. Ideas?

• It can be hard to let go of things. Sometimes they have sentimental value but aren't really worth hanging onto. (Keep a few special things and pass along the rest). Some items make me feel guilty about wasted money. (The money's been spent—it’s gone—so get over it.) I’ve decided that if it’s no longer useful, it doesn’t represent me anymore, I don’t love it: bye-bye! I need to become ruthless when it comes to decluttering.

At least one room in our house is organized and clutter free. If you’re in the market for some kid stuff, our local Goodwill should be stocked shortly. What can you get rid of today?

April 06, 2004
Warning: Dates in Calendar are closer than they appear

Yesterday I registered my baby for Kindergarten. Well, she’s not a baby anymore but it seems like she was just a few minutes ago. It’s a weird feeling when your first child “suddenly” grows up and is going to leave you. Ok, that was too dramatic.

The enrollment process was daunting. They required a certified copy of her birth certificate, mortgage papers, two recent utility bills and records of all of her immunizations. Anything else? How about our college transcripts or some blood? It’s just Kindergarten people; she’s not trying to join the CIA.

We waited in line for almost an hour, then finally made it into the auditorium where they carefully scrutinized my paperwork and questioned me. Luckily we passed inspection, and then it was off to another table where I filled out six more (multi-colored) forms that will become part of her permanent school file.

A few weeks ago, I signed up my three year old for a two morning per week preschool, and it was crazy in a slightly different way. A popular preschool with limited spaces available, I walked up to the building about a half hour before the doors were to open, hoping that effort would suffice. My jaw involuntarily dropped when I saw parents camped out with chairs, blankets, and coffee thermoses. They said they had been waiting there since 3:00am (!) to get their kids signed up. What is this, a Bruce Springsteen concert?

All the insanity surrounding the two school enrollments actually helped me. It diverted my attention from what was really going on. It kept the sadness and panic at bay. My girls are growing up—as if I could stop it—and this is the first of many more bittersweet junctures to come.

April 05, 2004
Faites monter un chocolat s’il vous plait

Lately, I’ve been learning about the French way of living. For example, in this month’s Marie Claire magazine there’s an article comparing how French and Americans eat. Statistics show that one in three Americans qualify as obese. In France, the figure is one in ten—despite their diets of “baguettes, butter and booze”.

One thing that French women apparently do not do is snack. In this area, I am distinctly American. I am a snacker. I also like to be entertained while I eat, preferably with something to read. Just the other day I was munching on Doritos while paging through the latest Victoria’s Secret catalog (which I know, doesn’t qualify as reading but I’m less discriminating while I’m snacking). French women apparently don’t multitask while enjoying their food.

The French contributor to the Marie Claire article asks, “What is this ‘snacking’ anyway? Why not wait for dinner? Why give up the pleasure of longing for an exquisitely spiced piece of fish or a simple, unexpectedly sweet steamed potato?”

This sentiment is echoed in Debra Ollivier’s Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl, where she tells us that the French girl does not snack. ‘She knows that like history itself, mealtime will repeat itself. If her stomach rumbles, she won’t rush to its rescue; she holds out with the knowledge that the longer she waits, the sweeter the return.”

So you’re supposed to wait for dinner? I guess I could try that. Other French methods include eating modest portions of excellent foods (the high quality, low quantity approach) and eating well or not at all. Food for thought (pun intended).

There are some other French concepts, not food-related, that I also find intriguing: the focus on ordinary pleasures, taking one’s time, feeding the mind (e.g. reading, making art, cultivating opinions).

In Entre Nous, Ollivier writes, "The French girl luxuriates in her free time and fills it intelligently. The TV is hardly on and house-cleaning is rarely on her nonexistent to-do list. She has museums to tour, galleries to visit, books to read, films to see, antiques to hunt, parks to stroll, gardens to grow, friends to meet and great, sumptuous meals to eat."

That sounds like the good life to me. Clearly this “French girl” doesn’t have two small children like I do though (which kind of obliterates free time). But I don’t think I’ll have any problem cutting back on house-cleaning. Maybe I’m a little bit French after all, n’est-ce pas?

April 02, 2004
Here We Go
Ever notice that “What the hell” is always the right decision?
-Marilyn Monroe

Someday is today.

I’ve wanted to get this blog started for awhile now, waiting for the perfect time, circumstances, and site design. Well, I don’t have any of those things but it’s not going to stop me.

Although I may not be ready for prime time, my impatient inner director just yelled, “Action!” So now I’m out here on the stage. Just going for it, having too much fun to be afraid.

Striving for flawlessness never works—it stops me in my tracks. I procrastinate much less when I’m going for “good enough”. As soon as I become willing to do something imperfectly, I’m able to do it.

No more planning or thinking about or researching blogs. I’m starting from right where I am. I’m writing today.