My excessive commuting is fast coming to an end (Hooray!), but I’ve had lots of time – and thousands of miles – in the past six months to drive, contemplate life, fret over uncertainty, worry about Anything and Everything, plan vacations and listen to podcasts.
Lots and lots of podcasts.
Here are some suggestions, if you’re so inclined:
- This American Life. I’ve been a fan since its inception. Still am. Always will be. This is the standard bearer for me by which all other podcasts are judged.
- S-Town. The entire run of this Southern Gothic story dropped at once, and basically everyone freaked out and made this the Number One podcast in the Universe. Confession: for the first three episodes, I thought this was an extremely well-crafted fictional narrative, but when I figured out it was true, I lost my mind and gobbled up the rest. The storytelling here is incredible. I can’t even begin to describe what this is about: clock repair, hedge mazes, small town Southern life. You’ll have to trust me that this is so worth your time.
- Crimetown. This first season is all about Providence, Rhode Island, and its corrupt politicians and mafia kingpins, both of which ruled the city for decades. Any fan of works like “The Sopranos” or “Goodfellas” will love Crimetown.
- Up and Vanished. Oh, boy. This one is addictive. This podcast starts out investigating a cold case murder of a teacher in a small town in Georgia, and in the course of the podcast, the case gets solved in real time. Watching this unfold week by week has been riveting. You can still catch up.
- Matt and Doree’s Eggcellent Adventure: An IVF Journey. Well, I’m biased because this is what I do for a living, hence my initial binge and current weekly listening session. Matt and Doree are a likable California couple trying to have a baby via science. Hearing about IVF from a patient’s perspective has been humbling.
- The Dinner Party Download. Guests vary, but the formula is the same: corny jokes, craft cocktail recipes, celebrity interviews and answers to modern etiquette quandaries.
- Fresh Air. Terry Gross is a master interviewer. An unfulfilled dream of mine would be to have dinner with Terry and have her find me witty and charming, with both of us leaving as fast friends. While this is never going to happen, a girl can dream. Full disclosure: I download all the episodes but only listen to about half, usually when the guests seem appealing. This is probably a mistake, because Terry Gross can make any interview fascinating. Tip: there is a weekend show with the week’s best clips if you want to cut to the chase.
- Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me. Usually I catch this gameshow live on NPR, but when I don’t, I listen to the week’s podcast.
- The Moth. Tagline: The art and craft of storytelling. Sometimes I laugh. Often I cry. The stories are that good. Another unfulfilled dream: have a story good enough to share at one of their events.
- Mortified. Cringeworthy and awesome. Adults read their real childhood diary entries onstage, unedited and in their awkward adolescent glory. I’ve almost driven off the road choking with laughter, so be careful.
This isn’t exactly a Valentine’s Day-related post, but this made my heart swell on multiple levels.
Last week Trixie created a doll store from a cardboard box.
Welcome to Glam, ladies and gents!
I love her creativity, especially the wall displays (catalog images) and the cash register (??) made of legos bricks. The counter is stocked with accessories. This is *exactly* the kind of thing I would have made when I was her age. Heart.
Spouse created an elaborate backstory for Glam, namely that it’s such an exclusive boutique that it’s appointment only.
Late in the week, he sent me this text:
Made me laugh. So much love.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends!
A couple of weeks ago, Trixie started asking us to play a game called “This Disney Character.”
The game is simple: one person gives clues to the identity of a Disney character and the others guess. The person who gets it right does the clues for the next round.
Sample: This Disney Character is a snowman who loves summer.
Please don’t make me answer that one for you.
However, last week the game took a dark turn.
As I’ve mentioned before, Trixie is not the up-and-at-’em type in the morning.
She’s more like a mid-90s Courtney Love forced to meet a parole officer in the A.M.
Last week the two of us were alone in the kitchen and the usual morning scramble to get out the door was in full swing.
I can’t even recall the precipitating incident, but all of sudden she snarled, “This Disney character is chubby, sweaty, stinky and is standing next to the sink!”
Ok, I *was* next to the sink, but really, the rest of that is not true.
(Is it? Sniff. My self esteem is destroyed by a six year old).
Once I recovered I was able to come back with one for her:
This Disney character is about to lose iPad privileges for the rest of her life.
It only took one guess.
P.S. Here’s another Disney game that is a lot of fun.
MGM’s (8) third grade teacher recently asked me to come and speak to his class, since they were studying a unit on the human body.
My immediate response, “You know I’m a gynecologist, right?”
We finally settled on a talk entitled “How babies are different from us,” with emphasis on an in utero baby, a.k.a. a fetus.
What we covered:
- Before they are born, babies are connected to their mothers by an umbilical cord and placenta
- Babies depend on their mothers to get their blood
- Babies do not eat food the way we do; they get their nutrition from what their mother eats
- Babies do not breathe oxygen. They essentially live underwater and breathe amniotic fluid in and out of their lungs
- Speaking of amniotic fluid, it is mostly baby pee (This brought down the house! I was killing it at this point)
- A baby has about 300 bones but an adult only has about 206. This is because some of the baby’s bones join together like a puzzle after it is born.
- Even before a it’s born, a baby can recognize voices, open and shut its eyes, roll/punch/kick (MGM demonstrated this in class), sleep and get the hiccups
- A baby usually does not poop before it’s born (another fact that resulted in gales of laughter)
The floor was also open to questions. Conservatively speaking, one kid alone asked about 80. He was so into it!
MGM repeatedly asked if he could use my laser pointer.
And while you might expect inevitable questions resulting in inflammatory emails from other parents about how a baby got there in the first place, it never came up.
MGM and Trixie First day, 2015
P.S. If you would ever like to practice your stand-up comedy skills, I highly advise a test audience of third graders.
Trixie’s (6) kindergarten class is reading Beezus and Ramona, a book series I loved as a child.
Last week her teacher sent me this picture that Trixie drew after a writing prompt:
Caption: I think Uncle Hobart will marry Aunt Bea
Here’s what she wrote about it:
We are reading the Ramona books and we are reading the one where Ramona and Beezus’ aunt marries Uncle Hobart, and I decided to have a writing prompt about it. When I reviewed all of them this morning, I laughed when I got to Trixie’s. I love how Uncle Hobart has the ring and the box, and how Aunt Beatrice has a surprised look on her face. But most of all, I really dig Uncle Hobart’s beard.
You raging hipster, Uncle Hobart!
P.S. Writing prompt on the next page reads: “If I could wish on a shooting start I would wish for an American Girl doll.” No surprise there.
One thing I clearly remember about my dear father – who died nearly 13 years ago – was that he never, ever swore.
Personally, I find that well-timed profanity can really punctuate a conversation and/or emphasize a point, but if I’m honest, sailor-talk just really isn’t all that classy.
Wear an animal? Yes. Use a four-letter word? Not on your life.
Don’t get me wrong, my Dad would occasionally get angry or frustrated – especially when the Green Bay Packers were losing – but when pushed to the brink, he would use his favorite non-swear curse word, one I think he entirely made up on his own: Ratchin’-fatchin’.
Ratchin’-fatchin’ doesn’t really have a definition and wasn’t a stand-in (a la “Shut the front door!”) for a similar profane word or phrase. It stood alone and proved to be quite versatile.
I stumbled across this list of fake swear words earlier this week (my favorite? Blurgh, as uttered by one of the all-time best female characters on TV, “30 Rock’s” Liz Lemon), and I had to laugh out loud.
However, I would respectfully like to submit “ratchin’-fatchin” to the list. TV writers, you’re welcome!
A few snaps from yesterday.
Fact #1: When you go to Target at 6 PM the night before Easter, you do not exactly get the best candy selection, which is why our baskets featured bunny-shaped marshmallows as a primary treat. (Not even Peeps, these were straight-up mallows).
Fact #2: There was one great score, however, a giant (maybe 15″) chocolate bunny from Williams and Sonoma. Except there was just one left, so it had to be shared. Cue sibling fighting.
Fact #3: The fact that the candy supply was shabby was overshadowed by the $1 bills in six of the plastic eggs. The kids thought they were millionaires!
Fact #4: Despite significant efforts by Spouse and me (including a post-midnight bedtime), the entire Egg Hunt and Basket Finding Mission was over in about three minutes.
Parting shot: A little dog is dressed for Easter, and these Ponies are out for a joyride.