Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I've admitted before that I have a conflicted impression of Gwyneth Paltrow. On one hand, she's elegant and interesting and has a hot husband and cute kids and you don't see her slouching down the red carpet with her nipple hanging out. (Indeed, these are our standards for decent celebrity behavior nowadays.) On the other hand, she has fashioned herself into a kind of lifestyle guru and speaks in public about how great her macrobiotic diet and personal trainer make her feel, and how everyone should give them a try.

So, depending on my mood, I react to these kinds of statements in one of two ways. When I'm in a pro-Gwynnie state of mind, I sort of appreciate her candor. She says she likes to drink wine and eat cheese and therefore must work out for two hours each day. She does not try to tell us she maintains her figure on a diet of French fries and milkshakes and tranquil walks on the beach. She talks about how she's chosen not to work as much as she used to because she doesn't like to leave home in the morning when her kids are asleep and come home after they've gone to bed. She doesn't pretend she's One of Us. She admits that she has two nannies.

But when I'm feeling cranky, I want her to dial it down. Is life really so difficult for someone who has two nannies and a cellar full of wine and a cupboard full of cheese and a Pilates studio in her back yard? Five days last year she had to work and didn't get to see her children at bedtime. How often does that happen to the average working parent? About once a week. Now I realize I'm sitting here in my comfy chair at 3:49 on a weekday afternoon, typing away on a nice laptop and wifi, which probably puts me closer to Gwyneth on the scale of most- to least-annoying complainers than to your average hard-working grocery store employee. But still! She's advising us to buy a jumpsuit? Seriously?

So, tell me, is it better for celebrities to be out of touch with the way most of us live but at least to admit it? Or do you prefer the Fabulous People who swear they still do their own grocery shopping?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Checking it Twice

Is it only Wednesday? Because it seems like it should probably be Monday of next week by now. Remember that job I talked about a while back? I didn't discuss it in detail because, well, we all know you just don't blog about your job. And one of the details I didn't discuss was that it was a temporary job. It ended last week. And all the planets aligned so that Theo's daycare is closed for its one-week-per-year vacation this week. Which means that I went from dressing in grown-up clothes and eating quinoa salad and fresh-baked bread from the salad bar three days per week and creating spreadsheets and talking about action items in meetings, to spending all day every day attempting to convince an oompa-loompa-sized human that having a clean diaper is infinitely nicer for everyone in the household than walking around wearing a dirty diaper. And while our time as a mother-and-child unit has had its wonderful moments (staying in my pajamas past 7am, for example), I've felt the abrupt loss of a sense of accomplishment.

You know what I mean. Making lists and checking them off. Even adding stuff to the list after it's already done so you can cross it out. So I made a list to make me feel better.

Recent Accomplishments:
-Taught Theo to answer back ROCK YOU after I sing "We Will We Will" a la Queen.

-Spent $18 at that really nice Whole Foods that usually seems too far away just for a quick grocery stop.

-Took a bag of clothing to the resale store. Traded it in for an Old Navy bikini that I may never gather the courage to wear.

-Uploaded the Epicurious app to my iPhone and then failed to open it.

-Updated my resume to include "80s Rock Lyric Contest Winner."

-Jinxed the outcomes of two reality shows with my confidence that, of the three finalists, at least one of the two people I liked would win. (Helen?! And Shawn?!!) I am not even going to watch the AI final tonight lest I damage the careers of both Kris and Adam with my support.

-Found a Matchbox car inside Theo's diaper. I'm assuming this is the result of his recent fascination with dropping everything down his shirt, but one never knows.

What have you accomplished lately?

(Also, does anyone know how to fix my template code so the ads don't hang off over there on the right? That's causing me physical pain right now.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why I Am Going to Hell

Last week, while surfing the CNN website for ways that I can make a difference in the lives of starving orphans and a detailed breakdown of the latest stock market fluctuations (by which I mean skimming the entertainment section for the previous night's American Idol results since I missed it and forgot to set the DVR), I saw this headline:
Another racy Prejean photo emerges; site promises more

And I was surprised that Sister Helen Prejean, the human rights activist brought to my attention (as are so many important humanitarian heroes) by Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, and a touching but probably somewhat overblown biopic, was posing for racy photos. So of course I clicked through and learned that Miss California has the same last name as Sister Helen (no relation). Miss California, incidentally, feels it's very important to provide scantily-clad photos of herself to the public in order to convert The Gays to heterosexuality before they try to get married. Or something like that. Like I said, I was just trying to make sure Adam hadn't been voted off.

Honest mistake, right? Same last name, read the story, got a little chuckle out of my misinterpretation. Well, that's not why I'm going to hell.

For the following day or two, I'd see the name in headlines, and every time I would first think of the nun, and then remind myself that it was the pageant contestant. And I chuckled and figured I couldn't be the only person making this connection, right? So I decided to share the laugh! Of course! So I told Jeff, and he said, "huh!? Oh yeah. Funny." Which was not particularly satisfying.

So of course I posted it to Twitter:
Shocked that Sister Helen Prejean (of Dead Man Walking fame) would take "racy photos." Also, wouldn't have pegged her as a pageant type.
Kind of funny, no? Not my very best tweet ever, but if anyone else had made the same mistake, maybe they'd laugh! I would have laughed if someone else had posted it. And even that probably wouldn't have sent me straight to hell.

But then, just a few hours later, I got this reply:
playproject@Blythe - where did you see this about Sr. Helen?
And I clicked through to the Twitter account, and then to the website.

And yes, indeed, it's an organization that works with Sister Helen to produce the play "Dead Man Walking" in schools and they thought I'd actually read somewhere that their heroine had been competing for a pageant title AND had released nudie photos to the media.

And I had to reply and tell them I'd been making a lame joke at a nun's expense. And they were nice and gracious in their reply and now they're following my updates. Either because they like my sense of humor or so they can monitor my tweets for more evidence that I'm defaming Sister Helen.

And that's why I'm going to hell.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My Son the Man

This poem came my way today and I couldn't help but share it.

My Son the Man

by Sharon Olds

Suddenly his shoulders get a lot wider,
the way Houdini would expand his body
while people were putting him in chains. It seems
no time since I would help him to put on his sleeper,
guide his calves into the gold interior,
zip him up and toss him up and
catch his weight. I cannot imagine him
no longer a child, and I know I must get ready,
get over my fear of men now my son
is going to be one. This was not
what I had in mind when he pressed up through me like a
sealed trunk through the ice of the Hudson,
snapped the padlock, unsnaked the chains,
and appeared in my arms. Now he looks at me
the way Houdini studied a box
to learn the way out, then smiled and let himself be manacled.

From Poetry Foundation

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Happiest Place on Earth

I never thought I’d become a Vegas person. You know, the people who go every year and stay at Bally’s and get to know the concierge and can tell you where the highest-paying slots are and which buffet serves the juiciest prime rib. Normally these people are very tan and like to wear flip flops. They also know what “double down” means.

I am and know none of these things. I have ugly feet so avoid flip-flops, the last time I had a tan was 1987 (seriously) and I just don’t enjoy playing cards that much or even trying my hand at the slot machines. But I could happily spend a long weekend in Las Vegas annually. When I’m there, I feel like I am On Vacation. I order strawberry-flavored drinks poolside. I sleep in the sun. I shop for impractical clothing. I send Jeff off to the roulette tables with a wave and nestle in with a book. I sip fancy cocktails at bars on the 39th floor. I use an excessive number of white beach towels on my deck chair.

The Vegas people surround me while I’m there, of course. They talk about taking a taxi downtown, and where to get tickets to see Donny and Marie. They wear sparkly sunglasses. They smell like coconut oil. They possess cards that fit into the slot machines. And they provide the best people-watching on earth. When Jeff and I took a little getaway a few weeks ago, we lounged and gambled a bit but mainly we sat at restaurants and in bars, eating fantastic meals and delicious drinks and eavesdropping. We watched two families meeting for the first time, making small talk while they waited for their engaged children/siblings who were over an hour late for dinner (maybe on purpose?). We witnessed a man trying to coax his bronzed teenage daughter, who was wearing earbuds and lying face down in her bikini, to come inside already because WE HAVE TO CHECK OUT IN TWENTY MINUTES, CECILIA. CECILIA, CAN YOU HEAR ME? We overheard a tableful of Euro hipsters wearing pencil-leg plaid pants (men) and purple eye shadow (women), fighting over the check in their various accents. We must have seen twenty wedding parties, most of whom were on their way to or from taking photos in front of the “Eiffel Tower.” I loved every minute of it.

I’m already shopping for some rhinestone flip-flops and am thinking of signing up for a special affiliate card at Caesar’s. Because despite denying it, I guess I really am one of those people after all. Who needs Europe when we’ve got Vegas, baby?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Look! Over there!

My blog has a brand new home.

Go to www.theblythespirit.com to read all about it and re-set your bookmarks.
Don't forget to update your feed reader.

See you there.