04 September 2008

Little America

I am wearing my suburban mommy disguise.

What surprises me is how much I look like the other suburban mommies in this get up: gym shorts, t-shirt, hair pulled into a pony tail, baseball cap.

Of course, this being me we're talking about, everything is slightly off. The gym shorts aren't cute and constructed to show off my toned legs or butt; they're from my kids' (private) school and they are long, true high school gym shorts, designed to cover my middle-aged legs and butt. The t-shirt is Old Navy, grey heather, XL. 'Nough said. The hat is from a casino; I won it in a blackjack tournament. My shoes were once white.

Jefferson, I think we're lost...

Morning tends to be intense in my house, as I'm packing lunches into lunchboxes, directing breakfast, and pushing everyone out the door. The last two days I've grabbed my breakfast on my way out to take the son to the bus stop. This morning, I was caught by one of my neighbors while I was trying to swallow a mouthful of whole grain waffle smeared with peanut butter. And of course, I had to talk to the bus driver today, all the while wondering desperately as I smiled and asked the necessary questions if there was peanut butter on my face and if I'd remembered to brush my teeth before I left the house.

Home again, home again to stuff the spouse and daughter into the car. One more cup of coffee and I'm out the door again.

I walk the walk, albeit with a slight limp and sans Starbucks cup, preferring to move quickly and alone, iPod strapped to my arm, Michael Stipe and Geddy Lee taking turns shrieking in my ears.

A man waves at me from a car, and gives me the thumbs up. I feel my hackles rise with rage--I've been called that disgusting four-letter acronym that begins with "m" often enough that I will probably throw a shoe at the next man who yells it--but then I realize it's the student services coordinator from the daughter's school. I wave back and tell him to have a good day, feeling profoundly guilty, certain that my immediate anger was written all over my face.

Find another road to take...

I don't glow; I don't even perspire. I sweat embarrassingly and copiously. It's been unusually humid and my hair is literally dripping, shirt clinging wetly to my back. This is when I run into my neighbor PH and her friend J, also out walking, not dripping, both doing suburban mommy much better than I am. I am so focused on what I'm doing and what I'm thinking...

(meal planning for elderly in-laws. What can I make to keep their freezer stocked with easy to heat, nutritious meals they will eat? I think of casseroles and stews and soups into which I can slip extra protein and fiber unnoticed. I wonder how I can set up assessments for both of them with a gerontologist without looking pushy and bossy...)

...that I don't see PH at first until she waves wildly at me as I'm passing. I am embarrassed at not seeing her and I have the music turned up so loud that I don't hear anything else. PH wonders if I'm taking the road up to the tennis club or...? I make the right noises, and I am satisfied with my tone and words. I walk sociably alongside them for a few blocks, and bid them farewell at the school their kids attend. I continue on my way, marching past ranks of other suburban mommies.

How many times must another line be drawn?

Suburban mommies are the talk of the town of the town right now.

I am tired of the conversation. I am tired of the "narrative."

The biggest wagon is the empty wagon is the noisiest...

The truth is that I'm tired of politicians, and I'm disappointed that once again this country cannot come up with a single individual worthy of running it, someone who could run it with integrity. I'm tired of the media, I'm tired of speeches that stretch the facts.

How many times
Do we wonder if it’s even worth it
There’s got to be some other way

Go listen to some good music: "Little America" from the album Reckoning by REM; "We Hold On" from the album Snakes and Arrows by Rush.

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