Oscars live blog tonight!

That's right. It's still circa-2003 up in here, so all the Kari-borne-Oscar-talk will be in the form of an awkwardly posted epic long blog post tonight. Woo!

The show starts at 7:30 central, but the blogging might start a smidge before that, depending on the horrors of the pre-show, and how quickly I can get a whiskey in me.

So! Crate the kids, rustle up some snacks, cut an Angelina Leg Slit ™ into the side of your yoga pants. OSCAR NIGHT IS NIGH.

6:38: I am dressed in my finest Old Navy and eating my finest hummus and trying to decide which crazy squirrel Kristin Chenowith reminds me of: the one from Hoodwinked or the one from Over the Hedge. 

6:40: So, Will from Alias is here. I hope no one kicks him in his pretty face or throws him the back of a van. 

6:42: I'm not a fan of the pooping-out-the-train style of dresses. MAKE A NOTE, CHARLIZE.

6:51: I find it extremely disappointing that NPR is not doing a red carpet special. Why isn't Ari Shapiro describing all the dresses to me? This is a travesty.

7:02: It's confusing to me why Jennifer Aniston is dressed like Mother Ginger. Is she smuggling small children into the Oscars? Is Quvenzhané Wallis up in there?

7:03: SYDNEY BRISTOW IS HERE, TOO! If the power goes out half-way through this show we know the North Koreans have infiltrated the basement of the Kodak Theater.

7:13: Consensus in the room I'm in: Anne Hathaway's boob darts are unfortunate and she probably shouldn't have said her dress = "party in the back."

7:25: Here's what I'd like to see at the end of the show: Kristin Chenowith sandwiched bewteen Queen Latifah and Adele. And then she could sing We Welcome You to MunchkinLand, with the ruby red slippers on her feet like sparkly boats. 

7:30: THE SHOW IS FINALLY STARTING. Seth McFarlane is standing amongst these icy looking stalactites. And I don't mean Renee Zellweger. ZING.

7:34: Slavery jokes! Yes, yes, just what I was expecting. 

7:36: Captain Kirk! I hope he sings.

7:39: Meanwhile, a hundred years later I've fallen asleep twice, grown a beard, we still haven't given out any awards, and Seth McFarlane hasn't stopped singing.

7:46: So, for real. Is it Seth McFarlane hour? Are they killing time because Anne Hathaway was stabbed by a boob dart? 

7:48: Octavia Spencer! I know her best from Wizards of Waverly Place and I am only mostly ashamed to admit that.

7:50: Christoph Waltz just called Quentin Tarantino "The Creator" and also the hero of the Hero's Journey. Now they're going to go bone in the bathroom.

7:56: I feel a little bit like I might be accidentally high right now?

8:02: So… Brave scared the living shit out of my kids. It was a good movie, and I liked the girl power whatnot, but hello bear attacks.

8:06: the Oscar wagon wheel set decoration is weird.  This is not a joke. Just an observation. 

8:08: The guy who was the conductor of Shelley Long's orchestra in The Money Pit just won for Best Cinematography.

8:09: Not really. 

8:14: The Jaws song?! Oh, man. That is most excellent in a terrible way. I wonder if they'll start letting people choose their own getting-played-off-stage music. What would I choose? Hmm. Maybe the Pitbull song about big ol bootys? 

8:16: The women are whores jokes just never get old, do they, Seth?

8:22: Well, we've traded in whore jokes for women making themselves barf to be beautiful jokes so… progress?

8:26: When I was a kid, I was terrified by the prospect of being killed by being painted with gold. This was almost as terrifying as the idea of being chased down by lava. Two things that were very common in central Florida, I'm sure.

8:27: Shirley Bassey is KILLING IT. HE LOVES ONLY GOLD, YOU GUYS.

8:34: Pink cocktail acheivement unlocked.

8:36: Now I want people to give long speeches so I can hear them get sharked off the stage.

8:39: While we're watching this clip about Lincoln I thought you'd like to know two things I learned about Washington this week: His favorite food was mashed yams and coconut, and he had false teeth because he broke nearly all his real teeth trying to break open Brazil nuts.

8:52: Commercial break over. Looking forward to some jokes about dumb girls and their dumb vaginas. We still have hours to go. You know those jokes are simmering.

8:56: I want to dislike Catherine Zeta-Jones, but I just can't. Man she can belt out a song.

8:57: You know the show is not awesome when you're like "Yay! Live music montage of movies not nominated this year!"

9:00: I know it's hard to believe, Hollywood muckety-mucks, but the audience is captivated and there hasn't been a mysoginistic joke in at least five minutes.

9:01: I haven't seen Les Mis in a while. Anne Hathawy is going to drop from the ceiling in a base jumping suit, yes?

9:04: One Day More. In high school I would ride around town in a jeep with my theater friends and we would sing this song at the top of our lungs. Because we were cool like that.

9:11: I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THIS AWARD IS FOR BECAUSE oops, caps lock. I need another drink. 

9:17: No, wait, NOW the conductor from the orchestra of the Money Pit is winning something. He's about to get sharked off the stage because this Oscar is a TIE and he's going to have to stand up on stage and scream his thanks over the other guy screaming his own thanks. Pretty sure that's how it works. Oh my God, you guys, this show is so long and boring.

9:19: I can't wait to get the Jaws song on my computer so that when my kids start asking a really long question or telling me a story about a kid who did a thing on the playground by the place over there, I can just Airplay that shit and raise the volume until I can escape to the bathroom in peace.

9:21: Amy Adams does the Carol Burnett ear tug thing and wins my heart forever.

9:23: Anne Hathaway! Party in the back!

9:32: Is Sandra Bullock talking about ham hocks? I'm not paying attention anymore. I hope she is. We could really use more ham hocks in everyday conversation and/or fancy award shows. 

9:35: Jennifer Lawrence looks like she's facing death up there, introducing Adele. Calm down, girl. Let those beta blockers kick in.

9:38: I would like Adele and Shirley Bassey to do an encore of Goldfinger together. And I would like a recording of it so I could listen to it in my car and sing the shit out of that song while I'm driving to pick the kids up from school. (This post brought to you by how old I am.)

9:44: I have this image of the restrooms at the Oscars where there are these moist mannequin heads by the sinks and all of the actors and actresses can take their faces off, place them on the mannequin heads, steam all the wrinkles out, and then put their faces back on before they go back to their seats. Otherwise I have no explanation for Nicole Kidman's face.

9:50: I'm not sure why Kristin Stewart is limping, but I'm guessing a shark bit her. 

10:01: It's a Babs hologram! Like the teddy bear, but WAY fancier. SHe has been using that bathrom face steamer, y'all. She looks pretty damn good.

10:07: There's a real show about quasi-famous people jumping off of diving boards? Of course there is.

10:11: Life of Pi wins for score. I could use some pie. It probably wouldn't hurt to score, either.

10:13: What's happening right now? Icebergs melting. Are we watching the Earth age in real time? 

10:17: SO much fanking going on right now. I love you Adele.

10:25: Argo wins for best adapted screenplay! And wins for best speech, too, because YES thank you to people who use creativity and brains to solve problems non-violently. 

10:28: Quentin Taratino takes the Oscar for best original screenplay. I think he's wearing a leather tie. Those two things have nothing to do with each other. Also, instead of sharking him off the stage, they Gone With the Winded him off stage. 

10:32: Ooh, Jane Fonda is Joan Collinsing it tonight. Right on, girl. Now throw a drink in someone's face. 

10:44: Katniss wins! And falls up the stairs without seeming to be visibly drunk or high. Well, we all love you more now, Jen.

10:45: Meryl Streep takes a moment to scratch her ass before announcing Best Actor. That's cool.

10:51: Daniel Day Lewis has lipstick on his cheek and I find that very endearing even though he had nothing to do with it. I also find his funny speech endearing. Meryl Streep in a musical Lincoln? Yes. Thanking his wife. Yes. I've always wondered how she might put up with his acting shenangians.

10:54: Oh, hey, FLOTUS. Is this the Harlem Shake part? There has to be a Harlem Shake part. 

10:56: Yay Argo! I'm not going to be cynical and say it won because it's about Hollywood helping to save the world, and instead I'm going to say it won because it was a good movie. It WAS a good movie. Now I want to see Clooney get sharked off the stage.

11:00: Ben Affleck is adorable. For real. And I love that he Jennifer Garner have been married for so long and have so many kids and that he knew when to stop talking about how marriage is hard work. 

11:01: And so now what? Chenowith comes out in a clown car?

11:03: OK. I'm calling this done. No clown cars. No Harlem Shake. I wish the camera was showing everyone as they stream out of the theater during this song. 

11:04: LONGEST OSCARS EVER. But at least we got to watch footage of the Earth aging in real time, and we all got a chance to grow a beard as nice as Affleck's.

11:07: KARI OUT.

A Saturday Morning Incident

The rollie-pollie
whose name is Justin Beaver
has had an unfortunate accident.

Visitors to the front porch are quite upset
about the state of his legs
many of which are bent the wrong way.

Even more alarming is the state of his belly
with its now exposed gut
hanging limply through the awkward legs
a sad flag of surrender.

We hope you lived a long life, Justin Beaver,
and that your last moments were without pain.
We accept your surrender
And offer you to the birds
An early sacrifice
on this not-quite-spring morning 

in which I overthink a new kitchen table

I have always had a problem with anthropomorphizing objects. When I was a child I cried when we traded in our POS station wagon because I was afraid it would be sad without us. I can remember crying when we got rid of our couch, too. Where would it go? Would it still be loved? Even now, as a grown ass woman, I get these despairing feelings when it comes time to make a change.

It is time to make a change.

In our kitchen is a (formerly) lovely vintage 1950s dinette. It has a yellow formica top, it's wrapped in chrome, the chairs are yellow vinyl, and have those metal studs all around the edges of the backs. When my husband and I bought it, we were either just barely married, or not quite married. We found it in an old antique store in an old Texas town, and we paid $200 for the table and four chairs. It was an exhilarating find. I still love this damn table, even though a family of five does not fit around it, and the chairs are all beat to hell and duct taped, and we never quite got around to stripping the rust from the studs. I don't want to get a new table. But we really, really need a new table.

I'm in negotiations with my husband right now to keep the dinette. Maybe I can use it for a desk. Maybe we can save it for one day when we have a house that has two areas for tables. I am way too sentimental about this table, but realistically, I know we cannot continue to cram five people around it, using a mish mash of beat to hell 1950s chairs and plastic Ikea chairs.

So we went table shopping today. 

My first realization was that even though we have a million kids and less than a million dollars we do not have to go to Ikea or some big box furniture store. I'm not sure why this was so surprising to me, but it sure was a relief. Not that I don't love Ikea, or have a couch from a big box furniture store, I just want something equal to – or close to equal to – the energy and the awesomeness of the dinette.

My second realization was that maybe it isn't going to be as arduous and impossible to find a table as I had convinced myself. 

The first place we went, BAM. Really cool reclaimed teak table. Not something you'd see everywhere, not too expensive. But huge. Plenty of room for the family. Too big to fit in the kitchen, though. Boo.

The next place we went we found this cool handmade pine table. The legs seemed heavy to me, and the pine was so soft it would be marked and stained in an instant. But the thought of instantaneous ruin is what made me kind of love it. If we bought that table, it would be tattooed with dinner spills and science experiments gone awry. It would have words and numbers accidentally carved into it from pressing too hard while angrily working on homework. It would have gouges from slipped silverware and dropped bowls. It would have scorches from birthday candles and too hot cookie sheets. We would ruin that tabletop – but in ruining it we would make it ours. It would be a time capsule of all the years of school and birthdays and holidays. The gouges and etchings and accidental marks would be hieroglyphs spelling out years of childhood and adolescence.

And now I have somehow managed to become sentimental over a table we do not own. This particular one has these huge heavy legs that would look weird in our kitchen. But… now, I'm less bothered by setting aside the dinette and finding something new. The 50s diner table was perfect for the first fourteen years of marriage, but now we need something for everyone… a table that will see late night homework sessions, birthday dinners, Important Talks, food fights, slumber party shenanigans, midnight snacks, stolen kisses, and years of markers and paint and ink and pencils… something that will be solid under our elbows; something that will see us through sunny days and long nights.

Maybe neither of the two tables from today is quite the perfect table for us, but they freed me from my weirdo emotional tether to the current table. Granted, this freedom appears to be in the form of a new weirdo emotional tether to something yet to be discovered, but that's OK, I think. 

If anything in this family is going to record the hieroglyphs of our minutes and days and weeks and years, it should be the kitchen table. It is the sun to our many different orbits. It is the magnetic force that finds us pulled together even when we don't want to see each other. It is a lap where we all sit to find comfort. It is the heartbeat of the household, where we flow when we need more oxygen and nutrients, and where we drift away when we find ourselves satiated. It's always there, always offering a place to catch your breath, always offering a place to fill your cup.

And, suddenly, a tedious shopping experience is turning into an adventure. We are hunting for a new sun to orbit around. A new recording device for our daily travails. An always silent ear listening to our burdens and offering solace in its sturdiness and ability to hold a tray of cookies.

So we're looking. Not shopping, but searching. We're discovering and uncovering and investigating and seeking a talisman that will stoically accept our spaghetti dinners and spilled milks and secrets and wonders.

It is only a table, I know. But the more I think about it, the more I realize I do want a new one. It will be our table now – the entire family's. And it will need to see us through the years to come.

It will need to survive us.

It will need to last.

A February Ouroboros

The world is full of meteors and asteroids and screaming goats and poop-filled cruise ships and so I feel like nothing really interesting is going on over here. And yet… something really cool happened this week and I feel like it might make you just as shivery as it made me. I mean, it's no Siberian meteorite, but in the haikuoftheday-household-scheme-of-things it's nearly just as big.

So.

A few weeks ago it was time for us to have our annual review for Ike-a-saurus' medicaid waiver. Every year, a case manager and a nurse come to the house and ask lots of questions, write down current medications, track nursing hours, etc. It's a little bit arduous, but nothing like it used to be. Now, I can answer "no, nope, uh-uh, overnight hospital stays in the last 30 days? No." when it used to be more like "Yes, yep, yes, hospitalizations? ER visits? Here's the list."

I was surprised last year when we still qualified for the waiver, but Ike was still in a "failure to thrive" situation, and still had some therapies he was going to, etc. We were approved, and we were grateful. The medicaid waiver supplements our private insurance and has saved us from probably hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. You don't want to have a medically fragile child, but if you have one, having a medicaid safety net to keep you from losing your house is awfully nice. (Don't tell the state of Texas. I'm sure someone is lobbying to get rid of this as we speak.)

Well, we had our meeting, and that was that. I didn't think much about it after it was done, other than "whew, that's done." Then, a few days ago, I got a call from the nurse. Our waiver is pending denial.

My immediate reaction? Knee-buckling relief. Because even though we're still working on a lot of things (gaining weight, transitioning from the prescription formula, addressing a possible reccurance of reflux, avoiding respiratory illnesses, etc.) a denial means we are nearly in a place of… non-panic at every cough or sneeze. It means he's healthy. It is the pot of no-more-jumping-through-hoops-no-more-panic-attacks at the end of the rainbow.

So, yes, I felt relief. But then… my next reaction was shivery and emotional. I realized the phone call about the denial had come four years to the day that Ike was admitted to the PICU – in that mad dash/chest compressions/me chasing wildly after the doctors Night Of Horror.

Four years exactly.

That, my friends, is taking things full circle.

Well-played, Universe.

Well-played.

Deep into the morass and then out into the breeze

There are a lot of things a person can feel guilty about. And guilty is such a wonderful word to describe the feeling. It tucks in on itself, hiding its face, but its tail is always sticking out, never letting it hide all the way. Guilty. A great, anthropomorphic word. Guilty. A less than great way to feel.

As a mother, I think it's easy to have guilt as a squelchy emotion that is just as common as bursting love and blackened exasperation. I've been feeling overly squelchy lately and I feel like it's time to confess. I am watching as my vibrant, terrifyingly smart daughter skirts around around the alluring, white-hot fringes of anxiety. The stomachaches, the finger biting, the sleepless nights, the fast heartbeats… I'm watching it happen and I'm trying to help, but the only two things I can think are "It's all my fault" and "I'm throwing half full buckets on small, but growing flames."

I can see you flip your head to the side and purse your lips and shake your finger at me. "It is not your fault," you'd say if we were out for coffee. "These kinds of things are brain things, they're not fault things." And you'd be sort of right, because, yes, I totally believe an anxious brain is wired to be that way. Genetically, the child was gifted with her mother's propensity to worry and fret. My fault without being my fault. But the thing is, even with a brain wired to lean towards this life of rapid heartbeats and anxiousness, I think so many things have happened to encourage this rather than fight against it. I think that circumstances have become a bellows, puffing up these flames, and I have been at fault for squeezing the bellows with my own two hands.

This is what I find on repeat inside my head: I had to wean her before she was ready. I went to the doctor one day and didn't come home for five weeks because I was immediately hospitalized. Her younger brother was born way too early and needed more hands and attention than four babies combined. There were weeks and months I spent caring for him out of town. There were weeks and months I spent caring for him in town – but lost in my own worry and angst.

Could I have changed anything about these situations? No. Can someone be faulted for things like this? No. Should I put them all behind me? Yes. Do I wonder if they've had some long-lasting affect? Yes.

Maybe this litany of worry and second guessing is how every parent feels when it comes to a younger child or a middle child, our situation just has some exclamation points and hairy close-ups. There is never enough time for everyone. This is how you learn sacrifice and empathy, right?

And now I watch her, as a 6-year-old, who in some ways is absolutely fearless, but in other ways trembles and quakes, and I want to clap my hands and fill her brain with endless whispers of how smart and strong she is. But I can't be with her when she needs these whispers the most. I am not assigned to sit at her table during reading time. I do not sit across the mat from her during spelling lessons. I make up for this by hugging her tight and feeding her frozen blueberries and agreeing to dyslexia testing and telling her over and over how much I love her. But I never stop worrying that she doesn't hear me over her own voice in her head. I never stop worrying that she hears "I love you" from me – but with an asterisk at the end.

So that is what troubles me on this rainy Monday when paperwork has been signed and testing agreed to, and meetings have been had, and teachers and administrators have linked arms with parents to try to form a chain of loving adults who will not let this child think she's not good enough or smart enough or strong enough to take over the world.

Our arms are linked, and we are being vigilant and proactive and all of those words with stiff backs and shiny shoes, but I fear she can still slip through our links. I fear she's spent too much time being self-reliant over these formative years that she would rather fight the fight alone than with help.

These are my fears, though. Not my beliefs. I don't believe she'll slip through our linked arms. I don't believe she will end up not feeling smart and brave and strong. I don't believe she will spend her life under a cloud of anxiety. I worry about it. But I don't believe it. Maybe that's something she and I can talk about. Belief versus worry. Truth versus fretting. Faith vs clutching on with fingernails for dear life. Our past experiences are the things that give us inspiration and color and perspective, right? Our future experiences are all the amazing things we can do with the pieces and parts that make us unique, yes? A stomachache in the morning because of reading challenges in school does not mean you aren't as smart as a rocket scientist.

I hope she can understand that I don't do anything for her with an asterisk at the end. I will always be on her side. I might get exasperated. I might not have all the answers. The answers I do have might not be the ones she wants. But I will always be looking for answers. I will always be asking questions. We are learning together.

I will try to stop letting guilt tuck its little head into the back of my shirt collar and whisper in my ear. And I will do my best to keep my positive voice louder than the self-doubt that whispers in my daughter's ear. She must learn that the world is hers for the taking. She must learn that whomever controls the bellows controls the flames.

So we will squeeze the bellows together. Not to fan the flames of anxiety, or to start new fires, but to fan our hair out behind us like superheroes. Superheroes running to the action, not away from it. But in slow motion, through the warm breeze.

the suburbs on sunday

The car that circles the block
is not a car I know
and so I wonder who it is
driving so methodically,
behind dark glass

Maybe she’s lost, on her way to Bunco
and can’t see the house numbers
because they are a hideous tan color
hidden in plain sight,
looking exactly the same

Maybe he’s a thief, cruising our street
looking to take bicycles and laptops
and stuff them in the spacious trunk
of a black Lexus,
stolen just this morning

Maybe she’s looking for a house to buy
with plenty of sunlight
that will maybe offer solace and renewal
after the divorce,
that has lasted too long

I guess my money’s on a lost guy
searching for a friend’s house
an hour too close to kick-off
smelling his six-layer dip go to rot,
next to him in the passenger’s seat