Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

Why do we feel compelled to clean and organize and make resolutions as one year comes to a calendar end and another begins? Is it just that “clean slate” feeling, where we tell ourselves NOW is the time to set new goals and propose new changes in our lives? Or what?

I mean, really now, why couldn’t we do this on ANY day of the year? Why do we wait for New Years? I am not really sure.

I have spent the better part of an hour cleaning my one teenaged son’s room: digging out a pile of shoes and video game cords and duffle bags and football shirts from his closet and stacking his books at least semi-neatly on a shelf. Old school papers and other detritus into the giant black garbage bag. Yesterday, I purchased a huge plastic tote, which was on sale at Target’s, and I am planning on placing all of his loose videos, DVDs, and CDs in it for him to sort through later as he wishes. I just cannot stand the piles of loose CDs and DVDs lying about, waiting to get scratched and stepped on and ruined. Why it is so difficult to keep these things in their cases is beyond me.

Why I am cleaning my son’s room – or at least straightening it out a bit so HE can clean it upon his return – is also beyond me. It somehow makes me feel productive or useful. I just feel this incredible urge to organize and throw shit out!

I need to tackle my older son’s room as well. He is getting a new bed, but I cannot possibly move a new bed in there until we clean all the old crap out. This past fall he and his friend lugged home several computer monitors, a hard drive, and other computer accessories from a local church yard sale. There was some talk about creating a “super computer,” but really I think the driving force was the fact that this crap was all free for the taking. It had been the end of the day at the yard sale, and, as my son described it, “the man was just giving computers away!”

Of course, he was: they are worthless junk and if he didn’t get rid of them, he would have to find a way to dispose of them himself.

Which now I must find! And I am finding it a bit more difficult than I first thought. I know you are not supposed to just throw an old computer out with the trash. That it has all sorts of toxic components with mercury and lithium and whatnot inside just waiting to pollute the landfills and taint the water and air of planet earth. Also, just because a computer has outlived its existence in one homestead does not mean it cannot find a home elsewhere, or at least be scavenged for parts. I am not so sure, however, about the usefulness of any of the computer components my son dragged home. He insists they all work, or at least turn on when you plug them in.

I scoured the phone book for a place that takes old, dead computers. With no luck. I tried calling the waste management company, but was on hold for so long I finally hung up with disgust. I mean, get real! How many phone calls can the waste management company possibly be getting? I turned to the Internet, but still was not having much luck. I found one place that said it recycles computers and sends them to Asia. Or sends them to Asia where they are then recycled. Or something. But when I tried the phone number, it was disconnected. Not a good sign. There was an email address associated with the site, so I tried that. Ended up it was the mother company located several states away. Not much help there.

Then I vaguely remembered someone at work telling me there was a Goodwill store on the far side of the city that sold used computers and parts. I googled Goodwill and finally found info on the store. It said you could donate your used computers at any local Goodwill store. That sounded too good to be true, but I called the store closest to me and, sure enough, they said I could bring my computers there.

Now, that sounds like a plan. I can have my son load all his rescued computer components into my car this weekend, and we can tote them down to Goodwill, where hopefully some computer guru will be able to at least salvage some parts from the lot and put them to good use. And if not, I at least hope they will know how to dispose of old computers properly.

Earlier in the week, I cleaned out all of my files and threw out a bunch of old paperwork. I sorted through some clothes, finally moved my summer clothes up to the attic, and weeded out some other clothes for the Saint Vincent de Paul box. I organized all of my children’s insurance forms and medical bills and receipts, so I can give copies to their father, under whose name their medical insurance falls. I organized my drawer of checks and checkbooks and registers and ordered new checks for one of my accounts.

I put my thousands of emails from the past year in alphabetical order by sender and then went through ruthlessly deleting every single one I possibly could. I know, I know, you are wondering why I didn’t just delete all of them, but some included new addresses and phone numbers for friends who have moved, others contained photos and attachments I want to keep or download, and still others account information or subscription renewals I might need to access.

I bought new socks and panty hose and bras for the new year. And a variety of storage totes that I think are going to help my life be more organized, or less cluttered. I hate clutter, and teenagers seem to create it wherever they go. I have this fantasy that if I box up stuff and no one notices it is gone for a year or so, then I should be able to just dump that box of stuff. Good riddance!

I am not sure why we are so partial to so much… stuff. I hate stuff. But I guess one man’s stuff is another man’s treasure. Or something. I think it is pretty much all stuff and the less we had of it the happier we would be. But it is also a pain and tiring to sort through stuff and then either organize it, move it elsewhere, or throw it out. I guess that is why we take advantage of things like the end of one year and the beginning of the next to muster the energy and gird our loins for massive cleaning and organizing and de-stuffifying.

When I went to the gym this morning, it was packed. I hate the gym and the swimming pool this time of year. They are overly crowded with people who have made New Year’s resolutions that they are going to work out this year. I think it’s great that people want to try to keep fit and get physical exercise, but most of these people are not very sincere. Their ranks thin out significantly by the second or third week in January and are not seen again until the next new year. If that many people were really going to seriously work out and get fit, just think of all the new gyms and swimming pools that could be built!

Out with the old, in with the new! A time for change. A time to renew.


I think I’m about ready to take a cup o’kindness yet.

Or even better, a right guid-willie waught!

Happy New Year and all the best in 2009.

Now, where did I put that large black trash bag…?

Sunday, December 28, 2008


This thought occurred to me the other day, as I was snaking along a mountain highway through unexpected afternoon fog, having just dropped my children off with their dad for the holiday: Maybe other people don’t think the same things I do or, at least, think the same way I do.

That was a revelation.

I had this thought, because I drive this same circuitous mountain route several times a year, either dropping my kids off or picking them up. While my children are in the car with me, we are usually talking or else they are listening to dreadful heavy metal/alternative rock music either on their iPods or my car stereo. On the half of the trip where they are not with me, though, I listen to books on CD, because radio reception in the mountains is very unreliable and I like to listen to something intriguing, in an attempt to stay awake.

I have driven this same route dozens of times over the past five years, and I have listened to quite a few audio books, some fiction, some non-fiction.

The result of this is that as I round a particular bend or pass a particular town or road sign, I am invariably reminded of a particular passage from a book on CD that I happened to be listening to at that point on a previous trip. This in turn reminds me of the whole book and this makes me think of all sorts of things: other books by the same author, other similar books, things that were going on in my life at that time, things that were going on in the world at that time, things that have no relation to either that book or that time. But that initial memory is a trigger all the same. It is a visual trigger that sets an audio memory in action that sets a whole string of weird thought sequences into gear. And makes for very interesting drives indeed!

Songs do this to me, too. When I drive to work, I occasionally listen to a radio station that plays what they call “The Nine at Nine.” They pick a year between the 70s and now and play top hits from that year, usually from that day. Invariably, certain songs bring all sorts of memories whooshing back to me: from middle school, high school, college, the Army, young adult life, what have you. Often I have not heard many of these songs since the time they were giant hits, and I am surprised by how effectively they can trigger memories from my past.

Smells can do this, too. Especially if they are smells I have not experienced in a while and they are associated with powerful events in my life. Black shoe polish would be one of these smells. Whenever I smell black shoe polish, which would not be very often, I am instantaneously transported back to West Point and often Beast Barracks, where that smell first entered my olfactory senses. Black shoe polish, of course, represents all those hours I spent spit shining my shoes and combat boots. And all of the weird methods we would try as plebes to try to get our shoes to shine even better for the upper classmen who inspected us, whether formally in formation or whimsically as we passed them in the hallways.

I cannot imagine that I am all that different from anyone else. Don’t these visual, audio, and olfactory cues stimulate memories in all of us? Sure, different cues stimulate different memories in different people, but that feeling of suddenly being whisked back in time is unmistakable. In splashes, smatterings, even entire scenarios.

Wow! I hadn’t thought of that in years.

Gosh, I haven’t heard that song since it first came out. And with good reason….

Gee, I had forgotten that. The memory was so sudden, so fresh, so vivid. How could I ever have forgotten that?

When I was a little kid, I had this theory that all of our memories are stored in filing cabinets up in our brains. Only as we get older the rooms up there get over-crowded with filing cabinets and it is impossible to keep track of all those files, all those memories. Yet, if something leads us to a particular cabinet, a particular drawer, a particular file, that memory is still there, for us to remember, to enjoy, or to suffer through. I used to think that everything we ever saw, heard, smelled, tasted, said, or felt was stored up there in our brain somewhere, but that it was just too much for our brains to keep a manageable grip on everything. So, we tended to be selective in what we remembered, at least on a daily basis. And how many of our memories, especially as we get older, are really memories of memories and not memories at all? Yet, is there something like a sight, a smell, a sound, a hypnotist’s trance that can transport us back to any or all memories that are stored up there? Can we remember a lot more than we think we can? Or are memories actually lost?

Why do we remember an event in one way and someone else remembers it in a different way? Why do we not remember a particular event, but a close relative or friend who was there with us does remember it? And when they speak about it, we sometimes remember it, thinking: wow! I haven’t thought of that in years!

Or else, we think, gee, I seriously do NOT remember that at all. And secretly wonder if it is true.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Chin up!

I’m not sure what it is about Nora Ephron and her neck. I’m more concerned about my chins. All eight of them.

Well, OK, I may be exaggerating a tad. But there is definitely more than one. And they LOVE to be caught on film. Which is one reason I eschew being photographed.

I used to think it was my ex-husband. That he just had a real knack for catching me at incredibly bad angles and creating an optical illusion where I had multiple chins. But unless there really is a vast right wing conspiracy and he is far more powerful than humanly possible, then the cameras simply do not lie. I definitely have a couple of chins going on there.

It is distressing. I do not think of myself as a particularly vain or self-enamored woman. I do not wear make up. I have never had a manicure in my life. I work out multiple days a week, trying to swim my cares away. Hell, I even do yoga. I do not really eat a whole heck of a lot. And yet….

There are those chins!

My mother insisted on yet another family Christmas card photo this year. Usually she takes the photos herself and then has a separate super image of her PhotoShopped in by the folks down at Photo Depot. This year, she managed to get a friend to take the photos.

My fourteen year old said to me: “How come Grandma looks like a movie star in every photo she’s in?’

“I don’t know,” I said. I was more worried about the fact that I was standing right next to the movie star, with all my chins, in all their glory.

My mother pooh-poohed me. “Well, look at me. I have a chicken neck.”

“OK. Well, you’re 82, you’re supposed to have a chicken neck. Besides, you still look like a movie star.”

She laughed demurely.

But it’s true. She goes to her high school reunions and comes back with this photo of a bunch of old people and HER. She looks gorgeous. Amazing. Just like a movie star. Only movie stars her age don’t look half as good!

I, meanwhile, have to deal with all those chins. I am not really fat, I don’t think. People from my past tell me I look just like I did in high school or college. That horrifies me! Please, dear God, don’t tell me I looked like a middle aged woman with multiple chins when I was in high school!


Maybe I am overly sensitive. I truly hate having my photo taken. I like being neither seen nor heard. I like to be the one in the background soaking up the scene at hand and eavesdropping on all that fabulous conversation that I am then, somehow, going to incorporate into a short story someday.

I am a very modest person. Changing in the gym locker room is anathema. In college, in the communal shower room, I took my glasses off. If I couldn’t see anyone else, they couldn’t see me. I am sure I was one of those young children whose idea of hiding was sitting in the middle of the room and covering her eyes.

But I still have those damned chins to contend with!

My older son, who had just taken a course in Digital Imaging, reassured me: “Don’t worry, Mom, I can take care of that with PhotoShop!” Afterall, hadn’t he just created a photo of himself in a black trench coat, arms folded across his chest, imperious, in the midst of Churchill, FDR, and Stalin at the Yalta Conference? What are a few chins?

Gee, thanks.

I, meanwhile, decided to employ legerdemain. Let my mother send out her Christmas card with the egregious photo of herself as a movie star, my two sons as strapping young men, and me with all my chins! What did I care? I was going to do something different.

I decided to employ the technology of the Internet and post a brief yet festive PowerPoint presentation on a site I never knew existed until I asked my high tech, young friend at work. “Slideshare,” he said. And it was free!

The boys and I corroborated on a holiday-themed PowerPoint. They helped me select the photos and put them in the order they liked. Most of the photos, of course, were of the boys. That was the point. In the end, I did include one of the horrific family Christmas photos my mother had had taken. But I chose the one with the least chins, and I realized that if I framed the photo using one of the PowerPoint image formatting options, it was a bit blurry. This decreased the number of chins even more.

I figured the recipients would be so taken with the groovy red slide design and fabulous photos of the boys that they wouldn’t really notice me and all my chins. I could have not included any photos of me, but then I worried people would wonder why I hadn’t included any photos of me. What was wrong? Had I suddenly ballooned out to 300 pounds?!?

Oy vey.

It’s tough to go through life and see how gravity decides to play her cruel tricks.

Ah, well, that little voice inside me says: “Chin up, ducky!”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lo! Behold!

My children are with their father this Christmas.

We alternate Christmases. On odd years the boys are with me up until the day after Christmas and then go visit their dad for the rest of the break. On even years they are with their father for the entire holiday break. Or as much of it as he wants or can do, given the constraints of his job and the fact that he has a new family as well.

It sounds very legalistic and antiseptic. Because it is. It is part of a child custody arrangement. Which was hammered out by lawyers who do that sort of thing for a living. It is in no way, shape, or form ideal. But it is what it is.

And you have to deal with it.

We celebrated our Christmas last Friday as the boys left to visit their dad on Saturday. This arrangement entailed their missing two days of school before the official holiday break ensued, which meant I had to write a letter to the school explaining their absence as best I could. Unless illness, education, or a death in the family is involved, the school really doesn’t want to hear about it. As a parent – and as a divorced parent whose ex-spouse lives several states away – I tend to feel that there are other reasons a child might miss school. Like being able to spend more time with the other parent.

It is not as if the boys were really going to miss anything. They were not missing big tests or midterm exams or even any major assignments. In my experience, the day or so or three before holiday breaks is spent with assemblies and watching Finding Nemo. This year there was even a two hour delay for arctic frigid temperatures thrown in. As a parent, I feel that I should be able to decide when my children can miss school, if I so deem it appropriate. I mean, it is not as if they were going to Disney World or playing hookey. They were going to spend time with their father. If you want to call that an “unexcused absence,” then fine. So be it.

I mean, it is not as though I actually “like” or “enjoy” my children being gone. But it is the price I have to pay in order for them to live with me during the regular school year. I understand that they want to spend time with their father and he with them. I get that. It is completely understandable. And good. But it does not mean that it is easy for me.

It also means that I pretty much have to forgo every major holiday. According to our custody agreement, they may spend every single Thanksgiving break with their father. Don’t ask me why this is: at the time, I was trying to find a few extra days to put on his side and I really didn’t like Thanksgiving and he tended to have it free. So, fine. Thanksgiving break it is. And then there is the alternating Christmas thing. And then Spring break, which seems to always coincide with Easter here. It didn’t in the state where we made our custody agreement. And then as much of Summer break as he wants.

If it is important to you to have your kids live with you during the school year, then you have to be willing to compromise. For me, it meant giving up most holidays. It also means I don’t really like holidays anymore.

You could say I am a baby.

Or that it would still be a holiday whether my kids are here or not. Which, of course, technically is true. But somehow, holidays without one’s children really just don’t seem like holidays. I would almost rather forgo or ignore the holidays totally. But then I guess I would really be a baby.

But it is still hard.

I want my children to see their father. I want them to have fun holidays. But it is still very, very hard for me when they are not here.

We celebrated our Christmas on Friday. This meant some scrambling on our part to get things ready in time, almost a whole week early. But we managed. Tree bought, set up, and decorated. Presents obtained, wrapped, and placed under the tree. Lights put up outside the house. A wreath on the front door. Traditional decorations inside. A holiday meal, in accordance with the wishes of the children in this case, met. A celebratory dinner of shrimp cocktail, buffalo wings, and pizza. And then the unwrapping of the gifts. Christmas music playing softly in the background, lights on the tree shining brightly.

My younger son, who is fourteen, actually said to me on Friday morning: “I don’t think we should have to go to school today. It’s ‘Christmas,’ and you don’t go to school on Christmas.”

I had to stifle a laugh. “You are already going to miss next Monday and Tuesday of school because you are leaving early for dad’s,” I said.

“Oh. Right.”

We had a tradition when the boys were young that they could each open one gift on Christmas Eve night. So, on Thursday night, both boys, now fourteen and sixteen, asked me if they could open one gift, since really this was “Christmas Eve.” I said no. More so because I hadn’t yet wrapped any gifts than that I was a curmudgeon.

Very, very early on Saturday morning, when it was still very cold and dark, we set out on the drive to meet their father for the holiday break.

Twelve hours later I would be home again, alone.

I will not lie. It is very, very difficult for me to do this. I do not think I am some great martyr or angel. I think I am the parent who has the children living with her for most of the year and the other parent has the holidays and breaks. I am sure the other parent is not very happy about not having the children living with him for most of the year. I am sorry that we are divorced and that our once whole family is no longer. At the same time, I cannot imagine it differently. Doing the right thing is not always easy and simple.

At the same time, I am a human being and I have very human, very real emotions. Which I try to contain as best I can.

I am not a total Scrooge. I mean, I have a life, with or without my children, and if I chose to ignore all holidays, that would be wrong.

So, I listen to Christmas music on the radio and in the house. (Handel’s “Messiah” is playing in the background as I type up this posting.) I send out Christmas greetings. I look forward to receiving Christmas cards and family photos and letters in the mail. I watch old time sentimental Christmas movies on TV. I touch base with friends who are in town visiting family. I will go to Christmas Eve mass with my mother. We will have a small Christmas Eve celebration, sitting around our tree, unwrapping one last gift. We will spend Christmas Day with friends.

This is all good. I am thankful for all that I have and for my two wonderful children, who are teenagers and drive me crazy at times with their teenagedness. I am hoping that they are enjoying a wonderful Christmas with their father and their other family.

But I still miss them. And I think it would be really strange if I did not.

A child is born.
They call his name Emanuel.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mingle, mingle, mingle!

What is reality…?

I’m not really sure.

I mean, have you ever really thought about how much our own personal experiences and points of view cloud – or direct – everything we think and believe to be… real?

I was at a high school alumni holiday party the other night. I probably would not have been there at all, except for the fact that I am on the Alumni Council and “expected” to attend. I eschew social functions if at all possible. My idea of mingling (NOT an activity at the top of my “to do” list by any means) is to seek out and talk to people I know. The thought of walking up to and talking with complete strangers is enough to put me in cardiac arrest.

Now, I know – or at least, I have heard – that there are people out there who THRIVE on this sort of thing. They actually gain or acquire energy by talking with others, particularly people they do not know.

[I would type that entire paragraph over again for emphasis, but you get my point. Or not.]

Hello??!!??? Enjoy being in a room full of total strangers and…. [gasp!] talking(!?!) with them????


Ain’t happening.

No way. No how.

It was bad enough that I had to participate in a phonathon earlier in the year, asking other alumni to contribute money to their alma mater.

Did they ask me to call my classmates or ANYONE I knew?????? No. They gave us a chunk of the list, in alphabetical order. There was one – ONE – count them – ONE of my classmates on the list. I started with him, and he wasn’t even home.

Then I moved on to…. well, OK, they graduated within so many years of me, I might know them or remember them or NOT. I’ll call them.

And the whole time I am screaming out loud in silence inside my head: “Don’t pick up! Don’t pick up! Don’t pick up! Please, dear God in heaven, let it go to voice mail!” And if it did…. WHEW!!!!

That meant I only had to leave a very poorly delivered message full of stuttering and whatnot.
And if they DID answer… oh, my! A conversation full of stuttering and whatnot. But in real life. In real time. With someone else I didn’t even know.



So… there I was, on Saturday night, at a holiday reception for alumni. Ninety percent of those present were from classes that had just graduated. Although I was informed that the class with the largest number of attendees was the one where everyone had just turned 21 and was now allowed to drink!

When I arrived, I had been instructed to find my nametag, which included my graduating class year. There was a huge green dot on the nametag, and I asked what that meant.

“It means you can drink,” I was told.


I am forty-five. NO ONE is going to think I am underage.

They had red dots for those not old enough to drink.


Couldn’t they have made it simpler by just putting red dots on those not old enough to drink????

Well, THAT in and unto itself made me go in search of a drink.

The holiday reception was in the school library. A vast expanse, temporarily decorated with a tree and strings of white lights. It looked quite nice, actually. The “bar” was behind the checkout desk. That was a bit much for me, being a librarian and all. But I dealt with it.

I chatted amiably enough, while in line for a drink, with a grad who was four years younger than I, so not that much younger in the grand scheme of things, I just didn’t really know him at all from Adam. Four years is a huge chasm when you are talking about high school. Our mothers knew each other, so that was a link.

I ordered a vodka tonic. The bartender asked me if I wanted a slice of lime. “Yes, please!” Then he whispered to me: “If this drink is too strong, just let me know. I kind of got carried away with the vodka.”

“Oh, I am sure it’s just fine,” I said and took a sip. WOWSA!!!!


“Is it too strong? If so, I’ll just throw it away and make you another.”

WHAT??!!??? Waste perfectly good alcohol?????

“Oh, no, that’s all right,” I reassured him. “I’ll just… uh… ‘nurse’ it.”

The woman behind me in line (whom I did not know at all) gave me a big smile of understanding that also said, “Could ya hurry it up? I need MY drink! Thank you very much.”

Armed with the most potent vodka tonic I have ever had in my entire life, I now felt empowered to… “mingle.”

Which, of course, meant “seek out people you know and talk to them.”

Which is what I did.

There weren’t too many people there I actually “knew,” though, so once I had taken care of all of them, I was now faced with talking to people whom I at least “recognized.”

I approached the woman who was in charge of the Alumni Council. She had graduated a few years ahead of me. I did not know her, but, of course, I knew OF her. In fact, I remembered her senior photo in the school yearbook and remembered thinking at the time as an awkward, pubescent teen: “Wow. She is so mature. So with it. So beautiful.”

I didn’t say that to this woman. It might have horrified her.

I might have said it to her if I had drunk my entire vodka tonic that was all vodka, but I was, like, ya know, “nursing” it.

Instead I told her, boldly: “My idea of mingling is talking to people I know.” She laughed lightly. “Well, my definition would not be much different,” she said.

And we then proceeded to have a semi-normal conversation about our kids.


Not so bad.

And that became my ice breaker for the evening: “Hi. My idea of mingling is talking to people I know. I don’t know you, but….”

Well, not entirely.

I did NOT walk up to anyone I absolutely, positively did not know and say that. I only said it to people I would normally… or semi-normally… mingle with.

I commented to the woman who had graduated a few years ahead of me that so many of those in attendance were very recent graduates. She agreed.

I said, “Yeah, I hardly know anyone now, but I can remember coming back for these alumni holiday functions right after I graduated and seeing all my classmates from school….”

She was supposed to nod and agree with me.

But she didn’t.

She looked over at me with surprise. “Oh, I NEVER came back for any of these things.”


And then vaguely, in the back of my mind, I remembered her saying at an earlier Alumni Council meeting how her class had been full of “trouble makers.” Whatever that meant. Since she graduated in the mid to late seventies, I figured she meant they did a lot of drugs or something.

So, there it was. I had come back for the first few years after I graduated, reconnected with other high school friends home for the holidays, and had a good time. Then I had graduated from college, moved on, married, had a family, etc. and not come back for years and years and years. As had so many others. Now I happened to be living back in the town where I had grown up and was going to the function, not so much because I thought I was going to reconnect with former classmates but because I was on the Alumni Council and this was my… well, er, DUTY.

But, I was also observing a lot of newly recent grads reconnecting, much as I had some twenty five years before. So, I was thinking THAT was the norm.

Only my companion in mingling was telling me this was so NOT her personal experience.


It made me think.

What IS reality?

What is the norm?

I see MY experience. I see others having similar experiences some twenty-five years later. THAT must be the norm. That must be reality.

But, clearly, this was not reality for the woman I was speaking with.


It was sort of an eye-opener.

In an environment where very little eye-opening goes on.


Maybe this mingling thing is more interesting than I thought.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Army/Navy 2008


As in a sound of disgust.

Not Ugg as in those butt ugly boots that clueless teen girls persist on wearing with mini skirts when they are not sporting flip flops.

Talk about a depressing football game!

The worst.

Made me feel like I was a plebe back at West Point during Gloom Period with nothing to look forward to. Too many days and a butt until graduation. Cold. Dark. Gray and dreary.


And I remember being at the Army/Navy game in Philadelphia plebe year. It was freaking cold. I actually had on my USMA sweats underneath my dress gray, which boggles my mind as to how I could possibly have managed such a feat! But I was still cold. And those worthless low quarters did nothing to keep your feet warm. And I bought a hot chocolate that burned the inside of my mouth. I should have taken my low quarters off and poured the hot chocolate over my frozen feet!

That game was actually a tie: 3-3 because Joe Sartiano, a yearling in my company kicked a tying field goal in the last seconds of the game. Or something like that. It was a 3-3 tie, anyway. So, not as depressing as a loss. Not like that positively horrific game at the Rose Bowl cow year where Navy scored three touchdowns in about the first twenty seconds of the game, and we were all throwing stale subs from our boxed lunches and those stupid kazoos down onto the field.

I heard on TV that there has not been a shut out like today since 1976, which, as we all know, is a really, really, really long time ago. That is what my son told me, anyway.

So sad. So depressing. So demoralizing. The fact that Army lost by so much, not that 1976 is so long ago.

Think of all these poor kids who have NEVER experienced beating Navy. And then when they graduate they will all have to go off to war.

And is it just me, or did all of those Navy squids look smarmy and uppity and full of themselves in all of those fan close ups????

And they march like crap!!! Geesh, did you see the shots of them marching on? At least Army knows how to march properly. I mean, if you can't play football worth a shit, at least you should be able to march on properly. So, that was a relief at least.

I liked the camouflage helmets and football pants and the Duty.Honor.Country on the back of the shirts. But a part of me was wondering if those special, spiffy outfits were compliments of the U.S. taxpayer....

Now we all know that George Bush is going to miss being Commander in Chief and getting the opportunity to kick the football five yards and watch people flip a coin.

I was glad that one Army player got to at least beat a record set 18 years ago. Small consolation, but better than nothing.

The best thing of the whole day was the spirit ad where some Army cadets kidnapped a guy in a white uniform and then brought him back and dumped him out by his truck. "Sorry, midshipmen look like milkmen!"

My 14 year old son, who was wearing his Army Black Knights t-shirt and the ankle boot/brace that was supporting his broken leg (well, and shorts, too) and who was dying to do push ups whenever Army scored and thus turned to flab in three hours, asked why so many Navy people were Hawaiian.

I still watched the whole, entire game, probably more because I am a masochist, I suppose, than out of a sense of duty and loyalty. I did manage to get several loads of laundry done, though, too. I kept expecting Army to score at least once. Towards the end there I thought they might even get a safety. But, alas, no.

I missed seeing the Supe (as in General Scott -- was there really ever another Supe???) ride the Army mule and do the Rocket. It made me wonder if he was even still alive and if so, if he was cogent enough to watch the game and realize that Navy was beating the hell out of Army.

My father is renowned for turning off the television set one year right in front of all our company, a mix of West Point and Annapolis grads and their spouses, when Navy was trouncing Army by a ton. Huh. Probably that 1976 game, come to think of it!

My son kept asking me: "Would Grandpa have turned the TV set off now?"

"How about now?"

"Maybe now?"

"Definitely NOW!!!"

Oy vey.

And still, at the end, when they played the West Point Alma Mater and everyone stood and sang, tears filled my eyes.

Go Army! Beat Navy!