Hi Offsprungers: I've missed you. Suffice it to say that I've taken on too much, and the start of the school year till now has left me with little time to ponder, reflect, observe, analyze, or appreciate, and without doing those things, I don't have all that much to say. And you know how it goes: the longer you stay away from something, the harder it is to dive in again. But NotClooney feels very strongly that my writing, provided I keep sharpening my skills, is much more conducive to his future as a rich, spoiled househusband than is my volunteering at various churches and schools or my driving around assorted elderly parents to assorted doctors' appointments, so he's helping me make time and space in my life, and he's encouraged me to post our annual year-end wrap-up that we send out with our holiday cards. It is, quite literally, the first piece of writing (that does not somehow promote a certain mid-size, Mid-Atlantic regional law firm) I've produced since, oh, October, I think. Anyway, happy holidays to you all, thank you for reading, and I sincerely hope to spend more time with you in 2010. ~ Angela
Pandolfo Roy Obnoxious Holiday Update, V. 2009
2009 was complicated for just about everyone we know, and several people we love had years that ranged from disappointing to troubling to tragic. You are all still in our thoughts and hearts, and please know that, despite whatever irreverence may creep into this letter, your recovery, peace, and comfort are always in our prayers. We hit a few bumps this year ourselves—nothing overly awful, but we did finally lose Tangerine, my first real pet, my sweet ginger-haired friend of more than 16 years who for some reason decided back in '92 that I'd be a worthy life companion. She lived with my parents most of the time after the two of us moved home from Texas, because, of course, cats make angry old people less angry (though still old), and that made life easier for everyone. Soon after Tange died last winter, my father, Mr. Mr. Monopoly, was pretty coldly kicked to the curb by Ye Olde Investment Banke and Brokerage Firme Swallowed Up by a Too-Big-To-Fail Monstrosity, and though in retrospect he is much happier retired, that they consciously tried everything they could to show him as little respect as possible after 38 years with the company was painful to watch, powerlessly. Oh, and in the summer NotClooney and I both turned 40.
But at least I was buoyed by all those awesome policies enacted by the Democrats who now control the entire legislative and executive branches! Hahaha—me funny. I predicted in Obnoxious Holiday Update, V. 2008, that Barack Obama would begin breaking my heart by about January 21, and I wasn't all that far off, and now I know that if I want a President to do everything I tell him to do, I have to somehow get NotClooney elected. (I'd run myself, but all those restraining orders the actual George Clooney has filed against me would prove problematic.) I don't know, I must be radically out of the mainstream or something—I mean, I'm a part-time stay-at-home parent, PTA member, church warden, and hockey mom in a long-term, ridiculously conventional marriage (except for , well, the two husbands thing), so clearly, I am a visiting alien from the planet Kucinich, and thus no government in this country is obliged to address matters of importance to me.
And yet when I think of what could be
—I mean, the Democrats clearly can't chew gum and comb over their bald spots simultaneously, but at least their ultimate goal is not quite
to convert 95 percent of the people in this country into alternative fuel sources for the top 5 percent's Hummers, as is, seemingly, the object of the competing political party—I can't help it, sweet relief still washes over me. And when I think of what could have been
—because if he'd won, you just know the crumbling lump of coal where John McCain's heart used to be would've chosen the second month of his term to finally disintegrate completely, giving us President Winky-Winky-You-Betcha, who would immediately have launched wars against all countries with silly names and then removed all science textbooks from public schools, replacing them with the Book of Revelation (King James version)—I get weak-kneed for Obama all over again, and re-commit to naming my next four cats after him: Barack, The One, Mr. Oprah, and Changey McHopemonger. (Followed by Fang and Ange, Jr., but I digress. Again.)
Good God, you'd think all I think about is politics (and cats), but that stuff was so back-benched this year in favor of my new obsession: my IPod. (I am not, obviously, an early adopter; which reminds me, NotClooney's taking me to see my first talkie this week!) I didn't buy it; Visa sent it to me two years ago because apparently we participate in some sort of points program or something. Anyway, it is a very nice one, with lots of memory and features and stuff, but I ignored it, until it finally occurred to me that there will never, ever be a radio station on which I can hear a Radney Foster song immediately after Husker Du, or Rancid followed by Dwight Yoakam, or a two-fer of "MMMBop" and "I Wanna Be Sedated" or "Dancing Queen" and "Skinhead on the MBTA." I have always wanted to find that radio station. NotClooney explained to me that with my IPod, I could make
that radio station (without commercials!), and now I have, and I go nowhere without it. The glitch is that I sing, loudly and poorly, along to the music, whether I am in the car (not a problem) or in my office (a problem) or power-walking in Brookdale Park (a big problem). I'm scary enough on my slog through the park when I'm belting out "Rise up and be counted, sing it loud, sing it proud!" but I am not even kidding, one time "A Town Called Malice" came on, and I actually did an untalented-middle-aged-lady-with-bad-knees approximation of the Billy Elliot dance. In the park. While singing. If you can't picture it, I suggest you search "Billy Elliot dance" on YouTube (try here
) but substitute in your mind my less youthful and athletic form for his.
So when I'm not railing at the government or frightening dog walkers and joggers, I do actually work. It's soul-sucking but somehow pleasant at the same time, and it helps pay the bills. I'm Class Mom for The Spare's kindergarten crew—there are two crazy parents who want to ban all snack products that God didn't put into the earth Himself, and somehow it is my job to deal with them—and still Senior Warden at our church, which is now an even bigger job than my job job, because our Rector is retiring, and we have to hire a new one. And I'm web master for our web site and I'm on the Altar Guild. (Yep, as soon as I turned 40 I just chucked out any semblance of coolness and now I polish church silver and iron priestly vestments with the other senior citizens.) Offsprung, the online parenting humor magazine and community that I had been writing for since 2007, took a hiatus from May through August due to technical issues, and then I took a hiatus from October to now due to spending too much time doing the Billy Elliot dance in parks and interviewing priests and stalking George Clooney and sending The Spare to school with Oreos to share with his class to piss off the crunchy ladies. But I'll post this letter as my official comeback and be better next year.
But enough about me. Let's talk about the boys who love me. NotClooney remains happy at his little law firm, and he's still fighting the good fight to keep the New Jersey Youth Theatre solvent in these days of dwindling funding. He's on the Board, and it's a great organization, so come see their annual performance if you happen to be near NJPAC in July. He and the rest of Red Sox nation had to endure the humiliation of a Yankees World Series victory, though that is not an uncommon experience for that particular group of folks. He also continues to pursue his lifelong dream of hosting "Family Feud."
The Heir started 3rd grade in September and turned 9 at the end of October, and I swear, if there was a dictionary entry for "American Boy," his picture would be alongside it. He's just really solid and cool—he does well in school, anchors his hockey team, has a lot of friends, reads every night, dates Natalie Portman, runs a soup kitchen out of our garage, and was just promoted to COO of Apple. But he's also neurotic, just like Mommy, and he remains painfully skinny, just like...oh, never mind. The Heir's hockey schedule continues to run our lives (especially NotClooney's), but at least we like the other team parents. This year is a bit of a challenge for him; a lot more kids tried out for this year's team than did for last year's, so there is another goalie, and The Heir is no longer the only beast in the crease (that's hockey terminology, FYI). They share duties equally, and I'd say they're equally talented, but while The Heir is more practiced and skilled, Luke is just a more natural goalie. He's a year older, six inches taller, and 40 pounds heavier, so he really fills out the goal in a way The Heir just can't. I'm not gonna lie, when Luke is having a particularly good game...well, I don't know how to describe it except to say that while I don't necessarily condone the famous Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom, I understand her a little better. The Heir is also heavily into comics, including creating his own; his most recent storylines include the titles "What Am I—Nuts?"; "The Battle of MilkMan vs. NogMan"; and "The Incredible, True Adventures of The Spare."
And what adventures those are. Our younger son started kindergarten this year, and this is the fourth teacher in a row he's conned into thinking he's utterly charming. He is taking Mandarin as his foreign language. In typical The Spare fashion—you’ll recall his occasionally recurring racism problem—when he reports to us the new words he's learned in Mandarin, he does kung-fu moves while reciting them. When we ask him what sport he wants to play, he says "Hockey team mascot." He is, however, interested in music and, like Mommy, will do the Billy Elliot dance anytime and anywhere, even without hearing "A Town Called Malice"—or any song at all. I guess the best way to demonstrate the arc of The Spare's personality is to share with you a few key quotes from 2009:
• "Can you pick your nose with your tongue? I can!"
• "If you have to give me away, can you give me to someone I know?"
• "The Heir, cut it out, or I'll kick you in your bony ass!"
• [In response to NotClooney’s asking, "Am I going to have to give you another time-out tonight?"]: "We shall see, Dad. We shall see."
• "I don't think I believe in eating meat."
• "Leave me alone, Mommy—I'm praying!"
As for the cats: Hobbes is still cranky, Mr. Knightley is still a good-natured dope, and they are both still my shadow. Hobbes has been on hyperthyroid meds for over a year now, but she's hanging in there. She'll be 16 in March! The extended family is well. We vacationed with the Roys in Florida in April and with the Pandolfos in the Outer Banks in August; we stayed in the Adirondacks and Ocean City on our own, and of course had hockey tournaments in Hershey and Lake Placid. 2010 promises...well, a whole lot more of the same. And that's a good thing.