Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I’m pretty sure that if I die, my dog Blue will be sad.  But first she will carefully check all around my body and nudge her nose under my body to ascertain that I didn’t spit up some food as I fell to the floor or didn’t have any on me when I passed.  If she finds even one crumb, her sadness will lift because she’ll know my death was not in vain if it provided her another morsel or scrap of anything even vaguely resembling food.
This dog simply must have some Italian in her. Food cures all for her...which is exactly what I was brought up to believe...especially food with tomato sauce on it and parmesan cheese.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:49 AM •
Monday, March 05, 2007

Is there anything scarier for those poor people hit by tornadoes last week than to have Bush show up to tell them he’s sending FEMA in to help them?  They’d be better off with more tornadoes.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:27 AM •
Sunday, March 04, 2007

I can’t believe they finally buried that Smith woman and no one, absolutely no one, even remotely famous bothered to show up.  Gee, what could that mean? Could it be that even the luridly famous have some bottom line of taste and discretion they will not cross?  Or did Hugh Hefner fear if he showed that he would be looking in the mirror of his future with his 27 year old fiancee? Or maybe, just maybe, this woman was not worth the free air she’s been given almost nonstop for the past few weeks.  TV has once again risen to the occasion and proven what Newton Minow said so many years ago. It is, indeed, a vast wasteland.
Do yourselves a favor.  Pick up a book. 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:41 AM •
Saturday, March 03, 2007

Just because I complained about winter, god made the winds come.  They blew so hard I couldn’t walk the dogs. Now the dogs are bouncing off the walls. I’m not saying they aren’t the brightest bulbs in the box but I don’t know how else to explain their reaction to the weather. I let them out the back door into the yard and they do what they have to...after I’ve physically had to shove on Blue’s butt to get her out the door...and then run in like the wind is a prelude to the coming of the Hounds of Hell. Then they run straight to the front door, eager for their walk, as though they think that the weather will be better in the front than the back. And when we finally go out the front door, the look of bewilderment and disappointment that they haven’t escaped the Hounds of Hell is palpable.
Dogs...you’ve got to love their totally unwarranted enthusiasm for something better just around the corner no matter how many times that enthusiasm has been dashed against the shoals of reality.  I guess in that way, they aren’t much different from the Bush administration.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:58 AM •
Friday, March 02, 2007

Each fall I look forward to the first snow of winter. It’s so pretty and covers up the brown remnants of summer’s green.  And each year about this time I think, “OH SWEET LORD MAKE THE COLD AND SNOW AND WIND AND COLD AND SNOW AND SNOW AND COLD GO AWAY BEFORE I LOSE WHAT LITTLE IS LEFT OF MY MIND.”
And then I go crawl under a blanket and whimper for an hour or so and feel better.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:26 AM •
Thursday, March 01, 2007

Why is everyone always so startled to find out that all men institutions tend to attract men who are homosexual? Seriously, look at the Catholic Church...all men, all the time. Why would that not attract you if you were a gay man?  A group that has institutionalized the segregation of women from their midst.  And now people are shocked, shocked I say, to find out there may be gay basketball players. The next thing you know, someone will tell us that baseball and football have the same issue.  Then America will truly fall apart since these three sports, as best I can tell, form the underpinning for our entire society.
On the other hand, the day a gay basketball player makes the game winning last shot for some big championship, I bet all will be forgiven.  Of course, a gay player may have already done that and we’ll never know.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:58 AM •
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Here’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever been told by a parent.  “I can’t make my kids to go to school if they don’t want to.” The kids in question were in elementary school.

My parents had surprisingly little difficulty in telling me what to do when I was in elementary school.  The had no trouble telling me what to do in high school. And they had no trouble telling me what to do when I was an adult. The only difference was that when I was an adult and not living at home, I didn’t necessarily do what they said. I must hastily add, though, that even then when I defied them, I spent a lot of time worrying that I was about to find out where kingdom come was.
Kingdom come, for those of you not familiar with the place, is where your mother and father promised to send you if you didn’t listen to them.  They didn’t tell you this to threaten you.  They told you this so you wouldn’t be surprised when you found yourself there.  Most of my friends and I spent a lot of our childhood unwilling to risk finding out that kingdom come was not as vaguely glorious as it might initially sound.  If fact, the tone used by our parents in offering us a one-way ticket there was such that we were pretty sure it had nothing to do with Camelot.
So I find myself truly puzzled when parents tell me that they can’t make their children do something as simple as go to school or come home on time when the children referred to are not old enough to ride public transportation alone.  It’s as though the inmates are in charge of the asylum.
If you can’t control your children when they still need your hand to cross the street, I think it’s a given that you won’t be able to control them when they’re teenagers. And yet for many parents I work with, this is the point in time where they look bewildered that things aren’t going exactly as they planned in their children’s lives.
Part of the problem is clearly the excess we dump on our children throughout their childhood, as though things can somehow make up for the absence of our control and influence in their lives.  Go into the room of just about any child in Middle America and you will find enough electronics to open a store.  Each year those electronics are updated because we are frightened at the thought our Johnny may not have what his friend Bobby has and then Johnny will feel bad. 
I think my mother’s response to that would be, “You think you feel bad now? Wait till I send you to kingdom come!”
But this goes beyond drowning our kids in material goods and raising them to believe this is their birthright.  This is about parents abdicating responsibility in their homes. This is about wanting to be a child’s friend, which precludes being their parent. If your child thinks he or she is your equal in the family, then there really is no family.  It’s just a bunch of roommates living together except that two of those roommates get to pay all the bills.
A few years ago, my favorite young friend and I were driving down the New Seward while she griped about the fact that her parents did not feel obligated to buy her a car for her sixteenth birthday.  In high indignation, she vented about the unfairness of it all. Then she turned to me, expecting full vindication, and asked, “How old were you when your parents bought you your first car?” I had to sadly explain to her that both my parents were dead and I was still waiting for them to do that.
I might be very old fashioned in the way I think of family but I must say that I always felt like an integral part of mine. This was not because of what I was given. It was because of the trust placed in me that I would earn my own way and help my family pay the bills to boot. I took pride in contributing to the general welfare of my family.
I turned over every paycheck I ever made directly to my mother until the day I moved out of her house. Those checks paid for my college education. I felt privileged that mom and dad loved me enough to spend my check on me when there were clearly so many things they needed to make their lives more comfortable.
I didn’t expect my parents to buy me a car.  I expected that some day, if I could avoid ending up in kingdom come, I would have the privilege of buying one for them.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:19 AM •
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Get gastric bypass surgery. You’re starting to look like Marlon Brando, the later years.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:44 AM •
Monday, February 26, 2007

I don’t know about you, but I wear sweats and a tiara while eating bean soup and corn bread to celebrate this most glamorous of all nig....oh god, I can’t even fake my enthusiasm long enough to finish that sentence. I watch them to see what ridiculous gowns will appear this year on people old enough to know better. So far, nothing in recent history matches the lady who wore the swan or the one who looked like an anorexic ballet dancer or that see through outfit Barbra Streisand wore when her butt loomed so large.  Each year I keep hoping for another special moment like that but so far have been disappointed. Maybe next year.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:12 AM •
Sunday, February 25, 2007

If you zoom up behind me in traffic as though I could magically leapfrog over the car in front of me so you can continue your mad dash towards death, I promise you this. I will slow down to 35 mph and watch through my rear view mirror while your blood pressure rises until it blows the top of your head off. I will laugh maniacally the entire time.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:16 AM •
Saturday, February 24, 2007

For my Hall of Infamy, I am going to propose any candidate for president who declares his or her candidacy more than twelve months ahead of the actual election. This is America, damn it. No one should be allowed to annoy me longer than that without paying me for the privelege.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 11:12 AM • (0)
Friday, February 23, 2007

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. But I must admit I thought the Dems would hold it together for at least a month after Obama declared his candidacy.  Ah me. What an eternal optimist I am.  Let the bloodshed commence.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:37 AM •
Thursday, February 22, 2007

Every once in a while I fantasize about what it would be like if George Bush took violently ill and had to leave the presidency.  And it occurs to me that if that happened, Dick Cheney would be president. So then my fantasy continues that Dickie gets violently ill and can’t be president either.  At that point it occurs to me that the next in line is Nancy Pelosi. And my heart starts to sink as I wonder how deep we’d have to go before we found someone to be president who didn’t make me want to run screaming into the night.  I wonder where Lisa Murkowski is on the list? She’s the only member of Congress I honestly feel I can trust right now.  What a sad commentary on the state of our union. 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:52 AM •
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It seems to me that in a world in which parents and kids have immediate access to each other through cell phones, instant messaging, e-mail and the occasional actual face-to-face encounter, parents should be able to exert a lot more control over what their kids see and hear than they actually do.  In fact, I’d be willing to venture that my parents had much greater control over the content in my life till I left for college than most parents have over their elementary school kids now.

Whenever I see ads on TV for parental controls on programming, I wonder if we aren’t just lulling ourselves into some false sense of security that we can protect our children from that which we feel is inappropriate.  Because these same kids can get on any number of wired devices and a whole sleazy, ugly world is available to them. No matter what restrictions you might put on this access, eventually someone out there who wants to get to your kids will figure out a way to climb over your restrictions.  Or, your kid will take is as a personal challenge to overcome them himself.
In an era when most parents seem to have little real time to spend with their children, our information age demands that they give almost constant attention to their children’s access to the wired world if they really want to be the gatekeepers of the content they see.
As quickly as government passes legislation to give some control back to parents, advances in the world of instant communication make those laws obsolete.  The kind of censorship so many of us grew up with - whether it was the Catholic Church rating books and movies or the government banning certain words and situations on TV - is gone forever, replaced with all information all the time, no filters, taste or common sense required.
Lucy and Ricky couldn’t even be in the same bed together, despite being married in both real and TV life. When she was clearly, obviously and enormously pregnant, they could not use that word to describe her condition. Now, sitcoms can portray a character who gets impregnated through artificial insemination with embryos from her brother and his wife, who also happens to be the brother’s much older Home Economics teacher. Seriously, wouldn’t the relationship between the brother and his teacher be illegal in most states? Clearly, it’s not the fifties anymore.
So we seem to have reached a point where parents and society can only provide so much protection to children. Beyond that, we can only hope to influence our children by modeling the behavior and morals we feel they should have. Unfortunately, the world seems to be working actively against even those attempts.
At a time when Congress was investigating 8 billion dollars that had been shrink- wrapped and sent to Iraq and was now missing, local and national media conducted a feeding frenzy of non-stop coverage of Anna Nicole Smith’s death. What does that tell our kids about our values as a society?  And that story bumped off the previous front page feeding frenzy over an obviously unwell woman who happened to be an astronaut.
Nowadays, no one, absolutely no one, is ever responsible for his or her actions anymore.  The minute they are uncovered for the sleazebags they may be, they check into a rehab program.  Even the actor who made homophobic remarks about a fellow cast member entered a treatment program, though one can only wonder exactly what a thirty-day treatment for homophobia might be. Perhaps it is associated with the three-week treatment Ted Haggard went through that converted him to a complete heterosexual.
When even the Jesuits attempt to shrug off responsibility for the actions of one of their priests in fathering children - apparently there is a hierarchy in their vows in which poverty trumps chastity - I truly despair that there is anyone left in this great big country of ours that we can point at and say to our children, “Now there’s an honorable person who leads an honorable and decent life,” who would also rate media coverage.
And that makes a parent’s attempts to teach their children right from wrong, good from bad, moral from immoral, so much harder than it should ever be.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:29 AM •
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I can only thank god mine are over and done with.  But for those of you who still feel like you are periodically dumped into the center of the sun, check out Menohaven.com.  A friend told me about the site so I went over to see what they’ve invented since I went through menopause to help the process along.  Needless to say, since men don’t suffer from menopause or have hot flashes, science hasn’t come up with a way to let us glide through this period with a smile and a laugh.  But other women have sure done a lot of research into products that at least keep you feeling human when the rush starts.  Funny thing is that when I first heard about “the rush” I thought, being a child of the sixties, that it might actually be fun.  I was wrong.  The only time the rush of a hot flash is fun is when you are standing on the edge of the Arctic Ocean in January and you don’t need a coat while all around you are bundled up.  Actually, I can remember more than one day where I actually did that when I lived in Barrow.  The sad truth was that even forty below weather was not a worthy opponent for a feisty hot flash.  Anyway, check out Menohaven.com for some fun stuff and a lighthearted take on something that normally causes us to want to rip the head off the person nearest us and shove it up their....ok, this is possibly a family blog so I won’t go any further. You who are affected know exactly where you want to shove it..

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:08 AM •

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