The “One Thing” I Got Right as a Parent

NaBloPoMo14DayThirtyMy daughter, the always delightful Fangette, paid me (and her father) a compliment the other day. Fair warning, don’t get too excited or verklempt before you hear it. She said, and I quote, “the one thing you people got right was that you didn’t raise a racist”.

I suppose if we had to get “one thing right”, that would be it. I’d like to think that we got a few other things right, too. Still, a compliment from a teenager is a compliment from a teenager. One cannot get too excited about its content. I said, “you’re welcome”. My plan was to leave it at that.

I knew where it was coming from. It came very shortly after the Ferguson verdict. An issue that Fangette was, to put it mildly, worked up about. To add insult to injury, I gathered — from snippets of conversations — that some of her friends were not as horrified by the outcome as Fangette was and, in turn, thought they should be. This is how it came to pass that Fangette, possibly for the first time in her life, realized that not all of her friends and acquaintances shared her exact politics. For the record, my daughter may, in fact, be more liberal than her mother. And, that’s saying something.

Fangette’s first reaction was to label some of them racists. I thought this was unfair. I argued that how we as a society view “otherness” is steeped in far more than our politics. I took the time to remind her that just because some of her peeps were not outraged, were supportive of law enforcement, or were simply keeping their mouths shut, did not necessarily mean they were racists. Further, to cast them as such did them — and her — a grave injustice.

I pointed out that there were any number of people posting the same things on social media — the same memes — as her friends were. She suggested I “unfriend” all of these folks immediately.

I did not do that, nor will I. I am of the opinion that everyone has a right to their opinion. I don’t have to agree with them, they don’t have to agree with me. We can still be friends. I wouldn’t marry them or anything, but luckily for me — and for them — that is not even at issue.

Does it drive me a little crazy sometimes that some of the people that I know post things that sound ridiculous? Of course it does. Do I say anything to them? Not usually. Has it occurred to me that it’s just possible that only I find some of these things ridiculous? Of course it has.

What I’ve come to realize in my middle age is that friends are hard to come by. Good friends are even more difficult to find and to hold onto. And, do you want to know something? If it weren’t for social media, Facebook especially, it is entirely possible that I would never know anyone’s politics. In my world, politics rarely comes up in conversation.

I have never, for the record, seen any of the people who tend to trot out their right-wing views on Facebook, act anything but kind and generous in their “real” lives. I have never heard them utter a racial slur. They seem fine with their children having friends and other relationships with all sorts of people who are not white. They have similar relationships themselves. Why they choose to post what they post to their Facebook pages is beyond me. But, it’s a free country, right? Who am I to criticize?

Young people are quick, I think, to scratch people from their lives because they don’t share their same zeitgeist. Call me crazy (or tolerant), but I think listening to the views of others, especially when they bring a different perspective, is a good thing. Or, at least I always did. Now? I don’t know. Maybe tolerance is a thing of the past.

I hope not, though.  Because if it is, there are quite a few people I’m going to sorely miss having in my life. I do know a few left-wing nutjobs, but I don’t like them half as much as I like the people who don’t always share my political beliefs.

I have reached the conclusion that as long as they’re fine with who I am, then I can be fine with who they are. If that makes me — as my daughter intimated that it does — a hypocrite, so be it. I suppose that as long as I’m a hypocrite who did “one thing right” as a parent, I can live with that, too.






The Sounds of the Season

Field_hockey_girlI’m not looking forward to Halloween this year. To be honest, this holiday has always had a bittersweet quality to it. Among other things, for those of us who reside here in the Northeast, there is the knowledge that once October 31st rolls around, there’s little hope that we’ll enjoy another day of Indian summer — we know that winter is, indeed, coming. In exchange for this bad news, we are given some of those gorgeous, clear, crisp days that make even the most cynical among us pause to take note — and there’s almost nothing like the sheer breathtaking beauty in the bursts of color that autumn brings.

This year it has been somewhat difficult to enjoy Mother Nature’s seasonal artwork. I’m reluctant to see October draw to a close for another reason, one that has nothing to do with the weather, one that is more bitter than it is sweet. This year, those last days of October mark the end of my daughter’s high school field hockey career.

As a result, I have found myself paying less attention to autumn’s visual display and more attention to what has long been, for us, the sounds of the season — the echo of the clacking sticks, the shrill of the whistle, the clunking noise the ball makes when a goal is scored, even the buzzer that has, more often than not, heralded yet another defeat. I feel like I’m filing away the sensory observations associated not just with field hockey, but with my only child — its rhythms, its cadences are, in my mind, intertwined with her rhythms, her cadences — so that I can revisit them somewhere down the road.

Unlike other memories that we, as mothers, can pull out of a box — macaroni art work, baby blankets, poorly, yet lovingly, crafted Christmas ornaments — these sounds won’t fit into a plastic bin or a cardboard carton. They’re not the sort of thing that can be pulled from a shelf, touched, or even smelled when we want to be reminded of who our children once were. Auditory memories — less tangible, perhaps, than those of a visual or a tactile variety, but no less important — have a far more ephemeral quality to them.

Will she continue to play this game that she has grown to love so very much? That remains to be seen. Even if she does, it won’t be the same — for either of us. She’s not the same kid who stood in the backfield that September day — a day that feels simultaneously like yesterday and like a million years ago. I remember that day. I recall how she was nervously twirling her stick, how she was “setting” her body, how she was attempting to put on her best “game face”. I not only sensed, I knew, that she was both proud of her place on the team and terrified to fail — her teammates, her coaches, her parents, herself. It’s hard to believe on that long ago afternoon — the one when she surreptitiously scanned the crowd, looking for me — that she was only thirteen years old.

My daughter has come a long way since then in many areas. Her evolution both as a player and as a person is obvious to anyone who has tracked her progress. Yes, she’s become a better player — she’s more adept at the 16-yard hit, more able to help the goalkeeper guard against the shot to the post. She has become, both on and off the playing field, a more confident person. She’s no longer that thirteen-year-old girl who was shaking in her cleats, looking for Mommy, awaiting her chance to get in on the action. She no longer shakes in her cleats (or her flats or her heels). She hardly ever looks for me anymore. She’s a poised young woman who has a bright future. She has decisions to make about college, about hockey, about other important things.

What she’s managed to achieve on the turf has come through hard work, determination, and perseverance. If she can apply those lessons to the rest of her life, she’s going to be just fine. As for me, maybe I’ll steal a ball so that I can take it out and roll it between my fingers when I want to conjure the auditory memories or retrieve a mental picture of that little girl. Surely it will remind me that I had the privilege to play a large part in most of what has, so far, been her life. That I’ll have to sit on the sidelines for the rest of it? I’m fine with that. I’ve grown accustomed to those cold, hard bleacher seats.

photo credit: me

The Laundry Edict of 2013

washerdryerI’ve recently instituted a new policy here at the hovel. It’s called “Do your own freakin’ laundry!” This is a policy that I feel is self-explanatory, in that the title of the policy and the actual policy are one and the same.

If my was objective was to be obtuse, I could have used a tactic employed by governments the world over and called it something like “Revised Guidelines Regarding the Division of Labor in Relation to the Agitator-driven and Gas-generated Hot Air-blowing Machineries Located in the Basement Act of 2013”. (Be it duly noted that the RGRDLRAGHALBA, will replace the GRDLRAGHALBA, enacted the 4th day of November, 1989, which placed sole responsibility for those machineries located in the basement squarely on the shoulders of the female head of household). I could understand, had I engaged in this kind of obfuscation, why the members of my household might be confused by the new policy.

I did no such thing. To be fair, I neither consulted any of the folks that would be adversely affected by the institution of this new policy prior to enacting it nor were they given anything even remotely resembling “plenty of notice”. Unlike the government, which at least pretends at something called democracy, here at the hovel we make no such claims to democratic rule. It’s a straight up dictatorship. Sure, we aim for benevolence, but it’s not required.

I realize that I’m generously calling it a policy, rather than what it truly is — an edict. I am doing this in an effort to seem a little more, well, benevolent. Because, really, nobody likes a bitch. Further, no one has any sympathy for a lazy bitch. So, let me just assure you that this new policy does not stem from outright laziness on my part, rather the enactment of this policy was designed to light a fire under Fangette. Much like her father, who thinks that gourmet meals, such as grilled cheese and soup, just make themselves, Fangette has been operating (for quite some time) under the delusion that I enjoy spending my days hunting and gathering. More specifically, hunting for whatever item of clothing she has misplaced, but that she desperately needs in the immediate future, and gathering together that and other items, so that I can then spend untold hours of my days, weeks, and months, laundering those things that I have managed to unearth from the atrocity that is her bedroom floor. Just last week I spent close to an hour trying to uncover where in that black hole one very important (to her) lacy ecru camisole had gotten itself to. Ultimately, with a little detective work and the employment of my trusty flashlight, I was able to uncover the mystery of the missing lacy ecru camisole. It was under her bed, wedged between the never-opened telescope from the Christmas of 2008 and some outdated and, more than likely, incomplete board games. (Anyone up for a rousing game of Candyland?)


That, ladies and gentlemen, was it. My dustbunny covered self decided right then and there that she, at almost 17 years old, was capable of doing her own laundry. (I also found myself wishing that the skills I have acquired throughout my many years of diving under beds and couches, rifling through discarded gym bags, and ferreting through closets to uncover lost belongings were more marketable!) When I advised Fangette of my decision to stop doing her laundry, one would have thought that I had asked her to take the old washboard off of the kitchen wall, haul her dirty clothes out back to the creek (really it’s more of a stream, but a body of water is a body of water) and bang her clothes against it with a rock. That was not my expectation at all. I reminded her that we have machines that do that sort of thing now. And that all that was required of her was that she take it down the stairs and throw it in said machinery. Believe me, she knows this. She’s a smart kid. She’s been watching me do it for years.

Thus far the peasantry, as I have come to think of Fangette, has resisted The Laundry Edict of 2013. I’m fairly certain she didn’t take it seriously — until last night, that is. Last night she came in from work and pitched an absolute fit because she had no clean clothes. A fit, mind you, that I valiantly chose to ignore. Mainly because that’s just the type of behavior one comes to expect of us lazy bitches and also because it was after 11 PM and, really, who wants to engage an angry adolescent on the heels of her five-hour movie theater concession stand shift who is in a snit about laundry? Not me, I can tell you that. Ultimately, though, the slamming of drawers and banging of doors became too much for poor old Fang who was, at this point, threatening to get out of bed and “take care of this nonsense”.

Rather than listen to the two of them duke it out (metaphorically, of course — this is, after all, a non-violent authoritarian regime), I rolled out of bed to have a “talk” with Fangette. It went rather well, considering the lateness of the hour and the mood of the participants. She made her usual circular arguments regarding her busy life (school, work, social media commitments — okay, I added that last one, but still); I listened patiently, but stuck to my guns — explaining, once again, that a large part of growing up entails being responsible for, among other things, one’s own personal hygiene, which includes clean jeans and sports bras. There were some jabs as to whether or not I had been the best role model and, I’ll admit, I haven’t always been the poster child for cleanliness and organization, but no one in this house has ever gone out into the world wrinkled or unclean on my watch.


I left the conversation feeling like we had reached an agreement about more than just laundry. Further, we had done so calmly and in a reasonable manner. I was convinced that at least for a short while she would cooperate by obeying the edict, which gave me hope for greater things like, for example, a more harmonious household. What I didn’t count on was the possum.

possumondrivewayYeah. You read that correctly, the possum. Or opposum. I have no idea if there is a scientific difference between a possum and an opposum or whether the difference is just semantics. Here’s what I do know: A possum forced the repeal of The Laundry Edict of 2013. And, it’s all my husband’s fault.

Don’t misunderstand me, he had nothing to do with my coming face-to-face with the beady-eyed creature outside of the laundry room. Okay, maybe it was more like snout-to-shin — it wasn’t some genetically-engineered giant possum for heaven’s sakes. He can’t be blamed for the existence of the possum of the driveway or the fact that I nearly had a heart attack outside of the laundry room. No. It’s what he did with his knowledge of the possum in the backyard that ultimately led to my daughter’s adamant refusal to make use of the laundry facilities.

Listen, I get it. There’s very little that’s funnier than telling the story of your wife being surprised by the unexpected appearance of a possum. If the shoe was on the other foot and he had been the one to stumble across the possum armed only with a blue plastic Ikea bag full of clean laundry, you can bet the farm that I would have run, at something resembling world record pace, to get to my phone so that I could tell the story to whomever I could get on the horn. Once I’d stopped laughing my ass off, that is.

My only "weapon"!

My only “weapon”!

I was trying my best to keep him quiet, so as not to alert Fangette, who was in her room, supposedly studying. (Well, at least she hustled off there on that premise when I had asked for her help with dinner earlier! For all I know she’s heading up a black market gun-running operation in that hot mess she lives in.) Fangette has an uncanny ability to appear in those exact moments when she is not wanted. Tonight would prove to be no different. She burst into the living room and demanded to know what was so funny. Fangette almost never quietly appears in a room; she also rarely makes polite requests.

I attempted to play it off, to distract her with the promise of some succulent Thai chicken — to no avail. As for Fang, well, he was just obliviously ignoring my signals. He was, in fact, behaving as if he had never seen the “Shhhhh!” sign in his life.

Woulda distracted me!

Woulda distracted me!

And, honestly, he may not know what the “Shhhhh!” sign means. I don’t know what he did in school. Slept? Daydreamed? He claims to have had near-perfect attendance, which I can believe because it has carried over into his work life — Fang is one of those infuriating coworkers who almost never misses a day of work. He’s the guy that has to be told to go home when he’s sick. He’s not punctual, necessarily, but he’s reliable in that everyone knows that he will, eventually, appear at his desk. Fang is one of those people who gets points for showing up, but not necessarily for paying attention.

It’s often shocking to me what he doesn’t know. One of his favorite retorts when I am exasperated with his lack of basic knowledge on almost any subject is “if that’s true, then every little school boy would know it”. I have spent countless hours explaining to him that most little school boys do, indeed, know things like where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated (Ford’s Theater), where the Revolutionary War began (Lexington and Concord), and what Einstein is famous for (The Theory of Relativity). He is neither stupid nor was he poorly educated, he just doesn’t pay a stick of attention. I often find myself in situations where we will go to, say, a restaurant. He often says things like, “Wow! This place is great. How come we haven’t been here before?”, which leads me to enumerate not only the number of times we have been there before, but other relevant things regarding the venue, such as, which menu items we previously enjoyed and with whom we enjoyed them. Seriously. This is what I’m up against.

shhhh!Not surprisingly, Fang missed the “Shhhhh!” sign, the dagger eyes I was pointing at him, and the finger across the throat that, I think, universally signifies “shut the fuck up already!”. Fang would never make it out alive in a clandestine operation. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. Fang spilled the beans about the possum. Fangette took this information and used it to her advantage. She pounced on it like the possum would have pounced on me had it not been for the giant bag of clean laundry that I very quickly managed to put between my leg and its teeth. I’ll bet you didn’t know that possums had razor-like teeth, did you? I didn’t. Generally speaking, when I think of possums I envision cute little furry things hanging by their furry striped tails somewhere deep inside of the forest while smiling. That’s right. They’re just happily hanging around. I blame this on children’s books and their infuriating need to anthropomorphize dangerous critters. And, really, it’s my own fault, given that most of my knowledge of aardvarks has been gleaned from reading or watching episodes of “Arthur”. I’ll bet, in nature, aardvarks don’t hang around with rabbits or bears and haven’t learned lessons of tolerance from rats.

Razor sharp teeth!!!

Razor sharp teeth!!!

As a result of my near-miss with the possum and my husband’s inability to keep his mouth shut, Fangette will not be venturing out to the laundry room any time soon. I hold out hope that she will, at the very least, hunt for and gather up her own clothing. I just pray that she never sees a mouse under her bed. Because if she does, whatever clothing winds up there will remain there forever. Because I won’t be going under there either. On the bright side, the mice could always use whatever discarded clothing items they find to make Cinderella a new frock. micemakingcinderellasdress

photo credits:
woman under bed
mother and teenage daughter
thai chicken
possum on driveway
possum baring teeth
mice making Cinderella’s dress
blue Ikea bag

Solve for X

halfmastflagI don’t feel like being funny today. I feel like being angry. And I hate it.

I hate that there are people in the world who steal the lives of children.

I hate that some guy can wake up in the morning, stick a few guns in his pocket, and proceed to rob parents of their children.

I hate that anyone who survived this latest atrocity has lost the sense of security that is such a large part of what living in a small town is all about.

I hate feeling like someone failed this young man— because maybe they didn’t, but I can’t help but feel that they did.

I hate that nowhere my kid goes on a daily basis is safe from the odd lunatic with a gun— not at school, not at work, not at the movies, not at the mall. Nowhere.

I hate fucking guns. I fucking hate, hate, hate them. (And please refrain from responding that “guns don’t kill people” because that is just a load of horseshit. Guns don’t shoot themselves.)

I hate that one of the first Facebook posts following this tragedy was some ridiculous quote about God not being allowed in schools. This bullshit is NOT about God nor is it about religion. Praying wouldn’t have saved those children today. It didn’t save the Amish schoolchildren either. And, really, what kind of God allows this kind of thing to happen again and again and again?

I hate that in the aftermath of this tragedy news outlets were speaking with grade-school children ON CAMERA. Are you fucking kidding me?

What I hate most, though, is that I know, FOR A FACT, that this shit is not going to end. Because there is no solution. There is no way to protect ourselves or our children from this random, unthinkable violence. No way.

I hate that I worked all day and half the night and my kid went to school and then to work (AT THE MOVIES, AT THE MALL), so I haven’t seen her yet. I know she is going to hate it, but I cannot wait to hug her when she comes home. I cannot wait.

photo credit: half-mast flag

Of Monks and Commodes

monkwithbookI’ve been thinking about monks lately. Like most people, I’ve always had a healthy respect for these ascetic religious men and their accomplishments. I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about them unless I’m watching “Robin Hood” or some such. (Okay, technically Tuck wasn’t a monk. He was a Friar. Close enough.) Admittedly, I often get bogged down in the poor choices they made regarding fabrics and hairstyles. Burlap and tonsures? Really? In consideration of their contributions to humanity, I think we can give them a pass on the modern-day equivalent of a potato sack and a mullet. We can probably assume that they had more important things on their minds, like manuscript illumination, the fermentation of beer and fine spirits, and maintaining the writings of the Ancients. All of which, by the way, were just their day jobs! In their spare time they sought to solve the mysteries of astronomy, botany, and mathematics. (Among other things.) Guys like Copernicus, Mendel, and Kepler (to name a few) dedicated their lives to studying and recording information in their respective fields. Further, their theories have stood the test of time and things like the electron microscopes.

Maybe we haven't come as far as I'd thought.

Maybe we haven’t come as far as I’d thought.

I have a theory that they were successful not merely because they were intelligent, though certainly they were, but also because they had time. Time to ponder. Time to invent. Time to theorize. Time to read. Time to reflect upon the natural and spiritual worlds. They also had fewer distractions. No Facebook! No Words with Friends! They had little, if any, conversation. Come on, think about it. They ate. They prayed. They learned stuff. They invented things so they could learn more stuff. Oh, and they did these things in an atmosphere of peace and quiet. They did have to put up with the chanting, which might have been mildly distracting, not to mention annoying as hell, but that couldn’t have gone on all day. I envy them their relative noiselessness. They must have been able to hear themselves think. Imagine that.

I don’t know about you, but there is hardly a minute that goes by in my waking life when I’m not being yammered at or otherwise disturbed with nonsense. By people. Mostly the ones that live with me. The latest in the ongoing drama that is my life has to do with bathroom fixtures or, more specifically, with someone’s inability to properly operate this equipment. Call me crazy, but I enjoy a fully flushed toilet. This has been an ongoing source of frustration. One need not be Sherlock Holmes to figure out who is having trouble with the complete flush. There are three people who live here. And one cat. I know it’s not me. I’m also fairly certain it’s not the cat. (I’ve actually heard that cats can be trained to use a toilet. Alas, The Great Fanganini is not one of those cats. Even if he were, I doubt he could be taught to flush, which is a shame because I would really like to meet Mr. David Letterman.) I know it’s not Fang. I know this because he is very private about his bathroom affairs. Very private. It’s Fangette. I know it’s her. I am, in fact, 100% sure that it is her. Again, not because I have exceptional powers of deduction, but because (like any responsible and sensitive parent would), I laid in wait and caught her red-handed, so to speak. We have had several, apparently futile, conversations about how ridiculously lazy, unsanitary, and downright disgusting this behavior is.

This would be awesome!

This would be awesome!

I should mention that we are in possession of a “deluxe” toilet bowl. I stumbled upon this bit of information when I had to replace the toilet seat. I, of course, purchased a “standard” seat only to realize when I got it home that it was too small. For the record and for those of you who may find yourselves in a similar situation: choose wisely. Target does not allow returns on opened toilet seats (which, I suppose, is actually an excellent policy). I don’t know if the fact that we own a “deluxe” commode has anything to do with it or not, but in order for the bowl to evacuate its contents, one must hold the handle down, wait for it to try to bounce back up again, and then release said handle. It also makes a subtle little clicking noise as it empties. So, yeah, it’s a little quirky. I have a theory that it’s meant to be that way— some “deluxe” method of saving water, perhaps. But, what do I know? Do I look like a plumber? Whether it’s designed to operate this way or it does so of its own volition is, frankly, immaterial. The point is that most normal people would hold the handle down, wait for the almost imperceptible jerk, and listen for the noise while watching their business disappear.

Obviously, my daughter is neither “most people” nor is she “normal”. The fraction of a second that she saves by wandering off prior to seeing the completion of this task is clearly more important to her than her pride. Unless she is proud of her bowel movements. That’s certainly not something I had previously considered. I don’t think so, though. Nope. It’s laziness.

Her slothfulness in this area led to an all-out war in this house last night between Fang and Fangette. I tried to keep out of it. I had more important things on my mind. Like, for example, what exactly, is that British program “Top Gear” about? I was watching it when all hell broke loose. It’s not the first episode I’ve ever watched, but I really have no idea what the point of this program is. And, who is the host? The big guy? The little guy? I’m baffled.

At some point during this scintillating bit of programming, I pondered pomegranate juice. I’m not altogether sure how my mind made the crazy leap from whatever “Top Gear” is to exotic fruit, but it did. The connection may have been “things that perplex me”. I am slightly vexed by the pomegranate. I get that it’s an antioxidant (whatever that is), so that’s a positive. On the negative side, though, it is the storied “forbidden fruit” that led to the downfall of mankind. Eve, I think, would be appalled at the price of pomegranate juice. Fourteen bucks for 8 oz. of juice? That’s just crazy, isn’t it? Listen, I understand why it’s expensive. The juice is in the seeds. The very small seeds. So, it probably takes 100 pomegranates to generate an ounce of juice. The process must be unimaginably labor intensive. I’d imagine that there must be pomegranate farms cropping up worldwide to keep up with the sudden increased demand for this formerly marginal fruit. I would think there’d have to be, wouldn’t you? Think about it. How many pomegranates have you purchased/consumed in your lifetime? I like them, but let’s be honest, they’re a helluva lot of work for a very small reward. (I feel this way about unshelled peanuts and sunflower seeds, too.) I’m 47 and I’ve probably eaten a dozen pomegranates in my whole life. They enjoyed some popularity in the 70s, as I recall, but that surge was nothing in comparison to the pomegranate frenzy we are currently experiencing. Also, what’s with the acai berry? Has anyone actually ever seen an acai berry? pomegranate

I never did get to solve either the “Top Gear” or the pomegranate dilemma, as my peaceful reverie was shattered when Fang (who had previously been blaming me for the unflushed bowl— the nerve!) realized that his darling daughter was the actual culprit. I’m not sure exactly how or why, but things between Fang and Fangette heated up pretty quickly. The argument progressed from name-calling to door-slamming. I knew I would have to intervene before things escalated to crying (Fang’s) and descended into swearing (mine). While it’s likely I will never be able to wrap my mind around “Top Gear”, I do believe that I was making some headway regarding the pomegranate. I’ll guarantee you that monks never had to referee a toilet flushing argument.

It occurred to me sometime later (once I had managed to shove the pomegranate question aside) that the reasons why I will never distinguish myself in the arts or sciences may not solely be my inability to draw a simple stick figure, or to write anything of real value, or to understand the most basic principles of the math and science behind Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. While these are certainly valid reasons for failure in these and other areas in which monks excelled, they aren’t the only reasons. The monks had something that we don’t. I’m not talking about rope belts and hand-carved crosses here. They had solitude. And not a lot of talking.

I’m not saying that I’m going to run off and take up a life of monkhood (monkery?) or that if I were to do so I would suddenly (think the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz”), discover that I have latent and heretofore unacknowledged Calculus prowess. But, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that there’s someone else out there who is currently having a meaningless conversation about toilet flushing (or the lack thereof) that could, instead, be hard at work constructing, say, a time machine (I think we owe it to the monks to scurry back there and, at the very least, try to talk them out of the tonsure and the brown burlap!).

nobelprizeAs for me, I have no intention of taking a vow of silence. (Although I can think of a couple of people and one cat who I would encourage to take up this challenge.) I’m resigned to the reality that I will, more than likely, never accomplish anything that bears mention outside of my immediate family. (Although, if the flushing-challenged progeny does not get her act together, the audience to my crazy may actually come to include viewers of “Snapped!”). Alas, unless the Nobel Prize committee takes complete leave of its senses (stranger things have happened— we all remember the George W. Bush years, don’t we?)and begins to award medals for keeping the domestic peace, I won’t be going to Stockholm any time soon either.

photo credit:
medieval book and monk
potato sack dress
cat using toilet
nobel prize

A Few Observations and, Maybe, One Really Good Idea: Women and Movember

Here are a few things that have been rolling around my head today. And, you know, I like to share.

I cannot fathom spending three hours in a restaurant at lunchtime in the middle of the week. Who can sit still that long? Can they really be enjoying each other’s company that much? Don’t they have jobs to get to? Calls of nature to attend to? Laundry to do? Kids to heat up food for? Bathrooms to pretend to clean? Anywhere else to be? Anywhere? Anybody have an answer? Anybody? Bueller?

Teenagers, who are themselves sassy, enjoy applying that descriptor more often than necessary. No amount of lecturing will convince them that employing this adjective to describe inanimate objects like electric toothbrushes, rubber spatulas, and gall bladder surgery is overkill. You can waste your time and your energy carrying on about it, but guess what? They’ll probably do some eye rolling while they, for the twentieth time in as many minutes, call you sassy.

I now identify more with the parents on “Freaks and Geeks” than I do with the teenagers, which I suppose is a good thing. I made this discovery when I caught part of the episode (my daughter is watching it on Netflix— perhaps there is hope for her yet) where Joe Flaherty’s character says, “In some cultures children who disrespect their parents are executed. Executed. You should count your lucky stars that you don’t live in that culture.” When the show first aired I remember hearing that line and thinking, “Wow! That’s a little extreme!” Now? I nearly spit soda out of my nose. Then, I told my kid that I hoped she understood how fortunate she was to be living in 21st Century America. Deep down I know she likes it when I’m sassy.

I love “Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23”. It’s got just the right mixture of camp, pathos, and James Van der Beek. It makes me laugh out loud. Seriously. While I may be prone to overusing LOL, I have to confess that I am almost never, in fact, laughing out loud when I type it. I can often be heard LOL when I’m watching this show, though. Very often.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken with rice and black beans might not have been the best choice for my first solid meal following a stomach virus. Perhaps something more bland, like broiled chicken and plain rice, would have been more sensible options. You would expect that this would have occurred to any reasonably intelligent human being. Five straight days of nothing but chicken broth and saltines may have clouded my judgement.

Some commercials, in their feeble attempts to *wink* at us, are crossing the line into some pretty creepy territory. For example, the one for the Samsung Galaxy, where the Mom and the kids are seeing the Dad off as he leaves for a business trip, do you know the one I’m talking about? Just in case you haven’t seen it, let me recap it for you.

It’s the one where the Mom clicks her phone up against the Dad’s phone and “Voila!”, a surprise video that the kids made for Dad to watch on the plane electronically transfers to Dad’s phone. (I guess this clicking thing is a feature of the Samsung Galaxy— I guarantee it wouldn’t be that easy for me. Plus, I’m guessing that I’d have to troll for other Galaxy users to share stuff with. I’m pretty sure that I’m a little old for trolling. I’m no phone Cougar!) Admittedly, it’s a handy trick. The Dad and the kids are equally excited, him about the ease of the technology, them about having made him a cute video. That’s where it should end. It doesn’t.

Instead, we get the scene were Mom bumps her phone up against Dad’s phone and relays that she made a video of her own. (Her “come hither” look imparts a whole other meaning to the phone bumping thing, if you ask me.) She warns him to wait until he is alone in the hotel room to view it. At least the Dad has the good sense to convey, not lasciviousness, but something more like discomfort. His reaction does not manage to save the commercial from it’s last-minute descent into outright creepiness.

Why do people insist on punishing their elderly, often stroke-afflicted parents (and their waitresses) by insisting these poor souls place their own orders? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I know. The speech therapist told them that the more Dad speaks, the swifter his recovery will be. I have an idea? Talk to Dad about his childhood back at the rehab facility. Don’t torture the poor man (and the poor waitress) by forcing him to drool and slur unintelligably to a stranger. You may be under the illusion that just because you are being a patient and encouraging drool wiper, that I will be of the opinion that you are a good and caring daughter. I won’t be. At the end of the day, you will wind up translating what it is he is saying anyway. Save Dad and I the embarrassment, would you please? Just order for him. From the start. Unless, of course, you are working through some childhood issues. Then, by all means, waste your server’s time. I understand. Mental health professionals can be expensive.

I think women should get into the Movember act. We could call it Wovember! I’m not suggesting we stop attending to our moustaches (those of us who have them should continue with whatever regimen has been successful). But we could stop waxing and shaving other things, if you catch my meaning. We should do this, not because we’re lazy and don’t see the point in shaving our legs in the wintertime. That would just be lazy. No, we should do so in support of prostate cancer research and to raise awareness regarding men’s mental health issues. In a show of solidarity, we could stand, hairy legs entwined, with our brothers, our husbands, our fathers! (Well, maybe not with our fathers. Speaking of creepy.)

The whole Movember movement is inspired. It really is. Who, but a man, would ever think of a way to make a non-activity something to champion. So, how’s about it girls? I’ll put my hairy legs out there for the world to see. (Why should the trash collector be the only one who gets to enjoy my white, flaky, furry calves as they peek alluringly from under my fuzzy bathrobe?) I don’t know if I could go a month without getting my eyebrows threaded though. I’m all for supporting a good cause, but I have to draw the line at the unibrow.

I have some thoughts as to how we could make this a real moneymaker. I’ll need to bounce this Wovember thing off of a few people before I go public with them. I’m thinking that I’ll get a group of women together for lunch tomorrow. We’ll go out to a restaurant, run up an $18 check, and toss a few ideas around. For an hour or three. I’ll keep you posted on what comes of it.

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Leave Me Alone! I’m Sick!

I’ve been under the weather, as they say, for a few days now. Nothing serious, just a bout of some stomachy thing. I’ll recover.

I am not sick enough to be beyond complaining. I’m just going to complain about being sick. More specifically, I am going to complain about not being allowed to be sick the way the rest of this family is allowed to be sick. You know, I’d like them to make me soup, bring me a blanket, check on my need for medication and/ or hydration. Like I do for them when they’re sick. If they are not going to do these things for me, that’s fine. But, at the very least, they could just leave me alone. If my fever spikes to 104 degrees (Fahrenheit) and I dehydrate and die right here in the suburbs of Manhattan, that’s fine, too. At least I’ll have expired in peace. With no one bothering me!

My primary, but not my only, complaint is that I have been continually harassed about meals. This “not cooking thing” (a direct quote from the always sympathetic Fangette) while I am feverish, achy, and on the verge of vomiting is not entirely because I have adopted an “I can’t eat, so I’m not cooking” attitude. That plays a part, sure, but that’s not the only reason I have absented myself from food preparation. It’s because I’m sick. With a stomach virus.

Exactly what variety of idiot would you have to be to even want a viral person touching your food? I’m going to answer that. I’ve used the opportunity of being bed-ridden to mull this over. Somewhere between the napping, the sweating, the shivering, and the frequent trips to the bathroom I found the time to conclude that I live with lazy idiots.

It wasn’t just Fangette’s need for food that necessitated rousing her mother from her sick bed. Oh, no. There were several pressing matters that required my attention. Outside of the request for a french braid, these were all things that the other adult who lives in this house (or the teenager herself) could have and should have taken care of. If they weren’t lazy idiots, that is.

She needed her polyester work shirt ironed. This required a ten-minute dialogue in which I was forced to explain (and not for the first time, mind you) that it would melt if I ironed it. To be fair, I’ve been telling her this about most fabrics all of her life, so she may have been right to be suspicious. This time it’s true, though. I swear! It’s right there on the tag—a little iron symbol with a line through it.

She needed refills on her acne medication. Having the prescription numbers would have made this far easier, but she threw away the boxes. This is the second time she’s done that. Not having the prescription numbers meant that someone (guess who?) had to spend fifteen minutes on hold waiting to speak to an actual human being. I fell asleep while on hold. I’m not kidding. So, her prescriptions never got refilled. I told my husband that he would have to stop on his way home from work and take care of it. (He won’t do it on the phone— because he refuses to make phone calls. Refuses. Like a five-year-old who won’t get in the bath type of refusal.) I don’t hold out much hope that she will have her acne medication tonight.

She needed someone to quiz her for an upcoming Spanish III test. While I certainly do understand her reluctance to ask for help on a foreign language test from the man who pronounces “Chez” phonetically, I was really in no mood to reacquaint myself with the proper uses of ser and estar. Doesn’t she have classmates? I know she has the Internet.

She also had to make the usual requests for money. Money for lunch (there’s that food shit again), money to buy the Vans I’d promised her (a promise I do not remember ever making, but $45 was a small price to pay for a little peace and quiet), gift money for, yet another, “Sweet 16” party (hence the need for the French braid), and…. and…. and….

Finally, I’d had enough. So, I told her that all future requests until I felt better would really just have to go through her father. I told her that while I understood that I was clearly the better parent, she’d just have to settle for second-best until I got back on my feet.

She returned five minutes later with the following very, very bad news: “Dad says he doesn’t feel well.”


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