Sunday, December 31, 2006

Have I shared my feelings re: children on planes?

At the airport, to my surprise, I was ushered into the much shorter First/Business Class security line, because I've attained Gold Status. I wasn't in any hurry... which is a good thing, because the line wasn't moving any faster, although there was only one family instead of the twenty people in the other line. It's amazing how long it takes to get small children through anything... so there I was, watching a line of twenty people go by, while in front of me this excessively blond family tried to get their kids to sit still or walk still. Blond... annoying... in first class... oh, no! Was I getting a preview of the next generation of the Hilton sisters? Yes, I know, I too was blond when I was a child (see photo of me already having an attitude problem)... but at least my parents had the decency to only have one of me.

And I don't recall crying on planes (my mom said I was a very calm child, doesn't know what happened).

My hostility to children has grown out of control. I realized that again when I couldn't help but laugh, upon reading about the parents who had to argue over whether it was their dog or ferret that chewed off their kid's toes. I know it's not funny, but you have to admit... it's a little funny. But don't worry, I won't let any dogs or ferrets near my own children, or yours should you choose to trust me with them.

On that note, Happy New Year!


Perhaps my mom's relies on repetition because she overestimates its effectiveness. For some reason. I certainly don't encourage it-- hearing something more than once doesn't inspire better results from me-- and I certainly don't like to repeat myself.

So, if I'm in the middle of something in another part of the house when it occurs to my mother to call for me, it's really not necessary to keep calling for me as I'm finishing what I'm doing (Lesson I of calling me from another part of the house). My mother has never actually understood that unless something is urgent-- i.e. something's on fire, etc. (I've discussed in the past her and my differing understandings of the concept of urgency)-- I'm going to finish what I'm doing first. Seeing something on TV that she wants to tell me about is not urgent, so I'd finish, say, typing a sentence, etc. Continuing to say or scream "A....!" while I finish typing my sentence is not going to make the sentence go any faster. And, actually, screaming for me to drop what I'm doing because she has a thought she wants to share, leads me to take her less seriously whenever she screams for me for whatever reason (Lesson II). There's no way to differentiate an "A....!" inspired by, "I've been meaning to ask you, did you ever apply to Google?" from one inspired by, "that pot is going to boil over and I'm in the middle of something, could you remove it please," etc. There's a Lesson II: It takes a few seconds to get from one part of the house to another (the house is not very big but still), so, in a variation on Lesson I, once you hear me say, "I'm coming," you can stop with the "A....!"s.

Nonetheless, this morning, when my father started doing laundry around the same time my mother started taking a shower, and I started reading the paper, the following scene ensued:

Mom: A....!!!
A.: I'm coming!
Mom: A....!!!
A.: I said I'm coming
Mom: A....!!!
Mom: A....!!!
Mom: A....!!!
Mom: A....!!!

Or however many she managed to get in there in the ten seconds after "I said I'm coming" but before I actually reached her.

Now, as for my not liking to repeat myself-- don't get me wrong, it's not like I can't be bothered to repeat what I've said if someone didn't hear it. It's more like, upon having established something (for example, "no I have not applied to Google and no I do not plan on applying to Google," or "I have no political rationale for not drinking coffee. I don't like coffee;"), I do not care to revisit that discussion. And I'd established that in my opinion, there is much too much food on the table at every meal and it's unnecessary, and if it's food that can't really be tupperwared, i.e. that should be eaten, I always feel like crap at the end of the meal. It's very Russian to have a lot of appetizers or side dishes around-- fair enough. That's still no excuse for the following conversation:

Mom: Should I also cook the green beans?
A.: Absolutely not, I think there's already a ton of food.
[A few minutes elapse.]
Mom: Oh, I'll put out the eggplant...
A.: There is an insane amount of food on the table.
[A few minutes elapse.]
Mom: Do you think I should put out the seaweed salad?
A.: No! No! I've already told you I don't think you should put anything else out!

I mean, WHY does she keep asking me? Had I not made clear my feelings on the matter of putting out more food? If she wants to set out more food, fine, but please stop asking me. Although I'd really rather she didn't set out more food, because the more food on the table, the more items about which she'll ask why I'm not eating them, and then lecture me on their nutritional value.

I'm actually not very picky about food-- if it's vegetarian/pescatarian, I'll eat it. I can't eat everything at once, though, and there are some things I am quite picky about, like eggs. I take eggs very seriously (fried ones, anyway). I like them over-easy, on toast, and served hot. Over-easy because I prefer very firm whites and completely liquid yolks; on toast or even just bread because something has to catch the yolk when you break it-- otherwise there's egg yolk on your plate and who needs that? My father has different fried egg preferences, has more tolerance for runny egg whites. This is why when we have fried eggs for breakfast, I tend to make my own, he tends to make his own, and whoever has the bigger skillet also makes my mom's, because she's not as particular about her eggs. My dad and I have discussed our respective fried egg preferences and reasons for those preferences, not once. So while it was very sweet of him to start working on frying eggs for me this morning, I'm glad I stopped him in time, since when I came into the kitchen, I saw him frying two pieces of bread with holes in them (he would later fry the eggs into the holes). Which defeats the whole purpose of having the bread there. To catch the yolk. Again, not complaining-- it was very nice of him-- just... shaking my head, since we've had that conversation so many times, perhaps even earlier that week.

I have to take a minute to dwell on my dad's quirks. He's very much a creature of habit, to the point that it's almost impossible to get him to change his ways on anything, just because that's the way he's always done it. Even things that are much, much, easier-- paying bills and filing taxes online; or more practical-- not slicing an entire loaf of fresh bread at once, so less of the uneaten part goes stale or dries out; are done the more difficult, impractical way, because that's the way he's always done things. This frustrates my mother no end. It frustrates me occasionally.

I can't draw the connection in words between my dad's resistance to change, and his try at frying eggs my way, but there's just something there and if you knew him it would make sense.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

I get it, I'm not sexy

I've established, this week if not before, that my mom has a thing for repetition. Didn't like the answer to a question? Keep asking until you get the response you wanted; didn't quite convince your interlocutor of your point? Just keep repeating it; didn't get your daughter to apply to Google? Don't let her off the phone until she agrees to do it... and then remind her every time you talk to her.

Well, for years my mom has been telling me that I am not sexy, etc. By 'etc.', I mean variations such as, 'the way you walk is really not sexy.' It should go without saying that I have not responded to this comment by enrolling in modeling school or making any attempt whatsoever to become or walk more 'sexy.'

So this morning, almost from out of nowhere, I hear, "you're very... professional; you're not... sexy."

I say almost because in retrospect I've reconstructed my mother's train of thought-- we'd been talking about Wendy's upcoming wedding, she was probably thinking, why am I not getting married, and then realized it's because I'm apparently lacking in 'sexy.'

Mom: You're very... professional. you're not... sexy. You're intimidating-- you're not approachable...

A.: [Yawn]

Mom: You're somewhat... harsh...

A.: [Yawn]

Mom: always have to be right...

A.: I'll have to disagree with you there. I know people who always have to be right. I do not always have to be right.

Mom: Well, you're somewhat... rough around the edges.

I've heard most of this a million times and it doesn't bother me. I mean, it bothers me more that my mother has taken it upon herself to counsel me on my perceived level of sexiness, than that there may be a problem with said sexiness. But even that doesn't really bother me-- I pick my battles.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Carrots, a feel-good blog

I've often said that my favorite Ali G. interview was the one with James Baker... Ali G. asks Baker how the U.S. gets countries to do what it wants, Baker says 'carrots and sticks' and is asked, 'what if the people in that country don't like carrots?' Baker goes on to explain that he doesn't mean actual carrots... which prompts Ali G. to ask, 'you mean, even if the people are starving? you wouldn't airdrop carrots?'

I reference and paraphrase that interview, because-- occupational hazard-- writing "carrots"in the subject line took my mind from mom blogging to foreign policy. But I do mean real carrots, i.e. the root vegetable, and not the proverbial counterpart to sticks.

Tonight's edition of the mom blog was inspired and made possible by my friend Martha... for which I am grateful, because it's nice to mix it up and include a simply 'odd' blog with all the 'dysfunctional' blogs.

This afternoon I got together with my friends, Wendy and Martha. We ended up getting together at Cabot's, which has amazing staying power-- it hasn't changed since I was in grade school and hasn't been, knock on wood, driven out of business. My mom didn't know I was going there; she was actually under the impression that we were getting together at Wendy's parents' house, since that had been the plan earlier in the week, pre-cold. Anyway, she called while I was at Cabot's, and (see previous blog that I'd e-mailed but not yet posted here) she's trained me to answer the phone even when I'd rather not. She said, "if you're still at Wendy's, could you borrow some carrots?" She was making soup, and only had baby carrots, which don't shred very well. I told her I was not at Wendy's, but would gladly stop at the supermarket on the way home and get her some carrots.

It was a bizarre request-- I'm not sure how she knew that Wendy's parents had an ample supply of carrots. Now that I think about it, it was probably because Wendy's parents grow things and in the past have given me and my parents zucchini from their garden. But it's not exactly gardening weather here.

I transmitted the conversation to my friends, more for its oddity than anything else, but Wendy said her parents had plenty of carrots, and offered them up. I was sort of going back and forth on the whole thing-- wouldn't it be easier and less disruptive to just stop at the store and get some carrots?

We were going to Wendy's anyway, and in the car, I mentioned to Martha and Wendy that I know had a real mom blog. Yes, what started out as an e-mail to one person and then two and then a handful, and so on, now has its own web address.

Revealing this information to Martha led her to insist on driving me to my parents house with carrots, and then driving me back (Wendy's parents had invited us to dinner)-- because it would be great for the mom blog. Mind you, the distance between our parents' houses is probably about a mile... but still.

So there I was, humiliated, as Wendy asked her parents to spare some carrots (ugh, I really can't think that word without considering its geopolitical implications... need to get out more). At that point I think I even said, "you know what, forget it, I'm just going to go to the store," but Wendy's parents did have several bags of carrots and gladly volunteered a few of them. And Martha gladly volunteered to drive me to my parents' house to deliver them. Which I'm sure she would have done anyway... but she was particularly inspired by the mom blog.

So my mom got her carrots, Wendy and her parents got to donate carrots, and Martha got to inspire a blog. Everyone wins!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

You're going to bed? Now?

Everyone has different coping mechanisms for processing information they don't like. My mother's is to repeat the question that yielded the information in question, in case she gets a different answer next time.

This is partly a continuation of the down comforter saga. We've aired out the comforter, and my mother is very kind to offer to sew a case around it. As alluded to previously, the room I'm sleeping in is sort of the storage area for bedding and such. On my way to bed, I had to once again jump over things that had been tossed onto the floor (not as much fun to toss them onto the bed when I'm not trying to make said bed) to get there. I successfully navigate the obstacle course and change into my pajamas, and am in the process of crawling into bed, when my mom comes back in. She looks at me incredulously and asks, "you're going to bed?? now?" I just said yes. I didn't say, "yes, I'm going to bed now. It's past 10pm, I feel like crap, and I've already taken nighttime cold medicine so I'm even more tired. Why is it so revolutionary that I'm going to bed??"

She navigates the obstacle course toward the big closet, pulls some more stuff out. I ask her to please close the closet door, as there's cold air coming out. She says something like, "I think it's perfectly warm in here. It's just a question of what you're used to." This is another of my mother's regular themes: in spite of her best efforts, I'm just not acclimated to the cold. Just this morning actually I got a lecture about how I shouldn't be wearing slippers-- I should get my feet used to being cold.

Anyway, my mother ruffles through stuff for a few minutes, is lecturing me about something, and then, looks at me (in bed, in my pajamas, looking miserable) and says, "you're going to bed now??"

After another few minutes, it looks like she's found what she wanted and is leaving the room. I ask her again to please close the closet door. At this, she gets really upset and slams it shut. I look up and say, "what is the problem?" She says, "you've finally gotten to me!" and something like "maybe if you ever did anything yourself, I wouldn't have to be rummaging through here?"

I asked her what exactly she wanted me to do myself. She knows I can't sew. But there I went, searching for logic, before I realized that this was another familiar pattern-- who knows exactly what she's upset about-- maybe she doesn't feel like sewing a cover for the comforter. Fine. I'd offered to just buy one anyway, it seemed a lot easier. When in doubt-- when she feels like being angry at me but can't justify the feeling, she resorts to the "you never help me with anything/I'm the only one who ever does any work around here" lines. It's a classic fallback. I actually should have known it was coming, should have sensed the 'I'm the only one who cleans' mood coming on, because there was a preview right before dinner. I was working between the table and the counter, still had the ginger left to grate so it was separate from everything that was already done. She saw it on the counter and said, haughtily, "did you know that you had left the ginger on the counter?" And when I said, "yes, I'm just about to use it now," she looked crestfallen that she didn't have something to yell at me about and made some snide comment anyway. Back to that evening... she slammed the room door shut too and stormed out. And this morning she seems to have recovered from her anger. For now.

Resort Collections

I'm going to start this morning with a non-mom blog.

In my old age, I find myself on the mailing (e-mail) lists for Michael Kors and Diane von Furstenburg. Don't ask me why or how-- I've never bought anything from either store. Actually I know how but the point is, I don't shop either, because you have to be crazy to spend that much money on clothes or accessories. Anyway, from both of these companies I've recently received invitations to browse their resort collections.

Resort collections... truly epitomize the chasm between 'those people' and me. The first I heard of this concept was when Uli tragically lost Project Runway. But honestly, who are these people? Are any of you 'these people'? When I go on vacation, I pack my ratty clothes. Who invests in a 'resort collection'? I guess it's not all that much different from convoluted clothing lines at REI, but is still boggles my mind.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Pop Science

I've about had it with both my parents' lack of understanding of basic biology, and their willingness to broadcast it. It's one thing when my mom makes it her goal to convince me of the infeasibility of evolution, but having to listen to their misconceptions for days at a time is really starting to grate on me.

Forgive the cliche, but I'm not a brain surgeon. Sure, I took AP biology back in the day, but there are certain things (like having heard of Che Guevara) that are, or should be, common knowledge (yes I know I don't know how my car works or how electricity comes into my house, but here's the key difference: I don't go around pretending I do know, and then lecturing people on things I don't understand). My parents didn't really take any biology, ever. I'm not just discovering this now-- the first time it really hit me was when I had to tell my dad that bacteria are distinct from viruses. And that fact was reinforced every time my mother said something like 'sitting on cold cement will make you infertile.'

Perhaps the impetus to blog about this wouldn't be as strong if it were just my mother. After all, I blogged yesterday and neglected to share the following conversation:

Mom: Weren't you getting together with you're friends?
A.: We decided to wait a few days; I don't want to make them sick.
Mom: What you have isn't contagious?
A.: What??
Mom: Your kind of of cold isn't contagious.
A.: How does that work?
Mom: You don't have the flu; what you have is a cold, so it's 'microbial.'
A.: I have a viral infection. Most colds are viral infections.
Mom: No they're not.

There have been other nuggets of that kind of wisdom here and there. I don't even remember most of them. Partly because my viral infection is making me somewhat delirious. And besides, I can't blog every time someone says something like that. I have a life.

But then my dad was asking me when I last took Tylenol. Which is acetaminophen. Of which you really don't want to take too much (although it is my drug of choice for the common cold... which by the way is VIRAL).

A.: I took some at night, and then I just took some at dinnertime.
Dad: Why didn't you take any earlier in the day?
A.: I didn't really feel like I needed it.
Dad: I used to be like you... but since then, I've learned that it's best to take a 'definitive' dose, to really get at what's ailing you...
A.: What are you talking about? Tylenol is not going to get at anything-- it doesn't kill anything. It's not an antibiotic, and this is NOT a bacterial infection...
Dad: I'm just speaking from experience... I had a cold once, and I took a lot of aspirin, and that really helped me get better right away.
A.: Who KNOWS what else was going on that time you had a cold and took aspirin! There's absolutely no benefit to taking the maximum recommended dosage of Tylenol per day.
Dad: It'll fight the cold.
A.: No, it won't.

I don't even want to think about what other medical misconceptions are floating around in this house... I'll just be grateful that no one has yet suggested that I fight the cold by drinking my own urine.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Mind over Matter

Apparently, I'm sick because I wanted to be sick... I told myself to come down with this cold. So says my mother.

My dad, who's somewhat disorganized, tried to make me feel better. He brought down what he thought was a tax document that I'd need. Except that it said 2005 in large numbers on it. And it was my Roth IRA tax statement of that year... which has almost twice as much money as my Roth IRA now. Seeing it really made me feel better.

Oh, you may recall that I don't drink coffee. After breakfast, when my mom and I were deciding what to have, she asked me whether I'd prefer coffee, tea or hot chocolate. I said, 'definitely not coffee.' She said, "that's really too bad... you know, coffee fights Alzheimer's, and several other diseases..." On the bright side, that was the only nutritional lecture of the day (there were some other lectures... like how illness is mind over matter and I should tell myself not to be sick).


I'm not usually a particularly lazy person, but sometimes I want or even need to be lazy. And I know when I want to be lazy. I only half-planned to spend this week-- which is, after all, my week off-- being lazy. This is one reason that I'm in Boston, and not, say, kayaking on the Amazon. Something told me on Sunday that I needed to rest. But then I listened to my mother and went for a walk. Now I'd better spend the rest of the week resting... but my watery eyes hurt too much to read the whole time, and I'm not one for daytime TV.

My mom apparently disapproves of my TV watching. On Monday, we watched Scrubs. She was shocked that I managed to follow what was going on, and asked me several times whether I watched it every day. Every time, I said, "I don't watch anything every day. I barely have time to watch the Daily Show and Colbert Report every day-- sometimes I rejoice when they air reruns." Today we watched Scrubs again. And my mother asked me again whether I watched it every day. And I said, "you asked me that three times yesterday." She denied it, said she hadn't asked me at all.

So now she's making this thing of how I watch too much TV.

Yes, because I'm sick and thereby even more exhausted than I'd normally be after a really exhausting few months, which included a significant flesh wound, a time-consuming car accident, the adoption of a pet, and a lot of personal and business travel. Can I please spend a week sitting on my butt and watching TV without judgment?? Without having to justify my choices??

Not that it's any one's business, but I don't watch too much TV. Or maybe I do. Do exercise videos count as TV?

All I'm saying is, when I'm tired, and especially when I'm sick, I like to watch mind-numbingly, insultingly stupid television (note: I'm not saying that about Scrubs). Would a better person spend this week reading and exercising her intellect? I don't doubt it. And maybe there's a part of me wants to be that better person. But right now, most parts of me just want to rest and consume brain candy.

Peace out.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday afternoon

I'm sitting on the couch, minding my own business, immersed in my crossword, when my mother asks me for the twelfth time whether I want to go for a walk. For the twelfth time I respond, "first of all, I don't care. Pick somewhere and we'll go." But then I decide I don't want to go. I'm burnt out, I've been fighting a cold for a month, and I want to sit on my @$$ on a Sunday afternoon, I'm entitled to do so. At first she agrees, but three questions later, she grabs my crossword out of my hand and orders me to get up and get ready to go. I think, well why not, it looks nice out, and comply, against my better judgment.

We're on our way out, when my mother notices the fruit basket.

Mom: Didn't you see that we have bananas.
A.: I did.
Mom: Bananas have potassium, they have...

It's just now, this morning, occurred to me that I am truly going to have to listen to nutritional lectures ALL WEEK. Take the conversation this morning,

Mom: Do you saute tomatoes when you make omelets?
A.: I don't, generally.
Mom: Well, that vitamin in tomatoes is best absorbed when consumed with fat...

For those of you prone to easy solutions, I don't pander. I'm not going to say 'yes, I do that,' nor will I eat everything she suggests just to get her off my back.

Anyway, we go for our walk, and the cold I've been fighting gains ground. Spare me the lecture, those of you who would argue that cold weather doesn't cause illness. Enough of it does temporarily weaken your immune system and make you more sensitive. But I don't think it was the weather... it was the activity, when my body had been telling me to rest.

The reason I'm telling you all this is that I did not fail to try to pin my condition on my mother, since she was the one who got me to go on the walk. In response, I got a lecture on how fresh air is the best remedy, etc., and then started telling me about how good for you physical activity is (really? I never would have thought). It's like all-or-nothing with my parents-- neither of them seems to understand moderation or appropriate timing. If I say I don't want to go for a walk now, it's interpreted as though I've never been for a walk in my life, nor will ever go, and treated accordingly, with a lecture on the benefits of physical activity.


With said cold, I get tired early and decide to go to bed, but first I need to make my bed. I'd mentioned on our walk, as we were navigating around goose droppings, that I'd considered getting a down comforter, which led me to ask myself whether I had issues with down, and decided, with some guidance (from one of the readers of this blog), that I didn't, because goose were mean and one of them attacked me once. I'm not sure how well that works, considering that mink are mean, too, but I'd still never wear their fur... but I still think I could sleep under a down comforter with a semi-clean conscience. My mother mentioned that she had one she wasn't using, and that I could try it out this week, which was wonderful news.

So I started making the bed, my mom comes up to help, and starts searching for the comforter in the depths of the closet. As I'm trying to fit another blanket into a comforter sheet, she keeps tossing things on top of it. Not blindly-- she leaves the closet, turns around, and throws pillows and other stuff on top of the bed. I ask her to stop. Finally, she finds the down comforter, which smells incredibly moldy. I suggest we take it out of the room and hang it up outside, which she goes to do. I go back to making the bed. She comes back in and starts to help me, I ask her to take that thing out of the room or let me do it, because it's making my throat worse. She lectures me on how I have no focus and jump too quickly between activities, and takes the comforter out, with a warning that I'll never get the blanket into its cover on my own. Once she leaves and there are no longer pillows falling on the comforter, I manage to stuff it into its cover in about 30 seconds, and proceed to finish making the bed in a minute.


In the morning, she takes piles of clothes and asks me if I want to take them with me. I say no. I've said no to these clothes before, begged her to throw them out or give them away.

Mom: But they're still good.
A.: Then YOU wear them. I have no use for them.
Mom: They were yours.
A." Yes, 15 years ago. I don't see why that means I have to wear them now.

This is particularly ironic because there are things I've wanted to keep-- books, etc.-- that she's just as adamant about throwing out, and I have to argue with her to keep them. Not even to keep them in her house-- just to keep them.

Mom: Do you really need to keep this book?
A.: Yes.
Mom: But why? It doesn't look good.

Anyway... finally she let me get up without having to agree to take the bag of clothes I wore in middle school with me. But I did come downstairs wearing a pair of pants apparently similar to those in the bag--really, just because it was there, and I go to Boston with a limited number of clothes, and save those for days I actually plan to leave the house. So I have to hear about it.

Mom: How are those pants different from those you've rejected?
A.: I wouldn't wear these outside the house.
Mom: But they're so comfortable- more comfortable than jeans.
A.: I still wouldn't wear them outside the house.

And so on for a few more rounds.

It's not the clothes. It's not the food. It's the persistence... why not suggest something and then just DROP it??? Why is that so difficult? You're not going to convince another person, another adult, to eat something she doesn't feel like eating or wear something she won't wear, by arguing with her about it. Just let it GO.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The week begins

I've been home for almost an hour, without incident. There is, of course, the usual mealtime behavior, although even that has been mild-- limited to the following kind of thing:

Mom: Would you like some [enter food name here]?
A.: No, thank you?
Mom: Really, it's healthy... [launch lecture on health properties of said food].
A.: Right, but I'm enjoying all the other food that's here. Maybe later I'll have some of that.

This sounds harmless... and it would be... if it didn't happen EVERY TIME I opt not to sample any food that's on the table.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I wonder how mom feels about my haircut

Well, I heard about the hair again first thing Saturday morning. And asked her to please drop the issue, as I didn't want to hear about the hair all weekend. She tried to claim that that was the first, maybe second mention of the hair, and maybe even added the usual, "you shouldn't be so sensitive." Maybe she didn't-- various repeated criticisms of my appearance tend to run together.

I headed downstairs to do yoga before everyone was ready for breakfast. Although I always feel better once I'm doing or have done yoga, it's often hard to motivate to do it, especially since you're not supposed to eat for a few hours beforehand and I often get hungry-- and start thinking about food when I'm supposed to be concentrating on my breath. So I have to just do it because if I start doing other things, I lose my motivation.

I'd brought home my yoga tape, because it's poor quality and about to be eaten by my VCR any day now, and my mom offered to burn it to a DVD for me. Also, with a tape, we could both do yoga-- she'd said she'd wanted to the last time I did yoga at home.

So I said I'd wait for her, but told her not to dilly dally (frequent readers will recall that my mother is a chronic dilly-dallyer). She has so much technology going on that it takes about 15 minutes to find all the right remote controls and arrange for the display to feed from the VCR. At various points in the process, mom gets distracted and starts watering her plants and doing other things. I make no secret of my wish to get on with the yoga so we can move on with our lives. Finally, about 45 minutes after I first said "I'm going to do some quick yoga," we're about to start (45 minutes is also, ironically, the duration of the program)-- we're sitting down, about to start breathing and everything-- and she starts complaining about a thin stripe of display information along the top of the screen. I plead for her to just sit down and let it go-- and she gets up again to try to fix it. I say, "okay, forget it. Just drop it. I'm starting now, with or without the tape."

She throws down the remote and says, "even yoga won't help you!"
"Yoga is all about concentration, and you're breaking mine!"
"Exactly, yoga is all about concentration! Learn to concentrate!"

And storms off. Which is just as well, because this morning she opted to do yoga along with the tape as she burned it. I opted to do it alongside. And she narrated throughout the entire tape... "this I can do, because my issues are in the knees, not the back.... this I used to be able to do... this I remember." I almost said, "if you could LISTEN to what she's saying instead of narrating what you can and can't do, you'd have an easier time with the poses," but it wasn't worth it.

Later that morning we headed out for a walk. We'd eaten an absolutely huge breakfast and I'd just brushed my teeth. My mother insisted that I try some juice-soy milk concoction that she had, and I said no. She said, "just try it." I said I didn't want to. She repeated that I should just try it. And so it went. And so it goes with EVERYTHING-- clothes that obviously don't fit me, clothes that fit me that I don't like, etc.-- she latches on and saps your will to resist.


That evening, we're flipping channels. We end up flipping between three movies that are playing: Finding Nemo (curiosity... I'd seen it, they hadn't), Lord of the Rings (family favorite) and Zoolander (my preference at the time). Now, part of the reason I was nudging us away from LOTR was that my mom just LOVES to narrate how every part of the movie is different from what happened in the book, which makes for a less than enjoyable viewing experience. Luckily, I wasn't trying to enjoy Finding Nemo, because I had to listen to a barrage of logistical questions ranging from "how come all the sea creatures speak the same language, and why is that language English?" to "why would the torpedo cause that kind of explosion," as well as ethical issues such as "now children are going to think that parent fish actually care about their offspring, and that fish as a whole cooperate with each other." When the movie ended, she asked whether the dad and the annoying forgetful fish got married. I told her that that was left to the imagination. She said the storyline was left unresolved unless they specified the relationship between the two.

The other films must have been in commercials when the credits rolled, because were watching them, prompting my mother to ask, "who's she?"

A.: "Who's who?"
Mom: "She?"
A.: "??"
Mom: "The she in the song."

The song was "Beyond the Sea"-- just the song that played while the credits rolled. I really didn't have an answer for that.

The best part of the whole thing was, in my flipping, I'd stopped on the Discovery Channel, which was showing a gorilla, with some sort of narration about that gorilla's life. My mother, hearing the narration, said, "what, the gorilla's talking, too??"

See, this is a whole other issue, of my mother not-- ever, really-- taking the time to assess the situation before either freaking out or asking someone else. Case in point: there was some small, plastic tube-like thing with a label that she tried to give me this morning to take with me.

"Isn't that your bee-sting kit? Why do you leave these things lying around the house"
"I don't even know what that is. It's not mine."
"Yes it is."

I then read the label. It was some sort of funnel for pouring motor oil.


I thought I'd maybe get through a whole weekend without a major screaming fight (the one over yoga was medium-grade). The big ones usually end in my father getting involved, only to be yelled at to stay out of it and be called an idiot who doesn't understand anything. In the interest of avoiding such a fight, I'd let my mother rant on about politics (and how right glenn beck is about everything, etc.), but she said something (I'll spare you the details) that I couldn't resist responding too-- it was just my civic obligation. I wasn't interested in getting into a discussion of the issue-- as much as it bothers me that my mother thinks the way she does, I'm not going to change her mind... I do wish I didn't have to hear about it all the time, and I've asked her to spare my the political verbal barrage, especially at mealtime. So it was ironic that at one point, she said, "you know what, this conversation is over! I'm not going to talk to you about this anymore!" I should have just let it go then, but I had to open my big mouth and say, "thank you! that's what I've been asking you to do all weekend!" After all, if I wanted to listen to people ignorantly discuss issues that they don't understand, I may as well go to work. I believe I said as much. Anyway, that just encouraged her to keep going.

For some reason, my pleas to escape her indoctrination campaign fall on deaf ears. Did I tell you (I know I've told some of you, but have I documented to all of you...) about the time she called me to ask me why I'd sent her something by e-mail? I'd sent her a review of restaurants in a city that she was about to visit (I got a similar response when I sent her, a year or so ago, an Economist City Guide that profiled galleries in Buenos Aires, as she was headed there). If you're not interested, delete the e-mail and move on with your life. Instead, she calls me full of hostility to make me justify why I sent her that e-mail.

I said, "I thought you might be interested in restaurants in Jerusalem."
"You KNOW I don't like to eat at restaurants."
"Fine. Delete the e-mail. I'm not trying to get you to eat at restaurants. I don't understand why we're having this conversation. I've asked you myriad times not to send me all the crap you forward on."
"Fine! I won't send you anything at all!"
"Please don't."

But she still DOES.

Anyway, as I'd probably mentioned before, as much as my mother's backwards political ideas bother me (and this is almost objectively backwards, to the extent such a thing is possible), it bothers me as much that I'm constantly subject to her expressing them, and even move that when I can't take it anymore and decide to argue back, she's impossible to talk to because she argues like O'Reilly, i.e. she simplifies and extremizes your argument to try to delegitimize it. (Easy case in point-- as part of her campaign to prove to me that evolution is impossible, and in response to my response of, "could we just drop this, I'm not going to agree with you and I don't want to talk about it," she'll say, "so you think we've come straight from being amebas?" I just refuse to stoop to that level of discourse.

That's all for now, and hopefully, for the weekend. Since I'll be home for a week, starting next week, I'll put these on an actual blog so as not to overwhelm your mailboxes. Happy Sunday!


P.S. Over lunch, she mentioned that she didn't like my haircut.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It's been an hour

we get back from the airport, get out of the car.

"Did you cut your hair?" my mom asks, inquisitively.

"I did."

"It looked better long."

It's taken me a month to get used to and accept this haircut.

About twenty minutes later, over tea:

"I just think there's too much hair in your face."

"I don't want to talk about it."

About twenty minutes after that, I catch her looking at me with a confused expression. I pre-empt her comment:
"Could you please lay off my haircut?"

"I just think this look doesn't work for you."

"I don't want to hear about it."

This has worked so far. I'll let you know how many times it comes up throughout the weekend.

Saturday, December 9, 2006


I'm looking for a venture capitalist to fund my dream: STFU airlines. No yapping, whining, or crying children; no mindlessly bantering adults; just peace and quiet.

While we're at it, we'll ban strong perfume.

And people who take hours to get their luggage stowed.

Any takers?