Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In this case I actually blame the system

I'm not criticizing mom here, for the most part. This story is more cute than anything else, although I'm asking myself why I'm blogging when I should be in bed, because if I'm not in bed I should be watching Project Runway but I decided to go to bed because I was too tired. It's also more an indictment of the websites and internet service of the travel industry, already on my shit list because I had to spend time on the phone with Delta today because they introduced a pin on their site and I had to set one. I do not like spending time on the phone. That is why I do business by internet. While I was setting a pin, all the remotely decent fares to Boston around New Years' appear to have been bought up.

Mom called in the early evening to say hello and ask a question about her upcoming flight to California.

Mom: It says reconfirm. Do I reconfirm with the airline or expedia? I need to finalize my ticket...
A.: I'm not sure what you mean. Did you already buy your ticket?
Mom: It says I have 24 hours...
A.: That usually means you have that long to pay for the ticket.
Mom: But they already charged my card.
A.: Then you don't have to do anything.
Mom: I'll forward it to you.

Hours later, she forwards it to me. I call her to say I can't see what she's referring to, since I can't log into her expedia account. She copies and pastes the offending sentence into an e-mail.

Mom: See where it says reconfirm?
A.: That just means you call the airline or check online to make sure the flight hasn't been delayed.
Mom: But it says 24 or up to 72 hours...
A.: Believe me, that means they recommend that you confirm that everything's on time, etc. You do not need to confirm to them that you are going.
Mom: Are you sure?
A.: Yep.
Mom: Okay, goodnight.
A.: Goodnight.

My parents, while not native English speakers, are not new to the world of air travel. Less than a month ago, I saw an entire line of people waiting to check in at an airport held up by people who couldn't figure out kiosks. Sometimes I can't say I blame them. These things are not always self explanatory and the industry could do a lot more to guide infrequent flyers about procedures. Our parents and their generation taught us to read and add. The least we can do is make travel in the 21st century more navigable for them.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A reader's comment on "Goodnight, Cow Jumping over the Moon..."

The following is excerpted from an email from a friend of mine who teaches high school:

I just read some recent entries on your blog and checked out that
Sesame Street article -- craziness! A couple weeks ago 60 Minutes did
a piece on this new generation called "the millennials" -- I could
completely relate given how different my students are from us. My dad
has observed much change in his law students in recent years. 60
Minutes said that this generation -- at least the upper middle-class
version of this generation -- has grown up with much (excessive?)
praise, prizes for everyone, every moment in their childhoods
scheduled, a sense that they can do and have it all, gadgets to meet
every need. My major observation of my students is that they just
can't think for themselves -- even the very bright students want
simple tasks broken into so many steps. I can no longer just assign
an essay with some basic requirements; they need to know how many
quotes should go in each paragraph, exactly which scientific process I
will use for grading the paper, etc. If the student earns an A-,
he/she wants a very precise explanation about those missing points.
The assumption is that each student begins with an 100 and loses
points only for those conspicuous mistakes. I can only imagine
encountering these folks in the workplace! -- high maintenance, to say
the least. I also noticed how when my brother was in college (and this
could just be Wesleyan and not a reflection of the shift in time from
when we were in college), Wesleyan did excessive amounts of
communicating with the parents -- monthly newsletters, local parent
groups in various areas of the country, etc. -- all this crap about
how it "feels" to be a Wesleyan parent -- like some sort of social
culture was supposed to emerge in the parent community.

because I can't, okay?

Mom called at a bad time, left a message asking why on earth I couldn't come to the phone. In the course of the message there were a few asides to my dad, one of which was, "work? why would she be at work?" Mom must think that over the weekend I sit around all day. That would explain why she thinks I have a lot of time to write her complaint letters.

Am I the only one who thinks that's a silly question? Does she really need to know the answer, first of all? Does it matter? More importantly, is it really a stretch of the imagination that I may be unable to come to the phone on a Saturday afternoon, or ever? Does she not know people who put themselves in positions where they are unable to come to the phone? Perhaps she expects me to regularly change my outgoing voice message to reflect why exactly I am unavailable ("Hi, I'm in the shower/my hands are covered in batter/I'm with other people/I'm driving," etc.)

Later, I called back, got the machine, left a message asking why on earth she couldn't come to the phone. I was at a cafe with a friend when she called back (I didn't answer); she left another message.

I called back again, got mom and dad on the phone.

Mom: How are you?
A.: Good. You?
Mom: Good. Anything new?
A.: Not really.
Mom: Where were you?
A.: Just in town...
Mom: Seen any good movies?
A.: No, have you?
Mom: Yes. I don't remember what it was called. I'll tell you about it later.
A.: Okay...
Mom: Okay. Bye. By the way, you could have called and asked how we were.
A.: I did call and ask how you were.
Mom: Oh, please. Okay, bye.

We had talked on Thursday (i.e. two days before the above conversation). I called to wish them a happy Thanksgiving, check in. I guess it was inconsiderate to go 48 hours without calling. Thursday's conversation wasn't blogworthy, although now that I've mentioned it I may as well add that mom asked again why I was trying to go to two countries in ten days. I responded that Greece is closer to Istanbul than most of Turkey, so why not. That seemed to be a satisfactory explanation at the time, but I wouldn't be surprised if the issue came up again.

Cry for help

Now that I've acknowledged my apparent dependency on dropping NYT articles, I'm going to take the next step and ask for help.

To those of you more internet savvy than I: is there a way to insert links into blog entries without their getting cut off?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Goodnight, cow jumping over the moon (chewing on non-hormone-treated cud)

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I did, but together with that bearer-of-epiphanies that is the IM convo with Gina, it made me realize that people are getting younger. I mean, younger people are getting older... I mean, people who are younger are taking up positions in society and the workforce that were once more predominantly occupied by people who are older.

The signs that one is getting older are obvious and absolute; I have a streak of gray hair and my once chinchilla-like metabolism isn't coming through for me like it used to. But what I want to talk about here are the more relative signs that times change, like the fact that the generation entering the workforce today wouldn't know that Madonna wasn't always an English Jew.

What I'm really trying to say is, you know you're getting older when you increasingly find yourself in conversations about what's wrong with kids these days. And you don't mean kids on planes; you mean kids in the office.

I found myself in one of those conversations last night and again tonight. After Thanksgiving Dinner, someone brought up the "helicopter generation" phenomenon, aka "the millennials," but I like 'helicopter,' because it's a reference to the hovering of the parents. Can you believe that it's common now for parents to demand an explanation from human resources for why their child wasn't hired, or to call their child's management when there's a problem.

Now let's put this in perspective: to appreciate just how messed-up that is, understand that my mother would never think of doing that.

But I digress. This is about how I've become a "kids-these-days" curmudgeon, not about what's actually wrong with kids these days.

There's more: not only do I regularly engage in "what is this world coming to" conversations, but-- as I realized thinking back on my chat with Gina-- my perspective on what this world is coming to appears to be largely based on pieces that appear in the New York Times. I realize that one can do a lot worse for a predominant source of information, but still. How long could I go without referencing an NYT article?

It all started with my sharing the Sesame Street article with Gina (which Serenity shared with me). And if you haven't read this, you must.

Sesame Street

So, Gina and I discuss the Sesame Street article and what it means about what this world is coming to, and by the end of the conversation, we've incorporated the chicken nuggets article and what it means about what the world is coming to, and the Goodnight Moon article and... you get the point. See below:

10:22 PM did you see the piece about how there's a warning on the original sesame st dvd set, about how it's not suitable for children?
Gina: No...
me: [link]
10:27 PM me: oh and this explains me
it's been a year of holidays, considering how many weddings/rehearsal dinners I've been to Holiday Weight Gain
10:28 PM Gina: Good ol' over-sheltering of 21st century children.
I was just talking about this with my sister.
10:29 PM Gina: I totally remember Alistair Cookie.
And I've never felt the urge to smoke a pipe.
me: we were talking about it too, about how entitled the generation now entering the workforce is.
Gina: Yeah.
me: parents calling and asking why their kids weren't hired or why they were managed
Gina: I'd read about it happening in colleges...
10:50 PM me: ok, goodnight, feel better
Gina: I just finished reading the Sesame St. article.
Goodnight... thanks.
10:51 PM me: oh, what did you think
Gina: It's fascinating.
me: (I'm reading an article about sweater care, in the paper/not online)...
yeah, pipes shouldn't be smoked or eaten
Gina: I was just having a conversation with my sister along similar lines...
me: it's funny, I watched Sesame St as a child, and I did not grow up eating pipes
Gina: Rebecca (10) had to do a project in school on a celebrity. She picked Shirley Temple. I was saying how I think it's important for children to be exposed to these "classics," the same way they should be exposed to classic literature, or should study the old theorists or philosophers. I was saying how the kid up the road, Auron, watches a lot of movies, kid ones but full-feature Disney films and things, even though he's only 2. I try to limit that. His mother mentioned that Auron does not like the "old" Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Auron will only watch the new, improved, computer-animated Rudolph. I thought that was fascinating, that a kid would be that discriminating.
But wait, that's only about graphics.
What about the story liine?
It occurred to me that Tristan watches Dumbo, circa 1940 or whatever it is
Gina: And there are things that stick out in these old movies, things that wouldn't be appropriate in a new movie made today.
Gina: But I just refuse to shelter Tristan from these movies, because I fear that somehow something will be missing in his psyche if he is.
11:00 PM Maybe I'm totally over-dramatizing, but that's just what I believe.
11:01 PM me: agree
Gina: It's the same as censoring literature..
Gina: Yeah, I mean I just loved Sesame St. as a child, and always hoped it would still be on the air when I had children.
me: yeah
Gina: Sesame St. is so great in so many ways. Interestingly, Auron doesn't watch it. Not because he's not allowed, I guess he just doesn't like it.
Gina: Tristan does. Of course, he is partial to Elmo...He's starting to express things like being scared of certain parts of shows or movies, and I think that's good.
11:04 PM I say it's okay to be scared. Or sad, like when Dumbo's mom gets locked up.
me: exactly
Gina: I mean, it's horrible, really, but how else are kids supposed to learn and grapple with hard things in life?
11:05 PM me: did you see that article a while ago about what a censored version of goodnight moon would read like?
Gina: I did...
Gina: Yeah, I recited that to Tristan every day for the first two years of his life (lately I've been reading other things at bedtime).
11:06 PM It's funny, the balloon is a choking hazard.
And Pa's smoking a pipe.
me: is he eating it, too?
11:07 PM Gina: But that book is not even about those things, it's about the melody of the rhyme, and saying goodnight to your things.
me: exactly. does any child care, even notice?
Gina: No
me: I hate smoking, and I doubt it’s because I wasn't exposed to images of pipe-smoking as a child
Gina: I was reading an interview by Madeline L'Engle, probably from some Smith thing. She was talking about how she read everything as a child, things meant for adults. And she just automatically censored out the things that weren't of interest to her.
me: it's like the chicken nuggets thing, except culturally
Gina: I'm trying to apply your chicken nugget analogy... Oh, limited diet?
11:10 PM me: remember that oped piece, I think I sent it to you, on how chicken nuggets and the whole concept of kids meals, are creating a generation of chicken nugget adults?
Gina: Yeah, diversifying his diet has actually been the hard part...
me: the kids don't learn to try new or interesting food
Gina: Yeah. But it's exactly the same concept.
me: she was talking about how as a child, she ate what her parents ate, it didn't occur to anyone to create bland food just for her
Gina: Auron will only watch the flashy, 21st century Rudolph.
me: we're sterilizing our kids' brain food
11:11 PM Gina: True, that. On that note, I should probably get to bed.
me: me too. goodnight, it was good chatting
Gina: Okay, my eyes hurt. goodnight moon.
me: goodnight room
Gina: Goodnight cow jumping over the moon (chewing on non-hormone-treated cud).
me: lol
Gina: Okay, goodnight alrready!
me: goodnight!!!

Goodbye, Moon
Chicken Nuggets

Thursday, November 22, 2007

About 1 to 1.5

A.: Let me e-mail them and ask whether the 20 Euro airport transfer is per person or per party.
Kate: Well, in any case, 20 E isn't very much...
A.: This is what I keep trying to tell you: it is to me... the dollar isn't worth a lot right now.
Kate: What's the exchange rate right now?
A.: About 1 to 1.5.
Kate: F*ck!!
A.: I'm saying. It's one-to-one with the Canadian dollar.
Kate: I didn't realize it'd gotten that bad. Maybe we really should have gone to South America.
A.: As Europe goes, Greece and Turkey are among the least worst destinations.
Kate: We'll go to South America next time.
A.: Let me figure out where Thessaloniki is... argh!!!! it's in Greek!
Kate: What sight are you on?
A.: Google maps!
Kate: And it's in Greek?
A.: You'd think there'd be an option to show the place names in English. I can't read Greek. I suppose this might be a good time to learn.
Kate: I can't get them in English either. It's supposed to be a four-hour train ride to Athens...
A.: I'm sure I won't mind hanging out in Thessaloniki... once I figure out where it is.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Appreciation of the little things...

Sure, it's an unseasonably gorgeous day today, but that's actually not what I'm most grateful for.

What I'm most grateful for came at the expense of many other people and suffering of at least one, but I can't help it if that suffering and inconvenience benefited me: someone introduced vomitus into the pool at the gym. So the pool closed. And when the pool closes, parents don't bring their little hellraisers to the gym (and by extension, to the sauna). For the first time in ages, I stewed in the sauna in peace, without little ones coming in and bouncing around, talking, leaving the door open, or even just being loud in the shower area. It was wonderful.

Jadedness loves company (and inspired music)

Last night's Ani concert was disappointing, but more importantly, a sign of the times. Sure, she was off, and she's one of those artists (unlike Bruce Springsteen, who is apparently always at least amazing) who either blows you away with her energy and stage presence or makes you realize how tired you are with a lack thereof. I thought it may have been just me, but Marisa, who was there when we saw Ani at Wolftrap a year and a half ago, felt the same way.

Beyond the lack of her potentially electrifying energy, there was another issue: she was, in her own words, "happy." She talked about how she can tell when she's happy because the songs she writes are shorter; she introduced another song as a transition into her happy songs phase. Even "Gravel," which she chose for her encore, sounded light and happy, and that's just wrong. I know that feeling left behind by Ani's change in mood is so ten years ago, but I can't help it.

A character in Sarah Ruhl's "The Clean House" at one point said to her soul-searching housekeeper something along the lines of, 'I'm sure if we'd met at a party, I'd find you to be an interesting person, but I've hired you to clean my house. So please clean my house.'

I'm glad Ani the person is happy, but dammit I need Ani the musician to turn out and play powerful, jaded music. Can't she at least fake it when she plays her old jaded songs in concert? Does parenthood leave no one unscathed? Does everyone affected by it get a happy, beautiful-world attitude adjustment?

The big issue here of course is our projecting onto artists the image that attracted us to them in the first place, and not being interested in sticking with them when they try something else. They're not, after all, our friends; they serve a discrete purpose in our lives, like a housekeeper does. As people, they may have a right to grow, but that doesn't mean that we, as consumers, have to like it. Joni Mitchell was shocked at the disappointment of her fan base at her foray into a different genre. The uproar over Marc Jacobs has been attributed in part to his critics' discomfort with his changing as a person . Philosophically, I believe we need to accept that artists are people, let them be who they are. As a consumer, however, I miss the personality that used to come out so powerfully in Ani's music.

Is everyone on crazy pills? Is no one else complaining about this? I once again, this morning, called AT&T. This time I said that as soon as I research another plan, I'm leaving, I've so had it with the text messages in the middle of the night, and I want them to note on my account that that's why I will be switching providers. At least this time I got someone with at least half a brain on the line, and she didn't say, "well, your autopay is expiring. And she actually found why it was happening, but needs to research if there is a way to change it without taking me out of autopay. Crazy pills. I cannot choose not to get text messages, much less in the middle of the night. How does that work?

What is it with the Christmas music starting before Thanksgiving? And they say that my people control the media.

Thursday, November 15, 2007



A.: Hello?
Mom: Well??
A.: I haven't looked at it yet! I've just settled down and I'm getting other stuff done.
Mom: Well, look at it!
A.: I'll call you back later.

"It" here refers to something she forwarded me. Unbeknownst to her, she's prolonged the time for which I won't look at it, because I have something to blog about.

Previously (perhaps half an hour before the above phone call):

Mom: Where are you? Why are you walking and not driving?
A.: I'm walking home from the gym.
Mom: What do you do at the gym?

Okay, we've had this discussion myriad times. It's up there with "you don't like coffee?" and "it's so politically correct of you to wear sunblock." It usually plays out with my saying "I lifted weights," and my parents saying, "oh, you shouldn't lift weights! why do you lift weights?" And that's exactly how it played out tonight:

Dad: Oh, you shouldn't lift weights.
Mom: If you're going to lift weights, why not do it at home?
A.: The gym has better weights. [And an elliptical for me to warm up on. And a sauna, although children and the parents that let them run rampant have a way of putting a damper on that experience].
Mom, Dad: It's probably not a good idea for you to lift weights.

It's kind of funny that my parents don't remember that we've discussed this. Sure it's also funny that my parents dish out advice about things they don't understand, since lifting weights is quite healthy. Perhaps they worry that I'll bulk up, which, apart from being physically unlikely, hasn't happened yet and I've been lifting weights for, oh, going on five years now. But my parents must not realize that because they're surprised every time it comes up.

Some of you may recall the most classic conversation about my weightlifting. The actual conversation preceded this blog, but I may have written it up anyway. In any case, here it is, early 2005:

Mom: Why were you unable to pick up your phone?
A.: I didn't have it on me, I was at the gym.
Mom: Are you home now?
A.: I'm walking home.
Mom: What were you doing at the gym?
A.: Lifting weights.
Mom: I don't think you should lift weights.
Dad: I don't think you should lift weights. I saw this program on the fitness channel...

[My parents just got cable a few years ago, and they overcompensate by watching every channel].

Dad: I think you should take up... gymnastics.
Mom: I agree with your father. It would help. The way you walk is totally not sexy, and I imagine that the way you dance is also without grace.

[This is also not the first, or last, time I got the "the way you walk is not sexy" speech.]

Mom: What are you wearing to Julia's wedding?
A.: A pink dress. [The same one I wore to Rachel's wedding, see photo in one of the October blogs].
Mom: Oh, I have cute red shoes that would go with that.
A.: Red doesn't go with pink.
Mom: You're so concerned with what society thinks!

Anyway, that is just one of many times in which we've had the "oh, you lift weights? you shouldn't" conversation. My mother apparently doesn't recall after each one that I lift weights. My mother doesn't remember a number of things that have been established many a time (I don't like coffee, for example).

Yet, she does remember, or claim to remember, things she read once. Tonight, after admonishing me about weights, she said:

Mom: Have you seen previews for "Love in the Time of Cholera"? Why is she brunette? Why isn't she blond?
A.: I don't know?
Mom: She was blond in the book.
A.: I don't remember. [And I really don't care].
Mom: Do you have the book?
A.: I think it's at your house, but I think it's in Spanish.
Mom: Yes, a lot of your books are at the house.
A.: I don't remember her hair color.
Mom: Could you check?
A.: I don't have time to reread "Love in the Time of Cholera"!
Mom: It's at the very beginning.
A.: I've read a few things by Garcia Marquez, and I doubt it's at the very beginning, but it any case, I absolutely do not have time to look for it. So, no.

Impressively, she didn't launch into an attempted guilt trip about how she'd do it for me. It would be hard to justify Fermina's hair color as urgently-needed information. Nonetheless, I'm reminded of the extent to which my mother does not appreciate how busy I am.

Mom: It won't take long, just look it up.
A.: I am not going to look it up.
Mom: What did you think of the "kitten and crow" video?
A.: I haven't looked at it yet.
Mom: You haven't??? Call me as soon as you've looked at it.
A.: Okay but I have things to do so it won't be right away.

Ten minutes later (on the same phone call):

A.: Okay, I'm hope, I have to feed the cat.
Mom: Oh, are you home?
A.: Yes.
Mom: You didn't say you were home.
A.: Sure I did.
Mom: Okay, look up her hair color if you get a chance.
A.: I am not going to look up her hair color. Bye.
Mom: Bye.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Apologies to Samuel L. Jackson

Remember those nazguls flying overhead in Return of the King? I mean the film, but I suppose you could remember those in the book if your imagination serves you-- but you'll have to imagine some very intense screeching.

Have you got it? Do you have that shrill screeching in your head?

That's pretty much what I was subjected to, in addition to the occasional kick in the seatback, from the row behind me.

My new noiseblockers (Panasonic HC500, not Bose, I'm not a millionaire) helped somewhat, but they were no match for that thing.

All I can say is, I am sick of motherf***in' kids on motherf***in' planes!

You know what else doesn't make for an entirely pleasant flight? When the person in the seat next to you is taking up a fourth of your seat (maybe a fifth, but still). I don't recall specifying, when I made my reservation, that I would only need four-fifths of a seat. The cost of the ticket did not reflect a 20% discount, so I'm not sure why I had to make do with only 80% of a seat.

Now I know that the first thing you'll hear from someone who's about to make a racist remark is that they're not racist (the second thing, a la Colbert, is "I have a black friend"). I know that it rings hollow to say that I see obesity as a health issue, not a personality disorder. And yes, I have an obese friend that I care about a lot. All I'm saying is, I wish people who require more than one seat, would purchase more than a whole seat, rather than encroach on any fraction of mine.

Monday, November 5, 2007

a kiddy mommy and a kitty mommy compare notes

This conversation took place over the course of a couple of days:

me: so are we more or less clear on who's getting what?
Gina: Yeah, I was just emailng you. :)
Gina: So, I'll use your artichokes, canola oil, and mozz. cheese, and you said you can pick up parsley -- will you use the leftovers?
me: of parsley? sure
me: I'm going nuts. but we've discussed that
Gina: Me, too.
me: you're going nuts?
Gina: Yeah, from motherhood.
me: what's he doing, besides being a toddler?
Gina: He's actually napping right now, he was just all out of sorts today. I attempted to bring him to a party (it was a family party, with lots of little kids).
He unfortunately saw at the party a gift bag with a bulldozer (or was it a dump truck?) on it.
Gina: So then all he kept saying for the rest of the party (we only stayed for two hours) was "I WANT THAT PRESENT!" And it was only because of the bag. I couldn't get him to stop. I felt like a failure.
I was literally in tears on the car ride home.
Anyway, people were trying to reassure me that all of their kids have these days.
But it doesn't really help when you're in the middle of it.
And when NONE of the other kids, ages 1-4, were acting like this. Despite not having naps.
me: in the preface of 7 habits (of course I didn't have time to read this weekend) he talks about being mortified because his daughter wouldn't share a toy at a party
so it's apparently a pretty common occurrence
Gina: Yeah, so I keep being told.
But somehow it always seems like my kid is the only one at whatever time he's doing it.
me: did he let up when you left?
Gina: No. He kept saying in the car that he wanted me to get him a present.
me: what did you say?
Gina: I said if he sat on the potty I'd get him a gift bag.
So he sat and peed, and I found a gift bag, but of course it didn't have a bulldozer on it so that wasn't acceptable.
Gina: That's another thing that's driving me crazy.
I told him today if he went on the potty, I'd get him a car transporter. Well, that was a mistake.
Because then he just threw a tantrum about wanting the car transporter, and not understanding the clause, "When you go on the potty," being something in the future.
me: it makes you feel any better, and I know it's not the same, gracie's driving me up the f*ing wall
Gina: LOL
Well, that at least made me laugh!
me: (it also relates to potty training, mostly)
Gina: I thought all cats just know to go in the litter box?
me: oh yeah she knows how but when I travel, she rebels by pooping on the porch
Gina: Oh. Wow, that's so... behavioral. For a cat.
I mean, I didn't think cats rebelled.
me: that and she's just very needy. I thought I would get a cat, feed it, take it to the vet occasionally
Gina: Sounds like we are both having trouble with rebellious children.
me: but she always wants to sit on my lap
Gina: Also sounds like Tristan.
Very much like Tristan!
me: she really wants to sleep on my bed but I've read that it's perfectly acceptable to not let them when interferes with your sleep, which it does
Gina: I thought I would have a baby, feed it, take it to the pediatrician occasionally.
me: so I have to block my door so she doesn't open it
plus she's still so fat
her belly's not going anywhere
Gina: Fortunately, the one thing we haven't had too much of a problem with is Tristan wanting to sleep in our bed. That's a big one with many parents/children.
me: she's lazy, plays for about five minutes then gets bored
and then whines too much
Gina: That is just bizarre (the fat)>
me: she's a whiner when she wants something
Gina: Wow. That REALLY sounds like Tristan!
Gina: Tristan's always been a whiner, practically from the moment he came out.
I wonder if we just give in to them too much?
Or if we just have high-needs children.
(Listen to me, I'm talking about a cat like it's a child...)
me: I've tried not giving in (and spraying with water, which you can't do with kids) in my case it's that I got her at five, and old habits are hard to retrain, and I find myself trying to reason with her and getting frustrated when she doesn't get it
Gina: LOL
Again... sounds familiar.
Maybe your cat has Asperger's.
me: LOL. maybe
Gina: I try not giving in, also.
me: but it's like... you know how it is-- I have so much that I'm trying to do
Gina: I've been really trying to put my foot down lately, but it seems like there's always a battle over something unexpected.
Gina: It's just easier to give her what she wants.
me: I just mean, it's hard to focus with someone whining or crawling all over you
Gina: This is why I can hardly get out a Pampered Chef invitation when Tristan's awake...
Gina: Well, the testing wears on you after awhile.
Gina: So I'm just f*cking him up royally.
me: well, the thing with kids is that you have time and some behaviors self correct
like the truck bag thing--
Gina: I hope something self-corrects, because I'm out of gas.
me: he can't carry that into adulthood
other kids won't allow it
Gina: No. But he will probably go on about it for days.
me: right now, it's just a pain for you
Gina: I hope so. I'm hoping the peer pressure thing kicks in soon. He already has kids in his preschool saying things to him.
Gina: He's just so immature socially right now, and with communicating.
It really is tough. No wonder kids used to get whipped.
me: yeah
Gina: Anyway, I should go wake him up. As much as I'd rather not.
me: ok. I should try to pack as much as I’d rather not
Gina: Oh. Well, enjoy your time away from Gracie.
me: thanks.
Gina And thanks again for agreeing to host a P.C. party, with all of your other engagements.
me: I didn't mean to make it sound that way :)
Gina: I really hope you're not stressing yourself out over it. It's really supposed to be something you dont' have to do a lot of work for.
me: I'm actually looking forward to getting people together
I always have to do a lot of work
it's me, not you
Gina: Oh, that's good.
Are you breaking up with me?
me: LOL
anyway, I'll let you go deal with your whiny one
Gina: Okay. You, too.
me: bye!

10:04 AM Me: okay for example.. I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off, not going to have time to get things done before I leave. I have to go pick up pecans in mclean for the smith fundraiser, I'm leaving the house for the trip at 2pm, I'm doing laundry. and gracie was whining from first thing this morning, and then kept whining even after I fed her. but now, my sheets are in the wash and I don’t want her on the bed when it's just the mattress pad (I don't want her on the bed period but like you I pick my battles) so five times now she's jumped on and I've told her to get off, pushed her off, carried her off, etc. I'll push her off from this end, and then she'll go around the other end. she knows I don't want her on the bed. she's driving me nuts. I don't have time for this.
On 11/5/07, Gina wrote:
So, are you saying you'll have pecans for the pecan brie? :)

Sounds like my morning with Tristan. Trying to prepare Pampered Chef documents, etc., while he's whining that he wants to go ride his bicycle because Elmo was riding one on Sesame St. I ended up screaming at him, which is so not thoughtful parenting. Okay, he's screaming again...

Yeah, that's the other thing-- it's all about them. No consideration for everything you have to get done, for your cold, for your need for sleep.

> On 11/5/07, Gina wrote:
I'm getting all of these fruit flies in my house, in the kitchen and even bathrooms. It's really grossing me out. I've read the only way to get rid of them is to find the source, decaying matter somewhere, but I can't find the source. Meanwhile I'm trying to sweep up every crumb and wipe up every spill in the kitchen. It's futile.

Tristan's screaming because he can't find a puzzle piece. Thank god we leave for preschool in a few minutes!

A: yeah see that's we're your challenge is-- you have to actually help your charge develop into a functional member of society; I just have to keep mine healthy and happy to the extent reasonable, and not go nuts in the process.

Gina: I don't know, lately I've been thinking I should just give up on the
functional member of society part, and just do the "keep healthy and
happy to the extent reasonable and not go nuts in the process" part.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


This was the quote of the day in today's New York Times:

"If anything characterizes the 21st century, it's our inability to restrain ourselves for the benefit of other people. The cellphone talker thinks his rights go above that of people around him, and the jammer thinks his are the more important rights."
- JAMES KATZ, director of the Center for Mobile Communication Studies at
Rutgers University.

Here's my question-- would someone invent a device to jam the noise of yapping kids?


I think it's funny, cute, when Gracie chases her own tail, or runs in circles after a laser point. Last night, I chased my own tail.

I was expecting a few phone calls because we hadn't quite coordinated who was meeting whom where at what time for girls' night, but I still had a little bit of time so I decided to call AT&T and once again request that they not text message me at odd hours. I only use my home phone for 1-800 numbers, and I don't call those often, so I thought the last number I had called must have been AT&T's. So I hit redial on my home phone, and all of the sudden my cell rings. I get flustered, panic, run to my cell phone. By the time I get there, I've missed the call. I go back to my home phone and hit redial again. Once again, my cell rings. I think, okay, it must be Beth, calling to say whether we're meeting at my house or at Bilbo Baggins. I get to my cell only to see another missed call. This time I check the number. I don't immediately recognize the number, I have to think about it. I think about it and realize, that's my home phone number. I had called myself earlier in the week because I couldn't find my cell phone. So I'd just spent a few minutes calling my cell phone from my home phone, and getting frustrated when the call I was placing was interrupted by the ringing of my cell phone. I guess I can take comfort in having caught myself after only two iterations; Gracie chases her tail for much longer.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


I checked my messages when I get home, called mom back to say yes I did get the e-mail she forwarded. She asked me if I liked it (sure... I didn't tell her that I didn't make it to the end (or even a quarter-way through) the 100+ slides of pictures of Carnival in Rio). I opted not to pick a fight (that's her job) either about calling so late-- after 10pm is just never a good time-- or spamming me with really long, stupid forwarded e-mails, but that was before I checked my e-mail and found a really pointless and offensive, politicized animated Halloween card. Picking fights aside, I've confronted her about the spam in the past, to no avail. All in all, I was impressed that she didn't add a "where could you possibly be at 10pm on a Saturday night" line to her message, nor interrogate me about it afterward. At least that's something.

I don't have to justify my travel plans to my mom

Mom: Spiros is actually in Greece, he'll call when he returns.
A.: Great.
Dad: One of my coworkers just got back from Turkey- she loved it. She had a very interesting itinerary, saw some very impressive ruins.
A.: Yeah, I've heard great things about the country as a whole, but this time we're only going to Istanbul.
Dad: Oh, you only have a few days?
A.: We'll probably do four-five in each country. I've heard the Turquoise Coast is stunning.
Mom: Why even go for that little time? That makes no sense.
Dad: Sure it does-- get to know the country a little bit.

They get into an argument about whether it's worth going anywhere for "only a few days." I'll spare you the specifics, but I bring this up because it's another example of mom's inability to see another perspective. I am not retired; nor are my friends. There are a lot of places I would love to go if I had the time, but if I only traveled when I could take at least a month off, I wouldn't go anywhere. The trip makes sense because my friend Kate and I want to go on vacation together; we haven't seen each other in five years, and soon she'll get her PhD and a less flexible job. She suggested a trip together in lieu of my going to her wedding (in England), at which we wouldn't have gotten much time to spend together. Neither of us have been to Greece or Turkey; both want to go; and both found an inexpensive ticket. Ten days is a good introduction to an area, without taking too much time away from work or spending too much money (both countries, even with the low dollar, appear to be quite affordable). That explanation in and of itself is not important; my point is, there are many reasons that this trip "makes sense," and it's amazing that mom doesn't even consider them (or bother to ask), because if it doesn't immediately make sense to her, she can't see how it makes sense at all. I mean, have you ever told to anyone, would it ever occur to you to tell anyone that their travel plans don't make sense?

Audrey, hope you feel better, we'll miss you. On that note, I have to go get ready for girls' night.