Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween.

It's 4:09, and we have not bought any candy yet. Steve has sprinted to the store to do some last minute Standing in Line at the Checkout Counter-ing, and just called to tell me that he saw two little goblins heading toward the house.

Quickly, now:

I have about six blueberry cereal bars from Trader Joe's, and 16 rolls of paper towels from my last trip to Target. Should I give them the bars, the towels, or one of each?

Friday, October 30, 2009

We've Got the Flu!


Alex has been out of school for three days so far, Chris for two. Steve, who cannot bear to be left out of an illness of any kind, has been dragging around making the sad boo-boo kitty face for a few days, and I am so far the last one standing. I am quite tired. It is up to me and my domestic partner, Belt, to keep things under control, and wouldn't you know, I found that shirker curled up at the foot of Christopher's bed this morning, sleeping in?

Life is so unfair.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Summer, 1976, Part 1.

I peeked through the curtains at Amy sitting on the steps of our front porch. The scowl had left her face for the most part, but her eyebrows were still furrowed. Give her a couple more minutes, I thought, and she'll be bored. And then I can go out at sit with her, and then we'll be friends again. They we can play until her mother comes to pick her up.

Our fights didn't always have time constraints. She used to live right next door to us, and spent most of her time running in and out of our house, eating sandwiches at our kitchen table, and sitting in our oversized sink in the laundry room, having the mud hosed off her by my mother. In those days, Amy rarely went home in the same clothes she came over with. But now things were different. Amy's parents had gotten a divorce, and Amy had moved away. She was living in a large, 3 story condo downtown with her mother and her stepfather, Lolly. Instead of wandering home whenever she felt like it, we now knew exactly how long we had to kiss and make up before Amy's mother would pull into the driveway. Our conflicts had a timetable now, and it was a new kind of pressure we weren't yet accustomed to.

I knew we had plenty of time. Her mother wasn't going to be there for another 4 1/2 hours. Amy couldn't possibly sit there that long, and I couldn't possibly sit in the window watching her sit there for that long. This was getting boring. I had no choice but to go outside and sit down next to her on the cool, mossy brick stairs. That was step one towards reconciliation. Step two was to be ignored for a few minutes. Step three was for me to suggest playing some sort of game, which would be rejected, as would Steps four and five, which were both variations on Step three. Step six was for me to beg, and Step seven was for her to relent. Step eight was to begin playing and Step nine was to forget why we had been fighting in the first place. Step nine would last for several hours until Step ten, which was when Amy's mother would pull into the driveway and Amy would begin to cry, not wanting to go home.

We had barely gotten past Step Three when a little girl walked out of the house that used to be Amy's and shyly approach us. Her name, she said, was Lisa, and her family was just moving in, and she would like to play with us, if that was all right.

Amy said nothing, because playing we still had at least six steps to go before the playing could begin, but I must have seen an opportunity to cut to the chase, even if it was with someone else, and the next thing I remember was Lisa and I wrestling on the grass and giggling manically, while Amy sulked on the porch, alone and forgotten, until my mother came out to check on us, surveyed the scene, and insisted that we not leave Amy out.

I rolled my eyes, because Amy had been acting like a pill long before Lisa arrived on the scene, but whatever. Amy could play with us, if she wanted to, I offered, and Amy, although this was in a clear violation of the rules, had no choice but to grudgingly join us.

As a parent, I hate groups of three, and I know a lot of other parents do, too, because someone always gets singled out.* And as it came to pass, that's what Lisa and I did to Amy. I wasn't cruel to Amy; I could never be cruel to a girl who was basically raised as a family member for most of my life, but I definitely made it clear that Lisa was the more entertaining guest by far.

Later that afternoon, Amy's mother pulled up in her wood paneled green station wagon, and Amy, with no tears shed this time, went home. Lisa and I continued to play until dusk.

*One of my exasperated coworkers was telling me about her first grader nobly sticking up for a little girl who was being picked on because she was Mexican, telling the little girl who was doing the bullying that it wasn't fair to mistreat someone because of their race, and because she was black she ought to know that. The next day the bully decided to befriend the Mexican girl and both the bully and the Mexican girl excluded my friend's daughter. This is the thanks one gets for being the Martin Luther King of the playground.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Books Are Pretty.

I've cranked it up again. I took some time off from my beloved book review blog to deal with unemployment issues and rambunctious child issues, but now school is back in session, Steve has another job, and Books Are Pretty is open for business again. As an added bonus, my friend FanTam has agreed to join me, so she will now be a regular contributor. She has a new review up today. Please visit her and welcome her to our corner of the internet!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guten Morgen, Mein Overlord!

Big Machine's German overlords came to visit yesterday, and our supervisors were all aflutter over it, and had been for weeks. We were repeatedly reminded to dress like they paid us enough to buy nice clothes for ourselves, and several emails shot out informing us to clean our desks because THEY'RE COMING! MEIN GOTT, THEY'RE COMING!!

51% of Big Machine is owned by an enormous German retail conglomeration that owns several catalog stores. They don't oversee the day to day operations, but their presence allowed the founder to open a franchise in Dubai, so we're very Continental now. Yesterday was the first day since the takeover that a member of the Executive Board had flown all the way from Germany to visit the call center at Big Machine and take a whirlwind tour of cubicles and warehouse rows. How exciting! I bet he couldn't sleep the night before the trip. Book your honeymoon vacations now, Germans!

On the morning of the (MEIN GOTT!!) visit, I put on the nicest clothes I own: a brown button down shirt from Old Navy, dark brown pinstriped pants from, and a pair of 3" Michael Kors shoes I bought from Bluefly:

Aren't they gorgeous? Boy, did they hurt! I got to work right before 9:30 and hobbled approximately a quarter of a mile from the parking lot to the front door, only to find five people standing in front of the reception desk, hands folded in front of them, strained smiles on their faces.

"Waiting for our German Overlords?" I asked.

"Yes," they said.

"When are they coming?" I said, prying for news I could take upstairs and spread around the office, because I'm a team player like that.

One of the women looked at her watch. "Between now and this afternoon," she said.

"You mean you all have to stand here and wait until they get here?" I asked, floored.

"Oh, no..." she said, "No." And then she dropped her eyes and sort of shuffled around, and Jesus, they're totally going to stand there all fucking day waiting for these people. Honestly, no offense to my readers who are wildly rich and powerful, but oftentimes you guys really suck. This was one of those times.

I teetered upstairs and over to my desk, which is at the far end of the call center. I sat down and started cleaning it off, while the supervisors whirled around taking everyone's coat off the back of her chair and I don't know, probably burning them so the sight of them wouldn't offend.*

Thirty minutes later, the Overlords appeared, were salaamed in by the people from Human Resources, walked upstairs, stood at the top of the stairs to the call center for two seconds, then left.

Everyone was really indignant that the Overlords didn't bother walking through the call center, since we'd all been forced to give a damn about it, but I think they've lost perspective on how dreary call centers actually are. If I was a German Overlord, I wouldn't have spent more than two seconds there, either.

On the plus side, a parade was thrown in honor of my shoes, and all day long, everywhere I limped there was an awful lot of OMG Shoez!ing. My shoes were the most exciting thing that happened to everyone all day.

They really are quite nice.

*Seriously, what is it with employers and their hatred of coats? I can't tell you how many crappy jobs I've had where I've slogged though several feet of snow, only to arrive at work and have the manager be pissy because I needed a place to put a coat.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Zombie Attack.

I think a lot of the problem with me and blogging recently has been this issue with the zombies. I'm like this in real life, too. When I have something that I need to get off my chest, but also know it may be in my best interest to keep it to myself, I find myself paralyzed by it. I can't choke it back, but I can't move forward unless that big lump in my throat is gone.

This isn't one of my favorite things about myself, and as I'm rapidly approaching the Great Cliffs of Forty and getting ready to hurtle over into middle age, I suspect this is something I may be stuck with. I love the idea of myself as Clint Eastwood, all flinty-eyed and reserved, but instead I'm just a gigantic emotional mess.

So what to do?

Tell you all about our wretched relationship with some of our neighbors, I suppose. Clint would never do it, but I notice that he doesn't have a blog, either. Therein lies the fundamental difference.

I'll tell you the story of my summer, then, but as Dave Pilken, author of the Captain Underpants series says, "before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this story."

I sent an email to Alex's teacher this morning telling him that we're working with his psychiatrist to make sure the medication he is taking has as little an impact on his appetite as possible. Alex is a small kid. He's 4'4" and weighs less than 70 pounds. How much of it is genetic and how much is due to the medication tempering his appetite I don't know, but I constantly worry about it, and for 3 years we've tried to walk the line of giving him as little medication as possible and still have him be able to maintain throughout the school day. So the email I sent to her stated that because snack time is at 10:30, his medication time is 11:30, and his lunch is at 1:00, I would like him to be able to eat a heartier snack with more protein in it, and to please give him time to eat the snack. Unless he's deliberately dawdling, then feel free to lay down the smake on his ass.

I exchange emails with his teacher every single day, just like I did last year. We have a yearly IEP meeting as well as monthly meetings with his teachers. He sees a psychiatrist twice a month. He has personal aides in both school and summer camp. We put him in swimming classes and have a meeting with whatever teenager is teaching his class that year about his special requirements. We have daily discussions with the two college dudes that supervise him at the YMCA program after school. We have a strict bedtime regimen that we don't deviate from.

But when he goes outside to play, well, that's our Waterloo.

Here's what I wanted: I wanted him to be able to go outside and ride his bike and play like a normal kid, and as it turns out, I can't. I can't because he goes outside and acts weird. He can't interact with people very well. He either doesn't make sense, or he addresses everyone with that loud, atonal bossy sound that people with social issues sometimes have that other people find off-putting. He has poor impulse control coupled with a need to have everything stay the same. This isn't a good combination for people who go outside, because everything is always changing, and you can't control any of it. When Alex was three, he was obsessed with opening people's car doors. That habit was curtailed when he opened the car door of a car that had an alarm. What a great deterrent that was! It scared the pants off him, and he cried and cried and never did it again.

Unfortunately, the lesson he learned was not "Don't mess with other people's stuff," but rather "don't mess with other people's cars." He simply transferred his curiosity to their garages.

My stubborn wishful thinking led me to believe that I could give him parameters of where he could go when he's outside (parameters he's largely obeyed, to give credit where credit is due), and check on him every 10-15 minutes.

But after this summer, okay. I get it. I finally get it. To keep him safe, I have to stand out there every single second and stare at him. And even then, it's still not going to be good enough, because sometimes I have to go to the bathroom, or take a shower, and he's been known to leave the house when I'm doing that. And, as you will see in the following posts, going to the bathroom has consequences for Steve and me that it doesn't have for other parents.

What's going to happen to him when he grows up and has never had the opportunity to take care of himself? What's going to happen to him when I die and can't stand over him every single second anymore? These are the things I asked myself when he'd go outside to play, and I always decided to let him try some independence with occasional checking. My neighbors, however, had other ideas. Lots of other ideas, actually, and none of them included letting Alex out to play by himself. You know, like their kids do.

The opinion of the neighborhood, or at least some of the neighborhood, is that we're the family with the out of control kid we never watch. And being that I am actually micromanaging his snack and coordinating snack-eating with both his teacher and a psychiatrist, I have to say that really stings.

I've written myself into tears now, so I'm going to stop here. I'll get into neighbor specifics in a later post.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hold On A Second.

Update: There! That's better.

Unfortunately, all my followers were eaten, and I have no idea how to put them back.

As you can see, I'm trying to get my blog back to normal. I figured out how to put my pictures back, but I'm having a horrible time trying to put up a blogroll and my BlogHer ads in the sidebar. The old template was written in HTML, and the new one is in XML, so when I try to cut and paste it tells me my code is "badly written" and I need to gobbledygook flibberty gibbet in order to fix it. I've tinkered around so much I've run out of time to write anything.

Instead, today I must offer you some gifts that people sent me when requesting the new URL.

First, one of my Icelandic readers, a cruel, cruel group of people in general, gave me two housewarming gifts: prints by Thomas Kinkaide, along with moving descriptions of each masterpiece.

In his garden scenes, Thom combines a plethora of color and light that is vintage Kinkade. Roses that look and smell like heaven. Orchids that absorb the sunlight and almost seem to shimmer. The sweet scent of fruit trees in the late afternoon. The light in Thom's painting's represents God's presence and influences." It also "illuminates and guides."

In these tranquil bridge scenes, Thom uses all his skills as an artist to show us that bridges are so much more than structures. They span the chasms and obstacles of life and help to deliver us safely to where we're going. Bridges symbolism is crossing over from dark to light.

Thank you ever so much. As soon as I figure out how to write in XML, I'm going to hang one of these in the sidebar, and serves you right.

Also, I was sent this footage of an alarming baby panda:

and also, this excellent zombie song:



Krupskaya adds:

Friday, October 9, 2009

An Open Letter to Barack Obama, From the Rest of the World.

Dear Mr. President,

We're sorry for dissing your hometown over the Olympics. Here, have a Nobel Peace Prize.

ps - We hate Bush.


Seriously, you all know I voted for the man, but let's think about this for a minute. He hasn't rescinded the illegal wiretapping or any of the laws violating the Constitution that Bush awarded himself, he hasn't closed Guantanamo like he said he would, he hasn't pulled out of Iraq like he said he would, he's trying to escalate the war in Afghanistan, which is going to be ultimately pointless, and he's trying to keep any more photos of U.S. troops torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib from being released. And they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize? Won't they feel silly when he goes on a 15 state killing spree in his lame duck year.

Or maybe I'm not looking at this from a global perspective. His presidency throws into stark relief the sheer ghastliness of the Bush years. Perhaps this has united the rest of the world like nothing else ever has, thus promoting global peace. There. I knew I'd figure it out eventually.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why Prosecuting Polanski Matters.

I know, another Polanski post, and so soon after we've eaten! I'm not waiting the hour before jumping in again, so too bad.

This is exactly why we shouldn't let it go.

When people are lining up to defend Poor Roman, to say "it happened a long time ago," that he "had sex with" a teenage girl, that we should "move on," what this does is cause a trickle-down effect that causes harm to people we care about. Suddenly, their obvious victimization becomes just "sex they had a long time ago," and the victim should remember the rapist had a hard life, and boo fucking hoo.

Reagan's trickle down theory may not have worked when applied to economics, but it sure as hell works when applied to how the public views rape.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Begin the Beguine.

I have to start this dance off slowly and work my way into it, if you don't mind. Some of the stuff I put up, if I feel it's too personal, I'll take back down again. That's just going to be the way it is, unfortunately. The good news is, since that's my plan I may feel more free to give details about the summer that I ordinarily wouldn't.

So if you check back in on a post to read the comments and the entire post is gone, that's what happened. The comments will stay up for further discussion, but the post is going to be hidden over on the Blog Formerly Known As Prince One Good Thing.

Now, you may remember a certain young man's sporadic blog where he posted about getting a new kitty.

Yes. About that cat. Let me tell you more about that cat.

Back in June, Alex, Chris, and I were at Wal-Green's picking up a prescription, and we noticed the pharmacy was all in a tizzy.

"What's going on?" I asked, because I am nosy.

"Someone left a kitten in our bathroom!" gushed one of the techs. "A kitten, with half a bag of food and some toys!"

"A kitten!" I gushed back, because I am a sucker.

"Would you like to see her?" said the pharmacist, because he was an opportunist.

Cutting to the chase - because we got home and I walked through the door with a terrified kitten digging her claws into my skull, I wound up in the dog house for awhile. For about an hour, actually, until Steve petted her and she purred. Because he is a sucker, too, even though he won't admit it.

We named her Wally, because we found her in Walgreen's. We should have named her "Dell," because the money I had set aside to replace our old, buggy computer went instead to a hands-down adorable vet named Lisa McIntyre and her steadfast assistant, Sue.

Dr. McIntyre, god bless her, makes housecalls. She and Sue came over, used our office as an examining room, and checked out Wally and the other three cats, too.*

Wally turned out to have worms, fleas, and ovaries, all of which had to be removed, so everybody else had to be treated for worms and fleas as well.**

The cat integration was somewhat rocky at first. Wally hid underneath the file cabinet for days, hissing and spitting at any cat who came within ten yards of her. Bobby and Cindy accepted her with their usual Whatever, Dude, but Belt felt the need to teach her to show him the proper respect.

Eventually they all got used to each other, but Belt and I never did succeed in teaching her manners.

This cat is such an asshole, you guys.

This is a photo I took of her about fifteen minutes ago. It was the 8th or 9th attempt, because she never sits still. She is devoted to the art of attacking our feet, and she lies in wait for us until we walk by, then she shreds the shit out of us. And she bites. And she shits in my guest room if there is any poo in the litter box. And she is oblivious to the Spray Bottle of Death, deciding that she actually likes having her head soaked, thanks. She ate my fake plant in the office and threw it back up in the dining room. She convinced Alex there was a monster under his bed, because she hid under there and made rustling noises until he got out of bed, afraid, then she attacked his feet and scared the bejesus out of him. She jumps up on the kitchen counter right in front of me and tries to drag raw chicken off the counter to god knows where.

She is ungrateful, people. Ungrateful.

I tried to return her to Walgreen's, but the same pharmacist who suckered me into taking her told me I couldn't return her unless I had a receipt, and he would not give me store credit.

But every night, when I'm watching TV alone downstairs, she creeps over and curls up next to my head to keep me company. She doesn't bite. She doesn't scratch. She just purrs, and purrs nicely.

*Everybody held up very well through the exams and shots, except for Bobby. Bobby now weighs about 25 pounds, most of it fur but the rest of it muscle and claws, and he wasn't picking up what Dr. McIntyre was putting down. At all. The three of us, Dr. McIntyre, Sue, and I, tried to give him a thorough exam, but actually had to give up trying to weigh him because he abruptly turned into a whirling, screaming panther and sliced us to bits. Then he ran and hid upstairs and I couldn't find him. I had badly misjudged the personalities of my own cats. I really thought Cindy would be the worst, because she is the most skittish, and Bobby would be the best, because he is typically the sweetest, but not so. Cindy was great. Bobby, not so much. Belt handled the exam with his usual cerebral dignity, then went and peed in the downstairs toilet, just in case we were not aware who the best cat was.

**Dr. McIntyre did not use our office as an operating room. I took Wally to a nearby vet's office and had her girly bits zapped out with lasers.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

This Gave Me the Shivers.

The Anne Frank House recently uploaded onto You Tube the only known footage of Anne Frank, leaning out her window as she watched a bride and groom on their wedding day. After Anne's diary was published in the fifties, the couple recognized Anne in their wedding video and gave a copy of it to her father, Otto Frank.

Anne appears in the window at the nine second mark. I watched it repeatedly, because it's sort of like seeing a unicorn - almost impossible to believe what you're seeing is real.

Once upon a time, a little girl with a big talent lived and loved, then was murdered in a place as close to Hell as has ever been on Earth, but her courage lived on to inspire the world.


via Crooks and Liars

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chris Rock, You Are Awesome.

After spending a few days watching in disbelief as Hollywood star after Hollywood star after FOUNDER OF THE FUCKING FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION lined up to defend Poor Roman, I felt like I was losing my mind a little bit.

Roman Polanski drugged and anally raped a child.

He drugged and anally raped a child who kept saying "no."

This isn't in question. He pled guilty. Then he fled the country to avoid sentencing. He is an escaped child rapist. And not only are Hollywood stars defending him, such as Whoopi Goldberg's "it's not rape rape" - Jesus, Whoopi, what does rape look like in your world? Does he have to cut her arms off too? - But they all signed a petition about it. Woody Allen, sure, you'd expect him to be first in line with his Mont Blanc out, but Debra Winger? Tilda Swinton? Sob. Kate Winselt's husband signed it and Kate let him live? How'd that happen?

Finally, somebody said something. Chris Rock said something: Yeah, it IS rape rape.

Thanks, Chris.

Happy Boy.

Last night while I was answering your emails, Christopher was sitting on the loveseat in the room with me, playing his DS and radiating so much contentment I had to take a photo of it.

His happy vibe was so strong I asked him if he was feeling good right now.

"I am," he said. "I'm very comfy here on the couch. This is a very nice night."

And it was.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dear Yoplait: Big Machine Questions Your Advertising Choices.

One of the many, many great adventures I had while I was away was taking a trip to the doctor's office to have my blood taken and probed. About a week later I received a startling phone call from the doctor: I had been diagnosed as having a serious medical condition known as "being fat." I was shocked. I had no idea! Evidently, my cholesterol level was what tipped him off, because you'd never know by looking at me:

Where do I keep it, right? Usually in my head, I say.

Rather than giving me a magic pill, the doctor recommended a bizarre, alternative treatment known as "eat less fat, more fiber, and exercise."

Fine. I've been doing okay with the first two, not so good with the third, but I'm getting there. One of the things I bought, using a buttload of coupons (that's an industry term) I wrangled several 4 packs of Yoplait's Fiber One.

I brought one of the 4 packs to keep at work, and around mid-morning broke the box open to eat some. Before I did that, I noticed that on the box is the Fiber One mascot, a cartoon woman named "Hungry Girl."

No doubt this Fiber One will keep me filled up, then. Because clearly if Yoplait recognizes that women get hungry, and need something filling to eat to get them through the workday, then Fiber One will be an excellent choice. Despite what most of us know about the effects of eating a cup of yogurt. This yogurt will be different. Substantial. Ready to take on the appetite of the women of North America, as represented by Hungry Girl.

I took the cup out of the container, then immediately handed it to one of my coworkers, along with a dollar for size comparison:

We then went all over the office, showing people the Hungry Girl box, then the actual cup. Everyone was equally derisive, almost offended by the idiocy of the ad.

Hungry Girl. Yeah. That oughta do it.

Good thinking, Yoplait.


*An aside here, added purely for the purpose of science: Fiber One has 5 grams of fiber in each 4 oz cup. Therefore, if you are actually hungry, and eat, say, three of them, you will poop. A lot. With a certain sense of urgency. With fear, almost, if the bathroom is on the opposite side of the office from your cubicle. I say this only to help.