How to Retard Your Teenager’s Growth Into a Responsible Adult

Filed under:It's My Life,Priorities,Rants — posted by Anwyn on June 13, 2009 @ 8:36 pm

1) Allow her to attend functions at a church you yourself do not seem particularly involved in.

2) Allow her to make her own commitments to that church, such as, for example, participation in an especially codependent music group.

3) Plan a surprise slumber party for her birthday on a Saturday night, before a big performance at church the next morning; suddenly realize, on the night of the party, that your daughter’s commitment to the previously mentioned music group will, GASP, ensure that there are three or four teenagers not of your own family lying around your house on Sunday morning without your daughter to keep charge of them, and phone the director of said music group to imply that her expectation that your daughter appear at both dress rehearsal (at a moderately early hour on Sunday morning) AND the performance (an hour after the rehearsal due to competition for rehearsal time in the sanctuary) is a bit extreme and inform her that she “may or may not see” your daughter at rehearsal, though she will be at the performance, because you don’t want to let the music group down “one hundred percent.” Only fifty percent; that’s acceptable, since of course this is YOUR convenience we’re talking about, and never mind giving your sixteen-year-old daughter the option of keeping or breaking her own commitments by the lights of HER priorities and good judgment.

And some people wonder why the director has bad dreams.

DwtS Week 2 Elimination: The Jessica Simpson Rant

Filed under:Not Cool,Rants,Television — posted by Anwyn on September 30, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

I don’t know who’s off yet; part one of my voting strategy seems to have come off, as Rocco is saved and I’m positive it was my eleven votes that did it. Positive!

Okay, now the important stuff. This is the first time I’ve ever had to a) look at moving footage of Jessica Simpson as opposed to still photos; b) listen to her sing.

She is atrocious. Yes, I realize I’m figuring out what many other people knew several years ago, but this is what comes of being a 33-year-old mom who keeps up rather languidly with pop culture. Okay, fine, I never really kept up with the pop culture that supposedly, to watch the media cover it, enthralls 80 percent of the American population. I watch/listen to what I like and know the basic peripherals about people like Britney. Or ‘N Sync. Or Jessica.

She is atrocious. She sings flat–out of tune, for you nonmusic types. And it seems she’s trying to compensate for that blatant shortcoming by affecting a style that is just as hideous. French-kissing the mike, cracking her voice like the worst possible combination of a country wailer and an alt-pop edgything, and wearing a one-armed bat-gown that, if it doesn’t get fugged, I ought to know the reason why. Try watching a flat singer who is jerking her head and torso in wretchedly unnatural movements while opening her mouth as wide as possible and all the while inwardly shrieking, “Where is your ARM?!” and you’ll have some idea of the crazy that goes on in my TV room after The Bean is asleep.

I wouldn’t have watched at all, only Cheryl and Maks were dancing rumba and Oh-My-God.

So now I’m letting the TiVo buffer accumulate so that I can fast-forward through any more garbage, like the Macy’s Stars of “Dance” performance. Dancing with the Stars amazes me sometimes with the risks it is willing to take for what one would suppose is a family-friendly show. The Macy’s thing tonight was an homage to S&M that would have been so lewd if it weren’t just so tacky. The amazing part is that nobody on the set seems to notice; they suck it in like it’s a football game until I think that I’m watching something different from what the studio audience is watching. Bread and Circuses. I love DwtS, but occasionally they seem to be trying to sanitize some very crappy stuff. Or just showcasing crappy artists. Like the Jonas Brothers. The only thing that made their flat, over-stylized stylings bearable was … it wasn’t, really. Just the dancing. This is what comes of loving a show that caters to that supposed 80 percent.

Time to find out who’s goin’ home … Hallelujah, Kim’s gone. Don’t worry, Mark, your dad won’t be the only Ballas on the floor for long. I hope. Ding-dong, Kim’s gone, we didn’t suffer through The Simpson in vain.

The Rant: The Post Office

Filed under:It's My Life,Rants — posted by Anwyn on February 5, 2008 @ 2:28 pm

I hate the post office. It used to have a claim on my affections, back when I lived in a small town, I went in with my packages, stood in a line of reasonable size, and then, for a reasonable price, had the satisfaction and anticipation of my packages flitting off to their intended recipients.

The Beaverton, Oregon, central post office changed all that when I moved out here a few years ago. The line is always insane; there is always, except at Christmas, a maximum of three people at the counter that holds six employees, and at least one of those employees is always a blatant jackass of either the pedantic or completely clueless type. I let two or three people go ahead of me one time to avoid repeating with an employee I knew to be a pedantic petty power-monger who had to adjust my package to his specifications before he would deign to accept it for delivery. Combine that with the price hike they made last year, and my post office hatred was made official and enduring.

But there are times when a girl needs postcards, especially if it’s that time of year again for entering the only ridiculous-odds great-prize game of chance she plays all year: The HGTV Dream Home. I buy a certain number of postcards for that every year–like a sucker–put my info on them, and send them out in the vain hope of winning a couple mil by random drawing. I actually suspect the post office of delivering only one and dumping the rest, since, hey, they’re all the same, right? I could be playing the lottery every week instead, right? Although the money would probably come out the same, to be honest. Nevermind that. The point was: Need postcards. Have to (groan) go to post office.

I have a limited amount of time, as I decided to try to squeeze this errand in on the way to The Bean’s preschool. I wait in line for a reasonable time, three or four minutes, and then make my way to my designated employee of the three. All the while I stood in line, though, I could clearly see, in the back room where the actual mail operations take place, packages indulging themselves in what I’m sure is their favorite pastime: Flying through the air with the greatest of ease, without benefit of men on the flying trapeze. A guy whose arms I could see when he would heave a package was letting fly with one box after another, so that they described a lovely parabola in the air and then landed with a thunk that resonated throughout the whole post office in the bin where he’d aimed them.

I get up to the counter and state my mission to my designated employee–we’ll call her Two of Three.

“I need two hundred postcards, please.” Two–not graced with leadership enough to be One of Three, not smart enough to stay at the back of the line like Three of Three–ambles over to a cupboard at the back of her station where they evidently keep this merchandise. Or are supposed to. Her hand emerges with one bundle of postcards, and since this isn’t my first rodeo, I know the USPS’s postcards come in bundles of 50. She needs three more. She lollygags over the gal next to her, we’ll call her Three of Three–“Do you have any postcards?” A discussion ensues which does not appear to include checking the surrounding environs for any actual postcards. She sashays over to One of Three, who is busy helping customers far more efficiently, I’m positive, than either of her compadres. Then she checks the two empty employee stations beyond One’s cubicle and comes up with … no postcards.

She moseys back to the vicinity of her stall and starts to say something about looking somewhere else, at which point I cut her off because if I don’t leave within sixty seconds, The Bean will be late to preschool. “I don’t have time to wait; I have to go.” She changes her potential offer to look somewhere else into a flat “We don’t have two hundred.” In my mind, my current favorite phrase hurtles towards her and bops her invisibly in the head: Well, no shit.

Instead of saying this aloud, I shift subjects. I don’t usually bother giving people advice on what to do in their workplace. I’m pretty sure it’s futile, for starters, but this time I’m so peeved, and so stunned at the audacity of 1) their complete lack of customer service and 2) the brazen circus show that is taking place in the back room with the packages of said customers, that I give it a go. What the heck. “It’s just a suggestion, but you might want to tell your people not to throw the packages while we all can see them.”

She looks around, in slow-motion wonder, as though she cannot believe this would take place in her post office, and actually says, I kid you not, “Who’s throwing packages?” Because it’s not her, you see, thereby making it, apparently, impossible that this could be taking place.

“The guys in the back room. The packages are flying across the room,” I explain nicely with irritation at her stupidity creeping into my voice and my hand showing her the arc the flying packages are making, in case she needs a demo.

Suddenly she shifts from “Wha … people are throwing packages … ?” to … I still kid you not … “That’s how you sort packages.”

That’s what she said, just like I was the idiot not to know that, that I was the idiot to be concerned that something inside at least one of those packages might break, causing consternation and distress to an overcharged customer.

I guess I am the idiot. I mean, I know people throw your stuff around, packages, luggage, what have you, absolutely wantonly the minute they get it out of your sight, but I am accustomed to them waiting at least until I am out of sight. It reminded me of the day I looked out the airliner window and witnessed a ramp luggage guy pulling bags off the belt and heaving them ten feet, where they crashed into the concrete below. He was having fun. I guess I know they do this, but it’s a different matter for them to act like this is how it should be. I guess that’s the way it is and I’m just a sucker to think anybody does their job with consideration to the people who pay for their job, either directly or as part of a larger experience, i.e. airline travel.

I’m now, after a run-in with some UPS gals a couple of weeks ago, a new and fervent FedEx convert. They may throw my packages around, but by golly they know enough to keep the throwing shenanigans out of my sight.

The Rant: Chandelier Bulbs and Chandelier Shades Do Not Go Together

Filed under:It's My Life,Not Cool,Rants — posted by Anwyn on January 27, 2008 @ 10:30 pm

I bought a pretty, tiny lampshade in the Salvation Army store one time because I liked its design and colors and it was cheap. I bought a lamp on eBay to go with it. They coordinate in size and style. You know what chandelier shades look like, right? And the mechanism by which they’re supposed to attach to the light bulb? A little wire clip. Well, you can take it from me that these shades do not attach to the bulbs they’re supposed to go with. The bulbs are too big; the clip on the shade slides right off.

These are the bulbs that the shade’s clip actually latches right onto: Four- to seven-watt night light bulbs, which are utterly useless for any purpose other than their stated use in night lights, which are neither needed nor wanted in this house. I want to use my pretty little lamp to shed 40 watts on my work without taking up much space on my small work surface, but nooooo. Shade won’t stay on the 40-watt chandelier bulb.

I’m mostly just ranting about a minor domestic problem, but if you know how to get around this, or where to find 40-watt bulbs shaped like night-light bulbs (also the same as older Christmas lights), let me know.

I Don’t Like Stupidity

Filed under:Politics,Priorities,Rants — posted by Anwyn on December 5, 2007 @ 11:03 pm

I said this morning that I’m so angry about the Huckabee surge that I can’t even write coherently about it. So read Ace. Read his bullet points on how bad Huckabee shapes up to be on crime, finances, terrorism, and immigration. Then let’s answer this question together:

Can I ask a question here? Are there Americans, Republicans, Christians, etc. out there who actually believe the GOP can win an election on nothing except the Human Life Amendment and Federal Marriage Amendment?

And do these people realize the president has no role in the amendment process? He does not need to sign a proposed amendment, nor can he veto it; it’s entirely up to Congress and then (after securing 2/3rds support) the state legislatures (3/4ths of them)?

True, a president can support such measures rhetorically. But can anyone name for me the 66 Senators and 38 states they imagine will be signing on for the HLA and FMA just because President Huckabee talks them up?

Those of us with functioning brain cells are well aware that a candidate running on the HLA and the FMA would be far more likely to lose on those two issues alone … which no doubt is a big part of the political calculations of Thompson and Giuliani and Romney … if he didn’t also resemble the Democrats in every other imaginable way. So amesty shills who are a little wobbly on the Dems’ party line on abortion ought to love the guy and just overlook the bit about gay marriage. Except they really won’t, when they’ve got actual Democrats to vote for. He isn’t electable in the general and I would have to hold my nose to vote for him if he got that far. It will be a travesty if he wins the nomination.

Wake up, whoever is fueling the surge. If you are overlooking his positions on these other issues because of how soundly he talks on abortion and gay marriage, wake the hell up. You need to be doing your overlooking on positions over which the executive has very little or absolutely no control, not putting all of your eggs into the two issues that the executive cannot directly affect in any way, shape or form. Wake up.

If you agree with Huckabee on those other issues … then please switch parties and nominate somebody more in line with what you believe. Don’t screw up our primary.

The Rant: Toys-R-Us

Filed under:It's My Life,Rants,Toys, Children's — posted by Anwyn on November 30, 2007 @ 1:21 pm

The place that must be like the Hellmouth for Rachel Lucas, the black hole of money, Toys-R-Us. The place exasperates me because it should be an extremely useful store and sometimes actually is. That is, when I need a general present for a child and don’t know what I’m going to get yet, usually I can go in there, wander for a little while, and find something suitable. But then the exasperation. If there’s something specific I want, the odds are 99-1 that they won’t have it. Every single time, no matter what the thing is. Stuffed dog that doesn’t shed? No. Take your pick from these three million dogs with obnoxiously shedding fake fur. The one little wooden table and chairs I wanted for the corner of the kitchen for my son to eat at? No. We’re out. Take your pick from these bright flimsy plastic ones. The one specific Thomas engine that my son wanted as a reward for learning to use the potty? No. Take your pick from these four million engines that are the wrong ones.

Speaking of trains, what up, TRU people, that as usual you have a train table out with all the track and little buildings and sheds and trees and train stations on it … and no trains? My broken-hearted son spent the rest of our trip to TRU today wailing because he couldn’t play with the trains as he does on every visit, because for some unfathomable godless reason the TRU people had put none on the table. “Fortunately, baby, we have trains at home.” Wail. “Honey, see the other little boy? He’s not crying and he’s kind of worried about you because you are. Can you buck up a little for Mommy?” Wail. It’s not entirely so much the trains; it’s also that it’s out of routine and he doesn’t yet understand that the world changes. There were trains; now there aren’t. Apocalypse.

And then, the capstone of the TRU Exasperation Experience, the one that puts my steam up every time, I’m herding my wailing son up to the register, hoping for a smooth and quick checkout, and then it comes, The Nunya Question: “May I start with a phone number, please?”


It’s not the checkers’ fault; they’re only doing what they’ve been told, which, you know, their paycheck kind of depends on. But this is just such an annoying policy on the part of TRU and various other retailers. Sometimes I comply, but honestly, if you see an exasperated person approaching with a wailing four-year-old in tow, don’t you think you’d exercise enough judgment to just check them out and get them on their way?

Of course not. That’s why you’ll be a checker awhile longer, I’m thinking.

Steam: A Post to Make Me Feel Better

Filed under:Politics,Rants — posted by Anwyn on September 5, 2007 @ 6:35 pm

I hate debates, whether between members of the same party or opposing parties. They are the biggest weaselfests ever. Candidates shamelessly outright evade questions, the moderators ask dumb questions to begin with, and no real information is gained beyond the usual talking points the candidates hammer over and over.

Basically when you watch a debate, it’s for the same reason you watch postgame sports interviews with players or coaches: You’re waiting for somebody to screw up so bad there’s no coming back.

Update: Biggest irritant from moderators: Why do they ask candidates what they think about this, that or the other about the other candidates? I realize these are called “debates,” but they’re not, not really–they’re not the candidates debating each other on policies, they’re just chances to be questioned about their own. Don’t ask them personally embarrassing questions about what they think of the other guys.

The Rant: The Shit People Do to Their Children in Order to Be on TV

Filed under:Mothering,Priorities,Rants,Reviews,Television — posted by Anwyn on March 16, 2007 @ 9:58 pm

I don’t watch reality television. Don’t look at me that way–Dancing with the Stars is not reality TV, it’s a talent contest. And it doesn’t start till Monday.

Tonight when the TV came on, before I could get it flipped to my show, I saw about five minutes of the abomination that apparently is Wife Swap. I knew the show existed; I’d seen the promos. But this was unbelievable. A man and woman having a huge fight in front of the man’s children–the woman was the swap-in–while the children curled up miserably in the corners of the couches. Apparently the fight was over school–the woman was insisting that she homeschool them, the way she apparently does with her own children–and the man was protesting that she was “not going to mess with their futures.”

Look, I’m no enemy to homeschooling. I’d lean more towards it myself if I thought I had the patience and attention span. Her preferences are not the issue here. But a strange woman comes in to live as mother to your children and starts insisting on breaking up the kids’ settled routine and the school life they’re already living AND fights it out in a screaming match with their father? I’m sorry, but fuck that. Yeah, that’s what I said. Wouldn’t those kids’ mom flip if she saw what was going on back at the house? Their dad certainly was. The only valid point the woman had was this: “Why did you sign up?” One surmises that it’s part of the “game” to let the swap-in set some rules. But at the expense of the children’s peaceful home? They likely understand it’s for television, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to leave a mark.

Sure, I’ll say it again: Fuck that. Why would anybody sign up? You simply couldn’t pay me enough to turn my child over to somebody else, who had the goal of turning his life upside-down for the cameras, for a week or however long it is. Not even for a day. And judging by the houses they were in, they weren’t too much in need of whatever ABC is paying them. (Although, for all I know, the houses could’ve been provided by the show. Whatever.) So whether it’s greed or exposure that’s motivating them, any adult going on that show deserves whatever emotional hangover they get–but it looks to me like their kids are paying the price. Assholes.

FWIW: In the other house, with the homeschooled kids and the mother of the previous children, she was trying to get them to go to school. Mildly. Without raising her voice either to them or to the dad (although to be fair, the dad was the one doing most of the shouting in the other scenario, but it looked like he had plenty good reason). The dad was about to tell her he wasn’t going to make the children go back to school. In a measured tone of voice. Fine. Meanwhile, back in the first house, the swap-in is equating the importance of what she wants in this faux, for-camera situation with what the kids need and what their dad says they’ll have. Asshole!

Cross-posted at Electric Venom.

The Rant: Bite Me, Germs

Filed under:It's My Life,Rants — posted by Anwyn on March 1, 2007 @ 8:31 pm

Worst. Year. Ever. for sickness. Since about October or November, The Bean and I have been hit with whatever’s going around and then some. January was the worst ever. Flu for him, flu for me, cold for him, sinus infection for me … cold for me. Worst ever.

Until February. Starting last week, it was like this: Flu for him. Flu for me. Chipper recovery for him, though a lingering cough prevented him going back to preschool (which he just started on Feb. 1 after January’s round, I might add). Disgusting mystery illness for me that involved progressively worsening nausea and the nastiness that goes with that. The only reason the blog had anything was because I was bedridden–just put a few things up whenever I felt well enough. My mother’s here now taking care of us, and she doesn’t fly 2000 miles across the country for little trifling colds. We are sick as dogs. I’m on the mend, but it’ll come slowly. Meanwhile, just as I am beginning the upswing a bit, the boy comes down with high fever and a stomach bug.

I swear, if I start throwing up again I will hunt down and kill the person who gave us this one. As soon as we are well, we are getting the hell out of this infested hive of a state where the temperature doesn’t freeze anything to death even in the dead of winter and going out to my mother’s country place. In North Carolina. Far from many of the things of man. Far from noise and disease-ridden human beings. To bring out that old saw, I am sick and tired of being sick and fracking tired. No CPAC for me. No nothing much for me, including food.

At least I’m well enough to feel like watching a movie. Mom hasn’t yet seen The Illusionist. Edward Norton is positively mesmerizing. Mmm, Edward Norton.

The Rant: PSA: Flu is Worse than Childbirth

Filed under:It's My Life,Rants — posted by Anwyn on February 22, 2007 @ 12:19 pm

A comparison between childbirth (which I’ve successfully navigated), stomach flu (which I had last spring) and regular flu (which I have now):

Yes, labor contractions are painful. They are also relatively short and separated by periods of blissful relief. Stomach flu, by contrast, keeps you at a medium-level nausea for as much as an hour at a time, and the violent retching required to reach the “relief” stage is dreaded almost as much as the relief is anticipated. After which the long spell of nausea returns. Haha, sucker.

As for regular flu, try nine hours of high fever, chills, bone-rattling aches,* and again with the nausea, far more prolonged because the illness isn’t actually in your stomach but just causes collateral damage in the stomach due to respiratory drainage, resolved at some point by the violent retching aforementioned, but could easily return. Labor is long, but remittent. And unlike violent retching, the actual act of birthing is, compared to labor, hardly painful at all. It’s a relief to start doing the work that leads to the reward. And let’s not forget the three days or so of lassitude that go with both flus, the respiratory congestion that goes with regular flu, that leave you eating nothing and drinking little more, in bed and, when not in discomfort, pretty bored. All hail the bedside laptop. But I digress: the reward.

Oh yeah, the reward. At the end of childbirth, you have someone to show for it. At the end of either flu, all you have are weak muscles, shaky limbs, dirty house, cabin-fever child. If the flu could behave like labor for a couple days and then vanish, I’d hardly complain at all. So cheer up, ladies: If you contemplate having a child but fear what’s involved, trust me: if you’ve had either type of flu, childbirth ought to be a piece of cake.

*No, I didn’t take a fever reducer like acetaminophen or ibuprofen (the latter would almost certainly have come back up anyway). I suspect, possibly erroneously but with some observational justification, that as long as the fever is at a manageable temperature, the overall illness will be shorter if it’s allowed to run its course. I didn’t take painkillers during childbirth, either. Fair comparison.

The Rant: IMDb

Filed under:Rants — posted by Anwyn on October 11, 2006 @ 12:34 am

Is it just me or is IMDb getting bigger all the time and not better? It used to be I could be watching a show the night it aired, get all fidgety about a guest star or bit player, look them up right then to find out where I’d seen them before, and *bam* IMdB had the info. That night! The same night the episode aired! In a big long page attached to the main title page of a show entitled “guest appearances.” Now they have the “episode guide” and “episodes cast,” which is how you look up guest stars–you find the episode you’re watching and they have the whole cast there. Supposedly. Because more often than not, these days, I look up an episode and it’s full of misinformation and completely *without* the information I went there looking for–a few guest appearances or bit players or recurring characters, but by no means all, and certainly not the one I’m looking for. And as for misinformation, the “episode cast” frequently lists stars in the main credits whether they appear in that episode or not and sometimes still list them in every episode a season after the actor has quit the show completely.

It’s annoying. Yeah, I know, it’s an incredible service they do for the average viewer, for free, so why am I complaining? Because they used to have the info. They don’t now. Change should aim toward improvement. They haven’t. It’s too bad.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace