Category Archives: Musings

A blank expression, a blank screen, “The Computer Won’t Wauk”

Carrie's Computer Crash on Sex and The City

Carrie’s Computer Crash on Sex and The City

“The computer won’t wauk.”

The teen-aged girl, whom her mother affectionately refers to as “The Quirky One” among her online friends, led with this.  Years of school provided speech therapy had almost eradicated her “speech impairment” —  so much so that sometimes she possessed an aristocratic lilt, sounding almost British.  Other times, that pesky and slightly out of reach interior “r” sound, reportedly often the last of the identified “impairments”  to be corrected, makes a surprise appearance.  When it does, suddenly this teen girl, a young woman in training who wears women’s size thirteen shoes, sounds  just like a little girl.

The computer won’t wauk.

She simply stared at her mom, who had just returned from getting coffee and who was planning to sit and just read.  The other  kids were on a visit with their dad, The Quirky One had missed this visit in order to attend to her cat sitting job, for which she was paid well .    The Quirky One had been misdiagnosed for years — was it depression?  Was it some kind of learning disability we can’t identify?  It’s not dyslexia? No?  Her reading is behind yet  her comprehension is very high.  She’s frustrated with the books she can read easily so she started writing her own, or at least she starts to, along with short stories and poems.  But something is, has been,  wrong  — or just —  off.

Now, finally there was a diagnosis that made sense,  The Quirky One is on the Autism Spectrum –sounds so pretty in the abstract — like the diagnosis should come with a colorful painting or butterflies —  but it’s so, so complicated.   This diagnosis explained why the girl would often announce distressing news in the same manner that another child would simply state his or her age.   “She does not read social cues,”  is how it is described.  But to an outsider it looks like  laziness or limited mental capacity or lack of empathy.  It’s none of those.  It’s just the way she is, Roxanne thought, but with the right therapy, thank goodness,  she’s gotten so much better — and happier.

Roxanne had learned to expect these dead-pan announcements over the years.  Now that she understood the cause of these and other odd behaviors, she was learning how to deal with it.

The computer won’t wauk.

Ahh, Roxanne thought.  This explains why The Quirky One had  perched in front of the desktop watching Anime when she returned from feeding the cats.   The laptop was out of commission. The Quirky One just stared at her mother, expressionless, waiting for a response.  Defeated, Roxanne forgot about her coffee and postponed her reading plans.   She walked over to the laptop and turned it off.  Then, after waiting the required 30 seconds, she turned it back on, practicing the well-worn ritual of the computer-repair-challenged.  She was met only with a blank, black screen.  She clicked random keys:   Enter,  Esc, Space Bar, and Enter again. Then she sighed, turned the useless device off again, closed it and walked away, without saying a word, except in her head, “I can’t deal with this now.”

The laptop was only three months old.  School would resume in just over a month and a half.

Don’t get upset now.  Just read your book, she told herself.

So Roxanne did what she had planned to do before The Quirky One announced that the recent $700 purchase had failed them.  She would read, a novel.

Roxanne hadn’t been reading much in recent months, at least not novels, but she’d  found a book that did what books are supposed to do — make her forget everything else.  Previously she’d been nursing a popular comic novel that everyone else seemed to love,  but she couldn’t quite finish.  Then the realization, actually a reminder, “I’m not a student.  I don’t have to finish it if I don’t want to.”   So when buying books for the kids, Roxanne decided, not without the requisite guilt for spending $14.99 on herself,  to buy a book.

It did help her forget.  Wasn’t it just four days ago when one of the other kids, The Anxious One, having just been told to carry her phone in a purse or wallet at the pool, dropped said eighteen day old phone, shattering the screen?

It was four days after the return date, insurance doesn’t cover physical damage to the phone.  And now . . .

The computer won’t wauk.

It still echoed in her mind.  What now? A visit to the computer store? A diagnostic test that will cost $80 in order to decide what it will actually cost to fix the computer?  And the phone?  

Roxanne couldn’t help it, but thoughts of  her ex-husband and his new family crept into her mind.  His new kids are little and presumably cute and do not require computers or phones . . . yet.  Oh, his time will come, if this marriage lasts.  But then again if this marriage lasts he won’t be doing it alone the second time around.    Then Roxanne had thoughts of  her  children as babies, remembering the smiles, the hysterical cries and the smiles again a few minutes later.   Back then, if their toys broke, it didn’t matter.  She could hide them, replace them, or distract the child with another shiny object or a song.   The good old days were  filled with bodily fluid control and clean up, tantrums and no sleep whatsoever.  The good old days, when providing for and educating a child did not require a $700 purchase, though she knew she’d spent much more than that in diapers alone.   But the diapers did what they were supposed to do, and she didn’t have to spend $700 at one time– only to have them fail.   The good old days — when she could teach the alphabet by singing it, could provide a hug, a song, a breast or two, and simply hold  her babies, shifting weight from one foot to the other.

Back then, Roxanne thought, I could do what they needed, and they would smile back.   Though the Quirky One never smiled as much as her twin, Roxanne remembered.  She often seemed like  she was deep in thought.  Still, she could make them all smile.  She taught them things. They were so cute and everybody said so. “Oh they’re still cute now,” Roxanne thought,  “but that’s frankly a little scary in a teen girl.”

Back then, they needed me.  Now, they still need me, just as much,  but they also need a  $700 computer they treat like a recyclable  magazine and they need phones with two-year contracts that they carry like a balls when running through a parking lot.  And they complain that their friends all have smart phones?   I don’t think so.  Not happening.

With these thoughts running through her mind, the worries, the fears, frustration and jealousy . . .  the tears almost came, right behind the bitterness.

But instead of crying, instead of attempting to fix the computer or finding someone who could, instead of interrogating The Quirky One on who and how the computer had last been used,  Roxanne grabbed her book and sat down, outside.  The Quirky One hates the outdoors, or more precisely, she hates bugs and sun and heat and fresh air, to name a few.  Consequently, the outdoors is where Roxanne knew she could be alone.   The Quirky One still had use of the desktop computer, after all.

Roxanne  opened her book —  an actual book that required no battery life,  no “on” button, and no screen.  The book would work.

So Roxanne read . . . and actually forgot everything  for a little while.  The book had worked.   The tears retreated, the bitterness dried up.

After a bit Roxanne went inside and wrote . . .

in longhand . . .

because . . .

“The computer won’t wauk.”

Just Me With . . . a story.   Not sure why I wrote this in the third person, except that I’m reading in the third person.

I’m currently reading , “Admission” by  Jean Hanff Korelitz

Coincidentally, after I wrote the above, I got to a point in the book where a secondary character said the following:

When you’re a single mom, and everybody talks about how hard it must be, what they mean is the little-kid stuff.  Getting up in the middle of the night all the time because there’s no one else to do it, or having to take on all the doctors’ appointments and parent-teacher conferences yourself.  But I’m telling you, that was nothing. This teenager stuff is hard.  This is, like, crazy hard.

Admission, Copyright 2009 by Jean Hanff Korelitz

"Admission" by Jean

It was also made into a movie, which I haven’t seen.

Admission

Admission

I Almost Crossed One Off Of “My Bucket List Of Men To Do”

The Village People.  There are all types of men out there.

The Village People. There are all types of men out there.

A while back I wrote a Bucket List of Men to Do. On it, I included an Too Old For Me Rich Guy saying, “At this point in life this is my only route if I want to be photographed as the pretty young thing on someone’s arm.

Dick Van Dyke and his bride. A 46 year age difference.

This past weekend, I thought about checking that one off my list.

I had been invited to a graduation party of a former student. The student’s family is wealthy. Not surprisingly, it appeared that their friends are similarly well off. As per usual I attended alone. As per usual, it appeared as though I was the only woman attending alone, except, of course, for the widowed grandmothers. As per usual, I was the only woman of color, and as per usual I knew hardly anyone there. The point is, I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb. Well, maybe not sore, more like a bare thumb, among French manicured pinkies. But these are really good people, we go back a long way, and I was happy to have been invited. Sometimes I just tire of going solo — all the time — but I digress . . .

I got my food and took an empty seat among strangers, though the host did eventually join us. He introduced me, explaining that I was his son’s music teacher.

Thurston Howell, III from Gilligan's Island.   My would-be suitor was older than Mr. Howell, but  he'll do.

Thurston Howell, III from Gilligan’s Island. My would-be suitor was older than Mr. Howell, but he’ll do.

Well, an older gentlemen seated across from me was simply fascinated, almost smitten. Now I don’t discuss the specifics of age but considering my wealth of life experience, a man significantly older than me has got to be pretty darn — experienced. Nay, old. But this man, by his dress, demeanor and comfort level led me to assume that he had means. I seriously doubt that this dude needed to check his balance before going grocery shopping.

I didn’t catch his name. But let’s call him Jack. Jack was quite complimentary, noting that he certainly would have stuck with his music lessons if he had a teacher who looked like me. “Wow,” he said, and inquired as to whether I had any openings . . . heh heh heh. “I don’t know how the boy could learn anything with you as his teacher.”

I tell you, I almost giggled. This flirtation from an older gentlemen of means made me — me, a grown-ass woman of feminist sensibilities — positively girlish!

I’m not sure, but I think I may have flipped my hair.

I took the comments in kind and did not pursue the matter, but . . .

Damn.

Let the record reflect that I object to the way younger women romantically involved with older rich men are maligned, called gold diggers and such. It’s offensive.

But hey, Gold Diggers, I get it now. (Shhhhhhh)

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Just Me With . . . giggles. I really wanted him to buy me something shiny. I’m just saying . . .

Sixteen Candles, Give or Take — My Birthday

From the film, "Sixteen Candles" when everyone forgot a girl's birthday

From the film, “Sixteen Candles”

I had a birthday recently.   I’ve always disliked birthdays,  since my teen years.  My parents always made my birthday special as a child, not with lavish parties and gifts, but with special birthday dinners, cake and small gifts, except for the year I got a new piano.  That was the best day ever, but I digress . . .

There's nothing better than seeing a piano moving truck pull up to your house.  Wait, it that Just Me ?

There’s nothing better than seeing a piano moving truck pull up to your house. Wait, is that Just Me ?

The bad birthdays started in my teen years when came down with Scarlet Fever on my birthday.  I know it sounds very Victorian, but I assure you I’m not that old.

I didn't have The Spanish Flu, like Downton Abbey's Lady Mary, but Scarlet Fever was no joke.

I didn’t have The Spanish Flu, like Downton Abbey’s Her Ladyship, but Scarlet Fever was no joke.

In later years my boyfriend (later husband, now ex-husband) forgot my birthday completely, more than once.  I’ve never had the party with the girlfriends kind of birthdays either, for a lot a reasons, beyond the scope of this post.  And then there was the first birthday right after the wedding, the separation and some bad ones since then.

This year I decided to pretty much ignore my birthday.  I couldn’t really do anything because it coincided with one of my kid’s big events . . . so I just let it go.

But the people who have come in and out of my life over the years, many of whom I have written about here, remembered.

1.  My best friend and her husband stopped by with a musical card (hours of fun), a little cake, and a big gift card for me.   They didn’t stay very long, but I appreciated the thought and the gifts more than they know.

See my tribute to her on “To My Best Friend on Mother’s Day”

2.   One of my married male friends sent me a text, hoping he got the date right.  (He didn’t, but that didn’t matter.) He wished me well and told me I don’t look my age.  This guy has done things for me like shown up with an air conditioner and installed it when my house was making us melt and he repaired a pane of glass after my daughter decided to play ball in the family room.  And most importantly, he checks in on me just to see how I’m doing.

He’s one of the men I was thinking of in “Friends Without Benefits — Married Men.”

3.  My Admirer sent me a Happy Birthday text, and when I thanked him for remembering he replied,  “You are a smart and beautiful woman whose inner beauty radiates so brightly.  I won’t forget you.”

It made me smile.  I haven’t seen or talked to this man in years.

For my posts about him see,   “I Have An Admirer” and “Another Text From My Admirer.”

4.  An old friend, who defies any  type of categorization, wished me Happy Birthday via voice mail; I was at my kid’s event and couldn’t answer my phone.  I saved the message.

I’ve referenced him in, “We Thought You Were Dead, Mommy.”

5.  I even got a birthday text from my Stalker.  I did not respond.

See, “If I’d Married My Stalker.”

It feels good to be remembered, thought of.

Well, the Stalker text is a little disconcerting, but still  . . .

Just Me With . . . people. 

And even though I’m all grown up, my parents called and sang to me (a family tradition) and my Mom gave me a card with money in it.

. . . and the quirky child gave me a card and a CD.

Not bad.

The Computer Literate Youth, Maybe Not So Much

Zuckerberg's bad date

After getting dumped, Zuckerberg goes back to his dorm and . . . eventually creates Facebook.

I commented on someone’s blog once that had Facebook been around while Zuckerberg was in school on that fateful night when his girlfriend broke up with him, instead of going back to his dorm and creating what later became Facebook, he would have gone back to his dorm, logged onto Facebook, maybe posted some nasty things but probably wouldn’t have  created anything.  He wouldn’t even had needed to blog about it.  A vehicle for his coed hotness comparison campaign would have already been there, all of their pics would have already been in front of him, and a way to reach all of his “friends” would be a click away.   (All of this is based on the movie, The Social Network, by the way.)   When I suggested this, the blogger disagreed, saying that Zuckerberg may have created something else.   While that may be true, especially  given Zuckerberg’s  immense talents, for most people it is not.

I have a teen son.  He’s quite a good student, an honor student, actually, and has plenty of extracurricular activities.   But when he’s free he logs on Facebook or plays video games, and probably finds other things to look at online . . . but I digress . . .

After our shared laptop was serviced and consequently wiped clean of all software, I asked my son to reinstall Word and the printer’s software.  After all, he hogs that computer the most (and I actually wanted to see if he would do it).  He didn’t.  I realized later that he didn’t know how, and lost interest in trying to  figure it out, because, in the meantime, Facebook and school websites were  still accessible.  When he needed to print something, instead of installing the software he simply printed it from a different computer.

In the end, I installed the software.  Pain in the butt, but certainly do-able.

So here’s a teen boy –and according to the GoDaddy Superbowl commercial, we know that it’s the boys who are computer smart, but I digress (and gag) . . .  here’s a teen boy, my oldest child, who didn’t have the patience or immediate need to figure out software installation, yet he spends hours on the computer.

Has my son ever built a website for fun?  I think not. Oh, he’s quite comfortable finding his assignments and teacher’s notes online, researching, and posting and emailing school papers to the appropriate people, but he doesn’t try to create much, except when he finds something funny to put on his Facebook page or  Facebook group.  In other words, he’s proficient at communicating over the internet, but not creating or problem solving.

Unlike Zuckerberg, who said, what if we made this . . .

Zuckerberg decides to create a ranking system of the women on campus, based on looks, of course

Zuckerberg decides to create a ranking system of the women on campus, based on relative hotness, of course.

It makes one wonder.

If there was no Facebook or the like as a ready-made distraction, would my kid would have taken an extra fifteen minutes to click– next, continue, next, continue and gotten a sense of satisfaction from “Congratulations, Software Installation Complete.”

software

I don’t know, but I do know that he does take great satisfaction in the number of “likes” he’s received on a recent photo of himself that someone else took and posted on Facebook.  And I recently became aware that he doesn’t even think to empty his recycle bin — an omission that caused him some embarrassment, by the way.

Years go it seemed somebody usually knew a kid who could fix your computer when it crashed or edit or back-up your family photos and videos, or find a document that you mistakenly deleted.  Now, it seems — not so much.   I guess there’s no need to be comfortable with basic computer maintenance or programming when the internet works — or you can just log onto another computer, or phone or tablet.

The Zuckerberg’s of today might have a bad date, go home, spend a few hours on Facebook (instead of creating it), maybe watch a movie on Netflix,  and go to bed.

I suspect when my kid gets his heart-broken for the first time that’s what he’ll do.

I’d rather he write a song.

Songs About Jane

Maroon 5’s
“Songs About Jane”
One of the best break up albums, ever.

Just Me With . . .  software installation complete, no thanks to the youth of today.

Next time I’ll get one of the girls to do it.

It Wasn’t The Shoes — Looking Sexy Without Heels

Lena

Golden Globe Winner Lena Dunham Being Helped To The Stage To Accept Her Award

I admit, I’ve been a bit obsessed with footwear lately, and not in a good way.

I’ve researched Chinese foot binding, have had a running commentary in my head about women’s fashion and how across cultures and continents women’s fashion has served to decrease our mobility. I’ve been thinking that even despite recent “equality” and participation in sports we expect each other to be “bad-ass” with the constraints of clothing that limit or alter our movement. In the old days we weren’t supposed to do anything but now we’re supposed to do everything — in heels.

Raising children has got me thinking as well. I’ve seen them all take their first toddler steps, learn to run, to play, and to compete in sports, but I realize that soon, though my boy will continue in this path, my girls will likely do the same tasks as my son — while standing on their toes. When they are older and allowed to, they may choose to re-learn how to walk in heels that are getting ridiculously high. I acknowledge that men’s ties and jackets, especially in Summer, are uncomfortable, but they usually don’t cause actual pain like some women’s fashions can. And even if men are hot and bothered, they can still walk and stand — even in grass or sand. (Rhyme unintended.)

Lena Dunham's Shoes

As reported by Fashionista.com, here are the shoes Lena wore under her dress.

When writer, director, producer and actress Lena Dunham won her Golden Globe, she literally hobbled up to the stage, needing help like an elderly lady. This woman is taking Hollywood by storm, but on her big night, she was unsteady. Hugh Jackman, on the other hand, had the flu — but he could walk.

The thing is, Lena’s shoes didn’t even show, yet she chose to wear what, six-inch designer heels? See Fashionista.com. The fascination we have (and I’m not completely immune) with shoes is beyond the scope of this post, especially since, as I’ve said, I’m obsessed . . . but let me offer a true shoe story.

The night before the Golden Globes I attended a fundraising event. It was a dressy affair. As a volunteer organizer, I knew I’d be on my feet the whole evening. I also knew that parking was a problem and I’d likely have to walk blocks across a college campus to get to the affair’s location. So, I made a bold decision.

I did not wear dress shoes.

Instead, my shoes were clog like, the kind normally worn with jeans. Still honoring “cocktail attire” I wore dress black pants and a sequined top. Since, however, the pants were dressy they were longer than they needed to be (I’m assuming to compensate for the heels that women usually wear). My feet and my comfortable shoes were practically covered. And if my shoes did peek out, since they, too, were black they did not make a statement. No bows, no ribbons, no sequins, no sparkles, no spikes, no red bottoms, no color — no — nothing — on the shoes.

I deliberately chose not to call attention to my feet.

Are you thinking I went the old lady route? Are you gasping in horror? Are you laughing at my fashion faux-pas?

Well, I was no old lady. Au contraire, I was — sexy. I brought the attention north, you see. My top was the statement. It had spaghetti straps and silver sequined triangles draped over the breasts which accentuated “the girls” and my shoulders quite nicely. The blouse had a slightly see-through bodice with a sequined edge going all the way around the bottom hem. I’d just had my hair highlighted and wore it out with in waves of loose curls. I wore full makeup, including great lipstick/gloss and left my eye-glasses at home. Shiny earrings hung from the lobes but I left the neck naked — again to accentuate “the girls.”

A funny thing happened. I was complimented more than I had been in — in — I can’t even remember. Men and women told me I was “beautiful,” “elegant,” “lovely” . . . repeatedly. (Quite nice for my ego.) Drinks were flowing at this event and I received a few slightly inappropriate compliments and appraisals from married men. Since this was a fundraiser for high-schoolers they were there to perform and serve the adults. It bears mentioning that I even got a direct compliment from a 16-year-old girl along with looks of approval from her brethren — me, somebody’s mother! I told my son how his teacher, an attractive, recently divorced man who barely acknowledges me normally, stopped me to tell me (repeatedly) how beautiful I looked. After a moment of silence my son’s response was, “I’m sick of you.” Ha! — high praise for a mom in teen boy world.

All this, and it had nothing to do with the shoes.

Except that, because my feet did not hurt, I felt good. I danced and I didn’t have to take my shoes off to do so. And even though I was on my feet for six hours, I wasn’t fatigued or sore. You see, when you feel good, it’s easier to look good — sexy. I didn’t need the Barbie feet. I didn’t need the clack, clack, clack of the stilettos. (And yes, I own some.) But without them I could confidently cross the room without worrying about slipping, falling or hurting. I could even do stairs, all while being “elegant.” It was liberating, yet I still felt very, very feminine.

By all reports and stolen glances I must have looked damned good . . .

And it wasn’t the shoes. (Or was it?)

Just Me With . . . a true, shoe story.

For a fictional shoe story, see my Dressed for Success at The Indie Chicks.

Update: The Indie Chicks has closed its doors.

For an earlier decision to call attention to the girls, see The Summer of Cleavage.

If Lena Dunham had worn sneakers under that long dress (and had it hemmed accordingly), we wouldn’t have been the wiser and she could have taken the stage under her own considerable, impressive power.

Oh well, enough about her shoes. It ain’t about the shoes all the time. Congratulations Lena Dunham, Best Actress in a Comedy Series! Much respect.

Time Management, Procrastination, Holiday Shopping and Moving

I have a theory.  Some tasks will take as much or as little time as you put aside to do them.  I apply this theory to two things:  packing for a move and Holiday shopping.

Packing for a Move

When Carrie Was Preparing to Move, Sex and The City

The Early Packer: 

If a person is planning a move, he or she can start packing six months before.    When the move date arrives, packing will be almost complete, boxes will be labeled and stacked and moving will commence.  You’ll get out on the date you are supposed to, you’ll move in on the date you’re allowed to.

The Last Minute Move:

Dealing with the same move out date, a person can start three weeks,  2 weeks or days before and the move will be the same.  You’ll get out, you’ll get in.  It might not be as pretty, might add serious stress, but if you have to get out by a certain date, you have to get out by a certain date. Stuff will get thrown on a truck, in your car, in the trash, on the curb, but you’ll be out.  And when you arrive at the new digs you get to open boxes and bags and see what you actually brought with you.

In either scenario,  there are always things that you simply cannot pack too early — the everyday items you need to function.  Consequently, some last-minute packing is inevitable.   Yes, plan and organize.  Throw stuff out so you have less to pack and move, but don’t force a six month packing plan, unless you actually enjoy packing and want to pack for six months.  If not, it’ll get done, because it has to.  You won’t have the luxury of making agonizing decisions about what to keep, what to move.  You won’t live with boxes before you move and after you move.  You won’t have time to purchase endless containers and organizing materials.  You’ll probably have a lot less to organize and you may take less crap with you.  Of course, you may also discover that you threw a bunch of trash into a box and moved it, but you will have still moved.

Holiday Shopping

The Early Shopper:

We all know someone who gets all their shopping done by Thanksgiving and they seem so smug and relaxed.  Often, we see or hear of that same person shopping in December, catching a sale, exchanging one gift for another for a better deal or because the recipient bought it for him/herself before Christmas.   My point is that starting early doesn’t necessarily mean you are done.

Starting early does mean you’ll likely shop longer.    If you start in August, you will shop from August to December 24th.  Even if you think you’re finished, there will be a sale, or you’ll find something perfect for someone or you’ll remember someone you should buy a gift for, or you’ll shop for yourself, etc.  So you’ll still be shopping one way or another until December 24th.   It that’s your thing, go for it.  But the retail establishments know that the sooner you start, the more you buy, this is why Black Friday sales now start before Thanksgiving and stores open at midnight.  Cha-Ching!!

The “Last Minute” Shopper:

If you start the second week of December, it’ll still be done by December 24th.  It has to, so why stretch it out? Sales and mark downs?   Guess what, except for the ridiculous black Friday sale items you may have trouble finding and may not need, the “Holiday” sales go on right up to and often after Christmas day.  If you are indeed looking for that perfect gift that you think may be gone if you wait too long?  Well go buy  it, but don’t spend six months shopping for it, unless that’s your thing.

Christmas will come, whether you are ready or not. 

So why spend months spending? 

Why not just get what you got?

Am I preaching procrastination?

Maybe.  I’ll get back to you later, heh heh heh.  I’m not a procrastinator by nature on other things.  I was never the type of student to pull an all-nighter, I believe in daily preparedness.  However, I don’t want to pack for six months the next time I move or travel.   I don’t want to shop for six months.

It’s not so much as waiting until the last minute; rather, it’s choosing the best time to start and establishing a limited time frame in which to accomplish the tasks at hand.  (That sounds better, no?)

This is where I think all those Hoarders and Clean House type shows have it together.   They give people three days to get it all done.  What do you think would happen if you gave those people six months to clean their houses?    The clean up crew would come back every day for six months waiting for the home owner to decide whether the plastic flowers she received as a gift in 1981 have a place in her home.   No, sometimes things just have to get done.  Make a decision.  Done.

Starting early isn’t always the answer.

I probably won’t begin Christmas shopping until December 1st.   In the meantime I can do some preliminary planning,  make lists, budget, and I’ll figure out the last day I can order something online for it to arrive on time without paying extra shipping.

Then I will shop.  No, I will buy.  I won’t have the luxury to shop.  I’m traveling for Christmas so I’ll have to be finished by December 21st anyway.  It’s like a move out date.

It’ll get done.  It has to.

I’m okay with that.

Just Me With . . .  a strategy deeply rooted in procrastination and efficiency.  

Caveat:   Do not apply this theory to academics or work or personal life.  It could result in  — bad things.

Phew!  I actually started this in 2011 but I got busy with the holidays and never finished.  Ha!

Other holiday related posts:

Blowing Off the Holidays — Just say no.

Keeping It Simple At Christmas — People don’t always need the bells and whistles.

The Annual Christmas Party — At Least I Wasn’t Insulted This Year —  Unfortunate comment.

All I Want for Christmas is My Kids — Splitting the babies after divorce.

A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise —  You never know the impact people have on each other.

Craigslist Angels — One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure  — Giving Away Christmas Decorations Can Be A Very Good Thing.

My First Grown Up Thanksgiving — Kind Of  — Thanksgiving at my house, without my kids.

 

Referring to Fifty Shades of Grey as “Mommy Porn”? Stop it!

Fifty Shades of Grey

You know those posts, reviews, rants or raves about a topic the author knows nothing about?

Well, this is one of them.

Actually this is only inspired by something I know nothing about, “Fifty shades of Grey.”

I haven’t read it, all I know is what I happen to see written or said about it in passing.  I know that it’s very popular it’s been critiqued for it’s literary value or lack thereof.  Reportedly, it is very  sexually explicit  . . . and adventurous?  Is that right?

Whatever.  I haven’t read it only because it doesn’t interest me — not my cup or tea right now.

My problem, however, is that I’ve heard it described as “Mommy Porn.

“Mommy” Porn?  Seriously?

I take offense.   People need to stop inserting the word Mommy in front of an otherwise serious,  established or even, dare I say, “respected” genre in an attempt to diminish or qualify its meaning. In other words, don’t use the word “Mommy” if the topic has nothing to do with mothering!

Porn is Porn.  I don’t know if Fifty Shades is actually Porn.   But I know it’s not “Mommy Porn.”

What does “Mommy Porn”  even mean?  Does it mean that mothers are aroused, as opposed to women who don’t have children?  (Because, guess what, not all women have children — shhhhh!!!!)

This woman is reading. I don’t know whether she has given birth. Is this “Mommy Reading”?

Whether or not Porn is enjoyed by “Mommies” as opposed to “Women”  is  a distinction without meaning.  I’m no porn historian, but I think that I can confidently say that historically,  mainstream porn was directed toward heterosexual men —  largely pictures of naked ladies or depictions of male conquests.  Then someone figured out that women might enjoy porn more or differently  with some tweaking (heh heh heh).  Hence, the birth of erotica or “Porn for Her”  — Porn that is engineered specifically for the arousal of women or hetero or lesbian couples — i.e. for WOMEN!   Does it matter whether the women have given birth?  Uh, no.

I can live with identifying  pornography created for a particular gender or sexual preference  when it’s descriptive —  i.e. gay porn which features gay sex meant to arouse gay people.  Duh.

But what is Mommy Porn?  Mommies having sex with each other with their babies in the next room?

I don’t think that’s what’s they mean.

Is  Fifty Shades of Grey referred to as  “Mommy Porn”  because it’s  sold in Target?

Because it has no pictures?   By the way,  I was in Target yesterday and paged through it.  No naked men.   hmmph

Do the people who use the phrase “Mommy Porn” believe that there is a genre of work that appeals only to the prurient interests of  women who have given birth?  Is a mother’s sexual appetite or fantasy different from  a woman who has not had a child?  Well, that’s just stupid.  Hence my rant.

Yes, yes, I know, I’m being too literal.  It just irks me.

If there was a true thing as “Mommy Porn” — something that turns only mothers on, wouldn’t it be something that gave, especially a mother of a newborn, maybe six hours of uninterrupted sleep?  Now wouldn’t that be a turn on?

Or for the mother of  older children — having a day where her children don’t ask for or expect a damn thing from her all while doing whatever she said without so much as an eye roll?  hmmmm  oooohh  ahhhhhh  

“And the child left the room silently, robotically picking up the toys strewn about the floor,  and quietly closed the door behind him. Hearing the screen door downstairs slam shut she knew she was left alone, and was expected to do . . . nothing. The child knew, instinctively,  that “Mommy” needed to be alone.  She was left to lay in her bed, taking in the smell of the freshly laundered linen. Her eyes strayed to the clock.  No, she had nothing to do, no reason to get out of bed, yet she wondered if   her package would arrive today.  Would the UPS man need a cold drink or a place to rest between deliveries?  The last time he came had been unplanned, unexpected . . . unbelievable . . . ” 

. . .  but I digress . . .

What was I saying?

Oh yeah.  I don’t know what the “Mommy Porn” people mean; I think they just mean that it’s sexually explicit material that “real”  women — who they think would not  enjoy “real” porn  — read.

Once again, “I call bullsh*t.”

No one knows what’s on our computers, phones, or in our underwear drawers or our shoe boxes.  We don’t have to go to Target for the real deal.  And guess what, given how our minds work,  we can concoct full fledged porn scenarios in our minds while  grocery shopping — without assistance from a book, magazine, DVD or battery operated device.

So please don’t call  Fifty Shades of Grey “Mommy Porn.”  It’s an insult to Porn and Mommies.  It’s a book about sex.  And even acknowledging that it’s largely women who are eating these books up, so be it.   If it turns women on, their reproductive history has nothing to do with it.

Don’t even get me started on Mommy Blogs or Mommy Wars.

Just stop it . . .  Daddy.

Just Me With . . .  a little attitude.   Next I’ll discuss the timely and important topic of  using bears to sell toilet paper.

My Very Own Personal Olympic Games

The Olympics are upon us.   Soon I will cry in support of the accomplishments of the athletes, and I will shout at the screen at their defeats,  and I will silently wish it was me — on the track, in the water, on the mat.   Sadly, however, the activities at which I excel are not on the roster of  Olympic events.

But, if they were . . .  I could surely medal in  . . .

1.  Car tweeting.

I live in a small house with five nosy children in double digits of life.  We only have one bathroom.  They use my bedroom as a lounge.  I live on a busy street in front, fishbowl alley  in back.  No privacy.   But I enjoy Twitter and if I want any time to discreetly exchange pleasantries or profanities with my friends who live in my phone, I sit in my car.  It’s kind of like making out in a car in high school because there was nowhere else to go. But now I’m alone in my car or, alternatively,  I’m with my fluctuating number of Twitter followers.  Either way,  I am a master of the car tweet.   Ask my Tweeps.

I don’t know what I’m going to do when my oldest gets his driver’s  license . . . and a girlfriend.   I won’t do well sharing my car time.

2.  Ex avoidance.

I am Ninja Ex.  I’m here, I’m there,  I’m everywhere — for the kids.  But when the Ex is around, I can get in and out like a  whore at a baptism.   It really is quite impressive.  It was a skill I learned from practicing law, where the most important part of an adversarial meeting is actually getting out of the building without having  your client endure sharing an elevator with his or her opponent.   A well-timed bathroom break does the trick, or simply quietly walking away without looking back, like Jason Bourne.  As Ninja Ex I know the fastest exits from the school parking lot and where to enter a playing field or concert hall,  choose the best spot to cheer on my children and be seen by them, yet remain out of the Ex’s eye-line, should he happen to appear.  I send the kids out for his visits and he returns them to me yet I — remain — unseen.

Batman ain’t got nothing on me.

It’s been a solid year since I’ve been less than a  fifty feet from my former husband, and more than that since there has been eye-contact.   As my therapist put it, “I see no reason why you ever have to see him.”  So I don’t.  I’m just following doctor’s orders, you see  — like a champ.  An Olympic champion.

Two medals ain’t bad.

But not only would I medal, I say I would get the gold!  I would stand proud and misty eyed while my country’s instrumental national anthem is blared from high-powered speakers to a cheering crowd and over the internet to millions of people in their homes.

Except of course, if my Ex showed up, then — poof!— Me and my medals would be gone.  A handshake, a wave — and I would be  sitting in my car at the parking lot at Dunkin’ Donuts, exchanging 140 characters of Twitter-wisdom about my experiences.

To be fair, I’m good at other things, like managing meager amounts of money and pretending to be Beyoncé in my kitchen, but every superior competitor knows when to focus on those one or two events that truly bring glory and  a chance at a  medal.  I’ve outlined mine.  We can’t all come home with a fistful of shiny medals.  I’ll take my two and leave — like I was never there.

I think I’m tearing up a bit just thinking of it.
Just Me With . . . dreams of the gold.

Miracles Happen

I was living in the suburbs and working in the city.  Consequently, I lived and died by the train schedule.    Each day I drove to the train station, parked, and caught a train to another world.  The trains ran rather regularly  and had express routes during “rush” hours, but after the commuter trains stopped there was often an hour wait between the trains which made — every — stop.  If I missed the last express train, I would be very, very late for work.

On this particular day, I had trouble finding a parking space.

“Damn,” I thought, as I drove around the lot.  “I cannot miss this train.   I can’t.”

I was working at a law firm where they proudly told new associates the story of how the founding partner died at his desk.  This was something to aspire to, according to them — so long as our time sheets were in order  (Ha ha — and by that I mean, not funny at all . . . but I digress . . . ).

The Ancient Ailing Managing Partner in “Intolerable Cruelty”

Needless to say, strolling in late was, well,  frowned upon.

Finally, I found a semi-legal parking space and ran down to the tracks just as my train pulled in.   But I was “running” in dress clothes and carrying a briefcase.  It wasn’t pretty — or effective, especially since the train pulls in on the opposite side of the parking lot  and I had to run down the stairs, cross under the tracks, and run back up the stairs to actually board my train.

I didn’t make it.

As I climbed the steps on the other side I witnessed my train pulling away.

The next train, which was not an express and therefore would take the full 43 minutes to get to the city, would not come for another 50 minutes.

Sure, I could drive into town and pay an arm and a leg and my first-born to park,  but I would still be late for work.   I cursed myself and the world — Damn, damn, damn.  I hoped the partners wouldn’t see me coming in late.  I should have left earlier. I had no one to blame but myself.

I wished with all my heart that I’d made that train. I ached to have caught that train.  But all I was left to do was  just stand there — all alone — watching my train pull away. I was left  there like the last dog  at a shelter.

Rose whispering to the life boat to “Come back” in Titanic

I think I even whispered out loud, “Come baaaack” before I hung my head in defeat.

(I hope you can feel the tragedy of it all.  I was having a very bad day.)

But then, I looked up again.

The train . . .

The train . . . was . . . coming . . . back!

I thought I’d lost my mind.   I did the cartoon character rubbing my eyes with my fists thing.   I looked around to see if anyone else could see this, because it was surreal.   But I was alone.  Everyone else had actually caught the train — which was slowly, but deliberately, coming back.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Had I willed this to happen?  (Was it like in that first Harry Potter when Harry makes the glass around the  snake  cage vanish, yet is totally oblivious of his powers?)  

Was I being Punked? (Where were the cameras?  Ashton?)

Things like this just don’t happen.  Not in real life.  Not in Suburbia. Not to me.

But sure enough, the train pulled back into the station.

Tentatively, I stepped up to the now open door.

           “Can I get on?” I asked the conductor, sheepishly.

            “Yeah,” he answered.   I must have looked spooked because he volunteered that there was some sort of switching problem.

Huh.

But you couldn’t tell me that I hadn’t brought that train back out of  the sheer force of my will  —  or it was divine intervention — because almost as soon as I embarked, the train started again, and took me into the city, express style.

I smiled the entire trip.

It was a commuting miracle.  A miracle, I say.

So, when I’m feeling a little blue, sometimes I think of the miracles in my life.    And it’s not always the obvious or the big stuff — like births and graduations and crap.  Sometimes, I think about the day the train came back . . . just for me.

Just Me With . . . a commuting miracle.  

Suck This! Mr. Dyson

James Dyson

I bought a new vacuum cleaner over the weekend.   The heavy-duty big fancy one I’d had at “The Marital Home” never worked as well as I’d liked and it was a mess to empty.  I tried to sell it at a garage sale and ended up just giving it away.  In my down-sizing frenzy for my small home, I bought a little stick , cordless, bag-less number that only worked a short while before dying in a corner, unloved, unused.

I’m embarrassed to say I’ve been sweeping my area rugs.

But I broke down and went to the store to get a vacuum cleaner this weekend because that’s how I roll.  Don’t be jealous, it was one of my more exciting outings lately, but I digress . . .

Once I arrived at the store I felt visually assaulted by the displays of the bright yellow Dyson vacuums.   You know, the state of the art industrially designed  models that cost between $300 and $700.    They are different from other vacuum cleaners because they have that fancy ball thingy — and maybe something new with the motor?  I don’t know, but  I bet they work like a dream.  They should for that amount of money.

I will never buy  a Dyson, however.  And it’s not because of the price (though I could/would not pay that much for a vacuum cleaner at this point in my life).

No, it’s because of the commercial, the first commercial that introduced the product and that  has always just pissed me off.   I’m not going to link it here because it still irks me.  If you know what I’m talking about you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The commercial features James Dyson himself with his gorgeous English accent, which to us Americans automatically makes him smart.  Well, according to the advertisement, Sir Dyson’s wife had asked him to vacuum.   Dutifully, he took out their vacuum cleaner —-  but he didn’t vacuum.  No, he examined the device and decided that it  had serious design flaws.  So instead of vacuuming,  he took their vacuum cleaner apart, analyzed it and eventually designed a prototype for a new vacuum cleaner to which he gave his name — the Dyson.

The rest is history.

Now,  the wife’s perspective.   Though I’m sure she’s reaping the benefits  of the Dyson vacuum cleaner’s wild success,  I think that on that day, in that  moment, she just wanted her husband to vacuum the freaking rug. That’s all.  Just vacuum.  No analysis necessary.  No deconstruction, no prototypes.  Just vacuum the freaking floor!!!!!

Imagine her surprise when she walked into the room and  instead of finding a clean floor she found her husband — on the floor — surrounded by  vacuum cleaner parts, dust and debris.  Anyone who has ever tried to take apart a vacuum cleaner knows that it makes a bloody mess. (Note the English vernacular? Yes?)

All that woman wanted was for her husband to vacuum the carpet. It’s a simple request.  But instead, he likely retired to the garage to begin to build his prototype for the best freaking vacuum cleaner ever invented, because what men and women — and his wife —  had been using for ages was woefully insufficient, malformed, mis-designed, inconvenient and just not up to par.

But for all of his superior, nay, grand design plans which revolutionized  carpet maintenance as we know it, Dyson did not vacuum the freaking floor when his wife asked him to!!!  Instead, he picked that moment to take their vacuum cleaner apart.

And we’re supposed to buy his Rolls Royce of vacuum cleaners?

What a pile of bollocks!

I say to Sir Dyson, I know you are brilliant, but:

Just freaking vacuum the floor.   Then, after you are done,  design your fancy, superior, super-expensive, ball-having, yellow vacuum cleaner.

That’s all  Dame Dyson wanted.  I don’t think she was asking for too much.

Just Me With . . . a Dirt Devil. 

Dirt Devil

Of course Mrs. Dyson can probably afford a golden vacuum cleaner and a maid and butler to do all of  her floors, but it’s the principle of the thing for me.