Archive Page 2

27
Mar
10

fortysomething

So, a few people have come up to me this week asking: “Where’s your blog?”

Can I just say, for the record, that I hate that word – blog. Sounds like something you might pull out of your nose. Why can’t it just be a column, like in the newspaper? Why, just because this compilation of words exists on the world-wide-web of deceit, must it be renamed to sound like a personal matter?

Blog? You might want to talk to your OB/GYN about that.

Anyway, where’s my column, I mean, blog, this week? Well, I told these few people that it was my birthday and I was taking the week off. I certainly couldn’t tell them that I was, in fact, still recovering from my birthday weekend in New York City and had not yet reestablished the necessary neural connections to put pen to paper. I mean type to screen.

That’s the trouble with being 45. I still use terms like pen and paper. And column.

And it takes me a week to recover from New York City.

Yes, I admit it. I over did it in the Big Apple on my birthday weekend. Too much Little Italy, too much Irish Pub. Too much and much, much too late at night.

I went to New York to meet up with a group of old college friends. We all attended college during the Reagan administration. Now we all look like someone in the Reagan administration.

It’s so weird, growing older. I don’t really mind being 45. I find the whole thing rather humorous, actually. And I just can’t believe it, somehow. I’m Forty-Five. I remember my mom when she was in her forties. She was so much older than me, so in charge, so sure of what to do, so Grown Up.

Now I’m the Grown Up.

Sometimes I’m appalled that I’m the Grown Up. That I’m in charge. That I’m the one pushing the grocery cart.

And then some other times I’m psyched that I’m doing it. That it’s actually working! I feel like Mary Tyler Moore at the beginning of my own show, throwing my beret in the air, “You’re gonna make it, after all!”

How did this happen? How did I get here? This is not my beautiful house!

It is a true fact that the human mind cannot imagine living in a body that is older than 29, so it just ignores the whole thing.

Your mind says “You’re 12! Do a cartwheel!”  So, you do a cartwheel, except you’re not 12, you’re 45 and your back goes out and your butt crack shows.

Your 29-year-old mind says, “Go to New York and stay up ‘til one in the morning!” So, you go to New York and stay up ‘til one in the morning and it takes a week for your mind to dry out and six days in the gym trying to shrink your butt back down to the size of Little Italy.

I don’t belong in New York City on a Saturday night at one in the morning. Who am I kidding? I haven’t seen one in the morning since O.J. was on trial. And I haven’t seen this many people in one place since the last faculty meeting. A big night for me these days is having two glasses of wine on a Friday and actually remaining vertical long enough to stand up and stagger to bed.

I should’ve gone to New York for my twenty-fifth birthday, not my forty-fifth. Twenty years ago I could’ve stayed up all night. Twenty years ago I wanted to stay up all night. When I was in my twenties, all I wanted to do was stay up.

Now all I want to do is go to bed.

But back then, I never wanted to go to bed. I always figured that the minute I went to bed, something amazing would happen and I would miss it.

Now, in my forties, I understand that amazing things are a rare occurrence and if they do occur they certainly never occur in any of the hours after 10 p.m. In fact, nothing good ever happens after 10 p.m. and if It does, I can always DVR it.

I spent more nights in my twenties staying up waiting to see what amazing, cool thing was going to happen. I spent a decade of my life like Linus in his pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin.

You block head.

It’s funny how your priorities change as you get older. When I was younger, all I wanted to be was famous. A famous writer. A famous actor. A famous singer. A famous anything. I didn’t care about the money. All I wanted was fame, for everyone to know my name.

Now, in my forties, all I want is money. The hell with fame. Leave me alone. I vant to be alone, dahlink. I want to be the J.D. Salinger of rich people. I don’t want anyone to know who I am. I just want them to send money. Preferably large bills.

In my twenties, I was always looking for The One. My Soul Mate. That One Special Man who I knew would make my life complete.

In my forties, I now realize there is no One Special Man. There’s the One Man You Can Stand. And, if you’re lucky, he’s rich. Or at least handy around the house.

In my twenties, I never made my bed. Now I make my bed every morning. I make my bed on weekdays and on weekends. I make my bed religiously. Making my bed borders on a religious experience. I make my bed because I love sleeping.

In my twenties I did not love sleeping. Sleeping was just an annoying interruption to the oh, so many amazing things I had to stay up for. Like watching my best friend light her cigarette backwards.

Now I love sleep. When I get into bed at night, I literally make audible sounds of pleasure. When I get into bed, it’s like it’s the Fourth of July and the fireworks are exploding over the Charles River. Ooooh. Aaaahh.

Overall, I gotta say, that I like being fortysomething. I like where I am in my life. It’s like I can finally relax. It’s a very satisfying, Zen kind of thing.

Or maybe it’s just my muscles atrophying.

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13
Mar
10

Multi-Tasking Mama

So, I’m getting dressed the other morning at about 5:30 a.m. No, I’m not in the military nor do I keep any livestock, though my job is a bit of a hybrid of both, I’m a public high school teacher.

I like to start my day entertained, so I have Fox 25 on in the background. Well, following a highly entertaining story about a Chihuahua being pulled, literally, from the jaws of death, death in this case taking the shape of a free-range, Australian python, Kim Carrigan comes on with a story about a recent study that shows women need about 20 more minutes of sleep than men because women are Multi-Taskers.

Multi-Taskers. Sounds like what the Cat in the Hat was doing on his ball with a rake, and a cake, and a fish on his hat. Look at me, look at me, look at me now!

The Cat in the Hat, the original Multi-Tasker. Oddly enough, he’s a male, proof positive that this is a children’s story.

As I am, in fact, a woman and I am actually engaged in the act of multi-tasking as Kim Carrigan speaks – dressing and listening to the news and drinking coffee and thinking about how it’s Friday and that means casual Friday and I don’t know if these jeans will make my butt look too big…Look at me, look at me, look at me now! – I feel comforted by the knowledge that it’s not just the United States government that is throwing away perfectly good money.

But, they could’ve just asked me and saved themselves a bundle.

It is a true fact that most women do more before 9 a.m. than most men do all day, so, of course it only seems right that we should get that extra 20 minutes.

Twenty minutes. Big deal. That’s not even a re-run episode of Friends.

I loved that show. In fact, I loved that whole ‘90s Must-See-TV lineup. Except for Caroline in the City. Notice how you never see a Caroline in the City re-run?

Multi-Tasking. Sounds like something you should not attempt without a helmet. Or the proper immunizations. Or maybe multi-immunizations.

Even now, I am Multi-Tasking.

Look at me, look at me, look at me now!

Injecting obscure and random ‘90s TV trivia into this very blog. Kind of like watching Family Guy.

According to this, no doubt, highly scientific study, women’s brains are hard-wired so that they can perform several tasks at once.

This is good news in Vegas.

And in some areas of New Jersey.

I could’ve told them that. Any woman I know could’ve told them that. Women go out of their way to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. They have to because the men can’t.

Got some laundry to do? Well, better put it in and then go out and mow the lawn and while you’re at it, put on your headphones so you can review that Mandarin Chinese dialect you’re learning. And don’t use the ride-on mower, use the push mower so you can get in a good cardio workout.

You see this same behavior in the wild. Female lions taking care of the babies, hunting for food, going to the watering hole, chasing off the hyenas…and what are the male lions doing? Lying back in their Acacia tree recliners licking themselves in places human males can only dream of and wondering when dinner is going to be ready.

My ex-husband can’t even yell at the kids in the back seat of the car when the radio is on. He has to turn it off and then yell at them. It’s a miracle he can even have the kids in the car and keep the car on the road.

I, on the other hand, being a woman and all, cannot only admonish my children in the backseat with the radio on, but I can reprimand them in time to the music, inserting relevant, scolding lyrics into whatever tune is playing and belt it out with just the right amount of intimidating feeling, all the while driving with one hand and using the other to confiscate their electronic devices and summarily beat the two hooligans about the head with them.

The car is a great place for multi-tasking of this kind. Where else can you get so much accomplished while moving closer to Walmart?

And the car provides the perfect environment for talking on the phone. There is no more satisfying experience for the true multi-tasker than talking on the phone while driving. It’s like your own portable phone booth. Imagine how many more disasters Superman could have prevented if only he’d had a car and a cell phone.

I don’t even use my home phone anymore. I’d shut if off if not for the white trash implications and the Comcast Triple Play (insert hysterical laughter here) Discount. My home phone is more decorative than functional at this point. Sort of like an exotic relic hanging on the wall, like those old intercom systems in the ‘70s, a quaint reminder of a bygone era when one had to communicate at zero RPMs.

Historically, the car has been a great place for multi-tasking of many kinds, but with talking on the phone and driving one does not incur the worrisome rabbit nor humiliating field sobriety test.

There are men out there who can do more than one thing at a time. You’ve seen them. The guys with the car with the Bondo on the left front panel and the purple neon lights underneath. Or the guy with the half-painted house and the blue tarp curtains. Or the guy with the deflated Nativity Scene on the right front lawn and the radioactive Easter eggs hanging from a tree on the left front lawn.

This is not multi-tasking. This is undiagnosed ADHD.

Remember how the Cat in the Hat trashed the place? Remember how neat and orderly everything was before mom left?

Look at me, look at me, look at me now!

And, like a typical man, he has to bring in some machine to do the clean up job for him.

And, you know as well as I do, that he wrapped up that ridiculous contraption and gave it to his wife for Mother’s Day.


07
Mar
10

The Cleavage Assembly

So, I pick up my son at school the other day and he gets in the car, all disgusted with this bad-smell look on his face, and he tells me all about this assembly he just attended, an assembly that shall here and forever after be known as: The Cleavage Assembly.

Yes, The Cleavage Assembly.

Only in this day and age could there be such a thing as The Cleavage Assembly.

Now, my son is a bit young for his age. My son, thankfully, has yet to discover the many apparent delights and mysteries found in The Cleavage. Aside from Megan Fox, my son exhibits little interest in the opposite sex and remains instead fixated on killing things with his thumbs and talkin’ smack on X-Box Live. This, of course, is fine with me.

“DO NOT LOOK AT THE CLEAVAGE. DO NOT TOUCH THE CLEAVAGE. DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT THE CLEAVAGE.”

This from my son, pretending to be the middle school principal, sounding like Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was still terminating. The principal at my son’s school used to be a prison guard or a drill sergeant or something like that and he has the mean looking earring and barbed wire bicep tattoo to prove it.

But what else is there to say, really? You have to keep it simple for boys. It is a true fact that boys in middle school cannot understand more than seven words in a row, unless, of course, you’re supporting an RPG-7 anti-tank rocket launcher on your shoulder.

“The Cleavage.”

This is how my son refers to it now. Like The Cleavage is wrestling professionally.

“And in this corner, weighing in at a fascinating and flirtatious four pounds, able to hypnotize and handicap any man in a single bound: The Cleavage!”

The Cleavage. Sounds like some horror movie monster that creeps out from under your bed at night, attaches itself to your face and replicates your DNA turning you into something unnatural like Tori Spelling or Kenny Rogers.

My son goes on and on in his principal/Arnold voice and I listen, fascinated by my tax dollars at work.

Half of me wants to laugh. Half of me wants to cry. When did The Cleavage become polite conversation at the middle school level? When did The Cleavage rear its ugly head in the lower grades?

Back in my day, there was no cleavage. Anywhere. Well, maybe on my father’s calendar in the garage, but that was about it. And there certainly wasn’t any cleavage at the middle school. Nobody had any boobs. And if anyone did, they certainly didn’t bring them to school.

I think I remember one girl who had, shall we say, matured faster than the rest of us. One girl. She was very popular.

Now everyone is very popular. Everyone is maturing a mile a minute. Is this evolution at work? And if so, to what end?

I read an article recently about how the average IQ is dropping. Is there a correlation here? The average IQ is dropping, the average cup size is growing and all the guys’ pants are all falling down.

Maybe it’s true. Maybe hot bodies cannot coexist with big brains.

And shouldn’t cleavage be reserved for us older women? Why are all these tweenagers showing up at school like they’re going to entertain the troops?

I remember buying clothes for my daughter when she was little. Back in the good old days when I still had some control and some money left. Everything was delightful little cupcake dresses and lace ankle socks.

And then she hit seven years old. At seven years old, she no longer fit in the clothes in the girls’ section. We were then summarily ousted from the garden and forced to shop in the slut, I mean, Tween section of Macy’s.

The Tween market, for those of you in the large boob/small brain category, or for those of you fortunate enough to be hanging onto some of your hard earned money because you decided against continuing your blood line, is a stupid name to define the consumer market between the ages of eight and 12 years old. Apparently, some advertising executive decided this is the optimum age wherein to train little girls to dress like hookers. Funny he didn’t realize that the moms are the ones with the cash.

I couldn’t believe it. One day, it was Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, the next the Red Light District.

I know the school has a dress code. My school has a dress code. The problem is no one follows it. Between the girls and their Hollister tank tops and the boys with their pants falling down it’s a miracle anyone has anything on at all.

And it is a challenge, to say the least, to enforce the dress code. How does a teacher tactfully address the issue of someone’s daughter’s over exposed torso area? Seems to me, in this litigious day and age, just broaching that particular subject could result in any number of unwanted outcomes, not the least of which involves the Fox 25 news crew.

And, then, of course, there’s the issue of the kids’ right to self expression. There’s about 10 jokes to be made here, but I’m not touching it.

So, what is a poor 12 year old boy to do? I don’t know. I guess he could take the age old advice and keep his nose in his books.

Or hope for six more weeks of winter.

23
Feb
10

Grown Ups in Garanimals

So I’m on the sofa Sunday night, lamenting the end of February vacation and wondering how it can be that the jeans that fit me last week don’t fit me anymore. Is it possible that I really ate that much over vacation? Drank that much? Did the Chinese buffet put me over the edge? And when, exactly, did my butt turn into a booty?

Since I’d rather not think about it and I’m already hungry again having just left the Chinese buffet a scant half-hour ago, I try a diversionary tactic – I open up People magazine.

Yes, People magazine. When you’re sitting on the sofa all fat and depressed there is no better reading than People magazine. Well, all right, maybe the Star or In Touch, but such publications should be used sparingly and only in the direst of circumstances. Like if you’re going to be spending a few days in the hospital.

So, People magazine has a story this week about some director guy who got kicked off a plane because he is too fat to fit in the seat. I find this strangely ironic considering the ominous presence lurking right beneath me on the sofa, so I read the story.

Seems Mr. Director Guy originally bought two seats on the plane because he is both rich and fat, but then decided to cheap out and go stand-by. Unfortunately, one does not stand-by on a plane, one has to sit-by other people and, again unfortunately, Mr. Director Guy is of such a large variety of director that one seat does not provide sufficient space with which to contain him.

Should Mr. Director Guy have to buy two seats when he flies? Of course he should. He’s huge, gigantic, Ginormous. No one wants to sit next to someone who doesn’t have the common decency to stay in his or her own seat.

This is Kindergarten Manners 101. I have my bubble, you have your bubble. You keep your side boobs out of my personal space and I’ll keep my big booty out of yours. Seems an equitable arrangement.

But, I think People magazine has missed the real story here. The real story here has nothing to do with Mr. Director Guy’s excess self. It’s his clothes. His wardrobe. His big, Baby Huey, mentally ill toddler suit.

I do not understand what is going on with men and their clothes these days. I mean, Mr. Director Guy is not the first man/mentally ill toddler I’ve seen. But he’s a Director Guy! He’s a famous, Hollywood Director. What the hell is he thinking in his dungaree Man Capris, little skater-boi sneakers, oversized sports fanatic T-shirt, and New York Devils fanzie jacket?

He looks like Spanky from “The Little Rascals” only updated and super-sized with glasses and a full beard. All he needs is a beanie and a sidekick with a cowlick and a crush. Maybe that’s the look he’s going for. “Mentally Ill Toddler is so last year. It’s Super-Sized Spanky for spring!”

Apparently the airline would not let Mr. Director Guy on the plane because they seemed to think he posed a danger to others.

Well, duh! Just look at him!

Who would let this guy near a plane, let alone on the plane? Do overgrown, mentally ill toddlers get to fly alone? Don’t they need an escort? Or at least TSA clearance? Shouldn’t someone this deranged looking be on the terrorist watch list? I mean think of all the incendiary devices he could conceal within the folds of those Man Capris. For all the flight crew knew, he might have had Pixie Sticks packed with powdered explosives pasted into the crotch of his Power Rangers Underoos.

Mr. Director Guy is 39-years old. 39 years old! That’s pretty much middle age to you and me, yet he dresses like his mommy just matched the top and bottom purple gorillas together on the Garanimals rack. Is this what happens to fashion once you reach a certain weight? Is this all there is for the Big and Tall Man in the 21st century? What’s next, Onesies?  Rompers? Really, really big Looney Tunes overall shorts?

Another popular look for the adult American male is the Fisher Price Kid. You remember those little toys we all had when we were actual toddlers. Those Little People that lived in all those cool cribs: the awesome A-Frame, the hip Houseboat, the phat Farm with the door that mooed.

There’s one Fisher Price Kid in particular that seems to have inspired an entire generation of male fashionistas – that one punk-ass Kid with the freckles and angry eyebrows and his baseball cap all crooked on his head. That mo-fo Fisher Price Kid was so bad ass he could kill you. Literally. If you just so happened to put him in your mouth, you could choke on him, beeotches.

That particular Fisher Price Kid is long gone. Little People Land has no place for teeny-tiny wangstas and I don’t remember any teeny-tiny Section Eight Housing either.

And yet we get stuck with a fashion legacy of oversized, over-embellished baseball caps balanced askew on too many balding heads.

I think it’s safe to say if you’re old enough to open up a 401k you’re old enough to take off the cap. Or, at the very least, turn it around and peel off the gold sticker.

14
Feb
10

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

So, it’s Valentine’s Day and I’m thinking I should write something about love and all of that, but since this topic remains a mystery to me, I must defer to the experts, so I go to Dictionary.com

Dictionary.com has 28 definitions for the word love. Love has 28 definitions. Hate only has five. Seems hate is easy to nail down.

Love is more elusive. Some of the better love definitions: 1) a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person; 2) a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend; 3) Chiefly Tennis. a score of zero; nothing.

Tennis scoring is almost as much a mystery to me as love. But at least in tennis you have officials. In love, there’s nobody to keep you in line.

Of course, there’s also definition 3) sexual passion or desire.

Dictionary.com gives sex eight definitions. And they’re all real scientific-like: 1) either the male or female division of a species, esp. as differentiated with reference to the reproductive functions; 2) the sum of the structural and functional differences by which the male and female are distinguished, or the phenomena or behavior dependent on these differences; 3) the instinct or attraction drawing one sex toward another, or its manifestation in life and conduct.

Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?

Huh? What the? Manifestation in life and conduct? Sounds like someone has contracted something itchy.

I have never understood this. Love is all mystical and gooey and violins and profoundly tender and passionately affectionate, but sex is always male/female/genitalia/reproduction/propagation of the species. It’s like you have to put on a lab coat and safety goggles just to discuss boinking.

Seems to me sex gets way more consideration than love. You’d think sex would get less press since, by definition, it’s so boring and academic. But everyone, it seems, is obsessed with sex. Sex sex sex. And I’ve thought this for a long time now. This is not because I’m getting old and cynical or because the BBC recently reported that the G-spot doesn’t exist, it’s because something changed somewhere along the way and suddenly sex is the only game in town.

I think it all started with “Three’s Company.” Or maybe “The Love Boat.” I can’t remember, but I’m sure disco was involved. But now sex is all there is. It’s the only funny topic on T.V. I think every episode of “Friends” centered on sex and I don’t really need to say anything more than, “Two and a Half Men.”   

It’s too bad, really. There are all kinds of funny things going on in the world, but all we get is sex. Remember “The Mary Tyler Moore Show?” She didn’t even have a man! No sex going on in Minneapolis. Well, at least not in Mary’s apartment. Mary had bigger fish to fry. “Love is all around, no need to waste it, you could have the town, why don’t you take it.” Who needs sex when you can have Minneapolis? Or Mr. Grant?

And “The Bob Newhart Show.” I think that might have been one of the first T.V. shows where the married couple even got to be shown in bed together. Or maybe it was “The Brady Bunch.” It’s really a shame that none of those couples were having sex. They all looked so dashing in bed together. No one looks like that in bed now. No one has matching pajama sets or groovy shags. It’s all bare chests and Botox.

I don’t even know what to say about music. Back in the olden days, the 1970s, sex was in code. I only recently learned that “Shook Me All Night Long” wasn’t about dancing. And that “Afternoon Delight” had nothing at all to do with a picnic.

Kids in my high school are required to take Health class wherein they learn all about sex. The kind of sex heretofore defined. The sex where there are male and female genitalia and you should dress one of them up before the two shall meet, thereby avoiding any of that itchy manifestation stuff, or the plague.

I asked my students if love is ever mentioned in Health class. Nope. You can’t say love or Jesus in school.

I don’t get it. Just another aspect of this whole love/sex conundrum that baffles me. If you’re going to teach kids about their parts and how to wield them safely, shouldn’t you, maybe, mention that, in certain circles, people have been known to have sex when they are in love. You know, like the shin bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the heart muscle is connected to the nether regions.

But the heart cannot compete with the nether regions. The heart doesn’t have the junk in the trunk. These days, it’s nether regions: 20 – heart: love. Health class has no time for the heart, for love. Health class has enough on its hands with SAFE SEX.

Safe sex, safe sex, safe sex. How ‘bout safe love? No one ever talks about how sex, no matter how safe, can do Simply Terrible Damage to one’s heart.

Does Trojan make a condom for the cardiac muscle? I don’t think so and, if they do, I’m pretty sure they’re not handing them out in Health class. Budget freeze.

08
Feb
10

The beautiful people don’t shop at my Walmart

So, on Sunday, I go straight from my 90-minute Spin class to Walmart.

Yes, I instruct people on how to pedal a bike, indoors. Thankfully, there is a minimum amount of instruction required. My role as instructor is more like that of Fascist Dictator. I’m kind of like a Spinning Stalin. A Motivating Mussolini. I yell at them and they do what I say. They seem to like it.

So, anyway, I go straight to Walmart from Spinning class because I live in the southeast area of Massachusetts, better known as The Land that Time Forgot. Or Land of the Lost, minus the Sleestaks and the zany antics of Will Farrell. The only zany antics we have around here involve second and third cousins.

There is nothing near where I live except cranberries. Cranberries and hillbillies. Massachusetts hillbillies. Who’da thunk it? In some circles, this area of Massachusetts is considered to be the Cranberry Capital of the World. Translated, this means, there’s a lot of bogs around here. Bog is the perfect example of onomatopoeia, a word that sounds just like what it is.

Since I live far, far away from literate civilization I have to go straight to Walmart from the YMCA, otherwise I might end up in one of those long journey kind of predicaments, the kind that require the consumption of familiar human flesh.

Needless to say, as I have just spent the last 90 minutes yelling at 20 or so odd people while simultaneously pedaling a stationary bike like Elmira Gulch with Toto in the basket, I am not looking my best. I literally had sweat salt in my hair. My daughter told me about it. She’s so thoughtful that way. So honest and forthright.

Sunday afternoon at Walmart is a veritable Who’s Who of the Not Beautiful People. The Beautiful People do not shop at my Walmart. The Beautiful People do not live where I live. The Beautiful People do not know or care who currently holds the title of Cranberry Capital of the World. The Beautiful People think cranberries come from Whole Foods.

I went to a Whole Foods once. I was far away home. I was in a beautiful land far, far away from southeastern Massachusetts. There is no Whole Foods where I live. There is no grocery store in my town. What we have instead are Dunkin’ Donuts – roughly 175 of them. Everyone is too jittery to be hungry, so technically we don’t need a grocery store. And if they’re all that hungry, they can always get the breakfast sandwich. No, I was up near Boston, deep in Starbucks country.

Whole Foods was not at all like Walmart. I could never go to Whole Foods after Spin class. I’m pretty sure they won’t let you in if you have sweat salt in your hair. I think they have a dress code. And I don’t think the dress code includes pajama bottoms. Pastel pink leggings are definitely out and I’m pretty sure they’d frown on a wife beater. I don’t think you can even say wife and beater in the same sentence at Whole Foods. I think if you did, they might serve you with a restraining order. 

Everything about Whole Foods was beautiful. The produce, the deli, the bakery. I cannot even talk about the bakery. It is blasphemy to speak of the Whole Foods Bakery. One must take the pilgrimage and pay homage to the bakery as one might travel to the Holy Land or Plymouth Rock. Genuflect before the bakery. There is no other appropriate response.

Since I couldn’t afford anything at Whole Foods, I didn’t stay long. I left with a five dollar, 12-ounce bag of flax seed embedded organic tortilla chips. We don’t have flax seed where I live. We have cranberries and hillbilly cousins and fake Coach bags. No fake Coach bags at Whole Foods. And no American cars either.

I shop at Walmart because it’s cheap and they have everything I need. Yesterday was the perfect example. I needed bad-for-you food and beer for the Super Bowl. My daughter needed embroidery thread and my son needed a beating.

You can beat your children at Walmart and no one bothers you.  All those crying babies drown it out. I don’t think you can beat your children at Whole Foods. They’d knock over all that neatly stacked produce. I don’t think children can even go to Whole Foods. I think they card them at the door.

The only kids getting carded at Walmart are the ones looking to buy spray paint, or that compressed air computer cleaner stuff. Apparently you have to reach the age of majority before you can vandalize an overpass or huff computer cleaner. I don’t think you can say huff at Whole Foods either.

At Walmart, what the people lack in beauty they make up for in colorful diversity. Walmart is a veritable melting pot of cultures and socioeconomic classes. It’s sort of like traveling to a foreign country. A foreign, third world country where there are people in the streets without limbs. Except at Walmart they don’t beg you for money. They greet you at the door and give you stickers. It’s sort of like one of those new “reality tours” that are all the rage.  “See the Dharavi slums of India, tour the gang-torn streets of South Central L.A., Visit Walmart on a Sunday Afternoon…”

My only fear about shopping at Walmart on a Sunday after Spin class is that I’ll end up on that website: peopleofwalmart.com. I’d much rather be on the peopleofwholefoods website. The people at Whole Foods are so hot they should get together and publish a Whole Foods Swimsuit Calendar. They could pose by the bakery.

But, alas, I am not one of the Whole Foods Beautiful People. Maybe someday I’ll reduce my carbon footprint to the point where they’ll accept me. But, for now, I am a Sunday afternoon Walmart shopper. Some people think shopping at Walmart makes you a bad person. Like saving money and living better is somehow akin to gassing the Kurds. I don’t feel like a bad person for shopping at Walmart. And, hey, you can’t beat those prices.

I may not be a hot shopper, but, at Walmart on a Sunday afternoon, I can be a smart shopper.

31
Jan
10

Math is Hell

So, I’m driving in the car the other day and my son (riding shotgun), out of nowhere, asks me:

“Mom, was I a mistake?”

My son is 13, well beyond the age of reason according to the Catholics, and now a man, so far as the Jews are concerned, so I feel I must tell him the truth.

“Son,” I say, turning down the radio to illustrate the seriousness of the matter, “Of course you were. All children are mistakes. Parents just don’t realize it until it’s too late.”

This seemed to satisfy him and it was back to Lady Gaga. My son is a big fan.

I came to my own realization of the Great Mistake, make that Two Great Mistakes, when my children entered the (insert Star Wars “The Imperial March” here) Public Education System. Before that dark and terrible day, life was beautiful. My children and I frolicked like fairies in the forest. There was music and there were wonderful roses…

If anyone had ever told me that I would have to relive, revisit, repeat those long nine years in the Public Education System (I transferred to private school my sophomore year and spent the next three years of high school in varying states of fear), I would’ve gotten out of bed right then and there and given serious consideration to the idea of tubal ligation.

There’s a great Woody Allen line about Nietzsche and his theory of eternal recurrence: “(Nietzsche) said that the life we live we’re gonna live over and over again the exact same way for eternity. Great. That means I’ll have to sit through the Ice Capades again.”

Give me the Ice Capades over a diorama any day. I don’t want to do school again. And, hey, I saw Dorothy Hamill in the Ice Capades at the Providence Civic Center after her big Olympic win. That and the Barry Manilow concert remain two of the high points in my life. 

But, little did I know, dioramas were just the beginning of a terrible and torturous road marred with five paragraph essays, algebraic equations, geometric theorems, scientific methods, and oral presentations.

I faked sick for a whole week in the sixth grade just to avoid an oral presentation.

I could not believe when my daughter came home from kindergarten, yes, kindergarten, with a card reflecting a grade for Show and Tell.

Speaks Clearly and Effectively, element one of her grade. Maintains Audience Eye Contact, element two. Remains Focused on Topic, element three. Ensures Audience Understanding, element four.

In case you think I’m a crazy, bitter, middle-aged woman, this is a true story. I saved the card.

Maintains Audience Eye Contact? I’m sorry. I thought this was kindergarten and we were just showing off our cool toys. Maintains Audience Eye Contact. I can’t even do that now.   

Needless to say, Show and Tell was not my daughter’s best subject. Turned out, none of them were. In fact, kindergarten was my daughter’s Vietnam. We both have post traumatic stress.

Kindergarten was set up in “stations.” Stations, for those of you unfamiliar with this particular newfangled approach to confusing small children, are where the children are broken up into smaller groups and they go around the room working on different subject related tasks, many of which include uncooked macaroni, until they have completed the entire circuit. This, of course, requires the organizational skills of Martha Stewart and the personal ambition of Oprah Winfrey.

I had never seen anything like this and when I questioned the teacher about this system, she assured me it was a “valid approach to education.” That’s teachertalk for, “What are you, stupid?”

Stations. They were more like Humiliations. There was always one kid shooting his/her hand in the air, finishing first, shaming all the other kids with his/her lightening fast, macaroni mind.  

But that was just the beginning. Back when I went to school, school was fun. At least until the sixth grade. That’s when that mean teacher made me do that horrible oral report, even after being out of school for a whole week faking sick (I never looked up once, never mind Maintained Audience Eye Contact), and Algebra was introduced into my life, thereby crushing my creative spirit. 

Now we have Algebra in the fourth grade. The FOURTH GRADE! Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Yes, the nuns assured me, in cases of severe distress, it’s okay to mention all three.

That was the year I entered therapy for my debilitating condition: Mathphobia. At that time I could not see a linear equation without calling the suicide hotline. You see, contrary to popular public education dogma, I had never again used Algebra in my real life, so the sudden resurfacing of my old nemesis was too much for me.

I have made progress, worked through some of my internal integer issues, but I’m still in recovery, so when the kids show up with their Quantum Physics homework (they are now in the seventh and eighth grades) it is a struggle for me. I really have to exercise my breathing techniques. Unfortunately, they usually don’t work so it’s onto the Xanax and margaritas.

It’s my own little  y = mx + b  formula:  Math Homework  =  Magaritas  x  Xanax  +  bedtime.

I may not know what the hell that equation means, but at least school is fun again.

I really do start to sweat when it’s homework time. Especially Math homework time. And, sadly, this Mathphobia condition is hereditary. My daughter has it too. She sees a Math problem, something along the lines of: 3x  +  2/3y  =  6 million over Pi  and it’s all over. We’re both clinging to each other, sweating, crying – we’re like people on a sinking ship or a doomed airliner. My son, of course, is no help. He’s too busy killing Nazi zombies in his room to notice the likes of us.

There should be a video game where you get to kill Math problems. Slowly.

Personally, I do not see the benefit of homework. The stress alone is enough to kill you. Last year, my daughter and I spent all weekend, yes, I mean this literally, rewriting the song “Let it Rock” by Kevin Rudolf and my daughter’s all-time-favorite crackhead, criminal rapper, Lil Wayne, to include all the parts of the cell and their functions. You ever try finding a word that rhymes with golgi bodies? And when I say my daughter and I, I use the term loosely. Who are these teachers? And what the hell are golgi bodies?

And since my son is one year behind my daughter and, coincidently, has the same last name, he gets all the same teachers and all the same horrible projects. I am in hell squared.

I read an article about a couple in Canada who filed a lawsuit about too much homework. The case went all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court. (Yes, there really is such a place.) The couple won the case, arguing that there was no evidence that homework improved academic performance. The judge ruled that their kids were thereafter exempt from all homework.

Exempt from ALL homework.

Kind of gets me thinking about having another kid.




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