Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sometimes Being Female Is Exhausting

And I'm not even talking about divisions of labor.  I'm coming at this from a purely grooming-related standpoint at the moment.  So many things that go into being presentable, at least conventionally so.

Cut, dye and style hair.  Manicures and pedicures.  Skin: creams and lotions and potions.  Makeup (so, so many makeup options.)  Fillers?  Botox?  Shaving, plucking, waxing.  And the clothes, dear god the clothes.  And the shoes.  And other matching accessories of course.  Overwhelming.  And in my opinion at least, just not worth it.  So OK with being the woman in the woods in a ponytail, jeans and hiking boots; I can't even process having to keep up with being a woman of style.  I don't have the energy for that.

Thinking about this today because I recently received the first in a series of monthly shipments of beauty samples.  This was a Christmas present from my dear MIL, who (I should say) is not at all the high-maintenance sort either.  The idea was that it might be fun to try a few new things.  The first box contained a small mascara tube, a shampoo and conditioner set that worked just fine but weren't especially remarkable, a face cream that I actually liked a lot, and then a small tube of some serum thing that actually stopped me in my tracks because I have no freaking idea what to do with it.

I gather that it is something that is supposed to be in my daily skincare regimen.  Which would be good if I actually HAD a daily skincare regimen...but no.  Middle-aged woman fail.  Unless, of course, keeping my face clean, well moisturized, and the hell out of the sun constitutes a regimen (doubtful) in which case I'm covered.  The world of retinols, peels, masks and such is alien to me.  It takes me approximately two minutes to put on makeup, for real.  I have no idea whatsoever what could take more than about ten minutes, which again, is the measure of my ignorance, not a criticism of women who actually know what they're doing and enjoy it.

I just don't have the energy or the time to worry that much about what I look like, I guess.  And I sure don't look like any Barbie doll, but in the tradeoff I'm ok with that.

Friday, January 19, 2018


Sitting in my kitchen with a cup of coffee, reading this article in Slate about the bomb cyclone at the beginning of this month and the horrible chaos that resulted at JFK Airport in New York for the better part of a week afterward.  There doesn’t seem to be much doubt that the good folks at JFK could have done a lot of things better, in retrospect: communication, preparation, logistics, you name it.  Hopefully they’ll make some changes before the next storm. But here’s the paragraph from the article that really struck me: I’ve never seen it stated so baldly.

Christopher Schaberg, author, Airportness: “The conundrum of flight that airlines don’t typically want to acknowledge openly, but it might serve them well to be more direct about: This whole thing is always on the verge of being such a total mess. … Perhaps we’d all be a bit better off (psychologically, at least) if we went in expecting, well, if not the worst, at least expecting something to go wrong at some point. … Airlines want to promote images of perfection and idealism. But that’s just not the reality of mortal air travel.

Seems like the system is wired to only work if everything goes perfectly: no bad weather, no mechanical issues.  And goes perfectly *everywhere,* given the globally interconnected nature of modern travel. Since there’s no room for error built into the system, when things go south, they really go south. Starting to understand a little better how our trip back from Christmas vacation got banged up so badly. (And reading this, feeling grateful that we were “only” delayed 8 hours!)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Calling A Spade A Spade

I’ve mentioned before that in addition to the language processing issues he’s dealing with, Thing Two also has something called aplasia cutis congenita. He has the mildest and most common version, which manifests simply as an oval scar on the top of the head where hair doesn’t grow.  He refers to it as his “spot” and could care less that he has’s just there and does not affect his life at all except in that we need to remember to put sunblock on it.

Girlfriend of mine calls me the other day. This is my dear friend B, who has daughters the same ages as my sons.  These girls appear to believe that they were put on earth to protect and defend my sons, mother-style.  Priceless.  She tells me that her younger daughter, who rides the same school bus as Thing Two and Petunia, has heard a new 8th grader bullying Thing Two on the bus.  (Bear in mind that both Thing Two and B’s daughter are sixth graders.)

My heart in my throat, I’m thinking that this kid has picked up on Thing Two’s language issues and is calling him a retard or some other horribly unkind name accordingly.  But no, apparently he’s decided that he’s going to yell across the bus something nasty about Thing Two having a bald spot.  (Thank God, at least he picked something Thing Two is not at all sensitive about.)

So B asked her daughter what happened next.  “Well, Mom, I yelled at him.  Nobody’s picking on my friend in front of me.  I told him he was being an asshole and to knock it off.”

B, while tremendously proud of her daughter for standing up to an older boy on Thing Two’s behalf, was not super happy with her choice of language, and asked if that really was what she said.

“Mom, he was being an asshole, so I called him an asshole.  It is what it is. And a couple other kids told me I was right to yell at him afterward.”

I love that kid!!  Where Thing Two is concerned, she is the Avenging Angel of Doom...God help the kid who messes with her boy (whom she loves like a brother) while she’s around.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Making The Best

It's been a long few weeks.  Most recently, Himself was out of state for the entire long weekend (visiting a friend who will soon be moving to the other coast) and then Tuesday as well, for work.  I was longing for a bit of peace and kid-free quiet today, but then the stillness of the house was shattered around 5AM by the sequential phone calls from Thing One's school and then Thing Two and Petunia's...first that there was a delayed opening, then an hour later, a change to outright cancellation.

&^%*^%& &%*%$^&ing snow.  Not much, mind you, but just enough to muck everything up.

Oh well, on to plan B. Vacuumed the house, made a quick run to town later in the day for a few essentials and craft supplies plus a scheduled appointment to have my tires rotated, spoke with a dear friend, did some laundry, and blessing of all blessings, finally found the proper motivation to induce Petunia to clean her room! That child, adorable as she is, is a grade A, world class slob.  Ugh.

Her vice of choice at the moment is YouTube videos, specifically craft ones.  Could be a lot worse.  She has had a bee in her bonnet for days now about making soap, of all things.  As I left the house to run my errands, I told her that I would stop and buy soapmaking supplies while I was out, and that if I could actually see her bedroom floor when I returned, we'd give it a shot!  Whatever works.  It's amazing what that child can accomplish given the proper inducement: I was actually able to find her carpet to vacuum it when I got home, miracle of miracles.  We spent the afternoon making both traditional bar soap (purple, in flower molds, of course) and glitter-filled soap jellies, which are very strange.  If you are familiar with Knox Blox, envision a version made with unflavored gelatin, liquid soap, coloring and scent poured into silicone or plastic molds.  I'd never heard of them but apparently they are a thing these days.  They are much the consistency of Jell-O when finished, rather squishy even with (as we tried with the second batch) the quantity of gelatin in the recipe doubled.  I'm not at all sure how one uses them to wash...perhaps you mash one into a washcloth?? but she was happy, we had fun and we managed to keep the glitter bombing of my kitchen to a minimum.  It took me back to my kids' preschool days, when my car seats were always sparkly due to the glitter falling off their school craft projects!  

On the whole, it turned out to be a much better day than I expected.  Petunia and I had some good mother-daughter bonding time.  Thing One, who is fighting off some sort of bug, got more sleep last night and a day's rest out of the snow day plus a bellyful of homemade chicken soup for dinner and is appearing slightly more human today (SO glad I made the executive decision that he was skipping soccer practice last night!)  Thing Two has had a week's worth of video games, but it is what it is.  Luckily, tomorrow he has a basketball game, so it will all even out.  (Did I tell you that he made the school's basketball B team?  He's so proud.  I think he's also happy to be playing a team sport where he's out with everyone else instead of always in the goal by himself!)

Another exciting day in these parts, as you can tell.  Not a bad one.  But if it snows again tonight I will not be responsible for my actions!!


Monday, January 15, 2018

Eating My Words

I go pretty far out of my way to anonymize the folks I write about here. A few go by their real names, but not many.  That goes double on those rare occasions where I feel like I’m being in any way unkind with what I write.

To summarize the situation I have in mind briefly (and vaguely, sorry), circumstances have pushed me into working with someone I have not especially cared for in the past.  I considered them negative and gossipy and was very unenthusiastic about being pushed into a closer working relationship, but it was out of my control and I am nothing if not pragmatic.

Fast forwarding to the present time, this person has not only bent over backward to be considerate and helpful, they have repeatedly saved me from stress- and logistic-related spontaneous combustion.  The situation I had *really* not wanted to be in has turned out to be a blessing in disguise and I am a big enough person to admit that I was wrong.

It Shouldn’t Have Been A Big Deal, But Apparently Was

Petunia had a soccer game yesterday.  The boys chose not to accompany the two of us to that, at the price of having to put away their laundry and do some cleaning before we returned home.  (Which they did, fortunately for all concerned.)

After the game, we stopped at a convenience store for gas and a Slurpee-like beverage for the small one, who was exceedingly frustrated even though she played a good game herself.  An older gentleman was entering the store as we were leaving and kindly held the outer door open for us.  I smiled and thanked him, as did Petunia, who was trailing in my wake with a big Slurpee cup in one hand and a bag of pretzels in the other.  He froze, looked down at her, and said, “Thank you for thanking me!,” then walked into the store.

It’s the small things that make the world go around.  Glad my kid remembered her manners.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Taking Down Stereotypes, One Day At A Time

A few days ago, I was sitting with a friend of mine in the rear waiting area of the dojang after a taekwondo class.  He’s a county politician and while we were talking about the big local redevelopment project (near and dear to his heart) and its effect on his school district, the others in the class packed up and left, leaving just the two of us there.  Both of us had removed our dobok jackets and belts before sitting down, so nothing we had on would indicate rank to an observer.  Mike’s a big guy with lots of muscles and a shaven head.  He’s a total marshmallow, but I imagine he’s intimidating as hell if you don’t know him.  I, on the other hand, look like the soccer mom that I am for the most part.

We looked up when we heard the voices approaching: a father and his three young sons, who were interested in joining the dojang.  The father walked straight up to Mike and asked him if he was an instructor. Mike just smiled and said, “No, but she is.”

Sometimes Being Female Is Exhausting

And I'm not even talking about divisions of labor.  I'm coming at this from a purely grooming-related standpoint at the moment.  So ...