Tag Archives: kids

Why I (Presently) Don’t Work Full Time

20 Sep

the capn

I wrote such a stellar resume and cover letter in response to a recent job listing that any prospective employer would feel foolish for even considering anyone else for this position.  And you know I mean it because I used lots of italics.

All active verbs and adjectives were prodded into action: I excel and complete things at both a high level and at a granular one.  I am not only an expert, I am also adroit, proficient and highly-skilled.  I use words like “proficient” and “adroit.”  I am a team player who enjoys working alone (especially if the uniforms are off the rack).  I am self-motivated yet capable of spacing out in front of a box of Cap’n Crunch while contemplating the contraction “Cap’n.”  I know what a contraction is, damn it, and I’m pretty certain that “Cap’n” is a fine one.

I am the greatest ________ who ever lived and I am willing to work for only a fraction of my worth.

So what’s stopping them from hiring me?  (PS: do I really want to work for a company who doesn’t have their uniforms tailored?)

Toner.

Toner is what’s preventing me from fulfilling, nay, exceeding my potential by getting hired, being promoted (more than once) and taking over the company.  Toner.

Toner and The Boy.  (Which really does sound like a bad TV-cop show.)

The Boy, who, for who knows how long, has covered the walls of his room with downloaded pictures of Zooey Deschanel, Sophia Vergara and Tina Fey.  (I really should go in there occasionally.  If only to retrieve all the cutlery that he has also been stashing under the bed for who knows how long.)  It’s a teen version of “binders of women” on those walls- without the creepiness.

And I understand where he’s coming from: the shiny hair, the bangs, the curves and the general loveliness.  (Although he says that in Tina Fey’s case she represents smart and quick-witted women everywhere.)

It’s just that for as long as The Boy has been printing, he has also been putting empty toner cartridges in the place where full cartridges used to be.  And you know I’m mad because, again, italics.

(Side note: should you get an interview and decide that you no longer want the job, say, because the morning commute is eastbound and the early sun can damage fine skin, do what others have done: during the interview, drop random words into your answers then flee leaving the employers feeling, what I like to call, “dazzled and confused.”  Beginners will often start by referencing more popular words like “the Google,” “the Netflix” or “Sanford and the Son” while more seasoned interviewees know that the fun lies in making references that only your friends will understand.  Phrases like: “the Dufresnes study, as presented by Mr. Hedberg, puts forth that humans have limited patience.”  Or, “Robert Lee has been instrumental in introducing Asian philosophies to today’s workforce.”  The less they get, the more they will insist that the office cannot run without you.  That’s my theory.)

So, to answer your question, Spouse, The Boy is the reason I don’t have the perfect job today.  He used up all my toner and now I’ve lost all my mojo.

“Missing Her Mojo:” How one mother’s search for employment leads to an entire bedroom makeover.  (On Lifetime this Fall.)

Back to School

12 Sep

back to school

Here’s why I hate the first day of school:

First: I am not known for being quick.  To move.  To judge, well, who’s to say?  (Actually, I am.)

I revel in all things slow (side note: future NPR show- “All Things Slow”?)  Friends have been known to doze as I search for the exact word whilst in conversation (for example, “whilst”) while others have consumed an entire meal before I have properly plated my green beans opposite my cranberry sauce (Spouse, Thanksgiving 2008).

It takes about a week once school ends for me to fully develop my summertime groove- from switching bed linen to a higher, more luxurious  thread count, to picking berries to add to my morning beet smoothie (side note: future morning music show about ska-influenced music titled “Beat Smoothie”?) and then imagine, if you can, how disruptive deconstructing that groove can be.  You see now how the first day of school is overwhelming, at best, and, at worst, a total Weepfest (September, 2011).

Secondly: the paperwork.  Every year it’s the same.  Science lab rules, gym class rules, homeroom rules.  Where are the Stevie Ray Vaughn Rules rules?  Doctor’s information, emergency contact (where you ferret out true friends and then saddle them with caring for your sick child because the school cannot reach you at any of the contact numbers you provided- oops, did I leave off a digit?) plus an improved code of conduct- NEW for 2013-2014!  The “I will not wear sleepwear to school rule!”  (PS: I didn’t even know that wearing pajamas had been an option.  Oh, the Lifetouch pictures we could have had- complete with airbrushed option and crooked hair.)

Third: lunch.  The Boy has watched enough Food Network to now believe that only fresh basil and hand-hewned croutons are acceptable in a salad.  Who hews?  Of course, a PB&J is fine if you’re rushed (hello, it’s me) as long as the bread is stone ground whole wheat, preferably cold-climate grown.

Fourth: the clutter.  The constant jumble of socks and shoes and backpacks and lunchboxes.  And books and binders and paper and such.  All in front of the kitchen door.  You know, the door that we must fly out of right now if we are to make it “on time.”

Finally, about the quest to arrive “on time.”  I put quotation marks around “on time” because while “time” is more of a “concept” to me, previous employers have adopted a more literal definition of “time” and the “wasting” thereof plus the need to “show up on” it.  But, hey, we’re all different and both schools and workplaces benefit when tolerance is practiced.  Besides, who am I to judge?  Oh, right.  I’m the unemployed one.

Let’s not even discuss the switch to Standard Time where, from November to March, I am 59 minutes late for everything.  Oh sure, I eventually make up a few minutes here and there- mostly at doctor’s appointments because physicians have even broader definitions of “time,” “schedule,” and “appointment” than I do, but it’s not the same.

Plus the reason I am at the doctor’s office is due to some nasty germ that The Boy brought home from school anyway.

Then, from my scratchy-sheeted sick-bed, I will begin counting down the days until summer vacation again.

259 from today.

Spelling Kounts

6 Dec

blog image typewriter

The Boy, like Jesus, was born in December.  (And while this Boy’s mother admits to being present for the conception, that doesn’t mean she liked it.)

As I have written many times here at FA&S, a marriage is a team.  It takes a small village- one to do stuff and another to tell the doer how he did things wrong.  And how he spent too much money doing it.

Where I am weak, Spouse is strong.  (Mostly I get the vapors when it’s time to take out the garbage but I have also had moments of being too feeble to go pick up the Chinese food.)  And where he is weak, I am mighty and not shy about letting everyone know it.  Like right now, for example.

Which brings me to the heart of this week’s FA&S: Spouse cannot spell.  He is an outstanding non-verbal communicator (sigh) and a fabulous lecturer (today’s topic: “Why would anyone use an awl to open a paint can?  Of course you’re going to get hurt.”)  Also he is very good at bandaging things.

But spelling?  I am Deputy Mayor of Spelling in our marital village.  (And Chief Clerk of Capital Letters).

Back to Jesus.  I seriously doubt that Mary, the mother of Jesus, gave birth and then spell-checked Jesus’ name because Joseph was going off to process all the paperwork.

And I bet that Joseph never asked Mary how to spell “spoon.”  He’s not that kind of guy.  He’d rather sound it out and attempt to woo his woman by inviting her on a cruise this Joon while hoping that a midnight chocolate buffet makes up for any literary deficiencies he may have.

And Mary, saint that she is, would let it slide.

But what if the village messed up?  Suppose the village idiots were in charge that day?  Who’s to say that Moses was not supposed to be called “Mesos?”  It could have happened, prove me wrong.

What I’m saying, Boy, is this: a birth certificate is a piece of paper- one of thousands of pieces of paper that you will lock in a fire-proof box and schlep from one apartment to the next as you go about your life pausing occasionally to wonder how the person in the passport picture was so skinny then and why that person never took her bad self to a foreign land to meet an exotic, swarthy man capable of spelling both “exotic” and “swarthy?”  A man who can stop a misspelled word before it becomes a bureaucratic nightmare?

A piece of paper doesn’t make who you are.  But a typo, that’s with you for life.  (Don’t look at me- I was very tired what with the giving birth and all.)

So Happy Birthday, 7lb. 4oz. BABY B-Y-O.

You’ll always be Boy to me.

This Song was made for You and Me

28 Nov

Have you any idea how depressing it is when The Boy asks if the recording artists to whom I listen are still alive?

As in: “Is Tom Petty still alive?”  (Although The Boy really only likes “American Girl.”  He, too, was raised on promises.)

“What about Bob Dylan?  Is he still alive?  And, hey- weren’t you at that Bob Dylan tribute concert in the 1990’s?  The one where George Harrison and Eric Clapton played at Madison Square Garden?  Are they still alive?  And how old are they now?  And how old are you?”

If you hang out with your kid long enough, eventually you will round a musical corner together into “The Dead Zone”- that random shuffle where the iPod serves up a bunch of great music by artists who are no longer living: Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Cash, Sid Vicious, Patsy Cline, a Beastie Boy for crying out loud- whereupon The Boy begins to understand why he sometimes has difficulty relating to his peers.

Even though I am just as wonderful now as I was then, my music may, in some circles, be perceived as retro, vintage or… old.  Even worse- old and bad.   (Although “White Castle fries only come in one size” is an eternal truth wrapped in an awesome riff.  And it rhymes.)

And maybe I have done The Boy a disservice by refusing to allow “kid’s music” to be played during his formative years.  No Wiggles or Barney or Disney soundtracks here.  (Disclaimer: “Bare Necessities” from Disney’s Jungle Book is not only an awesome song, it is a manifesto for life.  Besides being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, this track has been covered by Los Lobos, Brian Wilson and Louis Armstrong all of whom can be found on my iPod and only one of whom is deceased.)  Ironic that I once contemplated becoming a paw paw farmer.

As disservices go, I confess that I also fed The Boy mashed potatoes with truffle oil as one of his first solid foods.  So that pretty much rules out cafeteria bonding among classmates.

On the other hand, I am an expert at being me and at being me raising a kid in this moment.  (In the movie of my life, I am portrayed by Jenna Elfman and The Boy is a chocolate Lab.)  Anything else is as false as Rascal Flatts playing “country.”

Which brings us to my favorite musical category (yes; we’ve been heading somewhere all along): The “I’m Not Sure” Selections.  In music as in life: I don’t know.

Here is where we find Neil Young, Dr. John, BB King, Buddy Guy and the like.  “Are they still alive?”  I don’t know.

They ought to be.  They ought to live forever.  But I don’t make the rules- I barely follow them; it’s a daily struggle to hide my disdain for them.  But if I did make the rules, know this: David Crosby would totally have to fork over an organ, any organ, should Neil Young ever need one.

Listen Boy, not that this helps and I know you didn’t ask, but I have also had difficulty with relationships.  Mostly because there’s the outside- which is chronological age, height, weight, growth, etc. and there’s the inside.  Some days I feel 100 years old and other days I feel more like 5.  Such a range makes “peer” a tough word to define.  (Hint: at any age, a peanut butter sandwich and a nap will make everything better.)

And remember this: never, ever, do I appear older than 29.

Me:0 Universe:1

21 Nov

Let it be known that this occurred well before Halloween or, as I think of it, “Never Again Day.”  Because never, ever again will I allow The Boy and his friends to eat as much candy as they want and then invite all the kids over to hang out while their parents run out for a “quick bite.”  One kid was here until 9:45PM because his parents ran out of “gas.”  And I suppose they couldn’t use their “cell phone” because they were too busy walking along the side of the “road.”  Never.  Again.

In retail, Halloween marks the beginning of “54 days of Rudeness” or “Good Luck Trying to get Someone to Help you Find That in Your Size.”  (Yes John at Colonie Macy*s, you totally sucked the joy out of a fabulous sale in the shoe department and for that you will never be forgiven.  Never.)

My point is this: what you are about to read happened a while ago which is significant because while lately it seems as though everyone is thinking about gifts, back when this happened, I was the only one.  (Maintaining a cutting edge status is very important to me.  Also, I like gifts.)

I woke up wishing, no, hoping, eh…maybe more like wishing, hard to tell.  Those words are so similar, really, it’s just an age difference between them.  Wishing is a younger version of hoping.  Wishing is what kids do.  Hoping is what folks old enough to vote for Obama do.  But I digress.  A lot.  That isn’t a question; it’s a fact.  Digressing is what I do.

Either way, I woke up wanting a present.  Just a present.  Something that I had absolutely no part in the procurement thereof.  I didn’t shop for it, I didn’t plan for it.  I didn’t carry it to the car or even bring it in the house.  I never even thought about it.  It was just there for me and it was delightful, no, wonderful, eh… awesome.  It was awesome.  And it was mine.

I asked the universe to bring me something and I realize now that I should have been more specific.

The Boy was bitten by a dog later that day.  Also noteworthy: this was well before the ax/leg chopping incident of November 14th.  (I wasn’t even speaking to the universe that day.)

So yeah, I asked for and received a story but that’s not what I wanted.

“The Boy was Attacked and All I Got was This Lousy Blog Post.”

Although as blog posts go, it’s not that bad.  (See “digression” above.)

I’m thinking that maybe some ice cream in a dish or a plant in a pot would have been nice.

Screw you Universe; this isn’t over yet.

The Commencement Address that No One Asked Me to Deliver

16 May

(Written in 2002.)

Dear Graduate:

How proud both you and your parents must be of the monumental journey you have completed.

Considering that you were once a kid incapable of coloring, reading or sometimes even being nice, this is incredible.

When you were younger, there were mornings when your mom woke up late because she stayed up reading “Woe is I” (The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English) by Patricia T. O’Conner or, as it is more commonly known, the Tylenol PM of books.  (“[W]hen you need a comma or a period after a possessive word that ends with an apostrophe, the comma or period goes after the apostrophe and not inside it.”)  The defense rests.  Literally.

Dear Graduate, I’m sure you must have some questions.

Who stays up reading grammar books?

Your mother because, like all mothers, she wanted to make sure that your application was noteworthy so that you could get into a good school, earn a decent living and move out without having to move back in after she already converted your bedroom to a yoga studio.

What happens when mommy wakes up late on a school day?

Well, she staggers around trying to comprehend how it can be both horribly early and horribly late and then eats her oatmeal while driving a stick shift- in all weather- which is not just unsafe, but also unsightly.  She barely contains her road rage (who does 43 in a 55?  Don’t people who are up this early have to be somewhere?) so that you can get to school without being marked “tardy.”  Too many “tardys” and you can just kiss Princeton University goodbye.

So what happens now that you’ve graduated?

Well, your father and I have a party where the grown ups drink cosmos and beer and you cry and cry after having too much cake and soda until someone sends you to bed.

You know this behavior can’t continue.  You’re a kindergartener now- act like it.

Now get out there and change the world.

Who’s hungry?

Artistic License

28 Mar

Here’s the truth behind last week’s post titled “When this whole world starts getting me down”:

I did clean the window screens and windows and,

I did freak out over being the only person who gets anything done around here because I am the only person who gets anything done anywhere.  Also, yes to drama queen.

After that I was forced to utilize my artistic license in order to better cope with reality:

I was stranded on the roof while husband was at the hardware store but eventually he came home.  With a cactus plant.  “It was only $3!” he said.

I did not witness a gentle rain storm wash through the valley.  Instead, I feared for my life as a storm rolled over me and, in an over the top attempt at survival, I flattened myself across a span of roof so that my body was below lightning rod level.  I still have shingle grit embedded on my face.

Apparently I don’t truly know any Drifters songs because I kept confusing “Under the Boardwalk” with “Up on the Roof.”  It’s just that “oh when the sun beats down and burns the tar up on the roof and your shoes get so hot you wish your tired feet were fire-proof” sounds way more like someone up on a roof than someone “down by the sea.”  And what’s with all the prepositions in Drifters song titles?  No wonder I was confused.

My arms remain the weakest part of my body but I vowed to begin strength training- if I survived.

My neighbor did come over and help me down once I screamed over the  seemingly constant yipping of her dogs.  And even then she didn’t come right away.

Also she did not bring lemonade.

Oh, she brought a beverage alright.  Not immediately because she was watching Dr. Oz who recommends drinking the juice of three lemons and three limes for an instant energy boost.  So she ran three lemons and three limes through her juicer and gave me that to drink.  I tossed it back and felt nothing but the enamel on my teeth erode.

Shortly thereafter the school bus pulled up and deposited the boy.  When I told him of my misadventure and let him know that his bedroom window was where I got locked out, he replied that “he never asked for air anyway.”

It’s good that I have an artistic license and not a carry permit (like Mr. Nugent).

I think I can

1 Mar

This has been the boy’s practice for a while: he brings graded papers home from school, hands over a giant tattered pile of them and says: “I think I did bad on my math test” to which I reply: “you think, or you know?”

Because I’ll tell you what I know: Mom does not tolerate imprecise language.

Besides, Bambi eyes, dulcet tones and disorganization garner only so much sympathy before I become mad and frustrated at his ability to stall and his inability to be direct.

Haven’t I raised him steadfastly enough to know that if there’s a problem, I’m going to out it and address it?  For example, if he gets off the school bus with clouds of stink billowing around him and the little kindergarteners are straining their heads out the windows gasping for air, I’m going to say: “you reek, go put on deodorant,” and if he snarls back at me (he will) I will add: “and drink a glass of water too, you’re acting like a dehydrated idiot.”  Problem recognized and resolved.

So if you failed the math test, tell me you failed the math test.  I will ask (stupidly) why you failed the math test and you will answer (sincerely) that you failed the math test because you didn’t get enough right to pass the math test.

Then we can settle down and do all the proper, nurturing parenting stuff and maybe have a cookie (if one us made cookies.  Hint: not me.)

So when you came home on Monday and mentioned the math test, I should have looked at your paper because your grade was given as a fraction.  You hate fractions.  You struggled through an entire unit on fractions, made everyone around you hate fractions and there was no way you were going to decipher a fraction just to learn that you should hate algebraic equations now too.

You were completely within your rights when you gave me the Bambi eyes.

Son, I hope that one of your English vocab words for this week is “chagrin.”  I can help with that.

P.S. 15/20=75.

Over the River and through the Wood

22 Feb

To grandmother’s house we go.  Why?  Because my husband and I think it’s important for our son to maintain a relationship with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  And it is.  It’s so vital, in fact, my husband says he will think all about it while the boy and I actually drive it- 500 miles in two days.  He’s a real trouper, that spouse.

In some ways it’s good that the spouse stayed home.  Like when I stress ate, for example.  With my family around, not only is stress eating a given, it is fully supported and encouraged via a cornucopia of day-old baked goods sitting on the counter waiting to sustain a person until dinner at 3:45PM.

So when I stress ate the cheese Danish, the apple pie and the sprinkles- no ice cream- just sprinkles, the last thing I needed was my husband “supporting” me with words like: “you don’t even eat candy on Halloween and now you’re in the corner scarfing down Skittles like they’re a bowl of flax seeds,” or “I’m certain that your folks have pictures of our kid somewhere in the house- did you check the closet?  That’s a pretty big closet, maybe they decided to decorate it.  With pictures.  Of our son.  Now let’s put those cream puffs away, shall we?”

His support can be so cloying, I just want a milkshake.

Also without the spouse, traveling was pleasant for most of the trip.  Almost the entire ride went well until late yesterday when, with 15 miles to go, the boy turned on me.  Tired, hungry, stiff and bored, he declared that: he was tired of being in the car, our entire iTunes playlist needed to be chucked, school was a waste of time, I was a mouth breather and he missed Dad.

Well, I missed the spouse too.  Not because I needed someone to turn down the music, defend my large adenoids, note which artists were inappropriate (Beastie Boys, Eminem) or tell me that I drive too fast, too slow, too crazily or too vengefully.  Nor because I missed having someone slam on a brake pedal that doesn’t exist, or claw at the air like the brother who lives in Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.”

I missed the spouse because, in an attempt to make me feel better about my family, I know that he would say that the three pounds I gained (in two days) ended up in all the right places.  And I needed to hear it.  He’s a real trouper, that spouse.

Actual length of our discussion: 59 minutes

11 Nov

When we recently set the clocks to standard time, my husband accused me of being “An Hour Squanderer” because I took a perfectly good hour- an hour that we could have spent planting garlic, stacking wood or making the love (Sure.  I would have gone for making the love but I stopped listening before he got to “garlic”) and, instead, wasted it by:

sleeping: 36 minutes

talking on the phone: 12 minutes

reading a WSJ article about the new Tom Waits CD (an even more insulting waste of time because “Tom Waits hasn’t been interesting in 20 years”): 10 minutes

enjoying a Reese’s peanut butter cup: 1 minute

and,

feeling bad about it (it was early.  In my defense, it felt like 9:30AM): 1 minute.

It’s all that Halloween candy lying around.  After it sits on the counter for a while, it begins to take on the role of fruit bowl and one feels virtuous in selecting a piece (or seven).

I counter spouse’s assertion and contend that I am a “Time Warrior” due to my ability to recognize time wasters and circumvent them.

Like just there- in the previous paragraph.  I could have used way more words to describe how having a 13-year-old who dawdles then hurries when getting ready for school in the morning ultimately takes longer which is why I must yell a full 5 minutes before we have to leave (for a full 5 minutes), or how being married to a guy who insists on arriving early for everything- not just concerts- but flights, dentist appointments and surgery too, ends up wasting time because we inevitably sit in some nondescript holding tank where I am forced to sigh and mutter- a lot.  And fidget.  Captain Punctual’s rigidity often results in my having to fidget as if I will never, ever be comfortable again all because I could have been home pairing socks instead of sitting here.  (Mind you, I don’t pair socks.  We go by thickness in our house.  But still.)

So I saved 157 words (see above) and said what needed to be said and I was succinct: “this sucks.”  Two words.  A time saver.  Brought to you by “The Time Warrior.”

P.S.: You’re welcome.

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