Foreign Exchange: the straw that broke the camel’s back

Culture clash 2013!

Our foreign exchange student is a big fan of all things chemical. She prefers bread with long ingredient lists, loves pasta from a can, adores adding bouillon cubes to her cooking, and can’t go for more than an hour without using some sort of fragrance-infused toiletries.

Her shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, toothpaste, perfume, body lotion, face lotion, candles, nail polish, styling products, and soap sit in a row atop her dresser downstairs and seep phthalates into our house. The bottles just sit there, even when closed, and reek.

It doesn’t help that, after more than a decade of completely fragrance-free products, I can smell perfume a mile away. Nor does it help that those fragrances, inherently toxic, give me a headache and nauseate me.

I’ve gotten to a point in my hyper-Berkeley-ish-ness that I want to rescue people who reek of perfume. It’s not nice to be holier-than-thou, but I can’t help it. I want to hand the chemically-addicted an article on the neurotoxins found in fragrance and beg them to change their ways.

I’m not dreadful, though, so I say nothing. Not about my mom’s hairspray or my neighbor’s sunscreen or my father-in-law’s cologne. And not this summer when I have to close the bathroom door and run the fan for hours after our Dominican visitor takes a shower.

But today I’m so furious I can’t stand it.

Rosí asked me how to use the washing machine, and proudly did her own clothes yesterday.

But she left a trial vial of some hideous cologne in her pocket, and its contents leaked into the washer. And dryer.

So now my family’s clothes, towels, and napkins freaking reek of cheap cologne. I’ve washed four times, with baking soda, with vinegar, and with non-toxic eco-friendly soap.

The whole house stinks. When I walk into certain rooms I want to throw up. Every time I enter the house I wonder if a group of misguided teens has shellacked themselves with Axe body spray and wandered the rooms of my house just to torture me.

It’s not all about me, of course. When I handed Rosí the near empty vial from the dryer and told her that her perfume had been through the wash, she seemed devastated.

“Oh, no! I’ll have to get more.”

If anyone would like to host a foreign exchange student for a week, please come now. No, seriously. Now. Because there might be an international incident soon.

Really soon.



Put That in Your Not a Pipe And Don’t Smoke It

I only have five minutes, world, so you’re gonna take this without a candy coating…

If you em-effers don’t finish the em-effing 880/92 interchange by tomorrow, so help me Goddess I’m gonna freaking take a steam shovel to all that equipment and drop it into the Bay. It’s been more than 10 years, you effing dolts, and we have NOTHING to show for a thirty minute merge every freaking hour of every freaking day except more effing heavy equipment NOT DOING ANYTHING! Even my four year old today said it would be faster if you used shovels and a bucket to build whatever the effing hell you’ve been building for decades that had better em-effing be so awesome it rips a hole in the space-time continuum and restores the ozone layer, the regular temperature of the world, all the polar ice sheets, every species that has died out during our lifetimes AND Party of Five all in one blink of an eye. Because if this new freeway interchange bee-ess does not ROCK MY EM-EFFING WORLD when you finish it tomorrow (I was pretty clear, wasn’t I, that if it still shows no signs of progress for another decade you’re all gonna be forced to participate in a World’s Worst Tax-Wasting and Time-Wasting Construction Pride Parade before a crowd of World’s Most Angry Disestablishmentarians), then heads are gonna freaking roll.

Also? Lady who glared at me today? You really wanna go there, punk? Do I LOOK like I need to be messed with today? I just had a long talk with my kid about Fourth of July and how it was the end of bickering between two groups, the “Pay taxes and be quiet” group and the “we’re not paying until we get to vote” group because the latter group knew where to hide from the shooting long enough to shoot the former group. Do you think, after a conversation like that, the nuances of which lasted the whole 55 minute car ride and involved explanations of why tribal groups also got involved and what smallpox is, that I need you glaring at me? I will shoot YOU , lady, with the straw shooter or toilet paper shooter or construction paper shooters in the back if you freaking EVER look at me that way again.

Crappy food companies, quit pretending your crap is food. Crappy magazines, quit selling your crap by telling people that they are crap and you have the secret to being less crappy. Crappy people everywhere, quit your crap and get your crappy cars and crappy kids and crappy selves out of my freaking way. And crappy stores, if you sell your crappiest crap near the checkout counters I’m going to let me kid take it all off the shelf and FLING it all over your crappy store because it is some bull puckey that you put it there so my kid will whine at me to buy it. No way, no how; now I’m saving all the parents of the world by throwing this crap to my kid so he can shoot it at you with his pipe-cleaner bazooka.

Because I’ve been sitting at the 880/92 b.s. for nigh on ten years and any minute now I’m gonna go ragingly insane.

We now rejoin our regularly scheduled rant…

already in progress:

…and you’d better call the insurance bastards to see if it’s covered.

As for you, Peanut, you are a very interesting introduction to the fine, fine phase that is Four Years Old. Nothing could be worse than Three, it is true. But if Three was all Mr. Hyde and no Jekyl, Four is the maddening experience of discerning what dropped hat sends you from Jekyl to Hyde and back. No, I will not pick up the toy you kicked across the room. You threw one, I took it away. You threw another, I took it away. Most of your collection is on top of the bookcase today, waiting to see which version of you comes out of your room tomorrow morning. So when you kick a toy out of anger, you get to pick it up yourself. No, you do it. Cry all you want; I no longer flip out when you’re in distress. A newborn has made me immune to your terrorist tactics. Butter is the antidote to my occasional Peanut allergy.

Butter, you’d better stop it. Seriously. Knock it off. I followed all your nonverbal cues, I did everything you wanted, and I got you to sleep. Just because I moved the slightest bit does not mean you can flutter your eyes open and start flirting with me. Yes, you’re cute. Yes, you’re still tiny enough that everything you do is precious. Your loud sleeping is delightful, your recent partial baldness is adorable, and your waste products are coo-inspiring. But go to freaking sleep, you little monkey!

And quit suggesting that you want to nurse just so you can gather huge mouthfuls of milk and the spit them on me. That’s not funny, despite what your brother says.

Hey, agents who have my novel and haven’t replied in well past the 6 weeks you promised: screw you! What is wrong with you? All the other rejections came within the appropriate timeframe. It’s rude to set a deadline and miss it without notifying involved parties that you need longer to complete the task. I don’t want your representation, anyway. This thing is gonna be huge, and so will the next dozen or so I write, and you’ll rue the day. You’ll weep, you’ll rend your garments and pull out your hair. You’ll want a time machine to take you back to when you first heard my name just so you can jump at the chance to take on all my current and future brilliance. You will self-flagellate, and you will be correct in so torturing yourselves.

Sure, Peanut, we can go to the playground. Sure you can climb that big ol’ thing you’re always scared of. Sure I can help you down. Just turn around and…no, I can’t climb up there with you. I can’t help you from up there. I can help you from down here. No, I can’t take baby home and come back without the sling. Even if I did, I’d still be short and unable to lift 35 pounds down from well above my head. I will stand here and talk to you gently for 30 freaking minutes, convincing you that I will help and you won’t fall and you can do it. And after that interminable period of patience and goodness and model mothering, during which I have to take two time outs to keep from beating you and one to nurse your brother, I will grab you by the ankles and pull you off the play structure. Yes, you technically fell. I mostly, kind of caught you, though. It was a slow fall. Are you hurt? No? Good. Come on. Time to go make you the dinner you request and then refuse to eat.

Why, yes, you may

Okay, I need to tell some of the people on the planet a few things. Close your ears if these don’t apply, cuz there ain’t no ranting like a wicked pregnant rant.

If we come to an intersection at the same time and I indicate you can go first, you’d damned better thank me, jerk, because chances are if I have to wave you through you know you don’t have the right of way. If you’re walking across the street against the light or half a block from the crosswalk and I let you go, you’d damned better thank me because I’m driving a ton of steel and you’re squishy. And if I’m crossing in the crosswalk, with the light, hugely pregnant and holding my kid’s hand, you’d damned better stop and wait for us, because I will hunt you down and maim you for being such a subhuman stool specimen turning dangerously close to us.

Waitstaff, if I ask for water twice and you forget both times to bring it, don’t be surprised if I forget to tip. If I ask for something for my kid even once and you forget to bring it, don’t be surprised if I brandish a weapon.

Parents, if your child is at the playground and you spend the whole time reading the newspaper, I will call child protective services and say the kid asked me to take him home because you lock him in the closet. I’m sick of parenting your kids for you.

Yes, you may ask:
How are you doing?
Can I bring you anything?
Could you look any more gorgeous?!
May I send you cash or a check?

No, you may not ask:
Are you ever going to have that baby? (No. I’m going to keep it in there and live off it in case I’m stuck at Donner Pass.)
Is that damned thing *still* in there? (No. Had it a week ago. Just fat. Thanks for asking.)
Could you get any bigger? (Probably. Could you get any more stupid or rude?)
What, are you waiting for your due date to come around again next year? (Yes. That’s exactly it. Nothing says fun like 17 months pregnant.)

And for these you will be stricken from the mailing list:
When are they going to induce? (Never. What part of natural don’t you get?)
How dilated are you? (Doesn’t matter. That’s not an indication of anything. Also none of your business. Also, I don’t know. Want me to run to the loo to check just for you?)
How long will they *let* you go? (Hi, have we met? Nobody is letting me do anything; I am an intelligent, consenting adult doing what my body needs without intervention, chemicals, or coercion.)
Will you have surgery? (For what? I don’t have cancer. I have a baby who’s not done cooking.)
How much weight have you gained? (Including the guilty conscience from killing you and woodchipping the body? Not sure. I don’t look at the numbers.)


Only 21 more days ’til January.

Tomorrow is my day to prepare, bring, and serve a healthful snack at preschool. 25 kids, 12 adults, and a requirement for whole grains and protein, all organic. WTF, people…I already have enough trouble getting three people fed around here.

Tonight my sewer is overflowing into my garage. No big deal. Landlord has a standing account with a 24-hour plumber. How’s that for a silver lining in a shitstorm?

Computers are still busted. Found a loophole that lets me write one sentence each hour and eventually post. I think my computers want me on Twitter and off everything else.

Packing for an awesome trip that will be way too short and that is sure to be fabulous until the moment USAir (why they are still in business escapes me) strands us in Phoenix on the way home. As they always do. Without fail. It’s like the Phoenix chamber of commerce paid the whole airline to make sure people read those lame ass signs for just a few extra hours. People, if I wanted to be in Arizona, I would be in Tucson. Not Phoenix, and not the Phoenix airport. Save your money and let us pass. I can answer your three questions AND I brought you a shrubbery.

Now it’s only 20 days until January.

Look! It’s rant time!

To whomever wrote: “You’re probably feeling a whole lot better as you settle into your second trimester. Less nausea, fewer mood swings, and “glowing” skin contribute to an overall sense of well-being.” SCREW YOU, LIAR!

To the cat whose illness has led to feces on my bed, urine all over my house, and a $400 vet bill with a shrug and an “I’m not sure what’s wrong with him,” SCREW YOU! Next time you get sick I’m spending the money on an iPod and you get a brick in a pillow case.

To the vet clinic who told me to collect feces and urine for my cat then forgot to give me the kit and locked the doors before I had even gotten to the car: Screw you, too. I’m not coming back for the kit then going home then coming back with samples. Screw you a lot. Now YOU get to come over and collect feces and urine. For all the family members. I do it every other day; now it’s your turn.

To the phlebotomist who closed the lab ten minutes before we got there: Screw you. No, I didn’t check your hours by calling or anything. But who the hell runs a lab open 9am to 4:30pm, closed for lunch 12-1? Seriously? Do you do any work? I collected a toddler and a sick cat, both of whom needed more than the usual amount of fecal clean up today, got the noisier of the two into the car and drove half an hour for your stupid one vial of blood intended to scare me about all the things that could, hypothetically, but we can’t tell you with any certainty, what might be wrong with my poor, maligned, nauseating Hazelnut. Screw you, lab tech. You give phlebotomy a bad name. and sphignomenometers. And sternocleidomastoids. And stuff like that.

To the librarian who accused us of returning a DVD case with no DVD: SCREW YOU! I always double check because I don’t want to walk all the way down here and have to go back for a stupid disc. AND, I don’t rent baby Einstein crap. No, I didn’t. No, I didn’t. Stop telling me I need to go home to get it. I’ve never IN MY LIFE checked that crap out of your library. I’ve never seen that DVD in my existence. No, I didn’t. Oh, and how do you propose I do that? Buy a new one and give it to you? Screw you. I may have mentioned that, but it bears repeating. SCREW YOU. Oh, you’ll double check? That’s so thoughtful. Oh, it wasn’t me? Oh, you’re paging a different library patron without apologizing to me? You’re ignoring me now? SCREW YOU! I’ve never liked you. You’re greasy, icky, and rather creepy and give my kid a bad image of the few male librarians on this planet. You know what? I’ve taken bibliographic methods. I’ve aced out of all the methodological and theory-based library sciences courses. I could OWN you if I felt like it. Don’t ever accuse me of Baby Einstein Forgetting again.

You know what, world? Screw you. Screw all the nasty people and the yucky people and the rude people. Screw all y’all. Cuz I don’t have the patience for your asinine driving, ugly looks, rude cell phone talking, and general in-my-way-getting. Get off this planet, you jerks. Especially the dude who took the last jar of m—-f—ing olives today. Screw you. You’d think I’d have something new or clever to say, wouldn’t you? Nope. Screw you. You people are killing me. And you don’t need those olives like I do.
I hope global warming takes out, like, 85% of you by next year.

(And to the little emotional sponge who lives in my house, who is way intense and way sensitive and way perceptive and way neophobic, I’m sorry dude. I know when I’m way off my rocker it’s even harder for you. I watched as each of these little wrongs in our day sent me further and further from reacting well, you absolutely melted down. Sorry, friend. We’ll both get some sleep and one of us will have a really, really dreamy can of caramel colored sugar water and tomorrow will be better. That said, if you ask “why” one more time I’m ripping your arms off and shoving them down your throat.)

Dear people

Dear Peanut:
Thank you for saying no to everything today. Really. It made me feel I’ve earned my $0.00 salary. And what a joy it is to feel one is worth about as much effort as shaking your head side to side. Constantly.

And thank you for that very creative and intriguing tantrum about not washing your hands before we eat. It gave me the unheard of opportunity to pluck my eyebrows, standing there waiting for you to come to your senses. It had been too long. What a gift your lack of reason has been today. Thanks ever so much.

Dear DPW,
Thank you so much for tearing up the streets to repair something under the ground. Your skill is surpassed only by the gratitude society has for your public works results. On both sides of the street. During working hours. I really appreciate you saving City money by not doing the work, say, after hours. Or much more slowly by, say, working on the east-bound side THEN the west-bound THEN the north-bound. Thank you for doing them all together so that every car inches forward exactly ten feet per green light during lunch hour. And thank you, too, for not working at all on the south-bound side, since I don’t drive that way and would not have gotten to listen to an unending lecture from the backseat on what kind of trucks do and why I’m wrong to call a front loader a front loader when it’s clearly, from the special vantage point of a car seat, “maybe” a snow plow. In August. In California. It sure is good to have possibilities!

Dear Neighbors,
Thank you for the glorious aromas of your wondrous breakfast offerings. I wasn’t having a colorful enough walk before your omelets and pancakes and pork products produced a sparkling technicolor yawn from somewhere, it seemed, deep in my knees. What a new world you’ve opened my eyes (and pyloric valve) to by sharing your various intensely scented meals to my day. Thanks, especially for the Denver omelet, neighbor five blocks away. I hope it didn’t repeat on you like it did for me the whole rest of the way home.

Dear Children Visiting the Elementary School,
Oh, isn’t wonderful that school is out and you can use the local school’s playground whenever you wish? So much fun! Especially that delightful game you have of chasing each other and screaming “HELP!” at the top of your young and particularly shrill voices. Delightful. It’s quite special for you to engage in your spirited play so close to my highly empathic son, because he spend the whole day asking me why you were scared and why someone needed help but the fire fighters weren’t coming. It’s a wonderful teachable moment about shrill, screaming little children who should, maybe, be freaking parented on a semi-regular basis, and I do so appreciate that gift.

Dear People in My Way,
Oh, your presence is a special addition to my life. Thank you for being in my way, no matter where I go. You make me appreciate the vast quantities of patience I naturally possess, and help me create wonderful linguistic moments in the car where I explain to a three year old why shouting “Can’t you people all just go home?!” is really rhetorical, not a genuine request that the entire city go home. Though that would be lovely. You deserve it. Go home to your families. Enjoy some time off the streets, out of the stores, away from the parking spaces, and out of my life. Consider this chance to get the hell out of my way a special gift from me to you.

Words to the wise

Dear handyman: get off your high horse and lose the attitude. It took you a month to schedule one stinking morning appointment, so if I cancel because of a family emergency (I want to take Peanut to the concert in the park and farmer’s market more than I want the leak in the sink gone, but you don’t know that and you’re not gonna) then that’s my problem. Do you want the work, or don’t you? Don’t act as though you’re losing your home just because I canceled. I gave you 48 hours notice.

Dear printer: stop lying. You’re not out of toner. I just bought you toner. you’ve printed, like, 200  pages. I know you better than this. I raised you, printer. You will shut your paper hole and I will obligingly open every stupid door and drawer, shake the toner cartidge, and put it back in, and we’ll have another 200 pages before you lie again. And I’ll go through the whole bullshit process again, at least twenty more times, and you’ll give me at least 2,000 pages, andIi’ll wonder which is harder: kidgloving my stupid f—ing printer or putting a toddler to bed. Secret answer: I don’t know. Neither is particularly fun or easy, but I have you both down to a science, so whatever. It’s like knowing you have to start your car on a hill. Sucks, but at least you know the drill.

Dear lady outside the Starbucks’ bathroom: stop rattling the g–d—- door knob. Didn’t you figure out the first four times you rattled it that someone is in here? i refuse to holler “someone’s in here” because any idiot can figure that out from the LOCKED DOOR. Also, I refuse to holler “almost done” because I just got in here and I am not almost done. I mean, relative to the guy before me who took half and hour and peed on every square inch of the seat, I’m almost done. But relative to my need not to talk to you, I’m not. You’d think I could pee by myself one freaking time this week. Just for that, I’m washing my hands twice. And checking my pores. And practicing origami on the paper towels, because it’s not like they’ve given me a lot of entertainment options in here.

Dear blogosphere: get back here. Just because I post anti-spanking and anti-segregation instead of lame jokes about how much my kid gets my goat, doesn’t mean you need to stop reading. By half. How the f— do half of you go away just because I talk all serious about stuff? Fickle freaks. What, are you over at the Bloggess listening to her in prison on the Nimitz story? Please. “Oh, look at me, I’m funny and patriotic and not ranting about respecting your kid.”  Fine. I get it. You’re not tough enough to take my brand of genius. Whatever. Your loss.      Wait, I mean, get back here. I’ll try to be funny. I swear. Or not, if that offends you.

Dear so-called medical experts: shut the f— up. You have no idea what you’re talking about. ‘Nuff said.

Ditto you parenting experts, job experts, and Pynchon experts.

Dear lady we saw yesterday: you’re damned right, you should be embarrassed. When you’re walking your first grader home from school, with your iPod blaring, you *should* feel guilty enough to drop the earbuds and listen to your talking kid. Kind of pathetic that it took us running by (not judging you because we didn’t know, until you dropped the buds like they were contraband) to make you listen to your kid. After she’d been in school all day. I’m glad you feel bad.  You totally suck.

Dear advertisers: stop manipulating people.  You suck.

Dear government: would you please get them to disclose what natural flavors they use? You know it’s anchovies, I know it’s anchovies. Would you please make them put anchovies on the label? Cuz otherwise I might someday thing, well, it’s natural, so it couldn’t possibly be ground up carmine bugs, right? Wrong. Trade secrets my ass. The amount of  brown sugar in something is a trade secret. The fact that they’re feeding dead chickens to cows and dead cows to chickens should be on the front of the package. In simple pictographs because nobody reads labels anymore.

Dear neighbor: please don’t call the cops. He was doing that because we’ve had trouble with deer eating our brand new sunflowers, and we thought that the only natural defense we have, since the Ivory everyone else swears by isn’t working,  is human urine, and I know you probably looked the other way when it was a three year old, but he doesn’t have a big enough bladder and the tall guy does. Besides, what are you going to tell the cops? It’s our yard. And our urine.

You know what, World?

You really suck today, World. Sure, it’s a gorgeous 70plus degree day. Sure, there have been some very nice people in my way today. But overall, you are a rotten and no good inhabited planet today, World.

So since you suck so much today, and you owe me some *major* kharma points for royally fucking with me when I really didn’t have it coming, please send some of your worst asspain to the following peeps:

Do me a favor and throw a pebble in the shoe of the a–holes who lied to us when they sold us the last house, the realtor who let them, and the realtor who didn’t catch the lie. Also, please, give a huge festering stye to the people ruining the planet, a labial sebacious cyst to chemical companies who get away with the slow murder of the human race because they have strong lobbyists, and a painful nasal laceration to the jerks abusing workers for a profit.

It’s the least you can do, you sucky, sucky world.

That’s not ironic, Alanis. But it’s kind of funny, in a gallows humor kind of way.

When the English professor who torpedoed my doctoral-program applications seven years ago walked into my gym this morning, I had two simultaneous thoughts, and neither was based in vengeful hatred, as they well should have been.

One: any other time I would launch off this erg and choke you for costing me a chance at an academic career when I was still considered of viable PhD program age, but your gross incompetence and callous disregard for your promises allowed me to find a couple of great professors at a college I never would have considered and gave me the window during which to have my son. So fuck you, but I can’t even spare a “fuck you” for you.

Two: I’ve always pictured you, in my pathetic, depressive, post-academic-door-slammed-shut slump, as a bilious monster. You’re actually quite pathetic in your fisherman’s sweater and nylon track pants, there on the treadmill in broad daylight when you could be out walking the world and observing how real humans live.

And for the record, I am right now reading something that, in addition to being far superior to anything you published back in your productive days, has inspired me to return to academia, allowing me to forget for a moment how traitorously you abandoned me one day before your letter of recommendation was due. Did I mention fuck you? And I’m better than you? And you’re pathetic? And I’m not a big enough person to forgive you, but I am big enough to keep working out right next to you, complete lack of recognition on your face, knowing that I’ve lost almost seven years of my dream because of you. I don’t really care about you anymore. I don’t have time.

But the funniest part of seeing you? When the ladies from the early morning dance class tittered that you should join them and you said, “I would love to, but I just don’t play well with others,” I actually bit my tongue to keep from agreeing aloud. At least you’re self aware. Remind me again why that assuages my wounded pride and remedies my incomplete education?

Oh, yeah. ‘Cuz I have a cute kid. Okay. Hope that gets me through the day. And the next day. And every day for about six years until I take your job and laugh at your shriveled hull.

See ya then, treadmill boy.

Please, hire an editor or proofreader.

I cannot, can’t, will not, won’t go to a coffee chain whose napkins proclaim that their efforts will leave the world with “less napkins.” What, in the name of all that is holy, did David Foster Wallace not explain to us in his review of Bryan Garner’s A Dictionary of Modern American Usage but that structural linguistics, as descriptive yet still highly judgmental are a farce. Written and standard English need flexible but firm prescriptive rules. The descriptive tack is a ruse, allowing in errors in the name of colloquial usage, yet ignoring other, legitimate alternate usages based in judgment and priorities that hide nothing less than a political agenda.

In other words, just because some people say it incorrectly doesn’t make it correct. Or cute. Think differently.

Please, advertising companies, hire professional editors. You can’t say “less napkins” just because enough people don’t know the rule. It’s “fewer napkins.” You can count napkins. Therefore you can know just how many fewer napkins there are. Just because supermarkets get away with the egregious Ten Items or Less (sic) rather than opting for the correct Ten Items of Fewer; and just because advertising companies get away with the chalkboard-forkdragging of “Where Are You At?” rather than the simpler, more elegant, and freaking correct “Where Are You?” does not mean that you can claim frequent American usage and refuse to proofread your freaking napkins. Written language is standard as used by educated writers. And it’s fewer napkins. You can’t count sugar. So there you get to use “less sugar.” You can count cars. Fewer cars. You can’t count traffic. Less traffic. Fewer napkins, less sugar, fewer cars, less traffic. Less pollution, for that matter. And apparently, far, far fewer writers who actually know the language.

Sign of the apocalypse.

It’s not one of those days

You know how some days you see a cold, dirty, sad homeless guy and you want to run to the ATM and withdraw what little you have left to hand over with a kiss?

You know how some days you look at the guy in the hospital cafeteria who is getting his toast out of the toaster and you think, “I hope you electrocute yourself.” And then wish, for his sake, that he weren’t in a hospital, because it’d be too easy to make it after the electrocution?

You know how you pour all your energy into an event, trying in every way to do your best and make everything come out just right, and after the event it turns out it didn’t really matter, and that some of the stuff you did was genius, and some of the stuff you did was a waste of time, and in the balance nobody really cares but you, anyway?

You know how some days you’re all uptight and anal about parenting exactly the best possible way, making your own life a living hell to give your kids a slight edge on being happier and healthier later in life?

You know how some days you just don’t care how you parent, handing over treat after treat, offering new toys from the rainy day closet, and smacking ’em on the arm (though you said you’d never, ever, ever) when they repeatedly get down from the table to grind pinto beans into the only rug in the house?

You know how some days you want to find all your old friends, the ones with whom you haven’t spoken in years, just to tell them that you’re a better person now, and certainly more interesting, and that maybe they should be your friend again because you have a lot to offer? Really?

You know how some days you want to delete most of your friends out of your phone and PDA and contact file and old, paper Rolodex because the bastards don’t ever seem to call or write anymore, and if they’re always going to wait for you to make the effort, then they can f*ck off?

You know how some days you just need a nap?

You know how some days you want to do yoga, then go running, then start a business, then volunteer, then write a novel, then go to the gym?

Yeah, well it’s not one of those days.

East coast, left coast, and “wonderful little pockets” in between

According to Sarah Palin,

We believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit, and in the wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation.

You know what? I’m tired of this your-America versus our-America bullshit. Every single citizen is part of the real America–part of the dichotomy between rich and poor, left and right, liberal and conservative, creative and analytical, educated and ignorant, entertained and bored, thoughtful and thoughtless.

Intentionally, superficially divisive politics fit into the latter category.

The real America is also the economic centers of the country. The farms, the factories, the skyscrapers, the theaters, the film backlots, the offices, the aerospace compounds, the retail centers, the universities, the tourist attractions. Cities are just as American as small towns. Small towns are just as American as cities. People are not more American because of their job, their background, their lack of education, or their residence in a swing state.

As Sarah Vowell said on The Daily Show the other day, if New York was American enough for the terrorists, it’s American enough for the rest of us.

I hope that after this election the nonsense about them versus us stops. Because every time politicians stoke that fire (every two years, just often enough to make it a permaflame) instead of focusing on the legitimate disagreements between their ideas, we all lose. Can’t we just have a civil discussion about how really bright minds come up with completely opposite ideas?

Stop pandering and realize that we all contribute. Some a lot more than others. But we’re all still citizens and every single vote should count.

Rantlets: little rants of the day (ii) (the animal edition)

Um, ‘scuse me, creators of children’s characters? Would you please have some basic decency and stop selling your characters’ likeness to companies that make nutritionally despicable foods? You know kids like your little animated or puppety monster whatsit thingie. You know kids should eat food that occurs in nature. Do you read the ingredients on the crap your animated or puppety monster whatsit thingie is selling? Crimminy, isn’t your soul worth anything to you?

Cats!…Cats! Who did this? I asked the kid, but he doesn’t have claws and this reeks of clawed beastie. Don’t pretend to be taking a bath. And even if you were, it’s not like you can’t listen while you’re licking yourself.  Are you listening? Rolls of paper towels, even rolls of recycled paper towels, cost the planet trees and are really expensive and are not disemboweling toys. While we’re at it, would it kill you to barf on the tile or on the cork instead of on the teeny, tiny little rugs we have scattered through the house? There’s like a million-to-one ratio of cleanable to non-cleanable surfaces here, and you have to choose the spray-blot-blot-blot-spray-blot-blot-rub-curse-scrub-curse-trash surface rather than the wipe, spray, wipe surface? I’m gonna stop feeding you if you can’t keep your barf and your crap in their proper places. Even my two-and-a-half-year old has mastered that.

Speaking of people who send their pets to the shelter if they make a mess–are you freaking kidding me? Someone should send you to the shelter for being an a**hole. If you parent an animal, you’re supposed to care for it, teach it, and love it. You’re not supposed to give up on it. I hope society gives up on you and you wind up living in a van down by the river. And when that happens, don’t try to adopt a pet so you’ll have comfort. I’m gonna tell ’em all what a jerk you are, and how many dogs you sent to the pound just because they didn’t do what you told them the first time. And they’re going to eat you up.

When did we become the laziest people on earth? As a nation, we’re grossly obese, we expect the world to be 71 degrees at all times, we want instant food (then instant weight loss), and we can’t seem to manage life unless everything is single serve and disposable. (Not you, Jon and Kate Plus Eight. You get a pass. Something had to give. Glad the lollypops are organic.) But when did it get so bad that people just leave their grocery carts next to their car? Is it that hard to complete the cycle? Drive (lazyass!) to the store, wander around slumped over the cart (stand up, lazyass), push paid purchases out to the car, put bags into the car, and drive off? When, for pete’s sake, did we stop pushing the carts back to the corrals? I mean, that moment seems to have passed. But now people don’t even move the carts out of the parking space. Not up on a curb, not with the ten other carts one aisle over. Just leave it right there in the middle of the freaking space. No wonder the world hates us. Put your carts back, you lazy f*ckers!

Rantlets: little rants of the day

Hey, recycle professionals: I know life is hard, what with your being promoted from garbage man to waste management engineer. But you’re making enough money to break down the boxes for me. Seriously. I’m doing my part just by separating the twenty types of recycling mentioned in the eight-column spreadsheet you send us every year. “Please break down boxes” my ass. You do it. (Better yet, I’ll break down boxes as soon as you bastards start promoting composting as a way to eliminate billions of tons of waste every year…oh, wait. I forgot. You get more money when we throw stuff away. No wonder you want us to break down the boxes–so we can put more stuff in the can. Gotcha. Now that I know, I’ll change my answer: “Please break down boxes” my ass. You do it.)

Okay, people. This is easy. When you hear a siren, pull the fuck over and stop your car. Not slow down and look around. Not modify your trajectory a bit to the right. Pull over and stop. You selfish prick, there is an emergency somewhere, and since you’re too much of an a** to go help, the least you can do is get out the way.

Hey, parents of more than one kid at the playground: I’m sick of doing your job for you. Please pay attention to all your kids. You made more than one, so you really should parent all of them. I know that little one is cuter than the old one–believe me, I know, since I’ve just spent a freaking hour with your least favorite over here–but I’m sick of making sure the ignored and older kid doesn’t crack open her head, crack open my kid’s head, or drive me nuts with the ten hour stories you are clearly not listening to at home, since she needs to prattle on and on and on and on to me. If you don’t want to watch these spawn, hire someone who does.