Saturday, March 13, 2010

Facebook: The Closest We Are Gonna Get to Virtual Reality

So I am about to have my very first blind date on Facebook. (I know *they* spell it as facebook, trying to be all cool and nonthreatening, but that's just a silly marketing ploy so I'm going with Facebook.)

As in, someone who knows me is trying to set me up as Facebook friends with someone who doesn't know me. Not based on the fact that we need anything from each other-- a friendly face in a new city, or help with a job interview, or anything tangible like that-- just based on the hunch that this person and I would enjoy each other's company. Virtual company.

And this pulled into focus for me how absurd our social lives have become as a result of the Facebook phenomenon. By virtue of this person accepting my third-party-orchestrated friend request (fingers crossed! butterflies in stomach!), I will instantly be granted access to a complete stranger's life story. Where she lives, who she's married to, photographs of her great-grandmother's 90th birthday party. I will be able to read about her favorite tv shows, the kind of music she listens to, and what animals she has in her imaginary farm or whatever. This seems... strange. Feels like I'm a cyberstalker. Am hoping she's not 13. (Then again, unless she posts the year of her birth in her profile, how could I possibly know that.)

But maybe she and I will hit it off, become avid pen pals, and one glorious day, even meet in real life. This is not a wholly far-fetched possibility: I "met" the wife of a college friend via Facebook a few months back, and now not only is she someone I exchange very frequent messages with, but she is also one of my most dedicated commenters here on this blog, thank you, I love you, hk! (And yet, if I passed her on the street, I would have no freaking idea who she was.) (Don't blame me, her profile pic isn't a super close-up.) This is an example of the good things that can come of Facebook and its insistence that the whole world become one big happy file share.

There is, of course, a dark underbelly to Facebook. Very dark. You know, that dark underbelly which is presently being cited in 20% of all divorce petitions these days. (You think I'm kidding.)

Yes, friends, we're talking about the old flames.

Once upon a time, when a romantic relationship ended, it ended. You licked your wounds; you made an inventory of the mistakes you made; you moved on. Maybe once in a while that person's name crossed your mind and you thought to yourself, "I wonder what ever happened to X?" But that was about it.

Well obviously those days are over.

Now, out of your 300+ Facebook friends, 5 of them are people you slept with, 2 of them are people you still dream of one day sleeping with, and 1 of them is the person who facilitated your introduction to Zoloft. In other words, as a result of Facebook, every single one of us is now in some stage of arrested development.

I log onto Facebook as a 35-year-old (it's not as old as it sounds, really). I see a status update from my college boyfriend and I morph into my 19-year-old self. I see a new photo album from my high school boyfriend and I morph into my 16-year-old self. I notice a change in status by the guy who broke my heart into a million zillion pieces ("Single" has become "In a Relationship"?!?!) and my whole freaking day is ruined. Trust me, this is not productive behavior, NOR is it what God intended when on the 8th day he created the internet.

Relationships end for a reason, and most often, someone comes out of that relationship hurt. It is not beneficial for said hurt person, therefore, to be able to go online and scrutinize, in excruciating detail, every picture ever taken of an ex's current love interest. She's not even pretty! I hate her big boobs! See how she's clutching his arm here? She's so possessive, I never would have done that! Kinda works against the whole "moving on" aspect of life.

In fact, I am no stranger to full-on Facebook delusions. I once friended an ex innocently enough, but when I saw that he was still unmarried, my fantasies instantly took on a psychotic life of their own. Does he think about me? Should I call him? Does he need closure from me before he can begin a new relationship? (Never mind that the relationship itself only lasted a few years, and it ended more than 15 years ago. I am just that unforgettable.) (it's the delusion talking, see?) Is it possible that he is... STILL WAITING for me? IS MY WHOLE LIFE A BIG MISTAKE, AND I SHOULD DITCH THE HUBBY AND THE KIDS AND START A NEW LIFE-- the life I am SUPPOSED to be leading!-- WITH *HIM*???

So you get how this is unhealthy. By not allowing past relationships to exist IN THE PAST anymore-- now EVERY FRIENDSHIP, RELATIONSHIP, ASSOCIATION YOU'VE EVER HAD HAS BEEN MADE *PRESENT* AGAIN, thanks to Facebook-- it forces us to hold up everything in our REAL lives to the virtual mirror of the Facebook world. Sure, I *could* go out to lunch with that actual human being who lives around the block... but no, I'd rather sit on my sofa and exchange email witticisms with my bestie from junior high (she's funnier). And yes I *see* that my real life husband is sitting at the kitchen table, having a coffee and reading the paper and probably wondering if I'm coming over to join him... but I *can't*, I'm in the middle of composing a right-up-t0-the-line-of-appropriateness flirty email in response to a message from that GORGEOUS one-night-stand from '94. I mean, HOW F*CKED UP IS THAT?

There is no grand moral to this story, I'm only calling us out on this insanity that we've all bought into. (Correction: All of us except my husband, who thinks that a Facebook account would represent to the world that he has FREE TIME, which he does not.) (Though as a result of this post, I would not be surprised if any minute now he becomes Facebook's three-millionth-and-first user.) And I will leave you with this clip, which is so impossibly awesome that it makes me feel less bad about allowing my 21-year-old-self's broken heart to be broken all over again every time I check the ex's status only to see that he's still in a relationship with someone else,
that thoughtless bastard.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Ok. Let me just tell my husband at the outset that this topic was NOT my idea. It was the idea of "Anonymous." And because I asked for blog ideas-- nay, *begged* for ideas-- it would be downright RUDE for me not to oblige kind Anonymous's request.

The mother-in-law.

Let's do this thing.

Some people have great relationships with their mothers-in-law (MILs). I actually can't think of any of them offhand, but I know some people do.

I even bet that some people are as close-- closer!-- with their MILs than they are with their real live mothers. (Again, can't think of any right now, but I'm sure those people do exist.)

My relationship with my MIL isn't that kind.

Now before my husband breaks out in a cold sweat, or someone from his hometown thinks about forwarding this post to the MIL in question in a hateful attempt to further sabotage our relationship (I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, PERSON WHO IS CONSIDERING FORWARDING THIS TO MY MIL, AND I *WILL* ARRANGE FOR TERRIBLE THINGS TO HAPPEN TO YOU IF YOU GO THROUGH WITH IT), let me just say that my MIL is a very, very, VERY nice person. As in, so nice that even if given all the time in the world, you couldn't possibly think of anything unkind to say about her.

She just happens to be the EXACT POLAR OPPOSITE of me.

And this makes for some utterly excruciating moments. You have no idea.

See, whereas my MIL is soft spoken, polite, and understated, I tend to be loud, crass, and out of control. As a completely random example, a few years back I went through a short phase where I was affectionately calling everyone a pussy. Based on the look of abject horror on my MIL's face, I think it's safe to assume that she never went through this phase. (Ok so MAYBE she was looking horrified because I ONCE called my HUSBAND a pussy, IN my MIL's presence, long story but TRUST me he was being a pussy, ha!) I like to be the center of attention; my MIL tends to let others speak. I enjoy picking fights with people, just for the mental exercise of a debate; she apparently keeps her opinions to herself. So again, it's not that there's anything UNLIKABLE about my MIL... she's just not at ALL the type of person that *I* usually hang out with.

And that's the funny thing about MILs (and family-in-law in general). One day this person is just someone you make noncommittal small talk with when she comes to visit her son at grad school, how was the drive up, blah, blah, blah; and a few official signatures later, you're supposed to be calling her "MOM." As in, the same moniker that you use to address the person who CARRIED YOU IN HER BELLY FOR NINE MONTHS before GIVING YOU LIFE. Like, "Hi Mom! Great to see you! So tell me, do you have any siblings?" Am I the only one who finds something, I don't know, unnatural about that?

Fortunately, it appears that this disconnect has not gone unnoticed by my MIL. Whereas it would only add to the discomfort if I was over here, wondering why I am from Mars and she is from Venus, and she was over there needlepointing a BFF throw pillow for me; my MIL seems well aware of our differences. I know this based on her selection of greeting cards, which she very thoughtfully sends on a regular basis: somehow, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, she manages to find the one card that EXPRESSLY addresses me, right there in capital letters on the front of the card, as her DAUGHTER-IN-LAW. "Happy Birthday, Daughter-IN-LAW!" "Happy Flag Day, Daughter-IN-LAW!" "Happy Anniversary, Son and DAUGHTER-IN-LAW!" I mean, this otherwise positively unassuming lady never passes up the opportunity to remind me that she is extending a Hallmark sentiment to me ONLY BECAUSE SHE IS LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO. Never fails to make me smile. (In disbelief.)

But ya know what? I am not, not, not, NOT complaining. No, REALLY. Because I know that there are many, MANY less desirable versions of MIL out there: the Meddling MIL, the Oedipus-Complex MIL, the Are-You-EVER-Going-to-Make-Me-a-Grandmother??? MIL, etc. So PLEASE don't take away my Water-and-Oil MIL. She's well-intentioned, she doesn't interfere, and good golly, she's one heck of a nice lady.

Meanwhile I, as evidenced by this post, clearly am not. Wah-wahhhhhh.

p.s. You *must* read the comments to this post. There's someone on here who is WAY more funny than I am. Get ready to smile.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stay-at-Home Dads: The NEW American Hero

Dude. Who ARE these stay-at-home dads who are reading my blog?

And why do I have a major CRUSH on all of them???

Let me say this: Any guy who can pull off the stay-at-home dad thing is HOT. I don't care what he looks like, or how adequately or inadequately he performs his duties. There is something absolutely irresistible about a guy who is comfortable taking on this historically "female" role in this day and age.

It's hard enough, as a woman, to give up a paying job in order to take care of the kids. We have to endure the condescending tone of working women who assume we are high school drop-outs; we have to feel like teenagers on an allowance when spending our "husband's" money; we have to look at ourselves in the mirror each morning and wonder what the HECK we are doing with our lives.

But at least we have biology, and tradition, on our side.

For the guys-- GOODNESS-- it must be an exponentially steeper climb. All of those ancient stereotypes about Man as breadwinner, hunter, warrior... well, those all have to be hugely revised when the guy has a burp cloth over his shoulder. (Again, HOT HOT HOT.) Not only do they have to learn, presumably, an entirely new skill set (not a ton of guys were babysitters as adolescents, I would guess), but they have to deal with the same patronizing glares that we do, ONLY MULTIPLIED BY A ZILLION. Being constantly subjected to ignorant people's snap judgments of the stay-at-home dad-- What, are you too lazy to get a job? You're ok with having your WIFE support you? Do you watch football all day while the poor kids are left to their own devices?-- must be a HUGE FREAKING HEADACHE. And yet these guys seem so cool with it. How do I get ME some of that mojo?

I ran in the same circles as a stay-at-home dad once. His name was Eric. He was, inarguably, adorable. And what's more, he was always pretty relaxed. Sure, he would momentarily lose a child once in a while, and maybe his kids weren't quite as decorated as some of us hair-accessory-prone moms might have liked, but he was getting that sh*t done. Three kids. Working wife. Functioning household. I occasionally fantasized about being seduced by him (as did, I have to assume, EVERY OTHER MOMMY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD). In fact, part of me thinks that the adoration of his female admirers is what made him so good at his job: he didn't want to disappoint a loyal fan base. And who can blame him. Ah, the hidden bonus of the stay-at-home daddy job: LOTS of desperate housewives.

So to all of you stay-at-home dads out there, bravo. Knowing how hard it is being a SAHM, I can't begin to imagine the depths of crap you have to put up with as a SAHD. Thanks for paving the way for future generations of righteous working women.

We salute you. And we fantasize about you. Keep up the good work.

If You Love Me, You Will Watch This Clip.

Oh how this guy's bits on his daughters make me laugh.

Watch this and you may never be the same. But in a good way.

(I think of this clip EVERY. TIME. one of my kids is blabbering away in the back seat of the car, a few decibels short of what I can fully hear, and I am going back and forth in my mind as to whether to even bother with the obligatory, "What did you say, honey?")


p.s. If you want more Louis C.K., this comedy special is called "Chewed Up." He kills it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Exactly How Smart Does My Kid Have to Be to Justify the Death of My Career?

If you're a stay-at-home mom, and you're anything like me, then you live in a constant state of wondering whether all this time spent in your pajamas is worth it.

As in, what, if anything, am I giving my child that he or she could not be getting in day care, other than a few months' reprieve from the ubiquitous snot nose that comes from being around other toddlers six hours a day?

And what am I *supposed* to be doing with this child, other than hoping that this episode of Barney can entertain him/her for a few more treasured minutes so that I can check email/Facebook/TMZ/SportsCenter (enjoy the shout out, stay-at-home-dads!) in peace?

Well, friends, I'm not sure what I think about these questions (or rather, I do know what I think about these questions, but I have to tread carefully here, because I do NOT want to piss off all of my friends whose babies ARE in day care, and seem perfectly brilliant). So how 'bout I just tell you the formula that, so far, has worked for me:

Kid is born.
Kid spends 3 straight months in Fisher Price Aquarium swing. (Yes! Is HAS to be that one!)
Kid gets schlepped around in Baby Bjorn for a while.
Kid watches a lot of tv (yeah, I said it).
Kid turns one.
Kid gets put into nursery school at 14 months.
Kid is way smart.
I take full credit.

Now comes the nature/nurture issue. Would my kids be doing just as well in nursery school if they'd been put into day care at 12 weeks?

I gotta tell you... I kinda think so. I mean, the anti-tv propaganda abounds these days, telling us that letting babies watch tv will turn them into pod people... but heck, we had the tv on in the background for most of the time that my children were infants, and if my kids are pod people, then they're the most clever damn potatoes to ever come forth from a human womb. And the PSAs want to intimidate us into reading books to our children on a daily basis from the time they are 9 months old or whatever... but to date I have not instituted a nightly reading requirement in this household, and all 3 of my kids seem to have developed a healthy interest in being literate all on their own.

Nah, I'm starting to think that a lot of what's going to happen to our children has already been predetermined by their DNA: that if they're going to be smart we just need not get in the way of the smart, and that if they're going to be dumb we just need make sure they are as attractive as possible. (I'm kidding! slash, I'm not kidding!)

If this is true, you ask, then why the heck am I sitting here in my nightgown singing the ABCs for the umpteenth time when I could be sitting at a desk in an air conditioned office, listening to the glorious sound of coins dropping into my piggy bank?

Well it's a fair question, to be sure. I'm actually not entirely convinced that being a stay-at-home mom isn't more for the *mom* than it is for the kid... you know, it brings US great comfort to know that we've got those little munchkins within arm's reach (because heck, no one knows how to soothe / stimulate / discipline my child better than *I* do!).

And clearly, I'm not an advocate of keeping those rugrats at home TOO long, since I practically CATAPULT them out of the house on their 14-month birthdays. (What's so magical about 14 months, you wonder? Nothing. It's just the age when our local nursery school starts enrolling kids for the full-morning program.) (But I have to say, I have received many, many compliments on how well-adjusted my girls are, socially, and I am positive that this can be chalked up to early nursery school.)

So how can you make the most of your stay-at-home time, in order to minimize the odds that you will one day look back on this career-less period in your life and think, I COULD'A BEEN A CONTENDAH!... ?

Well I will offer you this one word of advice, in all seriousness (ASIDE from recommending that you keep your tv on all the time, because not only does it promote early speech development, SAYS DR. ME, but it also keeps YOU from not completely losing your sh*t out of boredom)...


All the time.

Questions like, What color is this? Where is your nose? What's your name? How many dogs do you see?

I wasn't even aware that I was doing this until a friend once said to me, rather accusingly, "Why are you always TESTING that poor kid?"

Then, once I started noticing that I was doing it, I only did it more. Because it ENGAGED the kid. It got her thinking. I wasn't talking DOWN to her just because she was a baby, or ignoring her because all she wanted to do was eat her feet; I was having a CONVERSATION with her. And I've come to really, and truly, believe that interacting with a kid like this gets those cute little baby synapses firing.

And for those of you who sacrificed your potentially lucrative careers to stay home with your kids and they STILL turned out to be dangerous felons? Why not start a blog about your heartache! At least then you can entertain the rest of us who are sitting here in our pajamas. Not a total loss. :)

Mr. Clean Don't Live Here Anymore.

Why is it that a clean, tidy house and I must be natural enemies?

Here's a demonstration. I am sitting at my husband's desk in our "office" right now. I am going to look around and tell you what I see. There will be no exaggerations.

On my husband's desk (from which he frequently works from home; in other words, it's not purely ornamental) are the following items:

- boxes of business cards (appropriate!)
- a ream of white paper (appropriate!)
- a stapler (appropriate!)
- stacks of business files (appropriate!)
- giant white fairy wings, about 3 feet across, made of feathers (umm...)
- a "New Baby Congrats!" collage made by the kids 2 months ago for a neighbor (umm...)
- a huge pink tin of the girls' necklace beads (umm...)
- 2 bottles of children's cough medicine (umm...)
- a flashlight (umm...)
- a newspaper from January 22, 2010 (kind of appropriate?)

On the floor:

- a printer (appropriate!)
- my husband's shoes (appropriate!) (although untidy, sure)
- a breast pump, last used in November 2008 (umm...)
- a stack of empty kids' DVD boxes (umm...)
- 2 empty suitcases (umm...)
- a pile of doll clothes (umm...)

You get where I'm going with this. If I wanted to, it would probably take me all of 20 minutes to put all of these questionable items back in their appropriate places. But here's the problem: I DON'T CARE.

Which, objectively, is not good.

It's a character flaw, I admit it. I don't care about being tidy. I can look at a room filled to the brim with clutter (all the rooms in my house are presently candidates) and not see anything wrong with it. I mean, yes, I often can't find my stuff (case in point: WHERE THE HELL ARE THE DIAMOND EARRINGS MY HUSBAND GAVE ME; PLEASE LORD DO NOT LET ME HAVE THROWN THEM AWAY BY ACCIDENT), but I've made peace with that reality. It's just the cost of a non-tidy person doing business.

But even I will concede that sometimes it's kind of appalling. Not SO appalling that I'm going to do anything about it, mind you.

This is not news. My claim to fame used to be my minivan. On any given day, it would contain:

- seats
- a steering wheel
- 3 kiddie car seats
- bags of chips, cookies, orange puffs (some unopened, some opened)
- countless DVDs (for the fold-down DVD player that continues to bring me indescribable joy and in-transit peace)
- water bottles, in various stages of fill
- clean diapers
- maybe ONE hidden dirty diaper (pee only! how sick do you think I am!) (and they're easy to miss!)
- a clean change of clothes for the kids
- a set of clothes that had been sullied, and changed out of, long ago
- pacifiers (covered in crumbs, no doubt)
- many, many pairs of kid shoes (is it MY fault that the rugrats shed their shoes as soon as their bottoms hit those seats?)
- magazines (for those long carpool lines at school) that I have read, and reread, and reread...
- etc., etc., etc.

But so what? It made sense to me. It MAKES sense to me. It jibed with my lifestyle and philosophy (which is, when dealing with multiple toddlers, YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU'LL NEED OR WHEN YOU'LL NEED IT). It didn't bother me. In fact, the only reason it's not *still* my claim to fame is that I now have a housekeeper who has figured out how to get the vacuum plug to reach the driveway.

It does get a wee bit uncomfortable, though, when I notice that my husband has to maneuver around the breast pump to open certain drawers in his filing cabinet. (And no! He doesn't dare clean up the office himself! I would have a fit and accuse him of misplacing all my stuff!) (ahaha I'm so evil.)

So today's question is: Does the stay-at-h0me mom have an OBLIGATION to keep her house neat and clean, even when she is *convinced* that neat and clean IS HIGHLY OVERRATED?

I am ashamed to admit that my slacker attitude is not even limited to the housekeeping arena. I never learned how to cook proper meals for my husband and me because I DON'T CARE ABOUT EATING. No, I mean it! I HONESTLY don't get why a person would spend an hour making a pasta dish, when such things COME IN CANS, and humans have INVENTED THE MICROWAVE. And I'm not a hypocrite: you will never find me bitching about how there's nothing to eat, because BREAKFAST CEREAL IS APPROPRIATE FOR ALL OCCASIONS, and as long as I keep on buying milk, we have all the ingredients.

Now before you call Child Protective Services, rest assured that I am not feeding the children breakfast cereal for dinner. No, for those growing bones I break out the Kraft Mac & Cheese (don't hate, it's awesome), or a gigantic salad (which qualifies as COOKING!), or I heat up (AGAIN, there are appliances being used) the leftovers of whatever healthy eats my husband cooked for himself the night before (hey, he who cares about nutritious food can make nutritious food. I'm not blockading the kitchen door).

Now in case there's any confusion, let me just say that my untidy house and underutilized kitchen are NOT the result of laziness. I AM NOT LAZY! (stop laughing, I'm not.) I just have some slightly unorthodox priorities. While many women are standing over the stove, I'm cataloging literally tens of thousands of photographs for our scrapbooks. While countless moms are dusting the bookshelves, I am scouring the toy stores for the PERFECT I-Can-Read books for my newly literate 4-year-old. While innumerable parents are planning weekly menus, cleaning out closets, and moping up cat vomit (we have 2 cats; one will eventually gobble up the other's puke) (don't blame me, blame cat gluttony, and it's an efficient system), I am surprising my kids' classrooms with Munchkins, babysitting a friend's newborn so she can get some rest, and desperately trying to get back on top of my ever-growing list of overdue baby presents, wedding presents, engagement presents, and the like. I promise you I am NOT watching soap operas, getting manicures, or taking leisurely naps during my 3 precious child-free hours each day!

So as for my question, if I could step outside of myself for a minute I guess I'd say that yes, a stay-at-home-mom does have an obligation to keep her house at least *somewhat* neat and tidy.

Good thing I married a guy whose definition of "somewhat" is very, very generous. :)

p.s. To Anonymous with the 11-month-old son: This one's for you! Thanks for single-handedly getting me back in the saddle. And, as always, thanks to "Al" for the unending encouragement. Sending love to you both.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Hey there. How's tricks. Whadja think of the Oscars? I thought Alec and Steve were pretty charming, actually. Does that mean I'm getting old?

So... remember that first post, where I said that these first few entries would be something of an experiment, and the degree to which you got involved would determine the degree to which I bared my soul?

Well, my husband probably thanks you, but, you kinda didn't get all that involved. Which is not to say that you didn't read along (I have the StatCounter to prove it), or that you didn't care about the mini mommydramas I was dealing with (my Facebook inbox saw a sudden surge in activity)... but... with a few precious exceptions (THANK YOU, HK!) (and also the person who wrote that she took away her kid's suckers and now feels like an asshole every day, which still makes me laugh, sympathetically), you didn't really put yourselves out there in the comments section or anything, which would have allowed me to respond publicly, and continue or broaden the conversation. Of course I don't blame you-- you told me that you didn't have time, and that you were concerned about anonymity, and I get that-- completely-- but it kind of leaves me in a strange place. I want to keep talking, but I'm a little bit talking to myself. Without you guys a dialogue is impossible, and I'm already running a little light on monologues. In other words, by making the focus of this blog "mommy issues," as opposed to a diary-type thing in which I account for the mundane happenings of my daily life (take my word for it, my days are not so interesting), I may have set this sweet little site up for failure. There's only so many broadly relatable "issues" I am contending with on any given day.

Thus the absence of recent posts. I have a few things in draft form... like a cheesy account of our Valentine's Day... but nothing seemed honest enough to publish. Cuz I take your time very seriously, and I'm not about to jeopardize your trust by wasting it.

Sooooo.... if there are any topics that YOU are dealing with, please feel free to comment below... heaven knows I would be thrilled for an idea that inspires me to write. (Two of you have asked for a post about how far apart siblings should ideally be spaced, but I genuinely don't know how to address that, other than to warn you from personal experience that THREE KIDS IN THREE YEARS IS PROBABLY A MISTAKE.)

Otherwise, if you guys keep quiet, then I probably will too. Until I have something really pressing that I need to tell you. So if you're interested in what happens to this blog, then maybe sign up for an email subscription so you don't have to check for random updates? Or not. Whatevs. I'm pretty chill.

Anywhoosle, I have some episodes of Weeds to catch up on (my latest obsession), and my husband is traveling in Romania or something like that so I can watch without risk of interruption, and I think housekeeping posts should generally be as concise as possible because heck are they boring. But hey, drop me a line if you're dealing with any crap that perhaps I'm dealing with, too... and maybe we can get this show back on the road. Or not. I'm feeling very Jeff Bridges / The Dude right now. It's all good.

Rock it out, my sistahs. Talk soon. xo.