Google Something Clever 2.0: August 2012

Aug 30, 2012

What I Don't Miss About Working

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve held both the stay-at-home mom and working-mom* positions. I definitely prefer staying at home. I didn’t have a career; I had a job. My last job was in a cubicle farm, taking phone calls and emails from the dumbest, rudest people in America. Besides all of the things that were specific to my jobs, here are some universal things I do not miss about being in the workforce:

The elevator

Before I started my last job, I hadn’t taken an elevator in 20 years, since I got stuck in one as a child. I worked on the fifth floor, and I am extremely lazy. So I got over my fear, but soon learned that elevators were seemingly designed to cram as many awkward situations into one little box as possible: Running towards the closing doors. Holding it for someone who’s running towards the closing doors. Small talk with a stranger. Small talk with someone important. Smelly people. People who stand too close. Someone who arrives after you’ve been waiting and pushes the button, because they don’t trust you. Being that second button-pusher. People who crowd you when you’re try to get out and they’re trying to get in. People who would rather test the weight limit of the elevator than just wait for the next one. That guy who makes a dumb joke about getting stuck when he sees a pregnant woman board. Being that pregnant woman and hearing that joke daily.

The guy who will never get fired

There’s always at least one person who is an absolutely terrible employee, and a terrible person all around, yet the boss just never sees it. They do next to no work, they treat their coworkers like shit, and yet, they somehow hold on to their job. Sometimes this person keeps their job because they’re friendly with the boss. More often, they’re an “HR nightmare:” if they ever get reprimanded for anything, they cry discrimination, based on their sex/race/religion/orientation. Boom, they pressed the magic button and can now never, ever be fired, because maybe they’ll sue.

It is too friggin cold

Every office ever is too damn cold. I’ve worn long-johns at work. I’ve worn blankets. Nothing helps. I know this is an argument that will never get resolved. Half of you agree with me right now, and the other half think it’s too hot. Fine. How about every office splits into two rooms, two floors, two buildings, whatever, and keeps one at 65 degrees and one at 75 degrees? Don’t they realize how much more productive employees would be if they didn’t have frozen fingers or a sweaty butt?

Food thieves

What more do I have to say? In every office, there is at least one person who intentionally steals their coworkers’ lunches and eats them. They didn’t mistake it for their own food. They didn’t throw it away because it had been in the fridge for three months. They stole your lunch and ate it. Why do they do that? Has anyone out there ever caught a food thief, or been a food thief? Can you please explain this? If I ever ran an office, I’d install a security camera pointed at the fridge. A secret one. Fuck preventing theft, I want to catch the guy. I want to show the video at a surprise company-wide meeting. I want to turn him in to the cops for petty theft, and then call the local news.


Some people do their job, and they’re good at it, so they get promoted. But just because they’re good at assembling widgets or selling t-shirts or writing TPS reports does not mean that they are also good at managing human beings. Do you know how many bosses I have liked, out of the fifty or a hundred I’ve had? Three. Do you know why? Because they didn’t act like they were better than me. They asked me to do things, rather than telling me. Every directive came off as, “Hey, I guess the company put me in charge of this thing, so would you please help me out and do this?” It felt like we were on the same team, and they just happened to be the captain, the one whose responsibility it was to divvy up the chores.

The clothes

Is there anyone out there who likes their “work clothes”? Work clothes suck. I don’t understand why they’re necessary. Some guidelines are obviously useful, of course- if you work in retail or food service, there should be some clue that you work there, so the customers can find you (I like Target’s “some kind of red shirt and a nametag” approach). And sure, nobody wants to see your nipples or your butt. But we don’t need a clone army. Lately, schools across the country have been implementing new dress codes for teachers, some even going so far as to ban tattoos because they might be “distracting” to students! I would love to debate that with someone. Love to.

That lady who shakes her salad

You know the one. She has salad for lunch every day. She puts on the dressing, closes the container, and then shakes the shit out of it to evenly distribute the dressing. That sound is so annoying! Does she do this at home? What about in a restaurant? That’s just unnecessary! Eat your salad like a normal person. Some bits have a lot of dressing. Some have a little. It’s a mixed bag. It’s a fun surprise with every forkful.

I’ll post my own rebuttal soon, where I detail what sucks about staying at home, so those of you who work can take comfort in the fact that the grass is not necessarily greener over here.

*As for my use of the word “work” to describe a job outside the home- this debate is fucking retarded. Everyone knows that staying at home with a small child or children is hard work. I know it, you know it. But I would never be offended if someone said I didn’t “work,” because I know what they mean. It’s just easier than saying “she is not formally employed outside her home.” Everyone get over it. Nobody thinks you’re sitting around reading “Us Weekly” and eating bonbons all day (unless you’re Ann Romney).

Aug 28, 2012

How We Gave Up the Pacifer

I figured I’d share some parenting advice, in case anyone’s looking for it. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert, by any means, but this is one example of a time where my method worked, so there. Sorry that this post won’t be funny, but if you have a baby, I think you’ll find it useful.

We introduced pacifiers to the boy at birth (actually, day two, since we didn’t realize that the hospital didn’t provide them). Like most babies who are into pacifiers, he had it in his mouth almost constantly as an infant. As he got older, maybe 15 or 18 months, it became slightly less of a fixture, but it was always there when he was sad, sick, tired or bored.

He was very addicted to them when he slept. If it ever fell out in the middle of the night (and it did, like, twice every night), he would wake up and wail until we located it in the dark corners of his crib and replaced it. When became more mobile, we started keeping a cache of extras in the corner of the crib, and trained him to find a new one himself. That made life a little easier.

About a month before he turned two, we decided it was time to give up the “fi,” as he called it (yes, I know that’s later than recommended, but unless you have a time machine, scolding me will not do any good). He was old enough to talk and understand basic concepts, so we figured we could use a little reason to make it easier on him. We chose a quit date. I was staying at home with him by that time, and my husband took a few days off from work, since we knew nobody would be getting a good amount of sleep for a while.

We’d read that you should only tell a toddler about a big change two days in advance; any longer and they might get overly worked up about it. The trickiest part was what to say. Many people suggest coming up with a story about the “binky fairy,” or telling the child that you’re giving his old pacifiers to a new baby, maybe one you know, who “needs them more.” But we have a strict policy of not lying to him, ever. The concept of misaligned teeth was a little beyond his grasp, so what should we tell him?

We taught him about recycling. For two weeks leading up to the event, we would take him with us to the recycling bins outside, and make it a point of labeling materials every chance we got. “That magazine is made out of paper! This is an aluminum can!” We also instituted a new only-at-bedtime rule for the pacifier at that time. He did not care for that, of course.

Two days before the big day, I told him in the morning that he was a big boy now, and he would be giving up his pacifier soon. I brought up friends of his, older and younger, and emphasized that the babies used pacifiers, and the big kids did not. I told him again that night. The next day, same thing- once in the morning, once at night. I kept it light and simple. When he woke up on the last day, we gathered all the pacifiers from his crib. We reminded him that we were getting rid of them today, because he was such a big boy now. We brought them to the recycling bin, and talked about what they might be made into. Yogurt cups? Maybe toy dinosaurs?

We brought him to the children’s museum that day. We made a big stink about him being a “big boy” every five minutes. On the way out, we stopped in the gift shop and got him a toy robot, again, “for being such a big boy.” We did not mention pacifiers at all, just kept hammering home the “big boy” message.

That night, at bedtime, he asked for his “fi.” We reminded him again, short and sweet, that they were gone, because he was a big boy, and “Hey, look at this robot!” He cried, of course. It was rough for three or four nights. He’d ask for it at bedtime, we’d finally get him down, and then he’d wake up a couple more times in the middle of the night looking for it. We were definitely right to take time off.

But that was it. Just three or four days (plus the two weeks of prep time), and he was over it. And this was not a kid who was just casually into his pacifier. He had brand loyalty. He’d ask for specific colors. And a few days was all it took. Again, I’m no expert, but I think we really nailed that one.

Aug 27, 2012

Starting a New Vocabulary

Recently, I wrote a post explaining why I no longer “bless”people when they sneeze. I’ve been thinking about all the other nonsensical phrases I say  every day that are at odds with my (lack of) beliefs: “Damn,” “Go to Hell,” “Thank god,” “Oh, my god,” “Jesus Christ,” and “Holy crap,” to name a few. Man, we sure do take The Lord’s name in vain a lot here in America, don’t we? It’s amazing; given that so many Republicans would have you believe this is a Christian nation. Let’s try to come up with some replacements, shall we?


AKA “Damn it,” Dammit,” “Damn it all to hell”

Actual meaning: “I want this thing to go to the core of the Earth, where a red man with horns and the hind legs of a goat will poke it with a pitchfork forever and ever.”
Colloquial meaning: “I am distraught about this object or situation, and I do not wish it well.”
Replacement: “Boo!” It doesn’t get much simpler than that. “Boo” has worked for us since the 15th century, and it has the added bonus of being acceptable for use around children.

Go to Hell

AKA “I’ll see you in hell!” (for serious drama queens only)

Actual meaning: “I want you to go to the core of the Earth, where a red man with horns and the hind legs of a goat will poke you with a pitchfork forever and ever.”
Colloquial meaning: “I really don’t like you at all, and I do not wish you well.”
Replacement: “You are a terrible person.” This is one of my favorite insults, because it’s so simple, yet so severe. The gold standard would be if the person you’re directing this towards is close to you, and you intend to be not close to them ever again: “I hate my life because you’re in it.” I used this once, on a boyfriend, as a means of breaking up with him, and to this day, I contend that it is the most scathing phrase one human being has ever said to another. Use this only under extreme circumstances.

Thank god

AKA “Thank goodness,” “Thank the lord”

Actual meaning: “There is a giant man in the clouds who bestowed this situation upon us, and I am grateful.”
Colloquial meaning: “This is very fortunate.”
Replacement: “Hooray!” Another word that has served us well for hundreds of years, “hooray” perfectly sums up joy. “Hooray for your pap smear coming back normal, Joan!” “Hooray, we weren’t home when the levees broke!” No matter how glad you are that circumstances worked out in your favor, “hooray” has got you covered.

Oh, my god

AKA “Oh, my lord,” “Oh, my gosh,” “Oh, my goodness,” “OMG,” OMFG,” “Ermahgerd”

Actual meaning: You know, I tried really hard for, like, half an hour… and I’m still not sure. Maybe you’re talking to your god? Maybe you’re making a promise, and if you’re lying, you’re inviting your god to smite you? I don’t know. Sorry.
Colloquial meaning: “This shit is redonkulous.”
Replacement: “Wow.” Half a millennium ago, a Scotsman summed it up just fine. I say we carry on his fine tradition.

Jesus Christ

AKA “Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” “Jesus H. Christ,” “Jesus H. Christ on a cracker”

Actual meaning: As far as I can tell, it’s to summon Jesus to help you, kind of like saying “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!”
Colloquial meaning: “I am shocked and/or appalled!”
Replacement: I think I’m gonna go with “ACK!” à la Cathy. Maybe with sweat/teardrops squirting from the sides of my head. Then I get to eat an entire chocolate cake, right?

Holy crap

AKA “Holy shit,” “Holy hell,” “Holy cow,” “Holy moly,” “Holy guacamole”

Actual meaning: Maybe Jesus’ poo? I’m not sure. The Internet says that “holy” has been used “as an intensifying word” since 1837, and used in expletives since 1883. Nobody knows why.
Colloquial meaning: “Wow”
Replacement: Well, we’ve already replaced OMG with “Wow”… do we need a different word to replace “Holy crap”? Is there a reason why “Wow” was split in two in the first place? Can you suggest something better?

I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments. Did I leave anything out?

Aug 23, 2012

I Don't Believe in Sinus Demons

I’ve never said “God bless you” when someone sneezes, because I’ve always been an atheist. But it’s customary to say something when someone sneezes, and in America, that something is “God bless you,” or simply “bless you.” So I did the shortened version for about thirty years.

One day, it occurred to me how silly it was (I know, three decades is a pretty ridiculous amount of time to wait for an epiphany). I’d heard that we say “bless you” because people once thought that sneezes we caused by demons, or some such nonsense. Did I believe in sinus-monsters? No. Did I believe that there was a giant man in the clouds that could cure someone of their hay fever, if I invoked his name? No. So what was I doing, reciting this little spell whenever anyone sneezed within 50 feet of me?

People in other countries have less religious invocations available to them when they witness a sneeze. I knew that in Brazil, they say “Saúde,” which means “health.” Germans says “Gesundheit,” same meaning. But you can’t just go around yelling “Health!” at people in America. What about the “Seinfeld” response to a sneeze, “You are sooo good-looking”? Well, that only works if the person is a hardcore “Seinfeld” fan, and if the person is ugly, they may think you’re being sarcastic. Talk about adding insult to injury.

I settled on saying nothing at all. After all, we don't say anything after someone coughs, and nobody gets offended (or possessed). It felt awkward for at least six months. I worked in an office at the time, a cubicle farm, and there was no shortage of people sneezing within close proximity to me. I felt like every time I declined an opportunity to bless someone, everyone was giving each other looks behind my back about what a jerk I was. 

But it was also freeing. The woman directly across from me would sneeze so often, I began to suspect she was doing it just for the blessings. Well, you’re not getting any more from me, sister! Deal with that! I had so much more free time, now that I no longer had to waste precious seconds cramming her soul back up into her nose with those magic words!

It’s been [mumble] years since that day I turned my back on the sneeze status quo, and I’m very happy with my choice. I’ve never been confronted about it, but I look forward to that day, should it ever occur. I have solid reasoning for it, and a proven success record of zero possessions taking place on my watch. 

Aug 20, 2012

That is Not My Ambien

For the last 24 hours, I believed that my identity had been stolen. It turns out that it hadn’t been, but my personal information has been hijacked, so that’s not great, either.

Yesterday morning, I received an automated call from a CVS in a town I’ve never been to, telling me “my” prescription was ready (I have no prescriptions waiting to be filled). I called them, and they told me that Dr. E faxed in a prescription for Ambien two days ago.  I have never heard of Dr. E, and I sure as hell don’t take Ambien. I have a three-year-old; the last thing I need to be doing is sleep-walking and sleep-driving and sleep-murdering him because I was dreaming that he’s a zombie. Fuck that shit.

They look like fluffy clouds... Clouds that you plow through in your car,
because you're driving off of a very high cliff.

CVS double-checked the prescription. It had my name, my date of birth, and my old address from two years ago. Oh, hell no. CVS had my phone number on file because I used to visit a different CVS a couple years ago, so that’s why I got the call. So now I’m thinking someone has found an old insurance card of mine in a landfill somewhere, and is running all over the state getting my insurance to pay for their drugs. I had CVS cancel the order and put a note on my account to ask for identification if anyone ever tries to fill a prescription in my name again.

But what about every other pharmacy? And what about this doctor? Was she in on it, or was she getting scammed by some junkie using my name? I got her phone number from the staff at CVS.  It was Sunday, so I had to wait until the next day to call. I spent the rest of the day fantasizing about setting up a sting to take down the meth addict who’s been sullying my good name…

I called Dr. E’s office on Monday morning and told the receptionist my story. She confirmed that they did fax that prescription to CVS. I told her I’d never been to Dr. E, and she pulled up my record. “Oh, your primary care is Dr. K,” she says. Dr. K practices in a different office than Dr. E, about twenty miles away. I haven’t seen her in five years.

So, it seems that this whole mix-up was caused by someone clicking on the wrong name in Dr. E’s computer. But why was I even in her computer? I don’t see that doctor (or go to CVS anymore). I understand they have to keep my records on file for seven years, but they should be archived by now. And there is no reason for another CVS and another doctor to have my personal information so readily available to them. Don’t give me that guff about it being convenient for data to be shared over a network. If I ever decided to see Dr. E, it would be very easy for me to sign a consent form authorizing Dr. K to share my records with her.

When I saw Dr. K, I never consented to have my personal information shared with who knows how many other doctors and their support staff. It’s unnecessary, and obviously, it causes problems. My 24 hours of anxiety and phone calls are probably the best case scenario of something going wrong when your personal information is treated like a casserole recipe by a “network” of doctors. What if Dr. E’s receptionist was some crazy broad I went to high school with, who’s been harboring a vendetta against me for years? What if she’d stumbled across my name in their database and decided to do some real damage? I’d have no way of knowing.

When I signed the HIPAA notice at Dr. K’s office, I agreed to let her share my information with those who she deemed medically necessary. I figured that meant her nurse, and my insurance company. I didn’t realize that to her, that meant an office full of incompetent people three towns over who I had no intention of ever interacting with. From now on, I’m going to make it clear to every doctor I see that they are not to share my personal information with anyone who I deem unnecessary, since apparently, they are not good judges of that.

Aug 13, 2012

You Stink

I came across this sign on Passive-Aggressive today. It was a little poem requesting that bathroom patrons not try to cover up the smell of poop with perfume, because that just makes it worse.

It got me thinking about perfume. I think most people would agree with the sign. Perfume does not erase another smell; it only adds one. But under what circumstances is it okay to use perfume? According to me, none.

I have a really sensitive nose, like a bloodhound or a pregnant lady or a sommelier. This is more often a curse than it is a blessing. For example, I instinctively begin breathing through my mouth as soon as I enter a bathroom, subway or elevator. It may make me look like a dullard, but it’s a small price to pay when the alternative is dry heaving. That’s not an exaggeration. I dry heave from bad smells constantly, and it’s quite awkward in a crowded elevator.

Oftentimes, the cause of my near-puking is perfume. Most perfume is just not pleasant to me. Nobody should take offense if I don’t enjoy their perfume. Did you just grab it of the shelf, or did you smell it first? Right. And did you love the first one you smelled? No, you didn’t. But a whole team of people worked very hard to create that other one, and they think it smells great. It’s subjective. So why do you assume everyone you come into contact with will agree with your taste?  Did you pick the one scent that everyone on Earth loves?

There’s one particular perfume that’s rather popular with older ladies. I don’t know it by name, but I always recognize that scent immediately. It smells exactly like the Glade air freshener my parents used to (unsuccessfully) mask the smell of my beloved cat’s decomposing body when we discovered her a week after she’d gone missing. So now, whenever I smell that perfume, which is perfectly lovely to many a grandma, I do a charming combination of gagging and tearing up.

Putting aside personal taste, and whether or not your eau de toilette conjures memories of grief and putrefaction for a small percentage of population, why are you treating strangers to a scent, anyway? I don’t believe you should be able to smell anyone if you aren’t hugging them. I shouldn’t be able to smell your cologne when I pass within ten feet of your cart at the mall, man with pointy shoes. And if you come to my house and sit on my couch, I do not want to smell you on my throw pillows the next day (yes, this has really happened, more than once).

What goes on in the mind of the heavy scent wearer? Do they not realize that others can smell them from across the room? Do they think they’re providing a helpful service by choking us all in a cloud of lilies and orange blossom? Or are they really protective of their personal space, and use scent as a deterrent, like a human skunk? As far as I know, perfume and cologne are designed to attract or entice a mate. I feel uncomfortable when I can smell it on anyone I’m not sleeping with, as if I accidentally caught a glimpse of their underwear. Surely they didn’t intend for me to smell their secret sexy smell! I actually feel a little guilty sometimes.

Let’s make a deal. I know I can’t get all of you to just stop wearing perfume, so from now on, could you please just spray it on your thighs, instead of every “pulse point” on your body? That way, the right people will still get to enjoy it, and I can breathe in peace. Thanks!

ckOne photo by Gonna Fly Now (CK One) [<a href="">CC-BY-SA-2.0</a>], <a href="">via Wikimedia Commons</a>

Aug 10, 2012

My Descent Into the Madness of Reality Television

A friend of mine is a big time reality-TV addict. If you like that crap, you can read her musings on it here. I do not like reality shows, as you could probably surmise from my recent use of the word “crap.” Yesterday, as you may know, was the premiere of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” I’m familiar with this, uh, “little girl” and her mother because I watch “The Soup,” where they often make fun of them. Honey Boo Boo is a chubby toddler with a foul attitude who competes in pageants. Don’t cry about me calling her chubby and foul; I don’t blame her for it. She was raised that way by her morbidly obese, redneck mother. You’ve probably heard about them before and didn’t realize it; does the term “go go juice” ring a bell?

These insults to humanity have become famous thanks to “Toddlers and Tiaras,” the most despicable premise for a show that I could ever imagine (If you’re a social worker in the south who needs to make quota real quick, do yourself a favor and attend a pageant). Apparently, America loves these two so much, they now have their very own show. A show which the aforementioned friend has encouraged me to watch. Now, I know for a fact I will absolutely hate it, but ranting makes for a great blog post, and my husband is away on a business trip (ooh, I feel so grown up typing that!), so I can’t watch any of our regular shows anyway. I have DVR’d the first two episodes, and will now subject myself to them for your amusement.

This is dedicated to you, Maureen.

Episode 1: “This is My Crazy Family”

The opening sequence gives us some background on Alana, AKA Honey Boo Boo. She and her mother are both subtitled. The both have thick accents, and her mother is so fat that she sounds like she has awake-apnea and her soft palate is collapsing into her throat. Honey Boo Boo introduces us to her three sisters. “Pumpkin’s the craziest” (we’re treated to preteen girl’s impression of Steve Martin’s dull child from “Parenthood”). “Anna’s the pregnantest” (I really hope a producer fed her that line). “Jessica is my favorite” (according to the graphic on my screen, she’s known as Chubbs). I’m dismayed to learn that Mama is a year younger than me; she looks about ten years older. The father is called Sugar Bear. There is a montage of the family enjoying various forms of mud.

Mama complains about how sometimes it’s hard to get to get Alana/HBB out of bed before two in the afternoon. I can’t wait to find out what she’s doing to that kid that she sleeps so late. My three-year-old has slept past 8 A.M. twice in his life. Usually he’s up around 7. A scene featuring HBB spilling a giant barrel of cheesy poofs is followed by Mama telling the camera, “As a mother, I try to teach my girls good habits.” Awesome editing, guys. I count Mama dropping four F-bombs in front of her daughters before the first commercial break.

The next act opens up with HBB announcing, “Yes, we are rednecks!” Her sisters disagree, and the parents quickly correct them. So, in case you were about to complain about my characterization of Mama earlier, there you go. The family attends “The Redneck Games.” Mama and the older girls spend some time gawking and making fun of the other rednecks, none of whom are any more of a spectacle than them. Pumpkin “bobs” for raw pig hooves. The pregnant girl (AKA Chickadee), whose t-shirt is hiked up to show off her belly, tries unsuccessfully to get Mama’s permission to swim in a bacteria-infested wallow. Seriously, there are signs about the bacteria. This is the first smart parenting decision I’ve seen on this show.

Chubbs complains that she’s getting too fat while eating a bag of what looks to be pork rinds. She asks her mother to lose weight with her. Mama is not interested. There are people out there who have “five hundred chins,” whereas she only has “two or three.” She knows that she and her family are healthy, because they fart a lot. I swear she said that. The family weighs in. Mama gets an “E” for error on her first try. She tries again and lands on 309 (and if you still wanted to complain about me calling her morbidly obese, you are now out of ammo). She tells the camera she’d like to weigh 200 lb. I don’t know how tall she is, but I’m willing to bet she’s under 6’4”. Two bucks is probably not optimal.

Mama brings HBB to a “natural” pageant. That means no makeup, no hair pieces, no spray tans. I feel really bad for HBB. Without directly talking shit about a little girl, I will say… The competition is fierce. HBB’s face falls further and further with each announcement of the winners. We see her act like a normal 6-year-old for the first time on the show: she cries. Even if you can get past the whole dressing-a-little-girl-up-like-a-whore thing, which this “natural pageant” supposedly avoids, this brings to light the other reason why pageants are wrong: Mama has set HBB up to have other people tell her she’s not pretty enough. That hurts a 26-year-old. Why would you do that to your baby?

Episode 2: “Gonna Be a Glitz Pig”

HBB is sad that she didn’t win at the “natural pageant.” She makes her fat belly talk to the camera about it, saying “those judges were nuts.” Good example of that “everyone gets a trophy” or, “you’re special because you’re you” mentality. So Mama buys her a pet pig. The pig is a male, but HBB plans to dress it as a female, so she says, “he’s gonna be a little gay.” Offensive, but not that surprising considering her location. I’m actually impressed  that she didn’t use another word. The entire family struggles to assemble a Pack & Play to keep the pig in. The do not succeed. I can’t wait to see what happens when Chickadee’s baby arrives.

Mama hires an etiquette coach for HBB and Pumpkin because they “need to learn their manners.” I honestly think she doesn’t understand that this is something she should have taught them herself. My 3-year-old wouldn’t dream of leaving the grocery store without telling both the cashier and the bagger “Bye and thank you!” They greet the coach at the door with a squealing pig. At Mrs. Hickey's prompting, HBB uses her left hand to wipe her nose, then shake hands. Pumpkin is either rebelling or being coached by producers; I can’t tell, but during the dining etiquette lesson, she immediately blows her nose on her napkin, burps, brings up “poo-poo” and asks if it’s permissible to fart at the table.

Mama, Sugar Bear and HBB attend an auction for “household goods.” It’s a trashier version of a dollar store. They end up with a haul of Chips Ahoy and Ruffles. Next stop, the “ultrasound place”! This is not an obstetrician’s office. This is a storefront in a strip mall called “First Glimpse.” I’m getting really concerned for Chickadee’s baby. Does she even go to a doctor? (Another thing I’ve been wondering for a while: when a minor has a baby, who has legal custody of said baby? Chickadee is 17; she doesn’t even have legal control over herself. Can she make medical decisions for this kid? If anyone knows, please comment.) I learn that Chickadee is in her third trimester. This girl is the thinnest person in the whole house! I was 117 lb. when I got pregnant, and she looks about the same size I did when I was five months along. Pumpkin (age 12) expresses confusion when the “medical professional” uses the word “abdomen.” I’m starting to understand how the 17-year-old ended up 100 pounds and pregnant.

HBB requests an ultrasound so she can see the chicken nuggets in her belly. Mama asks HBB if she knows where babies come from... WTF? Shouldn't you know whether or not your child knows that? HBB says they "come from your biscuit." (Mama explains that it does look like a biscuit, if they do it right, like at Hardee's.) I should mention that the producers are really fond of showing clips of the train that barrels through the back yard, four feet from the house, and Mama farting and blowing her nose constantly. It's possible that they're not as trashy as they're made out to be. But even if you deduct 10 points from the Trashy Scale, they are still terrible.

The episode closes with HBB cuddling up with the pig in the Pack & Play (Sugar Bear finally assembled it) and complaining about the pig farting. A disclaimer is splashed across the screen to assure us that no animals were harmed during the making of this production. If only they could say the same about children.

Aug 7, 2012

I Hate My Personal Trainer

After a couple months of working out (for the first time in my life), I’ve come to the conclusion that, tragically, I have no endorphins. I do not get a “rush” from exercise; it just hurts. I do not feel more energetic afterwards, just more hurty, and annoyed at my virtual personal trainer from “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved” for Kinect. I can’t even swear at her, because my son is usually “exercising” along with me (this mostly consists of his jumping and waving his arms while shouting encouraging things like, “This is hard work!” and “Shoulder presses are my favorite!” and “My knees don’t hurt.”

Here is what I’d like to ask Patricia (oh yeah, I named her Patricia) if I could:

Why do you hate my knees?

Every move in the “Perfect Butt & Thighs Workout” and the “Skinny Jeans Workout” seems to be geared at making me lose cartilage, not thigh fat. I have crappy knees, but seriously, when your right knee cracks on every single squat, there must be something wrong with your form, right? Not according to Patricia, whose only comments on my form are “Lower squats!” and “Deeper lunges! Great!”

If I needed five-pound weights to use this, why didn’t you include five-pound weights?

Seriously, lady, I got an exercise video game because I know nothing about exercise. What makes you think I have these things just lying around my house, like Betty Crocker cake mix expects you to have eggs and vegetable oil? I hope it’s okay that I use two cans of Chunky soup in place of the weights, because I’m not buying another damn thing. (Also, if you commenters are wondering if it’s a good idea to point out that if I didn’t eat Chunky Soup and cake, I wouldn’t need an exercise DVD… No. No, it’s not. You’re an asshole.)

Why do you assume I know anything about exercise, for that matter?

The first time I used this "game," I did two straight hours of cardio. I was practically paralyzed for the next four days. It took a lot of trial and error, Googling and advice from friends to learn that I should only do twenty or thirty minutes at a time, and follow it up with some strawberries and a cheese stick, not just four Advil and a shower. I still don't know if I should be doing cardio, toning, sculpting or what. For now, I'm just going with whatever hurts the most, because "No pain, no gain" or whatever...

How am I supposed to keep my back straight while bending over?

Come on, lady, is this just a glitch in your programming? Do you know how the human body works?

How am I supposed to keep in time to your movements when 70% of the moves have me bending over and looking at the floor?

Again, woman, humans don’t work that way. My eyes are on the front of my head, not the top.

Why don’t you notice my cats?

I know you see my cats when they wander past me; you make a cute little sparkly blue silhouette of them. Would it kill you to mention them once in a while? Something like, “Oh, you have a cat! Cats are great for stress.” It would really go a long way towards making me believe that you really care about me, Patricia.

Aug 4, 2012

OMFG Shut up!

If you want people stop reading what you write, right in the middle of a sentence, here a few word-bombs that will instantly make me unsubscribe, unfriend, unfollow, or otherwise unread anything you ever have to say ever again.

FML (fuck my life)

Awww, you don’t like your life? Go die, then. This acronym often follows a “complaint” about something utterly petty, like the line at Starbucks making you late for work. You can afford a five-dollar cup of coffee, and you have a job. There are lives worse than yours. Get over it.

Welp (used in place of “well”)

Do people think this is a real word? Or did they just enjoy mispronouncing “well” so much that they wanted the fun to continue in the minds of everyone who can’t experience their speech impediment in person? See also: “prolly” (used in place of “probably”)

FWIW (for what it’s worth)

“For what it’s worth” is a largely useless phrase to begin with. It’s the classy cousin of “not for nothin’.” If you don’t have the time or energy to type it, you don’t need to shorten it with an acronym. Just don’t type anything.

YOLO (you only live once)

And thank goodness for that, because I can’t deal with you much longer. This one is used to justify doing some dumbass thing that dumbass teenagers do (don’t take offense, kids; I used to be a dumbass teenager, too). The fact that you don’t get a do-over is actually a great reason not to do stupid shit, and wreck the one life you’ve got.

Butthurt (unnecessarily or overly offended)

Whenever I see this, I picture this guy. It’s just the dumbest thing anyone has ever said. Even dumber than “I like money.” Know that I pictured you typing this while mouth-breathing.

SMH (shaking my head)

If you can’t express yourself with words, you need to get off the internet. I don’t want to know what your head’s doing, what your hands are doing, or what faces you’re making. You might as well tell me you’re pouting and giving me a big thumbs-down (PAGABTD?).

DH,DS, DD, LO (dear husband, dear son, dear daughter, little one)

Congratulations. I now hate your entire family because of your description of them.

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)

So, you’re smart enough to use a semicolon, but not smart enough to read anything longer than a Denny’s menu because it makes your brain feel all frowny-face? If you didn’t read something, the most succinct way to comment is as follows:

Aug 2, 2012

The Birth Story (Part 2 of 2)

They brought me into the O.R. alone. My husband was somewhere else, getting his little outfit on. The anesthesiologist comes in to numb me. I’m having another contraction while he has me sit on the edge of the operating table and lean over. He keeps yelling at me to hold still and calling me “Jennifer” instead of “Jenn,” which is not okay with me. He is not interested in waiting a minute until the contraction is over. He finally does his damn job and goes away. Shortly afterwards, I start to feel numb from just below my boobs, all the way to my toes.

At this point, I had an I.V. of fluids or something in my right arm. I have no idea when that happened. But I was still wearing my shirt. It took three people to figure out how to get it off of me, and get a hospital gown on, without removing the I.V. They ended up letting my shirt hang on the I.V. line by a sleeve. That is probably not sterile. They have me lie down on the table with my arms out like Jesus. They put an oxygen tube in my nose and a heart monitor or something on my left arm. Then they strap my arms down. Yeah. “Oh, don’t worry,” they tell me. “It’s just to keep you safe.” They hang up a sheet in between the numb zone and the not-numb zone.

The next thing I know, there are about ten people in the room. I don’t know who any of them are, because they all have masks on, but I know that none of them are my husband. They start talking about what they’re doing and telling each other what to do, and I’m a little surprised that I understand most of it. I thought it would all be in fancy medical jargon. When one of them starts washing my stomach (I’m basing this on what people were saying; I can’t see or feel anything below my fifth ribs), I tell them not to start until my husband gets there. They assure me that they’re just getting ready, and he’ll be there any minute.

He shows up a few minutes later, and they walk him around the table and put him in a chair next to my head. He looks really pale, and not just because of the fluorescent lighting. Apparently, they have started without him, and since the table is set up so that my feet point towards the door, he was treated to quite a view when he arrived. He leans in and whispers, “I saw gore. I saw your insides!”

The C-section itself was boring. It took them forever to get all my organs out of the way. For some reason, I imagined it being: cut the skin, cut the uterus, pull out the baby, done. But I guess there’s other crap inside me that had to be maneuvered around. Stuff my husband saw.  Poor thing. I wasn’t nervous or freaked out at all, since I hadn’t seen what he saw, and also I believe I was on morphine. I knew what was going on down there, but it was an abstract concept to me. They shifted my body this way and that. I could feel my shoulders dragging across the table. I turned to my husband. “I just got hungry; I think they must have poked my stomach!” He didn’t think that was funny at all.

I expected my son to make a big entrance. I figured they’d pull him out and shout, “It’s a boy!” Then he’d cry and all the nurses would applaud. That didn’t happen, either. A couple people mumbled something like, “Okay, got it? Yup, and, he’s out.” That’s it. “Did they just…?” I asked my husband. He looked really overwhelmed. “I don’t know.” Then, somewhere in the far corner of the room, some lady starts squealing, “Would you look at those eyelashes!” My husband has really long lashes, but I kind of doubt she’s talking about him. “Is he out?” I shout. They tell me yes. Um, thanks for the update. “Is he okay? Is he breathing? Can we see him?” I should not have to ask these things! They say he’s fine, and they’re just cleaning him up and checking his vitals. He’s still not crying. I ask again if he’s breathing, and they assure me he is. I ask why he’s not crying, and they tell me some babies don’t. In fact, he didn’t cry until at least a couple weeks after he was born. The most noise he would make is a little “Eh, eh, eh” to complain about diaper changes and boredom.

They finally brought him over and held him near our face for a minute. He was gorgeous. I hadn’t realized it, but throughout my whole pregnancy, I never once tried to picture what he might look like. It would have been a waste of time, anyway. He was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. We kissed him and cried and they took him back to finish cleaning him. When they had to take him to the nursery to do more thorough medical things like shots and stuff, I sent my husband with him. Did you know they do this? They will whisk your baby away when he’s three minutes old. You have to decide in advance whether you want your partner to stay with you or go with the baby. I don’t know why anyone would choose to let their kid go to his first doctor’s appointment alone, but I guess some people do.

I was in the O.R. for another twenty minutes or so, while they put the puzzle that was my abdomen back together. Once I was whole again, they took down the divider sheet and two nurses went to work cleaning the blood and whatever else off of me. They were really rough, jerking me all around the table, but I couldn’t feel it, of course. At one point, I looked down and saw my knee just below my chin. Just so you know, when my nerves are working, I am not that flexible.

This is the point where my story gets really typical: once we were all together again in the recovery room, we took pictures, called people, Facebooked and marveled at how this tiny human was our responsibility. Then, we moved to the regular room where we stayed for the next three days. I’ll just give you the highlights of gifts received and lessons learned.

Gifts we got:
  • The boy was born the day before the Superbowl, and a friend brought his famous chicken wings, because “nobody should watch the Superbowl without wings.” I actually cried; that’s how wonky my hormones were. Everyone laughed at me.
  • A couple I know sent me one of those Edible Arrangements- the baskets of fruit that are cut up arranged to look like flowers. This was great, because I had tons of visitors, and it felt weird to “entertain” without having anything to offer my guests.
  • Another family brought me a plastic bin full of candy bars. Like, twenty full-size candy bars. If you’ve ever taken Percocet, you know how much I appreciated that. And the bin came in very handy after I emptied it, too.
  • My aunt brought me Naked Bee lotion, which smells amazing. The hospital air was really dry, and I was very itchy, so that was one of my favorite gifts.

Some things we learned:
  • The fold-out chair they give your partner to sleep in is awful. Bring your Boppy for feeding the baby, and at night, he can use it as a pillow. Also, they will let him sleep there, but they will not feed him.
  • Some (not all, maybe not even most) of the nurses you encounter will be really pushy. It is your choice what to feed yourself and your baby, whether or not to use a pacifier, and how warm you should keep your room. That bitch is not the boss of you. Have your partner take her out in the hall and let her have it, and she will back off.
  • Apparently, if your husband changes diapers, he’s a superhero. Every time a nurse would try to change a diaper, and my husband stopped her, the whole hospital stopped for a minute. The needle scratched across the record, someone dropped a glass, and five people audibly gasped. We thought this was weird, but I guess it’s a thing.
  • The staff does not care about your modesty. They will hang your catheter bag on the side of your bed, in full view of your guests. Remember to have someone throw the blanket over it. They will also walk into your room and ask you (loudly) “Have you passed gas yet?” in front of visitors. It is super important to them that you fart. I don’t know why.
  • They will not stay on top of your pain meds. In addition to being in charge of this new human who needs to eat every ten seconds, you have to set an alarm on your phone to ask for your medicine every four hours. And you have to ask early; they take ten or fifteen minutes to show up once you ring the bell, then you ask for the medicine and they have to go get it, and that takes another 20-30 minutes.
  • It is not silly to want to wash your face and put on a little makeup after delivery. My husband gave me so much crap for that, but an hour or two later, someone took a picture of the three of us- the First Family Portrait, and to this day, an 11 by 13” print of it hangs in my son’s bedroom. I would be really annoyed if I looked like crap in that picture and had to see it every day. So there.
  • The most important lesson is that kids don’t give a shit about your plans. They will ruin them at every turn, and it starts before they’re even born.

Aug 1, 2012

The Birth Story (Part 1 of 2)

As I entered my 36th week of pregnancy, I “got a feeling.” I just knew that the boy was coming soon. On Sunday, I started nesting. For those who don’t know, this is the human equivalent of when a bird starts building a nest: I had a sudden and severe urge to rearrange furniture, buy a bookcase and wash all of his clothes. I tried to tell people about my “feeling,” but everyone dismissed it, because I still had a month to go. What they didn’t realize was that my son had already inherited a trait from me- impatience.

At that time, my husband and I worked for the same company. We worked the same shift, but in separate buildings, connected by an indoor bridge. We could visit each other, but really had no reason to cross paths during the work day. We drove to work together in his car; he would drop me at my door in the morning and pick me up at night, always with a warning to “be careful!” because it was winter, and pregnant women love nothing more than to slip on ice, unless they are specifically told not to.

On Friday, just after lunch, my stomach started to feel tight. Like everything is pressing outwards. I thought back to my friends’ wedding seven months ago. It was three days before I found out that I was pregnant. Another friend of mine who attended the wedding was very pregnant, and her stomach had felt “tight” all day. After the after-party, she ended up going to the hospital and delivering. The “tight” feeling turned out to be contractions. She’d technically been in labor all day. Could it be? Nah, I’m just psyching myself into a tizzy. I’m not due for more than three weeks.

By late afternoon, the tightness has only gotten tighter. I’m still 90% sure this is psychosomatic. I have a homemade pull-off calendar in my cubicle showing the count-down to my due date (23 days); clearly I’m eager for the big day. I’ve read my pregnancy books and websites over and over, so I know that I should walk around. If it gets worse, it’s labor. If it gets better, it wasn’t. So I begin to pace.

I worked in a cubicle farm, doing phone and email customer support. Our shifts spanned 13 hours, so at that point, there were only two other people left in my row of seven cubicles. One was a guy a little younger than me, and the other a guy a little older than me… with two kids. They were both nervous when I started my pacing. I nonchalantly explained to them that I kinda sorta felt like I might be in labor, but I was almost positive it was just in my head. This did not put them at ease.

5:30 rolls around, and I wait outside for my husband to pick me up. Once we’re a couple miles from work, I try to tell him in the most casual way possible that I got this silly idea in my head today that I was in labor, but not to worry, I totally wasn’t. He is an excellent driver, and did not wreck in a ditch. He did order me to call the hospital immediately. I told him that was unnecessary; I knew what they would say. But just to make him feel better, I pulled up the number for Labor and Delivery that I’d programmed into my phone months ago. I told them my story. They instructed me that if it got worse, I should come in; if not, I was fine. Told you so!

We went home, ate, watched TV, and went to bed. I fell asleep around 10:00, and woke up again around 1:30 in the morning. Nothing strange about that; sleeping is next to impossible in the last trimester. I pulled up the new episode of “psych” on the DVR. At 2:00, I paused it to go pee. Totally normal; you pee every ten minutes when you’re pregnant. You have, like, 700% more fluid in your body than you normally do, and at the end, there’s a child sitting on your bladder.

***If you are a man, you may want to skip this next paragraph***

I peed, wiped, and saw blood. A lot of blood. Like, the heaviest day of your period, back when you were a kid and used pads instead of tampons. I never saw one drop of blood during my pregnancy. I know a lot of women have spotting. Not me. I’m pretty sure I screamed. I did manage to throw on a pantiliner, though. I’m so conscientious.

***Men, you can start reading again***

I woke my husband up and it was friggin’ GO TIME. My bag had been packed for weeks. We run to the car while calling my OB/GYN’s answering service to let them know that he needs to get his ass to the hospital three weeks earlier than we agreed upon. I’m just about to get in the car when my husband calls out, “Wait!” He grabs a Boston Bruins throw blanket that’s been sitting in his trunk, and carefully arranges it on the passenger seat. Really? ( I honestly have no right to complain; he once sliced his finger open in the kitchen so bad that I swear there was arterial spray, and I wiped down the cabinets before tending to him. Some people just can’t think rationally when faced with a crisis.)

The hospital is about 25 minutes away, but to this day, my husband insists he got us there in ten. We’ve been instructed by the Labor and Delivery staff that if we arrive late at night, we’re to go to the Emergency Room, as that’s the only door that’s unlocked. You’d think that by now, L&D would have their own 24-hour entrance. Have you ever heard of a baby that was born at a decent hour? I mean, really. We walk in, and there is some asshole at the window! How dare he? Absolutely nothing takes precedence over me and my boy right now. Nothing. I make a point of holding my belly and moaning to make him hurry up. He doesn’t.

When it’s finally my turn, before the triage nurse can even apply her fake smile, I’m at the window yelling, “Yeah hi I’m 37 weeks pregnant and I’m bleeding and my baby is dying help me!!!” or something to that effect. She is so very casual about taking my information and bringing me around back. I make a note of her name so I can sue her and put a gypsy curse on her later (note: I have no legal representation, nor am I a gypsy).

A nurse from L&D arrives with a wheelchair to take me to the magical wing where they give a shit about me and my kid. I swear, the trip from the ER to L&D is seven miles and three elevators long. During one elevator trip, the nurse finally notices that I’m sobbing. “What’s wrong, honey?” she asks me. Are you fucking serious? “I’m scared my baby’s dead!” I scream at her. I still, to this day, don’t know if the bleeding was really a cause for concern, but it’s not something that I was ever warned about, and I’m terrified that all our hopes and dreams for the past year and a half (I’m counting the 10 months we were “trying”) have been dashed to pieces, and to top it off, there’s a corpse inside me. She just smiles. Smiles!

Shortly after they get me into a labor room, they have a bunch of probes and wires on me (and in me) and they assure me that the baby is fine. They still can’t account for the blood. Some doctor guy will be here eventually. Soon after, I go into real live labor. As in, contractions. Here’s the thing: I never intended to deal with that. The whole concept of labor and delivery was a big turn-off for me. I decided, I think, before I even got pregnant, that I wanted a C-section. My doctor was against it, but ultimately supportive of my wishes. My husband, if he had an opinion, didn’t share it; it was my body and my choice, as far as he was concerned. My insurance company was even okay with it. I had an appointment and everything. Unfortunately, the kid inside me apparently didn’t agree.

My doctor insisted that we take the silly classes at the hospital months ago. They played Enya and made us bring a pillow on more than one occasion. They talked about breathing and visualization and crap. We blew off every single thing they tried to teach us. Any time the teacher would call on us, we’d tell her, “Oh, this doesn’t apply to us; we’re having a C-section.” They did devote about ten minutes of one class to C-sections; it was a video titled “Just in Case.” Thanks for all the info, birthing class!

So now, that thing that I didn’t bother learning about is happening. I tell the nurse that I am in labor, and she needs to have my doctor come and take this kid out, please. She tells me that they don’t like to do C-sections early, so they must make absolutely sure that the baby is coming before they do anything. I don’t know what kind of sign she was waiting for, maybe a little arm coming out and giving her the thumbs-up? They gave me no drugs or any other kind of help. They just watched me scream for hours. Hours. If you’re wondering what contractions feel like, think of the worst cramps you’ve ever had. Now imagine they’re about four or five times worse, and it’s not just your lady organs hurting, but everything from your sternum to your knees. I invented new swears. At one point, I tried to climb out of my own body. I was literally clawing at the air, trying to escape the pain (it didn’t work).

 At about five, they finally agreed that the baby was coming. That’s when the nurses start in with their campaign to talk me into vaginal delivery. While I’m in the worst pain of my life, and scared out of my mind. That’s when they think it’s a good idea to talk me out of a decision I made almost a year ago. Their reasoning was, “You’ve already gone through all this, why not?” Are you insane, lady? “Hey, you’re suffering through the worst pain a human can endure, why not just do it for another day or so? And also work really hard while you’re at it? Why not!”

I tried out some of my new swears on them and they finally agreed to let me be in charge of my own body. My doctor was not on call that day, so some random stranger would be summoned to perform surgery on me. Awesome. Let’s do this! They waited until I was right in the middle of a contraction to hand me a consent form. I crumpled into a ball so tight, it was no longer paper. I think it would technically be classified as a diamond. My husband explained to them that it was not the best time to make me read and write, so they took him out of the room to sign a new one on my behalf.

When the next contraction came, that’s when they chose to insert my catheter.  Yeah. Because their answer to pain was once again, “Fuck it! More pain! All the pain!” While Nurse Evil was ripping me a new urethra, a new nurse walked in. This lady was great. She took one look at what was going on, and just stepped up and silently held my hand. Didn’t even bother introducing herself, just gave me something to squeeze while her colleague tortured me. When the contraction and, um, procedure were over, she did eventually tell me her name, which of course I forget.

Stay tuned for Part 2!