Google Something Clever 2.0: October 2012

Oct 31, 2012

My Halloween/Sandy Saga


What a mess these last few days have been. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Halloween is like my birthday, Christmas and the Oscars rolled into one. This year, I may have taken on a little too much.

Our good friends throw an annual Halloween party (my favorite event of the year) which means I have to come up with costumes for my husband and myself. When I say “costumes,” I don’t mean buying a slutty cop uniform and a prefab Spiderman getup; I mean putting together complete outfits consisting of real clothes, and Hollywood-worthy SFX makeup. There is a contest every year and I will not accept defeat. I did slack a little this year, though, and bought a dress. The hosts have three young kids now, so they can’t decorate until the night before (after bed time), which means they need help. And they are on the same scale as me when it comes to Halloween, so that means about 10 giant plastic totes of gravestones, strobe lights, and 15-foot tall monsters all over their house. It’s a process.

Then there’s the boy’s costume, which I take just as seriously as the grownup costumes. He has chosen (all on his own) to be Anubis, so that’s no small task to fabricate. And I only have a couple hours a week to work on it, since I can’t really work when he’s awake or when my husband is home (unless the football game is on). We’re also hosting a Halloween party for the kids this weekend- 12 kids, from 6 months to 5 years. We’ve barely prepared for that, because we figured I could buy most of the stuff on clearance the day after Halloween. But I have no excuse for the fact that we still have no menu or playlist (um, yes, there will be a dance contest).

A little preview
This is our first year in a real house, as opposed to a townhouse or condo, so we went nuts on the decorations. I mean nuts. It’s embarrassing how much time and money went into it. We had the front yard all decked out already (and we live on the corner, so it’s basically two front yards) and we planned to have a zombie graveyard in the back for the trick-or-treaters to walk through. I’m talking fog, lights, music, animatronics… Yeah, planned. Past tense. Because we live in Massachusetts, and that bitch Sandy, or that asshole Frankenstorm, whichever you prefer, has blown in to ruin everything. Let me tell you about the past few days.

On Friday morning, my husband woke up convinced that we needed to buy a generator. If you didn’t know, last Halloween in Massachusetts was ruined by a freak snow and ice storm, and some people (including us) lost power for days. I think it was four or five. It was a nightmare. The worst part was that we had just done some serious grocery shopping and lost two or three hundred dollars’ worth of food. We’ve been at our new house since March, and we’d already lost power four times during really minor rainstorms. And my husband is a Debbie Downer, so he is absolutely positive that the shit’s going down. Now, he’s the one who taught me that weather forecasts are useless if they’re more than a few days in advance (which he learned from his meteorologist cousin), but repeating that back to him was pointless. He’d been on the fence about it for a few days, and by Friday, he’d talked himself into it.

We called around to various stores, but generators are hard to find in October. Now, there are basically two tiers of portable generators: expensive, and HOLY SHIT! expensive. Nobody had any, but a few stores said they were expecting “emergency shipments” over the weekend. They couldn’t tell us which ones they were getting. Of course. He tried one mom-and-pop hardware store that also rented generators by the day, and when he asked the price, the clerk prefaced his answer with, “Well, in times like these…” Asshole! I mean, it’s one thing to screw your customers in times of need, but to openly announce it?!

Friday night was my second-favorite even of the year. A friend of mine has a birthday in late October and we always sing Karaoke at a local Chinese restaurant. It’s right around the corner from the party (which is on Saturday), so I stopped there for two or three hours to decorate. Then I’m off to sing. There was an awkward moment when my friend and I thought it would be fun to duet on “Free Your Mind” by En Vogue. We hadn’t heard the song in 20 years, and had forgotten that the lyrics are basically “I’m a black woman” over and over. And we are white. So, oops. When I got home, I had just finished brushing my teeth when the power went out for no reason whatsoever. That pretty much convinced me that a generator was not such a silly investment.

My husband went out at 5:00 the next morning to buy a generator at a Home Depot two towns over. When he showed up, it was already a zoo. They were handing out tickets and ringing people up before they even unloaded the truck. Remember when I mentioned the two different price points for generators? Guess which ones they had. Yeah. So he comes home with… um… something that cost about the same amount that I spent on Halloween. I guess I can’t really complain, huh?

The bright side to getting the more expensive generator is that rather than just plugging in the refrigerator and maybe the TV, it can power everything. Our friend is an electrician, and he says he can wire the fuse box so that we can just plug the whole damn house into the generator. That’s a lot better than having a bunch of extension cords running out the window. I email my landlord to ask if that’s okay with him, and he says sure.

It’s party day, and normally, I get to sleep in on Saturday mornings (he gets Sundays), but I had to get up at 7:00 since he was still at Home Depot when the boy woke up. I got a little nap, but I’m still exhausted. I realized that we were out of red food coloring, which we needed to make fake blood (you mix it with corn syrup, did you know this?) and I need a slip because my crappy prefab dress is see-through. So I head out for the food coloring, slip, and some Red Bull. Marshall’s does not have any slips. I went to the grocery store next door (which I hate), and I can’t find any food coloring or Red Bull (it’s a really shitty store).

So I go to Target. It’s three hours until the party. It turns out they don’t make slips anymore, apparently. They only make those Spanx things, and Spanx knockoffs which are just as uncomfortable, but cost half the price. I grab some Red Bull. I go to the baking-supply aisle and all they have is pastel food coloring! What the hell?! I’m in line, freaking out, when I hear someone call my name. Birthday boy from last night is there. He asks me “How’s it going” or whatever, and I yell “I can’t find any food coloring!” because I’m not a pleasant person when I’m stressed out. He lives literally two minutes from Target, and he tells me to go to his house and get some from his wife. Hooray! I go, she gives me the food coloring, and her dog is moaning and crying the whole time I’m there. She says the dog gets that way during thunderstorms. Frankenstorm is still two days away at this point. So that kind of freaks me out.

Ta da!
I get home and wrestle with the knockoff Spanx slip for 15 minutes. I was very sweaty and angry by the end. I do my makeup. Our friend arrives and I add a black eye and a bruised nose to complete his Walter White costume. My husband orders my favorite pizza, which I can’t eat, because I have a prosthetic glued over 2/3 of my mouth. I had a Slim-Fast (through a straw) for dinner. Yum. I do my husband’s makeup. My mother-in-law arrives to watch the boy, who is up 15 minutes past his bedtime and claiming that he’s hungry. The cab arrives and we go to the party.

The party was fantastic, as always. I forgot my bingo card, but took mental notes. Lots of cool costumes. Saw a friend who moved away years ago and happened to be visiting his parents that weekend, so he attended, awesome. We won best couple costume, super awesome. I got just the right amount of drunk, extra-super-awesomesauce. Played Rock Band with Mario, Princess Peach, and a man dressed as Hello Kitty. We kicked ass, even though me and Kitty are drunk (not sure about Peach and Mario). I scored 100% on Expert. Fuckin’ A.


We got home at 4:00 or 5:00. Gross. We had to be at a family brunch at 11:30 because some distant relative named Sandy (I swear) was in town. We got there around 12:45. Not ideal, but it would have been worse if we were on time but unshowered. It’s been raining lightly all day. I ate that pizza I couldn’t have the night before for lunch and dinner. Uneventful day.

Monday. The stupid Nor’caner is supposed to arrive at noon. Right now, it’s still a light rain and moderately windy. My husband woke up two hours early because he was tossing and turning about the generator. He opens it up and puts the wheels on it. He tells me I should familiarize myself with the instruction manual, since his employer has chosen money over safety and he is still required to go in today. Page One states: “Do NOT operate in the rain.” Um, what?! Correct me if I’m wrong, but in 99% of cases, aren’t people using a portable generator because they lost power during a storm? What the hell? He is freaking out. I call Home Depot. I tell the customer service lady what I just read. She is shocked. Before I can ask her if they’ll accept a return on an open and assembled product, she transfers me to whatever the hell department it is that sells generators. I repeat my story. The guy says, “Yeah, well, most people put it in a garage or a shed.” There are explicit instructions on every page of the manual (as well as stickers all over the generator itself) stating that you should never use it indoors, even in a garage, even with the door open, because you will die of carbon monoxide poisoning. I ask him if there are any generators that you can use in the rain. He says A) No and B) They don’t have any left, anyway. I ask if they’ll take it back. He says yes, but I have to come before 1:00 and ask for him. I’ve worked in retail, and I’m guessing he has no idea what the return policy is, and has no authority to override it.
The fort

We have a deck. We decide that the boy and I will go to the store and get supplies to make a little fort under it for the generator. We go out at 10:00 and get some tarps and bungee cords. I finagle a little area under the stairs where I hope the rain won’t get in, but the carbon monoxide can get out.  I fill the Brita dispenser and the bathtub. I feed the boy lunch. I feel like I’m owning this hurricane. The boy goes down for his nap around 2:30 and I discover that the fort is failing. I rearrange the bungees. My husband calls to tell me that they’re letting everyone go home. He gets home at 3:00 and sees that the fort has failed again. I would be useless in a zombie apocalypse. The rain and wind are getting really bad now. We find some cinder blocks under the deck (what are the odds?) and use them to weigh down the tarps. The fort is now kicking ass… And so is Frankenstorm.

At this point, I should mention that the inside of my jacket is covered in sticky fake blood from Saturday night, so I can only wear a hoodie outside. My jeans are soaked and covered in mud from working on my fort, so I have to keep changing from dry jeans to wet jeans every time I go outside to adjust it. I probably changed eight times. The rain lets up briefly. Our electrician friend also had to work today (man, am I glad that I stay at home), so he arrives around 7:30, just in time for the really heavy rain to return. That sucks. I deal with the boy while my husband and our friend do man stuff in the basement and the yard for two hours. The power goes out twice, for about 5 seconds each time.

The boys finish setting up the generator. They are soaked to the bone and reek of gasoline. My husband suspects he has a sprained ankle, but isn’t sure how it happened. Our friend goes home. My husband and I watch a TV show, then he goes to bed. I stay up late writing. By midnight, the rain has stopped. Of course we aren’t going to need the generator, after all. But you know if they hadn’t spent all that time setting it up, we would have needed it.

Tuesday morning started with a light rain that ended around 10:00 or 11:00. There are sticks everywhere, but that’s it. I’m off to reassemble the decorations! I'll post pics of our graveyard and the boy's costume on my Facebook page tonight if you're interested.

Oct 30, 2012

My Magic Tattoo

I haven't had a lot of time to write lately, what with Halloween and Frankenstorm and all that. I do have a quick little story for you, though. This story is almost four years old and I love to tell it. I told it a couple times at a party on Saturday, and I realized I should share it with everyone.

***There is a picture at the end of this post, so try to control your scroll, because it's a spoiler.***

As you may have heard, I have a whole bunch of tattoos. Many of them are small homemade tattoos I gave myself with a sewing needle and calligraphy ink when I was a teenager. Gruesome, I know. I grew up in a small town that was so boring, you literally had to tattoo yourself just to stay awake.

One such tattoo is a little black outline of a heart just above my right hip. When I got pregnant, I assumed it was going to stretch and look all kinds of nasty, but I figured I could just have it removed (I've already had a couple of my other homemade ones removed, and it was no big deal).

Throughout my whole pregnancy, the tattoo never changed. It seemed that it was just outside the area that stretched. I also used cocoa butter lotion on my stomach, butt and thighs every day, which smelled horrible, but I never got stretch marks, so maybe that helped. Who knows?

The day my son was born (via c-section, if that matters) I was changing my nightgown when my husband looked over at me and said, "Holy shit, look at your tattoo!" I replied the same way I always do when people say something like that: "Uh, which one?" He tells me the heart tattoo, and I look down at it, and it had doubled. Not stretched, doubled. Like, it became two interlocked hearts.

I know there's a perfectly logical scientific explanation for this, probably something involving the dermis and epidermis, or whatever, but I don't want to hear it. I don't believe in anything spiritual or magical, but the symbolism is just way too cool, so I'm going to roll with it. It's not my prettiest tattoo, but now it's my favorite.


Oct 26, 2012

Halloween Costume Bingo

Are you going to a Halloween party this weekend? Maybe a bar? I am. And we are all going to see the same costumes, no matter where we go. If you're pregnant and/or the designated driver, this is bound to be boring for you. So why not play game to keep yourself entertained? I present to you:


Print out this handy bingo card, and you will have a blast looking at the same tired old costumes. You probably won't have easy access to a bingo dauber, so feel free to mark your squares by poking a hole in them or smudging them with spit.

If you play along, be sure to take pictures and send them to me at Jenn@SomethingClever2point0.com!

*In case you're a rookie, allow me to explain a few of these. 
Slutty Thing That Should Never Be Slutty: look here or here.
Slut of Unknown Origin: you can't tell what she's supposed to be, but it's definitely something slutty.
Unplanned Twinsies: two people who inadvertently wore the same (lame) costume.
Play on Words: examples I've seen would be a guy with stuffed cats safety pinned all over him (pussy magnet) or a guy wearing a box covered in wrapping paper with a tag that says "from God" (God's gift to women).
Rubber Man: from "American Horror Story". You really should be watching it.

Oct 24, 2012

Why I Home(pre)school


Here in Massachusetts, preschool is optional. Even kindergarten is optional. Yet every time I tell someone that my three-year-old doesn’t attend school, I find myself fielding 20 questions. I’ve been complaining about it on Facebook lately, and of course that led to another person asking why. So here’s why: I can do it myself.

I am really big on DIY. Sometimes you need a pro, but if you can do it yourself, why not? I’ve installed a dishwasher. I’ve changed my own oil. I cut and color my own hair, and I cut my son's and husband’s hair. I’ve painted my walls and tiled my bathroom. Now, some of these things, I sucked at. Some were a bitch to do. So from now on, I’ll hire a professional. But if I did it well, and don’t mind doing it, I’ll carry on.

Teaching my son isn’t that hard. Okay, it is, but the reward is worth it. He read his first word the other day, completely unprompted, while I was listening from the other room. And although anyone would be proud of their kid learning to read, I got and extra shot of pride because I did that. He learned that from me. It’s like stepping back and admiring a lovely roast you’ve cooked, only better (side note: I do not cook roasts).

He knows more about dinosaurs than most adults. I did that. He chose to be Anubis for Halloween. I did that. He knows the choreography to “Thriller” and the names of all the drums in a drum kit. I did that. He can name almost every bone in his body. I did that. He can navigate a smartphone or laptop like a boss... Hmmm, he did that on his own. But I provided the phone and laptop!

I’m lucky enough that I get to stay home with him, and since he’s an only child, I don’t need the “break” that preschool provides moms of multiples. Believe me, I get that, but naptime is enough for me to regroup. I can handle dragging him along on my errands (barely, but I can). And he has plenty of friends his age, and is very outgoing towards both children and adults. So there goes the socialization argument.

Another bonus of “home preschooling” is that I choose the curriculum. I’m worried that he would be held back by other kids if he were in school. I’ve seen kindergarten readiness assessments that ask questions like “Is your child familiar with at least ten letters of the alphabet?” Dude, what are kids learning in preschool?

And if you were wondering, yes, he will attend real school when he’s older. I’m not an expert in every subject. But I know my shapes and colors pretty well, so I think I’m well-qualified to teach him those. Thanks for asking!

Oct 23, 2012

The Guy With the Kids, and Other Neighbors I've Named


I stumbled across a Tweet yesterday complaining about a problem that I think we’ve all had at one time or another.


My Twitter pal @MothaKim of one classy motha! suggested helpful, albeit shady solution:


But sometimes that’s not possible. Like when you live in an apartment or condo, and the mailboxes are locked. When my husband and I lived in our old condo, we didn’t know anybody’s names, so we made up our own names for everyone. Let me introduce them:

The Guy: I know, it’s not a very inspired name. But whenever one of us referred to “the guy,” the other immediately knew who that was. His original name was “The Guy With the Kids,” but that took too long. The guy was a dick and his kids were awful. They thundered up and down the stairs, got gum in the communal dryers, and peeked in our windows. Once, we busted one of the kids and he tried to give us shit for it. We won that fight.

Suzie: Suzie was a college girl who lived directly upstairs from us. She would practice the two guitar chords she knew all day, and pace back and forth from the living room to the kitchen. I think she was getting ice cream to console herself for being such a shitty guitar player. She also had very loud “sleepovers” on Saturdays, with many different “friends.” We once banged on the ceiling when she and a friend added a loud buzzing sound to their normal routine. He came downstairs in pajamas to yell at us, and left very embarrassed, mumbling something about an electric massager.

The Spinsters: Once Suzie’s school year ended, she was replaced by the best neighbors ever, two middle-aged sisters who wore slippers all the time and never spoke. I don’t think they even owned a TV. It was great. They only lasted a year.

The Zombie: The Spinsters were replaced by a zombie. We know he was a zombie because every night when he lurched through the door, his body parts would start falling off. Here’s a written interpretation of his routine: Creeeeeak… SLAM. Scraaaaape, STOMP. Scraaaaape, STOMP. Scraaaaape, STOMP. BOOM!!! Rollrollrollroll. BOOMrollrollroll. Something like that. We briefly entertained the notion that he was an overweight bowling ball salesman, but we were too terrified to investigate. We moved out for about a year and rented our unit out. A few days after we moved, my husband went back to get the place ready for our tenants and saw a moving truck and other signs that the zombie was leaving. Nice timing.

The Goths: When we moved back in, the unit was still empty. Score! A couple weeks later, a young goth couple moved in. What the hell! They weren’t exactly goth, though, not really. It seemed like they were just into whatever pissed off their parents. For example, the young gentleman’s car bore stickers advertising his love for the Misfits, Marilyn Manson and Kiss. Um, makeup is not a genre of music. These kids would watch TV on full volume and smoke pot all day. If we banged on the ceiling, they banged right back. We had to call the cops on them numerous times. Oh, did I mention that we had a baby by then? So that was fun. They also had really loud fights, so loud that we could make out every word. Those were pretty hilarious. Eventually, they broke up and one of them moved out, so it got a lot more pleasant.

We moved out soon after, and with a kid, it’s a lot easier to meet people. So we did know most of our neighbors at the next place. The only one I had to name was “Pendeja,” who got her name by calling me that. Why am I a pendeja? Because she would come home drunk at 10 o’clock at night to drop her preschoolers off with their father so she could go back out and party some more, and I took exception with her blasting gangsta rap from her running car at top volume (beneath my sleeping child’s window) during that process. I know, I know. Huge pendeja.

Now, we finally live in a nice neighborhood with nice neighbors. We’ve only had to name one. We moved in during a huge snowstorm, and my husband was outside shoveling at the same time as the woman next door. She was wearing a ski mask. Yes, a ski mask. For my readers in warm-weather climates, let me assure you, this is not the norm. So when introductions were made, she was a little muffled. My husband told me he thought she said her name was Tina, but he couldn’t be sure. So of course, we named her Tina Mutant Ninja Turtle.

What do you call your neighbors?


Oct 22, 2012

I Can Also Tell You How to Get to Carnegie Hall


Enough with the TV-bashing, already. I grew up on TV. I mean tons of TV. And believe it or not, I actually learned from it.

Years ago, my future-husband’s cousin needed a ride from Massachusetts to JFK Airport in New York (long story on the “why”). I’d never been to New York City, so I tagged along. This was before smartphones, and maybe even Tom Toms, so all we had to help us navigate was a hopelessly confusing and inaccurate MapQuest printout. It got us most of the way there, since highways are hard to screw up, but once we got to the city, we were pretty lost.

We knew we had to look for a certain street in Queens, but where the hell was Queens? We drove past a sign that said something about the Bronx, so I leaned out the window and yelled “Yankees suck!” for good measure. Then I realized that the area looked familiar… Like, 704-Hauser-Street-familiar. 

“We’re in Queens,” I confidently announced. The pilot disagreed. So did our passenger. “We just passed a sign that says the Bronx; there’s no way we’re in Queens.” I sat back. A couple of minutes later, we drive past what I swear is Doug and Carrie Heffernan’s house. “I’m telling you guys, we are in Queens!”  For some reason, the guys didn’t trust my TV-logic, but they did trust the “Entering Queens” sign the showed up about ten seconds later.

So now it’s clear that I am an expert on NYC because I have watched a bunch of shows set there.  Well, clear to me, anyway. We’re running late and getting pretty nervous. Then we come upon some confusing signs. It seems that there are two different expressways that lead to the airport: the JFK Expressway and the Van Wyck Expressway. Why are there two? Which one is faster? We’re all arguing and freaking out a little because the exits are coming up, and I calmly, authoritatively instruct future-husband to take the Van Wyck. “I know this. Trust me. I know this.”

Five minutes later, we arrived at the airport, in time for the flight. That’s when I told them how I knew to take the Van Wyck: Because that’s how Elaine Benes got to JFK in that one episode of Seinfeld. So there.

By the way, the one thing TV didn’t prepare me for is that JFK is nowhere near the Statue of Liberty or Times Square or any of that stuff. I couldn’t even see any buildings. Lame.


Oct 18, 2012

MWF Looking for Non-Slutty Costume


I have never been one for slutty Halloween costumes, probably because I’m not a slut. But I recognize that many, many women buy them. My friends have a huge Halloween party every year, and there is always a gaggle of slutty cops or slutty referees in attendance.

I’m not going to get into why someone might want to pretend to be a stripper one night a year. I don’t get it and I don’t care. What I do care about is the slutty costume industry encroaching on the rest of us. Go ahead and make slutty costumes if you want, but please, stop slutting up all the regular costumes! It is damn near impossible to find a non-slutty costume anymore.

The sluttiest costume I ever wore.  It's Britney, bitch!

I mentioned recently that I’m half-assing my costume this year by purchasing a dress, rather than making one. I’m going as zombie Alice (as in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”). If you haven’t done your research, Alice is a seven-year-old girl.

I went to my local Halloween store looking for an Alice dress. They had one. It was slutty.

I went to the party store. They had two. Two different varieties of slutty.

Come on.

I went online. I tried three different search terms. I found at least ten different varieties of lingerie purporting to be costumes of a character who is seven years old

What. The. Fuck?!

Please explain yourselves, costumezone.com

There are exactly three adult-sized Alice costumes in the world that are not slutty. One is a replica of the dress from that Johnny Depp movie, which is just as inaccurate as a negligee. The other two look like they’re from that show about Hutterites. Luckily, I’ll have to deconstruct my costume anyway to make it zombieish, so I just got one of the dumpy Little House on the Prairie style ones.

These costumes don’t even admit that they’re slutty, that’s what really kills me. Sometimes they’re called sexy, but even that’s rare. The slutty Alice costumes I found were called “Alluring,” “Charming,” “Enchanted,” “Sassy,” “Cute,” “Fantasy” and “Wicked.”

Costume manufacturers, get your act together. Please recognize that some of your customers may be old ladies, or tall minors, or just people like me, who are not particularly skanky. I promise, if you make it, we’ll buy it.

Oct 16, 2012

How to Cut Your Child's Hair in Ten Easy Steps


So you’ve decided to cut your kid’s hair. I’ve been cutting my son’s hair for three years (since his first cut), and oftentimes, I’m asked how I do it. It’s very simple. However, if you’ve never cut hair before, stop right there. Cutting hair is tricky, and cutting a squirmy person’s hair is damn near impossible. Practice on yourself and your spouse for a minimum of ten years before you attempt this feat.


Step One: Put your child in a high chair. Bonus points if you have one with a five-point harness. Super bonus points if your kid is asleep and you have two friends to hold him down.

Step Two: Carefully wrap a towel around the- oh, who am I kidding, those tiny little itchy bits of hair are going to get all over the place, no matter what you do.

Step Three: Toys and snacks go a long way towards helping your kid sit still. Try to choose toys that you can rinse off, and snacks that aren’t too sticky. Don’t worry about your kid not ingesting enough hair, they totally will.

Step Four: Try to choose a style that doesn’t require a flat iron to maintain, because kids hate those things, for some reason.

Step Five: Cut the most important part first. If the shit hits the fan and you have to bail early, you don’t want a girl with shaggy bangs, or a boy with a wiffle, sideburns and a mullet.

Step Six: Kids do not understand complicated commands like “face forward” or “look down.” But they love riddles and puzzles! Have them move their head the way you want by telling them to “listen to your shoulder” or “try to lick your belly.”

Step Seven: Threats and intimidation go a long way towards keeping your kid from squirming. Before every approach with the scissors or buzzer, remind your child that if they move, they will get cut/look ugly (maximum fear-inducing threat is dependent on the gender of your child).

Step Eight: Get over your fear of blood and your unnatural attachment to your child’s ears. You will nick them at least once a year. Whatever, Band-Aids are way cheaper than a trip to Snip-its.

Step Nine: Make amends.

Step Ten: Tomorrow is crazy hat day! And the day after that, and the day after that, and oh screw it probably the next three or four weeks.


Oct 15, 2012

Why is My Son Sexist?


Somewhere along the line, I screwed up.

I've always made it a huge point to not impress any gender roles on my son. Granted, I stay at home with him, and my husband takes out the trash, but I try to make a big show of it when I mow the lawn (twice, ever, when said husband was recovering from surgery) or when my husband cooks dinner (on the stove, thank you, not just the grill).

I got really annoyed two Christmases ago, when I went online to buy him some "Ni-hao, Kai-lan" toys, and all the descriptions featured references to my "little girl." He loves flowers and watches "My Little Pony." He has a lot of female friends. He knows that I’m the handy one around the house, and my husband isn't allowed to use the hammer. Things are going great, right?

So, we're at Toys R Us working on his Christmas/Hanukkah/Birthday wish list. Yes, in October. Shut up, not the point. We had just left the doll aisle, where we were perusing the Baby Alive selection (see?) when we stumbled upon the dress-up clothes. The boy has a ton of dress-up clothes. They take up about a third of his closet. Pirate, Captain America, park ranger, you name it. There, in the aisle, was the doctor costume we'd purchased for his cousin a few months back. The one he still talks about constantly. "Scan that!" he orders. "I want that!"



I scan the bar code and hear him mumble something that sounded like "nurse." Huh? I ask him to repeat himself. Apparently, he thinks the doctor costume with green scrubs is for doctors, and the one with pink scrubs (fuck you, Imaginarium, for even making that) is for nurses. Where the hell did he get that?

I stay at home with him every day. He does not go to school or day care. He watches TV, yes, but I watch right alongside him to monitor what he's taking away from it and correct anything inappropriate or incorrect (Dino Dan mispronounces, like, half the dinosaurs, FYI). I know my husband didn't teach him that. I'm fairly sure he didn't pick it up during the 3 hours of babysitting he gets per year. Why the hell does he think that?

I start grilling him, and of course he shuts down because he hears my tone and thinks that he's in trouble. I try to ease up. "Honey, do you think that this one is for nurses because it’s pink?" Now, I've never told him that pink is for girls, and he's aware that I actually hate pink myself (except for hair, of course) but come on, I'm sure he's picked up on that by now. It turns out that is correct. "Honey, you do know that a lady can be a doctor, right?" "Um, no?" Oh, shit.

How did this happen? Yes, his primary care is a man, but he actually saw two specialists recently that were women, and his father has brought him along to his own appointments with two different female doctors. I remind him of this, and it turns out, he'd always though they were nurses! I tell him that they are doctors. I point out that Doc McStuffins' mother is a doctor, and his best friend's aunt just became a doctor recently. I tell him that there is no job that is just for men, or just for ladies. He seems really uncomfortable, still thinking he's in trouble, I guess, so I drop it for a while.

On the ride home, I quizzed him. It turns out that he was also unaware that women could be police officers! Son of a bitch! I have always made it a point to call them police officers in front of him, rather than police men. I start listing random occupations, asking him "Can a man be…" and "Can a woman be…" and he just starts saying yes to everything.  I even asked "Can a woman be a fireman" and "a mailman" and he said yes. So now I think he's just faking it, and won't cop to any more biases he previously held. I do think he was being genuine when I asked him who takes care of babies, and he answered, "Mommies and daddies." So that's cool, I guess.

But where did he get this impression about doctors? I feel like I should take him on a field trip to a hospital or something. Somewhere along the line, I failed. I wish I knew where.

Oct 9, 2012

Mommy's Night Out: A Guide


Staying at home with the kids for too long can make you forget how to behave in civilized society. Before you go out to dinner with your husband, or a grownups-only party, do yourself a favor and read this refresher:

  • Yes, you must wash your hair.
  • Throwing on concealer and Chap-stick is not considered “doing your makeup.”
  • Riding shotgun? Go ahead and move that seat alllll the way back. There is no one behind you.
  • Remember hot meals? Yeah, you might want to blow on that.
  • Stop! Look down. Those are not yoga pants. Do not wipe your hands on them; use a napkin.
  • Your dining companion is free to stop eating at any time. Do not bribe them to finish their vegetables, and do not eat their scraps yourself.
  • You can order dessert if you want. (Also, you do not need to spell I-C-E- C-R-E-A-M to the waiter.)
  • If someone nearby farts, do not prompt them with “What do you say?” and do not ask them if they need to poop.
  • Yes, you may swear.
  • Do not pull out your phone and start showing off pictures of your kid unless someone specifically asks to see them.
  • Try to refrain from asking to see the mommy-juice list. It’s called wine, remember?
  • Don’t forget to close the bathroom door when you pee!


Oct 8, 2012

The Benefits of Pink Hair


You may have noticed in my picture up there that I have pink hair. Yes, it’s a cartoon, but the color is accurate. There are some perks about having hair like mine that you may not have considered.

First of all, it’s really easy for my friends to spot me in a crowd. This comes in very handy if we get separated. If they need to enlist the help of a third party to search for me, they don’t need to remember what color my shirt is, or figure out my height. Just “the one with the pink hair” is enough.

People also remember me very easily. If you've seen me once in the last year or so, you’ll recognize me every time you see me. Since I’m not a dick to retail workers, this means that they remember me as “that nice lady with the pink hair,” and are nice to me next time they see me. There are two different cart wranglers at my local grocery store who, when they spot my son and me in the parking lot, will dig through all the carts to grab us one of those awful car carts that my son likes without us even asking.

Ever find a hair in your food? It’s pretty disgusting, and even if it’s the same length and color as yours, you can never be sure. Not me. If I find a pink hair in my food, I know it’s mine, and I can just pull it out and keep eating without wondering (or dry-heaving).

Lastly, it keeps me safe from serial killers. Seriously, hear me out. Have you ever watched “Criminal Minds”? Serial killers always have a type that they’re looking for (usually someone who looks like their mother). Sometimes the lady cops on other shows have to go under cover as a bait to draw the killer out, and nine times out of ten, they put on a blonde wig. Pink hair is never the type the killer is looking for. So I can breathe easy.

If you're on the fence about coloring you hair, I hope this makes your decision easier. Really, the only down side is that I have to use a dedicated hair towel (and red pillowcases).

Oct 3, 2012

No Scouting For My Boy


A Boy Scout came to our door recently peddling popcorn. My husband, who answered the door, has fond memories of scouting and is always eager to support whatever fund raising efforts the local kids are cooking up. But before he made his purchase, he asked my permission in our secret married people language: “Hon, do you have any cash?” He knows I am strongly against the Boy Scouts of America.

I've known for a long time about their anti-gay policy. It’s been a source of contention between us, as we have a son who could conceivably want to join when he’s older. I was almost relieved when I learned that the BSA’s discrimination also extends to atheists, so my son wouldn't be allowed to join, anyway.

My husband’s views on the BSA are in step with much of America. He disagrees with their exclusionary policies, but thinks that on the whole, they’re a good organization that can enrich a boy’s life. Since the BSA’s reaffirmation of their anti-gay stance back in July, many troops have announcedthat they do not intend to follow the policy, and that seems to be good enough for many parents. Not for me. You’re either with them, or against them. Would you let your son join if the national policy excluded a particular race, but your local chapter assured you they wouldn't follow it?

Last week, the BSA finally admitted that it has been keeping files on known and suspected pedophiles within its organization for over 100 years, often without reporting them to authorities. What is it going to take for people to finally say they've had enough?

It’s unfortunate that my son won’t be able to join his friends on camping trips and… whatever else the Boy Scouts do. But the BSA made that decision, not me. As for the rest of you, if your son is straight and God-fearing, and therefore eligible to join, I urge you to think long and hard about it first. If everyone keeps turning  a blind eye to the BSA’s bigotry, they’re not going to change. Keep your son out of Boy Scouts, and tell him why. Tell your friends why. Until every boy is accepted.


Oct 2, 2012

The Boy Has Stolen My Halloween Spirit

Blah blah blah, mothers sacrifice everything for their children. Everyone knows that. We don’t do our hair anymore. We eat cold, left over dinosaur nuggets for dinner (and they are delicious). We put all our efforts into dressing them all cute, and then wear yoga pants to the supermarket. Our once-lovely living rooms look like a day care perpetually frozen at 5 pm. Okay.

Today, I’m going to talk about the biggest thing I sacrificed for my kid. The thing I cared about the most before he was born (oops, I mean second-most, after my husband, of course- Hi, honey!). That would be Halloween. I am crazy for Halloween.  I start planning costumes in July. I would get up three hours early to apply prosthetic makeup to wear to work. One year, my (future) husband and I drove around to two parties and three bars just so we could enter five separate costume contests (we only won two, which is bullshit).

Since my son was born, I barely even try to throw together my own costume anymore. He gets about 65% of my effort, my husband gets 30%, and there’s 5% left for me. If I’m feeling really saucy, I’ll wash my hair. The last decent costume I did was when I was five months pregnant (I even half-assed the hair then). That was the beginning.

The boy’s first Halloween, he was the White Rabbit, my husband was the Mad Hatter, and I was Alice. I spent months tracking down vintage pants for my husband and a friggin’ pocket watch for an infant, then half-assed my own dress so bad, I ended up changing into a nightgown a couple hours into the party.

The next year, the boy was Kevin Flynn from TRON, and I didn’t even have a costume. Yes, he really lit up. Yes, he knew what he was, but he has yet to see the movie. I spent all of October entering him in online costume contests sponsored by parenting magazines (stupid popularity contests).

His third year, he was Scott Howard from Teen Wolf. He was ridiculously adorable and I basked in the attention he got from other parents. This was the first year he went real trick-or-treating (not just driving around to the grandparents houses), and some houses even insisted on giving my husband and me our own candy just for the effort.

My husband’s costume last year (Han Solo frozen in carbonite) took about 17,000 hours of work, so that left very little time or inspiration for me. Anyway, I threw together a quick zombie makeup for myself. Zombies are my specialty, and I can do it in my sleep at this point.
My progress so far

This year, my husband has put his foot down and insisted that I let the boy choose his own costume, rather than base it off of some 80’s movie he’s never seen. I was very nervous, as he started throwing around ideas like “ghost” and “mummy” early on, but he is my son, and he did not disappoint. He has chosen to be Anubis, the jackal-headed Egyptian god of death and mummification. Not that he knows what death is, or that a mummy is actually a dried-out human. Shhh, don’t tell him.

So now I have to manufacture a headpiece, mask, collar and skirt-thing. My awesome neighbor made his staff us (I think my lack of handiness was just too frustrating for him to bear, so when I asked for advice on bending a curtain rod, he just said “screw it” and did it himself). This is also the first year we’ve had a real yard (see my sad little patch of land last year for reference), so of course I need to make it into a graveyard, complete with strobe lights, fog machines, and [mumble] dollars worth of animatronic zombies.

Those two projects have sucked all the creativity out of me, so guess what my husband and I are doing. Zombie Alice and Zombie Mad Hatter. I even bought a pre-fab dress for myself, which is a big cop-out. I’m going to try to throw together some prosthetics for us, but I’ll probably flake on that. At least the boy will look good.