Saturday, January 31, 2015

Alumni Magazine Envy

If envy is truly one of the seven deadly sins, I should have died a very long time ago.

Of all the emotions I've been at war with during my life, envy is at the front of the battlefield. Looks. Brains. Money. Success. Character. Talent. Inner Peace.

The list of things and qualities, both tangible and intangible, that I have envied in others are too numerous and varied to count.

And nothing brings that ugly, green-eyed beast out of its cave like my college alumni magazine. I don't even subscribe to it. It just COMES. Like, just to fuck with me.

My thought process when I retrieve it from the mailbox and open it up is always the same, and it always goes EXACTLY the same way:

... Oh My God ... That woman graduated five years after me and is doing pediatric heart surgery with chopsticks on refugees in Laos. What the FUCK?!

... Oh My God ... That woman is an Olympic Athlete who just won the world record in shot put ...

... Oh My God ... I think I smoked a joint with that kid in his sophomore dorm room ... now he is the solicitor general of MISSISSIPPI?!

... Oh My God ... THAT girl won an Oscar? I didn't even know she went to this fucking school!

... Holy Shit ... That asshole just discovered a new innovative treatment for pancreatitis?

... Wait, WHAT? That dude has his own gallery opening at The Whitney?

... Wow ... Just. Wow.

... Fuck my life. I am never going to amount to anything. I will never be in this stupid fucking magazine.

... Oh My God ... I hate this magazine and everyone in it. But I hate how it makes me feel even more.

... [Turning to the obituaries]: Oh that's so sad...that person died so young. I wonder if they had kids. Oh look. They did. Oh My God, that is so tragic!

... Why doesn't it say how they died? It just deepens the mystery. Maybe it was suicide?

... At least if they're dead they can't be mo' better than me anymore ...

... Wow. I am literally the worst person on earth ...

... I deserve to live even less than I deserve to be in this stupid ass alumni magazine ...

... Should I eat some fudge now? Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes ...

Then I throw the magazine in the recycling. And I do it all over again a month later.



Selfishness and Solitude

This morning, I spent the entire morning in my favorite place: Bed. (See prior post titled, "In Bed").

Although it was sunny for the first time in weeks, it was blisteringly cold and windy outside, and I had bad cramps. But mostly I just needed to be alone. Geoff took both kids to a friend's house; I felt guilty and selfish.

In the same hour, a different friend (another mom) asked me for a blog post on selfishness, and how the definition of selfishness changes when we become parents. Her request was timely.

I can't speak for fathers, but for mothers, (or at least for me), this feeling of guilt and "selfishness" is acute and has a single common denominator: Solitude.

Whether it's an hour in the gym, a yoga class, a drink with a friend after work, a business trip out of town, or just wandering around aimlessly in a grocery store for an hour by yourself, for many mothers, that feeling of being "alone"-- anywhere--is simultaneously delicious and guilt-inducing.

I have plenty of separation from my kids. Probably too much, actually. The problem is, I don't get a lot of alone time, or time to do my own "thing" (whatever that is). And on the rare occasions that I do, I always feel guilty and selfish.

This morning (before I climbed back in bed), I had to drive a friend somewhere. I didn't bother to get out of my pajamas. The drive took 14 minutes round trip, and in those 14 minutes I had an elaborate fantasy about driving to the ferry terminal, putting my car and myself on the ferry, and just going wherever the ferry was going and never coming back. It reminded me of the sorts of "runaway" fantasies I would have as a child and a teenager.

I think we as mothers put a lot of pressure on ourselves to deny ourselves these sorts of feelings. We worry they mean we don't want and love our children. We fear and suppress these feelings because we are afraid of their implications.

But the reality is that you give up solitude, or solitude becomes charged with the moral relativity of "selfishness," when you become a mother. I think mourning the loss or change in that solitude is normal and OK; just as it's normal and OK to feel overjoyed and all of the happy feelings that motherhood brings.

Then again, maybe I'm wrong. The name of my blog would suggest as much.




Just Speculating ...

While we're on the subject of medieval-style torture devices for women (see prior post titled, "Breast Pump Follies"), let's talk about the speculum.

People often say America would be a different place if women were in charge, or at least if men had lady-parts.

Well, maybe.

I suppose one way it would be different is that nursing men would get paid to stay home with their babies for a year, instead of being financially and culturally penalized and forced to stick their tits into a machine 8 weeks after giving birth just so they could feed their baby and still have a job to pay for said baby.

But hey. Quit complaining. Just be glad there IS a breast pump! And that you HAVE a job! And anyway, no one told you to reproduce. C'mon. You can't have it all. So quit feeling sorry for yourselves ladies, and focus on hating and judging each other instead. There, there. That's better now.

Another thing that would be different is the speculum. There is no way a woman invented the speculum, and there is absolutely no way it would continue to exist if men had vaginas. For the men reading this post, take a good look at the picture below. Yes, that exists and is used in routine modern medicine.

I can't imagine a man standing for a lunch time, workday appointment with a speculum. If men had vaginas, many research dollars would likely go into finding a better way to inspect their health.

I don't know what the new, alternative device would look like. But I am pretty sure it would not be a set of cold, metal duck lips in the shape and color of a glock .42 handgun that is shoved into the man's vagina and then painfully cranked open as wide as possible, while numerous latex fingers lubed up with cold jelly probed, poked, and pushed their way around under a mini heat lamp.

Nope.

I am pretty sure that when the first man who had that experience returned to his office feeling like he had just been clinically assaulted in the junk, he would get right on his computer and launch an immediate effort at all levels of research, development, medicine, and finance to invent an alternative mode of scrutinizing the vagina for infirmities.

But who knows? I'm just speculating.



Postscript: after I published this post, I discovered that this was the person who invented the speculum. I rest my case.




Friday, January 30, 2015

Are You Dealing With an Asshole?: A Flowchart


Breast Pump Follies

This morning, a friend with a new baby reminded me of the complete and total fucking AWESOMENESS that is the modern-day practice of pumping breast milk from your titties at work. The inconveniences and indignities of this process are many and varied, and therefore difficult to enumerate. 

But let me try anyway.

I don't have a baby that requires me to pump breast milk anymore, but I did have two of them at different points in time, and collectively spent many hours of my day with my titties squeezed into a cone shaped tube of flesh and shoved into a plastic funnel.

I was FAR luckier than most women who work outside the home, because my workplace is friendly to nursing mothers, and I've always had an office with a door. But let's face it: There is nothing remotely natural, normal, or fun about the breast pump. Especially at work. 

Here's an easy 10-step explanation as to why:

1. Your giant, engorged, throbbing, aching, leaking tatas are telling you to go be with your baby, and get off the phone or get out of this meeting. So you excuse or mute yourself to begin the pumping process.

2. You close your door (if you have one) and put a sign on the outside that says something to the effect of,  "Warning: I'm in here with my tits out. Please knock or enter at your own risk."

3. You plug in a device that cost $300, but yet somehow still looks like a cross between a rudimentary pipe bomb and a turn-of-the-century ham radio used by tin-foil hat wearers who are trying to obtain a nuclear code from Martians.

4. You connect two plastic cones that look like something a vet would put on a hamster to keep the hamster from chewing out his stitches. Then you shove your titties into it and dial that ham radio up to "5."

5. You connect the cone to a hose, and the hose to a little plastic (BPA free, of course) bottle (or something like that, I am blocking it now), and start watching as milk squirts out of your tits into the bottle. You feel oddly satisfied as the bottle starts to fill up and you stare at the "product" in fascination, simultaneously amazed, disgusted, and proud that your body is in the process of making milk. MILK for fuck's sake!

6. You start zoning out and begin to feel hints of euphoria, along with unquenchable thirst and a strange urge to eat a column of double-stuff Oreos as you listen to the repetitive sound of the ham radio "talking" to you and sending you secret Martian codes. (My breast pump kept saying "Mama Floor" and "Thug Life" over and over again).

7. When you've squeezed every last drop of milk you can out of your tits (and still worry it's not enough), you will hear someone on the conference call say "What do you think?" You will have no idea what they are talking about, since the only thing you've heard for the past fifteen minutes is "Mama Floor." You will then have to un-mute and ask whomever it was to kindly repeat the question.

8. When you're done with all that, you'll wipe your boobs with a tissue or your sleeve; take your plastic bottles of breast milk (which feel disturbingly warm to the touch); and walk them through a public hallway to your break-room refrigerator. There you will place them with a little label (in case anyone mistakes them for coffee creamer) right next to Bill-From-Accounting's leftover Chinese take-out.

9. If you're paying attention, at the end of the day you might remember to take the milk home to be frozen and placed in a future bottle for your baby, because if you don't give your baby breast milk at every feeding, he or she will grow up to be sick, allergic, brain damaged, and intermittently employed at a Chevron gas station between stints on meth/in prison.

10. Repeat steps 1-9, 3x per day (with your entire day planned around your tits) for six months to a year.

I Got 99 Problems, But The Super Bowl Ain't One

I know it's highly un-American, but I have a profound indifference toward The Super Bowl; an indifference bordering on antipathy, in fact. Here's a window into my usual thought process on Super Bowl Sunday:

 ... I don't understand this game. It's so boring. 

 ... Why is the whole country obsessed with this game?

 ... God, I feel so bad for these athletes. I know they're millionaires, but they're millionaires with permanent brain damage!

... I wonder what's going to become of them when they retire. They will probably open a used car dealership and commit suicide from depression. That or become a broadcaster on ESPN, if their brains still work ...

... Isn't Super Bowl Sunday the #1 day for domestic violence in the country? Is that because football promotes violence and gambling and men get angry and beat on their wives and girlfriends? Why is no one talking about that? God, that is SO fucked up!

... God, the only thing I'm looking forward to here is Buffalo Wings and chips and guac and even that stuff is gross and will give me stomach issues tomorrow.

... Oh My God ... wait ... is that Paul McCartney? He looks like a leatherback sea turtle without its shell!

... Oh My God ... wait ... is that Britney Spears? She looks like a washed-up Vegas stripper!

... Oh My God ... wait ... is that Beyonce? Where are her pants?

...Oh My God ... wait ... is that someone's nipple?

... I wonder how much these pyrotechnics cost. Probably enough to feed a small village in Nigeria for a year.

... I don't understand this game. It's SO FUCKING BORING!!

... This game totally glorifies violence and stupidity. I hate it.

... Wait a minute ... what if Isaac wants to play football? Will I be the meanest mom ever if I don't let him?

... Why does everyone treat Super Bowl Sunday like some sort of holy holiday?

... Why is everyone excited about a bunch of TV advertisements?

... Wait, that was IT? Wait ... was I supposed to be excited about that ad for a truck? Why is everyone talking about an ad for a truck?

... God, I am so confused by this entire thing.

... Should I eat more chips and guac? Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes ...

... Oh My God, I totally need another Buffalo wing in blue cheese dipping sauce. Should I eat another one? No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes ...

... How did everyone in America get so fat?

... Is this like a holiday just to watch TV and celebrate barbarism?

... Why does everyone think this is fun?

... God, I am so fucking bored.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Should I Hit Myself in the Head with a Tire Iron?: Another Flowchart

Is That Seriously a Thing?: A Flowchart

Four Movies Lots of People Love, But That Make Me Vomit, and Why

Ghost (1990): Patrick Swayze plays the ghost of Demi Moore's sexy dead husband. One night, Patrick is accosted and murdered on a subway platform by a thug sent at the behest of Patrick’s colleague, whose embezzlement shenanigans Patrick has recently discovered. Needless to say, Patrick's murder gives Demi a major case of the sads. It's OK though, because at some point, Patrick inhabits the body of Whoopi Goldberg, who plays a psychic, and Whoopi and Demi have a romantic slow-dance during the channeling event. There's also a scene where Demi and Patrick bone while throwing a pot and messing around with clay and it is BEYOND the heights of nauseating. A series of bullshit occurs wherein Patrick has to do all this stuff to avenge his own death, otherwise his ghost cannot R.I.P. Naturally, everything works out OK in the end: Demi finally sees Patrick's ghost and the bad guys lose and Patrick can go towards the light. 

Reasons Ghost makes me vomit: clay-based sex; Demi/Whoopi slow dance; abounding supernatural cliches.

The English Patient (1996): I was relieved when Seinfeld rightly lampooned this chunk of fuckery back in the mid-90’s. Everyone was sucking this movie’s dick like it was the second coming of Christ and it was seriously terrible. I don’t even remember what happened in this movie really, other than that it's a World War II period piece in which a Canadian nurse keeps wiping Ralph Fiennes’ brow and starts humping on a Sikh soldier in the British army. They take a couple of showers in an outdoor shower together, and in the end the nurse euthanizes Ralph Feinnes with morphine 'cause he asks her to. That's basically the long and the short of it.

Reasons The English Patient makes me vomit: period piece; corny shower sex; nurse/patient relationship and suspension of disbelief required to accept euthanasia finale; complete market saturation during theatrical release.

Regarding Henry (1991): Harrison Ford plays a slick, narcissistic, and unethical Bonfire-of-the-Vanities type Manhattan cowboy lawyer dickhead who's living a life of Park Avenue luxury with his socialite trophy wife and their tween daughter. It takes getting shot in the head at a bodega to turn Harrison into less of an asshole. Suddenly, he is a really nice guy and he realizes the guy he was before he got shot in the head was a huge dick. His law firm lets him come back, but his failure to be a dick post-traumatic brain injury leaves the partners unimpressed, and they only let him do shit like number discovery documents with a Bates stamper. At this point, Henry doesn’t want to be a lawyer anymore! Not only that, but he realizes he had an extramarital affair in his pre-shot-in-the-head days and totally dicked over the plaintiff in his last case before the shooting. At the end, he retrieves his daughter from boarding school because now he is also BFF’s with the kid he previously ignored in favor of billable hours and wants to spend quality time with her. 

Reasons Regarding Henry makes me vomit: lawyers; trite plot-line about What Really Matters in Life; a frighteningly realistic-looking and permanently traumatizing scene of getting shot in the head.

Jerry McGuire (1996): In this feel-good movie and multiple Oscar (tm) sweeper, real-life Scientologist and certified stunt-queen/wing-nut Tom Cruise stretches very far to play a douchebag sports agent who decides to put his foot down about dishonesty in sports management and leave his big firm. He announces his departure in a giant spectacle in the lobby and is all like, "Who's with me?" But he gets the major slow clap, and only a 26 year-old single mom played by professional squinter Renee Zelwegger goes with him. She tries to help Tom keep his career from going tits up by getting into an imbalanced power-dynamic sugar-daddy type relationship with him. Then Tom starts to Disneyland Dad her nauseatingly cute son who looks like a human slow loris. This movie also spawned a series of SUPER annoying quotes that everyone kept saying for years like, “Show me the money!” and “You had me at ‘Hello.’” 

Reasons Jerry McGuire makes me vomit: Tom Cruise; contrived cuteness-in-glasses; “Show me the money”; “You had me at ‘Hello.’; did I mention Tom Cruise.


A still from the aforementioned clay-pot-throwing-boning scene. This is neither her nor there, but WTF is up with Patrick's bangs?

Fani

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was this week, I'm deviating from my general rule of not mentioning other people by name on this blog to profile an important person in my life. 

Her name is Fani, and she is the woman who raised me from the time I was five days old until I was twelve or so, while both my parents worked full time and long hours. I probably spent more time with her than any other single person in my childhood. She doesn't use a computer so she will never see this, but she knows how much I love her.

I visited her at her apartment in Northern Manhattan when I was in New York City last Christmas, and I worried it would be the last time, and the last picture we would take together. (She is in her late seventies and quite ill). She speaks four languages: Romanian, English, Yiddish (which she calls "Jewish" and pronounces "Djeweeesh"), and Hebrew.

When Fani was a baby in Romania, the Nazis rounded her up along with her mother and her two older sisters and sent them all to a concentration camp in Russia. Her father went to a separate work camp, also in Russia. She didn't see him again for three years, and when she did, he was a stranger to her. Miraculously, all five members of Fani's family survived to be reunited in Romania and later in Israel and the United States. 

Fani spoke Romanian to me as a baby and I understood it but couldn't speak it. I didn't actually realize how much Romanian I had absorbed, until years later at work when I heard a judge speak with a familiar accent. I instantly thought he was someone from my childhood. Turned out I'd just never heard anyone else speak with a Romanian accent.

Fani had lots of old world beliefs about things like fresh air and chicken soup. I ate a lot of chicken soup and got lots of fresh air. Sometimes we would walk all the way from my parents' apartment, on 254th Street in the Bronx, to her apartment in Manhattan at 207th Street several miles away. She loved to watch "The Price is Right" and she let me eat as much candy and watch as much crappy TV as I wanted. In fact, my best Romanian phrase was "I want to watch more television." But mostly, I enjoyed talking to her and I spent a lot of time doing it. 

I would ask her to tell me her life story again and again: her post-Holocaust childhood in Communist Romania, where everyone was impoverished and the ice cream truck was a cart with two flavors of ice cream, and kids would run from their homes with a spoon in their hand and get a spoonful of ice cream for a penny. We would look through old black and white photographs of her young adulthood as an actress in Israel, and she was hilariously bold about exclaiming how beautiful she was. (It was true).

I often spent time at her apartment where she lived with her husband and only child, a son who was about 15 years older than me. She loved to read me cautionary stories from the newspaper about kids being kidnapped and would squeeze my hand on the bus every time she saw a suspicious character we were supposed to avoid. It was like our secret code. We would sometimes visit with her two sisters, both of whom lived in the same apartment building as her.

As far as I'm concerned, Fani is a living treasure! I already miss her every day. And I am really going to miss her when she's gone.




Dominant Male Japanese Macaques Be Like ...

Yo, Nat Geo: STEP OFF MY HOT TUB HAREM, BITCHEZ!!!



I don't know why, but nothing cheers me up like looking at pictures of primates on the interwebs. I have a good friend who is a primatologist and university professor, and I am beyond jealous of her career. She gets to travel the world in largely tropical climes and hang out with creatures like the Golden Lion Tamarin ...

 

And Orangutans ...



And Howler Monkies that wake up a field research team at 5:20 a.m. every morning ...



And Capuchins eating twigs ...



And my ALL TIME FAVORITE, the nocturnal Slow Loris. EATING A RICE BALL!!!!  



Literally nothing makes my day like a whirlwind interwebs tour of primate cuteness. I die of cute.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Should I Buy a Fitbit?: Another Flowchart

With credit to The Oatmeal's take on The Selfie Stick: 
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/selfie_stick

Do You Hate Yourself?: A Flowchart

This is my first flow chart, so forgive me. I appear to have left out the "YES" option for eating a 3 lb. bag of Doritos. To be clear, if you did that, you also hate yourself.


Let's Talk About Revelation

Today someone close to me, whom I love a lot and whose opinion I respect a lot, asked me, "Don't you worry you're being a little too . . . revealing on your blog?" He emphasized the word "revealing" with a nervous chuckle and a drawn-out note of disdain and concern. This was on the heels of an email he had sent me about long-time blogger Andrew Sullivan quitting blogging for several different reasons (none of which, I note, included revelation, but no matter).

Well, OK. It's a good question, so let's talk about revelation. Specifically, what I do and don't "reveal" on here. I've said before that I have boundaries that might not be obvious, and apparently they are actually not very obvious at all, so I will explain more clearly what is missing from this blog.

I don't blog about my job. I don't blog about my marriage. I don't blog about politics. I don't blog about anything in my personal life that involves another human being directly, other than my kids, (and then mostly only to note my own failings as a mother). I rarely even mention other people by name, in fact. I don't post controversial images. For the most part, I don't reveal a single meaningful thing about anyone other than myself, and even those things are meaningful only because they are not commonly said aloud.

And I guess he was implying that this is bad. That I have a reputation to protect and that I should be worried I might get fired or not promoted or will offend someone because I write about things everyone in the world deals with every single day like racism and maxi-pads and fear and insecurity, and that I write about these things from the first person, instead of the third person or the fake person who claims to be "very private," but is actually just highly invested in convincing everyone that their life is perfect. Because yeah, some people are legitimately "very private," sure. But for an equal number of people, I suspect, "I'm very private" is just a euphemism for "I don't want anyone to know I'm not perfect." 

Well, I'm not sure, obviously, but I don't think anyone ever got fired for blogging about a maxi-pad, unless they worked for Stayfree and tweeted on Stayfree's Twitter account that Always had the better "wings" technology.

I suspect there is a reason that hundreds of people I don't know read this blog. I can tell, because I can see how many people read it, and I don't know even close to that number of people. Obviously, what I write resonates with people for a reason, and I suspect that reason is that I try to be funny, brave, honest, and authentic in the topics I discuss. From what I hear, people get a lot out of that, including many "respectable" people who would be in a position to make my life very unhappy as a result of my saying or writing something "bad" or "wrong." 

So the concern is well-taken, but ultimately, it's in the category of fuck-giving and apologizing that I wrote about earlier. As in I don't give one, and I'm not sorry. I guess in the end I trust my own self-censorship; that I have censored the things that should rightly be censored, and not the things that make this blog what it is for the people who read it.

I'm Sorry

I used to apologize all the time. Like reflexively. For everything, and to everyone. 

I would say "I'm sorry" constantly for things that I both could and couldn't control. I'd apologize for being tired. I'd apologize for the weather. I'd apologize for being ten minutes late. I'd apologize for being ten minutes early. I'd apologize for something I said or how I said it. I'd apologize for something I wrote or how I wrote it. I'd apologize for something my parent or spouse or child did. I'd apologize for everything under the sun, at work and at home, whether I was objectively at fault or not. 

Obviously, the subtle (or not-so-subtle) message I would convey every time I did this is that everything was my fault, or the result of my own personal failings and bad judgment. It's a form of narcissism really, and a self-destructive form of it at that. It's probably more common with women than men. It was sure common with me. And it suggests to the world that things are your fault or responsibility when they actually may not be.

That's why the older I get, the more selective I've become about when I apologize for something. I am way more hesitant to just sprinkle "I'm sorries" willy-nilly all over the place.

In short, I have started to give the word "sorry" the respect it deserves. I treat it like a sentiment that actually means something and has some value, instead of just some filler word like "uh" that comes out of my mouth as a knee-jerk response to everything that happens every single day.

Before I write or say "I'm sorry" now, I ask myself if it's really true. I ask myself if the thing I am apologizing for actually deserves my apology for any reason at all. Sometimes it does, but more often than not, I have discovered, it doesn't.

I still have plenty of issues with guilt. But I've become very conscious of not saying "sorry" if I don't really mean it. And I've come to realize that I am actually not remotely sorry at least half the times I have the hair-trigger instinct to say that I am.

When you apologize for something, you automatically adopt a position of fault and you automatically acquiesce that whatever you are feeling or doing is wrong. You come to believe it, and so does everyone else. It's like a form of debasing yourself and demeaning yourself, and it's unproductive.

So sorry, but I'm over it.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bathroom Theology and Stayfree's Spouse Day

"You're stepping on God right now, mom."

Not to sound irreverent or disrespectful, but that is honestly--verbatim--what Isaac told me right after I wiped his ass tonight.

At that very moment, I was inspecting with disbelief a coil of feces the size of an antelope's dick that had somehow emerged from the colon of my 36 pound son. (No shit your "tummy hurt" dude)!

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well God lives on the moon. He made everything. All of this stuff. And he's everywhere. So you're standing on him and his stuff now."

I looked down at my feet, which were indeed perched on a plastic step stool from Home Depot. "God sure knows how to make a high value piece of Chinese plastic!," I did not say in response. All I said was "uh huh," lazily punting this theological discourse for another time.

That's because I was distracted thinking how I had not posted a "Zuckerberg's Fuckerbergs" feature on O.H.M. in some time, and how this ad for "Spouse Day" brought to me by Stayfree feminine hygiene products called out for recognition:




I like that the husband in here has a beard because, well, I love beards. And I like the nod to domestic disharmony acknowledged by the "sometimes" qualifier. But that's where my approval of this ad ends.

I had no idea that: (a) there was such a thing as Spouse Day or (perish the thought) what such a day would entail; (b) that it would be sponsored by a maxi-pad; or (c) what these two things have to do with each other.

As far as I can tell, this is another one of these unholy and incongruous sponsorship alliances, like Sabra hummus being the official dip sponsor of the NHL. Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

Even more wrong than trying to explain God to a four year old who has just dropped a deuce that was easily, and preposterously, a third of his body weight.

Just another day in the life, my friends. Just another day in the life.

White Privilege and The Limits of Denial

This is a serious post about a serious issue. It's also a personal story that could be categorized as a study in humiliation. But I choose to view it instead as a study in humility and perspective. 

There's been a lot of discussion in the news and on social media lately about white privilege and what it means. It has been food for thought for me, as someone who is white in America with subconscious prejudices I did not know I had, as illustrated by the following story.

Several years ago, I attended a work conference at a large hotel in a major city. We were between sessions, and everyone was getting snacks and preparing to sit down for a presentation from several distinguished and accomplished trial lawyers. I spilled a soda, and a black man in his early 40's maybe, and wearing a nondescript suit, rushed over to help me clean it up. I apologized for my clumsiness and smiled and thanked him profusely and sat down. A few minutes went by, and the presentation began. The same man who had kindly helped me with my soda began presenting to the room of assembled attorneys. I was mortified with myself. 

Why? Because I had simply assumed this man was working for the hotel. Actually, it wasn't even something I consciously assumed. In fact, I didn't even realize I had assumed it at all, until he started presenting. Is there anything wrong with being a custodian at a hotel? Of course not. Did anything in the soda interaction constitute a faux pas that could have given away my subtle prejudice? Fortunately, I don't think so. And yet, would I have made the same immediate, subconscious assumption about a similarly-dressed white man? Probably not. I probably would just have assumed he was another lawyer attending the conference or presenting at the conference and being nice to me.

See, that's the problem with white privilege and the limits of its denial. It's a lot more subtle and complicated than, "But I'm not a racist!" and "But I have black friends!" Those things are both "true" for me. And yet. That's the key phrase--and yet.

You can grow up in a diverse city like New York and call all the people of color in the world your friend, as I did and do. But if you're white, you will never know what it's like to have these sorts of assumptions made about you on a daily basis, and worse. And if someone "like me" is sub-consciously and accidentally--but automatically--assuming you are a janitor instead of a trial lawyer, that's a pretty scary thought.

I berated myself for a long time for having made this subconscious assumption. I have thought about that incident many times since. It made me feel very unenlightened and ashamed and like not the person I thought I was. But as I told a few friends recently, it is the very difficulty and discomfort of these conversations that make them worth having. Not just worth having, but essential to have.

"Unsealed Alien Files": A TV Show Review

There is literally nothing that makes me laugh harder than conspiracy theories. Especially government-based conspiracy theories about shit like 9/11 being an inside job; the moon landing being staged on a locked set in Hollywood; and organized cover-ups of alien abductions. 

So naturally, "Unsealed Alien Files" is my new Netflix obsession and it is delectably trashy. Here is how the producers describe the show:

In April 2011 the FBI declassified decades' worth of secret government documents that contain thousands of reports of UFO sightings and alien activity. Each episode of this half-hour series tackles one alien case by investigating the previously off-limits government files. The program re-examines key evidence and follows developing leads based on newly released information. Mass UFO sightings, personal abductions, government cover-ups, and alien news from around the world are some of the topics covered by the show's panel of specialists, who include journalists, researchers, and radio and TV hosts. After watching an episode of "Unsealed: Alien Files," you may begin to believe that "we are not alone."

What the producers fail to describe are some of the most appealing features of this program. But don't worry, I will outline them for you:

  • The "panel of specialists" is the same two or three crackpots featured on every episode (I've watched about ten) interviewed by Skype (I guess it wasn't in the budget to fly them in for filming). One has a British accent so automatically sounds credible. Another one is a self-identified "Lawyer, PhD, and UFO radio show host" who speaks with a shocking level of unfounded authority and self-confidence, as he is manifestly crazier than a shit house rat.
  • Every map shown is courtesy of Google Earth (another budget issue, to be sure).
  • The cause-and-effect "evidence" of extraterrestrial activity always goes something like this: "Look at the case of Roswell, New Mexico. Everyone saw something in the sky at the same time. THE ONLY possible explanation is aliens." Or "I ate a hot dog for breakfast today. The next day someone in Peru saw something in the sky and puked. The ONLY possible explanation is an extra-terrestrial plague!" No matter what the effect or its array of possible causes, the panel of specialists continues to insist that THE ONLY possible explanation is aliens.
  • A narrator with a very deep and ominous voice who consistently warns of the dangers that lurk among humanity and in its checkered past.
Here are some other really interesting facts I learned from watching about half the episodes of "Unsealed Alien Files":
  • The show tells you--FOR THE FIRST TIME--a huge amount of information "the government doesn't want you to know." 
  • Aliens caused the Bubonic Plague, AIDS, and Hanta Virus.
  • The Obama administration has categorically denied the existence of an alien cover-up. Accordingly, THE ONLY possible explanation for this denial is that such a cover-up exists!
  • Human-alien hybrids walk among us and are divided into various species named by color (such as "the greys" and "the reds."). The ones with reptilian skin are called "Reptiloids." There is also one species of hybrid that looks very human-like and means no harm to us.
  • Alien bodies are buried in secret bunkers under the Vatican in Rome, and the Catholic Church has been instrumental in covering up alien activity for centuries.
  • A retired air force colonel was given a secret message in binary code (a series of 0s and 1s) after he touched a spaceship in the woods in England one night while on patrol. Subsequently, a 25 year-old code-cracker fueled by Mountain Dew, Doritos, and Clearasil figured out that an exploration of humanity (either from the future or from outer space) is currently underway.
  • Two guys wearing black suits and hats walked into a hotel in Niagara Falls in the 1980s and were captured on closed circuit TV. The so-called "men in black" were obviously aliens (as opposed to Christian missionaries). It's THE ONLY possible explanation!
  • Los Angeles is actually a UFO portal.
  • The Nazis were in cahoots with aliens during WWII and relied on them for some of their sinister technology.
  • The technological might of the American military was co-opted from aliens. It's THE ONLY possible explanation for advances in weapons and airplane technology over the past fifty years.
  • Alien bodies--and live aliens that need human body parts to survive--are currently housed in a refrigerator/underground secret laboratory on a base in New Mexico.
  • Aliens have implanted parasites into the skin of humans and impregnated them for purposes of biological experimentation.
In short, I have now spent many hours of my life that I can never get back stuffing my face (literally) with popcorn (is there any other way to eat popcorn) and watching Unsealed Alien Files. 

You should too!





The Awkward Dream

Dreams are an interesting thing, in terms of their ability to spill over into real life. 

Like when you dream about running all over Disney World trying to find a bathroom, and it's your body's way of telling you to wake up and pee. Or when you dream that you're trying to dismantle a sophisticated bomb that keeps beeping, and it turns out to be your alarm clock. Or when you dream that you bought a karaoke bar in Nepal, and you wake up to the radio playing "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey.

The disturbing part of this tendency is when you dream about a person, and you have residual feelings that creep over into your day. 

For example, a friend, partner, or family member will do something offensive (in the dream), such as write you out of their will or stand you up at a restaurant, and you have to actually stop yourself from being mad at them in real life. 

FAR worse than the "anger" dream though, is the "inappropriate and bizarre sexual encounter" dream.

I don't have these very often, but when I do I find them very awkward and disturbing. I will occasionally have these dreams with everyone from celebrities to friends to family members to people of all ages and genders. Unfortunately, they are rarely erotic. Rather, they are nauseating encounters with people whom I would never in a million years consider as a real life prospect for such a thing. It's quite uncomfortable, because the next time I talk to that person or see them in real life, all I can think about is "We had sex in my dream and it was so totally disgusting that I still remember the dream a week later."

There's nothing like running into some menopausal woman you know and experiencing this sequence of thoughts. It is vile and disturbing. And I cite it as further evidence of just one more thing that is grievously amiss in my psyche.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Blizzard Survival Guide for the Whole Foods Shopper


1. Kambucha
2. Nutritional yeast
3. Gluten free Panko bread crumbs
4. Locally sourced pomegranate
5. Unpasteurized whole goat's milk
6. Heirloom tomatoes
7. Creme fraiche
8. Omega 3 fish oil
9. "If You Care" brand compostable garbage bags
10. Imported Tuscan prosciutto
11. Cage free farm fresh brown eggs
12. Free trade 99% Columbian cacao 

Studies in Humiliation Vol. 1: That Time I Threw My Undies on Stage at The Jersey Shore

I'm thinking of developing yet another recurring feature on O.H.M. called Studies in Humiliation, where I profile a particularly spectacular and humiliating moment from my past. 

Welcome to the first installment.

I loathe The Jersey Shore more than any place in the Milky Way galaxy after The Hamptons, Ikea, my gynecologist's office, and the DMV. Everything about The Jersey Shore disgusts me to the core of my being, from the beaches themselves, to the traffic to get there, to the largely insufferable people that appear to populate it wall-to-wall at all times of year. If it weren't for the fact that actual human beings rely on the economy of The Jersey Shore and live there, I'd be perfectly happy to see it sink underwater forever even sooner than it's inevitably going to.

Back in NYC, I had some friends with a summer house share on The Jersey Shore, and they convinced me to go with them for a long weekend there in the summer of 1999 or maybe 2000. This was before Snooki and The Situation and human salami stain Chris Christie cemented The Shore in the American consciousness as the ultimate vacation hot-spot for cheese dicks everywhere (although I believe it was well on its way to achieving this vaunted status at the time).

On the night in question, the band “Big Orange Cone” was playing at a bar to an audience of about 500 choade-smoking-sons-of-cheddar-dicks and their scantily clad girlfriends in clear Lucite heels. http://www.joepops.com/bands/big-orange-cone.htm


As you will see if you click the above link, "Big Orange Cone" is one of the (self-proclaimed) “hottest and most rapidly growing and requested acts on the northeast club circuit today. The Cone, composed of some very young faces, performs frantic live shows featuring some hugely energetic versions of just about everything under the sun!”

Translation: this washed-up cover-band of 40-something part-time wedding/bar mitzvah singers is trying and failing to look 15 years younger than they are and also came up with their own nickname, "The Cone." They keep playing the same tired, sticky New Jersey bars over and over again, yet are making money doing it because stupid assholes like you keep paying to watch them. Fair warning: A minimum of 16 double Long Island Iced Teas is required to tolerate (much less enjoy) more than fifteen seconds of this band.

Because I was 22, drunk, AND bored (a combination that only a night out on The Jersey Shore can produce), and Big Orange Cone was so terrible, I decided I would mix things up a little and toss my undies on stage. So I reached under my skirt and sling-shot those bad boys right up to the front. 

The lead singer for Big Orange Cone—I think he's the one with the frosted tips, or actually maybe the one who looks like the test-tube love child of Raggedy Andy and Justin Bieber--caught them. Well, I don't need to tell you what happened next. 

But I will. 

This wannabe-David-Lee-Roth-from-Van-Halen-impersonator douche-burger had the nerve to take a break from his caterwauling and gyrations to mock the size AND style (fortunately not the smell) of my perfectly awesome blue and green Victoria Secret silk panties! Also fortunately, the size of the crowd made it virtually impossible to determine the exact location in the room from whence these panties flew.

I wanted to be offended, and tell this guy he was lucky ever to see a pair of women’s underpants in any context, but I realized I had no one but myself to blame for throwing my panties to a douche of this magnitude in public, much less in some other way. I called a friend who reinforced my error and expressed zero sympathy, despite the fact that I was crying (as usual for this time-period in my life) and feeling sorry for myself (also as per usual).

To paraphrase a classic line from Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles: I can’t believe I gave my panties to a douche.

A Cure for the Hiccups

This morning Isaac had a case of the hiccups. The following is a verbatim script of the argument that transpired at breakfast between him and Paige over how to cure them:

Isaac: I need a glass of water [HIC] or I need to hold my breath for ten seconds [HIC].

Paige: You know Isaac, holding your breath doesn’t actually cure the hiccups.
Isaac: Yes it does! [HIC]
Paige: No it doesn’t.
Isaac: Yes it does! [HIC]
Paige: No it doesn’t. And drinking water doesn’t cure hiccups, either.
Isaac: Yes it does! [HIC]
Paige: No it doesn’t.
Isaac: Yes it does!
Paige: No it doesn’t.
Isaac: Yes it DOOOOOOOOOOOOOESSSSSS [WAILING]
Paige: Hey, look! You’re not hiccuping anymore!
Me: Wow Paige, that’s amazing! Did you argue with him on purpose to try to cure his hiccups?
Paige: No, I was just arguing with him. I actually had no idea that was going to happen.

Pregnant Paws: A One-of-a-Kind Business Opportunity

I've always felt that a totes genius business idea for the ultimate bourgeois yuppie store is a dog and cat maternity boutique called "Pregnant Paws." 

However, subsequent online research reveals that the domain pregnantpaws.com is already taken, belonging to a company whose sole mission is to help you prepare your pet for the arrival of your baby. 

For a mere $34.95, you can order a "Pregnant Paws Baby Preparation Kit" that includes "a CD with sounds of a baby crying and babbling" and a baby blanket to "introduce the scent of your newborn." This high-value kit also "introduces the smell of baby lotion, wash and shampoo to your animal." The website does not specify how it introduces this latter set of smells, specifically, why you can't just stick a bottle of those items under your pet's nose. 

The website also does not explain why you can't just go on YouTube and play baby sounds for your pet and/or let your pet sniff one of the 1,000 baby blankets people have already given you, instead of the one additional blanket that comes in this kit. 

To be sure, the kit also includes "helpful tips to prepare your pet and home for the arrival of your child." But ultimately, the website fails to explain how this "kit" contains literally anything you can't buy at CVS for 80% less money and/or find online for free.

Clearly, pregnantpaws.com targets First World parents who have simply run out of shit to buy for their baby and are now stretching the slowly atrophying tentacles of their minds ever further to locate something--anything--else to buy or think about when it comes to doing that thing that happens 361,481 times per day on earth. I mean, there are Mongolian mothers living in yurts who happily squirt their baby out right next to a goat. There you go: pet prepared, end of story.

In any event, this market is clearly not saturated. So I'm talking about something even better and WAY more First World. An actual maternity store FOR your pregnant pet called "Pregnant Paws." Happily and somewhat miraculously, such a thing does NOT yet seem to exist!

The store would be located in Bushwick or Williamsburg, Brooklyn (obviously), and would have everything you could possibly need for your pregnant cat or dog, from maternity sweaters, to newborn puppy and kitten onesies, to neo-natal pet vitamins, to eight-nippled breast pumps and baby Mozart tapes specifically designed for canine and feline baby bumps. I mean, seriously. You can't welcome a litter of kittens or puppies in Brooklyn that have NOT been exposed to Mozart in utero and expect to walk down the street with your head held high.

So here's the good news: pregnantpawsbushwick.com is not taken yet, and there MIGHT be retail space left that is not yet occupied by an artisanal mayonnaise store. Come on, people. Who's with me? If artisanal mayo can ride the gentrification wave without crashing against the reef of supply and demand economics, surely Pregnant Paws can too?

Note the sad face of the dog in the photo below. Don't you think she would look SO much happier in a hand-made cable knit sweater from Pregnant Paws? I mean, her nudity is demeaning. This is our chance to be rich and famous! Partner with me while you still can.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Et Tu, JoAnn? Et Tu?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: JoAnn from JoAnn Fabrics is a stone cold bitch. (See prior post titled, "JoAnn from JoAnn Fabrics is a Stone Cold Bitch").

Well, I should've known that bitch would publish a flier to cement her in posterity as the biggest, baddest bitch in the whole crafting world.

A friend alerted me to this flier, whose four photos highlight four acute personal failings--LITERALLY ALL of which I have blogged about previously: making crafts and memories; spending quality time with my kids; mothering newborns; and looking fashionable.

Not only that, but JoAnn had the unmitigated gall to profile in here all four of these not as failings--but as fucking NEW YEARS' RESOLUTIONS that we're all supposed to strive to achieve!

I've taken the liberty of re-posting each photo from this flier here, with a brief explanation of my plan to execute and/or address these JoAnn Fabrics fabricated resolutions:

1. CRAFTS & MEMORIES



The only thing I suck at harder than crafts is Making Memories. Now I'm supposed to "resolve to make memories last" by sharing "my works of heart?" In other words, I'm supposed to Make Memories THROUGH crafting? Hahaha! Ok, JoAnn. Let me tell you a little story.

Last weekend, I bought an age 5+ flower needlepoint for Paige to do, and neither one of us could figure it out. We both yelled and screamed at each other and at the stupid fucking ugly yarn and shitty plastic needle point pattern until we both hated it AND each other. How's that for a crafting memory?

And my "works of heart" are nothing my kids (or anyone else) would want to share, trust me. They also happen to be archived in scattered files maintained by a long string of therapists who may or may not even be in practice anymore. So apart from everything else, they are difficult to obtain and protected by HIPAA.

2. QUALITY TIME WITH KIDS



JoAnn says I should "resolve to enjoy time with my kids" by "fill[ing] their rooms with fun, color, and personality." I do enjoy time with my kids, JoAnn. But hear this bitch: do not attempt to confiscate my iPhone or any of my controlled/uncontrolled substances, or I will enjoy it a whole fuck of a lot less.

Also, Paige's room is Pepto Bismol Pink and Isaac's room reflects the personality of someone who will never do his own laundry. And both rooms are filled to the rafters with shit, commonly known as "fun." Consider this resolution achieved!

3. NEWBORNS


JoAnn says I should "embrace new beginnings" by making my baby's room "as wonderful and unique as [my] baby."

Listen, JoAnn: if I found out I was pregnant and about to start over with another newborn, I would probably systematically cut every piece of fabric and paper in my house AND in all of your stores into tiny little shreds, and you would find me in the bathroom maniancally applying lipstick to my face in an ever-widening circle, muttering over and over again to my reflection, "it's ok mommy it's ok mommy it's ok mommy" until someone called 911 and I was civilly committed to the mental health unit.

When I got off the ward six months later, I would resolve to put that baby in any available crevice in my house, since as cute as they are, a baby is born every two seconds on planet earth, and there's nothing particularly unique about that. "Room" my ass! That baby would get exactly three things: clean diapers, a titty, and a car seat. In other words, the minimum provisions required to keep the social workers at bay.

4. FASHION



Now, I'm no Oscar de la Renta, God knows. But something tells me no one ever created a runway-ready ensemble at JoAnn's.

And you know what? It doesn't matter anyway. The only runway I'm hitting is the Tarmac at Juneau International Airport. The style I rock there is something I like to call "Zombie Mom Chic." It consists of size L black yoga pants with toothpaste stains on the thighs; a hoodie sweatshirt with extra long drawstrings on the hood for maximum facial burial; and of course, a spritz of eau-de-coffee-and-soggy-half-discarded-granola-bar.

So the two purple bridesmaids in this picture can keep their yards and yards of tacky lavender lace. No one needs you for Zombie Mom Chic, JoAnn.

In short: That bitch JoAnn can SUCK IT!


Cultural Relativism and Misogyny

I'm going to go out on a rare limb of quasi-socio-political controversy with this one. A friend posted a New York Times article recently that got me thinking.

The article was about intentionally suppressed female sexuality in a particular culture. Specifically, girls being raised from birth in an insulated environment with no knowledge of their bodies and complete sexual disconnection and/or disempowerment, and the struggles, both physical and psychological, that they confront later as a result.

It hardly matters what culture the article was about. It was--and is--about nearly every culture to varying degrees, including (by more subtle measures) our own media-saturated culture of First World Secular America.

Apologists for misogyny and female oppression everywhere invoke the unassailable shield of "cultural relativism." Well, it should be noted that (at least according to the omniscient Wikipedia) the World Conference on Human Rights "rejects" that anthropological concept as quote, "a refugee of human rights violation."

It's also worth noting that all of these power structures were established, and are cultivated and maintained, 
by a dominant patriarchy highly invested in retaining its dominance by divesting women of sexual, educational, and professional/financial equality at every turn, and by any means necessary, up to and including straight-up murder. 

The same euphemism of "cultural relativism" has also been used to justify non-plural forms of government like oppressive dictatorships and kleptocracies.

The thing all oppressive and misogynistic patriarchies fear most is exposure of the oppressed to any alternative, because most women when presented with an alternative want to know what their clitoris is and does. The same analogy holds true for political dictatorships like North Korea that do anything and everything to keep their citizens in the dark of oppression. 

So everything is relative, sure. And maybe we as humanity are OK with the worst wolves of that relativity being cloaked in the sheep's clothing of tradition and culture. 

But readers of this blog know I like to keep it real. So at least when it comes to misogyny and oppression--which is timeless and universal--let's all maybe just admit that the emperor of cultural relativism has no clothes.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

In Bed

Sometimes I worry that I like being in bed a little bit more than might be considered "normal." I like sleep, (see prior post titled, "Sleepy Times"), but I LOVE being in bed. It's pretty much my favorite place on earth.

I recognize that this tendency is a bit "Valley of the Dolls" in some ways, and is very much frowned upon by industrious, regimented, active, fit, well-adjusted, shiny, happy people the world over.

But I'll be honest: When I had knee surgery last September, I didn't even PRETEND to be upset that I had to do everything from bed for 72 hours. There's just something about cocooning myself into a tiny, compact, Universe-pre-Big-Bang-ball in the dark that makes me feel totally relaxed, safe, and happy.

It goes way beyond simple laziness, (although there's always that, obviously). It's more of a psychological comfort than a physical one. It's not a desire to be unwell or sick or incapacitated in any way at all. It's simply that the world seems smaller and life feels WAY more manageable to me from under a blanket in little to no lighting.

I often question what this says about me, and I'm just happy that my pillow can't answer me back...