Parenting is not for sissies

Sitting in the obstetricians office 23 years ago, i was a rabid consumer of ‘parenting’ magazines.  Those soft focus photos of content mothers nursing cherubic infants were like crack… Over the years, wiping the puke from my hair, cleaning up bodily effluents, and managing the blood and guts of child-rearing, i somehow never seemed to have many of those actual ‘soft focus’ moments.

Last night, The Girl and i were both at the homestead, flitting about preparing to go out.  Her, to meet friends for a show.  Me, on another weeknight date.  i was perfectly prepared to swap my work trousers for a pair of jeans, and head out in a blazer and tank top.  Instead, she of the amazing style and fashion sense, dragged me into the walk-in closet for a quick make-over.

In the end, it was a pair of snug jeans and a flattering* blouse.  She raided my shoe closet to finish the ensemble, emerging with a pair of my strappy stilletos.  i’m cringing – ” ‘fuck me sandals’? with jeans?!?!?  Argh….”.  But she convinced me that since the rest of the get up was fairly low key, the shoes would be the proverbial foot-stomper.

Being a bit of a fashion doofus, i was struggling with fastening the clasps.  She offered to help.  As she was helping me get dressed:  “Awww… this is cool!  Just like it will be in the nursing home some day!”

daisyfae:  Not quite.  You’ll have to change my diaper before putting on my ‘fuck me’ shoes…

Your mother wears combat boots... not...

Your mother wears combat boots... not...

* Cleavage exposed.  The Model Year 2007 Bionic Twins were out to play…

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Junk in da trunk

Mom and i rarely see things the same way.  And not just because she’s got a touch of the ol’ macular degeneration going on…

Arriving to pick her up for a belated Easter dinner, i was greeted with a pile of crap in her driveway.  As i got out of the car, my niece, DQ, came over from her house next door to explain.  She and Mom had spent a couple hours clearing some junk from the garage – in order to excavate an ancient roll top desk* that could still be serviceable with repair and refinishing. 

Mom doesn’t like to get rid of housewares.  Things that might still be useful.  In order to convince Mom to get rid of a few such items, DQ would say “I bet daisyfae could use this!” and it went into the pile in the driveway.  DQ told me that there was a thrift store drop off location nearly on my way home…

At the bottom of the stack was something that truly caught my eye.  A small, black steamer trunk.  DQ said “She was willing to throw that out, but I thought you might actually want that.  It was your Dad’s…”.  Oh, hell yeah…   Piling it all into my car, i completed the task at hand – and took Mom out for a belated Easter dinner.

Returning home, Mom felt compelled to root through the trash dumpster, and complained that DQ threw out things she wanted to keep… pulling a plastic ‘hula girl’ bra from the top of the pile, she said “Like this!  I might want this someday…” and continued to look for more discarded treasures… i explained (again) that she’ll need to prioritize, because we can’t begin to clean the house for her if we’re just moving shit from place to place.  It’s got to go.

The displaced housewares were dropped at the thrift store, but the trunk found its way home with me.  Yellowed stickers from railway transit.  Boston to Detroit.  Value:  $150.  Guessing that it was in the late 1940’s when Dad graduated and started his first job after college.  It needed some cleaning, but was in good shape.

My daughter has a good eye for re-purposing used items, and immediately said “You were looking for an accent table for that wall?  Just put some legs on it…”. 

Done.  And my Mother’s garbage has found a perfectly good home in my living room…

junk_in_da_trunk

* The desk?  Belonged to Mom’s Grandfather.  That’d be DQ’s Great-great-grandfather.  Best guess is that this desk was purchased shortly after the turn of the century.  It has been molding and rotting in that garage since her father died in 1979.  At least it is mostly salvageable… unlike many other items that have gotten buried under the faded plastic flowers, stacks of old magazines, empty popcorn tins and plastic butter tubs that Mom refuses to let go of…

Feedback time

Once again, an opportunity to hear from the management on how i’m doing on the job.  i look forward to these moments just as i would look forward to putting cigarettes out in my eyeballs, as there are opportunities to learn and improve with every insightful nugget. 

In addition to my regular mid-term feedback session with my boss in a couple weeks, we did a rather extensive “360 degree review“.  A highly structured opportunity to receive an assessment on your performance from above, below and from the side – and this is then compared with a self-assessment.

Prior to the session with the boss, we were asked to get our results from the organizational development specialist.  i met with her on Friday.  She went over the process, and discussed the opportunity to identify both hidden strengths as well as blind spots.  Then we dove into my results.

Throughout the survey, i rated myself lower than all others.  i was quite proud of the fact that i rated myself a “2” (on a scale of 1-5) for “dresses professionally”.  She noted that others had me rated around at an average of  “4”.  She used this as an extreme example of me being my own worst critic.

Organizational Development Lady (ODL):  You are clearly very hard on yourself.

daisyfae: [giggling and trying not to say “hur, hur, hur… you said ‘hard on’…”] No one can accuse me of a lack of self-awareness.

ODL:  But do you really think you dress unprofessionally?  i’ve seen you give seminars and presentations and you always dress appropriately…

daisyfae [wearing jeans, a low cut tank top, and a baggy, belted sweater that has seen better days]:  ummm…. right…. (pointing at partially exposed tits)

Then it was time to review the comments from the reviewers.  Of the eight responses from folks who took the time to write a few strengths and weaknesses down, there was a fairly consistent thread.  Six of the eight responses included the words “Burnt Out”.  One nicely suggested a sabbatical…

My favorite weakness, however, was the following:  “daisyfae doesn’t respond well to ‘idiots’…”. 

Since when is that a weakness?

i have patterned my professional career after the teachings at despair.com

i have patterned my professional career after the teachings at despair.com

How to keep your audience…

At a recent techie workshop, i was blown away by the brilliance of a professorial dorkboy.  In an inadvertent tactic, the man has trumped every single “hold the audience” maneuver i’ve ever attempted. 

i arrived after a break, and Professor Enthusius J. Flappenheimer* was well into his presentation on… well… something.  Can’t really recall.  Working the crowd in the large auditorium, he had walked forward to address a question from the audience.  He was gesticulating wildly, gray tufts of wild science-dude hair flopping about in agreement.

Giving a rather lengthy answer, the screensaver on his laptop had apparently kicked on, because on the giant screen in the auditorium was a slide show of lovely photographs.  Being late, and generally disinterested in his topic, i kicked back to enjoy the photos – waiting for the next speaker to take the stage.

Ahhh… he’d made a screensaver of vacation pictures!  Trees, mountains, oceans…  But wait?  Was that a topless woman, walking along a tropical beach, holding the hand of a small child?  Holy Ridiculous Fuckup, Batman!  That was his WIFE!

No one in the audience reacted, except my colleague in the next seat.  RN simply said “Boobies?  Did he just flash a picture of his wife’s boobies?”

Dr. Flappenheimer continued to talk…. and eventually his attention returned to his summary slides.  And there was a magic moment when he noticed the screensaver slideshow, dove to reset his charts, and rather quickly wrapped up his presentation.   i suppose it could have been worse…

Hey, you said "go get yer bone..."

Hey, you said "go get yer bone..."

* Not his real name… probably….

one day – snippets

From 0600 yesterday morning, until 0100 this morning… Random moments…

– Multitasking:  It isn’t easy to do all of the following things at the same time — Walk 100lbs of dogmeat.  Carry an umbrella in moderate wind.  Smoke a cigarette.  Stay dry in a drenching rain.  Pick up warm dog turds in a plastic bag.  Avoid setting hair on fire.  Refrain from cursing.

– First Law of Human Physics:  Scientists entrenched in a narrow area of research, tend to resist all attempts to gently guide them into new areas of research.  The Daisyfae Corollary:  A management-like-object attempting to redirect a team of such scientists tends to get massive, soul-crushing headaches – and actively seek alternate employment.

– Condo Association Meeting:  Old people like flower bulbs – obsessively it seems.  They want to plant them with reckless abandon.  Many of them have no comprehension, however, that it is unnecessary to repeatedly bring up this topic of discussion while the minutes from last years meeting are being read.  i may have to offer remedial lessons on “Robert’s Rules of Order”.  i shall carry a taser next year.

– Theater People and Birthday Celebrations:  There are simply no better people to play with on a birthday* than theater folks.  And while “karaoke” is Japanese for “you sing bad”, theater people will rock the fucking house!   Until 0100 on a Monday night!

– Song Selection:  It is often the unexpected that captures the attention of the crowd at a karaoke event.  For example, the alternative boy, tattooed, pierced and punked up who sang a lovely rendition of “Wonderful World” made me happy.  As did the emo-boy who did “Ring of Fire”, then “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You” (Hank Williams, Sr.).  Suppose that a middle-aged suburban housefrau doing both “Thunder Road” (The Boss) and “All These Things That I’ve Done” (The Killers) was perhaps a tad unexpected (except by the folks who know me).

– Love Shack:  Requires dancing.  If you can sit still through that song, you are very nearly dead. 

– Aging Gracefully:  Not.  Damn, this morning came awful early…

holy shit.  i didn't even see the train...

holy shit. i didn't even see the train...

* Except maybe strippers, drunk clowns and midgets dressed in cowboy costumes.  This, by the way, is how The Boy plans to spend his 21st birthday next year.

Bitter End(less)

Mom complainsA lot.  To keep my head from exploding listen more effectively, i’ve recently started playing a little game while on the phone with her – making marks on a sheet of paper under the headings “nice” / “not nice” regarding her running commentary.  The ratio of “not nice” to “nice” is pretty high – last time i did it, it ran 18/1 during a half hour conversation.  And the one “nice” thing?  Her favorite restaurant has the chicken salad and fruit back on the menu for summer…

On Saturday, i went down to The Park to take Mom out for a belated Easter dinner.  She had spent the previous week on the road, with my niece DQ and her family, in the Florida sun.  For the better part of my time with her, i was barraged with a litany of what went wrong, how tired she was after the drive back home, how she didn’t get to do anything on Easter Sunday, and – in general – just how miserable she was…

When the offer to take a sunny vacation was presented to her, Mom initially declined – with a long list of reasons why she couldn’t go.  My niece was taking her family to the Orlando area to visit with her father, and invited Mom to come along.  Rather than enjoy family time, DQ generously extended the invitation to Mom.  And she did feel a little guilty leaving Mom for a week.

DQ does a good job of getting Mom out almost daily – to run errands, go to the grocery, go to doctor’s appointments, etc. – but it never seems to be enough.  Before the trip, both DQ and i spent some time encouraging Mom to hit the road and get some sunshine, and she eventually agreed.  But it was only after she started whining about being left alone for the week* – which was probably what tripped the decision.

During our dinner together Saturday, she bitched non-stop about sleeping in a different bed, riding in the car for long stretches of time, worrying about bed bugs getting in her suitcase at the motel they stopped at on the way down…. blah, blah, blah…  Every attempt i made to steer the conversation toward better things – “Wasn’t the weather lovely?  Did you enjoy the day at the ocean?  Was it fun to see the little critter playing at Disney?” – was met with a verbal concoction of vinegar, bile and carbolic acid.

Every suggestion i put forward to increase her external connectivity was met with more venom.  She’d like to go to church, and wants DQ to take her.  DQ does not attend church.  i reminded her that there are plenty of her church friends who have offered give her a ride – but she doesn’t want to bother them.  She’d like to get out more, but says she’s dependent on when DQ is available to go.  i mentioned the ‘transportation’ program at church, as well as the county-wide free senior transportation service.  “Oh, they make you work around their schedules…”.

i’d finally had about enough.  “Mom, you know, sometimes you make your own weather.  When you wake up in the morning, you can decide how you’re going to approach the day.  If you choose ‘miserable and bitter’, then i guarantee that’s what you’ll get.”  Emphasizing all of the things she has to look forward to – including a 3 day visit at my place in a couple weeks, with guaranteed silliness as the kids and i host a ‘poker night’ and a small graduation party for The Girl. 

Her response:  You don’t have cable tv in that bedroom for me.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep.  And i can’t sleep on my left side…  Which way does the bed face?

[the sound of a towel being thrown in]

i'll blast the fucking smile right of yer face, buddy...

i'll blast the fucking smile right of yer face, buddy...

*My sister S and i were both willing to pick up the slack while DQ was gone.

douchebag tag

Driving home from work yesterday, i was bopping along happily in my jeep.  The sun was shining, i was singing at the top of my lungs while toolin’ topless down the interstate.  Feeling pretty good after a challenging week…

Spotted a big ol’ jacked up “Bubby Truck” – with a bumper sticker in the back window:

douchebag-tag1

My first reaction was to laugh.  It’s kinda cute.  But as i passed the truck, took a good look at the driver, i got to thinkin’… 

He was smallish – certainly well short of six feet tall.  Skinny.  Maybe mid-20’s.  Short spiky blonde hair – a sort of military cut.  Not particularly attractive – pinched features, beady eyes, no visible eyebrows.  He looked over at me as i passed – the jeep, combined with my hair whipping around my head and skirt blowing over my face as i haul ass down the interstate will generally warrant a look from a guy in a truck.  Nope.  He was absolutely nothing special.

What woman would willingly ride in this truck?  What woman would willingly exchange body fluids with this man?  How low does your self-respect have to be before you can jump into that truck and tell yourself “Whew!  I passed the test!  I’ve earned the affections of this wonderful man!  He thinks I’m good enough to ride in his truck!  Yay me!”

All i can say is “Look, you punk-ass redneck motherfucker.  You wanna see a fat chick jump?  Haul your sorry whiteboy ass out on the basketball court and i’ll school you in ‘Jumping Fat Chicks 101’.  Douchenozzle.”

With just a hint of garlic…

How lazy am i?  How big of a redneck resides in my soul? 

YOU make the call…

Plans for a casual dinner date with hot boy/potential victim a new gentleman friend.  Week night = very casual, but because he wanted to fit in an after work run, we agreed to meet at 8:00 pm.  Kinda late for a meal.  Besides, it’s the First Law of Chubbies that when we go on dinner dates, we have to at least pretend to be Skinnies-in-the-Rough.  At least for a few dates.  Poking at a dry salad – “No Croutons, please!” 

But i was too fucking hungry tonight to wait til 8:00 pm and then order rabbit food for dinner.  So i did the “fat chick pre-game” and made myself a filling snack when i got home from work.  Having nothing of substance in my house to eat – due to my “grocery store avoidance” gene – i went for this odd home-brewed concoction that has served me well. 

Starting with Orville Redenbacher’s “Smart Pop” microwave popcorn, i melt a small amount of butter, then add basil, garlic and a dusting of parmesan and romano cheese.  A low-fat, filling “delicacy” for sure… If you consume this with a diet coke AND an 8 ounce glass of water?  You’ll feel full for several hours.  Fiber.  Fiber is good, right?

Between trips to the bathroom – waging war against frizzy hair and the grape-sized zit* that had magically appeared after i went to work this morning – i bopped into the kitchen to tend to my gourmet treat.  Stuffing that first fabulous handful into my face, i realized something was amiss.  The carefully crafted tastes were not blending in a manner that pleased my palate…

Pulling the empty popcorn box from the trash, i realized my mistake.  There are several “mutant” varieties of Orville’s Smart Pop – and the one that i’d snagged was “Kettle Korn”.  For the uninitiated, “kettle korn” is sweet – like caramel corn, but different**.  Needless to say “sweet” and “garlic pesto parmesan” are not complimentary flavors.

The sad part:  i ate the whole fucking bag.  How lazy do you have to be to do that?  i was hungry, it was there, the clock was ticking and that zit wasn’t going to cover itself…

It’s times like this that i know the meaning of the phrase “Spam Suckin’ Trailer Trash”… no doubt.

That shure is sum tasty vittles, Wanda June!

That shure is sum tasty vittles, Wanda June!

* i’m 46 1/2 fucking years old.  and i get zits.  not just little things that can be painted over with a make up trowel, but those welts that are large enough to be visible from LANDSAT, and have been known to show up on GoogleEarth.  My dermatologist says “Oh, you should be happy!  When the pimples stop, you’ll get wrinkles!”  He’s a pig fucker.

** Sometimes, i am completely enthralled with my descriptive abilities.  This is not such a time…

Alcohol and Hearing Impairment

At a uber-nerdfest early last week in San Francisco…  i tried to be good.  i really tried.  Healthy food, avoidance of cookies, and an hour a day in the hotel gym, doing my physical therapy and getting some exercise.  This was going just fine until somewhere around 9pm on Tuesday evening*.

Simultaneous text message, voice mail and e-mail from colleagues at the same meeting:

text:  Bottle of scotch and Stephen Hawking.  Hotel Atrium.

voicemail:  daisyfae – get yer ass to the atrium.  we’re introverts.  we need someone lively down here…

e-mail:  come on down.  we need you.  too much scotch for us rookies.

The voicemailer called back a few minutes later – and begged me in just the right tone.  i whined back – “but i’m in my workout gear.  do i have to get dressed?”.  

“We’re geeks.  No one will even notice…”

And so it happened.  At 9 pm, i arrived for a ‘quick one’.  And so it also happened that i found myself leaving the lobby at 3 am.  After perhaps more than one.  Being staunchly devoted to my craft, i had to be up and at the “Speakers Breakfast” at 7 am.  Which meant showing up, with no shower, and looking a little bit crunchy around the edges.  But i did it…

Retreating back to my room for a powersnooze at 8 am, i was determined to be ready for the afternoon session.  Which i was co-chairing…

Turns out?  i may have discovered an after effect of alcohol that requires further study.  From my notes that afternoon:

Did he say “Pedophiles”?  Oh.  “Pentaflops…”  As in “It can be expected that we’ll see multiple pedophiles in 2009…”

If i didn’t know better, i could have sworn he just said “condom dots”.  As in “condom dot sensitization as measured through pump probe spectroscopy”.  Must be the Indian accent?  He said “quantum dots”…

“Does size matter – at the nanometer scale?” – oh, honey, if we’re talkin’ nanometers, believe me  – it’s WELL BELOW the point that matters… the word for the day is “sub-threshold”, sugarbuns…

Hypothesis:  Being mildly hung over during a technical meeting creates catastrophic impairment on both human hearing, and mental focus.

stephen hawking is a chumpass bitch...

stephen hawking is a chumpass bitch...

* i did 24 hours or so of “non-debauchery”.  that’s a start…

i can has bunny

What is the world coming to?  Has the economic meltdown driven us to paranoia?  Fear?  Are retailers too spooked to order sufficient holiday inventory?  It’s a sorry state of events when i can’t do my usual “buy easter candy on easter morning while everyone else is at church” routine…

Making the trek to the local grocery store this morning, i was stunned to discover empty shelves.  Some cheap plastic toys and generic jelly beans.  There was nothing but some Opera Cream Crosses.  Seriously.  Jesus died so children could eat the symbol of the cross?

This is my body.  Eat me. (paraphrased...)

This is my body. Eat me. (paraphrased...)

There was NOTHING even remotely easter-ish left.  No Reese’s eggs, no Cadbury cream filled decadence, no hollow chocolate bunnies with cute faces that make you feel guilty when you chew them to shreds…  Not a PEEP to be found!  When did Peeps get popular?

from the I CAN HAZ CHEESBURGER folks...

from the I CAN HAZ CHEESBURGER folks...

Never one to throw in the towel, i had to improvise.  Granted, this only works because my children have pretty much seen it all, and share my twisted outlook.  Oh, and they’re in their 20’s – even i probably wouldn’t have done this when they were young.  Bottom line?  It’ll get eaten…

Biting off the "ears"?  Not recommended...

Biting off the "ears"? Not recommended...