Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Honor and Honor Students: A Bumpy Road Ahead

Let me be upfront about my belief: The sole purpose of a bumper sticker is to express one’s allegiance politically (national and statewide candidates only) and athletically (ideally, a team with a winning record in the season during which the sticker was purchased). Messages whizzing by in the carpool lane do not lend themselves to nuance or ambiguity. If people need to pull over and google on their iPhones what is on the bumper in front of them, it then becomes a public safety issue. The goal of a bumper sticker is to educate, not endanger, your four-wheeled friends.

A bumper sticker has achieved its end if the person following the car has to squelch the urge either to wave at the driver in solidarity or rear-end the car in question by gunning the accelerator. Obama—not Bush. Red Sox—not Yankees. Hugging with Nuclear Arms—probably not a good idea. These moral decision trees are difficult enough to navigate at a hard stop, let alone while driving 75 miles an hour. And throw in the insistent voice of an automated GPS dominatrix and you can see how the average driver is being pushed to the limit.

When it comes to bumper sticker protocol, I’m referring to those stickers that adhere directly to a car’s back bumper (also called a rear fender). Not the transparent ones that go on the back window, which should abide by a different set of rules. Those should identify an accredited alma mater of either the car’s owner or a first-degree relative. The school must have an actual campus (not just a floor in a high-rise) and be legally permitted to confer degrees. If the person is still attending the school, they should be full-time enrollees, not part of any extension, visiting or evening program. Otherwise, the driver should be able to produce on demand (like at a red light or traffic stop) proof that someone in the family has an actual bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree from the school identified on the window. Of course, stickers on the back window should not depict a family of 8 with stick-figure drawings (with or without pets) in descending order of height. They should not glorify characters from Calvin and Hobbes urinating. And, it goes without saying, they should never, ever pay homage to any sort of religious figure or so-called spiritual personal belief.

The subject of the bumper sticker must be one that has been recently debated on a national Cable Television Network. The message should leave no doubt as to the driver’s leanings. Of course, if this means that some car owners may be more vulnerable to auto theft or burglary than others, then that is the price one has to pay for expressing their First Amendment Rights. One should be able to look at a pimped ride and picture the driver perhaps having cocktails with Keith Olbermann, or watching SportsCenter in Packers pajamas. The freeway is not the time to challenge fellow drivers to translate your message from a foreign tongue, or to promote a regional cause that will be meaningless to the driver in back of you. If you absolutely never take the Ford outside of your suburban cul-de-sac, then I suppose, if you must, you can get away with a sticker that touts a local restaurant or bar, for example. And then it should be because you are a frequent patron, not because the bumper sticker was free or you thought putting it on your car makes you seem edgier than you actually are.
Another ilk where there is no gray area whatsoever is the “Proud Parent of an Honor Student at… ” bumper sticker. First of all, I have never seen one of these stickers proclaim there to be “Proud Parents” or “Proud Relative Caregiver” or “Kind of Embarrassed Kin.” So these bumper stickers in and of themselves are making some sort of statement that in order for a child to be the recipient of “pride,” s/he must have a singular parent who is also a car owner/lessee. And if we start with that assumption, the constellation of students with the aforementioned auto-owning caregiver who ALSO get above-average grades is even smaller. For example, I do not believe any of my relatives have ever attended a school that had such bumper stickers available. And, truthfully, stressed teachers do not need added pressure from the administrations of those few schools who have stockpiled these stickers to produce good students. From a business model standpoint, the production of these stickers hardly seems worth it.

I have taken an informal sample of the bumpers of neighbors who I suspect may have excellent students, and I have yet to see any statement about their child’s grades affixed to their car. But more to the point, with the length of time people keep cars nowadays, such bumper stickers are rife with ethical dilemmas. First of all, Honor Student Status is only as good as the last report card. I mean, getting an “A” in one semester does nothing to mitigate a “D” the next. So by gluing onto an automobile public evidence of a parent’s presumed “pride” over an offspring’s academic accomplishment, the parent is banking on the fact that the child will continue to achieve at the same rate. If not, the parent risks being the laughingstock of his/her school district. Just as I believe people with university stickers on their windows should produce a diploma on demand, parents with these “Honor Student” stickers should be required to have a current report card in the glove compartment at all times.

I wonder about what goes on in the homes of families with these stickers. Are children discouraged from taking challenging courses so as not to risk their A’s, lest mom or dad has to trade in the Honda before the lease is up? Does the child have to work at a fast-food establishment to pay for the fees incurred by turning in the car early? Are students who fall from Honor Roll punished by having to apply Goo-Gone to the back bumper until every trace of the sticker is gone? Will the children have to start walking to school so as not to be associated with the cars touting their former glory? Alas, there are no easy answers.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

Supermarket Hits and Missus

     I have grocery shopping down to a science. And I pay for groceries by credit card. I have a system for food shopping that ensures I always have the necessities stocked (olive oilHoney Nut Cheerios, diet Hansen's ginger ale), but leaves room for me to exercise my creative spirit. Trust me, feeding your inner artiste at the grocery store does not lend itself to budgeting. Impulse buys like venison or steel cut oatmeal do not seem to go on sale with any regularilty. So I email myself a grocery list and add items by re-forwarding the message to myself with the added items. As an aside, not only is it fun to get so much email (even if they are from me), but attempting to decode the final list on my Blackberry with all of those forwarding headers embedded in the text while pushing a shopping cart requires superior multitasking skills. 
     I have described my modus operandi for grocery acquisition to give a sense of how such a precise and complex system cannot include an option for "estimate price and go to ATM machine." Did George Bush (the senior) estimate the cost of pork rinds and take out cash to buy them at the grocery store? Of course not, he let the scanner do its magic and the snack got paid in some way that did not seem to involve cash. Ok, I don't have an entourage to buy me things... but maybe someday... Anyway, although George H.W. Bush was bewildered by the modernity of a scanner back in the 1980s, I embrace this wonderful machine and how it levels the playing field for cashiers throughout the supermarket industry. Gone is the need to ask the customer where an item was found so the cashier could go check the price. Just scan the items and move along. It;'s a beautiful thing.     So, except for one time in recent memory--an attempt to locate rice cakes in a local market in Phoenix (don't ask)--I can find my way around virtually any chain market in any major, left-leaning metropolitan area in the US. I'm that good. So I do not need to enlist the help of stock people, managers, or deli counter workers. If I am craving a quick hit of prepared sushi, I avoid having to converse with the market's resident sushi chef and go with whatever is already displayed. Don't bother me when I am in my element. 
     So you can imagine my frustration when the Grande Finale of the shopping experience--the Check Out--is marred by the cashier's inevitable awkward attempt at interpersonal relations. The cashier has undoubtedly heard me mutter about how slow the line is, sigh loudly, say (to no one in particular) that a new lane should be opened, and curse at the woman in front of me paying by check. Do I seem like someone who then wants to have the pronounciation of my name clarified? It never fails that the crackerjack cashier looks at my credit card and asks me: "Do you need help out, Mrs.--is that Le-veeeeen or Le-viiiiine?" First of all, unless you are going to announce my name at the Academy Awards or present me with a Nobel Prize, do you think I care how you pronounce my name? Let's have a little less chatting and a little more scanning.. And--and this is the killer--why does the cashier assume I am a "Mrs."? Did he google me on his Sidekick when he was pretending to look up the code for eggplants? 
     This attempt at connecting with customers was undoubtedly forced on cashiers during a mandatory staff training, but I am not there to be profiled, I am there to buy paprika and cottage cheese. It drives me batty not only because of the sheer irritation factor, but also because there is no equivalent for "Missus" for the Misters of the world. Until there is a term that identifies a male's marital status, let's just keep it all neutral. Ms., Mr., or how about "Hey, you?" It irks me so much that it almost makes me want to remain anonymous by paying cash... almost. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Back to School: Part One

               On a rare day off from work, I volunteered at my son’s elementary school. Even  though I was going to be amongst hundreds of unemployed 6-11 year olds, I made sure I was dressed in business casual so my son’s teacher and peers would perhaps see me as a no-nonsense type who possibly possessed advanced skills, and I would get assigned a really cool volunteering assignment, like color-coding flash cards or laminating worksheets. Basically, I was angling for anything but grading papers.
                There is something about being at an elementary school that can be very unsettling for those of us with still-raw memories of their own early school experience. If I screw up being a Mom Volunteer at school, will it go on my permanent record? I felt like I was in trouble right off the bat--It didn’t even occur to me that I was supposed to sign in at the office, let alone put on a bright red “Visitor” sticker. While the front office staff did not officially “tsk tsk” at my attempt to breeze through the office, they clearly were not going to have any rebellion here. An Insubordinate Mom would not reflect well on the child, who will in turn never be nominated for the school’s monthly “Best Citizen Award” because of his parent’s own poor display of Citizenship. I entertained the notion of signing in as somebody else’s mother, but had visions of them asking me for ID, and then being publically shamed by the assistant principal on the PA system once my ruse was discovered. 
               I put on the sticker with a smile, hoping to get bonus points by commenting on the charming bubble-letter font used to identify me as an oversized interloper at an elementary school. The principal was just getting up from his desk, so I pretended to be acutely interested in a flyer for Chess Club as he walked by me out of the office. Cleverly greeting the principal would be way too much pressure for a not-fully-caffeinated Monday morning. An awkward pause or poorly received attempt at lighthearted small-talk could send my son’s academic future down the toilet. Once he was gone, I scurried out of the office into the perfectly symmetrical courtyard, enclosed by identical looking structures where the classrooms are housed.
                I have been to my son’s school many times, but have never entered the school grounds from the same entrance more than once. I think finding the classrooms (no directional signs appear anywhere) is a test to see if your kin is genetically predisposed to have a semblance of intelligence and spatial relations skills. Well, hopefully no one will spill the news to the school department that I finally found Room 102 only after being pointed in the right direction by a first grader with a bathroom pass. I took a deep breath and rapped on the door several times. When there was no answer, a slight paranoia came over me that the teacher had dared the classroom to play a practical joke on me by hiding under their desks and pretending to be at recess. I peeked in the room, calling “Helloooo???” in my most cheerful-sounding falsetto. Nothing.

                After convincing myself that I was not re-experiencing a traumatizing school-age prank from my own childhood, I regrouped and went back to the front office. I explained to the efficient front desk administrator how I was pretty sure this was the day I was supposed to volunteer, but maybe there was some sort of miscommunication because no one was in the classroom. The staffer sensed my insecurity and did nothing whatsoever to assuage my anxiety. “Really, no one there?” she asked, gesturing in such a way to indicate that this was a great mystery to be solved. “Well,” I apologized, ”maybe I just didn’t see them. I mean, I didn’t look all around the classroom, just opened the door and didn’t seem to see anybody.” The staffer wondered if perhaps the class was at the principal’s “Discipline Assembly” in the Multipurpose Room, and why didn’t I go check there? Already feeling humiliated at not being able to locate 35 pre-teens in a 20X20 room, I didn’t have the nerve to ask for directions to the “Multipurpose Room,” but I thought how if the sign on the door of the room spelled “Multipurpose” as two words, I would have no choice but to go back to  the office and inform them of this engraved grammatical error; however, a hyphen  between “multi” and “purpose” might not be worth ruffling any feathers. My mind then wandered to thinking that if someone donated a wad of cash to the school, they could get the “Multipurpose Room” named after them, as long as the bequest didn’t specify only one purpose, because then it would have to be called a “Singlepurpose Room,” especially if the money were given anonymously. My focus was completely shot at this point and the thought of Xeroxing or sharpening pencils was getting more and more daunting as the moments ticked away.
                I ventured back into the courtyard and stood for a minute as though I were contemplating the dimensions of the courtyard for a renovation project. I was hoping that another bathroom-bound boy would take pity on me and show me where the Multipurpose Room was. Alas, a custodian sensed my confusion and offered to escort me there personally.
                The Multipurpose Room, despite its many purposes, had only one entrance. The principal was standing at a podium just feet away from the open door. He was on a roll, pointing at his Powerpoint slide and explaining an awkward acronym meant to serve as a mnemonic device for elementary school students to remember not to fight, cheat, embezzle or chew gum while at school. The teacher was sitting across the crowded room and did not initially see me standing at the doorway; however, the principal and the 100 members of the school’s fourth grade certainly did, and turned around in unison to stare at me. I had flashbacks to the time I gave a presentation in class not realizing I had a visible booger in my nose. I tried to scan the room to find my son, but the teacher had already started her journey toward me, stage-whispering “excuse me” every few kids and trying not to trip. When she finally reached me, my mind went completely blank except for the thought that she looks exactly like my son’s teacher from third grade, and I suddenly couldn’t remember what her name was. I should have crammed more for this outing. Going back to elementary school is not something that is covered in graduate school… but for those of us who double-degreed in parenting and academics, seminar on how to be an adult in a child’s setting would have been a class with actual real world applications. But I digress……

Friday, October 8, 2010

Of Thee I Sing

My son goes to public school. When he started school, I expected to have the
usual flashbacks to elementary school days: the creaky desks, the annoying
hair-puller in the row behind me, and all that good stuff that comes flooding
back when you have kids. But one memory that I apparently repressed was that of
the institutionally mandated patriotism—in both chanted and musical form. Until
I stood at Friday assembly at my then-first-grade-son’s school, watching
hundreds of children, teachers and parents solemnly grasping their chests and
reciting the Pledge of Allegiance (and “under God,” at that!) and then, in
unrehearsed unison, adopting a beatific stance for the Star Spangled Banner. Was
I really on a children’s playground (in Los Angeles, weather is good and land is
expensive, so most events take place on the concrete hardtop) in a town where
Priuses outnumber traffic lights, and progressive attitudes are to the right
only of Park Slope, Brooklyn? Who ARE these people who I thought I knew? Had I
stumbled onto the set of extras of the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers?
Needless to say, it was many months before I could attempt another appearance at
school assembly.

As a child in public elementary school, I vividly remember my first grade
teacher, Mrs. Hogan, a quiet and solemn woman, whip into a virtual whirling
dervish of nationalistic excitement as soon as the pledge ended. We were led in
spirited versions not only of the “Star Spangled Banner,” but also “America the
” and, inexplicably, “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” It was in the last one
where she really made her mark—the same women who methodically wrote her name on
the blackboard every morning would gesture up a storm, with arms flailing on the
“grand” beat and raised to the ceiling for the “high flying flag” part.
Fortunately, I did not sit in the front row because I can only imagine the
spittle that was flying by the finale of the song.

Later, thankfully, I went to private school, where we weren’t as beholden to the
country’s history as we were to the school’s traditions. We had assemblies
several times a week (indoors, in a specially designated hall). I don’t recall
any singing, except for when the school’s Glee Club performed, and I am fairly
certain they only sang songs in Medieval Greek or Latin. However, when it was
time for Commencement, we practiced the songs as if our lives depended on it.
Because, in a way they did; a sour note or poor diction during the ceremony
would mar the over-achieving perfection that is a Boston all-girls’ school, and
if you were the cause, you wouldn’t get into a good college, never get a job or
have a family, and undoubtedly die an early and painful death.

I never recall actually being taught the words to any of the patriotic gems that
remain the staple of United States public schools, and perhaps that is why
generations of Americans do not actually know the words to these songs, let
alone the meaning. But in pursuit of a first-rank College Preparatory education,
nothing is left to chance, and we spent weeks memorizing every stanza of equally
obtuse and tortured lyrics, but ones that apparently paid homage to institutions
that are not the American Flag. In fact, one song was actually about merry old
England—the song was from a William Blake work called “Jerusalem,” and I
remember wondering why a school full of Boston WASPs were singing about Israel.
The other musical mainstay of Commencement was a whit trickier to master than
Blake’s alliteration about England’s “pleasant pastures”—the song (whose name I
do not recall) had a line that went “Give me your Chariot of Fire.”
Unfortunately, I was in school around the time the Academy Award-winning film
“Chariots of Fire” came out, and I cannot tell you the agony of trying to get
400 girls to not botch that line in rehearsal, lest we have to sing it one more
time. But the good news was, those of us who did not possess pitch that was up
to the school’s standards were instructed merely to move our lips to the music;
yes, I was a mouth mover. So I could have lip-synced all sorts of scandalous
things while my more talented sisters were earnestly asking for that Chariot of
Fire; sadly, I was not clever enough to do so, a regret I still have.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Web Ambivalence

Although I named my daughter after a classic book about a spider, I have to admit that had my recall of the plot--and ending--of the book been less faulty, perhaps she would have been named Wilbur instead of Charlotte. The cover of the book looks so cheery sitting there in the juvenile fiction section at Barnes and Noble, not giving even a clue that the spider for which the book is named toils in vain and meets a tragic fate.

Having a child named after a deceased spider brings up all sorts of deep-seated issues I have about spiders and how (or whether) to coexist with them. I don't find them to be creepy or intimidating (unlike pigeons) nor do I find them to be particularly interesting. They silently scurry around, and I have to say I rarely cock my head up at home to see what is happening on the ceiling; for all I know, there could be an entire ant-farm like village up there in the crown molding. My knowledge of arachnids’ habits and their status on the food chain is so woefully limited that I see spiders and become paralyzed with indecision as to whether to squash them like, well, the bugs that they are.

I think I would have automatically put spiders in the "squish" category with houseflies and moths, had it not been for the aforementioned E.B. White book. I mean, yes, flies have a song (Shoo Fly Pie) and insects like ladybugs and inchworms are ground-bound and seen often enough in close proximity to flowers to assume they have some sort of evolutionary or synergistic function with nature. Flies and moths: squished inside, ignored outside. But spiders and those webs--what is the purpose? Eric Carle’s book about the Busy Spider implies that spiders spin webs for no other reason than to show off. And Spider Man's mere existence seems to confirm this theory. But I also vaguely recall that the webs are supposed to trap bugs, much like those sticky mosquito strips that used to hang in suburban rumpus rooms in the 1970s. But I have only seen our houseflies circumvent all of the webs in and about my house, so perhaps flies have gotten smarter while spiders have failed to adapt to the changing entymological social structure.

So, my moral dilemma is: Do I swat every web I see or respect the artistry and effort? I must say that although I am not put off by spiders themselves, I find the thready tendrilly feeling of cleaning a spider web to be particularly unsettling. And there is a very fine line between a spider web and a “dust bunny,” which is indisputably meant to be removed. Which brings up the question of what creature is behind those dust bunnies—rabbits? Do I now need to reconsider my views on Peter Rabbit

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Food Detectives

Just to be clear: My children have no genetic predisposition toward neatness or
finickiness. They also do not have any modeling at home for being sticklers or,
for that matter, even remotely tidy or noticing minutia. You could say we live
in the macro, not the micro. So you can imagine my bewilderment at the acute
attention to detail that both of my children display when it comes to anything
that mars the aesthetic perfection of their food.

My children both hold the integrity of their food up to the highest possible
standard. As an example, a Trader Joe’s soy corn dog that has imperceptibly
separated from its stick requires a dissertation-like analysis from me to my
daughter as to how it tastes the same and has to be separated from its stick in
order to eat it anyway. My son, noting that lima beans were replaced by edamame
in a favorite recipe, will sulk until my evil eye threatens him to take at least
a few grudging bites.

Again, these are the very same children who have no problem holding a chewed
piece of gum in their hand until they remember to hand it to me to be discarded,
have no qualms about going through the day with pizza sauce stuck to their chin,
or lick melted chocolate from a crumpled wrapper. But when it comes to the
tiniest imperfection in their food, all bets are off.

A recent example involves my son taking great offense at the presence of a tiny
white speck in the paella his father just spent two hours making (from a recipe
in the NY Times, no less). Although my son had just enjoyed two helpings of the
paella, the third serving revealed a less-than-pureed something-or-other. “What
is this white thing?” he asked, motioning to a tiny whitish seed-shaped item in
his paella. After spending several minutes explaining the intricacies of a
paella recipe and the sophisticated flavor that results from many disparate
ingredients mingling together, I say in my most neutral voice, “It must be an
almond” (which I knew from first-hand experience because my role in the
paella-making was to puree almonds, spinach and garlic).  “But I don’t like
nuts,” my son pointed out, carefully avoiding the offensive speck while
finishing his third helping.

Earlier in the weekend, my daughter, who ritualistically eats Honey Nut Cheerios
in a yellow bowl, on a white tray, with a spoon and 2% milk, shrieked in horror
while having breakfast. Conjuring up images of fingertips being found in
fast-food chili, or the horrors of the egg farms, I took a deep breath and
inquired as to the reason for her distress. “LOOK!” she screamed, pointing to a
tiny brown fleck on an “O” of her Cheerios, “TAKE IT OFF!!.”  Try explaining at
6:45 in the morning to  a 4-year-old that the speck of faux-honey-nuttish-oat on
the Cheerio is just an extra dose of the faux-honey-nuttish-oatiness that she
professes to love. While it is a part of my motherly duty to educate my children
to the random unpredictability of life, it also is not beyond the job
description to give up and pour a new bowl of Cheerios.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sports Mom

There are few things more excruciating than watching your child play a competitive sports match. The discomfort is palpable in both the physical and emotional sense. In Southern California, at least, there doesn't seem to be any sport that is immune to piercing, numbing heat that remains unmitigated by sun umbrellas, canopied chairs, chilled sports drink, or attempts to watch from a shaded spot behind a tree. Then there is the stuff: gear, balls, chairs, food, water, siblings, siblings' stuff, gear, stuffed animals, spouse's forgotten jackets (which will never be used), cameras (ditto), lugged and laboriously set up at the exact point where prime viewing and possible shade might for a moment converge, hopefully when your child is in the game. The awkward small talk, the forgotten names of other parents, the squelching of urges to second-guess the coach by shrieking out some uninformed bit of strategy advice.

But the sweating, frayed nerves and social faux pas are nothing compared to the sheer terror and worry that comes with your child competing in a game. I'm not sure whether it is worse being at the game itself, or being at home waiting to hear, but the hours spent waiting for the game to conclude without major injury or humiliation is interminable. If I am at home waiting, or late to the game, I tend to not ask the score to foster the illusion that the fun and participation are all that are important. And while I do believe that, I believe it more when my child's team wins and when my child has a positive role in said victory. Watching your child play, mentally taking note of how many sincere-sounding unsolicited cheers your child gets from other parents, hoping your child will block the shot or score the goal.... it is not for the weak. In games, like soccer, that have timed periods, I will often close my eyes or stare at a distant object toward the end and just hope I can will the game to come to a quick ending before a slim lead is overcome or my weary, sweaty child collapses out of sheer exhaustion.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Meg and the Maid

I am not a supporter of Meg Whitman, but the maid scandal is ridiculous. Many people do not automatically assume someone is lying. I live in Southern Cal and people come from all over the world under all kinds of situations. If someone has official identification and has been referred from an agency, most people--especially someone busy running a Fortune 500 company with a spouse who is also gainfully employed--do not spend the bulk of their time wondering whether the person who cleans their house while they are at work is lying about their legal status. Seriously. And the only reason I have heard of that people employ someone with legal issues is to pay under the table--there is no point going through all of the draconian motions of IRS paperwork if you are employing someone who is not eligible to receive benefits! Also, many spouses/partners--especially those where both are busy working-- do not necessarily spend their shared time discussing whether one of them gave the employee an innocuous note to follow up on what looked like a very mundane issue (a change of name could trigger the IRS not finding someone's SSN info). If my partner followed up with an employee, he would not share this info with me unless there was something amiss that I needed to continue to follow up on. We are both competent adults (as, I assume, are Meg Whitman and her husband) and these are just not the types of issues that most partners/parents/working people obsess over.

A Bit Player

Both of the males are out for the evening, so C and I are spending a few hours devoted just to playing (aka "pyaying"). The stuffed animals and dolls are lined up on the bed, ready to put on a show. There are about two dozen or so (with many dozen more ready for action). C, as always, has a clear vision of how this play will, uh, play out. So who do I get to be? The mommy? No, C will be the mommy. The daddy? No, C will also be the daddy. The sister or brother? Princess? dentist? Ditto, ditto, ditto. So who do I get to be. "You are the audience." Sigh.

How do I meet this Josh Peterson fellow?

So anyone who has attempted to set up a blog through google gets a choice of templates. Kind of like Powerpoint or those moody business card templates you can create online. All of the templates look pretty much alike (why does the "simple" template with the fake books look like that Olin Mills school portrait backdrop from the mid 1970s??) and are all credited to design whiz Josh Peterson (RISD? Parsons???) .  Does the Talented Mr. Peterson get royalties every time someone is strong-armed into using one of his cutting-edge templates because google won't let you register the damned blog until you do? Who is this Josh Peterson and how did he get a monopoly on the templates? Actually, a Monopoly-themed template would be sort of cool, now that I think about it. I wonder if I can find Josh on Facebook and float him that idea. Or maybe he is more of a Linkedin person.. if he exists at all. Not MySpace, please.... I picture him more of a socially awkward cubicle sitter than a tween on a laptop...

Type A Ebay

It happened again. 1) Job and 2) kids got in the way of the important work of Ebay bidding. I miscalculated my schedule and when I got home I was dismayed to see that the Sandy Koufax/Don Drysdale autograph set had ended and the winning bid was less than even I was going to shell out. I purposely didn't put in my higher bid before leaving 1) work to pick up 2) kids because I didn't want to drive the price up. But now  I will have to continue to monitor until a similar gem comes up. Of course, the irony of 1) job and 2) kids preventing me from scoring on ebay is that the items I am bidding for are actually for 1) job and 2) kids. Earlier in the week I stalked used keyboards for my work computer because apparently pretzel salt from a midmorning-carbo-craving snack can get wedged in the keyboard and render the space key utterly useless. Who would have thought? And the aforementioned Koufax/Drysdale find is me channeling my inner Santa way too early to get holiday gifts for my son. I hope once he figures out that his dear mom is behind all these awesome and stressful-to-obtain gifts, he will be appropriately appreciative. If not this year, by next year?

By the way, it is a minor miracle that this blog is even registered at all (is it??). Typing in those pesky verification codes over and over and having them summarily rejected is not only time-consuming, but not so great for the self-esteem, I must say. But here it is, and if I am ever able to find this website again to post, it will be another minor miracle... in a nondenominational way, of course.