Category: pet peeves

the museum

the museum

and it’s all right, we never met a person we didn’t like in the museum.  we never see ’em…

today, we had a delightful visit from my BIL, our two nieces, and my MIL. we went downtown for lunch and then hit the spy museum which, for those of you out-of-towners, is a lot of fun. i loved the aston-martin that was kitted out like a bond car, with guns in the front, a wheel cutter thingy, and the works. (wish i had one some days when i am driving the beltway.) there were all kinds of exhibits. i liked the 1960s camera that copied documents when you rolled it over them.  and i was fascinated reading about  the east german woman who bravely spoke against the repressive government, only to get jailed, with a husband who stood by her until the wall came down. then, she ran for parliament, passed a law so that all former east germans could read the files gathered on them by the stasi, read her own file only to discover that the informant who squealed on her was… her husband. (they ended up divorced. i’m sure you’re surprised.)

somehow, though, in this world of buildings dedicated to the knowledge of particular subject areas, we have gone down a road where it’s not simply enough to look at the items and possibly read a bit about them on the walls. now, museums have to be entertaining. they have exhibits where you do things on a computers, or you make things, or you are actively participating in a show. i find it a little disheartening that kids now seem to have little attention span for actually looking at the actual items in the museum but rather race toward the stuff they can do. it’s like they start out with these please touch museums in young childhood and expect all museums from here on out to be places where it’s about their fun and activity.


i think i’ll keep trying with my kids anyway. i’ll just have to make sure to go alone to the things i really want to see in the meantime.

don’t call me baby

don’t call me baby

what’s in a name?

today, i was having a lovely time on the phone with someone from my credit card company, a company that shall remain nameless, but a company with which i have been doing business certainly for over a decade. the customer service agent had all my information in front of her, and in her pleasant, not-quite-robotic voice, she chatted me up to personally upsell me some service or another. and then, she did it.

she called me shirley.

i kept the name i was born with; but if you think calling me by my husband’s last name irks me, you should just imagine how irritated i am to have my first name mangled.

and it isn’t like i’m really particular about my nicknames, either. Middlebro still calls me boo, which my friend jen-jen is almost too happy to tell people is short for sherry-berry-boo (and yes, she did that once in the middle of the most crowded corridor in high school, much to my total embarrassment.) my family calls me sher; some friends call me by my last name; and of course, my husband has a variety of nicknames for me, all of which i will spare you.  (you’re welcome.)

does your name ever get mangled? i’d love to hear variations on the theme in the comments section. i need a giggle.

hungry like the wolf

hungry like the wolf

…and apparently raised by one, too.

there was an absurd story in the Post the other day about a woman who was arrested at a Safeway for shoplifting. to be more precise, she is a pregnant woman with a toddler who bought two sandwiches and started eating one while she shopped. she allegedly saved the wrapper, but she ended up walking out without paying for the sandwich. not only did she end up arrested, but they took her toddler overnight.  Safeway ultimately apologized to the woman and decided not to prosecute.

i’m sure the whole taking the toddler overnight part of this story is beyond overkill. and of course, arresting a pregnant woman gets a lot of people feeling sympathetic — oh, you get so hungry sometimes when you’re pregnant. oh, sometimes, you just get a little fuzzy when you’re pregnant.

really? i’ve had two kids, and while there were plenty of times i was starving or even slightly hormonal (okay, i was more than slightly hormonally delusional when i suggested to BS that we name BC this), i always had the presence of mind to behave like a mannered, decent human being. (at least, as decent and as mannerly as i am capable of being.) i didn’t start eating in stores prior to paying for my food because i was so ravenous, which is what the Post parenting blogger gave as an excuse. i didn’t blame things on my condition other than the physicalities that were obviously due to being huge — and even then, that’s part of the bargain you make when you decide to have a baby.  i walked around with feet that ultimately stretched a half size larger; a belly that probably has never been the same, and some little person kicking the crap out of my innards. it isn’t comfortable, and at times, i was a surly madame because of it; but it doesn’t give me license to do stuff i know i ought not to. should we lock up the preggers ladies until they are 6 weeks post-partum and come back to their senses?

which brings me to my next point/pet peeve: people who eat and/or give their kids food prior to paying for it in stores.

so boohoo: poor hungry pregnant woman ate her sandwich in the store. if she was that bloody hungry, she should have bought the food, taken it outside (it’s freaking Honolulu, not Maine) where there’s always a bench, and eaten it. then, tackle shopping with your blood sugar feeling much happier, lady. i’m tired of people teaching their kids that it’s okay to take something off a store’s shelf and eat it while you haven’t yet paid for it. here’s the thing you need to remind yourself: it doesn’t belong to you until you’ve paid for it. i’m sure there are plenty of times where the people forget to pay for their food. and whether it is done intentionally or not, it costs the store money, a cost which is passed on to the rest of us.

and i’m not paying so that your toddler can chomp on a granola bar because you don’t know how to deal with a toddler (or however many you have) in a supermarket.  there are some parenting challenges you really need to work on. if it’s too difficult to take them, then use grocery delivery. otherwise, you need to put on your big girl and big boy panties and take some responsibility for teaching your kids the proper way to behave in public.

here’s an idea: if you’re taking young kids to the supermarket, make sure they’ve had a snack before you go. or, if you really think they need to eat in the shopping cart seat, bring a snack in a container that makes it obvious that it came from home. and for the love of Dog, please make it something that won’t slime up the grocery cart. i’m tired of grabbing a cart only to get a handful of mashed bananas and kid snot and who knows what else.

and if you, the adult, can’t delay your gratification and feel the strong urge to eat while you shop, then you need to grow the fuck up. now.

oh, and one more thing: if that’s the latter happens to be the case, please don’t breed anymore. you’re making the wolves lo0k like really excellent parents.



yes. it floweth out your child’s backside. yours, too.

as parents, we all think the world of our children. why wouldn’t we? they are all amazing creatures, each one a special flower annointing the earth with a special glow.

of course, your child is more special than the rest.

your child is a kind and gentle person, ever-so-talented academically, ever-so-agile in sports, ever so social and perfect.

and that is why you cannot believe that your child said anything threatening to my child. you cannot fathom that your child called my child stupid, he called him dumb, he told him he ought to kill himself.

and that is also why it isn’t surprising that you invited a few boys over for a playdate while they all stood in a group with my son… only too bad for mine — he was the only one not invited by you, all in front of the others. i was standing there; i heard it all.  or how about the time you cancelled my son’s long-awaited playdate at your house so that another friend of his could come over instead? of course, my son wanted to know why you did this. you can’t imagine how fun it can be to have to come up with a more palatable reason why an adult would be mean to a kid.

this, of course, isn’t one particular person; this is just a composite of some of the bullshit my child has had to experience in the past 6 months.

now see i am the biggest fan of each of my children. that much is true. but i also don’t believe that the sun shines out of their backsides. i’m well aware that my son, for example, occasionally engages in behavior that isn’t stellar. and when i know about it, i call him on it. it’s simply not acceptable behavior.

but not every parent participates in his child’s upbringing as i do, apparently. because there are plenty of parents who are not willing to believe that some pretty harsh things come out of their kids’ mouths.  they cannot conceive of their child engaging in hurtful behavior. shoot, so many of them cannot see how they participate in this behavior, so how can you expect them to see it in their child’s?

i’m tired of lazy parents who live in denial about their kids.

getting in tune

getting in tune

it’s all cher’s fault.

back in 1998, a new technology, called auto-tune, was employed on cher’s hit single believe to ensure that her vocals were perfect.  (if you’re brave, you can give it a listen. i’ll wait.)

did you hear those notes where it almost sounds like her voice has become like a synthesizer? where she sounds more like a machine than a human? welcome to the magic of auto-tune.  and over the past 10 years, it has become a huge tool in the world of pop and R&B. people in country have admitted to using it, too, like shania twain, tim mcgraw, and faith hill. it appears that everybody want to rule their pitch.

music, to those of you who know me or who have paid any attention whatsoever to my blog over the past 9 years, takes up a lot of space in my brain. to me, it is an art that clutches at all that is human inside me and which expresses frailties and strengths about our experiences in life and love and spirit and everything in between. auto-tune removes all that is human and imperfect from music. it distances the artist from the craft. and it creates a gap between the artist and me. there is this computer that sanitizes and perfects the experience.

if you are really all about the music, and  if you are really all about creating a real experience, a real moment between yourself and others, then you need not use auto-tune. i cannot imagine bob dylan auto-tuned, or bruce springsteen, or aimee mann, or anyone whose work i respect. i don’t expect them to have perfect performances, and i don’t want their voices synthesized into electronic nirvana. i want to hear them raw and real and regular. i don’t expect vocal pyrotechnics; i expect emotional truth and warmth.

can you imagine john lennon auto-tuned? nope. me, neither.

sometimes, especially in pop and R&B, there is this need to embellish vocal embellishments. it’s like artists are not so much interested in the emotion of the song but rather in proving they can glide around 16 notes in a second. their vocal chords are superior, apparently. but doing so is fraught with easy failure. auto-tune to the rescue! just because whitney houston could do it without doesn’t mean you need to, and you, too, can sound like a diva! the tv show glee is rife with it. i wonder whether broadway is now, too.

nope. not for me. maybe it’s the aural equivalent of telling those damn kids to get off my lawn, but i don’t want any auto-tune in my music.  and if they want to keep it real, then artists ought to demand that their imperfections remain for us fans to love or not love. i know music is a business, but if the product actually becomes 100% manufactured for our listening pleasure, then there’s no art left.

i like the illusion that there’s something honest going on there, but auto-tune completely pulls back the curtain and let’s you see that the wizard is truly bankrupt, false, and neurotic.

quite possibly, talentless as well.

To the Mom Who Films Every Single School Performance

To the Mom Who Films Every Single School Performance

Dear Overzealous Mom,

After several years of attending chorus and band concerts, talent shows, award ceremonies, and other school assemblies, I have become, in short, familiar with your work. You are the woman who leaps up before each and every song start or critical moment, flips on your video cam, and starts to preserve those wonderful childhood memories we all wish to remember as we move along that strangely short continuum known as life. I’m very glad that you are careful to gather each and every note your child has warbled. I envision a home library filled with videos, each carefully categorized for future generations’ use.

You may not realize this, but thanks to your fastidious attention to capturing those moments, you have also become a part of our family’s memories. At first, I would attempt a paltry photograph here or there, only to capture your back, shoulders, or butt (the latter of which has gotten larger over the years, which I can glean from my photographic evidence.) I would try to sit elsewhere in the auditorium, and yet, like two toddlers hellbent on getting the one toy in the room, our worlds would collide again and again. Over time, I gave up hope at actually watching my child in any performance; I would simply hope that my being there was enough for her. She’ll never know that I spent my time, teeth gritted, trying to see around your standing, ample frame, hearing less her voice and more of the whirr of your taping.

I should learn to live with the fact that your child must be more important than mine or anyone else’s here at school. However, now that the final year at elementary school is coming to a close, I have been asked to share any photographs I have of my child at school activities for one final montage at the graduation program. Instead, as I gather together my collection of pictures, I notice a preponderance of shots of you. While your family may never show much interest in watching your thousands of hours of video, my kids will have to content themselves with multiple shots of your posterior.

I’m picking out the finest samples for the entire 5th grade to enjoy.



Originally published at Smartly.Com

welcome to the jungle

welcome to the jungle

dear playdate/person who’ll be here for the next two hours which will seem like an eternity,

evidentally, you never received my first letter to a playdate.  if you had, you’d know about my expectations and rules for having a safe, fun, and happy time in my home. if you can, review those rules. but if not, i will be glad to share a few quick pointers here.

please put down that giant branch. while i’ve been known to wing it when it comes to attempting minor medical treatments, i’m not really confident about my abilities in the area of emergency DIY eye surgery.

bless you for taking your shoes off before coming in. you didn’t listen to me as i shrieked about not going in our neighbor’s yard; you ran through it, anyway. besides the fact that good neighbors tend to not run through each other’s yards, i should point out that that particular neighbor’s lawn is a veritable minefield, as it appears he permits his dog to poop all over his lawn (as well as other lawns from time to time.) therefore, who knows what dreams may come/what delights may attach themselves to the bottom of your shoes. and i would prefer to not have such substances on my hall floor.

why certainly you can have a snack… oh, you don’t like peanut butter cookies? how about…oh, you don’t like freshly-baked butterscotch oatmeal cookies either? how about cheesey crackers? no? hmmm… no, we’re not having chocolate now… no, i just baked that cake for after dinner. if you would like to join us for dinner, you may have some afterwards… oh, you don’t like what i’m making for dinner? here, take this phone number. call it. see whether mcdonalds delivers to seven year olds.

great — you’ll eat graham crackers. i’m surprised you ate half of the box on your own, but i guess you are one hungry fellow. please don’t play your kill the graham crackers game in my house. you may have nannies who willingly clean up all the crushed crumbs that trail in your wake, but around here, i am the nanny. no one pays me to clean up after you.

is it really necessary to invoke a holy war over whether pokemon or bakugan is superior? both consist of cheap, plastic crap from china and cards, all promoted by half-hour-long commercials posing as cartoon shows. and the whole point of either? machines of some ilk basically fight each other.  if you really want to see some serious fighting, you ought to hit up someone’s house around holiday time. now there’s some really awesome battles. watch two siblings fighting over some long-forgotten feud. take a ringside seat while uncle joe and auntie mo talk about fidelity issues. maybe you could give extra points for people who are artificially medicated or take away points from people with certain baggage.

then again, you don’t get to a lot of these topics until later on in family life education, so just take my word for it — if i see plastic and cards flying around in a tantrum, you will really see some excitement around here.

no, the pinball machine still hasn’t been fixed. yes, i know — it wasn’t fixed when you were here before the holidays, either. no, i don’t know when i am getting it fixed. how are you at fixing pinball machines?

my son is banned from the wii for the next week. since you asked, he was banned because he continued to not listen when he was completely sucked into the game. it won’t be forever. you know, we have all sorts of board games. and he did want to go play outside, which you refused. so sorry if my house is the vortex of boredom.

how nice of you to mention that your neighbor will be home from his vacation on saturday and that you’d rather be playing with him. i know it makes my son sad to hear that; clearly, you haven’t yet developed the empathy gene to make you think how it would feel to be the recipient of such news. but i will be glad to see you happy with your neighbor friend.

for you see, there is another playmate in the wings who follows about 85% of my aforementioned rules.  i’m thinking 85% is a damn good number.

have a nice day,


pet peeve: telemarketers!

pet peeve: telemarketers!

ah, the last day of  pet peeve postings for NaBloPoMo! and it’s all about… wait a second. the phone is ringing and i have to check caller ID…

OMG! they call. day and night. night and day. those unknown caller folks on my caller ID. those people with 1-800 or 1-866, or somesuch number i don’t recognize. it’s the folks who want to sell me something. or it’s the folks who want me to donate something. or maybe they want to sell me something i can donate — who knows? but it makes me crazy!

ah, the delightful world of telemarketing. generally speaking, these omniscient phoners usually butcher my name. i love when the company’s caller refers to me by my husband’s name. better yet, i love when they call my husband by MY last name. it’s so very, very personal, these telemarketers. they really want to act like they’re my neighbors, my friends, my family. and yet none of these groups ever calls me up and asks for MONEY. i don’t know about anyone else’s family, but this doesn’t really happen a lot around here. mercifully.

and it’s always at the worst possible time. when my kids were small, it always happened just as a cranky baby fell asleep for a fought-off nap. or maybe it happens just as we sit down to dinner. or when i’m in the bathroom and expecting a call from someone important and so i hear the ring and feel like i need to magically get to the phone. and then, so sad, it’s not that person but rather a person i don’t know who doesn’t know me who may be calling me from the other side of the world for all i know. and they want my money.

caller ID has made my life SO MUCH better. i mean, we put our number on the DO NOT CALL list and yet we get calls.  so at least now, i can screen my calls. i giggle when their robocaller starts talking to my answering machine. i wonder if they’ll make a date for lunch. exchange circuitry. who knows!

but that’s in my happier moments. there was a time when my very young kids wanted to talk on the phone. oh, they so wanted phones, especially jools. we even bought him toy phones, he loved them so much.  so when a telemarketer called, i was sorely tempted to put the baby on the phone. go ahead — call me if you dare — but i’ve got a toddler, and i’m not afraid to deploy him!

i feel badly for people who work as telemarketers. they must know what a nuisance they are, and yet that’s the job they must do. you really must have a backbone of iron to take on a job like that.

but i’m tough right back, though i never get nasty. i simply don’t even answer the phone.


thanks for joining me for a month of pet peeves. if you’ve got more peeves you want to share, feel free to let me know your thoughts. and next month, i will try to think happier, peppier thoughts. but here’s hoping you were more amused and less annoyed by my monthly rant. be well, don’t cut me in line, don’t let your dog crap on my lawn, and we’ll get along just fine.

pet peeve: people who don’t clean up after Fido

pet peeve: people who don’t clean up after Fido

while you’re curbing your enthusiasm, please also curb your dog.

although i am a cat person, i do, in fact, enjoy spending time with dogs as well. unfortunately, due to my allergy status (read: i am allergic to dander, dust, trees, flowers, mold, feta cheese, and, well, i’m lying about the feta cheese. i just think it smells awful, kind of like barf.) i am unable to have a cat or a dog as a pet. this means that i get to enjoy being a pet-parent vicariously, thanks to the many dogs in my neighborhood. (and hey- here’s a shoutout to our faves: Henry, George, Razz, Dexter, Samson, Bailey, and of course, jools’ favorite dog on the planet whom he’d probably marry if it were allowed, Beatrix (AKA Bebe) the pitbull. ) we love our neighborhood dogs, who prowl down our street, leashed and with owners attached, carrying the ubiquitous plastic baggy for the dog doo.

unfortunately, there are clearly others walking other dogs on my street and in my neighborhood who seem to think that the world is their dog’s toilet. there are days when i seriously contemplate putting up a fence in my yard, if only to keep dogs from pooping on my lawn. BC thinks she knows who is responsible for the poop, but if you don’t see it happening live, up close, and (yecch) personal, then you really can’t go pointing fingers at people.

i know some people just let their pup run freely in their own backyard and sometimes just let nature take it’s course. i still remember my friend jen’s beloved cocker spaniel lollipop. lollipop was a very pretty, friendly dog who often left presents around the yard. still, it was in her yard mostly and not mine, so i was always careful not to step in any landmines while playing. i remember one time my mom reading lolli the riot act, as the dog had somehow crossed the street and had decided to relieve herself in our yard, something which didn’t go over well with my mom. of course, my mom talked to dogs like she talked to people: lolli, go HOME! she firmly told the dog. lolli just stood there with her puddle brown eyes, probably wondering whether my mom was going to come over and pet her or feed her or SOMETHING.  but that was one of the few times i ever remembered dear lolli, may she rest in peace, doing something like that in my yard. she mostly kept things local, if you know what i mean.

in short: if you own a dog, you sign up for a lot of things. one very major one is picking up what comes out of Fido’s backside (unless you want his poop to return to the earth in your own yard. that’s clearly your right.)  if you can’t do it, hire someone else — or better yet, get Fido into a home that really is committed to him and his world.

and please: stay the hell out of my yard.

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