Archive for March, 2012

Five Ways to Master School Projects

March 31, 2012 3 comments

I feel that I cannot be alone in my dislike for my children’s school projects.  I never mind helping my kids with their homework, but without fail, I feel that these projects cross a very fine line and become my homework.  I finished school longer ago than I like to admit, and the only projects I should have to do these days are the ones for which I’m getting paid.  But, alas, time and again, I get roped into helping develop ideas, buying supplies, googling facts and organizing the most dreaded of all school projects…the research presentation.

My children both take, or have taken, part in an enrichment class in elementary school.  Ah, why be humble.  They’re in the gifted class. (brag brag on my little smarties)  Anyway, this class requires a full-on research project each year in grades 3-5.  I think it’s a great idea to learn the process early on and I’ve already seen the benefits in my seventh grader’s school papers.  However, I hate it like fire.  Every year, at zero hour, I get the “your kid is behind schedule” email and we have one week to get this project completed.  It would be far easier and faster to just write the damn presentation myself, but I resist temptation and try to be the good mom who actually teaches her kid how to do it.  Apparently this is a skill that my children are not capable of learning in a classroom.  They seem to need an angry and frustrated mother right in their face before they can learn the concept of research papers. 

That said, I feel qualified to offer some advice in this realm for all you other angry and frustrated parents out there.  We’ve been through no fewer than eight research papers altogether and we always get bangin’ good grades.  Having just completed the latest and greatest, it occurs to me that I might alleviate some of the stress for others by sharing our tips and tricks for research projects.

It's cute, no doubt. But it's definitely not from space.

Step 1: Choosing a topic

You must choose a topic that is relevant and interesting to your child.  Is your child interested in technology?  Why, then, choose Steve Wozniak, Shigeru Miyamoto or Bill Gates.  Or, better yet, choose Thomas Edison and slog your way through vague books about incandescent light bulbs and telegraphs.  After all, timely information such as this is fascinating to any ten-year-old.  Is outer space more your child’s speed?  Then do some research on constellations, planets or flightless birds.  Yes, indeed, one can never know enough about the mighty emu.  Always remember, there is nothing quite as inspiring to a young child as allowing them to choose their own topic, then immediately shutting them down and assigning them something boring instead.

I'm taking a chance and assuming that Wikipedia has their logo right.

Step 2: Research

With the whole internet at your disposal, you must never forget the benefits to be had from scrounging twenty year old books from the school library.  They are sure to be accurate and all-encompassing.  If you do choose to turn to the internet to gather information, keep in mind that Wikipedia is a source of knowledge fed by anyone who chooses to make an entry.  You must Wiki-tread lightly.

A rare gem

Step 3: Visual Aids

You may be fortunate enough to live in a town that has a store that regularly stocks the large size presentation backboards.  If not, then you’ll need to go to Walmart every day, searching in vain for the office supply shipment that has been promised.  The night before the backboard must be taken to school, dig through the spare closet to find last year’s project and carefully disassemble it.  Word of warning – wait until the children to go bed lest they witness your wanton destruction of six months of their hard work.  The following day, when Wal-Mart gets their shipment, buy five backboards for future use and store them in a secure location that you’re sure to forget in two days.

I can't caption this for laughing at the absurdity of a note card with structure...

Step 4: Writing the Presentation

Ideally, your child will have finished a rough draft of the presentation during class and you can use this opportunity to offer constructive criticism and add polish to the final draft.  If, however, you birthed a little slacker procrastinator, then this will be your opportunity to guide your child through the entire process in one short evening.  Offer eloquent wording, then screech, “put that in your own words!”  Be prepared to interrupt any protests about the assignment specifications with “I don’t care!  I don’t care!  Do it the way I said and that will be good enough!”  You’ll want wine, but you’ll need coffee, since you’ve already had a full day, now you’re stuck doing a month’s worth of homework in three hours.  You will stress yourself and your kid out but eventually you will produce an informative and interesting presentation that lasts six to eight minutes and you will feel a sense of calm and relief reminiscent of the glorious and heady moments directly following this little darling’s birth.


Go ahead. You've earned it!


Step 5: Practice (and wine)

Now it’s time to practice presenting so your little angel has a chance to learn all the fancy words that you threw in the report.  During this time, your only obligation is to operate the timer, sip wine and seriously consider pulling your kid out of this class next year.  You may also have some unkind and undeserved thoughts about the teacher and/or the assignment, and that’s okay.  You’ve been through a lot and this is your time to recover.  Relax.  It’s over, at least until next year.

As you can see, it’s a straightforward process.  With the proper preparation and coaching along the way, your child is still guaranteed to screw you to the wall at the last possible second.  In these moments, there’s no shame in doing the math to find out if a zero on this assignment will cause your child to fail the class.  Sadly, the answer is usually yes, it will make them fail.  And so we persevere, we parents of the school project.  No matter how ugly it gets, we can always ensure one thing.  Our children may never learn to complete a research project, and they surely will never master the concept of a deadline, but at least they know that we’ve got their backs, even if we’re snarling along the way.


photos via:,,,,


Thoughts from the Maid

March 26, 2012 3 comments

It’s Monday and that means it’s housecleaning day.  Not only will I be cleaning the house, but I’ll also be harboring all sorts of resentment and low-grade anger at my family.  Always multitasking.

Let me be clear.  I work full-time, I just happen to have Mondays off.  The rest of my family has Saturdays off, like regular people.  While I’m at work on Saturday, they do Saturday things, enjoying their down time.  When I get off work on Saturday, I rush into the house and clean up the kitchen so we can cook dinner.  It’s become glaringly obvious that I truly am the only one who can load the dishwasher. The few times they have tried, they have done a wretched job of it.  I have my suspicions about that, but I’ll get to that later.  My point is, I work 50 hours a week.  I don’t have tons of time for myself.  On Mondays, when I truly have a chance to enjoy some things just for me, I am cleaning the damn house.  This is not my job.  We all live here.  We all track dirt on the floors, eat off dishes, use the bathroom and leave our things lying around.  This is a job for all of us, but again and again, it falls to me.  Naturally, it pisses me off.

Problem one – they don’t care much about clean.  The house has to get to a truly awful state before anyone else cares very much about cleaning it.  I have, for years, been told that I’m some kind of freak because I insist on weekly cleanings.  I think this is normal, yes?  Once a week floor and bathroom cleanings and dusting and such?  If anything, it might be a little on the lazy side, because some weeks my floors horrify me and anyone else who wanders into the house.  And some weeks, I don’t dust because I just don’t feel like it.

Problem two – they suck at cleaning. This is likely a result of problem one.  My family seems not to see dirt, so therefore they can’t eradicate it properly.  After years of trying to teach them to sweep a floor, I’ve given up.  I’ve tried to teach them to load the dishwasher, to no avail.  My husband and kids are all highly intelligent and capable people and I refuse to believe that they can’t learn to operate a mop.  I have suspected for years that they’re doing it on purpose.  If they do a crappy job, I will eventually stop asking.  Or they can protest, “I’ll do it, but it’s never good enough for you.” (insert pout)  No, it’s not good enough for me, so just do it better.

Problem three – I am easily distracted.  I might wake up one Sunday morning and announce that we’re going to clean the house today.  Everyone immediately comes up with a hundred more fun, interesting, relaxing other things that we should do.  I do enjoy spending time with my family and this is the only day I have to do it, so it’s not hard for them to derail my plans.  In addition, while it will only take us maybe an hour to get the house clean, it’s going to take me at least three hours to get everyone involved and most days, it’s just not worth the effort.

Right now I’m waiting for my floors to dry so I can finish cleaning, then go outside and mow, trim and dig in the dirt, which is something that’s necessary, but also something that I enjoy a whole heck of a lot more than dusting.  I also made a reckless promise to make chocolate orange  brownies today and you can bet the hubs is going to hold me to it. (I’m a stupid girl like that sometimes.)  What I need, what I am desperate for, is a solution to my cleaning conundrum. I am not the maid and I’m tired of feeling like it.  I’m tired of cleaning up after everyone and I’m tired of resenting them for it.  How do you keep your house clean?  How do you convince your family to pull their weight?  After all, I’m not the one who dripped a popsicle through the whole damn house, but I am the one mopping every floor.  In addition to the normal frustrations of cleaning up after these people, the popsicle dripper had the cojones to tell me yesterday, “This floor is a mess, Mom.  You need to mop today.”  What what what?!!!  This situation has clearly spiraled out of control and I owe it to this tiny beast’s future wife and family to rectify this now.

This is my cry for help.  Please deliver me from these slobs that live in my house.

Karate Kid Parenting

March 24, 2012 Leave a comment

If you have kids, have friends with kids or have ever met a kid, then you know they’re not easy little people to wrangle.  I’ve spoken on the difficulties and challenges of parenting before, so I won’t belabor the point now.  I’m sure we can all agree that it’s tough and most parents will take help in any form they can get it.  I have found some inspiration from the blockbuster of my youth, The Karate Kid, which I’ll now share with you.  Here are my top three Karate Kid lessons for parents, unconventional though they may be.  Possibly you, like me, find things easier to relate when in a familiar and comfortable framework.  Perhaps you just enjoy incessantly tossing out movie quotes that your kids don’t understand.  Either way, who can resist a Karate Kid post, am I right?

Strike first, strike hard, no mercy, sir!

Okay, well, not exactly.  I’m not raising bullies.  I am, however, doing my level best to convey the concept of teaching people how to treat you.  Kids at school calling you names?  Well, you could turn the other cheek and ignore them.  That’s undoubtedly the mature and responsible thing to do and I have no doubt that your fellow fourth graders will respect you for it.  Yeah, right.  We try to stay grounded in reality around here.  If kids get away with picking on you, nine times of ten, they’re just going to keep it up, because they can.  Never give anyone one inch.  If there is even a hint of bullying, remove yourself from the situation in any way necessary.  If anyone ever puts one finger on you, do whatever you need to do to defend yourself.  Whatever.  I fully expect to get a call from the principal about this one day, but as I told my son just recently, if I get called to school because my child defended himself, I will shake his hand in front of God and everybody.  No one is looking out for your child the same way that you are, and you can’t always be there.  They have to learn early to look out for number one.

Fear does not exist in this dojo, does it?

Living in fear is like living half a life.  There are some things to fear, and some times to fear them.  The rest is just noise.  It pains me to see a child (yes, sometimes my child) afraid to try something new.  Failure is nothing to fear.  We all fail.  The only people who never fail are the ones who never try. (I feel sure that is a quote that I should credit, but I can’t remember whose quote.  I do credit it to someone who is not me.)  I want my children to be afraid of dark alleys, tornados, rabid dogs and brown recluse spiders and that’s pretty much it.  For everything else, a healthy caution and respect will usually do well enough.  I do not want my children to be afraid of public speaking, tasting weird foods or trying out for the football team.  It takes most of us far too many years to stop being afraid; it’s my hope for my children that they conquer it at an early age.

Walk left side, safe.  Walk right side, safe.  Walk middle, sooner or later, get squish just like grape.

This lesson comes with a side of Yoda.  Do or do not.  There is no try.  It doesn’t matter what you do, you must commit to it.  Don’t do anything halfway.  However short-lived the many passing interests of children may be, I pray that they will explore them all with their whole heart.  Doing things a little bit is as good as not doing them at all.  Commit and do it and then when you’re done, you’re done.  You don’t have to worry about what could have been if you’d tried harder, because you already tried your hardest.  Win, lose or indifferent, you gave something your all and that’s enough.

After writing this, I’m somewhat dismayed to find that I’m gleaning so much parental inspiration from Cobra Kai, but it’s a hard old world, after all.  I suppose one day some boy will break my daughter’s heart and I’ll instruct her to sweep the leg, but it can’t be helped.  Kids are the Daniel LaRussos of the world and I’m clearly not qualified to be their Mr. Miyagi, so I’m muddling through the best way I can.  I know my ways aren’t right for everyone, but I’d suggest that just once, when some kid picks on your darling, you reply with “Strike first, strike hard, no mercy,” even if it’s under your breath.  Sometimes even John Kreese gets it right.

(I’m aware that this post completely misses the point of the movie.  I’m just saying.)

Code Brown: Tornado Preparedness

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Today is the first day of spring.  It brings the promise of flowers, spring rain, warmer days and tornados.  The state of Virginia ensured that we’re all ready for such things by running test tornado alerts today.  This morning at work, everyone’s cell phones rang with the alert, except one.  My boss got a call that said, “This is a Code Brown.”

Hell yeah, it’s a Code Brown…in our pants!  Tornados are no joke and I fear them with a hysteria that surpasses the caution of any sensible person.  Tornados are the reason that I told my bosses early on that I would never move to the corporate office in tornado alley.  I enjoy thunderstorms and I scoff at hurricanes.  Tornados are another thing altogether.  I have early memories of huddling under a blanket with my sister while my mom paced by the windows.  I also remember once visiting my grandparents and getting hauled to a nearby town that had been flattened by a tornado.  Good idea, guys.  That didn’t do any lasting damage at all.

As I sit here reluctantly welcoming a new tornado season, a nasty spring storm has blown in and I’m jumpy.  My tornado closet isn’t ready.  I’m not sure my tornado closet is ever actually ready, but if push came to shove, literally, I could probably get both kids and one and half cats in there.  I could (and should) clean it all out and be prepared, especially considering my tornado panic, level brown.  But, quite honestly, I’m kind of fatalistic about the whole subject.  Have you ever seen the pictures of an aftermath of a tornado?  Have you ever watched Storm Chasers?  (Yes, I watch Storm Chasers.  I have a fear that borders on obsession.  It’s my own personal horror show.)  My point is, if a tornado hits, I can’t believe that my closet is going to save me.  Fortunately for me, I live in Virginia, and we don’t get that many tornados here, so I don’t have to spend a completely unhealthy amount of time giving myself a tornado ulcer.  However, the few twisters that we do get are getting more frequent, so it behooves me to develop a preparedness plan, which I shall now share with you.

  • When the Tornado Watch is issued, crack a window so I’ll hear the tornado siren, should it come to that.
  • Try to act normal so as not to panic the children and invite spousal mocking
  • If and when the Tornado Warning is issued, lose all sensibility and behave like a crazy lady jacked up on meth
  • Scoop all the crap out of my tornado closet, thereby creating a huge mess for myself to clean up later
  • Throw blankets and pillows in the closet and explain to the kids that if I say come here, I mean come here NOW
  • Screech at husband to get back in the house and watch the skies from the window,  which is obviously a safe place to be should a tornado hit
  • Refresh the Weather Channel updates every fifteen seconds
  • Eventually get bored with the whole thing and go to bed

It’s not much of a plan, but it is one.  I mean, I could have an elaborate plan with our safe place all stocked with flashlights and bottled water and medication, but it just seems more trouble than it’s worth.  For one thing, most Virginia tornados arrive like a thief in the night.  Literally, at night time.  I may fear and respect them, but I draw the line at making my family sleep in the closet.  So, if we get hit at night, we’re pretty well screwed, anyway.  For another, we are dealing with a force that could come out of literally nowhere and completely flatten my home and family, or alternately, we could watch it come down the street and vanish before it reaches us.  How is anyone supposed to plan for that?

Tornados are proof of the saying, “Mother Nature is a Bitch.”  (Is that a saying?  It should be.)  When I try to plan for it as rationally as possible, I still believe the most logical plan of action is also the most well known.  Put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.


Five Ways to Lose a Sale and Offend Me Forever

March 19, 2012 4 comments

From time to time, we get door to door salespeople in our neighborhood.  I am not one to shut the door in their faces, I find it far more interesting and entertaining to hear them out.  I don’t know who is training these guys (I don’t mean to come across as sexist, but so far, they’ve all been guys), but they’re doing it wrong.  I am willing to listen to any sales pitch, but there are a few tricks up their sleeves that make me immediately shut down and swear to never purchase so much as a stick of gum from their company.  Here are five moves that I’ve experienced that caused a nearly audible “click” in my brain from pleasant to infuriated.

photo via Lesson #1 - modern women have access to money.

  1. Ask to speak to my husband.  Oh, pardon me, I didn’t realize we had been transported to the 1950s.  I will do these guys a kindness and assume that they see my wedding ring before playing the husband card, but even so.  What the hell.  Not only can you not speak to my husband, but now you can’t even speak to me.
  2. Tell me that my neighbors have bought from you.  First, I don’t care what my neighbors do.  Second, I know you’re lying, because I talk to my neighbors. Third, I don’t care what my neighbors do.
  3. Make absurd assumptions about my house.  Last year, I had an alarm salesman tell me that I needed fire protection because my house has paper wrapped wires.  Excuse me?  You’ve been in my house, examining my wires?  No?  Then get off my lawn.
  4. Be a smart ass.  I enjoy a smart ass comment as much as the next guy, but if you’re hoping to sell me something, you’d better recognize.  One of those frozen-steak-in-a-truck guys once asked me, very sarcastically, “What, no one here eats meat?”  What had, until that moment, been a somewhat pleasant conversation turned ugly.  Why, yes, we eat pounds and pounds of steak, but I wouldn’t take it from you if you were giving it away, you little punk.
  5. Disagree with me.  I know, I know, I’m not always right.  Unless, of course, I am the customer or even the potential customer.  Don’t pick a fight with me, because I will win.  Home field advantage and all.  Although he wasn’t exactly a salesman, someone recently asked me to sign a petition to get a politician on the ballot.  When I mentioned how disgusted I am with some of the things happening in our state government lately, he told me that he thought we had some really good things happening. Okay, see ya.

I know all these things seem obvious, but every one of them seems to happen over and over again.  I understand that being a door to door salesman must be a really awful job, but you’re only making it worse on yourself with nonsense like this.  What I’m curious about, though, is if these lines ever work on anyone.  Is there anyone out there who believes that some random college kids knows what kind of wiring is in your house?  Or who will drop a couple hundred bucks on some random crap because your neighbor may have bought it?  Give me a break.  The only door to door salesman I always welcome at my house is the ice cream man.  The rest of you, bring it on.  I get bored on long summer days and I’m just itching for a fight.

Judgey McJudgerson and the Merry Band of Moms

March 19, 2012 Leave a comment

There is no shortage of judgemental people in the world, I’m sorry to say.  But there is no group more vicious, hurtful and destructive than judgemental moms.  Moms are doing a very hard job and most of us are pretty sure, in our heart of hearts, that we are screwing up our kids beyond repair.  A big part of why we feel that way are the moms standing by with stern looks, telling us that we’re doing it all wrong.  From our prenatal vitamins to childbirth to how we choose to feed our babies to whether we choose to work outside the home, some would have us believe that we’re screwing up at every turn.

I know something about maternal insecurity.  When my eldest was born, I immediately knew I was doing something wrong because my baby wouldn’t eat.  After meeting with a lactation consultant and fighting the nurses who wanted to give her a bottle, she finally decided to nurse, after a worrisome day and night.  We never did quite gel on the whole nursing thing, but I managed to get in a good three months with her before she flatly refused to nurse anymore.  You see, back then I didn’t know about nursing strikes.  I know now that if I had persisted, she would have come around and we could have continued breastfeeding as long as I liked (which, by the way, would have been way longer than three months.)  To this day she is more susceptible to illness than her brother, whose first birthday weaning was reminiscent of a junkie breaking a bad smack habit.  I am sure that I made a bad decision in my inexperience.  I also know that I made the best decision that I could and no real harm came to my baby.  In short, I forgave myself for not knowing everything.

Now imagine an internet full of superior moms pointing their virtual finger at me during that heart-wrenching time.  It would have completely broken me.  Yet there are plenty of moms out there who are itching for the chance to tell their sister mommies all the reasons that their way is not only the best way, but the only correct way.  This is the most despicable behavior I’ve ever witnessed.  Really, how dare you?

I believe that it really does take a village.  We owe it to each other to share our experiences, our beliefs and our advice.  There’s a fine line between advice and judgement and we must tread it carefully.  I am a woman of strong opinions and I admit that I have had moments when I strongly disagreed with things that I’ve seen other moms do.  The critical decision that I make, every single time, is to keep my mouth shut.  It is not my place to raise anyone else’s children.  My job is to raise my own children in the best way I can and allow every other mom to make her own decisions, based on her experience, her priorities and what is best for her family.  It’s just not my business.  The odds that I really understand all the factors that led her to those choices are miniscule, anyway, so how dare I presume to judge?

I am certain that there are moms out there who disagree with the things I do.  I have seen a few of them staring at me in Walmart from time to time.  Fortunately, I have developed a couple of skills over the years to protect my delicate mommy ego from such attacks.  The first is the “who do you think you are” look.  This has never failed me.  The second, though, is more important.  It is the knowledge that I’m doing what I believe is right for us, all the time.  I know that I won’t always do everything right, but I know that I will always do the best I can.  My kids are old enough now to know that, too.  As long as I hold onto that, there is no snooty mom acting out on her own insecurities who can tear me down.

There are as many different ways of raising our children as there are different kinds of kids.  There is no right way to do it.  All there is, is the right way for YOU.  Find your way and carry on.  Nothing anyone else says or does matters.  You do yourself a disservice if you allow it to matter.  And if you catch yourself behaving like a McJudgerson, stop it and ask yourself why.  Why do you care so much everyone else’s kids?  Wouldn’t your attention be better focused on your own parenting?  We would all do better to abide by the lessons we learned in grade school.  Mind your own beeswax.

The Hater’s Guide to Stuff People Love

March 17, 2012 2 comments

If you’re like me, you sometimes feel out of step with other people.  Well, let’s just call it what it is.  Most of the time, I feel like a complete weirdo.  There are so many things that people seem to love that I just can’t make sense of.  While I’m okay with being an uncool dork, I believe that there are more out there.  It’s time for us to speak out about the inexplicable things that people seem to like.  I have compiled the below list for all of you out there who ever wondered if you’re the only one who doesn’t like…well, any of this stuff.  Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Pedicures – I rank pedicures up there with dentist appointments as a necessary evil.  Let’s face it, feet are never cute and they need all the help they can get.  So, if you’re planning on living in flip-flops for a season, you owe it to society to do something with your dogs.  However, I haven’t met a woman yet who doesn’t claim to delight in a pedicure.  Really?  Strangers are touching your feet.  Why is this supposed to be enjoyable?  I don’t want anyone to touch my feet, ever.  I occasionally endure it for two reasons.  Number one, I have country feet and they really do get pretty raggedy.  Number two, my daughter likes pedis and it’s a nice chance for us to get some girl time, so I endure all the stranger foot touching for her.  The sacrifices we make.

Long walks – First and foremost, I need to exclude long walks on the beach.  Anything happening on the beach is okay by me.  But, in general, people love to take walks.  I don’t mind walking to get places, but walking for the sake of walking?  Boring.  Completely mind-numbing.  And I reject all the doctors in the world with all their scientific nonsense about the benefits of walking.  Of course it’s better to walk than to sit on the couch, but there’s nothing on earth to convince me that walking is powerful exercise.  Not as long as I have Billy Blanks in my DVD player, who seems to believe the only kind of “good” workout is one in which you feel like you might die. 

Looks good, doesn't it? It's a dirty trick!

Eggplant parmesan – Alton Brown once suckered me into trying eggplant and I’ll never trust him again.  Eggplant is not good.  While I can agree that the best way to serve any repulsive food is to fry it, then smother with tomato sauce and cheese, I don’t understand why we need to do this when there are still chickens available. 

Parades – People are inexplicably drawn to parades.  I’ll never understand it.  I’ve been to a fair amount of parades and in my youth, I was even in a couple of them, as a girl scout or a high school band member.  This should give you an idea of the high standards parades have when choosing participants.  I feel qualified to attest, from every aspect, parades are lame.  You tend to see a lot of fire trucks, classic cars and horses.  One is pretty much the same as the other.  If you have remembered to bring a camp chair, you can view the festivities in relative comfort, but if not, you’ll be jostled on the sidewalk by other people all jacked up on parade hysteria.  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, someone will throw candy at you or your kids.  And you might even get to see an extremely uncomfortable horse poop in front of the whole town.  Why is this so attractive?  Poop and projectiles with a few extremely loud sirens thrown in is a good time?  Yet I still get open-mouthed stares of disbelief should I voice my opinion that parades are dumb.

Diamond rings – Diamond rings are gorgeous, I can’t deny that.  They are pretty and sparkly and an outstanding way to show how much your fiancé/husband loves you.  Wait, what?  I’m not going to go into all the reasons I think it’s messed up for any man to spend three months’ salary on a chunk of rock to prove his love, but I do think it’s messed up.  My primary dislike for diamond rings, or for that matter, any ring of that style, is that they’re uncomfortable as hell.  Unless you have freakishly small knuckles, any ring that fits onto your finger is going to move.  It’s going to spin around from time to time and you have to deal with that rock twirling around on your hand.  In addition, diamonds are incredibly and ridiculously expensive and you’re expected to wear it every day for the rest of your life and never, ever lose it or damage it.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t need that kind of pressure.

Hugs – I have a very spacious and well-defined personal space.  Generally, I don’t want anyone there, but I will allow the people very close to me access from time to time.  What I speak of are the more casual, random, “good to see you” hugs.  What is this about?  People with whom you have a passing acquaintance want to hug you to say hello?  Oh, hell to the no.  This is not ever, ever permitted.  The good news is that it’s generally very easy to nip this behavior in the bud with a step backward and horrified look.

Tickling – Did you know that tickling is actually a form of torture?  I’m not kidding, it is.  In my home, it is treated as such.  Tickling is cute and funny for about fifteen seconds, then all bets are off and I will punch, elbow, kick or scratch until you stop.  There is a moment (at about second sixteen of tickling) at which I lose all sense of sanity and good behavior and I will fight like you’re a stranger in a dark alley. 

Restaurants – I understand the concept behind going out to enjoy nice meal that you neither have to cook nor clean up.  I also understand that no matter how good a home cook you may be, there are some things that you can’t duplicate at home.  Even with all those benefits, I still have a hard time enjoying restaurant meals.  For one thing, I am not an adventurous eater.   There are a lot of things that I don’t like and I have not the least interest on wasting my money on food that I don’t like.  I once went to a restaurant that should have been named “The Roasted Red Pepper,” because every blasted item on the menu had roasted red pepper in it.  I assure you, I would have been far happier eating leftover chicken at home. Or even a bowl of Cheerios.  Another, and more important, problem I have with restaurants is that there are people touching my food.  I don’t know these people.  I don’t know how clean their kitchen is and I don’t know how often they wash their hands.  I don’t have enough blind faith in me to assume that everyone involved in my food preparation is following health code to the letter.  Nothing but the utmost respect for those in the industry who are doing it right, but anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows about and fears the exceptions.

Camping – I don’t understand how anything that is inconvenient, uncomfortable or lacks running water is supposed to be a vacation.  On my vacations, not only do I demand electricity and indoor plumbing, but I better get clean towels and a hairdryer, too.  I can understand the desire to appreciate nature and get back to the simpler things in life, but there is never any good reason to put yourself in a position where you have to pee behind a tree.

Cold rice and seaweed. Mmmm, Mmmm

Sushi – I am revealing my very un-cool nature by admitting how repellent I find sushi.  After all, all the cool kids are eating it!  I have tried sushi.  I have eaten sushi more than once.  I still don’t like sushi at all, no matter how trendy it is.  I’m not even talking about sashimi, because anything with eyeballs needs to be thoroughly cooked and that’s not debatable, so I won’t even discuss it.  But even the beloved California roll gets a big fail from me.  So what’s my problem with sushi?  Only this.  If you wrap something in seaweed, it’s going to taste like seaweed every time.  I’ll save my seaweed consumption for when I’m stranded on a deserted island, thank you very much.

I’m still partly convinced that there must be something delightful about all of these things that I’m missing, because otherwise why would everyone love them so much?  A more cynical part of me is convinced that no one likes any of that crap; they’re all just lying to fit in with all the other people who say they like it.  Probably I am just an oddball weirdo, but I’m okay with that.   As long as no one touches my feet.

photos via and