Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Still Pregnant after all these Years

I think my ship has finally come in.

In December of 2002, in an entrepreneurial frenzy, I bought two (yes, TWO) Midge & Baby Happy Family 3-in-1 crib, table and cradle sets at Toys R Us for $19.99 each. This is a pregnant version of Midge.  She pops out a curled-up baby when her belly is opened.  Kind of like a Mattel & Co. c-section.

You see, just the day before, WalMart had pulled this product from its pristine shelves because some customers were put out by the thought of their children being exposed to Barbie's pregnant friend, as though it were catching.  Never mind that this very Midge was happily married to Alan and already had a three-year old son named Ryan.   

I thought I had hit obstetrical pay-dirt when I chanced upon a shelf stocked high with pregnant Midge dolls at ToysRUs.  Apparently, while they had been pulled from Walmart, they hadn't been pulled from ToysRUs (or from many other retailers).

I immediately went home to list my find on Ebay, reasoning that Midge's new baby (two of them!) was my ticket to wealth.  And I did list it...but not before the other 5,000 "Mint in box - Rare and Banned!" entrepreneurs who had gotten to Ebay before me.

The first dolls to sell did indeed fetch a pregnant price -- about $100 each.  But by the time my dolls reached the top of the listing, I would have had to throw in a Medela breast pump and an entire layette to break even. Supply and demand, you know.
So my Midges and their babies were relegated to a shelf in my closet.  And there they have sat ever since, retaining water, craving pickles, acting all hormonal and teary with Alan.  The longest pregnancy ever known to woman or doll.

But at the urging of Thing 2, I snuck a peek at Ebay this morning and it seems that "Mint in box - Rare and Banned!" Midges are once again in demand!  If I list them soon, I may get up to $50 each.  That would be a profit of $30 per, which, if amortized, depreciated and stated in today's dollars means that I probably owe ToysRUs about $183.

No one ever said I was a business whiz (particularly my former employer).  Maybe I'm more the creative type.  How's this for a lead-in to my Ebay ad? "Pregnant Midge!  She makes a great stocking stuffer!"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Friday - Post Mortem Monday

We came, we parked...we Black Fridayed. 

I reluctantly agreed to take Thing 2 to Toys R Us in exchange for his promising to never, ever again bring my underwire bra to school to share at the "Growing Up" program. 

Predictably the store was crowded - and not in a good, let's line up early and party cause it's a Springsteen concert kind-of-way.  Check-out lines stretching out the door, aisles packed, mostly families with two or three young children, shopping carts filled with toys.

What puzzles me about these shopping excursions "en famille" is how parents maintain the Santa Claus mystique on Christmas morning when the kids open up their presents and discover that they have received every toy that was in that shopping cart at Toys R Us on Black Friday.  To bring it back to the religious context in which Christmas was conceived, how would Jesus explain this "coincidence?"

But I digress.

So what does a Jew search for at retail on Black Friday, whilst his Christian brethren are making merry inside the mall?

A Ouiji board to communicate with relatives on the "other side," of course.  (That's across the cosmic divide, not on the other side of the New York/Delray-Boyton-Boca divide). While 99.99% of Americans were seeking electronic and Snuggies, Thing 2, the consummate consumer, had pointed his gift-seeking radar at a low tech way to communicate with spirits who, if contacted, were likely to pinch his nose and insist that he eat chopped liver on Ritz crackers while wearing a sweater.

We split up to look for the Ouija Board.  "Let me know if you find it," Thing 2 requested brightly.  As I sucker punched a three year old to keep her from reaching for the last Justin Bieber "One Less Lonely Girl" doll, I thought to myself, "Oh sure, oh child of mine, I'm going to hold back that piece of information so we can spend even more time in this HELL HOLE."

We left Toys R Us, without the Ouija board.  It was too expensive and the check-out line too long.

But I guess our relatives from the other side could have predicted that.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Lite - An Anthropological Experiment

For years I have warned the kids that the mall is NO PLACE for civilized humans on Black Friday.  Instead of shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, we will continue to give thanks, as a family, by spending time together at home: playing board games, listening to music, looking at old family photos and maybe doing a 500-piece Elvis jigsaw puzzle or two.  Together.

Typically, I'm ready to slit my wrists by about 9:15 a.m., but I hold it together for the sake of the kids, who can hold out until at least 9:30 if we have enough peanut M&Ms and licorice left over from breakfast.  So, tomorrow, for a change of pace and since I'm all in favor of education and stuff, we're going to do a little anthropological experiment.

We're going to the mall.

I want the kids to know how the other half lives:  what it's like to get stuck in traffic backed-up so far, it's still Thanksgiving Day somewhere; how it feels to circle the parking lot so many times you get dizzy and nauseous and qualify for a Nascar event; whether the pain of a cleated sneaker on your back is mitigated by saving 40% off on a Chia Pet.

But we're going to do Black Friday LITE.  We won't leave the house at 3 a.m., we won't bring a battering ram, we won't have a "strategy."

It will just be "us" against "them."  I'll report back on Monday.

Hold me.  I'm scared.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holiday Closing

Body of Work will be closed on Thursday, November 25 in observance of the American holiday of Thanksgiving.  This is to allow our staff to spend the holiday with their family and friends.

We will re-open at 1 a.m. November 26 for our "doorbuster" specials.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

That for which I am thankful

  • Spanx
  • Sleep-away camp.  It is a gift from God.
  • The pharmaceutical industry.  Particularly those companies that manufacture mood-enhancing drugs, aka "Mommy's Little Helper."
  • Mangoes
  • Sarah Palin and Levi Johnston, for hours and hours of entertainment.
  • The Real Housewives series.  For reminding me how lucky I am to be a brunette, modest, invisible and well-behaved in public.
  • The 50% of the time that the cats throw up in the kitchen or on a wood floor rather than on the carpet.
  • Days when I don't get phone calls from school, medical labs that track orphan diseases, NJ Energy Plus, an alumni association or the pervert down the road.  It happened once -- I remember it fondly.
  • Four-way stop signs.   Of all traffic indicators, they are the best, don't you think?
  • My Body of Work fanFans.  The vagrant who once stumbled upon my blog on the way to  Example of a really SUCCESSFUL blog

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This Really Happened

My mother came to stay with us on Sunday to keep an eye on Thing 2 while DH and I attended a wedding.  After she settled herself in, I went upstairs to get dressed and made-up, applying lipstick, blush, mascara and all other manner of hope. 

When I came downstairs some three hours later, Mom looked up at me from the kitchen table where she was relaxing, peered into my face and asked, "Why don't you put on some make-up?"

Oh...hi there Mom.  Didja sleep okay?

My mother is my only biggest fan, the one who "clicks" when I'm feeling abandoned and forwards on to me all the Snopes, health and scam warnings in her inbox when I'm feeling unloved.  Each morning, she turns on her computer, checks "the" email and settles down with a cup of coffee (black with two pilfered Sweet n Lows- more on that later) and a half a bagel to read through Body of Work.  I consider this the greatest of compliments -- after all, she could have been watching Hoda and Kathy Lee.

So this morning I decided to take Mom's advice and apply my make-up more liberally.  This is how I greeted her:

She liked the lipstick effect, but suggested I do something with my hair.  You just can't please some people....

By the way, I learned this morning that my Mom doesn't steal Sweet-in-Low from diners and highway rest-stops but actually buys it at the market.  I think my childhood is over.

Monday, November 22, 2010


It's a bit hard for me to admit this, but there is one radio advertisement that makes me tear up every single time I hear it.

It's the OnStar ad.    OnStar - in-vehicle safety, security and communication

Each OnStar ad starts with audio of a call being routed to OnStar Communications Central from a vehicle which has just been involved in an accident.  OnStar can sense when there has been "air bag deployment" and communicates directly with the occupants of the vehicle (is it just me or does the word "vehicle" stink of rednecks?) to assess the situation and reassure the victims that help, in the form of police, ambulance, fire and first responders, is on the way. 

It's a touching moment when the victim, sometimes stoic, sometimes sobbing in fear or pain, acknowledges and thanks the caring OnStar operator for her concern and help.  It renews my faith in mankind and makes me wish that I, too, had an "OnStar-equipped vehicle" like a Chevy, Buick, Pontiac or other piece of crap American car.

Here on Planet Emmer, we too have our own "first response" team.  I cannot tell you how many times the police have responded to a non-emergency at our home, usually precipitated by a kid dialing 911 when he was angry at me.

Fortunately, the police in our town (I have come to call them "our" cops given the frequency with which they visit us) are big, burly and know how to deal with situations like this.  They sit the kid down, look him squarely in the eye, fondle their guns and hand out a STERN WARNING - that I should stop being the only mom in town who doesn't let her kid do anything.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Martha's November-December Calendar

My Facebook "fans" (in the broadest sense of the term) know that I love Martha Stewart, the nesting she represents....and her monthly calendar.  Martha's monthly calendar lists her daily activities - activities related to shearing sheep, rutabaga, and fence posts.  I suspect the real purpose of the calendar is to make the rest of us feel like trash  for buying prepared mashed potatoes and store-bought - rather than home-made hand-dipped - candles in the little blue box for the (commercially manufactured) Chanukah menorah - rather than creating a menorah from a manzanita branch Martha "does" Chanukah

But it's a fun read and I just found a version of her calendar online. Martha's planning calendar - fun!  It's not as detailed as the in-magazine version, but it will do in a pinch!  Here's a November-December excerpt:

November 4 - Stock liquor cabinet for entertaining  (I can relate to that!)
November 7 Make reflective leash for pet (
November 16 Stock home bar (Done - check!)
December 18 - Make a polar fleece dog coat (

Do you "Martha?"  If so, how do you "Martha?"  Does it involve a compost pile?  I am holding a contest for the best holiday decorating idea involving cow manure, manzanita branches, Christmas cactus and lucite gnomes.  Don't hold back.  I'll be announcing the winner in a future column.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Chanukah Secret

For the past three days, I've been walking around with the charge receipt from a certain chainstore in my (cool, non-Mom) jeans pocket.  It's the receipt for the Chanukah gift I purchased for Thing 2.

I have to leave it in my pocket because if I remove it he will find it and know what I got him for Chanukah.  I know, because it happened two years ago (when he couldn't even read as well as he can now).  At the time, I placed the receipt in the pile where we keep all our credit card receipts, reasoning that there was no way in hell he would ever find it.  Why I wouldn't have this problem if I were cooler and just used a debit card.

So of course, one afternoon, his super-sensitive, gift-seeking radar zoomed in on this VERY PILE of papers among all the piles of papers in the house.  He rifled through, interpreted all the numbers and codes like some midget accountant and discovered what he was getting as a gift.  That kind of ruined the surprise of the monogrammed underwear I had gotten for him.

I wish Chanukah would get here already.  I want to change my pants.

I'm pretty sure he doesn't know how to get to this blog, but given how sneaky he is, I can't take the chance of revealing what the gift is here.

So if ANY ONE of you tells him about this blog, you're not getting a ride on the pony.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Week in Pictures

This is my dream vacuum cleaner.  I bet it could suck up cats, mice, hamsters, fish and children before you could say, "Slurp!"

I pointed out to the lawn care guy that he had missed a leaf on the side of the house, but for some reason he didn't find that very amusing.

See also:  Autumn Leaves - a poem

This is what my clock radio showed when I woke up yesterday morning.  My first thought was that I had gone back in time to the 1700s.  Which would have been a welcome respite from all the other electronics that don't work in my home.

Finally, here is MacBeth "helping" to keep the cover on Sammy's cage.  

Don't you wish you were me?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Debit Cards Meet the Wizard of Oz

Last week on my Facebook page, I started a discussion about whether I was the only one left in the entire free world who had never used a debit card (I had heard somewhere-- maybe via the very reliable left/right wing media - that I was).

The consensus was mixed -- many of my friends had never used one either, while others thrust a dagger through my heart, confirming that yes, I WAS the sole debit-less being left on the planet.  But there were enough hold-outs for me to feel confident that there were some cool, successful, sexy people who weren't using debit cards - like me.

But still, I wanted to be cooler.  Way cooler.

So yesterday morning, attempting to "up" my coolness quotient, I dressed in the new non-Mom jeans (the waist hits me at the navel, rather than right under the chin) purchased at the thrift  vintage store Unique -- A Vintage Thrift Shop - very cool! with my hair tousled  just so (after an hour's worth of grooming),  and a confused insouciant look on my face.  I sauntered into Wachovia and approached my "personal banker."

"How can I help you today?" he chirped.

The words just rushed out, like a dam had been unleashed.

"I heard I'm the only one in the world who doesn't have a debit card.  Can you help me? 

And he did.  He punched in a few figures on his computer, looked serious, inquired about the name of my first pet, squinted at the computer screen and announced that I was already set up for debit greatness - I always HAD been.

Apparently I had the potential for coolness all along, just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz always had the power within herself to get home to Kansas.  I just didn't know it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Royal Pain Wedding

The staff here at Body of Work just wouldn't be doing its job if it didn't acknowledge the upcoming royal nuptials that were announced yesterday. 

We were all relieved to hear that Prince William and Kate Middleton had finally made their engagement plans official.  Both in their late 20s, with no direction and no prospects to speak of....

Oh wait, that was me.

All joking aside, I think I have a great deal in common with Kate Middleton. 
  • She's a commoner.  I'm common.
  • She's an emerging fashion icon. I'm a ... she's an emerging fashion icon.
  • Kate wears statement-making hats.  Me too.  Here's a photo of me wearing a hat I picked up in the big city last week:

(Yes, those ARE my flannel pajamas hanging on the hook in the background.  What were you expecting from this Mickey Mouse operation - Victoria's Secret?)

I remember that when Thing 1 was a toddler, my mother and I were discussing how difficult it was to raise children.  Somehow we got onto the subject of Princess Diana, whose kids were a few years older than Thing 1 was at the time.   Mom remarked how Princess Di probably had it easier than me, that she probably wasn't on her hands and knees cleaning up Cheerios off the royal kitchen floor.

But I think if you look hard enough you can find many similiarities between the royals and "just us folk."  And I fully expect an invitation to the wedding.  I wonder if Kate and Will will be registering at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I hope so - I've got a minivan full of 20% off coupons.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Movie Review Tuesday!

The good news about Skyline, the new movie co-directed by the Strause brothers (I had never heard of the Strause brothers, but referring to them in such a familiar fashion  makes me sound like a movie aficionado, even though I haven't been to the "picture show" since ET came out in 1983) is that it is only 92 minutes. 

The bad news about Skyline is that it is a full 92 excruciating minutes.  And it only took about 10 of those minutes before I started thinking about how good a bullet between my eyes would feel.

I can't remember what possessed me to agree to take Thing 2 to the movies on a Friday night. I suspect it was a bribe for his agreeing (actually, "agreeing" might be a bit of a misnomer, particularly where handcuffs and a straight jacket are concerned) to go to Shabbat family services with me.  His spending a full 40 minutes in the torturous embrace of  his friends, singing, eating brownies and black and whites requires serious recompense.

Basically - and I'm stealing this description from an online movie review: "In the sci-fi thriller 'Skyline', strange lights descend on the city of Los Angeles, drawing people outside like moths to a flame where an extraterrestrial force threatens to swallow the entire human population off the face of the Earth."  The inside shots take place in a fantastic penthouse apartment.  Outside, there are explosions, metallic aliens, slime, apocalypes and other otherworldly stuff.

And through it all I couldn't take my eyes off the penthouse's Subzero refrigerator, granite countertops, ceramic mosaic backsplash with diffused background lighting, beverage center, wine storage, warming drawer and a Wolf six burner cooktop, automatic shades/blinds which ascend and descend with the flick of a button and 270 degree views of the LA skyline.

I won't reveal the ending to those of you who may want to see Skyline so I am posting a SPOILER ALERT.  Don't scroll down if you don't want to know the ending.  But it IS tragic- I wept buckets.

The Subzero fridge gets wrecked.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Going R - O - G - U - E

I went rogue this weekend, purchasing a birthday gift for one of Thing 2's classmates that's a little out of the ordinary.  Instead of buying a giftcard for a cool mall store like PacSun or Aeropostale or one for ITunes, as most of the kids do, I purchased an old-fashioned game.  Scrabble.

I figured his little friend might appeciate a gift she could dig into as soon as she got home from her party, maybe striking up a friendly match with her parents or siblings.  It's a fun game, educational, traditional -- in fact, no one can say a bad word (that's a pun) about Scrabble

But if Scrabble's not her cup of tea, she can always get back at me (see below).  And if she gets the "W" or the "Y" on a triple letter score, she's bound to emerge a winner!

Picture Captions

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Week, New Look!

Many, many thanks to my cousin, Patti Argoff, for designing me a fantastic logo. Patti is a professional illustrator of children's books and tee-shirt designer, has won many awards for her work and, as you can see, she is exceptionally talented! 

A little bit more about Patti:  she began her career as a child model and at the tender age of eleven, was cast by Samuel Goldwyn in a comedy serial.   She’s had dramatic roles on most networks and recently scored as a night-club singer.

Please visit Patti's website at:

Oh, and if anyone knows how to center a logo in blogger, please let me know.  :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

An Afternoon at the Mall - A Photo Journey!

Since it's the end of the week and, according to my extensive market research studies, no one reads my blog on Friday, I thought I'd take this opportunity to show off a few random photos I took at the mall last week. 

It was the last day of his school's week-long "Halloween Break" (don't ask) and Thing 2 had finally tired of torturing me with his top ten list of my failings.  Among my favorites were 1) you're not a "fun Mom" because 2)  I "never take him anyplace" and 3) I (meaning me) can't "think of anything fun for him to do." Thing 2 asked me to take him to the mall and I quickly agreed, fantasizing that I might be able to lose him in the crowd.

I also agreed because it was high time for my annual "last trip to the mall before the holidays start" (this was November 5).  It may sound counterintuitive to swear off the mall as December approacheth, but as a Yiddishe mama, there's no reason for me to set foot in the mall during the season of merry and bright.  (As for Chanukah, I throw the kids a few latkes, mumble some phlegmy words under my breath and call it a holiday).

So here's a pair of jeans I saw at Aeropostale. They were on sale for $50, down from $60.  I wonder how much they would cost if they weren't ripped?

Source:  Joan Oliver Emmer for Planet Emmer Productions

The mall staff was just starting to put up the Christmas decorations - this being the first week of November and all.  The red bows look small, but they're actually huge -- I took this from the second level.

Source:  Diane Arbus for Planet Emmer Productions

Similarly, while these may look like festive Lifesavers, they're really humongous Christmas wreaths.

Source:  Ansel Adams for Planet Emmer Productions

This is Thing 2, looking cool as he examines skateboarding tee-shirts at the skateboarding store.

Source:  Annie Leibovitz for Planet Emmer Productions

And here's me.  It's not the BEST picture of me, but it's darn close!  And I took it myself!

Source:  Joan Oliver Emmer for Planet Emmer Production

For a bit of perspective, here's me when I get really dolled up:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In the Moment

I'm very much an adherent of traditional medicine.  Offer me an epidural (pregnant or not) and I'm there!  So when I was assigned to read an article on alternative, complementary and integrative medicine for one of my social work classes, I was expecting the details about naturopathy, chiropractic and aromatherapy to leave me screaming me for a Tylenol and some Ace bandages.

But one of the modalities I read about peaked my interest.  It was a discussion about meditation, among whose basic tenets are concentrating on the present moment while "diminishing painful ruminations about the past and anxious preoccupations with the future."  Heck, I'm all about blowing those roads-not-taken straight to hell. It was lunchtime and I had a few minutes to kill before my train, so I decided to meditate on the cup of yogurt, granola and fruit I had bought at Penn Station.  Here's how it went:
  • I dig into the grapes and cantalope that lay atop the granola covered yogurt. With my spoon.  It's a plastic spoon, white (moment, moment).  I love the sweet, chunky crunch of the granola and I'm really enjoying this.  But then I start to think about how fattening granola is and this is why I don't keep a box of it in the house and how I might gain so much weight from my lunch that I might not be able to fit into the dress that I need to wear to a wedding in three weeks.
  • I mix the granola into the yogurt and take a spoonful.  Yum.  But wait -- it's not vanilla yogurt, as I thought, but bitter, plain yogurt (a metaphor for my life?).  Which is not sweet enough for me.  I rummage in my purse and pull out a packet of Sweet-n-Low (that pink stuff) and stir it into the yogurt.  Better.  But then I start to wonder, as I have my entire life, whether anyone actually buys Sweet-n-Low at the supermarket, or whether it's everyone's standard operating procedure to just swipe it from diners (as I was taught as a young child at my daddy's knee).
  • I am awakened from my Sweet-n-Low reverie by the cry of a young infant to my right.  I gaze upon his sweet face, and note that his mother is smartly dressed in a matching red sweater and skirt, a look that I never managed to achieve in my nearly 19 years of parenting (and she's not even wearing spit-up on her shoulder).  I start to ruminate about baby breath, lost opportunities, and 2012, when, according to the Mayan calendar (and Thing 2), the world will surely end. 
At this point, I am sweating profusely, not a great look for someone who's striving to achieve existential nirvana.  I reach into my purse for a Xanax, which is right there and in the moment, and breathe a huge sigh of relief.  Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You Gotta Elieve!

Macy's Herald Square is the world's biggest store and the first building to have the modern day escalator. It covers an entire city block with ten and a half levels of the latest fashions for you and your home (yes, I swiped that last part off the website).

But what Macy's Herald Square doesn't have is the letter "B."

I stared at this sign for about three minutes yesterday morning (nobody ever said I was quick-witted) before realizing that the Macy's workers had stopped before finishing their work.  (Or that someone somewhere was nursing a large B-shaped bruise on his head).
Source:  Joan Oliver Emmer for Planet Emmer.

Here's the press release announcing Macy's holiday "Elieve" campaign.  Macy's "Elieve" Campaign.  It's for a very worthy cause, so I hope it is successful.

Est wishes for a lessed and eautiful holiday season.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Show Me Your Marathon -- I Dare You

You think you ran a marathon on Sunday, Gebre Gebremariam, Edna Kiplagat, Edison Pena, Al Roker, Meredith Viera and Jared Fogle?  You try getting a 10 year old up and out on his last day of "Halloween Break" and let's see who can claim the thrill of victory.

8 a.m. (really 9 a.m. as we have just turned back the clocks). The Awake and Stretch.  Attempt to wake up Thing 2 for our train into the big city to watch the NYC Marathon.  Thing 2 rolls over, curses under his breath, and pulls his five layers of blankets back over his head.  I pull them off (arm exercises) and start to massage his back.  He pushes me away, moaning "Ma -Ah!"

8:30 a.m.  The Climb and Threaten.  I walk back upstairs and threaten him that if he doesn't get up immediately, we won't have time to walk through Times Square and glimpse the peek-a-boo shows.  That gets his attention.

9:00 a.m.  The Plead and Reach.  "What do you want for breakfast?"  I ask Thing 2.  He starts to name virtually everything we don't have in the house (because I haven't been shopping this year AND HE KNOWS THAT):  pancakes, sausage, fresh bagels, muffins, lox.  I reach to the top of the fridge and pull down some sugary "weekend cereal" to keep things moving along.

9:30 a.m.  The Command and Bundle.  It's 35 degrees outside and Thing 2 has not yet deigned to don any of his winter clothing this season because, according to him, "It's hot outside."  (You would think he were menopausal).  I plant my feet firmly on the kitchen floor, draw myself up to my full 5 feet 2 inches in height, fold my arms like Mr. Clean and give him that look that says,"We ain't going nowhere."  Point taken - winter jacket on, but not without a parting shot:  I look fat in this.

10:00 a.m.  The Run, Fumble and Run Again.  Reach train station, park car and run to the ticket machine, where I drop my keys and credit card.  Machine spits out correct tickets, we run up the stairs and hurl ourselves onto the train as the doors close behind us.

I'm exhausted.  And I don't even get a medal.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Describe Yourself, in 10 Moronic Words or Fewer

When I applied to graduate school many years ago, I had to write an essay describing my reasons for wanting to earn a graduate degree in business administration (reasons which COMPLETELY escape me now), and what I would bring to the program.  I have a very clear memory of sitting on a picnic blanket in Central Park's Sheep Meadow and penning my autobiography.  (This was back in the pre-computer days, when "penning" literally meant picking up a pen and writing.)

The reason I remember this so clearly is because, even then, I was struck by how ridiculous my essay was, particularly the part where I described myself as possessing a "seriousness of purpose," like some kind of mutant MBA in a Jane Austen novel.

I was reminded of this because I've been playing in the Linked In playground a lot lately and have noticed how job titles have morphed from the more generic President, Director, Analyst and the like to titles that are, let's say, more descriptive than in the past.  Apparently to stand out you need to append at least one adjective to your title, to qualify exactly what type of Director you really are ...or at least use a trendy buzzword.  Here are a few examples:

  • Senior IT Executive, Early Adopter, Part Time Futurist
  • Experienced, Decisive IT Executive
  • Creative Motivator and Problem Solver
  • Mentor and Catalyst
I am wondering what the part-time futurist does when he is not predicting the future (maybe he specializes in the past?) and whether he can tell me whether I will ever get a job (or maybe a part-time job is all he can foresee?).  And whether the "decisive" IT executive took a lot of time weighing his options before coming up with that description.  I am particularly intrigued by the "creative" means that the otherwise engaged "Problem Solver" uses to motivate and whether I can adopt that model in moving my recalcitrant children along.

(You just knew I was going to slip in the word "recalcitrant" before the end of this post, didn't you?)

I am weighing a number of options for my own Linked In title.  They certainly won't contain such mundane words as "experienced" or "award winning" (mostly because I haven't won an award in the past 30 years) but I am considering other attention-getting alternatives like "moody," "Blood Type O-" and "these hips were made for birthin' babies."

Those should set me apart.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Yesterday I misplaced my cell phone. I was pretty sure it was somewhere around the house under the stacks of old newspapers, rotting mangos and cat hair, so I dialed my own number with the intention of tracking down the ring. But my call went directly to voicemail, where my own melodic voice cheerily informed me that I was not available. This “direct to voicemail” stunt happened because my phone has taken to turning itself off unannounced (which was not very convenient under these circumstances).

I called Evil Cell Phone company to see if they could turn on my phone remotely, which I thought sounded like a very plausible idea. After 10 minutes of being bounced from robot-voice to robot-voice, they told me this was not technologically possible (this could actually be a good project for DH (who works for the company) to throw into the Suggestion Box. Maybe we could win a new…cell phone).

I looked under the couch cushions but found nothing but a penny, several kernels of unpopped popcorn, rat hair and an iron-on nametag emprinted with “Thing 2.” I twisted myself into a pretzel and searched the Batmobile minivan, peering under the seats, wedging my hand inside the sticky center console, climbing into the trunk and rummaging among the loose cans of Diet Pepsi, reusable supermarket bags and a multi-colored schmattah from 1965. Nothing.

I emptied my purse onto the couch, pulled out crumpled tissues, scribbled notes, binder clips, empty gum wrappers, keys, about nine pens and a yellow highlighter. No phone there either.

I was remarkably unfazed, if a tad annoyed, because I don’t like talking on the phone anyway and if someone calls me on my cell, it’s got to be bad news (e.g., there’s a sick or incarcerated kid to pick up or bail out). But I hate to lose stuff and still beat myself up, even years later, about everything I’ve lost in my life: my Queens County library card (which I lost when I was eight, cost 10 cents to replace and later resurfaced tucked into the backseat of our Red Rambler), Thing 1’s pretzel-shaped teether, my October, 1992 monthly NJ Transit pass, and every phone number I’ve ever scribbled down on a Post-It note for later programming into my (lost) cell phone.

So today while sitting in the driver’s side of the minivan at the skate park, I reach into my purse for my comb - the purse I had completely emptied the day before - and close my hand around …what else? cell phone.

And to top it off, Dear Reader, I can't find my charger now.

I’d like to be angry, amazed, disgusted with myself or even frightened. But I’m not. I’m busy – my voicemail messages are telling me I’ve got some kids to bail out.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Yesterday was Election Day and I was thinking about how rarely I take a firm stand on political issues.  This is because I'm indecisive, meek, easily swayed and ill-informed.  (Oh, and afraid that someone might yell at me).  But, like Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters who had a rule (or more of a guideline) never to get involved with possessed people:

A Guideline, Not a Rule!

there is one issue about which, I too, have an inviolable rule.

Okay, maybe it's more of a guideline.

I won't buy an article of clothing with the name of the manufacturer - designers like Calvin Klein, Liz Claiborne, Juicy Couture, or Guess - splashed across the chest .  It seems counter-intuitive for me to to pay  a multi-billion dollar conglomerate to serve as their advertising vehicle.  Shouldn't Cal or Liz be paying me?

Cause there's a lot of real estate "up there" and I could conceivably become very wealthy in this way.

Interested?  Inquire within.  Or "up there."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Have a Heart

I entered the garage one morning late last week, heading for the driver's side of the minivan.  As I did, I heard a "crash" and saw, out of the corner of my eye, the box containing our Hav-A-Heart trap hurtling towards the ground, narrowly missing my head.

'Mr and Mrs Rattus: Old English Black Rat'In case you don't know, a Hav-A-Heart trap is a cage designed to trap small rodents like mice, squirrels and bear in a humane manner, luring them in with the promise of food and snapping shut after they enter the cage.  When the animal has been trapped, one can choose to "relocate" them (in our case, we run them over to the yard of a neighbor we don't like in the dead of night).

We've had our failures with these traps in the past.  Once we placed peanut butter in the trap, hoping to entice inside for a snack the chipmunk or squirrel who was running sprints in our attic throughout the night.  The next day, when we checked the trap, the peanut butter was gone, but the rodent was nowhere to be seen.  (It had, however, left a note, asking for the chunky kind for its next meal).  We imagined it lying on its back somewhere, belching and pounding its paw-fist in hysterical laughter.

In the past week our cats have caught and slaughtered three mice in the house.  This is a disturbingly high number of kills and I suppose it's due to the construction taking place across the street.

Still, I think the rodents were sending me a warning this morning when the Hav-A-Heart trap so "mysteriously" tumbled down from the shelf high in the garage.  It was kind of like finding a newspaper full of fish on my front doorstep.  Like they were saying, "Get rid of the felines. Or else."

Threat? Or coincidence?  You be the judge.

Monday, November 1, 2010

D is for Dentist

After a total of 29 years of parenting, during which neither Thing 1 nor Thing 2 ever had a bad dental appointment, I didn't think that kids could even get cavities anymore.  With fluoridated water, vitamins with fluoride and all kinds of special gunk that the dentist paints on their molars, I thought that kids' teeth were as safe from decay as I am from being mistaken for Halle Berry on the street.

But that changed with Thing 2's latest appointment when the dentist found two cavities.  She delivered this news almost apologetically, explaining that the teeth that were decayed had a genetic vulnerability, and the cavities weren't the result of my feeding Thing 2 donuts, coke and bubble gum for breakfast every morning, as is my wont.

This was a pediatric dentist, mind you, which ressembles a "regular" dentist's office as much as, well, as much as I ressemble Halle Berry.  With Guitar Hero and a variety of other videogames in the waiting room, a television above every chair, painted clouds on the ceiling, a myriad of toothpaste flavor choices, stickers, prizes - everything but a live performance of  JackAss - PLUS Thing 2 got to miss an hour and a half of school - this experience was a far cry from a visit to the dentist of my youth  (at which said dentist approached me with a 10-inch needle, peered lecherously into my face and barked that it was ALL MY FAULT that I had ten cavities).

So Thing 2 even got to choose the flavor of his laughing gas (he chose mint) and since we're returning to fill a second cavity next week, the dental assistant handed me the nose "bulb" through which it was administered in a plastic bag to take home and bring back at our next visit.  It still has some traces of nitrous oxide in it, I know, because we passed it around during Family Game Night, each of us took a toke sniff and Battleship and Life were funnier and more engaging than they had ever been.  The Doritos tasted mighty fine too.