Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Technohypocrite



I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm technologically illiterate.  The thing is, I'm really pretty disinterested in electronics altogether.  Which is weird for someone who uses them pretty much all day, every day.  Making me a technohypocrite.  In my defense, it's virtually impossible not to be connected in today's over connected world.

I've told myself time and time again that I'm not going to sign-up for anything else that requires a log-in and a password.  Because I can't even remember the ones I have.  But, every time there is some ridiculous reason for me to sign up.  Like it's required by my kids' schools, so I can academically stalk my children.  As if I don't stalk them on social media already.  Adding one more thing to my 'to do' list.

But first, I have to create a log-in that makes sense so I'll remember it.  For instance, ILOVESTALKINGKIDS. But, that may set off some alarm bells for the school administration, like I'm a pedophile or something.  I'd use my real name as the log-in, except the first time I tried to log-in I used it, messed up somehow and now it registers as taken. So now, I have to come up with something really boring, that's probably a lie like Knittingmom.  (I don't knit.)  But, that's already taken. As are most of the other mundane things I've thought of.      

And now I have to make a password that's 10 characters long consisting of 6 letters (at least one of which should be capitalized), 2 numbers and 2 symbols (excluding the < sign, because that might demean the other letters or symbols in front of it, you know...political correctness and all).  Making this a long and infuriating process.

But, it's nothing compared to my battle with the CAPTCHA.  Which is more of a war, that I'm losing.  Maybe I'm not human, because I can't seem to prove to my computer that I'm not a computer.  Seriously, who can read those things?  Even with my reading glasses on, it's like they're written in Klingon or something.  And last time I checked, Klingons aren't human.  Or real.

Don't even get me started on anything that requires a security question. Because it's always some obscure question.  Like:  What elective did you take in the fall of your freshman year of college?   Or:  Who's your favorite Astrophysicist?  And then there's: Where were you when you realized you sold out and your dreams would never come true?  I mean, not only is it depressing as hell to traipse through your past and recount this stuff and divulge it to your computer overlord, but really...who can remember this stuff?  I can barely remember to give my diabetic dog his insulin twice a day!

I would complain about e-mail, but I rarely read them anymore.  Same with group texts.  And for someone who puts so much information on-line with my blog and social media, I'm really skeptical of those discount cards offered by supermarkets. Are they collecting data on me?  Which is totally ridiculously paranoid and hypocritical.  Which is why I use my old phone number for this purpose.  Somewhere, some 70 year old guy with my old land line is getting coupons for tampons and zit cream at the check out.

I guess I have to admit, I love to hate technology.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Minority




I'm the first to admit it; I know nothing about being a minority.  I'm a white, privileged woman living in a white, privileged world.  And I have a lot of white guilt about that.  No matter what I do, I'll never know how it feels to be a minority.  At least I'm a woman, so I know what it's like to be discriminated against, sexually harassed, marginalized and objectified to keep me grounded.  Thank god for that!

If I have one complaint about where I live, it's that my neighborhood isn't ethnically diverse.  It's white.  It's so white, that if you mixed everyone in my community together, cumulatively we wouldn't even constitute off-white.  Even in summer when everyone has a tan, it's still as white as newly fallen snow around these parts.  I don't know exactly why that is, only that it is.

So, last Saturday after I went out to dinner with my husband downtown, we stumbled upon a bar with live music.   And when we went inside, about half of the patrons were African American, as was the band playing that night.  I felt guilty for even noticing.  But, coming from my homogeneous world how could I not notice?

And I started thinking about the one and only time I was in the minority, which was when we lived in Morocco.  One of the reasons we left Colorado Springs for Africa, was to experience what it's like to be immersed in a completely different culture.  Where we'd be the minority.  Which we were for a couple of years.  And people would stop and stare.  Point and whisper.

But, no matter what we did, or where we traveled, we were still white and privileged with the entitlement of having American passports.  Quite simply, even as foreigners, we wielded a huge advantage of power, without even trying.  I came to the realization that there's no way for us to truly experience what it's like to be in the minority.  Or the challenges that come with it.

All any of us can do it encourage, celebrate and protect diversity.   

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Porta Potty Hell


There are two things that are extremely important any time you travel anywhere in the world:  1.  Consuming enough roughage to poop.  2.  Having a place to poop.  Because, the older you are, the more you realize that life is really all about shit.  Repugnant, putrid, vile shit.  Only a small fraction of which is actually excrement.  But whether it's literal or figurative shit, it's all a waste.  Welcome to the shitshow that's adulthood!  Here are some porta potties provided for your convenience.

I could smell the stench, carried upwind on a balmy mountain summer breeze, before I even saw the repugnant toilets at the campsite.  I always seem to forget about this vital component of camping.  And with four nights in a tent, avoiding the camp toilet is completely unavoidable.  Sooner or later you're going to need to use it.  But, sooner if you're a coffee drinker.  And what adult doesn't drink coffee?  A masochistic psychopath, obviously.  The same kind who camp regularly.

When you just can't hold it anymore, that's when you'll have to do the walk of shame to the camp toilet.  Don't forget a flashlight, because other than daylight, there is no other light source in there.  But, since I can never remember to pack a flashlight, I bring my phone.  (Which is how I captured this great photo of one of the camp toilets three years ago.)  Perhaps most importantly, don't forget the wet wipes!  Because chances are, there won't be any toilet paper.  But, there will be flies.  So many flies.  Which, after the noxious fumes is the second reason to hold your breath before going in and squatting over the potty. BUT, DON'T FORGET TO TAKE THE PHONE OUT OF YOUR BACK POCKET FIRST!

The bad news is, no one can hold their breath, squat over the potty, do their business (especially #2), clutching their phone and a package of wet wipes without peeing on themselves or taking a breath.  It's impossible, trust me!  And the only thing worse than using the porta potty in the first place is being passed out in the porta potty.  I don't actually know that from experience, it's just common sense. In addition, don't ever look directly into the crapper.  I think that's pretty basic.  But there are two valid reasons why one might do this unconscionable act.  1.  Is this going to overflow?  2.  Am I done?  (Sometimes it's just a habitual thing if you're doing #2 to look in the bowl to ascertain this.)

While you're doing Lamaze breathing to hold the squat hovering over the seat, clenching your phone, the dim light illuminating the sign that says not to put diapers, feminine products or garbage into the toilet because they're extremely difficult to remove.  Well, duh...that sounds really reasonable.  Until you consider there's no toilet paper.  And then you look at the wet wipes you brought with you.    While I'm normally a decent, respectful, environmentally conscious human being, I'm sure as shit going to throw that potentially toilet clogging, environmentally hazardous wet wipe that I wiped myself with in there.  Because I'm no masochistic pack-in, pack-out psychotic homemade from a flannel cloth and essential oils reusable wet wipe user.  Because at this moment, I don't give a shit about the environment! I'd say I'm going to hell for that, but I'm already there in porta potty hell!  And judging from the rife stank, so is everyone else at this campground.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Voices in my Head


I have lots of voices in my head and most all of them are self-deprecating.  But, this post isn't about those voices, it's about how your own voice sounds in your own head.  And realizing you don't sound anything like what you think you do to other people.  In fact, you don't sound anything like you at all.  And you definitely don't sound anything like Aretha Franklin or Frank Sinatra.  Especially when you crank up the music in your car and sing along.  The lady next to you at the stop light can verify this. You don't.  But, you do sound ridiculous.  Especially when you're singing an Eddie Vedder song and you can't decipher the words so you're mumble singing/making up your own lyrics.  I may have firsthand knowledge of this.  

And it seems that most people's voices sound better to them in their own head, than they do in person.  But, then what do people who do sing well sound like in their own head?  This question has plagued me for a really long time.  If I ever nabbed an interview with Adele, I'd love to ask her how disappointed she is when she hears her own voice on the radio.  Like is she just a little disappointed or is she massively depressed?  If her music is any indication, I'm going to say it's the latter.  And what about those people who can't sing, but go on nationally televised singing competition only to embarrass themselves because no one told them they're awful?  Plus it's not the 18th century anymore; no one has to "break it to you" that you're an awful singer.  All you have to do is record a video of yourself to know instantaneously and definitively if you can or can't sing.  And who in the 21st century hasn't done that?

Then there's the more everydayness of your voice.  Do you have an annoying accent?  Are you a loud talker?  I was recently out in public with a loud talker.  We were in a quiet place, having a conversation.  Ok, it was more of a monologue really, because a conversation implies there are two people conversing.  To counteract this, my replies became more hushed (and I'm already soft spoken to begin with), hoping she'd get the hint.  My social cue fell on the deaf ears of my loud talker.  I was at her mercy (as was everyone else in the vicinity).  All while the voices in my head were screaming, "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"  But, a loud talker is better than a close talker though.  And they don't seem to be able to read social cues either.  Like if I step back away from you, it's because you're way too close to me.  "DO NOT STEP CLOSER TO ME!", the voices say.  A good rule of thumb is, if you can see my uvula,  BACK THE HELL UP!  Even worse than both of those, is an adult with a child's voice. Think Jennifer Tilly.  And unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to fix that.

As I've said many times before, I don't have an accent.  I know it's amazing, but it's totally 100% true.  None.  None at all.  What I do have is a gentle alto voice.  Unless I'm yelling at my kids.  In which case, I have a loud shrill voice that carries about half way down the street and I take on whatever accent is most condescending in the context of what I'm yelling about.  I'm not proud of this.  But if you're a parent, you know exactly what I'm talking about because you do it too!  No one makes it out of this parenting gig without sounding like Maleficent losing her wings.  NO ONE, I SAID!

But, when I've got a cold my voice takes on an entirely different tone.  In my head it sounds like I take on a whole husky, sexy Demi Moore kinda vibe.  Which I really kinda like.  I wish I sounded like that all the time.  Except, I know I don't actually sound like that.  Unfortunately, I know I sound like Sylvester Stallone when I'm congested.  Accent, mumble and yes, even the droopy eyes...ALL OF IT!  Which is what I actually sound like right now.  Because apparently, colds don't take a summer vacation.

What do the voices in your head sound like?


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I Hate Your Hobby



Hobbies make people interesting.  But, they also make people really annoying.  Like the guy who does CrossFit who has to tell you how many Tabata squats he can do or what the hell a Tabata squat is.  Or the bird-watcher who stops you mid-conversation to tell you about the Rufous-Sided Towhee that just flew overhead.  And if your hobby is shopping, video games or binge watching any series on Netflix, rest assured that I don't want to listen to you talk about it.  But what if you're married to someone whose hobby you hate?  And you are contractually obligated to endure it?

Ok, maybe hate is a strong word.  I don't necessarily hate my husband's hobby.  But, it is really annoying.  Especially because I hate birds and he loves them.  Which is how I know about the Rufous-Sided Towhee and that the screech at the beginning of Northern Exposure when they show an American Eagle is actually the screech of a Red-tailed Hawk.  Blasphemy!  But, the bird watching isn't even the hobby that's annoying.  Because bird watching for the most part is a quiet, unobtrusive activity.   But, being in a rock band is much louder and way more obtrusive.

Don't get me wrong, I love when he performs.  And he's a really good guitarist and he even sings sometimes too.  His guitar solo on Alice in Chains' Man in the Box is off the chain.  However, to get that good, it requires practice.  Lots of practice.  Lots of listening to him play Don't Stop Believing by Journey.  Over.  And over.  And over again.  I really can't stand that small town girl.  It's a one night stand that never ends.  Ever.  Not only do I get to hear it all the time, but sometimes he starts practicing in the front room directly adjacent to the office where I am, at 6am before he goes to work.  SIX IN THE MORNING, I SAID!  No one even wants Jessie's Girl at that ungodly hour, never mind a nameless small town girl.

Then there's my hobby.  People have told my husband he's so lucky that I pole dance.  But, the truth is, he really doesn't reap any rewards from it.  (Maybe on Valentine's Day, if he's lucky.)  Because I practice when he's at work.  So he only sees me dancing on Instagram like everyone else.  Unless I pole dance weekend mornings.  Upstairs with the doors closed trying not to wake our teenagers.   But, he can still hear the (muffled) music and me thumping when I land hard on the floor.  And then there's the swearing when I can't figure out a new trick.  And usually when I'm practicing I'll have the same song on a loop.  The last time I annoyed him this way on a Saturday morning, he interpreted the lyrics "I wish I was the driver" through the closed door as "I wish I was in China".  Which he probably really did wish.  When I'm done, all he can see are the bruises on my body in weird places and me complaining about how sore my muscles are.  My god, he's so lucky!

But really, the people who hate our hobbies more than we hate each other's are our kids.  Because starting ridiculously early on the weekends, while they're trying to sleep in, they get to hear Foreigner and Audio Slave.  Sometimes at the exact same time.  Which seems like ample punishment for us having to endure their accelerated teenage metabolisms and their indulgent sleep schedules.  So, I guess it all works out really.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

DMV


My third kid has started driver's ed.  You'd think I'd have this whole process all mapped out by now.  Instead, I've blocked my other teens learning to drive out of my mind completely.  Well, unfortunately not completely.  I remember enough to dread it.  Being terrified sitting helpless in the passenger's seat of my own car with my kid at the wheel.  Then being shocked and horrified (not to mention, broke) when my kids got their licenses and I had to add two teen boys on to the car insurance.  But, the thing I remember the most vividly is the DMV.  Which in Colorado is actually called the Department of Revenue.  But, if I titled this post that, you would've thought this post was about pot.  And now that I think about it, it probably would've gotten more readers.  Whatever.

With my first kid, the anticipation of him driving was completely traumatic.  For me anyhow.  And with my second one, I want to say I was a tad more relaxed, but I wasn't.  And no one was as relaxed as he was.  Because about 5 months after he got his driver's permit, he lost his wallet with his permit in it.   Requiring that I drive him back to the Department of Revenue to get a new one.  The thing is in Colorado Springs there's only one office that handles driver's permits for the entire city.  Making it insanely busy.  No problem.  We'll just get there before it opens and wait outside so we can be the first in line.  Only, when we got there at 6:55 am (it opens at 7) there was already a long line waiting for the door to open.  Shit!  At least I brought a book with me.  And I had an extra one in the car, just in case.  But, surely it wouldn't take that long.

After we filtered in and got a number that's in a random order so you can't calculate how long you have to wait, there weren't any seats left.  After a couple of hours leaning against the wall and shifting to alleviate my aching back, while constantly surveying people whose numbers got called to steal their seats when they got up, we could finally sit down. Time ticked away with the loud distractions of people talking on their phones in the one huge waiting room we were all crammed into while I read my book.

Until it was lunchtime and the clerks cycled through their breaks one at a time.  Reducing the number of open windows to serve customers for 2 hours.  We were so hungry we started fantasizing about the soggy tuna sandwiches they were likely eating in the back room.  Which is basically the brink of starvation. We couldn't risk leaving, because you know our number would be called while we were out.  So, I left my kid there as collateral, while I ran to the 7-11 down the street to score us some soda, chips and candy bars.  The sweaty hot dog rotating on the warming roller was tempting, but I was sure it would require me to use the public toilet in an untimely, urgent way.  And if they're understaffed at the counter, I can't imagine the state of the restrooms.

I'd already finished one book and got the other one from the car on the way back in with our food rations.  We weren't leaving without a permit.  Another hour and a half and several chapters in my second book later, our number was finally called.   We filled out the obligatory paperwork, he had his photo taken and a mere total of 7 hours later, my son had a receipt for a driver's permit he'd receive in the mail in a week or so.  But instead of getting the new driver's permit in 7 days (that took longer), my son found his wallet with his original driver's permit in it at a friend's house.  Are you kidding me?  And that's when I almost killed him.  It's also why I dreaded going with my third kid to get her driver's permit, because I've already done my time!

My daughter had gotten a perfect score on her written exam at her driver's education class two days before.  All we had to do was take her paperwork to the Department of Revenue to get the permit.  But, this time, I made an appointment at the office in Pueblo (a 50 minute drive south of Colorado Springs).  I brought a book and snacks, just in case.  We arrived promptly at her appointment time with all the required documentation and we were sent directly to the counter.  Finally, I'd beaten the system!  Or had I?  Because when they went to search for her test results on their new convenient electronic system, they couldn't find it.   And there was nothing we could do to rectify the situation.  (Trust me, I tried.)  So, we drove all the way back home permit-less.

And I promptly made another appointment down in Pueblo to get her permit.  But, only after getting a copy of the results of her written test e-mailed to me.  Now, I only need to get a new ink cartridge so I can print it out to have tangible physical proof when we go tomorrow.  I'm bringing 3 books, 2 meals and a tent. I don't care if we need a camping permit or not!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ma'am

Definition courtesy of Urban Dictionary

I was a teenager the first time I ever heard someone referred to as ma'am.  I was visiting the south where it's considered to be a sign of respect.  But, much like "bless your heart", it always came off as condescending to me.  Maybe because I was a northern girl raised on sarcasm and cynicism.  Taught never to believe what someone says and only trust a fraction of what they do.  Ma'am never had a place in my (blessed) heart from the start.

Now that I'm in middle age (well...if I live to age 94, I am anyway) I absolutely detest being called ma'am.  I do get it when I'm ma'amed by people who are significantly younger than me, to whom I'm a relic.  But, the people half my age, aren't hung up on being polite.  So, they avoid the whole situation by not calling me anything.  Or acknowledging my existence.  Because most of the time they've got their head buried in their phone and they don't even see me.

No, it's the people my age or older, who were brought up to be polite who are the worst offenders.  Not only do they see you because they aren't distracted by their phone, because they probably don't know how it works or can't find their glasses to read a text (ahem...like me), but they will also make direct eye contact.  And then categorize you by age by the crow's feet around your eyes.   Any woman under 30 is still a "miss" and anyone else is a "ma'am".

Unless...you get the flatterer (AKA: Eddie Haskell and if I have to explain who that is, you're definitely a "miss").  The flatterer sees your scowl lines and gray hairs and absolutely knows you're without a doubt a "ma'am"  but "misses" you.  In a completely condescending way.  Also, there is usually some kind of payout that acts as motivation for this flattery.  Like a tip, commission or free pass to heaven involved.   You know you're being belittled and so do they.  And yet somehow, even through that massively thick layer of bullshit, it's still better than being "ma'amed".

Which is why I've constructed a short list of things I'd rather be called than ma'am:

Hey
You
Sir
Bitch and/or bastard (I'm no sexist)
Douchebag
Jackass
Idiot (interchangeable with moron or stupid)
Ugly (I had a co-worker call me "fea", which is Spanish for ugly.)
I would even take honey or sweetie which I also find demeaning.

Somehow, in our culture, being called old seems worse than any of the things on that list.
Basically, I'll respond to almost anything, besides Ma'am.  


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