Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Sorry I'm late, but I've been busy for the last two years. I've come out of retirement because of Harvey Weinstein and Lauren Duca. Lauren is the brave and astute Teen Vogue op-ed columnist who has taken on everyone from Tucker Carlson to Martin Shkreli internet trolls (she attracts a certain type of adversary.) Harvey is the former head of Miramax and the Weinstein Company who is also a serial sexual predator. Someone more clever than I am commented that, in fact, he is a sexual predator who, incidentally, made movies. In Lauren's most recent column, she stated that, "[t]he patriarchy is built on our silence, but there is an undeniable feminist power in our storytelling." So, here's my story.

I was seven when I started third grade. Because of elementary school consolidations, I was bused to a new school across town, with a few neighborhood friends and a lot of kids I didn't know. I was an anxious, sensitive kid who liked to curl up in our living room wing chair to read Nancy Drew mysteries and block out the world. The year was already shaping up to be a difficult one, for a shy child who disliked change and was anxious in new situations. To the outside world, however, I looked like a kid in an advertisement for milk or white bread or something quintessentially all-American and wholesome. And there was a boy in a different third grade class, who apparently had a thing for all-American, wholesome-looking little girls, because he (without ever speaking to me) developed an immediate obsession with me. This was not a harmless crush or a fleeting schoolyard romance that starts at the beginning of recess and ends before the bell rings. Throughout the year, it became clear that he was not going to get over his interest in me quickly or without collateral damage. 

Every day a classmate would approach me with the novel news, "Henry* likes you. He wants to talk to you." I would react in one of three ways, depending on how emotionally strong I was that day. I might cry or physically lash out at my classmate or I would just shrug and walk away. Once on the playground, Henry's friend gave me flowers that Henry had picked for me. "I don't want these," I said throwing them back at Henry's friend. "He just likes you. He just wants to talk to you." I didn't want to talk to Henry. I wanted to be left alone. I wanted to fly by anonymously and unmolested under the radar. Once my classroom teacher allowed Henry into our empty classroom and he left flowers and a note on my desk. I blushed furiously and rushed into the class to grab the offerings and throw them in the trash before anyone saw them. My teacher (a man) told me, "he just has a crush on you. It's a compliment. You're really hurting his feelings by not talking to him." When I still refused to talk to Henry, my teacher frowned in disappointment. 

As the year went on, my emotional strength waned. I wasn't sleeping and my anxiety ratcheted up to a painful degree. There was more kicking and yelling and less walking away. I pretended to be sick so I could stay home. I didn't pay attention in class. I was deeply depressed, but I didn't tell my parents what was happening because I was ashamed. I was embarrassed that I had done something inappropriate to attract all this attention. As it turned out, the school took care of the issue and someone - a counselor, my teacher, I don't know - called my parents to express their concerns that I was acting out. It was enough of a problem that I was dragged off to a therapist for a screening appointment to start group therapy, so I could commune with other "troubled" kids. 

Never once, during this ordeal, did anyone tell this boy to stand the fuck down. No one blamed him for harassing me or sending his friends to pester and cajole me into talking to him. No one told the other kids, who weren't even his friends, but enjoyed getting a reaction out of me when they mentioned Henry, to leave me alone. No one said to Henry, "it is wholly inappropriate to have strong romantic feelings at age eight. Leave this poor girl alone, get some therapy, and go play four-square." How did he interpret the adults' reactions to this situation? I have no idea, but I can imagine he assumed that it's okay to doggedly pursue girls who repeatedly rebuff your advances. If you've listened to Harvey Weinstein, and the recording of his advances on actress Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, you can see the result of that type of lesson. The lesson to me was clear: Just be nice. Just talk to him. Your reaction is the problem. Be more compliant. Be a better victim. 

This experience has impacted my entire life. Looking back at a vantage point of nearly 40 years, I can see a patterns in my behavior and reactions with roots in third grade at Irving Primary School, where I learned passivity and submission. There were times when I wasn't really interested in a guy, but I would still go out with him because I had been stripped of my own agency at such a young age. Then I'd get called a slut because I was dating around too much. When I was harassed at work or school, an all-too common occurrence, I never made a big deal about it. I'd been taught that I couldn't prevent unwanted comments and advances, so the best thing to do was to act like a good sport about the harassment and remove myself from the situations that felt most dangerous. I never reported anything or complained to people in authority. Why would I when my experience with authority figures was them siding with my tormenter?

So, that's my first story. There are others, but the origin story for all of my experiences is right there at Irving School with a little girl who learned early to pipe down and deal with abuse because no one likes a complainer. 

*Name changed because I don't like to think about his real name. Yes, still. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

RH - Visit to Atlanta's New Restoration Hardware Gallery

You know you're getting old when you can remember when IHOP was the International House of Pancakes, KFC was Kentucky Fried Chicken, and RH was Restoration Hardware. Of the three, the rebranding of Restoration Hardware probably makes the most sense. IHOP still sells pancakes and KFC is still all about chicken, but RH's hardware selection is dwarfed by the store's inventory of beige linen-covered furniture. As a part of RH's rebranding, the company is leaving the malls and opening stand-alone stores around the country. The stores are understated, quaint, and restrained in the tradition of Candy Spelling, Marie-Antoinette or Mariah Carey. That is to say, not understated, quaint, or restrained in the least.

Right before Christmas, I received an email from RH announcing the opening of its Atlanta store. I give you understated:

 It's called "The Gallery at the Estate in Buckhead," which makes it sound like an English country home and not like a retail store located next to Cheesecake Factory (a closed Cheesecake Factory, no less).  Here is the description from my email:

RH had me at the "decomposed granite" (which I am not fancy enough to recognize as fancy landscaping materials, but instead makes me think of decomposed bodies). Naturally, when my friend Elizabeth suggested that we make a day of gawking at the grandeur of The Gallery at the Estate in Buckhead and then eating at The Shack of Shakes at Across the Street from The Gallery at the Estate in Buckhead, I was all in. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Matilda, the Baby, and Me

For Christmas, the Baby received a Kindle from my in-laws. They were incredibly generous with the children's gifts, which was much appreciated since the K has us all on austerity measures because of his new job. The Baby is obsessed with the Kindle and takes it with her everywhere. The Kindle was supposed to be a reward for learning how to read, although it is debatable that she's reached this milestone. But, if you listened to her struggle through all 15 pages of Paw Patrol's Chase is on the Case in 20 minutes, while sounding out every other word, you'd agree that someone deserves a reward.

Now, does she use the Kindle to read books? Of course not! She plays some creepy princess beauty parlor game, the free version of which assigns you a wrung-out looking princess with ashy skin and bags under her eyes who you spray, scrub, smooth, and spritz until she looks good enough to go shopping at Walmart. You can't get rid of all your princess's flaws unless you buy (with actual, real money) additional products and treatments. To which I say, Nope! The princess should not worry about her appearance, because it's what's inside that counts. The Baby responds by glaring at me and then at the imperfect virtual princess, probably thinking that the princess's insides are not part of the game.

When she's not saying, "meh, I guess you'll do," to princesses on the Kindle, she's watching movies. Her favorite movie is Matilda. In case you're not familiar with Matilda, it is based on the Roald Dahl book and is about a brilliant little girl, Matilda Wormwood, who is misunderstood, unappreciated, and badly treated by her tacky, ignorant parents and older brother. Matilda's father enrolls her in a school run by the evil Miss Trunchbull, who belittles and bullies all the children. The one kind adult in the book is Matilda's teacher, Miss Honey. Eventually, Matilda realizes that she has telekinetic powers which she uses to vanquish Miss Trunchbull. When Matilda's parents flee to Guam to avoid being arrested for scamming customers at her father's used car dealership, Miss Honey adopts her and they live happily ever after. The movie stars Mara Wilson as the title character and Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman as her terrible parents.

At first I was unbothered by the fact that the Baby clearly identified strongly with Matilda and her persecution by all the despicable adults in her life. But, as her obsession grew, I started feeling defensive. I mean, I can totally see the similarities between the K and Danny DeVito. Used car salesman, lawyer - potato, potato, I say. Other than a 15 inch height difference, they're practically the same person. But, I'm an understanding, patient, saintly parent, nothing like Matilda's tacky, superficial mother. *Ahem* But, I didn't think that the Baby's Matilda binging would cause any harm. Sure, she might attempt to move objects with her mind, and maybe Miss Trunchbull's appearance would give her nightmares:

And that's her good side.

but I never could have predicted the lasting impact that Matilda would have on her.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Analysis of State Google Searches

I am the hugest sucker for maps, the Internet, pseudo-social science, and pop-culture. So, when I saw this post that combined all my loves, it was like Christmas came early (Christmas 2015, because it was posted on December 29, 2014). The post is a state-by-state compilation of Google searches, listing the searches for which each state dominated. For example, Google-users in my home state of New Jersey searched these terms more than Google-users in any other state:

In July, Tracy Morgan was riding in a limousine on the New Jersey Turnpike when the limo was hit by a Wal-Mart truck, so it kind of makes sense that people in New Jersey would be disproportionately interested in that story. New Jersey does political scandals better than anyplace outside Chicago, as was proved in 2014 with Bridgegate. In August of 2014, a staff member and some political appointees of Governor Chris Christie conspired to close toll lanes on the George Washington Bridge and cause a massive traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey as political retaliation against the Mayor of Fort Lee. It's somehow fitting that New Jersey, a state that most people know from driving through on the highway, dominates in Googling stories which involve highways.

Of all the celebrities and athletes that New Jerseyans are furiously Googling, only one makes immediate sense to me. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, everyone was Googling Team USA's goalkeeper Tim Howard. But, New Jerseyans were Googling him extra hard because he's originally from New Jersey. And, let's face it, when your other big local news stories are fatal car wrecks and political operatives creating traffic chaos, who would blame New Jerseyans for cyber-stalking Tim Howard?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

No Debate about Ebates

While our house was in quarantine due to the plagues, I had a bunch of blogs written in my head, but no time to write or share any of them because I was too busy doing laundry and disinfecting everything. This week (precious optimism), I hope to clear some of the backlog. My future blogging plans include writing about the pantry moths (per request by a kindred reader) and how I'm one step closer to being investigated by DFCS because the Baby gave herself a haircut and then tried to hide the evidence by dousing her head with a combination of blue tansy and hand lotion.

A mother's prayer: Please let there be a bald Barbie,
please let there be a bald Barbie, Amen.
When I was down with the flu I logged a lot of hours watching HGTV, including a marathon of Fixer Upper, in which a telegenic couple (Joanna and Chip Gaines) renovate and redesign homes for their clients. Since this is the plot of nearly every HGTV show, the twist is that Chip and Joanna live on a ranch in Waco, Texas with their four children. It's like The Pioneer Woman meets The Property Brothers if the brothers were married to each other or if the Pioneer Woman's husband worked with her making meatloaf, instead of being a Carmex-addicted cowboy. It was either the fever or HGTV's magically delivery, but for about a minute I considered ditching the ATL and moving to Waco. The kids could grow up on a ranch (ignore the fact that I would probably hate everything involved in ranching) and we could buy a pretty legit house in Waco for under $100K, which is like what people spend on their cars in Atlanta. Hopefully, I'll get the flu next year and can enjoy a season two marathon of Fixer Upper. By that time, I'll bet the Gaineses will be all Hollywood. Chip will have gotten caps to fix his wonky tooth and Joanna will be shopping for a house in Calabasas. I joke. For real, they seem like a lovely couple. Check out their shop for a $65 "Lost Sock" Hanger, or, alternatively, go buy a new pair of socks for $5.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sayonara 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! And Happy Hanukah! And Joyous Kwanza! And Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year! Our family has been in illness purgatory since November 20th, so I have been unable to write anything. Well, not entirely true. I wrote a parody of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie called If You Give a Kindergardener a Craft Project that I didn't finish. You have that to look forward to sometime in the future. Whether I will actually finish it, or will just publish it unfinished like The Mystery of Edwin Drood remains to be seen. (Note to self: add opium den to If You Give a Kindergardener a Craft Project to make it edgier.)

According to Facebook, 2014 was a great year. Thanks for being part of it. You know what? Screw you, Facebook, 2014 kind of sucked. Okay, so it wasn't as bad as, say, 1934 (hard to top the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the Great Depression, Hitler, and the dust bowl), but it wasn't all that great. On a global level, there was the Ebola crisis, Russia invaded Crimea, the Middle East continued to be a mess, Atlanta was paralyzed for days by a freak snowstorm, there were lots of plane crashes (and one plane that went missing and still hasn't been found), terrorist groups thought killing people was a good way to stop girls from going to school, we lost Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, and celebrities found out that their private cellphone pictures weren't so private (maybe that wasn't so bad; depends on your perspective). But Facebook has to be all Johnny Mercer and accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. The Facebook year in review for Malaysia Air probably featured the new snack offerings for passengers in the coach cabin.

Flight attendant: "Don't mention that elephant sitting in 12D."

Friday, November 7, 2014

Halloween: Rubik's Cube Costume

Best Halloween Ever - 1980, Halloween birthday party. Pre-Pinterest, Mom put together a haunted house in our terrifying-under-normal-circumstances basement. Party guests were blindfolded and touched a dead man's "eyeballs" (peeled grapes), "intestines" (cold spaghetti noodles), and hand (surgical glove filled with wet sand). I dressed like a fortune teller in some hippie clothes borrowed from Mom's artist friend.

Worst Halloween Ever - 1993, Austin, Texas. I woke up to find out that River Phoenix had overdosed outside the Viper Room and (unrelated) that my Toyota Carolla had been towed to a dump/impound lot in southeast Austin.  I spent November 1st bumming a ride to the lot (guarded by an actual junkyard dog) and retrieving my car from a guy who, between his lack of teeth and heavy Texas drawl, was nearly impossible for me to understand. Okay, technically that was the worst November 1st ever, but since the precipitating events actually occurred on October 31st, I'm calling them for Halloween. If only the Internet had been around, I could have crowd-sourced my $75 towing fee like this girl did when she took an unexpectedly pricey Uber.

In other news, someone needs to come up with a funny Uber picture, because this is all the Internet's got:

2010's favorite meme subject, Ryan Gosling:


and, of course:

Let's get some new meme material. I'm old and I've grown bored with Hey, Girl and The Most Interesting Man. I will never say a bad word about Oprah because she could find and destroy me. Plus, this will never not make me laugh. That Oprah, rich as she is, would take a road trip is amazing (even if she made her BFF Gale King do all the driving). You'd never catch Streisand and Walters on a road trip; no makeup, dirty hair, eating Corn Nuts and drinking Mr. Pibb, nary a soft focus filter in sight.