August 28, 2012

Vacuuming in the dark

I am a night owl.  It's my most productive time.  I think 2am is the perfect bedtime and I will bite your head off if you wake me up before 10 (OK, 10:30).  Even Shrinky Dink has to follow that rule (or suffer my wrath!).

We live in a new subdivision, so there are houses going up all around us.  Because of the hellish temperatures this summer (115 degrees!!!), our builder had the workers start at FIVE-FRICKIN'-O'CLOCK-IN-THE-MORNING for most of the summer.  !!!

BAM BAM BAM!  KNOCK KNOCK!  "HEADS UP!"  All morning long. 

(Which is, by the way, the very middle of my night's sleep.)

When I complained about it to my husband (who is a forester for the electric company), he said, "Normal people get up early!  I start knocking on doors at 7:30am." 


I pity the fool who knocks on my door at 7:30am. 

No wonder people set their dogs on utility workers.

I know they say "the early bird gets the worm", but I figure since I'm fully bankrolled by Tree Guy, I'll let him do the worm-gathering while I get my beauty sleep.    

It's win-win, really.

I have to say, though, that our differing sleep schedules really cut into my computer time.  Tree Guy goes to bed at 9 or 9:30, which is just about the time that I'm amping up.  Our computer is in the master bedroom, which means that my late-night blogging goofiness is severely curtailed. 

This is a very serious issue.

I tried sneaking in to blog after my husband falls asleep, but that just earned me several sighs and a growl.  Apparently I type loudly.

Selflessly, I tried typing more quietly, only to get in trouble for casting computer screen light upon his slumbering head.

People, hear me.  I can not win.

I'm thinking of suggesting couples counseling so Tree Guy can learn to be more considerate of my needs.


August 26, 2012

He/she: who's that sitting in your church pew?

There's a transgender "woman" who attends our (Catholic) church.  I can tell that she tries very hard to appear womanly, but shapely legs aside, it's pretty obvious that she was born a male.  She prefers animal prints and mini-skirts and big hair.  Long nails, stilettos, and sunglasses indoors.  She is very glamorous.  And she always sits alone.

Not really her, but close.

It makes me proud that she feels comfortable in our church.  I'm sure there are other churches where she'd likely be asked to leave.  I have gay male friends who once loved their churches, but as they got older and more comfortable with themselves, they got less comfortable at their churches.  My friend John told me that he can't attend a church that doesn't support his lifestyle. 

That never made sense to me, because we are ALL sinners.  Church pews are full of sinners.  So are church pulpits and choir chairs and revival tents and evangelist tour buses.  Sinners are made up of heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, asexuals, and metrosexuals! 

The Church does not support sin, it's true.  But it does support sinners in our walk with God.

To me, that means that everyone who wants to attend should be welcome at church.

And no one should have to sit alone.


"Why are you calling a biological man she?" you ask.

I know.  It's confusing. 

I have a transgender uncle (aunt?) whose name is now Carol.  I only saw my dad's side of the family about once a year growing up, so I didn't really know my Uncle Charlie.  When I was introduced to Carol as an adult, I only knew that he (she) had fathered my cousin.  I saw Carol as a man in woman's clothes.  I didn't know the difference between someone who is transgender and someone who is a transvestite (a cross-dresser).

What I've learned since is that transgender folks feel that they were "assigned" the wrong sex.  Males in body feel like females on the inside, and vice versa.  It doesn't have to be about sexual attraction at all.  "Trans women" (male-to-female) may still be interested in women.  Or they may be attracted to men, but not consider themselves to be gay because they feel that they are really women. 

Is your head spinning yet?

My dad's side of the family told me that we refer to Carol as a "she" out of respect to her personhood.  It's hard enough to be transgender outside of the family.  Family should be a safe haven. 

At first I balked at this.  I jokingly referred to Carol as my Aunt Charlie or Uncle Carol.  Har har har!  It's easy to joke when the pain is not ours.  Carol was barred from her son's wedding.  She doesn't know her grandchildren.  That is the price she is paying for not being who people think she should be.

When I think of it that way, it makes it easier understand that this is not a choice that Carol is making.  Who would choose to be an outcast?  A joke?

Someone who sits alone at church? 

August 18, 2012

Postscript: a Q & A

Q:  Well hello, Miss Rantalicious.  Feeling better today?  I hope so, because I've got to point out some irony in your post from yesterday.  You wrote, and I quote, "There are many paths to a destination. Any number of them will get you there. The path you choose (or chose) is not the vaulted One Absolutely Correct and Best Choice. It's simply one path." 

My question is:  Don't you think you are holding your parenting philosophy up as the vaulted One Absolutely Correct and Best Choice

A:  I am feeling better today, thanks.  Not as ranty.  That said, my views have not changed.

To answer your question, no.

And here's why.  I believe in human rights.  That all human beings should live free from physical, emotional, and verbal abuse.  Adults are (legally) protected (should they choose to exercise their legal rights).  If another adult threatens them or pushes or slaps them, there are grounds for arrest.

I don't think that protection should start at age 18.  I think people of all ages should have it.

We can scream and threaten and hit children because it's what we've always done.  Not because they are any less deserving of human rights. 

And I think that's wrong.

So, this really isn't about my parenting philosophy.  It's about extending full human rights to children.

Q:  Hmm.  Okay, but what about what the Bible says about spanking?  You know, like in Proverbs 13:24: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (diligently)."

A:  Maybe the "rod" is used figuratively to mean "discipline", rather than a literal spanking staff. 

I'm all for (respectful) discipline.  I believe kids need our guidance.  Even a little chasteneth-ing on occasion.  But I don't believe screaming and hitting are the best ways to achieve that.  That's not how we treat adult criminals in our country.  Are our kids worse than criminals?   

Q:  So are you claiming that you have never spanked or screamed at Nature Boy?

A:  I am not a yeller, no.  I'm more the hand-on-hip, turkey-necking, hairy-eyeball-giving type.  I believe a good discussion is more effective than screaming.  I think the message gets lost when people yell at each other.  The fight or flight response kicks in and the actual content of the exchange is processed like we're hearing a maniacal version of Charlie Brown's teacher.  WAH WAH WAH, WAH WAH!!!!!!!! W&^$%^$%H!

And the goal of discipline, after all, is to teach right thinking or behavior.  NOT to vent our anger or frustration.

I admit that during Nature Boy's Bam Bam phase (fit-throwing, head-butting, stick-brandishing) in toddlerhood/preschool, I did swat him a few (or 10) times in exasperation.  But I knew that it was because I was losing control.  I always apologized afterward and went back to using time outs. 

I know it's easy for parents to lose our cool.  And that kids can be turds sometimes.  And that it's impossible to be a perfect parent. 

When we make mistakes, we need to apologize--as do our kids.  The problem comes when losing control with our kids is our disciplinary method.   

Q:  Isn't it possible that you are being too sensitive when it comes to people criticizing your kid?  How are kids supposed to learn how to act if adults don't teach them? 

Different people and different situations call for different rules and standards.  How will your child know what the rules are if he's not told?  Are you advocating pint-size anarchy?!

A:  I am sensitive about it because I see the damage excessive criticism does to kids (in general) and to my kid (in particular).  I subscribe to the "magic ratio" theory about positive and negative interactions in our important relationships. 

Am I too sensitive?  Since none of us is the standard of normal, I don't really know what "too sensitive" means.  Am I more sensitive about it than you are?  Probably.  Does that mean that I suffer from an excess of sensitivity?  No. 

I am 100% on board with letting kids know the rules and expectations up front--in a respectful way.  Doing this can prevent the need for correction later.  When kids deliberately break the rules, they need consequences.  Because that's how the world works.  The ultimate goal is to learn from the consequences of their actions.

I am personally a fan of The Hairy Eyeball.  The Long, Boring Lecture works too.  I'm not opposed to grounding kids when they willfully break the rules.  And I think natural and logical consequences are very effective.  One natural and logical consequence for turdy behavior in kids is that they need to GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY so I can preserve my sanity, such as it is.  

Consequences do not need to involve screaming and hitting.  That's all I'm saying.

Wait, actually I'm also saying that I think folks need to pick their battles.  Too often, we lash out at kids because they are irritating us.  Not on purpose, but just by being kids.  But adults get on our nerves sometimes too (or maybe that's just me).  We don't berate another grownup for slurping his soup or neglecting to pick up his trash.  We don't launch into an angry diatribe because the lady behind us is absentmindedly kicking the back of our seat.  (Or if we do, we have issues.)

Kids need discipline, I know.  But if we pick our battles, don't sweat the small stuff, and handle those annoying disciplinary situations with maturity, self-control, and respect, our kids will learn so much more from us.  

Because in addition to learning to follow the rules, they'll also be learning about maturity, self-control, and respect.  

August 17, 2012

"A person's a person, no matter how small."

I am on a soapbox (read: tirade) tonight, y'all. 

My heart is hurting over the barrage of criticism that so many kids have to endure from the grownups in their lives. 

Kids are kids.  But more than that, they are people.  Not substandard people.  Not partially-formed people.  Or second-class citizens.  Or savages in need of civilizing.  Or criminals in need of judging.

Neither are they our personal whipping boys.

Yet lots of folks think it's perfectly okay to scream at children.  To hit them.  To ride their asses, jumping with sick glee on every bit of evidence that they do not measure up.

And why?

Is it because kids are inherently evil?  Or because everyone knows that a childhood of physical and verbal bullying is healthy for kids?  Or because we think we're teaching them by example how to solve conflicts, make friends, and influence people?

Is it because if we don't scream and hit and ride their asses, they will surely grow up to be serial killers or welfare moms or politicians?


Is it because we don't have control of ourselves

Could it be that what makes us so angry is that we are unhappy with our lives or our jobs or our marriages or ourselves?

After all, kids are relatively safe places to vent our anger/rage/frustration/disappointment.  They are fairly defenseless.  The Man only has their backs if somebody is dumb enough to leave physical evidence. 

I ask you, does it state anywhere in our country's legal code, "Grownups can kick each others' asses as long as they don't leave a mark"?

NO!  But that's basically the rule for parent-child altercations.

And if a husband (or wife) gets all up in his (or her) spouse's face, screaming and threatening, we call it domestic violence.  When it happens to a kid, we call it discipline.

And that is a ridiculous double standard, folks.


And thus concludes my time on the soapbox.  (You're welcome.)

But I've got more to say.  And this time it's personal.

Nature Boy is realizing that kids don't get cut a break.  He lives with too much criticism, from the state of his education to his dinner manners to the length of his hair.  If I had to deal with as much nagging and criticizing and b!*&%ing as my son does, I'd have written off folks and taken an alias years ago. 

But I don't have to put up with that mess.  Because I am an adult.

(And I am crazy.  So people tend to be scared of me.)

My kid is not a hard-headed, defiant brat.  He's a good person who tries his best.  Yes, he's forgetful and quite adept at mess-making.  And yeah, he cops an attitude once in a while.  He is also a child.

A child who is fully a person, but one who is still growing and learning.  AS ARE WE ALL.

Yet all too often, he is held to adult standards of behavior.  And that's not fair.

Fun Fact:

If you have not raised a child recently, it is quite possible that you do not remember what normal kid behavior is. 

Fun Fact II:

If you do not particularly enjoy being around children (in general) or my child (in particular), kindly refrain from offering invitations.  Everyone will be better off.

Fun Fact III:

There are many paths to a destination.  Any number of them will get you there.  The path you choose (or chose) is not the vaulted One Absolutely Correct and Best Choice.  It's simply one path. 

None of us is the standard of normal.

August 10, 2012

Woe is she

My mom's in the market for a new job.  She's had a few interviews, but no bites so far. 

Here's a poem I wrote for her the last time she lost a job.  (Alas, she went poemless this time.)

Pink Slip

So sorry you lost your job.
We know it really sucks.
We'll be your angry mob
If you go postal on the schmucks.

They've lost a great employee
As they'll soon discover
When they try to replace you
With one after another.

Your loyalty went unnoticed.
Your efficiency was ignored.
You were a star employee.
Your coworkers are floored.

So The Man has knocked you down.
Or, The Woman* in this case.
But you've been down before
And you handled it with grace.

We know that you'll pull through
And get back on your feet.
And find something much better
Than a job on Creaky Street.**

* "The Woman" refers to the standard-issue trifling office beotch at my mom's former place of employment.

** Creaky Street is Nature Boy's nickname for the broke-down street where my mom's former office is.

Since the traditional job hunt process isn't looking too promising, Mom decided to try a temp agency.  To get temp office work, folks have to pass certain tests.  Data entry, Microsoft Word, etc.  To brush up on her skills before taking the tests, my mom signed up to take a Microsoft Excel e-class.  The poor woman tried and tried, but she couldn't get Java to work to take the class.

She has long been convinced that technology has a vendetta against her.  That Karma is paying her a visit for past-life technology-related sins.  That she was switched at birth and cheated of her birthright--to live technology-free as an Amish.

I think she's on to something.

After a fruitless aerobic workout of a computer troubleshooting session, she sent this email to her temp agency contact. 

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: GC Brawler <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, August 9, 2012 10:44 PM
Subject: Fw: Skillsoft Browser Capabilities Results

After messing with this for an hour and a half, I am sweating profusely and totally aggravated with Microsoft, Mr. and Mrs. Gates, their children and their future children of their children. And their pets. I think too, I detect a slight twitch coming on in my left eye. I don't believe it's a stroke, but rather, a fight against the urge to go out into the yard, in the middle of a state-wide burn ban, and have a VISTA bonfire. Ah, and there it is... Tension in my shoulders, slithering up my neck.

It's not you, it's me. To use the site from this particular stupid computer, it tells me I must update Java. When I do, it gets to the very end of the process and throws out an error code blah blah blah. I use Google Chrome, so I switch to Internet Explorer and of course, get the same thing with that browser.

The irony in this is that it tells me that I already have Java installed and that it will remove it to re-install and while this is taking place, a little banner sits, mocking me, saying, " 3 BILLION DEVICES RUN JAVA" Thankfully, it stops there, because the unspoken part of it would be, "JUST NOT YOURS, VISTA SUCKER!"

Now, on a mission, because my son-in-law is out of town and my friend who usually takes care of all this crazy stuff for me, is in NORTH AFRICA at school, I go to thinking I will just upgrade the operating system and move on. Nope. I read the first few good reviews and the first few bad reviews and am totally and completely scared to spend the 90 bucks, adding further to my Microsoft aggravation. Not a no-brainer. Thanks, Universe.

That said, and I hope you are laughing, because that is the only payoff at this point in time, I plan to see if I can use my daughter's computer for the e-classes tomorrow afternoon. She has a blog and taught herself how to write HTML to do so. If Java is so doggone important, I am sure hoping she will have applets or pearlets or any other fruitlets allowing me to complete this which, without this crummy operating system, should have been a great asset. Failing THAT, I will try live help, but I can intuit how that will end up. Just how badly did I score the last time I tested there?? Surely I haven't gotten worse!

Somewhere the digital age fairy is laughing so very hard that he cries, and I hope he wets his pants too. While he's sitting on Bill Gates' shoulder.

I come by it honestly, y'all.

August 03, 2012

Of free pants, fake war, and unattainable iPods

I met a new friend today.  She gave me kid shorts.  Six pairs.  From Land's End!  For FREE!!!! 

See, I'm thinking she knew I'm famous for my wildly popular blog, so she came up with a plan to bribe me to meet with her by offering me some shorts for Nature Boy.  Totally understandable, that. 

Just kidding.  None of that is true. 

Except the whole getting free shorts part.

We had tons to talk about.  I'd venture to say that she's as much of an animal lover as I am.  I "joke" that I couldn't live in a rural neighborhood because I'd call the Humane Society on people for not taking their chickens to the vet.  But she actually worked at the Humane Society.  That takes guts. 

Which gives me visions of us as a pink-and-purple-clad superhero duo, saving the furry and the feathered, one farm animal at a time.  I'll have to bring that up next time I see her.

Our pet-related reverie was interrupted by an irritated phone call from my husband, Tree Guy.  He and Nature Boy were planning to deploy for an Airsoft war at 5:30, so Tree Guy got antsy when Nature Boy and I weren't home by 4:30.  Sure, we hadn't eaten dinner yet, but still.  4:30 is a whole hour before 5:30.  We had plenty of time, right?  From my normally placid man, I heard a frazzled, "I don't know why you always go somewhere right before we have Airsoft!"  (Nag nag nag, etc...) 

I was chastened.  Because as we've established, Airsoft is REAL WAR.  And therefore, it is SERIOUS.

This reminds me of the time I asked my husband to help me get the groceries out of the car when he was having a raid with his guild in World of Warcrap.  Ahem.  WarCRAFT, that is.  I politely yelled, "I could use some help here!!!"  And he replied, "I'm doing a raid.  I have a responsibility to my guild!"


After 15 years of marriage, I have (pretty much) learned that when it comes to (fake) war, you'd best stay out of Tree Guy's way.

There were a couple more interesting happenings this evening.  One was this chat conversation with the ambiguously-named customer service specialist, Manish.
Manish:  Hello Danielle.  Thank you for contacting Amazon's Customer Service Center.  How may I help you today?

Me:  I bought several MP3s tonight and one of them will not download as an MP3. The rest did, but the Amazon MP3 downloader didn't work, though my computer says it's installed. I have to download them one at a time to iTunes manually, although I have it set to download to iTunes automatically. Not sure what's going on.

The song that isn't working is We Are Young by FUN.

Manish:  Hello, my name is Manish. I'll be happy to help you.

Manish:  Hi Danielle.

Me:  Hell.

Me:  OOPs!! HellO! LOL!

Manish:  I’m sorry your download of We Are Young (feat. Janelle MonĂ¡e) - MP3 Track didn't complete. I've re-sent your purchase to Amazon Cloud Player ( where you can try the download again.

Me:  Thanks. I didn't meant to cuss you out, Manish. Though trying to download each song manually to iTunes is a pain in the butt.

Manish:  I understand. I am sorry about that.  Is there anything else I can help you with today? 

Me:  Yeah.  Because the new song isn't showing up on my Cloud Player. 

Manish:  I am sorry about that.  I will re-send the song again.  Please click on the link above and re-download the song.

Me:  It's still not showing up!

Manish:  I apologize that you have had a negative experience tonight.  That doesn't usually happen.  I suggest that you delete the song from your Amazon Cloud player and purchase it again.  I will credit $0.99 to your account.  I am sorry about that, Danielle.
Me:  Me too, Manish.  Me too.


And the whole MP3 downloading flurry happened because I thought I was getting Nature Boy a new iPod Nano tonight off of craigslist.  A 5th generation Nano with a video camera.  The ad said, "MINT CONDITION!!!!!!!  $40, take it or leave it.  It's worth way more!!!!!!"

So I said to myself, OK, I'll take it. (SUCKA!!!)

I texted the guy, who proceeded to try to sell me a charger for it for $30.  Then earbuds.  And then our text convo went like this:


Him:  Uh, I'm starting to rethink the $40.  I've had some $70 offers.

Me:  You asked for $40.  Why would people offer $70?

Him:  I posted 3 different listings on craigslist.  Lol!

Me (thinking this is a bait & switch):  Nevermind.  :/

Him:  What about $50?

Me:  No thanks.  I'm doubting the legitimacy of this offer now.  You should go for the $70 offers.

Him:  Sorry.  Look $40 is fine.  I'm just trying to get as much as I can.  LOL.

Him:  How would it not be legit?

Me:  I don't mean to be disrespectful at all.  It's just that when you list a price, it should stay that price.  Otherwise it seems like a scam.   People scam people on craigslist all the time.

Him:  Okay.  I do not scam people. You can have it for $40.  I don't use it anyway.  I have an iPhone.

Him:  Didn't mean to make this seem like a scam to you.  It honestly isn't.

Me:  Are you an adult?

Him:  Uhm, I'm 17 and I'm trying to sell you an iPod.  Why should it matter?

Me:  Just wondering if youth and inexperience with craigslist is the reason for the price changes.  Rather than a scam.  (No offense.)  If the price is still $40, I'll take it.


And I never heard back from the little mother#%$&*r!

Guess I scared him off by asking his age.  Apparently he decided to protect his innocent iPod Nano from the creepy old lady on craigslist!

I am annoyed with people today.

(No offense.)

August 01, 2012

Keepin' it real

I recently rediscovered an old favorite from the drug store: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. 

I used this mask a few times a week in college, along with some yummy kiwi lip balm that I can't find anymore.  I still love the smell--at first.  If you leave it on too long, your face starts to smell like a stink bomb.  And that's because there's sulfur in this mask.  Apparently it helps treat clogged pores and whatnot.

But this is not a product review post.  It's a protest. 

A protest against showing only photos of ourselves that are flattering.  Where's the fun in that?

And so in the spirit of keepin' it real, I give you:

My husband is a lucky man.