A [short] fall through darkness

There are dangerous and uncharted places in the world where we can get inextricably stuck.  They’re closer than you might imagine.

I did a conference call from my car yesterday and the cap from a pen I’ve come to appreciate fell between the driver’s seat and the center console.  Right in the middle of the gap, in the rut of the track for the seat itself, right where you don’t want it.  I reached in to get it but whatever bone in my wrist that folded to get my arm down there unfolded and refused to let me out.  It was such a stupid event, but there I was in remote part of a parking lot, prone over the driver’s seat, and stuck.

It does not take long for our brains to go primal levels of Stuck Animal.  The three minutes I spent manipulating the seat to try and free myself provided me with an acute insight into the mindset that can lead to someone cutting off their own arm to get free.  Inexplicably, a Simpson’s episode where Homer gets his arm caught in two vending machines flashed through my mind and I actually stopped to check whether I was stuck because I was holding on stubbornly to the pen cap.


Visions of having to call the cops, having the fire department walk me through the psychological process of breaking my own arm or- worse- removing the driver’s side seat flashed through my mind.

It hurt. But I got out.  I was exhilarated to be free. I was adrenal and so relieved that it was actually difficult to drive afterwards. Sitting in the driver’s seat trying to calm down I was reminded of something similar that happened years ago when my husband and I were still working on getting our sleep patterns in sync.

Getting to bed on time for me was about two hours later than his time.  As he was sensitive to both light and sound when asleep, this often meant I crept to bed from the den of our house in the pitch black.  Usually this was harmless enough, but one evening I fell sideways over a vacuum cleaner onto the bathroom floor.  For a brief second, probably an actual nanosecond- with no visual cues to convince me otherwise- I believe I felt what it must be like to sky dive.  I landed on the floor with my head nearly in the litter box, but the adrenaline released by the experience and the feeling of approaching terminal velocity stuck with me well into the next day.

Relaying the experience was nearly impossible.  “Oh?” people would say, “You briefly experienced free fall during a tumble over a vacuum cleaner?” but it was clearly lost on them that I had actually stepped through the looking glass.  My luck went only slightly better telling the story of getting stuck in the gap.

There’s a quote from the book Appointment in Samara which reads, “It is with the lose ends of life that men hang themselves.”  These mundane accidents – where we’re nowhere close to death but where our ordinary perceptions of safety have abandoned us – pull the wool from our eyes, revealing fears and thrills we had no idea were as close at hand as to be just to the right of the steering wheel.

Ce n’est pas une cave.

French parents have very different physical safety standards for their children than their American counterparts. Chloe and I learned this here last year when she had a nervous meltdown in the middle of the ropes course and had to be rescued by skilled climbers.

…Okay by one of my in-laws but whatever.  This post is not about physical danger. What I discovered today is that French parents also have very different emotional safety standards for their children.

We went back to the Adrenaline Adventure Park this year at Chloe’s request.  In celebration of … approaching nuclear annihilation? Humanity’s dark truth? Birth metaphors?…the park has added a new attraction.  It consists of a shipping container modified to somehow mimic the experience of spelunking.  Considering the story I’m about to unfold, I’m thinking that it’s been modified to mimic The Descent just a little too closely…but the actual witness to the heart of darkness still isn’t quite talking.  What I can tell you is there’s a black nylon curtain extending maybe three feet from the left container wall.  Under normal circumstances the curtain is drawn to meet a plywood sheet with two holes bored into it.  The holes, each maybe 2 feet in diameter, are dark and labelled Entrée and Sortie. 

Update: we went back and I paparazzied a photo. You would totally let a 7 year old crawl in here, right?

Chloe has a cousin who is four months younger than she is. To protect his public image we’ll call him M.  M finished the mind-blowingly dangerous “children’s” ropes course in about half the time it took Chloe.  My father-in-law, near the end of what must have been an hour of unscripted time with a seven year old, let M crawl into the Entrée of the spelunking experience. How long it took for things to get to where they were when my mother-in-law and I walked up can probably not be measured in Earth minutes.  M will have to surface that in therapy.  Or a long slow slide into alcoholism.

Anyway.  Who remembers the actor who played Robin Williams’ brother in Mrs. Doubtfire? This guy? There was another parent shadowing us at the park with three small girls and another guy.  They might have been a couple.  If they weren’t went they got there they probably are now, but I digress. Dude (we’ll just go ahead and call him Harvey) was a dead ringer for that actor, except Harvey’s maybe 20 pounds lighter and never without a lit cigarette dangling from his fingers because France.

As we approach yon shipping container, Harvey has pulled back the black curtain from the left side of the ride, is about five feet into it, and is yelling.  I can smell cigarette smoke and I’m intrigued because Disneyworld conditioning has taught me parents don’t pull back the theatrical fourth wall of amusement park rides lightly.  Or get to stay behind there unsupervised for any length of time.  Or smoke within 20 feet of anything that casts a shadow.  Harvey’s agitated, but not in a way that makes me worry yet that anyone’s really hurt.  I’m also taking my cue* from the fact my father-in-law is standing in front of the container looking concerned but way less agitated.

*Disclaimer: I’m also at a level of not giving a fuck that happens when you know you’re own kid is not involved.

A few seconds elapse and I realize Harvey is missing two of his children and the other guy.  He’s continued smoking and yelling, but he’s abandoned the curtain and now has his head in the Entrée while ignoring the third and smallest child.   I simultaneously glom onto three relevant facts:

1) M is nowhere to be seen.
2) He’s probably in the shipping container and
3) given the agitation levels that he’s probably stuck in it with Harvey’s older two girls.

I’m also starting to wonder what the hell it is they’ve done to a shipping container to make it count as an amusement park ride. There’s no evident electricity and they’re not handing out headlamps, which means whatever is going on is in the complete dark. From the extent to which Harvey’s yelling reverberates there’s definitely metal involved, but since the container’s metal that’s really not telling me much.  I’m dimly horrified, but M is tough, so I decide we can weather it until he gets himself out.

Another 2 minutes go by.  Harvey graduates to screaming, my mother-in-law is looking concerned, and my father-in-law has shifted into that Dad Catatonia Zone for men who have let a situation get out of hand and need to pretend someone else was at the helm when the important decision making occurred.  There’s a clanking.  A bang. Sort of a woosh…and than out feet first from the Sortie comes M.

He’s shivering.  Literally shivering.   My mother-in-law and I run to him and all he can say is “Cold. So Cold.” Its evident something severe has happened in the container but all we can think is to get him away from the exit so that he’s not in between Harvey and recovering his children.

The oldest of Harvey’s kids emerges. Her shirt is up over her head which I assume was not a planned part of the ride. It takes her a good deal of time to realize that whatever was happening in the shipping container is over, and that she has in fact lived to see the sun again.  She transitions from white-lipped terror to active sobbing while blocking the Sortie.

M, meanwhile, is shaking himself off and I realize that his face is streaked with tears.  M is- to borrow a phrase- Gangsta As Fuck, so I know that whatever was sufficient to make him cry was BAD.  It’s at this exact second that Chloe decides that what she really wants out of life is a taste whatever the hell M just tried in the shipping container.  Before I can stop her she’s crawled into the Entrée over everyone’s objections.  M grabs her by the leg to prevent her getting in but she’s much bigger than he is and he’s still weakened by terror and relief.

I take over from him by the Entrée and I’m thusly standing right there when the last of Harvey’s kids comes out of the Sortie. She’s young enough to have escaped psychic damage but Harvey is somehow not done hollaring.  Another 30 seconds go by and he finally shuts up and backs up slightly.  The reverberating echo stops. The silence that surrounds all of us has physical dimensions. I’m just about to exhale when- in a denouement worthy of an Almadovar film- the Sortie disgorges an ENTIRE FUCKING GROWN MAN.

The disappearance of Harvey’s adult companion is explained.

I’m startled but I’m no less than 12 inches from one of the most blatant metaphors I’ve ever witnessed live, so I’m also I’m laughing so hard I have to bend at a 90 degree angle sideways to not wet my pants.  I’m marveling that he got out of there without getting his shoulder caught.  I’m also trying to keep Chloe from getting any further into the Entrée than she needs to to realize it’s a Dark Ride and she shouldn’t get involved.

She realizes it.  We recover her without losing sight of her and walk away.

M has stopped shaking and I attempt to interrogate him about his encounter with the eschaton.

Me: What was up in there?
M: *shrugs* [CAUSE HE’S FRENCH]
Me: Did you cry?
M: *peculiar Gallic nasal sound that indicates ‘War is Hell’*
M: Oui.
Me: Why?
M: Cold. And Dark.
Me: Here, let me clean your face.
Chloe: Why are you spitting on M’s face?
Me: I’m attempting to erase the last traces of his fear.

So I don’t know what the hell Nietschean abysmal encounter they have in that container but it’s dark and apparently lures men into peculiar choices.  Maybe it’s just a small locked room and the hell unleashed there really was just other people. On the other hand, I have rarely laughed so hard. More notable, I have never seen my mother-in-law laugh that hard.

Maybe the real amusement is for the parents.

Maybe that’s been the secret all along.


The Diary of Cricut Jones

I bought myself a Cricut machine for Christmas this year. I’ve lusted after one for about three years, I finally had an Amazon gift card and no other more pressing priorities.  It’s called a Cricut Explore Air, and it’s basically a die-cut machine. You can precision cut designs out of any material more flexible than posterboard.

My stated goal for this purchase- on the internet, as part of public record- was to become “The Pinterest Mom From Hell.”

Since I actually really do like die cutting as a hobby, I will admit that there was more to it than just showing off for my fellow moms. I did the overwhelming majority of the decorations for Chloe’s birthday party. I’ve made some cards. I created a whole series of Yeti drinkware with urban legends depicted on them.
However, all of this was minor compared to the stakes this time of year, when everyone pulls out their A-game: Teacher Appreciation Gifts.  Challenge, accepted.

I’ve been experimenting with dioramas, and so I decided Chloe and I would design a diorama for her kindergarten teacher. Topics were proposed and rejected. We settled, finally, on an undersea theme.

It took the two of us about an hour to design. It took me ~20 hours to cut and assemble.


The Original Design


Some of the more complex cutouts.


The two most complicated figures

The finished product. Look carefully

As I was cutting, behold the scene I envisioned for the presentation of this gift:

Me: Sorry we missed actual teacher appreciation week. We made this for you.
Teacher: Oh wow! This is great. Thank you.
Me: Yes.
THAT MOM: Oh my god. OH MY GOD! All those times I set up group play dates for 3:00 in the afternoon on weekdays! And judged you for the amount of time your child bought lunch! And judged the nutritional choices on the bought-lunch tray! All of the time I spent theorizing that you didn’t breastfeed! All of that has just melted away under the weight of the fact that you can do THIS.
*That mom faints and is dragged to the restroom by a pair of Those Women*** who follow THAT MOM around.*

**Let’s face it we all know THAT MOM
***Let’s face it we all know THOSE WOMEN

What ended up happening was quite different.

I finished the diorama two days early, but I still fussed with it last night trying to get it cleaned, getting Chloe to sign her name to the back, and wrapping it in the color-coordinated tissue paper I bought yesterday at Kohls. I cricut’ed a matching card (it was darling and featured a jelly fish). In short, I would say that I spent a decent amount of time staring at it once it was in the frame.

Chloe and I proudly walked it down the hall to the classroom.

The teacher promptly placed it on the nearest table and opened it.


The finished product. Look Carefully

First, a win. She was delighted enough to pick it up and examine it closely. At which point I notice that there is a BEER BOTTLE CAP covering the jellyfish in the top left corner.  Specifically a Devils Backbone Real Ale cap.

Me: Oh my god. THAT is not supposed to be there.
The Teacher:  *laughing hysterically* Well it certainly looks as though you had a relaxing weekend.
Me: Hey. Listen. I have, in my day, contributed more than my share of discarded beer caps. Not this weekend though, that’s not mine.
The Teacher: Oh my god this is the funniest thing that has ever happened to me.
Me: *dying inside* Well, you’re certainly going to remember getting it, I tell you what.
The other kids in class: *Gathering Around* Mrs. G, there’s a bottle cap stuck in there.

There were no other parents in the room. The teacher and I politely agreed that she could probably handle opening the frame and removing the bottle cap. I left.

Upon reflection, I am forced to admit that my attempt to be Pinterest Mom will always be diluted by my innate Bridget Jones’ Diary self.
Also, I realize that all of this is a hard lesson in not trying to avenge millennial parent-on-parent violence with paper craft schemes.

Next time, though, I’m going to nail the whole scene. Just you watch.

About Me: An update

Three years ago I wrote the about me page. This year, much of it changed.

1) Employer -> Not with IBM anymore.  After like 14 years which is crazy.  There’s a bunch I could write about that experience but it pretty much could be summed up with:

I watched the final scene of the first episode of “Halt and Catch Fire” – where the blue flood of IBM employees comes through the door – with a series of contradictory emotions.

Actually hell I watched the entire first season of Halt and Catch Fire and felt a series of contradictory emotions and not all of them had anything to do with IBM. (Flashlight dancing in the rain? And this is our awakening? Really?!)

2) Industry focus -> Went from service management / data center management to Healthcare.

Where did I end up going after IBM, you may ask? This place (athenahealth.com)

Why did you do that, you may ask?  Many reasons, is the short answer.  The long answer is that the loss of my husband four years ago peeled away a lot of things for me about the tech industry, and even more about how healthcare is practiced in the USA.  So it therefore interests me when the opportunity arises to slam one into the other.

What I personally do at the moment is work one of three Austin-based product managers for athenahealth’s More Disruption Please program.  We’re building a big team in Austin, as well as a whole new health-tech incubator down town.  So watch this space as that evolves.

3) My Kid has gotten older -> lucky me, really.

She’s in kindergarten now, which means she has a school record. An attendance record to be more precise. So we’re squares now who have to be at a place on time and do homework.

4) No longer a new runner –> I did four half marathons in one year, which I feel places me in the advanced category.  The last one was on my daughter’s 5th birthday, and it was part of the Glass Slipper Challenge at Disneyworld.  The Glass Slipper challenge consists of doing a 10K on a Saturday, spending the rest of that Saturday at Disneyworld, and then getting up on Sunday and running a half marathon.

I had done the 3m half as part of my training for that set of races, paired with 5 miles the day before. What I reckoned without was the whole “Walk an additional five miles at Disneyworld” thing that would happen after the 10K. Yow.  I didn’t keep track of my steps that weekend and I feel like that was the only thing that allowed me to actually do it.

Oh that reminds me I’m taking a Fitbit break and it’s glorious.

5) Don’t work from home anymore. -> I’m not sure if I’d ever brought up the intensely remote nature of my job in prior blog posts.  Even though I was in Austin I worked between 85- 100% at home for years. This was great when I had a small child but got increasingly isolating as time wore on. Thusly leading to the big change discussed in item 1.  I have to get up every morning, put on clothes that aren’t pajamas and actually see people.  It’s been a revelation.  My fashions have been revitalized.  My ability to string coherent sentences together for entire working days has resurged.  And I also I discovered that, true to demographic profiling

6) I am old. -> Old old old old old. Wow am I old.

Remember all that theoretical stuff I posted about “the millennials” and how baby boomers needed to let up?  Whew. Definitely chose the right side of the line on that one.  I have clothes older than some of my co-workers. As a result, I was terrified when I started that things were going to run on the same chaotic drama level I remember from working in a startup.  Days where you wandered in at 11:45 and were stuck there until your boss went home after dinner at 9:45.  Days where after the car ride home you worked until 2:30.  Days where you were lucky if you lathered and rinsed before you repeated.

But no. It’s a highly focused group.  No one wanders in late, wearing last night’s club makeup. No one’s mom calls the boss, concerned for their kid’s self-esteem and actualization levels.  And everyone works the normally accepted 8:30- 5:30 beat, which means I’m not the solo parent trying to sneak out of late meetings to go pick up my kid on time.

That said I have to relate this little parable.

Yesterday, while at work, we were reading aloud from a list of 80’s and 90’s classic movies and trying to determine whether one of the other product managers had ever seen them.  It devolved quickly from “have you ever seen this” to “have you ever heard of this” and then hit its nadir here:

Us: Heathers
Her: Nope. Never heard of it.
Us: Sixteen Candles.
Her: Have heard of it.
Us: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Her: Never.Even.Heard.Of.It.

So that is the update. I’ll update the Who Am I Page…or maybe archive it. Not sure.

No Dumping

I’m on sabbatical / unabashedly unemployed for two weeks resting my brain before my next challenge.  It’s been good – almost too good – to have some time off without even the trace of a work email to check.

I’ll probably share some other stuff from my sabbatical but this post is going to be about compost.  Or more specifically about a very specific bag of compost I encountered  at the ATM machine this morning

My AM routine involves getting a muffin at the bakery across the street. I also had to get some cash for the cleaning guy this morning, so after muffin acquisition I crossed the street in the other direction to the market.  This particular market is the source of some truly precious “Overheard on 43rd” quotes, but today it launched itself into a whole new dimension of weird.

There was what appeared to be a 10 gallon bag of moldy lettuce blocking access to the ATM machine.

Here’s the brain space Austinites live in – and it’s why I think much of the “Keep Austin Weird” mantra is actually on the detrimental side: I knew that whatever else I did about the bag of moldy lettuce, moving it or revealing  it was inconveniencing me in any way was NOT ALLOWED .  That lettuce was now part of my day.  It was my responsibility to support and maintain the atmosphere around the lettuce and cope with it as though I had not one whit of irritation to give . Lettuce had achieved inertial one-ness with the backdrop.  It was here before I was. Who was I to think I was so special that I could bitch about the presence of the lettuce? Too bad if you can’t reach the pin pad.

What could be done, though, as I was standing awkwardly to the side of the ATM machine trying not to step on it while inserting my card, was a Jocular Inquiry.  There were two cashiers and a manager standing at the ready to answer my carefully pitched question about this 10 gallon bag of brown lettuce.

Me: Oh hey, haha, what’s this bag here?

Clerk #1: Ummm. Uh. I think it’s a bag of compost some guy left?

Me: And…we’re saving it for him?

Manager: YEAH. So now if you have any sort of trash stuff you want to bring in here and drop off just feel free.

[Note: Manager was skating dangerously close to being not-hip about the compost.  Had he not been wearing an obscure band t-shirt and automatically grandfathered into hipness by virtue of working at this particular market, he would have been skating on said ice with heated blades.]

Clerk #2: Yeah. That guy accidentally left it here last night.

Me: So…you’re saving this guy’s compost for him in front of the ATM Machine?

Manager: YEAH. Who brings their compost to the market? Why would you even do that?

Clerk #1: Ummmm. Uh. I think…I think he was taking it somewhere?

Clerk #2: Yeah, he’ll be back for it.

Me: Well…like did he call about it?

Now appeared Manager #2.  She has been there less time than the other manager but for some reason in all conversations, actions and prevailing theories she is the Automatic Queen.  I think this is due to her age and her complete lack of hipness, which throws everyone else backwards to when they were 14 and Mom caught them smoking.

Manager #2: What are you talking about?

Clerk #1: The bag of lettuce or whatever.

Manager #2: WELL! That. That’s nothing. That guy is coming back for that.

This conversation was clearly over, the ins and outs of the situation decided beyond appeal. I got my cash and left, giddy at the thought of being able to relate this little exchange on the internet. It’s a testament to the fullness of my unemployed-but-overscheduled day that I completely forgot about it until I went back to the market to get drip pans and lentils.  Also eggs. I bought eggs.

The compost situation came back to me in a flash…and the bag was gone.

This put me in an  an awkward situation because I wanted to know what happened to the compost but there was a completely different set of clerks now.  As I was checking out I decided to ask anyway, as it was at least theoretically possible that the compost retrieval or disposal happened after the 1:00 shift change.

NuClerk #1: Do you want a bag?


[Okay second note: THE BAGS SITUATION in this city is completely out of hand.  They banned plastic bags for environmental reasons. The ban was repealed but that was after stores started fully enjoying the increase in profit margins that resulted from not carrying bags, so the plastic bags have never been restored.

This particular store takes it one step even farther and acts like brown paper bags are in short supply.  They will put 30 items in one brown bag and then hand you the eggs to carry home in your other hand.  It’s some shit.]

NuClerk #1: *waves drip pan at me evocatively to indicate that she doesn’t think I need a bag because I can easily put the lentils in the drip pans and carry the eggs*

Me: UHHHHHHHHHHH. No. No I don’t. I don’t need a bag. No.

[Third Note: Y’all I really did take that amount of time to figure out if I could justify getting a bag. I wanted one with all of my soul. But I also wanted to maintain a level of personal hipness that would grant me entree into finding out about the compost.]

Me: Hey…What happened to the compost?

NuClerk #1: Not sure.

Me: Because there was this big bag of compost here this morning by the ATM machine and I wondered what happened to it.

NuClerk #1: What happened to it? You mean they didn’t throw it out?

Me: *sliding off to the side so that my conversation doesn’t prevent the next customer from being checked out. Because I’m polite like that YOU’RE WELCOME*….So yeah there were two schools of thought, one being that the guy who left the compost was going to come get it and then another decidedly more annoyed one that said it should just be moved from in front of the ATM machine.

NuClerk #2: The compost? There was compost?

NuClerk #1: Well gosh. I’m all wondering about that now myself. I wonder what happened?

Me: Oh. I’ll come back tomorrow morning and find out.

After which I rolled on out of there with my drip pans, lentils and eggs.

So I leave it to you to decide which of the characters was really the weirdest – the person who apparently brought their compost to the market and LEFT IT THERE or the person who remembered that fact 12 hours later and inquired about it to someone who was only at best going to be tangentially involved.

This post continues on a theme about how our attempts at sustainability are gradually inconveniencing us to the point where we’re all being driven insane. See Also: LightBulbs.

But still, man. WHY? Why bring compost to the grocery store? Why save that compost so that the original owner could come back and get it? Why put it in front of the ATM machine of all stupid places?

Austin. Do it like a local.

Light bulbs and Me: Internet of Cursed Things

[Fair warning, even my notes for this blog post have too many curse words in them.]

A couple of days ago I was skimming articles on the upcoming wave of Internet-connected objects and one of the titles jumped at me: Sticker Shock: How the internet of things has turned a $10 lightbulb into a $99 lightbulb.

This is troubling to me because I have a lightbulb problem. Namely…It pisses me off to pay for light bulbs at all.

I dropped out of college in the beginning of my sophomore year for reasons now obscure but still private. [Yes I went back.] My dad’s policy on the matter was that I didn’t have to pay rent as long as I was working. The economy was good then, I’d taken a couple of classes in Microsoft Office, and I easily found a 40 hour a week temp job in a light bulb warehouse.

The number of insane stories about this job…it would take months to catalog them all.  However, one of the perks was every Tuesday you could fill out a request form and the stock guys would go pick a bag of light bulbs for you from the remaindered orders. Effectively, it was an all you-can-eat buffet of perfectly normal, in some cases very expensive light bulbs.
It was the dawn of the compact fluorescent era and it was glorious. I think my parents still had a stash of remaindered light bulbs with them when they moved to Florida a decade and a half later. The result, though, is that every time I have to go buy light bulbs ACTUALLY SHELLING OUT MONEY for them grinds my gears a little.

Second part of my issue is that residential light bulbs are now seriously fucking complex.

It wasn’t until I moved to the new house that I realized how bad it’s gotten. It’s not a question of wattage or base width any more- although those two items will pound you unexpectedly if you get them wrong- but also chemical components, prong sizes, lengths, shapes, relative opacity. It’s a cascade of details the insides of which I can never fully grasp.
What’s worse, Home Depot- where you think you go to buy such simple things as light bulbs- is a big pit of lighting lies.
“Oh sure,” says the orange-aproned guy staring at the two light bulbs I had in each hand, “that one will work. Sure it’s the same thing.”
Not so.
Six months of light bulb purchase failure and I was brought low enough that I collected them all, taped them to a piece of poster board, and dragged the board to the local specialty shop.  It’s pictured below. Note the fact I had not only the number of bulbs necessary for replacement but the actual paperwork from the light fixture.

This is the board.

This is the board.

They saw me coming. I think it was about $200 later I got out of there with what should have been the full company of weird bulbs. It wasn’t. I still had to go back, because in one case simply eyeballing the original bulb wasn’t enough to make the right decision.

So here we are, once again at  the dawn of the new age, where these light bulbs will be able to talk to us but at a cost of $99 PER BULB. Can you imagine getting a $99 bulb home from the specialty store and having it be the wrong one? Can you envision the fury possible under those circumstances? Relationships have been shredded for less. Wars have been started for smaller offenses.

I’m a believer, though. In the spirit of embracing the future, I’m going to propose what I think a $99 light bulb should be capable of doing.

As an Aside: one of the hard-to-reach and confusing-sized light bulbs in my bathroom [ the one marked “toilet” in the poster above] is dying again, making the experience of using the bathroom at night seem like waiting for surgery in a creepy post-Soviet hospital basement.

It’s unpleasant.

If we could go ahead and get my miracle bulb on the market as soon as possible that be great. Thanks.

The $99 dollar light bulb should and must:
1) Be controllable from my smart phone. Both on and off, and with a timer.
2) Tell me when it’s about to go out. Email is good for this, as it’s not an emergency and I’m probably not going to do anything about it right away. There’s no real need to tell me that it’s actually out, as I’ll know that the first time I flip on the light switch.
See? I just prioritized that requirement for you YOU’RE WELCOME.
3) Text me a note with its identity when I ask it to. Size, wattage, shape, base, etc.
And the all important WOW factor: 4) Tell me whether or not it’s in stock at the local home depot. With the appropriate SKU number so that I don’t have to ask one of the orange-aprons whether it’s the “Right” bulb. That road leads to tears.

Honestly, I would be willing to pay for something that accomplishes all of that. I’d probably be willing to pay more than $99 if it was an extensible set of bases that just executed  those types of things with a normal light bulb.

$99 for one light bulb though? EEEHHH.

Maybe if it’s powering a lighthouse and I’m at sea with no binoculars? Then we can talk.

Morning Routines: Our breakfast contains sugar and other confessions.

Yesterday Forbes published a list of the morning routines of 12 women they described as “At the top of their game.”  I give them credit for the diversity of both industry and race of the profiled women, but there was still a certain uniformity of  privilege and obnoxiousness.  Specifically around breakfast selections, exercise, and fashions.

The one that personally put me over the edge was right here:

6am My little ladies wake up and I make their breakfast—green milk (almond milk with coconut water, banana and steamed baby spinach) and either whole wheat French toast or pancakes.

There was another woman whose description of her initial groggy outfit included name dropping a pair of $115 sweatpants.  That also struck me as a little random and more than a little competitive.

Bringing me to the point of what bothered me about the article – even in the morning routines there was a sense that these ladies were being pitted against each other.  Who did the most arduous pre-dawn yoga?  Who cooked their kid the veganest soul crushingly awful breakfast?  Who was the most grateful to have woken up?  Who best set themselves up to slay everything in their path that day?

It transformed what should have been a lightly interesting,  inspirational article into  another opportunity to judge and be judged by each other.

I was not the only one who felt this way.  There’s a delicious parody of it published here, where everyone basically does their best to exaggerate their own complete inability to function in the morning.   Which is nice, it lets us off the hook, but it also makes me feel like I’m seem sort of silly for even trying.  I would describe these as a little closer to my truth but I would also say I haven’t quite so completely written off the idea of getting the day started off on the right foot.

So here’s my version. Because what could possibly be more interesting than YET another morning routine.

My morning, my foibles, and what I’m working on.

6:00 –  Boyfriend, who starts work at 7:00, wakes up.  I’m occasionally dimly aware of his alarm going off but even then, the Schadenfreude of knowing I get to stay in bed later trumps even the best intention to exercise.

7:00– Alarm #1, which is a Sonos chime from across the room.  I have struggled my entire life with trying to get up out of bed on time.  This is the best system I’ve come up with so far, as this forces me to get up and turn it off.

7:01– First “data hit” of the day.  Check work email, personal email, texts, Facebook and Twitter mentions.  Usually nothing is on fire.

7:03– The snooze process begins.

7:15 – Alarms #2 and #3. Clocky rolls off the bed at the same time that the Sonos goes off again, this time on WXPN (yes it’s a Philadelphia radio station).  I have to sit up to retrieve the Clocky or it will go all the way under the bed, and I’ll have to lie down on the cold floor while I catch it.

7:16 – Dog whining outside the door becomes unbearable.

7:20– Downstairs. Depending on what day of the week it is I’m either stuck trying to set up the coffee pot or just clicking the button to start it. – Guess which days I prefer?  The dogs completely lack patience for any part of the coffee-making.

Feeding the dogs involves accommodating a bunch of odd dog-pack politics. I have one who refuses to eat until the other one is finished, and that one refuses to eat until he’s been out.  I can’t leave dog #2 to finish her breakfast on her own because afterwards she’ll run off and do dog #2 in my house.  The only upside to this whole thing is that I usually get to drink at least a few sips of coffee while juggling the two of them.

7:35– Missing something. Oh, that’s right, I have a daughter.

7:35:30 – Upstairs. I wake my daughter up and then turn off the Ellie Golding album she listens to on repeat ALL NIGHT  like someone being held in conditions that violate the Geneva Convention.  I await her first full sentence of the day, which is usually a jewel.  Failing her getting to full speech on her own, I engage her in a series of hypothetical breakfast propositions guaranteed to force her completely awake.

Me: How about a bowl of EELS?
Her: NO!
Me: How about a plate of SNAKES?
Her: NO!

Usually this enough to get her out of bed and down the stairs to supervise breakfast and make sure it doesn’t writhe.

7:45– Downstairs.  Clean up after the dog because whatever, outside, inside, it’s all the same to her as long as it’s done.  Wash hands. Depending on the day my daughter and I either eat breakfast together or I make her lunch while she eats.  Right now she’s big into putting her own peanut butter on a waffle.  The peanut butter is JIF.  Full sugar. Full salt. Glorious.

7:53 – Lunch constructed, I sit for five minutes and look my daughter in the eye before we start getting dressed.  I mean, I’m not staring at her menacingly for five minutes.  We’re talking about her day.  For someone who’s done the same thing at school for three years she’s still shrugging and unsure about what the plan is when I ask.  Interspersed: Second data hit of the day.

7:58 – Upstairs. Put together whatever clothes meet the bare minimum for school drop off.  This is just the first of a few costume changes.

8:05 – Select daughter’s outfit.  Downstairs, Beg, cajole, scream, draw lines in the sand that are instantly erased, rescind TV privileges and make promises until my daughter agrees to change out of her pajamas and put on school clothes.

8:12 – *While running up and down the stairs* -Where are the keys? Where are my glasses? Where’s my purse? Have you seen the keys? Where’s the spare key? Have you seen my glasses? Sure you can have a car snack. Sure you can take that toy just HURRY. Oh here’s the keys, under the couch. Please put on some shoes. Shoes. SHOES. PUT ON SHOES. Not those shoes.  Oops forgot the lunch I  just made. Screw glasses I’ll hold a hand over one of my eyes.

8:16– In car.  I  spend a couple of minutes with the radio on Sirus XM’s Backspin deluding myself into thinking whatever’s playing isn’t going to be “that bad” for my daughter to listen to.  Radio edit of Notorious B.I.G’s “Give Me One More Chance?” Sure. No problem. Oh wait, that’s not the radio edit.  Oh my. Don’t tell Grammie you heard that. *click*

8:20 – Decide whether to make illegal left hand turn into the school’s driveway or wuss out and go around the block.  This decision, and how it subsequently works out, tends to be a real harbinger of how the rest of the day is going to go.

8:22– Mom-spit face cleanup for peanut butter removal,  scratching of sleep from eyes.  Possible spruce up of hair.  Out of the car and into school.  We have a deal where she will go to school without fuss but she won’t say goodbye.

8:35– Back at home, making breakfast decisions if I haven’t already eaten.  When I don’t eat with my daughter, I go across the street to the local scratch bakery to buy a muffin.  Honestly, I do this mostly because it’s the only 5-8 minutes during the work day that I’ll be in contact with other live adults.  It’s worth it for exchanges like these.

Homeless Man: I don’t know who picked your outfit out today but that vest just WORKS!
Me: Thank you.

8:49– Muffin and second cup of coffee in hand, I climb the stairs and log into the work VPN…


Not exhausting at all right?