Saturday, November 25, 2017

Save Yourself from the Apocalypse with Two Easy Yoga Tips

My daughter asked me if there was someone in my yoga class who was “Miss Perfect.”

I told her there were lots of people who were stretchier and stronger than me. 

“In fact,” I told her, “today the yoga teacher said that to survive the apocalypse you needed to be able to lift the weight of your own body and also be able to RUN! I think she must have been kidding though, because what apocalypse could she be talking about?” 

My daughter leveled her gaze at me. “The one you die in, Mom.”

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Refined Young Ladies & Gentlemen

Last night K and I were volunteer chaperones at The Rooster's cotillion class. 

Cotillion has been updated from the days of white gloves and the fox trot and is now more of a professional preparatory class. 

The kids learn how to properly wear a nametag (high and right), how to sit in an interview, how to introduce themselves, how to conduct themselves in a fine dining environment and many other ways to behave correctly in a professional setting. 

The Rooster was dismayed to have us in the room and announced the following ground rules: 

1.      Don’t touch me; 
2.      Don’t talk to me; 
3.      Don’t look at me; 
4.      Say your daughter’s name is Cathy and that she goes to a different middle school than mine.

One trick they learn is how to hold a small appetizer plate and a drink in their left hand so that their right hand is free to shake hands with professional contacts at a networking event. 

[Put the middle through pinky fingers of the left hand under the plate and the thumb and pointer finger above the plate.  Make an “o” with the thumb and pointer finger and hold your drink there.]

The teacher paused to remind the children that when they wanted to take a sip of their drink, it was critical to take it out of their left hand and sip it with their right or else all the food on their plate would fall to the floor. 

[You would think that would be obvious, but the teacher told the parents she had cleaned enough food up off the floor to know that it wasn’t.]  

As volunteers, K and I were asked to mingle with the kids, introducing ourselves to them after they got refreshments to make sure they were prepared to shake our hands and say the right things. 

[The Rooster was mortified.]

K and I enjoyed confronting the unsuspecting 6th graders, greeting them, telling them our names, thrusting our hands out for a handshake, and waiting. 

Most of them managed to shake our hands, greet us, introduce themselves and follow up with a “nice to meet you.”

One boy had his plate and cup in the wrong hand when K approached him. 

He thought for a moment, raised his eyebrows in a questioning way and with a hopeful look on his face, lifted a fist offering K a fist bump.  

The kids were served some sort of mini cupcake. 

One young girl had the plate and cup perfectly balanced in her left hand. 

[All good so far.]

She picked up the cupcake with her right hand and realized she was stuck. 

[How was she supposed to get the cupcake wrapper off??!!!]

Suddenly, she was illuminated.

[An idea!]

She jammed the cupcake muffin top between her teeth and peeled the wrapper off while holding the treat steady with her choppers.

[Eureka! That worked!]

There was a moment of triumph, followed by a moment of terror and despair.

[Now what?]

Her hands were full - cup and plate in one hand, cupcake wrapper in the other.

The mini-cupcake’s muffin top remained squeezed between her teeth while the cake end protruded from her face torpedo-style. 

I could almost see her brain wringing its hands. 

She hesitated for a moment, then, in a flash of inspiration, threw her head backwards and swung it from side to side until the whole cupcake fell backwards towards her tonsils.

She closed her small mouth around the too large pillow of cake and choked it down.

I had to restrain myself from thrusting out my hand at that precise moment, “Hi, I’m...”  

The boy paired with The Rooster told her he was sure she had cooties.  Eye rolls ensued. 

A “swing dance” ended the evening in an awkward, vaguely robotic, spate of flailing about.

Want to go back to middle school? 

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Why You Should Question the Need for Tape

My friend John was at home, at peace, cooking dinner.

His three-year-old son, known as “The Entropy Elf,” (so known for routinely propelling life toward chaos), climbed up onto the kitchen counter and reached for one of the many items placed atop the refrigerator (specifically to keep them out of his reach).

John, wanting to get him out of the way of cooking, asked what the elf wanted.

"Tape," the elf answered.


John gave the elf some tape.

The Elf returned. “More tape, please.”

His request was granted. 

This happened a great number of times before John decided to ask the key question.

“What do you need the tape for, small elf?”

“I show you,” the elf said taking John by the hand and leading him into the living room.

There, in the center of the room was a box.

The tape, as it turned out, was necessary for attaching each and every slice of the family’s deli roast beef to the sides of the box as well as, at the top,  a bowl of left over black beans.

“I’m building a robot,” the elf said.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Are the Toilets on Tatooine LEAD Certified?

"Please welcome to the panel, Ms. Flarty Flargenhammer, the Vice President of Sustainability at Star Wars Hotels."

[Okay, her name wasn't Flarty Flargenhammer, but he DID introduce her as the VP of Sustainability for Star Wars Hotels.]

He didn't stammer.

He didn't catch himself.

He stepped off the risers and the panel discussion started.

"Did the crowd get all over that?" I asked my husband who was retelling the gaff to me from the sustainability conference he was attending?

"Nope. Nothing."

My colleagues, all marketers and internet people, would have all had their hands instantly raised.

"Do you recycle on the Death Star?"

"...and do you think Han and Luke would have died in the trash compactor if you recycled more?"

"Are the Imperial Shuttles hybrid or electric?"

"How to you achieve farm to table in galactic space?"

The poor woman from Starwood Hotels would have had no idea what hit her.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Suspicious Activity

Lately, bikes have been stolen in my neighborhood with increasing frequency.

A few days ago, this message came out on the neighborhood list serv:

Hi all,

I just wanted to let you all know that the bike stealing is continuing.  

On Saturday morning 7 am, someone went into our garage and stole 2 adult size mountain bikes. 

One black male was seen walking down my driveway by a neighbor with one of the bikes. 

We are not sure if there was an accomplice.   

The part I find most upsetting is that my children were awake by then and sitting in the living room when the brazen thieves snuck past.  

The police were notified. Keep everything locked folks! 


Neighbor #1

That message was followed by this response from another neighbor:

Neighbor #1,  

I am so sorry your bike was stolen. 

Please consider how you send out this message next time. 

If the purpose is to notify us to secure our personal items to prevent theft and alert us to crime in the area then just let us know that the bikes were stolen.  

If the purpose is for us to be on the look out for a specific person that may still be in the area then please have your neighbor convey more information about the person that he saw on your driveway. (For example, height, weight, clothing, any specific characteristics etc.) 

Writing "black male" is not helpful. It perpetuates the suspicion that is cast on all "black males" as criminals in our country and in our neighborhood. 

Let's not perpetuate these stereotypes in our neighborhood.  

I believe that we all have the potential to create a welcoming and inclusive community here.

Neighbor #2

Which was immediately followed by:



I obviously posted the message to let my neighbors know that the stealing of bikes is continuing to happen. 

And that is happening at times when most people are home. 

When our kids are home. 

Not only bikes that are left in the front yard, but that thieves are going into garages.  

I included the only information that I had about the person who stole from me. 

A person was seen, I described that person with the information I had. End of story.  

I would really appreciate it if my post would be seen as a notice to my neighbors to secure their stuff so that hopefully they are spared a similar incident, not a questioning of my character.   

Neighbor #2, if you have concerns about my post next time you are welcome to address me personally, privately.   

Neighbor #1

While I totally understand that neighbor #1 felt publicly shamed – or perhaps even publicly accused of being racist, I can’t help but wish she either didn’t respond at all or that she treated Neighbor #2 the way she wished she had been treated herself.  

I wish she had spoken personally and privately to neighbor #2. 

The messages that followed on the neighborhood listserv felt like a taking of sides.  

Support for neighbor #1 vs. support for neighbor #2.  

It felt divisive.

Admittedly, it didn’t go on for as long as it has in the past.

Like the time when an African American, male classroom aide at the local elementary school was sitting on the school grounds eating his sack lunch and the police were called. 

The debate that followed that incident went on for ages.

And it was ugly.

The call is always in response to a complaint about “suspicious activity,” which is a complaint our police chief has to take seriously.  

The problem is that the “suspicious activity” reported turns out to be the activity of being a person of color in this neighborhood.

My community, which was once extremely diverse, is becoming less and less diverse.  

The strong school system and welcoming nature of the place has attracted more and more families.  

Increasingly, the neighborhood's once uniformly small 1,200 sq. ft. bungalows are being torn down and replaced with 3,000 sq. ft. homes consuming the majority of the cozy lots on which they sit. 

The rise in property values is pushing out the elderly and the low-income members of the community that gave it the diverse feel that drew people to it in the first place.  

The process is circular and we, the residents, spin round and round.

What neighbor #1 might not have known, is that the husband of neighbor #2 is African American.  

In the not too distant past, he was taking a morning walk with a hot cup of coffee.  

It was drizzling outside, so he had the hood of his sweatshirt up.

The police were called.

“A man with a gun is roaming the streets of our neighborhood!” they were told.

The police raced to the scene to question neighbor #2’s husband.  

The gun? 

Was the coffee cup.  

Despite having committed no offense, he was required to show proof of residency.  

Our neighborhood isn’t gated.  It’s public space.  

Even if he wasn’t a resident, wouldn’t he have the right to walk on the public sidewalk?

Still, he had to prove he belonged here.  

I have never had to do that.

To believe that neighbor #2’s carefully worded request is an attack is to misunderstand her perspective and her experience.  

I don’t think she meant to suggest that neighbor #1 was a racist.  

I think she only hoped to remind us that just because the person that stole the bikes was a black male, we should remember that not all black men are "brazen thieves."  

I don't find that reminder offensive. 

Talking about race is hard.  

But it's important.