28 May 2010


(Photograph copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)

Ah, summer is here! Woo hoo! I was out planting my container garden the other day, facing the sun in 90 degree heat and IT FELT GOOD! This is something I just have to do. At least one day of the year, I need to get outside and get all sweaty when everyone else is hiding out indoors. No sunscreen. And no, I don't care. There are times when you have to just let go of the preachiness and play in the dirt.

Then I read Dear Prudie and realized that dumbness has continued to abound, disregarding the season. This is going to be fun!

1. Ah, family shit! Where would we be without it? Everyone likes to subscribe to the total bullshit myth that "family is everything" and that "families all love each other all the time". People actually believe that Norman Rockwell paintings represent real life, and that everyone should always strive to be just like they think the folks in the paintings are like.

It's nonsense. We know it. We know that the lovely picture of Thanksgiving Dinner is a mere millisecond frozen in time. After that millisecond, Billy throws up all of the potato chips he inhaled before dinner because smoking a stolen cigarette behind the outhouse after that was a BAD idea. The baby barfs in sympathy.

As Mom and Grandma clean up the mess, the dog gets into the house, knocks down the bowl of sweet potatoes and eats the whole thing, running away on being discovered and barfs up the whole thing in the middle of the kitchen floor. Billy's little sister, Maisie starts eating what the dog barfed up. Meanwhile, the cat, ignored to this point because cats are quiet, has run away with a wing off the turkey and dragged it, grease and all, under a guest room bed to nibble on where it will be discovered weeks later because of the reek of rotting meat.

When they finally get to back to the table, Grandpa and Uncle Fred will start to giggle hysterically and fall asleep on their plates because they've been sampling the new batch of moonshine behind the woodshed and overdid it. Mom will then throw a screaming tantrum because of all the work she put into a dinner that's RUINED, just RUINED, and storm off to the back porch to cool off and see if there's any 'shine left in that jug.

Grandma, in the meantime, has turned off her hearing aid, filled plates for herself and the kids and takes them into the living room to watch "Halloween II" and "Saw" while they eat. Later that night, when the kids wake up screaming while Mom, Uncle Fred and Grandpa are still reeling around the back yard looking for another jug that was just there a minute ago, dammit. Dad will take the kids back into the living room to watch "Peter Pan" and scare the little buggers even more. They won't sleep for a week now.

The next day, everyone will eat cold leftovers for breakfast, bitch about the holiday and blame each other for the disasters all the way home in the car (stopping only once so that Billy can finally get it right and barf in the ditch instead of on Gran's good linen table cloth) and return next year, feeling all warm and fuzzy and traditional. Until the cat hurls a hairball on the kitchen counter and Aunt Mabel has hysterics.....


And that's family life - the real thing. And so, LW, why should you be any different? You have a mother who's too dumb to come in when it rains, let alone take care of hordes of special needs kids and then adopts the most disturbed, violent teenager in the entire foster system anyway. Unable to realize that she's an idiot, your mother tries to dump your adoptive "sister" on you and your family and what do you do?

You feel GUILTY about not wanting the violent, suicidal, almost-adult stranger in your home with your children?


Your mother is a moron. Keep repeating this to yourself. You were very diplomatic in your letter, using words like "flighty" and saying that she "tends not to make rational decisions", but when it comes right down to it, you have to admit that your mother is not only not the brightest light in the chandelier, she's an outright drooling idiot who shouldn't be trusted with a house plant, let alone a mentally disturbed teenager.

So why do you feel guilty? You say that you could persuade your husband to take this kid in for two weeks, but even you admit that you don't want her....


Are you that starved for Mommy's approval that you're willing to put your entire family at risk? Did she not like you best? Do you still hope that one day Mommy will grow a brain and appreciate you? You know that's not going to happen, right? Mommy doesn't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks/wants/needs. She does just exactly as she pleases and the consequences of that are just not something that enters her pea-sized brain.

Your sister has the right approach. She very sensibly chose to put HER OWN family first and not indulge your mother's idiotic whims. Yes, she is treating your mother like a child. Your mother deserves it. She's acting like a spoiled two-year-old, screaming "I want" and hoping that you'll give in just to shut her up.

Are you going to let her do that to you? Really? And if something dreadful should happen while the violent mentally disturbed teenager is staying with you - like she sets the house on fire or decides to sacrifice your toddler to the meth gods - will you be all right with that?

Listen to your husband and (heaven help us) Prudie. Acknowledge that life ain't fair, call your local child welfare agency and clue them in, then tell your mother that her vacation plans aren't going to work for you or anyone else INCLUDING her adoptive daughter.

2. Are you sure you're a graduate student? Really? Because that would make you older than twelve. I'm having trouble with the whole *he doesn't know I exist, but I know this is true loooooooooooooove!* thing.


You say that this 19-year-old is no longer in your class and is unlikely to be in the future, so you want to ask him out. Whatever. Even though you haven't exchanged three words with the guy, you're convinced that this is a grand passion that will sustain you both for eternity..... I'm having trouble going on. "Sappy bullshit" is something I just don't do well.

Whatever. When you go on to say "...I worry that if word gets out that I am dating a former student, my reputation as a teacher will be undermined." you're right. Your reputation WILL suffer. Is it fair? No. But face it. You're 25, he's 19. In your position, this matters.

Even if you DID, by some freak chance, hook up for a night or two, you are not senior enough and you don't have enough credibility at the university for people to just snicker for a minute and move on. Worse, if you do finally confess your love to the guy, you are running the real risk that he's going to tell the whole world that some old skank of a grad student has a crush on him.

So. Go find yourself someone else to fixate on. Preferably a fictional character. Someone that you can't make a fool of yourself with...

3. I feel for you. Cancer, surgery, chemo and radiation....all are things I wouldn't wish on anyone. I can't begin to imagine what you're going through. Coping with this, plus dealing with family and work is a nightmare. But it sounds like you're recovering - the treatment is going well and taking a pill at home beats the heck out of going in to the hospital every few weeks for treatment, right?

What I don't get is that you've been through all this. You've put your life and health into the hands of oncologists, a surgeon and various other health professionals and you're basing your prognosis on something you've read on the Internet? How silly is that?

SHADDAP! and pay attention.

I know you probably would rather eat worms than have to go to yet another doctor, but you have no choice. You need to sit down with your oncologist and ASK what the future might hold. See, you owe that, not to yourself, but to your family. How fair is it to THEM to have you walking around convinced that you're going to keel over at any minute?

Then you have to deal with this depression. Yes, you have a lot to be depressed about. You've been through a lot. You admit in your letter that you need to hold it together for your husband and family and you intend to fight for your life. You can't do that right now while you're obsessing about the death that the anonymous Internet person told you about, right?

So. If your doctor tells you to take an antidepressant, DO IT. Join a survivor's group. TALK to people. You need to find a way to cope, because you sure aren't doing that now.

4. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh! I don't WANNA take out the garbage! Why can't my sister do it? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I don't WANNA make the bed! It's just going to get messy again anyway! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I don't WANNA help the lady with the walker carry her groceries!

SHADDAP! Idiot. It's just a freakin' water bottle!

You are asked to do one 30 second job once every week or so. You are the one who can most easily do the job. So just do it and quit bitching.

It's tempting to take on the Mom tones and say something like "If you really want something to whine about, the garage needs cleaning." or "In the time you've spent whining about this you could have done it eleven times."

Do you really want me to do that, or do you feel like enough of an idiot already?


Right. Now, The Boy looked at the last problem from an engineering perspective, because that's what he does. He has a suggestion. If anyone out there is affiliated with a university or knows an engineering professor - there's a design challenge that would make an excellent class project here.

Five gallon water bottles are heavy, but worse, they're awkward. Lots of people (men and women) can LIFT the stupid things, but aiming them into the machine is not so easy. The main reason for that is the bottle design. It's almost impossible to get a solid grip on the thing. There are no handles. All you have is this slippery plastic thing with no handles.

So here's the challenge. Someone needs to do a re-design on those bottles and come up with a new version that's easier to handle and most importantly, fits on existing machines. See, the machines are pretty sturdy and they're simple enough that they don't really break down often. It's the bottles that have the shorter life span, and they'll be adopted instantly if no one has to pop for new machines.

Just a thought.

Have a terrific weekend!

06 May 2010

SHADDAP! TALK to Each Other, Morons!

(Photograph copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)

What a week! I get back from vacation, hoping for warm weather because we had sleet in Oregon fercryinoutloud and look what happens! For the entire week we were gone, the weather was lovely. NOW it's downright chilly out there. In the 50s-type chilly. Yeesh. Oh well. Good thing I didn't put ALL of the sweaters away, right?

This week is all about Mom. Good Moms, bad Moms, indifferent Moms, oddball Moms...they're everywhere.

We all know Mothers Day is this Sunday. How can I tell? Well, there's not a restaurant reservation to be had anywhere in this town for the next week. Plus there are a gazillion flower ads all over the place....and Prudie does only Mom-related letters. Read them here .

1. You poor little darling! What a terrible life you've led. Why, I'll bet you suffered so, what with the supportive parents, the love and care, the tuition they're no doubt paying.......


Please explain to me in detail why it is that your mother's FORMER, LONG IN THE PAST job is somehow a problem for you? Or did you just not want to know? Do you think she became a porn actress because she somehow psychically knew that you were going to be embarrassed by it all these years later and she wanted to do that to you? Are you so dense that you're willing to toss away your relationship with the two people who care about you most in the entire world?

Listen, kid. Your mother is the same person now that she was before you graduated high school. She is the same lady that changed your diapers, wiped your nose, made your lunches, and made the Closet Monster run away. In fact, the only reason she told you that she did work in porn is that she didn't want you to find photos of her online and have to deal with it when she wasn't close by for you to ask her about it. Damned considerate of her, don't you think?

The correct answer to the above is YES, dippy.

Get past this adolescent jackass bullshit and do it NOW. Your mother's life in porn is OVER. It was a JOB. It's how she made a living, as in a roof over her head and food on the table. Your father has always known about it, and has never stopped loving her or held it against her (because THAT you would have noticed). They BOTH have spent the last 18 years making sure that your life was happy and healthy.


If you let this revelation affect your relationship, then you are a fool, little girl. Instead of freaking out over it and writing to the internet lady, why the hell don't you TALK to your mother? You know. Sit down at the kitchen table or on the couch and start by saying, "Holy crap, Mom! I had no idea!"

2. Another letter from a kid. Well it stands to reason, what with the Mother's Day theme and all.

You just graduated with an undergrad degree. Congratulations. You are also aware that it has little to no value in the marketplace (political science and history - nothing good there right now) so you want to go to graduate school. Congratulations again.

Your mother's cancer IS going to complicate your life for the foreseeable future, so


...for a minute and listen.

I can tell you all kinds of stuff here. Like Washington is NOT the only place to get a graduate degree, no matter what your political ambitions are. In fact... there are no doubt schools much closer to home that will serve you as well. It's the PERSON that gets hired, not the degree. If you want to go to school, then consider that.

You can take a year off, live at home, and get a part-time job. The academic world will not cease to rotate if you do that. In fact, some universities will allow your acceptance to remain valid so you can go the following year. It's a way to stay close.

Your mother's cancer IS very serious. Metastatic breast cancer is deadly. The fact that it's in her bones is not a good sign at all. You say in your letter that she will have to have chemotherapy for the rest of her life, and you need to know that her life may not be that long. Survival rates are virtually nil for this kind of cancer, and it can (though not necessarily) kill very quickly.

You need to TALK to your mother. It sounds like you haven't bothered doing that - in fact, all you say about her is "...deep down I think she really would like me to be close to home."

Did you ASK her flat out if that's what she wants? Some parents would rather their kids never saw them suffer and would prefer it if you went on with your life. Others would sooner have their kids close. You're an adult now, and now's the time to act like one. You aren't some little kid to just coast along - you have decisions to make and they are based on her life right now. What do YOU want?

Your mother is a grown-up human being. She is NOT her cancer and she is NOT just a diagnosis. This is the same woman who gave you hell for being out too late and forbade you to date the 30 year old guy whose wife "didn't understand him" when you were 15. She isn't going to break. TALK TO HER.

3. Ok. This is truly a fucked up mess. Seriously. How the hell do people let things get to this point before they actually do something about it?

Right. You know your mother is one truly fucked up, miserable specimen of a parent who probably should never have been permitted to reproduce in the first place, right? You knew that.... so....


Your question is what to do about your sister, and the answer to that one is easy. You jammed out on cleaning your mother's apartment after you said you would help, you sister is pissed at you and she has every right to be. Apologize, tell her WHY you jammed out, and let her decide what to do. You're both adults, so get a grip.

As to your fucked up, miserable specimen of a female parent... you have every right to resent her. I see some people over on Slate that are willing to make excuses for her. They seem to think that she's just a poor, mentally ill darling that needs to be taken care of. I guess they subscribe to the fantasy that anyone past the age of sixty automatically deserves different treatment than the rest of the world.

I am not of that school of thought. AT ALL. I'm here to tell you that your mother is nothing more than a lazy bitch who is taking advantage of you like a leech takes advantage of any mammal foolish enough to walk through the water. So there. I don't see her any differently than I see a forty-year-old kid that squats in Mommy and Daddy's basement, paying no rent and living on Cheetos and video games, sucking up his parents' pensions because he/she is too fucking lazy to get up off his/her ass and work.

I'm going to give you the same advice I'd give those parents.

You need to cut off the money train as soon as possible. You don't owe this idiotic woman a single thing. You did everything you could to get her off her ass and I have no doubt that all the counseling and medical bills came right out of yours and your sisters' pockets. YOU ARE DONE. This woman is not mentally ill, she's a lazy bitch who has a good deal going. She's got you and your sister on a string and she's going to take advantage of that until she dies.

Remember this. Your mother CHOSE to stop working at an age when most people are at least 15 years from retirement. She CHOSE to live on money that was no doubt meant to take care of her in her old age. 50 to 61 IS NOT OLD AGE. Now she has you and your sister somehow convinced that you owe her a living? What the fuck is that? It's pretty ballsy on her part, don't you think?

Tell your sister AND your mother that you just don't have enough money to support another person right now. Let them know that you will honor the agreement you made, but you'll have to cut it off after six months or a year. THEN.... tell your mother that you're going to give her share of the rent directly to her friend/landlord. Her reaction to that will tell you just how much she's sucked you into overpaying, right? Because you ARE overpaying. This isn't just about rent.

I know this hurts, but consider this. NORMAL parents want their kids to succeed and would NEVER demand that their kids support them. Good parents want their kids to be happy, successful adults, not ATMs with feet.

4. You're just sooooooooooo special, aren't you, you psycho-bitch-demon-mom? Just what the hell did you do to your girls? I'm surprised that you didn't force them to shave their heads and wear ankle-length calico dresses for their entire lives - because it wouldn't be fair for them to, say, have friends or normal social lives, right?


I was with you when you told Prudie that you tried to raise the kids to be unprejudiced and not to hassle other kids at school. Most parents try and do that. Very few would actually want their kid to be a bully or even a big meanie. Fair enough.

Your girls are doing all right. They're a couple of reasonably attractive (I'm guessing), well socialized kids who are nice to others (for the most part) and therefore have friends and acquaintances that like them.

Here's where you lost me:

"I resent popularity and have rallied against it both at work and when I was in school."

What the fuck is that? What did you do? Sit in a corner and pout? Put up signs that said things like "Popular people have cooties"? Try and convince the Chess Club to arm themselves and clobber anyone who cracked a smile during the day? Run around your office telling everyone that so-and-so shouldn't be promoted because everyone likes them? Quit your job in protest because one of your colleagues got invited to all the fun parties?

I really would like to know the answers to those. Dipshit.

SHADDAP! Again, dammit!

Yes. Your kids engaged in standard kid-like assholery when they were snickering about the kids they decided were "weird" . I get that. You found out that someone had rejected a friendly gesture by one of the kids and that was the reason for the nastyish hilarity and you no doubt over-reacted.

What you SHOULD have said is that not everyone is going to adore them all of the time, and that some people just don't want to be their buddy. There's nothing wrong with that. All people do not automatically like each other. I'm guessing that your kids are pretty nice and that being rejected like that stung a bit. That's no reason to behave badly, though.

That's beside the point, though, right? You resent your kids because they aren't the social cripples that you were at that age and are now. They get along with people because that's what YOU TAUGHT THEM to do. You don't get to crap on them now because of it.

Moron. Send them to boarding school NOW. Hopefully they'll unlearn your paranoia and the distance will keep them from outright hating you until they're old enough that they don't have to live with you any more.


Oh, and the picture... It's a barn door. Get it? It's a closed barn door! And the barn is empty! *snicker* I kill me!