Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blue Eyed Dressed for Every Situation

Anyone heard of this new pharmaceutical named Yaz? Its website states that it's "the first and only birth control pill with proven efficacy for the emotional and physical symptoms of PMDD." Yeah, and it's also the name of the 1980's Vince Clarke synth-pop band fronted by Alison Moyet.

This former wearer of jean cutoffs, black tights and Doc Martens finds it a wee disturbing that the band isn't known well enough for Bayer to have thought, "Gee, maybe our birth control shouldn't be associated that new wave group, fantastic though they may be."

I mean, what's next? New Order tampons?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Daytime TV Is Depressing

As I've mentioned before, I've used the TV like a lamp during my maternity leave. I KNOW this is not wise, okay? So keep your itchy fingers from commenting about it.

When I stop to pay attention to it for more than a minute, though, it's the most depressing programming ever. Not because most of it is recycled junk from the night (or weekend, or decade before). It's depressing because most of it is about improving myself in some way. When I'm bombarded with messages about how I could be better, I start to feel like my status quo is lame.

To wit:

  • Rachael Ray has 30 minute recipes and constantly reminds you that you don't NEED to order out, and that the stuff you order can't possibly taste as good as this homecooked goulash.
  • 10 Years Younger actually puts women (and sometimes men) in a clear box on a crowded promenade and invites perfect strangers to guess the victim's, I mean participant's age and explain WHY they think this twenty-four year-old woman looks fifty-three.
  • Dr. 90210 reveals the myriad ways that you can sculpt yourself into the ideal you without plebeian efforts like, say, diet and exercise.
Yikes, then there are the commericals: Get seventeen degrees! Lose six hundred pounds while eating a bushel of chocolate a day! Quit smoking! Earn a million dollars a week while working from home! Take vitamins to make your brain, heart, and fingernails stronger! Get your doctor to prescribe birth control/bone loss prevention pills that you only have to take once every decade (now in vanilla and strawberry flavors)!

There's also a cacaphony of advertising that tells me my baby will love me if I use specific kinds of diapers, and that my house will sparkle after 30 seconds of effort with a newfangled broom. Be that as it may, I'm not going to run out to purchase these products, because these will not really make me more house-proud.

Guess I just wanted to put it out there that I'm not falling for it...much.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Let's Think about that Acronym a Little More...

Two of my favorite abbreviations for the names of local institutions:

1) UTI (Universal Technical Institute): Really, guys? You know that UTI is the common abbreviation for urinary tract infection, right? And it's not like Universal Technical Insitute is such a brain-bustingly cool name that you couldn't have changed it up a little bit. You could've gone with Global Technical Institute, for example. It means the same thing and is not synonymous with an itchy, painful, unfortunate affliction of a very sensitive spot. (FYI, research shows that there's no local campus in the DC Metro area...yet...but they advertised locally, so maybe you can do a correspondance course.)

2) HUH (Howard University Hospital): Aw, man, I understand that you need to keep the Howard University part in the name since you are a hospital that is indeed affiliated with that storied institution of higher learning. But couldn't you call yourselves a medical center or something to avoid this phrase favored by head-scratchers being printed on all of your stationery, advertising, t-shirts, etc.? I applaud whatever marketing genius attempted to make it look less like "Huh?" by putting a big red square around the second H, but I don't think you're really fooling anyone.

Then there was the one at Georgetown that I thought the powers-that-be should revise, but it was typically uttered aloud only by the saltier-tongued students, so I don't think the powers that be ever noticed the nickname. It was the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union, or GAUSFCU for short. I leave it to you to determine how my peers, especially those who got dinged with unexpected fees/penalties, pronounced those last three letters.

I Did NOT Learn Everything I Really Needed to Know in Kindergarten

There's a bunch of stuff that I fully expected I would know as a grown woman. My girlish plans for attaining this knowledge were enlightenment or osmosis. In other words, effort didn't factor in anywhere. Here are the things I expected to know in my 32nd year (which, incidentally, is the age my mother was when I, her sixth child, was born, so you can see that the bar is a little high):
  1. Which hairstyles/products work best for my frizz-prone follicles;
  2. How to do my makeup so that I don't look like a squinty clown and/or prevent foundation from sliding off of my face;
  3. Which clothes flatter a 5'2", size 12, slightly large-headed, 36J frame (Did you know they even make a J-cup? Neither did I. At this point I think there's scaffolding in my bra.);
  4. How to cook a week's worth of edible meals without poring over a cookbook;
  5. Which undergarments are necessary for which outfits/fabrics (slips? camisoles? shapers?);
  6. How to accept a compliment graciously (Example: Friend: "Wow, I really like that shirt!" Me: "I got it on sale for three bucks at Marshall's!")
  7. How to make small talk;
  8. How to give myself a manicure without using nail clippers, ending up with a monstrously thick coat of glaze on my nails, or strips of unpainted fingernail at the edges;
  9. Which clothing colors really flatter me, because I can't believe it's just the black, burgundy, dark blue, chocolate brown, and dark pink hanging out in my closet;
  10. Where to find an attractive office shoe that I can wear for more than 2 hours without swearing, restructuring my day so that I don't have to walk, or contemplate renting a Lark for the day.
  11. How to diagnose what kind of skin I really have such that I am able to buy effective face products.
  12. A way to remember to ask for sauce when I drive through Taco Bell (My flavor of choice has been "Hot" since they came out with "Fire." I always go for the "medium" option.);
  13. How to feed a family of nine on $100 per week (I don't need to do this, but I am impressed that my mother managed it without growing her own food/raising her own livestock.);
  14. How to iron shirts so that they look like they just came from the dry cleaner, and not from a Kleenex box.

There are more, but I'll stop there, because I'm slightly appalled that I haven't been putting my maternity leave to better use. Truth be told, I've dedicated some of the leave of absence to answering the more superficial of these sweet mysteries of life. Okay, by "dedicating," I mean religiously watching TLC's "What Not to Wear."

Aside: WNTW has provided some helpful tips, like applying a dark shadow applied with a stiff, angled makeup brush instead of stabbing myself in the eye with an eye pencil or, worse yet, using liquid liner. Merciful gods, that saves me from looking like a drunkard attacked my eyelids with a Sharpie. My inability to use eyeliner has always really bothered me because I took about seventeen art courses between high school and college, so you'd think I could develop the skill that most tweens seem to master.

The older I get, though, the more I think these things will elude me.

Friday, January 19, 2007

My TiVo Doesn't Like Me

I'm currently enjoying my eleventh week of maternity leave. In that time, I've used our television like a lamp. Yep, it's on ALL THE TIME. I grew up with many other children and much noise in the house, so too much quiet discomfits me. Since Hubby's at work and the Boy is in daycare while I tend to the Girl, I have complete and total control of the boob tube for about eight hours a day.

It is a godlike power.

Throughout my time at home, I have been giving the TiVo thumbs up to my programs of choice, which is a pretty eclectic mix: true crime, makeover, cooking, home improvement, news, britcoms, and chat shows. I'm not proud of my taste. There's nothing hip about it. But, I would like TiVo to acknowledge it and occasionally recommend something to me, or even record something for which I've clearly shown a preference. This hasn't happened yet, and I think I know why:

My TiVo is sexist.

Yep, TiVo has sided with Hubby and the Boy. Just this morning, I was watching "American Justice" on A&E, and TiVo made two suggestions in as many minutes. The first suggestion was for "Hoosiers," which TiVo has recorded spontaneously on at least three other occasions. The second was for "Dan Zanes House Party" on the Disney Channel. I canceled both of 'em out, but let's take a quick look at the suggestions you managed to stuff into the Now Playing List:

Where's the love, TiVo? I guess you think that I'd be psyched about "My Super Sweet Sixteen," but next to "Mama's Family" and "Mind of Mencia," it's probably my least favorite show in existence. What is it about the programs that I watch that make you think I'm a fan of documentaries about bratzillas? By the way, you might think that 'Buffy ' is for me because the title character is a chick. Sure, I like the show but let's be honest: that one's for Hubby too. After all, he's the one that drooled over the Vampyr Book prop replica, not me.

Seriously TiVo, what gives? Don't you know that I am the one who finagled you as a gift? I'm the one who told Hubby's former officemates that the PERFECT parting/impending fatherhood gift was TiVo. You wouldn't even be here if it weren't for me, so let's start finding fun stuff for me in the middle of the night.

Dear Baltimore Ecosystem Study Van,

Photo courtesy of the BBC
Please don't judge the ecosystem of the Baltimore area, specifically the outer loop of 695, by the unfortunate hatchback that was spewing a fog of exhaust for the six miles of the beltway that we three shared on Monday. Cars with this particular problem seem to happen upon the beltway every once in a while, but are certainly not a regular presence. Don't give our ecosystem a failing grade because this car owner hasn't gotten that smoke problem checked out. In all likelihood his car will die soon, so it should be a zero sum gain don't you think?

By the way...why does your van have New York license plates? Why is New York always so judgmental of the rest of the country? Can't you leave us alone?



Monday, January 08, 2007

Sentimental Journeys

Laundry is the currency of a young household, I think. Okay, currency is probably the wrong word, but man oh man, there's a lot of dirty clothes floating around. So I spend a good chunk of my time washing them.

Over the weekend, I pulled a freshly cleaned load of the Boy's laundry from the dryer. I took it upstairs and folded it while it was still soft and warm. I grabbed a pair of the Boy's jeans, and found that they were worn and fraying around the pockets. There was even a little hole near the waistband.

No sense in keeping jeans with holes in them, right? Besides, he's on the verge of having grown out of them. So, I headed to the garbage can and lifted the lid to pitch the jeans on top of the coffee grounds and banana peels. But I stopped. I couldn't do it. Why?

Because these are jeans that I bought for him about a year ago. They've never been worn by another little boy, unlike so many of the other of my son's clothes. He was the only one who ran in these jeans, jumped in them, climbed in them, fell in them, and danced in them. And I imagined him doing all of these things, and smiling, and giggling, and yelling, and I couldn't part with them. Not yet. Maybe in a little while, my practical side will overrule my sentimental side, and I'll pitch them. But for now, I'll just put them in a little memory box.

Now, watch, I'll forget and in twenty years when he opens his memory box to sift through the items I thought were crucial, he'll think I'm some kind of hobo nutcase. Ah well...