14 August 2017

Today, I'm Robin

Since yesterday, I've been mulling the pledge I made to donate $24 to a good cause. At first I thought about funding a bit of a classroom project, given that the whole thing came up because of back-to-school shopping.

But Charlottesville has been on my mind. And so, with the help of a Medium post by Sara Benincasa, titled "What to Do About Charlottesville", I sent my little donation to Great Expectations, a project where foster kids in Virginia get help navigating out of the foster system into adulthood, through programs at Virginia community colleges.

The current overt burbling up of the alt-right, of racists, fascists, Nazis, Klansmen, is deeply disturbing. And yet, as a middle-aged white woman in a liberal NYC suburb, what do I do? Benincasa makes an apposite point:

I believe in the Superhero Sidekick theory of helping, which is to say that if you’re trying to ally yourself with the interests of an oppressed group of which you are not a part, you pull a Robin, not a Batman. You’re not the star of the show, so you don’t direct the mission. You listen, you learn, you assist. You definitely don’t lounge around and wait for the superhero to do all the work and then take all the credit. You also don’t throw up your hands and wail, “WHAT WILL WE EVER DOOOOOOO? THIS IS HOPELESS!” when Batman is right there going, “Um, Robin? There’s like ten things you could do today that would help everybody out. You listening?”

So, here's how I did my Robin part today:

  1. Little gift to Great Expectations
  2. Repost/amplification of Benincasa's "What To Do" piece
How did you do your Robin part?

13 August 2017

Back to school shopping, and how I regained my will to live

The child has been begging to go shopping. Yes, she needed new sneakers. Yes, she needed new bras. Yes, she needed new jeans. Yes, she starts high school and wanted a “first day of school outfit” and I caved in because sometimes I am nice (although I did think about invoking Thoreau's beware of all enterprises that require new clothes except that I thought she might take that to mean that high school was optional or something).

So, it was time to go to the mall. There are several malls not too far from us, but to hit all the stores one wants to hit, one needs to go to two different malls, and pay for parking at each, and paying for parking GALLS ME.

I elected to go to a farther away mall because 1) free parking and 2) everything under one roof and 3) a less crowded Trader Joe’s on the way home.

She got sneakers. We went into both Sephora and Ulta and walked out with only one hair clip, for me. We were sweet-talked by a cute young not-our-camp Spanish guy with terrific glasses, who was shilling expensive beauty products out of a kiosk; we bought nothing (hello $99 jar of goop), but he was amusing. We both got bra-fitted, at Soma, where they have wireless bras. She got an overall dress, and a sweater, and two pairs of jeans, and a tiny backpack.

And in Aeropostale, we were on line to pay for two cheap t-shirts, when the customer ahead of us at the register called to us: “I’ll pay for those shirts. I have $24 of credit that is just going away unless I spend it right now.” She had a pile of merchandise and some complicated return deal and was DONE WITH shopping. So my girl’s two shirts went into mall lady's pile, but she needed another few dollars worth of merchandise so another t-shirt and then a $4 tank top went in, and the whole total came to 63¢ due. I paid it, meaning that for 63¢, the girl got four new shirts. I told the other woman that I’d been on the verge of losing my will to live because 3 hours in the mall and that she had restored my gumption.

Today, in honor of mall lady, I’m going to donate $24 to a good cause.

But I'm not setting foot in another mall for at least a year, and the girl knows that.

11 August 2017

Do cats eat bats?

​At 12:15, I drifted from sleep into consciousness and noticed that a light was on - the girl was in the bathroom. I sleepily muttered "go back to bed" and with that, she let out a blood-curdling scream. "BAT, BAT, there's a bat!"

There is a little closet off the bathroom - a closet that's really a part of the crawl space that runs under the dormers on the front of the house. And while she was sitting on the toilet, a bat had slipped out from under the closet door.

And here Alice began to get rather sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, 'Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?' and sometimes, 'Do bats eat cats?' for, you see, as she couldn't answer either question, it didn't much matter which way she put it.

My husband scrambled out of bed in a haze, I grabbed the hysterical child, the cats fled, and we pondered what to do about the bat careening around the upstairs of our little house. The girl offered to find her tennis racket, except that she would have had to cross the dangerous hallway with the frantic bat. I thought about calling the police, and eventually my husband towel-snapped it to stun it. He gathered it up loosely in the towel, and took it downstairs and outside; it flew away, apparently unharmed.

Far too much drama for the middle of the night, but no one got carted off in an ambulance.

01 August 2017

Take The Girl To Work Day

Once upon a time, the girl child went to work with me every day.

Nowadays, she only comes on special occasions; later we are going to see a show together, and she opted to spend the day with me (instead of hanging out at home and taking the train in). (Really, she was hoping I would cave and take her to , which um, no, it's a workday, and besides, I can make cookie dough perfectly well at home and there's no standing on line there.)

One thing led to another, and BOOM. Causing a traffic jam yet again.

22 May 2017

Splatter Painting In New York

I go days without thinking of my mother. But the spring, with all of the outdoor plant activity? That makes me think of her. Yes, those were her irises, her hosta. Her double-file viburnum bloomed with abandon this year.

And then sometimes I'll be at someone's house and the blue spatterware bowl reminds me of her, or I'll want to share the witty/goofy sets and costumes that enliven the ABT production of Whipped Cream (which I got to see at a dress rehearsal last week), or I'll turn over an index card and there'll be her handwriting, correcting someone's address.

Yesterday, I was sitting around drinking coffee and reading the Times, and it was one of those Sundays with an extra Times magazine, perfect bound and 90% ads. But I flipped through because you never know and there was a story about splatter-painted floors.

The Times made it sound like splatter-painted floors are a thing only ever found in "no-nonsense summer bungalows in Massachusetts." My mother would have begged to differ. Hell, I beg to differ. The first house I remember - the one we lived in from when I was 3 to when I was 11 - was a little suburban house on Long Island, probably built in the 1920s. My parents had no money, but my mother was crafty. She did all of the painting in the house, she made curtains, she even made a hooked rag rug for the hall runner. And when she painted my brother's room, she painted the floor white, and spattered it with red, yellow, blue and black. A splatter-painted floor, not in Massachusetts.

She'd have had something to say about the Times article, I tell you.

16 April 2017

Easter Shenanigans

Last night around 11 [that is, Saturday night], I was feeling disinclined to just leave the girl's Easter basket on the kitchen table. So I hid it in the car and made a treasure hunt. Clues in shoes and coats and drawers. A clue in the fireplace, another in the washing machine. One in the ice cube tray, one in the cat bed. I am feeling very Mother of the Year today. And I'm the only one who knows where the rest of the Cadbury mini eggs are.

Sometime during the Saturday before Easter, the girl asked me if I was going to do another Easter treasure hunt. Gauntlet thrown, I did - again, at the very last minute, distributing some of the outdoor eggs in my nightgown in the morning.

I am ON IT. Weeks ago, anticipating that she would again want a treasure hunt, I dug out the old list of clues and distributed it to some friends and family. I combed the internet for ideas. I settled on 16 clues, and printed out two copies of the list - one to cut up, and one for reference.

I surveyed my store of little plastic eggs, and discovered that I was short by five, so I made a trip to the town dump's Take It Or Leave It Shop. Not only did I find enough plastic eggs, but I scored a nice five foot high plastic skeleton (and a little square plate and a brand new picture frame). The skeleton, now named King Richard because we found him in a parking lot, is at present living in the backseat of my car.

We drove through town this afternoon, and I got a text from the mother of a friend of the girl:

Just saw you drive by - if that's [your child] in the back seat, you need to feed her!

But I digress. I did a spectacular job of hiding the clever clues, only to be met with an unparalleled expression of teenaged angst. She was CRANKY!

But she found them, including the one hanging in the redbud at the bottom of the hill. If you embiggen that, you will see that she is holding the clue up to the light - that was the one in mirror writing - which can also be read from the back side of the paper.

And she was happy when she finally located her basket, in the milkbox.

I need to remember that the last clue needs to point somewhere other than the milkbox next year, because I've now used it two years in a row.

If you are inclined to tormenting your children, here is my 2017 clue list.

19 March 2017

Gone To Ground

I seem to have skipped February because I was too busy #resisting to blog. I made phone calls, and I sent postcards, emails, letters, tweets, and faxes to Congress, the White House, and cabinet officials about the Muslim ban, the Affordable Care Act, Bannon, DeVos, the EPA, the tax returns, the Russians, libraries and the National Endowment for the Arts. And probably other things that I can't remember for the white hot fury that burbles up regularly.

And when I'm not complaining vociferously, I'm going broke. Of course I sent some money to the ACLU. I also sent something to Planned Parenthood because of the fury that a similar gift sparked in that outraged pastor. And I sent some money to the local Meals on Wheels chapter, because of Budget Director Mick Mulvaney's crack about it "not showing any results.” And the New Yorker piece about the refugee shelter in Buffalo prompted another little gift.

But my favorite gift might have been the one that I sent to Physicians for a National Health Program, in honor of Carol Paris - if you missed it, she's the one that stood up at the rally in Nashville last week, with a sign reading "Improved Medicare For All". She got walked out by security. I sent a little something, with a note calling Paris a badass for standing up to Trump. The best part? She wrote back:

Your contribution to PNHP in my honor is such an thoughtful gift. At 64, I think being called a “badass” is just about the nicest compliment you could pay me!

If you too want to resist, and need some postcards to support your habit, order Impeach Vladimir Trump cards from Zazzle.

And while it's great to use Wonder Woman stamps, do yourself a favor and buy postcard stamps. You'll save 15 cents a stamp - so you can afford more postcards.