Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Guilt and the Working Mother - The Secret Weapon of the Housewife

Before I was lucky enough to be able to stay home and pursue my new career of Retro Housewife, I was what we call a "Working Mother". Meaning I got into my car every morning and drove off to some office somewhere, and periodically, somebody not my husband would deposit money into my checking account, and I would spend evenings and week-ends frantically trying to cram in a weeks worth of mothering.

One of the biggest perks of housewifedom is being able to do the little things for my family that fell by the wayside when I was part of the rat race. Another unexpected perk is the sudden absolute superiority you have over the career woman/mother, which can come in handy in situations when the social pecking order is being established.

I was forced to use this new power on a ghost of my former self while building a fake hedge with the rest of the ladies on the school dance committee. I happened to strike up a conversation with a Mom I had never seen before at any of the meetings, and after we had gotten through the usual formalities concerning the proper way of arranging tree cuttings when building a fake hedge, we got down to some serious pecking and one-upping.

Men have their cars, women, their kids. It really doesn't matter what else a woman does in life, somewhere deep down inside, she will judge herself by how good of a mother she is. Even the thin, rich and beautiful woman becomes pathetic if she fails the motherhood test. (Notice I chose "thin, rich and beautiful" as the standard to envy and not "accomplished career", because that isn't even in the running...or how many girls have you ever heard say "I want to be just like Janet Reno when I grow up." Instead, we think "well at least she got to be attorney general".)

So if you find yourself in such a competition, and want to spare yourself some aggravation, it helps to quickly assess the worthiness of your opponent. If she is June Cleaver, then unless you are June Cleaver's mother, your only options are to quickly admit defeat and flatter her shamelessly until she invites you to join her cooking club, or suddenly spot a seriously neglected part of the hedge on the other side of the room and make like Snagglepuss.

My opponent on this particular day thought she had the upper hand as she casually related her numerous professional achievements to me while stuffing leafy branches into the holes in the chicken wire. I could tell she was quite impressed with herself, and had she not given me that polite but ever so slightly condescending smile when I told her I was a housewife, I would have spared her. It was a little too easy, like taking candy from a baby, and I knew I would feel a bit guilty afterward, but away I pecked.

It didn't take much; my first strike was to ask her, my voice full of amazement, how she "handled all that" (translation: you must neglect your children). Then I got lucky! I just happened to mention that I had taken my daughter to have her hair done for the dance that evening, and how hard it was to get an appointment because all the other girls were going to this particular salon as well.

There it was, the coup de grace.

The capable career woman turned to mush before my eyes. Her daughter had not had her hair done. Guilt oozed out of every pore as she desperately tried to explain to me why she had neglected to take her daughter to the salon. It was too hard to watch, and I did my best to ease her conscience.

It didn't seem to work though, because as I was leaving (after I had put the finishing touches on my part of the hedge), I overheard her frantically trying to explain to a group of three or four puzzled looking ladies, why her daughter had not had a hair appointment.

Use your power responsibly.


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Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Tale of Murphy Brown and Other Boomer Bedtime Stories

I liked the show Murphy Brown, it was funny and entertaining and as a young career woman, I identified with Murphy and her travails. When Murphy decided to have a baby on her own, I saw it as a perfectly normal thing for her to do in her quest for a fulfilling life. Murphy was, after all, a modern, educated, financially independent woman. Why shouldn't she do what she wanted to?

Hooray for Murphy!

And then I got married and had children. And guess what? So did Murphy! Not the TV Murphy, but the statistical Murphy. As I just read in the Economist today, it turns out that only 4% of children born to mothers with college degrees are born out of wedlock (compared to 15% among women without). Not only that, but the educated gals are more than twice as likely to stay married than the ones who dropped out of high school or have only a high school diploma.

So it seems there was a little "it's totally OK to do this, but it's just not right for me" going on behind the scenes. In other words, the intellectual architects of the "feminist" movement (you remember, the one that made it OK to have kids without being married, and incorporated divorce into the all-liberating bra burning ceremony) are happily living in the suburbs with their husbands, driving expensive SUVs and sipping Lattes.

OK, so they're hypocrites, so what? Well guess what else the article said? It said that married people will end up FOUR times richer than those who never marry. That's One, Two, Three, FOUR times richer!

In fact, they call it "The Marriage Gap". It's the new term describing how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting divorced.

Funny, Isn't it?


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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Lest I become one of those people who only complains but does not recognize a job well done, I want to say a long overdue Thank You to the US Passport Service employees on a job well done.
You see, despite my best efforts of putting off renewing my passport last year and thus lousing up my entire vacation, they were able to get me my new passport in time for me to take my trip. I was quite impressed.

Not only that, but when I called them on the phone, they didn't waste my time with empty recitations of faux civility (only to later tell me how and why they could not help me...), they just listened to what I had to say, went tap, tap, tap on their computer keyboards, and then gave me correct instructions as to what I needed to do to get the job done.

When we hung up, I said "Thank You", the person on the other end said "You're Welcome" and we each hung up the phone. No 45 second monolouge thanking me for allowing them to provide me with excellent service today, tomorrow and in the year 2062. Plus, they were probably even here in the United States, and had, without exception, a full grasp of the English language.

That is one place where we taxpayers are getting our full money's worth.

Thank you!


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Bring Back Ma Bell

I remember the days when a phone company provided phone service. It wasn't fancy, and sometimes it was expensive, but you knew where you stood, and you knew when you picked up the phone that you would get a dial tone. The world may be ending, the power could be out, but your phone would have a dial tone.

After the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco, power was gone, the bridge was broken, highways collapsed, but I picked up my phone and heard the dial tone. I was able to call my family and tell them I was OK. Back then the phone company did one thing only, but it did it well.

Fast forward to today...

I just had a screaming match on the phone with a customer service representative from Vonage. I fell for the Vonage marketing ploy and somehow got it into my head that they provide phone service. After a month of trying to get their phone service to work, and multiple instances of hour-long sessions with the Vonage technical support, I gave up and tried to cancel my account. (The technical support was neither technical, nor supportive and I often would get an answer that exactly contradicted what the previous rep had said.)

I sent them an email canceling my account - using the same email address that I had given to sign up for the account. I thought the account had been closed until I noticed I was still being billed on my credit card. So I emailed again, and all of a sudden, email was no longer an acceptable medium for conversing with Vonage. Security they claimed. They insisted that I call in, and informed me that they were there to help 24x7.

Not True! When you call after hours, the recording tells you to call back during business hours. So I called back during business hours. After navigating their auto-attendant to the option "cancel account", I was informed that there was a very long wait. Nevertheless, I waited. 25 minutes later I hung up, as I was calling from my cellphone, and we all know how that goes with the free minutes, etc.. I tried at least 3 more times with the same result.

Finally, I got through to the Vonage Rep in charge of such calls, and of course she started to try to convince me to keep the service. That is the reason they want you to call in. When I refused, she started telling me that they would only charge me $100 for disconnecting. That takes gall if you ask me, to charge a disconnect fee for a service that never worked. So I'll have to fight that another day.

But it made me think of the days when you could order phone service and get phone service. Vonage is not a phone company. They are a marketing and billing company. They have great commercials, and have set up billing such that they make money regardless of whether you can place a call or not.

I still have my big red phone I bought as a freshman in college in 1983 from AT&T for $25.00. It was the first year that you could choose a color of phone. I chose red. It is now hooked up to Pac Bell, and when you pick up the receiver it makes that old familiar sound, and if I punch the buttons in the correct order, it is actually possible that somebody at the other end will pick up and say hello.

Now that's progress!


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Doggie Gifts

I have always heard that cats bring their owners "gifts" and have felt somewhat safe as a committed dog person that I would not wake up in the morning with a dead mouse lying next to me on the pillow. That was until we adopted our rather large Alaskan Mal, whom I lovingly "Schnozzlo" due to his rather over sized snout.

The Mal, being an ancient breed, and still rather close in appearance and choice of hobby to the arctic wolf, still has a very keen desire to hunt. The prey of choice are not caribou or reindeer as many would like to believe, but rats and gophers and the occasional opossum. It is actually rather amusing to watch a 190 lb. dog pouncing around after rodents, and remarkable in that somehow he manages not only to get air bound, but he appears graceful doing it.

It is amusing up until the point when he presents an unexpected gift to his master, in this case me, who responds rather ungraciously by screaming and running into the bedroom, where I continue screaming "blaaaah blaaahh" and add a few decidedly ungraceful dance steps (think Tasmanian devil). Poor guy. When I get over my initial shock, I tell him "good boy" and he looks very proud and I pat him on the head while my husband (who thank god had not left for work yet) picks up the large, dead rat off of my freshly vacuumed carpet and disposes of it.

Good Boy!


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What Has Happened To The Airlines?

I guess I haven't flown for awhile, and maybe it's just me, but flying is a nightmare! The airline personnel act like they are doing you a favor by letting you on the plane! At check in, I felt like I was a naughty little kid who needed to be scolded for this and that!

Then, once you get on the plane, they don't feed you any more so my stomach grumbled for 5 1/2 hours. We didn't even get peanuts! They had some sandwiches for sale, but we didn't bring cash, and besides! After paying over $1,000 to fly, the least they could do is throw a few morsels our way after the hours we spent to board the plane in the first place!

Maybe I am just being a whiner, but I used to really enjoy flying, but now it is just painful! I am going to look into a boat.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Permit

It has happened! My daughter has passed the written driver's test and is now a proud holder of her driver's permit. As I am sure every parent feels, this is both a happy occasion and one that brings on a whole new set of fears. Who wouldn't appreciate having an extra (very eager) driver in the family to "run to the store", pick up her brother from school or sports, and when the time comes, drive herself places she needs to go.

The other side of the coin, of course, is that my 16 year old now has access to what can also be thought of as a deadly weapon. The DMV worker handed us a sheet for a course where new drivers are taught about what it means to be a driver on the road, and the responsibilities that the new driver is assuming. She will absolutely take that course. I think it cannot be impressed enough on kids today (as in the past) that the operation of an automobile is not to be taken lightly.

The man at the DMV also mentioned a frightening statistic about the increase in the number of accidents and fatalities in the 16 - 18 crowd. Make your kids take this course. Drive with them as much as you can, and set strict rules about when and with whom they can drive.

Just a little public service message from yours truly!


Monday, May 07, 2007

Not Your Father's Politician

France just got a new president. His name is Nicolas Sarkozy, and he is the son of Hungarian immigrants to France. While notable, those bits of information are not the most interesting thing about the new leader of France, this is:
"In the republic that I want to serve," he said, "there cannot be rights without obligations. All must have their opportunity, but they must earn it by work, by personal commitment, by belief." Nicolas Sarkozy
Novel, isn't it? Rights and obligations, personal commitment, merit and hard work! Even more interesting is the support Mr. Sarkozy received from the young, who celebrated jubilantly in the streets of Paris upon victory of the center/right candidate over the socialist candidate.
Kids just have to rebel against their parents, and have done so in France by electing a man who wants to "sweep away what he calls the values of the 1968 student revolution that he says have degraded France."

Tic Toc goes the clock, the pendulum swings.
"I will rehabilitate work, authority, morals, respect and merit. I will put the nation and national identity first and give the French people a reason to be proud." Nicolas Sarkozy
I am wondering whether this is the beginning of a trend in the western world, or whether it will be limited to France. Given France's influence on fashion and culture, I think we will start to see evidence of the new morality in the coming years.

We shall see....


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Yoox Code is Baaaack!

Just a quick note to give y'all the latest secret coupon code from Yoox!

Yoox code for free shipping: Free Shipping on all orders on YOOX.COM! Use MOTHERSDAY@YOOX at checkout.

The offer and code are not available on yoox.com, so copy the code and use the link to make sure you save! BTW... Yoox has some really cool funky sneakers on sale at the moment: They are retro an new all at the same time, and totally IN in Europe at the moment. I saw with my very own eyes! Everybody was running around in all sorts of outfits and funky sneakers!

And just an FYI I always put the latest YOOX Code here on my site, for future reference!



Wednesday, May 02, 2007


I am going BONKERS! The neighbors have a new dog and have left it in the yard while they are at work. It barks NON STOP!

Like this: arf, arf, arf,....yip, yip...arf, arf! (Repeat 100 Million times!)

Why do people do this? If I say anything to them they will get huffy and then give us dirty looks. (That's what happened when we asked them to limit the motor car toy noise.)

Is it unethical to slip the dog some Valium? If so, is it unethical to slip myself some Valium?

Just wondering!


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day + Incredible La Redoute Coupon Code!

The first of May was a real treat for me as a kid. I don't know where the custom came from, but my sisters and I would gather flowers, put them in those plastic mesh green strawberry cartons, decorate them with ribbon, and then ding-dong-ditch the neighbors! (The basket of flowers was left on their front porch.) I got a real kick out of that as a kid, probably because it involved making something pretty, and then a legitimate doorbell ditch. Not once did anyone ever get angry (as they did when I tried it on a day which was not the 1st of May, and without leaving flowers.)!

May Basket with Roses
That was fun!


One more thing! One of my favorite stores, La Redoute is offering 25% off your whole order. I do a lot of shopping there because La Redoute has really cute styles and they are reasonably priced (sometimes downright inexpensive)! La Redoute apparently just gave their site a makeover, so that is the occasion. Here's the 25% off offer link, and La Redoute coupon code LRNEWSITE (Not sure whether you need to use the link and code, so copy the code before you click the link!)Cute white cropped capris These cute capris are only $29.99! Capris are very IN!!!