My Deprivation

I started this year out on a note of deprivation, vowing to kick my Facebook habit for three months. The experiment went fairly well, with only a few minor slip-ups. I got a significant amount of time back, and I used it to read words by people who put some thought into what they were going to say, and then ran those thoughtfully chosen words by an editor. Thus, the unexpected joy of this “deprivation” led me to undertake other deprivations.

I did a one-month dairy cleanse in February, or more accurately, a 3-week dairy cleanse. (I’ve done plenty of dairy cleanses before, with good reason, and I have over the years learned a little bit more about what my stomach can tolerate.) Somewhere in there, I decided to cut back on sugar, and I blame this and lack of preparation for throwing me off the non-dairy cow.

After getting back on the dairy bandwagon, I decided to try a sugar-detox, wherein not only can you eat no added sugar, you can eat nothing your body processes as sugar, such as fruit or bread or legumes. Had I not given up this pursuit almost immediately, I surely would’ve failed when I started teaching two classes for the first time. The low-carb, paleo and sugar detox ways of life market themselves as effective and science-based, and reasonable as those claims may be, I do not see them as anything more than another diet fad along the lines of Atkins.

As I reflect upon the various deprivations I undertook, it leads me to the not-unique conclusion that the immediacy of our current culture takes away some of the joy of life – of just being in the moment. It seems like such a sneaky and exhilarating way to “cheat” getting fat by letting yourself eat to your heart’s content, the only caveat being that you can’t eat one particular food or food group. But depriving yourself of one food eventually sucks the fun out of eating four helpings of the other food. (And hey, guess what?!? Diets don’t work!) It really is better just to be moderate and sensible in your eating, or your social media, or whatever else it is you blame for ruining your life. Yes, it’s harder too. I’m guessing that it’s harder than it used to be, before the advent of the internet and overnight shipping and midnight chats with long lost acquaintances, but I could be wrong about that. If there’s anything the extra reading I undertook taught me, it’s that after changes upon changes, we are more or less the same. (More on that in a forthcoming post.)

So the tally for the deprivations is Facebook-1, sugar and dairy-0. I would easily undertake another Facebook cleanse, and am really considering logging off until after the election. But bread and cheese, you’re here to stay.

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My Four-and-a-Half Year Old

“Why does the power hafta go out?” my four-and-a-half year old repeatedly asked me last weekend. “Well, it doesn’t have to,” I told her, “I just think it might because it’s so windy outside.” Cue the flicker and the familiar zap/whir of all the lights and electric gadgets shutting off simultaneously. Since it was still daytime, I think Sonja thought I’d just turned off the TV. “What was that pop?” she asked. “The lights went out,” I said. “Yeah, but why did it pop?” she asked again. This continued for several minutes. You get the picture.

We entertained ourselves for a while, playing games and lighting candles. As dinnertime approached, we were all getting bored. We went out to pizza at the best place in town, where Sonja gets to make her own pizza and tell the cooks, “pie up!” To which they respond, loud enough for the entire restaurant to hear, “PIE UP!” and put her pizza in the oven.

Returning home, it looked like we had power. Everybody else around us had power. We clicked the button on the garage door opener. Nothing happened, but that didn’t mean anything. We have to hit that button a minimum of fifty times to get the door to open. Unfortunately, this time, we didn’t actually have power. It was just our street, where a line had been downed. About 6 houses total. Around the region, 150,000 other houses were sans electricity. At this point, we figured we were in it for the long haul.

At 7:30, we made the unanimous decision to spend the night at my parents’ house. Some of this decision was influenced by the fact it was going to be a long night with a scared child in our own house, and some of it was influenced by the fact that without electricity to power his C-PAP machine, my husband (and I) will at the least get a very terrible night’s sleep, and at worst, die (or be killed by me when I can no longer stand the snoring.)

We gathered all the food we wanted to salvage and packed our bags for a night away. Sonja loves packing. She keeps asking if she can pack to go to Canada, a trip we may or may not take this summer. So she was all over this like peanut butter on jelly. She got her backpack and the toys she wanted, clothes, and a few bedtime stories. Packing for an overnight trip is much harder in the dark, and when you are trying to transport the entire contents of your refrigerator and freezer, a life-saving electrical device, a gallon of distilled water to use in the life-saving electrical device, and whatever armload of items that your child hasn’t looked at in months but simply cannot do without for one night. And the dog.

Once we got to the house, put away all the food, and unpacked our things, I then got Sonja into bed, stories read, and nightlight on. That’s when the screaming began. She didn’t want to stay at Grandma’s. She wanted to go home. “But we have no power,” I said. “You’ll have to sleep in the dark.” “But, I don’t want to stay heeeere!” she cried. The dog and I agreed to stay in the room with her until she fell asleep.

At 5 a.m., the screaming recommenced. This time, Sonja said she saw an ant in her bed. Since Shaun was getting ready to leave for work, she got into bed next to me. A few hours later, when she finally got up, I was the only adult person left in the house. A quick check of our security cameras let me know that power had been restored to our own abode, about 13 hours after it left us. So I made the beds, packed up all the groceries and all our stuff, and the dog. 50 button presses later, the garage door opened and I unpacked all of the groceries, all of our stuff, and the dog. By 10:00 a.m., I was feeling like I’d done more than a day’s work. And that’s when the questions started again, in earnest. “Mom, when will the power go out again so we can stay at Grandma’s?”

And that’s pretty much everything you need to know about a four-and-a-half year old.

Christmas morning with the "chocolate-making thing" that she asked Santa for.

Christmas morning with the “chocolate-making thing” that she asked Santa for.

 

 

New haircut.

New haircut.

Kids' Build day at the Home Depot.

Kids’ Build day at the Home Depot.

Playing in muddy puddles.

Playing in muddy puddles.

Sound asleep and hanging on for the ride.

Sound asleep and hanging on for the ride.

No power.

No power. 3-13-16

 

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My Super Taster

On a busy Monday at my local chain grocery store, in the prepared foods aisle, I overheard an interesting conversation. A young woman of twenty-something was shopping with her mom, obviously in a hurry to get the hell out of the grocery store. So far, I can completely empathize. The girl asked her mom to pick out some macaroni and cheese, telling her that she, “literally didn’t care what kind.” Mom hesitated. She asked Daughter a question. “Mom, I said I didn’t care. Just pick something.” Mom apologized, and said she was considering the price. Macaroni and cheese was selected, and they hurried on throughout the store, the woman probably not caring about dozens of other food items. Continue reading

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My Canuck

Towards the end of my daughter’s four-year well-child checkup four moths ago, our doctor asked me if I had any questions or concerns that we hadn’t covered. I took a deep breath and valiantly and successfully fought the urge to spill the beans about her obsession with Canada. I thought it was a little strange, and I was growing weary of it, but decided medical intervention was not necessary.

This past summer, some of you may recall, we took a much anticipated vacation to Victoria, Canada. The vacation lasted a mere two nights, and really could not have ended sooner. Two things that exhaust me like no other are 1) vacations and 2) listening to my child whine endlessly. Put those two together and I start tearing my hair out.

Due to all the complaints lodged within the confines of Canada, I didn’t anticipate the incessant nagging to go back to Canada that would still be going on 10 weeks later, at that checkup. Perhaps it was just a phase, I thought, some new way of processing events and memories that four-year-olds go through. I really didn’t anticipate that six months later, she would still be asking to go back on a daily basis. I especially didn’t anticipate the events that would stick out in her memory. The ferry boat with the ice cream? Yes, of course. But what she really wants is to go back to the same hotel, in the same room, so she can watch TV and eat snacks. Victoria isn’t a particularly child-friendly place, but we did what we could to make it fun. The sightseeing, the petting zoo, the high tea, the shopping – none of that is ever brought up. But man, that hotel room with that tiny little table and the tiny little kitchen and the closet where she put her shoes was the most fun a then three-year-old could have. She’s willing to move to Canada permanently, if only we can stay in that room. (And hey, if Trump becomes president, she just might get her wish. *Ba dum dum crash*)

Here’s how much she has invested in that trip. We’ve told her that someday we’re going to take her to Disneyland. When we ask her if she wants to go to Disneyland this summer, she says Canada this summer, Disneyland next Summer. I know kids are persistent, but that’s what I call commitment.

Will her dream come true? Possibly. My intention was not to vacation at all this summer. I thought spending some money on the house and not exhausting ourselves would be the better option. But at this point I’d do just about anything to get her to stop asking to go back to Canada, even going back to Canada.

The Embassy Inn

The World’s Best (Apparently) Hotel Room

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Watching TV (snacks not pictured) in the World’s Best Hotel Room.

 

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My Alternative Social Media Sites Review

Eschewing Facebook has left me with some time to fill, and I’ve been trying to fill it with other social media. This is somewhat contrary to my goal, but there’s nothing out there so all-consuming as Facebook (for me), so thankfully, I am still forced to fill time in other ways. But there are still times when I’m left with a small gap to fill and nothing around but a phone, so I thought I’d do a little review of the other social media sites I have been using. By the way, Twitter will not be a part of this review because I hate it. I always have, I always will. It’s 140-characters of pure yawn. But on to other sites, like…

Instagram

I only got access to Instagram last year when I finally made the transition to a smartphone. Instagram takes me about 40 seconds to check, unlike Facebook, which would take me 40 minutes. There isn’t as much activity on Instagram as Facebook, and I’ve also limited my following list. I like that Instagram’s feed is stable. None of the Facebook bullshit where you might see a post from a friend 18 hours after they posted it, 3 days, or not at all. Instagram posts are always there and always in the same order. Advertising exists but is minimal, and not so annoyingly click-baity, like Facebook’s ads. However, I don’t like the fact that all pictures must be cropped square. I’m not a professional photographer, but I don’t take my pictures with squares in mind and more often than not it ruins the composition. I’m also not really interested in playing with the filters.

Pinterest

I find pinterest useful but cluttered. For every fantastic idea I get, like putting the kid’s cups in baskets on a shelf that she can reach, I have to wade through 100 listicles. My recent favorite was, “7 ways to get the pee smell out of your bathroom.” I didn’t read it, because I’m pretty sure there’s just the one way. Clean. Anyway, I search for lots of things on Pinterest, including teaching ideas and recipes, but mostly I like looking at the pretty houses and trying to get ideas for my house. Ads exist but are minimal. And I can pin articles and other things I find on my own, on the world wide web at large, to my boards, so I can access them again. I find this incredibly handy. Pinterest seems to get more needy the more you use it, though. If I access it, then an hour later I inevitably have an e-mail about more things I should see. If you leave it alone, it leaves you alone.

Goodreads

I love the idea of Goodreads. A place to keep track of all your readings and reviews, and it doesn’t matter where you bought the book or if you borrowed it. The monthly Goodreads newsletters are ones I don’t mind getting, especially the section with new works by authors I’ve read. Occasionally they have interviews with authors that you don’t see elsewhere. Having said all that, I truly hate the Goodreads website. It is a disastrous mess of confusion. Trying to get a book on your shelf and leave a review is not intuitive. Trying to figure out something new is near impossible. It has a feature that you can set the date you started reading a book, but then it’s very difficult to get the book off your “currently reading” shelf if you abandon it. I finally found that option on the mobile app the other day, but I’ve got books on my list that I’ve been “reading” for four years, because there was no way to move or delete them. I set up a whole shelf called “abandoned,” only to realize that all books must be on one of the three main shelves (read, currently-reading, want-to-read) in addition to whatever shelves you create on your own. I’m trying to use the site now to keep track of all the wonderful reading I’m doing while I’m not checking Facebook, but probably at some point I will throw up my hands and say “forget it!” like I always do. There is a social component to Goodreads, in that you can see what your friends are reading or have read, but I don’t find this very interesting. It’s nice to know that friends are reading, but I don’t really care what they’re reading.

LinkedIn

Bwahahahahahaha! Just kidding! I deleted my LinkedIn account a few months ago in an attempt to get them to stop frigging e-mailing me, and it seems to have worked. I have never been happier to take personal information offline.

Reddit, YouTube and the Rest

I guess I’m too old to be a real social media “guru.” I occasionally try to get into reddit, but I can’t. I actually found a subreddit devoted exclusively to tea, and even that couldn’t keep me hooked. I post the occasional video to YouTube for posterity and watch the occasional viral video, but that’s it. I’ve heard of Snapchat and Tumblr and Periscope, but I just…I just don’t care. They feel like the fads of a younger generation. They’ll burn bright and fast, and at the end of the day we’ll be left with Facebook, Twitter, and God-willing, an updated UI for the Goodreads site.

I think the way I feel about these social media sites, with varying degrees of interest but not addiction, is the way regular people feel about Facebook. It’s there, they use it, maybe sometimes they use it more than other times, but it’s just a website. Breaking the cycle has been good for me, and I hope to wind up in a place where Facebook holds the same allure as Instagram. It’s all right in a pinch. Facebook, by the way, doesn’t make it easy to quit. It hammers me with emails, several a day, telling me that I’ve missed a bunch of stuff and I should come back and see what’s going on. Imagine what an evil person you’d be if you were constantly trying to entice the local recovering alcoholic to your house with the promise of all the good drinks he’d been missing out on. Facebook knows it’s a monolith built on the shaky soil of social media. It is rightfully worried about the day people realize there are better ways to spend their time.

 

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My Things I Would’ve Said on Facebook

Well, it’s been a week since I have been on Facebook. I’ve done week-long cleanses before, but this time I’m going for the gold of a three-month hiatus. Facebook, by the way, gets very clingy if you don’t call for a few days. It starts sending out e-mails, trying to entice you back with news of notifications and messages. The whole thing reeks of desperation.

Not checking Facebook has freed up an enormous amount of time, but I have not been able to rid myself of the instinct to post to Facebook. So here are the things I would’ve probably said on Facebook this week.

First, I would’ve shared this cartoon because this is how, as a teacher, I felt all winter break and then the night before classes started up again.

ZitsInspiration

Then there would have been several posts about Justified. Some would’ve said how good it was. Others would have been laments that now that I have binge-watched to my heart’s content, I have no more Justified to binge-watch. I might’ve tried to crowdsource suggestions from fellow Facebookers as to what series I should watch next, but this hasn’t been a very successful endeavor in the past, so probably best that I didn’t have access.

I would’ve shared the following picture of a very upsetting garlic toast mishap:

IMG_20160104_1807514

I also would’ve shared these pictures of the cat and the kid being adorable.

If I fits, I sits

If I fits, I sits

IMG_1996

Sonja Selfie

And I would’ve said these things, without pictures.

-Sonja is making up a song which would be titled, “The chicken ran away from Christmas.”

-My desk goes from zero to berserk in 2 seconds flat.

-“I never think environmental hazards are going to kill me. I only think serial killers are.” From Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling.

-It turns out, when too stressed to think about what I should be eating every second of the day, I will eat nothing but cheese.

And there you have it. Phew! I feel better now.

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My 2015 Blogging Stats

For future reference, self.

https://suitejen.wordpress.com/2015/annual-report/

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My DSP4 Playlist

The fourth installment of the DSP playlist.

Pay Attention Pomplamoose
Getting Better Beatles
If I Had $1000000 Barenaked Ladies
Cotton Fields Creedence Clearwater Revival
What About Me? Lake Street Dive
Mistletoe and Holly Frank Sinatra
Once in a Lifetime Talking Heads
These Lonely Nights Willie Nelson
The Wind Cat Stevens
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) Green Day
My Flea Has Dogs Caspar Babypants
Lump The Presidents of the USA
Happy Xmas (War is Over) John Lennon
Dedicated Follower of Fashion The Kinks
The Kind You Can’t Afford Madeleine Peyroux
Zombie Jamboree Rockapella
Spirit on the Water Bob Dylan
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch Thurl Ravenscroft
American Tune Paul Simon
Lover’s Prayer Randy Newman
The Longest Time Billy Joel
New Paul McCartney
Nobody Told Me John Lennon
Here Comes Santa Claus Gene Autry
Sleigh Ride The Ronettes
Good People Jack Johnson
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight Norah Jones
Put Your Records On Corinne Bailey Rae
Yeh Yeh They Might Be Giants
The Last Mall Steely Dan
The Underdog Spoon
Why Don’t You Get a Job* The Offspring

*Whoops, accidentally published two songs on the 28th.

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My Not-So-Simple Resolutions for a Simple 2016

Two days before Christmas, long after I swore I wouldn’t be leaving the house again until the new year, I found myself wandering the aisles of a grocery store, a petulant child crawling on the floor behind me and wailing that she didn’t want to walk anymore. A deep, dark voice came from the shadows. “Mom?” I was not entirely sure I was the person being addressed here, but I turned to see a heavy-set man in a hair net. “C-O-O-K-I-E?” he spell-asked me. I had to think. This was clearly not behavior that should be rewarded. However, at this point she had probably already seen the c-o-o-k-i-e, and it was a free coo… “Yes, no, maybe so?” the voice interrupted my thoughts. There is simply no time for contemplating parenting complexities in the dairy section. So I took the cookie. Though initially she screamed that she didn’t want it, shortly thereafter she reconsidered, started eating it and walked with me to the checkout. Continue reading

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My DSP 4: The Underdog

SongThe Underdog

Artist: Spoon

Year: 2007

Favorite Lyric: You got no time for the messenger
Got no regard for the thing that you don’t understand
You got no fear of the underdog
That’s why you will not survive

Significance: I heard this song in the movie Cloverfield. I liked it enough at the time to download it. It found its way back into my playlist this year and in heavy rotation. And it seemed like a fitting end for the year. Happy new year, everyone!

Video:

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