Monthly Archives: May 2013

Are You OK With It?

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Today was apparently sexism day. At least for the news outlets. First up, a news story found by a friend:

tweet.

In case you can’t or don’t feel like reading it, here are the highlowlights:

A veteran Russian cosmonaut, a rookie Italian astronaut and an American mother on her second flight blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday for a six-hour ride to the International Space Station.

So the first man is a cosmonaut. The second man is an astronaut. The woman is a mother. Actually, she’s a  NASA astronaut and a mechanical engineer, which is far more relevant to the story, but instead they chose to label her as a mother. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a mother – I am one. But if you are writing a story about my professional accomplishments, then referring to me as a mother seems to be saying something that I am not quite getting.

It goes on to say:

She leaves behind her astronaut husband, Doug Hurley, and their 3-year-old son, Jack.

Wait, what?  Do the men on the flight not leave anyone behind? Or is it that we as a sexist society feel the need to point out her sacrifice (or abandonment, depending on your level of sexism and/or misogyny)?

It may seem like a harmless thing, but it’s not. Every time you label a professional woman in a professional setting as anything other than her role as a professional, you diminish that role. And when you single her out for “leaving behind” her loved ones, you are making a judgment, intentional or not.

Then a few hours later, I came across this on facebook (from a local news station):

wtf

What the eff?  If the “news” outlets really wanted to know what people think about this, they could have asked “What do you think?”  Instead they chose to go with “Are you OK with [this]?”  And that wording is what makes it offensive. Because by asking if people are “OK” with it  implies that there is something to not “be OK” with. At the very least it reeks of a group trying to get lots of hit and comments by baiting people to stir up the ridiculous stay at home mom vs. working mom (non)controversy. With a little bonus misogyny thrown in for fun.

You want to talk about women in the workplace? Let’s talk about how – in 2013 – women still only get paid about 77% of compared to men for the same exact work. Let’s talk about how women make up the majority of those in low-paying service jobs and yet are nearly nonexistent in the highest paid and most highly regarded careers. Let’s talk about how although the gap between men and women receiving bachelor’s degrees is only 1.5%, yet the salaries of those men exceeds the salaries of those women by more than $26,000 per year. Let’s talk about how women make up 91% of registered nurses, but still make only 91 cents for every dollar that males in the same job make.

So let me ask you:

Are you OK with that?

Letters of Complaint

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Dear Mother Nature:

It’s May. MAY! 44 is not acceptable. Neither 90. Or 32.

Love, Me

Dear Asshole with the Fat Chicks Can’t Jump sticker:

Sorry your penis is so small.

Love, Me

Dear Dog:

Let me see if I have this straight. Friends, strangers, burglars, ax-murderers, and politicians: “Welcome! Come in! Can I get you a snack?” Squirrels, robins, turkeys*, the wind: “KILL IT WITH FIRE!” Alrighty, then.

Love, Me.

*Actual turkeys. Obviously, jive turkeys are OK.

Dear Bigoted, Homophobic Asshole on Twitter/Facebook:

Eat a bag of (preferably gay) dicks!

Love, Me.

Dear Face:

I am forty-four damned years old. Cut the shit!

Love, Me

Dear Phone:

Stop mixing up my phone contacts with other people’s twitter/facebook info. I’m pretty sure my 9 year old daughter isn’t a mother of four.

Love, Me

Dear Boy Scouts:

It’s not enough.

Love, Me

Dear America:

Be nicer.

Love, Me

Dear Books:

Thank you for existing. I love you best.

Love, Me

Dear Cat:

The other side of that door is exactly the same as it was when you were over there 5 minutes ago. And 10 minutes ago. And 14 minutes ago. And 20 minutes ago. And 23 minutes ago. STOP IT!

Love, Me

Dear Science:

Try and hurry up with the curing all diseases, so you can get to work on the self-cleaning house.

Love, Me

Dear Ass:

Be smaller.

Love, Me

Let’s Talk About Math

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Let me preface this by saying that this isn’t about the teachers. I love my daughter’s teachers. It’s the curriculum that  have a problem with.

I know – I hate math, too. Which makes it super weird that I went into a math-heavy line of work. but anyway – I am talking about basic math. Easy math. Elementary school math.

That I am unable to help my daughter with.

Is anyone else having this problem? Your kid comes home with their math homework and asks you for help and you say, “Sure! Third grade math is easy!” And then you look at it and look at it again and then blink a few time and then put your glasses on and read it again and finally you say, “What fresh hell is this?”

Because seriously – what the sweet blue fuck are they teaching these kids?

Look – I understand that it has been a long, long (loooong) time since I was in elementary school. And I know that they are learning things earlier. and that they have different methods of teaching. I get that. Hell – I remember being in physics class in high school and my dad (MS in and former teacher of physics) trying to help me and refusing to believe that my teacher could possibly be teaching me to do it that way (until he came for parents’ night, discovered that he was, had a cow, told the teacher he was doing it wrong, and came home and apologized to me for a whole school year of not believing me). So I really DO get that things change. But this is different. This isn’t just a new method of teaching. This is leaving out the part where they learn the basics – the part that all the other stuff comes back to.

When my son was in grade school, I used to get irritated by all the estimating that they taught. I always believed that you should be able to do the problem and come up with the answer. Estimating is important, too, but you need to be able to do the math and find the actual answer. But I sat back because the teachers assured me that this was how they do it now. I also kept my mouth shut (mostly) through”tap” math (which was almost counting-on-your-fingers), and a number of other techniques that I didn’t really get, but  had my own physics experience in my head and thought  should give it a shot.

So here we are seven years later and I am watching my daughter occasional struggle with math (something that she was previously very naturally good at). They are working on multiplication. They start earlier than we old folks did. I remember being in 4th grade and having all the multiplication tables on the board. And we memorized that shit until we were blue in the face. The entire class: “One time one is one. One times two is two. One times three is three…” It was tedious. It was boring. It wasn’t even remotely fun. But guess what? Thirty-five years later and someone wants to know what nine times seven is? I’m your girl. SIXTY-THREE, MOTHERFUCKERS! I still know that shit!

But they don’t teach the kids that basic math anymore. I think the attitude is that the way we did it was memorization – that they want the kids to be able to figure it out and not just memorize. Unfortunately, that isn’t happening. The memorization part is what makes it easy and natural, so they can do the more complicated stuff further on. If you ask my daughter or most of her friends what nine times seven is, there will be much thinking and counting and fingers and possibly even a little guessing before they come up with 63. So figuring out 247 x 239 is going to take a LOT longer.

This week she had multiplication homework. Problems like 42 x 7. And they wanted them to solve it like this:

7 x 40 = 280

7 x 2 = 14

280 + 14 = 294

That’s three steps! THREE! When it could have been solved quite simply in one:

math

I watched her for 15 minutes struggling through these problems, trying to figure them out. And I finally realized that it wasn’t the math itself that she was struggling with, but the way it was being done. she didn’t know what they wanted. And I had no idea what they were asking her to do, never having seen this type of teaching or even heard of the phrases that the use to explain it. Finally I just taught her to do it the old way, and it was like a light bulb went off in her head. She tore through the rest of those problems in about three minutes total.

So this summer, I intend to make sure that she has all the multiplication tables memorized so she’s ready to start next year. and while I will do my best to figure out what the heck they want and encourage her to learn it their way, I will also be teaching her my way, as well. Because if she gets caught up in confusion over the way they are teaching, she isn’t actually learning anything at all. And even if she may not be doing it their way, she’ll be doing it.

Stupid Cats

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Last night, I couldn’t sleep. I know – no one wants to hear about my insomnia, but tough – this is my blog, so we’re talking about how I didn’t sleep last night, dammit! Anyway, I tossed & turned for what seems like one billion years, and then finally, mercifully, I was drifting off to sleep when I heard a hellacious racket coming from the back yard. At first I thought it was coyotes, and I started wondering if it was possible to get photos in the dark without being eaten by coyotes (I’m delicious, after all  I have to keep these things in mind). But when I opened the sliding doors, I realized that it was not, in fact, coyotes, but a couple of stupid, boring cats. No one wants night photos of stupid boring cats.

I tried laying back down to sleep, bu they got louder and more annoying. and then I started worrying that MY cat had gotten out and was out there yelling for me to let her in. Now, there as NO WAY I could sleep. I didn’t ant to wake the entire house, so I kept the lights off & stumbled around truing to find the cat. I went from room to room calling her. Of course she did exactly what cats do when you call them: NOTHING. So I got a flashlight to look for her. Then the dog saw the flashlight beam and LOST HIS SHIT. By this time, it’s 1:00am, and I am creeping around MY OWN HOUSE like a burglar, calling a cat, which everyone knows is futile, if not totally stupid, all the while trying to keep the idiot dog from waking the whole family up.

Me (whispering): “Psst…Mittens?…Here Kitty”

Dog (totally not whispering): “FLASHLIGHT! OMG WHAT IS THAT? IT’S A LIGHT! IT’S MOVING!!! OH!!! MY!!! GOD!!!!!!!

Yeah – that was fun.

I couldn’t find the damned cat anywhere, so I opened he doors again and tried to see if I could see the cats. One was long-haired and brown & white. Definitely not her. The other was all black and about her size & shape (lump is a shape, right?). So now I’m really worried that she got out. I couldn’t tell if she had a collar on, so I went downstairs to look out the basement door. I still couldn’t see a collar. So there I was, outside int the cold rain, shining a flashlight on two asshole cats who just looked at me like, “Can’t you see we are BUSY! God!” And they weren’t even really busy. It’s not like they were doing the kitty mamba or anything – they were just practicing their duet for the local wildlife talent show. And you guys – their singing SUCKED. It was the worst song, ever. It didn’t sound anything like “Memory.”

Now that I knew it wasn’t MY cat out there, I went back upstairs & tried to sleep. But the singing got louder and more off-key every minute. And the dog was still pissed about the light getting away. Then the boy must have heard the stupid cat serenade and started yelling at Mittens. IN HIS SLEEP. He was yelling at the (mostly) innocent cat in his sleep. And then the dog was like, “Screw the cat – there was A LIGHT!”

By this time, it was 1:30 and I pretty much gave up on sleep. But then, one again – mercifully – I started to drift off again. Right in time for Mittens to make her way into the room and start singing her own song. A song called “I am a Dick”

Stupid cats.

Parenting

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Here is parenting in a nutshell:

 

Parent: How do you want your hair?

Child: Do it this way.

Parent: How do you want your hair?

Child: Do it this way.

Parent: How do you want your hair?

Child: Do it this way.

Repeat 1 billion additional times

Parent: There – I did it the way you like.

Child: OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? THAT IS THE WRONG WAY! I HATE IT THAT WAY!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Parent: What do you want for dinner?

Child: Burgers! Burgers are my favorite! I want burgers EVERY DAY!

***3 months of begging for burgers every day***

Parent: Guess what? We’re having your favorite!

Child: Mac & cheese?!?

Parent: No – burgers.

Child: OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? I HATE BURGERS! YOU KNOW MAC & CHEESE IS MY FAVORITE!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Child: I’m hurt*.

Parent: Really? I think you’re fine.

Child: I AM hurt. You never believe me.

Parent: But you were fine all day and now suddenly you’re hurting?

Child: YES!

Parent: It’s not bruised or swollen. I think it’s fine.

Child: I’M HURT AND YOU DON’T BELIEVE ME! IT HUUUUUUUUURTS. I’M DYYYYYYYYYING!

Parent: OK, fine – let’s go get it checked.

Doctor: She’s fine. I can’t find anything wrong. (thinking: Man, woman you are a crazy helicopter parent)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

That last scenario will play out approximately 600 times, until you have paid one million dollars in copays & xray fees until:

 

Child: I’m hurt.

Parent: Really? I think you’re fine.

Child: I AM hurt. You never believe me.

Parent: But you were fine all day and now suddenly you’re hurting?

Child: YES!

Parent: It’s not bruised or swollen. I think it’s fine.

Child: I’M HURT AND YOU DON’T BELIEVE ME! IT HUUUUUUUUURTS. I’M DYYYYYYYYYING!

Parent: No – just prop it up on a pillow and you’ll be fine. I am not rushing to have it x-rayed just for them to tell me you’re fine. You Are Fine.

***3 weeks later***

Doctor: She would have been fine if you had brought her in 3 weeks ago, but now she’s messed up (thinking: Man, woman you suck at being a parent)**

 

*Sick can be swapped in for hurt – in which case you will send your clearly un-sick kid to school, where she will promptly barf all over everyone, while telling her teacher that she told you she was sick but you didn’t believe her.

**This last scenario hasn’t happened to me yet, but I am waiting for it.