Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Frenemy Named Siri

I got an Iphone for Christmas.  Finally I didn't have to be embarrassed about taking my phone out at a restaurant dinner party.  Finally, I would be able to show people more photos of my kids than anyone thought possible.  Finally, I could check e-mail in the car (only after parking) of course.  

And finally, I had my own personal assistant. I had Siri.

The first time I put Siri to use was en route to my friend's naked spa birthday party between Christmas and New Year's.  I had checked directions the old fashioned way, on my laptop, and then copied them down on paper because my laptop isn't connected to a printer.  Don't hate.  Writing helped me get the directions in my Swiss cheese slice of a brain.  

Still, I thought it would be lovely to have the added reassurance of turn-by-turn GPS-informed guidance.  I'm not a confident highway driver - the only thing more unnerving to me would be chowing down on a platter of week old sushi, or running sprints in Lady Gaga heels.  I wanted -- needed-- all the help I could get.

I got in my car, and looked up the spa.  Dutifully, Siri found it, and I commandeered her to give me driving directions.  She was on point getting me out of my neighborhood and onto Lake Shore Drive.  Her smooth, yet robotic voice made me feel like I had my own personal tour guide. I had arrived, baby.  

But then on I-55, things began to go so very WRONG! I knew I was supposed to take the exit onto I-94, but Siri directed me to continue toward St. Louis.  

WTF, Siri?!  I thought you had my back! 

I tried to stuff my e-genie back in her bottle but she was fiercely determined to remain in the world and to be a pain in my ass. I tapped wildly on the phone, trying to reprogram her, to redirect her, to make her worthy of my trust again, but it quickly became clear that I had to choose between getting Siri in sync with my needs, or wrecking my car.  I don't know what Hubs would have done if the gift he'd given me not five days ago had caused the untimely death of his stupid, can't-drive-for-shit, multi-tasking wife.  

Siri directed me off the highway at every single exit.  When I finally parted ways with I-94, she persistently, in a tone that I heard as not only exasperated, but downright hostile, told me to turn around.  I felt mocked and betrayed.  

I wanted Siri defenestrated, as one of my former bratty private-school students had done with her decidedly unworthy phone circa 2001. My I-phone had become I-backseat driver. How could I shut this bitch up?!  I was at once alone and a dysfunctional couple arguing all the way to their destination.

I continued following my notes and praying that I wasn't going to wind up in Iowa. My first Iphone journey had been an abysmal failure.  

When I got to the spa, I saw what had gone so horribly wrong.

Siri had been directing me to the King's Health Spa in Downer's Grove, not King Spa and Sauna in Niles. God bless America, I had touched the wrong location.  It was all my fault. 

After that things got a little better. I fired Siri from navigating long drives and hired Google Maps.  Siri was now relegated to being my secretary -- her sole function making phone calls in the car.

Usually she was great.  I loved saying "Raina Jenks Mobile!" or "Call Tom Cell" and getting hooked up. The kids giggled at these requests and chanted, "Raina Jenkins mobile!  Raina Jenkins mobile!"  But every now and then Siri demonstrated that she was in serious need of an ear candling session.  And as every mom knows, car time is some of the most precious time around.  When I lost valuable time interpreting for Idiot Siri I was PISSED. And her patronizing and calm was beyond irritating.

Asking for Tina Jacobs Connor was met with this snippy reply:  

Like a bitchy teen forced to shop at the mall with her mother, I repeated my request, caustically enunciating every syllable.  I said, "Ti-NA Ja-COBS Con-NOR."

Siri replied with this:

"I SAID TI-NA JA-COBS CON-NOR," I shouted, practically panting with rage.

Siri came right back at me with this:

I know you did not just get all patronizing on me!  Oh, Hell no, Siri!  I began hurling profanities at her (yes, at a machine), before dialing the number myself. 

A few days later I tried again. "Christine Williams," I said, as clearly as possible.

"Do you mean Chrissy Williams?" Siri asked.

"Yes," I answered.

"Dialing," Siri replied.  She paused slightly before adding cheekily, "Keesha, what would you do without me?"

God only knows, Siri.  God only knows.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

No One Loves Talking Shit Like I Do!

About six weeks ago, Mr. R hopped out of the car, and ahead of me and his sister, dashed across the grassy area between curb and sidewalk, and into school.  Noticing nothing out of the ordinary, I deposited him and Lady A in their respective classrooms, got them settled and kissed them good-bye before setting off for a day of teaching.  

Just as I got to work my phone rang.  I looked down at the number.  It was his school.  No good announcements ever follow a phone call from your kid's school.  Just to mix it up a little, why can't they ever call to say, "Just wanted to tell you that your child drew a picture today worthy of a budding Picasso! Now go get yourself a glass of champagne to celebrate!"  

"Um, Keesha,"  said Ms. J, one of his teachers. "Mr. R stepped in dog poop.  And while he was sitting down for group time, he crossed his legs and got it all over his pants."

Oh, shit, I almost said.   

"Also, his box of spare clothes is empty, and we don't keep clothes for his class, so he is wearing a pair of shorts we dug up, and his socks." Ms. J, said matter-of-factly.  " We put all his stuff in a bag. He's going to need some more clothes."   I was sure what she wanted to say was Lady, how the hell you gon' bring into the school a boy whose shoes were laquered in shit without noticing anything?  And make us clean it up? 

How the hell was I going to do that?!  Talk about being up shit's creek without a paddle. "Um, okay, I just got to work," I stammered. "I'll call my mom, and see if she can bring him some pants and shoes from home."

Luckily, my mom came to the rescue, winning the Grandmother of the Year Award by a landslide.  She later confessed that after digging poop out of the grooves of Mr. R's boots, she'd lost her appetite for the day.  "Now there's a diet plan," she quipped. 

As a mom I felt like a negligent asshole for forgetting to bring back spare clothes after washing them for winter break. I was pissed that "they" hadn't reminded me personally -- e-newsletters didn't count. I felt abundantly stupid for letting Mr. R scamper across the grass without checking first.  And I wanted to get all Braveheart on the douchebag who couldn't be bothered to clean up after his dog.  I longed to launch hundreds of flaming sacks of shit at his windows.  

I don't have a dog, but I know that if I had one, I would be religious about picking up my dog's poop.  I mean, how hard can it be?  You leave the house with the intention of walking your dog, right?  No one suddenly finds herself outside with some dog on a leash, thinking, "Gosh, now what happens? Maybe this pup and I are supposed to set up a bikini car wash?"  

The "forgot my baggies, paper towels, pooper scooper, special glove, or whatever" is complete dogshit.  If you forget, figure something else out, for the love of God. And why do people think that rain gives them a free pass?  Hello?!

Which brings me to the heart of this post.  The two kinds of people in the world applies to more than just those who pick up after their dogs and those who leave the world a poop minefield for the rest of us.  There are people who take everything very seriously, and those who are more, let's say, relaxed.  

In other words, there are people who care and those who don't give a shit.  

Here are 12 of my favorite ways to finish the complex sentence that begins with:   

There are two types of people in the world:  

1.    those who always, always park conscientiously, paying attention to other cars and/or distance from the curb, and those who park like they just had a Nyquil-tini.

2.    those (men) who want you to believe they've got a 20 pound turkey between their legs, and those who make room for others on public transportation.

3.    those who text in theaters or have full-voice conversations at art galleries, and those who understand that they could draw more attention to themselves only by lighting a torch and singing an operatic version of "Dick in a Box."

4.    those parents (true story) who actually turn off the Academy Awards when their about-to-meltdown kid asks to watch Caillou, and those who would mutter, "F--k that!" under their breath, and "redirect" Little Soandso to another activity. (Guess what I wish I'd picked).

5.    those parents who remain reasonably on watch at the playground, and those who never seem to notice that their children are in total mean girl/thug mode with other kids.  

6.    those who call/text regularly when they are running late, and apologize profusely, and those who were surely at one time proclaimed the second coming, because the world waits for them.  

7.    those who sit on curbs or subway steps or platforms, and those who would rather just spray themselves with a bubonic plague sample and call it a day.  

8.    those who, even with a long line behind them, take so long in the stall you wonder if they're redesigning the Sistene Chapel, and those who are in and out in a matter of seconds. AND... those who leave the seat neat and clean and those who get all fire hose when they pee.  

9.    those who weigh every word very carefully, thinking about every interpretation possible, trying never to offend, and those who always seem to have a foul case of verbal diarrhea.  

10.  those who know exactly how much money is in their bank account, and those who are just-fine-thank-you with a ballpark figure.  

11.  those who get into fights with friend's friends on Facebook, and those who can take a deep breath, pray for our country, and go on with their lives.  (Sometimes not giving a shizz is good!)

12.   those who write snarky, ranty blog posts about everything that bugs them, and those who couldn't care less. 

Wink, wink.  What's on YOUR two kinds of people in the world list?

How'd ya like to de poop these babies?
 Looks fun, right?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dear Best Friend's Hubby

Dear Best Friend's Hubby:

Hi!  It's me, your wife's bestie.  I feel like things have gotten a little aaaawk-ward.  You and I need a little come to Jesus moment. 

I'll admit that I do know a lot about you.  I know things that should be private, that are none of my blanking business, but are part of my world because they concern my BFF.  From what I can tell, I worry you.  I might even piss you off a little.

I can see it in the way you keep your distance from me and the way you handle me with kid gloves. You're concerned that the second something goes down, your wife would trample a kitten to get to me on the phone.  Do you think I'm some kind of she-devil who roils your wife into a frenzy about her no-good husband? 

Really, it's not like that at all. I only foam at the mouth when someone finishes something in the fridge and forgets to write it down on the grocery list, and I keep my trademarked set of Castrating Bitch! knives in a special locked box in the back of my lingerie drawer.  

Seriously, though, I'm not going to lie.  I do know a lot about you.  I know the sweet things you do and say.  I know what you do and don't do around the house.  Good and bad, I know how you make my friend feel.  And as far as THAT (you know what I'm talking about) goes, your wife and I have had some conversations that make the Sex and the City girls look like June Cleaver's bridge club.

That's all I'm going to say about that.  

And, you know what?  With all I know, I think you mean well. You're a good guy, with qualities both wonderful and terrible.  I know how difficult it can be to be married.  And I really know how tough it is to be married and have the responsibility of little kids, not to mention maintaining a career and a home.  I am objective enough to know I am only getting one side of the story. Even though I love my friend so much, I'd submit to the sheer torture of a three way with NRA spokesperson, Wayne La Pierre, and Carrot Top, I know she isn't perfect.  No matter how much I have her back, I believe in the immortal words of Lynn Collins, re-mastered by Rob Base, that, "it takes two to make a thing go right."

Believe it or not, I actually like you. When we have hung out together, it's been fun. 

I also know that at one point -- and often you still do -- you made my friend dizzyingly, dazzling happy. So happy that she chose you to marry and to be the father of her children.  That says a lot.

So why then, you wonder, do we engage in epic man-bashing sessions, bitching about our husbands all the effing time? 

First of all, don't flatter yourself.  We are women.  We have a lot to talk about, besides you, sir. Our day, the kids, things we need to buy, our burgeoning to-do lists, how that creme bruleĆ© we inhaled might as well have been slathered on our buttocks -- the list goes on.  

But when we do vent, we need to know if we are being unreasonable, if other hubbies do the same thing, and how to confront it or how to move on.  Contrary to what you may think, suffering in silence is not strength. It is emotionally healthy to talk with other people in the same boat, as long it doesn't become semi-pro whining.  

You boys are really missing out. Why can't you talk about your relationship issues with each other? They've got to be on your mind, so why is it so hard for you to have that kind of convo with your friends? I know I'm no cream puff to live with, and I would expect some honest venting about me.  I really would.  Getting perspective from other emotionally intelligent (this is key) friends is a good thing.  Along with dresses and not having hair sprouting from my face, the ability to confide in and to co-soul-search with my girlfriends is one reason I'm lucky to be a woman. (PMS and riding the cotton pony not so much, but you don't want to know about that anyway.) 

So please stop worrying about what I think about you. It's silly. All I want is for you and my gal-pal to be happy.  I know you love my bestie madly and I don't blame you for each and every problem I hear about.  We're all trying to cope with this time in our lives the best way we know how.

And dude, please. You know a ton of stuff about me as well, and you don't see me skulking about, do you?

Your Wife's Best Friend

Friday, March 15, 2013

Voodoo Is the New Vampire Giveaway

I'll admit to seeing Braveheart and Gladiator almost as many times as The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles (I was an eighties teen, so this REALLY means something). 

No one appreciates a revenge story better than I do, which is why I fell so hard for Bruce Elgin's Voodootown series.  The tales of protection and comeuppance are fantastically satisfying.  I've never been a big fan of the occult, but Mr. Elgin and the folks over at Grasshorse Studios have gotten me to walk happily into the underworld.  And even though I completely understand that it doesn't quite fit,  I'm longing for a mom version.  I mean how delicious would it be to have voodoo dolls throttle that horrible person who keeps shooting mothers and children dirty looks on an airplane or at a restaurant?  How satiated would you feel reading about  that Mean mom at the playground/school/ballet getting her just due? 

Satiated?  That sounds very vampirish.  And I am sick of vampires. They are sooooo over.  

According to author Bruce Elgin and the fine folks at Grasshorse Studios, an award-winning animation firm, voodoo is the new vampire, and I agree. For about the same price it would cost you to order up a crap vampire movie in which the lead actors have both porcelain skin and porcelain emotions, you can own two episodes of the leagues more stimulating Voodootown series.

This brand new concept in young adult fiction is both unique and engaging. Our teen protagonists, troubled in the usual ways, try to fit in, make friends, and keep away from enemies, all the while shadowed by their stuffed familiars...voodoo dolls with special powers who settle human-world scores by night in the underground world of Voodootown

The latest episode in the series, Episode 6, "Tattered," is available this week for free download through Amazon. So don't take our word for it, read for yourself. 

We know you'll be hooked, and like the stitches-and-seams super dolls that watch over the teen characters in Elgin’s engrossing serial, we're here to help you out. Eight bloggers who have enjoyed a good young adult novel or two in their day, have gotten together to bring you a Voodootown Giveaway

A Grand Prize winner will net a $50 Amazon gift card, which, obviously, they’duse to buy up every single Voodootown ebook BUT WHY DO THAT WHEN YOU COULD WINTHE WHOLE SHEBANG? Yes, in addition to the $50 Amazon gift card, the Grand Prize winner will get a free copy of each of the currently available ebooks, from "Episode 1, Schooled," through the latest ebook, "Episode 6, Tattered." The enormity of this generosity boggles the mind.


The Grand Prize winner (there will be only one) will also get a limited edition Voodootown t-shirt.Clothes off our back, that’s how far we’d go for you, readers.

Eight other runners-up, one for each of the bloggers helping to promote this giveaway, will win a copy of the very first Voodootown ebook, "Episode 1, Schooled," as well as a limited edition Voodootownt-shirt.

Will wonders never cease? Actually they will. Enter today through Friday, March 22 when this promotion ends. You'll have until midnight on March 22, when theRafflecopter sign-up below will shut down. Winners will be announced later that day on Ninja Mom Blog.

Get on it, kids. You just need to leave a comment to enter, posting the name you’d want for your very own voodoo doll protector. The rest of the entry options are optional, but each will give you a greaterchance to win.

Remember: The promotion ends in one week. Until then, here’shoping no one sticks a pin in your voodoo doll.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Find out or wait? The Boy/Girl Surprise

Pregnancy Myths - Brought To You By California Cryobank

I knew as much about raising boys as I did about raising Shetland ponies or first-class marijuana. I grew up with a single mom. I didn't see my boy cousins much. And all I knew about men was from romantic involvement and marriage.  

And frankly, the thought of unleashing a son on any woman, or on the earth for that matter, terrified me.

We struggled with infertility, and I prayed for a healthy child.  But then, with my uneventful pregnancy, I got picky.  OF COURSE I would love my child no matter what.  He or she would be the fruit of my loins -- the result of thousands (millions if you count all the prior research) dollars worth of science, painful shots in the ass and enough tears to fill a Hummer's gas tank. But screw the health crap. 

I wanted a girl.  And I wanted to know ASAP. 

When shopping for cribs at a kids' furniture store, someone did the ring on a string test.

A boy.

Whatever. What year was this? 1570?  Gimme a break.

A friend of mine who claimed she had never been wrong in determining a baby's sex from the shape of the belly and a "feeling," also said she thought it was a boy.  

I shrugged my shoulders, although I gave her a bit more credence.  I was beginning to worry. "We'll see," I said.

I went to New York for my first baby shower, as well as to take some dance classes and to see some old chums.  Again, a former teacher of mine said she thought boy.  Why could no one say girl? Could I pay someone to give me a little bit of hope?  I told a friend of mine who had a year old son that everyone thought I was having a boy.  "I am a dance teacher -- little girls in pink is what I know," I lamented. "What am I going to do with a boy?"

"When I found out I was having a boy," she confided in me, "I was devastated.  But I adore him.  Couldn't imagine anything else.  And boys love their mamas."

Our 20 week visit was in a little more than a week from my NYC trip. I couldn't wait.  I kind of understood people waiting to be surprised by the gender, but that was not a surprise I wanted.  I was DYING to know!

Our 20 week scan came.  Boy.  Unmistakably.  Not a maybe, not tucked between the legs. All boy.

Slowly I got used to the idea. And at least I didn't have to have anymore showers where people gave mystery-gender-neutral gifts.  And when my son arrived I was instantly head-over-heels in love.  All that I-don't-want-a-boy jazz was gone.  

The second time around, I didn't care as much.  Neither did Hubby. Naturally, I was hoping for a girl, not to be the only woman in the house, for some symmetry and hopefully (perhaps) to have someone to do girly stuff with. But if I had a boy, I already knew what to do.  And I had the clothes and the stuff.  If I had a girl, bonus.  

I was nauseated all the time. People who had not been paid to do so said they thought I was having a girl.

I thought I was having a girl too.

And the 20-week visit confirmed that I was.

It is amazing how we get pregnancy gender myths on the brain, how crazy we get over "what it's going to be," even though we love whatever we get more than we'd ever thought possible.  In our case at least, most of what they say has proved true.  Boys really do love their mamas.  And man, are girls sassy.  I have about three weeks before my almost three year old daughter begins rolling her eyes at me.  But in other ways they are just kids, who do the things they do because of their spunky, curious natures, not because of their gender.

But would I go crazy wondering what we were having if for some way-out-there reason, one which I cannot for the life think of now, we were preggers again?  

Hell yeah.  And I would find out again.  Because the boy or a girl thing, that's not a surprise.

The baby coming out looking like Tony Soprano and dropping f-bombs by the dozen?  Now, that would be a surprise!

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Shameless Self Promotion of I Just Want to Pee Alone

Last week you learned that I'm an only child who would give you the shirt off her back (and then call all her friends and ask why she lets herself be doormatted again and again).

Okay, for realz.  You learned that I was graciously invited by the fantastic Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat to be in a wildly funny anthology with 36 of the best mom bloggers out there today.  You learned that I could share the they-should-totally-be-famous writing of the other authors in the book.

Now I am going to do some shameless self-promotion.  I was never good at it.  When I was performing or had choreographed a piece, my most forceful invitation went something like this, "Hey, I'm kind of in a show. You should come. If you want."  When I got a great review in the paper, I kept it in my inner circle.

Shouting out one's accomplishments to the world seemed immodest and boastful.  The Dowager Countess would decry such behavior as not merely unladylike, but hopelessly plebeian, worthy of a ditchdigger or field hand.

I mean, if you were really worth something wouldn't your reputation precede you?  Wouldn't people be banging down your door with compliments and begging you to work with them?  Wouldn't they worship you just because?  Wouldn't you have your own perfume line at Target?

Ask me how that's worked out for me.

So eff that ess!  I'm going to self-promote until my ass falls off.

I am in an ab-workout funny book about motherhood, that blasted to the top of the charts on Amazon and I-tunes in a matter of days!  I am kiss-the-sky proud to be in a book that is is nothing short of brilliant, and is the best thing to happen to motherhood since vodka in juice boxes  the stroller cupholder. 

There. I said it. 

I Just Want To Pee Alone is a collection of hilarious stories from 37 of the most popular and humorous mom bloggers on the internet about the funny side of parenting.

Motherhood is the toughest – and funniest – job you’ll ever love. Raising kids is hard work. The pay sucks, your boss is a tyrant, and the working conditions are pitiful – you can’t even take a bathroom break without being interrupted with another outrageous demand.  This book is a must-have for every mother in your life, featuring me, Mom's New Stage, People I Want To Punch In The Throat, Insane in the Mom-Brain, The Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva, Baby Sideburns and:

Ready to Order yours?  Terrific. And it's like there's an easy button.



APPLE Buy it at iTunes.

NOOK - B&N is taking its sweet time. In the meantime, you can get it from Smashwords. Just follow the instructions for NOOK. CLICK HERE.


Mother's Day is coming up.  Baby Showers.  Give it to a mom who needs to find the funny in motherhood, a mom who needs to know that we've all been there, a mom who is desperate for a party in the covers (between the covers of a book, I mean.)

And of course this makes a great gift for that sister, neighbor or colleague who swears that she will be the mom who makes Victoria Beckham look like the troll from under the bridge.  Hello, reality check!

If you would like to order a signed copy through me, I'd be honored. Just shoot me an email!  (Chicago folks, I am happy to sell you copies and arrange pickup, to save you shipping costs.)

I'm so excited and I hope you just adore I Just Want to Pee Alone. 

And, by the way, it doesn't really count as shameless self-promotion if you promote other people, does it? 

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