Many moons ago, I was forcibly uprooted from the co-ed, hippie, Montessori learning enclave of my early childhood and enrolled by my parents in Catholic all-girls’ school.  Whereas once I had daily worn teal-and-black animal-print high tops and tee-shirts celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall, I was suddenly thrust into a world of uniform plaid jumpers, saddle-shoes, and dour-faced nuns.

Orderly rows of assigned desks replaced the colorful carpets on which I was accustomed to lounging.  I was no longer permitted to while away the hours in the library, obsessively consuming comics and books on the Salem witch trials, or scribbling in my journal.  Instead, study time was strictly scheduled and misbehavior was publicly punished.  I was forced to take math beyond pushing a desultory bead around an abacus.

Math, in fact, was the fundamental cause of this disorienting change of course, as recent testing demonstrated that my nine-year-old self possessed the vocabulary of the average college student (thanks to my insatiable appetite for reading) and the math skills of your average three-year-old sorting out Cheerios at the breakfast table.  It seems my parents found this troubling, and despite the fact that I could adeptly weave hammocks from plastic six-pack rings and was extremely disturbed by the Gulf War, some basic educational tenets were lacking in my development.

This alleged inability (or total unwillingness) to learn math was also what prompted my mother to chauffeur me, whining, to Kumon twice a week, while my dad suffered my crying fits over everything from fractions to basic Algebra.  If you are wondering if the extra-curricular Kumon teaching methods are effective, I can only say that my math skills sped from 0 to 60 and the school was later that same year forced to furnish me with a sixth-grade math book – this for the girl who, months prior, had barely mastered basic addition.  In my experience, Kumon is the steroids of arithmetic, and for your math-averse child, akin to a prolonged, pinpointed torture session.  Obviously, I plan to subject my own children to it in the future, when they’ve been very bad.    (more…)


My mom has never made a big deal out of Mother’s Day, which is certainly pleasant for me and Dad.  A card is nice, flowers are always appreciated but not necessary, and you can pretty much stop right there.  No breakfast in bed (she would hate it).  No fuss.  No brunch or shopping or spa treatment (not our style, anyway).  For her, it is a made-up holiday to be tolerated.  Her refreshing approach cuts down on guilt and expenditures – I think it means more to me now that I’m older than it does to her, so I usually send an e-card and some flowers and, when long-distance, give her a call.  She’s always pleased and reminds me, sincerely:  “You didn’t have to do anything!”

Baby Me climbing Mother Mountain, roaring with delight

This year she got, in lieu of flowers, a $30 Amazon gift card, which she will hopefully spend on herself.  So given her low-key approach, I don’t have a soppy Mother’s Day message, but I do have some beautiful pictures my father sent us of Mom playing with me on the bed as a baby, and I wanted to post a few.  (more…)

A welcome and rather touching addition to the photo blog ranks is My Parents Were Awesome, profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered last week.  Eliot Glazer has compiled over 3,000 user-submitted images of parents and grandparents in their heyday, and the result is a lovely little tribute to eras past.  Definitely worth a browse.

grumpy old peopleI have some questions:

1.  When did you completely lose all your table manners and disregard the practice of keeping food IN your mouth while eating?  You do realize the reason you choke and cough all the time is because you insist on talking while your mouth is trying to chew, yes?

2.  When did you lose your sense of smell and start the daily habit of pouring half a bottle of perfume/after shave on your head?  Additionally, while I appreciate your spraying of air freshener after you drop a bomb in the terlet, it is not necessary to deploy the contents of the entire can.  You wanted to know why the flowers in the hallway died?  It’s because you replaced all the air with Renuzit and the only choices it had were mutate or die.

3.  When did you decide it would be appropriate to dig a tunnel to China, starting in your nose?  I seem to recall having my hands swatted away from my face when I did this as a child, yet every time I look over at you I am greeted with the sight of your finger buried to the knuckle up your fucking nose.  Followed by a complete and thorough sweep of the nostril cavity, accomplished by you rotating your finger 180 degrees in each direction.  The visual is rather alarming you know, and YES, that child was staring at you and I suspect it was because it looked like you were bowling with marbles up there.

4.  Why must you stand right next to me in front of a restaurant hostess and loudly fart, several times, in gas powered engine fashion?  Just because you have perfected the Innocent Look when engaged in such molecular assault, does not mean the rest of the immediate vicinity did not just hear your ass make sounds akin to the ripping of bedsheets.  Oh, and your remarks of, “It doesn’t stink” does not make it so.

5.  Why is it necessary to click and suck on your teeth 23 hours of every day?  One of you carries toothpicks everywhere and the other has removable teeth, so I am truly puzzled as to why you constantly make sounds like giant crickets.  Bonus:  watching you pick your molars with a steak knife!

6.  Why did you bring a separate suitcase full of shoes yet refuse to walk further than the driveway?  I know what you’re up to, you plan on leaving your shit at my house after you leave just to irritate me.  I see you.

7.  Why do you continually fall asleep in  front of the TV yet refuse to take a nap or go to bed?  And why do you instantly start making hissing sounds if you catch someone else napping?  WHY IS NAPPING SUCH A CRIME??  Related:  when you fall asleep sitting at the dinner table because you refuse to take a nap, THAT is why your fucking neck hurts. (stop blaming my pillows, kthx).

In closing, do you have a copy of my birth certificate to prove we are actually biologically related?  Just curious….