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Pimping Kids and Selling Crap

3 Sep

In  general, I consider myself a rather reasonable person. I don’t call the homeowner’s association when people leave their Christmas lights up until after St. Patrick’s Day, do not yell at neighborhood kids to get off my lawn, do not suffer apoplectic fits when people cut me off in traffic.

But you want to see my head spin around and fire shoot out of my eyes? Hide in the bushes and watch when the kids bring home their schools’ fundraiser packets.

Listen, I know the schools are underfunded, education is devalued, extra-curricular activities cost money blah, blah, blah. I KNOW. I am back in college at 41 to become a teacher, for crying out loud, even though my previous career paid better and was cooler to discuss at parties. 

But I hate the great American educational tradition of pimping out our kids to raise money selling overpriced useless crap.

This year, I was thrilled when my daughter’s middle school PTA sent home information saying “no fundraiser, we’re going to have ‘greenback night,’ just send cash or checks in whatever amount you like.”

The angels sang.

No stupid coupon books, no stale popcorn in tins, no wrapping-paper catalogs, no shortening-rich nasty frozen cookie dough, no candles to shill. No awkward hitting up of grandma and grandpa and co-workers.  No racing the other kids in the neighborhood to get door-to-door and see who could hit up the neighbors first. No apologetic, “hey, I know this stuff is lame, but my kid can’t go to the popsicle party if she doesn’t sell 5 things.”

Just, “hey, we need money for extracurricular stuff. Send in what you can.” I wrote a check, praising Jesus and the PTA all the while.

Then yesterday, my daughter came home, with that all-too-familiar brainwashed Children-of-the-Corn look in her eyes. And a freaking packet in her hand.

“Mom,” she said. “I need to start selling magazine subscriptions.”

WHAT THE HELL????

I called the school “Oh, the greenbacks is the PTA fundraiser. The magazines are the school fundraiser. And yes, choir will have its own fundraiser, too. They’re optional, of course.”

Oh sure. They’re totally optional. Except that they herd all the kids in a stupid sales pitch pep rally, where they serve fundraiser Kool-aid and get the kids all pumped up like a Tony Robbins seminar.

If you bring something back tomorrow, you get a cool plastic space alien slingshot! If you sell 2 things, you can watch the BMX stunt show pep rally! Sell 10 useless things and get out of class to play in the video game bus and roll around in giant hamster wheels! Guilt-trip grandma into buying 15 magazine subscriptions and bring a slacker friend to the party! Harass 30 neighbors or your parents’ co-workers, and you can spend 20 seconds in the cash cube, grabbing all the money your little hands can hold!

Someone’s making big money off these things, and guess what? It’s not just your kid’s school.

From a Minnesota Public Radio report: “The average fundraiser nets the school about 47 cents for every dollar of merchandise sold. The association says school fundraisers grossed well over $3 billion in 2000, the last year the industry group attempted to estimate the figure.”

Running school fundraisers is big business. “Just like any other business,” one fundraiser organizer said in that radio report.

 Except no, not really. There aren’t kindergarteners stocking the shelves at HEB. No 10-year-olds on the register at Target. No middle schoolers at Papa John’s selling pizza. 

My kid’s job is to go to school. Not sell overpriced things people don’t need so some knick-knack seller can turn a profit. Not to encourage the ridiculous consumer mentality of “we must buy stuff we don’t need to make people happy.”

You need money for extras? Just explain that to me. We’re not rich, but I’d rather come up with the cash than pimp out my child to a tchotchke-maker.

Now, does anyone need any magazines?

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Pregnant Pause

1 Sep

Seriously, Michelle Duggar.

I woke up this morning feeling determined and ready to accomplish something, ready to pop out a new blog post. The “Today Show” would probably call, so rare have they been lately. The world two people who read this blog would be so happy.

Then, you totally steal the headines by announcing you’re popping out a new kid. Duggar number 19 is preparing to shoot forth from your loins and join the ranks of tater-tot-casserole-eating, tour-bus-riding kids with names starting with J. I have a suggestion for this one, by the way. JustStop.

Of course, you won’t see my brilliant suggestion because clearly, you don’t read this blog. Since I have already offered some sage advice on this topic.

Nonetheless, I wish you and the next Duggar well. I wish you’d stop having kids and start using some of your obviously amazing budgeting and organizational skills to mentor young mothers. But you know, I’m sitting on my ass making jokes about tater tot casserole, so I don’t really have the credibility to judge.

Not that that’s ever stopped me.

Just do not invite me to the baby shower. You have turned fertility into enough of a money-making enterprise that I am absolutely not ponying up for another onesie, and I am not playing that idiotic “name the candy bar in the diaper” game again. I don’t care how much Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer and Jordyn-Grace beg.

5 Random Fashion Observations

20 Aug

Because, tonight, Project Runway is back. Viva Tim Gunn.

1. Some mornings, I miss my wardrobe staple of Chico’s stretchy black Traveler’s pants. Then I remember that the same size fits me even if I gain 40 pounds, and I resist any urge to go buy another pair.

2. People who have enough time and emotional energy to be outraged by the first lady wearing shorts on a visit to the Grand Canyon need to get a life. Seriously. I read some of the hyperventilating, pearl-clutching critiques before I saw the pictures and expected to see her booty hanging out the back and a too-short tank top revealing a belly-button piercing.

3.  Baby Phat, I really do not think you need to make your acid-washed denim miniskirt available “now in sizes up to 24.” I do not say this with a sneer of a size 2.  I myself am rather amply blessed in the figure department. But my sisters, dress the body you have, not the one you wish you had.

4. Seriously, what is up with these boots? Zappos offers them up as a hot new look. For who? Tundra gladiators who need the formality of a high heel?

ugly

5. However, after a summer with more than FIFTY freaking days over 100 degrees? If it meant I could wake up with it being 70 degrees tomorrow? I would wear the boots with the Baby Phat skirt and parade around the River Walk. Seriously.

Dear Facebook Quiz Addicts

8 Jul

Now listen, I love you all. I’m glad we are connected.

There’s been a hole in my life ever since we lost touch after: (check one)

  • college
  • high school
  • third grade
  • that one time at band camp
  • I got that restraining order against you

But still, I am enjoying this renewed connection. I like knowing what you’re up to, I love the pictures of your kids or cat. I enjoy trying to decide which of us has aged better. (Hi, Lisa. You win. I still like you.)

 However, there remain some things I don’t want to know about you.

I don’t want to know which swear word you would be,  how big of a b-tch you are, what sexual position you would be, or how many celebrities without makeup you can name. I am not at all worried about whether or not the Transformers would like you back.

I read Harry Potter, too, but I don’t care which Hogwarts House you would be assigned to, especially if you are over 40, because that is just sad. I don’t care if you are a Fork Biter or a Knife licker, and frankly, that sounds dirty. I don’t want to know what your lucky number is, especially if it announces it to me in a sparkly animated .gif that takes up two-thirds of my home page.

I don’t care what cookie, ice cream flavor, candy bar, or sandwich you would be. I do not want to lick your profile lollipop, and also? That is just gross.

I’m not totally anti-quiz. I will give you a pass of they are hilarious or ironic or historical like “How long would you last in a fight with God?” or “Which fiend of history are you?”  You get a pass on style points for those.

I know, you get bored. You take these things late at night and you can’t sleep because you drank 12 Diet Cokes after noon, or when you are locked in the bathroom with the laptop hiding from your children who are home for the summer and just won’t. stop. asking. questions.

Or maybe that’s just me.

But before you hit that little button that asks “publish to your News Feed?” I want you to think long and hard. Does your third-grade crush, your husband’s cousin, your BFF from college and the rest of the free world REALLY NEED TO KNOW THIS? Step back from the computer and count to ten.

And it’s not a quiz, but if for even a millisecond, you think you should tell the world that you just sent a friend an “I Weep Alone” using gothic gifts? I am begging you, turn off your computer and go get some sunshine.

Love,

Lettergirl

P.S. For the record, I would last 15 seconds in a fight with God, although I know better than to start one.

Hole-y Moley

5 Jun

Sometime late last year, our house started cracking up. Not giggling maniacally  like that crazy house in “Monster House.”

Cracking in half.

We first noticed when the bathroom door became a little hard to close, which meant I had to do my whole morning routine with a peeping corgi watching my every move. I would see the silhouette of giant bat-ears outside the shower curtain. He would sit and bark at the blow dryer, then carefully study me as I applied eyeliner. I think he’s emo.

But I didn’t really get worried until in the living room, a little crack started climbing down the wall. And then it became a big crack that looked like this:

Yes, those are Donkey Conga bongo drums on top of the TV cabinet. I rock that game. Shush.

Yes, those are Donkey Conga bongo drums on top of the TV cabinet. I rock that game. Shush.

So, we checked the warranty on our 10-year-old home. It, of course had expired like 2 months before the crack appeared. Yes, of course it had.  So we called a foundation company, who cheerfully told us it would cost eleventy billion dollars to fix.

I’ve mentioned, right, that I quit my job to go back to college full-time and become a highly paid educational professional? So awesome timing, you shifty little foundation, you.

As much as I occasionally would like the children to have their own home, we didn’t think letting the house split down the middle was the right answer. Mostly because the kitchen would be on their side, and then they would probably burn the place down. So we scheduled the two-day foundation repair process.

Monday, a small army of foundation repair crews descended on our home, and started digging holes all around. Not little holes. Holes big enough for the construction workers to disappear in. With their radios playing really loud. Every now and then, a little hard hat would pop up out of a hole. Kind of like life-size whack-a-mole, only I couldn’t actually hit anyone with a mallet.

ALTHOUGH I WANTED TO.

Day one seemed to go very smoothly. They dug holes, they unloaded their patented Cable Lock Plus system, and then in the late afternoon, they let me know they’d be back tomorrow. With the jackhammers, so they could also dig whack-a-holes under the porch and driveway.

The second day, I was brushing my teeth and unprepared for the earth to start moving when the jackhammering started. And I discovered that when your Sonicare toothbrush gets jolted up and brushes your eyes, it hurts like hell.

The sound and shaking was relentless. And of course since I had procrastinated, I had a paper to write. I plugged in my earphones and some tunes, and started working.

Suddenly, everything went dark.

The construction supervisor knocked on the door. They’d tripped a breaker, could he get to the fuse box?

The jackhammering started again. Pop. Dark. Knock.

Again. This time, it wouldn’t come back on. I called the power company, the supervisor went to get a generator. I kept my cheerful smile plastered on.

They got finished, we got power back, and the house was re-leveled lickety split. The crack in the living room went back together, the bathroom door happily opened and closed again, and two of the jackhammered holes were patched back up.

I heard water rushing outside. I happily messaged a friend, “oh good!  They’re hosing things down and cleaning up. Either that or they just hit a water pipe. Ha ha ha!”

Then, another knock.

“Uh, when we were working on the porch earlier, the jackhammer kind of hit a water pipe and broke it.” Shut my stupid mouth.

So the water was shut off, the plumber called, and the gaping hole left in the back porch. He came and guess what? More porch had to be jackhammered up to get the pipe fixed.

Day three, no water in the back half of the house, no plumber. About 4 in the afternoon, I called and said “where are the people who are supposed to be putting my house back together?” The construction crew arrived, went around back, then another knock.

“Uh, the pipe is not fixed, we can’t fix the patio.”

“I know. The plumber said he couldn’t get to it, and that you would need to jackhammer out more of the porch.”

“Oh.”

“You guys work for the same company, right? Do you talk to each other?”

“Let me call him.”

So of course, the plumber would have to come the next morning. Day 4 of the 2-day process. The same morning my daughter was graduating from elementary school, so I informed them they would be on their own.

She graduated. We went to breakfast, we got pedicures, we stayed away from the jackhammers.

And when we got home at 3, NO ONE HAD COME.

So, I called. Not cheerfully. And finally, the plumber and his jackhammer of destruction came and fixed the pipe and turned the water back on. And shrugged when I asked about the porch situation and said someone would fix it the next morning.

So today, the first day of summer vacation, we all got up and dressed bright and early so we’d be decent for the construction crews. Of course, that was unnecessary, since said crews came at 3 this afternoon, on day 5 of the 2-day process. After I had called again, and done what is known in some colloquial circles as “ripping someone a new one.”

But now, it is done. All level, all patched, and I am ready to let it go, and get on with the summer.

Although I am more than a little sad that I can no longer make jokes about living in a crack house.

I Am Pretty Sure My Mom Nominated Me

1 Jun

You may notice in the sidebar, a pretty red button announcing I’ve been nominated for a funniest blog award.

What? You didn’t notice? Well, I will post it here for you, too.

2009 BlogLuxe Awards 

If you click on it, you can vote for me and maybe I will win, and get to replace Sonia Sotomayor on the Court of Appeals after she gets on the Supreme Court. I am pretty sure that’s the prize. Or a Swiffer.

Also, did I mention you have shiny hair? And a nice smile? Go vote.

Of course, I will not win because Jenny and some pregnant lady I’ve never heard of are in the same category. Also Tanis, aka the Redneck Mommy. All these wonderful women, and probably all the other nominees, are way more clever and entertaining than I am. Plus, Tanis talks about her nipple piercings on the Internet, and I cannot compete with that unless I tell you about the Stiletto Fitness class I attended over the weekend.

No, seriously, I did. That post is coming.

Maybe.

Anyway, they are funnier, but *you* are nicer and better-looking than their readers. So you are going to go vote for me out of love and a wee bit of pity.

Then, you can come back and click on the links to those other blogs.

I won’t judge.

Much.

P.S. Also, one of my best friends, Elle, is also nominated, and you should vote for her, too. I am being very gracious about it mostly because she is in a different category. She cooks delicious things, and unlike me, does not go to Sonic so often the kids’ there know her first name *and* what she is going to order. 

 I like a lot of people on the internet, but I have known Elle long enough to have questionable photos of her, and vice versa.  So, also, please go in this category and vote for Elle’s New England Kitchen. Or she might publish them. Thank you in advance.

2009 BlogLuxe Awards

Lights, Camera, Morons

27 May

I need an attorney reader to check this out for me. I know there’s justifiable homicide, but what about justifiable slapicide, or justifiable duct-tapeacide?

We spent part of the holiday weekend at the movies, taking in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Bonus review: the little soldiers are in it again and not as funny. Ben Stiller is not as charming now that he’s ho-hum about the museum exhibits coming to life. Amy Adams got on my nerves a little. However, because I am unpredictable, I still got a little misty when the Tuskegee Airmen saluted Amelia Earhart. I don’t KNOW why, OK?

But the real show was the people behind us. Family of five including one two-year-old who did not need to be in the 7:40 p.m. showing.

I started to get concerned during the previews,  when suddenly a little face appeared right over my shoulder, like a disembodied shrunken head, and started screeching “UP! UP!” about Disney’s upcoming release.

“BALLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONS!”

He remained at my shoulder for a while with his insightful screeching commentary about every previewed movie. Until the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen clip reel started running. The cheerful screeching became a caterwauling scream.

“OH NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!! TOOOOOOO SCARY!!!!! I DON’T WANT TO SEE MOVIES!!!”

At this point, his mother intervened.

“Shhh, our movie’s about to start,” she said between popcorn crunching.

“NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!! TOOOOOOO SCARY!!!!!”

The sobs became more insistent. The gentle maternal comfort continued.

“You need to sit in your frickin’ seat and be quiet.” Chew chew chew.

“NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!! I DON’T WANT TO WATCH THE MOVIE. I WANT TO GO!!!!” His displeasure became more insistent, and was now punctuated with kicking the back of my seat.

I contemplated several things. Perhaps I could turn around with a smile and suggest gently that he might enjoy the movie more from the deserted section of the theater up front, where he could move around more. Perhaps I could offer to take him to the lobby if they wanted to pay the $30 I had spent on tickets. Perhaps I could just slap his parents upside the head.

“I AM LEAAAAAVING. NO MOVIES! NO MOVIES!”

Then, his mother said this, “OK, you don’t want to watch the movie?”

“Yes!” I thought. “Parental responsibility kicks in! She realizes he’s out of control, a disruption to others, that this is developmentally inappropriate. Score one for mom!”

“Fine,” she continued. “You just go ahead and go, we’ll be right here. Go on. Go. Just leave.”

Oh hell, no.

Really, you stupid cow? Over a movie tantrum, you’re telling your two-year-old, who shouldn’t be here in the first place, that he should just head out to the lobby? Screw you, sweetie, mommy and daddy want to watch a movie.

I turned around. Looked at her, raised an eyebrow, started to say something. I don’t know what.

But the distraught toddler amped up his scream to a sonic boom level and started sobbing, and before I could say anything, she glared at me, scooped him up, and said “Fine, we’re going outside.”

People all around us started muttering “It’s about time.”

He came back about halfway through the movie. Quiet, settled, exhausted from his earlier tantrum. He stood to watch the movie, once again leaning his little face over the seat and next to mine. He continued his commentary, now in hushed tones.

“Scary.”

“Pretty.”

“Tiny.”

His little hand patted my shoulder. I patted back, and resisted the urge to just grab him and run out. I also resisted the urge to chase down his parents after the movie, and tell them I understand being frustrated, but their kids are only little once, movies are on DVD forever.

And also, warn them that next time, I *am* going to bitch-slap someone.

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