Category Archives: Pop Culture

The Life-Changing Magic of Giving Up

Oh, early spring. Isn’t it lovely? That magical time of year where you can kick the melting, dirty, gray snow out of your path with your new flip-flops while walking in an unrelenting downpour of freezing rain. Mmm…so life affirming.

Ugh. Oh, how I hate this time of year. So much. It’s dumb and the weather sucks and there are no good holidays unless you count St. Patrick’s Day, which I don’t anymore because I have small children who don’t understand the importance of day-drinking OR green beer OR making an idiot out of yourself.

For all these reasons, I should be hunkered down in a blanket fort binge-watching the world’s most depressing show, “The Killing,” on Netflix. Just biding my time during this bleak and desolate season until May when I can once again blind innocent bystanders with the glare coming off my pale calves.

But what am I doing instead? Making yet another half-hearted attempt at spring cleaning. Because I hate myself.

It never fails. Every year at this time I feel an overwhelming urge to get my house in order. To organize. To scale down. To have one of those minimalist living spaces where you don’t feel like if you fall you’ll be buried under a stack of Bust magazines from the early aughts and no one will ever find you and the last image you ever see is Margaret Cho smirking at you.

Or, barring all that, even just finally wiping off the blades of the ceiling fan that have literally started to bend under the weight of dust and dog hair and dead bug carcasses.

And yet, every year it ends the same way: My husband wrestling the matches out of my hand as I repeatedly scream “BURN IT! BURN IT ALL!”

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It always starts out great. I’m motivated. So motivated. Manic, almost. Because I will get everything done and I will do it all RIGHT NOW. So, I run around the house and [play the “Flight of the Bumblebee” in your head as you read this next part]…

Shove any and all clothes that no longer fit into trash bags for donation, regardless of whether anyone is still wearing them at the moment. That is until I get distracted and realize I need to…

Go through all the kitchen cabinets and finally throw out the canned goods lurking in the back that have been there since the Clinton administration, which I do until I remember I still need to…

Break down all the Amazon Prime boxes piled up in the attic that are leftover from Christmas, which I do until I realize I hate breaking down boxes so I move onto…

Finally cleaning out my gigantic make-up bag, where I will throw out exactly one red lipstick, which looks like the 27 other red lipsticks I own, before getting frustrated and…

Decide to organize my massive book collection, but actually I just sit on the floor and start reading each book I pull down but it doesn’t matter because…

The kids have by now woken up from their naps and so I go and retrieve the red lipstick I threw away from the trash can and put it back in my makeup bag because you never know when you need a 28th perfect red lipstick and…

I get the kids up and curse my messy, chaotic house.

Maybe I need a plan of attack. A tried-and-true cleaning and organizing method. I mean, I tried that crap where I held stuff to see if it brought me joy. Unfortunately I started in the kitchen by the wine rack. The good news is that every single bottle did indeed bring me joy. The bad news is that nothing else got done except an angry, error-and-typo-filled email sent to Amazon customer service about the canceling of the show “Good Girls Revolt.”

I’ve also thought about how I should probably start addressing this problem from a different front, stopping it before it gets to this point, maybe. Do one of those “don’t buy anything new for a year” crap that people always blog about.

Except there is the issue of my book hoarding. I have more books than I know what to do with and I can’t stop buying them and my husband is the worst kind of literary enabler.

Get a Kindle, you say? Well, I hope you die and burn in hell for all eternity, is my response to that.

Sorry. That was a bit harsh. I apologize. E-readers are a great invention. And who knows? Maybe I’ll break down and get a Kindle one day. The day they invent one that gives off that old book smell. And has actual turn-able pages. And is heavy. And is made of trees.

It’s not just me though. My husband loves collecting comic books and graphic novels. My toddler son has a fierce and unbreakable bond to every single toy he has ever gotten. Even that broken yellow crayon stub. DON’T YOU TOUCH THAT BROKEN YELLOW CRAYON STUB! Ever. It’s his most treasured possession. Well, that and the gigantic kitchen set he has never, ever used and takes up 35 percent of the real estate in his room.

Even the baby is a budding hoarder. No one, regardless of age, needs that many empty water bottles to chew on.

And it’s for all these reasons that I always give up pretty much before I even get started.

Which is why I’m just going to go out and buy one of those stupid decorative signs that says “Please excuse the mess, the children are making memories” and hang it prominently somewhere and call it a day.

Season three of “The Killing” ain’t gonna to watch itself.

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Wolverine vs. The Really Hyper Bunnies

Here’s a million dollar idea for all you budding entrepreneurial wanna-be types: Invent a self-defense class for parents of small children.

Now, to be clear, I don’t mean for situations where you need to protect your children. Pretty much every parent I know is capable of murdering someone with a rattle if they catch that person even looking at their babies wrong, let alone trying to kidnap them. Not to mention, catch us on a bad day and we may just hand our kids over with the parting words “Good luck. Don’t you dare bring them back before 7.”

No, I mean a class that will teach me how to protect myself FROM my children.

Ha! Ha! Funny, right? Except I’m dead serious. Every day with these kids is like Thunderdome. Especially with the older one. So, I need a way to disarm and subdue my 3-year-old toddler attacker but without hurting him. (Because gouging his eyes out with my keys seems a bit of an overreaction, especially since I’ll be the one footing the bill for his eye reconstruction surgery anyway).

To give you an idea of what I’m dealing with, here’s a brief rundown of his most basic fighting moves:

The Piggy Back Strangle Hold: When the victim is sitting on the floor, jump on their back (making sure your bony knees hit BOTH of their kidneys), wrap your skinny arms around their neck and cut off all air to their windpipe while giggling adorably.

The No More Siblings Head Butt: Wait until the victim is holding another child or has both hands full (say, with a giant mug of hot coffee in one and an expensive electronic device in the other), and then run at them full-force, banging your head right into the very place you came out of.

The Mosh Pit: At the end of a very long day (although very first thing in the morning will also work), hurl your entire 34-pound body with all your might at their body while they’re sitting on the couch. Do this over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. When they ask you to stop, just do it harder. It’s part of the game!

The Ol’ Innocent Hug Switcheroo: Putting on your best big-eyed cherub face, ask for a hug. Wait for them to tear up and say “of course, baby” and then bite down on whatever flesh you can get your tiny honey badger teeth on as soon as they embrace you.

The Hot Wheels Fast Ball Grenade: Ask for juice. When denied said juice, throw a Hot Wheel (or any heavy-ish toy with hard edges will do) directly at their face. (This one is particularly effective since it’s so unexpected. Give this kid a ball and ask him to throw it and suddenly he forgets how arms work. Put a metal car in his hands and watch him whip it at your forehead with deadly accuracy faster than you can say “I swear to God, if you throw that…”).

I also could benefit from some gentle yet firm ninja moves to protect myself from my tiny but freakishly strong 8-month-old daughter. I’m not saying she’s ever hit me so hard I cried, but…I cried.

On the plus side, she’ll probably never get kidnapped. Any potential abductor would immediately be laid low by a one-two combination of unexpected face smack followed by dead-on nasal head-butt.

So, if anyone out there reading this can teach me how to fight like Wolverine, but on a micro-scale (like if Wolverine was fighting some really hyper bunnies), I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

 

All I need now are the mom jeans

Hey, you know when you’re sitting around the breakfast table, or maybe it’s Thanksgiving dinner, and everyone is talking and having a good time and someone mentions that great new movie they just saw and suddenly your mom goes…

“Oh yeah, it stars that good-lookin’ fella; Peter Dunphy.”

And everyone laughs. Oh, poor, silly mom. It’s Patrick Dempsey. Geez.

Only the thing is, it’s no laughing matter. Celebrity Name Dyslexia is a real disease. And it affects millions of parents each year. I should know. My own mother has suffered from it for years.

And then, just the other day, this happened with my husband:

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Oh sure, I had a good chuckle at the expense of my husband. I mean, he’s older than me so it didn’t come as too much of a surprise that he would start suffering from CND waaaaay before I did. Besides, it was likely to never even affect me. I was too young. Too hip. I used to be on the entertainment beat for a newspaper, for crying out loud.

But then…then…(ragged breath)…this happened this morning:

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Celebrity Name Dyslexia is real, kids. And it’s horrifying. So, let’s all do our part to raise awareness about this terrible disease that cripples the street cred of parents all over the world. Let’s organize a 5K or a charity concert. Maybe we could even get someone famous to host. Like, say, Selena Gonzalez.

Or Liam Hemmingway.

Or Liam’s big brother, Thor.

Or that singer Della who has that hit song “Hey.”

A brief guide to modern parenting

First of all, you should really already have kids. That biological clock doesn’t tick forever, you know. I mean, wait until you’re financially stable and all that, of course. It’s completely irresponsible to have kids before you’re fully prepared. But if you wait too long, that’s just selfish. Honestly, I don’t know what’s worse, those women having babies in their 40s or those young 22-year-old moms. But as any parent can tell you, you’re never really ready to have kids. So have them sooner rather than later. Once you’ve established your career first, naturally. Did you freeze your eggs yet? You haven’t? Well, nevermind. It’s already too late.

Now you’ll have a lot of important decisions to make as soon as you become a parent and the most important of all is what you feed them. You absolutely, positively HAVE to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is best for the baby and completely natural. Not to mention beautiful. Unless you are doing it in public, in which case you should be ashamed of yourself. That’s disgusting and you should really have more respect for yourself. Plus, stop being so smug about it. Not everyone is able to breastfeed and you should really stop shoving it in people’s faces.

Never ever set your baby down if you can help it. It’s literally impossible to spoil a baby with too much love, so hold them close at all times. That is, except when you are letting them cry it out. Babies absolutely need to learn to self-sooth at a young age or it can have dire consequences down the road in their development. Although you should know that technically this method is considered child abuse. Either way, don’t worry. Your kid was probably going to end up a serial killer anyway. I’m sure it’s nothing you did.

This next one I cannot stress enough. Stop helicopter parenting. Just stop. Children will never learn independence and the oh-so-important trait of grit if you don’t stop hovering over them. So, no matter how many times we call Child Protective Services on you, let them walk to the park by themselves for crying out loud.

Regarding discipline, at this point, everyone knows spanking not only doesn’t work, it’s psychologically damaging. And clearly all that New Age-y “get down on their level and try to reason with them” crap doesn’t work. Then there’s the behavior chart with stickers. Pfffft. Are you kidding me? This is why I’m not surprised your children are undisciplined godless heathens.

And please, please! Get off your phone and enjoy your time with your kids. What are you even doing still reading this? Time with your kids is so, so precious. It goes by so fast. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important than your children. Although remember they shouldn’t be the center of your world. Honestly, that’s what’s wrong with kids today, parents thinking their baby is a unique snowflake that constantly needs to be engaged in some enrichment activity. That’s not how it was done back in the day. Kids were told to leave us the hell alone and go play outside and God help them if they came back before dusk.

Anyway, remember it’s equally important to make time for your significant other. Have a date night. And don’t be bothered by the fact that if you’re a woman, you will be considered a bad mom for leaving your baby at home so you can finally relax for a few hours. And God help you if you try to enjoy a cocktail in public, you floozy. But please do take solace in the fact that dads can quite literally chug a beer while holding their infant and everyone will tell them what a fantastic and hands-on father they are.

In this brave, new, technological world we’re living in, screen time should definitely be tightly limited. You don’t want to raise a little media zombie, do you? I mean, even though refusing to let your kid watch TV makes you one of those ridiculously annoying hipster parents that we will never, ever get tired of making fun of. Seriously, chillax a bit, “bro.” A little Spongebob never hurt anyone.

And lastly, remember that however many children you decide to have is a very private decision and should only be a conversation between you, your partner and possibly your doctor. Speaking of which, how many kids do you have? I read somewhere that it’s cruel of parents to only have one child. Such a lonely childhood and all that. Did you know 96 percent of murderers in prison were raised as only children? So, when are you having your next one? You know, you shouldn’t wait too long between siblings. Then again, you don’t want Irish twins. Ha! You have how many again? Whoa! Trying for a whole basketball team, eh? All with the same father? Not that it’s any of my business. It’s just so rare for a woman to stick with the same partner for very long in this day and age.

Wait, where are you going? There’s so much more we need to discuss! Like how you have to vaccinate your kids even though vaccines contain bleach and octopus urine, and how Snapchat is really a front for an organization made up of pedophiles who seduce children with non-organic gummy bears!

Adventures in home haircutting

When it comes down to it, despite our differences, I think all parents want the same thing for their children. And that thing is that their kid doesn’t end up killing them as revenge for a horrifyingly awful home haircut they received when they were 2-years-old.

No? Just me then?

Well, rejoice and sleep tight tonight because I sure as hell never will again.

I’m not even sure how it all got so out of control. One minute I’m trimming his bangs and then suddenly BAM! I’m reenacting the topiary scene from “Edward Scissorhands.” Mercilessly I hacked my way across his skull as bits of murdered fluffy baby curls swirled chaotically in the air and the snip, snip, snip of the pathetically dull scissors filled the room.

I should have known things were going bad judging by the utter terror on my husband’s face.

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But it just didn’t hit me. And so I kept going. Snip, snip. Oblivious. Snip. Reckless. Snip, snip, snip. And SOBER, for god sake.

Until, suddenly, horrifyingly, it did. It did hit me.

Hard.

And as I surveyed the damage on the tiny battlefield I could only think one thing:

“There goes any chance I had of ending up in a decent nursing home.”

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I had turned my beautiful baby boy into Lloyd Christmas. Into Moe from “The Three Stooges.” Into, god forgive me, Shia LeBeouf post-meltdown. My baby’s hair was a mess. Just…oof. Such a hot mess.

The back looked like it had lost a battle to the death with a deranged weed whacker while the left side looked like a terraced field in some exotic land. As for the right, it looked like the bastard child of a pixie cut and the mid-90’s Caesar haircut, a la George Clooney on “ER.” Most of the top was confusingly left long while the front resembled my own bangs that I brutally hacked as a child right before school picture day in 1988.

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In my defense, I’m an idiot. An idiot who thought years of butchering my Barbies’ hair with asymmetrical mullets could translate into real world haircutting skill.

Hint: It doesn’t.

But, oh, how I want to be the kind of mom who can do these types of things. You know, those Do-It-Yourself queens who can sew buttons back onto their children’s shirts and can serve a beautiful, homemade birthday cake without the disclaimer “The middle is still a bit raw and I may have lost my wedding ring in there so be on the lookout, everyone.”

These are the moms who make their own non-toxic cleaning solutions and actually attempt to get stains out of clothes instead of just convincing themselves that the wine stain makes that skirt look even MORE trendy. They can do crafts that don’t end up looking like rejects from an animated Tim Burton film and they have nice handwriting and they actual own first aid kits. They know how to fix things and make things and don’t have to pay other people to do all this stuff for them.

Legend has it there are even women out there who can cut their family’s hair without making them look like a Simpson character.

And then there’s me, who has yet to pick up her 2-year-old son’s birth certificate from the county clerk’s office, has not one, but three, giant mystery stains on her hardwood floor and is banned from ever using a glue gun again because of an unfortunate accident involving a rather sensitive part of her husband’s body.

The good news is that ultimately all this makes me a fantastic parent if you consider the definition of a parent to be “someone who, if they’ve done their job right, have made themselves obsolete.” I mean, hell, I’m pretty much obsolete now. As soon as he learns to cut those crusts off his sandwiches, he might as well move out because we will pretty much be at the same adulting level.

Then again, who knows? Maybe I can learn to be one of those moms. I mean, if he go from a leaky lump of clay who sticks spoons into his eyeballs into a short, almost-human who can average getting roughly 65 percent of his chili in his mouth using said spoons, then honestly how hard can it be to remember to buy band-aids and rubbing alcohol so I’m not frantically running down the aisles of Walgreens with a screaming and bloody toddler in tow?

Hell, maybe I’ll even attempt the very adult act of throwing a dinner party again.

Just as soon as I figure out where my husband hid all the knives after last year’s Gumbo Disaster of 2015.

 

 

My grown-up Christmas list

Dear Santa,

Hey there, big guy. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written to you and for that I apologize. I just figured I should probably lay low for about a decade or so after that infamous “incident” in 1989. But you’ll be happy to hear that I’ve finally learned my lesson and my probation, which forbids me from going within 1,000 feet of any and all reindeer, ends in just a few days. So, considering that Johnny Law has now forgiven me, I can only hope that I will finally be taken down from the “Hopelessly and Perpetually Naughty List” (along with my wanted poster in the stable).

Well, now that we can let bygones be bygones (which reminds me, please send my regards to Prancer…I’m assuming most of his fur has grown back by now), on with the real reason for this letter.

As I’m sure you’ve assumed, I’m writing to you about my Christmas list. But unlike most letters you get this time of year, I won’t be asking for jewelry or high tech gadgets or that pair of purple high-heeled knee high boots in size eight and a half (which just happens to be my size) I saw in the window of that store the other day. Nope. This year I’ve been truly blessed and can honestly say that I have everything I need and ever wanted (even without that pair of purple high-heeled knee high boots in size eight and a half, which just happens to be my size, I saw in the window of that store the other day).

And so this year, Santa, I’m asking not for material things but rather gifts that come from the heart and make the world a better place (and mind you, this isn’t just some ploy to make you think I’m an exceedingly good person and, as such, end up receiving even more gifts, like, say, a pair of purple high-heeled knee-high boots AND a matching leather jacket, because of my selflessness).

Of course, the No. 1 thing on my list this year would be peace on Earth and all that junk. I think we can all agree this world needs a healthy dose of goodwill toward men right now (and women…and if he exists, Bigfoot).

But everyone always asks for that kind of stuff so let’s move onto the important wishes.

Please, please, PLEASE use your magical powers to get “Charles in Charge” back on TV. This alone will bring Christmas joy to even the most Bah-humbug members of society.

Also, if it’s not too much to ask, please make Katherine Heigl stop. Just stop.

I think the world could also majorly benefit from the creation of a calorie-free cheesecake. Better yet, get rid of calories all together. They’re obviously bad for our health.

Could you also please destroy every copy of Christmas songs being sung by dogs or cats? I can guarantee you that 23 percent of all cases of Christmas violence stems from having to hear “Jingle Bells” being barked by a chorus of Golden Retrievers.

I know it’s too late for this year, but it would be great if you could get rid of Black Friday all together next year. Or, if you can’t, could you at least make it more interesting for us spectators sitting at home watching the chaos on the news? Maybe make the shoppers battle some lions before they make it to the electronics department. Or make all the stores install a “Hunger Games”-esque arena, where with the touch of a button, you can create a tornado in cosmetics and start a fire in the petite department.

Now, with this next one I hope I’m not being too forward. But I’d really love it if you changed the criteria for the naughty list to include anyone who texts or talks on their cell phone while at dinner or on a date or during a movie and instead of giving them a lump of coal, destroy their stupid iPhone with a bolt of lightning (perhaps you could partner up with God on that one).

And lastly, while I don’t know how much influence you have over the liquor industry, could you please try to make eggnog available year-round? Or at least available through March. Expecting us mere humans to get our fill of this seasonal golden nectar in only a month is unrealistic. We need at least four, possibly five months to properly get sick of puking up this beverage.

Love,

Aprill

P.S. Tell that good-for-nothing Tooth Fairy she still owes me $1 from 1987. Oh, and that I apologize for drawing that dirty picture in permanent marker on her wing.

Dear Mommy, life is not a series of memes

The one piece of advice you get the most when you’re a parent (and, not so coincidentally, the one I hate the most) is that the housework can wait, your children can’t. Leave the dishes and spend time with them! They’re only young once! They won’t want to snuggle on your lap for long! A dirty house means happy kids! When they look back on their childhood, they won’t remember how clean the carpet was, but they will remember all those times you sat on that dog hair covered toxic waste dump of a rug and played Legos with them!

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And on and on, etcetera, etcetera.

In theory, this is solid advice. Any quality time you can spend with your precious little minions is utterly priceless. As that other overused phrase goes, you will never be this loved again. So enjoy it. Even those confusing little made-up games they always want you to play that have no rules based on Earth logic and involve an Elmo doll, 37 tiny cars and a Snickers wrapper.

So, yes, those dishes CAN wait.

But not for long. Not for long at all.

I mean, have you ever spent time with small children? These are creatures born with the innate ability to turn a normal, inhabitable house into a “Hoarders” episode within a mere 24 hour cycle. And for some of the more gifted ones among them, they can do it in 15 minutes. One quick trip to the bathroom and you leave a living room that is “cozily chaotic” and return to “holy crap, we’ve been robbed.”

Making it even worse, this never-ending plea to ditch the housework and play “Barbie vs. the Tupperware Monster” for three hours straight is not coming from well-meaning people with real life experience. It’s being shoved down your throat anonymously in the form of the saccharine sweet meme.

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There you are on Facebook, just trying to innocently see if your old friend Piper is still a hot mess so you can silently gloat, and BOOM! You’re visually assaulted by a stock photo of a size 0 mom and her baby running through a field of lilies with the passive-aggressive words “Play with me, Mommy!” slapped underneath in a fancy font.

Shutterstock Photo

Shutterstock Photo

But just because something makes a good meme doesn’t mean you should base your life on it. If we did, we’d have a whole generation of Scumbag Steve’s. And I don’t know about you, but there are no fields of lilies close to my house and even if there were, my toddler would want to plop his diapered butt down immediately and use a stick to poke a dead leaf for five hours. Put that image in your meme and see how quickly it goes viral.

Worst of all, this type of advice ignores the most common and hard-wired aspect of every child’s personality. No matter how much time you spend playing with them, they want more. It’s never enough. They are tiny imagination junkies and as such, will use all sorts of manipulation to make you think you’re neglecting them when you choose to do laundry instead of playing Candyland for the 104th time. Hell, I still remember forcing my grandma to play card games with me for HOURS as a kid, which the incredible woman DID, with a smile on her face no less, and I STILL got upset when she had to stop so she could make me dinner.

So all this “grown-up stuff can wait, go on a picnic instead!” crap pretty much just serves to make you feel guilty. Which is wrong on many levels but the most important one being the fact that parents are already living in a perpetual state of guilt. Guilt that you’re doing everything wrong. Guilt that you fed them a hotdog for breakfast this morning to avoid a meltdown. Guilt that you didn’t start a college fund for them when you were 15 (which is the only way you would be able to afford college for them). Even guilt over the fact that some days you’d prefer dental surgery over one more mind-numbingly dull game of Hi-Ho Cherry-O.

The last thing exhausted parents need is an unrealistic expectation about what parenthood actually is. Because it’s not sitting in a beautiful meadow while you braid flowers in your child’s hair. It’s sitting on their bedroom floor and trying to pay late bills online while they stick G.I. Joe’s in your hair that you haven’t washed since Tuesday.

Having a child is personally the best thing that has ever happened to me. But it didn’t stop the world from turning. Which is why tomorrow we will go on a picnic. And then we’ll head home, where I’ll plop him down in front of “Sesame Street” so I can finally scrub that weird fur off the tub so the next time he takes a bath he doesn’t get a weird fungus.