Saturday, January 31, 2009

At face value

Here' s one place where we trip each other up. We read more into what is said than is there. Or actually, we try to guess what each other really meant, beyond the spoken words, and in that, lies madness.

A trivial example:

"Did the cats get fed?" does not mean, "I want you to feed the cats." If i wanted you to feed the cats, i would say, "Will you please feed the cats?"

I have watched my parents perform this dance for years. Because when my mother says, "Did the cats get fed?" what she means is, "Why haven't you fed the cats?!?!"

(Or my all time personal favorite, "You're not wearing those socks are you?" Translation; "Go change out of those hideous socks you hapless boob, they make me look bad because i am with someone who would wear those socks. Do i have to do everything for you? God! Where would you be without me to run your life?")

It's a delicate art, this translation we do inside our heads. The excuse for it is that we are trying to be helpful by anticipating the needs of others. The result of it is that signals get crossed and the cats may get fed twice. Which suits them just fine, but leads to fat cats and running out of cat food.

Of course more serious problems than obese cats can happen because of this inner 'what is he/she really saying' translation gene.

The point is, to retrain myself to answer the question. For example, "I do not know if the cats have been fed," rather than, "Would you like me to feed them?" or, "I'll do it in a minute, Geez!"

Less confusion all around.

Monday, January 26, 2009


A Seattle joke:

Q: What do you call the first sunny day in Seattle following two days of rain?

A: Monday.

Heh. So today, for the first time in a while, is sunny. Happy Monday.

What does this day find me doing?

I am carrying around a small black mouse in a hand towel. (The towel is because the bathroom habits of mice are abominable.)

Why am i carrying around a stinky mouse that i don't want and that i inherited when Em went off to college?

Because i caused her little mousy friend to be killed, and i refuse to buy her another mousy friend.

So i'm worried she might be lonely.


Monday, January 19, 2009


Something pretty to look at, because the subject is ugly.

The Mister and i braved the wilds of our basement this past weekend and threw away a ton of stuff.

No, I mean we literally threw away a TON of stuff. Okay, i exaggerate a tiny bit, we threw away 1,890 lbs of stuff. Plus 8 boxes of books were sold (we made almost $60!) a huge pile of mixed paper was recycled, the Goodwill received 12 boxes of yet more stuff, and even the three dead rats we found were put into the yard waste.

We received some upsetting news on Friday night and by Saturday night we were feeling rather pleased with ourselves and better able to deal with the news. Such, at least for me, is the power of organizing.

At the same time, i feel ashamed for all that junk that now resides in a landfill.

Before i buy anything ever again, i vow to ask myself, "Do i really want/need this. Remember that almost everything i buy i will end up throwing away, someday."

When i walk into a Walmart (which admittedly is not often) or a similar 'big box retailer,' my first thought is "landfill."

Although after our performance this weekend, i have no right to point fingers.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Cheap Shot

Okay, no one else has gone there, that i've read, and it's such low hanging fruit for making fun of that i can no longer resist.

Did you all hear about
PETA's (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) campaign to get fish re-positioned as "Sea Kittens" to get us all to stop eating them?

I am not making this up.

Who knew that fish were just cuddly little love pets with bad PR?

Okay, seriously, i respect vegetarians, and i understand why they don't eat meat. And that's cool. But this is just a really stupid idea. Can you imagine the meeting where they thought this up?

Gloomy Earnest Person in Charge: "We need a do-over on the anti-fin food lobby."

Earnest Person #1: "Oh, hey, let's try calling fish 'Ocean babies,' no one wants to eat babies!!"

Earnest Person #2: "Yeah, that's a great idea!"

Earnest Person #3: "I know i know! let's call them 'Ocean dogs.' That'll work!

Earnest Person #1: " How about 'Scaly Puppies.'"

Earnest Person #2: "That's good, really good"

Earnest Person #4: "Fluffy Sea Bunnies!"

Earnest Person #2: "No, no, "Sea Fairies."

Earnest Person #5: "Ocean Pandas!"

Earnest Person #3: "Sea Kittens!"

...stunned silence....

Gloomy Earnest Person in charge: "That's brilliant Earnest Person #4! Just fuckin' brilliant! Sea Kittens. It's so simple, so elegant. I'm convinced. Let the campaign begin."

Tonight The Mister and i are going out for raw Sea Kitten on rice with just a hint of wasabi.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


What is it about me people that makes me them so love to give advice but so stubborn about taking it?

Although, having thought about it a bit further, i only hate taking advice from some people, who just happen to be the people who love to give advice.

I found myself in a situation where i was rejecting, without thinking first, everything she was telling me.


That's a complicated question.

Because i'm stubborn and i want to be the one with the answers? A little bit.
Because she always gives advice, even when i'm not asking for it and i resent that, i have managed to take care of myself for several decades thank-you-very-much? Yes, that's part of it too.

Because she sounds pompous and bossy and reminds me of my not-best-me? Ouch! Yes.
Am i prepared for the smugness that will ensue if i do take her advice? Or should i continue to reject everything without consideration? Maybe. And no.

So what did i do?

I sat back and decided that she might actually have something to say that i could use. So i asked for it. Advice.

And then i listened.

I might even follow it too.

And i might not.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Dear United Airlines,

You are zero for two on transporting Em's bags for Christmas trip. You must be so proud.

She liked the toothbrush though,

-Em's Mom


Dear Rain,

You can stop now. The dock is under a foot of water and i've got moss growing between my.....oh never mind.


-meno moss


Dear husband,

Do you really need to keep your textbooks from 30 years ago? I think they might be obsolete, plus you haven't unpacked them in 15 years.

I'm renting a truck to go to the dump this weekend. Be there.

-Your lively and attractive wife


Dear cats,

For fuck's sake! How many times do i have to kick you off the bed each night before you understand you are not wanted??

You act like you have a brain the size of a walnut. Sheesh!

-She who wields the can opener


Dear Offspring,

Ummm, you left all the wrapping for your new toys at the bottom of the stairs. When i saw it, i thought and thought about you.

I guess this helps me miss you a little less, so thanks.

Be good, and really, don't worry about your mouse, i've asked Grey Cat to take care of her in your absence.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Social Conditioning

I've struggled for years with how to reply when Em says "I'm sorry" when she is neither responsible nor sorry.

It's a sort of cringing behavior that infuriates me. What is it about someone cringing that makes me want to hit them?

These are the responses i have tried;
- I'm sorry too.
-You should be.
-stop apologizing, it's not your fault.
-thank you for your concern.

The trouble with these is that they all came out sounding either sarcastic, annoyed, or both. (Probably because i was annoyed.)

It is Em herself who gave me the answer.

She told us about a study she learned about that says women apologize far more often than men. Apparently it's some cultural conditioning thing. Nothing gets to Em more than having to consider herself a result of cultural conditioning.

So my new response to an inappropriate "I'm sorry," is "Don't be such a female!"

We'll see if it works.

This post was inspired by a discussion between
Maggie and Egan.

Monday, January 05, 2009

A rude shock

As mentioned previously on The Fascinating Life of Meno, friend Kim, The Mister and i went to see a live taping of Says You on New Year's Eve.

The pertinent facts for those of you who have lives, is that this is a public radio quiz type show involving word play.

It was great, lots of silliness and fun with vocabulary. I enjoyed it a lot, as i did the dinner immediately preceding the show. (There was champagne, so yeah, good stuff.)

But the audience was a bunch of pudgy middle-aged white people with stringy grey hair, wearing micro fleece, gortex, natural fibers and Birkenstocks, and sporting unfortunate jewelery choices. In other words, the quintessential public radio audience.

Yes, he has another one just like it, on the other side. We checked.

The worst part? WE FIT RIGHT IN.

I hadn't seen a whole herd of us together like that before. It's a sad sight. I kept thinking, "For god's sake at least get a decent haircut!"

I came home and made an appointment to have my hair highlighted. I look fabulous by the way.

Friday, January 02, 2009

I've known you a long time

The trouble with family is memory.

This is the brother who belittled me, 40 years ago.
This is the brother who bullied me, 30 years ago.
This is the sister-in-law who accused me, 25 years ago.
This is the me, who made a snide remark and hurt someone, 15 years ago.
This is the sister who made a threat, 10 years ago.
This is the niece who went through a morose period, 5 years ago.
This is the nephew, who harassed my child, 3 years ago.

It's easier to note changes in the kids, their bodies remind me that they are growing and changing. But my brothers and sisters are changing too. I know this, because i am too. More slowly than the kids, but changing nonetheless.

We remain wary, our long memories of past transgressions, large and small, fogging the lens through which we experience one another, in a way that never happens on the blanker slate that is a newer acquaintance. Just the echo of that past can send me back to that time, looking at the bully or the belittler, even though they no longer exist. Just a whisper of that cutting tongue can have them seeing that hurtful bitch who is no longer really me.

So carefully we must act, in order to avoid these echoes and whispers.

There needs to be an expiration date on certain memories, a way to delete them permanently.

The trouble with family is memory.