20 May 2010

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Cartoon from 

I have ranted and babbled about my feminism and various women's rights and health before, and I hate sounding like a broken record or a raving lunatic (okay, maybe I like the latter a little bit), but recently I have been struggling deeply with the state of feminism in the United States. I shall call this my State of the Uterus Address... (heh.)

A few months ago, I was at a bar talking with a group women I had just met. In my slightly inebriated state, I mentioned that I was a feminist and started yapping, as I do when drunk, about equality and all that nonsense. Anyway, after I dropped the F-Bomb, I realized I had made a dramatic social faux pas. (Sometimes, I really should just say to myself, "Courtney, no one wants to hear about your weekend bra burning and baby killing, you pinko lesbian man-hater!")

"I am not a feminist," one young woman said with indignation and a slight flavor of superiority, while the other ladies nodded in agreement. "I'm perfectly fine with a man taking care of me."

The Lady Center of my brain (it's where some of us store details about cute shooz and Sex and the City) screeched and wobbled and maybe fainted when I heard this. (Then again, the Lady Center of my brain could have fainted because its corset was too tight, but we can't be sure.) Unfortunately, it was not the first - and sadly won't be the last - time I have been looked at by women of my generation as some sort of aberration because I self-identify as a feminist. The screeching and wobbling comes because I get so worked up, so confused and frustrated and angry when I hear this, that I have trouble articulating what's going on in my head.

So, weeks later, with space and time and a lot of thought in between, I'm going to attempt to explain. Attempt being the operative word.

Fuck You If You're a Feminist-Hating Woman

Fuck. You. 
I feel somewhat compelled to apologize for my visceral anger on this subject, but there is little I hate more than hypocrisy, and that's exactly what it is when American women sit there and sniff, "I'm not a feminist. Ew. Gross." So I'm not bloody well apologizing!

If you're an American woman who hates feminists, you need to check your comprehension of history. You can vote. You can drive a car. You can make personal and unique decisions about your body, your future, and your entire life. And why can you do this? Not because some man took care of you, but because the women who came before you were Feminists

I won't get into the complex and varied history of the Feminist movement, but feminism, just like women as a whole, has evolved and changed over the years. And the women so many revile, the stereotyped bra-burners with hairy arm pits, have done far more for the state of women than many will ever recognize.

It is this stereotype which harms all of us, I think. Feminists are not responsible for this militant angry man-hater stereotype at all, but our culture (it's the Patriarchy, baby, and it's alive and well), in an insidious attempt to retract any gains women have made over the years, has reinforced this Frightening Feminist notion again and again and again. In fact, this has been so pounded into our collective mind-set that the word "Feminist" pulls up a very distinct image, one that is unfeminine, and intimidating, and, well, ugly. It is of a woman who would beat down men and take over, kill your unborn babies (or eat them, I'm not sure), and have sex with your daughters. Or something. Am I right here? Are you scared of feminists?

The Proof Is In The Pudding

True feminists, like true feminism, are about equality. It is about equal treatment for women AND men, for people of all races and backgrounds and futures. 

And yes, there is anger, there was anger, and there might always be anger. It is born of frustration at being repeatedly told that you're not good enough or smart enough simply because you have ovaries. And for those who think they have never been told these things, you are out and out wrong. Women everywhere are told this every day. Give a more critical eye to the advertisements and politics and economics of our world, and you will see that women have consistently gotten a pretty goddamned raw deal.

To clear up confusion, I suppose that maybe I should stop calling myself a feminist and maybe start calling myself a secular humanist or some such, but that just makes me sound like a pompous ass (note: I am one). But I will not allow the play into the fear of feminism. I am a feminist - and a proud one at that. But as I have said before, it is not what defines me, it is simply a part of me. 

In this is a key of feminism so many often miss (or Ms.? damn I think I'm witty!). Feminism gives us the opportunity to define ourselves as women. And the longer we are convinced that feminists are grotesque, the longer we spend arguing whether or not we are feminists, or what a feminist is, or how Feminism is best performed, the less time we have to actually find our definitions, whatever they may be. When a woman hates feminists, when she denies the quality of the Feminist movement, it is an act of betrayal. It is a betrayal of those who have given their lives for the strides women have made in our nation, and betrayal of all those women who are still subjugated and treated as second-class citizens around the world. When a woman like Sarah Palin brags that she is not a feminist, yet is unable to deny that she would be in her position now were it not for the feminists before her, she is a hypocrite and a Judas to her sex. (And any woman who is anti-choice and would deny another the right to her own reproductive decisions fails to realize one very important thing: carrying a pregnancy to term is still a choice.)

The worst part of all of this is that the longer we spend debating what feminism is, the longer we argue whether or not we are feminists, the less time we as women have to become doctors, lawyers, mothers, teachers, politicians, and individuals. And in that, those who strive to retain any and all inequality in our society are winning. 

And as a woman - as a person of any sex - you can be fine with a man (or woman) taking care of you, but that's not a reason to be anti-feminist. That's pretty much just plain laziness.

And for the record: 

18 May 2010

"Crickets Live For Two Weeks"

Seeing as I rather abruptly spilled the beans on the craziness that is my parents, I felt as though I needed to explain that the insanity they bring to the table often pales in comparison to that of my older brother, Colin. 

Again, I feel I need to make it crystal clear that I adore my family. They are loving, intelligent, funny, fun people - I just happen to be related to them, and, ya know, sometimes we all need to put a little more fun in dysfunction. Colin does exactly that in spades.

Allow me to provide a Brief History of Colin. He was born in 1979, the first (and if he'd had it his way, the only) child of Greg and Ellen. Everything was apparently hunky dory until one day, he was unceremoniously informed that the family would be moving to a new town, as they were expecting another child and needed more room. Initially, from all accounts, Colin was ecstatic at the thought of a little brother or sister. Imagine the possibilities! A tiny minion to do his bidding! A ready-made scape-goat! A foil of incompetence, raising his every word to gospel-like veracity! 

And then I showed up. Admittedly, my memory from the ages of birth to about nineteen is a bit fuzzy, but I trace this back to one very significant event. When I was two, Colin pushed me down the stairs and blamed it on the dog. (The dog was a matronly golden retriever, and if I recall, she probably would have turned herself inside out from pure guilt at the thought of hurting one of her People.) I obviously don't remember this incident, but I chalk this up to the head trauma caused by my fall. Of course, no one knew the truth until much later, when Colin got into one of his babbling moods, and spewed his dark secret to the whole family over Christmas dinner. The truth of the fall was followed up with a pointed look at yours truly and the statement, "my life was great until you came along." Mind you, Colin was at least 22 at this point, and I was 17, and in all honesty, I had no idea he harbored such animosity toward me.

But Colin and I are actually quite close friends as well as siblings. Granted, it hasn't always been like this, but from very early on, I worshipped my Big Brother. There are photos of us - or him and his friends, rather - with me in tow, toddling around, trying my best to please him. He has always been boisterous, and smart, the center of attention (and his own universe). He's a tough act to follow.

As the toddling little sister, the smallest in the bunch of neighborhood kids, I was often considered everyone's doll. In fact, my brother's best friend when he was a munchkin, Katie, told me once she thought I was hers; and I was often toted around by Katie, her older brother Matt, and Colin during various odd adventures. What various odd adventures, you might ask?

Well, once the trio of elder children floated me down the stream behind Matt and Katie's house in a baby bathtub. I was around the age of three, and the stream was probably a foot and a half deep at its deepest, but still. I often wonder what the hell my mother and her friend Pat (Matt and Katie's mom) were up to during these various high-jinx, but I digress. Regardless, not only did they float me down stream until it became impossible due to the shallow stream, but they floated me through a cement culvert that passed under a nearby road. The three elder children balanced themselves above the water, in a slightly prone position, shuffling sideways as I went on my sail. I recall being intensely nervous, but at the same time totally ecstatic that I was the center of attention for once. Granted, part of me believes this was my brother's Best Plan for how to get rid of me, as though at the other end of this culvert, the stream would open into the sea and he could wash his hands of his little sister forever. As though I would float off into oblivion, à la Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod or some such. My mother always said that his favorite poem was "One Sister For Sale" by Shel Silverstein in Where the Sidewalk Ends, pictured below. (This statement, while I understood to be in jest, still gave me a bit of a complex. I often wondered if Colin would someday set up a road-side Lemonade or Psychiatric Help stand and slip me in during a sale as some sort of "Buy One, Get One" promotion.)

But the baby bathtub incident wasn't the only time I was exploited for my willingness to be included. Once, during a dinner party my parents were having, the aforementioned trio took it upon themselves to provide dinner and a show. I was pushed into the dining room wearing a pair of my brother's holey underwear on my head, my father's old maroon blazer styled as per 1978, a pair of lens-less wayfarers. I clutched a chipped coffee mug, as I begged for "alms for the poor" from our parents and their friends. I was roughly six at the time and had no idea what alms for the poor were (save the reference in Disney's animated Robin Hood), but was well aware that underwear does not, in fact, qualify as a hat. 

Yet, the dangerous and sometimes embarrassing exploitation my brother subjected me to was often minimized by the rare times we did connect. On rare occasions growing up, we'd shut all the lights off in the upstairs of our raised ranch, shoo our parents downstairs to the family room, and have raucous Nerf fights in the dark, laughing and beating the crap out of each other the whole time. Granted, being five years older, Colin inevitably won, but it's hard to do any permanent damage with a Nerf weapon (that didn't stop either one of us from trying, mind you). 

When I pissed him off enough, by the time he was a preteen, Colin could easily pick me up and throw me around. Like many siblings, bodily harm was not unheard of, and he was known to grab me, dash into my bedroom, and launch me at the wall over my bed, providing a backboard for the Courtney-three-pointer as a splatted and dropped onto my comforter. The only time I ever really got one over on him was when he was chasing me down the hall. Realizing I reached a dead end as I approached my parents bedroom door, I dropped into the fetal position on the floor. Unable to stop, Colin rocketed over me, squarely into the closed door. This victory was short-lived, but oh-so sweet. (See how I revel in it even now?)

But those were the years we were not close. It's difficult to cultivate a friendly relationship between siblings five years apart, especially between siblings of the opposite sex. He always looked out for me though. Kid had my back... even if this protective nature manifested in some of the oddest ways possible.

When I was about fourteen, I was reading in my bedroom when Colin marched in, looked at me authoritatively, and said, "If you ever need condoms, you let me know. I can get you some." 

He left.

When he was out of earshot, I think I almost herniated myself laughing. This was my brother's idea of the Birds and Bees discussion, and was so out of my realm of reality at that point, I couldn't conceive of such a need. But the delivery! Ha! Priceless. And Classic Colin.

Uncompromising is often a word one uses to describe a discerning palate, a refined individual, and those unwilling to give up a little to gain a lot. Uncompromising, in Colin's case, means that he is literally unable to compromise (though my sister-in-law may disagree). My mother loves to tell of how, when Colin was six or so, he and a playmate got into a fight over how to play a certain game. My mother informed them that she would not solve their problems, and that they had to compromise. 

My brother quickly responded, "Of course we'll compromise; we'll do it my way."

He hasn't changed much since. It's more than just an unwillingness to bend, Colin enjoys being the Resident Expert on Everything. It might be a genetic trait (except that I try to be accurate), but it also stems from a very good place. For all his bull-headedness, Colin would do absolutely anything for his friends and family. Providing answers to their every question is only part of this. Granted, this also means that my brother often spreads himself so thin that he's vibrating with energy and tasks from sunup to sundown, eventually passing out from exhaustion on the couch at 7 p.m., but that's another issue altogether.

This isn't to say that his self-assigned role as Resident Expert on Everything isn't also partly and expression of (a very hefty) Ego. At a bonfire party a few summers ago (and if you're from Connecticut, you've been to a bonfire party, and you know how it goes), friends were discussing crickets. One was chirping away in the distance, and it prompted Dan to ask, "How long to crickets live, anyway?"

Swooping in from another discussion altogether, my brother announced authoritatively, "Crickets live for two weeks." 

It is his delivery as much as anything which limits discussion. His self-assured answers and statements, regardless of how outlandish or off-the-wall they seem, are delivered with such obvious testimony, it becomes all but impossible to argue with him without sounding like you have no idea what the hell you're saying. Silly peon! How dare you try to argue with the Great and Powerful Colin Zachary?! Pfft. Quiet, before you make us all stupider for having to listen to you.

This technique of uncorroborated expertise has been perfected over his 30 years. Mind you, none of us have yet to figure out exactly how long crickets live, but we have figured out that Colin's answer was pulled out of his ass. But it demonstrates his technique perfectly. As he spews information, he sprinkles His Own Truth in with actual fact, so efficiently that it becomes extremely difficult to tell truth from (mostly) fiction. He would have been a marvelous snake oil salesman, of Fox News pundit. If only Rupert Murdoch knew what he was missing!

Speaking of which, my brother's politics could not be further from mine on the spectrum. Though most of the time I'm aware that Colin will say socially controversial things just to get my goat, more than once my parents have looked at one another, heads shaking, asking, "Where did we get him?" after one of his whacky and unexpected political tirades. Such tirades are executed in the fashion mentioned above, his arguing skills reminiscent of those of a religious fundamentalist - you know, those folks who use their own logic to justify their assertions without any mind to Aristotelian or Boolean logic. 

To put it plainly, you can't argue with my brother. I mean, you could argue with him. Go ahead, give it a try, Bucko... and my God have mercy on your soul. Colin wins every argument he has (except those with his wife, bless her), not because his logic is more valid (see above), or his evidence more compelling, but simply because he was out talk you. Colin would out talk anyone on any subject. And more than that, he loves to argue. 

When put in a room together, especially with the addition of alcohol, Colin and I can discuss with emphasis (that's our term) anything. Sometimes, he's so eager to argue, we'll end up discussing the same side of an issue, just loudly. 

Our friend Smith once critiqued, "I can't be around you two; you're always arguing!"

This took both of us by complete surprise. We weren't arguing at all, really. We were just having a loud discussion. Loud is key, since Colin has always spoken just a little louder than everyone else in the room. This ensures two things: one, he who shouts loudest gets the most things correct; and two, he is peripherally always the center of attention. It's really quite ingenious. Growing up, I learned that if I wanted to be heard at all, I needed to all but holler. (This once caused Tanya to tell me, "In the volume button of life, you need to go WAY DOWN." Then she met Colin, after which she said, "In the volume button of life... WOW." When people meet Colin after they meet me, they understand why I speak loudly and quickly.) It is all a survival technique.

My brother can be painfully funny, too. I have always believed he's funniest when he cuts loose and lets out his goofy side, rather than his lately preferred "controversial" (read: offensive) humor. When I was about fifteen, I walked by his bedroom to see him staring at his feet, holding his socks. 

"Look at this! Courtney, look at this!" He said.

I came in and stared at his feet. "Look at what?"

"I have Bilbo Baggins feet!" He exclaimed, laughing. "Look at them! They're Hobbit feet!"

To be fair, his feet aren't quite of Hobbit-quality, but it was funny. This was years before the Lord of the Rings movies came out, so part of me thinks he projected his own understanding of Hobbit feet form the books based on his very own peds. 

Often, he'll do things like this just to entertain. Whether it's singing Rod Stewart in a Scottish accent or recounting a tale from work, he has a solid sense of humor that was cultivated much in the same way mine was: too much Monty Python, Marx Brothers, and Benny Hill during formative years. 

And this is probably why we're such good friends now. Even though his intense need to do everything for everyone often means he can't socialize, and I see our mutual friends far more often than he does of late, we do almost always have a great time together. 

Rare as it may be these days, I relish the time I get with him when it's just us. His need to be right all the time falls away slightly (often because I call him out of his bullshit), and we are just two kids in a tree fort again, having a Nerf war, but this time with friendly words rather than foam weapons. All the same, we have a relatively contentious relationship at times. And while I will always love him, it doesn't mean I always like him... but I suspect that feeling is mutual. But maybe that's really because we're so much alike.

13 May 2010

Parents ≠ Roommates

Image from Sparknotes.com

It should come as no surprise to anyone that living in a house with your parents at the age of 26 is something other than enthralling. This is not to say that don't I love and appreciate everything my parents do for me. Their kindness and generosity has, let's face it, kept me quite comfortable during a very difficult time. 

ON THE OTHER HAND... there's a reason we move out when we grow into adults. There's a reason we fly from the nest, or leave the den, or start swimming up our own stream, or whatever semi-anthropomorphic animal analogy you can think of. This reason is: certifiable insanity. Perhaps it's simply that three, blood-related adults should not live under the same roof. Perhaps it's that family members tend to develop similar quirks and traits and these things sometimes collide in a weird and unfortunate series of events. But, and more likely I think, being a parent creates permanent changes in one's brain and you end up with a few screws loose. Like the bumpy road that is Parenthood causes the bearings and gears in your Car of Life to get a little worn out, and by the time your children are adults, you're tired of driving passengers around. This is not a disparaging remark on parents, or parenthood, or even being a child, I just really think it's a highly probable occurrence, and if I had a scientific backing for it, I'd sound all the more ingenious. As it stands, I am essentially just calling my parents nuts. Or maybe I'm nuts. (Oh wait, I am.) 

Allow me to elaborate on my hypothesis, using highly unscientific anecdotal evidence (and I can, because this is my blog and I am giving myself permission). 


My parents and I play Scrabble over dinner most nights when we're all home. (Actually, we play Super Scrabble, it has 200 letter tiles and quadruple word score squares!) Both of my parents have master's degrees in English. Scrabble at our house is an event to be reckoned with. Part of this is due to the fact that my father, Greg, is competitive in pursuits of the mind like no one else I know (except for maybe my brother and me*). The game will progress thusly:

We choose our tiles. We determine who goes first. Greg inevitably asks who goes next, and my mother, Ellen, and I have to explain that, since we always sit in the same seats, and game play always progresses clockwise, this shouldn't be an issue. My father usually wins. Not only because he has an immense vocabulary and deeply competitive spirit, but because he makes up words. Not in their entirety, but but adding entirely absurd, impossible, and downright imaginary pre- and suffixes to any word his little tray of letters can create, preferably with lots of z's and q's and k's in them. And despite our best efforts, most of the time, my mother and I end up so flabbergasted with trying to convince him that "unquixotics" is only a word to Dr. Suess and shouldn't count, that we just stop arguing and start trying to keep up. Inevitably, each of us will lose track of whose turn it is at various intervals during the game, though never simultaneously. My forgetfulness usually occurs during my mom's turn, as she takes a mean time of 5 minutes to put her words on the board, and my tweaky mind wanders. My dad, however, sometimes forgets that it's his turn during his turn, so it all comes out in the wash. 

At some point during the game, when we become frustrated waiting for my mother to make a decision, she accuses us of not wanting her to win. I usually correct her in that it is not that we don't like it when she wins, it's more that we don't like it when we lose. There's a big difference.

Our games get very close, and usually end up in the score ranges of 500+, which isn't too shabby, if I do say so myself. And yet, no matter how many times we play, I know the game will result in three things; one, I will call my dad "baldy," a nickname only I can get away with; two, my mother will collapse in a fit of giggles; and three, my father will hum what we call his 'guilty tune,' a little self-made harmony that he emits when eating the last bit of chocolate in the house, taking second helpings of ice cream, or placing a completely made up word on the Scrabble board.

Green Tea

One afternoon not too long ago, I casually mentioned that I might bring a box of green tea over to Adam's house. He and his roommates didn't have any, and I like having a cup before bed as opposed to the coffee sometimes prefers. 

I left to run errands and returned later that evening. 

Ellen had decided to clean out her tea cabinet. My mother is a big tea drinker, and as such, everyone (and I mean everyone) she knows ends up giving her tea and tea-related paraphernalia as gifts. The funny thing is, my mother only really likes a few kinds of tea, usually herbal and very mild. However, being the extremely gracious woman that she is, she keeps all manner of teas in the house. This habit is actually really nice when we have company, as there is surely to be a type of tea for every palate. My aunt even gave her these great lucite tea boxes that hold a zillion tea bags read for display and browsing by anyone, but they in NO WAY can come close to holding the enormous amounts of tea my mother has in her possession. She has black teas, green teas, white teas, herbal teas, homemade teas, fruity teas, and teas that are supposed to improve memory and sleep and probably increase your likelihood of autonomous flight. And this is just the tea itself. She has tea pots, infusers, strainers, spoons, cups, saucers, mugs (oh the mugs! Jesus!), creamers, sugar dishes, trays, and reusable bags. It is, to put it lightly, a little obscene. 

But anyway, back to my tale. So, I came home that evening to find boxes of tea covering our kitchen counters. She was condensing like-teas into their one boxes, sorting out the aforementioned lucite boxes, and throwing out teas that were older than I am and already starting families of their own. She had one pile of about eight boxes that were strictly green teas set aside on the kitchen table. 

"Those are for you to take to Adam's," she said, gesturing at enough green tea to keep Panda Express in business until a new dynasty. 

"Oh, cool, thanks," says I. "But, I don't think I need all of them. That's A LOT of tea."

Ellen stepped down from the stool she was using to get into the upper recesses of her tea cupboard and walked to the middle of the room.

"You'll take them because you love it and it's good for you!" She said quickly, pointing at the tea.

"But, uh, I mean, we don't drink that much tea at Adam's!" I said with a laugh.

"You'll take them because you love it and it's good for you!" She repeated, turned, and left the room.

This was one of those instances I experience with my mother that leave me feeling as though I am actually watching myself go insane. It makes me feel like I am a neutral third party, observing the scene from afar, thinking, "why yes, none of this is logical. Carry on." 

At any rate, the next day, most of the teas were returned to the cabinet, including the boxes of green tea, and I completely forgot to bring any to Adam's. Apparently I don't love it?

Vanilla Ice Cream and Other Non Sequiturs

I don't even know how to set this one up. I will simply put it this way: my father is the pickiest eater this side of five years old. When asked why vanilla ice cream is his favorite by my brother, Colin, my father responded thusly:

"I like vanilla ice cream best because it can only be used for ice cream."

Your friends and/or relatives might find you dead of an aneurysm one day because you thought about that statement too hard or long. Even thinking about it now makes me slightly dizzy. If you can think of another use for ice cream, aside from it being ice cream, feel free to share.

My father is full of non sequiturs. In a way that rivals the absurdities of a person with severe ADD, or (just as a for instance) the Catholic Church, which have no bearing on reality whatsoever, my dad can spout the most nonsensical statements. I've learned that what is actually happening is that his brain jumps three thoughts before he verbalizes anything, causing a serious gap in the understanding of others in the conversation. For instance, during Easter this year, we were sitting around the living room with my aunt and uncle, trying to figure out what the hell were the images printed on the M&Ms we were snacking on (they were little springtime creatures, FYI). I mentioned you can pay to get pretty much anything you want on M&Ms, which started a slightly off-kilter discussion on what we could imprint on them. As we were doing so, my father said, "In another two years, it will be the hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic."


It was like a verbal dingleberry that everyone was aware of, but no one knew what to do with. What we eventually ascertained my father's brain did here was think about imprinting anniversary things on M&Ms, and then his strange mind thought printing HMS TITANIC on a some M&Ms might be morbidly amusing, and as such, he mentioned it aloud. Granted, we were not immediately privy to his thought process, and left with an awkward and dangling non sequitur. 

"Uh, nice nonsensical statement, dad," I laughed.

He then realized how odd his statement was, and went on to explain how he came to blurt out the Titanic thing, but honestly! Adam was there, and I'm continuously thankful that he's patient and totally accepting of crazy people, since it's getting harder and harder for me to hide my own insanity; my parents waving their Crazy Flags around all the time doesn't much help my case.

Don't Leave Me Hanging On The Telephone

As a last example of how crazy my parents can be, I will elaborate on my father's fucking weird phone behavior.

Not unreasonably, Greg hates, and I mean HATES, telephone cold-calls. It doesn't matter what organization or business you're calling from - even if he supports your cause - if you're asking for money in any way and a computer is connecting you to our phone number, you will be brusquely disposed of at best, cursed at at worst, but usually just hung up on.

For a while, when my father would answer the phone to find that the person on the other end was asking for him, he would put on an English accent and say, "Oh, I'm sorry, he's not in. May I take a message?" As if they had any possible way of knowing my dad isn't English. As if they might assume that we have a butler, a manservant, a dog's body, from the British Isles who we keep around expressly for the purpose of putting off telemarketers. One I pointed this out, my dad took another tack.

Now, he just out and out hangs up if he thinks there's no one on the other end of the line. This is because he says that when telephone marketers call, it takes a while for the computer to connect them fully. He's not entirely wrong in this, it's true, and you can hear it click over if you wait. However, this also means that if you are a real, live, actual friend or relative calling our house, you literally have .5 seconds to say hello back to my father or you will be hung up on. I'm not joking. In fact, I'd recommend having half the "hello" going at all times. I suggest saying "He-" after every ring, so that you can finish with the "-llo" the second you hear my father's voice. Or better yet, the second you hear ANY sound that might resemble someone picking up the damn phone.

Why, might you ask, does this concern me so much? After all, people can just call back if they really mean it, right? Well, after you've been hung up on by your own father half a dozen times, you get kind of sick of it. Of my friends, my father has hung up on Tanya, Kelsey, Charlie, and most recently, Adam. He has also hung up on my aunts, my mother's best friends, and his own damn stock broker. So, should you decide to call our house, you need to bring your A-game, or you're going to get nothing but an earful of dial tone. 

It's In The Jeans

Honestly, I don't fault my parents for their craziness, and their quirks. I have plenty of my own. I do feel that many of these nutty behaviors are learned, but just as many are genetic. Either way, I'm blaming - and thanking - my parents. 

All the same, after 10 years of doing the laundry, my father finally learned not to wash the jeans with the whites. We've been tie-dye underwear-free for a decade now. Some craziness can be cured, but most of the time, I love it and it is good for me.

*Note the correct avoidance of the reflexive "myself" here. If you misuse the reflexive, I become tempted to smack you with an unabridged edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. This may or may not be a genetic and/or learned trait.