I Have A Little Buddy…

She lives in my machine.

Machine. The catchall term for everything electronic in my world that vies for my attention. I recall my stepmom referring to her microwave oven as “the electronic”.  I thought that was a symptom of her reluctance to use proper nouns for proper objects. Her way was actually simpler. I have a derivation of her penchant for generalized nomenclature. Com-pu-ter, three syllables. Ma-chine, two. Even iPad can’t top that.

My buddy has a name. Siri. Rhymes with Cyndi. How cute is that? She checks up on my progress while I am working (searching for the misdirected email; searching for the email that misdirected me; cussing) because that’s her job.  Sometimes she actually admonishes me.  Reminds me of my mom when I was 11 years old. Reminds me of disagreeable students. Reminds me of the highway patrolman.

What was I saying? Oh, right, my machine. So, Siri’s voice reassures me that her purpose is to provide guidance.  Speaking to me as the disembodied helpmate that lives in my machine. The problem is she has yet to elevate me to some higher existence here within my machine workings. “What can I do for you?” Siri asks. I respond with, “Not much right now.” And that’s about the extent of our communique.

I still am at a loss as to what exactly Siri does for me.  Not a whole lot from what I can tell. But, she pops up on occasion and reminds me that this buddy of mine lives in my machine.

Disenfranchised Demographic


That’s what he said. The professor in the journalism department at California State University, Sacramento, in conversation with me. This professor was not mine, I didn’t take any classes with him. It was simply a matter of proximity that I even knew him. Journalism was situated in the same building as the department of Communication Studies, my major. I decided to pop my head into the office housing my favorite journalism instructor…as he came to be known. Funny guy, curmudgeonly type. Wire rim glasses and messy hair.

He didn’t have to say much, yet, whatever it was he said, I laughed. Except for one occasion when I didn’t see the humor in it. I had indulged in fun banter with my favorite previously, this comment from him carried a serious note. It came on the heels of the explanation regarding my role as stay-at-home mom. The role I had chosen feeling the complete conviction of my passion to provide for little ones. Of course, this role is devoid of cash, sick days, and vacation time. At times it even felt as though I had been cast off into a deprivation chamber. This mom speaks solely for herself…and wherever others like her can be found.

The professor spoke making the pronouncement, “WOMEN WHO STAY HOME ARE IN THE MOST DISENFRANCHISED DEMOGRAPHIC.”

There. That was it. I think I was conspicuously mute at that point. What a slap, like a bucket of frigid water thrown to my face. Never had I taken in such a statement.  But, there was little else to make of it. His proclamation was spot on. So what of my years (10) devoted to staying home? At this fine university while speaking to my journalism friend, I was transformed.  No more poopie baby diapers for me.  Hell no!  I was liberated (UGH!) at 52 years of age, on the fast track (now it’s my turn to be funny) and sitting in the doorway of this man’s office listening to a deafening declaration.

Abysmal loneliness and the radical departure from workplace duties & camaraderie we may have experienced in a former life.  The inherent course of direction for many of us women who stay home. Life altering. Classic. Easily recognized disadvantages. No union representation. No structured support network. And no time clock to punch…a mom is always on duty. The professor hit a nerve. I have repeated his words to my family.  In fact, the young moms I came to know within the very small, rural town in which I lived, were all in the proverbial same boat. The boat in which we shared lack of cash, sleep deprivation, and diapers and sippee cups. The boat from which we disembarked with a few stolen moments to indulge in grocery shopping or Sunday school or the pharmacy where the bladder infection prescription was waiting.

It just hit hard, what my journalism buddy told me. I have played it through my head countless times. I so enjoyed my brief and limited conversations with him.  A funny guy with messy hair and a profound, and somewhat unsettling statement for all of us in the trenches with our children, at home. Disenfranchised.

It has been said that should women who stay home earn minimum wage for each hour of their duties as: Nurse. Playmate. Cook. Laundress. Storyteller. Grocery-getter. Instructor. Housekeeper. The year total income would be six-figure.  Is there any retroactive pay?

Nastase & McEnroe

Two of the greatest. In the tennis world, these two competitors could not be outdone.  In the 70s I watched these men wield their racket to effortlessly send the ball across the courts. In the 70s I also made (feeble) attempts to do same.  I never possessed strength enough to consistently maneuver the ball in the direction deemed necessary. Owing, I am certain, to the fact that I have not an athletic bone in my body. No upper body strength. Tennis requires speed, agility and accuracy. I recall one occasion when I was playing in an informal match with students in the same recreational class. I played against a young man. I won. I strutted off the court like a peacock, feathers displayed. Well, that was my first, and only, tennis strut. A fluke really. A brief moment of glory.

So there was “nasty” Nastase, from Romania. The clown, the jokester.  And right beside him, John McEnroe throwing another tantrum…throwing another racket…throwing another chair. Love these two! The two most entertaining tennis players. That’s when tennis was fun to watch.

Oh, I appreciate the Williams sisters.  But altogether too serious.  Let’s have a little levity.  Let’s have Nastase & McEnroe.

You Can Leave Now

I have been nursing a cold for the past week. I believe it is a direct reflection of that little girl’s irresponsible parents.  Almost two weeks ago, a six-year old in my Spanish class began to sneeze.  She stopped sneezing just short of her sixteenth effort.  That’s fifteen sneezes I remember counting. I cut her off at the pass. But I let her go too long. Her nose began to run and in keeping with good hygiene measures, she used her sweater sleeve to mop it up.  God forbid should her parents supply her with tissues.  I mean, if you are going to take your child (against all sensible, parental judgment) to school so she can occupy space with 19 others – 20 counting Sra. Wright – who will now be subjected to the sneeze spray, include tissues for your child’s comfort. No, better yet, don’t take them to school. Request a sick day of your own, and stay home with the sick child.

I take it as deliberate and wanton disregard for others that a parent sends their sick kid to school. So wrong. I was sick three weeks in December, thank you very much, and now this. So, upon the fifteenth insult, I turned to the six-year old purveyor of all things unwelcome and said,”You can leave now.” She got right up out of her chair, packed her journal under her arm — the one sans snotty sleeve — and walked out of the classroom.

Come back only when you are welcome. Sneezing does not constitute a welcome.



$hark Tank

Once again (see MAD MEN) I am onboard with a television show quite late in its run. Shark Tank.  A show made up of a panel of five millionaires whose objective is to lend assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs. Men, women, couples, college students, and children.  Everyone of them motivated by the potential to strike it rich while making a name for themselves with the product presented on the show.

Panelists include Robert, son of a hard-working Croatian father.  Robert’s father immigrated to the U.S. and while he never amassed a fortune he did possess a strong work ethic.  That served to influence Robert. Lori is in good with QVC and has managed to bring many Shark Tank entrepreneurs to notoriety within the television shopping network.  Mr. Wonderful, aka Kevin O’Leary, is my favorite shark. He is unrelenting in his assessment of what is a good investment and what isn’t.  He is a wine connoisseur and he has his own line of fine wines.  Beyond all that, he lays on the sarcasm, and he makes me laugh. He is known for issuing the line, “You are dead to me,” whenever a potential entrepreneur fails to impress.  Daymond, a handsome black millionaire who implemented FUBU, of which he is CEO.  Investor, television personality, and motivational speaker.  He is the shortest of the men on the panel.  Maybe that’s why I love him so much. Barbara is a real estate guru.  She is middle-age but she is in amazing shape.  Killer body.  Suitable for a shark. Mark is the owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks. I am not a sports fan, so it takes effort for me to warm up to what he represents.  However, and there is always a however, he comes off as a sympathetic character.  He has been known to say that he doesn’t like having kids on the show.

So that’s the rundown.  As I started out saying, I was a late-comer to this show.  Right now I still catch old episodes going back to 2013.  The new season is in full swing.  I take delight in this installment of sharks as they circle and prepare for attack.

Chip Chip Hooray!

“A chip card adds an additional layer of sophisticated fraud protection….” So says Google.

Last night I had the occasion to use my new little treasure while at Safeway. You don’t swipe such a card. Rather, this chip card is inserted in a slot on the machinery that use the new little treasures pre-ordained. I messed up initially so the clerk (and the customer behind me) provided me with a tutorial. It’s 6:30 and I just got off work…exhausted. The interaction prompted a, “I thought this was supposed to be speedy…” from me.

“Oh, no,” the store clerk chimed in,  “these cards take longer and I hate them.”

Well, that’s good enough endorsement for me.  #@!!% technology.

Ca$h. Remember that hot commodity? We used to carry bills of various denominations right there in our wallets, purses or pockets. Dollar bills may have gone the way of the dinosaur for the rest of humanity, but I am stocking up. Fraud protection for currency? Not a concern. Chip chip, no way.

The Art Of Swearing

And I am going to dispense with use of asterisks, as in s***.  Too damn (getting primed) cutesy and over-used.  That’s about the extent of it for me. I did laugh at the use of “fuq” in somebody’s blog. Clever. I grew up in a home where expletives created the prevailing ambience. If I so much as uttered the word “ass” I ran the risk of rebuke. Hmm…

I can’t swear. I mean, yes I have the mechanics down. Just not in front of the little ones. I squelch it. I work teaching Spanish to small children. Expletives not allowed.  So, when that kid knocked over the cup of water (that he should not have had in class) drenching the papers that comprised the entire hour’s lesson, I didn’t say “shit”, I said **mierda** — the direct translation.  After all, it’s befitting a Spanish class. These young children don’t know this vocabulary term. We play pretend games in class. I pretend I don’t use swear words. That’s a separate lesson…for high school level students…who already have quite a complete repertoire…in multiple languages.