Victory Screech

The bad news: I wound up spending $24 of Pa Protosaur’s money and $15 of mine buying a domain and a dedicated IP address I didn’t need. The good news: I finally got Pa Protosaur’s web content uploaded to his new site management doodad. Plus I finished painting the trim in the basement stairwell. So the day feels like an overall success.

In unrelated news, have now listened to the Broadway cast recording of “Hadestown” about 20 times. Mouse turned me on to the off-Broadway cast recording of it about three months ago. I had a similar experience with Mouse turning me on to “Hamilton” when Hamil-mania was first sweeping the nation. But my brief “Hamilton” obsession was not unlike the time I read The Bridges of Madison County and sobbed over it only to reread it a year later and recoil in horror and embarrassment that I had been so taken in by such a crappy story.* I have more faith in “Hadestown,” largely because the music is better and there’s no annoying historical record of real people and events to judge it against.

*Not that I don’t still occasionally get in my car and jamilton my way to wherever I’m going, however.

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Free the People 2018

In December 2017, Mariame Kaba (brilliant poet/activist who tweets as @prisonculture) spontaneously organized #FreeThePeopleDay and called on people to donate the cost of a drink on New Year’s Eve to their local community bail or bond fund. The idea is to donate the cost of one NYE drink to fund that bails people without means out of jail while they wait for trial. I’ve got some links below that you can use to donate, but first some thoughts:
* Bail Bonds (quick loans people use to get loved ones released pending trial) are right up there with payday loans when it comes to preying on the desperate and broke.
* Community bail funds are a critical resource in ensuring that parents can stay with their families while they await trail and keep providing for them.
* I know a lot of my friends are facing economic uncertainty with the current federal shut down. If you can’t give now, maybe donate the cost of a latte later?
Where to Give:
DC: The District of Columbia changed its bail rules a while back, so there don’t seem to be local bail funds for city jails. Check out the National Bail Fund Network or The Bail Project, or consider giving to funds in Virginia, Maryland, or (if you’re not from the DMV) wherever else you consider home.
VIRGINIA: The National Bail Fund Network will match all funds raised on December 31 by the Cville Immigrant Bond Fund, which helps with bond funding for immigrants in detention in the Charlottesville area. The Richmond Community Bail Fund also needs help to bail out people held in area jails.
MARYLAND: Maryland also changed its bail rules, but so far it sounds like that’s just resulting in more people being held without bond. The organization I found is Baltimore Action Legal Team.
MASSACHUSETTS: The National Bail Fund Network will match all funds raised on December 31 by the Beyond Bond and Legal Defense Fund.
MICHIGAN: In the Detroit area, The Bail Project is working with the Detroit Justice Center to establish a large-scale revolving bail fund for Michigan. An alternative is the Kent County I-Bond Fund, which assists with immigration bond funding in Western Michigan.
WEST VIRGINIA: I couldn’t find a local organization, so please consider giving to the National Bail Fund Network or The Bail Project.

After Enjoli

Images of 1970's Idealized Salary Mom

At the start of the week, I read an Inc column by Suzanne Lucas listing 10 things every working mom needs. It made me want to write a post in response. Only now that I am writing it do I realize that she actually published the column in May 2016. So I will have to amend my first item on my list of 10 Things Every Salary Mom Needs.

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  1. Time to write own posts (and check the publication dates on other people’s before deciding to pen responses to them). I wish that time were something one could purchase as a Mother’s Day gift. If only I could put the rest of the world in suspended animation for a couple of hours at a time, just so as to get caught up or a little ahead of the game! It is just as well that I lack this power. I can see it degenerating quickly into me stopping the world to melt with, I don’t know, instructions for preparing digestive bitters or orthopedic shoe catalogs online. Pretty soon I would be pining for more time.
  2. Learn how to build Twitter threads. This thought first occurred to me from the point of view of time management – it’s probably more efficient to pop out ideas in a series of Tweets than to craft a narrative, even a listicle. In a broader view, I don’t want to forget how to chew my own food. New gadgets aren’t going to do me much good if I don’t know how to use them. It’s a short slide from not knowing how to take screenshots on my iPhone or thread tweets to forgetting how the cable remote works, then you’re the person at work who can’t remember how to use the digital sender and other people are silently fuming as they feed your 30 pages of stuff into the machine for you because it’s faster than explaining to you again how office machines work. On the day that I’m hollering down the hall asking some helpless subordinate how to get my e-mail to work again, I beg OPM to grant me immediate Discontinued Usefulness Retirement.
  3. Prepare for the zombie apocalypse – or retirement. For some reason I conflate these events when I imagine a future that doesn’t involve pivoting tables in Excel or crafting bureaucratic treatises. No, I’m not at all worried about the economy collapsing, why do you ask? Add retooling for a next career or taking off with the family for a week of survivalist camp to my Salary Mom wish list. I’ll pass on the electric wine bottle opener. (That Tile thing sounds like a good idea, though.)
  4. More labor-sharing from the other members of the household. Nothing against some of the labor-saving gadgets that Lucas lists. After almost two years with our dog, that Roomba is starting to look like a good idea. But what I really, really want is not to be the one thinking about what’s for dinner or whether the kids are doing their homework. Just because I said I could bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan does not mean that I agreed to be responsible for bacon-frying in perpetuity. (The title of this post comes from these funky poems I found when searching for a still version of the famous Enjoli ads of the 70’s and 80’s. Thanks, Jenn McCreary.) The more I have introduced labor-saving doodads into the domestic equation over the years, the more I have cemented my role as the family’s all-purpose Labor-Saving Device In Chief. I am told that there are marriages where the parties consciously decide how best to share domestic responsibilities – how nice! My best results in getting better labor-sharing have come from occasional acts of sabotage (like hiding game controllers and taking the cable modem to work in my purse, or changing account passwords) and feigned obliviousness to mounting piles of laundry.
  5. Wash and Fold Service. The year we lived in an apartment without our own washer and dryer, I dropped our laundry off at Duke’s Lavanderia three times a week and got it back the next day washed and folded. I felt good about using a family-owned business in my area and also about having neatly folded laundry.
  6. More Communal Services in General. What I love about laundromats, other than the aforementioned wash-and-fold, is that you can walk in and pay to use machines that work way faster and better than the ones in most homes. Using the laundromat en famille kind of sucks, though, so I’m waiting for someone to open a combination laundromat/fitness center/sauna or laundromat/coffee shop/indoor playground. (I once saw a laundromat/bowling alley in a dream, which would be a great business for a college town.) On the food front, my sister’s family found a place where they could pay to do all their meal prep for the week in a professional kitchen. Me, I would happily subscribe to a cafeteria meal plan for my family if I could. We’d probably waste a lot less and do a better job of accommodating our divergent tastes and nutrition needs. This is one for the Salary Mom Cosmic Wish List.
  7. Store pick-up and delivery options. I am personally sick of Amazon trying to shove Prime down my throat. Also – not that other delivery services are necessarily better – Amazon’s labor practices have a bad reputation. Plus there’s that whole “at home” part of getting things delivered. Peapod has good physical packaging for delivering perishable groceries when no one is home, but it seems like you have to order your stuff days in advance. So far my favorite is the online order and drive-through grocery pick-up at Harris Teeter. If they would combine that with dry cleaning drop-off and pick-up, it would be grand.
  8. More Walking. When I lived overseas 25 years ago, my local grocery store had a set-up where you could buy what you needed and then have your purchases delivered to your home later that day. The option of walking to the store gets a lot more practical and attractive when you don’t have to reckon with carrying all your groceries home. I could really use more options for integrating basic physical motion into my day.
  9. More Social Interaction Offline. Make me go see my friends and extended family or invite them over instead of forever screwing around online or stewing in my own despair. It’s good to have some human contact that doesn’t involve work or domestic logistics. I will complain that I am tired or burned out, but it’s for my own good.
  10. Flowing Jedi Robes. Could we please agree on this as a unisex professional wardrobe option? Alternately, I would accept professional clothing constructed and marketed like men’s business wear, especially if there were some improvements like adjustable waists and darts to accommodate size fluctuation. And pockets.

Words With Friends

One of my cousins got me hooked on Words With Friends on Thanksgiving 2016. It is not a coincidence that my blog went on life support at about the same time. Most of my blogging impulse was already being spent on Facebook and Twitter, which served a role somewhere between creative micro-outlet and slot machine yielding occasional jackpots of external validation. Playing internet scrabble with my cousin took writer’s bloc and the idea of Personal Branding completely out of the equation and left me with a perfect and almost mindless occupation to fill my evenings and weekends, one unlikely to launch family feuds or violate the Hatch Act. I have 18 matches running right this moment with five people, and it’s fun – as long as I don’t pour hours into it at a time. It’s certainly been a great time-killer while I recover from foot surgery! But when I look back at how much I wrote 10-12 years ago, I realize that the game and social media in general have sucked away a lot of time that would have been better spent almost anywhere. I don’t socialize in real life anywhere near as much as I did before I got a smart phone. Heck, I don’t even do as many side-hustle writing gigs as I did when I was blogging regularly.

I’ve been telling myself that I’m burnt out from work, but in reality I’ve short circuited myself by cycling between Hootsuite, Facebook, and Words With Friends as though coins might pour out of the USB slot on my iPhone any minute.

(I am back in the office now and back in an orthopedic boot now, two weeks after having the cast removed. I just graduated from using two crutches at all times to only needing one, and I go to physical therapy twice a week. Maybe the uptick in activity is what’s making me realize how stuck I’ve been mentally. Now if it would only help me realize that I should go to bed before midnight to have more energy by day …)

Breaking Out

My cast comes off the day after tomorrow. It started to itch like crazy a couple of days ago. This coincides roughly with the beginning of the power outage we experienced as a consequence of the Bomb Cyclone, aka Windpocalypse. I guess the absence of distractions will do that. Happily, the power was restored this morning, shortly after midnight.

The great plus of Windpocalpyse for me was the incentive to try again with a book I’d previously abandoned as too stilted. I finally got into The Turn of the Screw. I wouldn’t have sought it out, but it was what got delivered from the basement when I asked Dino Spouse for “a thick old Russian novel” after running out of Kindle battery and downloads.

Primetime

Last night Dino Spouse and I watched the U.S. premiere of “McMafia” with TeenBot. I enjoyed it for the pure trashy escapism. TeenBot clearly identified with the hero and his estrangement from things Russian. Dino Spouse was unimpressed but allowed as how the Russian actors were good Russian actors.

TV People: blah blah my son doesn’t speak Russian blah blah blah

TeenBot: Whoa, the struggle is getting too real already! I can relate to this! The grown-ups speak Russian and I only sort of understand them.

Dino Spouse: (to me) We should start to speak only Russian from now on!

TeenBot: You guys don’t come with subtitles.

TV Dude: You remember how I embarass you at school? You want to shake hands, I kiss you on both cheeks! You want to speak English, I speak Russian!

Dino Spouse: (face brightens, turns expectantly to TeenBot)

TeenBot: No.

Me: I can come to school wearing a kerchief and speaking with a fake accent if you want …

TeenBot: …

We’ll be watching again next week.

(The surgery I had was to replace a torn tendon in my left foot and ankle and rebuild my exceedingly flat foot so the new tendon won’t also tear. Now in week four of six in a cast and largely confined to the living room, I am teleworking full-time except for biweekly physical therapy sessions and the occasional journey for follow-up appointments with surgeon’s office. When I am not keeping my foot elevated, I shuttle between couch, kitchen, and half-bath on my knee scooter 12-15 times each day. In my off-hours, I do my physical therapy exercises, binge-watch many things, and knit. I have become profligate in my online book purchases.)