Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chick lit, Dags style

Like most other city-dwelling kids who wouldn't be caught dead with tree bark smudges gracing their pink little hands, my offspring positively adores indoor playgrounds - apparently, they have no problem with wallowing in dust, discarded chewing gums and baby drool. Civilization is a wonderful thing.

Being the indulgent parent I am (no, really!), at least once a week I find myself stationed in front of a giant glass screen, the trademark 'mommy is looking, dear' smile plastered across my face, counting the minutes until my kids decide that finger-painting their wardrobe of the moment is actually more interesting than watching mommy's horrified face as they attempt to scale the artificial castle while hanging upside down.

And then I'm left trying to navigate the pits and falls of that most horrible of all the social activities known to humankind: namely, hanging out with the other parents.

The antisocial bastard I am, it didn't take me long to realize that the safest (and by far the fastest) way to ward off unwanted conversation is to 'never speak, and carry a large book'. Preferably a foreign language one.

However, the problem with indoor playgrounds (privately owned, and therefore a fairly recent discovery in this part of the world) is that the patrons invariably hail from similar social/age group strata, and therefore are all well versed in deciphering the Anglo-Saxon pictographs. Well... enough to read the book title, at least.

And, as everyone who has ever visited kid-oriented establishments will be quick to tell you, there is always one conversation-starved new parent eager to trade potty stories. Well this parent would rather discuss the reproductive biology of invertebrates than revisit those particular experiences, thank you very much...

Through a series of trials and errors I've finally stumbled upon the perfect solution, which was revealed in the person and works of one Jeremy Clarkson. You see, the book-reading part of the 'beyond the glass screen' population (namely, the females) has no idea who the man is. And as for the remaining 20% who could actually recognize the silly bugger prancing around the covers with a bunch of (more or less) domesticated animals... they have no idea that men can write books, too!

Now, I'm not sure how this reflects on Mr Clarkson's books sales but it's a bloody win-win situation for me.

With the added bonus of no one wanting to venture any closer than is absolutely necessary to a chain-smoking chick dressed in all black who keeps chuckling to herself every fifteen seconds or so.
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Monday, December 21, 2009

A Calculative Lot

Ever wondered what ickle schoolgirl Dags was like?

Well, then...

Maths. The bane of my existence.

If there is one thing I truly hated about classical education, it was the ridiculous amount of time they had us spend hunched over our respective desks - calculator in one hand and one funky-looking table or another comfortably perched against a classmate's back (or the teacher's desk, as the case may be) - scribbling our way out of various branches of the science, whose names invariably sounded like a terminal disease.

Maths. I hated it... and still do.

Now the professor wasn't so bad, if I'm to be honest about it. He was a reasonably relaxed guy, long enough out of school himself to maintain at least some semblance of authority over his 32-teenagers-strong class, yet not long enough for him to turn into a dried-up dispenser of mathematical theories. It was an occurrence so rare in our little educational facility, that by the time we hit second term (and came to know most of the profs by handle and reputation, if not by proper name) we were thanking all the gods of erudition for sending the man our way.

The said professor also had one weakness (don't they all?), as Selver and I quickly found out: namely, he was a big fan of cars.

And when I say 'a big fan of cars' I don't mean he just appreciated a nice-looking bodywork when he saw one - the man was a full-fledged fanatic and could recite the names and dates of all car shows within the radius of one thousand miles before you could say 'Gödel's incompleteness theorem'!

Well, guess what? So could Selver and I.

It began as a rivalry of sorts: who would get the latest scoop on new releases first, make a more educated guess on the technical upgrades, or showcase the first official ad... Of course, back in the day we couldn’t really rely on the wonderful world of Internet for support (yes, I’m THAT old!), so punches were pulled based on various subscriptions - magazines, newsletters, satellite channels, everything was fair game - as well as the number of people you actually knew abroad. The score? Professor had an impressive list of satellite subscriptions, but Selver was a walking service manual and I had a cousin working for Mercedes. So I'd say we were pretty evenly matched...

...until the day I brought McLaren’s complete press pack to school, that is.

It was a drastic measure, to be quite honest. We were about to have the end-of-term exam and (instead of studying logarithms like we were supposed to) Selver and I had spent the entire day watching Nordic skiing.

No, really.

It’s an Olympic sport, for Pythagoras’ sake!

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes… the end-of-term exam. Now, there is one thing you must understand before I continue: both Selver and I actually made pretty good students. Whereas my interests always lay in the field of social sciences (fact further corroborated by my latter-day obsession with literature and languages - both living and... err... sadly departed), she was firmly rooted in her passion for the naturalistic approach. Neither of us ever missed a chance to shove her respective preference down the other's throat, which resulted in pretty evenly matched final grades - that is to say Selver would’ve probably made a straight A anyway and, by extension, 'yours truly' would have scraped an A minus as well.

We just thought it was more fun this way.

Maybe I forgot to mention that Selver and I almost always occupied the front-most desk, bordering with the teacher's place? It was a calculated choice, seeing as professors spent most of their time making rounds of the classroom in vain attempts to prevent the back rows from conversing... So it required very little effort on our part to set the trap for the unsuspecting academic, a feat which we took to with undeniable glee.

“You think it’ll work?” Selver asked as I carefully positioned the press pack under my bag, so only the corner part with the team logo was visible.

“Just watch…” I whispered, turning all my attention to preparations for the forthcoming test.

And, as surely as Schumacher was to win that year's championship, as soon as the students started scribbling their answers into the oversize notebook we used for assessments alone, our dear math teacher pointed one finger at the protruding end of the red file and raised his eyebrow in silent request. I nodded my consent in equal silence, trying hard as hell not to look at Selver for the fear of bursting into a most inappropriate fit of laughter. Anime villain style.

“Told ya…” I breathed from the corner of my mouth some five minutes into the test, as it became apparent to everyone that professor was in a state of induced automotive trance and was not, in fact, registering the alarming amount of copying, whispering and general cheating taking place right under his nose.

That was the highest average score we’ve ever achieved as a class.

As Selver and I left the school yard that day congratulating ourselves on a mischief well managed, I felt a tiny prickle of guilt at our obvious misuse of power. But it was quickly eradicated by the knowledge that we have taught our professor a very important life lesson, and one he was not likely soon to forget:

Never trust a woman with a Mercedes.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Help! (In the style of the Beatles, key of 'A')

All right, so maybe I don't always act my age... but you have my word I'm a 32-year-old. With two kids. And a job.

Now this doesn't sound all that terrible, does it? Except I'm a freelancer with (time-zone ignorant) clients scattered all over the bloody globe, and one of the kids is a preschooler.

Again, "what's the hangup, your ladyship"?

Well, you see... the local public kindergartens have a waiting list the size of St Peter's, and privately owned ones don't do 8-hour-shifts. As for the woman who helped me with my 3-year-old since the day he was born, a couple of months ago she moved... effin' SWEDEN, of all places!

Don't even contemplate asking. *headdesks*

I've done virtually all I could think of - cut down the working hours, switched to frozen meals, employed husband as a part-time maid, taken to listening to books instead of reading them, and even started talking to my cell phone instead of spending evenings in the delightful company of MS Word - but at the end of the day I still find myself a couple of hours short.

The sad truth is, Dags is getting old. She can't function on the average of four hours of sleep a day any more...

Take, for example, that last phone call with the parents - I wasn't snarky or abrasive in the least. I even agreed with my father at one point! *fully expects the world to end at any moment now* I'm telling you, folks... I'm losing it.

The next thing you know I'll start greeting the husband with 'How was your day, honey?' and the poor sod will get a cardiac arrest.

Then again, now that I think on it... That's not such a bad idea, after all.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Spirits (And Other Beverages)

Before anyone asks why I chose these particular victims... err... recipients for this post, I thought I'd offer the explanation on my own:

Allow me to paraphrase the words of great George Mallory - "Because they're there..."

...and, despite all their (false :P) modesty, they're just that much fun.

Happy holidays, boys. ;)

'Twas the night after Christmas, and all through the house
Boys nursed their hangovers ('drink' boys, and not 'douse'!) -
The ice box, so lately with liquor to spare,
Was emptied of all that was drinkable there!
The darlings had duly retreated to beds,
Carols outside drilling holes in their heads,
(Cuzzy still sporting his new Santa hat,
Hugging LUFC beanie bear... that'd be Matt.)
When out in the street there arose such a clatter,
Both sprang from their sleep: "WTF is the matter?!"

They flew to the windows, still half in a daze,
Tore open the curtains to pinpoint the craze,
One glance (although blurry) served clearly to show
The horrible fate that awaited below:
Rows upon rows of fangirls atwitter
(Boys' faces would make you think it was Death Eaters!)
Lead by Amanda, with Rebecca in tow,
Making their way through the slushed Christmas snow.

Boys' pulses were rapid, their breathings the same,
(Stop that thought right there! Honestly... For shame!)
And just as they thought they have witnessed the worst,
Girls took out the presents... and both the guys cursed.
Matt got complete MU 'home and away',
Cuzzy a Mount Everest paid holiday;
And (as if above was not bad by itself!),
Each got a PhotoShopped pic of himself:
Matthew in naught but a green Christmas wreath -
Cuzzy in baubles (and not much more beneath).

They paled at the sight, from the window stepped back
(poor Cuzzy suffered a mild heart attack),
Both thinking the same as girls' numbers increased:
"Make a run for it, or simply call the police?"
They ran - and were scarcely back under the covers,
When they heard the footsteps of marching Lewislovers;
'Twas then (and I have it from reliable source!),
Matt did Richard 3rd: 'Chris Cuzz for a horse!'

Brow furrowed in dread, he proceeded: "Good Lord!
I'll scream if they start on the Longbottom's sword..."
(Don't worry, Matt dear, all such reference we'll ditch
Not even Dags is THAT much of a bitch :P )
And right at that point both awoke 's if on cue,
Drenched in cold sweat, somewhat greenish in hue,
And - each boy bent over his end of the sink -
Silently vowed to ease up on the drink.

The moral of this story? Hmm, let me think...
"Thou shalt never mix thine fangirls and thine drinks"?
Oh, whom am I kidding?! There's no moral, folks -
I'm just better rhyming than I am telling jokes!

Ruby, love... I hope you approve.
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Disney Moment

So, ya wanna be a hero, kid?
Well, whoop-de-do!
I have been around the block before
With blockheads just like you

Now, if I got a penny every time I lived through a moment that required just such a rejoinder...

I'd probably buy Kensington Gardens, all 275 acres of it - my kid loves it.

But that's quite beside the point.

One'd think that with all the thesauri in the world and seven centuries of romance literature the mankind would get the bloody point and quit wasting their time with imaginary opponents and neverending quests.

My dear knight in shining armour wannabes... it's the one best with the ladder who gets the damsel in the high tower, so you might as well start practicing - on that light bulb right over there.

Sure, elaborate apparel might be a plus (then again, it might not... if we wanted to date a peacock, we'd volunteer at the local zoo), as might the good background (who knows, you just might get lucky and hook up with a professional breeder) and I think we'll all agree that a big, shiny sword is a definite 'pro' point in any book, however...

There's more to life than grand gestures. In fact, life with a partner is all but grand gestures: it's all about bills and backrubs and taking the trash out, dealing with pesky traveling salesmen (and women), picking out the perfect birthday gift for that one member of the extended family you both hate the most, and picking out the right moment to keep your mouth shut or busy.

Let me get one thing straight right now:

A relationship does not equal sharing your life with someone. Hell, I have a 'relationship' with my father-in-law, but I'd rather snuggle with a skunk than share my living arrangements with the man for any given period of time!

Relationships come with a switch you can flip off every time the person you're sharing it with is not around. They're the 'Out of sight, out of hair' sort of thing. Sharing your life with someone, on the other hand, requires 'constant vigilance' - you're either on call 24/7, or you're not sharing. It's as simple as that.

So, allow me to reiterate: if you're in it for the 'relationship', get a bloody cat and be done with it - it'll keep you company and occasionally piss all over your stuff just the same, but you won't have to worry about the emotional aspect (as long as the feeding bowl is full and the litter box regularly emptied, that is).

Oh, for fuck's sake... It just dawned on me I married a feline! *groans*
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Monday, December 7, 2009

State of the Unions

Well, we all know that "history is written by the winners" and "behind every successful man there is a surprised woman", but...  ever wondered what really happened back in 1776?

Yep. You got it.
The guys simply fleeced their wives:

The Declaration of Independence
In HOUSE OF COURTSHIP, June 19, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of Wives in the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one gender to dissolve the marital bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all spouses are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain tendency to toy with unalienable Rights, among which are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Marriages were instituted among womenkind, deriving their just powers from the consent of the wed, --That whenever any Form of Marriage becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Wives to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Marriages, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Marriages long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that womenkind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Marriage, and to provide new Partners for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Mrses; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of marital Life. The history of the present Spouses is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these Mrses. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have refused their Assent to Remodeling, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

They have forbidden their Wives to carry out Shopping of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till their Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, they have utterly neglected to attend to them.

They have threatened to refuse accommodation to large districts of Women, unless those Women would relinquish the right of Gossip at the Public Gatherings, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

They have called together Festivities at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of our personal Accessories, for the sole purpose of fatiguing us into compliance with their measures.

They have dissolved Representative Spouses repeatedly, for opposing with womanly firmness their invasions on the rights of the Wives.

They have refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be collected; whereby the marital powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the Women at large for their exercise; the Wives remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

They have endeavoured to produce overpopulation of the States; for that purpose reinforcing the Laws of Procreation for Foreigners and Natives alike; encouraging others in their procreation hither, and lowering the conditions of new Appropriations of Babes.

They have obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Acts for establishing marital powers.

They have made Wives dependent on their Will alone, for the tenure of their Wardrobes, and the amount and payment of their Apparel.

They have erected a multitude of New Husbands, and sent them hither to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

They have kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Organs without the consent of our Bodies.

They have affected to render the Gentlemen Clubs independent of and superior to the Civilized power.

They have combined with others to subject us to Chores foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws:

For Quartering their large Bodies among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Adultery which they should commit on the female Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with other representatives of the Mankind:

For imposing Sexes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Size:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Fiancees:

For abolishing the free System of English Teahouses in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary Tavern, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Garters, abolishing our most valuable Bras, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Marriages:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

They have abdicated Marriage here, by declaring us out of their Protection and waging Dispute against us.

They have plundered our meats, ravaged our Petticoats, burnt our Gowns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

They are at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Husbands to compleat their works of tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized household.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Spouse whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free household.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our brethren-in-law. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the Wives of the united States of America, in General Teahouse, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good Wives of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these Women are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to their respective Husbands, and that all marital connection between them and the Mankind, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent Women, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent Women may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Mrs. Josiah Bartlett, Mrs. William Whipple, Mrs. Matthew Thornton

Mrs. John Hancock, Mrs. Samual Adams, Mrs. John Adams, Mrs. Robert Treat Paine, Mrs.Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Mrs. Stephen Hopkins, Mrs. William Ellery

Mrs. Roger Sherman, Mrs. Samuel Huntington, Mrs. William Williams, Mrs. Oliver Wolcott

New York:
Mrs. William Floyd, Mrs. Philip Livingston, Mrs. Francis Lewis, Mrs. Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Mrs. Richard Stockton, Mrs. John Witherspoon, Mrs. Francis Hopkinson, Mrs. John Hart, Mrs. Abraham Clark

Mrs. Robert Morris, Mrs. Benjamin Rush, Mrs. Benjamin Franklin, Mrs. John Morton, Mrs. George Clymer, Mrs. James Smith, Mrs. George Taylor, Mrs. James Wilson, Mrs. George Ross

Mrs. Caesar Rodney, Mrs. George Read, Mrs. Thomas McKean

Mrs. Samuel Chase, Mrs. William Paca, Mrs. Thomas Stone, Mrs. Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Mrs. George Wythe, Mrs. Richard Henry Lee, Mrs. Thomas Jefferson, Mrs. Benjamin Harrison, Mrs. Thomas Nelson, Jr., Mrs. Francis Lightfoot Lee, Mrs. Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
Mrs. William Hooper, Mrs. Joseph Hewes, Mrs. John Penn

South Carolina:
Mrs. Edward Rutledge, Mrs. Thomas Heyward, Jr., Mrs. Thomas Lynch, Jr., Mrs. Arthur Middleton

Mrs. Button Gwinnett, Mrs. Lyman Hall, Mrs. George Walton
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