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Facebook is terrible and my Tutu was awesome

22 Dec

My grandmother on my dad’s side was this super chatty Hawaiian woman with little white curls all over her head. It’s possible I am her, except for that whole “living through a war” “raising 4 boys” “fortitude and hard work” thing. 

So this one time she was talking to my dad, and:

Tutu: “I called Harumi today and Harumi’s daughter answers and says, Hi Mona. I said who’s this! She said, it’s Harumi’s daughter, Mona, how are you? I said, How you know who this is! And she says, we have Caller ID– it shows us who’s calling us.”

My dad: “Yeah, Mom, caller ID displays who’s calling on the phone.”

Tutu: “None of their DAMN BUSINESS who’s calling them!”

So my question is— is ANYONE charmed by Facebook’s cheeky little changeable questions in their status update field. What do you mean, “How’s it going, Maggie?” That’s MY business, you nosy little bugger. I’ll post a “let your friends know how your holidays are going” status update if I FEEL like it, I don’t need you prompting me. God, Facebook is such a creepy little son of a b police state. 


Sometimes life is hard and you just want to curl up like a potato bug which is what we call pillbugs around here

28 Nov

I’d say that one of the most confusing, baffling times of my life– when I just completely don’t understand anything that’s going on and feel utterly incapable of beginning to move forward– is definitely when I’m trying to put dishes away in someone else’s kitchen.

I mean, seriously. 

I hate running, part 476

26 Nov

The surest way to get my ass in the chair to write: put on my running clothes.


Dear Thanksgiving Traditions and My Weird Pet Stories

19 Nov

Growing up, I was very attached to my image of myself as a “tomboy.” All my favorite literary heroines were tomboys– Jo from Little Women, Pippi Longstocking, this strange witch who disguised herself as a boy to become a soldier instead of going into a nunnery from a series that no one else read, Eloise… I refused to enjoy The Secret Garden for a long time because there wasn’t a tomboy to be found in it.

I was just athletic enough and stubborn enough and didn’t care about clothes enough to pull this off. It both helped and hindered that my only sibling was an older sister who liked to sew and loved girly clothes– helped because by comparison, I was indeed a paragon of boyishness, hindered because I in fact did not develop any kind of toughness whatsoever. Plus I was afraid of heights, so that eliminated climbing trees, and I was terrified of getting in trouble, so that eliminated…anything that might get me in trouble.

If you know me now, you’re laughing and wondering when the last time I played a sport was, to which I respond by pointing at all my years of trophies. (OK, effort trophies that everyone got, but still.)

When I was growing up, my parents had all these sets of friends who had boy-children who were a year older than me. There was the neighborhood set, Tom and Alex– Alex went to my school and had steadily ignored me since I was five, which continued right on until I cheekily showed up in his physics class when I was just a sophomore, at which point he tried to get me to do his homework for him– and Tom was one of those gifted athletes with great hair. Upshot being: I hid in a corner during those holiday gatherings and read a book (their older sisters and my older sister were friends, which meant she got to enjoy herself, of all the sneaky moves).

The Guthries lived across the lake from us and therefore were safely out of my school district. The Guthrie twins were scarily bro-y even at the tender age of eight. Upshot being: my sister and I both hid in a corner during those holiday gatherings and read books.

The third family lived across the mountains and were easily my favorites. We used to have Thanksgiving with them every year, either there or here. I preferred going there. Erik was a year older than me and Michael was four years younger, and they had a number of advantages for all of us kids on their hometurf, most notably a ping pong table, video games, and the fact that they were allowed to watch Power Rangers.

Since the demographic was skewed toward my age, I felt a bit more comfortable here. Plus Erik, rather than being a football player, went through a skater phase, and a comic book phase if I remember correctly, and a phase where he kept a terrarium.

These were things I could compete on! As a tomboy! Maybe! Right? Like I was never going to take the scary, stocky Guthrie twins out during football, but I could pretend that I would someday learn to skateboard.

(Flash forward: I still have never met a skateboard that didn’t then turn around and introduce my ass to asphalt in the first 3 seconds of our encounter.) Plus, their parents were insistent enough on manners that we all took turns playing Frogger. (My astounding failure at skateboarding is only exceeded by my colossal inability to play video games.)

But I watched the Power Rangers like a champ, I tell you.

Michael, the younger brother, was most famous for getting kicked out of a karate class as a 5-year-old for being too rambunctious.

So ok, I never had my Disney channel original movie moment, where I grabbed a skateboard or a football or a basketball and beat all the boys on the court, and I never did get my frog all the way across the street without getting brutally smashed by an oncoming semi, and I never did Alex’s homework for him in physics class, either.

But I did make my parents buy me newts after seeing Erik’s terrarium one year at Thanksgiving. This was part of the many attempts my parents made to satisfy me with any animal other than a dog. (I’ve referenced this before, here, in a very mixed metaphor about Facebook.) So at this point I’d had several fish, and we had two cats, Bobo and Daisy. Bobo had famously lost part of an ear and his entire tail by this time, leaving a raw bony stub that never failed to disgust people.

But Bobo’s tail-loss had nothing on the newts in the end. Erik is responsible for the newt disaster. His terrarium was filled with frogs, and turtles, and little geckos, and fire-belly newts. Which were so cool. They were all black with red bellies, and when they crawled on you (of course they crawled on you), their little tiny webbed feet tickled your hand.

I wanted them bad. And, of course, newts are not dogs. They live in a glass case, and they don’t have to be walked, and their poop doesn’t have to be picked up, and they are generally known to be less work than puppies. Or even rabbits, guinea pigs, ponies, sheep, goats, hedgehogs, gerbils, rats, or giant sea turtles. Which were also on my list.

The idea was to start with fire-bellied newts and work my way up to a full terrarium, which would then make me impressively scientific and interested in reptiles, which of course are a boy thing and not a girl thing. Can you guess at this next part?

This is the part where a month or so into having the fire-bellied newts, my mom was tearing into the refrigerator trying to find what was making the kitchen smell like a combination of death, vomit, and sickly sweet putrid shit.

Once the refrigerator met ICU neo-natal standards of cleanliness and the smell still persisted, I was called in to clean the newt case. But I just did it last week, I whined. It’s not the newts. The newts aren’t stinky, they’re just boring. (Their names are long lost to time.) (Yes, I had quickly realized that newts were not as…how do I put this…interactive as a dog would have been.) (Also not cute, cuddly, personable, remotely interesting, or able to be taken outside. Also they were completely devoid of any appeal whatsoever past their first five minutes in my eager little pet-greedy hands.)

And then I walked near the newts. And it smelled. Oh god, did it smell. And I started to reach in to put them in a tupperware while I cleaned the case. And then I saw. White little oozing nubs where their feet had once been. Not just one, but all three of them.

Tiny self-cannibalizing infected carcasses of eaten feet. I wouldn’t let my parents flush them, so we returned them to the pet storeLike they were defective merchandise.

Every Thanksgiving, I think of those tiny little black legs that ended so abruptly in white pus. Fire-bellied newts are smaller than your average-sized gecko. They’re about the length of two knuckles on a child’s finger. And those amputated feet-stubs were so rotten that their smell crept into every corner of the house.

I’m not saying the newts are responsible for my current rather non-sporty, reading-and-writing nerdy feminine self, but.

Who does your mom try to set you up with?

9 Nov

My mom tries to set my sister K up with IT guys. When K was single, it was pretty blatant–

“The new IT guy at my work is so cute. He’s this kind of goofy-looking guy with a huge smile. I’m going to look to see if he has a wedding ring on. By the way, did you want to come have lunch with me at work this week?”

Now that K’s been with her boyfriend for a few years, things have gotten more subtle. We’ll all be having dinner together– K’s bf included– and my mom’ll say something like–

“Well if you don’t want to help me with my computer, I’ll just ask the IT guy at work. He’s very smart. And nice. I’m surprised he hasn’t been snatched up already.”

Like I said, super subtle. “IT Guy” has become something of a code word in our house.

“Well, if you were dating an IT Guy, K, you wouldn’t have this problem of not knowing how to fix your computer.”

“Well, if I could just find a nice IT Guy to settle down with….” 

For most of my life, my mom has resisted the urge to try to set me up (the exception). I wasn’t sure why this was, but like most privileged people, I accepted my good fortune blindly and tried not to ask too many questions.

Now I know that it was just because I wasn’t living in the same city as my mother for the past few years (and prior to that I was in college). I moved away for grad school. I’m back now. She apparently thinks matchmaking is appropriate only post-higher education. 21st century, y’all!

And I don’t want to be melodramatic, but…’s started. And it’s terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad.

Pretty sure my eyes are still stuck in the back of my head from last week.

My sister gets IT Guy. I get…Produce Guy.

“M, you know who’s really pretty cute?” my mom says like she’s just discovered a fabulous secret. “The produce guys down at Met Market!”

“You’re kidding, right?” I say. “You want me to date a produce guy?

“From Met Market,” my mom says like that explains everything.

“….” I say.

“Met Market! Their produce is really good. I think they probably know a lot. They’re sort of experts,” my mom says. 

“Oh. Well then,” I say.

Fine,” she says. “But don’t say I didn’t tell you.”


Five minutes later, she says, “I just think you should look is all.”

The next day, she says, “Oh, could you run down to the grocery store and pick up some bread? …Are you going to change out of your sweatpants?”

I don’t think it’s going to work. When I’m in the grocery store, I either look royally pissed off or on the verge of total panic. 

But as my mom said when I told her what this morning’s post was about, “In my defense, you do really like produce.”

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