Monthly Archives: January 2007

My Not-so-Secret Admirer.

Laurel and I attended a gifted ed skate night at our local roller rink Tuesday evening.  I'm such a cool mom that I typically rent skates and get out there, too.  I figure if I'm going to break my neck, I might as well have fun doing it.  I'm not a confident skater.  Growing up on a gravel road doesn't really lend itself to learning to skate.

While the more proficient skaters were doing the hokey pokey, I took a break.  I was sitting on some benches when a little boy with an ice cream cone came skating up and sat next to me.  He was about 6 years old, with sunny blond hair and big old brown eyes.  He struck up a fun conversation with me, which went something like this:

Boy:  "I love speed skating." (speed skating was next in the lineup)

Me:  "Really?  I'm not much of a skater, I'm afraid."

Boy:  "I could probably go pro."

Me:  "How wonderful!  Are you planning to be a professional skater when you grow up?"

Boy:  "No.  I'm going to be a race car driver.  I'll win a million bucks.  All I have to do is win Talladega."

Me:  "Gonna trade in your skates for some bigger wheels, huh?"

Boy (laughing):  "You're funny."

lull in conversation

Boy (derisively):  "My brother, he wants to be an engineer." (shaking head)

Me:  "Yeah?  How old is your brother?"

Boy (clearly disgusted):  "Twelve."

We chit-chatted a little more, then he took off.  Shortly thereafter, I took the floor myself, skated around a few times, then skated into the wall to stop paused at the edge of the floor to speak with the gifted ed art teacher.  I was visiting with her when the little boy skated up to us again.

Boy:  "I forgot to ask your name."

Me (laughing):  "Well, my name is Michelle.  What's yours?"

Boy:  "Kyle."

Me:  "Very nice to meet you, Kyle."

Teacher (snickering):  "Careful, I think he's going to ask you to couples-skate."

Alas, he didn't ask me to couples-skate.  He probably figured I wasn't good enough on my wheels to roll with him.  After all, he's good enough to go pro.  It's just as well.  I hate racing.


Oh, Two More Things…

1.  I've always been pretty frank with Rebecca.  After leaving the Mary Kay meeting, she showed me some stupid cellulite cream the cult leaders have given to the recruits to sell.  "It takes a whole inch off your thighs," she said.  "Rebecca!  You cannot possibly believe that," I wheedled.  "I mean, come on.  No way."  Rebecca insisted that the models, the models, the ever-loving friggin' models had proven it true.  "Rebecca," I said, "You have an education in science.  Sort of.  Do you mean to tell me you actually believe this stuff works?  I'm telling you, it's that cult mentality."  Sigh.

2.  Vinnie, our dog, did not recognize me when I came home.  He went all K-9 Unit on me when I walked in.  In fairness, I think he was trying to warn me off the cult to begin with, because he went berserk when Rebecca came to pick me up before the meeting, too.  Then again, he could just be a dumb dog.

Jim Jones, David Koresh, & Mary Kay.

Folks, this is a long blog post, but I have SO MUCH to say about last night.  So settle in and enjoy.

Last week a former coworker and friend of mine called me up to ask if I would be a 'face model' at her upcoming Mary Kay meeting, followed by dinner afterward.  In a moment of weakness, I assented, though I knew I'd likely be subjected to some stupid sales pitch.

I had no idea.

Rebecca picked me up and was actually on time (Jess will laugh at this).  We headed south and ended up at a nondescript, two-story, musty building.  We journeyed to the second floor, and there…

…at the end of the hall…

…were the strangest two rooms I have ever seen in my life.  Dark paneling draped in pink and lace.  Folding chairs adorned with makeshift chair covers that spelled out M-A-R-Y K-A-Y.  But the piece de resistance, the crowning jewel of the entire room, was this:


Oh. My. God.  This was given a place of prominence just the way churches have the requisite picture of Jesus up front by the altar. 

Things didn't get any better.  I was ushered into a second room (the 'Diva Room') and assaulted by Rebecca's director or whatever, Sue, who gave me a questionnaire asking me what was wrong with my skin (nothing, but I made something up); to which cosmetic brands I was loyal (I said none, because I knew better than to give her an opening).  Then the real fun started.  They wanted to give me a diva makeover, so she pulled out two possible palettes — brown, and brown.  

Sue:  "What eye colors do you usually wear? Brown is the best color for blue eyes."

Me:  "Um, brown, actually."

Sue (holding up the two palettes):  "Well, which group is closest to what you wear?"

Me:  "Um, they both are.  They're nearly identical.  Let me just pick one.  That one." (pointing to brown, naturally)

While I applied all this expensive, yet unimpressive makeup –which let me just say I was happy to apply myself so I could avoid being painted up like a two-dollar whore —  Sue proselytized to me about the virtues of being a Mary Kay consultant.  One of the biggest draws, according to Sue, was that you don't have to compromise faith or family.  Mary Kay believes in God first, family second, job third. If that weren't offensive enough to my beliefs, she went on to note that I work for attorneys, and said, "Oh, I'll bet those lawyers don't like for you to talk much about God."  That stopped me in my tracks, and I'm certain my face registered disbelief, if she were savvy enough to catch on before I recovered.  I'm sure my polite smile faltered.  See, first of all, we don't believe in that order of priority in my family.  To us, that's just crazy talk.  Family, to us, is everything.  Above all else.  Whatever other people choose to believe is just dandy with us, but nobody should assume like-mindedness due solely to lack of objection.  Secondly, I don't like talking much about her god or anybody else's — nevermind what my employers believe.  That topic, however, is for another post.


I suffered through her sales pitch, then it was time for me to go into the main room to 'model' my makeup.

Sue:  "Don't worry.  They'll be nice to you."

Me:  "Well, I'm sure they will.  It wouldn't serve them well to be snarky, would it?"

Everyone ooh-ed and ahh-ed over my makeup, then I had to sit in the general meeting and wait for Rebecca to be done.  Oh my god.  More god stuff.  God wants this, and God wants that.  If I had known I'd be attending a service of the Church of Mary Kay, I would soooooooo have declined, and I'm certain Rebecca knew that, knowing my feelings on the subject.  Then they started talking about how to get the coveted red jacket.  It seems the red jacket is something you are allowed to wear once you have recruited three people into Mary Kay.  Then you're supposed to wear it with a white blouse and black skirt (because Mary Kay does not like women wearing pants, my god), to the Mary Kay conferences.

Sue:  "I ordered my red jacket after I had two recruits, and I would wear it in my house while I made phone calls."

I'm not very good at hiding my feelings, and I can only hope nobody was looking directly at me when she said that.


Mary Kay is a cult for the following reasons:

1.  Mary Kay is an authoritarian pyramid structure with authority at the top;

2.  They actively and knowingly use shady, deceptive, and subversive tactics to recruit new members, including the promise of huge tax deductions, increased self-confidence, and financial independence;

3.  They keep those new members hooked with the promise of moving up in the ranks and the accoutrements to display one's rank; i.e. red jacket and other uniform dress, diamond bees, pins, and of course — the Mary Kay car program;

4.  The leadership dictates how members should think, act, and feel — what types of clothes to wear, what 'scripts' to use when recruiting, etc., all the while maintaining that members may run their business 'any way they like;'

5.  The group is preoccupied with making money in a pyramidic fashion — every time a consultant recruits a new consultant, she gets a commission from that new member's purchases;

6.  They participate in rituals and cult-speak, such as this weird 3-claps-in-unison phenomenon I heard over and over last night, possibly called the 'power clap;' and

7.  They believe and express that God somehow approves of their decision to sell Mary Kay and wants them to become rich from cosmetics sales.


After the meeting, I stressed to Rebecca that she was involved in a cult, to no avail.  Ah, well.  Opiate of the masses.


Dim Sum Dumplins?

St. Louis doesn't really have a Chinatown, but we do have a more-ethnic-than-not strip which boasts several Asian and Hispanic markets, as well as Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Afghani restaurants. 

Greg and I love to try new cuisines and new restaurants, so I was all worked up over trying dim sum for the first time this past Saturday.  After all, we'll be visiting Chinatown in San Francisco this summer, and what better way to enjoy Chinatown than by dim sum dining? I was absolutely miserable with a cold, but I was determined not to allow some stupid virus to spoil my early birthday celebration.  We settled on trying Lu Lu's, a well-recommended dim sum establishment.

The idea of dim sum is for employees to push carts of dumplings, rolls, soups, and pastries around, allowing diners to pick and choose what they like from the carts.  We knew it was just this kind of relaxed atmosphere we wanted to enjoy, especially since I wasn't feeling well.  Walking in, I was really excited because it smelled wonderful!  We were seated, and immediately assaulted on all sides (okay, not all sides because we were at a table against a wall, but it certainly seemed to come from all sides) by staff who spoke almost no English whatsoever.  So much for leisurely dining. 

They would ask us if we wanted what they had on their carts.  Over and over.  We could not understand a single word they were saying.  Even the wide-eyed, clearly out-of-our-element look on our faces could not persuade them to elucidate the contents of their carts.  We just guessed whether we wanted something or not.  I would cast a furtive glance in Greg's direction only to find he was doing the same towards me.  At one point, a lady came over and kept asking if we wanted something that sounded like 'kinjee? kinjee? kinjee?' and Greg finally just gave up and asked, 'What exactly IS it?' and she bustled over, got her cart, and brought it to us.  She opened it, and I saw that it was congee.  Ah-ha!  Rice porridge!  Soup!  I knew from my reading what that was.  I told her that yes, yes!  I would have some of that, please!  Yes!  But alas, she was distracted by some Chinese customers she knew.  Clearly fed up with my ignorance, she scurried away, never to return.  No soup for me.

In the end, Greg and I decided that a) this was an experience we should try a few more times before foisting it on the rest of my family in San Francisco, so we can identify some of the dishes; b) that my mother, not a fan of Chinese cuisine, would probably not be thrilled with this type of food; and c) we really are not as cosmopolitan as we could be. 

But we have lots of time to practice.  And I can't wait to do it again.

Vindication, Thou Art Mine.

Remember this post?

Well, it turns out the authors of a new book denouncing excess organization have a lot of positive things to say about clutter.  Check it out here.

I especially like the part claiming that my piles of papers are 'surprisingly sophisticated.'  If there's one thing I am, it's surprisingly sophisticated. 

I feel redeemed.  Maybe I can send a copy of this book to school with Laurel for her to read during free time.  I wonder if they have an Accelerated Reader test for it? 

Fun with Limericks.

Following are my entries in the 'Looky, Daddy!' limerick contest:


I'm mom to just singletons, true.
I realize I'm lucky. I do!
But my son has the means
and the go-getter genes
to make enough poo for two.

Stuck in a Beer Box.

"I like climbing on boxes.  Oops, this one doesn't have anything in it to hold me up.  How funny!  It caved in!  Awesome!"


"Well, that was fun and all, but I'm ready to move on to greater feats of destruction. Uh-oh.  I'm stuck."


"What would MacGyver do?  I know.  He'd use Laurel's boot to fashion a lever and pry himself out of the box."



"Well, that was a miserable failure.  Small wonder his show was cancelled.  I'll make one last-ditch effort to get out of here before resorting to my secret weapon."


"Desperate times call for desperate measures . . . Mommy!"

Bad Pet Owner!

Our dog Vinnie loves to ride in the car.  I take him with me whenever I can but I never let him out of the car while we're out because he freaks out and starts shaking.  Therefore, Vinnie's rides are mostly limited to dropping off and picking up Laurel from school, with an occasional outing elsewhere.

Last Friday, Vinnie, Ethan, and I went to pick up Laurel from school as usual.  Laurel and I discussed her day on the way home and laughed about her brother's antics.  About an hour later, Greg's coworker came over to pick something up and we were sitting on the living room floor when Vinnie came bounding in with Greg close behind lamenting, "Poor Vinnie!!!"

Not only had I forgotten to let Vinnie out of the back of the car, but to my further embarrassment, Greg's coworker was the one who discovered Vinnie's plight.  Horrors!  Embarrassment!  Shame!

Funny thing is, Vinnie wasn't complaining about being left in the car — he was just sitting there quietly.  He probably figured it was well-deserved respite after dealing with a tail-pulling toddler all day.

Mea culpa, Vinnie.


Addendum — here is what I mean by Vinnie needing a respite.  Ethan is sitting on Vinnie:


Tax Dollars at Work.

While wasting time looking at all the RVs for sale on Craig's List (I confess to a little wishful thinking) it occurred to me that I should be doing something more productive.  Because housework isn't all that appealing at the moment, I figured I'd update the blog.

In the past week, I have had two, count 'em, TWO clashes with the fine examples of guv'ment inefficiencies.

The first:

As almost anyone reading this already knows, Greg adopted Laurel over the summer.  The adoption was finalized on September 25, 2005.  Last week, it occurred to me to go over to the local Health Department to pick up Laurel's amended birth certificate.  After convincing Laurel the Hermit to crawl out of the confines of her room, we went to pick it up.  I gave my form and fee to the counter lady and spent a few minutes listening to Laurel expound on the symptoms and complications of diabetes.  See, the Health Department has a very graphic display of this.  I also hoped she wouldn't see the information on STDs. 

My name was called and lo, they said they have no record of an amended birth certificate, but gave me a card with a number for Vital Records in Jeff City.  Having been a guv'ment worker myself, I knew when I called Jeff City, I would be met with shining examples of efficiency and expediency. 

When I finally reached someone at Vital Records, I found out that a) there is only 1 person who handles adoption amendments; b) she is still working on June adoptsions; and c) if I want to find out if she has received our paperwork, I will need to give her the exact date the attorney sent it to her along with the check or money order number and the attorney's name.  So much for my habit of bowing to our state capital in prayer five times every day.

I was mad.  I was so mad that I stomped downstairs to tell Greg just how mad I was.  Then I stomped back upstairs and e-mailed my Representative.   I suggested perhaps another filing and / or logging system is in order.  'Ha!' I thought.  'That'll show 'em.'  Alas, to date I have not received a response from my Rep.  But I am not without hope, because I don't think they're even in session right now.

The second:

I checked out a book from the library.  Upon reaching home, I realized that the previous reader left a family portrait in the book.  'Oh,' I thought.  'I need to return this to the library so they can look up the previous reader and return this to her.'  I say 'her' because honestly, how many men do you know who use family portraits as bookmarks?  Or who read Jennifer Crusie novels?  Besides, I was a little lacking on my Good Samaritan karma lately.  I'd cut some people off while driving and hadn't been as patient with idiots as I could've been.  So it was time.

I went to the library with the photo, feeling mighty good about myself, and explained the situation to the librarian, who said, 'Oh, yeah, that happens all the time.  We just take it and put it back here in case someone asks for it.'

Me:  'You mean you can't look up who had the book before I did?  Because I would imagine this photo has some sentimental value.'

Librarian:  'Nope.  The book's former record was erased when you checked it out.'

Good thing the criminal justice system doesn't work that way.  Or maybe it does.  At any rate, I left, aggravated because I felt my good works had been foiled by the library.  I couldn't understand why they wouldn't have the ability to look up the last couple of people, at least, who checked out a book.  It seems it would be a smart thing.  And considering all the money we just paid in personal property taxes…sigh.

My karma meter is low. 

Ah, well.

Maybe I'll just go give blood.  Happy Friday, everyone.

A Little Off the Top.

We know it's time for Ethan to get a haircut when Grandma Smith asks us if we're going to cut his hair.  We're the kind of parents who can take a hint.  Clearly, Grandma Smith does not want Ethan to be one of the 'long-haired freaky people' who need not apply.

In the past, I have really dreaded taking the boy for a cut because he s-c-r-e-a-m-s and frightens the other clients.  Ergo, the stylist received an enormous tip.

Today we had a breakthrough.  Ethan did not scream.  He was a champ!    Maybe it was the lollipop we dangled before him as his hair was being cut. 

 Here's the before & after:

 Before:                                After: