Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for May, 2012

A different sort of homework problem.

Yesterday, the Oldest Kidlet came bounding out of his classroom. “Mom! Mom! You’ll never guess what we’re going to write about this week.”

His kindergarten class gets a homework packet. There’s a page to keep track of the district mandated 20 minutes of daily reading, the weekly quiz that I’ve mentioned here before, and usually an average of 3-4 pages per day that cover spelling, phonetics and math. His favorite part is where he gets to write three sentences about an assigned subject.

“FISH.”

To the left in red, is the Octonauts' Octopod. To the right, a tiny pirate ship.

To say that my son is obsessed with the Ocean is an understatement. He came back from a school field trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific demanding to know everything I knew about the ocean. If you were channel surfing and passed by a shot of a tidepool, he’d make you go back to watch.

Half the books he’s borrowed from the library have been about the ocean. And once we discovered Octonauts? Forget it. He’ll watch that show over and over again.

See the drawing? That’s the Octonauts’ Octopod. He draws it everywhere now that he had me teach him how to draw it.

So why am I telling you all this? I knew the instant he told me he had to write three sentences about fish that we were headed for trouble. He happily babbled about how he was going to draw a picture of a shark and clownfish to go with his sentences as we drove home. We got in the house and he told his dad all about his assignment.

He pulled out his folder and went right over to the kitchen table to start writing it (that’s when I discovered that’s the only page of homework he has this week- they’re doing their end of year testing). He sat there, his brow furrowed.

And sat.

And sat.

Finally he looked at me. “Mom. How can I only write three sentences?” There it was. His brain was so overwhelmed by everything he wanted to write, that nothing was coming out. Something I completely understand- it happens to me nightly.

Distraction time. I held out his pack of crayons. “If you only write three sentences, you get to color the drawing you make to go with it.”

“Fish can be big or small,” he began as he started to write. “They have to live in water…”

*

I promise. Something other than a kid story soon. So what’s new with all of you out there? Have any kid homework stories to share?

Lost in translation.

We’re sitting around on the long weekend, and TheBoy cleaned up most of the mess that the Little Kidlet has been making. (I should point out that LK has been cleaning up some of his mess, just not a lot)

Me: Tell your dad he’s awesome for doing the cleaning.
LK: Daddy, I’m awesome for doing the cleaning.
Me: No, he’s awesome.
LK: No, I’m awesome.

Well, I suppose I should be proud that he understands that you switch around pronouns when you’re the one doing the talking.

…he did finally tell TheBoy thank you, at least.

We watch a lot of NCIS.

Thanks to everyone who’s responded to yesterday’s post both publicly and privately. The whole point I shared this is because it’s a problem that a lot of women face. And some men, too (it is true that some women will objectify men – see: this Tumblr thread in response to a GQ post about D’Angelo being objectified). Just glad that this subject seems to be getting a lot of discussion.

Anyhow, we watch a lot of NCIS. I am acutely aware of this since I have not just one, but two, NCIS related stories to share.

Story the First began on the car ride home from preschool. I noticed that it was still overcast, and said to the Little Kidlet, “Looks like the Marine layer hasn’t burned off yet.” We came in and LK went to see his grandmother. That’s when I heard him say, “The Marine hasn’t burped yet.” My mother in law, completely unphased walks through.

“What episode of NCIS was that from?”

Story the Second began this afternoon. We were discussing an episode that was on and that I’d seen the beginning of a few times in the last month. “I don’t know how it ends,” I whined to TheBoy.

He looked at me. “With a black and white shot,” he quipped. Clever boy, no?

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Everyday Harrassment, it’s not okay.

Kate Beaton shared a post on Twitter today (this post, in fact) filled with young women sharing a conversation about street harassment. Mostly how common it is, and how much women in general put up with. In response, she made this comic. Go, read both. Then come back.

It happens to everyone, even me. For any guys out there, this isn’t an attempt to say look at all the attention I’ve gotten, I must be hot. This isn’t that at all. I’m trying to point out that there is something hugely wrong about this being something that girls & women have to put up with as if it’s normal.

As a teen actress, I was cast in a play by a guy for the sole purpose of trying to get me to wear a skimpy nightgown. It was a zany farce that took place overnight, so most of the cast was in 30′s style night clothes. I made sure I picked out my own, and actually wore a formal dress I had that was styled vaguely like a nightie. After that play was over I got a lot pickier about what parts I took. (It’s probably just a good thing in general that I stopped acting)

At Disneyland, I had to wear the Fantasyland costume while working crowd control (yes, Disney people, I’m using the non DL term. Deal), which at the time consisted of blue culottes that resembled a short skirt, a little white embroidered top and knee high socks. If you think I look a teenager now… this is a picture of me during my Disney Days.

Put that in knee high socks. Creepy dads or hormonal teen boys egged on by their creepy dads would say something gross to me. I’d have men trying to give me their phone number, ask me what time I got off work so they could get me off (I wish I was making that one up, but it was the most common line I was given)… and I had to smile and brush them off politely.

There was one guy I worked with who was older than most of us (he was probably in his late 30s/early 40s, we were all 18-22). He used to tell the younger girls who worked there that their nametags were crooked, and if you weren’t fast enough, he’d try to adjust it. Of course, it’s a straight type pin, so all he was doing was copping a feel.

One night a bunch of us were walking from one place to the other* at the end of our shift, and he kept asking me if I could help him move (at the time I had a pickup). I had just finished a long story about how a tire of mine was shredded and I had to replace a RIM on my truck because it had gotten jacked up when I was pulling off the road. But still, he was begging me (little old me) to help him move. The other guys in the group pointed out that I’d said my truck was in the shop. That I’d said no. But he kept asking.

This is just a small sampling of stories, and the most tame ones that I felt comfortable sharing. Yes, there are worse stories. I’ve had nearly every bit of my anatomy commented on, and had my looks complimented in such creepy ways that it makes me fear for any teenage girl out there.

I’ve been made to feel uncomfortable for dressing in just about every manner possible (I’m sure I could wear a burqa and it wouldn’t make a difference) and been made to feel as though simply existing is an invitation to be objectified.

No, not all men are creeps. But the creeps are vocal and well, they’re enough to make women uncomfortable where ever they go. (And yes, women do this as well. But I would argue that as annoying as it might be to the man in question, they probably don’t fear for their safety when it happens)

I plan on making sure that my boys know that girls are people. And people that do things like walk/take public transportation and shop and wear clothes. That no matter where they are or what they’re doing, it isn’t okay to ogle, touch, tell a girl/woman anything remotely sexually explicit, or shout at her. If you’re interested in a girl, talk to her like a person. If she isn’t interested, move on. We are not put on this earth for your entertainment.

Some other comics about this:
Meredith Gran’s Octopus Pie (This was posted last year, but it relates)
Jess Fink Kid With Experience

So there you have it. Some men are creepy and it makes 100% of women uncomfortable even if they don’t say anything.

*No, it doesn’t really matter what ride I was working at or where we were going. Does it?
**I did report the name tag stuff and that creepy conversation, but at the time it fell in a grey area- and while managers believed me, it came down to my word against his. They advised me to just keep my distance from him, and my guy friends and TheBoy threatened to kick his ass if he even looked at me again. Later on, I wound up working with him on another ride and by then I’d found my voice. When he made a comment about my appearance, I told him I would hurt him if said anything that didn’t have to do with our job, and nobody would believe that little Whitney with the big doe eyes was capable of it. Which I think he realized was true, and he wasn’t a problem for me again.

What do you want to be?

The Little Kidlet is a boy of few words. He didn’t say much at all until about 8 months ago- just a few words at a time (though I wasn’t worried- he knew a lot of words). Nowadays you can’t get him to stop talking when he’s excited. But if he isn’t in the mood, he’ll boil everything down to one word. Which doesn’t always work.

This morning, as we were getting in the car to go to school, the Oldest Kidlet was excited. “When I grow up, I’m going to be a doctor.” He leaned over towards his brother. “What are you going to be when you grow up?”

“Airplane.”

The car fell quiet for a moment, as I tried to figure out how to explain to my son that you can’t be an airplane.

The Oldest Kidlet laughed kindly. “That’s not how it works. You can’t be a plane, silly.”

“NO. I want to fly planes,” the Little Kidlet said indignantly as I finished buckling him into his seat.

“Then you should have said that!” His brother said as he finished buckling himself in.

He’s free!

Yesterday was the big day. After a total of 6 1/2 weeks, the Oldest Kidlet got his cast off.

Of course, this development comes with a few new challenges. He can’t fully bend his arm yet (totally normal), has a giant bruise on his arm (also totally normal), and doesn’t understand why he can’t do everything on his “my arm is better list.”

Yesterday, he played for hours and was rewarded with a swollen arm that we had to ice down. We weren’t warned about that, but the internet tells me it’s a normal reaction for over-exertion.

But it does mean that I don’t have to worry about being woken up in the middle of the night when he rolled and hit the wall with his cast. BANG! Seriously. It wasn’t fun. I don’t have to worry about anyone in the family getting smacked by it when he gives us hugs.

I just have to keep an extra eye out on him so that he doesn’t reinjure himself in the next 6 weeks. Considering he kept tripping on his feet yesterday… would anyone think less of me if I wrapped him in bubble wrap for the next 6 weeks?

What a weekend!

This Mother’s Day, I was treated to a trip to visit my grandmother in Arizona. No kids, just me and my mom. It was intended to be a pretty relaxed weekend, since all of us are the kind who would sit and just watch NCIS all weekend if given the chance (taking breaks for meals, of course).

Mmm... eegee's

Mmm... eegee's

We arrived at her house after running some errands (a trip to a fabric store for my mom, and a trip to eegee’s for me). That’s when we discovered that half the outlets in the house weren’t working, the evaporative cooler wasn’t turned on yet for the summer (and it was starting to hit 100 this weekend), and the internet didn’t work.

Oddly enough, I was fine unplugging for the weekend. It gave me a chance to read and to catch up with my grandmother. (By the way, buy Jenny Lawson’s book (aka The Bloggess). I laughed so hard I was a crying, snorting mess. Which in turn made my family laugh.)

But my grandmother was very upset. All the work that needed to be done had started a couple weeks prior when she needed to get the roof replaced, which led to discovering that wiring needed to be replaced (it is an old house), and everything just seemed to keep snowballing.

Without saying anything else, my mom and I set about trying to take care of things. We called an HVAC man to come out and turn on the evaporative cooler, which hadn’t been turned on yet for the summer because of the roof repairs. I fussed with the router and the modem before I realized that the modem wasn’t registering a connection, so I set up a service appointment for Sunday. My mom called the electrician out to figure out what was tripping the circuit breakers (which she couldn’t get to, because it looked as though the box was locked).

The very nice electrician came right out and pointed out that the locked side was the city’s, but that the otherside was tricky to open. You had to push up a latch on the bottom while pulling the door down to unlock it. My mom got the hang of it, and we were back in business. (The culprit? The electric water heater, which should have been given its own breaker when it was installed, but wasn’t)

Well, after the HVAC guy came while it was dark to set up the cooler (it was already breaking 100 outside and the house was well over 90 degrees. Not what you want for your mother/grandmother), the circuit tripped again. My mom walked outside and POW. That’s what I heard, followed by her shouting “OW.”

As it turned out, she had shocked herself. So we called out the electrician, who gladly came out without charging us because that was dangerous. It would seem that they’d moved the circuit breaker directly under the opening for the downspout from the gutters- which nobody had noticed when they were moving it, and nobody thought about what would happen when the cooler was started. So water dripped out of the opening and created a puddle underneath the breaker box (and cable box).

The next morning (aka Mother’s Day), my mom headed out bright and early to get the pieces to make an actual downspout that would divert around the boxes. And the power kept going out.

Which led to Whitney vs the Circuit Breaker. I pushed the lever like I was supposed to, and tried to pull the door down. But nothing happened and my hand kept sliding down. After fifteen minutes, I went and washed off my hands to get the sweat off of it and gave it another go. That did the trick and it opened.

We got a phone call from the cable company, saying that the tech could come right away. He showed up while my mom was building her downspout, and went around the house. We aren’t sure when, but someone cut the cable line into the room where the computer was. So he put in a new wire, and we had just enough time to get ready for brunch.

We went to a restaurant called Pastiche, which I was informed is well known for its wine and desserts. The food was excellent, though I did have something that had a bit of dairy in it- I admit I was too timid to ask if I could get it without (and the sauce was wonderful). It was breaded sea bass, in a champagne cream sauce with capers. Served with white rice and seasoned vegetables.

The funny thing about the trip is that if you read all of handymen that came in and out of the house, you’d think that it was frustrating. On the contrary. It was relaxing. I slept pretty soundly and ate well. We sat and watched TV while the handymen worked, and joked and laughed.

I even got a pair of fairy wings (that I have to repair- the elastic that keeps it on snapped)! I got to see my aunt and one of my cousins! It was a trip that recharged me completely.

Though there was one sad takeaway from the trip- seeing my grandmother so overwhelmed by the work on the house. If I could, I wish I could be there regularly so that I could handle it for her, keeping up to date on who has fixed what so that I can remind her of what they’re working on- and simplify some of the jargon so that it doesn’t completely overwhelm her.

The trip home was nice. Flights from Arizona to LAX usually are bouncy- there’s something about the air over the desert. We each had vouchers for free drinks, so we celebrated as we did a crossword puzzle together (I’d managed to wear down every device I brought with me).

In the airport, I sent a text to TheBoy to tell him we’d landed and I got a baffling reply: The board concurs. We wondered if a weekend with the boys had driven him insane, but it all made sense when we turned towards the luggage carousel to get the box my mom had checked. There were my dad and my husband, waiting for us.

Pulling in front of our house, I could see two little pink signs hanging off the house. Two little boys flying out the front door. The Oldest Kidlet nearly tackled me, and the Little Kidlet gave me such a tight hug I thought I might pass out.

Just like that, I was home. Not a bit sad at all- ready to face the week and get back into my regular routines.

Here’s last Mother’s Day’s post, if you were curious: Food and Family. My Mom and Me.

Just in case anyone did think this- there are plenty of family members helping my grandma. My mom and I pitched in because we were there. Obviously, I can’t speak to what they do since I’m not there- so this just covers the weekend.

A little logic, please?

It’s been a slow week here. I’ve had a lot to do, but there hasn’t been much that’s fun to talk about.

But Monday… oh Monday was different.

I don’t like driving to the Little Kidlet’s school. It’s in a very nice neighborhood, and for all the nice homes, there are some of the worst drivers there I’ve ever seen. Half the people who live there don’t seem to understand how four-way stops work. I’ve seen people blow through a four-way stop after the car ahead of them had their turn. I’ve seen people stop for a beat and go whether or not it was their turn. No, not all of them were on phones.

Today took the cake.

After sitting in traffic, I pulled off at the exit and started on my way, looking at a long line of cars coming from the opposite direction. Nothing new, especially with the freeway backed up in both directions. I drove on, and slowed as I realized I saw smoke and sparking on their side of the street.

I was driving under a live downed wire. The power line went across the street, swooping from a tall power pole to a lower one. The lane I was in was closest to the tall power line, and my van had no problems clearing it. I drove up a little bit, pulled over to the side and called 911 to report the downed line. And watched, in complete shock as people actually drove over the power line in order to get to their freeway on ramp.

Talk about literally watching people play roulette with their lives. If that line managed to jump at all and make contact with anything other than the tires on the car… yikes.

Once the dispatcher said they were sending the fire department, I went on my way. There’s a fire department just up the street from the Little Kidlet’s school. They’d be there in three minutes at the most.

And indeed, as we were driving up the winding road to his school, the fire engine and paramedic truck flew by us.

I’m not sure that there’s much of a lesson in this other than the obvious. If you see a downed powerline, do not go near it. Had I noticed it, I would have made an illegal u-turn and gone the long way to the school (after reporting it). It’s just not worth it.

WHITNEY SMASH: Bad Satire Edition

Today Moviefone published their Girl’s Guide to the Avengers (which they’ve subsequently retitled). A piece which embraces every single stereotype there is about women to explain the movie.

They claim it’s satire, but there is legitimately no reason to create a satirical guide to the Avengers.

I say this as a card carrying geek. I know who the Avengers are, even though I admit that my real comic book knowledge is with the DC Universe. I’m the one who had to explain who the Avengers were to friends and family members.

But back to the piece.

As your boyfriend probably told you, “The Avengers” is hitting theaters this Friday. And you, dutiful girlfriend, are attending. But you hate action movies and you’ve never even read a comic book. (Of course, that’s not a slight against the girls who actually do read comic books — i.e. real fans, actual people with varied interests — but for this, let’s just go with the stock view of ladies, ladies!)

So here’s a particularly painful paragraph. It implies that normal women dislike action movies… a sentiment that bothered me when Dr Pepper tried it for their low calorie drink. It also implies that fans of rom-coms don’t have varied interests.

The piece goes on to introduce everyone, and even to helpfully give the idiotic woman this piece is addressing helpful advice about what not to say.

All this piece did was reinforce age old notions. Frankly, satire would have been creating the Geek Girl Guide to Introducing The Avengers to Guys Who Don’t Read Comic Books. Turn the idea inside out and make a statement that way.

Moviefone changed the title and added the clarification that it was meant to be satire. Honestly, with a wealth of well-written satire out there… this wasn’t satire. It was a piece that was probably intended to be tongue in cheek and missed every single mark. But kudos to joining the wealth of sites that apologize for upsetting people by saying the piece was supposed to be satire.

Reading it made me rage for all the obvious reasons. It’s bad enough that movie industries assume that only men enjoy action movies and comic books. It’s worse when real people write pieces that reinforce every stupid “rule” that the industry believes- that women only enjoy romantic comedies and have to be dragged to action movies to make their significant others happy. That the only take-away from a comic book movie is that the men are hot.

Amy Radcliffe (@amy_geek) wrote this excellent piece. A lot of the wonderful geek gals I follow similarly raged. (Update: GeekGirlDiva wrote a great open letter that points out that this is link bait at its’ finest)

To anyone who cares – pretty much everyone is tired of your insistence that all people fit in molds. That geeks are unwashed socially awkward men. That women only enjoy romantic comedies and believe that men are there to lavish them with gifts. People are different. Stop marketing to the sexes and market to interests..

And to any journalists out there- find out what satire is before using it as a defense.

So yes. WHITNEY SMASH.

For what it’s worth, I am not hulking out simply because it’s the Avengers. I have a tendency to do that whenever I get really mad.

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