SL 690 – Only Girlie Stuff

I have a blog post in my back pocket about the reaction to my last article for the Atlantic. It will have remain back there for another day or two, because I’m flat out exhausted. I’m juggling mulitple writing gigs and the mom stuff, which includes graduation, prom, prom house, 8th grade class 3-day trip to DC (Steve’s going), 20-year anniversary, Jonah’s 18 year birthday, graduation party, Ian’s summer schedule, and college course selection. We still don’t have anybody helping us clean the house or mow the lawn either.

Yesterday, I sat on the sofa and read a trashy book all day, because I needed to shut down.    So, nothing but girlie-ness on Apt. 11D today.

I need dresses for several events in June and July, so here are a few of the options: this, this, this, and this. And new shoes – comfortable with a retro vibe.

I’ve been shopping. Oh yes, I have. Want to know what else? Jonah’s birthday and graduation is coming up. He asked for a gold cross and chain for his birthday. I was a little shocked by that request, but he says it’s a very preppy item right now. He needs a new laptop for college. I’ve got a few other little things for him, like this environmental bracelet and a Japanese watch that he heard about on Reddit.

Okay, who loved Pippa Middleton’s wedding dress? I did. And Kate’s dress totally sucked.

And let’s talk about Ivanka and Melania’s clothes on the Mid-East tour. Other than the gold-belt fiasco, Melania looked just like a military leader of a small South American country, which is actually a really good look for her. I’m not judging. Other than Ivanka’s sad hair, she rocked a series of dresses with large flowers.

And I got a haircut, too.

Photo on 5-23-17 at 5.02 PM

How Parents are Reshaping College

lead_960.jpgAfter Jonah got his acceptance letter to college, we thought we reached the parenting finish line. Woot! Victory lap! High fives! Margaritas for all!

And then I started talking to people. I was a little surprised about what I found out. So, I wrote an article.

Stacy G.’s daughter was having a meltdown. Her daughter, a sophomore at a prestigious private college, wanted an internship at Boston Children’s Hospital, a plum job that would look great on her applications to graduate school. After four weeks of frantically waiting for the school to arrange for an interview at the hospital, Stacy called her daughter’s adviser at the internships office to complain.

“For $65,000 [in full attendance costs], you can bet your sweet ass that I’m calling that school … If your children aren’t getting what they’ve been promised, colleges are going to get that phone call from parents,” Stacy said. “It’s my money. It’s a lot of money. We did try to have her handle it on her own, but when it didn’t work out, I called them.”

More here



There’s a tradition in this area of Jersey that after the prom, the kids go down to the shore for the weekend. The parents rent the house for the kids, hire a bus to get them there, and fill the house with food and refreshments. No adults are in the house. Recipe for disaster? Sometimes.

We went to a meeting of the parents in Jonah’s group to discuss the logistics of this enterprise last night. Who should stock the fridge with food? Which parents would rent a hotel room nearby to check on them periodically throughout the weekend to make sure that nobody has passed out in a pool of their own vomit? How much should we chip in for a common fund for pizza delivery?

Also on the agenda was the issue of whether or not we should provide them with beer and wine spritzers.

With the story of the dead frat boy from Penn State on all of our minds, we hashed things out. Should we buy them beer? Bud Light, after all, is better than vodka. It reduces the risk of them getting caught for buying stuff on their own. But the risk of a lawsuit if something goes terribly wrong was on everyone’s mind. The risk might be small, even arguably very small since all our kids are perfect (not), nobody wants to contemplate losing their business or their house. Would the 18-year olds in the house be liable if the 17-year olds does something stupid?

I think that everyone, including us, has no problem with a seventeen or eighteen year old having a Corona Light at home on a Saturday night. If the kid can enlist and die in a war in Syria, then he/she should be able to have a Corona Light. But the laws are the laws. And there was little confidence that the kids will be slowly sipping their beers at the shore house. So, no beer.

Ugh. It’s all so messy. The kids are up in arms and are battling us over this issue.

One Tale of Grit

Last month, I was at Jonah’s track meet waiting for his race. It was one of those big messy meets with a dozen teams and lots of heats that included freshman, JV, and varsity. The freshmen get their own races, because the boys especially haven’t hit puberty yet. Their little skinny legs can’t keep up with the older boys.

When the gun went off for the 4 x 800 JV race, two teams pulled out in front immediately. Those towns specialized in track and field and even their JV runners were great. The other five teams loped far behind. One team, in particular, was terrible. Their runners fell further and further behind. By the time, it came to the last runner on the relay, they were a full lap behind the two really great teams and a sizable distance away from everyone else.

I watched that last runner starting his leg of the race and felt bad for him. It’s pretty miserable to be so far behind everyone else. Getting lapped is humiliating. It’s depressing to still be running, while the officials are waiting for you to finish, and the runners for the next race are anxiously pacing waiting to line up to run. Hundreds of parents are watching you alone on the track.

Even from far away, I could see that the last runner was terrible. He was slow and had an awkward stride that had to compensate for a huge butt and hips. As the runner came around the track closer to me, I could see why. He was genetically a girl. His shaved head couldn’t hide the hips and the butt.

Testosterone is a real bitch. Guys are always faster than girls, because they’ve got it. Freshman boys don’t have it, so that’s why they get their own races. This runner didn’t have it. And this runner was so curvy that he wouldn’t have even been a good girl runner.

As the runner came around for the second lap, the lap that he had to take entirely by himself, I cheered wildly. Go! Go! Go! You’re almost there! How much courage does it take to defy genetics, so you can do something that you really, really want to do?

After the JV race, the varsity runners ran. Jonah breezed by in 2 minutes and 3 seconds and then promptly ate a second lunch of the day.


Is Grit Worth the Hassle?

The topic of grit has been much discussed here at the real life home of Apt. 11D for the past week, so I thought I would put it out on the blog.

When presented with an opportunity of “gimme points” in history class in the form of easy homework assignments, Jonah said, “nah. I’m done.” He simply didn’t turn in nine homework assignments this spring. It took a while for the teacher log those zeros into the online grade portal. So, we didn’t realize that he was in deep shit until it was too late. After a lot of yelling, he was urged to ask his teacher if he could hand them in late. She said no. Then there was more yelling and a week of grounding.

Yes, we’re the worst parents on the planet who can’t possibly understand the God-given right to stop doing work in your last semester of high school. As a result of this slacking, Jonah will pass the class, I’m sure, but just barely.

From Jonah’s point of view, it makes absolutely no difference if he gets a B or a C or even a D in this class. Why work for no reason? From our point of view, ARG! DO THE DAMN WORK! IT ISN’T HARD! CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT! LEARNING! CHALLENGE YOURSELF! HIGH EXPECTATIONS!

There are all sorts of books aimed at parents and educators about the value of “grit” and not eating that marshmellow.  These authors maintain that kids who know how to delay gratification and work through obstacles grow into successful adults. Jonah’s method is to weigh the pros and the cons of working hard before exerting himself. Hard work simply for the sake of personal perfection is a fool’s game.

I’m not entirely sure that Jonah is wrong. I come across people every day, who favor Jonah’s strategic effort method. Sure, they aren’t usually the ones who make it to the top of their profession or make news headlines. But they find those jobs that pay well with mediocre expectations and then hunker down until retirement. Sometimes they even accidentally do become wildly successful, because of luck or bullshitting skills. I suppose Donald Trump is an example of an accidentally successful type of slacker. He’s playing golf, not reading presidental biographies, over his weekends. And I know plenty of people with insane amounts of grit and work ethic, who complete PhDs and marathons, and have much less success.

So, who is right?

Book Gossip

So, y’all know that I have a weird weekend hobby of going to estate sales to find books for my Etsy shop. I have pretty eclectic tastes, but I am always on the hunt for midcentry children’s books.

When I first set up the shop, I imagined that my customer was a housewife with a keen sense of irony who loved the dramatic and heroic images on the covers. She recalled many hours spent at libraries in the early 70s gobbling up biographies and mystery novels by the dozens. She would pay top dollar for these books to display in her children’s rooms as a reminder of her youth.

OK, I imagined was that my ideal customer was me, but with a lot more money.

Turns out that there aren’t a lot of housewives with a keen sense of irony. Go figure. Instead, my books are being bought by an entirely different type of customer.

Who is buying my books? Answer in the comment section.

SL 689

I’m writing two articles today. One is super solid. I’m actually going to have a hard time keeping it to 1,200 words. It’s for that high prestige, low paying magazine.  I’m predicting a lot of traffic on this one.  The other one is for a not-yet-existing website that is going to pay me decently, but will probably have low traffic. I had trouble lining up interviews for that one, so I’m going to limp to the 1,200 word finish line.

I’m whizzing past the deadlines on both of them. Ugh. Other than a Red Bulls soccer match on Saturday where the other mom of many boys and I will be drinking, it’s going to be a work-y weekend.

It’s a lovely day here in Jersey. In the 80s and sunny. Everything is green and blooming. I did a few hours of work and a few more hours of wasting time with stupid video games. Between deadline whizzing and mindless games, I’m full of self hatred at the moment. So, let’s blog!

This profile of Rod Dreher is fascinating. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how blogging changed the lives of so many people who started way back when.

Does #vanlife sound appealing?

I’m semi-following Berkeley and Ann Coulter.

Food Trivia: This is the quantity of food consumed over three dinners in my house: 1.3 pounds of salmon, 1 box of quinoa, 1 head of cauliflower, 2 cups of rice, 2 cans of beans, 1.2 pounds of ground beef, 10 taco shells, 1/2 brick of cheese, 1 can of black olives, 1/2 container of salsa, 2 chicken breasts, 1 package of egg noodles, 2 containers of mushrooms, 4 carrots, lettuce.