Monday, March 28, 2011

RE: Humor about sniffing (sniff!) of all things...


I come from a sniffly people. My grandmother sniffed, my mother sniffs and I sniff. Not in that snooty way with derisive overtones, but rather in that, “Oh, for the love of all that’s holy. Really? Allergies in all twelve months, including December! Please hand me a tissue,” way.

It’s this genetic legacy that led me to an addiction that’s difficult to talk about, but I feel the need to unburden myself. Perhaps there are others out there jonesing for the kind of fix I crave, so it is for you that I will share this most hush-hush of truths. After all, I’m a giver, besides which I’m a columnist who also joneses for the opportunity to write about goofy things. I am addicted to tissues.

Yes, I have issues with tissues and here’s the thing with tissues. It’s all about placement because I need them all over the place. Location, location, location. I blame my pockets, or a lack thereof, for how I got started with this whole thing.

One day I casually attempted to stow a tissue in my pocket and after I got done patting myself down as though I was initiating a citizen’s self-arrest, I realized I had nowhere to store this very innocuous necessity.

I desperately searched for a compartmental alternative and I thought I had one too, but it got pretty cumbersome wearing my purse daily like a bandoleer. I needed a new plan or a new wardrobe that would net me more pouches than a kangaroo. I opted for a new plan since the purchase of all new clothes would have been a bit too expensive for my pocketbook.

It started innocently enough with the gateway drug that is those small, portable tissue packs. I could have stopped at the soothing relief provided by my happily-festooned travel-sized packet picturing Snoopy of “Peanuts” fame, determinedly striding across the plastic cover on his way to helping me with my snuffly nose.

But it wasn’t enough. Let’s be honest, it rarely is, whatever the “it” is – or was. You know what I mean.

In no time at all I had lotion-infused absorbent papers stashed everywhere. They were tucked into cushions, pockets, the dog’s collar and then the final place that I never thought I would go – up my sleeve.

This made it doubly difficult for me to continue with my imaginary magic act where I would proudly proclaim, after a particularly magical moment, “Nothing up my sleeve!” Oh, I know what you’re thinking. “Ew! I hate magic.” Well, please put aside your judgments for one second and let me continue delivering my cautionary tale, lest what happened to me happens to you; however, this will require a bit of back story. I adore my grandmother and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her and look at her beautiful, sweet, smiling photograph where she will be forever captured as the epitome of a charming and saucy flapper.

Everything, everyday made my grandmother smile and her pictures reflect that. She always made me laugh with her darling antics, zest for life and cute characteristics. I used to tease her about her stylish tissue-in-the-sleeve panache and this is an important piece of my allegory and what we call the wrap-up.

Be careful when you make fun of people for their quirky behavior, if for no other reason than it sets up some type of future kismet, imbuing you with the same behavior or characteristics. In point of fact, particularly in the case of a relative with whom you have dogpaddled in the gene pool, you will be much worse than they ever thought of being.

This often translates to the over-adoption of down-on-their-luck cats, obsessively scrubbing floors causing hospitals to call you for your cleaning secrets, or stuffing items that may or may not be tissues into your clothing. It’s just karmic law.

Thankfully, I don’t remember ever teasing my mom about her barking laugh. Har, har, arf, arf! Uh-oh.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Re: The Dance That I Like to Call...The Technology Shuffle

As I sit here blow drying my daughter’s iPod that has suffered the cruel fate of being rendered helpless by virtue of an exploded soda lurking in the deepest recesses of her purse, I wonder if technology has made my life simple at all.

I’ll grant you the iPod’s status as a nifty little compact gadget offering relative ease in accessing my favorite tunes in thematically-arranged playlists. It’s just the sheer volume of negatives often outweigh the positives, what with the expense, the post-warranty malfunctions and the obliteration of even the illusion that your child is listening to you.

In fact, with regard to the latter, my adolescent has taken to loudly proclaiming, “I can’t hear you!” in a matter-of-fact way, as she adjusts her music to a decibel level which sets me to howling more frequently than a Doberman living next door to a fire station.Lest you think my subscription to Old Fogey Times is a given, I do realize our generation took quite a bit of heat from our own parents because we blasted our loud music on low-quality amplification systems. “Turn down that music,” usually preceded every request our parents made. “Turn down that music – Come and eat!”; “Turn down that music – Did you brush your teeth?”; “Turn down that music – Why is your principal calling me?” You get the idea.
It’s irony at its best, really.We had headphones, the kind encapsulating your noggin like an astronaut helmet, and while this probably didn’t do much for our inner ear labyrinths, we didn’t insert a Secret Service-looking implant directly into our cochlea and then detonate the music. (You can see my most recent waiting room magazine article reading of, The Ear and You," is really paying off with my acquisition of auditory terms like “cochlea” and “labyrinth.”)
Our kids are multitasking extraordinaires and the technology supports it with a vengeance. The challenge comes in whev n we realize we’re supposed to keep them motivated, healthy and focused, while also traveling on the straight and narrow in the face of iPods, iPhones and iCantHearYou. I can only imagine what’s next on the “you’ll-never-have-disposable-income” purchasing horizon.

As we undertake this “Mission Impossible” of parenting with the backdrop of technology waaaaayyyy more interesting than we are, we’re forced to deal with not just the iPod, but also…duhn, duhn, duhn…the cell phone.

The fact that Generation Y-ME?! grasped their first cell phone the same year they were grasping pencils when practicing cursive on those big solid lines with the dotted mid-range border explains why they have mad dexterity skills. Parents embraced the ease of cellular convenience because we were tired of waiting in the wrong parking lot, on the wrong day, at the wrong time. Why not give our offspring something to make OUR lives easier?

You’ll get a resounding, “Don’t be ridiculous!” answer fairly fast if you act upon the bright idea to remove the cellular device from your child’s claw-like grip as punishment for her cellular transgressions.

Tell yourself anything you want: it’s good for the youngster, it’s time to get back to basics, eye contact and environmental contact is necessary. Helpfully point out to your progeny, “It won’t kill you to take a break for one day,” all while she whines piteously to “chopped liver” you, “But I won’t be able to talk to anyone all day!”

It’ll still take only about a nanosecond for the pathetic to turn into the demonic as the spawn of your loins morphs into a creature even Dr. Frankenstein could not have dreamed up. You may not see sprouting neck bolts, but steam-emitting nostrils are common, she’ll be so ticked off.

Fast forward to the end of the first day when I righteously confiscated my daughter’s cell phone. (Okay, after I’d had the chance to savor the smug satisfaction which was rightfully mine. I knew I’d “helped” her understand the meaning of self-reliance without requiring the reading of one word of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s prolific writings on the subject.)
There was only one problem. I wasn’t sure what time I was supposed to pick up my daughter from basketball practice and I had oh-so-brilliantly removed my only way to get the necessary clarification – the cell phone!

I know the distinction I'm drawing between the newfangled gizmos we warred over with our parents and these artifacts of technological advancement our children enjoy is small. All right, let's be honest, it's minuscule.
The bottom line on technology is the bottom line on just about anything holding the promise of added convenience: Just because something can make things easier, doesn’t mean it does.