back to school 2015
Humor, Parenting

Ask Bitch’in Suburbia: Back to School 2015

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Hey kids — it’s that time of year: More pencils, more books, and presumably more teachers’ dirty looks. But then again, who could blame them? In a world of Common Core, overly involved parents, undersized budgets, tests to teach to, and a lack of necessary tools (especially time and trust, not to mention those new fangled devices called computers), it’s impossible not to look at least a little pissed off.  Lucky for everyone, your friendly neighborhood Bitch’in Suburbia has the cheat sheet ready with all the snappy answers you need for your back to school questions. Just raise your hand and read on…

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia,

I have this recurring nightmare: I’m in a classroom, and the teacher hands out a test. Everyone around me dives right in, but I can’t read the words. Then the bell rings, and I’m still not done. I wake up every morning in a sweat, and I barely have the energy to get my kids off to school. What do you think it means?

Signed, Sleepless in Sonoma

Dear Sleepless,

That’s not a nightmare: it’s YOUR LIFE and believe you me, it is a test! Forget whatever lackluster academic career you had; wake up and smell the #2 pencils! It’s all on you to make sure that your children kill it in every single grade, from Pre-K to 12th. And by “kill it,” I do mean that literally — they must be prepared to smoke everyone in their path on their way to the top. You can always serve the jail time for them — after all, aren’t you already doing their math homework for them? Same-same. So fork over your life, your wallet, your brains, your dignity, and everything you have so that you — I mean, your student — can be successful. If you’re dedicated enough, your child will make it all the way through college and out the other end to the inevitable unpaid internships, soul-crushing hunt for work that pays a living wage, and perhaps most importantly, to being the best possible adult roomie for you! So dust your morning Wheaties with some ground-up Adderall, and focus on the prize: your #1 student with 2400 on the SAT, a 36 on the ACT, and a full-blown panic disorder by second grade. And there’s a bonus for you, too: no more sleeping, and no more pesky nightmares.

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia,

My child is a straight-A student. But this year, she has all AP classes, and I’m hearing one teacher in particular is very challenging. Should she drop that class? I’m debating it, because if she gets a B (gulp), it’s still a weighted B, and so that’s like an A, right? What should I do?

Signed, A+ Mom

Dear A+,

First off, I’m not sure where you got this ridiculous idea that a B in an AP class is like an A… I mean it is, but then again, it’s so not. Similarly, how could you possibly consider scaling back, when your daughter already has the exact right schedule with all AP classes? Please tell me that it includes AP Mandarin, AP Post-Calculus, AP Pre-Med, and AP Metaphysics. The last one should help you both through the existential crisis that follows, where every single night you contemplate your being, existence, and reality, and come to the same depressing conclusion. Be sure to have matching pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and hari-kari knives on hand, just in case. As for the challenging teacher, I have no words — literally, you’re acting like the teacher matters at all when your daughter has you. Amiright?

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia,

I know that extracurricular activities are really important for college, but I have a problem with my kid: he sucks at sports. I mean, I feel bad saying that, but it’s true. We’ve tried Little League, soccer, basketball, Pee Wee Football, archery, tennis, swimming — even freakin’ pickle ball! (I hear there are scholarships for pickle ball, right?) I’m worried if I don’t get him in the system now, he’ll never catch up come middle school. Any thoughts on a game plan for junior?

Signed, Defeated Dad

Dear Defeated,

First off, OF COURSE there are scholarships for pickle ball. And archery. And lots of “loser” (your word, not mine… wait, I guess that is my word) athletics, which your kid might be able to master. As you know, youth sports are all about the parents’ needs, so there’s really no harm in pushing your 90 lb. weakling toward a career in tackle football. But then again, the non-athletic types (otherwise known as nerds) are having their heyday in our digital world. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos are just a few geeks-turned-Billionaire-Boys-Club-members. So give the kid a jumpstart and take a screwdriver to your computer, leaving the bits and pieces strewn around his bedroom. If he reassembles it to be, say, a killer robot, you’re in business. If he ignores the chips ‘n bits, lock him in his room and never let him out. Because if he’s not a jock or a geek, that leaves freak, and frankly I’m not sure to do with kids that don’t fit neatly in a box. Maybe bench him for life? Good luck, Coach!

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia,

Every year I volunteer for PTA and all of the related fundraisers, and I find it very rewarding — especially for my children, because everyone knows me and if I ask a favor (or two), it’s a snap getting results. But over the summer I took a full-time job, and I’m worried I won’t have the same kind of time to devote to volunteering. Can you please reassure me that pitching in is optional, and that nothing will change for my children with me less involved?

Signed, PTAnonymous

Dear PTAnonymous,

In a word: you’re screwed. (Ok, that’s two words, but I think you needed that kind of clarity.) So stop reading my column, march yourself into your boss’s office, and tell him or her that you need a “flexible work schedule.” You can work at your job from 3:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m., take a break for the morning so you can personally drive the carpool, attend those 9:00 a.m. PTA meetings that are so convenient for everyone, and then spend some time in the classroom. While the kids are in PE and at lunch, you can go back to work for two or three hours. Just be sure to return to school for pick-up and the afternoon shuffle getting your kids to tutoring, sports, or other enrichment AND allow for plenty of time to whip up a healthy dinner that takes into consideration everyone’s dietary restrictions (lactose intolerence, gluten allergies, plain old picky pains in the butts). You can finish your workday from around 7:00 p.m. until midnight (with a short break to get everyone to bed, make lunches for the next day, throw in some laundry, and tidy up) and then you’ve given your boss the requisite 10 or 11 hours a day for work. See, you can do it all!

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia,

I was just reviewing my daughter’s syllabi, and I am very concerned that they’re not covering the classics. Who should I complain to — the teacher? The principal? All the way up to the superintendent? What would you recommend?

Signed, Worried in Walla Walla

Dear Worried,

First off, let me just say GOOD FOR YOU for paying careful attention to your daughter’s curriculum — teachers LOVE parents that question their carefully planned coursework, and it’s even better if you skip talking to them about your concerns and go right to the top. I applaud your instinct on that note. As for your worries about not covering the classics, well, just a gentle prod here: how will your child be a better test-taker if she reads Jane Austen? Common Core says that reading imaginative fiction has nothing to do with learning how to read and write. Austen says, “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” So riddle me this: who is setting the curriculum nowadays? I think the prejudice goeth before the pride, if you know what I’m saying. (I’m not sure what that means either, except that it’s high time that kids write papers in math and PE class, and that’s what Common Core is all about! I hope you see that on your daughter’s syllabi!)

**

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are satirical, just in case you couldn’t tell, and also just in case my kids’ teachers are reading this. (Just kidding! Not really… ) Also, I am very aware that being satirical about education is something that we’re free to do in this country, and that is honestly a precious gift.

A word from the non-satirical Bitch’in Suburbia: Earlier this summer, I had the honor and privileged of hearing Malala Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, speak. If you don’t know Malala’s story, in short she has been an activist for education for girls her whole life. In 2009, as the Taliban took control of her village in the Swat District in Pakistan, 10-year-old Malala wrote an anonymous blog for the BBC about her views on education and life in general. Her father, a social and educational activist who ran a public school, was also very outspoken about his views, and in short order, both Malala and Ziauddin began receiving death threats. While the international community was celebrating Malala, the Taliban decided she needed to be removed. In October, 2012, when the 15-year-old Malala was on a bus heading to school, a masked gunman entered the vehicle, asked for her by name, and shot her in the face. Miraculously, she survived, and the actions of that terrorist elevated Malala’s profile and spread her story worldwide. In 2014 she became the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and today she is a prominent global advocate for the millions of girls being denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors. It was both humbling and eye-opening to hear Malala speak; if you haven’t checked out her address to the UN in 2013 or her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, do it now. You’ll enjoy Ziauddin’s TED Talk, too. They are an exemplary father-daughter team — Ziauddin’s values inform Malala’s, but at no time does he confuse her personal mission with his own. Even as she lay dying, he and his wife and Malala’s mother, Tor Pekai Yousafzai, chose to focus on the importance of the work Malala had taken on rather than fretting about their decision to give their daughter the wings to fly. (Or, perhaps more accurately, applauding when she herself discovered that she had her own set of wings.) For them, it was a simple statement of faith to never look back. For me, it was a mind-blowing statement on the power of unconditional love and support, and the transformative properties of education.

SOOOOO if you want to teach your children anything this fall, take them to see He Named Me Malala, coming from Fox Searchlight in October. You can also read I Am Malala, and check out Malala’s website and the Malala Fund.

For now, enjoy the trailer and happy back to school!

the upside of nostalgia
Bitch’in Life

The Upside of Nostalgia

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Up until a few days ago, I had a rule I lived by: You can’t go home again. (Thomas Wolfe, although lots of people have the same thought: for example a more contemporary comment on nostalgia: “Don’t let the past remind us of what we are not now,” from the CSN classic, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”)

To me, sentimentality can be a sappy pit of self-indulgent goo. I’m not normally one to throw down a #tbt — when I pull up old photos of places I’ve haunted over the decades and the old friends I used to frequent them with, I feel like I run the risk of hitting the sorrow rather than the sweet spot… and so it’s not necessarily something I want to do, say, every single Thursday.

Coming from someone whose weekly blogging is often fueled by remember when’s, I know this sounds like a bunch of hooey. But lots of creative peeps like to pull their inspiration from feelings of loneliness, melancholy, and depression. To me, the deep abyss of longing and loss serves as an endlessly abundant well of material.

When I look at it that way.

Which I don’t think I’ll do anymore.

A few months ago, some things in my life started to shift, and instead of descending into fear and horror (my go-to “happy” place), I decided that I was just going to say yes to whatever came my way. This may sound sexy, but as a woman of a certain age, a lot of it was just offering to drive the carpool more frequently, volunteering to help with fundraisers (more on that in next week’s blog: Ask Bitch’in Suburbia: Back to School 2015), and some other random, albeit excellent, opportunities.

Coincidentally, I also wrote my Bitch’in Suburbia annual tribute to camp. It always gets a nice response, but this year it took on a life of its own, and I heard from a ton of people I’ve known and loved from my camp, and also those who knew and loved their own camp.

It was a whole goddamn shit load of campsick adults, which was a pretty awesome sight to behold.

In the thick of it, I got an email from one of my BBFs (Best Bitches Forever) and eternal counselor, saying simply: “You must come.”

The place I “had” to go was to my summer camp’s 65th reunion. But here was the rub: reunions are the ULTIMATE nostalgic minefield, and I wasn’t necessarily in the mood to get my heart blown to bits by missing people who weren’t there. Also, it had been decades since I last returned, and I knew from my online stalking that the joint had changed quite a bit under the tutelage of new owners.

And so at first I ran straight to my go-to excuses: I’m just getting back from a ginormous family trip, my kids are starting school, the dog ate my homework. All of them true (especially the one about the dogs), but ultimately pretty flimsy.

Plus when your eternal counselor says get off your ass and go, what’s an eternal camper to do?

So I said yes. And for a change, my habit of not looking back meant that agreeing to attend the reunion was something I had to move forward with and embrace.

The arrival in my hometown airport and first night sleeping at my other BBF/CIT’s house was fun and easy. Turns out people from the same backgrounds are easy to fall in step with. Which is a simplistic way of looking at it.

But then the descent into camp, where stretched before us was an explosion of new cabins, buildings, signage, and even a swimming pool (!) with a slide to rival any waterpark, was less comfortable. My security detail of the former counselor/CIT weren’t staying on-site, and I ended up being assigned to a cabin with the oldest reunion attendees — some that were there for the first few years of my early camp experience, but most of whom were long gone before my first summer.

Feeling like I had nothing in common with most of my bunkmates for the weekend, I headed out for a healing soak in the lake. The waterfront was my stomping grounds back in the day, and some of the most enjoyable years for me were when I was a swim counselor, so it made sense to start with what I knew best.

I don’t know if it was the cold water slapping me in the face, the intoxicating scent of sunscreen mixed with lake funk, or the muscle memory of childhood, but by the time I made it out to the dock, my antiquated take on nostalgia — which is term a 17th century term that combined the Greek words “nosto” (“return home”) and “algos” (“pain”) and was coined by a Swiss doctor trying to characterize soldiers’ maladies caused by homesickness — was over and out.

In fact, the same article on nostalgia where I got that bit of trivia about the roots of the word also discussed how nostalgia is a good thing. Dr. Constantine Sedikides of the University of Southampton has done pioneering research into the science of nostalgia and has found that nostalgizing alleviates things like boredom, anxiety, and loneliness, and makes for people that are generally happier, more generous, and more tolerant. It also increases feelings of belonging and connectedness, which in turn makes people more welcoming to strangers and more appreciative of their community. And in the end, when all is said and done, nostalgia helps mitigate the fear of death by making life itself much more meaningful.

I believe this also explains the elation I feel when I hear, say, the B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” Prince getting funky, James Taylor’s sweet soulful songs, The Big Man Clarence Clemons wailing on an early Springsteen track, etc.

Nostalgia, in other words, is all about hitting those notes from the past that bring us higher in the present and groove us on into a brighter future. It’s why the old camp directors who were there back in the day will always be my touchstones, and also why the young couple that now own the place are my new family.

Not that I was doing that kind of academic interpretation as I swam, sailed, ran, played, cheered, clapped, hugged, and reminisced my ass off.

And those older women in my bunk that I was sure I had nothing in common with? We stayed up to the wee hours singing songs and laughing about all the things we did at camp that filled our young lives with so much joy.

The other thing about nostalgia that the science doesn’t necessarily touch on is the transformative properties of literally going back in time. On the last day as I was walking to my bunk to pack up, I found myself heading down a very familiar path. I know that sounds poetic, but trust me — it was completely literally. I felt the gravel of the bunk line path crunch under my flip flops, heard the strains of someone cheering, smelled the clean Maine air, took one last lingering look at the lake… and was totally transported into my way younger self. (Now if I could just bottle all that, it would be bigger than Botox!)

In that moment, I realized that the bittersweet quality of reminiscing is not bitter at all — there’s honestly nothing sweeter than to indulge nostalgic moments.

When you share the same connective tissue — whether it was your camp, your school, your neighborhood, your music, your era — nostalgia is the best way to tug on the ties that bind to make sure that they’re just as strong as ever.

And trust me, they always are.

So if you see me looking back, just know that I’m just checking out the rear view mirror as I pull into the next lane of life. If you look in yours, I guarantee that what you see will be the lights of what made you who you are today and this will also be the perfect beacon to carry you on into tomorrow. So go ahead and let the past remind you of what you are not now — it’s not necessarily a bad thing, and after all, it is the essence of nostalgia. (Doo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo doo…)

Photo Credit: Not to get all nostalgic on you, but this week’s blog photo was directed and shot by my BBF and camp idol, Julie Marcus. Yay Julie Yay Marcus Yay Yay Julie Marcus, Julie, Marcus, YAY!

make love not war
BIS Sez

The Key to Peace in the Middle East & Other Big Problems

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I just got back from a 10-day trip to Israel, and although I’d love to show y’all the hundreds of photos I took, I’m just going to share one: #LoveWins.

I know that’s old news to us Americans, as the Supreme Court ruling making gay marriage legal happened earlier this summer, but in Israel, Gay Pride parades took place on its “Valentine’s Day” (Tu B’Av) on July 30th.

Coincidentally, we had just arrived and settled into an Airbnb’d apartment just steps away from the course of the parade in Jerusalem. My husband heard a ruckus outside, and called for all of us to come out and see what was happening.

Very quickly the rainbow flags we’d been seeing around the neighborhood where we were staying made sense. Unlike the outrageous, sexually charged, exuberant Pride parades in the U.S., this one featured a lot of young people dressed in t-shirts and shorts with the occasional rainbow painted on their cheeks, walking hand-in-hand, singing and cheering, and looking a lot like a parade of camp kids. All that was missing was a bearded dude on a guitar and the strains of “Kumbaya.” (And he was probably there, too.)

In Israel, marriage is a religious contract, and so gay marriage is not officially recognized. But there are broad rights for those who cohabitant, and so the LGBTQ community is strong, particularly in major cities — although the religious extremists (Jewish, Muslim, and Christian alike) vehemently oppose same-sex engagement.

We had no idea about any of that as we clapped and cheered along with the people marching in the parade. But suddenly the peaceful procession was interrupted first by cops running on foot, then on horseback, whirling by on motorcycles, and finally an ambulance.

At this point, my kids were getting freaked out, so my husband asked the nearby army officer if she knew what was happening, and she replied, “It’s just a fight, but don’t worry — fights are good.”

Why we took that as a suitable answer is beyond me, but we stood there several minutes longer as the parade briefly seemed to return to normal. But then it was more cops, and we finally snapped into the realization that all probably wasn’t so well or so safe, and we headed inside our apartment.

The next day we found out the truth: an ultra-Orthodox zealot who had been jailed for 10 years for stabbing people at a Pride parade in 2005 had done it again, injuring six people. In subsequent days one of his victims — a 16-year-old girl — died from her wounds.

The perpetrator told police that he had come “to kill in the name of G-d” — I’m sorry, what god says to kill your own people?

This is a question I’ve thought many times as supposed people of G-d have murdered patients and workers at abortion clinics, for example. From kamikazes to suicide bombers, when it comes to fanaticism, no religion or cause corners the market on fucked up interpretations of doctrine.

In my humble opinion, anyways.

(Although back in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed, stating, “In Israel everyone, including the gay community, has the right to live in peace, and we will defend that right.” He went on to correctly characterize the assault as “a despicable hate crime.”)

Days later, standing at a former military outpost in the Golan Heights overlooking the Syrian border, as we admired the artwork of a soldier who literally beat swords into plowshares — or at least turned the ugly, twisted iron from the remains of tanks and other artillery into some pretty phenomenal, fun, and fantastical sculptures of cartoon animals and other whimsical creatures — we heard some soft thuds.

As we listened, the thuds became louder and more distinctive, and finally unmistakable. There were most certainly bombs going off in a not-too-distant Syrian city. The soundtrack of destruction, which our tour guide assured us was part of their civil war and not a concern to us, was ultimately not all that soothing.

Here’s the thing about war — when you are willing to perpetrate it on your own and even yourself, there will never, ever be peace.

How do I know? Because every single religion, humanism, and all the major philosophers espouse a version of The Golden Rule.

Christianity says: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12, King James Version

Judaism says: “”…thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Leviticus 19:18

Islam says: “”None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” Number 13 of Imam “Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths.” 3

Buddhism says: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udana-Varga 5:18

Confucianism say: “Tse-kung asked, ‘Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?’ Confucius replied, ‘It is the word ‘shu’ — reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'” Doctrine of the Mean 13.3

Hinduism says: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:1517

(If you want more, there’s a list of Golden Rule-related quotes for 21 religions, and also as the words of acclaimed philosophers from Aristotle to Socrates here.)

Of course being an arm-chair pacifist maybe simplifies the whole deal, but in my (once again) humble opinion, if we learn to love ourselves and value our own lives first, then the rest will follow. (Millennial or GenX wisdom — you be the judge!)

Now that I’ve settled the question of how to make peace in the Middle East, I can move on to more complex issues like sorting out carpool for the new school year.

So if you see me humming “Kumbaya,” just know that when I pray, it’s always that someday everyone will glom onto the message that when #LoveWins, we all do. Amen, Awoman, and #BlessMyBitches!

inspiration for the dog days of summer
Humor

20 Inspirational Quotes for The Dog Days of Summer

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They say every dog has his day, but then again, that takes working like a dog — damn! What’s a hot bitch like you and me to do when the dog days of summer hits? Does it mean it’s not our day just because we can’t muster the energy to work like a dog?

These are questions I ask myself each year when the other Bitch’in Suburbia — my mistress, and I say that in both figurative and literal ways — has me write a guest post for her. Lucky for both of us, we have a new member of the pack to infuse some new ideas to this annual PR stunt. Not that we get any PR from this… it’s just a creative break from the normal bitch’in grind. Anyhow, this year we’ve decided to share our favorite dog-related quotes, and give them our own canine critique. A virtual chew toy for your brain, as it were. And then we can both take a really long nap to recover from all this exhaustive insight. Woof!

“The more I know about people, the more I love my dog.” ~ Mark Twain

And the more I know about people, the more I love myself. Touché, Mr. Twain! ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” ~ Groucho Marks

Please take the man seriously, for once. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“I took solace in God who, along with my dog, was my best friend growing up.” ~ Lisa Bonet

When you spell ‘dog’ backwards, what do you get? See, either way you look at me, I’m your best friend. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Dogs have boundless enthusiasm but no sense of shame. I should have a dog as a life coach” ~ Moby

Thank you, Mr. Moby. That will be $150.00 an hour, and I accept payment in chew toys and high-end kibble. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” ~ Ann Landers

Oh snap, Ann Landers — that’s some harsh advice, but considering I’ll eat poop as if it were dog food, she does have a point. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” ~ Charles M. Schulz

OR a fully-grown dog. Puppies don’t corner the market on joy-giving, you know. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“The average dog is nicer than the average person” ~ Andy Rooney

I dunno, I’ve certainly tussled with some bitches in my time — but then again, it takes a bitch to know one. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” ~ Harry S Truman

This advice goes out to Mr. Trump. And Mr. Sanders. All my favorites. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Every dog must have his day.” ~ Jonathan Swift

And I believe every day is my day. Try it out — works wonders for your psyche and your coat, too. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Wherever I climb I am followed by a dog called ‘Ego.'” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Just be wary when the Id is the leader of your pack. Just sayin’. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“The dog that trots about finds a bone.” ~ Golda Meir

I’d like to add that it usually takes some digging, too. But trot first, by all means! ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living.” ~ Gustave Flaubert

What’s so wrong with a dog’s life? I think this means everyone should be a writer. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“I have never met a dog I couldn’t help; however I have met humans who weren’t willing to change.” ~ Cesar Millan

Word. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Bite us once, shame on the dog; bite us repeatedly, shame on us for allowing it.” ~ Phyllis Schlafly

It’s just my opinion that one dog bite is too many. This is from personal experience. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“People who wear fur smell like a wet dog if they’re in the rain. And they look fat and gross.” ~ Pamela Anderson

I love that sexy bitch! And I HATE humans who think they look good in real fur. But whom is she calling smelly? ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment.” ~ Robert Falcon Smith

And we’ve been doing that even before Mindfulness was a thing. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“The sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s ass all the time.” ~ Catfish Hunter

Whaaaaat? It totally does. But that comes from someone called CATfish, so there you have it. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Be the person your dog thinks you are.” ~ George Eliot aka Mary Ann Evans

Mr. Moby: That will be $150.00 and… you’re welcome. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“I have days when I just feel I look like a dog.” ~ Michelle Pfeiffer

I’ll take that as a compliment. And I wish I would have days when I feel I look like Michelle Pfeiffer! ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“A dog can’t think that much about what he’s doing, he just does what feels right.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver

So do the right thing, people! I believe in you. And let’s be honest: that’s why you keep me around. That’ll be $150.oo, please…

XO The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

time flies when you unplug
Bitch’in Life

6 Smart Ways to Unplug Without Shutting Down

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If you’re reading this (and I so hope you are!), you will be experiencing the modern marvel of unplugging without shutting down.

This summer I’ve moved beyond the normal staycation and done something I’ve been thinking about doing for years: planned a real live vacation.

One where the language is foreign, the terrain unfamiliar, and the urge to be a tourist is stronger than the one where I merely flop on a beach in a rejuvenating coma. While it will be easy enough to find free Wifi, I already know I’d much rather be connected to the people I’m traveling with (our BBFs and my family) than anyone else.

Ditching the digital, however, may not be that simple, as for many of us staying connected isn’t a casual thing — it’s an actual addiction. From the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, Baylor University professor James Roberts found that the average college student uses his/her cellphone nine hours a day and experiences classic symptoms of addiction including (in addition to excessive use) the loss of interest in other activities and painful withdrawal — from mild agitation when an iPhone is out of reach to full-on panic when a battery dies.

Riddle me this: is that JUST college students, or is it ALL of us?

Put your B.S. degree on hold here, and please be honest about your smartphone addiction.

And I’ll tell you the truth, too: While I would like a digital detox and could probably use a virtual Silkwood Scrub, the realities of my traveling companions (teens) and my own life as a blogger, is that it’s unlikely that we’ll fully unplug from the “grid.”

Before you say spoken like a true addict, let me just say that I live my life where anything in moderation goes, so this feels comfortable and realistic to me.

That said, I’m putting a few strategies in place to ensure that the balance is tipped in favor of our tuning in more (to each other) and turn on (our devices) less. I hope you’ll join me whether you’re on vacation in the next few weeks or not:

1) Fly through vacation on airplane mode: This just means that you’re not connected to Wifi. I’d like to thank my age-related memory loss for keeping me safe from manically flipping my phone out of airplane mode when I’m in Wifi-equipped cafes and other hot spots. I’m pretty sure I’ll keep thinking my dang phone doesn’t work and will forget to check my settings.

2) Bring a camera: OMG you guys, remember cameras? Those cute little contraptions that take pictures and then you can get them printed out or just even download them onto your computer later, once you’ve returned home. Reflecting on your journey and sharing the best of times with the whole damn world if you want is then much more appropriate and also much less distracting.

(NOTE: Airplane mode does allow picture taking. Then again, snapping pics with your smartphone is just another gateway drug — you start off taking a cute pic of your kids in front of some fabulous attraction or another, and before you know it you’re running full-stop in a cold sweat to the nearest Wifi to huff filters and shoot those images up on Facebook. My bitches, please — CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF!)

3) Embrace the pause: This is mindfulness-speak for stopping for one dang second before before taking an action. Zen Habits guru Leo Babauta says, “Addictions are something we often do automatically, without thinking. Start to break this chain of trigger-habit auto-response by wedging a small pause in between them. When you get the urge to check something you’re addicted to, notice this urge, and pause for just one second. During this pause, simply ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this, and why?” You can then go on to do it, no matter what the answer, but the important thing is having at least the briefest pause.” Amen to the Zen!

4) Tell your work peeps that you’re not actually working — for real this time: This includes YOURSELF, people! The smartphone addiction for us “grown-ups” dovetails nicely with our other addiction: workaholicism. It’s so damn easy to respond to emails, check out reports, and generally be available 24/7 that we’ve lost the ability to take a proper siesta. When you make a statement that you’re not available to work, you’re letting people know that you’re not drinking the Kool-Aid anymore. And doesn’t a nice fruity vacation drink sound much better, anyway?

5) Don’t have FOMO – Be the stuff that fuels the FOMO: FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is much of what drives our addiction to Facebook and other social channels. Keep in mind that being off the grid is something we all secretly — or even overtly — desire, and there is nothing to fear but fear itself. In other words, you’re not missing anything at all when you’re present in your own life. So admire the view from your own damn feet and forget about what beauty lies beyond (or between) someone else’s toes.

6) Do what comes naturally – it’s the ultimate reboot: Vacations are all about rest and relaxation, and guess what? These two things are EXACTLY what you need to reset your own operating system. Researchers at University of California, San Francisco found that down time allows the brain to process what it’s taking in and convert it to long-term memory. University of Michigan researchers found that people have much better retention after a walk in nature vs. through an urban environment, which supports the idea that the constant barrage of information takes a toll on our ability to learn. Things like sleep, laughter, sex (!), and making face-to-face contact with others all also have loads of research supporting their positive benefits.

So if you see me shutting down my devices — don’t panic! Like pre-writing this here post, I’ve planned ahead to stay connected even when I’m technically logged off. I’m just giving the old motherboard a break, and I hope you’ll  join me trading in some RAM for REM and enjoy some much-deserved downtime!

gender fluidity
Bitch’in Life, Pop Culture

Gender Fluidity for the Rest of Us

2 comments

This is the summer of what Time magazine called, “The Transgender Tipping Point.”

I for one am relieved. When Caitlyn Jenner received her ESPY Arthur Ashe Courage Award and at the outset said — “Picking out this outfit — okay, girls, I get it! You got to get the shoes, the hair, the makeup, the whole process. It was exhausting. And next, the fashion police — please be kind on me. I’m new at this.” — it’s like Yaass Caitlyn! Sing it, sister!

Let me just say for the record that Cait looks amazing and is so well put together that I’m both in awe and also jealous. Picking out killer ensembles, rocking, and then walking around in heels, and staying coiffed with perfect makeup is totally overwhelming to me and something I’ve never quite been able to master.

But have always appreciated.

This sentiment is echoed by Jill Soloway, the brilliant creator of Transparent — which if you haven’t watched it yet, don’t walk; run (hopefully not in a pair of stilettos!) and binge on the 11-Emmy-Award-nominee immediately. In an interview with Elle, Soloway said, “How do you figure out what to wear every day? Do you go through feelings of, like, I don’t know how butch to dress, or how femme, or how ladylike, or how much makeup to wear, or how to be fancy?”

Uhm, yes.

My journey to be a “normal” girl started at the very beginning, when someone handed me a doll and as I recall, I recoiled in horror. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but the only fascination dolls held for me was how they looked stripped down and with their hair hacked really short. One year I got one of those Styling Head Dolls for my birthday, and spent the next year in abject terror, just waiting for disembodied Barbie to eviscerate me for smearing lipstick all over her face, painting her nostrils with bright blue eye shadow, and leaving her once-glorious mane a tangled mess.

While I wasn’t exactly athletic, my jam as a kid was all about running around outside, playing an early version of Survivor as I imagined myself as Mowgli, the boy who was raised by animals in The Jungle Book. This game went over like a lead balloon when I played with one of my friends who had a mom that dressed her like a 1950s porcelain doll, down to the starched white-collared dresses replete with crinolines under her skirt.

Part of me loved the girl’s Happy Days vibe, and the other half of me wanted to smear her with mud and ruin that fancy schmancy bullshit dress of hers.

Guess which side of me won? Is it surprising that was my last play date at that particular classmate’s house?

In my early teens, one summer I took a real shine to a black bowler hat that I snagged from my camp’s drama department. When paired with my Billy Dee Williams’ mustache, I looked a bit like Lando Calrissian-meets-Charlie-Chaplin. It was a fetching look, one that probably scored me the role as Action in West Side Story.

A co-ed production of West Side Story.

The only girl cast as a boy in West Side Story.

Other girls on the precipice of womanhood might have been mortified, but not me. I felt powerful and sexy as the leader of the Jets in a plain pair of Levi’s and a white t-shirt with a fake pack of cigs rolled up in the left sleeve.

I was happy to rock on with my (imaginary) cock on, singing “Gee, Office Krupke” at the top of my lungs, and giving a very heartfelt “Krup You!” to anyone who questioned my masculinity.

When I hear that Angelina Jolie’s daughter Shiloh Jolie-Pitt is being called “John Jolie-Pitt” by Internet trolls, taking a comment her mom made out of context and ignoring the fact that neither the 9 year old nor her parents have yet declared her transgender or anything else besides a kid who likes to play a rousing game of Peter Pan, I have to shake my head.

Back in the day, I clearly considered myself a tomboy, and at this juncture, Shiloh probably does too. A short ‘do and an aversion to wearing dresses — which I had as a kid and pretty much still have — does not necessarily a gender dysmorphic person make.

Gender fluidity, on the other hand, is something I think we all have in some way or another.

It’s the reason that dads are often the best moms, and also why women provide for themselves and their families in a variety of traditionally male ways.

This is not to minimize the struggle of those in the trans community, nor is it to confuse being gender fluid with being transgender. The horrible statistics are real, and I for one can’t begin to imagine the pain of feeling that the body I’m in is nothing but a torturous costume masking my authentic self.

Still, as I listen to Laura Jane Grace from the punk band Against Me! tell her story to Marc Maron on the WTF podcast, I can’t help but think that we are all just stumbling around searching for our truths, and that commonality leads to only one conclusion: we must come to each other with sensitivity, compassion, honesty, curiosity, humor, and love.

From Caitlyn Jenner’s speech, she boils down the universal importance of her being so public with her transition:

“I’m clear with my responsibility going forward, to tell my story the right way, for me, to keep learning, to reshape the landscape of how trans issues are viewed, how trans people are treated. And then more broadly to promote a very simple idea: accepting people for who they are. Accepting people’s differences.”

And again, I think Yaass Caitlyn! Sing it, sister! 

Caitlyn’s words have helped me learn how to accept the beautifully coiffed moms who sit in baseball and softball stands looking as if they just stepped out of a spa and were fluffed by a professional team of stylists and makeup artists. I forgive them for looking so freakin’ MLF-y, just as I forgive myself for being fully unable to go one damn day without spilling coffee or food on my clothes, favoring outfits that have long overstayed their welcome, and not fully mastering the art of hair removal (see: Billy Dee Williams mustache, above).

While I loved what Cait had to say, Laverne Cox has even deeper wisdom to share about the lessons she’s learned from being an outspoken trans advocate and more broadly, as a humanist:

“I love working a photo shoot and creating inspiring images for my fans, for the world and above all for myself. But I also hope that it is my talent, my intelligence, my heart and spirit that most captivate, inspire, move and encourage folks to think more critically about the world around them. Yes, Caitlyn looks amazing and is beautiful but what I think is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has allowed the world into her vulnerabilities. The love and devotion she has for her family and that they have for her. Her courage to move past denial into her truth so publicly. These things are beyond beautiful to me.”

Amen, and one more time: yaass sister!

So if you see me twirling my ‘stache and rocking a ripped tee and old jean shorts, just know that I’m trusting that you can look beyond the gender cues and see straight into my heart. Love is ALWAYS the answer, and it too is trans…

Transcendent.

Here’s to the tipping point that makes us all more beautiful, more authentic, and more comfortable in being fluid — and kinder — in how we view each other — and ourselves.

let go of sentimental clutter
Bitch’in Life, Parenting

Bye, Bye Baby — Letting Go of Sentimental Clutter

1 comments

It was 1997, and I was in upstate New York, hanging with my BBFs for a fun and relaxing girls’ weekend.

I was young enough to have not yet experienced the verb “parenting,” but old enough to enjoy an afternoon of the somewhat pretentious verb “antiquing.”

In a dusty little shop all the way in the back, I spied a vintage sideboard. It was a distressed “shabby chic” piece with a modern twist — it had been painted a sweet blue and had grass-green doors with a pair of faded coral flower appliqués on either side.

That would be a really cute changing table, I thought.

Let me just say I was not that baby-crazy girl. I never cradled my dolls as a kid — hell, I didn’t even own dolls because I am afraid of them (along with puppets, clowns, and carnies) — and avoided sitting actual babies like the plague. I didn’t even particularly like caring for little children; my go-to bunks as a camp counselor were any that had kids ages 13 and up.

So the errant thought of buying a piece of baby furniture was exceptionally random for me.

Still, as the afternoon wore on, I couldn’t stop thinking about that piece. And before the day ended, I found myself propelled by a fully out of character whim to plunk down my credit card and pay a small fortune to purchase the sideboard and have it delivered to my small apartment in New York City.

sideboard3

As I recall, I couldn’t even confess to my young husband what my full intentions were for the piece. I don’t think we ever truly discussed having kids — only enough to agree we’d both want a family at some point — but why rush into anything?

Two years later, we’d moved out of our cramped fifth floor walk-up and into a relatively spacious (800 sq. ft.) Park Slope co-op apartment in anticipation of our first child. I am relatively superstitious, so I never had a shower and refused to do any real preparation for the arrival of our baby.

That is except one thing: I emptied the sideboard of the junk it had been holding to that point, figured out how I’d affix a changing table pad to the top of it, and equipped the interior of the cabinet with plastic organizers just the right side to accommodate diapers, tushie cream, and all the other newborn essentials.

And so the antique sideboard began its new journey as baby room furniture, serving its first master for nearly two years before it was handed down to my newborn daughter.

Although the piece was pretty unisex, it was definitely more girly than not, and so the sideboard stayed in my daughter’s room as she grew from living in a closet (the only space left by the time we busted out of our Park Slope co-op), to having her own bedroom once we moved into our first full-on house in California. As she grew, the sideboard evolved along with her — from changing table to bureau to toy chest and finally, to annoyance.

“Mom, do I have to have this thing in my room?” she groaned as a young tween. “It’s so babyish.”

And so I lugged my beloved sideboard, now crammed with old Halloween costumes, scuffed up dolls, worn board games, early reading books, fading school art projects, completed workbooks, and early-grade homework out to our garage-turned-guest room. Much like the Isle of Misfit Toys, the back house was a repository of all the furniture we’d had, loved, and no longer had much use for.

Bit by bit, I sold off the old stuff that had been with us since Brooklyn. And while I had a nostalgic moment here and there, I was happy to unload what no longer worked so I had the space and the funds to replace those things with more modern accouterment that fit our newest stage — life with teens.

Most recently, our renovated garage has undergone a “man cave” update — Mid-Century Modern furniture that gives the place a cool California vibe.

And so the sideboard is now officially in the wrong room, wrong century.

Eight months ago, when my BBF helped me renovate the room, she called the sideboard “clutter.”

More accurately, it’s sentimental clutter.

Which is why the journey to get rid of it has been an active one — much like parenting and antiquing. Initially I thought I’d be mercenary, and so I emptied the sideboard of all her treasures, paired it down to one small box of keepsakes, and tossed or donated the rest. For a minute I convinced myself if it held my office supplies, the sideboard would be a keeper.

But time has progressed and I’m now in the throes of working from home more than ever before, and that precious space the sideboard occupies would be much better served with a desk instead.

Still, I couldn’t help but try to make it work.

First, I pulled up a chair and attempted use the sideboard as a desk, but that was awkward.

Next I tried sitting on the couch and using a lap desk, but that felt impermanent. And I was also worried about the electromagnetic radiation thrown off the computer and directly onto my nether region.

Finally, I scoured every inch of my house, trying to find a place where the piece wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb. A sore baby’s thumb to be exact.

No dice.

I decided that I needed to make a mental shift about this sentimental scenario. I attempted being Zen about the whole thing, trying to picture the sideboard as the intimate object that it is, and focusing on the idea that the memories of the sideboard are already safe from being lost.

But I’m not Buddhist — I’m neurotic by nature (see electromagnetic radiation and laptops, above) — and the thought of getting rid of the last bastion of babyhood stirred up too much anxiety. And sadness, too.

That was until one day when I brought out snacks to my son and his friends as they were rockin’ the man cave full-tilt, playing video games and blasting tunes. I caught sight of the sideboard and was struck by how ridiculously out of place it was.

Then I had another vision: one where my son moves into the man cave and uses the desk — my desk — to do his own work. Sure I’ll make a fuss as he moves my stuff around, but I won’t care that he uses it to finish high school, returns home for breaks from college, and someday in the way distant future, uses it when he comes for a visit with his own kids.

Rather than a shitty Ikea desk (which is my default place for fairly disposable furniture), I pictured a cool, antique desk that would fit with the chill Cali vibe of the space.

Something that had served another family, was greatly loved and appreciated, and now was ready to move on to our home and become part of our family.

Well, our history, anyways.

And so, I let go of my precious sideboard. Packed it up and gave it to my friend Lady Schneider to sell to just the right person.

So if you see me measuring the top of a Mid-Century Modern desk, just know that I’m pretty handy when it comes to affixing changing tables to regular furniture. Not that I’m ready to be a grandma — I’m not, by a long shot — but there’s never any harm at being prepared to make future happy memories.

bitchin answers to stupid questions
Humor, Parenting

Bitch’in Answers to 10 Stupid Questions

1 comments

Have you tried asking Siri what zero divided by zero is yet?

Before you do, please be forewarned that after all these years, Siri is done with stupid questions and has gone to the dark side.

In short, Siri is now a punishing bitch.

While “indeterminate” is her “straight” answer, if you’re lucky, Siri will tell you this:

“Imagine that you have zero cookies and you split them evenly among zero friends. How many cookies does each person get?

See? It doesn’t make sense. And Cookie Monster is sad that there are no cookies. And you are sad that you have no friends.”

Oh, snap, Siri! When this kinda shade is thrown by a disembodied robot voice, it’s somehow even more damning. And endearing.

Which is the perfect combination for an excellent comeback. It’s what Mad magazine’s Al Jaffee perfected with “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.” (Remember those? I believe your Mad magazine collection is hidden under your shoebox full of Wacky Pack stickers.)

And it’s EXACTLY what you need right now. Because summer, which is lousy with mind-dulling scenarios — vacation, extreme heat, and no school to keep it all in check — is the perfect breeding ground for inane questions.

So the next time someone asks you the following, like Siri and Al Jaffee, you’ll be ready with some bitch’in answers to stupid questions.

1. Question: Is dinner ready?

Bitch’in Answers: 

  • I don’t know – what are you making?
  • Has the smoke alarm gone off yet? If it has, then yes, it’s ready.
  • Good question – what time did you make the reservation for?

2. Question: Can I just finish this game, and then I’ll do it?

Bitch’in Answers: 

  • As long as the fate of this planet depends on it, sure.
  • Of course — while you finish up, I’ll just turn off this pesky green button so you’re not distracted.
  • I’d say yes, but everyone in [name of game] and I took a vote and we’ve all determined you totally suck at this game. You’re much better at [fill in the thing your kid is trying to avoid doing].

3. Question: Are you almost here?

Bitch’in Answers:  

  • Depends on what you mean by “here.” If you mean still at home and about to get in the car, then yes, I’m almost there.
  • Sure. Where did you say you were again?
  • Depends what you mean by “almost.” If that means in 20 minutes after I stop to get a coffee, then yes, I’m almost there.

4. Question: Where are we going?

Bitch’in Answers: 

  • Considering all I do for you, I’m pretty sure I’m going to Heaven. And for asking me where we’re going when I just told you 17 times, well, you can guess where you’re going.
  • This is a test. If you can think back three seconds and remember what I just said, then you’ll win. If you can’t, well, you get to go anyways.
  • If you can’t retain what I just said, then I’d say you’re going nowhere fast. And I’m very worried.

5. Question: Do I have to go to practice?

Bitch’in Answers: 

  • I’m not sure. Why don’t you call your coach and ask him/her that same question?
  • So funny you’d ask. Your coach just sent out an email telling you to please skip practice. She’d/He’d much rather you clean your room today instead.
  • You don’t, but I’m so there. There’s nothing I like better than dropping everything to run to your practice.

6. Question: Can I do it later?

Bitch’in Answers: 

  • Yes, if by later you mean three seconds from now.
  • Actually, later just called in a pre-emptive strike to say that he’d prefer you do it now.
  • Absolutely. I’m sure your new mom/dad will be thrilled when you finally get it done.

7. Question: Are we almost there?

Bitch’in Answers: 

  • If by “almost” you mean another four hours, then yes, we’re almost there.
  • Oh, sorry! You were sleeping when we got there the first time, so just so you wouldn’t miss the exciting drive (flight/train ride/etc.); we turned around and started over.
  • If by “there” you mean the middle of nowhere, then yes, we have arrived. Would you prefer it if I left you here instead of [your destination]?

8. Question: Do you have any gum?

Bitch’in Answers: 

  • I do, but it’s holding my teeth in place at the moment, so I really can’t share.
  • If you look under your seat, you can probably find some — and as a bonus, it’s already conveniently chewed!
  • Totally — go ahead and stick your hand in my purse. There’s some gum in there somewhere, along with that baby alligator you flushed down the toilet, an angry puppet, and a hungry Venus Flytrap.

9. Question: Where did I put my [missing thing]?

Bitch’in Answers: 

  • Let me think back to when I was in my demon form, inhabiting your body… oh yeah, it’s under your bed.
  • I’m not sure — do you remember where you put your eyes? Because I’m betting if you could find those first, you’ll definitely be able to find your [missing thing].
  • If that’s your way of asking me to look for your [missing thing], that’s fine, but just know if I find it first, my fee is $100.00.

10. Question: What are you doing now? (Note: This is always asked when you’re busy, but your kid wants you to drop everything and tend to his/her momentary whim.)

Bitch’in Answers: 

  • I know I look busy, but it’s just a ruse — I’m waiting to do whatever you ask, master…. Just kidding.
  • Teaching myself Mandarin while I [cook dinner, fold laundry, pay bills, answer email — whatever it is you really are doing]. Not to make you feel bad about yourself for being lazy, although all you’re doing right now is asking me what I’m doing. Want me to teach you some Mandarin instead?
  • I was just waiting for you to ask me what I’m doing. Thank you!  I guess my work here is done. (Mime dropping a mic, take a bow, and quickly run away.)

So if you see me asking Siri what the meaning of life is, just know that I’m not really looking for an answer — just taking a lesson in snark from the master. Because as Siri and my old friend Carl Sagan once said, “There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.”

And now you have 30 bitch’in answers to questions to address all those naive/tedious/ill-phrased/reflective of inadequate self-criticism questions!

magic mike xxl
My Bitches, Pop Culture

I Saw Magic Mike XXL So You Don’t Have To

0 comments

If you went to see the first Magic Mike, you know how torturous the whole experience was.

All that sitting through Matthew McConaughey’s (“Dallas”) hilarious, oily MC’ing, Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike, the stripper with a heart of gold, Joe Manganiello’s “Big Dick” Richie and his penis pump… all that bumping, grinding, greased up abs, screaming women, unlikely romance, guys in g-strings, etc., etc.

Ugh, so tedious.

So when Magic Mike XXL was released, I figured it was my duty to watch the movie for you as your Bitch’in Suburbia and also as a “straight” vagina totin’  American AND as a fag hag who can spot a good scene for her gay boyfriends a mile away.

In a nut-shell: the filmmakers (99% male) thought that injecting a lot more dialog to show us that men are just like women — sharing feelings, gabbing about probiotic fro-yo, yapping about waxing, and then waxing poetic about marriage — was going “big.”

Sorry fellas, trying to hit that spot with your money shot meant too much bro time, not enough show time. (NOTE: This is a direct line uttered by Dallas’ MC replacement, Rome (played by the most excellent Jada Pinkett Smith).

And they’re not just strippers, dammit! They’re male entertainers, with the sole purpose to make all women feel like queens. Exalted, desired, and worshipped.

This is not what I have a problem with, mind you. I agree with all of that 100%.

But the truth about “male entertainers” is that the cheesy cliches — the cops, army men, fire fighters, etc. — are not so much of a turn-on. The times I’ve been face to face (well, more like crotch to face) with a stripper hasn’t offered the candy store approach of the fictional stripper convention that Mike and co. attend in Myrtle Beach, SC. (July 4th fireworks included!)

In real life, I’ve gotten a lap dance from a bored stripper who could barely muster a hip thrust to Prince’s “Darling Nikki” (I mean, seriously?), and hopped across the Canadian border for a bachelorette party that had a counter-climax: a faux circle jerk around the bride-to-be, mimed by a bunch of flabby, flaccid Canucks.

So the reality is that male entertainers come in all shapes and (ahem) sizes, Magic Mike is just a particularly well-manicured fantasy that perhaps we all need.

Lord knows the film makers are banking on it: the first installment cost just $7 million to make, and earned almost $168 million worldwide.

Can you blame the lads for wanting to make it bigger, longer, and more pleasurable?

Another bone(r) I had to pick is their inevitable portrayal of undersexed, pricey wine-drinking cougars. In their search to find somewhere to crash, the crew turns up at the home of a girl one of them was romancing, but instead find the young woman’s mom, rich Southern belle Nancy Davidson (Andi MacDowell), and her sad-sack posse of lonely, “my husband only screws me in the dark” ladies. Of course the dudes turn on the charm, and every X-chromosome in da house — young and old — get to feel the heat.

That is except the one angry chickadee (Amber Heard) who prefers to eat cake by herself in the kitchen… clearly the only person Mike is attracted to. The boy will dance his way into a challenge from any girl with the most cake, regardless of if he’s more of a cookie man himself. Although he does get bonus points from me for his female stripper name (“Clitoria Labia”) vs. the mopey millennial’s (“Dolly Titz”)

The only bow to cougardom I enjoyed was when Richie finally finds his “glass slipper” (aka, giant vagina) and has his one fulfilling sexual romp of the movie with Nancy. Still, did there have to be a Cinderella/fairy tale allusion in that moment, too?

Real women aren’t necessarily obsessed with fairy tales and marriage, or like whipped cream squirted all over their thighs. Just sayin’.

They do, however, enjoy a sexy dance in an unexpected place, set to a Backstreet Boys tune:

We also appreciate the message of female empowerment, which happens when it’s women doing the objectifying. Even if it’s mildly deflated when the objects sing dopey songs, get the ladies wet not just by feigning cunnilingus but also by tossing off a “heartfelt” compliment or two, and have to take drugs to get to their Oprah moment of self-awareness and a you go girl breakthrough to their authentic selves.

Oh, and Channing Tatum can dance the fuck out of anything — literally.

What’s my verdict, then?

Magic Mike got my 15 clams already, and if you don’t feel like driving your taco truck to the theater, you’ll surely be able to enjoy it in the privacy of your own home soon. But if you’d like a fun night out with your girls or boys, it’s a frothy little summer romp that’s far less expensive than say, flying to Vegas for an all-pro revue complete with bottle service.

So if you see me at deep-throating a water bottle (See: Richie “Big Dick” above) and using my iPhone to check if my brows are on fleek, just know that there are some fun lessons to be learned from MMXXL. And while I don’t always love being pandered to, this time I’ll take it… with a side of whipped cream.

100 reasons you'll always be a camper
Bitch’in Life

100 Reasons You’ll Always Be a Camper

4 comments

It’s that time of year again — summer solstice has turned the air soft, sweet, and warm, and kids everywhere are packing up and heading off to camp.

If I could throw myself into a trunk or a duffle bag, believe me, I would. There are many excellent things about being a grown-up, but not spending the lazy, hazy daze with no greater stress than getting yourself to fourth period after rest hour — I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t wish they were back at camp?

This summer my camp celebrates its 65th year, and I’m debating going back for the auspicious occasion. Then again, I’m with Thomas Wolfe — you can’t go home again. And actually, I don’t necessarily need to go anywhere.

Once a camper, always a camper.

Don’t believe me? Here are 100 reasons you’ll always be a camper:

100) When you wake up each morning, a bugle goes off inside your head, ensuring you’re definitely up for the day. Bonus points if it includes a record crackle and someone telling you to “wakey, wakey, wakey!” (Or some equally horrible/excellent early morning greeting.)

99) Lakes infested with water snakes, nasty fish, leeches, and snapping turtles don’t scare you. Chlorinated pools, on the other hand, do.

98) Even if you’re not particularly athletic, you are super competitive. Because you know that a keen sense of trivia, the ability to balance, say, an egg on a spoon, cheering louder than the rest (and losing your voice to prove it) or being really good at charades and other group games is as crucial to winning as anything else.

97) Give you a handful of jacks, and you could keep yourself busy for a solid hour or more.  (Just pass the baby powder if you’re playing on a wooden floor.)

96) You can whip out a French braid in two-minutes flat — on yourself or on a friend. And if you’re a dude, you at least know what a French braid is.

95) You’ve known the excitement of a Color War break, and you sometimes tap into that feeling when you need the power to crush any obstacle in your path for not just yourself, but also for your comrades and perhaps the good of humanity overall.

94) Similarly, when you face a difficult situation, somewhere in the back of your mind you hear, “You can do it, [name here], you can do it. You can do it [name here] nuthin’ to it.” Or whatever pump-you-up cheer you prefer, but it MUST have multiple claps for maximum impact. Bonus points for cheering out loud in every day situations.

93) You know the lyrics to pretty much the entire James Taylor catalog, notably “You’ve Got a Friend.”

92) Showering is optional, especially if there’s a lake nearby.

91) You keep several types of stationary on hand, just in case anyone feels like swapping with you. Bonus points for stationary with rainbows or really cool typography.

90) You can easily rough it, as long as there’s an outlet somewhere for your hairdryer and they don’t take away your donuts on Sunday morning.

89) “Stairway to Heaven” makes you super horny.

88) You still remember your first “real” kiss… and it was in the last five minutes of a social.

87) You can short-sheet a bed. And maybe you do that every so often to your kids’ beds for shits ‘n giggles.

86) You have oddball talents from balancing a spoon on your nose, to singing in a convincing falsetto, lighting your farts on fire, and/or finding a white lifesaver in a plate of whipped cream… with your hands tied behind your back. Bonus points if you do any of the above at least a few times a year.

85) Tie-dying a t-shirt, shorts, a bra/ jock strap, socks, a sheet, a sweatshirt, a scrunchie, or anything you can get your hands on is a snap. You can also wing it with a pack of Kool-Aid if there’s no real tie-dye on hand.

84) Mad-libs are your jam.

83) You can sleep anywhere, although you prefer the top bunk.

82) Give you a handful of string, and you can Cat’s Cradle like a mo’fo.

81) Do you canoe? Oh yes, you do!

80) You lost your virginity at camp… to a wake that road up a touch too high when you were getting up on one ski.

79) You’ve had lice. Or at least thought you did.

78) You’re a hugger. And aren’t afraid to kiss your best friend and say I love you… and mean it.

77) You can rhyme almost any word, and you at times overuse words like pep, zest, and spirit.

76) Pitching a tent is no biggie, although you’d prefer it if your counselor did it.

75) Buses make you feel excited, or alternatively, unspeakably sad.

74) You shove your family members out of the way each day as you race to get the mail. Secretly you suspect today is the day you’ll FINALLY get that care package you’ve been waiting for that includes comic books and Tiger Beat magazines with sticks of gum taped inside of them. Bonus points if you can’t mask your disappointment when the aforementioned care package doesn’t arrive, and the mail doesn’t include any good letters for you. (Bills DEFINITELY don’t count!)

73) After lunch, you need about an hour — a rest hour, to be exact — to recover from the morning’s activities. Sometimes this is a blatant nap time, and other times, like at work, you keep your rest hour to yourself.

72) You have a poster tacked up over your bed. (Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, Scott Baio — pick your poison!)

71) You know all the words to “Summer Lovin.” Well, that and all of the songs from Grease, and a million other classic musicals — whether you acted in them or just used them as songs for Color War, for someone that almost never goes to the theater, you have an amazing repertoire. Bonus points if you whip out a show tune at least once a day, depending on the trigger word. (i.e., “Tonight” from West Side Story, “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music, etc.)

70) You’re a kick ass tennis player or at least have a handful of activities you enjoy doing on a tennis court. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more…)

69) When your kid has a class project, you can make bubble letters for his/her poster like no tomorrow. And your calligraphy isn’t half-bad, either. Also, you think every poster looks much better with at least one rainbow and/or as many stickers as possible.

68) You get your period at the same time as all of your friends. And you know this because you ask.

67) If you could bottle the smell of pine trees and lake water, you would.

66) You love restaurants that have communal dining tables because it reminds you of the camp mess hall.

65) S’mores are your favorite dessert, and if hard-pressed, you can roast a marshmallow like a champ (brown not black!) over a gas burner.

64) From all those years of star gazing, you can rattle off most of the constellations. Or at least a dirty version of what the constellations might be.

63) You occasionally wear white socks with flip-flops or Birkenstocks. Oh, and you have Birkenstocks.

62) When your parents come to your house, you secretly hope they’ll bring you red pistachio nuts, or at least a can of Pringles.

61) You’re a pro at using Sun-In, Neet, and Jolene Cream Bleach… and now that you think about it, why do you spend so much on your hairdresser and esthetician?

60) You also remember how much Johnson’s Baby Oil or Hawaiian Tropic, SPF-0 that you slathered on yourself and pray that the skin damage was only temporary.

59) You keep a flashlight by your bed, just in case you feel like reading under the covers without waking anyone up.

58) You can still recite from heart certain passages of Forever and Wifey. Or whatever semi-pornographic novel was popular at your camp and/or in your era.

57) You are a master atomic wedgie-giver. You also can throw down a mean titty-twister (regardless of if you’re a male or a female), and know exactly how to make someone wet his or her bed. In other words, you could go work for the CIA without any additional training.

56) You turn pretty much any song into a camp song. (See #94, #77, #71)

55) The call of a loon doesn’t freak you out; in fact, you find it soothing.

54) You only do your laundry once a week, and without fail, you always find yourself wondering where the hell the van is to pick it up today and hope that all will be returned — slightly pink or gray but definitely commercially clean — tomorrow.

53) Your internal clock is set to a countdown that begins in mid-August, and ends in late June. In other words, you live ten months for two.

52) You know what Bug Juice is, and you’re not afraid to drink it. In fact, you have whipped up a batch at home, and realized that a shot of vodka is just what it needs to cut the five pounds of sugar and cloying “tropical” flavor.

51) If you ever feel like you need a good cry, you just channel the last campfire and/or the bus ride home from camp.

50) You can’t really eat watermelon in public because without fail it turns into a seed-spitting contest, and who needs that at a company picnic? (Well, maybe everyone does…!)

49) If you ever see a person wearing clothing with your camp logo on it, you are compelled to immediately engage him/her, do at least one camp cheer with him/her, and give him/her a giant hug when you part ways.

48) Your camp color(s) are your favorite color(s). (NOTE: My camp’s color is pink, which admittedly is a struggle for a punk rock soul. The introduction of purple as its complement has made it easier for my color nostalgia.)

47) You send your kids to camp. Bonus points if it’s the same camp that you went to, so secretly the opportunity to visit the campus and have dinner with old friends is as important to you as giving your children the gift of camp.

46) The smell of fire says campfire to you, always. This is helpful because the smell of fire in real life doesn’t normally come with pleasant feelings.

45) You have a secret costume stash year-round and not just for Halloween… because you never know when you’ll need to dress up or go in drag.

44) You’ve known exactly who you are from a young age because being at camp meant being exactly who you are.

43) There isn’t a ghost story you don’t know — and are secretly a little terrified of. But you’re very good at regaining your composure after your first scream.

42) Whenever you walk down a dirt road, you can’t help but feel nostalgic. Oh, and you seek out dirt roads to walk down, too.

41) Give you the choice between a five-star hotel and a cabin, it’s no contest. You’d stay in the cabin FIRST, and then move to the five-star hotel to take a “real” shower, flush the toilet more than once, and sleep in a bed with a mattress thicker than an infant’s arm.

40) You have a tendency to cheer at mealtimes. And if it’s someone’s birthday… watch out!

39) Speaking of birthdays — your favorite message to send your old camp friends on their special day includes something about kings, or queens, or bishops, too.

38) You got all of your game from camp socials. Or none of it. Either way applies, because camp flings never discriminated.

37) You still have letters from your parents tucked away in a scrapbook or memory box somewhere. And you also might have a note or two from your summer boy/girlfriend, too.

36) You can pick locks like a champ, thanks to your training raiding the camp kitchen and/or canteen.

35) You buy Lipton’s Cup-a-Soup, and prefer to eat it straight from the package.

34) Dining outdoors always transports you to special meals at camp. Now go grill me a damn hotdog, thank you very much.

33) You wear shoes, but then again, you’d rather not.

32) You know how to juggle or rock a hacky sack cuz your favorite counselor taught you all those years ago.

31) Sure you use a toilet, but if you had your druthers, you’d cop a quick squat OR pee on a tree outdoors, and be on your way.

30) You move around in the dark like a Ninja — nobody knows you are there… or gone… until it’s too late.

29) When you’re feeling sad, lonely, trapped, or otherwise bummed, you can close your eyes and think about camp — and let that feeling of pure, unadulterated freedom wash right over you.

28) Before you leave for work in the morning, you tidy the house and pray whoever is inspecting that day doesn’t try to bounce a quarter off your bed. Bonus points if you make your bed. Extra bonus points if you use hospital corners.

27) Your favorite desserts (aside from s’mores) are Whoopie Pies, camp cookies, and for very special occasions, Baked Alaska.

26) Your spirituality involves wearing whites, putting your arms around friends on either side of you, being in nature, hearing a poem that doesn’t exactly rhyme but makes you tear up anyway, listening to the strains of a soft guitar, and singing your heart out.

25) You wish you still had a counselor — to direct you in the day-to-day, be the encouragement you need at just the right time, lend you a shoulder to cry on, or just someone to bring you Dunkin’ Munchkins (or your camp’s equivalent) in the middle of the night.

24) Actually, you wish you could BE a counselor (again if you’ve been one before). Because nobody was cooler, had more fun, or rocked a freakin’ puka shell necklace for a day off like a counselor. Plus is there anything more delicious than a cold beer (or six, or 12) after a long hot day teaching the children how to be better people?

23) There are things you will do for pizza that are incredibly embarrassing but exceptionally memorable at the same time.

22) You are a master of getting busy with your bae in unusual places — in a canoe, under a stage, in a shed, deep in the bushes — you name it, you’ve had to pick twigs out of your hair on more than one occasion.

21) Hiking, even if it’s on your block, makes you feel like you’ve moved mountains… because doing even a quarter mile hike at camp made you feel like you just climbed Mt. Everest.

20) No matter where you are, you can squeeze all you need to survive into four narrow drawers, or better yet, cubbies. Bonus points if the drawers stick. You love the sound of squeaky wood almost as much as the call of a loon (See #55).

19) You dig a person with an exotic accent because the foreigners were the hottest counselors of all. (Thank you, BUNAC!)

18) Whenever there’s a nasty cut, vomiting, a high fever, or basically any ailment to deal with, you secretly wish you could just dump your kid off at the infirmary, steal a cold can of ginger ale from the nurse’s fridge, and be on your way.

17) You also wish you had a maintenance crew, in-house bakers and chefs, and a caretaker for the off-season… at your own house.

16) Rainy days don’t ever get you down. In fact, if you could find a pick-up game of Capture the Flag, you would.

15) You still hide candy in your sock drawer.

14) Sometimes you forget to lock the door of a bathroom stall when you’re out and about because since when do bathroom stalls need locks? At any rate, it’s no biggie if someone accidentally opens the door, as you’re used to getting walked in on during the most embarrassing moments — crapping, changing a tampon, etc.

13) Speaking of bathrooms, toilet paper is by far the most versatile item in your house. It’s perfect for wiping up spills, decorating, wearing as a costume or headband, using as a bookmark, etc.

12) You still find yourself wishing you had a social each and every Saturday night.

11) Whenever you go to a friend’s house, you feel free to help yourself to his/her clothes — even without asking. Sure it’s caused a few awkward situations, but you did finally score that Esprit t-shirt or that Larry Bird jersey you always had your eye on.

10) Laying out in the sun is something you still do, even though it’s not PC or necessarily healthy anymore. A good tan is the sign of a happy camper.

9) Making a fool of yourself is not what scares you — not having a good number for the talent show does. This makes you exceptionally entertaining at company retreats and suburban gatherings.

8) Sisterhood or brotherhood is something you know, love, and live. This is one of the many values that camp taught you that you hold dear. Well, that and the joy of pantsing your most beloved sisters and/or brothers.

7) You know how to fold a flag. And make hospital corners. These two things are not unrelated.

6) You also know how to sail a boat, make gimp/friendship bracelets, shoot an arrow, ride a horse, kick a medicine ball about a mile, and about a million other random leisure activities.

5) You can’t help but sing, “Toooodaaaaayyy is beach day, today is beach day…” every time you go to the shore.

4) Your camp resume is better than your real one — you starred in a play, were the best player on the team, was a Color War captain or co-captain, and/or won awards for your various abilities. You were (and still are) www.thecampshit.com.

3) You have a great deal of Indian lore knowledge — none of it necessarily real — but it sounds convincing, albeit pretty racist when you think about it.

2) While you’re not much of a dancer or a singer, that doesn’t stop you from believing you can choreograph the shit out of any routine and busting one out at the top of your lungs. (See #94, #77, #71, #56, #6, #5)

2 1/2) You still have ALL of your camp yearbooks.

1) Sure you’ve made new friends, but you ALWAYS keep the old. One is silver, and the other’s gold… and you know which one’s which.

So if you see me thanking all of my camp friends for contributing (especially on Facebook — 51 comments and counting!), just know it’s because I’m still connected to them in a profound, life-long way. Because you know, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain… I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end… I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend… but I’ve always thought that I’d see you again.

And in my camp dreams, I see all of my camp friends — don’t you? Because if you do, then you know for sure you’re a camper.

For more on camp, check out my other camp-lovin’ posts: CAMP!, The Art of Color War: 10 Ways Camp Teaches Us To Be Winners, and You Know You’re a Camper When…