Saturday, 24 December 2011

Conversations with Clover

Clover: Did you ever not get picked for a nanny job?
Me: Yeah. I interviewed for a job with a woman, and she ended up choosing another person.
Clover: Crazy, insane, stupid person. Who would do that??
Me: Well... your dentist, actually.
Clover: Dr. Dentist?? Crazy, insane, stupid person.

For the record, I did explain that one could choose NOT to hire me, and still not be "crazy, insane, or stupid," and that Dr. Dentist's reported reasons for not hiring were due to our schedules. And, in fact, it worked out for the best, as a lot has happened this year and my schedule never would have worked if I'd ended up working for the Dentist family. But in the end, I was mostly just flattered by her passionate belief that anyone who chose not to hire me was an idiot.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Read this now

Just... this. How wonderful that there are teachers like Melissa Bollow Tempel in the world! I hope that I can live up to her example when I have a classroom of my own.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Conversations with Grandpa

My cousin had the following conversation with our grandfather this morning:

Grandpa: When you go to the big city don't let boys put little white pills in your drinks at the bar.
Cousin: *laughing* Right, I won't let that happen Grandpa.
Grandpa: You laugh, but I'm serious. They do that you know. I think it's probably marijuana.
Cousin: You know, I think you're probably right.
Grandpa: Or heroin.

My grandfather is full of useful advice!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Thoughts? Feelings? Emotions?

Just as soon as I save up the money, I'm going to get myself a snazzy new camera. I adore my little point and shoot Canon S90, but I'd also like to have something with which I can take some higher quality pictures. I'm looking forward to learning how to mess with aperture, shutter speed, etc, but as of right now, I don't actually know how to do any of this. (Yes, I'll be buying a "....For Dummies" book, and yes I have been given the link to Ken Rockwell's site, which is great.) I've been reading a lot about the different cameras available, and I'm pretty sure that what I want is either a Canon or a Nikon. They both get really positive reviews online, but I wanted to get your opinions.

For what I'm looking for, I want either the:

Canon EOS Rebel T2i


Canon EOS Rebel T3i


Nikon D3100


Nikon D5100

What do you think?

Friday, 9 December 2011

So, this is a thing that people do.

There are even video clips you can watch-- just google Extreme Dog Grooming. Because, yes. It is a thing.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Wait, who's the adult here?

Clover: It's a really cool game, where we have to get from the elementary school to the middle school, in the dark, without getting caught by the high schoolers!
Neptune: Whose parents would let them go play in the dark with a bunch of people they don't know?

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Mazel Tov: Part 3, the Bar Mitzvah

Ok. I'm not sure why this has gotten soooo draaaawnn ouuuuttt, but it has. Blame it on my verbose way of communicating. As anyone who has ever read my writing can tell you, I suffer from a complete inability to be succinct. After this post, though, it will be back to shorter, easier-to-digest posts, with more pictures. I can't put many pictures on these, because I don't post pictures of the kids, and I did a pretty bad job of taking pictures without kids in them.



Saturday morning, we got up early and headed for the synagogue, where professional pictures were to proceed the actual ceremony. At the temple we met the rest of the extended families, and swarms of kids played while different family groups were photographed. There are even some pictures of the kids and ME! All of the children did a really marvellous job being patient and smiling on demand for photos. Hundreds were taken, and then we headed to our seats to await the beginning of the ceremony. Mitzvah did a WONDERFUL job on what must have been a rather nerve-wracking project. He sang in Hebrew confidently, calmly presented a lovely speech, and generally conducted himself with poise and good humour. What an accomplishment for anyone-- never mind a 13-year-old! I was, I must admit, almost equally impressed with the ability of the children in the family to sit through a two hour service, focused and quiet. They could even tell you about it in some detail afterwards. Amazing! I haven't ever seen them focus that long on ANYTHING before.

And then.


There was the party. Ohhh my. I had heard about these shindigs before, but never experienced one personally. Friends, let me tell you. There was a PHOTOBOOTH-- with PROPS! There was lots of FOOD! There was MUSIC! There was DANCING! Both of which were orchestrated by two men who put a great deal of energy into getting everyone to have fun. (Side note: How does one end up as a DJ for bar mitzvahs? Because, personally, I can't imagine doing that every week-- attending one was GREAT fun. Attending one a week? No way. Exhausting.)


And there was a CANDY BUFFET!

The party lasted for several hours, during which Neptune won at Black Jack, we all took pictures in the photobooth, met many wonderful people, wrote in the guest/photobook, and generally enjoyed ourselves. When the party had died down, we left to get some rest at the hotel before gearing up for the Next Event-- a BBQ dinner for the family and out-of-town guests.

It was Neptune's dream-come-true, a whole range of options of BBQed delicacies (can barbeque be called a "delicacy?"), though Clover, as always, struggled to find something she would be willing to consume. Instead, she largely spent her time with her new friend, putting peppermint candies in different types of soft drinks to see what happened. A few of the little boys tried to irritate the girls by drawing unflattering pictures of them, but the girls saw the humour in it, so the effort was wasted.

That night we got an extra hour of sleep, thanks to the bizarre nature of Daylight Savings Time. It was definitely needed!

Sunday morning found us happily brunching at Mitzvah's house, with his family and their friendly dog. Before too long, it was time to head to the airport and back to the PNW. The airport and flight were uneventful (though both children worked on math homework or studying on the plane, with no complaints... that counts as remarkable as far as I'm concerned!), and we all made it home safe and sound.


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Mazel Tov: Part 2, Thursday evening-Friday

You know why there has been such a loooong delay between Parts 1 and 2 of this story? Because I'm slightly overwhelmed by all of The Things that happened Thursday evening through Sunday. It's a bit nerve-wracking, imagining actually writing it all up. But, deep breath, here I go!

Thursday evening
We landed at the Dallas airport at the scheduled time, and were met by Clover and Neptune's grandparents (A's father and his wife). To get to the baggage claim, one had to go through a revolving glass door which, predictably, went just fine... for us. There were two doors, and in the second one we could see a man trapped like a gerbil in a cage. It looked disconcerting to experience, but I was rather amused-- and relieved that it wasn't one of the children (or myself!).

Upon meeting the children's grandparents, we headed off with them to a delicious Mexican restaurant, where we joined the kids' uncle, aunt, and cousins for dinner. It was a full table, and replete with cheerful chatter as everyone caught up on the happenings in each other's lives. We passed on greetings from K and A, and inquired after the preparations for the Big Weekend. Everything seemed to be going according to plan, with one exception-- Cousin R had met with a small accident that resulted in some pretty miserable abrasions to his face. Nothing too serious, but enough so that everyone who noticed had a sinking feeling. The questions, "Are you ok?!" and "What will you do about the pictures?" came with fairly equal urgency. (In case anyone is concerned, let me assure you-- both the pictures and the boy are just fine.)

After dinner we headed to the hotel, after swinging by a Wal-Green en route. After all, the children could not be made to go without a sweet treat, could they? Of course not! Their grandmother made sure we were well-stocked when it came to sweet treats. Once we got to the hotel, we fairly quickly settled down to bed-- Clover and Neptune in a room adjoining their grandparents', and me in a room down the hall. It was nice to have some calm and quiet after a rather chaotic day!

Friday began with breakfast in the hotel, which was followed by my exploration of Dallas while the children spent time with their cousins. I took the light rail into town, and meandered about for a few hours. Though I mostly spent my time just strolling and looking around, I did also stop into the Nasher Sculpture Center. What a wonderful array of artwork they have! Their featured exhibit at the time was of Tony Cragg work, which I enjoyed immensely. I was far from understanding all of it, but it was fun to try and work out what he was getting at.

Outside in the sculpture garden I found many other beautiful pieces of art. Just the garden itself was a sight to behold! The weather was clear and reasonably warm, perfect for leisurely looking around the garden and finding what it had to offer.

After walking the length of downtown Dallas (according to my map which was, admittedly, rather limited), I hopped back on the light rail and headed for the hotel. There I met up with Clover, Neptune, and assorted members of their extended family (and the extended family's extended family!). I was immediately presented with a Hospitality Box, which is a delightful thing. Inside I found all sorts of snacks and bottled water, many of which I consumed over the next few days. It was a wonderful treat!

Eventually we had to get dressed and head off to the temple for Shabbat services. While he was very excited about going to temple, Neptune was far from excited to wear a buttoned shirt and blazer. He moaned, and muttered under his breath, and whined, though he did get dressed without any physical opposition. "You're going to stop complaining the minute we get out of the hotel room, right?" I pressed him. Though I found the whinging mildly irritating, it didn't bother me all that much-- but I didn't want him to turn a pleasant evening into a series of complaints! "Yeah, I'll stop," he promised. And he did! As soon as we left the room, all conversations about what he was wearing ceased (at least in my hearing range-- and that's all that matters, right?).

I had never been to any sort of Jewish service before-- not Shabbat, not a bar/bat mitzvah, and not a wedding. The closest I had ever come was the celebration of Hanukkah and Passover at the home of Neptune, Clover, K and A. I loved those experiences, but they did not exactly prepare me for a full service lead by a rabbi and a cantor.

It was just lovely.

At many religious ceremonies I feel somewhat awkward, as I am far from religious myself. Though I respect the beliefs of others who are, I do not share them. I am as agnostic as they come! But I can be respectful of others' beliefs and traditions, so I was not concerned about the service, just interested. Imagine my delight when I found that I thoroughly enjoyed the entirety of the service. The overarching theme was a plea and hope for peace. And who can't get behind that? I loved the singing of the prayers, the recitation by the congregation, and the familiarity of the rabbi and cantor with the people there. Clearly it is a group that is very close-knit.

After the service, there was a dinner that all of Mitzvah's grandparents hosted. There was a delicious spread of food, including kugel (!!). Who would have thought to make a CINNAMON ROLL out of NOODLES? Brilliant, I tell you. The children sat at tables of their similarly-aged cousins (and cousins-of-cousins, including one kid with whom Neptune got to be very good friends over the course of the weekend!), and I sat with an assortment of friendly adults. I found it very amusing that, despite my having a very clear "label" for my relationship with the children (that would be "nanny," you know), I don't think I ever actually heard that word used. I was referred to as a "travelling companion," "custodian friend," and "Oh, you're the kids'... You're Blythe! You seem to really love the kids." I think that last one was my favourite. Yes! I'm Blythe! And I do love hue kids!

By the time we got back to the hotel that night, the kids were exhausted. It was 10:00 Dallas time, and while that was only 8:00 Seattle time, the hours made little difference. It had been a busy day, and the children were beyond exhausted. Everyone collapsed into bed, and I placed my wake-up call order with the front desk.

The next day was the Bar Mitzvah!

Stay tuned for Part 3...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Mazel tov: Part 1, The Journey

Thirteen is a dreadful, wonderful, awkward, hilarious age. There's not much to be said of it in most cases, except that it will, eventually, end. That is, there is not much to be said for it... unless you are Jewish. I'm sure that many of you have been to a bar/bat mizvah, but this was my very first. And it had an extra layer of adventure-- this bar mizvah, for Clover and Neptune's cousin ("Mitzvah") was held in Dallas. I was in Texas once, as a four year old, but my memories are understandably hazy. For all intents and purposes, this was to be my first trip to The Lone Star State. It was also to be the first flight the children and I would take without their parents. (For health reasons, A and K were unable to travel.) I had a nagging concern that someone would question my accompanying the children-- that a TSA Official would sneer down at me, and demand some sort of "proof of relationship." (Incidentally, I had this. A gave me a note in case this came up.) But... nope. No one even cared to see the children's ID. So that made things easy (though kind of concerning-- it shouldn't be that easy to fly off with kids that aren't yours, should it?).

But you know what really lowered the stress factor? How adept the children are getting at going through security. Between the three of us, we had 3 backpacks, 1 wheeled suitcase, 2 pairs of shoes to remove (Neptune could leave his on), 3 jackets to send through the x-ray separately, 1 DVD player and 1 laptop (the last two had to be removed from the bags and scanned separately, of course). The kids were quick and efficient at all of this, and between the three of us, I don't think we took much longer to get through security than any other three people.

On second thought, maybe the reason no one ever challenged my "right" to be with the children was because they didn't want to get involved. It was a Project, friends.

But it worked. We got their suitcase checked, all of us through security, had a nice brunch, and got to the gate with time to spare. Once there, we entreated the gate attendant to change our seats so that we could sit together. All three seats were separate, for some reason. After some shuffling, we got two seats together (18B and 18C) and one apart (17F). 18A is a window seat, just as 17F is, so I thought there would surely be no problem switching the person in 18A to 17F. After all, she was clearly going to be travelling by herself, right? And window for window, that's a fair exhange, right?


The woman in 18A was Quite Against switching. She was pleasant as she calmly explained, "Oh, I chose this seat."

I see.

So I consoled myself with diagnosing her with OCD in my mind.

I tried to get the people in 17D and E to switch with Neptune and me, but they were similarly disinterested. I was feeling at a loss, and decided to see if a flight attendant had any ideas for me, when the man in 18D (across the aisle from Neptune and me) offered to switch with Clover. The man traded his aisle seat for a window, to save us distress. I wanted to give him a medal of some kind, but was experiencing a shortage at the time. Instead I settled for thanking him profusely. Clover looked relieved. She had said she wanted to sit alone, but had seemingly forgotten that, on a plane, "alone" really just means "with people you don't know only centimeters away." That was NOT what she had in mind.

Settled into our seats, we pulled out our reading material, iPods, and DS games.

And that flight? The one about which people from all parts of my life have been warning me for WEEKS?

It could not have gone smoother. The children were calm, patient, and cheerful.

And I could not have been more delighted.

Stay tuned for what happened once we got to Dallas!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Kid Heaven

A candy buffet

A bubble wrap dance floor

What more could a kid ask for?

Sunday, 6 November 2011



It has been a Weekend.

In fact, I've had three exhausting weekends ina row. All good, in their own ways. All challenging, in their own ways.

Stories will follow. For now, I'm catching my breath.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Stash o' Candy

I love candy. I LOVE it. I could eat it all day, every day. Chocolate! Sour Patch Kids! Swedish Fish! BRING IT ON!

Or, at least, that's what I seem to think. When faced with a candy-buying opportunity, I am Entirely Convinced that I love candy, and will be So Happy with some in my life. I'll cheerfully buy a treat or two (or more, if it's on sale), and tuck it away in my handbag, eagerly awaiting that beautiful moment when I will sink my teeth into a big delicious bite.

And there the candy bar stays. I carry it around in my purse for a while, only to find it later on a purse-cleaning mission. Then I pull it out, happily considering the delight ahead. Still pleased with myself for making the truly excellent decision to purchase this product, I lovingly place it in The Bag. And there, my friends, it stays. For the rest of its edible life, the candy will reside in this bag. Oh, sure, some will be fished out and eaten eventually (I was just able to indulge a craving for a Milky Way because of this very bag, which is what began this post in the first place)... but most of it? Most just... sits there. The bag must weigh four or five pounds by now.

The only conclusion I can draw here is this:

I LOVE candy-- but I love storing it far more than I like eating it. The potential of candy-- it's a delicious prospect.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

22 Things I've Done

This post is part of Mama Kat's weekly Writer's Workshop. Oh, how I love a good excuse to make a list!

1. I have been skydiving over the Gold Coast of Australia

2. I have been to 22 different countries (ok, that's if you count generously-- do you consider the Vatican its own country? It has its own postage....)

3. I've ridden an elephant in Thailand

4. I partook in wine tasting in the South of France

5. I went to a RIDICULOUS concert (Ke-dolla sign-ha), and had a simply marvellous time

6. I've graduated from college

7. I've lived in 13 different houses and apartments (dorm rooms not included)

8. I have dressed as a peacock for Halloween, complete with feathers down the back of my dress.

9. Gave my mother two Russian tortoises as a birthday present one year.

10. I've had the same chocolate cake every year for my birthday since I turned 10. (The only exception being the year I turned 17-- I couldn't find the electric beaters.)

11. The one year I DIDN'T make that cake (a delicious recipe that involves things like baking chocolate and sour cream), I made a box cake mix... and totally messed it up. I've never messed up the other cake. Go figure.

12. I once ran into a girl from I knew from Scripps in a club in Cambridge. Neither of us knew the other was even in Europe.

13. I went to school with the same girl in middle school in Taiwan (each grade had about 30 students) and in college in California (each graduating class had about 230 students). What are the odds?

14. I once had a handbag shaped like a teapot. It was pretty useless, because the opening was so small, but it was very cute!

15. Over my lifetime, I've had 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 tortoises, 2 hedgehogs, at least 4 hamsters, 1 rabbit, countless fish, two mice, a guinea pig, and a salamander. This is NOT counting my brother's and mom's pets-- 2 snakes, more fish, 1 toad, 1 lizard, 1 hedgehog, and 2 tortoises. These were not all at the same time, of course.

16. I once got stuck in a tree in the middle of a river due to poor canoe-steering.

17. I rode a camel around at Uluru (Ayer's Rock). His name was Jiles.

18. I had a season pass to Disneyland for 3 years.

19. I have gotten truly, horrifically, divinely lost in my own town more times than I would care to admit.

20. I went to two preschools (Mexico and Indiana), two elementary schools (Indiana and Colorado), two middle schools (Colorado and Taiwan), and two high schools (Taiwan and Washington)... but I graduated from the same college I started at!

21. For whatever reason, several of my "friend groups" have had names. The "primary club" in 4th-ish grade, the RTS in high school, and the Moose in college. There have also been many un-titled groups, of course.

22. I've known the children I nanny for for about 5 1/2 years now. We've had many good adventures, both at home and afield. Our farther-flung adventures include Disneyland, Hawaii, Cancun, Montana (including Yellowstone and llama trekking), and soon another adventure, which I will write about after the fact!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Well, I had every intention of writing on my blog every day in October. And, with the exception of one day early in the month (the 8th?), I did pretty well. Except then everything kind of went to hell in a handbasket (which, by the way, is one of my favourite sayings). To apologise, and make it up to you, I give this picture of a very cute dog. Her name is Hazel, and I want to steal her away and keep her for my very own.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Good Choices

I am so pleased that, somewhere along the line, someone decided to ADD a toilet instead of just replacing one.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

My Reputation Preceeds Me

I will be volunteering in Clover's class, helping to teach some lessons, and even teaching a little bit by myself. I'm so excited, and Clover is too. She has been asking me when I'm finally going to come in, and we're both delighted that now I have a project and an idea of a date. As I was leaving, she came up to me, grinning.

Clover: I'm going to tell Jennifer that you're volunteering. And Bryce is gonna get it!
Me: It? Get what?
Clover: You know, get it. He talks a lot.
Me: Oh, so you think I'm going to yell at him, and get mad at him, is that it? Is that what you think of me, hmmmm?
Clover: No! I don't think you'll be mad or mean. You'll just say, 'That is not respectful and you need to stop right now.'

It was actually a fairly good approximation of my tone and words. Good to know she's paying attention-- and that she thinks I can whip those 6th grade hooligans into shape!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Read, learn, love

This is a wonderful, wonderful blog post that I came across recently. I hope you read it and enjoy it as much as I did. The original post can be found here.

Today I’m feeling 101-y, I guess, so let’s talk about privilege.

It’s a weird word, isn’t it? A common one in my circles, it’s one of the most basic, everyday concepts in social activism, we have lots of unhelpful snarky little phrases we like to use like “check your privilege” and a lot of our dialog conventions are built around a mutual agreement (or at least a mutual attempt at agreement) on who has privilege when and how to compensate for that. But nonetheless fairly weird, opaque even if you’ve never used it before or aren’t part of those circles. It’s also, the way we use it, very much a cultural marker – like “Tolkienesque” or “Hall-of-famer” or “heteronormative,” you can feel fairly assured that a large number of people will immediately stop listening and stop taking you seriously the moment you use it.

The fact that people are stupid isn’t news, however. And actually that’s kind of why the concept of privilege is important – because privilege isn’t about being stupid. It’s not a bad thing, or a good thing, or something with a moral or value judgement of any kind attached to it. Having privilege isn’t something you can usually change, but that’s okay, because it’s not something you should be ashamed of, or feel bad about. Being told you have privilege, or that you’re privileged, isn’t an insult. It’s a reminder! The key to privilege isn’t worrying about having it, or trying to deny it, or apologize for it, or get rid of it. It’s just paying attention to it, and knowing what it means for you and the people around you. Having privilege is like having big feet. No one hates you for having big feet! They just want you to remember to be careful where you walk.

At this point maybe I should actually start talking about what privilege is, huh?

Well, we’re right here online, so let’s start with the Google definition. As per standard for googledefs, it’s hardly comprehensive, but entirely adequate for our purposes here, particularly the second entry:

If you talk about privilege, you are talking about the power and advantage that only a small group of people have, usually because of their wealth or their high social class.

This is the basic heart of the idea. Privilege is an edge… a set of opportunities, benefits and advantages that some people get and others don’t. For example, if it’s raining in the morning, and you get up, get dressed, climb into the nice warm car in your garage, drive to the closed parking lot at work, and walk into the adjacent building, you don’t get wet. If you go outside and wait at the bus stop, then walk between busses for your transfer, then walk from the bus stop to work, you do get wet. Not getting wet, then, is a privilege afforded you by car and garage ownership. So far, so straightforward, right?

Some examples of social privilege work exactly the same way, and they’re the easy ones to understand. For instance, a young black male driver is much, much more likely to get pulled over by the cops in America than an old white woman. Getting pulled over less, then – being given the benefit of the doubt by an authority figure – is in this case, a privilege of being white. (I’m not getting into the gender factor here, intersectionality is a whole different post.)

Okay, again, so far so straightforward. And thus far, there’s not much to be done about it, right? You’re not going to, as a white person, make a point of getting pulled over more often, and nobody’s asking you to. (Well, I’m not, at least.) So if someone says “check your privilege,” if I tell you to watch where you’re putting your feet, what the hell does that mean?

Well. This is where things get a bit tricky to understand. Because most examples of social privilege aren’t that straightforward. Let’s take, for example, a basic bit of male privilege:

A man has the privilege of walking past a group of strange women without worrying about being catcalled, or leered at, or having sexual suggestions tossed at him.

A pretty common male response to this point is “that’s a privilege? I would love if a group of women did that to me.”

And that response, right there, is a perfect shining example of male privilege.

To explain how and why, I am going to throw a lengthy metaphor at you. In fact, it may even qualify as parable. Bear with me, because if it makes everything crystal clear, it will be worth the time.

Imagine, if you will, a small house, built someplace cool-ish but not cold, perhaps somewhere in Ohio, and inhabited by a dog and a lizard. The dog is a big dog, something shaggy and nordic, like a Husky or Lapphund – a sled dog, built for the snow. The lizard is small, a little gecko best adapted to living in a muggy rainforest somewhere. Neither have ever lived anywhere else, nor met any other creature; for the purposes of this exercise, this small house is the entirety of their universe.

The dog, much as you might expect, turns on the air conditioning. Really cranks it up, all the time – this dog was bred for hunting moose on the tundra, even the winter here in Ohio is a little warm for his taste. If he can get the house to fifty (that’s ten C, for all you weirdo metric users out there), he’s almost happy.

The gecko can’t do much to control the temperature – she’s got tiny little fingers, she can’t really work the thermostat or turn the dials on the A/C. Sometimes, when there’s an incandescent light nearby, she can curl up near it and pick up some heat that way, but for the most part, most of the time, she just has to live with what the dog chooses. This is, of course, much too cold for her – she’s a gecko. Not only does she have no fur, she’s cold-blooded! The temperature makes her sluggish and sick, and it permeates her entire universe. Maybe here and there she can find small spaces of warmth, but if she ever wants to actually do anything, to eat or watch TV or talk to the dog, she has to move through the cold house.

Now, remember, she’s never known anything else. This is just how the world is – cold and painful and unhealthy for her, even dangerous, and she copes as she knows how. But maybe some small part of her thinks, “hey, it shouldn’t be like this,” some tiny growing seed of rebellion that says who she is right next to a lamp is who she should be all the time. And she and the dog are partners, in a sense, right? They live in this house together, they affect each other, all they’ve got is each other. So one day, she sees the dog messing with the A/C again, and she says, “hey. Dog. Listen, it makes me really cold when you do that.”

The dog kind of looks at her, and shrugs, and keeps turning the dial.

This is not because the dog is a jerk.

This is because the dog has no fucking clue what the lizard even just said.

Consider: he’s a nordic dog in a temperate climate. The word “cold” is completely meaningless to him. He’s never been cold in his entire life. He lives in an environment that is perfectly suited to him, completely aligned with his comfort level, a world he grew up with the tools to survive and control, built right in to the way he was born.

So the lizard tries to explain it to him. She says, “well, hey, how would you like it if I turned the temperature down on you?”

The dog goes, “uh… sounds good to me.”

What she really means, of course, is “how would you like it if I made you cold.” But she can’t make him cold. She doesn’t have the tools, or the power, their shared world is not built in a way that allows it – she simply is not physically capable of doing the same harm to him that he’s doing to her. She could make him feel pain, probably, I’m sure she could stab him with a toothpick or put something nasty in his food or something, but this specific form of pain, he will never, ever understand – it’s not something that can be inflicted on him, given the nature of the world they live in and the way it’s slanted in his favor in this instance. So he doesn’t get what she’s saying to him, and keeps hurting her.

Most privilege is like this.

A straight cisgendered male American, because of who he is and the culture he lives in, does not and cannot feel the stress, creepiness, and outright threat behind a catcall the way a woman can. His upbringing has given him fur and paws big enough to turn the dials and plopped him down in temperate Ohio. When she says “you don’t have to put up with being leered at,” what she means is, “you don’t ever have to be wary of sexual interest.” That’s male privilege. Not so much that something doesn’t happen to men, but that it will never carry the same weight, even if it does.

So what does this mean? And what are we asking you to do, when we say “check your privilege” or “your privilege is showing”?

Well, quite simply, we want you to understand when you have fur. And, by extension, when that means you should listen. See, the dog’s not an asshole just for turning down the temperature. As far as he knows, that’s fine, right? He genuinely cannot feel the pain it causes, he doesn’t even know about it. No one thinks he’s a bad person for totally accidentally doing harm.

Here’s where he becomes an asshole: the minute the gecko says, “look, you’re hurting me,” and he says, “what? No, I’m not. This ‘cold’ stuff doesn’t even exist, I should know, I’ve never felt it. You’re imagining it. It’s not there. It’s fine because of fur, because of paws, because look, you can curl up around this lamp, because sometimes my water dish is too tepid and I just shut up and cope, obviously temperature isn’t this big deal you make it, and you’ve never had to deal with mange anyway, my life is just as hard.”

And then the dog just ignores it. Because he can. That’s the privilege that comes with having fur, with being a dog in Ohio. He doesn’t have to think about it. He doesn’t have to live daily with the cold. He has no idea what he’s talking about, and he will never, ever be forced to learn. He can keep making the lizard miserable until the day they both die, and he will never suffer for it beyond the mild annoyance of her complaining. And she, meanwhile, gets to try not to freeze to death.

So, quite simply: don’t be that dog. If you’re straight and a queer person says “do not title your book ‘Beautiful Cocksucker,’ that’s stupid and offensive,” listen and believe him. If you’re white and a black person says “really, now, we’re all getting a little tired of that What These People Need Is A Honky trope, please write a better movie,” listen and believe her. If you’re male and a woman says “this maquette is a perfect example of why women don’t read comics,” listen and believe her. Maybe you don’t see anything wrong with it, maybe you think it’s oh-so-perfect to your artistic vision, maybe it seems like an oversensitive big deal over nothing to you. WELL OF COURSE IT DOES, YOU HAVE FUR. Nevertheless, just because you personally can’t feel that hurt, doesn’t mean it’s not real. All it means is you have privilege.

That’s not a bad thing. You can’t help being born with fur. Every single one of us has some kind of privilege over somebody. What matters is whether we’re aware of it, and what we choose to do with it, and that we not use it to dismiss the valid and real concerns of the people who don’t share our particular brand.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

There is?

K: There's a chicken on the car!
A, Clover, Neptune, me: WHAT?!

Indeed. It was a chicken.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A Fall Haiku

Hot apple cider
I drink you by the gallon
You are my life blood

This post is part of Mama Kat's writer's workshop.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

An Open Letter to Middle Schoolers

Dear Middle Schoolers,

I'm so sorry for you-- really, I am. The ages of about 11-13 suck, no matter how you cut it. Ok, I'm sure there are some good things (I'll get back to you once I figure out what they are), but on the whole, it's just kind of rough. Not entirely a kid, definitely not an adult, and only barely a teen (if that), you are guaranteed to struggle at least a little bit. Still, you'll get through it, I'm sure. Adolescence sucks for everyone-- anyone who says otherwise is lying-- and the vast majority of us get through it relatively unscathed. We look back, laugh ruefully, and joke about "the awkward years." You'll joke too, I know, once the braces are behind you and you've come out of the other side of puberty.

Right now, though, I'm choosing to focus on one of the most delightful, ridiculous, and fun aspects of the pre-teen experience... the Middle School Dance.

I had great fun chaperoning one of these dances on Friday night, and it brought back a lot of memories-- of pretty terrible music, over-active smoke machines, and many entertaining evenings. Anyway, current middle schoolers, here's some advice I'd like to share:

1. Leggings are NOT TROUSERS. Not now, not ever, no.
2. Please, please, please wear deodorant.
3. Related: Cologne is NOT A REPLACEMENT for deodorant. Not only that, but one little spray is enough. No need to go overboard, friends.

Oh, middle schoolers. I'm giving you a hard time in this letter, but let's be honest. I admire you. I love your enthusiasm, your intensity, your ups and downs, and your evolving friendships. It's a crazy time of life, and a lot of things change; I gotta be honest, it's a delight to know those of you I do.

Love, Blythe

Monday, 17 October 2011


Remember when, a couple of weeks ago, I told you that I had exchanged e-mails with a water bottle company?

In case this wasn't as much of an Experience for you as it was for me, here's what I wrote about it. Go back and read it if you're going to read the rest of this post-- it's not funny, otherwise.



So after I sent them an e-mail with my address, I didn't expect to hear anything in response. I mean, they clearly weren't too into my e-mail (having not even read it properly before sending me a form response), so I thought the e-mail was good for a chuckle, and I'd move on with my life.


Imagine my surprise when I received the following in the mail today:

Huzzah! Hopefully this will be the end of spilled water bottles in my car or our swim bags.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Ten Tips to Prevent Rape

1. Don't put drugs in women's drinks.

2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.

3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, please remember not to rape her.

4. If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don't rape her.

5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her.

6. Never creep into a woman's house through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.

7. Remember, people go to the laundry room to do their laundry. Do not attempt to molest anyone who is alone in the laundry room.

8. Use the buddy system! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from raping women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you at all times.

9. Carry a rape whistle. If you find you are about to rape someone, blow the whistle until someone comes to stop you.

10. Don't forget-- honesty is the best policy. When asking a woman out on a date, don't pretend you are interested in her as a person; tell her straight up that you expect to be raping her later. If you don't communicate your intentions, the woman may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her.

I love this list. It wasn't until reading it for the first time that I realised how often I read "rape prevention tips" that advise women (only women, mind) to use the buddy system, not dress "provocatively," and never leave a drink unattended. While I recognise the sad reality of the situation-- and will continue using the buddy system and guarding my drink like a crown jewel-- I think it's worth pointing out that the best "rape prevention techniques" should probably be practiced by, you know, the people who might decide to rape someone. The way we advertise women's safety right now just makes it sound like... well, if you were raped, it's kinda your own damn fault.

Which it's not.

It never is.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

One of the many reasons I love Fall:

Friday, 14 October 2011


I love J.Crew as much as I ever have, but sometimes they produce clothes that just really, really puzzle me.

And then they charge an amount for them that leaves me positively baffled.

I would like to submit into evidence this picture:

Do you know how much this "Porcupine Popover" (which sounds more like a disgusting side dish than a shirt anyway) costs?


Thursday, 13 October 2011

Yes. Exactly.

Please watch this right now.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


Today, I heard a 3rd grade girl sing the first part of a Ke$ha song. It broke my heart. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Ke-dolla sign-ha, but I think it's pretty important to note that I'm 24, not eight.

Words that should never pass an 8 year old's lips:

Hot and dangerous
If you're one of us, then roll with us
'Cause we make the hipsters fall in love
When we got our hot pants on and up
And yes, of course we does
We runnin' this town just like a club
And no, you don't wanna mess with us
Got Jesus on my necklace.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Did you hear the Hallelujah chorus?

I'm sure you must have heard it, it was echoing through the hills all of yesterday afternoon. The angels sang, rainbows stretched across the heavens, and flowers bloomed bright and unseasonal across all fields and in sidewalk cracks. Given the unlikely nature of these events, it is certain that you observed them. Did you realise the reason behind them, though?

I'd be happy to clear up the confusion.

Over the weekend, I got some long sleeve shirts for Clover to consider. She has very specific tastes (as do many of us, to be fair), and it is not always clear to the rest of us what those tastes entail. Still, our shopping experience together had not resulted in many shirts that she would wear (ie, we got ONE), so I struck out on my own. I bought five shirts and one sweater, and every single one met with her approval. Two shirts had to be returned due to their size (she's itty bitty, the shirts weren't itty bitty enough), but stylistically, all were acceptable.

She looked at the shirts, and looked at me. "It's just... it's hard to believe that you picked these out."

"Gee, thanks."

"No! No, that's not what I meant. I meant... normally when other people choose clothes for me, I don't like it that much."

Whatever. I'm counting it as a success.

Monday, 10 October 2011

She's a witch!

Unasked for input from 3rd graders should be taken with a grain of salt. A girl in Neptune's class told me that I should be a witch for Halloween. Why, you may ask?

Because of my hair.

I think I'm going to take it as a compliment.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Adventure Awaits!

In a few weeks, Clover, Neptune and I are going on a Grand Adventure. We are headed off to their cousin's bar mitzvah. (And, heck, we'll call him "Mitzvah" for this blog, because my understanding is that doing a "mitzvah" for someone is to perform a kindness, and this boy is certainly kind.)

I have never been to a bar mitzvah before, though I understand that many people practically lived at the events all the way through their middle school years. I hear there is dancing. I hear there are games. I hear there is a reallllly looonnng serrrviiice (which, actually, I'm quite looking forward to-- I think Mitzvah will do a wonderful job with his part of the service, and I can't wait to see him do it.)

I've never even been to a synagogue, so this will all be new to me. I anticipate being fascinated, entertained, amused by the young teenage frivolity at the reception, and enjoying myself thoroughly.

Though, of course, I will not tell you When we are going, or Where we are going (because, after all, this is the internet, and one of you might be a PSYCHO KILLER-- hey, you never know), I will tell you this-- it involves a plane trip. And planes ALWAYS mean adventure. This is true partially because of the distance involved (if you're getting on a plane, after all, it means you're going a significant way from home), and partially because there are a series of plane-related Wonderies and Potentials:

- Will the plane be delayed, or arrive on time? Or even early?
- Will there be a screaming baby, an enthusiastic child kicking my seat from behind, or any particularly Interesting Characters? (Planes and airports are always good for people watching.)
- Will all luggage and carry on pieces arrive with you at your destination?
- Will the beverage trolly carry delicious options? (The answer to this is ALWAYS yes, because Ginger Ale is remarkably delicious on airplanes.)

More stories after the fact, of course, but for now?

I'm so excited.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Too Tired

I meant to-- Really Meant To-- write a longer post today, one with pictures and a story of some kind.

I went shopping with The Tween (aka Clover) today, and I'm afraid it's all I can do to sit upright.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


Whenever I am not actually COLD, I love Fall. (Note: This means that, a goodly percentage of the time, I do NOT love Fall.) I find damp cold to be incredibly miserable. I tend to dress for bed as if I'm going out to play in snow. I don't. like. cold.

But I do love just about every other aspect of autumn, including:

Brightly coloured leaves
Hot apple cider, hot chocolate, hot tea (which I drink at other times of the year as well, but find even more satisfying in the fall)
Fall clothes

So, having given it due thought, I've decided to give Autumn a try this year, and I'll try to do it right.

Bring on the cider.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


So, after consulting with the Best Vet Ever (second only to Scarlett's regular vet), we are waiting on surgery for a while. There's a possibility that her bone will heal itself, and no surgery will be needed after all.

Wouldn't that be AWESOME?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Specialties Galore

I have to take this fuzzy critter to an orthopedic veterinary surgeon surgeon tomorrow:

Did you even know that this profession EXISTED? I thought there were, you know, vets. Vets who work with pets, vets who work with farmyard animals, and vets who work with wild beasties. Probably there are other vets too, but orthopedic veterinary surgeons?

Well, knock me over with a feather.

Monday, 3 October 2011


I have a problem.

Last school year, probably in early spring, I got started making cute little lunchbox notes for Clover and Neptune. They're sort of like mini scrapbook pages-- decorations on the front of a 3"x3" square, a friendly little note on the back.

This was all well and good at the beginning, when I was full of ideas and enthusiasm, but now I seem to have set a precedent, and it's hard to escape. I LIKE doing this, and I LOVE that the kids love it, but there's still a certain level of expectation at this point. The following are some examples of the notes of which I speak:

Sunday, 2 October 2011


Before too long, my grandmother will be moving into a retirement home. This is no surprise; she IS 91 years old, and it is an entirely logical, totally perfect choice. The challenge before the move, however, is going through the 65+ years of STUFF that has accumulated in the house in which she currently lives. This summer, I spent some time with my cousin and dad going through the stuff in the closet. Here's a sampling of what we found...

What is it, do you think?

A small pair of knitted shorts, sewn together at the waist. Purpose?

A multiple-year-old cookie

A space station/serving dish

And, the very best of all, a small angel sealed inside two wine glasses.

Saturday, 1 October 2011


Well, I have pretty much failed at my rather poorly defined goal, "post more on blog." Instead, I'm going to give myself a much more specific goal: Post something to the blog every day of October. That means 31, friends. They will not all be insightful, that will not all be pretty, they will certainly not all be funny... BUT. There will be 31 one of them.

So there.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Product or consumer defect?

The kids and I have some water bottles that we LOVE and ADORE. They are easy to drink out of (thus encouraging the actual consumption of water, rather than just its transportation), don't spill (!!), and come in bright colours. Seriously, guys, they are the best. However, we have one problem with them, as you will see. I sent the following e-mail to the company on September 14:

Good morning,

Firstly, thanks so much for such a great product! Your waterbottles are durable, spill-proof, and brightly coloured. All huge assets in my mind!

Our problem, however, seems to be keeping track of the lids. Is there any way we can buy replacement lid/straw/bite valve combos? I know it's possible to get the bite valves and straws, but our disorganisation extends a bit beyond that...

Thank you for your help!

So it's clear, right? You know what I'm getting at? I lose the lids to the bottles, and I would like to buy more. It could not possibly be more simple. Except, this is the e-mail I got yesterday (long after I'd thought that cyberspace had eaten the e-mail I sent them):


Thank you for contacting Company. The defect you have encountered should not be expected from any of our products. We do indeed have replacements here for you in warranty. Just let me know your U.S. address and I'll be happy to send a replacement lids and straws for you.

Thank you for choosing Company.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't they suggesting that the fact that I can't keep track of the lids is a product defect?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Quote of the Evening

Neptune, as he realised his math mistake: Oh, no, I see. Bad math on my part. And on yours, 'cause you helped raise me.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Am I flattered? Or horrified?

Neptune (pointing to a comic book): She reminds me of you.
Me: Oh! Why?
Neptune: Because she's very nice. And she makes it always sunny, because she controls the weather.

Still not quite sure what the take-away from that was, but I'm going to take it as a compliment, and move on.