February 2008

I was in the “Strictly Platonic” section of craigslist today looking for other nannies or stay-at-home-moms for playdates, when I stumbled upon this gem:

I have no lesbian tendencies but I welcome all as long as you understand the definition of plutonic. This is about making new friends:-)


It’s amazing how fast this little devil angel is growing. Sometimes I swear I can SEE it happening. The sweater she’s wearing in these photos is one we bought the weekend we adopted her. She was so cold that we were desperate to keep her warm. Unfortunately, this extra-small sweater was no help. It was so big on her that we couldn’t keep it on. It fit more like a sleeping bag than a sweater, and a simple twist and squirm was enough to free her from its constraints.

Only a few weeks later, it fits like a glove. We put it on her this weekend, and were shocked to realize this would probably be the last time she would be able to wear it.

Of course, that sad realization led to a photo shoot, because it’s bad enough that she outgrew the tiny sweater I made for her before I had a chance to take photos of her wearing it. I didn’t want to look back in a few weeks and realize we missed our chance with this baby sweater too. I wish we had a photo of her swimming in it for comparison’s sake.

Beastie stood by sadly as we took photos. There is not much he loves more than playing dress up and photo shoots. When Beastlet lost interest, we peeled her out of the sweater and set her free. Beastie edged over immediately and snapped up the sweater, dashing around with his prize. He brought it straight to me, begging for his turn. At first, we laughed. Because seriously? Not going to fit.

But then I had a brilliant idea. An awful, brilliant idea.

The weather was gorgeous on Sunday. Blue skies, warm weather, the whole nine yards. JP and I needed to go to the mall for a few quick errands, and because it was warm and we are still trying to do our part to live a more green and simple life, we decided to take public transportation, rather than burning fossil fuels of our own to get there.

There is a Marta station not far from our house and another in the mall parking lot, so this seemed like a great idea at the time. And it was…on the way there. The train came quickly, it wasn’t very crowded, and we got to the mall quicker than if we’d battled traffic up I-400. And no fighting over a parking space! Hurrah!

Our errands were completed in no time, and before we knew it, we were back on our way to the Marta station. I was explaining the concept of Super Delegates and their role in the presidential nominations as we approached the turnstiles. The station was practically deserted. One loan couple was trying to decipher the ticket machine with the help of the station attendant. Like synchronized swimmers, we walked side-by-side through the turnstiles, tapping our passes and continuing without a break in the conversation. We were ten yards or so from the turnstiles, when we heard the station attendant yelling. We paused and looked over our shoulders, stunned to discover he was yelling at us.

Immediately, he began accusing me of following JP through the turnstile without paying my fare. Despite his tone, I was sure this confusion would be cleared up momentarily, so I held my pass aloft and assured him that we had walked through neighboring gates. Instead of apologizing, he became even more angry and insisted that I had followed her through without paying. He demanded I come back through and pay. I took a deep breath, and walked over to the attendant and handed him my pass. Because the passes are electronic, they will not allow a passenger to enter a station until they have exited. This prevents multiple people from sharing a single pass for the same trip. I promised him that I had used my pass to enter the station and encouraged him to scan it again. He did, and received an error message — the kind you receive because you have already used it to enter the station.

Again, I expected an apology and was sorely disappointed. He handed the pass back and said it proved nothing. He demanded I exit the station and buy a new pass. At this point, JP and I were both getting angry. His back had been turned while we entered the station, and he was engrossed in helping the couple buy their passes. There was no way he could have seen us enter. Furthermore, my pass was clearly engaged in the system, verifying our story. Still, he not only refused to apologized, but became more and more irrate. He accused me repeatedly of attempting to jump the fare, refused to listen to logic and eventually called the police.

You only wish I was kidding.

So, like criminals, we sat there for a full fifteen minutes waiting for the police to arrive while the station attendant wandered around helping other passengers and our train left without us. When the officer finally arrived, we explained the situation and I asked to see the security footage, which would obviously validate our story. He spoke to the attendant and moments later waved us through. I’m not sure what he said to the attendant, but it was clear he believed our story or at least didn’t want to waste his time looking at the security footage. Regardless, the attendant still refused to acknowledge that he was mistaken or offer any sort of apology for his public false accusations or for our delay.

I won’t say this ruined our day. But it certainly did make me think twice about taking the train next time we need to go the mall. Traffic on 400 may be annoying, but at least I don’t have to worry about being detained and falsely accused of a crime.

Honestly, I am baffled by the need for this post. I think these rules should be common sense to anyone above the age of thirteen. But, as evidenced by recent incidents, there appears to be a need for remedial education in the field of common curtesy. So, before venturing out to your local movie theater, please review these rules. If you feel that you cannot abide by them, do us all a favor and STAY HOME.

1. Shower and wear deodorant. Especially if you KNOW the theater is going to be jam-packed because it’s the opening night of a movie and also Valentine’s Day. No one wants to inhale your stench. Possibly this is an attempt to gain a little extra personal space, but it is ill-advised. Trust me, your odor carries beyond the extra two inches you obtained for yourself to the other patrons who would like to enjoy their popcorn and candy without retching and gagging.

2. If you must sleep, do not snore. Why you would spend $40 on tickets and food when you could sleep at home for free is beyond me, but to each his own. However, your chainsaw sound effects are distracting. 2a: If your date’s breathing begins to resemble a freight train, it is your obligation to wake them and preserve the peace for the rest of the patrons. After all, you’re the one who chose to bring Rip Van Winkle to the movie.

3. Leave the kids at home. Unless it is a kid’s movie, obviously. If I choose to attend a matinee screening of The Golden Compass, I expect to be surrounded by children. If I’m at a 10:30 showing of Mad Money, it’s fair to assume this will be a child-free environment. I love kids. I love other people’s kids. I do not love spending $40 to hear them scream. If you would like me to listen to them scream, my babysitting rates start at $17/hr. Oh wait, I have retired from babysitting. Scratch that. Still, that means you should HIRE SOMEONE ELSE to watch them or STAY HOME. A two year old has no business being out at that hour anyway. I don’t blame your child for whining and crying, I blame you for bringing her. Also, just because a movie is not rated R and is playing during the day, does not mean it is suitable for children. When I am choking back sobs during a documentary about wetland erosion and it’s role in the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I don’t want to hear your three year old shouting, “Helicopter! Look, mama, helicopter! Boat! Boat! Look, mama, boat!” as I watch rescue workers fishing out dead bodies from the flooded streets of New Orleans.

4. This is not social hour. Feel free to laugh, gasp, or shriek in fear as the situation warrants. I’m not even opposed to an occasional witty comment as long as it’s relevant to the movie. The audience interaction is part of the reason I love seeing movies in the theater. Do not, however, spend two hours behind me bitching to your best friend about the skanky ho who is trying to steal your man. If you are so worried about it, what are you doing sitting on your butt at a movie theater? Go challenge the be-otch to an old-fashioned cat fight. Just don’t do it during the movie. I’m trying to listen, here!

5. For the love of god, turn off your cell phone. You just sat through forty minutes of pre-show commercials, half of which were aired for the sole purpose of telling you to silence your phone. Some, like the dancing boxes of popcorn, are eye-rollingly annoying. Others, like Martin Scorsese interrupting a child’s bedtime call to his father, are clever. In any case, you’d have to be blind and deaf in order to miss the message. Don’t tell me you forgot. You were reminded. Repeatedly. And if you DO forget, because you are just that dumb, and your cell phone rings during the movie, silence it immediately and hang your head in shame. Do. Not. Answer. It. Also, do not pick it up, look at the Caller ID, and then put it back down so that it can finish its ring cycle before going to voice mail. If you do this, I WILL call you out in front of the entire theater and they WILL laugh at you. Don’t act like I’m the bad guy for doing so. You have been warned.

I was nine when I started babysitting. His name was John, and he was roughly a year old. He lived in the apartment complex next to the duplex where I lived with my mother and sister. Both of his parents were in the military (as were most people in the community where we lived, right outside a major base) and they needed someone for an evening or two per week. My mom offered to it, but within no time, it was clear that I was the one doing the actual babysitting. While my mom was busy doing…whatever it was she was doing, I pushed him in the swing out back, changed his diaper and gave him his bottle. Soon he preferred me, and eventually his parents started referring to me as the babysitter. A couple of times, I even watched him without supervision because my mom was unavailable. In retrospect, I am HORRIFIED by this. What sort of parent leaves their infant in the sole care of a nine year old?

But at the time, it seemed normal. And soon, it was not just little John. By the time I was in seventh grade (and living on the other side of the country) I was the neighborhood babysitter. I was thirteen when the family across the street welcomed their first baby. They were new in town, having arrived when she was eight months pregnant. My mom mentioned that I loved babies and would be happy to help out if they needed it. I don’t think she anticipated them leaving me alone with their two week old. And I know she didn’t expect me to wind up as their part-time nanny, babysitting three afternoons a week for two years, until Luke’s mom quit her job to be a stay at home mother to Luke and his new little sister.

So for nearly two decades, I’ve been caring for other people’s children. In a few cases, as a nanny, that’s meant a deep, steady relationship with a family. But most of the time, it’s meant an occasionally evening here and a long Saturday afternoon there.

Since moving to Atlanta a year ago, I’ve cut back dramatically on the amount of babysitting I do. I used to routinely spend an extra 10-20 hours a week babysitting on top of my 50-hour work week as a nanny. But since I moved here, my priorities have shifted. I have a family now and a home that I love. I no longer need to fill the every waking moment. I LIKE sitting at home on the couch with JP and the beasts. And, because I have someone to share the bills and expenses that come with living life, I no longer need the extra income. Lately, it seems that babysitting is more hassle than it’s worth. Even though I get paid top dollar, it’s still not usually enough to tempt me. And the few times lately I’ve decided it was worth it, I wound up disappointed. Because the problem with agreeing to babysit, is that there is no contract and no penalty for a late cancellation. And in the last three months, I’ve accepted two babysitting jobs. Both times, I took time out of my schedule to go to their house and sit with them for awhile so they could get to know me. I gave them references and played with the baby for awhile so they could get to know me a little before leaving me along with their child. And both times, the parents canceled on me within six hours of the time I was scheduled to arrive. Luckily, I wasn’t counting on the money. But it’s a hassle to jump through the hoops of being hired without seeing a return on my investment. I hate turning down other invitations, only to have my plans changed at the last minute. And although I don’t NEED the money, it’s irritating to anticipate an extra $100 that never materializes. (In this case, I had planned to use it for a Valentine’s Day surprise. I suppose it’s a good thing that JP isn’t materialistic and genuinely believes it’s the thought that counts.)

So, I’m done. It’s time to hand over the title of “Everyone’s Favorite Babysitter”. I thought I would be sad — after all, babysitting has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember. But instead it feels like a weight is lifted. As much as I love children, I would rather interact with them on my own terms and within the constraints of my own schedule. If I find that I really miss it, maybe I’ll look into some volunteer opportunities. But in the meantime…I feel like I should throw a retirement party!

Caroline Kennedy on why she is endorsing Barack Obama:

“I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.”

Read her entire New York Times Op-Ed here.

Because Cloverfield…sucks.

Not only did I spend eighty percent of the movie with my head between my knees trying desperately to keep from revisiting my lunch, but I spent the other twenty percent utterly bored.

I didn’t connect with any of the characters. I wasn’t scared of the monster. And I wasn’t impressed by the cinematic techniques. (Ooh, shaking cameras and first person point of view. Hello, Blair Witch.)

Ugh. I want two hours of my life and ten dollars back. Although…I might be willing to work out a trade. He can keep my ten dollars in exchange for a kick-ass season of Lost. And a promise not to make a sequel. (Seriously, who are these people clamoring for a sequel?!)

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