When last you tuned in to this blog, i.e. the last time I actually wrote something for this blog, I was talking about my history of camping, as a preparation for talking about my most recent, first-time-in-twenty-five-years camping experience. Unfortunately, I wrote that shortly before I had to go out of town. I got back in town about a week ago, but my kids have been monopolizing all the computers and when they haven’t been monopolizing them, I have been too tired or not in the mood to write about my camping adventure. Or about my out-of-town adventure. Maybe I will come back to those things at a later time. Or maybe I will forget all about them. But if there’s one thing I know (or remember) about blogging, it’s that it’s best to write something while you’re thinking about it, as opposed to thinking, “I should write about that sometime,” and then never actually do it (or wait so long to do it that you’re no longer sure what was so interesting about the subject in the first place). So I am not going to write about camping and going out of town today, but I am going to write about the things that are on my mind.

Princess Zurg is a feminist, so she’s plugged in to feminist issues and news stories to do with women, i.e. she sees stuff on the Facebook and whatnot. Yesterday we were talking about the controversy over the new roofie-detecting nail polish some dudes invented. A woman who has painted her fingernails with this polish can supposedly test her drink for roofies simply by discreetly dipping a fingernail in her drink. (I was going to call this invention “handy,” but then I realized that would be more punny than I wanted to sound.) Rape prevention advocates are concerned that it puts more responsibility on the woman to avoid becoming a victim, rather than stopping rapists from raping; this is the sort of thing that contributes to rape culture. I agree that it isn’t cool to hold a woman responsible for her rape. The only people responsible for rape are rapists. However, I disagree that providing a tool that might (note: might, not “definitely will”) help a woman protect herself from sexual predators contributes to rape culture.

A couple reasons:

1) Helping a woman protect herself is not the same as holding her responsible for her own safety. We don’t have any trouble telling people how to protect themselves from identity theft, even though it is the identity thief who is responsible for stealing someone’s identity. Some people will come up with reasons to blame a rape survivor for her (or his, as the case may be) attack, but those people need to figure out the difference between committing a crime and being a victim of a crime. “But she was drunk” or “But she was walking by herself at night in a bad part of town” are not valid excuses for raping someone, just as “But their password was so obvious” or “But they didn’t use PayPal” are not valid excuses for stealing someone’s financial information. Is a woman entitled to get drunk and pass out by herself in a bad part of town without getting raped? Absolutely. Just as a person is entitled to have money without getting it stolen. People are not supposed to rob or rape you. You are entitled to walk through life without being criminally molested. It’s just the criminals you have to convince of this. (Good luck, by the way.)

Now might be an appropriate time to point out that these days we expect parents to protect their children from all manner of danger, regardless of how remote. Parents are arrested for leaving their eleven-year-olds unattended in cars because anything could have happened in the five minutes they were gone. But tell a college student she should probably try not to drink herself unconscious at a party because some people like to rape unconscious women, and that is blaming the victim. Never mind that college students are much more likely to get raped after getting drunk than eleven-year-olds are to be abducted by maniacs while their parents are picking up a prescription at the Walgreens. I guess the next time someone lectures me about letting one of my kids out of my sight, I can ask why they don’t focus more on teaching strangers not to kidnap.

It is fair enough to say that it isn’t up to women not to get raped, but it’s up to men not to rape. I’m on board with that, for sure. However, the majority of men already do a pretty good job of not raping. They may not know how to share household chores equally, but they’ve got the not-raping thing down just fine. So obviously education works–both the moral and legal varieties. The problem remains, and always will, that there are men who know what rape is, know it’s wrong (and illegal), and don’t care. Just like most criminals know what’s against the law and break the law anyway. They all have their reasons. The rapist’s reasons are a) “because I can” and b) ….well, I’d say (a) pretty much covers it. We should still teach people about consent, just like we should still teach people what the traffic laws are, but there are always going to be people who think the law doesn’t (or shouldn’t) apply to them; those are the people we have to protect ourselves from.

2) Rebecca Nagle, one of the co-directors of an activist group called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, says, “The problem isn’t that women don’t know when there are roofies in their drink; the problem is people putting roofies in their drink in the first place.”

Indeed. That is the problem. You know what else is a problem? People stealing cars. Yet no one suggests that selling car alarms is part of the problem. If someone steals your car, are you partially to blame unless you had an alarm on it? I hope not because I don’t have an alarm on my car. I also probably wouldn’t bother to wear roofie-detecting nail polish. Mainly because I don’t paint my fingernails. I paint my toenails, but dipping my toe into my drink would not be terribly discreet. Also, the roofie-detecting stuff probably costs more than regular nail polish and I like my nail polish cheap. Still, I’m not upset that people sell things like car alarms and roofie-detecting nail polish. I think it’s nice that those things exist for the people who want to use them. It’s good to have choices. Without choices, what are we? Communists.

As I just said a few paragraphs ago, there are people who will come up with reasons to blame women for their own rapes. They will say things like “She was drinking” or “She was dressed provocatively.” (Dressing “provocatively,” of course, is a lot more subjective than being incapacitated. In any case, neither is a reason to blame a person for being a victim of a crime. The perpetrator of the crime is the one to blame.) How often, though, do you hear stuff like “She wasn’t carrying a gun” or “She didn’t learn karate”? Not often, I’m betting. And that’s about how likely it is that people will blame a woman for not wearing roofie-detecting nail polish the night someone spiked her drink and raped her.

So I don’t get the hate for roofie-detecting nail polish. And neither does Princess Zurg, who is the first person to call someone out for blaming the victim. She is sincerely perplexed by people who have a problem with a product that might protect women from sexual predators, which is why we were having the conversation and why it is on my mind.

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The other story I wanted to talk about is the feminist advertising campaign undertaken by underwear company Dear Kate. The ads show real life women in the tech industry, sitting at their computers while dressed in only their underwear. It includes quotes about their work. It’s a feminist campaign because it doesn’t just show sexy women posing provocatively. It shows real women (some with less model-like bodies than others) at work in a male-dominated industry. In their underwear. Which shows that they are comfortable in their female bodies, which is important. They can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan. All while wearing only their underwear. (And if they get splattered by bacon grease in the process, well, that’s hardly the issue, is it? I’m appalled that you would even bring it up.)

Some feminists have criticized the ads, though, because—well, see the above paragraph. I have to admit that I myself was dumbfounded. I’m okay with these body-positive ad campaigns that show women of different sizes and shapes. I’m also okay with ad campaigns that only show slender and well-toned women because I don’t really pay much attention to underwear ads. I’ve never kidded myself that if I wore a particular brand of underwear, I would look like the model in the ad. And looking at women with large thighs does not make me feel better about myself. What would make me feel better about myself? It’s a fair question. I suppose if I were a woman who had made a successful career for herself in the tech industry, or any industry, I would feel good about myself. I still would probably not let someone take pictures of me in my underwear and use them for a national ad campaign.

I know what you’re thinking, but it isn’t that I don’t like the way I look in my underwear. I think I look fine in my underwear, all things considered. Fine enough for anyone who’s going to see me, at least. In my worldview, that demographic does not properly include total strangers or people I interact with professionally. It just isn’t dignified. That was my first reaction to the ad. “Why on earth would anyone do that? It just isn’t dignified.” No offense to the dignity of underwear models. I mean, if that’s your job, more power to you. It’s like being an actor, in a way. That’s fine. But if your job is something not underwear-modeling-related, why would you want to be seen in public in your underwear? I just don’t get it. Maybe I don’t understand how the tech industry works. Maybe these women don’t have to go to work in the morning and look their (probably male) co-workers in the eye, knowing that these co-workers have seen them in their underwear. Maybe it just doesn’t bother them if their colleagues have pictures of them in their underwear.

Skillcrush cofounder and CEO Adda Birnir, who participated in the photo shoot (and looks great, by the way), said, “I think the thing is that all women have bodies and wear underwear and have to deal with all the mundane as well as cultural/political things that come with walking around in a female body. We aren’t either women who pose in underwear or women who code or women who are attractive or women who are unattractive or women who are sexual or women who are CEOs. We are all the things at once, and it’s confusing and messy and complicated and often annoyingly at issue, but not dealing with all those different facets isn’t a viable solution.”

So if someone decided to rip this ad out of their favorite periodical and pin it to the bulletin board in the lunch room, would they be guilty of sexual harassment? Or would they just be starting a conversation about the cultural/political things that come with walking around in a female body in the workplace? Not a joke. I am genuinely curious. Does Birnir make sense, or does she sound like an idiot?

I admit I don’t have a lot of feminist cred. I lost that when I started voting Republican. So I might be tempted to defer to the judgment of people who are better feminists than I. But I can’t help thinking that if a bunch of men in the tech industry posed for pictures in their underwear for a nationwide ad campaign, people would not think it was provocative and interesting. They would think, “There are some men who don’t have much dignity.” I think that’s what it comes down to for me. It’s not feminist or anti-feminist. It’s just not dignified. I guess I’m old-fashioned that way.

What do you all think?

(Speaking of dignity, this article made me laugh out loud, and I guess there will never be a more appropriate time to share it than now: Dating Naked contestant sues series showing her dating while naked)

 

 

 

Did I scare you? You thought I was dead, didn’t you?

Actually, you probably just thought I’d given up on blogging forever (finally), and you were right. Mostly. I mean, I was pretty sure a couple days ago that I would just never post anything on this blog again because, well, look at me. I mean, look at the blog. It’s just sad. It makes me sad to look at it. Why didn’t I find some way to go out with a bang? Probably because I’m not very good at big productions. I’m good at excelling in small, insignificant things. And you just never know when you’ve written your last insignificant thing. But I digress. The point is, I changed my mind. I changed my mind just now, because for some reason I am perpetually signed in to WordPress, so whenever I visit another WordPress blog, I see the header with my username and whether or not people have been commenting and/or following me. I am apparently still getting lots of followers even though I haven’t updated this thing since…well, I guess it was June. Seems like longer. Anyway, that’s not the point. I’m still getting followers, but I’m assuming most of them are spambots because that’s who most of my commenters are. I haven’t investigated this to know for sure because I’d rather maintain the illusion that there’s a possibility at least some of them are actual people. But the comments are getting to me.

It is the best time to make some plans for the future and
it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post
and if I could I want to suggest you few interesting
things or advice. Maybe you can write next articles referring
to this article. I wish to read more things about it!

I liked it better when I was blogging in obscurity and no one commented. This is like flies laying eggs on your decaying flesh. Gross!

You may have noticed, if you are a blogger that I have historically followed, that in addition to not blogging I am also not commenting on anyone’s blog. This is because I’m also not reading anyone’s blog. This is not because your blog no longer interests me. This is because I am intentionally not paying attention to anyone’s blog because it reminds me that I’ve left my own to die, and that makes me sad. I would be less sad about it if I had replaced blogging with writing in some other form, but I really haven’t written much of anything since the kids got out of school. For one thing, they hog all the computers. For another thing, I’m busy. For the most important thing, I’ve been lazy. How can I be both too busy and too lazy? Well, I’m not simultaneously. I’m alternately too busy and alternately too lazy. And intermittently without a computer because my kids are computer hogs. I can’t seem to convince any of them that this computer is actually mine. It belongs to me. My husband bought it for me with his own money. I’m the one who married him, not them! But they don’t get it.

That’s why I should probably get a job. One of many reasons, but that subject depresses me too.

Anyway, I know this makes me a fair-weather internet-friend. You should see how I’ve been letting stuff go on Facebook too. I’m sort of over feeling guilty about it, though, because really, there are so many ways I’ve failed others in real life (i.e. off the internet) that I just can’t afford to indulge any feelings of remorse over anything anymore.

I might be turning into a sociopath. I understand those are usually born, not made, but I might be the first self-made sociopath. That could be the title of a new blog. “Self-made Sociopath.” I’m considering it. Don’t steal it until I say it’s okay!

When I think about it, there are a great many things I could be blogging about right now. For one thing, I recently got back from my first camping trip in 25 years. Maybe 27 years. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s been 27 years. Maybe 29. All this counting is making me feel old. Anyway, I’m sure you’re dying to know how that went.

Okay, I’ll tell you.

The last time I can remember camping is when my family (all of us except my older sister, who was working that summer) went to the Grand Canyon. That wasn’t the only thing we did that summer. It was just the most noteworthy thing.

I kid you not, one of my kids just came up and asked for the computer. Just now. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? GET A JOB!

Anyway, that summer we went to the Grand Canyon was the summer we trekked all over the Western United States. We started in Southern California, where we lived, drove out to the Grand Canyon, went up through Utah and Idaho, where we saw relatives, across through Washington, where we had more relatives, and down through Oregon, where we had yet more relatives, and back down through California again. While in Utah we visited the Salt Lake Temple. Just the outside, just for a little while. We also might have had relatives in Utah at that time. I can’t remember for sure. What I remember most vividly is driving through Las Vegas around noontime and there were five of us crammed into a Dodge Vista wagon with no air conditioning. This is where my hatred of Las Vegas was born. (My hatred of cars without air conditioning had long been established by then.) It doesn’t seem quite right to me now that we should have been in Las Vegas at all. It’s neither on the way to or the way from the Grand Canyon. But I’m 99% certain this was the same trip because when else would we have been in Las Vegas? We don’t have relatives there. I also remember that we had lunch at an A&W and they served me a root beer in one of those glass mugs, which I reckon they don’t do anymore, but the point I was going to make was that the mug had lipstick on it. I did not wear lipstick. Now that I think on it, it could very well have been an Arctic Circle. We didn’t have either of them in California, but I’m almost certain it was an A&W because of the root beer. I used to drink root beer. I don’t anymore. Not because of the lipstick incident but because I probably drank too many of them when I was younger and now they just taste kind of gross to me, unless they have ice cream in them. But I really do digress this time. How old was I? I want to say 15. I’m 43 now, so that’s 28 years ago. (Gee, one of the few numbers I didn’t guess.) Except for when we stayed with relatives, we were camping.

Camping was what my family did instead of staying in hotels. I can’t recall ever camping in the same place two nights in a row. I don’t think we did. Why would we have? We had places to go–relatives to see, canyons to visit. Anyway, my family camped A LOT when I was growing up, always on the way to someplace else. We never really camped just for the sake of hanging out in nature. It was just that camping was cheaper than a hotel. Don’t get me wrong–my father loved camping. He was a boy scout. He loved the nature. My mother did not so much love it, but she was a good sport and she didn’t like spending money either. (More to the point, she felt guilty about spending money, but that’s another story.) The only time I can remember staying in a hotel when I was growing up was when we moved from Oregon to California and we stayed in a Holiday Inn in the Bay Area, courtesy my father’s new employer. Otherwise, it would never have happened. Let me tell you, the Holiday Inn was my idea of luxury for many years. To this day I have kind of a soft spot in my heart for it, although my last stay at a Holiday Inn Express was less than ideal.

But anyway–yes, camping. We did it every year. Every. Single. Year. The thing I remember most about it was blowing up my own air mattress. These days you have these new-fangled battery-operated pumps to blow up air mattresses. You also have much better air mattresses. Back then it was the kind of air mattresses you float in swimming pools and we had to blow them up with our own breath. You should know that I was well into my thirties before I successfully inflated my first balloon with this method, so you can imagine how much work it was for me, as a mere child (or sullen teenager) to inflate an entire freaking air mattress. Actually, by the time I was a sullen teenager, I had given up on blowing up the air mattress. Actually, it may have been on this Grand Canyon camping trip that I decided I wasn’t going to bother with them anymore BECAUSE THEY ALWAYS SPRANG A LEAK AND I’D WAKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT ON THE HARD GROUND ANYWAY SO WHAT WAS THE POINT. I was also on my period during this camping trip, so that made everything extra-delightful. (I’m sorry if you’re a dude reading this and needed a trigger warning before that sentence, but on the other hand, maybe you should just grow up. I’m the one who really suffered.)

So that is my prior camping experience, in a nutshell. Now a foundation has been laid so that I can tell you how I, a grown woman of 43, got suckered into making a camping trip–a four-day camping trip–and how that went. Stay tuned, gentle readers. Same bat time, same bat channel.*

*Same bat channel. I can’t promise the bat time. Heck, I can’t even guarantee that I’ll update in less than a month. But I will. I promise!**

**A promise is not the same as a guarantee. Promises are frequently broken. You never hear about a broken guarantee. Probably some legal thing.

I keep hearing and reading different places that all children want is a (relatively) small amount of a parent’s undivided attention. The “undivided” part is key: you can’t be looking at your phone or reading a book or doing any other thing while you’re interacting with your child. As long as you give said child your undivided attention, they will be satisfied after, say, fifteen, twenty minutes.

When I first heard this, I admit that I was skeptical. In my experience, the more attention you give children, the more they want. Whatever amount of attention you manage to give them one day becomes the new standard by which they measure every other day. If you pay less attention to them today than you did yesterday, they think they are starving. Admittedly, though, it has been quite some time since I’ve tried giving my children undivided attention. Once I realized what what greedy little attention hogs they were, I started giving them mostly divided attention, or otherwise I would not have been able to get anything done. So upon reflection, realizing that I had twelve weeks of no-school days ahead of me, I decided I would try this undivided attention thing and see if it resulted in my children feeling attention-sated.

What this “give your child 15 minutes of undivided attention and they’ll leave you alone” theory fails to take into account is that it is impossible to give a child undivided attention if you have any other children in the house. Someone else always wants something while you’re trying to provide their sibling with your undivided attention. It doesn’t matter if attending to the other child takes only five seconds, if you’re only dividing your attention long enough to say, “Shut it! I’m paying attention to So-and-so!”–once you have divided your attention, the damage has been done. I guess a clock resets. Maybe. I wouldn’t know. After hundreds of hours of data collection, I have yet to give anyone fifteen minutes of undivided attention, and I have come to the conclusion that it just isn’t going to happen and I may as well start ignoring the children in favor of more rewarding pursuits.

(Just so we’re clear, I don’t actually tell my kids to “shut it.” Usually.)

My clogging group has adjourned for the summer–called a recess? Something like that. Usually we meet through the end of July because usually we perform at the county fair in July, so we are practicing up until then. But this year we are not doing the county fair because too many of us were going to be out of town that week. Also, several cloggers were heavily involved in the LDS Portland Youth Dance Festival, which finally happened a couple weeks ago, and after a year of constant dance-related toil, they were ready to take a sabbatical. So there has been no clogging since May ended, and my body feels deprived of regular exercise. My intention was to get a lot of practice in this summer so I’d be the clogging equivalent of tanned, rested, and ready come September, but so far there has been none of that.

The reasons for this are several-fold. No, actually, it just comes down to one thing: I have other priorities. There are the usual chores–laundry, dishes, shopping, cooking–and there’s the divided-attention-giving. That takes up a lot of time. But there are also things like eating and grooming. Some days I skimp on the grooming. Okay, let’s face it–most days I skimp on the grooming. Some days I don’t just skimp, but I skip the grooming. But other days I feel like if I don’t get some grooming in, I may lose my humanity. So I decide to groom instead of exercise because I only have  so much time. Is it worth it? I don’t know.

I’d muse on this some more, except it’s time to take Elvis to his swim lessons.

Mister Bubby: This is the ringtone I want for my phone. When I get a cell phone.

Madhousewife: What do you need a cell phone for? Who would you call?

MB: Well, you are going to get me a cell phone when I go to high school, aren’t you? You’ll have to because I’m going to be a social butterfly. All the girls are going to call me and be like, “Hey, Mister Bubby, want to go on a date?” And I’ll be like, “Sorry, ladies. Not until I’m 16. In two years I’ll take you all out on a date. At the same time.”

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You know what’s the worst? When you have a dream at night that you have to do something, but you can’t get it done, and you’re running out of time, and you keep trying to do it but you can’t and the time is getting shorter and shorter and you keep trying and trying but you just can’t and it’s so frustrating, and you just dream like this all night until you wake up, exhausted.

Last night I dreamed that I had to write an essay for a college class I couldn’t remember going to at all, but apparently I had done a rough draft of this essay that the professor said I needed to make significant improvements on, and I thought, “Okay, I can do that,” but when I went to write it again, I couldn’t make my hands form letters. Yes, I was writing it out longhand. Because I didn’t have a computer or anything. I thought to myself, “This would be so much easier with a keyboard,” but I had to write it longhand, and my hand kept seizing up and I couldn’t write whole words before the muscles in my hand would just start cramping and I couldn’t get a whole word down on paper before I had to stop and take a rest.

You don’t think this dream was symbolic of anything, do you? Because I’m pretty sure it was just random.

I did wake up extremely frustrated and tired. It was almost as bad as the time I dreamed I was moving and I spent hours and hours packing up a room full of toys and art supplies and other crap–just tons and tons and tons of crap, sorting it and boxing it up so I could put it on the truck–and I woke up with very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was very glad that I was not actually moving and under any obligation to sort and box up my crap. On the other hand, I’d gotten a lot of work done in that dream, and now it was all for nothing. I felt robbed, actually.

There are only nine days of school left. More like eight, since this school day is almost over. Then it will be summer vacation for twelve weeks.

Here’s what I like about summer vacation:

* Sleeping in.

Here’s what I don’t like about summer vacation.

* Everything else.

More specifically:

* Kids home all day, requiring entertainment, refereeing, or a (figurative) whip to spur them to do the chores their father expects them to get done while he’s at work.

* Driving kids even more places than they usually have to go.

* Swimming lessons.

* Everyone wanting me to make them lunch–which wouldn’t be so bad if they’d all sit down and eat the same lunch at the same time, but no, that’s not how they do. Yes, I know, they should make their own damn lunch, which is pretty much what I tell them, and some of them will, but not all of them, not always. I still end up spending a significant portion of the day managing their stupid eating schedules. WHY DO PEOPLE ALWAYS HAVE TO EAT, EVERY DAY? It’s so tedious.

* “I’m have nothing to do.”

* “I don’t WANT to do THAT!”

* “Fine, I’ll just go live in a different family!” But she never does.

* [Whining]

* [Screaming]

* [Eventual fisticuffs]

* Having to lock myself in my room to keep from killing them, and they keep pounding on my door anyway. No, you can’t come in! It’s for your own safety!

* The going-away part of summer vacation, where I have to pack up all our belongings so we can spend all day together in an unfamiliar location, where I usually don’t get my own room to lock myself in.

This year for going-away summer vacation, we are going camping. This is the first time we have ever gone camping together as a family. I know. Sugar Daddy and I have been married for 17 years, and this is the first he’s suckered me into going camping. I don’t remember how he did it. I don’t remember why I agreed. Because if I didn’t agree, he’d make me plan vacation. Yes, that sounds familiar. The only thing I hate more than going on vacation is planning a vacation. I’m a good follower. I’m good at doing what people tell me to do. Within reason. (In case my husband is reading this and wondering why I still haven’t cleaned out the closets. Some people can kiss my big toe.) So that is how I’ve come to be scheduled to go camping for the first time in…I can’t think how many years. When was the last time I went camping with my family of origin? I want to say 1986. That might be right. I’m not convinced it’s gotten any more glamorous or convenient in the intervening years. But at least I don’t have to plan it.

You know what my ideal vacation plan would be? I stay here, you all go have a good time. (My husband doesn’t accept this variety of vacation plan. So he may as well do it himself.)

SD and I are also planning to go away for a couple days by ourselves this summer. Well, it’s a little less romantic than you might think. My niece is getting married in Salt Lake City, and I thought I would go to the wedding. I didn’t know if SD would care about going or not. But he said he wanted to go, and while we were at it, why not make a long weekend of it or whatever. Okay. So we’re going to have our romantic getaway in Salt Lake City in August. You know, even now that I’ve explained it, I still don’t understand what happened there.

Time to possibly eat lunch before picking up my high schooler.

.

Mister Bubby: Mom wants to be a bus driver.

Mad: No, I don’t.

MB: Why not? It’s a respectable profession.

1. For years she was always the tallest kid in her class–usually by a lot–but she hasn’t grown at all since the fifth grade. At 5’1″ she is shorter than her two younger brothers. Her baby sister might eventually eclipse her too, but that still remains to be seen. She does not like to be called short. She does not like being short. But she takes some solace in the fact that she will never have to worry about towering over her dates, even if she wears high heels.

2. She hates shopping. This is why I don’t take her shopping–because I also hate shopping. She and I go shopping, and it’s “See anything you like?” “No.” “Fine. We’ll leave, then.” Somehow her dad manages to get her to try things on and buy them. And he always gets things on sale. Okay, now this is saying more about her dad than about her, but all I meant to do was highlight the difference between her relationship with her dad and her relationship with me. I’m here for empathy. Her dad is there for persuasion.

3. She is mostly over the breakup of My Chemical Romance, especially since Gerard Way will soon release a solo album. But she is also getting into some other music. She is going a little retro. She is very into the Cure right now. She asked me if I’d buy Pornography for her. Now she says she’s addicted to it. “Mom, I think I may be a little too into Pornography.” She thinks that’s a very funny joke.

4. Her latest major obsession is Frozen. Her favorite character is Olaf. (As her 13-year-old brother admitted, who doesn’t love Olaf?) She pretty much has the movie memorized. You wouldn’t think the music would be her cuppa, but she sings all the songs too (although she is less fond of “Love Is an Open Door,” possibly because she hates Hans–and she says she never liked him from the start, even before [SPOILER REDACTED]). Her love of this movie has allowed her to bond some more with her younger sister.

5. There is a boy in one of her classes who has a crush on her, but she can’t decide how she feels about him.

6. I promised her I wouldn’t tell anyone about her latest crush, so you’re just going to have to use your imagination.

7. Politically, she has a wide libertarian streak, which isn’t surprising, given the political leanings of her parents. However, she is intensely anti-abortion–which is a little bit surprising to me, abortion not being a super-popular topic of conversation in our household (at least not until she became interested in it). She is adamant that she is pro-life not for religious reasons, but for scientific ones. In fact, she’s incredibly frustrated that most pro-life groups are comprised of religious nutjobs (her characterization, not mine–no angry letters, please!) and she belongs to all these Facebook groups like “Riot Grrrls for Life,” Secular Pro-life,” and “Badass Pro-life Feminists.” Recently an anti-abortion group protested in front of her high school for three days. It was one of those religious nutjob groups, which upset her, so she had sort of a counter-protest…or a counter…counter… protest, where she held up signs that said things like, “May the fetus I save be gay” and “For the embryology textbook tells me so.” It was probably one of the highlights of her life so far. My daughter, the nuanced protester.

8. When I picked her up from the aforementioned protest, one of the members of the organizing (alleged religious nutjob) group told me, “Your daughter has a very sharp mind.” Yes, she does.

9. She still hates church. I guess I’ll let you know when she stops.

10. She is taking a foods class this term, and one of her assignments was to make an entire meal at home from scratch. She made Indian food, including naan, from scratch. It was delicious. She only cooks vegetarian food, not because she is a vegetarian (she is decidedly not), but because she doesn’t like handling raw meat. And who can blame her? Raw meat is gross.

11. She is trying to incorporate more color into her wardrobe. Most of her clothes are still black, white, and red with a smattering of purple, but now that she is embracing nautical fashion themes, she has a little bit of blue in there too.

12. She still likes to play fashion dress-up games online.

13. She spent a great deal of time learning how to put her hair up in victory rolls. She has really long hair, so I’m very impressed with this accomplishment.

14. At the same time, she is still not very good at brushing her hair.

15. She worries a lot about the future of our country. Particularly the economy. She’s afraid she’s not going to be able to get a job that will support her in the manner she’s become accustomed to. This might be partly our fault.

16. She is sixteen years old today.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PRINCESS ZURG!

 

All the kids are back in school today, and I could not be happier. Just kidding. Of course I could be happier. I could always be happier! If I ever reached the fulness of my happiness potential, the world would probably explode. Nevertheless, I am pleased to have the house back to myself. Unfortunately, I think that also means I have to clean it now.

If I were a better person, I would have made my kids clean it this weekend. But I’m at best an average person; therefore, all I can do is whine about how messy things are.

Maybe I couldn’t possibly be happier. Maybe this is as happy as my average-person self gets.

But this is no time to get bogged down in philosophy.

Today I went to my clogging class for the first time in three weeks. We didn’t meet during spring break, and then after spring break I got sick. Or rather, during spring break I got sick and was not better enough on Monday to dance for an hour and a half. I confess I was not looking forward to going today. I haven’t practiced at all, and I thought it would probably hurt to start again. It didn’t hurt that much. It was driven home to me, yet again, that I really need to practice some more. I’m so bad right now, I am starting to be embarrassed by it.

And I don’t embarrass easily.

It’s fortunate that I don’t embarrass easily because Princess Zurg had a semi-public breakdown this weekend. I say semi-public because we were at the church, but not many other people were there at the time–and not really anybody we knew. If your daughter has a psychotic episode in front of strangers, is it still humiliating? I shouldn’t say “psychotic episode.” That is hyperbole and inaccurate. What shall I call it? A total loss of self-control and rational thought, which included screaming and profanity. I realize church has that effect on a lot of people, but I’m still concerned. It happens at home too, you see. And yes, I realize family life has that effect on some people. Like me, for instance. But I spend weeks and months repressing it and only let it out occasionally. PZ lets it out all the time, and it doesn’t seem to help her at all, so I’d rather she did more repressing. Do you think it’s possible to teach someone how to repress stuff? I have a natural talent for it, so it’s hard for me to explain how it’s done, but surely there are professionals out there who could offer their assistance.

I had a talk with my husband yesterday about several things, but one of the things he brought up was my writing, and it put me in a rather unhappy mood. I was actually already in an unhappy mood because of the PZ situation, but I was repressing it pretty successfully, and then my husband’s innocent inquiry about my writing forced me to confront my fear of failure, which I suspect is a fear that grows more rational every day, and that put me in an unhappier mood. And here I am now, writing on this blog for no reason except to prove to myself that I can. But it isn’t very interesting, is it?

I’m hungry, and I need to do more laundry. Gentle reader, I apologize for how often I talk about the laundry. I know it has to be annoying. But I keep needing to do it, and there’s just nothing else going on in my life right now. Except that PZ’s birthday is coming up, and she wants to have a party but she doesn’t know what she wants to do, specifically, and I certainly have no ideas because I’m not a party-giver. Also, I’m apparently not an idea-haver, or I would be writing a lot better than I currently do. But that’s treading too closely to the matter I’m trying to suppress.

Tomorrow night is a baby shower for a woman in my clogging group. I feel like I should go because I like her, and perhaps I should get out of the house, but I’m afraid I’ll go and not have a good time. I kind of hate baby showers. But I feel obligated to make some effort to be social with people sometimes. I don’t know. I suppose I could go and if it sucks, I could leave. No one would notice or care. And I will have fulfilled my social obligation. So I guess I’ll go. Maybe. We’ll see.

Now I’m really hungry, and that laundry isn’t washing itself.

Have any of you been wondering, “Whatever happened to the Madhousewife? Did she give up on the blogging? Did she get swallowed up by the devil Facebook? Does she just not love her online friends anymore?”

Well, actually, I have a hard time imagining any of you are wondering any of this. You probably have your own lives to lead. I, by contrast, do not have a life to lead. I have ennui to…have. Maybe it’s one of those malaise things that used to trouble the country during the Carter years. (I’ve heard. I wasn’t super-conscious of national events during the Carter years. In fact, when I heard there was a presidential debate between Ford and Carter, I imagined that President Ford was debating Gabe Kaplan.)

So what have I been up to? Just reading a lot of books and doing a lot of laundry. Occasionally bothering to parent a child here and there. Sometimes I even make dinner. It’s kind of lame.

I was going to inform you that for most of the time I’ve been gone, I’ve also been doing some actual writing–the kind that I don’t randomly post on the internet because it’s Serious. Also, it’s crap. I mean, that’s the bad news. The good news is that its being crap hasn’t stopped me from writing it, which is good because one of the problems I’ve had to get over as a writer is my fear of writing crap. Well, there’s no more fear of that anymore. I’m writing, and it’s crap! And the world hasn’t come to an end just because I’ve written some crap. Unfortunately. Sometimes I wish the world would come to an end, because then I could be like, “Ah, well, I never did manage to become a great writer, but how can I be sad about that when the world’s just come to an end?”

Actually, no, I never wish for the world to come to an end. I sometimes wish for the laundry to come to an end. More frequently I wish my obligation to make dinner would come to an end. I really, really don’t like making dinner. And yet I still do it. I think I should get extra points for the obstacle of reluctance.

My two younger children are off school today because of parent-teacher conferences. I don’t have a conference with Elvis’s teacher because we just had his IEP in February. I’m assuming. I never got any solicitation for conference appointment-making from the school or his teacher, and I’m assumed it was because we just had his IEP and there’s nothing new to talk about. I don’t think I am expected to hear that the kids have two days off of school because of parent-teacher conferences and take the initiative to contact the school and set up an appointment. That’s never been how it worked before. I do have an appointment with Girlfriend’s teacher. Elvis seems a bit disturbed that there is no parent-teacher conference scheduled on his behalf. This has caused me to question my assumption that if his teacher wanted to meet with me, she would have expressed some concern that I had not yet made an appointment. That is how it’s always worked in the past. One shouldn’t live in the past, of course. But that’s neither here nor there.

Well, speaking of Elvis, he is demanding that I play Monopoly Junior in the short time I have between now and when I have to go to Girlfriend’s conference. If there weren’t a limited amount of time, he would be demanding that I play regular Monopoly. So thank God for parent-teacher conferences.

 

1. He still likes Monopoly, but his new favorite game is chess. Initially he learned how to play with his dad and brother. Then he honed his skills by playing against the computer. He has learned a great deal about chess. The other day we were playing together and he said, “If I move my pawn to bishop five, I can do en passant move.” And I was like, “What the what?” Anyway, he did it. I used to let him win, but now I don’t and he still wins.

2. He just earned his Webelo in cub scouts. Now he is a Boy Scout. I never sewed any patches on his uniform shirt because I’m a terrible human being. (Actually, this isn’t quite true. I sewed a few patches on his first uniform shirt, which he quickly outgrew. I never got around to sewing patches on his second uniform shirt. I’m still a terrible human being. But this post isn’t about me.)

3. He still gets up every Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. to watch the garbage trucks. The recycling and the yard waste trucks come before he has to go to school. The regular garbage truck comes while he’s at school, but he’s always excited to come home and see how many of the neighborhood’s garbage can lids were left open by the trash man. He still plays with toy garbage trucks and trash cans.

4. He is still fascinated by traffic lights and all rules of the road. He always knows exactly what the speed limit is and makes sure you follow it. He is definitely going to pass his driver’s test the first time.

5. Usually he whines when he’s frustrated, but sometimes he whines just because he likes the way it sounds. Unfortunately, he is alone in that sentiment.

6. He’s been following college football for a long time, but recently he started following pro football too. His father and brother both favored the Broncos in the Super Bowl, but Elvis liked the Seahawks. He was very pleased with the outcome of that game.

7. Now he follows college and pro basketball too. He went to his first Trailblazers game this year.

8. He is obsessed with the weather. For a while he was keeping meticulous records of temperatures, whether it was sunny, cloudy, partly cloudy, etc.

9. He enjoys dancing. He has some pretty sweet moves.

10. He wears a men’s size 10 shoe. The kid’s a freaking moose.

11. He is eleven years old today.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELVIS!

Let’s sum up the month so far.

February 1 was Elvis’s basketball tournament. Elvis participates in a basketball program originally sponsored by Special Olympics but now under the purview of our school district’s special education department. I think. It’s hard to keep track. Anyway, this is his third year as a player. Last year Mister Bubby was a peer coach, and this year both Mister Bubby and Girlfriend are peer coaches. In previous years Elvis had good basket-shooting skills but little ball awareness. Over the last few months he’s been playing NBA Live on the PlayStation and now understands the game very well. He’s one of the better players on the elementary-age team.

The job of the peer coaches on the court is to keep the players engaged (e.g. make sure they’re running in the right direction) and facilitate play (depending on the strengths/weaknesses of the players). Mister Bubby is very assertive about getting the ball for his team and giving his players opportunities to shoot, so rebounds and assists are his game. Elvis has gotten really good at getting rebounds and passing the ball as well. He scored a lot of points and was fully engaged in all three games he played. (In past tournaments, he was only able to pay attention to the first game.) Girlfriend, while not as aggressive as MB, acquitted herself nicely, especially considering she was one of the smallest kids on the court.

Everyone had a good time. My mother-in-law’s courtside manner was somewhat embarrassing. But I got over it. Except I have to relive it every time I watch the videos I took that day, and I took quite a few because in the past I’ve always managed to miss whenever one of my kids did a good play, and I was determined to get footage of something worth watching this time–which I did, but I’ve had to sift through quite a few videos to find those moments so I can post them on our family blog. It’s tedious work, but someone has to do it, i.e. I have to do it. Well, I don’t really–I guess I could just not, but I took all these videos, so I may as well.

Our team got third place in its pool–which was last place, but that was mainly because one of the other teams had its coaches doing all the scoring, which was uncool. We probably would have beat them otherwise. I mean, I’m guessing we would have because if they had players who could score, they would have let them, wouldn’t they have? One would think, but whatever. We had fun, and that’s what matters most.

Groundhog’s Day: Don’t remember it.

We got snow in Portland that first full week of February. The school district decided to close schools two hours early, but that was probably two hours too late, at least for the middle schools, which didn’t get out until 1:40 p.m., when the snow was really coming down. Buses didn’t start showing up until 3 p.m. and most buses didn’t show up until after 5 p.m. So instead of getting out two hours early, middle school students ended up staying two hours late, which sucked for them. Poor Mister Bubby.

Elvis’s school got out at 1 p.m., but he was home in a timely manner. As soon as he came in the house, he announced he wanted to play in the snow. So he goes back out in the snow and about fifteen seconds later he comes back in and says, “It’s. FREEZING!” He had tried to make a snowball but had forgotten his gloves. So he put on his gloves and went out again and stayed out for much longer.

The next day school was canceled. (Good call, school district.) As chance would have it, this particular weekend was one where I had planned a road trip with a friend of mine to see Biffy Clyro in Vancouver, B.C. It’s a long story. Would you like to read it? Well, apparently you have nothing better to do, so why not? My friend lives on the east coast and is a huge Biffy Clyro fan and was coming out here to visit family and see Biffy’s shows in Vancouver and Portland, and she wanted someone to make the drive with her. I had not really any experience of Biffy Clyro, aside from my friend’s constant Facebook posts about them, but you know me. I’m open to new experiences and excuses to get out of the house. (Sometimes.) So back in December I said, “Sure, I’ll drive to Vancouver, B.C., to see Biffy Clyro with you,” not having any idea that there would be all this snow the first weekend in February and the roads would become hazardous. Because who could have predicted that? No one. Because it never snows in Portland, except when it does.

And it really wasn’t that much snow–I mean, it was a LOT of snow, for Portland, but not compared to places where it actually snows as a matter of course. But because it never snows here, no one is prepared and there are no plows and we just have to wait for the snow to melt, basically. I mean, that’s pretty much the case. So my friend flew in to PDX Friday night, 10:30 p.m.-ish, and I met her at the car rental and we started driving north. On the plus side, there were no cars on the road. On the minus side, the roads hadn’t been plowed and there was all this snow and we could only go about 35-40 mph on the freeway. On the plus side, once we got to…Chehalis, I think? everything was clear. We arrived at my sister’s house, just north of Seattle, around 3 a.m. and crashed there for the rest of the night. We woke around 8 a.m. and drove into Seattle to eat breakfast with some other Biffy fans my friend knew but I had never met before. We took two of them to Vancouver with us.

The roads were fine. The border guard was a bit confused as to how the four of us from four different states managed to end up in the same car going into Canada, but we weren’t flagged as terrorists, so it all worked out. Unfortunately, by this time I had a splitting headache. The original plan was for my friend and me to drive back to Portland directly after the concert. It became apparent that this might be a poor idea. Fortunately, one of the women riding with us had had the foresight to book a hotel room in Vancouver for that night, and she invited the rest of us to stay with her. So we had this hotel room, so I got to lie down and nurse my headache in the hotel room while the other, more hardcore Biffy fans went out to explore the surrounding area and hang out around the venue where Biffy was going to play. One of them held a place in line while the other two came back to the hotel to get me, refreshed and ready to rock (mostly). We waited in the cold for about an hour for the doors to open. Then we waited for another hour or so for the show to actually start.

The good news is that we were in the very front. Truthfully, I didn’t care that much about being close to Biffy, but I did appreciate having the barrier to lean against when I got tired. It was a good show. There were some drunk dudes moshing or slam-dancing or whatever it is the kids do these days, and my sneakers got stuck to the floor, but I was able to peel them off and walk again when it was over. Between the opening act (Morning Parade, also very good) and Biffy, the show didn’t let out until around 12:30 a.m., at which time my friends (old and new) wanted to hang and wait for the band to come out and see if they could get autographs and whatnot (because this is what they do). Because I’m open to new experiences and didn’t want to walk back to the hotel room alone, I stayed with them. But the band didn’t come out and the band didn’t come out and it was cold and while it hadn’t been that bad to wait in the cold at 7 p.m., it was much worse to wait in the cold at 1 a.m., and I was really tired, so I walked back to the hotel and probably fell asleep. I don’t remember. Sometime in the middle of the night the others came in too. (They had gotten to see the band members and went to get something to eat, since none of us had eaten since breakfast that morning. I was too tired to be hungry.)

Because the woman with the foresight to book the hotel room had not foreseen that she would be inviting three people to stay with her, what we had was a small hotel room with one king size bed. So three of us slept in the king bed and the fourth took the extra pillows and made a pallet on the floor. It didn’t occur to me until much after the fact that I was sharing a bed with a person I had just met that morning. Well, she was nice and she didn’t snore. (And yes, I was in the middle.)

We drove back on Sunday, dropped the other two ladies off in Seattle, where it had snowed a little bit, and then went on to Portland, where the snow had developed a crunchy, icy surface upon which had fallen more snow. But it didn’t really get uncomfortable until we were on the freeway headed toward the suburbs, and it didn’t get really bad until we got into my actual neighborhood, where apparently no one had left their houses since Thursday, and then it was somewhat harrowing. But we made it.

School was canceled again on Monday, although it did stop snowing (finally). Sugar Daddy and I had tickets to Biffy’s Portland show, so that evening we met my friend (and new friends/bedmates) at the Doug Fir Lounge and I got to see the show a second time. Afterwards, Sugar Daddy had a brief chat with the lead singer of Morning Parade, who complimented him on his jacket, a vintage Sears apparel item he inherited from his grandfather. (It’s pretty badass.) On Tuesday I was very tired.

Valentine’s Day: I attended the Valentine’s Day party at Elvis’s school. I usually try to avoid class parties, if at all possible. I usually try to avoid going into my kids’ schools at all, if possible. But Elvis wanted me to come to the Valentine party, so I said I would, and I was glad I did. For one thing, I was merely a guest and didn’t have to actually do anything. Well, that was really the whole thing. I don’t mind going to a party where I’m a guest. (I did ask the teacher if I could bring something or help out, and she said I could bring beverages, so I brought beverages. That was easy.) Elvis was very pleased to see me. As he told me that morning, “I will hug you when you come to the party.” And so he did. Many times throughout the party, actually. The kids played bingo and delivered their valentines and did some dancing (yes, dancing) and ate some treats. Then they cleaned up and went home. It was awesome. Every party should go so smoothly.

Speaking of Elvis, I have an IEP meeting this afternoon for him. We will be discussing transition to middle school. Can you believe it, gentle long-term readers? Elvis is going to middle school in September. That’s hardcore. You know what else is hardcore? Sick children. I have one of those too. Princess Zurg is sick with a headache and sore throat. I’m taking her to the doctor in about 40 minutes. I’m hoping it isn’t strep because strep is horrible, but on the other hand I’m kind of hoping it is because if it is, at least there’s antibiotics for that. The worst is when you just have to suffer with something and aren’t able to do anything about it but just wait and wait and wait for it to end. Le sigh. Oh, crap. I just remembered I have to buy some pizza sauce for Girlfriend to take to her church activity this afternoon. It’s a good thing I typed that for posterity. Now I’ll remember it long enough to do it. Maybe.

I should eat lunch before I take anyone to the doctor. Gentle readers, I hope you all have a great George Washington’s birthday this weekend.

Usually my blog post titles are lousy, but occasionally I come up with a title that the ensuing post cannot possibly live up to.

I’m thinking about flu shots today because Sugar Daddy is home sick, probably with the stomach flu that’s been going around this season, and I just last week turned down a flu shot from my doctor at my annual physical. Why would I turn down a flu shot in the middle of flu season? I mean, I was already there at the doctor. I don’t mind getting shots. I don’t have a fear of needles. Needles have ofttimes been my friends. Yes, I would go so far as to say that. It really doesn’t make any sense that I would turn down a flu shot when it was so convenient for me to get one and my insurance might have even covered it and even if it didn’t, I could certainly afford to pay for it.

So why did I turn down the flu shot? I don’t have a good answer for you. I don’t have any kind of answer, except that I’m a creature of habit and it is my habit not to get a flu shot during flu season because usually I am not right there at the doctor. I might have gotten a flu shot when I was pregnant with Girlfriend in 2005 because my doctor said something like, “It’s recommended that pregnant women get the flu shot,” but I really don’t precisely remember. I’m sure that if my doctor said something as strong as “it’s recommended”–not even “I personally as your physician recommend this” but just “it’s recommended”–I would have gotten the shot because, as I was saying just last paragraph, I hath naught against flu shots, in theory. But my habit is not to get them because it is not convenient and therefore when I’m confronted with the option, I immediately go into deer-in-the-headlights mode:

Doctor (or Nurse): Do you want a flu shot today?

Me: [Silent, but frantically thinking, “What, a flu shot? Today? No one told me this was going to be on the test. I’m not really a flu-shot-getter. Do I want a flu shot? Do I need a flu shot? If I needed a flu shot, would they phrase it in terms of me ‘wanting’ one, like I might want a refill on my diet Coke or my windshield cleaned? Should I get a flu shot? What will happen if I don’t? What will happen if I do? I don’t know because I can’t see the future. I can’t see the future! How am I supposed to answer this question???”

Doctor (or Nurse, tired of waiting for the answer): That’s okay. [What's "okay"? I don't know, but that's what they say.] Do you need any refills on medication?

And then I leave, flu-shot-less. That’s what happened last Tuesday.

I know there are people who swear by flu shots and wouldn’t dream of not getting one during flu season. These are usually people who have, in seasons past, almost been killed by the flu. I appreciate their perspective. I’ve had near-death experiences myself, though not many of the flu variety. There are people who eschew flu shots because they’re leery of vaccines in the first place or they’ve gotten flu shots and gotten the flu anyway and are bitter or whatever. I don’t know. I confess that my decision (because that’s really what my indecision boils down to, in the end) not to get a flu shot is influenced entirely by superstition and pessimism rather than science and logic. The fact is (assuming I may have gotten a flu shot in 2005), nine years out of ten I have not gotten a flu shot and ten years out of ten I have not had the flu. The fact is that I don’t get sick very often. I do not attribute this hardiness to not getting flu shots, but the fact is, I cannot seem to ignore the correlation and the sneaking suspicion that it would be just my luck to get a flu shot and end up with the flu anyway because getting the shot somehow tempted fate–like somehow getting the flu shot would show the universe a lack of gratitude for me miraculously not getting the flu all those years I never had a flu shot and therefore I must be punished. Because that’s exactly how I’d see it, if I did get the flu: “Why am I being punished?” It’s not a becoming quality in me, but I acknowledge that it’s there.

That’s why I didn’t get the flu shot.

But here’s my husband, I don’t know, fifty feet away from me? In another room–two rooms away, technically–miserable with (probably) the flu. He didn’t get a flu shot either. We live together. I have definitely been exposed to his germs. I’m constantly exposed to his germs! I could end up getting the flu just like he did, and it will all be my own fault. Well, sure, I suppose I could shift some of the blame to him, too, since he didn’t get a flu shot either, but he wasn’t just at the doctor office last week, getting offered a flu shot on a silver platter. So really, it would be all my own fault. But will I get the flu? That’s the question. As I said before, I don’t often get sick. Not since the pregnancy of 2002-2003, when I caught every virus floating around in the Willamette Valley and spent 39 continuous weeks of being sick with non-pregnancy-related illness. (Literally–I am not exaggerating. 39 weeks of sickness. I did not stop being sick until Elvis was a week old.) That was an experience that has not been relieved (thank God). In fact, after I finished being sick with virus I was suffering with during my labor and delivery, neither I nor Elvis was sick at all for about two years. I hardly knew how to respond to such good health, considering that both Princess Zurg and Mister Bubby had about two dozen ear infections (each) during the first two years of life. But I digress. My point is that my constitution is pretty solid. More solid than the United States constitution these days, my fellow Americans! Just kidding. Well, I don’t know. It might be. But I digress again. I gambled on the flu shot because I’ve had a pretty lucky streak this last decade. But is my luck destined to end?

All good things must come to an end.

Also, I need to eat lunch. But once again I am stymied because I don’t know if I’m going to get the flu or not. Is it folly to eat anything I wouldn’t want to regurgitate in the next few hours? Am I tempting fate again? Gentle readers, stay tuned.

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