grousy mcgrump

Who ARE you?

by mayberry on June 28, 2011

Cranky question of the week: Where have all the writers’ bios gone in magazines? Am I the only person who ever reads (read) those? Anytime a writer refers to him- or herself in the first person, I like a little introduction, please. But lately, that’s nearly impossible to find.

This has been happening for awhile and The New York Times Sunday magazine is the latest culprit. Before the magazine’s recent redesign, each writer’s bio was included at the bottom of the first column–where one could find it quickly and easily if one were curious. Now, there are a few bios in the front of the book, near the table of contents. So if the writer you’re interested in learning more about happens to be there, you can flip around and look for him or her. But chances are, you won’t find what you want.

Is this a generational thing? Am I supposed to just Google these people? Or is it about writers being a dime a dozen in the world of user-generated content and web 2.0?

I worked on a project a few months ago, reviewing and tagging a major content site after a redesign and reorganization. In the process, many long articles were shortened considerably, which was a good thing; they were much too long for the online reader/scanner. Most bylines were stripped, too. In many cases, this didn’t matter; a how-to or a bulleted list of tips doesn’t exactly cry out for a how-do-you-do from the writer. But a personal essay? A statement of opinion? A persuasive argument? I need to know who you are!

Do you ever read bios in newspapers, magazines, or online? Or wish you could?


by mayberry on June 6, 2011

This is going to make me sound like a jerk, but I am convinced that I am completely justified. That probably makes me even more jerky. So be it.

Every Sunday I get the the New York Times. We don’t even have home delivery here so I pay a guy named Scott to deliver it. I don’t know where he gets it, but who cares? I get my Times. Some weeks I recycle most of it because I don’t get a chance to read it. Some sections stack up for weeks (Style!) so I can read them when I do have time. But I always, always read the magazine, and I always, always save the crossword puzzle. I may not do it right away, but I will carry it around with me until I can do it.

And when I am, finally, doing the crossword puzzle: I do not want any help, nor do I need any. Okay? It’s nothing personal. Jo wants to help by “just writing the letters” for me. This seriously disrupts my flow. When I come up with an answer, I want to write it down. I don’t want to dictate it to a secretary (one who refuses to use capital letters, which is completely unacceptable in a crossword puzzle).

I do not want my husband to look over my shoulder and try to help. (Unless I get really stumped and I specifically ask for suggestions.)

And I for sure do not want some random mother at the karate school to harass me–repeatedly–about how I can possibly work a crossword puzzle without crossing out each clue once I’ve solved it. I JUST CAN, LADY, OKAY?

Staycation all I never wanted

by mayberry on March 28, 2011

Spring Break Day 1: Feeling OK. Taking care of an extra child for the day because her mom’s other arrangements fell through (due to a brain tumor, not even kidding). Get up at a reasonable hour, shower, dress, give kids breakfast before the friend arrives. Manage bits and pieces of work from time to time. Feed all three kids lunch, walk them to the library for a nature talk/reptile show. Kids are disappointed at small number of reptiles (3). Walk them to the ice cream shop and then home. Pack snacks and activities for skating practice. Take friend home, travel to ice rink, occupy younger child through practice/parent meeting. Take both kids for dinner. Drive home and unload one kid directly into bed. Work(ish) for two hours before going to bed.

Spring Break Day 2: Spend morning endlessly repeating list of things to do that do not involve staring at a screen (which, naturally, is what I do need to do so I can get some work done), and also basting the two turkeys roasting in the oven and washing the bedding after making the kids strip the beds. Serve lunch. March kids to museum for art “camp.” Come home: 90minuteskidsfreetimegetbusybeproductiveRIGHTNOW. Pick up kids. Remove turkeys. Stir-fry green beans. Pack up one turkey and set of sides (Jeff did all the work, all I did was baste and stir-fry) to take to friends with a new baby. Come home, eat turkey. Work late while listening to thundersnow.

Spring Break Day 3: Otherwise known as “the low point.” Morning: Interrupted every five seconds by children who really should be old enough to entertain themselves. Summoned from shower by Jo shrieking that Opie was cutting his own hair. Yes, he gave himself 1/2-inch long bangs right in the middle of his forehead. Productivity limited to creating one Barbie dress. Afternoon: art camp cancelled due to $*(&# blizzard. No such luck with orthodontist. Pack whiny children into car, say prayer while switching on four-wheel drive. On the highway driving 30 mph, pass five cars in the ditch plus one overturned truck in the median. At orthodontist, lectured about lax brushing. Leave for home, miraculously arrive in one piece. Bundle children into snow gear. They play outside for 7 minutes. Eat leftover turkey for dinner. Fight with child over music practice culminates in early bedtime. Publish one entire page on fitness site while watching and cursing at Top Chef.

Spring Break Day 4: Double session of art camp today! Homemade turkey soup wins raves! Husband takes kids to free movie at library! I might survive after all.

Spring Break Day 5: Trapped inside, unshowered, all morning waiting for windshield repair guy. Give up trying to limit screen time. Kids in pajamas until almost 3 p.m. Depart for errands-karate(1)-dinner-karate(2)-ice cream for all of us because we survived the week. Actually looking forward to spending nine-plus hours in an ice rink tomorrow (for the change of scenery).

Today: TGIM.

Bag lady

by mayberry on August 2, 2010

Here is one Mommy Job I would like to quit: Bag packer and stuff rememberer. You start out with a tiny infant and a diaper bag that’s three times as big as said infant. Then as you and the baby grow you realize you don’t need most of the stuff you were carting around and you take it out. Eventually you have a potty-trained child and you grow confident enough to leave the house without a spare outfit, a large plastic bag, and a huge wad of baby wipes.

But the problem is that by then, there are extracurricular activities in the picture. And then, then, you are stuck needing all kinds of supplies and accessories for those activities. And so you–I–begin amassing a collection of bags. Pictured above: one for rollerskating. One for ice-skating. One for school (been sitting there since June 4). One for “water day” at child care. One for the Nintendo DS that comes along for long car rides to ice skating. One for day camp. Not shown: Lunch bag. Soccer bag (last time anyone played soccer was two years ago). Indoor pool bag. Outdoor pool bag. Other child’s school bag. Carry-on bag for air travel (kid 1). Carry-on bag for air travel (kid 2). Activity bag for car travel (x2).

In theory, having a designated bag for each kind of outing is a good idea; you pack once, and then you restock, and then you grab on your way out the door. But you also end up with scenes like this one in the corner of your guest bedroom. (Also not shown: karate clothes piled on guest bed.) And somehow only one person is responsible for finding the right bag, making sure the right stuff is in it, bringing it to the car, and bringing it back in from the car.

Sucker, thy name is Mommy.

My recent trip was a rather in-your-face reminder of my lack of cool. Hanging out with a group of twentysomethings who love to snowshoe into the back country to snowboard, carrying ice picks and “avy” beacons, did not do wonders for the ego of this suburban mama.

My jeans are not cool. I only have one pair that doesn’t have a hole in the knee, and they are just a smidge too short and too light of a wash.

My snow pants are not cool (how could anything called “snow pants” be). I have the big, baggy, kiddie kind, not the sleek, stretchy, sexy kind.

My winter boots are so not cool that I left them behind in Colorado (they were also six years old and the zipper was starting to break).

My everyday winter coat is not cool. It’s as baggy as the snow pants and a really blah shade of gray. It’s also six years old and wasn’t even new when I got it. (My spring/fall coat, however, is cool. It’s turquoise with a Paul Frank monkey print lining the hood.)

My hair is not cool. I am starting to worry that it’s less “layered, longish bob” and more “mommy mullet.”

My car is not cool. I drive a dented station wagon.

I know nothing of the latest music or movies.

Even my phone is not cool (as Binkytowne will be happy to confirm). White, flip open, pay as you go, tap out a text message in 10 minutes, no data plan, for emergencies only.

But guess what? I’m moving into the ’00s. Yep. I got a smartphone. And you can read all about it.

And if you want to tell me how cool I am, or how uncool you are, that’d be cool, too.

Wintry things of which I am sick

by mayberry on February 15, 2010

(Aside from being cold all the frickinfrackin time, no matter what I wear, do, eat, or drink.)

  1. My boots.
  2. My other boots.
  3. My coat.
  4. All my shoes, sad and lonely and unworn.
  5. My bike, sad and lonely and unridden.
  6. My dirty car.
  7. Not being able to see lines in parking lots.
  8. Wincing every time I dress or undress.
  9. “Where are your boots? Where are your mittens? Where are your snowpants?”
  10. Tasteless produce.

And you?

Just another night in paradise

by mayberry on February 10, 2010

(or, just another mommyblog post)

10:47 p.m.: Decide I’ve done enough even though project is not complete; sleep more important.

11:03 p.m.: Actually shut down computer. 16 minutes: Possibly a record.

11:04 p.m.: Contemplate starting load of laundry. Determine that is crazy talk.

11:05 p.m.: Arrive upstairs to discover child in my bed. Haul 50 lbs. of resistant kid across hall to designated sleeping environment.

11:07 – 11:21 p.m.: Brush, floss, moisturize, NY Times Sunday Magazine.

11:22 p.m.: Bed.

11:27 p.m.: Suspicious retching sound. Did dog just barf? Get up to check.

11:28 p.m.: Nope.

11:31 p.m.: Enter child (35-lb version), stage left.

11:32 – 11:41 p.m. Impassioned debate with self. Return child to bed (requires getting out of bed) or defer to apathy? Child’s knees pinning my right arm against my body; child’s flannely arm thrown across my throat.

11:42 p.m.: Dude, talking in your sleep = automatic eviction.

11: 47 p.m.: Back in bed, sans child.

12:01 a.m.: Crying. Yeah, I heard it even before my husband elbowed me in the back.

12:01 – 12:17 a.m.: Impassioned debate with self. Wait one or both of them out? Get out of bed (definitely faster)?

12:18 a.m.: Guess which one I picked. It was the “please *whimper* come here *whimper* Moooommmmmmy” that finally got to me.

12:31 a.m. Back in bed. Notice it is now nearly two hours after I decided I should go to bed “early.”

P.S. I know exactly why this happened. The night before, I said, out loud, that bedtime had “gotten much better for us recently.” Kiss. of. death.

Technical foul

by mayberry on January 4, 2010

alternate title: I Was Under the Impression that the Craptasticness Would Be Confined to 2009

At the end of the summer, my one-month-old netbook had to be sent back to the manufacturer for repair. I got it back, fixed, for free, but not in time for a business trip (which is the whole reason I bought the netbook).

Right before Thanksgiving, the hard drive on my regular, workhorse laptop died. I limped along for a week or so on the netbook and my husband’s laptop, then rebuilt everything on my old laptop when I got the new hard drive. You know, re-finding all my favorites, reinstalling all the software, downloading stuff like Tweetdeck and Adobe Reader, restoring all my files from my (thank god) backup. (Shout out to, by the way.)

A week or so after that, the hard drive on Jeff’s laptop died. So then he had to order another one, and go through all the restoration process, accompanied by much gnashing of teeth. He is still convinced that I caused the failure by downloading Firefox. Which, no. And, he was running IE6! I couldn’t function!

Saturday night, I spilled, like, a tablespoon of tea into my laptop.

Yup. Dead hard drive AGAIN. Another $150 and another two days of my life, gone.

2010, so far I am not impressed.

(P.S. This a.m., I am not able to comment on Blogger blogs, for some reason … sorry)

Not coming soon to a mailbox near you

by mayberry on December 15, 2009

It’s a bloggy tradition — the unsent holiday letter!

Dear friends and family,
If you’re in the mood for something really ho-ho-ho and fa-la-la, you should probably just go ahead and recycle this and move on to the next envelope in your stack. Because really, what good can I say about a year that started with (a) a dead baby and ended with (b) a 6-week-long (and counting) migraine?

When I wasn’t crying about (a) or (b), I was putting on a chipper face and working on my fitness site and other freelance projects. I learned that three days of child care during the summer months was not exactly sufficient, and also that attempting to work during a vacation at my parents’ house was a lousy idea. Yep, I am blessed to work for myself and from home but I am also here to tell you it isn’t always a picnic.

Jeff weathered some pretty big storms at work and came out on top. He also decided to take my attempts at Shredding and raise them, to the tune of a 50-lb.-plus weight loss. I am super-proud of him. However, I believe I deserve half the credit due to the volume of laundry his workouts generate.

Jo was on-trend this year. She grew a pretty impressive set of vampire fangs thanks to the loss of several baby teeth. She made amazing progress in reading, swimming, ice skating and watching every episode of “iCarly” ever shown on Nickelodeon (multiple times).

Opie? Well let’s just say his biggest accomplishment of this year involves tighty whities and leave it at that. He has also developed an unpleasant obsession with the phrase “punch your booty.” He’ll totally be ready for kindergarten in the fall!

Our dog Folly is still with us, trying to protect us from the mailman and the puppy next door. The kids are still waiting for her to die so they can get a kitten.

Bah humbug,

Mayberry Mom

My latest million-dollar idea

by mayberry on October 14, 2009

I am a really fairly relaxed housekeeper, but every single night I scrub my bathroom sink, faucet, shelf, and surrounding walls. Because every single night they are covered with dried-up drops of toothpaste. I’m unclear on how this keeps happening. Does my family stand three feet away from the drain when they spit? Do they actually aim at the walls, instead of the inside of the sink? Do they spit into their hands, then shake them like a wet dog? Do they spit onto the dog herself, prompting her to perform the shake-n-spray maneuver?

You can buy tooth-whitening toothpaste, organic toothpaste, enamel-shielding toothpaste, tartar-protecting toothpaste, and mouthwash-infused toothpaste. You can buy toothpaste in flavors from watermelon to bubble gum to vanilla mint (um, gross).

What you cannot buy is toothpaste that dries clear when it ends up on your dark green walls. Somebody needs to get on that.