Somebody Needs a Band Aid

December 16, 2010



I’m feeling particularly snarky tonight–I think the overwhelmingness of this overwhelming season has, well, begun to overwhelm me.  So with all the bitterness and Bad Santa I can muster, here’s my dissection of the worst, most creepy and disturbing Christmas anthem ever recorded:


Click here to see the video…

It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid 

  • OK. Right off the bat I have a problem with this song.  The people who usually say, “There’s no need to be afraid” are usually people who are about to mug you or hurt you in some way.  Of course we have no reason to be afraid!  Its Christmas!  And that’s all you’ve said so far! What’s scary about that?  Are you referring to the death gongs we’re hearing in the background?

At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade 

  • So, not to be critical, or anything.  But has anyone ever said, “Oh its Christmas time–let’s make sure we banish shade!”  I’m mean, what did shade ever do?

And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy!
Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time 

  • Boy George, I have no problem with you. Yes, let’s.

But say a prayer – pray for the other ones 

  • Yes, we should say a prayer.  Thank you for reminding us, George Michael.  What “other ones” are you referring to?  And are they in some way connected with a creepy guy named Ben? (Sorry. Outdated Lost reference.)

At Christmas time

it’s hard, but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window 

  • For a minute here I feel like I’m gonna like this song.

And it’s a world of dreaded fear 

  • And here’s where the song starts to go downhill for me.  And its not that I disagree that a large part of the world lives in fear.  Its just so First World of this song to make it seem that the whole world–except us–is living in dreaded fear.  Yes, there are some parts of the world, even today–many years after this song was recorded (!) where people are living in extreme poverty.  And I believe our lives, if we have any means at all, should be spent working towards eliminating that poverty.  But to paint the picture that everyone in Africa is miserable and only with money and power can you find the true meaning of Christmas, seems to be the underlying message of the song.

Where the only water flowing is a bitter sting of tears 

  • Aww! Sting sang the word “sting”!

And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom 

  • What?????? Clanging chimes of doom??? “Sorry, you impoverished, suffering person.  You may think those lovely Christmas bells are meant to represent the hope and promise of Jesus’ birth.  But actually they are signaling your doom.  Just wanted to let you know.”

Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you 

  • OH. MY. GOD!  What??!!! What is THAT supposed to mean????!!  I’m sure whenever Bono hears that he wants to throw up just a little.

And there won’t be snow in Africa this christmas time 

  • There’s NEVER snow in Africa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (except for the Atlas Mountains in Morocco).  Is this supposed to imply that because many countries in Africa are suffering economically God changed the weather on them?  Just to drive the nail in a little further??

The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows

No rain or rivers flow 

  • Nothing? Nothing ever grows?  No rain? Ever?  The picture being painted here is less an accurate.  It seems like they are trying to say that everyone on the continent of Africa is lucky to be alive and all the land is a barren wasteland suffering drought.  I mean, the suffering in parts of Africa is beyond our ability to even imagine.  But if I were an African hearing this song I would be offended. Can anyone say Broad Generalization?

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? 

  •  Well, 47% of Africa is Muslim, so I’m pretty sure they don’t care if its Christmas.

Here’s to you
Raise your glass for everyone 

Here’s to them
Underneath that burning sun

  • All right.  So let’s say I’m moved by this song.  I’ve realized that I’ve been taking my abundance for granted and I’m ready to do something that will make a difference.  “What should I do, oh 80’s pop stars?”  Their answer: Have a drink.  Cheers, “other ones”!

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? 

  • Once again, just saying. Only 40% of the continent is Christian.

Feed the world

Feed the world
Feed the world
Let them know it’s christmas time and
Feed the world

  • Hey, Bob Geldof is OK in my book.  He did a really cool thing and has spent a lot of his life trying to do SOMETHING for the poor and that’s more than most can say.  ( Bob, please tell me the money DID go to the poor.  Some say it went to buy weapons for Ethopian rebels.  Oh whew!  The BBC retracts that claim! So to his cause and his idea I give an A+++++.  To the lyrics of this particular song, D-.

Wow.  I feel so much better.  Thanks Band Aid.  I now will pour myself some wine and raise a glass to you!

Click here to see the video…

Marathon Ready

November 30, 2010

December is a marathon and Christmas is the finish line.  To gear up, I decided that I need a better fuel than Diet Coke.  That has been my go to energy source for the past 3 years, and honestly, I think I’m starting to flatline.  I guess my body has built up a tolerance, because it doesn’t seem to work quite as well as it used to.


One day, three years ago, I was sitting around a conference table at a lunch meeting and I was about to open my mouth to say, “Yawn, I’m soooo tired!” when I stopped myself and instead started a conversation with myself (yes, it was out loud).  It went something like this: “Oh, shut up Renee.  You’re always complaining about how tired you are. ” “Yeah…I am!  Why is that?  I don’t hear my coworkers complaining about how tired they are all the time!”  Then I looked around the table and realized that everyone at the table had either a Diet Coke or a cup of coffee in front of them.  And I had an aha moment!  Caffeine is the answer to all my problems!


Before that day I rarely ingested caffeine.  I didn’t drink soda, had never had a cup of coffee in my life, and only sometimes drank tea.  And I was always tired.


So I started drinking Diet Coke and seriously, I felt so much more focused and energized.  And then I adopted Rahul and my Diet Coke intake tripled.  I know it sounds awful, but I really don’t think I could have made it through without it.  I’m down to 1-2 cans per day, but I know its evil and rotting my stomach lining and giving me all kinds of diseases.  And please don’t tell me how horrible it is for me unless you want to hear my rant about all the things I abstain from in life and how this is truly my one and only vice and you’re prepared to lay all your vices out on the table, because that’s the kind of conversation it would be.  I’m very defensive.


Then the other night I was thinking about December.  I’ve got a lot to do this month.  Lots of work, lots of holiday stuff.  And that on top of an already full life/schedule.  And my financial situation is such that one bout of illness could wipe me out completely–I can’t miss a day of work.  So it occurred to me to get a better plan than Diet Coke.  So here’s my plan: 1. Go to bed earlier.  2. Get up earlier and work out in the morning (its about time I incorporate that into my routine).  3. Drink lots more water.   4. Eat more fruits and vegetables. 5. Drink less Diet Coke.


Pretty good, right?


I’ve actually done it for two days now and both days have been insanely full from morning to night.  But I’ve had energy to get through the day and I haven’t felt the urge to take a nap while I’m driving or anything.  So I guess its working so far!


Wish me luck:)

Rahul and my sister after running an actual race last week

Unsolicited Advice

November 6, 2010

When I first considered adopting, I had a “pro” list and a “con” list about becoming a mom.  One of the biggest “cons” was that I dreaded having to be in the “Mommy club”.  You know, those moms who know it all and are always trying to out-do one another with the best kid; and who always made the uninitiated (non-mothers) feel less-than.  I never had to deal with these women in any other way than to perhaps wait on them in a restaurant or cut their hair.  Becoming a mom meant I would have to deal with them daily.


Well, the pros won out against the cons, and now that I’m a mom I see its really not that bad.  I live in a neighborhood where there are only a handful of these types of moms and most of them don’t send their kids to my son’s school.  And in my business now, most (95%?) of my clients are moms and I can’t think of a single one of them that are in the Mommy Club.  I think I was blowing it all out of proportion.




But every once in a while I get knocked out by some unsolicited advice from one of these types and its all I can do to hold my tongue.  Actually, its funny, but one of the biggest congregations of the Church of Perfect Parents is this listserv I belong to that is all parents of older adopted children.  I only look at it now when I need a laugh.  Its so insane.  Here’s what its like.  When I first adopted Rahul I joined the group and they were in the middle of this bizarre discussion about bathing children from Asian countries and what type of soap worked best on their children’s skin.  My first problem with their discussion was that it seemed that none of them had ever MET and Asian person before they adopted one, they were so completely shocked and disturbed by the fact that people who aren’t white or Japanese don’t bath every day because their skin can get dry.  Deal with it white people! People who have a different color skin than you may need to care for it in a different way than you do! Ai yai yai.  (I didn’t even want to think about what was happening with their Black children’s hair!)  My other problem with this discussion was the immense length of it! I mean parents were writing pages and pages of blah, blah, blah and I was like, This is at best a 2 sentence conversation. (Q: My child’s skin is dry, what do I do? A:Bathe less and moisturize.)  I didn’t get (a) how they had so much time to write all this stuff and (b) how they had so much to say about it. I mean, really, people!  Start a blog!


There were a couple of times, though, that I posed a question to the group, when I was really desperate for information.  One time I was looking for a children’s book that addressed money (spending, saving), but would be sensitive to children who had grown up in poverty.  Well, I never did get a book recommendation, but I sure did get lots and lots of stories from people about anything having to do with money, poverty, or children.  Another time I asked whether anyone had expereinced thier sons being violent.  I gave no details (nor will I now), but asked that anyone who had that experience contact me offline.  Well I did get a bunch of emails with assumptions (but no actual questions) about what was going on with my son and I got a whole lot of stories about their own heroic journeys with violent children, but no actual helpful connection was made.


And that’s my problem with unsolicited advice.  It never does address an actual problem you are having and because its always out of context, it only serves to cut you down, not build you up.  And I guess that’s the motivation behind it anyways.  Like my neighbor who didn’t like seeing my son walk the dog by himself and told me about how her teenage son wasn’t allowed to leave the house alone until he was 13 and then he had to call home when he got to school (literally ONE block from our building).  I smiled and nodded and told her how responsible Rahul is, but what could I say that wouldn’t just be more unsolicited advice right back at her?


One thing I know for sure is that we as parents need all the help we can get.  But I think the best help comes in the form of listening and telling each other that we’re doing a good job.  We tell ourselves all day how terrible we are as parents and lots of times our kids tell us too.  The last thing we need is another parent telling us the same thing.  I do make it a point to tell my clients who are moms what a great job they’re doing.  And I find at least one strength in their parenting that I can encourage them about and take with me to use with Rahul.  And they are so generous to me, always giving me presents or offering encouragement.  And, you know what? It really makes my day.


This is what unsolicited advice looks like–oh, no! It just my son in his Halloween costume.

I don’t know when it started, but many years back I started accumulated a series of “holiday” movies that I loved watching each year.  They were so special to me that I only wanted to watch them once a year, so I could savor them and anticipate them.  And I have to see them in a certain order. (Oh My God, I just realized that that’s a little OCD.  Uh-oh.)


The first one I watch each year is When Harry Met Sally.  I watch it whenever I feel like its really Autumn.  And my film series culminates in my absolute favorite movie of all time, Its a Wonderful Life (please see the title of my blog for proof), which I watch right before Christmas.


So yesterday I watched When Harry Met Sally and remembered all over again how much I love that movie.  And here’s why:


10.  “Oh, I’ve been looking for a red, suede pump!” The perfect excuse to pull over a girlfriend and vent/gossip/discuss while you look like you are perusing the shoe display.

9.  “No one I know would call at this hour.” How Bruno Kirby answers the phone in the morning.

8.  “…this stupid, Roy Rogers, garage sale, wagon wheel coffee table!!” Sometimes when I go off on a rant I end with this line, just to get my point across.

7.  “Pecan Piiiie.” I can’t see pecans or pie without quoting Billy Crystal and his weird accent.

6.  “People were always crossing rooms to talk to Maxine.”  Aha! Obscure WHMS reference, n’est pas?  Its my favorite line from the vignettes where the couples tell how they met.  I can relate, as I’ve had a lot of friends that people crossed rooms for.

5.  “Tell me I never have to be out there again.” “You will NEVER have to be out there again.” Someday someone will say this to me.

4.   “At least you can say you were married.” This is how people really think. Its said in response to Sally’s friend suggesting she marry a dying man.

3.  “And I’m going to be 40!” “…In 8 years!” I don’t think turning 40 is a big deal, but I love this line because I have been there before.

2.  “Sally, please report to me.” Right before H and S sing karaoke Surrey With The Fringe On Top, which is the rendition I hear in my head anytime I see Oklahoma.

1.  “Oh, and Baby Fish Mouth is sweeping the nation.” Well, my dog is named Baby Fish Mouth, if you didn’t know, and my “cool test” when I meet new people is to tell them my dog’s name and see if they get the reference.

Baby Fish Mouth (taking a bath)



July 19, 2010

When I was a kid I remember learning about the title “Ms.” and I believe it was explained to me by my father as a title for women who and not married and are ashamed to not be a Mrs. and are too old to be called Miss any longer.  (Thanks for that one, Buzz.)  I remember having a distinct image in my mind of what this “Ms.” looked like: tall, gawky, horn-rimmed glasses, leopard-print wrap dress (wah?), and eyes that were too shy/ashamed to meet your gaze.  And I remember deciding immediately that I would never be a Ms.

Today I was filling out an online subscription and when it gave me the drop-down menu for “title” I proudly chose “Ms.” Somewhere along the journey of my life I decided to change my definition of what it meant to be a Ms. and I’m darn proud to be one now!  Anyway, I’m short, sassy, don’t wear glasses and always look people directly in the eye.  (I could totally get down with the leopard-print wrap dress, though! ) “Ms.” is just who I am!  I think I stopped being a “Miss” about 20 years ago and although the secretaries at Rahul’s school and some of his friends like to call me “Mrs. Smith”, that’s my mom, not me.  “Ms.” means power and freedom and wisdom and experience.  It means confidence and mystery.  I love that it looks the most like “Mr.” of all the choices for women, but it retains the feminine “S”.  I love that it has the “zz” sound — I think that’s where the leopard print dress image came from all the those years ago!  I like being not just Renee, but Ms. Smith.  It reminds me that I deserve respect and that I am a grown-up, even if I don’t feel like one all the time!

But as much as I love being Ms. Smith, you can call me Miss Jackson if you’re nasty.

Bang Your Head

April 9, 2010

Today I sat for a few hours in a mental health clinic in the Bronx.  And when I say, the Bronx, I don’t mean Riverdale, where I live, which is very middle class and almost suburban.  I mean The Bronx–the way most people picture all of the Bronx to be.  And it really made me examine myself.

I was there as another leg in a long journey to get my son the mental health assistance he needs.  I never imagined it would be so difficult to find decent doctors and counselors that help children with mental health issues.  I’ve been holding on to our psychiatrist for dear life for one and a half years, even though he sucks and never calls me back, simply because I cannot find anyone else!  I have called pages and pages of doctors, met with some that made me want to run out the door screaming, and gotten nowhere.  Finally, last week, one called me back.  And they take my insurance.  And they scheduled an appointment with me.  Already they’re 3 points ahead of everybody else.

I realized what type of clinic it was, but I didn’t think too much of it.  I was just grateful someone was willing to help me.  Honestly, I am a person who is pretty comfortable in almost any neighborhood.  People are people.  And the people I spent the morning with probably have more in common with me than the families in my neighborhood.  I am poor.  I am a single mom.  I am dealing with mental health issues in my home.  These are the things that bound me to my fellow patients today.  Most of the people registering for services today were referred through the court or through Child Services and didn’t necessarily want to be there–they had to be there.  They were agitated, talking to themselves, mumbling obscenities, and I had several moments where I thought–really, is this the best care I can get for us?  And I had to check myself.  Because I don’t really know anything about the care there yet.  I just registered today. I didn’t meet with a doctor or discuss a plan of action for my child.  The facility was clean and looked new and the staff was friendly and helpful.  My moments of doubt were based only on the other patients there and their socio-economic status.  I had to remind myself that just because I was not sitting in a beautiful, private waiting room in a non-descript office building in Manhattan with several other well dressed mid to upper class people who were waiting quietly reading The Economist did not mean I didn’t belong there just as much as everyone else.

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