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Fifty Shades of Stupid

I apologize in advance for the ensuing rant but there are times when I need to let rip about something (anything) and this seems like as good a topic as any.

I realize in order to have a strong opinion on something and certainly to write any sort of review, one needs to actually have read the book or seen the film but in this case neither will be possible. I did TRY to read the book (because whenever there is that much hype I feel it’s my duty to investigate) But after standing in Barnes and Noble thumbing through about fifteen pages of COMPLETE drivel, I threw it down in disgust and simply refused to give E.L James a cent of my money. It wasn’t the subject matter that offended me (that would come later) it was the juvenile writing style that should be an insult to the intelligence of anyone over the age of eleven.

It is actually heartbreaking to me that so many women seem besotted with this book given that the concept is so abhorrent and demeaning to our sex. Given the frenzy of excitement surrounding the novel one would think it was the first piece or erotic literature ever to be published. It’s not the first but it certainly is the worst.

It is ABSOLUTELY mind-blowing to realize that after all the times women have spoken out against being controlled and dominated by men that they are now en-masse telling the world that no really does mean yes. The idea of romanticizing sexual violence and domestic abuse is a slap in the face to every woman who has ever had to endure it.

I want to ask all these women, who are fantasizing about Christian Grey, if he and his red room of pain would be just as attractive if he was a checkout clerk at Walmart? (as apposed to a wealthy entrepreneur) I suspect without the money and power he would just be viewed as a dangerous creep.

I’m not standing in judgment of whatever two equal and consenting adults agree to do in the privacy of their own bedrooms but Fifty Shades is NOT that. Even more bewildering and disturbing is that even when reviewed by a Dominatrix the film is a disaster zone: 

“Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan, is supposedly a dominant in Fifty Shades. He isn't a dominant. He's a stalker. He breaks into Anastasia's house, he bullies her friend, he buys her expensive gifts. He is constantly crossing boundaries. And S&M is all about respecting boundaries.” Lady Velvet Steel.

I confess I have no interest in pain. I’ve spent most of my life trying to avoid it and I find it hard to understand its place in the most precious, trusting relationships with those we love. The pain I have experienced just knowing that this piece of garbage has sold over a 100 million copies worldwide and already grossed over 81 million at the box office (with an audience that is 68 percent female) is more than enough for me.

I was somewhat consoled to learn that TWENTY million people bought the book thinking it was a paint catalogue!

However I’m disheartened that I live in a world where a sure fire way to make millions is to put out sensationalist crap that appeals to the lowest common denominator.

E.L James took the cliché ‘No Pain No Gain’ all the way to the bank.





Oh Christmas Tree

Woke up this morning with a song on my mind.

Decided it was a sign and IMMEDIATELY purchased the Winter Wonderland Birch tree from Restoration Hardware!

All of a sudden I feel so excited about Christmas again.


Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree!

I need to do some changing.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree!

I‘m set on re-arranging.

Your needles scatter everywhere

Adorning you fills me with fear

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree!

I’m sorry but I’m waning.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree!

The times they are a-changing.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree!

I‘m set on re-arranging.

The thought this year of Christmas tree

Brings extra stress and misery.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree!

Such torture do you bring me.


Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree!

My mental state is changing.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree

From you I am abstaining.

Each tangled light, each broken bell

My spirits dive, I feel unwell

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree!

This year you will be changing.







I think I’ve been conned.

Until recently I had an unblemished record; no useless crap purchased from dumb TV infomercials. No investments in get-rich-quick schemes.  No risk free trials of weight loss products, I was COMPLETELY immune to all of it.

But then Mufasa and I found ourselves with an hour to kill before Brunch at Buvette in NYC with Rockstar and Genius. Wandering around West Village we stumbled upon an interesting new store. Now let me just say that I am NOT one of those women who spend ungodly amounts of money on beauty products. My bathroom shelves are not lined with jars of the best anti-wrinkle creams and I have no intention of EVER having Botox or plastic surgery. I believed I was content to grow old gracefully and accept my lizard eyelids, drooping jaw muscles and deep lines as evidence of the rich tapestry of a life well lived and enjoyed.

Now it seems that hovering under the surface of that self-deception was vanity waiting to pounce. All it took was one small (convincing) demonstration and Mufasa and I were ENTRANCED.

This is how it went down. Charming young man beckons us in and invites us to let him apply miracle serum to our faces. We have time to kill (and no intention of buying anything) so of course we say YES.

We are seated in front of mirrors and the serum is applied. INSTANTLY we see results! AMAZING, UNBELIEVABLE, MIND-BOGGLING results.  Before (and below) our very eyes our wrinkles TOTALLY VANISH.

We are literally SPEECHLESS  (for about ten seconds) after which we start having a loud, manic and over-excited discussion about what this miracle serum can do for us. We can barely contain our excitement at the thought of returning to the office and having everyone proclaim our obviously more youthful appearance. We don’t even ask how much these serums cost (PLURAL because we are now told that we need an eye one, a face one AND a collagen cream AND a night cream) because frankly we DON’T CARE! We are already in the mind-set of “No price is too high for this stuff.”

Since we don’t want to leave the store looking lopsided we ask Charming Young Man to apply the treatment to the other side of our faces. Lo and behold the miracle is repeated – BEAUTIFUL SMOOTH WRINKLE-FREE SKIN, we instantly drop ten years.

I hand over the credit card and only THEN are we told what will be charged. It is a shocking, ridiculous sum of money that I am NOT willing to disclose to ANYONE, EVER and for the first time since we entered the store I start to have doubts. We complete the transaction however because A) we are too embarrassed to stop it and B) because we are still COMPLETELY CONVINCED that within a couple of weeks of using this stuff we are going to be the most beautiful (older) couple on the planet.

Now three weeks later I am forced to admit that we may have been taken for a ride. The potions are NOT working. There could be two reasons for this:

1. We keep forgetting to use them on a regular basis as instructed.

(or most likely)

2.  Charming Young Man had something entirely different in HIS demonstration bottle.

Whatever the reason I do feel slightly ill (and stupid) every time I look at my credit card bill. There are several questions continually running through my brain: Have I reached a point in my life where I will be easy prey to any con artist that crosses my path? Am I beginning to realize that looking like a haggered old crone is actually not that much fun? Am I officially to be classed now as one of those people who have more money than sense? And the most important question of all: WTF does Charming Young Facecrook have in that bottle?





I came to this realization after my phone was stolen last Friday and my first reaction was to curl up into the fetal position and suck my thumb. I resisted this urge as at the time I was on site doing a major installation and I didn’t want the contractors or my clients to lose confidence in my ability to cope with the very difficult job we were completing.

I borrowed a phone and started dialing Mufasa when it dawned on me that requesting help from someone who has only just mastered text messaging was not likely to reap dividends so I called Rockstar instead. Within seconds he had established that my phone was still in the building but had been turned off. He then erased every bit of data from the phone remotely and made sure that the next time anyone tried to use it HUGE messages would appear on the screen declaring the phone STOLEN.

After just a few hours ‘off the grid’ I started to notice that not only was I able to cope admirably without my iPhone but I was actually GREATLY enjoying it’s absence from my life. This little black devil and I have been surgically attached for some years now and CLEARLY the relationship was bordering on unhealthy. 

Now, three days later (and not feeling any sense of urgency to replace my phone) I conclude that my life is generally happier and more relaxed while phone-free.

Over the last three days:

I didn’t read any e-mails at inappropriate times thereby avoiding raising my blood pressure to SKY HIGH from being BOMBARDED with impossible demands and unpleasant requests (made infinitely worse by my own knee-jerk reactions.) Instead I read my e-mails once a day (in the evening on my computer) and responded CALMLY to any issues that had not already been resolved without my input.

I didn’t sit in restaurants checking out best dish tips on FourSquare but instead watched all the food that came out of the kitchen and ordered what looked delicious. I was not once disappointed.

I didn’t use GPS to get myself home but instead relied on skills I had forgotten I possessed – spotting landmarks and reading road signs instead of ignoring them all because I was expecting The Voice to do all the work. I didn’t get lost once, imagine that?

I will be getting a new phone soon but I have made a decision that it is time for me to use my phone as nature (AKA Alexander Graham Bell) intended – for making calls.

I intend to dumb down my phone so that I can re-establish MYSELF as the smart one in our relationship.

No more e-mail infiltrating my hour-to-hour existence, changing my mood from happy to AGRAVATED with one peak at the subject line. No more downloading a myriad of applications that I NEVER use and just drain my battery because I forget to close them. And no more ADHD. I’m going to find balance in my life again and although I still intend to have the latest technology at my disposal (I’m not a complete idiot) I will be FAR more conscious of not abusing the privilege.




Top of the list of things that ENRAGE me is Getting Lost. Mufasa and I are EXPERTS at this practice and have the whole thing down to a fine art, managing without fail to screw up the simplest set of instructions on moving from A to B in any new place we visit. I really don't understand how two relatively intelligent people armed with the latest technology can become so UTTERLY CONFUSED by a few intersections but there you have it. I blame him and of course he blames me.

Rockstar and Genius are incredulous that their normally street-smart parents turn into a pair of bumbling fools the minute the Google Maps App is activated. They have NEVER been lost in their lives as they are so comfortable with using technology to locate their whereabouts that they don’t even recognize the word LOST as an adjective. For them it is nothing more than the name of their favorite TV show. They have made it crystal clear to us that getting lost in this day and age is UNACCEPTABLE. Our boys maintain that armed with our iPhones we should be able to find our way home from the most REMOTE spot on the planet without ANY trouble.

Some of my worst travel memories involve desperate attempts to find important landmarks that appear (on paper) to be a stone’s throw away from where we are standing if we could just orientate ourselves and proceed in the correct direction. Case in point was the day we spent in Montreal. A word of advice about Montreal – don’t bother going there if your French is less than fluent. It’s worse than Paris, all the signs are in French and the locals take great delight in pretending not to understand you and then deliberately sending you off in the wrong direction when asked to help.

It pains me to resort to calling either Rockstar or Genius for help in these lost situations because I know how ridiculous I sound. “Hi Darling yes it’s Mama, yes I know we are only 3 blocks from your apartment but we’re on the junction of Rector and Washington and I’m not sure whether to turn left or right because the Google Map is showing us the driving route which is completely different!”

Part of the lost problem is that my eyesight has deteriorated and I’m not quite ready to admit that I need reading glasses. The other part of the problem is psychological; I’m so traumatized by my potential ability to go north instead of south that my entire brain freezes the second I have to make that first choice.  Add to this the fact that I truly believe my own parents got divorced because they spent FAR too much of their marriage getting seriously lost in Europe. In those days the husband drove the car and the wife struggled with an impossibly large paper map (usually out of date) fielding horrible insults from grumpy husband every time they ended up in the middle of nowhere. The kids fought continually in the back seat adding to the tension by asking ‘Are we there yet?” every five minutes.

Although I dread getting lost on foot with Mufasa, getting lost in the car on my own is ten times worse. I have my GPS set and SHE is talking to me and life is perfect until suddenly it is NOT and I find myself SCREAMING back at the ‘voice’ “ I CAN’T TURN LEFT HERE YOU STUPID F**$@**  IDIOT THE ROAD IS CLOSED THERE HAS BEEN AN ACCIDENT I DON’T WANT TO GO THAT WAY” and of course she just responds over and over and over with “ When possible make a legal U-turn, when possible make a legal U-turn.”

BIG revelation yesterday in NYC when our boys gave us the crash course Google Maps 101. We didn’t KNOW about the walking man symbol or the compass feature, apparently we’ve been using the program all WRONG!!!

I can’t help but wonder if they deliberately withheld some of this information from us to demonstrate their superior intellect and competence? A subtle reminder that they are not in any need of advice from us on how to run their lives in a world that is so obviously geared towards THEIR generation.  I feel duty bound to point out that they should probably not show too much impatience when we fail to master simple tasks with new technology, after all WE are the people that taught THEM to use a toilet.



I’m CONVINCED I’ve developed a serious (possibly life threatening) allergy to Mondays.

Every Monday morning I wake up with the same symptoms; nausea, lethargy, depression, headache and SEETHING RESENTMENT.

I fumble through the day focused only on how soon it will be over and deliberating the necessity of a doctor’s appointment, as I feel so lousy. But MIRACULOUSLY every Tuesday morning I am cured. Completely returned to my energetic, positive, natural state of joy and gratitude.

Today is Saturday. Saturday is a good day because it is more than a day away from Monday but it’s not as good as Friday. Friday is the happiest day in the world; full of the promise of the weekend stretching endlessly ahead, a host of possibilities for relaxation and fun, but no sooner have you blinked and the whole thing is over and it’s Monday AGAIN.

Just the word Monday is full of negative connotations so I’m wondering what would happen if we simply renamed the order of the weekdays to be Friday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Monday? I believe the world would instantly be a happier place because let’s face it even a HOLIDAY Monday is NOT as exciting as a Holiday Friday.

The problem with Holiday Mondays is that the accumulated pain of Mondays past renders them tainted and of course you can’t totally enjoy a Holiday Monday because you’re already thinking about back-to-work Tuesday.

I actually LOVE my job so why are Mondays so traumatic? Is it just a rebellious reaction to being part of Corporate America?

The condition is obviously contagious, as Mufasa has started exhibiting all the same Mondayitis symptoms. The two of us are such a pair of MISERIES on a Monday that I’m not sure how others can stand to be around us except that they are probably all equally unhappy and therefore oblivious to our black moods.

Rockstar is immune to Mondayitis as he is self-employed. Every day of the week is exactly the same to him. He can go to the movies or the beach on a Monday but might have to work sixteen-hour days over the weekend. Is this better? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

The thought of being unable to contain and attribute my illness to a single working day is simply terrifying. A week without structure? A week without the heady prospect of a Friday seductively inching closer with every passing hour? Not for me – I’ll keep my Miserable Mondays and stock up on painkillers and placebos.


The Six Stages of Other People's Children

Stage One (Age 22) OMG Kids are SO annoying I’m NEVER having them.


Stage Two (Age 26) OMG Babies ARE SO CUTE – I DESPERATELY want one!


Stage Three (Age 30) My kids are so cute and well behaved I can’t believe that they are going to grow up into those monstrous badly behaved teenagers I see everywhere.


Stage Four (Age 47) My teenagers are such fun, intelligent AND talented. I wish younger parents would learn to control their little brats; mine were NEVER so badly behaved when they were that age.


Stage Five (Age 52) I am over kids/Parenting in a BIG way = Dogs are far more rewarding and if that screaming baby is sitting next to me on this flight there will be hell to pay.


Stage Six (Age 57) OMG Babies are SO cute – I can’t wait to be a Grandma.


The Family Stone

I love that movie.

The ideal of our wonderful, quirky, unconventional, vibrant family members all returning to the rambling ancestral home for a Holiday full of shared memories, good food, chaos and an abundance of love is one we all aspire to.

Perhaps it is this concept that sustains me through the run up to Christmas and all the manic, frantic, stressful preparations that are necessary to preserve our own family traditions. This year I was adamant that Mufasa was going to be MORE involved and I extracted a promise that we would do everything TOGETHER to share the load (ie. lighten mine.)

We got off to a great start with a lovely romantic outing to purchase the Christmas tree but the minute we got it home and secured in the stand everything turned to S*@%.

As he stood back to admire the beauty of it’s shape, Mufasa glanced out of the back window and was reminded that he needed to cut down a bunch of overhanging branches that were threatening to cause damage to the exterior and that was that. Yet again I found myself ALONE doing the job I HATE more than any other on this earth  (untangling strings of tree lights) while Mufasa drove off gleefully to the job he LOVES more than any other on this earth (trawling the isles of Home Depot in search of the perfect tools for the job.) THREE HOURS LATER he returned with a broom and ten boxes of light bulbs???????????? and went on to spend the REST OF THE DAY massacring my beautiful trees and piling up branches down the side of the house (where they will no doubt remain until April when he will finally muster the energy to move them to the curb for collection.) If you detect a trace of bitterness in this blog you would be correct; I AM FURIOUS. But what sort of wife complains about her husband spending hours of his time battling overgrowth so that we don’t have to pay the gardener to do it? I just can’t help feeling that he deliberately chose to execute this task on the very day I needed his help with other stuff and WTF are all those light bulbs for?

When Rockstar & Genius arrived home last night I’m sure they were seriously impressed with us. The house was beautifully decorated and PACKED with a ton of our wonderful, vibrant, quirky and unconventional friends drinking mulled wine and eating my homemade mince pies (an English tradition that I had decided to resurrect after a ten year hiatus due to being too busy fighting with tree lights.) They didn’t notice that it’s now impossible to access the garden from the left as there is a ten-foot pile of branches blocking the way, nor did they notice that the outside lights are STILL not working. (AH HA! Perhaps that’s what the light bulbs are for, however they are still in plastic bags in the garage.)

After all the guests departed Rockstar looked lovingly at me and said “That was an absolutely FANTASTIC evening” but before I could bask in the glory of his praise he added, “So much fun and everyone left by Eight O’clock!” Which is hilarious because it is in fact my definition of the perfect social event.

The four of us then passed a delightful couple of hours reminiscing on Christmases past; Genius dredged up one of my old Christmas letters, which he claimed, was the best EVER; he retrieved it on his iPhone and read it aloud. We all fell about laughing when he got to the bit about Mufasa claiming that changing the light bulbs on the porch was “a big job” and then we all laughed even more when we realized that the letter was written in 2009 and it is now 2013 and those light bulbs have still not been changed.

I think I’m ready to let go of my bitterness and embrace ALL of the wonderful, quirky, unconventional foibles that make OUR holidays unique. This is my family and we are Set in Stone.