Friday 27 July 2012

Smut for the Thinking Girl

So everyone and her grandmother are going on and on about "Fifty Shades of Grey", the phenomenally best-selling book by ordinary wife, mother and career gal, E.L. James.  And by "phenomenal" I mean I can't believe this talentless hack wrote a best-seller and can now call herself an "author" and everyone seems to be cool with that.

I don't begrudge her success "Lies!  Lies!  I totally begrudge her success!" my inner goddess screamed.  I'm just jealous that I've spent so much time agonizing over every adverb and turn of phrase on my non-paying blog but this woman makes millions after farting out the worst travesty of fiction since V.C. Andrews drew breath in her body.  But my jealousy is strictly professional.  I actually have a sick appreciation for this poorly written drivel much in the same way I love the movie "Showgirls" or can't get enough of trashy reality TV.

Personally I feel that the summer is perfect for books like "Fifty Shades of Grey".  I prefer to read trash in the summer so I don't really have to think about what I'm reading.   I like laughing at how bad it is.  A nice, bitchy little vacation for my brain.  But if you're looking for smut of a higher calibre then boy, do I have some books for you!

Delta of Venus, by Anais Nin.  This book was the first work of straight up erotica I ever read.  It is a collection of short stories that were commissioned in the 1940's by a gentleman known as "The Collector" for his private enjoyment.  See, Nin throughout her career was best known for her diaries, but when she was younger and needed the money she began to secretly write porn for "The Collector" along with some of her writer friends.

He told Nin, "None of that flowery poetic shit.  Just give me graphic, hard-core porn."  But she did more.  Her stories are decadent, taboo and distinctly feminine.  She is widely considered to be the finest writer of female erotica.  It's quite possible that "The Collector" would have preferred the works of E. L. James but instead he got art.  

Anais Nin remains a very interesting character in her own right.  She was very beautiful and, though married, had several affairs with leading literary figures, the most famous of which was "Tropic of Cancer" author Henry Miller.  They wrote a whole bunch of letters to each other which were published in the book "A Literate Passion".

The Story of O, by Pauline Reage.  This book was given to me as a birthday gift from my friend, Jen.  I was curious to read it because I had read somewhere about sex therapists advising their clients to read it, but I couldn't find it anywhere.  (I don't know how you did it, Jen but you're awesome!)

The story is about the ultimate objectification of a woman.  If it's whips and chains you're looking for, look no further.  O is beaten, branded, pierced and much, much more.  "Pauline Reage" is a pseudonym and the author's real identity was unknown for a long time (which is a good thing because they would have faced obscenity charges).  Many claimed, probably because of the treatment of women in it, that the book had to be written by a man.  This book generated much controversy especially among feminists because they felt it glorified the abuse of women.

The truth is that it was written by Anne Desclos.  Annie was having an affair with her employer Jean Paulhan, who was really into the Marquis de Sade.  One day they were talking and he was all "Look at Sade!  What a genius!  Chicks could never write anything like that, because they're like, chicks."  And Annie said "We'll see about that!" and, after putting her clothes back on, she went to work.  She never publicly admitted to the authorship of the book until the mid-nineties, which confused the shit out of the feminists who no longer knew what to think.

"The Story of O" was compelling but I didn't personally find it to be very sexy; more of an intellectual exercise.  O is treated too brutally and that ain't my thing, but it's basically the story of Fifty Shades of Grey without all the bad writing and annoying characters, so there you go.

The Mammoth Hunters, by Jean M. Auel.  Jean M. Auel is a lot like E. L. James in that she is an ordinary wife, mother and career gal but that's where the similarities end.  She's a better writer (though that's not saying much) and her books are the complete opposite of BDSM.

This was one of my mother's books that I pilfered because I heard her talking about it to my aunt and the subject material seemed really interesting.  It takes place during "Cave Man Times" (I am neither an anthropologist nor an archaeologist) and talks a lot about what life was like back then: culture, social structures, technological developments, language etc.  Very pseudo-educational.

It's all about a strong female character named Ayla, who successfully challenged the sexist regime of her adoptive culture's patriarchy to become a career woman and then went out independently into the world to find the people of her birth.  "The Mammoth Hunters" deals with how she handles meeting her people of origin and the culture shock that goes along with that.

But OMG, the sex!  This book is chock full of cave-man sex!  And it's great if you're not a gal whose inner goddess is just dying for your boyfriend to slap you around and then remove your tampon to have sex with you.  Not one woman is beaten, tied up, or pierced for some dude to get his rocks off.  In fact, women are positively revered as living incarnations of the Mother Goddess.  "The Mammoth Hunters" universe is really the ultimate in Mommy-porn.  Ayla's people live in an egalitarian society where women are respected, the village raises the children and the men view pleasing a woman sexually as their sacred duty.

The sex scenes are both steamy and hilarious.  I mean, her mate's name is "Jondalar" and Ayla, for whom there is a slight language barrier, often talks like you would expect a cave-person to talk.  "Ayla enjoy share pleasure with Jondalar.  When we share more pleasure, Jondalar?"  And they never miss an opportunity to discuss Jondalar's long-standing problems with being hung like a mammoth and how most women are afraid of his penis, but not Ayla who seems to have a "cave" of matching proportions.

Out of the three books mentioned here "The Mammoth Hunters" is probably my favourite for summer reading.  It's interesting, informative and full to the brim with randy cave-people.  And it's definitely a plus that I'm not distracted by how badly it's written.

But you know what?

There's nothing wrong with reading Fifty Shades of Grey.  I plan to read it.  Yes, it's a badly written book.  Yes, it's insulting to women.  Yes, the ones who claim it is a "romantic love story" make me weep for humanity but I honestly don't think we're supposed to think about it that much.  I don't think E.L. James thought about it that much.  And as I've said before, when it comes to summer reading I prefer not to think.

Monday 23 July 2012

Got Boundaries?

One of the best things about Frick being eleven is that I can allow him more freedom which, in turn, allows me more freedom.  For example, lately I've been letting Frick stay home by himself while I take Frack to his speech therapy.  He loves the independence and I love not having to drag him unnecessarily to the hospital when he already has so many appointments of his own.

But we have rules.  1) No answering the phone or the door while I'm not home, and 2) no friends in the house.

So it came as kind of a surprise last week when Frack and I were coming home from speech therapy to find a strange man standing in the open doorway of my house looking as if he were about to enter.  As I got closer I recognized him as his friend Maverick's Dad.

"Oh, hi."  He says to me.  "I'm just dropping off Maverick for their play date."

"What now?"

No one said anything to me about a play date.  I would have remembered because last time I checked 11-year olds do not have "play dates".   So I was caught by surprise, and whenever I am caught by surprise I have to prevent myself from having an over-the-top, knee-jerk reaction of being the insane angry bitch that I am.  Because that is a reaction I regret 99% of the time once I calm down and find out that I'm over-reacting because I don't have all the facts.  It can be very embarrassing.

I put on my best cool-Mom expression.  Sure Maverick can hang out here and play with Frick.  We've got a couple of free hours.  We don't even mind walking him home later because his house is on our way to Frick's swimming lesson (I have since found out that this gentleman personally escorts Maverick to his friend's homes whenever he plays there and expects the boy to be escorted home.  He lives five minutes from my house.)

When I went inside though I needed to have a little talk with Frick to remind him of the rules about not answering the door and not having friends over.  Because it really felt like he was trying to sneak his friend into the house while I was gone and if that were true this was going to be the last "play date" he would be having for a while.  Hopefully ever because, really?  Play date?  These kids are going to be shaving soon.

Apparently the only thing Frick did wrong was to make plans with his friend without asking me first, and then  just waited to tell me when he knew I was distracted.  Because obviously I wouldn't have agreed to have anyone over right when I would be at Frack's speech therapy.  But that was all he did wrong.  It's not like he keeps track of Frack's appointments.

Frick never heard anyone knocking at the door because he was playing a video game.  He wasn't paying attention because he's not allowed to answer it.  So when Maverick's Dad knocked and there was no answer he just up and let himself into my house, sending his kid in first to look for Frick.

What the what?  Is this a thing now?

I thought it was pretty fucked up when Dtmhnyddh's Mom just waltzed into our home without being let in, but she at least had the defensible reason of knowing that her child was here and she needed to pick him up. When I was a kid I was schooled in social etiquette.  Mummy Dearest may be a crazy hippie but she raised us right in the ways of being polite.  No elbows on the table.  Always call first before showing up at someone's house.  Don't peek in people's windows and never, ever walk into someone's home without knocking and being let in.  Unless the house is on fire.  And even then only to rescue the occupants, apologizing the whole while for entering their home uninvited.

It seems I probably should have done my over-the-top angry bitch reaction.  It's too late now, I was already nice to him.  I may be pissed but my anxiety won't quite let me have confrontations after the fact, especially with people I expect to have future interactions with.  I need to strike while my ire is hot.  Instead all I have is my cheaper than therapy and anger management blog.  So here goes:

Dear Maverick's Dad,

Here are some very good reasons why opening our door and sending your kid in looking for his friend was an asshole thing to do:

1)  It's hot and we don't have the AC on.  Because this is my house I like to hang out in my underwear when it's hot.  We all do.

2)  If you're knocking and there's no answer I could be in the shower, or just coming out of the shower.  That means I am not only unaware of your knocking because I didn't hear it, but I am also naked.

3)  If you're knocking and no one answers but the door is open there could be a robbery in progress.  If that's true then congratulations; you just sent your kid in to apprehend potentially armed criminals.  Nice job.

4)  There's a possibility that our kids are out with a relative and my husband came home for some Afternoon Delight.  And with no kids in the house we could be doing it anywhere.

5)  Most importantly because this is private property that you do not own.  I don't care that you think our kids have a "play date".  When you walk in to someone's house without being let in then you are trespassing my friend.  Last time I checked that shit is illegal.

I can't believe I even have to say this.  Next time, I think I'll be locking the door.

Friday 20 July 2012

Kindergarten Information Night

At the end of June I got a phone call from Frack's school.  I was told that Kindergarten Information Night was coming up the following week.  It would be an hour long and I would get to meet Frack's teacher, find out if he is in the morning or afternoon class, which day he starts and other important stuff.


This sounded highly unnecessary.  Why not just call/mail/e-mail me that information?  What else could they possibly be talking about that would take up an hour?  I already know that peanut butter is taboo and they don't like yogurt tubes because they make a mess on the carpet.  It's kindergarten.  How complicated could it be?

You see, I learned a long time ago that walking into that school outside of actual school hours without an appointment is a colossal waste of time.  I steadfastly refuse to go to Open House or Meet the Teacher night ever again.

You go to these things and kill about five minutes looking at the disgraceful condition of your child's desk and admiring their art on the wall, and then you stand around awkwardly waiting to shake the teacher's hand because some asshat of a parent is monopolizing their attention for a good half hour or more and ultimately leaving without so much as making eye contact with her because some other pushier parent squeezes in before you and for all it was worth you could have just stayed home and relaxed.

Uh, no thanks.  I'll happily show up to watch my kid perform in a concert or something but that's about it.

So I resolved not to go to Kindergarten Information Night.

And then my Mother in-law offered to go.  I talked her out of it.  I assured her that they would probably send me that information anyway or that I could call the school to get it and that it hardly seemed worth it for her to drive all the way into town to do so, but it got me thinking.

I really respect my Mother in-law.  If she thinks it's a good idea to go to this thing maybe I should ignore my previous 6 years of experience and show up.  If she's willing to drive out from the farm then shouldn't I be willing to walk five minutes from my house?  If it's an hour long maybe they're doing it like an Open House (which would make sense) where I can just show up, get the information I need and then get the hell outta there.

And hey, maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to bring Frack so he can see his classroom and meet his teacher.  That might help him be less shy when the first day of school came.  Besides, I had promised the boys to take them to the park near the school that day.  We could go there after we had checked everything out.

So I resolved to go to Kindergarten Information Night.

I packed up the boys and told Frick to meet us at the park and that we wouldn't be long.

As Frack and I approached the school I could see other parents and their prospective Kindergarteners milling into the gym.  That's not right.  The Kindergarten rooms are on the opposite side of the school.  The gym is reserved for concerts and assemblies.  This did not bode well.

But sure enough parents were filing into and filling up the gym.  It really wasn't looking like the kind of thing I could just drop-in on and then leave.  People were sitting down.  Some lady was at the front making a presentation.  I did not want to go in there, especially with a four year old who was expecting to go to the park.  I decided to hover by the door to see if I could hear what this lady was saying and see if it was worth staying for.

At that moment a short, disgruntled looking woman gruffly marshaled us into the gym.  I'm sure she would have ordered us to sit down except that they had run out of chairs and were going to find more.  Well, at least I could hear what the presenter was saying now.

"Blah, blah, learning...blah, blah, blah...because children love to play...blah, blah, blah..."

Look, it's nice to know that Kindergarten teachers understand the educational value of macaroni art and gluing shit onto cardboard tubes but all any parent really expects from Kindergarten is that their kid learn their ABC's and 123's.  I'm sure learning about this stuff might be interesting for some people but, having been there done that already with Frick, I wasn't one of them.

And judging from the confused looks on the other parents' faces I wasn't alone.  I mean we've only been chilling with these kids for the last four years.  I think it's possible we might have picked up a few things on play-based learning by accident over that time.  Maybe.

But it was too late for them.  They were already seated and listening whereas I was unseated and still close to the door.  What, were they going to hold me hostage here until I heard everything they had to say?  Were they going to keep Frack's teacher and classroom a secret from me because I missed Information Night?  I looked around at the bored Dads looking at their watches and the frustrated Moms trying to keep their squirming children quiet in hard plastic chairs so everyone could hear the Nice Lady at the front of the room.

Screw it.

"Hey Frack, let's go to the park and do some play-based learning."


He grabbed my hand and pulled me out the gym door nearly skipping with joy.  When we got outside we both burst into giggles and broke into kind of a run towards the park.  We passed a frazzled Mom and prospective Kindergartener in the parking lot.

"Hey!," she called after me.  "Are you going to Kindergarten Information Night?"

"Not anymore!"  I cried back with a laugh and raced my little boy to the playground.

He won.

Five days later we got a postcard from the school.  On it were his classroom, his teacher's name, and the time for our 15-minute appointment to meet with her before the first day of school.

I wonder if that Mom in the parking lot regretted going into that school gym after seeing me run gleefully away from it.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Paging Mrs. Herman....Mrs. Herman. Paging Mrs. Herman?

As I hinted in last week's post, right now is a particularly busy time in the Rotten household.  We've got appointments, community programs and therapy sessions up the wazoo and it's starting to get a little difficult keeping track of it all.  It's gotten to the point that I'm now getting Frick's social worker to do most of our work over the phone rather than meet in person just to minimize the number of times I have to travel across town to the doctor's office.

My Mother in-law very graciously enrolled both boys in daily swim lessons for the next two weeks, which started last night.  She was even thoughtful enough to schedule it so that they took place around the same time so I only had to take them to the pool only once a day instead of twice.  Mother Rotten is awesome like that.  On the other hand I'm kind of stupid at handling hectic schedules that are not my own.


Last night I pack up the boys and we head out to the local public swimming pool.  When we get there I'm pleased  to see that Frack's class is very small.  Only three kids.  This is great because it leaves less opportunity for the kids to spit pool water on each other, or something equally disgusting, while waiting for their turn.

I pass the time alternating between watching my kids take their turns swimming and reading the news on my iPod, so I'm really only half paying attention.  Frack seems to be having the time of his life, bouncing and splashing around.  But I notice that the instructor is using way too many words when telling him what to do.  I doubt he really understands what she's saying.  And I can tell she has no idea what he says to her.  But this is the kind of interaction his speech therapist says is good for him because it challenges him to try harder to communicate, so I stay out of it.

When I look up again I see the class is stopped and the instructor is talking to the lifeguard about something.  They both look kind of worried.  I wonder if something is wrong with Frack but he looks happy pretending to be a frog.  Then the other lifeguard comes up to me.  I'm sure she is going to want to talk to me about Frack because they can't understand him.  I look up expectantly and she asks me:

"Are you Herman's Mum?"


"What?  No.  I'm here with Frack."

And then she nodded at me like everything was cool and went on to ask the other parents if they were with little Herman.  I went back to watching my boys and reading the news.

A couple of minutes later she came and knocked on the lifeguards' office door, which happened to be right next to me.

"Roger, we have an unattended little boy in the Splash class.  He is far too young to be on his own.  See if you can call his parents and get them to come here.  Also, at the end of the class do not let him leave the building."

Okay.  There are only three kids in this class and one of them is a girl.  So they are either talking about my kid, which is impossible since his name is not Herman.  He can say his own name and even though it's not perfect it doesn't sound anything like Herman.  Or they are talking about the other kid.  Which is weird because I thought I saw his mother talking to the instructor earlier.  But I told the lifeguard my kid's name and she has a clipboard with all the kids' names on it and everything was cool.  Right?  Whatever.  Herman wasn't my problem and obviously the pool staff was on top of it.

The lifeguard goes back to where the Splash class is taking place to stand guard over poor abandoned little Herman.  Every once in a while she exchanges nervous words with the instructor as they look around the room searching in vain for the little boy's mother.  Frack tries to show her a float toy.

A few minutes later the lifeguard comes back to talk to Roger.

"Any luck contacting the parents?  No?  Well, keep leaving messages for them.  Maybe try going out to the lobby and see if they're waiting there or just outside.  Remember, this little boy cannot leave the building until we have located his parents.  When you get a hold of them be sure to express to them that they can't leave their child here unattended.  What if he wanders out into traffic?  (Sigh) Who would leave such a young child alone at the pool?"

Poor, poor Herman.

I look over at Frack and he is loudly trying to tell the instructor that his brother is in the other class but she just shrugs and shakes her head in confusion.  He rolls his eyes, gives a world-weary sigh and continues playing with his float toy.  He might not talk well yet but his face is very expressive.  Right then his face seemed to say "I'm surrounded by idiots."

Shortly after that the class comes to an end.  Frack gets out and comes running to me for his towel which I have ready for him.  As I'm drying him off the lifeguard comes up to me.

Sure enough, Herman was my kid the whole time.

Turns out Frack's class was a half hour earlier.  We were in the wrong class by accident.  Herman had coincidentally not shown up so they assumed that Frack was him by process of elimination.  Because when they asked him what his name was he decided to say "Spiderman" which does indeed kind of sound like "Herman" when he says it.

Poor Herman's parents.

I guess they're in for a little surprise when they check their messages.

Thursday 5 July 2012

100 Posts!

It's official!  With the writing of this blog post I will have written a whole century of posts.

I wanted to celebrate some kind of milestone and I was tempted to do it on my blog's birthday, but then changed my mind.  I have a thing with numbers and so do many of my bloggy friends so I thought the century milestone would be more fun.

Also, I thought I was going to get to the 100 mark much sooner than now but I have been extremely busy getting my kids school ready for September.  We had to get a head start on that because in our house that involves end of year homeschool exams, meetings with teachers, social workers and doctors, experimenting with ADHD meds, speech therapy, school readiness programs and then throw in a few seasonal sports like soccer and swimming for good measure.  So, not a lot of time for writing these days.

But what an amazing year!  I've been incredibly lucky to have such great loyal readers in you guys.  I've been so lucky to have the support of other wonderful bloggers.  Women like Bitches in the BurbsThe Happy LogophileRandom Thoughts From a Mad White WomanGuerrilla Mom and Geeky-Mama have been awesome to me.  It was a huge thrill to be invited to guest blog by Stephanie at Momma Be Thy Name and to receive awards from other great blogs like all.things.fadraShirley Ewe Must Be JokingThe Iris Chronicles and Attracted to Shiny Things.

Back in February I was luckier still, and completely amazed when Nicole Knepper of Moms Who Drink and Swear shared one of my blog posts on ADHD.  I have long been a fan of her blog.  The fact that she liked one of my posts, and liked it enough to share it with her readers, was a huge deal to me.  And then people started leaving all the comment love and liking my facebook page.  I can't really describe my feelings except to say that they were a lot like this:

To commemorate the writing of 100 posts I thought I would pick out my ten favourite posts.  Some you will already be pretty familiar with but some are from my earlier writing attempts when I had about ten regular readers and those people had to read my blog because they are either my best friends or my mother.

Here they are: Mommy Rotten's Top Ten of a Century

Last-Minute Housekeeping Hints
Fantasy Facebook Status
Smug Dad
This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Kids Are Too Damned Nice These Days
Stuff I'm Willing to Tolerate if it Means Getting Away From My Kids
Never Trust an Eight Year Old Devil in a Dress
7 Signs That You're a Good Mom: Lowering the Bar so We All Win
Kevin's Not Welcome Anymore (Also Known As What Not to Say to a Mom of ADHD)
Play Group Anxiety

I hope I haven't forgotten to mention anyone who deserves it so I'll say thank you to everyone ever who reads this blog.  You guys are the fucking best!