Curious George: A Bad Role Model For Our Children.

I don’t usually go around blaming outside influences for my child’s behavior. I promised myself years before becoming a mother that I wouldn’t become that mother. But this time I simply can’t hold back. Curious George must be stopped.

I’m annoyed that he hides behind a guise of curiosity. I don’t see a curious monkey, I see a stupid monkey, one that teaches our children it’s OK to be ignorant, bigoted, cruel and irresponsible.

It’s even worse because a lot of children really like bananas and I think sometimes (for them especially) the line between “Human” and “Monkey” is blurred and so they start acting like monkeys. And if this is going to be the case—with the bananas and all—I think we need a more educated monkey for our children.

It’s time that mothers everywhere come together and put an end to Curious George. We need to collectively stomp our designer shoes and scream that we’ve had enough. (Gather up the nannies too, we need all the help we can get!)

No more George!

Exhibit A: George acts carelessly and dangerously.

When asked what George rides around his room, we are told he rides a ball. (See below.)

My son will most definitely give this a try if given the chance. And whenever he falls off said ball, we’ll have George to thank for it. Does this mean I can’t go out and buy him a large ball? Thanks, George. He’s a boy. All boys need their balls.

Exhibit B: George hangs out with strange men.

Who is the “Man In The Yellow Hat”? Does this man have a name? He shows up twice out of the four Curious George books I own. George gets into a blue car with him, he even lets this man talk him into going to the moon. (Is that a euphemism?)

And he wears knickers. NEVER trust a man in knickers!!!!!!!

And while we’re on the subject of strange men, who is Professor Wiseman? I think I heard that name used on a recent episode of “Law and Order SVU”. Got news for you, creeps, adding “Professor” to the front of your name isn’t not going to make me (or anyone else for that matter) trust you.

While on the playground, please be on the lookout for any strange men wearing yellow hats and knickers. It’s a perfect disguise, one our kids have come to trust. This is just like the media letting terrorists know exactly where to find our least secure targets.

Curious George is a terrorist to our children.

Exhibit C: George is a pusher.

I don’t know about you, but this mother DOES NOT let her child eat cake or sugar of any kind. Curious George keeps cake around the house and that sets a terrible example. When I read that part to my son, I immediately had to explain what “cake” is. “What’s cake, mommy?” Naturally, I lied and told him that “cake” is fish food.

Lying is OK if it’s about God, sugar or sex.

Also, who uses cake to catch fish? An idiot! That’s who!

Exhibit D: George (an animal) is guilty of animal cruelty.

This one really kicks me in the cottontail. In one of the books, George is curious about holding a bunny, so George just takes a bunny from the bunny cage. (Poorly raised?) Naturally, the bunny runs off “like a shot!” (Pro gun?) And in order to find the bunny, George looks to its mother. He doesn’t ask the mommy bunny for help, instead he ties a string around the mother bunny’s neck!!!! What is this, Guantanamo bay for bunnies? (Terrorist?)

I have already sent an email to PETA. I have asked them to suggest that if this is going to continue—the printing of such dangerous literature—all future editions remove the bit about the string.

Exhibit E: Friends of Curious George think monkeys are more useful than women

Apparently this particular space organization was too busy hiring monkeys to hire any women.

Are women dumber than monkeys? NOT THIS WOMAN! Unite with me, mommybloggers. Curious George hates women, prefers strange men, condones sugar, and takes advantage of helpless animals. Please help me in my fight against George.

Wanted: Eye-cam For Tanya Vlach

Tanya Vlach was in an automobile accident back in 2005 and lost the sight in her left eye. She has had a glass eye ever since. Now she’s on a quest for an eye-cam. She is calling on all engineers to recreate her eye so it includes a webcam.

There are probably thousands of nerds working around the clock to get this done for her. And I’m guessing that within six months her (and whomever builds it for her) will be featured in Wired.

Naturally, I started daydreaming the moment I heard this. What if we lived in world where everything we saw was being recorded?

During the late 1800s, many people believed that the last image a person saw was forever burned on the person’s retina. Criminologists believed that by finding this image, they could find a person’s killer as well. Obviously, it didn’t work. (You also can’t tell everything about a person by the shape and size of his or her head, by the way.)

But how far off are we?

To some degree Tanya Vlach and her eye-cam concept touches upon that seemingly foolish 19th Century concept. Are we closer to living a “Minority Report” type of world? Is that necessarily a good things?

Have I just taken things a little too far while daydreaming?

To think what I could have done with all this time, I could have designed an eye-cam maybe.

Edited to add: Ever write something you think makes sense one day and then the following morning you’re like, “Dude, what the hell were you going on about?” Yeah, so that happened here. Forgive. No clue what took place here last night.

I Hate New York.

I had a professor in college whose job it seemed was to make every one of his students as stressed out and angry as possible. The night I was accepted into the Graphic Design program I got a phone call from one of the seniors. He said, “Congratulations! You will cry. You know that, right? He makes grown men cry.”

Our professor worked hard at making our lives absolutely miserable. We lost sleep. We worked through days and nights. We had nose bleeds from darkroom chemicals, spray adhesive, fixative. It was like boot camp only without all the potential death and war. (Ok, maybe a little war.)

Naturally, we hated him. Everyone bitched and moaned about how difficult he was and how he was going to kill us all. We collectively hated him. And we collectively talked about it.

And then one day, right before I graduated, I realized something.

There were 23 in my graduating class. We spent countless hours together, sometimes not bathing for days at a time. Sometimes we went 48-hours without brushing our teeth or washing our underarms. We all did this in a studio together, sometimes working over top of one another in the darkroom or the computer lab. Yet, we rarely fought.

Under most circumstances, 23 people living that closely and for that long would have fought. But we spent almost all of commiserating about how much we hated our professor (who was a very smart man and an even better teacher). Did he do it on purpose? Was he merely acting as the tyrannical drill sergeant? Was he getting the best work out of his students by having us direct all of our stress at him instead of at one another?

The idea blew my mind because (even if he didn’t mean to do it) it worked.

I complain a lot about living in New York. I complain on here, to friends and to family. My friends and family (I think) know that I’m just blowing off steam most of the time. But there are some who probably just think I’m a resentful, hateful, cranky bitch.

And I am all those things sometimes, but not most of the time. I am only just now realizing that I may not have painted a very accurate portrait of myself. And judging by the email I receive and some of the comments I get, I know that many people have it very wrong.

So. Here goes nothing.

I’ve given some people the impression that I don’t have any friends who are mothers. That’s untrue. I have actually met several local mothers whom I really like. We try and hang out regularly although nap schedules, partners’ schedules, and overall exhaustion tends to get in our way. But whenever we do find time, we hit the park and gab as our little ones run around for an hour or two. I really enjoy their company and if our living conditions were slightly easier, I think we’d get to spend even more time together. I’m going to miss them so much whenever we leave here, so very much.

I don’t write about them for a number of reasons. The main reason is that I try and respect their privacy. I also don’t have very much time anymore to write coherent essays (or essays at all).

I realize how annoying it can be—trying to fill in the blanks. I get annoyed that people even try. There are far too many blanks to fill in! On here, lately, I paint the smallest portion of a picture representing my life. That may change soon and I hope that it does, but for now, I just don’t have the time. For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’m a bad mother. I don’t think everything is falling apart around me. I am not suffering from self-hatred most of the time. I just tend to bitch a lot on here I guess.

I know that one thing is for certain, I simply need to illustrate somehow that I have a lot of joy in my life. Most urgent, however, since we’ll be leaving New York soon, I must, for the sake of history, illustrate just how much I’m going to miss this place. (I am wiping a tear from my eye as I write this.)

It occurred to me recently that Greenpoint, Brooklyn is the one place that I have lived the longest. (When you add in the time I spent living here before I met Tobyjoe). I love this place. After all, I think (hope?) that it’s pretty safe to say that this is the only place I’ll ever live where I’ll be able to watch a hobo take a dump in my backyard and then wipe his ass.

What’s not to love about that? I mean, as sick as it may be, it’s temporary and slightly hilarious, so I might as well file it under the “Things I Tolerated And Even Laughed About When I Was Younger” category. Also in this category is my difficult and absurd parking fiascos, the half naked man I watched snort heroin at 1 PM at the local public track, and the crack bag I intercepted from my son on the children’s playground. I tolerate the smell of the human waste facility not too far from here and the fact that it wafts up from our sewers at least twice a week making morning walks downright third world. I deal with the loud construction taking place out back now that the hobos are gone. (Is it wrong of me to miss them?) I tolerate the toxic waste dump in our backyard as well as the water bugs (American Cockroaches, you ain’t foolin’ no one, New York) the size of small cats. I even tolerated the crack head that ripped my antenna off of my car so he could smoke up. I even tolerate the insanely high rents and even higher mortgages.

I have tolerated all of this and I continue to do so. And I do think it’ll end up being hilarious one day (assuming that none of us get leukemia from the benzine leak in our backyard).

You simply must tolerate the good, the worse, and the vile if you wish to live in New York. (Switch the city, however, and people might call you insane for putting up with such nonsense.)

But this is New York! New York gets away with being the drunk aunt at the wedding party, the rich 90-year-old with the 24-year-old wife, the strange 7-year-old boy who touches himself too much in public, the gassy grandfather at the dinner table. You shrug it off as expected, maybe joke about it to a few people and get on with your day.

I’m going to miss it. I am going to miss all the weirdness and grime. I am going to miss the fodder for stories to tell people whenever I see them. I am going to miss the defecating hobos, the laughing hipsters with stupid haircuts, the Polish kids who collect sticks.

New York is tolerated because it’s New York and it has a stigma attached to it, whether you agree with it or not. And New Yorkers get to bitch about New York and blame everything bad going on in their lives on the city, like it’s a living thing (or a graphic design professor). At the end of the day New Yorkers all have one thing in common: we get to collectively bitch about how much we hate the city we love.

Photographs are from this series.

Edited to add: I have gotten a lot of email asking where we’re moving and when. We don’t know yet and we don’t know yet. But we know we have to leave here. I’m sorry I have been so vague. It’s not intentional. I am vague because I don’t know the answers yet myself.

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 56)

Murray was orphaned at a very young age. I’m sure many of you know that already. He was so young he had to be bottle-fed by human hands. I talked over Chapter 56 with Murray and he agreed that those human hands are what I need to write about today.

Murray was nurtured by two people: Lisa and PJ. Though PJ doesn’t quite remember Murray (due to the number of cats he’s cared for before, and since) he is responsible for much of Murray’s trust of humans.
When Murray was a few weeks old, Lisa took over. Because Murray is unable to thank them personally, I’m going to try and do it for him.

PJ and Lisa have dedicated themselves to starting a unique animal advocacy group, and I’m attempting to contribute what I can to their effort.

THEIR MISSION

“The Empty Cages Collective (ECC) is a New York-based animal and environmental advocacy organization. ECC aims to cultivate a culture where animals are recognized as fellow sentient beings worthy of respectful and compassionate treatment. Through advocacy, education, hands-on rescue and assistance, the ECC envisions a world free of animal exploitation, abuse, and ecologically destructive behavior.”

WHAT THEY’VE BEEN DOING

They Trap, Neuter and Release animals back into their natural habitats. Here’s where being a realist can actually make a difference. As opposed to someone like me, who can only see the big picture, someone who wants ALL animal abuse to stop, all homeless cats to be adopted, all things to wrap up perfectly. It’s never going to happen that way. Instead of doing something, I get overwhelmed and give up.

PJ isn’t like that. Neither is Lisa. Sure, they want all of those things as well, but they’re a bit more level-headed about it. They take it day by day. They’re hoping that with every cat they trap and neuter, a dozen less will be born next season. They’re hoping that we city-dwellers can one day coexist with our city-dwelling friends. They’re hoping to teach people that animals living within the city aren’t a nuisance and that it’s not necessary to kill every stray or feral or wild animal you come across.

There’s room for all of us. Hell, they were probably here first anyway.

The problems they’re facing is that they’ve found so many adoptable kittens during their trapping efforts that they’re running out of room and resources to continue with their TNR efforts. To put it bluntly, they need some help.

HOW WE CAN HELP

When I asked PJ what they needed the most, he gave me the following list: donate, volunteer, and adopt. He reiterated twice to me that donate and volunteer are head-to-head in urgency. Granted, if they can get the cats they have in-house adopted soon, they might have more money to use for TNR. Obviously, adoption is important as well.

I’m writing this today on behalf of Murray and all the critters out there that are needlessly killed. Can you help Lisa and PJ and their cause? Do you have a dollar to spare? Do you have some time to donate? Do you have a Web site you can use to help get the word out? Can you write them some kind words? Anything will help, any amount, any number of hands or hours, any advertisement—big or small.

If you have some extra paypal cash and/or an Amazon gift card you’re not using, visit this link and send some stuff their way. (Some of the items on that list run as low as 4 bucks.)

If you’re interested in adopting a cat, here are the animals they have up for adoption. I’m going to put up some pictures as well.

And if you got some old balled up dollar bills you washed in that pair of jeans from last winter, they’ll take monetary donations as well.

For those of you who have some cash but don’t have a lot of time and just want to click a button and be done with it, here’s a link to their paypal account.

To read more about what they’ve been doing click here.

From here on out, I’m going to be donating as much as I can out of the money I make from advertising on this Web site. It’s not much, but it’s something. I purchased 90 pounds of cat litter for them yesterday. Like I said, every little thing matters right now. It doesn’t have to be a huge sum—or cash at all.

At some point in the near future, I plan on designing some banners for them so that other bloggers can add them to their site. I hope that you will join me getting the word out for them. I realize that they’re Brooklyn based right now, but if this works out—this model—it could become a nationwide advocacy group.

If you have a dime or or some time to spare, do it for Murray. He wouldn’t be here had it not been for these two people and their great big hearts.

The The Books.

I just finished The Girls (thank you, Fran!) and The Road. Both were fantastic. The Road is probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. It will haunt me until I’m dead and gone (or I become a babbling old person with a deteriorating memory). It was filled with such nightmarish imagery! It’s downright terrifying and beautiful, horrific and sublime. If you haven’t read it, I suggest picking it up immediately, and do so before the movie is released. (Viggo Mortensen has been cast as the lead man. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet, but judging by what other women say, I gather he’ll bring some horny chicks and gay dudes to the box office.)

I could go on and on about this book and would very much like to, but that’ll ruin it for everyone else. The Road makes me wish Spread had made it. (Side note: I had such high hopes for that site. Yet another failed mihow project. I enjoy hating myself for online failures, which is why I’ve become so good at creating them.)

Anyway, I need a new book to read now. Maybe I should keep with the “The” theme I’ve got going. heh

Won’t you please help me (again)?

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 46)

PRELUDE

I had a great deal of trouble putting aside a post I’ve been writing for weeks in order to keep with Tuesday’s theme. The post in question is about how I plan on ending this Web site. It includes reasons why as well as ideas for what I could do with it. I’m still very much unsure about its future. I know only one thing for sure: mihow.com the “mommy blog” part will cease to exist.

And so I battled with this. I contemplated taking the day off.

But it’s TUESDAY! I thought. It’s Murray’s day. You have to write about Murray!

TUESDAYS WITH MURRAY

I receive a lot of email about Tuesdays With Murray. Even email not specifically about Murray usually includes a mention of how much the person loves him or how much they enjoy reading stories about him. Several people have told me Tuesdays With Murray is their favorite part about mihow.com. I’ve had people write letting me know how much their cat has in common with Murray. I had one person ask if Murray could be her lady cat’s baby daddy (a suggestion I may have entertained had he not been fixed). I guess the email boasting love for Murray shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. My stats alone speak volumes. For a year now, Tuesday has been my busiest day. I receive thousands more individual visits on Tuesday than any other day of the week.

Murray is loved. How can you not love something so much that loves so much for nothing?

I also get a lot of email asking me why I seem to like Murray more than the other cats. Some folks aren’t even aware of the fact that we have two other cats. I guess I do kind of give off that we-keep-two-red-headed-step-cats-chained-up-in-the-basement sort of vibe. But I assure you all, we love all three of our cats, and yours as well.

But this has me thinking about why Murray is kind of special to me. It’s not that I don’t love my other two cats—I do, I love them very much. But I think I take Murray love to Nicole Kidman, stalkerish levels. And I think I finally know why.

Let’s talk about the book this series was inspired by.

TIME TRAVEL

(This is part of the story where if it were a motion picture the image before you would fade a bit, a sepia-like tone would envelope the screen. There might even be some Wayne’s World “doodly doodly” music to stress that we’re going back in time.)

When I was 23-years-old I was doing an internship with Lifetime Television. I stayed in South Brooklyn with a friend from college. He and his girlfriend let me sleep in a small storage room off their bedroom for the duration of my stay.

My boyfriend remained in State College. We talked late at night and on weekends over the telephone. I paid for our chats whenever the bill came. There were no cell phones boasting rollover or unlimited nighttime and weekend minutes. There were no consumer Macintosh laptops to purchase (at least not that I knew of) which meant there was no email. He was studying to be a chef. His hands were too busy stirring pots of Hollandaise sauce to type an email, anyway. I was too busy commuting to and from a temporary job, all the while lining my shoes with Band-Aids and toilet paper to pad the blisters I grew during grueling lunchtime job searches.

I got turned away from so many different design firms. So many Art Directors shrugged and said, “We just don’t do many logos here.” I was so perplexed as to why good logo work meant I couldn’t do direct mail, brochures and annual reports but these folks were wiser than I.

“Get some experience first!” They’d say. “We’ll hire you after you get some experience.”

How does one get experience if everyone wants it first?

I was in New York. I was 23. I was in search of my own professional identity. I was full of hope, pipe-dreams, and excitement. I was naive but happy.

And I didn’t find a job.

My internship came to an end on a Friday. I took the F Train uptown one last time that morning, put in a full day’s work, and then took it back into South Brooklyn later that day. The following morning, I packed my bags and headed for Midtown. Along the way, I grabbed something to read, hopped on a bus and headed for central Pennsylvania.

It was during that bus ride I read “Tuesdays With Morrie”.

RIGHT NOW

I, like many people who spend a lot of time online, wrestle with it constantly. When my 23-year-old self looks at the me now, there’s a part of her who wants to slap me a few a times, knock some sense into my head. On the one hand, I am happier now than I’ve ever been. On the other hand, somewhere along the way I become a person living in fear, indecision, anxiety, cowardice, and (during my weakest hours) jealousy.

I’m in neutral. I’ve been in neutral for long time.

I have known for a while that once Emory got to be a certain age I’d shut this site down, at least in terms of how much and what I write about him. And the meat of this paragraph really demands much more attention and care than I am giving it now. I will go into it soon. I promise. But I will say this much: Emory shouldn’t be exposed the way he has, sans consent. I just don’t feel right about it.

THE REALIZATION

And so that brings me back to Murray, the book this series is based on, my life and me when I read it, and all three of my cats.

Tucker is The Orange One. He’s a bit skittish, paranoid and at times vindictive. A lot of the decisions he makes are fueled by jealousy. I still love him and he’s still very needy, but he can be a real bastard. Tucker is sneaky. Tucker is not to be trusted. This is how he got the name “Orangemani Terrorist”.

I’m a little bit like Tucker whenever I spend too much time away from doing the things that I love. I act like Tucker whenever I’m having a “nobody-likes-me!” kind of day. I may come off as unapproachable, mean and bitchy, but all I really want is a great big hug and some lovin’ behind the ears. I act like Tucker right before I act like Pookum.

Pookum is old and grumpy and at some point she kind of lost her ability to laugh. She’s overweight and lives in fear of the other cats. She thinks they’re out to get her even if they’re playing. Unless we break inertia for her, she just sleeps, eats, and poops. And I reckon that if we were to let her she’d probably give up on all the things that make her happy; she’d give up on life entirely.

I’ve been Pookum before. (Hold on, I have to go pet her.)

And then there’s Murray.

Murray is the hand stirring a pot of Hollandaise sauce, the smile that moves across a person’s face when no one else is looking. Murray is New York City before 9/11, the sound of the teenagers skateboarding out back. Murray is laughter among friends, that first sip of white wine, lightning bugs at dusk.

Murray is me before I exchanged my naivety and hope for experience and cynicism.

Murray is youth.

Murray is a fixed number of minutes and a computer you leave at home.

Murray is joy.

Murray is the you you thought you would be, and the you you still can.

Eating Habits At Nine Months.

Emory is a week shy of nine months. Man, does time ever fly! He’s grown so much. Every part of him has grown, well, except for his hair. He’s still as bald as can be.

I really wish these little dudes came with instructions. Whenever I screw up putting Ikea furniture together, I always just disassemble and start again. But these babies come without instructions, diagrams or warranties. You can’t undo bad decisions. And you can’t blame your mistakes on them for being Swedish and printing cryptic literature. There are no Command Zs when designing a baby. They remember stuff, they create habit, routines. And the older he gets, the bigger the habits—both good and bad.

For example, ever since vacationing in March, he’s been sleeping with us. Whenever I reintroduce him to his crib, he wakes up crying within an hour or two. I’m usually so sleepy, instead of letting him cry it out, I bring him back to our bed where he sleeps soundly. (If he’s in our bed, he sleeps all night for at least 10 hours straight.) Believe me you, I’m well aware of the fact that some folks will find this completely crazy.

There’s the whole eating situation as well. I’ve not yet felt comfortable about what’s considered too little or too much. More and more, he has little to no interest in baby food. He wants what we’re eating. And he lets us know by smacking his lips together. I kid you not. My mother will attest to this as will my husband. He will smack his lips together until you give him a bite of whatever it is you’re eating. It’s absurd. It doesn’t matter if your meal is spicy. smack smack smack! He wants it. Meat? smack smack smack! He wants it. Noodles, soup, salad, pickles, sandwiches? smack smack smack! He wants it all. Baby food? Not so much.

This causes me great anxiety because during his 8 month doctor visit, she suggested we avoid letting him snack. She asked us if we’re snackers. We’re not.

But here’s our predicament.

A perfect scenario might be that I feed him and then feed myself because it’s nearly impossible for us to eat at the same time. But I run into problems because once he’s finished eating and it’s time to feed myself, he wants to nibble on whatever it is I’m eating. Doesn’t that count as snacking? I really, really don’t want to create bad eating habits this early on. Will my boy grow up eating around the clock?

During the day I try and hide from him while eating. I’ll cram a granola bar down my face while he’s babbling in The Baby Mobile. I’ll eat a quick sandwich when he’s not looking. And sometimes when he sleeps I’ll make something a little more substantial. If I can. Emory’s naps rarely last longer than 25 minutes. Try doing laundry, using the bathroom, cleaning up, paying bills and eating something decent in 25 minutes. It’s not easy.

The other night we made asparagus and mushroom couscous. He seemed more interested in the asparagus than the jarred sweet potatoes I held in front of him. So, instead of watching him throw his hands up and overturn each spoonful of orange goo, I ground up some asparagus using the mill I got from Jen and Mike and gave him some.

He ate it, reluctantly, but he ate it. He ate it because we were eating it.

That’s absurd, right? The way I see it, we’re going to have to start eating baby food or he’s going to continue to eat ours.

CNN Headline Shirts

Toby has been working a lot lately. I was starting to wonder if I still had a husband. The good news is, the project is wrapping up. I’m excited for obvious reasons—I get my (weekend) husband back. But I’m also excited because I finally get to share the project with everyone!

The Barbarian Group worked with CNN and created a pretty awesome campaign and system for taking select (video) headlines and turning them into t-shirts. (You get to the page shown above by clicking one of the small t-shirt icon on the homepage next to some of the latest headlines.) I can’t tell you how awesome I think this idea is. Plus, the design is remarkably clean. Go check it out if you have time.

Stuff You Should See

I’m addicted to Etsy. I have spent over a hundred dollars on Etsy since last Tuesday. I love it. Speaking of Etsy, you should check out Jerusha’s baby sweaters. Emory wears one all the time. They are incredibly well made and one of a kind. (Take that, Baby Gap!) They make excellent presents. I think this one is my favorite. (No, that is not a hint.)

Also, Derek has come up with something new and exciting. (When it comes to Derek and Heather when is that NOT happening?) It’s called Pixish. I could explain how it works, but Derek does a great job (and I’m lazy). His wife (whom I adore) has created an assignment. Heather wants someone to design a header for her Web site.

In other news, TobyJoe left for the West coast and I’ll be on my own for the next few days. How does one amuse a baby who would much rather be outside? I’m going to go nuts.