Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The First World Problem Club



The day I joined the neighborhood bulletin board/forum/listserv, NextDoor.com at the suggestion of a fellow Clinton-Division resident, I posted to my first thread.  Garbage pick-up early in the morning caused Suzanne in Creston-Kenilworth distress.  Amen, sister! 

Ever since the food cart pod opened across the street, early morning garbage pick-up with the trucks beeping reverse into the lot then the loud thump and clang of the dumpster mixed with the tinkling crash of broken glass falling into the back of the recycling truck, has become a fact of life.  Sometimes I wake at 4:00 a.m. wondering if I’ll be able to get back to sleep before my alarm sounds at 5:00.  Other times it’s 3:30 a.m. on a Sunday and the propane delivery truck is pumping gas into one of the carts on our street.  Nothing sends me from 0 to super pissed like interrupting my sleep.  (Ask my daughter who has witnessed some of my lowest moments in parenting when she woke me in the middle of the night.)  Admittedly I have gotten used to the noise.  It still wakes me but I don’t lay in bed stewing about the goddamn motherfucking food cart pod like I once did.  I rouse, think “fuck the gas man” then fall back into my recurring nightmare that we sold our house and are desperately searching for housing in the impossible Portland rental market.  After limited success with getting the loud live music quashed at the pod, I had all but given up on ending the early morning-middle-of-the-night noise.  Until Suzanne in Creston-Kenilworth flicked her sweet lighter beacon of complaint and I found my people. 

I am not alone spitting complaints into the dark while my husband asks sleepily, “Are you going to do something about it?”

Today my answer is a definite maybe.  A short and to-the-point email to the food cart pod powers-that-be squats in my drafts folder.  Not the run-on half-quoting of city regulations that is my norm, but a simple request that the food cart landlord ask the garbage haulers to hue more closely to the residential pick-up hours.

With each notification of another comment to the thread, I felt fortified, understood, heard. 

Then this post landed in my inbox.  Mandy* from Brooklyn writes, “Ummm three words for this issue: First.  World.  Problems.”

Well, aren’t you above it all, Mandy. 

If you think about it, NextDoor.com should be subtitled A Place to Discuss First World Problems.  Even though this is not my first trip around the internets, I felt a little stung.  Hurt even.  Pissed definitely.  I can understand how a person could think that.  I read other threads on the site that didn’t exactly jibe with my point of view, but instead of typing words onto a screen and clicking “Post” I opted to different-strokes-for-different-folks it and move along with my life. 

Then Thomas* from Foster-Powell chimed in: “Wow, can’t believe this is actually an issue for people.”

Now, Thomas, do you sit before your glowing screen in disbelief because you can’t understand how the trash haulers would be so insensitive as to not understand that the loud thump of dumpsters crashing to the ground in the wee hours of the morning would wake sleeping residents?  Or are you a card-carrying member of the First World Problems Club? 

People continued to post, to commiserate, to ignore Mandy and Thomas.  But Thomas just couldn’t let it go: “It’s all just a part of living in a city.  Cities are loud.  Deal with it.” 

As Abraham Lincoln once wrote (if brainyquote.com is to be believed): Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.  That goes for you, Thomas. 

Grayed out below the posts are the “like” equivalent of NextDoor.com.  The thank.  Heather thanked Thomas.  Thomas thanked Cindy.  I imagined the three of them, the First World Problems Club, rolling their eyes at their silly neighbors and their frivolous complaints. 

“Get a load of Susan in Creston-Kenilworth.  Her Christmas lights won’t light and she’s asking for help.”

“First world problem!” They blurt in unison.

“What about Rich in Hawthorne complaining about fireworks.  Sheesh.”

“Doesn’t he know that we live in a city!  Fireworks can erupt at any time.  Even midnight in the middle of December.” Thomas snorts.

“First world problem!” 

My stewing about the many inconveniences the food cart pod has brought into my life was temporarily replaced with stewing about people complaint-policing the neighborhood website.  Can’t we all just get along on the internet?  Accept that we all have different brands of itches that need scratching and when someone else’s itch is different from ours, go along our merry way without trying to shame them. 

My policy on internet commenting is threefold:
1.              Never read the comments.
2.              If you read the comments and feel possessed to respond angrily, type away.  Let the hate flow through you and explode in a hundred angry characters on the screen.
3.              Delete that which you typed and see number 1.

I got very first world in dealing with my feelings about the First World Problems Club.  I posted about it on Facebook.  I felt relieved when a few people “liked” my post.  A friend who has lived all over the world and was a member of the Peace Corps noted that “self-righteousness is the worst first world problem there is.”  Amen, Christy!

As Elsa forever urges, I have let it go.  But not without typing up my angry response to the First World Problem Club:

To those who do not see the problem with early morning noise interrupting residents’ sleep: I invite you to use your first-world technologies to remove yourself from this thread and then use the extra time you would otherwise spend shaming your neighbors for perceiving a problem where you see none to bask in the glory of your self-righteousness. 

And then I hit delete.


* Names have been changed to protect the mostly innocent.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cutie Baby

In an attempt to curb parental name-calling, Purvis* has adopted, “Awww, you’re such a cutie baby,” as her go-to instead of “stupid mommy/daddy” after we make what is, in her humble view, a bad parenting choice.

As I drove her home from her acrobatics class last weekend I attempted clarification. “Sweetie, are you saying ‘cutie baby’ to be nice or mean?”

“Nice,” she said indignantly.

“Are you sure? Because calling someone a baby isn’t usually a very nice thing to say.”

On the playground, them’s fightin' words.

“No, it’s nice,” she said. “Like I’m your mommy and you’re my sweet baby.”

Mais non!  I would never call my mommy stupid!
“Oh. Okay.”

I half-buy her reasoning. Sometimes she does say it out of the blue in a I-can’t-fight-this-feeling-anymore burst of love. “Oh Mama, I love you. You’re such a cutie baby.”

Other times she says it like she’s barely holding back a “stupid.” “Mama, you’re such a….cutie baby.”

If it keeps me from having to think of new punishments and escalating the situation, I’ll take cutie baby anytime.

Saturday morning things turned ugly. She called us stupid. She yelled. She stamped her feet. She punched Josh’s leg. I have no recollection of the outrages that we perpetrated to inspire such behavior but I suspect it had to do with asking her to get dressed for her acro class. Outrageous! In the course of that terrible 10 minutes she lost her treats through Tuesday, including her more deluxe weekend treats. Weekday treats are things like fig newtons and peanut butter-filled pretzels. No biggie. Weekend treats include candy from her Halloween stash, a muffin from the bakery, and, on special weekends, ice cream.

I stopped myself from piling on the disappointment, my voice dripping with faux-concern. Oh honey, but those are the good treats you just lost. I feel sorry for you. A victory for parenting, a loss for passive-aggressive family dynamics.

After the treat withdrawal didn’t net any change in behavior, I went for the toys. She lost her newly beloved plastic horse, then the orange recorder she tootles around the house spreading headaches and delight, then her “tape privileges” for a week. Indeed scotch taping things is a privilege in this house, g-ddamnit! Then I had to go for the big guns—her Legos and the big box o’ plastic princesses.

After each sanction we offered her an out. “I know you’re upset. Do you want to go to your room and calm down?” We asked.

“No! Stupid Mommy!”

Finally, after I carted the princesses off to my office, the island of lost toys and tape dispensers, she took us up on our cool-down offer. She ran to her room, slammed the door shut, and yelled at the top of her lungs, “I HATE MY MOMMY AND DADDY!!!!”

“At least she didn’t say it to our faces,” Josh said.

“Yeah, that’s some improvement.”

Then we shared our third what-the-eff-got-into-her look of the day and hovered near her door.

We didn’t rush in to correct her or tell her how it hurts our feelings when she yells that she hates us. It’s okay for her to feel her feelings, to occasionally hate her mommy and daddy. We draw the line at calling us names—Stupid Mommy, Mean Mommy, Stink—unless that name is a growled “cutie baby.”

* Purvis is my daughter's nom de blog so that she may one day be able to google herself free of a list of embarrassing baby stories.   

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Putting the Boot in Reboot

Hello members of the fellowship of Crud. It’s been a while. Too long of a while. So long that I am grateful—or rueful—that my blog entries are dated so I can see just how long it has been. I’d like to say that I have been metamorphosing in some creative chrysalis state. (I always loved the word chrysalis as it conjured images of the shard womb of Krypton. Or for you fellow parents of children between the age of 3 and 10: Elsa’s ice palace.)

But really it’s been more of a state of wonder. I wonder if I should keep plugging away at this blog? What of this writing so-called career of mine? Has the time come to put some of the 500 pages (!!!) of writing I have done about the early years of my daughter’s life into the world? Release this boogery butterfly and let her flap her wiggly wings?

The answer to at least one of those questions is yes. Actually to two of those questions: yes. The part about my writing career is yet to be determined but there is at least one exciting development—to be announced at a sooner later date—that is leading me to all of this yes.

So join me in my yay-saying and enjoy the coming soon excerpt from the continuing saga of the blog-that-never-was, The Purvis Chronicles. After I hit 200 pages in the Chronicles, it seemed a bit crazy to go back and start my mommy blog, especially after swearing that I would never write a mommy blog. That niche has been effectively filled a hundred times over. Motherhood can’t help but make an appearance in this Crudbucket reboot but I also hope to find something to say about long in the tooth wrestlers, the world of yoga and cycling, and to get disproportionately outraged about how many nice restaurants are now in my neighborhood. (Hey hipsters and retirees from California, get offa my lawn!) You know, just like the good crud you’ve come to expect.

Don't be surprised if you see the design morph over the coming weeks. I am toying with different templates, trying to step into the 2010-s with the main goal of readability. And, if you can tell from this current iteration, making things as orange as possible.

Please join me as I get the hell outta this ice palace. I promise not to make you wait 4 more years until I actually post a post. Maybe 4 days.