Friday, May 13, 2011

It's Friday the 13th. Good Luck!

Friday the 13th is considered unlucky by many superstitious people, of which I'm one. And by that I mean I'm superstitious, but, weirdly, not about Friday the 13th. The day just doesn't bother me anymore. I think it's because I wrote a novel about witchcraft a few years back [Wish Club, Three Rivers Press, June 2007] and while doing research for it, learned many of the unlucky connotations for the number thirteen come from some pretty misogynistic sources. Sorry Ancient Religious Guys, but I just don't buy into the whole women are evil thing, this is in spite of the fact I did go to Junior High.

On the other hand, I do love a nice good luck charm. I have a collection of four-leaf clovers, a lucky bamboo plant and a money tree.
Dead Money Tree
Actually, I've had several money trees. Seems I have a hard time keeping money trees alive, the irony of which is not lost on my husband. He on the other hand, is the opposite of superstitious. He's an engineer, so you know when we have the following conversation,

Him: "What's this?"
Me:  "A dead money tree."
Him: "That's not a good sign." 

It is based on the scientific fact I like to go shopping.

A few months ago, I bought a Tree of Enchantment, probably because I'd seen The Avatar one too many times. The tree is actually a Weeping Pussy Willow and legend has it, it has the power to grant wishes. Being a sucker for wish granting (Hey, I did write an entire book about it.) I went to my neighborhood Trader Joes and bought one. I should have known my wish was in trouble the minute those beautiful soft tufts of willow started going to seed and leaving bright yellow pollen flakes all over everything within three square feet of it. Then, when the branch I had looped into a circle to get my wish mysteriously became un-looped, I knew I would never achieve my dream for Buns of Steel. The Tree of Enchantment wasn't a total loss, however, the cats really seemed to like it as evidenced by the beautiful soft tufts of willow that showed up in their hairballs.
Tree of Enchantment not so enchanting when it's dead

Therefore, it is without trepidation that acitymom heads forth into this Friday the 13th. I know the numerology for the number thirteen contains mysticism that has more to do with the power of women than with their evil, and that it's a number that celebrates both the end and the beginning. Besides, it's just a number. But if my black cat walks under a ladder after breaking a mirror, I'm going upstairs to water my lucky bamboo.

Four Leaf Clover

Let's Rewrite History! Newspaper Deletes Clinton from Photo

Last week I wrote about the iconic photograph of our leaders in the situation room watching as Osama bin Laden was captured and killed A Mom in the War Room. My observations kicked up a bit of a stir. But nothing quite like this.CNN-Religious Paper Cuts Clinton from Photo  A Hasidic newspaper, Di Tzeitung, based in Brooklyn, New York, decided to erase Hillary Clinton completely from the photo.

According to the CNN report, Di Tzeitung says their First Amendment rights to Freedom of Religion allow them to, you know, RE-WRITE HISTORY. I for one, vehemently disagree with their argument. I believe it is absolutely inexcusable for them to Photoshop out the truth. There were two women in the Situation Room. If they felt the presence of these women was immodest, well fine. So be it. That IS their right. Their option is: don't run the picture at all. Discuss the photo. Crop the photo--show only our President's face, but they don't get to hide behind their religious skirts claiming it's their right to lie, to alter the truth, because after all their paper's policies are guided by a "Rabbinical Board." That's outrage.

The White House told CNN it would not comment on this matter. Cool. I guess this gives us all the nod, free reign to alter history and the truth however we see fit. Acitymom for one, is very offended by iconic historical photographs of little naked girls like this one:

So here:


Oh, and she's also really upset with National Geographic for the immodest photo that shows the entire face of a beautiful Afghan girl.

I suppose I could have just expressed my opinions and exercised my religious beliefs without re-writing history, but I much prefer to tighten my corset and set a dangerous precedent.

The Mother's Day Road Not Taken

Happy Mother's Day! What's that you say? It was yesterday? Well, of course I know it was yesterday, but since you're going to be such sticklers about it, Happy Belated Mother's Day, then. (I work for an airline and you expect me to be on time?)

mothers day card.jpg
A Carlton Card. Available at Target!

Yesterday, acitymom decided to give herself a little Mother's Day present--a day off. I knew all the other bloggers out there would be posting about Mother's Day and that a post from acitymom would be exactly what everyone would be expecting. And you know me, I live for the unexpected; the unforeseen hairball on the rug, the surprise track meet tonight (this is so common, I now refer to them as Mystery Meets) and the poor child of mine who threw-up in Multi-Cultural Studies at school this morning. (Yeah, Tanya's home sick today :-(  )

Besides, did you read Jackie's Tithof Steere's So Not An Expert post 30 of the Best Quotes on Motherhood or Kirby's Cheaper Than Therapy post What Mom really wants for Mother's Day  yesterday? Whew. Quite excellent. They, and so many others, did such a fine job, I figured the subject was covered. So, I decided to take my mom's advice, and not do what I knew everyone else would be doing.

The card pictured above is the card I gave my mom yesterday. Remember hearing that old saying? I certainly do. And I remember replying, "Well, no, I wouldn't jump of a bridge because that would just be stupid but I really, really do want to go to Janie Lundquist's slumber party."

So, as another little gift to my mom, I decided to not jump off the bridge yesterday with all the other bloggers blogging about Mother's Day, but to take the road less traveled, actually the Road Not Taken (if I'm going to quote from Frost correctly) and hang out here in the dog house with all the other knuckleheads who forgot about Mother's Day, or were late to Mother's Day, because they need representation too, and not just in probate court.

Yesterday on Mother's Day, I thoroughly enjoyed my day off. And I really mostly did have a whole day off. (Thanks Jeff and wonderful children!) I'm glad I took the time too, because today it's right back in the trenches with one kid home sick from school.

I hope everyone had a fantastic day yesterday and I would like to once again wish you all a Happy Belated Mother's Day! And let's just hope this works out better for me than Janie Nordquist's slumber party did.

What to do with your kids this summer? You're hired!

Wondering what to do with your kids this summer? One of my friends has the perfect solution: put them to work for you! Her twin sons are just finishing their freshman year at college and her husband wrote them the following letter, which she posted on her Facebook page. I thought it was so funny, I'm going to share. Her husband is Jim Moeller, CEO of Devpeak Technologies, which he runs from his home office.
Congratulations! Your application for summer employment at Devpeak Technologies, LLC has been accepted.

We're looking forward to your arrival after your current college semester is over.  Our working hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, but flex time can be arranged occasionally for special situations.  We offer attractive health benefits with on-site fitness facilities and a self-serve/self-clean-up cafeteria.  In addition, we offer a QUIET and attractive work environment that I'm sure you'll find conducive to extraordinary productivity.  As a special incentive this summer we are also offering to cover your housing and transportation expenses as well.  Your overall compensation will be in accordance with competitive industry wages that accurately value your contributions, but, of course, not to exceed the compensation of our CEO.  Further compensation details can be discussed when you arrive.

We have a number of exciting projects on which you can contribute, including but not limited to the list below.  We would encourage you to consider the list below and arrive with additional thoughts on how your knowledge, skills and interests might best be utilized in adding value to these projects.   In addition to these projects, occasional manual labor, consisting mostly of working on the beautiful outdoor scenescapes surrounding Devpeak headquarters, will be required.

Again, thank you for your interest in Devpeak Technologies and we look forward to seeing you later in May.

Devpeak Technologies, LLC

Project List (listed in priority order):
1. Mini Linux Server / Reverse Proxy Server.
2. Mini Microcontroller-based Web Server Application Programming (mostly, XHTML and Java).
3. Website programming utilizing PHP and MySQL.
4. Mobile Platform Programming - Android, iPod/iPad, and even RIM Playbook.
5. XNA Game Creator Programming utilizing MS Visual Studio and the XBOX platform.
I thought this was such a fantastic idea (and so fantastically written!) my sons might just find themselves working on the beautiful outdoor scenescapes surrounding acitymom's headquarters as well. And as per my friend's son's request in a comment on her Facebook page, we may even allow casual Fridays.

A Mom in the War Room

By now just about everyone in America has seen this photo of our leaders in the White House Situation Room (more PC to call it "Situation Room" than "War Room" I suppose) watching the operation that got Osama bin Laden. While all of our leaders are expressing the appropriate amount of gravitas, the expression on Hillary Clinton's face strikes me the most. As someone's mother, I can totally relate to what her face suggests she was feeling at the time. I'm reminded of that old saying, the one that goes something like, "What would the world be like if there were no men? No war and lots of fat, happy women eating chocolate."

At the risk of perhaps being seen as sexist or overly political, from acitymom to a former First Lady Mom, I for one am grateful to have a woman like Hillary Clinton in the position of Secretary of State, someone who apparently will not take lightly a decision to put any one of our children in harms way.

Osama bin Laden is Dead

This morning I put the flag out. Osama Bin Laden is dead. Never in my life did I think I would celebrate someone's death, but I am unapologetically happy he's gone.  The events of 9/11 changed everyone's life, and although no one I knew personally died, my airline brothers and sisters lost their lives. And that bastard is to blame. Osama Bin Laden is responsible for killing a part of my way of life.

I can't compare my loss to the loss of a loved one, nor will I try, but because of Al Qaida and the plane crashes on 9/11, my job as an airline pilot suddenly became a job I didn't sign up for. Since that day, I've had to ask permission to use the bathroom. Can you imagine doing this at your workplace? Having to call someone and ask if they have time to guard the door to your office while you take a few minutes out to pee? Anyone who's been to an airport in the last ten years has seen and felt the changes brought about by those terrorist attacks, but I think I can safely say their effect on the airline industry has been the most profound.

On September 7, 2001, my family and I moved into a new home. The conservative couple--the airline pilot and the IT guy who worked for a Wall Street investment bank--finally took a little risk and stretched to buy that dream house. What could go wrong? As I stood unpacking a box in our master bedroom, watching the events on TV unfold, I wondered if I should just start packing all of our stuff back into the box, because surely after this we wouldn't be able to stay.  After a nearly fifty-percent pay cut, the loss of my pension, and some serious, serious scrimping, ten-years later, we're still living in our old Victorian fixer-upper. Although it's not as fixed up as we'd like.  

We're among the lucky ones. Many of my airline friends lost their jobs, some their homes and so many marriages couldn't survive the test of such severe financial difficulty, with many pilots losing up to eighty-percent of their income. (As furloughs increased, pilots got bumped out of seats on larger, higher paying equipment.) 

One of the things that really torqued me was a news report I heard saying a couple of the 9/11 hijackers had been in a bar a few nights before the attacks, reportedly laughing and bragging to the bartender they were pilots. No, they weren't. Not even close.  

On my first day back to work, September 19th, 2001, I was walking through the mostly deserted terminal at O'Hare while patriotic music played in the background. A passenger from my flight, a businessman, asked if it had been my landing. "No," I replied. "I made the landing in Vegas earlier today. This one was the Captain's." "It was a nice one," he said. "Yeah," I agreed. "I probably should just take credit for it."  After a little more chit-chat, he left me with parting words I've never forgotten, "Bring it back."

And we did. Every single one of us. We all stood together and brought it back.  

Today, I think I've decided I'm flying the flag more in celebration of the American spirit and how we brought it back, and not so much in celebration of the death of one bad guy, because certainly, there will be more bad guys to take his place. 

United Airlines Flight 175 
American Airlines Flight 77
United Airlines Flight 93 
American Airlines Flight 11

We have not forgotten. We will never forget. The Osama Bin Laden's of this world will not win their war of terror. We will not let them. No matter what they may try, we will bring it back.

Freedom is not Free: acitymom returns from Washington

You probably thought acitymom didn't survive her chaperoning experience, or that perhaps she and the other chaperones (who were all very cool, btw; not a hoverer in the bunch) had been tied up and locked on a bus while one-hundred eighth graders proceeded to wreak havoc on our nation's Capitol, you know, kind of like Congress does.

Well, have no fear;  acitymom is back. Exhausted, but back. What a fantastic trip! If anyone asked me now if I would do it again, I would say yes, not in a heartbeat, but after a few long hours of reflective contemplation. Quiet, reflective contemplation. Speaking of which, I did learn quite a bit on our trip. I learned that I do not do so well anymore after four consecutive nights with less than five hours of sleep, that most long-haul bus drivers are really, really cranky and that Freedom is not Free.
freedom is not free1.jpg

I should pause here and apologize to CNN. [BIte Me CNN]  I ranted against their advertising/ propaganda (and I learned about propaganda at the Holocaust Museum!) filled article, and while I stand by most of what I said, I have to agree that every kid in the United States needs to see Washington DC, although not necessarily before they're fifteen.

With few exceptions, every war we've ever fought has been about freedom. Freedom from England or slavery or the Third Reich or communism or high oil prices (a little citymom sarcasm on that last one). And in terms of human life, the cost of those wars has been high. It's hard not to be moved by this when you're in Washington, because there are monuments and memorials and cemeteries dedicated to our military and its troops' ultimate sacrifice wherever you turn. Every time one of us complains about a President or gathers in a group or votes in an election in which you do have an actual choice, no matter how lame we may think that choice is, we should remember these rights came at a price. A high price, and they should never be taken for granted. And that's something you won't learn at Disney World.

We were walking through the Smithsonian, checking out all the of the First Ladies' inaugural ball gowns and we decided we didn't like the belt on Hillary Clinton's. "I won't have a belt on my dress when I'm First Lady," I said. "Don't you mean when you're President?" one of my girls replied.

That's what I'm talking about. (Cue patriotic music here.)

I hope our current wars and conflicts will end soon and that these eighth graders will live in a future where our ultimate goals of Freedom and Peace for everyone will prevail.
peace sign1.jpg

In the mean time, acitymom is off to exercise her right to Freedom of Sleep.

acitymom chaperones

Originally posted on April 27, 2011 at

Out of twenty plus kids' rooms at the hotel, only one oversleeps. Of course, it's my son's. After numerous wake-up calls (in their defense, the phones were out) and door pounding, it takes a chaperone a spare key and some dynamite, oh just kidding, and some yelling through the security lock to wake them.

My son comes running downstairs to meet the bus, shirt untucked, hair just as you would imagine, wearing his black Dockers, dress shoes (it's our "fancy" day) and brand new, bright white athletic socks.

One of the bus drivers is standing next to me. "That's the future of our country," he says as my son runs by.

"That's my son," I tell him proudly. And I am proud. Because I know he won't be a bus driver when he grows up. At least not a nasty one, but only a nice one like all the nice bus drivers who may be a fan of acitymom.

Yesterday was jam-packed. Vietnam Veterans, Korean, Lincoln and WWII Memorials, National Archives (where a little kid outside complained, "Why do I have to go? I don't even know what the Constitution is." The Ford Theater, souvenir shopping (I got some genuine Washington DC Dolce and Gabbana knock-off sunglasses. Very patriotic.) and the National Portrait Gallery where we saw a painting of great American, LL Cool Jay.

Posting from the bus (under the bus?) today, so please excuse typos, spelling and all other errors of judgement. I'm Tweeting, too, so if you don't want to miss a minute, you can follow me there, too.

Thanks for reading A City Mom! Follow me on Twitter @acitymom or on Facebook!

acitymom chaperones

Originally posted on April 26, 2011 at

We found morning. In Frederick County, Maryland. I actually managed to get some sleep on the bus, and due to the many contortions that it took, am relieved to report I can forgo my Yoga practice for the remainder of the week.

And I even do the hot Yoga, so it was useful that the air-conditioning broke on the bus. Thankfully, it was fixed at this last stop. If I had to guess, a mechanic came out and cleaned the canon plug . (That one was for my airline friends.)

We’ll be arriving in DC soon, where we’ll have breakfast and then start our sightseeing. Unfortunately, hotel check-in won’t happen until tonight. As you can imagine, I’m very much looking forward to that shower, but for now am simply grateful I was able to retrieve my toothbrush from the luggage bin under the bus. Pretty sure everyone within five feet of me is grateful, too.

Even though I’ve been to Washington many times, I’m looking forward to the tour. There’s a lot of stuff there I haven’t seen. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’ve never been to the Smithsonian, or the Capitol. I’ve never been to a turtle race either, and so, if Congress happens to be in session, am thinking I might be able to knock two things off the bucket list.

Thanks for reading A City Mom! You can follow me on Twitter @acitymom or on Facebook

acitymom chaperones

Originally posted on April 26th, 2011 at

My son says I haven't embarrassed him once. We're only a few hours in. I still got time.

I was very tense at the beginning of all this. I didn't know any of the parents personally, only by sight and it's a whole lot different when you know you're going to be spending a week with them. Same with the teachers. I mean, I know them and what they teach and from the stories they boys tell, but that's about it. So, I was nervous. But, after a stop at a rest area (one Sudafed and two Motrin) the mood seems a lot more relaxed when we got back on the bus. Whew,

The bus has no seat-back pockets, and without one I'm realizing now just how handy they are. The next time you're on a jet, perhaps we should all be grateful we haven't decided to charge you for those.

I've been tweeting (@acitymom) some brief updates. Among them:

99 bottles of beer on the wall got shot down after one verse. Woot!

Thank The Universe for small favors. And I also have my own row of two seats to myself. (chaperone cooties?) Plus, as an added bonus, I got a free chaperone T-shirt.

I'm cautiously optimistic I'll get to keep it.

Thanks for reading A City Mom! Follow me on Twitter @acitymom or on Facebook

acitymom chaperones

Originally posted on April 25, 2011 at

It was a dark and stormy night…

I still can’t believe it’s me here on this bus. The only thing betterr than starting out a fourteen (I think it’s fourteen, they won’t really tell us the truth.) hour bus ride with forty kids is starting out a fourteen hour bus ride with forty kids feeling like you’re coming down with a cold. Sigh.

The movie we brought to share? (There’s a bus-wide DVD player)