Rules for Parents of a 13 Year Old

IMG_0472– Tell them to spend more time on their iPhone. It is teacher, friend, recreation director, novelist, film maker, shopping outlet.

– Do not speak to them until spoken to. They have much on their minds and running in their veins, don’t ruin their concentration. They’ll tell you when it’s time to speak.

– Give them the keys to the city. Make sure you open charge accounts for them at Starbucks, Forever 21, the joke shop and every store in the mall, that they can use to get whatever their heart’s desire.

– Give them the keys to the house. Two locks for their bedroom to ensure security for their valuable things, the key to the liquor cabinet in case they’d like to try new things, keys to all the doors, passwords to all your websites and accounts, especially Netflix.

-When they’re bored and ask what to do, tell them to play more video games and try to beat their past records.

– Let them win at tennis, bowling, Parcheesi, ping-pong.

If you do all these steps religiously, you will be GUARANTEED an arrogant, unfeeling and egotistical young American adult, who sucks value from the world like a weasel sucks eggs.

How to Embarrass Your 13 Year Old

Embarrassment is of the utmost importance for your 13 year old; as important as the right kind of diet and plenty of television.

– Turn off Rihanna on the radio and sing Barry Manilow tunes, preferably off-key.

– Drive them to Birthday parties and instead of just dropping them off outside, go in and say hello to the parents.

– Tell visiting family relations they are a cello prodigy and ask them to play a tune.

– Talk to their coach about why they were benched during the entire soccer game for just asking to play defense in a game they lost 9 – 0.

– Say hello to their friends when you meet them on the street and then make sure and go home and tell your 13 year old that you met their friends on the street

– Speak.

– Offer advice.

– Be.

-Ask them if they need help with their homework.

– Be yourself in public and private

You think I’m’ joking?

Conversation with a 13 year old

Me: Let’s go to the Street fair!

13: I’m going with a friend.

Me: Oh, who?

13: I haven’t set it up yet.

Me: Oh I see. And you don’t know who yet?

13: I’m setting it up.

Me: We used to have such fun at the street fairs. Would you rather go bowling?

13: Be inside on this nice day?

Me: Ok, how about a hike or a bike ride?

13: I have to be honest with you, that doesn’t sound so interesting.

Me: So basically anything to do with your parents is wrong for a 13 year old to do.

13: I’m almost 14.

Me: You’re not. You’re not even 13 and 1/2. Don’t grow up too fast. Are you sure you don’t want to go to the street fair?

13: Sure, I’m sure.

Me: Well then, Mom and I are going by ourselves.

13: Well, can you go later when me and my friend aren’t there?

Me: It’s a huge street fair! There are thousands of people there!

13: Well, just in case, don’t go ’til later, after we’re through.

Da Newspaper

IMG_0451I like reading newspapers. Always have. I hate the black smudged fingers, hate the awkwardness of folding the damn things and am not particularly partial to the smell of printer’s ink. But there’s something to be said for the leisurely manipulating with arms and fingers of a veritable blanket of news. In these days of single tap iPhones, reading a paper almost registers as exercise. It’s a kind of kinetic fun reading a beach towel of newsprint, where every square inch is covered in information. It ripples and folds and is big enough to catch the wind in its pleats.

Now here’s the odd part. We read it for relaxation, don’t we? I do. I have a hard time reading it in the morning, because there is so much to accomplish that day. I only have room for that. But as the afternoon turns to evening, I yearn to de-stress. I can’t think about another email or phone call or meeting.  I just want to sit, relax and read the paper.

Why should reading about other people’s (states’, nations’, governments’, presidents’, politicians’) problems be relaxing? My rational mind can think of nothing worse.  And one story in ten is downright awful (10 in 10 if you read the Post).

The biggest problem is negativity. It’s a constant game played between the negativity of the situation (rarely good news), the negativity of the writer (objective reporting be damned, yes because they’re human they can have negativity too), and one’s own negativity.

Let’s take a story about Al Qaeda as an example. Some cell of Al Qaeda bombed a marketplace. Okay. This is not good. I shop in marketplaces. Maybe I’d better stop doing that, particularly if I move to Sudan. (Your negativity.)  People die the world over, but these twelve people died doing something so human — bargaining for lentils (negativity of the situation).  Al Qaeda is a bunch of radical extremists who kill people with suicide bombs, warp young people to think that redemption is wearing a suicide bomb and detonating it in a public place is the only way to have friends when you get to heaven, and besides should really have a ‘u’ in their name, shouldn’t they? (Negativity of the writer.) When these three things come together you have a perfect storm of suffering negativity, and all you did was read the paper and “relax”. Hmm. Maybe I should take up ping pong.

So why do I do it? Why do I seemingly relax and enjoy reading about pain, sorrow, death and destruction? I don’t know. But here are some possibilities.

1) It’s comforting to watch/read about people taking action — positive or negative. Especially when you aren’t (at that moment). It’s a great substitute for the feeling of actually accomplishing something and all you’ve done is read a story.

2) It’s just a bedtime story. Story is one of the oldest forms of entertainment, escapism, do we really take them that seriously, whether you identify with the protagonist or not? (Do you go out and sleep with your mother after reading Oedipus?)

3) The other sections. Though you can grit your teeth while reading the front page news of the world, reading about Sports (unless you’re a Cubs fan) Arts, Business, Home, Style (as long as there are photos of models) is pleasurable.

This leads me to another conundrum. Why is reading a bad review of a play or movie pleasurable? Is it because we love to laugh at fools? Even those brave fools who actually try to achieve something difficult and great? Or alternately, do we like to hate critics?

Both of these activities give us great feelings of superiority — again, while all we have actually done is read a story. In fact, now that I think of it, doesn’t that apply to all the news stories as well? “I could do better than those idiots in Washington DC.” “Does Rupert Murdoch have any idea what he’s doing divorcing wife #3 after wife #2 cost him a cool billion?” “Should police really be given guns when polls show that triggers trigger violence and all violence really is is unhappy people having a bad day.” It allows for smug superiority of the most covert kind. Not pretty. This is what I do to relax? Serve as judge, jury and executioner while reading entertaining stories.

I’ve been in the paper before. And at its worst I felt a little bit proud. I got my name in the paper. I must be someone of importance. It’s like a mirror that only sees one way.

So that’s it! Everything, whether you’re in the paper or reading it, makes you superior. What a great trick. Of course you’d want to keep reading the paper wouldn’t you?

But here’s the rub. When I actually read a newspaper everyday, I feel cheap. I feel like a whore. You think I have time to solve the Syrian Civil War? Why are they making me read about radiation escaping from Nuclear plants in Japan? I’m so paranoid about disease, war, terrorism, the political logjam, and our democracy already, why are they adding to my burden? Why? Do they want me to have a panic attack right here, right now?

Could it be that spending that much time with printer’s ink on my hands feeds my superior attitude to the point where I’m ashamed of myself? (I get the same feeling from watching CNN or too much local news on TV) I just don’t want to feel that superior. It hurts and I have things to do that actually create value. That is perhaps the gist of it. Though the fourth estate has significant purpose to maintain free speech, keep us informed, etc. somehow too many stories just feels like masturbation, not like creating value.  Ultimately masturbation is just release. It’s creating value that makes you happy.

I don’t think I’m going to read the paper any more. At least not until I get off work. Did you hear that Donald Trump wants to use caged leopards in designer gowns as presiding physicians in clinics for four year olds? What an idiot.

Facebook Apology

StarbucksJust a note of apology to my Facebook Friends.

I’m sorry.

That Starbucks Coffee I took a photo of with my phone and told you I was enjoying a nice cup in La Jolla, California? It wasn’t true. I was at a truck stop on Interstate 80 in South Bend, Indiana. And I poured the 3 Beans Coffee I got there into an old Starbucks cup I had in the car to make it look like i was enjoying Starbucks. I’ve never been to La Jolla but it sounded jolly, like I might laugh if I was there, and be more myself, whoever that is.

And while I’m being honest I never went to Brazil.

Those photos of me and my children with blooming rain forest flowers were taken at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx because we got a coupon for half off on Goldstar and it was closer and much cheaper than Brazil. For a minute though, it felt like we were there.

Right now the children and I are staying at my mother’s in South Bend. So those pictures of Larry and I being happy at the lake, including the selfie of he and I with the spatula, are from a much earlier time. I just re-posted them because I thought it might revive the love between us. You know, remind us of all we’d done. But I haven’t seen the bastard and his bitch in six months, and the picture I really want to post is the look on his face when I serve him papers.

To come clean, my name isn’t Sue, it’s Su-La-Twa and I’ve decided to stop wearing the make-up that makes me look like a young WASP from Indiana and embrace my roots. That includes no more Clairol Nice n’ Easy.

Some of my High School Friends, particularly, may be surprised I am coming clean, but I thought it best to set the record straight. I never went to Central High as my Facebook profile claims, but spent four years with an AK47 at my side in the swamps of Nigeria while my doppelgänger Sue went to Homecoming. Sue has been erased now. Although for old time’s sake I have decided not to delete her pictures from my timeline.

As you scroll through the life I led as a double agent, know that I loved Indiana, my children and the rest of my cover and wish I could still be shopping at Sears for slippers in the University Park Mall in Mishawaka. By the way Lucy, I still owe you $20 for the smoothies, and given that this is truth telling time, I doubt you’ll ever see it. I have more important debts now. My debt to my newly revealed name, my debt to my country (not sure which one, because I emigrated when I was still a zygote, but I can tell you with all honesty that it was not the US), my debt to my people – the ones who live in that country whatever it is, and my debt to Caitlin Jenner.

I hope to be a man one day soon.

If you like the new me, Friend me.  I will understand if my sudden honesty has turned you against me for all the years of lying on Facebook I have done. As a role model, I encourage all of you, my Facebook Few, to tell the truth and never use Revlon to cover up who you really are.

So click ‘Like’ dammit. What are you waiting for!! I did this for you. The you who ‘Likes’ me. Do you think I would do this on my own? No! I did it to get your attention. I’m pretty fucking Friendless here. I have few Facebook friends to begin with. I figured if I change my sex, release NSA documents, and get a tattoo I would at least get more ‘Likes’. Some people have a pet chicken, I have Facebook. So click the damn Like icon and we’ll call it a day.

Thank you.

PS. Friend me!

PSS. If you Friend me, Like me!!

PSSS. If you Friend and Like me, marry me. I need help and Caitlin says she’s not interested.