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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Excerpt from A Tour Through Home Goods

Another thing I like about Home Goods is that they really, really want me to succeed.  Well, maybe not succeed, per se, but they want me to aspire to succeed.  I should be perpetually hoping, dreaming, relaxing, believing in something-or-other (they don’t specify), laughing, and wearing casual footwear.  In other words, I should live life like the cast of Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style.

This is about 1/100th of the Home Goods items 
designed to inspire the crap out of me.

If I don’t dream big enough and fail to exist under a perpetually grinning ray of sunshine, I can drink away the pain of my miserable failures in this massive wine bottle wine bottle holder (no, that’s not a typo).  If I were a little shorter, I could live in it.  I tried.  Home Goods thinks of everything.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mom Angry That Teacher Won't Serve Her Vagina Cookies to Second Graders

In an installment of Dear Reddit, TIFU (Today, I F&*ked Up) , a teacher describes how a mother brought cookies decorated to look like vaginas* into her second grade class and said, "I decided you can use these to teach the kids about the woman's vagina today."

When the teacher saw the assortment of frosted vaginas and realized this was no joke, she told the mother she could not serve the cookies because they were inappropriate.  The mother flew into a rage, screaming that the teacher should be proud of her vagina.  The poor teacher just stood there:

Utterly bemused and frozen from shock all I can do is stand and stare at the woman as the word 'vagina' is yelled in front of my second grade class about 987,000 times. 

Screaming about vaginal pride wasn't enough for this mother. Later in the day, she sent these emails to the teacher:

My first reaction to this story was is this a joke?  So much, so much to process...

My second reaction was that poor kid.  How did the child react as his/her mom's classroom outburst unfolded?  The teacher has the respect and discretion not to discuss it.  So I am left to worry and wonder.

I got made fun of in second grade.  But not because my mother tried to force-feed my classmates a bundt-cake uterus.  I got made fun of for basic stuff, like having freckles and glasses.  Today, children seem to be able to wear glasses without incident, but in the 80's, the slightest deviation from standard made you the classroom Piggy from Lord of the Flies.  

Being made fun of about being a four-eyes was bad enough.  So my heart broke for this child who would forever be "the kid whose mom screamed about vaginas in class."  Even reading that the mother switched her child to a private school didn't make me feel better.  It's only a matter of time before she brings fallopian tube swizzle straws to a class party; or serves deviled egg ovary sandwiches.  

I'm by no means a mental health expert, but this woman seems a wee bit unhinged.  I hope her child is getting some kind of support.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.

This story isn't about feminine pride.  It's about a parent who's knitting with one needle.  I have three daughters and I hope they'll never be ashamed of their bodies and femininity.  I also hope they'll never think that serving genital cakes to schoolchildren is an appropriate way to celebrate them.

And let's make one thing clear: this mother is by no means a feminist.  Feminists don't celebrate vaginas by wishing domestic violence on people.    

*As the teacher was in too much shock to take pictures of the vagina cookies, this picture is a Pinterest reenactment of what the cookies might have looked like.  Apparently, the real vagina cookies came in a more detailed, variegated array.   

E.. June Ford is the author of Scotch Tape is Cheaper Than Botox: and more not-so-helpful tips for parents, spouses and other tired people. 

The story on reddit can be found here. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An excerpt from "Five More Reasons I'm Too Old to Read Cosmo"

 exclusively in my ebook Scotch Tape is Cheaper Than Botox.

A Cosmo reader asks:
I’m looking into a getting an IUD, but I heard it can fall out during sex or stab the guy inside me.  Is this true?

I love this woman’s deep concern for the welfare of some guy’s wiener.  Only a young, childless woman would lie awake worrying about this.  I’ve been through three rounds of (1) pregnancies with ankles so inflated that I looked like I was wearing M.C. Hammer’s pants even when naked;  (2) medievally painful birthing; and (3) unusually disgusting potty training mishaps.  I really don’t want any more kids.  If my IUD needs to stab a penis to keep me from getting pregnant, so be it.  If it means I don’t ever again have to feel the sensation of my leaking breast milk dripping down my stomach and pooling into my underwear waistband, it can get all Hunger Games warfare up in there for all I care.  

Preview of a pic from "A Tour of Home Goods"

Exclusively in my e-book Scotch Tape is Cheaper Than Botox

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Oprah Asked Us to Join Her Onstage and It Was Amazing!

In 2009, I called my best friend Melissa with devastating news.

Oprah's ending her show! Now what are we going to do?"
"She can't!" Melissa exclaimed "We haven't been on it yet!"
Melissa and I were sure we'd be on The Oprah Winfrey Show someday. We'd talked about it since 1989. We knew -- just knew -- we'd be on it.
"We still have a year," I told her. "We have time to do something amazing and be on the show."
I looked around me. I was crammed in a messy kitchen with a Golden Retriever and three kids under age 5. My career was nonexistent. I'd moved four times in seven years. There was nothing going on in my life that would warrant an appearance on Oprah, unless she needed an expert on how to bubble wrap useless wedding Waterford and efficiently move kid clutter from residence to residence.
On June 20, 2010, despite the fact that I knew Oprah was ending, I threw a Hail Mary and put being on her show on my list of 100 life dreams.

Even after the show was canceled, Melissa made her own list, saying she wanted to "meet Oprah or be on her show or radio."

When I made my list, I wasn't even a writer -- in the professional sense. But I'd been writing since someone gave me a sparkly pink diary when I was 7. I spent my life writing in notebooks and then shoving the notebooks in closet corners. I swore I'd never let anyone read my writing. Yet I secretly hoped to be a writer. You're thinking,that makes no sense. You're right. I became an attorney.
In 2011, I started this blog. Parenthood and my life in general were so frustrating yet funny to me, and my blog was an outlet for that. I was terrified to feel exposed and put it out into the cybersphere, but I forced myself to do it. It's not like people will read this little blog in a sea of blogs, anyway, I thought.
People read it. People liked it.
In 2012, KJ Dell'Antonia of the New York Times praised Mommy Klatch and said it made her "snort coffee." At least, I think that was a compliment.
In 2013, I got my first paid writing job.
In 2014, I read my blogs on a radio show, and then the show creator asked me to become a co-host. A month later, I began blogging on The Huffington Post.
I wasn't writing the Great American Novel or anything, but life seemed to be telling me that writing was the right track. Still, as my late mom would have been happy to tell you, I never listen. I continued to stress about what career to pursue. On many days, my mind said, Why are you writing these silly articles? Go be a lawyer again like you're supposed to. You had your fun. Now stop writing ridiculous blogs about yoga pants and get a real job. Some days, I wondered if I should risk sharing my non-humorous writing. For me, comedy is a less vulnerable, safer place. Writing comedy is still stripping your soul bare -- but it's harder for people to tell.
A few months ago, Melissa called me and told me that Oprah was coming to Michigan (my home state) to do a conference. It was called The Life You Want Weekend, and Oprah, Elizabeth Gilbert, Iyanla Vanzant, Rob Bell, and Mark Nepo would be speaking.
"You're coming here," Melissa said. "This is our 40th birthday gift. I'm buying you a ticket and you're getting on a plane. We're going to meet Oprah. It's happening."
On September 12, day one of the two-day conference, we watched Oprah speak at the Palace of Auburn Hills. She was relatable, eloquent, inspiring. She wore a long green dress. She told us that the point of the conference was to help us find our true callings. I hoped to get insight about my career path.
A page from the conference workbook

That night at the hotel, I had a dream. Oprah was wearing her green dress. She looked into my eyes and asked me questions. I thought, This isn't fair to Oprah. She's always asking people about themselves. Does that get lonely? Does she want someone to ask how she is? So I said, "Oprah, how are you?"
Oprah looked at me like I was a wacko.
I woke up.
The very first thing Melissa said to me that morning was, "Last night, I dreamed that Oprah talked to us!"
I opened my mouth to say, "Me too!" but I stopped myself. For some superstitious reason, I was afraid mentioning both dreams would cosmically cancel out any chance of them manifesting.
That morning at the conference, Oprah asked us to do an exercise where we close our eyes, picture someone we love, see their face, and write what we wish for them. I started writing about my daughter, and tears rolled down my face immediately. As I wrote, my crying got more intense until I reached that point of restrained public sobbing -- where you're breathing sharply through your nose and then swallowing hard, over and over again with a tissue pressed to your face. Why I was crying so hard is a topic for another blog -- and for a skilled team of psychoanalysts.
I looked over at my friend and saw that she was teary eyed -- and staring at someone. She was staring at Oprah, who was about 15 feet away. Oprah looked our way and Melissa, my heartfelt friend who isn't afraid to talk to anyone, said, "Oprah, you're making us cry!"
Oprah looked sincerely concerned and approached Melissa. Oprah (Oprah!) asked who we were writing about. She moved over to me and asked if she could read what I wrote. (And when Oprah Winfrey asks if she can read what you wrote, you say yes, even if you've doodled giraffes in party hats on the side.) After she read it, she put her hand on my arm, looked into my eyes and said, "I like that." She asked how Melissa and I knew each other, and we told her we'd been best friends for 38 years. She moved on.
When Oprah returned to the stage, she said into her microphone: "Where are the best friends? Come up here, best friends."
We walked up the stairs to the stage. Melissa left her workbook on her seat, but I clutched mine. Oprah asked me to read what I wrote. In front of a stadium crowd. On the Jumbotron. I wasn't sure I could collect myself, because I was still in the secret land of tears.* And because I was talking into Oprah Winfrey's microphone! And because the incredible Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert was there. Imagine reading your third grade "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essay to a New York Times bestselling author.
I somehow got it together and read with a shaky voice. Melissa and Oprah were on either side of me, and they joined hands and rubbed my back as I read. Because reading out loud to the Palace with Oprah rubbing my back is totally the sort of thing that happens to me on an average Saturday morning.
I was so into the emotion of the exercise that I don't think I smiled once, even though part of my heart was doing an "Oh What a Feeling," '80s Toyota jump. I'm standing with Oprah!
Looking at pictures of the experience now, I realize that when I asked the universe to put me on stage with Oprah, I should've specified, "and look really good, too." I had my big moment with Oprah looking like a bewildered, soggy squirrel. That was not how the daydream went.
But the reality is even better. Because writing was my question, and Oprah gave the answer.
I'm not saying what I wrote in that moment was Pulitzer Prize worthy. Or that my writing was even the reason Oprah invited us onstage. Maybe she liked that we were really into the assignment. Maybe we were conveniently sitting on the stage-stair side of the stadium. Or maybe she simply felt sorry for me, a woman who seemed about to slide out of the building on an Alice in Wonderland torrent of tears.
The bottom line is that, for whatever reason, Oprah Winfrey asked me to read my writing on her stage. At a conference where her goal was to help us find our callings. Oprah did that for me. And she didn't even know she was doing it. She really is just that magical. 

I am the forlorn person in stripes.

*I can never resist a little Little Prince.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Five Worst Types of Kids to Take Out in Public

Taking small children into the outside world is always potentially disastrous.  At any moment,  young kids may have a temper tantrum, stumble and break their face, wander away, or crap themselves.  But there are five types of children where misfortune is guaranteed:

Public Restroom Afficionado 

The Public Restroom Afficionado (PRA)’s curiosity about every community toilet in America is insatiable.  When she gets within fifty yards of a graffiti-covered one-pump gas station; a fairground port-a-potty; or a strip club in an unlit stretch of highway, she’s got to go. The inside of the lavatory will inevitably be free of paper towels, toilet seat covers, toilet paper, and any soap besides a blackened sliver of Ivory from the Carter administration.  You end up dangling her above the toilet like a Wallenda over Niagara Falls so that her skin doesn’t come in contact with a mutant strain of the clap.  After five minutes, when your biceps are shaking, she announces, “I don’t really have to go,” and smiles sweetly.  Ten minutes after you’ve crossed yourself and driven away, she spots a sketchy petting zoo and says, “Oops.  I really do have to go.”  

The PRA rarely ever really has to go.  She just has to know what all bathrooms look like on the inside -  like an HGTV design consultant with a bladder infection.

A PRA is almost exclusively female, because it’s more disgusting and perilous that way.

Child Protective Services Magnet*

The Child Protective Services Magnet (CPSM) uses any opportunity to land you a meeting with a child welfare agency.  

After lovingly carrying him around half the day, CPSM folds his legs up and goes limp when you put him down; crumpling to the floor with a thud regardless of how gently you tried to set him there.  Even though everyone heard the thud, CPSM is sure to start screaming - making sure everyone thinks you threw him down like Hulk Hogan tossing a flour sack.  

When you try to pick up the CPSM, he holds his arms straight above his head like a clock announcing 6:30 so that, as you lift, he slides right through your hands and crumples to the floor in the manner described above.  Again, he starts screaming to maximize the effect.

Securing a CPSM into his car seat is the seventh level of Hell.  In the parking lot, CPSM arches his back and slides into a pile of graham cracker crumbs under the seats when you try to buckle him.  He screams loud enough for the people inside the stores to hear him.  After you’ve begged him to get in his car seat for fifteen minutes and you’re already late for your doctor appointment, you have no choice but to hold him down with your elbow and buckle him up.  Everyone in the parking lot gets a side glimpse of you kneeling on an armrest with your elbow in your kid’s stomach and sweat pouring down your forehead.  At this point, CPSM starts screaming “Mommy, you’re hurting me!  HELP!  SHE’S HURTING ME!”  

Don’t try to hold a CPSM’s hand, because he’ll wrench it away, shriek, and then rub it dolefully, yelling “why did you hurt me?!”

Traffic Dodger

The Traffic Dodger seeks out moving vehicles with more intensity than police chasing a white Bronco.  No sooner do you have her unbuckled than she bolts out of the car and through a jam-packed parking lot.  Nothing delights the Traffic Dodger more than playing her own live version of Frogger.  Traffic Dodger makes the game even more exciting by staring at the sky as she runs, or down at her shoes.  Anywhere but at the oncoming traffic.  You can locate her by the sound of screeching tires.

The Year-Round Allergy Sufferer

The Year-Round Allergy Sufferer  (YRAS) always looks sick, even when he’s not. His eyes are red, his skin his blotchy, he scratches himself incessantly, and yellowish mucus constantly pours from his nostrils.  He is always getting sent home from school because they suspect he has Hand Foot and Mouth disease.  The YRAS doesn’t get invited to birthday parties because all parents are sure he’s got a weird case of medieval measles.  And because other kids think he’s boring because he’s always whacked out on Benadryl.  Even his parents don’t know what his real voice sounds like because there's always a tissue shoved up at least one nostril.

No matter how many times his parents says, “it's just allergies!” no one believes them.  

The Informant

The informant loves her family and wants to tell everyone everything about them.  


Her entire preschool knows what her family ate for dinner last night.  

What color house she has.  

What kind of car her dad drives.  

That she has 2 dogs. 

That one of her dogs poops on the carpet a lot.  

That her grandma wears adult diapers and her dog should, too.  

That cheese makes her mom constipated.  

That her dad didn’t get that promotion he wanted.  

That mommy got really scared one day because she thought her IUD didn’t work.  

That her brother takes lots of medicine because otherwise he gets “real crazy.”  

That her mom and dad got into a fight last night because her brother getting “real crazy” is from dad’s side of the family.  

That her nine year old sister wets the bed.  

That sometimes mommy sits alone with wine and sings "Foolish Beat' by Debbie Gibson.  

That her dad doesn’t want to go to Disneyland because they’d have to visit “those freaks” along the way and she doesn’t understand it because the only people they know near Disneyland are mom’s relatives. 

*actually abusing your kids is never funny.  Hitting, pushing, anything. They don't ever deserve it.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Scotch Tape is Cheaper Than Botox

Why do we do it?  Why do we women buy all these wrinkle creams when we know they don’t even work? Nothing works except Botox.  Collagen fillers make your face look like a melting, candle-wax marionette.  Face lifts stretch your nostrils sideways.  And laser resurfacing carries the risk that your face will be as pink as a drunken redhead’s for the rest of your life. 
Which leaves the magic of Botox.   But I can’t get Botox, because that stuff seeps into the neurological system and I’m neurotic enough.  Side effects of Botox include blurred vision, anxiety attacks, and loss of bladder control.  I get a mental picture of me standing in line at the dry cleaner, frantically asking a rack of pressed pants for help while a giant urine stain streams down my khakis.  And my face?  Fabulous.
There must be a similar alternative to Botox.  If only I were related to a dentist who could shoot my face up with Novacaine every day.   But then I wouldn’t feel my face at all.  Beside the nuisance of continuous drooling, I might accidentally chew off my own lips while eating a slice of pizza.  
I researched Botox alternatives on the internet and found a chat-room for mature women, called “It’s Granny, Bitch."  These women swear by something called “wrinkle tape.”  They stick tape on the wrinkly parts of their faces, and when they feel it crinkle, they are reminded to not squinch their faces up.  Perfect!  If I could keep my face still, I'd not only be prettier, I’d be a better mother.  My kids would be so much less scared of me if I was only capable of looking blank. Currently, when they irritate me, I scowl so hard that a wrinkle in the shape of the devil’s trident appears between my eyes.
I got started right away.  I put tape on my forehead, just above my nose, and the sides of my eyes (on the skin where the crow’s feet are- not on my eyeballs).  The grannies’ method worked well.  Too well.  The tape around my eyes crinkled when I searched the fridge for stray, half-eaten Gogurts.  When I read Go Dog Go!  (how frickin’ looong is that book? Get to your lame-ass tree party already, you damn dogs). When I looked up Choo Choo Soul on youtube and only found the Italian version.*  When I played “dirt or dog shit?” while examining my kids’ boots.  Many things irritate me, I found. 
As annoying as the tape was, it really helped me stop wrinkling up my face.  
When my daughter got off the bus, she asked, “why did you put tape all over your face?” 
“It’s not all over,” I said calmly.  “It’s on certain places.”
“Why?” she asked.
“So mommy will look nicer,” I said.
“You look sillier,” she said.
“Sillier, but nicer,” I corrected sweetly.
“It’s just silly.”
“It’s just nice,” I said, feeling the tape start to crinkle between my eyes.
We headed to the drug store because I needed toothpaste.  When I walked in, a sales lady raised her eyebrows at me and said, “the First Aid section is over there.”
I was confused, but I just smiled in my new, Katharine Hepburn jaw-clench way and nodded. 
When I was checking out, the cashier motioned for his buddy to come over.  They both looked at me and nudged each other.  When he handed me my change, he muttered, “here you go, Frankenstein” and they both cracked up.  They were clearly on something.
We got home and walked in the door and my best friend called.  I told her about how well my face tape experiment was going.  But when I told her about the weirdos at the drug store, she stopped me.
“Um, what kind of tape did you put on your face.”
“I’m not sure what brand it was,” I said.  “3M?”
“Scotch tape?” she said.
“Yeah, basically,” I said.
“The kind you wrap Christmas presents with?”
“Yup.  Why?”
“You walked around with Scotch tape all over your face?”
“Not all over,” I said.  “Just on certain places.”
“Why would you DO that?” she cried.
“Lots of people do it!” I said.  “I read about it on the internet. Wrinkle tape.”
“Wrinkle tape isn’t Scotch tape!” she shrieked.  “It’s a rice paper that disappears when you put it on.  No one sees it.  It’s not tape all over your face!”
“It's not all over…”
“You put make-up over it so it’s invisible,” she said starting to laugh. 
“Why would I put rice paper on my face?” I asked.
“Why would you put Scotch tape on your face?” she gasped between guffaws.
“Well, who wears so much make up that it covers up tape?”
“It’s not tape.”
“Then they shouldn’t call it wrinkle tape!”
"I can’t believe you did that,” she said.  “Actually, yes I can.  You’re the girl who spent a fifteen minute subway ride with your entire skirt pulled up into your waist-length jacket.”
“Whatever.  I had on leggings.”
“You had on sheer pantyhose and a thong.”
“Whatever,” I repeated and hung up the phone.
I decided to give up on the tape.  After a day of practice, I felt confident that I could keep my face immobile without it. 
The next morning I kept my face perfectly still and asked my daughters if they wanted cereal or waffles for breakfast. 
“What?” they asked.
“Doooaaan say whut, isss naht puliiiight,” I scolded.
 “What?” they asked again.
I took a breath.  “Doooaaan say whut, isss naht puliiiight.”
“I think she’s saying ‘don’t say what, it’s not polite’" my middle daughter whispered.
I nodded vigorously.  “Cee-ee-uhl oh awfuls?”
“Excuse me?” my oldest daughter said.
“Cee-ee-uhl oh awfuls?”
“I think she’s saying 'cereal or waffles'" my middle daughter said.  She was really good at this.  Probably since she’s an animal lover and can decipher when dogs try to tell people someone's stuck in a well.
Later, I went to the grocery store.  Last week they’d had those insanely expensive eco-nuggets on sale, but there was no sign anymore.  I flagged down an employee.
“Are uh uggits ah ale?”
 “Doooaaan say whut, isss naht puliiiight.”
“What?” she repeated.
“Ever ind,” I said.  “Are uh uggits ah ale?”
“I’m gonna call someone else,” the lady said.  “I can’t understand you.”
Another worker came over.  I took a deep breath.  “Are uh uggits ah ale?”
“Uggits.  Ah ale?  Uggits!”
“It must be lockjaw,” the lady said.
“I think she said ‘oil can,’” the other employee said.
Everyone in the grocery store stopped and stared.  I felt my face crinkle.  It felt great.
“Calm down, lady!” the employee snapped.  “And don’t look at me like that.  Didn’t your mother ever tell you your face will freeze that way?”

*I’m sorry, but Tutti abordo il treno choo-choo!  Is no substitute for “All Aboard!  All Aboard!  Choo Chooooo!”  They don’t even have a real beat-boxer for an engineer. Come on!  Our engineer can dance on hishands.  And Genevieve is way hotter than their faux-conductor.  Really, who wants to listen to this crap?