How to avoid PTO meetings and other civic duties (with free pamphlet on Bitch Face)

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Hello, Kittens, and welcome back to the salon. I’m glad you made it, because we have serious matters to discuss. I’ll be as brief as I feel like.

It is an unfortunate fact of Western Civilization that small groups of people left to their own devices will tend to form committees. And when small-group intentions are good, the results are almost always bad.

(Yes, I know what Margaret Mead said. Please be quiet.)

Committees go to work on ideas like viruses in a Petri dish: they surround it, study it, then kill it, having appropriated just enough of its DNA to disarm the defense systems of the next good idea they meet. The idea’s entrails are then written up and published in a newsletter.

Why must this committee formation happen, when groups could just as readily form a religious cult, a chorus or a circus act? Alas: committees are formed, resolutions are taken up and pretty soon, just when you thought it might be safe to sit down amongst friends and have a cup of coffee—perhaps even a muffin—you are grabbed around the ankle by a Strategic Plan and dragged, screaming, into service.

And that’s why, when the monthly PTO meeting at Brioche’s school rolls around, Rhapsody is always indisposed. Under a mountain of work. Fighting off a highly contagious strain of strep throat. Down with the cramps.

It’s not that I, or other committee-phobes don’t see the value of civic projects, or even that we don’t want to help, but we’re shade plants of the social world, and all that cheer and industry from you non-morose types is like too much afternoon sun on our tender leaves.

Are you exasperated by my attitude? If you think I’m hard to take as a blogging actress, you’ve got it easy, my friend. I could be your wife. I could be your mother. You just think about that for a moment, while I pour you a whiskey sour in these special holiday tumblers I’ve dusted off for today’s gathering.

And before we go on, please initial that you have read this Vital Disclaimer: Although I am a rabid volunteer elsewhere, I have not yet actually attended a PTO meeting at Brioche’s school. This post (like most of my life) is based on supposition and hearsay. Also: I am a blogging celebrity—not a real person. So if this post hurts your feelings and you think Rhapsody is talking about you, please consider two things:

  1. Confronting me will require you to admit that you are being teased by an avatar—a gorgeous, chimerical demon made of pixels and stardust. How does that help your cause?
  2. Sarcastic. Bitter. Acid-tongued. You keep using these words but I do not think they mean what you think they mean. Instead of arguing with me, why not try sword fighting as a way to relax?

Now, then. Shall we do as they do at Town Meeting and get this bitch over with? Continue reading


Sleep Training for the American Right (and if you think you won’t like this post: you won’t)

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Welcome to Rhapsody’s post-election and penultimate-to-the-first-anniversary-of-Rhapsody post. Yes, it’s been weeks and weeks since the last salon meeting, but we’ll talk about that later. Right now just grab an armchair, pour a drink and settle in.

I’m mixing a classic bourbon cocktail today, The Last Word because it goes so well with a blog, my favorite setting for conversation these days, that being a forum in which only I get to talk.

What I want to talk about today, kittens, is the distressing case of American political conservatives and what’s to be done about them.

Now, I know you didn’t come here looking for a left-leaning political rant (or maybe you did, in which case: “fist bump!” as the young folk say) but little else seems even worth thinking about when you consider how the earth is warming and growing more dangerous by the year, and even the words that I type right now are entering a bank of “cloud” computers, which are not, despite the wispy coolness of real clouds, a cloud at all but a hot, hot and ever hotter bank of metal processors humming away somewhere in the already drier-than-hell central valley of California—

I mean, I suppose it’s in California. I don’t know, actually, where the cloud lives. It could be in my garden shed for all I know, and probably is, since the more critical we are of something the more likely it is that we are seated directly on top of it.

But for now I don’t want to talk about how you and I are the problem. I want to stay on the much more riveting—if upsetting—subject of the faults of others. The people responsible for everything bad, everything mean and unreasonable and shockingly ill-informed.

By which I mean the right in American politics. (Not you. I mean the people to the right of you, obviously!)

That whirring noise you just heard was a whole lot of angry comments that are going to hit Rhapsody in Cool from all over the place. I won’t publish them, but I will keep them in a keepsake box so that we can open them up at the holidays and enjoy them, with cocoa before a roaring fire. They’re so fun! Did I tell you about the one that came in about my Ree Drummond screed? You’ll love it. Email me and I’ll send it right over.

Now, then. Shall we begin?

* * * *

If you are among the liberal friends still here in the salon, then you’ll be glad to know I’m just getting to the central point, right here, and that is the wild epiphany I had this morning, which offers us—much like climate science—a viable and supportable theory to explain a troubling phenomenon.

The question that led me to my visionary realization is this: Why do political conservatives on the far right seem so maddeningly stupid? I’m not an optimist, goodness knows, but even I find this fact hard to fathom: 58% of congressional Republicans do not accept climate change as an actual, human-driven reality.

Fifty. Eight. Percent. Have a big gulp of your cocktail and sit with that a moment.

As I tried to wrap my head around this one this morning, stomach acids burning a hole in my esophagus, it suddenly dawned on me—good gracious it’s simple when you finally see it—just why so many conservatives seem stupid.

You see, they’re not actually stupid, they’re simply spending 95% of their attention and will power doing battle with that inner voice (conscience? common sense?) which is whispering, “What you profess to believe—and are turning into policies and laws and systemic neglect that will waste us all—actually flies in the face of common sense.”

Just think of the hard work it is for them, day upon day, one Fox & Friends broadcast after another, to stuff down the buoyant forces of sense and fairness as they rise back to the surface.

Because they do that, our better instincts do. I believe this. Logic is a permanent resident in each of our brains, and you can only treat it like an illegal immigrant at your own peril. Logic lives patiently in the primeval caves, sharing camp with our own inner Selfishness, that little creep. Logic survives. It won’t go quietly into that good night unless you work really, really hard to muffle it. And that is why right-wing conservatives are tuckered out, all over this country, my friends.

They’re just plain fatigued.

I would compare these individuals—let’s take Bill O’Reilly as one blotchy and loud example—to an extremely worn out toddler. When a small child has stayed up past the hour of napping or bedtime, he doesn’t simply do what his body so clearly needs to do, by lying down and closing his eyes. No: he fights the need for rest with every fiber of his being. He fights it like it’s a matter of life and death.

If you’ve seen this you already know what I’m talking about: an exhausted toddler is the most wired, most viciously, most unreasonably awake creature on the face of this earth. The terrified parent must deploy all manner of soothing strategies to trick the child into obeying the instincts of his own body, like saying, “Shhhhhh, there there now, Rep. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), it’s all right, it’s just climate science and it doesn’t really want to hurt you, if you’ll just stop screaming for a minute you’ll see that it’s really all very clear and straightforward, just… ow! Why are you biting me?!”

That’s what’s wrong with all of these fuckwit conservatives (begging your pardon for the coarseness, but have you seen these shameful election results?). They aren’t stupid. They are scared, they are overtired, they are afraid of the arguments being proffered by their very own better selves and they need a nap.

No wonder they seem ready to take the head off of anyone speaking in plain facts. I look at them and—as frightening as they truly are because they are out to wreck the entire world with the help of their punch-drunk classmates in the GOP—part of me just wants to hand them a sippy cup and say, “That is enough. Time for nighty-nite.”

Just look at how silly Bill O’Reilly is here, while Alan Colmes tries to speak sense:

And poor Sarah hasn’t been able to string a coherent sentence together in her entire political life, it’s so far past her bedtime. Look!

I’m getting a bit fractious myself thinking about all this, so I’m going to turn it over to Bill Maher for a moment. Bill is never afraid to look the god-awful truth in the face (maybe because the whole “god” part of that doesn’t worry him, and that does help). Take a listen.

Do you find yourself just staring off into space, like Lisa Kudrow is doing in that clip? Well, that’s because being the parent of one of these tired toddlers is tiring in itself. You start to give up. You start agreeing with whatever the little bastard is saying because it’s hopeless to talk sense to someone who can’t even hear you anymore.

Yes, sweetie: climate change is just part of the ebb and flow of a God-directed ballet of nature. No, my love: human industry and cars and profligate consumption have nothing to do with it. Fine. You’re right. Have a cookie. Mommy’s going to lie down for a little bit and just close her eyes….

I think I’m done with this jag for today, and I’ve got a lot of notes and exciting tidbits for the Rhapsody 1st Birthday Bash, which is happening in just about a week or seven. Do drop by! We have a lot to talk about.

As always, gift giving is not discouraged.




Rhapsody’s Guide to Childrearing: Everything you wanted to know about parenting but had the good sense not to ask


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Welcome back, kittens! The first weeks of school are over and in the ten minutes remaining before the school nurse calls to inform me that Brioche and Tannery are contagious or infested, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on parenting.


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I promise you that Rhapsody will not morph into a parenting blog. I don’t have the patience, or even that much to say, so I’ll just mash all my thoughts on this topic into one piping hot post and serve it casserole style, with a topping of crushed crackers.

You see, it has come to our attention that the dyspepsia of mommy bloggers has started to be a major downer for the as-yet-childless columnists at Slate and Salon. Why, they scream from their loft-style apartments, must we spoil the experience of Parenting in the Abstract? Where are our catalogues of parenting joy?

Why are we making it sound hard when it’s obvious to those who’ve not yet tried it that parenting is easy and fun?

I see that you parents in the salon are beginning to gnaw lightly on the furniture as you take this in. Please stay calm, everyone. Rhapsody will handle this. As your trusted imaginary friend, I feel it is my duty—and privilege—to provide serious answers to these rhetorical questions.

And to our salon-goers without children: no need to roll up your yoga mats and leave so soon. There’s plenty of chardonnay and schadenfreude to go ‘round, so please, resume savasana pose and stay awhile!

Now a deeeeeeeep exhale through the nose, and…. we’re off.

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