Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
This September, however, Poker Chick embarks on the journey that is parenting a school-age child. She's one of those last-minute people (big surprise, right?) so naturally she didn't bother looking at any of her calendars until yesterday. This is when the major freakout began. Suddenly she had an epiphany. Of course parents are on edge in September!!! The start of school for a working parent is insane! You'd be mad not to be mad.
What's the big deal, you ask? The big deal is that nursery school in NYC is too-often treated like a Harvard prep class. First, there's the 10,000 pages of lists with all the purchases and visits required just to prepare for school. (Backpacks and doctors and crayons, oh my!) Next, the "fall semester" schedule. The problem with the schedule is that most of them are built around the 1950s housewife. You know, the one baking her own challah, giving school tours, actually brushing her kid's hair before school. Flip to 2007 and you have a working parent who needs to maintain some involvement at the school without losing her job. Now, in fairness the school Poker Chick chose for the mini is the lowest key in the neighborhood. So she thought she'd be able to manage.
Surely, everyone understands when you need time off work for the first day of school and parent-teacher conferences. But now there's a mandatory "phasing-in process". 10 of 20 working days scattered throughout a month. Ahem. Excuse me? You try it, go ahead: "Um, boss, I'll need to come in at noon about every other day during our busiest month. That won't be a problem, will it?". HA! Good luck with that one! The school is understanding of this and accepts other "caregivers". But unfortunately society has not quite kept up with the times. You could do it, but then you're that mom; the only one who's not doing it; the mom who's labeled as an unfeeling slacker and castigated accordingly.
Think Poker Chick's wrong? Raise your hand if you know any dads who receive the same level of disdain for not being as involved in school as they like, even though many of them work less hours than Poker Chick. Right. That's what we thought.
Now, to address those bright-eyed optimists out there. You think you can do this? Great! You've somehow got the boss (and the Client's) buy-in on all this time off. Now add the expectation that you'll be joining at least one school "committee". How could you not? Excellent! So let's see, 8 out of 10 involve 9-5 meetings/activities. No problemo. If she gets fired, the money genie will appear and grant Poker Chick the tuition money for this Utopian education. Ha ha. Let's take a moment to laugh at that visual.
OK, so no daytime committees. Still, there are things Poker Chick can do. In her spare time after cleaning up and eating and paying bills and finishing up work after the mini goes to sleep. After all, Poker Chick is a Superhero. She doesn't need sleep herself.
But let's look on the bright side. It's September. Not tax time, not Thanksgiving. At least it's just this one thing going on. But wait - there's THOSE PESKY HOLIDAYS that roll around every September. More days off! And the expectation that Poker Chick will reprise a rare domestic role as hostess. Sadly, she will likely go along with it because she's a firm believer that everyone should have a place to go on the high holidays. D@mn values.
Think we're done? Nope. While she won't be sending cards (one thing she's never done), she does have an obligation to call the ones she loves to wish them a happy new year. This includes someone who recently sent her a curiously nasty email telling her she should be ashamed of herself* (and you wonder where she gets her guilt).
So, let's review. Work/school conflicts. Maternal judgement and subsequent guilt. The stereotype that posession of a uterus brings with it domestic obligations.**
Anyone still wondering why someone might be a bit emotional in September?
*If you know what PC may have done to elicit this, please do tell! All polled are still clueless. **If anyone would like to loan Poker Chick a p@nis (aka the "get out of jail free card") for the month of September, she'd be much obliged.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
"C'mon, kiddo, let's go potty before we go to the park!"
"Don't worry, Mommy. I'll just make a pee pee in my pull-up."
And then you see that familiar scrunched-up face.....
Thursday, August 23, 2007
NYC - Chicago
8am Monday. At the airport by 6:15 am, only to find out that both the 7am and the 8am flights have been cancelled. The airport is in a state of chaos. Poker Chick has two options: leave at 4pm (waaay too late), or get on the hour-long line to try and get another ticket, or standy on another flight. Poker Chick calls her travel agent three separate times while online and Blackberries 3 different colleagues. Finally, she finds out a better option than five standby flights on United she stands no chance of getting on (100+people waiting): a couple of American flights. She puts a seat on hold and finally makes it to the United counter. They need to "endorse" the ticket to another airline so she doesn't have to pay an additional full fare (yikes!!). Success!! Oh wait, it's not a ticket, just a voucher. She needs to wait on the American line (2+ hours) for an American ticket.
9:30am. Poker chick has been standing on some sort of line for 3 hours. She's hungry, tired, dizzy, and needs to pee. The situation sucks!! Finally she makes it to the American counter. Her travel agent just reserved a seat for ther on the 10:15. No, they say. She's only on standby.
10:00am. Poker Chick checks her voicemail at work. Message at 8:01am from an automated voice ("This is United with an important message. Your flight itinerary has changed due to a [cancellation] ....)
Chicago - Philadelphia
The flight is delayed for 2 hours. Fortunately, Poker Chick gets a heads'-up this time. The flight actually does take off 2 hours late. 30 minutes past landing time, everyone aboard is wondering why we've been circling Philadelphia for the past 45 minutes at the same altitude.....
Philadelphia - Phoenix
United flight with no information otherwise. Check in at the United counter at 6:45 am, only to get the message that it's a US Air codeshare, and the US Air terminal is outside and a little walk away. Perhaps that information might have been helpful a bit sooner. Also, a special shoutout to the three burly men that spent 10 minutes watching Poker Chick struggle with an overhead bin mid-flight. Not only was her laptop not in that bin after all, but it was one of their suitcases that didn't really fit and gave her such a hard time closing it again. A little help here, a$$holes?!
On a pleasant note, the flight arrived only 6 minutes late. Another pleasant note, this facility is currently ordering dinner for us from the Cheesecake Factory. Mmm.....
Phoenix - New Jersey
Well here's the nail-biting finale. Poker Chick's flight was scheduled to leave for Newark at 4pm Phoenix time. However a glance at the "arrival" screen showed that the plane due to land at her gate at 3:15 was delayed until 5:30. Therefore her flight must be delayed at least 2 hours, even though they weren't saying so. Poker Chick proved to be right when she interrogated a gate agent who was forced to admit the truth. How did this help? Well, it allowed Poker Chick to leave her teeny tiny airport terminal and get a halfway decent dinner in the meantime. (Chili's. Decent burger. But positively gourmet compared to the two-day old sandwiches she left behind). Though she had to go back to security to make her flight, there was no line at that time. How did she know this would happen? A little chit-chat with the security guy on her way out taught her that there were no late night flights, so everyone would have already gone through security by 5pm. (They were right, by the way. She's never gotten through those x-ray things so fast). Finally at the gate, she noticed it was 5:20 and the plane still hadn't arrived. So she opened her computer and updated this here blog (another tip from security guy: wireless signal best at gate 6). She looked around her and saw hundreds of frustrated passengers. They had been waiting for hours only to keep getting more delayed. Finally, the plane arrived and everyone boarded at 6pm. Poker Chick boarded the plane feeling like a champ. Everyone else was hungry and cranky, but not her! Her brilliant travel skills got her a hot meal, inside information, priority baggage handling, and a window seat with no one next to her. She enjoyed a comfortable flight filled with arm space, naps, and toblerone. But then she got brought down to earth. After landing she watched passenger after passenger headed home with relief. It was past 2am. Everyone was exhausted. And this is when Poker Chick learned that her car wasn't showing up.
So, the moral of the story? You could be a superhero for all they care. At the end of the day, the airlines always get the last laugh. There's no winning at this game, people. Don't even try.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Britney Spears, Angela Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Posh Spice, and - oh yeah, and Suri Cruise.
What happened to Hollywood? Broadway? Those "celebrities" that actually needed to exhibit some sort of talent to merit any attention from the press? If anyone has information on the whereabouts of any of these people that have seemingly vanished, please let Poker Chick know.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Why is this? After years of life, why is it that we only remember people on the day they died? Can someone please explain this to Poker Chick?
*This was the term the doctors and nurses used. You think Poker Chick'd make that sh*t up?
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
The first fascinating fact about Toronto is that the same flight that took an hour several years prior now takes two, if there are no delays. Is Canada moving farther away or something? It must be, because it took one of our gracious hosts over 10 hours to return to Canada from Florida (you didn't think we'd let that one slide, did you?). We could go on, but then this is about Canada, let's save airline-bashing for another day.
(Loyal readers will be pleased to hear Poker Chick intentionally spent a few extra $$ to fly out of Newark so she could keep up her elite flyer status.)
Also rather annoying about Canada is that one has to go through customs and immigration to get in. As if it's another country or something. Sheesh.
Fast forward past baggage claim to the ground transportation area. We were greeted by a cheerful mother and son. Now, if you're an American whose only foreign travel experiences were for work or tourism, you will not understand this reunion, so let me try to explain the phenomenon:
Imagine your family lives in a land far, far away (couldn't resist the drama). Visits are infrequent due to the cost and time involved, and therefore when they do happen they are long and anticipated for months at a time. If you're a child, you watch with confusion as your parents make such a big occasion of it. Tickets are bought. Everyone is called. Teachers are alerted you will need to miss some school. Everyone spends a seemingly unnecessary amount of time fussing in anticipation. Suitcases are packed weeks before the event. Odd items are purchased because you can "only get them in America". In many homes this means Levis and bagels; in mine it was Oil of Olay and Brillo Pads. Don't ask. (Incidentally, the visit to Canada was no exception. Except, of course, Poker Chick forgot the Kix. She sucks.) Across the seas, or in this case - a great Lake, preparations are also being made for your arrival. Food is purchased, beds are made, and finally...finally... there are arrangements for the all-important airport pickup. An American would naturally ask which person was designated for the airport pickup? No, no, friends. It doesn't work that way. Everyone comes for the airport pickup. Parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins. You're nobody, I mean nobody, if you get off that plane and have less than 5-10 people waiting for you in a small, yet loud mob.
Think Poker Chick is kidding? Spend some time in JFK. Watch the planes arrive from India, from Israel, from Seoul. Watch their families hubbing and fussing about. Watch the extra suitcases, filled only with "presents". Wholly embarrassing if you're in it, thoroughly hilarious as a spectator.
What's this got to do with Canada? Well, one must understand that our gracious hosts hail from international borders as well. So put together two friends who have known a lifetime of "airport pickups" and....well, you get the idea. It was quite lovely. The mini recognized her betrothed immediately, and Poker Chick was nearly in tears watching them happily reunite and laugh with each other. Easy, people. I said nearly.
For those of you considering a Toronto adventure of your own, here are a few, well, "observations".
The house itself is quite lovely. In fact, Poker Chick commented that she could use a wife so she could have such a lovely home herself. It was a nice place to be in. Also, there's something to be said for a house, yard and space for kids to run around in. Not to mention a kitchen large enough to actually cook in. Feel free to re-read these words, because it's not something you'll hear Poker Chick admit to often. Still, it's true. It's got it's good points.
The neighborhood is difficult to describe. Suffice it to say that "Frum" would be an understatement. "Hard-core fundamentalist" is more like it. We're not talking just skirts and sheitls. We're talking black hats with fur in July, because you're just not a good enough Jew if you're not sweating twice your body weight on your walk to shul. Still, there is a benefit to living in this neighborhood...delicious Israeli food. Mmmmmm, Burekas. Also on a positive note, the "Frumela" department store has clothes for girls too, so we're now set with the mini's back-to-school wardrobe!!
As for life in Canada, Poker Chick was indeed impressed. Our hosts spent a great deal of time convincing us that Canadians are "just like us". For the most part, they're right! They speak English. OK, they all speak French too, but they also speak English. They use dollars. They even have museums and Italian restaurants, just like here! They have Starbucks and Home Depot and Club Monaco too!! Amazing!! It's not just a bunch of crunchy people sitting around eating Moose meat after all. At least, not in the summer.
Speaking of crunchy, Toronto wins a Poker Chick medal for its social conscience. All citizens have three garbage piles they must make: recycling, compost, and regular trash. Furthermore, they're limited to a certain number of bags of trash and it's only picked up every two weeks. Now, perhaps this law was just passed to prevent raging parties. Canada's not exactly known for its raves. But still, while it's a huge pain in the @ss for its residents, other cities should look to this example. If everyone followed suit, the world would, well....you know were this is going.
Now, there are only two small complaints Poker Chick has of this town:
1) Nobody knows its history. Read up, people! How can you not know where "Toronto" comes from?
2) They may tell you it's the same weather here, but they lie. We spent a weekend shivering in high-60s (F) whilst other New Yorkers were sunning themselves in 80-degree weather. Nice try, friends.
So, long story short? Go for the great town. Go for the nice people. Go for the fabulous hosts. Go for the chance to make Canada jokes all weekend long. But go in the summer. And bring a furry hat.*
Toronto's linguistic origins hail from the Mohawk phrase tkaronto, later modified by French explorers and mapmakers. Tkaronto means "where there are trees standing in the water," according to several Mohawk speakers and aboriginal language expert John Steckley. Mohawks used the phrase to describe The Narrows, where Hurons and other natives drove stakes into the water to create fish weirs.
Fish weirs. Those Canadians. Exciting stuff.
*No Poker Chick review would be complete without a mention of fashion. For those contemplating a Canada visit, please check with PC first for her order from "Roots". She'd ask her friends for it but they're still bitter about the Kix.