Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

If You Give My Eight Year-Old a Piece of White Felt Glued to a Dowel

We decorated two tables for Reading Rocks this year, one of which was inspired by "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake." In the spirit of that book series, I present to you:


If you give my eight year-old a piece of white felt glued to a dowel, and tell him that he is supposed to glue blue and red felt pieces to it to make an American flag (in keeping with the overall theme for this year's event, celebrating author Candace Fleming and her book, "Imogene's Last Stand"), he will notice that the blue felt has not yet been cut into squares and that the precut red felt strips come in a variety of sizes.

He will ask the facilitator of the craft room to cut him a blue felt rectangle instead of a square.  When she hands him the blue felt rectangle, he will glue it to the center of his white felt flag, and he will ask his mother for some of the white paper that he is supposed to cut stars from.

Because he does not recognize the concept of supposed to, he will tear the white paper into pieces and glue it, collage-style, to the blue felt rectangle.  He will superimpose the shape of a white cross over a white X.

When he is finished gluing white paper to his flag, he will glue red felt strips over the white paper, and announce, "DONE.  UNION JACK." 

Then he will ask to go to the book fair.  At the book fair, he will select no less than two Wookiee-themed books.  Because he is a boy.  He will also prevail upon his mother to buy him two young adult novels about dragons, a graphic novel about sharks and a glossy coffee table book titled "World's Worst Monsters and Villains."

His mother will acquiesce, because she is a boy mom.  Apparently, a fairly indulgent one.

Once he has obtained said books, he will want to look at them.  He will put his flag down on the table to allow the glue to dry, and he will spend fifteen minutes debating the relative merits of the cthulhu and the camazotz bat-monster, in terms of overall scariness.

When he is finished thinking about monsters, he will want to have his picture taken in the photo booth.  At first, he will want to pose behind the prop cannon.  But then his mom will ask him if he wants his (now-dry) flag, and she will offer to retrieve it for him. 

While his mom is retrieving the flag, he will have a thought. And when he returns, she will find him posed thusly:

In the stocks, like any good prisoner of war, or student of Revolutionary War history.

God, I love this kid.  Love spending Saturday mornings with him, enjoying literacy-centric events, and watching the way his brain works.

(By the way, points to whichever organizer figured out that foam pirate hats, if stapled together JUST so (with the skull and crossbones obscured within an interior fold), make excellent tricorns.  The casually dangled hat really makes the picture.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Plan B

First night of "gymnastics for diving" . . . resulted in no gymnastics being performed.  Well, other than the mental kind.

Notes to file:

1) Signing the kids up for a gymnastics class taught in a suburb of Fort Worth because it was significantly cheaper than the equivalent class in Fort Worth:  great idea on paper, horrible idea in reality.

2)  Given the ongoing construction of the Highway 121 project in North Texas, relative distances are not an accurate predictor of actual driving time.

3)  I really, REALLY hate I-35 northbound.

4)  Particularly at night, when big eighteen-wheelers ride your bumper.

5)  The only thoroughfare that I hate driving more than I-35 northbound is, apparently, Golden Triangle Boulevard.  Having never driven Golden Triangle Boulevard until last Thursday night, this was news to me.  Per the City of Keller Web site, the driving Hades that I navigated Thursday night represents a "$19 million project [that] will turn Golden Triangle Boulevard into a four-lane divided concrete roadway with traffic signals, raised medians, left and right turn lanes, curbs, gutters and a storm drain system. . . .  Road construction on this major project began in October 2010, and the projected end date is early 2013."

6)   It is, apparently, not "early 2013" yet.

7)  The precursor to a "four-lane divide concrete roadway with traffic signals, raised medians, left and right turn lanes, curbs, gutters and a storm drain system" is a "nightmarish two-lane roadway with no buffer between you and oncoming traffic, no shoulder and zero visibility, because that part of Keller isn't built up yet, and you might as well be driving through a cow pasture for the lack of available illumination."

8)  People in Keller drive really, REALLY fast.  Maybe it's the close proximity to Texas Motor Speedway?

9)  I don't particularly like playing chicken with wannabe NASCAR drivers on an unlit two-lane road with no shoulder and two children in the backseat.

10)  Sometimes buildings that exist on paper don't exist in actual reality.  Or, at least, don't correspond to their street addresses.  This seems to be a very suburban phenomenon.  It is also a reason why I don't venture out into the suburbs very often.

11)  Thirteen year-old copilots don't really "get" the concept of maps.

I had to remind myself of #11 several times when copilot C was melting down because he had been charged with trying to find our destination on Google Maps and he could not figure out which icon represented our moving vehicle and which represented the gym.  More fundamentally, he could not figure out which end, literally, was "up."  It didn't matter.  Even after I made a semi-illegal turn into a gas station and enabled the voice-activated GPS, we made no progress.  GPS told me that the gym was where Google Maps said it was, which is where I thought it was going to be in the first place.  Except, it wasn't actually, factually there.

Thirty minutes after the class was supposed to start, and after our fifth round trip through the parking lot of where the gym was SUPPOSED to be, C ran into the lobby of 24-Hour Fitness, found a mom who purported to have a daughter who was a student at the gym, and came back out and reported, "Get back on the highway, take the second right turn, and [blah, blah, blah]."  I stopped listening, on account of how:  (a)  she didn't specify, and therefore he didn't know, which highway; (b) ditto which direction to go; and (c) what was being described had ZERO relation to the street address assigned to our "destination" (in quotes, because I am now utterly convinced that the concept of this gym was a figment of my imagination).  At this point, I decided to give up almost entirely on principle.


Life is too short to risk life and limb trying to save a few bucks by driving dark-and-scary roads at hours that kids ought to be in bed (seriously, a gymnastics class that starts at 7:30?).

We have gyms in Fort Worth.  And they are open in the summer.

Life for the McGlincheys going forward will be tremendously simpler if we focus on swimming this spring and pick up gymnastics actually during summer dive season, when swim practice is in the mornings and our afternoons and evenings are more open.

A few bucks lost on a Groupon is nothing compared to the Zen-like calm that descends upon you when you give yourself license to simplify.

We took a vote (me, the kids and Dad via telephone - caught him on a changeover, mid-tennis match), and it was unanimous:  our days of playing chicken on Golden Triangle Boulevard were over.  Make that "day."  On the way home, God let us know that we made the right decision by playing "Thrift Shop" and that ridiculously catchy song that I let the kids sing, provided that they sing it, " and Britney BEEEEEEEP."  We did a little car-dancing while we were stuck amidst the eighteen-wheelers.  All was right with the world.

And things got right-er the next morning when C announced that he did not want to run track, because he had had his own epiphany:  going to a magnet school across town makes AM track practices, basically, unfeasible.  "I would have to be up at 6 every morning, and we would have to leave here shortly after 6:30.  EVERY MORNING.  You don't want to do that, I don't want to do that, and I KNOW that Dad doesn't want to do that.  [He's not wrong.  Spouse:  not a morning person.]  It would make getting PJ ready for school a nightmare.  I would be tired all of the time, between getting up early, and running track for two hours, and then swimming in the evenings.  And it would eventually all be for nothing, because if you miss practice, you get cut, and you know that we would end up missing practices."

Yeah, that particular apple didn't fall far from this here tree.  I applauded him for being realistic, and for speaking out for what he wanted, which was to swim.  Spouse, I think, was a bit disappointed that the kids have once again veered away from the sports that he played growing up, in favor of aquatic pursuits.  See, he's never been a fan of the water:  I think he can count the number of times that he's been on a boat on one hand, and his idea of pool time involves a noodle and a beer.  (In his defense, he's ridiculously Irish.  In my experience, "Irish" and "aqua-nut" are two separate circles on a Venn diagram.)  However, even he agreed that C's "do even less" proposal was a healthy extension of Mom's "don't do as much" plan.

So, Plan B:  no one drives anyone anywhere in the AM, unless C misses the bus, or it's raining and no one feels like walking PJ to school.  PJ swims twice a week, C swims three or four times, with some flexibility as to what nights he has off.  Dad can go to tennis secure in the knowledge that Mom is not cursing his name while dodging big trucks on the freeway.

Liking Plan B already.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Our "Simplified" Life

Brutal honesty:  the kids in our household have taken a backseat to Mom and Dad for a lotta years.  Let's modify that:  Dad and the kids took a backseat to Mom, while she "president-ed" Junior Woman's Club and did a bunch of stuff for and with others who were not kin.  And they were pretty accommodating about it, the kids in large part because they are, at their cores, kind of lazy, as all kids tend to be.  Mom's not forcing us into a lot of activities, because they conflict with her schedule?  AWESOME!  Dad was a bit more inconvenienced - but he played the role of good soldier, most of the time. 

And then, around the time that my tenure as immediate past president was ending, Dad announced:

"I'm going to start playing tennis on Thursdays."

Thursdays had always been Mom days.  Junior Woman's Club Board of Directors met on Thursdays, and so did Junior League.  I'm still not quite sure if Spouse's Thursday-centric assertion of dibs was a passive-aggressive means of saying, "Your reign of terror is over" or if he simply wanted to play on Thursdays because Thursdays is beer league.  All I know is, Spouse now has Thursdays.  I have Tuesdays, twice a month.  And believe you me, two Tuesdays a month is a far cry from the four-night-per-week schedule that I was running a few years ago.

I thought that I would miss all of the activity, but truth be told I was due for some homebody time, particularly after being deprived of my actual home for the better part of the year.  While we were fighting our battle to preserve and reclaim the McGlinchey homestead, I grew to appreciate the simplicity of coming home and hanging out with my family - even if "home" wasn't really home.  Time with Spouse and the kids was restorative.  And, now that the house is new-and-improved, I actually enjoy being there more often than not.  (Having financed a major "kitchen-and-other" remodel on the fly, I am also far more aware of the economic impact of girls' night out:  even at happy hour prices, those two vodka well drinks translate into two kitchen cabinet knobs, and did I mention that two of our kitchen cabinet knobs adorn a quite spacious, and fully-stocked, liquor cabinet?  Fortunately, I have had little trouble convincing my running buddies of the benefits of girls' night in.  Particularly when I am "buying.")

So, for awhile there, I was coming straight home from work most nights, and cooking a square meal, and things were simple.  And then, right around the time that Spouse started playing on the traveling tennis squad for our club, I decided that the kids had been denied the opportunity to do certain extracurriculars, because Mom's schedule didn't allow them, and it was high-time to rectify that.

Specifically, I concluded that we needed to transition into year-round swimming.

If you are a parent, then you may recognize that "year-round swimming" occupies the same parental commitment space as competitive gymnastics, figure-skating and really hardcore Little League.  But, hey - the kids had expressed a distinct, and mutual, preference for swimming over other sports, and also for diving, and I'm a big fan of lifelong athletic pursuits that one can continue into adulthood, for exercise and/or recreation.  (I have no illusions that either of my children has a future as a professional shotputter, but if they keep swimming they just might decide to tackle an Ironman one day, which would be kind of cool, and, worst-case, a well-executed inward dive at the company pool party might buy them some street cred.)

No sooner had we committed, theoretically, to signing up with a particular swim program in town than that program offered a Groupon that was too good to pass up.  On the same day, another Groupon popped into our inboxes, offering eight weeks of tumbling for two kids for a very reasonable price.  Hey, didn't the boys say that they wanted to take some tumbling classes for the purpose of developing diving skills?  Done and done.  We bought both Groupons, intending to knock out two months of gymnastics, followed by swimming. 

The thing is, we're US, and old habits die hard, and long story short we didn't pull the trigger on either Groupon until a week prior to expiration.  And, as luck would have it, both Groupons needed to be used right away.

Right around that time, Big Kid's Whiz Quiz team made the finals, and, while I was waiting for the final match to start, and thanking God in my head that one after-school activity was coming to an end, one of Big Kid's teachers turned around in her seat and said, "Oh, now that Whiz Quiz is over, we can start getting ready for UIL.  We've recruited your son for science and social studies."


Oh, did I mention that track and field season starts next week?

So, our "simplified life" is morphing into something like this:

AM:  Someone drives Big Kid to school at oh-dark-thirty (it's a magnet, so it's across town - bus is available, but not for early AM athletics), while the other someone gets Little Kid dressed and out the door.

PM:  Big Kid has swimming at dinner time.  Mom drives, except for the one week a month that she has a Junior League commitment.


PM:  Dad drives Little  Kid to swimming.  Then someone drives Big Kid to swimming, because the boys' respective practice times are an hour and fifteen minutes apart (and Big Kid's bus splits the difference).   Mom is on the case on odd Tuesdays, and Dad covers even Tuesdays while Mom is at Woman's Club.


PM:  Little Kid has Student Council.  Big Kid has UIL practice, which means that he misses the bus, which means someone has to retrieve him from his campus WAAAAAY over there, and then drive him to swim WAAAAAY over THERE. 


PM:  Swimming for Little Kid.  Tumbling for both.  Dad leaves for tennis at some point in between.  Mom has the proverbial football for the duration.

One night a week, nothing happens.  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  Pure bliss.

Saturday AM:  Dad has tennis, again.  And, apparently, Big Kid is going to have UIL practice.  Really?

Sunday AM:  Mom and Dad get out of church twenty minutes before Sunday School and Youth get out.  Going forward, I think that this time slot may be utilized for sleeping standing up.

Sunday afternoon:  Big Kid has to be driven to church a second time, to play basketball in a church league.  And, sometimes, Dad has a makeup tennis match.

Sunday PM:  Would you believe that Big Kid goes to church again?

Meanwhile, Little Kid has inquired as to why he isn't playing soccer this spring.  Seriously?  Mom is on record that she is already weary of driving people to athletic events, because the irony is not lost on her that everyone else is getting in better shape while she is getting flabbier.  She has expressed a desire to take a page from her children and start swimming on a regular basis, with a goal of joining a Masters program at some point in the future.  Which will mean logging hours in the pool - at the same time, probably, that someone has to be driven somewhere.  That's okay.  I SHALL OVERCOME, one way or the other.

Photo at top  is of the giant mug of oatmeal that Spouse shoved in my hand one eveing as we were passing like two proverbial nocturnal watercraft.  "Here, eat this on your way to the natatorium."  It was oddly touching.  And quite delicious, once I got the hang of juggling the mug, spoon, a cell phone, my purse and a gear bag.

I have resigned myself to the fact that our lives will always be, more than a little bit, crazy.  The nature of the craziness just seems to evolve over time.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Yelling and Selling

THIS . . . is a "red box."

(Okay, you'll have to take my word for it that the box is red.)

Once a year, I spend three hours standing in one of these and "yelling and selling" Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo programs.  On account of how I am an obedient and enthusiastic Junior League member, and the Junior League gets a dollar out of every program sale.  (They were $2 back when this picture was taken, and I am pleased to report that, notwithstanding a whole lotta inflation in the market generally, the price has only risen to $3.)

Actually, it isn't guaranteed that I get to sell out of a red box, but it is my preference to do so, and, thankfully, a lot of my fellow Leaguers seem to be a bit afraid of them, so I usually get what I want.  Many ladies actually volunteer to walk the aisles inside the Rodeo arena and sell programs to patrons in their seats.  I dread seat-selling, particularly in the boxes at arena level, because I married into a Stock Show family, and I have a full appreciation of the fact that the people in those boxes: (1) most likely have attended multiple shows, and therefore already own a program, or two, or three; (2) actually care a whole lot about who and/or what just came out of the chutes (and may have a vested interest in same); and (3) would rather not have me constantly obstructing their view.  And I do mean "constantly," because Fort Worth Junior Leaguers are nothing if not insistent:  didn't want to buy a program from me the last ten times?  Perhaps my eleventh pass will be the charm.

When I was a provisional member, I had to work the boxes one shift, and, after being heckled a couple of times, I was sorely tempted to switch my sales pitch to "BUY OUT MY PROGRAMS, AND I PROMISE TO STOP WALKING IN FRONT OF YOU!"  Problem with that strategy is that, if I had sold out, an enthusiastic Rodeo Committee member acting as shift supervisor would have patted me on the back, handed me more programs and told me to make yet another pass.

So - I really like red boxes.  Others don't like them because they require you to be an extrovert, but extrovert is kind of my middle name.  I have fun with it, and with the patrons -  particularly the older gentlemen with the big cowboy hats and equally big belt buckles.  For this reason, I tend to seek out the matinee shifts:  lots of retired rancher-types, some accompanied by wives, and others attending in large groups.

I have fun with the groups.  "HEY, YOU IN THE HAT, WITH THE BOOTS - DON'T YOU DARE TRY TO AVOID EYE CONTACT WITH ME.  Your momma raised you better than that.  COME OVER HERE AND TALK TO ME.  I can't help but notice that you don't have a Rodeo program in your hand.  Suuuuuuuuure, you bought one yesterday.  That was YESTERDAY.  Today is TODAY.  And your community needs money EVERY DAY.  Plus, you need today's schedule.  Yesterday's program had YESTERDAY'S schedule.  What, you just want to buy the schedule?  Okay.  THAT WILL COST YOU THREE DOLLARS.  And don't be thinking that you're going to buy one to share.  NO SELF-RESPECTING TEXAS GENTLEMAN SHARES HIS PROGRAM."

You get the idea.  Intimidation?  Flirting?  Tomato, tohmahto.

My general sales pitch goes something like this:




[There are three reactions to that last statement:  some people get the joke immediately, and immediately laugh; others get two steps away, and then look back  at me when the joke sinks in; and, tragically, a few folks think that PRICES THAT ARE MULTIPLES OF THREE ACTUALLY REPRESENT SOME SORT OF BULK DISCOUNT.]

If someone walks by with a bag of peanuts, I may tell them that programs go great with peanuts.  (See also:  corny dogs.)  If they have nachos, I point out the utility of program-as-lap-tray-and-liquid-cheese-spill-catcher.  (See also:  corny dog mustard.)  Groups of mature women are pegged as looking like civic-minded folk who surely want to support the good work of the Junior League in their community.

Hey - who said that dung-slinging had to be confined to the exhibition barns?

This week's red box experience was highly entertaining.  I made friends with the purveyor o' souvenirs across from me, and his smoke-break buddy who works for the physical plant and whose job, apparently, consisted of standing next to the ATM (for what purpose, I cannot tell - tech support?).  Two hours into my shift, Mr. Souvenir Seller asked me if I could watch his booth while he and Mr. ATM ducked out for a quick smoke break.  Being tied to my box (not literally, but figuratively), and not being an employee of Cheap Junk R Us, I wasn't in a position to make sales for him, but I told him that if someone tried to make off with any of his loot I would use my "yelling and selling" voice to alert the sheriff just down the concourse.  I kid you not - TWO MINUTES AFTER THEIR DEPARTURE, they were back.

"I told you we would be quick."

Seriously?  Those ciggies are expensive - and you're tossing them away after two minutes?  I mean, not that I am supporting your habit, but, if you're going to commit, COMMIT.

After my shift, I went back and purchased two hats from Mr. Souvenir Seller - a sort-of-University of Texas ball cap for the Big Kid, with burnt orange and white fake fur where the crown should be, and a blue squid hat for the Little Kid.  I actually had my eye on the Mardi Gras squid for most of my shift, but at the point of purchase I decided that a solid blue hat was "more versatile."  I actually expressed this opinion OUT LOUD.

Little Kid loved his squid, considering how he is obsessed with all things aquatic.  Big Kid asked why HE didn't get a squid, too.  Um, because I was pretty sure that, at thirteen, if I presented you with a giant squid hat, you would roll your eyes, or say "Seriously?" or do both, or worse.  Damned if I did, damned if I didn't.

"But the furry hat is kind of weird, Mom."

Right, because THAT'S THE POINT.  Spouse explained that it was a crazy hat, suitable for crazy hat days at school or at church Youth functions, and was not intended to be a substitute for a ball cap that you might wear, say, on an outing to a museum.

"I don't wear hats to museums."


In addition to acquiring two pieces of questionable headgear, I received:

1) An invitation to dinner, from a gentlemen who I would peg as being around eighty, and who patted me on the hand and said, "I like you.  You're fun."  [Yes, I am.  Thank you for noticing.]

2) An inquiry as to whether I was married.  "Oh, too bad.  But, you know, I'm married, too.  Doesn't mean we can't date."  Suitor #2 was, probably, mid-seventies.  Ever contemplated the fact that the same comment, when delivered with a wink by an older gentleman, comes across as flattering, but, when delivered by a younger guy, makes your skin crawl?  Eligible to draw Social Security:  feel free to greet me with "Hello, darling.  Don't you look pretty today?" when I get on the elevator.  Younger than that:  DON'T.  EVEN.  GO.  THERE.  Heck, yes, it's a double standard.  But I stand behind it, 100%.

3) An offer to bring me a beer.  Suitor #3 wins the prize!  I don't think he actually intended to follow through with it, because he followed up the offer with, "Oh, you probably can't have a drink back there."  Actually, there's a little shelf, and as long as I keep it in this red Solo cup with my name on it, we have plausible deniability, don't we?  He looked a bit gobsmacked, so I let him off of the hook:  my red Solo cup was filled with water, and I was good in the hydration department, but the gesture certainly was appreciated.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable yelling-and-selling experience.  Nothing like flirting with older guys to make a middle-aged gal feel purty again. AND IT WAS FOR CHARITY.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

With Apologies to Jimmy Fallon and His Thank-You Notes

Thank you,, for –

Selling UltraSwim [chlorine-removing shampoo] in the dead of winter.

Selling UltraSwim at a price significantly below manufacturer’s suggested retail.

Suggesting that, if I like UltraSwim, I might like L’Oreal Kids Swim & Sport 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash with gentle chlorine-removing formula.  [I like the concept, and the 8 year-old will appreciate the convenience of a 2-in-1, the no-tear formula and the sunny orange fragrance.  On account of how oranges are his favorite fruit, and orange is his second-favorite color, behind green and ahead of “camo.”  “Silver” is in the number four spot, in case you were wondering.]

Offering free shipping on purchases of $25 or more.

Offering a variety of other products that (1) helped me cross the twenty five-dollar finish line and (2) were products that we needed to buy anyway.  [Most of them involving urine.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I needed lotion with 10% urea, because it is winter, and the keratosis pilaris – you may know it as “chicken skin” – on my arms is flaring up something terrible.  Spouse, who took over litter box-cleaning duty when I was pregnant with the Big Kid, and who has remained on little box-cleaning duty ever since then, and who regularly points out that I can take over litter box-cleaning duty ANY DAY NOW since I am, currently, “negative one hundred-weeks pregnant,” having birthed the Little Kid eight years and four months ago, and who rolls his eyes when I tell him that I am going to have to play the uterus card yet again and that cleaning out the litter box is the least he can do for me after I endured two pregnancies and C-section births for him – yeah, Spouse “needed” litter pellets, and the space-aged pee-absorbing pads that insert into the bottom of our space-aged litter box.  I commented on the irony of how I am seeking to acquire urine at the same time that he is seeking to get rid of it, and there was some discussion of me rubbing cat pee pads on my arms as an experiment – actually, just on one arm, and I would put the urea lotion on the other arm as a control.  Then we agreed that that was a totally disgusting, albeit kinda amusing, idea.]

Offering coconut oil in a variety of sizes and price points.  [Because I have been wanting to try it, as a supplement and/or as a 1:1 substitute for butter.  Dr. Oz swears by it, but Dr. Oz and I don’t always agree, so I only wanted to commit to a small quantity to start.]

Agreeing to put an amount equal to 7% of our purchase into the kids’ Upromise account.

Providing us with “ Bucks” applicable to a future purchase.

I calculate that, with tax, my purchase would have cost me $75.64 at a brick-and-mortar store.  After deducting’s price discounts off of MSR ($8.20), sales tax ($5.14), Upromise contribution ($4.34) and Bucks ($3.12), I spent $54.84, for total savings of $20.80.

Not chump change.  Not in the least.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Love Note to Apple Tech Support

Just in time for Valentine's Day.

This is the text of an actual e-mail that I sent to Apple customer support - um, about two minutes ago.  I don't expect a response - on account of how the "customer support" page told me, "YOU WILL NOT GET A RESPONSE."  Hence the reason that I just typed "customer support" in "quotes."  But, whatever - free rein to rant.

[Disclaimer:  North Texas has had some freakishly warm weather this winter, and the grass is sprouting early as a result, meaning that grass pollen season is overlapping with mountain cedar season, and there is a rave going on in my sinuses.  Seriously.  Every cavity in my head is going, "oontz, oontz, OONTZ, OONTZ."  My eustachian tubes are like subwoofers about to blow.  The histamines are waving glow sticks around.  It's getting CUH-RAZY up in there.

As a result, I'm more than a wee bit irritable.

Moving on.]

SUBJECT:  Defining "Customer UN-friendliness"
So I forgot my iTunes login, because I managed to block out of my mind the fact that, a few weeks ago, I was required to randomly capitalize a letter in my go-to password.  (Why?  To protect hackers from pirating my download of the magnum opus, "Shake Your Tailfeather," from the Bad Boys 2 soundtrack?)  When I tried to retrieve it, I was asked for my birth date - and then told that my birth date was incorrect.  Ohhhhhkay.  Turns out that my teenaged son, with whom I share an iTunes account, attempted to change the birth date security question to HIS birthday, but he forgot to change the year, so the current birth date on file for me is a hybrid of my birth date and his.  After going through multiple tortuous steps to reacquaint myself with my password, I tried to correct my birth date - AND WAS INFORMED THAT I COULD NOT DO SO WITHOUT RESETTING THE ****ING PASSWORD I JUST RETRIEVED THIRTY SECONDS BEFORE.  I was also prompted to choose three - count 'em, three - new security questions from among a short list of equally ridiculous choices that all read like, "Who was your elementary school best friend's first pet's favorite car?"  First of all, best friend isn't a person, it's a tier.  Also, I'm 42 years old - if I have trouble remembering my password, do you really think I remember names and dates?  Except my birthday - I remember that day, but I can't convince YOU that I remember it without changing my password.  Heck with it - I'll go with the mashup date that my kid created, and I will have no trouble remembering it, because every time I am prompted to enter it, I'll go, "OH, YEAH - IT'S THE FAKE DATE THAT I GOT STUCK WITH BECAUSE ITUNES WAS BEING TOTALLY UNREASONABLE THAT ONE NIGHT THAT MY SPOUSE HAD TO RESTRAIN ME FROM THROWING MY COMPUTER AGAINST A WALL."  Oh, and the reason that I am posting this on "Apple Support Contact Us" is because, when I attempted to send a simple e-mail, or initiate a Web chat, to ask if it was possible to change my birth date without having to learn another new ridiculous alphanumeric, case-sensitive password, I was forced to answer a bunch of ridiculous questions to narrow down my search query, and then advised that the best solution to my problem was to (1) call Apple now or (2) arrange to call Apple later (HUH?).  Period.  No "less best" options were provided.  What if I just want to communicate with someone electronically?  EVERY OTHER WEBSITE UNDER THE SUN HAS SOME FORM OF ELECTRONIC CONTACT INTERFACE.  GET WITH THE PROGRAM, PEOPLE.  By the way, this is the reason that every member of my family has an Android phone.  All of us.  We even handed an old one down to my eight year-old.  JUST TO TICK OFF OUR FRIENDS AT THE APPLE CORPORATION.

Peace out, "geniuses."