Monday, July 16, 2012

And Then I Ended Up on a Gang's Hit List

To say that I was destined for a career in social services is kind of an understatement. Looking back now, I don't think there was any way I could have avoided it. Not that I didn't try. I've tried twice to go in a different career direction, and both times it has ended disastrously. My vision of my career when I was in college involved providing counseling for children in some climate-controlled office with mellow lighting, soothing decor, and calm New Age background music. However, by the time I finished college, I was ready to be done with research papers and exams for a while, so instead of applying for a master's or Ph.D. program in clinical counseling, I got a job in a residential treatment facility for abused and neglected children, and things kind of went from there. I always had it in the back of my mind that I would go back to school someday, but events just never came together for that to happen, and the more practical experience I had in the field, the less enthused I became about the idea of taking out more student loans for a degree that probably wouldn't ever pay for itself.

But about that practical experience. Let me explain a little bit about my childhood. I grew up as the sheltered oldest child in a middle class family, living in a relatively affluent suburb (although my family was definitely at the lower end of the income spectrum for our community). Still, my parents placed a high value on education, and they were frugal, so somehow they managed to send me and my two younger siblings to Catholic schools. (I look at tuition costs now, and I'm honestly not sure exactly how they managed to send us to those schools and still feed us, but I digress.) There are two implications of my Catholic education. One is that I was sheltered from the socioeconomic diversity that is present in public schools even in higher income neighborhoods. The other is that the caretaking instincts I possessed naturally were nurtured not only by my parents, but also by my teachers. Combining those two things, it may be clear to anyone reading this that I was headed in the direction of social work without the slightest clue of what I was getting into. I remember once for a religion class in 8th grade, I went on a field trip to tour a local homeless shelter, and then we ate lunch at the adjacent soup kitchen. While we were waiting in line for the doors to open, I was mildly shocked to realize that the other people in line were dressed just like me. I think I was imagining characters in Dickens novels, dressed in rags and asking "Please, sir, may I have some more?" with British accents, which, in retrospect, would have been a little strange for midwestern Americans.

So, yeah. I had a lot of learning to do. Luckily, I learned pretty fast. (This is especially lucky since a single social worker's salary dictates that I can only afford to live in the same neighborhoods where potential clients also reside. When I was house hunting, I literally had to veto several suggestions from my realtor based on the fact that I had clients who lived too close for comfort - in one case, right next door. And then I found my dream house, and signed the contract, and an hour later went to a meeting in which a client informed me that she had just moved to a new rental - which happened to be directly behind my new house. Having the nicest house in the neighborhood is small consolation when there could very well be a meth lab next door. But, again, I digress.)

Still, though I learned quickly, and my time in child protective services provided a multitude of learning experiences, nothing quite prepared me for the phone call I got from my supervisor one Saturday.

I can't go into any details, but the backstory is that I had been working with a teenage mother in one of the rougher neighborhoods we served, and I had made some recommendations to the court regarding custody of her baby that she did not appreciate, which is not exactly a rare occurrence in CPS, so honestly, I didn't really think much about the fact that she was mad at me. I was secure in the knowledge that I'd done what I needed to do to ensure the baby's safety.

So on a Saturday soon after the court date in question, I wasn't feeling well and I'd had my phone on vibrate most of the day while I slept. When I woke up, I was somewhat concerned to find several missed calls and a couple of frantic messages from my supervisor. I called her back immediately.

"Oh, Natalie, I'm so glad you called! I've been so worried that something happened to you!" she exclaimed, breathless with relief. (Though she and I did not always see eye to eye, I will give her that the safety of her employees was always a high priority for her.)

She went on to explain to me that she had received a call from the supervisor of a therapist who was working with my teenage client. The therapist had told him that our mutual client had told her that she was in a gang, and because I had "messed with her family," I was now on the gang's hit list.

I responded to my supervisor in the only logical way I could think of: "What?"

Finding out that I was suddenly among the local chapter of the Folk Nation's most wanted did not have the same effect on me that it had on my supervisor. I was actually rather calm about the whole thing, because, frankly, it was too surreal for me to wrap my head around. So, instead, I thought through it logically. I figured that I probably wasn't that high of a priority for the gang, because, seriously, there was no way this girl could possibly be a high-ranking member, and the gang probably had more important tasks than avenging an underling's child custody issues. And I was savvy enough by that time to know that the gangs mostly stuck to their own territory, and as this was before I bought my house and I was still living in an apartment about a 30 minute drive away from this gang's territory, I was probably safe enough at home, and in general, outside their neighborhood, because they probably wouldn't go looking for me, and my client had no idea where I lived.

Still, it did occur to me that she knew my car. Whether she knew the license plate number or knew the look of the car well enough to describe it, I couldn't say, but I did have a couple bumper stickers that could be used to identify it. And then I had to wonder, on the off chance that they did come looking for me, would I be putting my family and friends at risk when I visited them?

And then I realized that I couldn't tell my mother anything about this, because she would probably make me quit my job.

Oh, my god, I thought. I have become Stephanie Plum. I could just imagine my mother pursing her lips and asking why I couldn't get a nice safe job at the button factory before she went to sneak a nip out of the pantry. My life had become a Janet Evanovich novel. It was probably only a matter of time before I inadvertantly blew up a car. And I didn't even get the benefit of Morelli and Ranger. Just my luck.

I didn't say anything to anyone for a full 24 hours, but inside I was dying to tell someone about this, because I was this white-bread private-school girl from the suburbs and WHAT THE FUCK?! Finally, I broke down and told my best friend the whole impossible story, because I think I would have exploded otherwise.

But then I went back to work and got the full story. Turns out, everything had been blown out of proportion. It wasn't actually so much that my client told her therapist that I was on the gang's hit list as it was that the therapist had asked a bunch of hypothetical, leading questions about what would have happened if she were in a gang, because, oh yeah, it also turns out my client wasn't in a gang. I'm not sure exactly where in this game of telephone the information got distorted to "Natalie's on a hit list," but I suspect it mostly came from the therapist. If I recall correctly, she didn't last too long with that agency.

So it turns out that one of the best stories from my job was something that never actually happened.

Not that that will stop me from telling it.

I have lots of other good stories about my work. Like the time I was attacked by dogs, or the time that I was bitten on the arm so badly by an out-of-control teenager that I had to get a tetanus shot, and the only thing that kept her from ripping the skin clean off my arm was the fact that I had watched enough Crocodile Hunter to know that I should push back against her teeth instead of pulling away. But nothing really tops my hit list story. A police detective who I worked with on a couple of cases told me once, "You social workers are kind of crazy. You aren't concerned enough about your own safety. You're walking into the exact same situations that I do, but you don't have a gun." Looking back, I'm pretty sure she was right.

My current job, providing parenting education to at-risk families, is pretty tame by comparison, for which I am thankful - although I still go into plenty of sketchy neighborhoods, and I still end up with some pretty entertaining stories. Although I recently heard a colleague's story about a SWAT Team raid on one of her home visits, which I wish were mine, because it. Was. Awesome. (Although probably not for her at the time.)

But when I first started this job, I had several weeks of training, and during those weeks, I was getting to know a guy I'd met on a dating website (for the record, it fizzled out within a couple weeks), and he asked me one evening what my training had been about that day.

I hesitated, because I knew parenting topics can kind of freak guys out early in a dating experience. "Breastfeeding," I told him tentatively.

He was quiet for a moment, and then he said, "I'm never going to win the 'who had a more interesting day' contest with you, am I?"

Oh, if he only knew.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Watching Movies With Nudity With Your Parents

Let me just start by saying, don't do it. It's not worth the emotional trauma or the years of therapy you will need as a result.

Unfortunately, however, sometimes nudity will just pop up in a movie when you're not prepared for it.

Take, for example, the time when I was 14, and my mom rented Pump Up the Volume for a mother-daughter bonding night. I actually thought it was a pretty hip choice on her part, considering that when I was 12 and asked to see a PG-13 movie that all my friends had seen, the response I got was, "You can see it when you're 13." Obviously, I'd come a long way in getting my parents out of the dark ages in just two short years. As for the fact that I would be watching the movie with my mother, well, we were watching it at home, not going to the movies. You know, in public. Nobody had to know. It was all good.

But that was before the scene where Samantha Mathis was making out with Christian Slater, and she took her shirt off. And she wasn't wearing a bra.

(Having watched this movie now as an adult, I realize that there was plenty in the movie that should have embarrassed me besides Samantha Mathis's boobs. Such as the fact that Christian Slater's character referred to himself as Happy Harry Hard-On and did an extensively over the top impression of a man jerking off that put Meg Ryan's fake orgasm to shame. But remember how I wasn't allowed to watch PG-13 movies until I was 13? Yeah, there was a lot that I didn't get until I was much older. Which is embarrassing in itself, but for completely different reasons.)

Anyway, that happened. And I sat there, staring at the TV screen in horror, thinking, oh my god, I am watching this with my mother. And to be fair, I'm sure it was just as horrifying for her. Neither one of us moved our eyes from the screen for the remainder of the movie, in a deliberate effort to avoid eye contact. When the movie ended, we still sat motionless, staring at the blank TV screen. I was terrified that Mom would want to talk about what we had watched in some kind of twisted Very Special Episode moment. I had to figure out a way to escape before that happened.

"Good movie," I said in a strained voice.

"Yes, wasn't it," she replied, her voice equally strained.

"Well, look at the time, it's almost 10, I guess I should get to bed. Good night!" And I made a run for it. And we never spoke of it again.

Or, at least, not for many years.

Fast forward a decade and a half, give or take a couple years, and one day Mom (who, I discovered as an adult, was not really the prude I thought she was when I was a young teen, but was trying to shelter me - something I understand better now when I hear my 7-year-old niece singing about skinny dipping in the dark and it makes me want to smash any radio that might play Katy Perry in her earshot), anyway, Mom was telling me how funny Get Him to the Greek was and recommended that I watch it. So I asked her if she'd seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, because Russell Brand played the same character, and it was also very funny.

(Huh. Katy Perry. Russell Brand. All in one paragraph. I totally didn't even do that on purpose.)

ANYWAY. A couple weeks later, Mom borrowed Forgetting Sarah Marshall from a coworker, and asked me if I wanted to watch it with her.

I hesitated. "Did I mention that there's full-frontal male nudity in it?" I asked.

"You know, we're both adults now. I think we can handle it," she replied.

I considered this, and then shrugged. "I guess you're right. It couldn't possibly be as bad as when we watched Pump Up the Volume."

"Oh, god, that was awful!" Mom exclaimed with a shudder.

It was strangely comforting to know I wasn't alone in the horror of that memory.

Mom asked my father if he wanted to watch with us, but he declined. I was secretly relieved, because even though I was now enough of an adult to watch nudity in movies with my mother (supposedly, anyway), I wasn't sure I was quite ready to look at a stranger's penis with my father.

Unfortunately, fate had other plans. After putting in the DVD, we discovered that the remote was missing, so we couldn't choose the movie version we wanted to watch, because those controls were ONLY on the remote. After searching in vain for the remote, Mom went to find Dad to see if he knew where the remote was, or if he could figure out how to get the movie to play properly. It was my further misfortune that this particular DVD was one of the ones that start to play the movie automatically when it has sat in the DVD player for a few minutes. So I suppose it was inevitable that Dad walked in at the EXACT moment when Jason Segel opened his towel and showed the world his goods, and I had to relive my adolescent horror.

Clearly the lesson here is that I shouldn't tempt fate. I failed to learn this as a teenager, and I paid the price. From this point forward, I will play it safe and only watch movies with my parents that feature animated singing animals.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

An Open Letter to Sean Harris

I wasn't going to get political on here. I really wasn't. I know that the people who actually know me who are reading this are shaking their heads and rolling their eyes and saying, "Sure, Natalie," but I really had no intention of putting anything political on here. This was supposed to be a place for me to be sarcastic and snarky and hopefully funny. I might address some more serious topics sometimes, too, but I really wasn't going to discuss any politics on here. Religion, either, except possibly as it related to my own personal views and struggles.

However, that was before I got an email from Sean Harris.

(I actually almost unthinkingly typed his name just now as Sean Hayes, which did honestly make me laugh out loud. This may not strike you as funny unless you know who Sean Harris is, and you ever watched Will and Grace.)

For those who don't know, Sean Harris is the pastor of a baptist church in North Carolina. He recently went on a tirade about homosexuality during one of his sermons during which he said parents should punch their sons for acting effeminate. This was far from the only offensive thing he said. He later retracted his sermon, without actually retracting anything other than to say that, in retrospect, it may have been a bad idea to tell parents to punch their children. He also later said that he does not advocate beating your children; however, it should be noted that on his blog, he includes guidelines for parents to physically discipline their children. If you're interested, audio and probably video of his sermon are still available online, and you'll find his blog easily by googling his name. I'm not going to link to either, because, well, I don't want to, and this is my blog.

The email I received from "Pastor Sean," as he calls himself, was an auto-response to an online petition I signed saying that his "apology" for this hateful rant was not accepted. The content of the email asked me to "give him a chance" and read his clarification on his blog.

I read the clarification. And though you may not believe me, I read it with an open mind. And when I was finished reading it and processing it, I was possibly even more pissed off than I had been before I read it. The part that really got me was this: "The opposition is revealing their complete lack of toleration toward those do not approve of the LGBT lifestyle or agenda. However, we must be tolerantly intolerant."

I mean, really. Wow. Hi, kettle? This is the pot speaking. Guess what, you're black!

I sat on it for a couple days, and tried to let it go. I really did. But then today, while I was bored, I happened to open the email again and read his "clarification" again. And I realized that I couldn't keep my mouth shut. So I emailed him back. Oddly enough, this time I've gotten no response.

I know I'm not likely to get a response. And honestly, I knew emailing him was ultimately a waste of time anyway, because even if he actually reads my email, it's not like I'm going to change his mind, just like he's not going to change mine. I just needed to get it off my chest. But then I realized that I didn't just want him to read my response. I wanted it available for anyone to read. So that maybe, someone who needed to hear it would realize that not everyone is so narrow-minded and intolerant.

So I decided to copy it on my own blog. Here it is, and feel free to pass it on:

To: Sean Harris

I read your response. I fail to see how you can claim your words were misquoted or taken out of context. I listened to an audio recording of your sermon. I heard your words directly from your mouth, and the context was pretty clear. It's all well and good to say you "misspoke" after you start getting backlash, but I think your true hatred and bigotry was revealed pretty transparently in your original sermon. You can't unring a bell.

I know I would be wasting my time pointing out the flaws in literal interpretations of the bible, so I won't do that, although I do have to wonder if you keep slaves and stone adulterers and abstain from eating shellfish and pork. I have never fully understood the "pick and choose" mentality that allows some so-called Christians to use the bible to justify their hatred and intolerance under the pretext that the bible is infallible while selectively ignoring some of its more ludicrous passages.

I also won't waste my time trying to dispute your views on homosexuality. Not that I don't wholeheartedly disagree with your hateful views, but because I know from experience that any kind of debate with the willfully ignorant and closed-minded is an exercise in futility. That said, there is a great deal of evidence that homosexuality has a biological basis and is not a choice, and the persistence of your intolerance saddens me.

I would, however, like to point out that using your position to advocate striking a child, for any reason, is unconscionable. I work in social services, and over the years, I have heard "spare the rod, spoil the child" as justification for child abuse more times than I care to remember. It doesn't matter that your official stance is that you "reject the idea that bruising is ever the objective when disciplining a child," nor does it matter that you reject the idea of disciplining while angry or publicly humiliating children. You are still officially advocating child abuse. Some of the parents to whom you gave this "dispensation" WILL go too far, WILL discipline in anger, and WILL leave bruises, and you will have had a hand in that. That makes you a child abuser by proxy. And it's not even effective discipline. I realize that science may be lost on you, but studies show that the use of physical punishment teaches children to try to avoid punishment rather than changing their behavior, it increases aggression and it teaches them that hitting is an appropriate way to solve problems.

In conclusion, I don't really see what your "clarification" was supposed to clear up, other than the fact that you backpedaled a little bit on whether it's appropriate to punch a little boy for acting feminine. I am still appalled by your overall message, and I fear for the children in your congregation. Especially the ones who might question their sexuality and gender identity as they grow. I hope for their sake that God's love is not as conditional as yours.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Million Dollar Idea

About four years ago, I broke my foot in a work-related injury. I was at a home visit, but I was scheduled for a court appearance later that day, so I was wearing a skirt and completely impractical shoes. My client's apartment building had the scariest stairs I had ever seen, and the light in the stairwell was burned out, so the only light came from the front door. The stairs were steep and narrow, and about the depth of a ladder rung, so there really wasn't enough space for secure footing even for my little size 6 feet, much less average-size feet. (Yes, I am a little vain about my foot size. My feet are pretty much the only parts of my body that can be described as "tiny," so back off.)

Anyway, the part that kills me is the fact that I realized how dangerous these steps were, so I was extra careful when I left the home visit. (My client, of course, lived on the top floor.) However, the impractical shoes won out over my caution, and when I was less than halfway to the bottom, my left foot slipped out in front of me, my right foot bent backwards behind me, and I went the rest of the way down the steps on my rear end. Remember how I said I was wearing a skirt? Yeah. That was fun. Obviously, I knew right away I had done some serious damage to my foot, but my only thought was to get out of that building. My client, god love him, heard me fall, came running out after me, and helped me to my car, apologizing and offering to call an ambulance the whole time. However, it was a bad neighborhood, and there was no way in hell I was leaving my car unattended there. So instead, I called my office and told them I'd need someone to cover for me at court because I had to go to urgent care, and then I called my mom and asked her to meet me at her house, because I didn't think I could drive all the way to the urgent care center myself. And then I proceeded to drive 10 miles operating the gas and brake pedals with a broken foot. I'm honestly not sure how I made it that far in that much pain, but I suspect that shock may have had something to do with it. Which also makes it nothing less than a slight miracle that I didn't wreck on the way.

But none of that is my point in writing this. I just thought I'd mention it.

My point is, I had to wear one of those bionic boots on my right foot for about a month after this incident. Which meant that I only had to wear one shoe during that time, which in turn meant that after I was no longer wearing the boot, that pair of shoes was unevenly worn and therefore no longer comfortably wearable. Also, for about a year afterwards, my feet were two slightly different sizes, meaning that I had a choice between wearing shoes that were slightly too big on my left foot or slightly too small on my right foot. That seems to have resolved itself now, but it leads me to my million dollar idea. Shoe separates. Yeah, you heard me. Shoe separates. Where you buy one shoe at a time to accommodate bionic boots or swollen feet. Of course, you can buy a pair if you want to, but this way if your left foot is a 6 and your right foot is a 6.5, you don't have to wear the wrong size shoe, and if you're wearing a bionic boot, you can buy a shoe to wear specifically with that boot so you don't have to deal with uneven shoe wear!

Brilliant, right?


Fine. Be that way. Unfortunately, though, I completely lack the business sense to see this idea through, so I decided to publish it here, so that if anyone else tries to start the same business, I can sue them. And that is my ultimate million dollar idea. See this publication date? I had the idea first. So there.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

You're not really going to name your kid that, part 2

I realized the other night that there was a glaring omission from my last post. I toyed with the idea of just adding an update, and then I decided that this one deserved its own post. This realization came from watching a news clip from MSNBC in which Democratic strategist Krystal Ball was a contributor. Yes, that is her real name. Google her if you don't believe me. I'll wait.


Obviously her name did not hold her back in life. Her resume is pretty impressive. I think she is awesome for many reasons, not the least of which is how she responded when some "racy" photos of her were leaked to the media. I haven't seen the photos, but from what I understand, they weren't any worse than photos I've seen on some of my friends' facebook pages. But I digress. My point is, despite her success in life, her parents still deserve to be bitch slapped for giving their child such a name. As they are, according to Ms. Ball's wikipedia page, well-educated professionals, I can only assume that their decision to name their daughter Krystal Ball was meant to be ironic, and you just don't do that to a kid.

You may think that my issue with the name Krystal Ball is that the first name and last name combine to describe an inanimate object, much like naming your child Chanda Lear or Rusty Potts. But, although that is tacky and trashy, it's also an issue that's been addressed before now. Or maybe you think my issue is with the name Krystal alone, being as the first thing that pops into my mind when I hear the name, along with names like Britney and Destiny and Tammy, is alternately either a trailer park or a strip club. But no. That, in fact, has also already been done, and actually, it was done quite well in this movie trailer, which inspired my original post.

So I decided to go with something else entirely. Without further ado:

BABY NAME RULE #9: Do not change the first letter of a name from "C" to "K"
Unless you've been living in a cave for the last few years, I'm willing to bet that you immediately thought of a particular family. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about the Kardashians, that trashy train wreck of a family that is famous, as near as I can figure, for being trashy train wrecks.

My 7-year-old niece, Chloe, the most awesome kid on the planet, saw a picture of Khloe Kardashian on a magazine cover a while back, and pointed it out to my mother. "Look," she said, "that lady spells Chloe with a 'K.'"

"I know," my mother responded. "Isn't that silly?"

To which my brilliant, beautiful niece replied with matter-of-fact indignation, "It's not silly, it's wrong!"

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You're not really going to name your kid that, are you?

Over the years, I have come across some rather unique names. (In fact, I once met a child whose name actually WAS Unique.) These names run from ethnic to kind of cool to "oh my god, your name is WHAT?" Of course, it's the last category I want to focus on here. I have long thought that all hospitals that deliver babies need to have Naming Counselors, who are responsible for ensuring that children do not go through life known to everyone as Le'monjello. This is, of course, my dream job. However, as the job has not actually been created yet, I will share my baby name advice here.

(I should add a disclaimer that I haven't actually met all the children by these names, and I'm not honestly sure that they're all real names. For all I know, Yo'Highness and Yo'Majesty are just urban legends. I will also probably change the spelling slightly on the more distinctive names in order to protect the idiots innocent. Also, if I happen to rag on your name or your child's name, well, tough shit. No one's forcing you to read this :-)

BABY NAME RULE #1: Punctuation marks do not belong in names.
I have considered adopting a child, although that plan is currently on indefinite hold. More on that later. Maybe. Adopting children from foster care (which was my plan) comes with certain risks, as I well know from my career. Of course, it is very rewarding and completely worth the risk in the vast majority of cases, but frequently children from foster care have a history of abuse or neglect, and this comes with emotional and behavioral baggage. But my biggest fear, when I was pursuing this path, was not that I would have to lock up my kitchen knives and razor blades. No.

My biggest fear was that I would feel the need to explain to school administrators and doctor's office receptionists and strangers in the park that I was not responsible for naming my child Kel'montae.

In some of these cases, I understand, parents are combining a part of the mother's name and a part of the father's name. However, in others, it is a normal name with the apostrophe added (along with unnecessary letters) so that Lila becomes Ly'lah.

Either way, I'm just going to have to put my foot down. Apostrophes do not belong in names. Neither do hyphens, exclamation points, or parentheses. If you choose to disregard my advice on this point, you need to understand that no one will say or spell your child's name correctly the first time they meet him, ever, and you have no right to get pissed off about this. It's not their fault you gave your kid a shitty, indecipherable name.

BABY NAME RULE #2: Creativity with spelling is only okay to a certain point.
I fully admit that this is where it gets pretty subjective. There are some creative spellings that I am fine with. In fact, although I have no children, I have been naming my hypothetical future children since I was about 8, and I have myself recently considered the idea of changing the spelling of Riley to Rylie for a little girl, which I think makes it more aesthetically pleasing and a little more clear that it's a girl's name. She'd have to correct other people's attempts at spelling her name for her entire life, but honestly, I've had to correct the spelling of Natalie my entire life, and I spell it the traditional way. (Also, I should note that there are at least 2 child actresses I have heard of who spell Rylie that way, so back off.)  So if you want to name your son Aiden instead of Aidan, that's fine.  But for god's sake, don't spell it Aaydin. That's just annoying.

BABY NAME RULE #3: Anything spelled backwards is not an appropriate name for your child.
Parents of children named Nevaeh, I'm talking to you.

BABY NAME RULE #4: Naming your child after your drink of choice is also not appropriate.
I swear I'm not making this up: I actually saw someone on facebook named Brandy Alexander. I don't know her. She's probably not even the only Brandy Alexander out there. I'm assuming, however, that her parents were probably not high-brow enough to drink brandy alexanders or even realize that it was a cocktail, because if they were that high-brow, I doubt they would have used the name. Of course, Brandy itself as a name, although it is still an alcoholic beverage name, has become acceptable enough that I probably wouldn't have the grounds to forbid it, but I probably would advise parents to think really hard about it - generally speaking, if you put the word "senator" in front of a name, and the result makes you laugh, it's probably a name you should avoid.

Some other names I've come across in this category are Chablis and Chardonnay (totally not kidding - they were siblings). I even came across one young man (I never actually met him, but I know that he does really exist, and the name choice was likely deliberate) whose name was a variation of the spelling of "kilo." As in the unit of measurement for the sale of drugs. Although, come to think of it, it's kind of surprising that I've never met a child named Weed. I have no doubt it will happen eventually.

BABY NAME RULE #5: No naming your child after food, either.
See above, re: Le'monjello. This is one of the names I'm not entirely sure is real, but according to the story, he had a twin brother named Or'angello. The inspiration, supposedly, was the mother's dessert choice during her hospital stay for the delivery. Of course, these names also violate rule #1, but it still deserves its own rule.

BABY NAME RULE #6: Under no circumstances should your child's name reflect any of the conditions surrounding his or her conception.
The first example of this that comes to mind is Six from the TV show Blossom (for those who either don't remember or never watched it, the story was, that's how many beers it took.) However, I also know of a young mother who named her twins Choice and Chance because it was "chance" that she got pregnant, but it was a "choice" to keep the babies. This is not okay.

BABY NAME RULE #7: Some old fashioned names are awesome. Others are not. Don't give your child a non-awesome old name.
This is another really subjective one, and a lot of names go through cycles of popularity. If you can imagine a child by that name, it's probably okay. I'm talking about names like Graham and Emma and Henry and Grace. Sure, it might have been one of your great-grandparents' names, but you can picture adorable little pigtailed Gracie running around with the puppy, can't you? But I dare you to try to picture a child named Edna. You can't do it, can you? That's what I thought.

BABY NAME RULE #8: Do not name your child after a car.
Anyone who read Beverly Cleary's Ramona book series will remember how cute it was when Ramona named her doll Chevrolet. But the thing is, Ramona was about 5 in the book. Also, she was only naming a doll. Also, she was a fictional character. When I was an assistant preschool teacher when I was in college, I had three little girls in my class whose names were Mercedes, Lexus, and Infinity. I could not even make that up.

That's all I can think of for now. Anyone have any rules to add?

Monday, April 23, 2012

I started a blog

I'm not sure why. I don't really expect anyone to read it, as you may have guessed from the title. It's not low self-esteem, really, just what I consider to be a realistic appraisal of my importance. I'm really kind of boring. That said, I'm funny sometimes, so maybe there'll be that. Who knows?