Thursday, August 26, 2010

Young Sociopaths Next Door, Part 2

So, I was telling you about the pre-pubescent sociopaths next door, BUT.  There is more.

"Mom," A. Peevie said, "Curly (formely known as A.Boy) took C.Peevie's game and M.Peevie's game, and he won't give them back."

I am starting to get tired of conversations that begin with, "Curly took..." or "Curly did..." or "Curly said..."

"How do you know Curly took them, A. Peevie?" I asked.

I just know, he insisted, so I suggested that he tell C. Peevie and M. Peevie to go to Curly and ask for the games back.  Less than an hour later, he was back.

"Mom," A. Peevie said, his eyebrows crawling toward each other other below a line of worry on his forehead, "Curly gave the games back." 

"Well, that's good, right?" I said.

"Not exactly," he said. "He said he found them in the grass.  He lied, Mom. He stole them, and then he lied about finding them in the grass."  The heartbreak of betrayal and disillusionment spread across A. Peevie's face.  Again.

"Wait just a cotton-pickin' minute," I said.  "He said he found BOTH games outside in the grass?"  That was enough to trigger my inner closer, and I headed over to confront the little miscreant.  He was standing on his porch next to his mother.

"Curly," I said, trying not to sound like a Guantanamo interrogator, "A. Peevie told me that we were missing two DS games, and that you found them in the grass.  Is that right?"
"Uh huh," he agreed, looking away.

"Curly, look at my eyes," I said, "C. Peevie's game was missing, and you found it in the grass.  M. Peevie's game was missing and you found it in the grass.  You're telling me you found two game boy games in the grass?"

He looked into my eyes briefly, but couldn't hold his gaze there. "Yeah," he said, unconvincingly.

"Where did you find them?" I asked him, figuring that the more lies he had to tell, the easier it would be to trip him up.

It didn't work.  "I found one over there by the street, but in the grass," he said, still not making eye contact, and pointing to the curb, "and the other one here, by the garden."

"Hmmm," I said.  I looked at him.  He glanced at me, and looked away.  "Curly, are you sure you didn't borrow the games without asking, and then you said you found them in the grass because you wanted to give them back?"

"No," he said.  "I didn't borrow them."

"OK," I said.  I was out of gas, and my career as an interrogator was going down the toilet.  But then his mom saved me.

"What do you say, Curly?" she asked him.  I was a little taken aback.  Why did she ask that question?  But Curly fell into her inadvertent trap.

"Sorry," he said softly, looking at his shoes.

"What are you sorry for, Curly?" I said, my new career back on track.  "Are you sorry that you borrowed the games without asking?  If you tell me the truth, I won't be angry with you."  Well, ironically, that last bit was sort of a lie.

"Yes," he admitted.  Then we had a little conversation about not "borrowing" things without asking, and about if you do something wrong, you just make it worse if you lie about it.  The fact that Curly could barely make eye contact during the whole conversation is a good sign, I think.  Perhaps he is not (yet) a sociopath.  But his mom better start taking this stuff seriously, or he is going to end up in jail whether he is a sociopath or not.

The most disturbing thing about this whole situation is that Mom was sitting there the whole time, and even at the end, she never said anything to me about her son stealing our stuff and then lying about it; and as far as I know, she never gave him any consequences for his antisocial behaviors.

And now I wonder if C. Peevie's mysteriously missing $80 baseball glove is upstairs in Curly's room.

First Fruits

My first harvest, from my little city garden.  It makes me so happy.

I posted about my favorite salsa recipe before, but when I went back and clicked on the link I provided, it was sort of lame.  You had to search the Cuisinart website to find the recipe--and this blog believes in keeping things simple.  Hence, here's the recipe for the best salsa this side of Mexico, slightly modified from the Cuisinart cookbook:

Fresh Tomato and Corn Salsa

Makes 2 cups (it's so good you'll want to double this recipe)

1 small onion peeled, cut into 1" pieces
1/3 c. fresh basil (or cilantro, if you like that soapy-tasting stuff)
1 medium salsa pepper, seeded, cut into 1" pieces
  (or jalapeno, or whatever kind of hot pepper you like)
3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 1" pieces
1.5 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2/3 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Place onion, basil and pepper in work bowl.  Process until finely chopped, about 5 second.  Scrape work bowl.  Add tomatoes and lime juice.  Pulse until tomatoes are coarsely chopped, about 5 to 7 times.  Add corn and salt; pulse once or twice to combine.  Let sit for 1 hour before serving to allow flavors to develop.  

That is, if you can stand it.

If you use fresh ingredients from your own garden, you will feel like Martha Stewart on steroids, and everyone who tastes the salsa will bow down and worship you.  And then they will ask you to make more, because it got all gone.


I just had a conversation with a government employee that made my brain bleed, and might possibly cause me to become a Libertarian.

I'm working on a government grant application, which all by itself is enough to cause spontaneous combustion. (Is that an oxymoron--"cause" and "spontaneous"?  Educate me.)  But today I had to call the Housing and Urban Development programmatic information help line--and I use the word "help" so loosely that it might fall right off the page.

My client had been told that a certain percentage should be allocated for salaries, and I wanted to confirm the percentage and clarify whether the salaries should be a certain percentage of the total grant request, or of the total budget?  Simple enough, right?

Except not when you're dealing with a civil servant.  Pardon my cynicism.

First, she referred me to a completely irrelevant section of the RFP, and was reading to me about conflicts of interest and partnerships. "This has nothing to do with my question," I pointed out, but she insisted that it did.  She patiently "explained" it to me, over and over again, as though repetition would make it more relevant.
I think that's "magical thinking," government employee-style.

Finally, something I said got through to her, and she realized that she had been looking at the wrong section of the guidelines.  Phew.  I thought my troubles were over, and that I'd soon have the information I sought.  "Hahaha," laughed God.

The actual relevant section of the guidelines stipulated that we must "indicate what percentage" of our award would be spent on salaries and benefits, and I said, "So what is the percentage you're looking for?"

"We can't give out that information," she bureaucratted.  "It's based on a scale that we don't give out."
"Wait, what?" I protested. "But we will lose points if we don't have the correct percentage!"

"That's right," she agreed.  "If we told people what our scales were, they would always pass the rating factor.  They'd adjust their budget to fit the scale."

I am not even lying.

"But isn't that the point," I argued fecklessly, "for us to complete the application in the most acceptable way possible?  How can we aim for the right percentage if you won't tell us what the percentage is?"
"You just put down what your plan is, and we'll tell you if you got it right," she said.

"You are fucking kidding me!" I almost said, "that is the most ass-backward thing I have ever heard!"

Pardon my French.  But seriously, isn't it just about enough to make you want to vote for Ron Paul?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Young Sociopaths Next Door, Part I

My tender-hearted middle son is learning a very difficult life lesson:  people suck.  They lie and they steal and they hurt you--and some can do it without even blinking.  It is breaking his heart, and consequently, it is breaking my heart as well.

We were so happy when our new neighbors moved in, because they have two young boys for A. Peevie to play with.  He was too shy to introduce himself when we first saw them, but within two days the three boys were practically inseparable.  A. Peevie could barely bring himself to come in and eat dinner when M.Boy and A.Boy were around.

The BorrowersAnd then things started disappearing.  We imagined at first that we had Borrowers--that Pod and Homily and little Arrietty had moved into our walls and had suddenly found an unexpected use for video game cartridges and Pokemon cards. 

One day, when M. Peevie was frustrated about her missing cards, she picked up her gumption and marched right next door and rang the bell.  "A.Boy," she said firmly, "Do you have my Pokemon cards here?"  He did, and she got them back.  I was sort of impressed at her resolve.

Another time, A. Peevie was fiercely upset that M.Boy had stolen a really good card from another neighbor boy, K-Pup.  He was actually crying and sobbing about the injustice of it all.  "Why would M.Boy do that?" he asked, not entirely rhetorically.  "Why won't he give it back?  It's not right."

Then he became the Avenging Angel.  "I'm going to get K-Pup's card back," he said firmly, wiping his tears and putting on his red cape.  "I'm going to tell M-Boy that he has to give K-Pup his card back, and I'm gonna keep on nagging him until he does it."  He approached M-Boy several times about the card, but M-Boy had a different excuse every time.  The last time, A. Peevie told me, M-Boy said he wouldn't give it back because, he said, "I'm evil."  I am not even lying.

Not only did things disappear, but we also learned that the A/M-Boys were trying to obtain our wireless password so that they could have wireless access without paying for it.  "Our mom needs it because she needs to pay bills," A-Boy told A. Peevie disingenuously, and repeatedly.  

"Did you give it to them, A.?" I asked.  

"No," he said, "And plus, I know they're lying."  He had asked A/M-Mom whether she had asked them for the wireless password, and she knew nothing about it.  Again, this broke A. Peevie's heart, and he wept because his heart felt betrayed.

Check in tomorrow for Young Sociopaths Next Door, Part II, in which a young sociopath gets totally busted

Monday, August 16, 2010

South Haven, Reprised

Three-fifths of the Peevies returned to South Haven last week, accompanied by our friends the Dr. and Mr. Paradigm Shift and their two kids, SamWise and E-Dude.

We staked out our beach claim, and headed out into the warm-for-Lake-Michigan water.  While we were far out from the beach, on the sand bar past the over-our-head water, we noticed a blond-headed kid swimming toward us.  As he got closer, I thought to myself, "Hey, that kid looks a lot like Type A, A. Peevie's good friend from school."  But that would have been ridiculously unlikely, so I turned away. 

He kept coming, invading our swim-space, but before I could get annoyed, I realized that it was, indeed, Type A, who lives a mile or two away from us in the city, but who somehow found us 130 miles away, in the middle of Lake Michigan, without pre-arrangement.  I would like to know, if any of my readers have the statistical savvy and inclination to do the calculation:  What are the odds?

The kids found a huge log, which they spent hours moving around the water.  They used it as a flotation device, as a boat, as a king-of-the-hill prop.  We could not have purchased a better beach toy.  While they logged time lugging the log, the grownups sat on beach chairs, getting skin cancer, drinking carbonated beverages, reading Brave New World (Dr. PS) and The Second Civil War (me), and chatting about how perfect our lives were at that moment.

We played 500 off the deck with a soccer ball.  We watched shows like People Getting Their Arms Bitten Off By Sharks and Jobs That Make Normal People Throw Up. Plus--bonus!--I got to watch my boyfriend Vincent in the season seven finale and season eight opener of Law and Order: CI.  Sigh.

I miss you, South Haven.  See you again in a couple of weeks, I hope.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I might be leaving my life of bon-bon eating leisure to work full time.  This will be a huge adjustment, not just for me, but for the entire family.  It will be nice to have a steady paycheck--but we are all realistic about the trade-offs.  

"Can we order pizza tonight?" A. Peevie asked.

"How about if I make pizza instead?" I suggested.  "We're sort of cash poor at the moment."

"We're always cash poor," C. Peevie observed.

"Well, if I get a full-time job, we won't be cash poor any more," I said.  "But we'll be time-poor."

"And Mommy-poor," said M. Peevie, neatly summarizing the primary drawback to the new plan.

My heart broke just a tiny bit.

Monday, August 2, 2010

No Stories, Just Pictures

My muse has departed.  I have stories flitting around in the back of my head, but my words are failing me.

More on this later, but for now, I just feel like posting a few photos of Paradise.

Sand boy, AKA A. Peevie
Cousin T-Bone, airborne, watched by C. Peevie.
A. Peevie, C. Peevie, and Cousin Ri-Ri over there in the right corner
A fierce predator, sculpted by J-Sell.

Happy Girl, M. Peevie, expressing her joie de vivre

Cousin T-Bone and C. Peevie
Old-fashioned fun.
Sleepy Hollow, 11A.  Highly recommended.