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My mother has been visiting once per week to “help” me in my efforts to juggle my business with my new role as a mother. My sarcasm is due to the fact that she and I both know these visits are actually about being able to spend time with my son, Max – not about making my life easier.  The truth of the matter is that my perpetual to-do list is always at least 20% longer after one of my mother’s visits. So if she assists me in knocking two things off my list but adds five onto it, is that helping?

There are a lot of ways in which my mom actually does make my life easier: she brings new clothes for Max to replace those he outgrew, she cleans the dirty dishes piled in the sink, and she attends to Max so I can work. In return for her kindness, I am subjected to an endless list of recommendations, suggestions, and improvements that should be made, all of which can be supported by articles she clipped from Good Housekeeping magazine or the Star-Ledger. Some of these contributions are useful and some are, in fact, critical. The issue is the magnitude; there is only so much a person can digest in terms of things he or she “should” be doing at a given moment.

If I get frustrated with my mother, then I feel guilty and unappreciative because I know she means well and she cares.  On the other hand, sometimes she crosses the line into the territory of being controlling. Over the last nine months, she and I have discussed – okay, argued about – how to balance her need to tell me all of these things with my need to be left alone. I’m happy to report that we finally seem to have a process, a coping mechanism if you will, that seems to work.

Every time my mother gives me a suggestion or direction that I don’t have the energy or desire to deal with, I simply restate it with the words “…your face.” For example, when she grabs me between client meetings to tell me that I should clean the baseboard heaters, my response is “Maybe you should clean your face.” Or when she asks me if we have debt, I simply ask “I don’t know, does your face have debt?” Depending on how stressed or irritated I am at the moment when my mother gives me the unsolicited advice, I might choose to replace the word “face” with the word “butt,” as in “Maybe you should clean your butt” or “Does your butt have debt?”

It’s completely immature, but it makes me snicker (yes, I laugh at my own jokes) and it confuses her long enough for me to escape back into my office. I am not sure how many more times I’ll be able to get away with this approach for deflecting my mom’s endless suggestions, but I will definitely milk it for all it’s worth.

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This past weekend, I attended my eight-year business school reunion.  Yes, our class became so tight that we are resorting to non-round number reunions.  The program was a full-time MBA that we pursued on the weekends while we were working full-time during the week…for two years.  It was a lot to take on at once, and I am sure that one reason we all became so close was that the experience was similar to that of being in a foxhole together – we weren’t quite sure that we would survive and we needed to rely on each other to make it through.

Being at the reunion reminded me of an incident which I will now recant for you.  Believe it or not, this is the first of two posts about foul language.  Sorry, Dad.

A little more background…as I mentioned, our MBA program was more stressful than the regular kind because we were working full-time and going to school full-time.  It was manageable if either work or school was going smoothly while the other was busy, but at least twice a semester both work and school would blow up on me at once. 

When I am under pressure, my go-to stress reliever is cursing.  I don’t know why it makes me feel better to use profanity, it just does.  Maybe it’s because there is a component of anger in stress, and cursing is a way of expressing anger.  Maybe it’s just efficient, because throwing a couple F-bombs takes a lot less time than getting a massage or meditating.  Of course, I can’t just use any old expletive when I am stressed; only those with hard consonants do the trick.  Something like “F*CK” is much more effective and gratifying to relieve stress than something like “SH*T.”  Think about it.

One day, on a break between classes, I was lamenting the fact that I had an upcoming test for school and a serious customer issue at work within the same week.  I felt like I didn’t have time to handle either thing well, but that was par for the course.  So I am with two of my classmates who are also stressed, one of whom was from Paris, France, and we are talking about our situations.  You know what happens next.

I say, “I am going to fail this F*CK-ing test unless I can get this customer issue resolved in time to finish studying, goddammit.”

Then, recognizing that these two particular people were not entirely down with my chosen form of stress relief, I say,

“Oh, sorry, pardon my French.”

Following this statement I notice the completely horrified and offended look on my French classmate’s face.  Whoops.  I am sure many of you have heard that saying before, and some of you have said that saying before, but have you ever thought about what it actually means?  Essentially, it implies that French people are rude and use obscenities, and when you say something offensive you can try to pass it off as French.

Which was worse, using the offensive language or blaming it on my classmate’s entire society?

When I told this story to one of the program administrators at the reunion over a drink, and she laughed and said “Who cares?  He was anti-American anyway.”

Well, I wonder why?

About Me

The purpose of this blog is purely self-expression - being creative for the sake of being creative. It has evolved into a collection of non-fiction essays.

All of the anecdotes and incidents you read in this blog are completely true and not exaggerated, no matter how sad, pathetic or unbelievable they may seem.

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