NYTimes: The Last Thing Mom Asked

This article should have been called, instead, “When your mother is a horrible person.”

The saddest part is not that mom is a jerk but that the aged daughter is incapable of being mature about it.

A Resourceful Retiree

In Russia, a 73-year-old woman in Siberia tased the postman who was delivering pensions*, bound and gagged him, took his money bag that contained the pensions of the 46 retirees living in her neighborhood, hopped on a plane, and left for Thailand.

The postman stayed gagged for 3 days until a neighbor found him and called for help. It was later discovered that the resourceful retiree had taken out a loan with her apartment as collateral and purchased a one-way ticket to Thailand in preparation for the assault on the postman.

Thailand is known in Russia, first and foremost, as the prime destination for sexual tourism. When I imagine the kind of life a 73-year-old woman could have had in Siberia, I can only feel happy she’ll finally have a good time.

* There is no banking system to do direct deposits. Pension payments are delivered in person by postmen.

Tall and Short

Tall people don’t get short people. N now has a standing desk and he very casually suggested that I use his computer to print something out. He doesn’t seem to be aware that I literally don’t see the screen from my height because it towers way up in the air over my head.

He also keeps placing his power bars and my Tupperware in places where I have to jump up and down like a crazy bunny trying to grab them.

“You exercising, Mommy?” Klara asks when she sees me do it. “You an athlete? Want to do yoga with me?”

I know she’s too young for snark but it still feels hurtful.


When was the last time you took a selfie?

Mine was in June after the surgery because I wanted people on FB know that I was all right.

I have a feeling that nowhere else are generational differences as obvious as in selfie-taking. The younger people are, the more often they take them because their sense of identity is not yet fully formed and they are trying to pin it down with these images.

It’s a Jungle Out There

Sitting in an open floor plan office or having flexible, unassigned seating at work is a challenge to be sure, but these tips can make your work space a bit more bearable.

OK, I didn’t even know that “unassigned seating” was possible. I’m sure it’s cute when you are 20 but later in life it’s simply undignified. God, I love my job.


Posting has been light because it’s the beginning of the academic year and I have a lot going on research-wise.

Here are some things that I’ve been doing aside from writing and setting up the semester:

1. I’ve gone to an outdoors pool just for myself. For the first time in 13 years. What prevented me from going for 13 years? Well, it’s obviously not the lack of $5 that one visit costs.

I had an amazing time. The pool is surrounded by cornfields on 3 sides. It’s extremely peaceful to sit there and stare at the empty fields. I got a ton of work done.

2. I finally managed to have a good cup of coffee at work. For the first time in 9 years. I got a very beautiful free coffeemaker in a retro style through Vine and brought it to my office. What prevented me from doing this before? Well, it’s obviously not the lack of free coffeemakers which I get offered almost daily on Vine.

3. I’m teaching myself a crash course in post-crisis literature because I need to write a talk for Germany, and it’s not like I can show up with a bunch of recycled material I published before. Post-crisis literature is outstanding, by the way.

4. This is the second month I’m getting a BomiBox, which is my Korean beauty subscription. I couldn’t be happier about it. Great selection, great variety, interesting new products. They need to do twice-monthly boxes to be completely perfect.

5. I’m trying out an experiment where I only pay cash for anything that isn’t bills. Unexpectedly, it saves a ton of money.

6. I’m level 907 in Candy Crush.

7. In a curious reversal of roles, N now makes breakfast for me. And it’s delicious. He does steel-cut oatmeal with all sorts of add-ons: sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, dried apricots, bran, etc.

8. I resigned from being a union rep today. Not for any ideological reason but because I have too much going on and I can’t give it the time it deserves.

9. I have 7 trips planned this academic year but I have hopes that one or two more will surface. They are not all work-related, obviously.

What’s been going on for you?

Chronic Deficiency of Meaning

On the subject of what we have been discussing in the thread about the death of religion, here is a great quote from Alfonso Pérez-Agote:

In general, we can say that modernity produces a chronic deficiency of meaning for the individual because of the systemization of the world and the privatization of the processes of production of life’s meaning. Postmodernity, with its distancing through globalization and systemization and through deterritorialization and anomie, further exacerbates the individual’s sense of deprivation.

When everybody is completely responsible for everything that happens to them – which is the neoliberal narrative of the self – that’s a very heavy burden for most people. If bad things only happen to you because you are a bad manager of the self, then you are completely alone with all of the bad things you might experience.

With Friends Like These

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich on the subject of the sex abuse allegations in the Church:

“The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the church. We’re not going down a rabbit hole on this.”

I honestly think he’s taking a piss on the Pope. On no planet can anybody think this is a helpful comment.