Posted by: Kate | December 16, 2008

Magazine Cancellation as Spectator Sport

I’ve had a challenging couple of days. Emily has had an unexpected two-day vacation from school, because while they have restored power there, they haven’t restored heat. Something with the grommits and the flagulators and the connector bits, I don’t know. But since the school officials do not share my view of things – “They can learn in snowpants, send ’em in!” – she has remained home.

And a stunning case of cabin fever and temporary (please, God) insanity has descended upon her head. Constant bickering, contradicting, whining, shouting at me, informing me that, “YOU should go get the Swiffer from the closet because I’m only doing chores for you, not for myself,” and so on, and so forth. Entitlement rears its ugly head, right alongside disrespect and irritability.

So she spent hours alone in her room yesterday, simply because I couldn’t come up with a suitable punishment and I was not willing to ramp up the ones I already had. I had already yelled, removed toys, isolated her, and swatted her on the head; I was not able to yell any louder, couldn’t see how removing any more toys would help, couldn’t isolate her any farther, and wasn’t going to get a baseball bat to assist with the swatting. Once I calmed down, I came up with other ideas, but in the moment, the safest thing I could do was get her into her room and close the door.

She has since been imposed a writing assignment, had television privileges suspended for the same number of days that she was unpleasant, and had a sit-down with both of us last night to decide what her punishment will be the next time we have an extended amount of time with that level of nastiness. I get that we all have bad days and impulsive moments, and I’ll give her some space for that, but we will not slide through another four days of constant thoughtlessness and meanness from her or frustration and anger in me.

So, that’s been fun. Meanwhile I am ramping up into a full-on anxiety attack over today’s dental surgery, though I haven’t taken any Ativan today because I know they’ll load me up with anesthesia in a little over an hour (ugh) and I took some yesterday and all it did was make me sleepy – still anxious and scared, but too sleepy to effectively find distractions.

Just a barrel of monkeys around my house the past few days, how jealous are you?

Though I did just get a few moments of levity, listening as Willem attempted to cancel two magazine subscriptions. Sometime within the past three years, he had the option of signing up for some “very low cost” magazines in the process of buying something else. You know, those marketing schemes, where you agree to it before you realize you’ve signed on for a lifetime commitment? But we never ever read any of the three magazines, and Willem wasn’t able to figure out how we were paying for them, so we kept killing trees and not finding a billing statement and muttering about it without actually taking action.

In a moment of coincidence, I called yesterday to cancel the “Entertainment Weekly” subscription, which was theoretically meant for my perusal but realistically, I read “People” and that feeds my weekly need for mindless voyeurism. So I called and navigated through their automated phone system, refusing to use the voice commands and instead pressing 1 for “yes” and 2 for “no” repeatedly until they stopped offering new things and let me get off the phone.

Unbeknownst to me, Willem had decided to cancel the other two magazines today, and so I got to listen to him navigate the same automated menu, twice.

Willem, bless his heart, has a slightly lower tolerance for that particular flavor of frustration, and also has less experience than I do when it comes to dealing with businesses and customer service. I realized this a few years ago, when I had to get him to make a call for some utility or other just to authorize me to speak with that company, and he acted as though I was asking him to spontaneously donate a kidney without anesthesia. Once I figured out that I had sort of tacitly stepped into the role of “Person Who Deals With Companies,” I deliberately stepped out of it, on the theory that the reason he gets so frustrated and confused by it is because he lacks practice. It’s not that I now refuse to handle any business dealings, just that I don’t reflexively step forward to take over any such phone calls every time.

So it was that I was sitting on the couch, breathing too fast and with a heart rate rivaling that of a squirrel on meth, giggling a little while Willem screamed, “I said, NO THANK YOU” at a recorded voice. I was grateful for the distraction.



  1. Tell us about the surgery when you come down off the drugs, m’kay?

    Hope all is well.

  2. LOVE IT! I experienced the same thing when I tried to cancel our Vonage phone service.

    On the Emily thing, do you think our daughters could be psychically connected? Maggie’s behavior over the past few days has been similarly terrible. I even took her to the dr. today, thinking that the nastiness and a night-time cough might be indicators that she’s getting sick. Alas, the doctor could find nothing wrong.

  3. Shane has received Sports Illustrated for the entire 4 years we’ve been together. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out how it was being paid for, since I had never written a check or given any credit card information. When we got our joint checking account 3+ years ago, I thought that the subscription would run out because I assumed the money was coming out of his personal checking account. Well, that never happened, so I thought the money had to be coming from somewhere else. And the magazine kept coming. For a couple of years. It was only last month that I received a notice that they couldn’t renew the subscription because there was no money in the account to pay for it. So, they were getting money from that account after all. I showed the letter to Shane thinking he would be disappointed and would want me to renew. His reaction was, “Thank GOD! I thought it would never stop coming.” So I went online (yep, SI has an online form you can fill out to cancel) and canceled it.

    I try not to think about how it was that he had money in an account that I didn’t know about. It’s all gone now anyway.

  4. Anything for a 2 yo with the nasties as well? I was just checking in on the surgery front to see how you are feeling.

  5. Anything for a 2 yo with the nasties as well? I was just checking in on the surgery front to see how you are feeling.

  6. I hope the dentist went okay. As for the nasties, my 5 year old is the new King of ’em. Monday he pushed his 1 year old brother leaving two gashes on his head, and yesterday after biting his other brother and pushing the little one AGAIN–he was sent to bed. I didn’t know I was going to have to tell my 5 year old that it’s his own bad decisions that caused him to have to go to bed early, and only he could control his bad decisions….I was saving that until he was 12. I hope it works, cause I aint got nothin else except the beatings (kidding) (sort of). I hope your kids have school today, because mine, here in wintery NY, does not.

  7. Ugh Wisdom teeth. I’m lucky I still have mine but wouldn’t be impressed with having to get them out I can tell you. Sounds like your youngling is trying to assert herself! Two alpha females in one house – pretty dynamic force! As for the recorded voices . . .welcome to my world. Just about every call I make at work involves voice recognition or pressing the entire key pad . . .I even get the voice eventually saying “Please hold while I put you through to a ‘person'” haha . . .finally!

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