The Mother Of All Anxieties, Part 3

, , , , | Related | January 17, 2020

(My mom has anxiety issues when it comes to things going according to plan, and she loses perspective on the feelings of others and becomes incredibly inflexible. When I am 25, I volunteer to bake a flourless chocolate torte for Passover. I am home baking the cake when my mom calls me.)

Mom: “You don’t need to bring the flourless chocolate cake anymore. [Aunt] went out and bought a chocolate layer cake from [Store].”

Me: “Why did she do that? You knew I was making dessert already.”

Mom: “I didn’t know she was going to do that, so I never told her about your cake.”

Me: “Well, it’s too late; I’m already baking it.”

Mom: “No, don’t do it. [Aunt] is bringing her cake. There’s not a lot of people coming and we don’t need two chocolate desserts.”

Me: “I am currently standing over a bowl of batter that is almost ready to be poured into a pan. What exactly am I supposed to with this thing?”

Mom: “Just enjoy it yourself? I don’t know, but you can’t bring that to Passover.”

Me: “This is a fresh homemade dessert. Tell your sister not to bring her cake; she’ll understand.”

Mom: “I can’t tell her that! That would be rude!”

(Why it wasn’t rude to tell me not to bring the dessert I sacrificed study time making is a mystery to me, but I ended up finishing it and bringing it into work. My coworkers loved it. The next Passover, I successfully brought my dessert to share with my family and it was a big hit. My aunt regretted bringing her store-bought cake the previous year because she thought mine was much better and it became the traditional dessert of our family’s Passover seder until I moved away.)

The Mother Of All Anxieties
The Mother Of All Anxieties, Part 2

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Cubic Confusion

, , , , , , | Related | January 16, 2020

(It’s no secret in my family that I’m very good at mental arithmetic. As a result, I’m frequently used to calculate any number of things going on in their lives under the pretense of “save me from finding the calculator.” Usually, it’s just a minor inconvenience in my day. Then, my dad says the magic words.)

Dad: “So, it measures 7 feet, by 7 feet, by 4 inches. How many cubic feet is that?”

Me: “16 1/3.”

Dad: “No! That’s too small!”

Me: “You said 7 feet, by 7 feet, by 4 inches, right?”

Dad: “Right.”

Me: “And there’s 12 inches to a foot, right?”

Dad: “Right.”

Me: “So, 4 inches is equal to 1/3 of a foot, right?”

Dad: “Right.”

Me: “So, 7, times 7, times 1/3. That’s 16 1/3.”

Dad: “No! You have to convert it to cubic inches first!”

Me: “Really?! You’re making me do it that way?”

Dad: “Yes, that’s how you do it.”

(Groaning and shaking my head, I do this considerably longer calculation.)

Me: “That’s 28,224 cubic inches, so… 16 1/3 cubic feet. Again.”

Dad: “What?! How did you turn 28,000 into 16?!”

(I grab a pencil and paper and walk him through every step of my work. We arrive at 28,224 just fine, and then we get to converting.)

Me: “So now we divide by 1728.”

Dad: “No! There are only 12 inches to a foot!”

Me: “It’s a CUBIC foot, Dad. That’s a cube measuring 12 inches, by 12 inches, by 12 inches. That’s 1728 cubic inches to the cubic foot. Or are you going to tell me that you think the answer is 2352 cubic feet?”

Dad: “You did something wrong!”

(He storms off, right towards the calculator. Meanwhile, I’ve pulled out my phone and found a source that proves there are 1728 cubic inches to a cubic foot, just in case I still need it, which I do. By the end of this encore of a needless conversion, we have, once again, arrived at 16 1/3.)


Me: “Why don’t you show me what I’m calculating?”

(He leads me to the backyard and shows me a big, rectangular hole.)

Dad: “This is for the shed. I dug it out, and I just need to smooth it out. Tomorrow, I’m going to fill it. I need to know if I’ve got enough bags of cement. If it’s 16 1/3, I’d only need one bag, but I’m definitely going to need more like 30.”

(I see one of the bags he has out, and I start reading it to make sure all of his numbers are right. The bag says it’s good for 20 cubic feet of concrete, so by all outward appearances, my math is sound. Then, as I ponder why my dad insists he’s going to need 30, the gears in my head start winding.)

Me: “Dad, you are going to use concrete, right?”

Dad: “Yes!”

Me: *realizing how poorly I phrased my previous question* “Walk me through it. You empty this bag into the… whatever, and then?”

Dad: “Then I add the water until it’s the right consistency.”

Me: “That’s it?”

Dad: “Well, then I pour it, smooth it out, and build the shed.”

Me: *facepalming* “Oh, my God.”

Dad: “What?”

Me: “You don’t know the difference between cement and concrete, and you’ve done work on this house.”

(At least now we knew what the problem was. Now to figure out how many of his fixes around the house have to be redone.)

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Gorillas In The Twist

, , , , , | Related | January 10, 2020

(When I am a small child, I am terrified that there are monsters in my room at night.)

Me: “Mom! There’s a monster under my bed!”

Mom: “Will you knock it off? We go through this every night. There is no monster under your bed. THERE ARE NO SUCH THINGS AS MONSTERS!”

Me: “Mom?”

Mom: “Yes?”

Me: “There’s a gorilla under my bed.”

(She couldn’t tell me there were no such things as gorillas, now could she?)

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Mom Wants You To Fly High, But Not That High

, , , , , | Related | January 3, 2020

(My family is on vacation, visiting Washington DC. We go to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and they have flight simulators that you can pay to ride in. It’s basically like a big video game, where you climb into the machine, buckle in, and then use the joystick to pilot the plane. It can spin and flip. Being kids, naturally, my sister wants me to go nuts and I oblige, flipping and spinning the ride almost nonstop. It’s a blast. After we get out, my mom takes me by the shoulders and looks me square in the eyes.)

Mom: “Please never get a pilot’s license.”

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It’s A Vicious Solar Cycle

, , , , | Related | January 3, 2020

(My dad and I are getting ready to go out to eat. We’re in the living room when he reaches up into the glass bowl of his floor lamp and pulls out his watch. I stare at him in utter befuddlement for a few seconds before:)

Me: “Why was your watch in the lamp?”

Dad: *as if it’s the most reasonable thing to say* “It’s been overcast the last few days and the battery was getting low.” *puts on the watch and points to it* “It’s solar-powered!”

Me: “…”

Dad: “Pretty genius, right?”

Me: *starting to giggle at the absurdity, but also the excellent logic*

Dad: *now laughing too* “You know, it made perfect sense to me, but based on your expression and thinking about it now, it is pretty silly!”

(We spent the rest of the time getting ready in various states of laughter. Turns out modern problems and their solutions can be a good source of humor!)

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