Dear Weather Channel App on My Smartphone:

There’s something that you need to hear. We’ve all been thinking it for a while, so here goes: No one cares about Past Radar.

Okay, well, perhaps some people, like my sister and brother-in-law, who are Real Life Meteorologists, care about Past Radar for some geeky, science-y, meteorological reason, but most people—especially the people in your Target Audience—don’t give one flying flip about a picture that shows us what the weather was doing just a minute ago. We care about what the weather is going to do. That’s why they call it forecasting.

But perhaps I am being hasty. Perhaps I should step back for a moment and attempt a more generous read on this seemingly-confounding feature of your radar maps. Let’s imagine a scenario in which I might need to know the weather that has just happened. Perhaps it is the dead of night and I am suddenly awakened by a loud booming noise. In my half-asleep stupor, I might need to confirm if the noise that’s just woken me was a clap of thunder or if Godzilla has just thrown a car onto my roof. I might have been leaning toward Godzilla, but one quick look at that Past Radar will set me straight right away! Phew! Thank goodness! That sure did save me from one awkward call to my local authorities!

Or suppose I am trying to reach my mother who lives down along the Gulf Coast and I can’t seem to get through. Suppose I somehow missed the fact that yet again, some pesky hurricane had been sneaking up on her for days even though is it likely the first thing I notice when I scroll past your weather video news stories and even though anyone with half a brain and one working ear would have heard about it in passing (never mind the aforementioned Real Life Meteorologists in the family who would have surely alerted me to this phenomenon). Perhaps if I were unable to contact my mother, then I might scratch my head and wonder what her weather was like. Perhaps then I might find the Past Radar particularly fascinating.

But not really.

Weather Channel App, when I tap on your little icon and scroll down to your radar screen, I’m not hoping for some wistful glimpses from the Ghost of Weather Past. I want to know if I need to sprint out to the parking lot and roll up my car windows. I want to know if I should switch the TV over to my local weather coverage. I want to know if I have to fear the thunder that could potentially wake up my toddler or if it’s passed us by. I want to know if I need to dig up the bike helmets and get the storm shelter ready. I want to know if I will have to get up an extra 45 minutes early to shovel out my car. I want to know if I will need my rain boots all day or if this is just a little cloudburst.

I want to know what is coming next. I do. We all do.

Please, Weather Channel App. We deal with so much—no job security, crappy vision and dental insurance plans, unreliable public transportation, rising gas prices, a lack of the feminist perspective in standardized history curricula—at least give us this. This one Small Thing.

Tell us what is coming next.

Because I don’t need an app to tell me that I just got caught in a sudden downpour without my umbrella.

Soggily, Robin


Dear Grocery Store Ruby Red Grapefruit (from Texas):

You know, you’re actually pink. Like what Barbie might eat if she were inclined to eat grapefruit, which she isn’t, but if she were, you would be the perfect accessory to her pink kitchen, and her pink grapefruit bowl, and her pink serrated grapefruit spoon because god knows that Barbie would not peel you. Barbie would slice you in half and scoop out each half segment and worry over the seeds but eat you anyway because she once heard that you used more calories eating a grapefruit than you took in, which is totally something she would think about, were she inclined to think.

I actually prefer white grapefruit.

But that’s not your fault.

Just like it’s not your fault that some four years ago in January I sat on the deck of a schooner in the Caribbean peeling white grapefruit from Grenada and eating the sharp, juicy pulp by whole handfuls as though I were dying and only this One Thing would save me, only this One Thing as we sliced through waves and salt air and my hair whipped my eyes and I hunkered in the shade cast by our mainsail and stripped away pith and skin. We didn’t know—how could we?—that in that moment my whole understanding of you would change and that I would know you for the first time as Imposter. Doppleganger. Homonym.

How bittersweet for you, then, must my longing be, my desire to return not to that moment, rather, to the moment just before. To the time when a grapefruit was simply a grapefruit. When I thought—no, when I knew—that what I was getting then would be no different to what I’d had before or what I will, forever, have again.

To the time before Knowing.

Regretfully, Robin

Dear Boston Red Sox (and by that, I mean John Henry and the Fenway Sports Group):

When you finally came to your senses and fired He Who Must Not Be Named (but whose name rhymes with Shmalentine and dear god whoever thought that was a smart hiring decision?), some of us (and by that I mean most of us) were hopeful. We hoped, quietly, that you might throw a ticker tape parade to welcome Kevin Youkilis back from Certain Exile in Chicago because everyone knows that the only team with “Sox” in the name that Kevin Youkilis should be playing for is—well, you know.

And you know, maybe you’ve just been too distracted by your other sports teams, like the Liverpool Football Club. Maybe you were so busy Never Walking Alone that you missed the newsflash.

Just in case—just to make sure we’re all clear as to what, exactly, we’re talking about—let me spell it out for you: THE NEW YORK YANKEES ARE STEALING OUR THIRD BASEMAN.

And yes, yes, yes. We remember Nomar. We remember Pedro. We remember Lowe. We remember that Johnny Damon only made it into People magazine’s list of sexiest men alive when he played for the Red Sox, not after he went on to the Yankees (and the Tigers . . . and the Rays . . . and the Indians . . .). We remember that these things that seem so dreadful at the time sometimes have a way of sorting themselves out.

But we also remember 86 years. And we can’t help but remember Bobby Valen—erm, Shmobby Shmalentine.

And we remember how much we hate the Yankees.

And we remember how much Kevin Youkilis hates the Yankees (or have you forgotten about Joba Chamberlain?).

And frankly, John Henry, the whole idea of it makes my heart sink as much as watching a constant loop of YouTube clips of Bill Buckner’s Game 6 error.

And if that doesn’t convince you, then consider this: It’s Hanukkah. What better present to give on Hanukkah than deliverance from the Yankees? (Although I concede that the gift of deliverance from a plague might seem more thematically appropriate on Passover.)

So come on. Open up thy wallet and deliver us our Youk.

Irreverently yours, Robin

Dear Woman Standing in Line behind Us in Target Who Refuses to Say Hi to My Child:

Here’s the thing: we can both see you, my daughter and I, because our shopping cart is less than 5 feet away from your shopping cart and we do not understand, my daughter and I, why you would stand there Awkwardly Ignoring her little 12-month-old advances of friendship. She has said Hi to you approximately 10 times in the last 2 minutes and she has tried waving and now she is dancing and leaning her head to one side like she does when she really likes someone and really wants them to smile at her and she is smiling at you and showing you all six of her funny, crooked little baby teeth.

Is that it? Are you afraid? Have you literally been “once bitten” and are now “twice shy”? She will not bite you. She cannot reach that far and anyway she would rather chew on the cart handle or wave at you or dance with you or say Hi to you because it is her One Real Word and she does not say it to everyone, she says it to some people and she has chosen now, here, in this checkout line, to say it to you.

I’m sure that you have Big Important Things going on in your life and that right now, you need to take these five minutes standing in this line to think about Those Things. Maybe you are having a bad day. Maybe you are obsessing over whether or not your Unfortunately Glittery T-shirt goes with your Somewhat Faded Black Leggings. Maybe you’re trying to decide if you really need to touch up your roots. Maybe you’re just trying to decide which Trashy Magazine to buy. All of that is debatable, but what is not debatable is that you are ignoring my daughter.

She does not know that you are ignoring her.

I know that you are ignoring her.

I know that you are ignoring her and I am making eye contact with you and when I raise my eyebrow at you like this what I am really saying is Who the hell ignores a baby? And I suppose, perhaps, maybe it is possible that you are not ignoring her. Maybe you are deaf or you don’t speak English, but even then, Woman in Line behind Us, she is waving, waving, waving and that is universal and that is so fervent and earnest that it would break your heart to see it.

If you had a heart.

For the love of god, woman, just wave at the kid.



Dear Baby I Live With:

Are you really eating a piece of Invisible Fuzz off of the newly vacuumed floor or are you just pretending to eat a piece of Invisible Fuzz off of the newly vacuumed floor? And if you’re just pretending, have you really thought through the ramifications of this charade? Because you’re giving me a complex. Seriously.

Love, Mom


Dear Baby I Live With:

Why do you sleep so much during the day? I want to go play in the Awesome Neighbor’s Tiny Grown-Up Inflatable Pool. Right now.

Love, Mom


Dear Awesome Neighbor with Tiny Grown-Up Inflatable Pool and Amazing Hosting Skills:

You are the Best Host Ever, but next time we come over, please don’t ply me with wine because I will inevitably say Yes and I still have 2 hours to go before Baby Bedtime.

Fuzzily, Robin


Dear Baby I Live With:

I thought we had a pretty Nice Evening. Why’d you have to kill the mood by puking on me?

Party. Foul.

Love, Mom

Dear Words With Friends:

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been a bit distant lately. Unreachable. Absent. The truth is, I think it’s time we both moved on.

If I tell you it’s not you, it’s me, I am not just using a clichéd break-up line, I am telling you the truth. It’s certainly nothing you’ve done. It’s not those Sad Little Emails you’ve been sending me, reminding me that “Kathryn has played a word. You’re up.” While they do make you seem somewhat desperate and clingy and thus, slightly less desirable, these Sad Little Emails also reminded me that you care. That you think I am Someone Worth Emailing. That you think of me at all.

I do like being thought of.

But Words With Friends, since we first met, things have changed. I’m no longer the carefree, unfettered girl who could sit on the couch and play speed games with her husband while watching hours of mindless evening television. I’m no longer the Autonomous Being who would sit at the coffee shop and make a few moves in a couple of different games while sipping her soy latte. I don’t know how to tell you this, so I’ll just come out and say it: I have a Child.

I know. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. At first I didn’t think it would affect our relationship (although I’m sure you noticed I started making most of my moves between midnight and 4AM)—I could do both, I thought. I could cater to this Child and also keep up my Other Relationships. Oregon Trail on Facebook was the first to go. I’m fairly certain that my last wagon party has been stranded somewhere around the Grand Canyon for the past 10 months; they’ve likely all died of dysentery. But the Child—the Child! The Child needed to be fed and bathed and changed and clothed and fed again and then sometimes she needs to sleep and she needs help getting to sleep and oftentimes she needs to be fed again and the truth is—

The truth is that every time I sit down to make a move on a game, I fall asleep.

I am not saying that you are boring!!! You are not boring! I am saying that when I sit down with you, I am sitting down. When I am sitting down, I stop moving. And as any New Parent will tell you, when I stop moving, I sleep.

I don’t want to fall asleep on you anymore. You deserve more than that.

And so, dear, sweet, Words With Friends, I am letting you go. Perhaps, sometime in the future, we can be friends. Maybe occasionally we can play a game together again (but just one, not 32 at once).

Until then, I remain yours fondly,


To Letters: NeLeWriWe Recap

November 21, 2010

Dear NeLeWriWe:

What a success you were! We knew you would be. We had letters to Movies, letters to Parents, letters to Novels and Aspiring Novelists. We had letters to Calculus and letters to Democracy. And we wrote letters–so many letters! And we will continue to write letters because like Novels, letter-writing is never finished.

But we did not write about Rock Stardust. Not once. Except for that first letter and this last letter, but those weren’t really NeLeWriWe letters and so we do not count those because we know that if we were ever to write a Novel in a month for NaNoWriMo (which we will not because we are not that trendy, but if) it would not involve Intergalactic Radio Talk Shows because no one listens to Radio anymore (what is Radio?) but instead we would write a Novel about a Girl who falls in love and then falls out of love and then falls in love again and all the while our heroine (not that kind) would write letters and do things and things would happen to her and she would breathe and smile and cry just like a real Girl because those are the kinds of stories that matter.

But all of that sounds like an awful lot of work to us and meanwhile, think of all the Necessary Letters that wouldn’t get written?

And so to you, NeLeWriWe, we raise a glass or let’s be honest, we raise three or four glasses, and tomorrow morning after we have finished regretting raising our glasses, we will begin sharing a few of the NeLeWriWe Letters from others. Because what better way to celebrate your success than by sharing it?

To Life. To Letters. To Girls who fall in love.


Dear Closeted Justin Bieber Fan Lurking in Barnes & Noble:

I know that you’re here somewhere or at least that you were here because you left the hardbacked copy of Justin Bieber’s riveting new autobiography First Step 2 Forever: My Story that you must have been flipping through propped on the end of the “Noteworthy Paperbacks” display table, which just so happens to be the table I walk past on my way to the four Coveted Outlets back in the café when I enter the store through the music and movies section, which I do pretty often so that I can say hi to my friend, Kate, the Greatest Barnes & Noble Bookseller Ever, which may or may not be a biased opinion based on our Preexisting Friendship but I think even random customers or customers with Questionable Reading Tastes such as yourself would find her Pretty Cool because Kate isn’t the type of person to judge you when you sidle up to her counter and slide that My World 2.0 CD across the counter while furtively checking over your shoulder to make sure that no one you know is watching. “It’s for my niece,” you tell her, casually, with a little chuckle as if to say Kids these days, you know? and I was not there when you did this, but I can imagine the very professional, non-judging smile and nod that Kate gave you as she scanned and bagged your item and made sure to swipe it past the security demagnetizer so that it wouldn’t beep and out you as you scurried back to your car, clutching the small green plastic Barnes & Noble bag to your chest as though Justin Bieber himself were inside and in a way, I guess he was.

But I will judge you.

I will not judge you for your questionable taste in music by Disturbingly Androgynous Teen Pop Sensations because as we have previously discussed, we understand that Justin Bieber is simply the Joey McIntyre of 2010 and who didn’t love Joey McIntyre? And I will not even judge you for the level of fanaticism that led you to pull First Step 2 Forever off the shelf in the first place because I realize that sometimes we cannot control these things, and that sometimes, our limbs act of their own accord, and that sometimes, the heart wants what the heart wants and maybe what the heart wants most right then is to read all about how Joey McIntyre 2010 managed to make his Perfect Bangs hang just so ALL the TIME, or maybe the heart wants to read about that new Jake Gyllenhaal movie because of that magazine where he’s naked on the cover, or maybe the heart wants to read about Sparkly Mindreading Vampires because they are achingly compelling in some totally breathy way that makes perfectly intelligent people, why, maybe even English teachers, swoon even as they stumble over truly horrible prose and have a hard time getting past the Sparkly bit, and so who are we to judge what the heart wants?

No, I cannot judge you for spending time pouring over the pages of First Step 2 Forever even though the title uses the numeral 2, which we have to cop to finding extremely cheesy, but we also know that we really don’t have a leg to stand on here because sometimes the heart wants to listen to Teen Pop Sensations like Justin Bieber or maybe even like Ke$ha and that these Pop Sensations have taken to titling their half-baked memoirs (And can we even call a 240 page glossy, probably ghost-written book about a 17-year-old a memoir? Surely there is an unwritten age requirement for the writing of one’s memoirs, like puberty) or their latest singles unfortunate things like We R What We R, and we know that there really is nothing you can do about titles that Pop Sensations assign to these compelling things that your heart wants to listen to because you have glitter on your eyes and just want to be one less lonely girl.

I understand, believe me, how hard it is.

But what I do not understand—what I will judge you on here, now, in front of Kate and every Customer and Bookseller and Coveted Outlet under this Remarkably Flat Roof—is how, in your desire to Remain Incognito (and by this point I do hope you understand that there is no need to Remain Incognito because really, we all love Justin Bieber), you chose to stand at the “Noteworthy Paperback” display table and pour over the deep musings of a Pre-Pubescent Teen Pop Sensation and then leave the book standing there so proudly, revealing both your Moderately Embarrassing Obsession and, more to the point, far more egregious, your inability to recognize that First Step 2 Forever is neither a paperback nor what we can really call noteworthy.

The Bell Jar is a Noteworthy Paperback.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a Noteworthy Paperback.


Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Steinbeck’s The Red Pony.

Justin Bieber’s autobiography is only slightly more noteworthy than Sarah Palin: An American Story because at least Justin Bieber doesn’t say things about Russia or lipstick (although I bet if you asked her, Sarah Palin could see Justin Bieber from her house, too).

Put the book back where you found it. Justin Bieber would be disappointed if you didn’t. He’s Canadian, after all. They’re polite like that.

You know we’re superstars,


Neither Noteworthy, Nor Paperback

Dear Stupid Boring Textbook My English Teacher Assigned Me (Oh, and the Bookstore):

I so hate you.

You are, like, the most useless thing ever in the world and I don’t know why she made us buy you in the first place because she never even uses you. I mean, okay, so there was that one time when she gave us that chapter to read about quotations, but who needs a whole chapter on quotations? It’s like, you open your laptop, you hit that key once, you type some words someone else says, then you hit it again. Bam. Quotation.

And why the hell did you cost $60? Do you know what I could buy with $60? I could buy a lot of things with $60. Okay, so maybe not a lot, a lot, but more than what I can buy right now with what I have in my stupid checking account, which is $13.21 and that has to last me until Monday. Monday! And I won’t even get back that $60 because the stupid bookstore gives us, like, $10 for one book, even though, okay, I don’t like actually know that for a fact but my Big says that’s how much she ever got back from lame English textbooks (And, like, what the hell, bookstore? Where do you get off? This book is, like, totally perfect. I haven’t even opened it! It is brand new except that it’s been under my bed for the past four months so it’s, like, a little dusty, but whatevs. I’ll just Swiffer it and bring it back and you should totes give me the full refund because then I could go out to Galette’s tonight instead of sitting in my dorm checking my Facebook every five minutes because I can’t afford to get my drink on because of YOU.).

And what is the big deal about writing from readings or reading from writings or whatever you are going on about on that front cover? I mean, we are in college—of course we can write. And read. Haven’t you heard of high school? What do you think they made us do there? I have totally read all of those books we were supposed to read like Huckleberry Finn and Tale of Two Cities and Grapes of Wrath or, well, okay, so maybe I didn’t exactly read them but I totally Wikipedia’d them all and then watched the movies and then read the Cliffs Notes and my teacher liked me because I always erased the board after class and so I totally got an A my senior year and what more could I possibly need to know that that? I mean, we were reading books. And this teacher never has us read books, here we only read these boring essays and don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to sound like a hater because my teacher sometimes lets us out early and that’s kind of cool, but books are sooooooooo much more important than essays because they are longer and they are published by people I have heard of like Chelsea Handler and Sarah Palin.

And you are, like, the worst book ever because you aren’t even funny and you are a textbook and you cost $60 and I don’t get paid by the Joneses until next Friday and there are, like, SO many parties before then and I will NOT be able to go unless I can get Justin to take me and I don’t think Justin will take me because that bitch Amanda has totally got her hooks in him and I will NEVER get a date because it’s Friday night and I am the ONLY person LEFT in my dorm and instead of doing shots of Jäger with Courtney and Courtney and Chelsea and Madison, I am sitting here ALONE talking. To. You.

Like I said, I so hate you. You have totally ruined my whole semester.

I hope you’re happy.


PS: I would have texted this but it was, like, way more than the seven messages at once Verizon lets me send.

PPS: I hate Verizon, too.

Dear 18-Wheeler in My Rearview with That Fake Pointy Teeth Decal Stuck to Your Grill:

We all know that your truck does not actually Have Teeth. Sticking Fake Teeth on the front of it does not make this any more true and, in fact, only serves to highlight said truck’s Lack of Teeth. Yes, the Fake Teeth do achieve what I can only assume is the desired effect of making me double-take in my rearview when I glance up to see you bearing down on me, but once the initial double-take has passed, they only lead me to speculate about the Kind of Man (and I know you’re a Man. Of course you’re a Man. No self-respecting Bad-Ass Trucker Woman would ever stick Fake Pointy Teeth on the front of her ride) who sticks Fake Pointy Teeth on the front of his Mack or International or Freightliner, but usually a Mack and never a Volvo, serving to illustrate once again that Volvo drivers—be they drivers of cars or drivers of tractors, since that is really the technical designation for your vehicle—are just a little too proud of their status as Volvo drivers to deface their vehicles with stickers of any kind.

We might joke about the fact that you’re “overcompensating for something” by trying to make your already over-sized vehicle seem somehow More Intimidating than it already is.

We might point out the odd anthropomorphism inherent in giving a thing that is not Naturally Toothed—that is not actually alive—a set of Fake Teeth that look like something out of a B movie, and then go on to wonder if your truck, which now has Teeth, also has a name and, if so, whether or not you talk to it as you drive and then if your Facebook status updates talk about you and your truck as we might talk about ourselves and a significant other and say things like “Bubba T. Riley and Big Bertha are haulin’ ass!” or “Bubba T. Riley loves it when Bertha makes that deadline two hours early. Go, baby, go!”

We debate whether or not your Christmas cards are actually picture cards of you and your truck and whether or not you might try to perch a Santa hat jauntily on Big Bertha’s hood.

And I am sure that you probably own the DVD of that 1970s horror film Spielberg made about the possessed truck that tries to run that one guy off the road. I am sure you think about running people off the road. I would bet you get off just thinking about maybe taking out that Zippy Red Mercedes that just passed you on the right and then cut you off, even though you are going 75 in the fast lane and everyone else, even me in my hulking, late-model, Grand-Me-Down Cadillac, is going 85, but you are slowly gaining on that tanker in the slow lane and to pull to the right at this exact moment would mean letting all those cars behind box you in and then you would have to slow down and Big Bertha hates losing that forward momentum because she’s just not as young as she used to be.

I’m sure you’re thinking about that movie as I whip past, hot on the rear tires of that Zippy Red Mercedes. I’m sure you fantasize about running your grill straight up my back bumper and, indeed, once we crest this hill and the full weight of that trailer you’re hauling comes thundering down behind you, I don’t doubt that you will come within a whisker and that you will sit there, looming, leering, Bertha’s grill Grinning Pointily into my rearview.

But I do not fear you.

I have extensive experience with Vehicular Stalkers.

And your truck Isn’t Fierce. You’re truck wears Dentures.

Over and out,