Sunday, December 30, 2007
I generally don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I never fulfill the commitment I make in a burst of hangover-induced morality and its just one more thing to beat myself up about over the course of a year. Okay, more like for a few hours after the actual instance of resolution-breaking, but who needs any kind of regret at all, really. But this is it! This is the year I’m going to become totally organized and I commit, right here on this page, to get every aspect of my life in order. The time of chaos ruling my life is over. I am going to declutter my house, get my finances into shape, lose every extra pound I’ve gained since I was 14, stop smoking, cook only healthy organic meals for my family and have fantastic sex. I figure once I bring these aspects of my life under control, I will become the serene, well-rounded and supremely happy person I’ve always longed to be. I used to be somewhat (okay I was going to say highly, but someone in my family might read this and they would mock me) organized and fairly tidy. Somewhere along the line, I traded mild organization for hair-pulling disarray and a certain degree of neatness for “it’s clean underneath the clutter”. Of course it might be because there’s so much clutter, dirt can’t possibly penetrate that many layers to actually make the surface underneath dirty. I know people who have more than two children, full-time jobs, husbands and a larger variety of animals living with them and still manage a spotless house. I don’t like them. I don’t even WANT to know how they do it, I have enough feelings of inadequacy, thank you very much.
I found the perfect bedroom in one of those “Beautiful Homes That Regular People Like You Can’t Possibly Achieve On Your Budget” magazines. It’s a peaceful, soothing Zen-like room with a bamboo fountain and meditation space. That’s the goal, this will be my room before the end of the year. I have framed the picture in one of the many document frames I have lying around the house. I really have no idea what I was thinking in buying a dozen document frames but they were SUCH a good deal. I figure if I have the picture there to inspire me, I will be spurred into action. Step one is complete, the goal is set and I am ready to conquer my chaos. Isn’t that what we all want, to rid our lives of chaos and live out our days in serenity?
I’ve come to live with the recurring nightmare that one day, I’m going to open the front door and the entire contents of my house are going to avalanche on top of me like the hall closet in the old “Fibber McGee and Molly” radio show. No more! That particular nightmare will be purged along with every single unnecessary item in the house.
Monday, December 17, 2007
The time spent in the car isn't the only thing that's changed, the pre-trip ceremony has become as elaborate as Easter mass at the Vatican or one of those "Bridezilla" weddings. Gone are the days of packing just before we leave, now it takes the preceding three days. First we have to make sure the necessary clothes are washed, that they actually fit the intended wearer and that they don't disappear between the laundry and the suitcase (it happens...Gremlins, I think). Next, you have to make sure your offspring don't have a spare moment to entertain even the passing thought of boredom. Here's what usually ends up going into the car JUST FOR THE TRIP:
10-20 Matchbox-type cars, trucks, etc
12-15 Action figures (none with projectiles, I'm crazy, not stupid)
3-4 Handheld games (and the required gross of extra batteries)
6-10 Coloring/Activity Books
3-4 Pads of Paper
1000 + crayons, markers, pens, pencils, quills and ink, hammer and chisel and the like
The entire contents of every bookcase in the house
Every pillow and blanket throw we own
Personal CD players (and an additional gross of batteries)
1 box each of graham crackers sticks, cheese Nips, raisins, anything crunchy that will embed itself into the seats
Minimum of a dozen each of juice bottles, water bottles and assorted beverage
---and a bag for odds and ends (yeah, these aren't the odds and ends)
And the final stage of pre-trip hoo-ha involves my beloved's penchant of planning for every possible disaster. We have the usual stuff, the spare tire, jack, tire iron, jumper cables and extra anti freeze. But my darling does not see this as NEARLY prepared enough. Into the back of the van goes the portable air tank, gas can, two first aid kits, dehydrated fruits sealed in foil, kerosene, toilet paper (I am not kidding), candles, waterproof matches, an extra car battery, two sleeping bags, every hat, glove, scarf and mitten in the house and a partridge in a pear tree. On top of these essentials we stack the three suitcases, the two toiletries bags, the bag of shoes and our dress coats. Perched delicately on top of those are the boxes and bags of gifts we're giving for Christmas. And finally, last but certainly not least is the cooler full of venison my husband insists we bring down every year. I don't have the heart to tell him that no one in my family eats it, they just don't want to make him feel bad.
At last, we're ready to head off into the wild blue yonder, after making one return trip to the house to retrieve the couple of things we've forgotten to load into the van, the children. I mean really, how am I supposed to remember EVERYTHING? The boys are now safely strapped into their seats with all their worldly possessions surrounding them and we're rolling.
Honestly, we could survive a nuclear winter with the supplies we lay in for a 300 mile car trip.
One may wonder why it takes us more than six hours to travel a mere three hundred miles. We have one factor that most do not, my youngest son. Every car trip turns into another leg on what we've dubbed "The Upper Midwest Bathroom Tour". Within twenty miles of home comes the first plantive call from the backseat "I have to go to the bathroom." When dealing with those under the age of ten, you have NO cushion, you cannot ask them to hold on for a few more miles. The request to stop is made well after the "hold it" window has firmly closed. At this point, you've got a ticking tinkle bomb less than three feet away from you and time is running out. Thus, the bathroom tour was born. I've long entertained the idea of sending him into these oaises with a camera, then he can post his reviews with accompanying photos on his own blog. We'll rate them by cleanliness, spaciousness, number of stalls, supplies and seat temperature. I think it could be quite a sensation.
Okay, I have to start packing now, we leave in four days...
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
This is when things REALLY got interesting, once we got home. I'll admit my culpability right here and now, I have no eye for distance and I'm the one who forgot the tape measure. My beloved did point out that the tree seemed pretty big once we got it on top of the van and we had trunk visible as we looked through the windshield as well as several feet obscuring the back window. But honestly, it's not THAT big and we have fairly high ceilings in the house, it'll be FINE. Okay, so we have ten foot ceilings...and a seventeen foot tree. This may be harder than we think. There's the tree, taking up quite a bit of space on the boulevard; there's the front door, looking rather narrower than I remember it; and there's my living room, looking much smaller that it ever has. My youngest son suggested we keep it on its side, remove the couch from the living room and decorate it sideways. My elder son suggested trying to bend the top to fit into the room. My beloved simply gave me the hairy eyeball and shook his head. Okay FINE, this one's on me. After severing the tree roughly in half, checking AGAIN for confused wildlife, the tree now stands (I was going to say proudly, but that's not quite accurate) in the corner of the room, tinseled and popcorned, dazzling all who lay eyes upon it. Clark Griswold would get misty, I'm sure of it.
Maybe it's time to consider a fake tree,blasphemy, I know...but a whole lot easier and no wild turkeys to contend with.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I have a wonderful neighbor who REALLY likes his snowblower and every time it snows, he's out there doing the public sidewalk for the ENTIRE block. I love that guy and have made it a point to give him a really big plate of baked goods and a bottle of wine every single year. There are the insane people around here who LOOOOOOOOVE winter and all that comes with it.
Winter in Minnesota is a time for madness and it manifests itself in many ways. We have the hockey freaks, the snowmobile junkies and those who spend hours, even days at a time sitting in a tiny, thrown-together-in-a-weekend shack on a frozen lake staring into a hole cut in eight inches of ice in the hopes that a really stupid fish might emerge from the slightly warmer depths to nibble on the chunk of frozen whatever they’ve baited on a hook. My husband is one of the latter. This activity can go on for hours at a time, one would think this time would be spent in meaningful conversation with your fishing buddy, but this is rarely the case. Perhaps it’s a time for quiet contemplation, of re-examining their lives and finding their spiritual center, but no. The time is generally spent drinking beer and discussing the fish they’re going to catch or reliving glorious conquests of past semi-conscious fish they’ve wrangled. Dan loves this activity and now that, after more than ten years of marriage, he’s stopped trying to get me to go with him, he seizes every possible opportunity to pursue the unequaled joys of ice fishing.
You’d think an activity that sounds so simple would be simple, this just goes to show how terribly, terribly wrong we are. How bad can it be? All you need is a fishing rod, a hook, some bait and some sort of hypothermia avoidance plan, right? Oh how silly and naïve. You don’t need JUST a fishing rod, it must be a specially-designed-for-ICE-fishing-rod. These rods have names like: Arctic Air, Polar Poles or The Iceman. They come in configurations that boggle the mind, panfish, game fish, and my personal favorite: stillfish…might that not mean it’s already dead? The bait is another can of worms (like that?) altogether. First of all, it’s really difficult to dig in the garden for night crawlers when it’s 30 degrees below zero outside. Second, you can’t use something so boring as simple worms for heaven’s sake! No, these stupid, partially frozen fish prefer a diet of more exotic fare that you won’t be digging out of your garden, frozen solid or not. The culinary standards of these fish include such delicacies as waxworms, mealworms, crickets and minnows; all readily available in January…for a price. Then you toss in the absolute necessities: the ice auger, the ice chaps (seriously, they‘re exactly what you‘re thinking), rod holders, ice cleats for the boots, GPS units and sonar, just to get started. You’d think men who are advanced enough to operate all this high-tech, cutting edge equipment would know when it was or wasn’t a good idea to drive their half-ton pickups onto a partially frozen lake, but no. Every ice fishing season there’s at least one story about a couple of guys whose SUV has fallen through the ice and ended up in the watery depths of Lake of The Woods. “Hmm, seemed solid enough when we were walking on it, Bob.” Back to the gear, all of the items listed above and more have found their way into my house. I had high hopes at the beginning of this process, Dan announced that this was his fishing stuff, no one was to mess with it upon pain of a long and torturous death. Everything was in its pristine original packaging and lined up precisely on hooks and shelves in the basement. This impressive display of jealousy-inducing organization lasted approximately two weeks. After the first big ice fishing trip, he staggered home after a long beer infused weekend, piled everything into the back entry and fell into bed. Three days later, having tripped innumerable times over the detritus of his trip and ending up with a fish-hook embedded in my ankle, I gathered the ripening mass of now thawed clothing, tangled line and one suspiciously leaking Styrofoam cooler and shoved it all into the garage. What, you may ask, happened the next time my beloved wanted to go ice fishing? There was an hour tirade about respecting other people’s belongings and a rant about violations visited upon the sanctity of "The Iceman." The best part about all of this is that my beloved doesn't eat fish, he hates it. I still have carefully cleaned, filleted and painstakingly wrapped packages of fish marked "January 2000"...okay, it might be time to clean out the freezer.
Winter Wonderland', my butt, 'Let It Snow', yeah sure thing there, pal. I have to wonder if the people who wrote those songs ever set foot in Minnesota in January...if they had, I bet the songs would sound quite different.
Maybe something like this....
Snowblowers drone, are you listening?
In the lane, wind is blistering
A horrible sight, we're in for the night.
Living through a WINTRY APOCALYPSE.
Oh the weather outside is frightful....well, that's pretty much it, end of song.
Perhaps not as catchy as the originals, but a whole lot more honest, don't you think?
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Last Sunday, as I worked on reassembling all the music my beloved computer had decided to purge from RealPlayer (and then arbitrarily reassign file names of songs to other songs, but that's a story for another day), Charlie strolls into the office with a popsicle in his mouth and casually informs me that he thinks he might have burned his finger. Keeping it as casual as he did, I suggested he go run some cold water on the afflicted area and continued my muttering and swearing under my breath at the computer. Roughly ten minutes later, I hear a screech from my husband in the other room, "WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOUR HAND!?", followed by my name bellowed at the top of his lungs. I bolt out of the office, tripping over five shoes, thirteen Legos and at least one cat on the way to the living room. I'm greeted by blisters roughly the size of green beans blooming on the back of all of the fingers on Charlie's left hand. This is going to be a bot more than my tube of Neosporin can handle, so it's off to the emergency room (again). Thankfully, we live only four blocks from the hospital (small town, no one is ever more than five minutes away from crack medical care). Charlie and I bundle into the car and head off into the afternoon sun, the beginning of a journey that will take us somewhere we never imagined.
We arrive at the hospital, the large red and white sign marked "EMERGENCY ENTRANCE" indicating that we're in the right place. How young we were, how foolish to believe something like an official-looking sign to direct us in our time of need. I should have known something was horribly awry when all the parking places were marked "For Emergency Personnel Only". Well, I'm a person and this seems like a emergency to me, I'm gonna risk it and park here. We enter the building and a corridor stretches in front of us like something from a funhouse, it's got to be a city block long and the pinpoint of light ahead of us is the only indication of life. We set off into the abyss, the light guiding us forward like a beacon in the night. We end up at the opposite end of the hospital...I'm talking the front of the building...the front not marked "EMERGENCY ENTRANCE" with even fewer parking spaces. Our first contact is the receptionist who, recognizing the severity of the burns on Charlie's hand, whisks us quickly and efficiently to the admitting clerk...I'm so glad she was able to keep calm for Charlie's sake. After I've proven the boy has insurance coverage, the hospital personnel spring into action to tend to my child's burned hand and get a high tech, sure to cure him, wet washcloth and send us out into the lobby. Remember that I live in a town of less than 10,000 people and a total of five stoplights, so we're not talking an "ER" like level of activity on a Sunday afternoon.
Thirty minutes pass, we've watched a full episode of "Drake and Josh" on the lobby television, the washcloth is rapidly drying out and we haven't seen another soul for at least fifteen of those minutes. I turn to ask the crack receptionist for a pitcher of water so I can maybe slow down the continually blossoming blisters on the boy's hand and am told "I can't leave my post." Swear to God, that is a direct quote. I told her that was fine, but perhaps she could use the wireless headset I suspect she's glued to her ear so everyone knows she's important even when she's not working to request a bit of cold water for the eight year old in the lobby. I'm informed that they're terribly busy and every room in the emergency department is occupied and he'd be seen as soon as they could get to him. This didn't really help, as all I was looking for was some cold water so I suggested she give me her coffee mug and I'd take care of it myself. She seemed shocked and I didn't get the mug. Ultimately, I end up trying to stuff the poor kid's hand into one of those pointy ended cups that live in the dispenser attached to a five gallon jug of drinking water. Not easily done, I assure you.
Two hours later, after a threat to take him over to the next big town's emergency room (30 miles away), we're brought back to the emergency room proper. After hearing for over two hours how busy they are and that every room is occupied, I'm expecting the nurses to look a bit battle weary and careworn. Not so much. Also, of the six trauma rooms and three small examining rooms in my field of vision, only two are occupied...four of the trauma rooms are dark and show no sign of any activity having taken place for a while. From the bits of conversation I could hear, more than one person back there had been watching football...the same game that had been in the first quarter when Charlie and I left the house. Hmmm, curious. The doctor takes one look at Charlie's hand, the nurse slathers it with Silver Nitrate, wraps it in gauze and sends us on our way. Seriously, we couldn't have done this in the lobby...TWO HOURS ago? He's fine...thanks to the highly trained and obviously underappreciated receptionist at my local hospital.
I'm hoping that Charlie no longer believes that I am full of crap when I say the things I say. "Don't juggle axes, you'll cut your arms off." "Don't play in the middle of the highway, you'll get squished by a car." "Don't try to give the cat a shower, he'll get mad and pee in your shoe again." You know, the things we all tell our kids.
Yesterday, I got a survey in the mail, asking me how my visit to the emergency department was.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
At first glance, the thick black wallet looks fairly benign, this won’t be a problem at all! The outside pocket yields two gum wrappers, a paper clip and forty-nine cents. Opening the wallet proper and onto the first little slot for credit cards and such I realize I am in possession of the library cards of every member of the household. Okay, that’s a little weird, but I can understand my logic on that one, the kids would lose them in record time. I have absolutely no idea why my husband’s is residing here. I’ll set that aside to give to him later. Next slot, a proof of insurance card for the car we drove three vehicles ago, I think I can toss that. A Blockbuster member card, that can go since the nearest Blockbuster is roughly 30 miles away and I have no idea when I was there last. A gift card from Barnes and Noble, if I recall correctly, with $1.37 remaining on it. This is the first item I have to think about…it DOES have money left on it, but what could I possibly get for $1.37? No, no, no! That goes into the throw pile. Right now. I mean it. That hurdle overcome, I move on to the main compartment of the wallet to find a sheet of stamps that I’m fairly certain I got two rate hikes ago. That’s fine, I’ll just go and get some 2 or 3 cent stamps and we’ll be good. My checkbook, desperately in need of balancing, is peeking up from the depths along with a ticket stub from a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” five years ago which can probably go into the throw pile.
My little plastic flip book for pictures resides behind the 29 dollars in cash, three deposit slips and 11 coupons that expired over a year ago. I have to pause and look through the pictures, looks like it might be time to update the photos. My toothless infant second son grins up at me from the first photo, he’s in third grade now. My curly haired niece gives me a gap toothed smile from her second grade photo, shame on me as she’s graduating college soon. I know my sisters have been sending me pictures of their kids and I always set them carefully out so I remember to put them in my wallet but they never seem to get in there. Now is the time! I have weeded out the terribly outdated photos and everyone in my wallet now looks as they do today. Yay! This organization thing is going to be a snap! An hour later, the wallet is done and I realize just how much crap I’ve been carrying around without even knowing it, the wallet’s roughly three inches thinner than it was when I started.
The rest of the purse yields mysteries one would never dare imagine:
Five earrings (only one actual pair)
Three tampons (wrappers compromised…better toss)
Dried out marker (green Sharpie)
Marker cap (purple Crayola, go figure)
354 gum wrappers (some with discarded gum in them, yuck!)
Unmarked CD (either music or missing data from Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Two claim slips from the dry cleaner (that’s worth exploring)
Disposable camera with three pictures left (no idea what the pictures are)
Seven ponytail holders (not needed since I cut all my hair off two years ago)
Deck of cards (ace of diamonds and seven of clubs missing)
Four Legos (might need to build somthing)
Two Life Savers stuck to the bottom of the purse (Butter Rum, I think)
A tube of lipstick that lost its cap (covered with lint, tobacco and other rubble, gross)
522 receipts from grocery stores (I really need to start making lists)
An alarming variety of action figures (Happy Meal toys, I suspect)
The watch I’ve been looking for since September (battery now dead)
Six lighters (only one still works)
Mints from every restaurant I’ve ever visited (and some I haven’t, I don't know why)
Toothpicks, matchbooks and wet-naps from above
Two magnets (why aren’t they on the fridge???)
431 receipts from gas stations (why don’t I grab bottles of water and gum from home?)
Sample bottle of bath gel (empty, seems to have leaked into bottom of purse)
$6.89 in bath gel covered change (no quarters though, that’s odd)
14 Business cards (I have no idea who any of these people are)
The biggest mystery is why I have been carrying a half jar of eyebrow/facial hair wax for an indeterminate length of time without even knowing it. The microwaveable kind, I’m serious. I’m sure at the time I put it in my purse, there was a perfectly logical and even sensible reason, but it escapes me now. What, I was going to wax my eyebrows in the car?? My sister Melissa has a much easier solution to the overflowing, weight-restriction violating purse problem: when they get full, take the top layer of stuff out and throw the purse away. After all, the really important stuff is probably on top, right? Now the big quandary, what to keep and what goes into the waiting trash bag? I should really just close my eyes and toss it all, but something compels me to give this process some real thought. I might need the wet-naps, I should save those. The mints are still good and I’ll probably find the mates to all those earrings somewhere in the house. You never know when you might need a ponytail holder for something so I better keep at least a couple of those. The bottle the shower gel came in is the right size for my purse, I can just put lotion or hand sanitizer in it. I might need some of the receipts at some point so I should go through those and decide which ones to keep. I think I have another partial deck of the same cards so I’ll grab the ace and the seven I need to make a complete deck. I might actually need to contact the septic tank pumping service whose business card resides in the stack… NO! This is the path to the Dark Side! One sweep of my arm and everything but the watch, the pair of earrings, the dry cleaner’s stubs, the camera and the CD go into the trash bag. The change goes into bowl in the sink to soak the congealed shower gel off them and I have done it!
What was I worried about, this is going to be easy!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I'd love to be able to toss out the insane things that come out of my son's mouth with the carefree abandon that he does. A couple of years ago, he was being fitted for his first pair of glasses. The gal was doing her thing, putting them on his face, measuring, taking them off, adjusting and repeating the process. Charlie was fairly tolerant of this period of inactivity, much to my surprise. After the third or fourth adjustment, she had his glasses about three quarters to his face when Charile announced "I like monkeys." Just like that, very matter of fact, it was time for all to know he likes monkeys. She froze with the glasses midway to his face and looked somewhat cautiously over her shoulder. I honestly believe that for a fraction of a second, she wondered if there was a monkey lurking somewhere behind her. A quick scan of the room revealed no hidden monkeys, no monkey pictures, no monkey books, not even someone wearing a shirt with a monkey on it. The thought simply popped into his head, and it needed to come out, right away.
I like looking at everyday things with my son. To a seven year old, dragonflies really do look like dragons and might grow into a real dragon under the right circumstances. Fireflies really have fire in them that needs to come out or they'll explode. Watermelon should be called something else because there's juice inside, not water. The fear that if you spin in a circle really really fast and stop suddenly, your face will slide to the back of your head is a real thing. Life is pretty sweet when a free cookie from the bakery lady at the grocery store makes your whole day. The right clothes don't matter, the right car means nothing, the right neighborhood only has to have a bunch of other kids and a dollar means you're rich. I'd love to be a seven year old again, for a while anyway.
I'm going to go put on my Christmas socks.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Back to school time is interesting, particularly when you have kids in both elementary and junior high. I love the supply list, it really does make life a whole lot easier to not have to think very much as you wander the school supply aisle. My kids' school doesn't provide a list past the sixth grade and frankly, I wouldn't mind. Last year, my then seventh grader came home from school on the second day with an entire sheet of additional items he would be needing by the following day. Do you suppose it would have killed these teachers to send the damn thingh out a couple of weeks earlier...maybe taking a deep breath and posting the list on the school website? I'm not asking for an engraved invitation, but a bit of notice would have been helpful. I live in a small town, our options for shopping are a little limited, so we tend to plan out "major" shopping trips in advance. When you have to drive 30 miles one way to do a big shopping, return trips are a huge pain in the butt. So, note to the educators: GET YOUR LISTS OUT BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS!
I do enjoy the give and take, the familiarity that comes with being in a small school. The teachers know all the kids even before they have them in class. You get to know the building, administrators and teachers on a more personal level long before you have to deal with them on a professional level. This can be good and bad, sometimes getting to know these people personally can be a bit of a burden, it changes how you deal with them. You worry if you're going to make them mad when you voice a legitimate concern. You worry that you're going to be seen as hovering or interfering when you raise questions or challenge someone on a professional issue. This is the joy of living in a small town, the lines get a bit blurred once in a while. For example, I questioned the value of the school taking away one English class a week for a Spanish class that the kids didn't get graded or credited in any manner. I questioned this because the latest published set of English test scores was alarming, at best. The principal's response was more than a little snippy. In response to my asking the point of this Spanish class, he said "The point is to learn another language, obviously you don't value that." I do, Mr. Principal, I guess I think they should have a good grasp of their MOTHER TONGUE before moving on to another language. Comprende?
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
This is the point that you come to believe you can go back to bed for a few hours, the cats must be exhausted and will need some sleep. You're dreaming, they wait until you are NEARLY, but not quite, asleep and come looking for affection and kudos for a game well played. With my cats, it generally involves loud purring and attempt to take over my pillow...or use me as theirs.
And my friends without cats think I'm mean for waking them if I see them sleeping during daylight hours.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
I think people really do believe they become invisible when they get in the car. How many times have we seen people exhibiting embarassing behavoirs in the car? The nose pickers are my personal favorite. There they are, energetically mining in their nasal cavity, oblivious to the fact that my kids are nearly wetting themselves at the sight. The singers are my next favorite, mainly because I am one of them. There's a certain thrill when you see the person in the car next to you singing the same song at the top of their lungs that you're currently singing. If you notice each other, there you have a shared moment of communion with a complete stranger, one you'll likely never see again...you hope. I have seen some whoppers of obliviousness while driving; the guy who was plucking nose hairs going down the highway, the woman picking her teeth with a matchbook at a stop light, and my all time favorite, the guy at a standstill in heavy traffic that has taken his shoe off and was clipping his toenails. Wow, doesn't anyone have a bathroom? It does seem like more and more of our personal grooming takes place in the car, doesn't it? I will admit to putting lip stuff on at a stop light, but I'm truly not coordinated enough to do much more than that in the car.
My family and I travel down to see the rest of my relatives just about every major holiday and some of the stuff we see on these journeys is truly notable. We once enountered an alarming number of buffalo on a county highway just before an interstate, they had liberated themselves from their pasture and were milling about in a rather advanced state of confusion when we came upon them. Being unable to find a house or barn nearby, we made our way to the next outpost of civilazation...a nearby junkyard. We told the assembled fellows about the gathering herd and the response was both amusing and a bit disconcerting..."Oh, that's Earl's herd, someone better call him." Not a single gasp, exclamation or even a raised eyebrow, no one even made a mad dash for the phone...rather, he ambled. Our civic duty done, we continued on our journey and had a lovely visit with my family. We took the same route home after the holiday and really had little or no surprise when we encountered the same herd of buffalo loose on the same bit of county highway. Somebody better call Earl.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I am currently engaged in guerilla warfare with the people who constantly speed up and down my RESIDENTIAL street. The posted limit is 30 miles per hour, they average about 40. It may not seem like much, but when your kid is attempting to cross the street to play with a friend, it's terrifying to hear a car going much faster than it should closing in on your child. After fruitlessly begging the city fathers to do something, like a well placed stop sign, my neighbor across the street and I have taken matters into our own hands. First we got signs in our yards that simply made the polite request, "We Live Here. Drive 25", short and sweet. The rest of the neighbors loved the signs, even random people at the grocery store who happened to know which house is mine told me how great they thought my little sign was. All was well, I would see drivers looking at my sign and then checking their speedometers. YAY!! At least they're thinking about it, that's what we really wanted to accomplish. After a couple of weeks, we were told to remove our signs as they violated city ordinance...no really, I'm not kidding. Little 24 inch by 24 inch signs, in our yards, were breaking the law. After reading a copy of the ordinance (one of the most mind numbing collections of words I've ever read), I did establish that indeed, my sign did violate the ordinance. But so did every other sign in someone's yard, we're talking "Support Our Troops", "A Gardener Lives Here" or even a "Welcome" sign, they are all in violation. I called our chief of police (who also lives across the alley from me) and asked him if he was prepared to ask everyone in town with a "We Support Our Troops" sign to take in down or face a ticket. Especially considering the fact that our local National Guard unit has been deployed in Baghdad for almost two years. He really didn't have a response to that, but I haven't been asked to take my sign down again...hee hee hee.
Unfortunately, both of our signs have been stolen by persons unknown so we've had to try another tactic with the speeders on our street. My neighbor and I both bought three or four brightly colored playground balls that live in baskets by both our front steps. From time to time a ball somehow manages to leap out of the basket and make its way across the street to visit its bretheren at the other house. Oddly enough, this usually coincides with someone speeding down my street, I can't explain it. And neither can the driver, once he's pried his brake pedal out of the floorboards. Funny how those things just happen, isn't it?
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
But back to the job thing, I've been trying really hard to think of another job that rewards inaccuracy so well. Outside of becoming a hastily fired CEO of a Fortune 500 company, I don't see a whole lot of employment opportunities for the chronically mistaken. I read recently about some of the severance packages given to fired execs. One large home improvement store that uses a lot of orange gave the guy they fired nearly 82 million (yes, million) dollars. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE fire me next! Just let me screw up for a couple of months, then you can fire me and I'll never darken any employer's doorway again, I won't need to, of course. Richard Scrushy (don't you love that name? say it out loud a few times) nearly destroyed Healthsouth and was ousted is due somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 million, but Healthsouth is one of the few comapnies to say no. "Sorry guy, our stock was worth nearly $13 a share before you and after, fourteen CENTS...no soup for you!" How does someone even dare to negotiate a contract like that. Can you imagine those conversations?
CEO To Be: "I appreciate the offer and I'll do my best for your company."
Board Member: "Welcome aboard, I think you'll see we have an attractive package prepared for you."
CEO To Be: "Looks great except for that bit there about you guys having the option to fire me if I bankrupt the company or screw the employees out of their retirement funds."
Board: "You don't think we should be allowed to fire you under those circumstances?"
CEO To Be: "I have no problem with being fired, I just want you to pay me enough that none of my progeny will have to work, for generations to come. You'll have to pay me millions to go away, even if I leave the place in shambles."
Board: "That seems reasonable to me, we'll have the papers drawn up."
Check out this article:
You're gonna LOVE it.
WHY aren't these people hiring ME? I can destroy a company as well as the next person. I can be uncaring and incompetent. I can live extravagantly on someone else's dime. Where are the headhunters and recruiters? I'm waiting!
Saturday, July 14, 2007
This said, I return to my story of my son and I at the mall. I don't even remember what possessed me to enter this, my most hated of places. The one guaranteed to make me crabby and occasionally, usually around a major holiday, break out in hives. But there we were, on a weekday afternoon, only the most foolhardy amongst us, venture into this realm on the weekend. I thought my plan was solid, what with the weekday attack, there would more likely to be people like me there at that time, right? They looked like me, there was nothing to indicate I had unwittingly brought my son into dangerous territory, I thought for sure we would be safe. At first, I thought we'd be okay, the mall wasn't too crowded, it looked to me like I was about the average for the age group in attendance. Until IT happened. There we were, passing by Bath and Body Works when my son was struck down, blindsided by a bustling, power walking, ninja of the white sale. She didn't look like an assassin, her weapons were cleverly camouflaged to look as harmless as possible. I spotted it for what it was, that wasn't on overlarge purse she was wielding, it was an instrument of death. Maybe I'm overreacting, maybe it was just a purse, we'll never know because she never even broke stride after whacking my kid on the back of the head as she hustled past us, determinedly striding toward Garden Gnomes R Us or Giant Purse Heaven. My son stopped dead in his tracks, however, and with the outrage that only an eight year old can muster, he bellowed the forbidden phrase for all to hear. "EXCUSE ME!" A hush fell over the nearby mall patrons.
Some seemed confused, was the child speaking in tongues? Others seemed amused, he must not know what he's saying, isn't he precious? But a small number, perhaps part of the rebellion like me, seemed to approve. Could it be? Are there more of us out there? Must we live our lives hidden, fearful of being exposed for what we are? We are a dying breed, the manners afflicted. We must fight on! Together we can prevail! If we utter the forbidden phrase often, if we use it wisely and carefully, one day it may be forbidden no more. On that day, we can begin to show others we are not to be feared and hated, that there are even more phrases once used that caused no harm. We can save them! You know the words, I know you do! Dare I use them all at once? If I am taken for doing so, you must continue what has begun here, promise me. I'll do it, for all of us: Please...Thank You...You're Welcome...I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cause your child brain damage with my abnormally large and heavy purse. Ooops, that one just kind of slipped in there, my bad.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
This whole thing is motivated by an experience at the movie theater the other night. My 13 year old son and I went to see the midnight show of "Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix", we've been waiting for AGES! Things started out just swell, good crowd, everyone was in a great mood, the popcorn smelled wonderful and the Milk Duds were nice and fresh, don't you just hate when the Duds are hard and the chocolate flakes off?, but I digress. All seemed nearly perfect as we waited to go into the movie, ran into some friends, chatted with the strangers in line, generally happily passed the time until the big moment arrived. We were among the first people into the theater, a sea of seats stretched out before us, the possibilities were endless, the best seats were ours for the taking! This is a moment to savor, but only for as long as the buffeting crowd around you allows. My son decided that seats up at the top of the theater were the best, for both movie and people watching. His choice sounded great, the back row, nobody behind me kicking my seat, giving comfort to my inherent paranoia about not knowing who or what is sneaking up behind me...we'll save THAT for another day. We settled into our seats and waited for the lights to dim.
The house lights went down, the crowd quieted (mostly), the previews began and yet, something wasn't right. I became aware of strange lights, they came at me from every direction (except behind, of course). These lights not only glowed solidly and brightly in oddly perfect square shapes, but some flashed incessantly and seemed to light the faces of people only an arm's length away. What could be happening? Why was I the only person who noticed? How is it possible? The possibilites raced through my mind, some sort of alien invasion? Could it be previously undiscovered mutant, giant, square, flashing fireflies? Then, with the dawning horror of the cornered teenage babysitter in any given slasher movie, I realized what was happening. I was trapped, surrounded on all sides by the most feared monster in all the land. The manners-impaired, oblivious to anyone but themselves, hopelessly dependent...the cell phone junkies. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo! I frantically, helplessly, looked for someone, anyone to come to my aid...there was no one. I was alone, more alone than I've ever been in my life. Like the last survivor of a zombie plagued world, I began to wonder if it just wouldn't be easier to succomb, simply give myself over to the inevitable and become one of them. From deep inside my soul I drew strength from the primitive genes of our shared past, the survival instinct kicked in. I MUST prevail so that future generations can learn and never ever repeat this dark and frightening time. My thoughts raced madly. What could I do? How can I win against such insurmountable odds? Weaponry? Cunning? Really loud screaming? I began to plan my escape and eventual attack against this most insidious of foes. I went to the theater owner (small town, the guys who owns the place, runs the place) and suggested some kind of full body search before each movie. He seemed a bit taken aback and I believe he thought I was kidding. Did he not see? Did he not understand? Or...the horrific thought came all at once: Was he one of THEM?
I did suggest a slightly less intrusive option, some sort of "phone check" area, just like a coat check, only without the hangers...and coat racks. Oh, you get the idea. He did tell me about a gadget that is used in theaters in a far flung land called "Canada" that jams the signal of these strange technological weapons. You can use your phone in the lobby, but not in the theater itself. "Canada", I whispered. "Tell me more of this wonderous place, this world saving device. Would they be willing to share their magic with us?" "No" he said, sadly shaking his head, "we can't use it here, it's some kind of civil rights thing or something like that."
It's a violation of our civil rights to make people turn off their cell phones during a movie? You're kiddng, right? Right?! RIGHT?!?! Please be kidding. Please? Nope, not kidding. How sad that we have to be forced to do things that should be common courtesy.
I do have to wonder, these people hauled their butts to the theater at midnight on a Tuesday to pay five bucks to see this movie on the first night and they spend half the time texting the guy sitting two seats away? What was the point? Why did they bother? Do you suppose they put their phones down to go to the bathroom? Or while in the shower? Or when they're...doing other intimate things? Let's not go there, just don't. You'll never ever, ever get that picture out of your head. It's there already, sorry about that.
So that's it for now, if you take nothing else from reading my little saga, take this: Don't use your cell phone in the movie theater, I might be sitting next to you.