Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Resolve To...No, I Don't

Every year, we are beseeched to make a life altering decision based soley on the changing of the calendar. We promise ourselves to lose weight, stop smoking, stop spending money, stop eating or drinking anything not 100% good for us and stop being everything that makes us who we are. The single New Year's Resolution I've ever kept was the one I made when I vowed to stop making resolutions that I knew I was never going to keep. Yay me! I look at the new year as a chance to start, not stop, doing things. New Year, new beginning? Let's START, not stop doing things. It's when we stop that we stagnate, right?
Thinking back over the years, I have resolved to lose weight in 15 of my 41 years. To stop smoking 9 times, stop spending all but totally necessary money 11 times, to stop being sarcastic 5 times. Guess what? All that resolving and I'm still a Reubenesque, bitchy smoker. The money thing is a nonissue, you have to have some in the first place if you're going to spend irresponsibly. So what do New Year's Resolutions really get us? One more thing to feel bad about when we FAIL. I'm not doing it anymore, so there.
I've decided this is the year that I do stuff, not stop doing stuff. I'm not going to resolve to learn Mandarin or the Tango nor am I going to skydive, run with the bulls or learn to juggle chainsaws. I'm going to give the little things a shot, eat dinner as a family at least three times a week. Go to the library and spend time there at least once a month. Take walks in the evenings. Play more games and learn more about the people in my life. These are simple things that I do once in a while, but would really like to do them more often. I'm not going to call these New Year's Resolutions, they're more like, New Year's Tune Ups. These are things that could simply use a little more attention in the new year. I'm changing nothing, just improving on the bones of what's already here.
Besides, if I kept all those old resolutions and became annoyingly perfect, whatever would I have to complain about?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A-Caroling We Go

In this, the most wonderful time of the year, I find myself going to the occasional dark place. I have spent the last month listening to "All Christmas All The Time" on the only radio station that comes in at work. I realize now that I have developed some extremely stong feelings about Christmas carols. I have developed a passionate hate for "Feliz Navidad". This is nothing racist, it's simply an annoying and repetitive song. The added bonus that it's used in every Taco John's commercial from Halloween to New Year's just makes it all the more teeth grinding.
I find something kind of disturbing about the Jackson 5's redition of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus", considering all the things we now know about the family dynamic in the Jackson clan, it's just plain sad. That song written today would have ended with a verse about the cops arriving and taking someone away in handcuffs. There's just something about that song I never liked anyway. Think about the therapy that kid needed after witnessing that little scene.
"Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree", cute the first 800 times you hear it, but after that, it's just a bit grating.
"Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer", let's think about this one for a quick second. Poor Rudolph is excluded from the reindeer games based solely on a physical difference but is hailed and revered as a hero when someone finds a way to use him to their advantage. Today, the other reindeer would have been sent to sensitivity training. Santa should really have put the kibosh on the schoolyard bullying long before and not just when he needed Rudolph's freakish glowing proboscis to see through the gloom.
I have realized that there are only about 15 actual Christmas songs, and EVERYONE and their brother have done their own version of them. The weirdest one is a bebop (complete with a bit of scatting in the middle) version of "I'll Be Home For Christmas". This is just weird and wrong. This is a rather sad song, if you really listen to the lyrics; mournful, actually. To set it to a uptempo, jazzy beat and throw in some weirdly placed scat just made the whole thing completely surreal.
"Frosty The Snowman" would be looked at as a creeper with an unnatural fixation on little kids nowadays.
"Winter Wonderland" does not ring true for anyone that's ever lived through several Minnesota winters. Wonderland, my butt.
"Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", scaaaaary. He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows everything you do and you will be rewarded when the Day comes. Wait a second...all knowing, all seeing, passing judgement upon the world, rewarding the faithful...sounds like someone else we know, doesn't he?
For some reason, this radio station I am stuck listening to all day has decided the "Charlie Brown" theme music (you know the one, the piano piece) is a Christmas song. Why, I have no idea as it's used in ALL the Charlie Brown cartoons and not just the Christmas special.
Why is it no other holiday has its own soundtrack? Let's just imagine for a minute the songs that could be written about Labor Day, Flag Day and Arbor Day. We'd have stations dedicated to "All Trees, All The Time", I can't wait.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Over, Stop Trying

We all reach a point in our lives when we're simply not cool anymore. We can try to cling as long as we possibly can, but there is a moment we can look back on with absolute clarity and realize, that's when it ended. I personally, have yet to reach that crossroad, so I'm certainly not speaking from experience. I'm actually cooler now than I ever was in high school. Don't burst my little bubble here people, this is what gets me through the hot flashes. There are people we encounter everyday that make us think "This poor deluded soul really hasn't a clue that he's not cool at all." This delusion of coolness is generally expressed vehicularly. My personal favorites can be seen in my town, there is the Ford Taurus with the flames painted on the front (I hold out hope that this is whimsy, not delusion) and the guy in the minivan who insists on cranking the speakers I suspect have replaced the third row seating. You drive a minivan? It was over for you the moment you signed your name on the title...of the MINIVAN. The same rules apply when you're driving a car that was cool as hell when you bought it (15 years ago) but have allowed it to deteriorate into a mere shadow of its former self. I give you the dent-riddled, grime and rust encrusted, windows duct-taped Camaro I saw this afternoon. This very car was idling at the red light next to me and as my eldest and I watched with a mixture of fascinated horror and frank disbelief the thundering, incomprehensible bass blasting from the back caused pieces of snow, ice and a full layer of the rusty shell vibrated off and fell into the street. I admit to worrying about the fate of the occupants of the car, as I strongly suspect the rust was indeed the very glue holding this once proud miracle of modern manufacturing together. It was a bit like seeing a Triple Crown winner pulling a hay cart.
Similar rules apply to clothing choices. Low rise jeans should probably not ever be worn by anyone that has given birth more than once. Tube tops don't look good on ANYONE, they were never cool and always trashy! There are A LOT of tattoos that should never have been sketched on a cocktail napkin and certainly never permanently applied to a human body (for examples: ) and you won't ever wonder if there is a limit to tacky or gross ideas people are willing to not only express, but advertise daily! Tattoos are cool, many are VERY cool, but a whole lot are just nasty and/or sad. I can't help but wonder what happens when the heavily tattooed among us reach that crossroad: "It's over and I'm not cool but there's no way I can't look like I'm not desperately clinging..." They're stuck forever with whatever it was they thought was cool when they were twenty. I think back to what was cool when I was twenty and there's absolutely nothing I can think of from that time period that I'd be willing to wear, carry around or do every day since then. This is probably why I still don't have a tattoo. There's just nothing I've found that I want to look at every day until I'm old and wrinkled (don't even go there, tattoos on the heavily wrinkled...eew).
I hope I'll be cool enough to realize when I'm not cool anymore and give it up gracefully. Or I won't and I'll paint flames AND get huge speakers in my minivan.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Is Going On Here?

I find myself perplexed of late. People, who I thought had lost the power to surprise me, consistently do that very thing. In the past couple of months, I have experienced the length and breadth of human behavior. Some has been good, beyond what words might adequately describe. Some so mind-bogglingly stupid it seems to rip through the very fabric of time and space. There has even been some that's nothing but plain old bully in the schoolyard, push the nerd into the mud puddle and steal his lunch money mean. And this from those who are biologically adults.
I start with our previous landlord who, upon giving us very little notice before selling the house we were living in and kicking us out with barely enough notice to find a new home. This, after the furnace dying a slow and torturous death LAST WINTER, never replacing it. We never reported the situation to the authorities because they were 'friends' and we didn't want to get them into trouble. Nice gets you...whatever.
The upside to all of this was my Hail Mary pass of calling every realtor in town with listings on the market for more than a year to see if any of their clients might be willing to rent with the option to buy for a while. The very nice lady listing the house literally around the corner put us in touch with a couple who'd moved nearly two years ago that might be willing. Not only were they willing, but thrilled to get someone into the house. Fine, we call this one a draw, the bad behavior countered by good.
The next mean people story involves interference and just plain old nastiness. A young woman I work with in the food job is looking for something new. We've all been in jobs long enough and look to move on, nothing odd about that. This particular person is a lovely, sweet, sometimes a bit scattered and as generous as the day is long. These are not bad qualities and make up someone you'd probably like to know. Upon applying for a new job (at my new place of work), another of our food job coworkers has taken it upon herself to call the powers that be and offer her opinions on this young woman, to quote "before you hire _____ you need to call me so I can tell you about her..." That's just mean. You're not involved here, you don't work here, so sit down and shut up. If it was up to me, I'd hire her just to piss the other one off.
On the silly and stupid side, I got a phone call at my soon to be old job from a new trainee that started yesterday. She called to say (and I SWEAR I'm not making this up!) "I'm just not that ino working right now." and was quitting. I actually thought I no longer understood the English language for a minute there and said "What did you say?" and made her repeat her thought. No one says that, I was positive I misunderstood but there it came again "I'm just not that into working right now." Who SAYS that? Seriously, I had an 'Office Space' flashback for the rest of the remember the scene "I don't like my job, I don't think I'm gonna go anymore." "You're quitting?" "No, I'm just not going to go anymore."
I'm just not that into paying my power bill. I'm just not that into being a parent. I'm just not that into not robbing banks. Yeah, that's gonna work out. Come ON!
I would like to be able to get away with this sort of crap. I want to know how to be nasty for the sake of being nasty. I need to learn how to be completely stupid and get away with it. I want to suffer nevermore from good manners and a sense of fair play. Do they teach this somewhere? Is there a class? Online courses? Apprenticeship? Anyone willing to mentor me on my quest to become a complete ass? No? Fine. I'll continue to behave myself. Party poopers. I would have made a good asshole, you know.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Get Your Prude On

Recently in my small town, a very radical and titillating event took place. Breast cancer awareness month was publicly recognized for probably the first time here. I was excited to hear about the comedy show fundraiser but more interested about the public display. Several months before October, a small ad appeared in our local want ads: "Support breast cancer awareness, send your bras to (insert address here)." Intrigued, I sent off a couple of bras I didn't wear for comfort reasons and actually forgot about the whole thing for a while. The next I heard was that the bras were going to be displayed during the month of October, where and how I was not quite sure. Finally, on a bright and sunny day in early October, all was revealed. As I went about my daily business (I believe I was headed to work) and drove down one of the two main drags in town (Broadway), my eye was caught by a cherry picker parked in front of the Eagle drug store, two men on the roof and a woman directing the operation from the ground. Even more eye-catching were the streamers cascading from the roof to just above street level of this three story edifice. At first glance, these multicolored wonders looked like streamers, but closer inspection revealed their true composition. Here were the bras! Collected over the course of months and carefully attached to one another, the bras stretched from one end to the other of the building, from roof to the tops of the display windows. A glorious, lacy, multicolored bonanza of female undergarments basking in the late fall sunshine. I had to go home and get the camera.

It was not long after this impressive display of female solidarity was assembled that the hue and cry began. The first letter to the editor called for the immediate removal of this "disgusting and pornographic" display and behooved law enforcement to arrest Shirley, the breast cancer surviving organizer, for public indecency. Another asserted that she could no longer drive downtown with her children as they asked too many uncomfortable questions about the reason behind the bras hanging from the building. Happily, the haters were outnumbered by about five to one by those who thought this was a wonderful, fun and interesting way to bring attention to a disease that affects darn near everyone. One of the unenlightened wrote "what's next, jock straps?" Why, a fine idea, if testicular cancer gets it's own month, I say let's do it! I had to wonder how these people managed to shop at WalMart or Target. It's kind of hard to avoid the unmentionables completely. Do these same people not go to the lake? I'm assuming their children never see the laundry basket, the naughty bits must be carefully removed before their innocence is ripped heartlessly from them by the sight of a bra or pair of panties. (I digress, why do we speak of a bra as a single item but panties are referred to in the plural?) This display was not full of bras filled by falsies, not a single boobie was to be seen, but the mere presence of pieces of clothing we all wear (the girls for sure, anyway) was enough to send some of these people into a torch-and-pitchfork, kill-the-beast, off-with-their-heads type of frenzy. Congratulations Shirley, you DEFINITELY got people talking! I doubt Crookston has ever been more aware of breast cancer than this year. What are you going to do for the next one? Whatever it is, sign me up!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

You Can't Shock Me Anymore

Once upon a time, when I was young and innocent, people could shock the hell out of me, not so much anymore. They can occasionally surprise me, make me raise my eyebrows or cause me a moment's pause, but true and genuine shock has become a thing of the past. I wonder if it's just me, if it's cultural or simple evolution. Women wearing skirts above the ankle used to be shocking, now a glance is hardly spared for a pair of barely there shorts and a bikini top at the Applebee's. George Carlin made a career of the seven words you can't say on television and now we hear worse on Cartoon Network or Family Guy. Dropping the F-bomb in a movie used to ensure an R rating, now you can hear it in PG13s (side note: the first PG13 movie released was Red Dawn--WOLVERINES!). You can see more graphic violence and death on an episode of Law and Order or any of the CSI shows.
I'm hardly a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but I think there is still cause for shock. I think there are still things that should cause our jaws to drop. I think there is room for stunned disbelief. I believe that 10 year olds should think French kissing is when a French person kisses you. I hold dear the notion that 13 year olds should find the opposite sex an equal mix of exotic and gross. I think the phrase "She's hot" should never be uttered by a 7 year old. I think 15 year old boys should be more fascinated by cars and baseball than by who got drunk last weekend. I pray that someday "Girls Gone Wild" is not a bestselling sensation and more a cause for revulsion.
I wonder when it was decided that people's everyday quirks and human failings would make for fine entertainment. The recent spate of shows about various mental illnesses becoming entertainment for the masses (Hoarders, Cheaters, Intervention, etc) is a little distressing. I will admit to having watched a couple of these shows and feeling like I should go to confession afterwards. The phenomena of Jon and Kate is really just kind of sad. The "Octo-Mom" is getting her own reality show (and is ANYONE surprised by that?). Nancy Grace's sanctimonious ranting is enough to make my eardrums explode. Dr. Phil seems more like Jerry Springer with a 'medical' degree (what exactly is he a doctor OF?) than Donahue. When did other people's faults and failings become must see TV? I'll admit to a love of "Smoking Gun's Dumbest Criminals" and I have to come clean about watching "Toddlers And Tiaras" a few times (more for the ick factor than anything else). I also have to wonder about the people who invite camera crews into their lives to expose their dirty laundry to the world and then bitch about it when it comes back to bite them in the heinie.
The next step in the full disclosure world we're living in is the recent development of Facebook and Twitter. I am a Facebooker but tend to post more pithy and silly items than any real soul baring. This is partially because I don't think everyone I know needs to hear about my cramps or a fight with my beloved and partially because if I'm going to bare my soul there's going to be wine, cigarettes and two very sympathetic friends at the same table with me. Twitter is something I don't get at all. I remember becoming completely turned off by Twitter when members of Congress were "Tweeting" during Obama's inauguration speech. "I'm at the speech and he's talking about something very important." Really?! This is noteworthy WHY? How about you shut up, put your phone away and actually LISTEN to the speech? ee cummings would completely approve of this high tech stream of conciousness crap being spewed out of every corner of the universe these days. Have we become so self centered that we truly believe the world gives a flying crap that we're riding on the bus and listening to Andy Gibb's greatest hits? Here's a "Tweet" for you: Your every thought does not need to be published! If so, we'd all be walking around with thought bubbles above our heads and cut out the electronic middleman.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It Comes In Threes

I am now a firm believer in that notion, death coming in threes. I'm not talking about humans, my experience proves this is true for major household appliances. This is either the three thing or it's a suicide pact my appliances entered into without my knowledge, bringing yet another theory to fact that the inanimate objects in your house are only inanimate when you're looking. I've been saying for years that my keys grow legs when I'm not watching them. But I digress.
At present, I have three large pieces of machinery dying slow deaths. My clothes washer has decided it REALLY likes the spin cycle and will stay there for an hour at a time. Granted, the clothing is nearly dry by the time I rescue them, but the dryer's getting pissed because the washer is taking its job. I can live with this for a bit as long as we don't toss clothes into the washer before we leave the house for the day. In that instance, I'm thinking the washer would eventually take flight. The second member of the trinity of death is the dishwasher. This one has decided to broaden its horizons (and job description) by taking on the additional task of washing the kitchen floor while doing the dishes. While I appreciate the thought and admire the ambition, I won't really be completely satisfied until the damn thing learns how to DRY the floor as well. The final piece to this unholy alliance is the kitchen range. While the stovetop works just swell, the oven has some sort of performance anxiety going. You can turn it on to preheat but as soon as the element kicks on, it decides "We're done here." and shuts off. This is, to say the very least, inconvenient. I'm thinking we all better get used to eating alot of soup. Unfortunately, none of these items are new enough to still have a warranty (because that would be silly of them to break while still under warranty, you know) and are too new to be sold as antiques. My beloved has graciously volunteered to take the offending items apart to see what he can see but my vision of the aftermath of that particular action is keeping me awake at night. I allow this and my immediate future is a kitchen littered with unidentified bits of machinery, sorted carefully into piles on the floor that the cats decide are new toys, the youngest boy decides to take apart further and I end up stepping on when heading for the bathroom. The road to hell is paved with bits of appliances and "I can fix that this weekend." items. NEVER! This will not be my fate!
Think I better call the repair guy tomorrow before anyone here takes drastic action.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Cup Of Contempt

This seems to have been the week for childishness and bad manners. We started with Joe Wilson shouting at the president (might we remind him this is not the House of Commons, thank you Jamie for that one). Serena Williams threatening a tennis line judge with a ball stuffed into an uncomfortable orifice. Finally we get Kanye West stage crashing and ruining a big moment for Taylor Swift at the VMA show. Tiger Woods has spent the past couple of weeks acting like an ass. Michael Jordan turned his induction speech for the NBA Hall Of Fame into a litany of "screw yous" and "up yours" to anyone he thought had ever wronged him, relagating his family to a throwaway line at the end of the speech. Really? What ever happened to "Behave yourself."? These are not (biologically speaking) a bunch of children. Temper tantrums are unattractive when it's a three year old throwing one, but when it's a fully realized adult doing the kicking and screaming, it's just plain comical and a little sad. Professional athletes seem to have this sort of thing down to an art form. These are people who enjoy a certain status and the accompanying benefits that the rest of us will never see and they can't seem to behave in a manner many blue collar/minimum wage types manage to summon up on a daily basis.
On the flip side, there were some real moments of shining examples of good manners as well. Following Kanye's outburst, Beyonce invited the interrupted Taylor Swift back to the stage to finish her thank yous during Beyonce's moment in the spotlight. Good for you Beyonce, I'm not a huge fan, but I like you more today than I did yesterday.
On a smaller scale, my eldest son's football team played against Northern Freeze (Karlstad/Newfolden) on Friday night and both teams impressed me enormously. Not because of their athletic prowess or any stellar plays, but for simple acts of good manners both on and off the field. Both teams were helping opposing players back to their feet (after having knocked them down in the first place), geniune pats on the back and real handshakes after the game, not the usual muttered and insincere "good game" accompanied by the briefest of hand to hand contact. Actual handshakes and comments to each other, geniune respect all around. If a bunch of highschool football players can show that kind of respect for their opponents, I firmly believe our politicans, athletes and other public figures can pull simple courtesy from the depths of their coddled, catered to souls and show a little respect.
If they can't, we'll let Serena shove a tennis ball into their....nevermind.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I Told You It Hurt!

So I FINALLY went to the doctor yesterday to see about my left shoulder that has been bothering me onn and off for a while now. It clicks and grinds when I rotate it and I can't sleep on my left side at all, this has been going on for about 6 months so I decided it was time. I've been seen for it before and was told it was everything from tendonitis to bursitis to possible arthritis (all the itises all rolled into one?). Finally called and made an appointment with the world's tallest orthopedic specialist (but that's another story). He asked if I'd sustained any injury to that shoulder and I remember slipping off a fire escape type ladder a couple of years ago, saving myself from falling by catching the bottom rung with my armpit. He sent me down for xrays and imagine both our surprise when the film revealed a badly healed break. He looked at me with a fair amount of amazement in his expression and asked "Didn't that hurt like hell?" I said yes, for a couple of weeks but Advil, liquor and ice packs got me through it just fine thank you very much. I figured I had pretty effectively pulled everything in my shoulder but it truly never occurred to me that I might have BROKEN something. The doctor had me go through all the range of motion possibilities one can possibly try and was further amazed that I could do then all with the exception of one. My only problem since the incident is hooking and unhooking bras, simple enough to fix, I switched to front loaders and problem solved!
I go in for an MRI next week to see just how badly it's healed and then we'll decide about rebreaking and setting it properly this time. Andrew says I am officially one of the toughest chicks he knows, darn right I am.
This wasn't about martyrdom or anything like that, I honestly didn't think it was that bad. I figured I'd wrenched it pretty darn good and it got mostly better. Except for the sleeping on it, the pretty constant ache and the whole bra thing...okay, maybe there were signs.
Charlie wants to know if they're going to hit me with something heavy to rebreak it. Andrew offered to rebreak it himself and my beloved just doesn't want to be there if there are needles involved. Their sympathy and concern is overwhelming, to say the least. Feel the LOOOOOVE!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Do Your Job!

I had a weird experience the other day, and I'm still thinking about it now so I guess that merits a post. I went over to Grand Forks to get some of the back to school shopping started and happened past one of those 'Learning Centers' (the one that starts with an SYL and ends with AN) and thought I'd check it out for Charlie. We need to get him reading more and I'm out of ideas. I walked into the building and was nodded to by a guy talking on his cell phone. He turned, walked through a door marked "Director's Office" and shut the door behind him. Fine, I'll wait for you to send an underling out to greet the potential customer for you. Looking into the classroom type area, I saw several people working with assorted kids and three or four others just standing around looking like they needed something to do. After making eye contact with three of them and still standing alone in the solitary confinement that was the waiting room, I remained ungreeted. I gave several pointed glances at my invisible wristwatch and counted to 150 before emitting a disgusted snort, throwing a dirty look through the window in the door marked "Director's Office" and left, slamming the pneumatic door as best I could (quite a feat, try it sometime!) and stomped back to my car. Really?! Was it THAT much effort for one of these people to at least say "Someone will be right with you." if they didn't want to take responsibility for me? I don't think acknowledging someone's presence is quite the same as picking up a piece of trash in the woods. I didn't become theirs as soon as they said hello. Suffice it to say, we won't be PAYING for their services anytime soon. Do your jobs, people!
Later in the day, after getting half of what I needed at the store, I was treated to the life story of the cashier while she scanned my purchases. I have no problem being chatty with the cashiers, I rather enjoy these exchanges and if I can bring some levity to what I know can be an incredibly monotonous job, all the better. What I don't wish to hear is a list of complaints about your unsatisfactory boyfriend told in a near shout to the cashier in the lane behind you, the entire exchange punctuated by snaps from the wad of chewing gum that is roughly the size of a golf ball and in imminent danger of falling into my bag of notebooks and folders. After putting a pair of tennis shoes on top of the package of hamburger buns, she handed me my receipt (I had scanned my card myself, minimizing the effort she needed to put into her job) and stuffed my last items in to a bag (laundry soap on top of grapes) without ever making eye contact or addressing me directly. Do your job, sweetie!
The final nail in the customer service coffin that day was the waitress at dinner that night. After we had been seated and given our menus (and given enough time to not only memorize, but preapre most of the dishes ourselves) we were approached by a sulky and rather unkempt waitress. She plunked the water glasses down on the table (sloshing the rough amount of a small wading pool onto the table) and muttered the daily special in a monotone barely discernible from the hum of the air conditioning before wandering off without asking us if we wanted any drinks. My beloved headed over to the bar to get our long desired beverages and the kids and I were left to play tic tac toe until the waitress reappeared. Her second coming was heralded by her loud and annoying ringtone blasting from her pocket and she actually told us to "Hold on a sec" as she answered her phone while standing next to our table. After about two minutes of listening to her rehash the previous evening's alcohol-induced indiscretions, we opted out and headed to the Dairy Queen for an ice cream based meal. Do your job, missy!
That's it, I'm doing all my everything online from now on.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Is It Hot In Here?

Okay, so I think I've been handling this whole "woman of a certain age" thing with a certain amount of grace. Only the minimum of whining and very few artificial means of maintaining my rapidly receding youth. Gray hair? Whatever. Laugh lines? Badges of honor. Aches and pains? Fine. I simply MUST draw the line at this whole business of hot flashes. I think if I was naked in a blizzard, I'd likely welcome a nice lengthy hot flash. In August, while I'm at work is completely unacceptable and I think someone in charge should address this immediately. I wasn't doing anything particularly strenuous, I wasn't lifting anything heavy and I wasn't spending large dollops of time with my head stuck under the warming lamps. I think sweating profusely while working a cash register is just a bit beyond the pale. I've never been one of those women that sweats nicely, no 'glow' here. We're talking full on, no holds barred Baba Wawa in the steam room with Rosanne Rosanna Danna balls of sweat dripping off my eyebrows, nose and (I am NOT making this up) earlobes. I never imagined my earlobes would sweat...honestly there really is no elegance left when your ears are sweating.
My boss seemed to take a perverse amount of enjoyment in my predicament as she has thus far been the only member of the hot flash club at work up to this point. She's positively giddy at the idea of being a member of a club of more than one (I think this must make me vice president). However, the snickering was just a touch unprofessional. She did have mercy as she made sure any time something was needed from the coolers or freezer, I was sent to fetch it. Thank you for the pity! My sister seemed happy for me (I have no idea why) and excitedly informed me "Congratulations, you're a crone!" I should be happy about this? She's one of those earth mother/goddess types. That whole life cycle of a woman being 'maiden/mother/crone' thing. I'm NOT a crone, I have children in school, great hair and all my own teeth! A crone?! She's a fine one to talk, SHE'S a grandmother!
I firmly believe that the next leap in human evolution should involve some sort of on/off switch for the women on the species. This would end teen pregnancy, as the switch could not be activated until one has reached a certain age, either set by the parents or those in charge of our evolution. Once we're all done with the baby making, we can simply deactivate that particular part of our anatomies, okay, we're all set. Shut off the lights and evacuate that part of the body people, your work here is done. I'd like to know to whom I send my suggestion and patent application.
Is it hot in here or is it just me? Oh, that's right it's just me and Johnny Depp is nowhere is sight so I'm guessing this is another one. Wow, this is really fun. On the upside, maybe I'll detoxify so much that I'll stop getting zits like a 16 year old the day before yearbook pictures. "Change of life" my eye If my life is going to change, I want a new car, self cleaning house, independent wealth and a house in Cabo. THAT'S a change I'll get wholeheartedly behind, THIS is a pain in the ass.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two Down and One To Go

Looking at the calendar, I've realized there is only about a month of summer left. Baseball season for the boy is winding down, the end of summer rec is looming and the back to school sales have begun to peek their heads around the corner.
Having two kids, I both dread and look forward to the last weeks of summer. I hate those last few weeks when all the activities have ended, they're both bored out of their minds and decide that pissing each other off is the last entertainment option open to them. This is when my house starts getting really really clean. As a kid I hated it when my mom would say "If you're bored, you can clean your room." As a mom, I totally get where she was coming from. August is the cruelest month, you've had about enough summer but you're not fully prepared for what looms after...winter is close, very close. Up here in the hinterlands, we have about three weeks of what could be defined as fall. We skip all that crunchy leaves and crisp days crap and leap headlong into blizzards and brain numbing cold.
Charlie's latest method of annoying the crap out of his brother is to emit a drawn out, extremely high pitched squeak at random moments. It closely resembles the sound of chalk screeching on a blackboard and while I admire the ability to produce such a sound, it is really nerve wracking. This sound is usually followed by a completely over the top reaction from his older brother, which, of course was the mission objective. Andrew has a slightly more subtle way of inducing histronics from Charlie. He specializes in the muttered insult followed by an act of complete and total innocence upon being busted. Wide eyed, jaw dropped and mild gruntlike sounds of protest accompany the protestations of "I didn't SAY anything!" I find myself making statements like "No one in this house is to talk to anyone else in this house ever again!" and meaning them with every fiber of my being. No one said parenting was a rational act. My kids also specialize in minding each others' business. If they were as perfect as they try to make each other behave, there would be no need for...well, parents. My response to thier constant policing of each other is to remind the offender that until they pay for the other one's college education, they have no say. Neither was in any way responsible for the other's creation so they need to stay out of it. My favorite (and admittedly childish) response is the let the child being policed do the very thing that the other was trying to make them stop doing. Andrew telling Charlie he can't go outside because it's raining leads me to not only let Charlie go outside in the rain, but to join him in puddle jumping and splashing under the downspouts. So there. This obviously doesn't extend to life threatening activities, just the little petty nonsense they tell one another off about on a regular basis. Eventually they'll figure it out and knock it off...right?
There are times when I'd LOVE to relinquish my parenting duties to someone else, but you can rest assured it's not going to be to the 15 and 10 year old...I'm frustrated, not clinically insane.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Idiots, Explosives and Falling Anvils

Well, another Independence Day has come and gone and we managed to maintain the emergency room trip-less holiday record for another year. We had the usual gathering of the clan and assorted others at my parents' house in St. Paul, lots of food (the Rice Krispie treats made it all the way into the kitchen this year) plenty of beverage and of course, the main dish of explosives. Unfortunately, the thirty year quest to blow the manhole cover off the storm sewer is still unfulfilled. Manhole: 1,627 Commercially available fireworks: 0. We'll get 'em next year. St. Thomas University security was Johnny on the spot this year. The showed up less than a minute after the first wad of firecrackers went impressive response time, I must say. I think the St. Paul cops have simply decided to give up the battle, as they were no shows for the first time ever. I have to admit a bit of disappointment at their absence, a bit of the tradition of the holiday has died.
The adults at the gathering have decided we MUST stop reproducing, as we are now nearly outnumbered by the under 20 set and they will soon overpower us and take all the bottle rockets. On the up side, the majority of them are minors so if the cops decide to get cranky, we'd be in okay shape. The brain trust (my son Andrew, his cousin Casey and Casey's buddy Adam as well as assorted others) decided that "Roman Candle Baseball" is going to be the next big spectator sport. Watch out NASCAR. I'm guessing the name of the event tells one everything they need to know but let me provide the visual. A 15 year old and two 19 year olds are tired of ricocheting the balls of fire off the nearby stop sign and are looking for the next great idea. The younger kids return from the impromptu softball game across the street and an aluminum bat is spotted by the innovators. Hmmm, what do you think would happen if....? Needless to say, this is question that begs to be answered. Several whiff swings and only a few actual contacts with the flaming balls that produced an impressive and alarming number of tiny flaming balls later, the game is called to a halt by someone with more respect for life than this bunch.
The trio then set themselves to the task of scraping the silver stuff of as many sparklers they could lay their pyromanical mitts on. I have no idea of the actual number, but enough to fill a large sized tuna can. Can now filled, it must be covered with duct tape (why? because everything's better with duct tape!) and a makeshift fuse inserted in the top. We now have a hockey puck sized, duct tape ensconced can of thermite-like material ready for ignition. This can only end well. As it turns out, the silver stuff from many many sparklers, in a can wrapped in duct tape will burn with the light of a thousand suns and actually melt the cobblestones that make up the street in front of my parents house.
And tell me again why the cops DON'T think we're a threat?

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Okay, I'm not one of those people that announces their every thought via bumperstickers, I had one. It wasn't even a sticker, it was one of those magnet things. A peace sign cutout from the globe that said "Imagine", simple, subtle, understated and now STOLEN. Who steals a peace symbol? I mean really. I don't do stickers because they end up looking like crap in a few months of weather exposure and your attitude may change but you're still stuck advertising your original thought. Plus the stickers I'd put on my car would get rocks thrown through my windows at the grocery store. I thought my little magnet would be with me for a while but NOOOOOO. Stealing a peace sign? That's such a total slap to the whole hippy, love everyone, make love not war thing I had going here. I want some punishment! Heads must roll for this one, carpet bombing shall commence and the beatings will continue until my peace symbol is returned. I may be violating the whole message I was attempting to convey here...a little. This whole episode makes me think about the things people will steal.
I kind of get the attraction to traffic and street signs when you're of a certain age, I myself had a stop sign in my room for several years but now it's really doesn't go with the rest of my decor. My father had a tendency to lift ashtrays from his favorite bars and restaurants when he smoked. Of course, who hasn't accidentally tucked a hotel towel into their suitcase at the end of a trip? Last summer, we had a wet floor sign disappear from work. A wet floor sign? Really? It didn't even have the cartoon guy falling on the wet floor, just the words. What fun is that? The sign turned up several months later two towns away in the school parking lot. Fortunately, it had our restaurant's name and location on it, so it found its way home. This fall, my political yard signs were ALL stolen, not just the in-demand Obama sign, but my local guys' signs too. Who the heck wanted a Peterson sign that bad? I have a friend whose hose was taken, unscrewed from the spout and lifted off the hook thing, disappear. A hose? What kind of thinking is in place there? My parents' snowblower was taken out of their garage a few years ago, while my mother and sisters were in the kitchen (overlooking the garage) at the time. That's ballsy.
Travelocity (I think) had to have gotten their idea for the 'roaming gnome' ad campaign from a news item several years ago, I can't remember where I read about this but I remember the story well. A woman in New York State had a garden gnome that kept disappearing from her yard. A few days after each disappearance, she'd start receiving photos in the mail of her garden gnome in various locations around first the US, then the world. The gnome would reappear in her yard a couple of weeks after each disappearance, only to vanish again a few months later and the photos would again arrive in the mail. No ransom notes, no demands for its incarcerated bretheren's release, just photos of the gnome enjoying its odd journey. I don't know if she ever figured out who was liberating her garden gnome, but it eventually quit disappearing, his wanderlust apparently appeased. This kind of theft I can understand and even enjoy, she too seemed quite amused by the whole thing.
So I get it...PEACE.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Show Me My Money!

I know we live in the age of technology, I get going green and paperlessness, I recycle, I'm computerarily hip, I get it. But I like money, cash money. I'm not talking rolling around in piles of ill gotten booty, I'm talking about a check I take to the bank and get actual money in exchange.
The company I work for decided to go "paperless" on payday (although we still get the pay info and the slip that looks like a check but really isn't...) and pay us by putting our money on a Visa logo-ed paycard. Sounds clean, simple, handy even. Not so much, not always. So the other night the boys and I innocently went to grocery store (the day after payday) and loaded the cart with a week's worth of supplies including a certain girl thing I REALLY needed and made our way to the checkout. So far so good, nothing to indicate any sort of drama would follow. Purchases rung, sale totaled, card swiped and...nothing. A second swipe of the card produced a 'not approved contact card issuer' message. Odd, I thought when another swipe gave the same message, it seemed to me a bit more strident this time. Fine, I'll use the ATM and pay cash. This time the technology announced to me my card was simply not recognized. Curiouser and curiouser. Time for some answers and a call to the issuer got me nothing. I dutifully entered my card number (without it, you simply don't exist) and...nothing. Okay, I reasonably assume my cell phone isn't working inside the store. Repeated the process outside where reception is better. Still no luck. Well, shit. Back inside, rather red-faced and now more than a bit annoyed, I turned over my cart of bagged items (including my crucial girl purchase) and headed home to sort this matter out from the comfort of my kitchen. One more call in the parking lot of the store with no new information provided. I called a co-worker and asked her to call the card number to check her balance, she called back after experiencing the same result. At least I could stop taking it quite so personally, but really this information helps me not.
Upon arriving home, I gave the whole process another whirl from the house phone. At least this time produced a slightly different result. Instead of listening to nothingness, I get a rep who read a prewritten script : "Thankyouforcalling ------, wearecurrentlyupdatingoursystemandweapologizeforanyinconvenienceyoumaybeexperiencing. Tryyourcardagaininonehour." (By the way, it's very hard to type with no CLICK. Did she just hang up on me!? She just hung up on me! Andrew pipes up with "Mom, they aren't paying that woman enough to talk to you right now." Good point. By this time, I'm starting to channel the paperboy from 'Better Off Dead', "I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS!". An hour, fine. One hour. As instructed, I try again in an hour and get the same person (I believe they one have one phone rep) who takes a deep breath and launches into the script. No way, no how, not this time. I totally threw off her groove by interrupting with "Stop talking. I have a question." Evidently this was something new, the long pause followed by a rather cautious "Hello?" tells me I was among the first to rebel and deviate from the preplanned scenario. Upon asking this quite startled woman to speak to someone higher up the food chain, I get Paul the supervisor on the line. Paul immediately launched into the updating out system speech to which I felt compelled to ask why on God's green earth anyone would think updating (and completely disabling) a financial system at a high usage time (suppertime, after work grocery shopping time) was a smart move. Paul had no answers for me, not that I really expected him to. My suggestion that he leave a note for someone with the power to make these decision was met with silence first and then begrudging agreement followed up with the advice to try again in an hour. Two and a half hours have now passed since I abandoned my groceries and crucial girl items at the store. My resolve weakened slightly after a glass of wine and a couple of smokes, but rose again upon my discovery of only one girl item remaining in the house fished from the bottom of my purse with a slightly compromised wrapper. Drastic times call for drastic measures. Back to the phone. Finally, at 9:30 pm, the hostages are released, my money is returned from the electronic ether and I can at long last buy what needs to be bought. Perhaps because I am a glutton for punishment, or because I prepare myself for impending doom on a daily basis, I hit the button that gives me the rundown of my last ten transactions. "June 18th, 5:22pm, service fee 50 cents." "June 18th, 5:29pm, service fee, 50 cents." and so on, mirroring my fratic calls from the store and each subsequent call from home. Grand total: $4.50. I know it's not much, but HONESTLY. Here's where the paperboy got on his bike and called his buddies. I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS! Another journey through the electronic voiced netherworld, pushing the required numbers until I fought my way to yet another rep...a guy this time and not Paul. Upon expressing my dismay with as few blue words as possible, I'm told the fees weren't because of my calls but because my card didn't work. HUH?!?! But, I told him in my best mature, non-psychotic, reasonable grown up I'm not going to hunt you down and thump you with my car voice, it's your fault my card didn't work. I WANT MY FOUR FIFTY! Put the bunny back in the box. Step away. I WANT MY FOUR FIFTY!
11:00 pm, home from store. Bought bread, milk, chocolate ice cram and the crucial girl items. All seems quiet...too quiet. I got my four fifty two days later. They live for now.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summertime And The Livin' Ain't Easy

This whole concept of summer as a time of lazy days spent in utter relaxation is a giant pile of hooey. School has only been out for a couple of weeks and I think I've been running around way more than I ever do during the school year. Both kids are in activities in different towns (that's a whole other story). Charlie has summer rec Monday through Thursday in Crookston, plus Tae Kwon Do twice a week. Andrew is in the midst of driver's ed (God help me), weight training and baseball in Fisher. Now that he has an official girlfriend, social engagements have become more numerous and the fact that she lives in yet another town adds to the mix. You've got to love this whole small town thing!
We've been to the emergency room once already and had another close call. The trip to the ER was technically my fault as I shot the NERF foam dart my youngest was trying to dodge when he smucked his chin on the counter that caused him to bite through his lower lip. However, him slicing his finger while cutting an orange was totally NOT my fault. No trip needed that time though. They're going to start calling the cops on us pretty soon.
We spent the day in Sioux Falls, SD yesterday. Leaving home at 11 pm, driving through rain, fog and dark of night to arrive at about 4 am. The interesting thing about drving at night around here, particularly when it's damp, is the hordes of frogs that pepper the highways. I have no earthly idea why this phenomenon occurs but squashing batallions of the suicidal amphibians is impossible to avoid. I felt kind of bad about the first half dozen or so but became a hardened serial killer with little or no remorse after a while. Charlie kept a running tally (really should have Nyquilled him pre-trip) and reminded me frequently that I was probably going to end up in the pits of hell for my ongoing slaughter of innocents. I handled the Minnesota frog horde with pretty good grace, never knowing that the South Dakota turtle brigade was just two state lines away. I didn't actually run over any of the turtles, thank goodness since they were roughly the size of dinner plates and I shudder to think of what THEY would have done to the underside of my car. There they were, lined up like sentinels along the shoulder of the interstate every few miles. I think word had spread of my Minnesota frog massacre and they were there to ensure I didn't wreak my brand of nightmare of the amphibious populace of South Dakota.
Sioux Falls, SD at 4 am on a Saturday is about what you'd expect when we rolled into town there wasn't much to do but find a Fryin' Pan and have a somewhat early breakfast. This was all the of the kids' first experience at a 24 hour eatery in the middle of the night, clearly they've haven't hit college yet. You're wondering what the hell we were doing in Sioux Falls in the dead of night? We went to watch their 34th annual (and I just heard about it this year) hot air balloon race and couldn't find a reasonable hotel room. So...road trip. Launch was at 5:45 am so we did the logical thing and drove all night to arrive with time for breakfast.
The midnight ride was well and truly worth the lives lost to get there. I have never seen more than one hot air balloon at a time up close and personal. Here before us were more than thirty, spread out on the ground and waiting to be filled.
An unfilled hot air balloon isn't much to look at:

But it's a whole different story once they start filling up:

And airborne, breathtaking:

Absolutely worth the effort.

Once the balloons launched, there wasn't a whole lot else to do there and your options ANYWHERE at 7:00 on a Saturday morning are relatively limited. Andrew suggested the mall, never considering malls weren't a 24 hour deal (this is definitely a non-urban child). We made our way to the historic downtown area to find the blocks lined with works of art. 'Sculpturewalk' is apparently an ongoing thing downtown. We wandered there a bit and took pictures of our favorites. Keeping Charlie out of the water features was a bit of a challenge but I eventually won with the argument that if he got wet, he was going to stay wet as we didn't bring extra clothing. Charlie got a hold of the map and, I think randomly, decided he wanted to go to Falls Park (yes, there is a falls in Sioux Falls). A fine, fine choice practically worth the drive for the park alone. Overall, Sioux Falls is a cool city and I'll definitely plan on more than a few hours spent next time.

The trip home was less exciting than the trip there. No frog fatalities, no turtle lookouts, just a whole bunch of squished mammal types...raccoons being the most prevalent. My passengers passed out for most of the trip, leaving me totally in control of the radio for once. Getting home Saturday afternoon, I realized I had been up for roughly 34 of the previous 38 hours and it was time for a bit of a nap. It was then I discovered a deep and abiding love for my bed.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Oh The Lengths We Go To

One of my lifelong wishes has finally been fulfilled. I have achieved Breck girl hair. Once upon a time, we curly girls were destined to a life of straight hair envy. Our dreams of having a perfectly executed hair toss thwarted by the sheer boinginess of our hair. The hope for a lush, long ponytail hanging down our backs dashed by the pouf that nestled on the back of our heads, barely restrained by an industrial strength rubber band. Our only alternative to the riotious dance of follicular glee on top of our heads was chemical straighteners...smelly, time consuming, hugely damaging and rarely delivering the dream.
Welcome to the new world, people. Now we can reach the dream in our very own bathrooms, enter the straightener! They used to be called flat irons and made about as much sense as sticking your tongue to a railing in January. The possibility of mastering this particular piece of hardware was slim to none and your chances of ending the process with the stench of burned hair permeating the house were far more likely than getting the Breck girl hair. My friend Carrie (also my hair stylist) introduced me to this wonder of modern hair stuff the other day and has given my a crash course on DIY hair straightening. What took her about twenty minutes in the salon while carrying on a perfectly coherent conversation, took me nearly an hour with extreme concentration and one slightly toasted ear. She claims I'll get better the more I do it. I love the result but really don't see myself having the patience for this process every day. Nice to have the option, though.

This experience started me thinking about the number of processes we girls engage ourselves in nearly every day, or at least weekly. We'll go top to bottom here. We willingly spend a significant amount of time and money on our hair, our crowning glory. We happily buy mousses, gels, waxes(!), conditioners that we both rinse out and leave in, sprays, clips, irons (curling and straightening), blow dryers, curlers, headbands, you name it. This is in addition to the time spent having someone else do things to our hair. We willingly pay lots of our hard earned money to have someone cut, curl (or straighten), highlight, dye and even sew fake hair onto our heads. All for something that's technically dead matter resting in place.
Makeup is another industry I really wish my family had invented. The endless array of products we are presented with on a daliy basis is staggering. Once upon a time, a well equipped makeup case consisted of blush, mascara, eye shadow and lipstick. Now the must haves include mascara (thickening, lengthening, curling, volumizing, sparkling), eyeliner (pencils, liquid, even permanent), blush (powders, creams, liquid), eye shadow in a rainbow of colors (highlighting, lowlighting, matte, sheer, brights or muted), foundations and concealers. Lip products have taken on a life of their own. Lipstick used to be a waxy column encased in a shiny tube that came in red or redder. Now we have the traditionals lipsticks, we have the tube of color with the wand applicator, the little pots you have to use your finger to apply, tubes you squeeze onto your lips and even something resembling a marker to draw color on your mouth. We have lip pencils to define the perimeter of our lips, or even to create new boundaries. We have lip plumpers, smoothers and again even permanent color options.
Skin care is another fiscal juggernaut, the money we shell out in an attempt to make out skin look perfectly smooth and featureless is mind blowing. No more soap and water for us! We need cleansers, toners, oil eliminators and moisturizers. Each product must be specifially designed for our exact molecular make up of our skin on any given day. We have products that are only to be used on Wednesdays and masks to peel off layers of skin we don't like in an effort to reveal new and perfect skin by force.

Hair removal is nearly as important as the time spent on the hair we wish to keep. Once we girls only concerned ourselves with smooth and hairless legs and underarms. We had two options, razors or Nair(tm). One risked hemorraging to death in the bathroom and the other infused your skin with a smell that lingered for days. Now we still have options one and two but innumerable others have been added to the mix. We have waxing...and we wax in places I can't even speak of here. The whole idea of slathering your sensitives with a layer of searing, sticky matter, letting it cool and adhere firmly to that same area and then ripping the whole works off in one fell swoop seems more like a step backward rather than an advance. This is seriously medieval in nature. I have been seeing commercials for the "Smooth Away" (tm) for several months now, I was curious enough that when I saw it in the store I got a kit to see what the deal was. Here's the scoop on Smooth Away (tm). It's super fine grained sandpaper with a sticky back that your stick onto what looks like a tiny flip flop sandal. You then rub over the hair infested area in first three clockwise, then three counter clockwise motions (the instructions were quite specific). This theoretically grinds the offending hair into tiny, dustlike particles that simply disappear. You can use it anywhere that hair may offend you, legs and underarms are a given but the ads show several women using this thing on their ARMS...really? Oh yes, apparently arm hair has become a cosmetic scourge upon the land.

Don't even get me started on clothes, that's a whole different post, I'll save it for another time.

Another ad that fascinates and repulses me at the same time is for the Ped-Egg(tm). This thing is basically a cheese grater for your feet. I SWEAR I'm not making this one up (although I kind of wish I had). This is going to take on the horrors of gross and elephant like feet. You run this thing energetically over the hard and crusty skin on your heels, it grantes and scrapes the skin off and suddenly you have perfect, flawless and hypersensitive feet. The nasty shavings of hardened skin are toughtfully captured in the device, to be disposed of later...or maybe sprinkled over your pasta. The ad for this thing is so nasty, close ups of the sprinkles and everything.

Once we have plucked, peeled, exfoliated, cleansed, concealed, shaved, waxed, grated, repainted, moussed, gelled and sprayed, we are ready for the world. The big secret we don't tell the boys is that we don't go through all this for THEM, it's for us. Damn right it is.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The March Of Time

I discovered something rather alarming the other day. The entire front of my hair, under the bangs I still cling to, has gone completely white. I'm not talking faded remnants of the original red here, I'm talking driven snow, virginal wedding dress, movie star teeth WHITE. When and how did this happen? This is not a couple random pluckable hairs, either. Plucking this mass would mean a freakishly large bald spot right there in the front for God and everyone to see.
I think I have been weathering the whole becoming a woman of a certain age with pretty good grace, I've even embraced some aspects of it. I like not feeling the need to put on a faceful of makeup every time I leave the house (although mascara remains necessary). I enjoy the experience of being comfortable enough to sit alone in a restaurant with a book and not feel weird or spotlighted. I prefer going to a bar to visit and catch up with my friends as oppposed to checking out the local produce and being checked out in return. I LOVE not trying to make everyone like me and realizing that I'm pretty damn great without working so hard. I've even accepted my newly etched laugh lines as visible signs of a life lived with plenty of joy in it. The hair thing is just going a touch too far.
I now have a choice to make, do I fight and finally let my hairdresser dye my hair? Do I attempt this task on my own? Should I let her bleach out the entire region and have a fascinating white streak? Or do I simply resign myself to the slow natural process of graying? I think I'm more at ease with the idea of going completely white as opposed to the slow death of the red. My aunt Carol went gray rather early and has the most glorious head of white now...THAT'S what I'd rather do than fade away. I suppose I'll end up as one of those eighty year old women with the bright red hair and the slash of magenta lipstick that everyone loves but hesitates to point out the obvious flaw in her plan.
I suppose we all have our THING. I have a friend that refuses to quit shopping in the juniors department. It's great that you still fit in those sizes, but your teenaged daughter is starting to get annoyed that you're buying the same clothes as she is. Another HATES the majority of music on the radio right now but insists on playing it loud in an attempt to connect with the younger set. A third friend (and this is the weird one) refuses to read or buy any of what she calls the 'matronly magazines' (Better Homes And Gardens, Woman's Day, you know the type) because that's a sure sign of lost youth. I just read them for the recipes, I SWEAR!

We're all getting there and I know there's really no use in fighting it too hard. After all, battle is a bit unseemly for a woman of a certain age.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Who ARE These People?

I alternately love and hate people. Not specific people, not even individuals, just people as a whole. I deal with people constantly at both of my jobs, one job with the hungry people and the other with the thirsty people. There are days when I like the thirsties better than the hungries. The hungries get much crankier and aren't nearly as happy afterwards as the thirsties.
I think the thirsties are in a better mood because they're coming to the liquor store at the end of their day and upon leaving me, have a nice cold one coming their way. The hungries usually see me in the midst of their workday and are a bit annoyed with the prospect of going back there.

The thirsties are easy because the vast majority of them know exactly what they want, where it is and how much it's going to cost them. The other night, I was rather inundated with weird thirsties. My first thirsty of the night was a more than bit smelly and gave me a gumball machine ring at the close of our transaction. I think this means we're going steady. A bit later, this one doesn't get to be a thirsty because he didn't actually buy anything, he preferred to hang about for roughly three hours, splitting his time between me and the guy working the kitchen in the adjoining bar. We both got the whole of his life story, right down to the fact that his ex-wife controls his money and he has to get permission from her to buy anything, even a pizza. The capper of the evening was a terribly loud and obnoxious woman who tottered in from the bar and proceeded to rearrange all the wine bottles on the shelves before leaving without a purchase. I'm talking ALL the bottles, not just one or two...I have no explanation for this. At least they were all in a good mood.

The hungries are another matter entirely. Most of the time, they're hungry but don't know what for. The hungries are ALWAYS looking for a deal and get mad at ME for not having a dollar menu and are usually shocked by their total. There are those who will hold one bad experience, six months ago, against you for life. Here's my question, if the burned bun scarred you so badly, why are you back again and again and again? The same goes for the complainants who call and tell me we ALWAYS get their order wrong...really? Always? Every single time? Again it begs my earlier question. As daunting as a busload of kids may be at times, I like serving them. The majority of them are teams on their way to or from a game so they're starving and probably got money from their parents so don't complain about the prices. Their coaches have usually put the fear of God into them regarding misbehavior so they're generally pretty tidy and polite. It's a bit like herding cats from time to time but I like the kids.

Thirsties or hungries? God help me if they ever combine into one.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Eating Our Words

There are some lovely words in the English language that are falling by the wayside. I find myself making a concerted effort to use some of these words so they don't disappear forever. These are not particularly highbrow or weird words, just those that seem to have been neglected.
Perplexed: a wonderful word. It sounds very much like what it is, we all know what it means, but you rarely hear someone say "I'm completely perplexed."
Vexed is another one. To say you're vexed sounds slightly more elegant than saying "I'm pissed off."
Murmur: I grant you this is not a word that we have a lot of opportunity to use on a regular basis, but it's a good one and we should try using it from time to time.
Irksome is a great word. To find something irksome seems slightly less than irritating and a bit more than annoying. I find cell phones is movie theaters irritating. I find misplacing a shoe irksome.
Dull: seems far more descriptive to me than merely boring. Boring can still be informative, dull is kind of a netherwolrd...there's simply nothing there.
Garrulous: this is a fantastic word! This is another one that pretty much is what it sounds like. Garrulous is kind of rowdy, goofy, loud...just like it looks!
Lavatory: I remember "going to the lav" in grade school. Now it's the bathroom, I contend it's not really a bathroom unless you can take a bath in it.
Twerp: this used to be a rather stinging insult, now I doubt the intended target of this particular barb would have any cluse what you're saying to them.
Mortified: I absolutely LOVE this word. It's so much better than plain old 'embarassed', I like saying it and I love the sound. This is possbily my favorite word that hardly ever gets used.
I am noticing that alot of these words are onomatopoeias, probably why I like them. I like words that sound like exactly what they are, it makes life so much simpler.
Ruckus: this is a word that elderly teachers always seemed to use, but few other people really ever did. I'm bringing this one back.
Lollygag: the last time I heard this one used was in the locker room scene in "Bull Durham"...check it out if you haven't seen it in a while.
Snicker: and I don't mean the candy bar, I'm talking that wonderful, nearly supressed and usually inappropriate laugh that comes at the completely wrong moment. (see my post about funerals)
We all have words that we love, words that we rarely get a chance to use and I think we should. Not pretentiously (there's a good one, pretentious), just often enough to ensure they don't go away from our little corners of the world, anyway.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Worst

A friend and I got into a discussion the other day about what we'd be the worst at, jobwise. We have decided she'd be a terrible lawyer and I, the worst therapist ever. Not that I'm unsympathetic to people's problems or dismissive of therapy, I simply think I'd be really really bad at it. I have the wild idea that if someone's been in therapy for the whole of their memory, it's probably not working very well and you might want to try something like woodworking or maybe painting happy little trees. That guy always seemed pretty Zen to me. I'm not saying that therapy won't help people, I just think we're going a bit overboard giving everyone's every quirk or eccentricity a diagnosis and corresponding treatment. Think about the acronyms that are commonplace now that we all managed to grow up without. We have ADD, ADHD and OCD, we all pretty much know what these are, but a simple internet search for "psychological disorders" brings up a menu to rival that of the mother of all snooty restaurants. I have found "Conduct Disorder" (we used to call them bullies), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (rebels), Separation Anxiety Disorder (mama's boys), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (we used to call them grownups), Avoidant Personality Disorder (we called them shy), my personal favorite, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (supermodels, actors...Danny Bonaduce?) and a host of others to choose from. I read recently that internet addiction is now an actual disorder. Does this mean I get to send my internet bill to my insurance company? Sign me up for that one!
If we could channel the time and money spent on thinking up new disorders, I think we could cure damn near everything. I'm planning to apply for a goverment grant to think up new disorders to explain away all of our bad behaviors. How cool would that be? We'd never be held responsible for anything because there would be an officially recognized disorder we could trot out to get us out of our every misdeed.

Friday, May 1, 2009


No, we're not talking about cigarettes here. I refer to my youngest child, if he was a king of days gone by, he'd have been called King Charles The Candid. At the age of nine, Charlie is still as fresh and unedited as he was at three. Maybe this isn't entirely a bad thing, wouldn't it be nice if you always knew exactly where everyone stood?
Over Easter, my brother in law's nephew, a three year old, entertained us all with his unique take on the world. This is an age I love because they tell you their thoughts the moment they have them. Mark, or Moose as he is called by his nearest and dearest, is skilled at unfiltered thinking to the delight of people like my family. He recently made the unprompted announcement "We do not urinate in the living room!" Good to know and thank you for making us aware of that frequently overlooked bit of etiquiette.
Charlie has had a rocky school year this year, some of his own making and quite a bit not. This is his first year with a male teacher as the primary, one who is also the football coach. Charlie is still working on the idea of "what's said here, stays here when you leave here". I got a phone call from his teacher the other day and the teacher tells me "Charlie tells me you think I'm irresponsible." Hmm, how to proceed? My response was complete candor in the face of being busted. Gee, I'm sorry he repeated that, but as a matter of fact, I do. Thank God the school year is almost over, I don't know how much more honesty I can take.
I try to imagine what the world would be like without little white lies. Not just from me, but from everyone. If total and complete honesty was the norm. "Does this make me look fat?" Yes, it does. "Isn't he the greatest guy ever?" Um, no, he smells weird and keeps looking at your friends' boobs. "It's a new recipe, how do you like it?" Well, it tastes like day old fish and makes me want to throw up. Your answers don't end a friendship and your honest opinion is well and truly appreciated.
Politicians would be totally accountable for everything they say because everything they say is true...what a concept. Nothing would be said for simple political gain. This idea was explored in the Jim Carrey movie "Liar Liar", never saw it but heard enough.
I like the idea of being unfiltered. I think things would be a lot more interesting if we didn't have to pick our way through a conversational minefield. This would only work if none of us had feelings, of course.
Maybe I'll stick with being nice and being quiet if I can't be nice. As far as Charlie's teacher goes, consider me mute.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Funerals, floods and furnaces

This is what has been occupying my time of late. Singly, I can handle anything, bunch them all together and I enter siege mode. Isn't there a quote: "April is the cruelest month."? If it's not April that's mentioned, I'm officially changing it, right here right now. We began the month with the passing of my mother in law, she'd been declining for a while but it's always hard, no matter how prepared you think you are.
I have decided that I am going to leave instructions with a friend to remove things like photo albums and good furniture from my residence upon news of my passing, then they will be instructed to burn my house down. I don't want anyone to know what kind of stuff I deemed worthy of saving in life. After a weekend of cleaning out the apartment, we learned a lot about my husband's mother, things I doubt even her children knew. We found over 300 jigsaw puzzles, nearly a dozen cans of Pledge, four George Foreman grills (four?), and upwards of ten jars of peanut butter. These along with a huge collection of glass beads and probably a hundred or so homemade potholders. What she possibly have been doing with these items in such amounts? I did a reassessment of the stuff I have squirreled away and realized my family would probably wonder the same thing about me. Even though I haven't picked up a crochet hook in about five years, I still have a large cache of yarn. I keep books that I've read and liked because I just KNOW I'm going to read them again...I haven't. I cannot bear to throw portraits (school pictures and such) away, even when they're the tiny little mini pictures that you don't give to anyone. Something about throwing my child's smiling face into the trash can is simply undoable. I have a lot of cookbooks, even though I rarely use them for anything other than occasional reading material. They do make me look like a real cook, though.
My family has a weird and sometimes inappropriate sense of humor that surface at odd moments. Usually somber occasions like funerals can become moments of stifled giggles and shaking shoulders. We have learned over the years that places like mortuaries tend to bring out the worst in our morbid humor. There's a running joke in my family about nubby plywood or knotty pine caskets. Here's the thing, you can actually get knotty pine. My beloved and his siblings decided on cremation, which opened a whole new world of receptacle shopping I never considered beforehand. You can actually buy a casket in which to cremate your loved one, these range from top of the line: satin lined and pillow provided to, and I swear I'm not making this up, a cardboard box. The latter, of course, set off a number of things in my sick little brain and it quickly became obvious that my beloved has become infected as well. We spent nearly an hour not once making eye contact.
Urns are another matter entirely. They also range from a plastic box ($200) to urns that can double as coffee table art ($950). My personal favorite was the sculpture of dolphins frolicking in surf...I'm not even sure how this one opened and it remains a bit of a mystery. What do you say when your bridge club comes over and admires your new art? Why thank you, Lois, that's mother in there, would you like a cookie? You can also buy "keepsake" urns, tiny little urns (maybe three inches tall) into which they put a bit of your loved one's ashes. Those perplexed me a bit and I was thankful my beloved opted out of that one.
The day after the funeral, the river that runs through town began to rise, and we spent the next few days filling and placing thirty pound sandbags in the near freezing temperatures. We moved everything in the basement up as high as we could, items like the Christmas tree ornaments were living in the dining room for a while. God bless Rubbermaid storage cardboard boxes for this girl! We dodged a bullet this year and other than some street flooding, came out pretty well.
The final test of my mettle came about three days after the flood scare in the form of a furnace that decided to give its final warm breath. Really? I mean...REALLY!? I left the world of coping nicely and entered Rambo mode "Is that all you got?!" Bring it on. WOLVERINES!!!! Yeah, whatever. I curled up in the fetal position for a bit there and sucked my thumb before digging out every space heater I could find (can't WAIT to see my electric bill this month). I'm really really really really ready for spring, how about you?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Crossing To The Dark Side

It's happened, I have given in, lost my way, crossed over to the dark side and joined the legions of those I once reviled. I bought a cell phone, my transition is complete. I simply could resist no longer, they're everywhere, they're insidious, they've permeated the very fiber of our humanity. They've become a NECESSITY. It's over, I know this now. My fifteen year old's schedule has dictated a need for contact at odd hours and strange places. I think I scared the cell phone guy a little bit when we went into the store to take the big leap. Before I signed, picked out or paid for anything, I laid out some very clear and intractable rules regarding the use and care of the devices we were about to purchase.

Rule #1: If mom or dad call, you will answer immediately. No other calls are more important.
Consequence for violation: I take the phone away.

Rule #2: Between 8:20am and 3:20pm Monday through Friday, the phone is turned off (only exceptions are days off of school)
Consequence for violation: I take the phone away.

Rule #3: You will stay within your plan minutes.
Consequence for violation: I take the phone away.

You may have picked up on a recurring theme for violations. Simple enough and clear as a bell. The cell phone guy noted aloud that I am a bit of a hard ass, I take that as a compliment at this point. It took my son three whole days before losing the phone the first time. Silly boy came home from school and when I said "Hey let me see your phone for a sec." handed it over. I then noted aloud that he'd sent messages at 10:14 am and again at 1:22 pm...I had two phones in my purse for a week. I think he knows I'm not kidding.

I will admit that having a cell phone is handy and annoying at the same time. There are times when I prefer no one can reach me and I rather like being completely alone with nothing but my thoughts in the car. But calling from the grocery store to find out the toilet paper status before purchasing more is also a bonus. The best thing I suppose, is that I can yell at my kid without anyone knowing I'm yelling at my kid. Texting is a bit like magic, I suppose.

My conversion is almost complete, I have yet to sacrifice grammar, spelling or punctuation to the gods of text messaging and will resist them to my very last breath. They may have won the battle, but I will never never surrender this particulat war. I refuse to substitute 'U' for 'you', 'CYA' for 'see you' and 'l8r' for later. They will have to pry my commas and periods from my cold dead fingers.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Have I Done?

Like I don't have enough time wasters, I have recently become a devotee of Facebook (tm) and have completely screwed myself. You can pretty well bet that any and all projects that might still have been on my list are now indefinitely shelved. It all started so innocently, as many things do, I joined Facebook (tm) when my eldest son joined. This was not to be the cool mom, quite the opposite, actually. I joined so I could keep an eye on what kind of people he was talking to online and that sort of thing. Next thing I know, all three of my sisters, their husbands and assorted children as well as several cousins were there as well. Then my parents got Facebook (tm) accounts, to which my teenager responded with a declaration that his street cred was completely destroyed now that his GRANDPARENTS were on Facebook (tm). I contend that it makes his grandparents way cooler than most. We're now up to somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 relatives and an equal number of family friends. Facebook (tm) is also a dream come true for those of us with some ADD tendencies. We don't need to have a lengthy email exchange to keep up with each other, we just have to see what one another's status is at that moment. We can punch random names from our past into the search engine and find people we haven't thought of or spoken to in 20 years, but they're on our friend list now, baby! I had gotten a friend request from a woman whose picture looked vaguely familiar but whose name I didn't recognize. We have several friends in common so I figured I must know her. Three months later, she changed her name to include her maiden name and I FINALLY know who this woman is. I mean, honestly.

Every time I log on to Facebook (tm), I swear it's only going to be for a minute. An hour later, I'm running late for work and still haven't been in the shower. I'm doomed. There are FAR too many things to click and distractions to be enjoyed. I have become a complete "Pieces Of Flair" geek and will spend an alarming amount of time looking through the goofy virtual buttons to stick on my virtual bulletin board and virtually send to actual people (to get more points so I can get more, you see what's happening?). I have taken more quizzes to define myself (Which 80s Movie Are You?, What Rock Star Are You? get the drift, The Breakfast Club and Dave Grohl, by the way). I could certainly spend my time on more productive pursuits but really, what fun are they?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Never...

Last night, I experienced another of those events that I think really only happens in smaller towns. They're becoming less surprising the longer I live here, but they still crop up from time to time. Last night was parents' night at my elder son's basketball game. We were all given a glittery paper star to pin to our shirt with our child's name and uniform number and wore them proudly. Between the JV and varsity games we were all introduced over the PA system and came foreward to receive our due for raising such wonderful children in the form of an embarassed hug from the aforementioned offspring. The senior boys gave a rose to their mothers and a manly handshake to the dads. It was corny as you can imagine but really quite sweet.

A few of the other events I've participated in since moving from a big city to small town:

Community wide pancake breakfasts/spaghetti dinners to help a local family with medical bills, usually attended by one and all.

Christmas (yes, we still call them Christmas concerts) concerts that are standing room only. At the end, the whole place sings a few old standard carols (Silent Night, et al...).

High School Graduations when I don't have a relative actually graduating.

Wedding dances that are open to the general public and you're not even required to know the bride, groom or their families.

A gathering of people to get a neighbor's crop out because he has fallen ill.

A cake walk and pie auction that raised over $6000 for an ill child. Single pies selling for over $200.

Tball and little league baseball games that are as well attended as state championship games.

Sporting events where the opposing teams fans are nearly all related in one way or another.

These are things I didn't know existed until I became a parent of kids in a small town. Maybe these aren't exclusive to small towns, maybe I just didn't see them until I had kids, but they are remarkable events. The high attendance may have something to do with the lack of other distractions around here, especially in the winter when we tend to hunker down and ride it out. I love that the local gas station will put a jar out for people to drop their spare change into for a sick kid and no one ever questions that the money will go where it says it's going. It may not seem like much, the breakfasts and dinners and bake sales, but I think it's a chance for everyone in town to feel like they did something to help out. There are only so many hot dishes a family can put in the freezer and a limited number of bouquets they can receive and asking for cold hard cash seems a bit mercenary in a time of crisis.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Shame On Me

I'll admit, I am a terrible person. I have horribly neglected my little corner of the internet here and am freshly dedicated to being a better human. Okay, self-flagellation over.

We're in full winter mode here, along with high basketball season. My advice to any and all, do whatever it takes to have your kids on the same schedule! We've spent the past few weekends driving hell bent for leather to make both kids' games on time. Last Saturday was some kind of record, the morning spent at the farthest eastern school in the conference and the afternoon in the farthest west end of the conference. All this to watch our offspring run back and forth...over and over and over again. Between games, practices and two divergent work schedules, I need photo ID before I let any of these people into the house. I vaguely remember a time when we were all home in the evenings, meals were eaten together at the table and not in the car or in the living room at 9:00. The really scary part in that my kids aren't overscheduled. I have always refused to have the boys in more than one or two activities per season. I've never understood the parents who insist on making sure their child's every waking moment is scheduled. Do you suppose it's more the parents than the children? Do we fear having any down time with our kids? Do we think they're going to be come criminals if they have a spare moment?

My biggest peeve about this trend is "play dates". Play dates, seriously? We have gotten to the point that we have to orchestrate time for our kids to hang out with their friends? What happened to "Can I go out and play?" Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood that was bursting with kids. Our family of four girls was about average size. We had a couple of families with about 50 kids each, but four or five was the norm. We ran as a pack and the neighborhood was our playground. We all knew when Mrs. Brandt rang the huge school bell in their backyard, it was time for everyone to get home. She'd ring it for suppertime and then, during the summer months, she'd ring it again just before dark and we all knew the signal. This definitely cut down on various names being shouted from front porches. Even when the Brandt family was gone, someone would go into the yard to ring the bell, that was the neighborhood shout out. I don't know how many games of "Ditch" we played while out parents whiled away the evening on one front porch or the other, how many times we'd lose someone completely because no one ever knew just who or how many of us were playing at any given moment. I can remember a bunch of us looking high and low for one particular kid before someone realized he was at camp and hadn't been around for several days. I don't know if that sort of thing even goes on anymore because we spend so much of our time away from our neighborhoods. We moved into a new neighborhood in July and I still don't know the names of either of the neighbors nest to us. This isn't snobbery or unfriendliness, it's simply a lack of opportunity to get to know each other between lessons, practices or "playdates" (insert sneering tone here).