Wednesday, December 30, 2009
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
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
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: www.ugliesttattoos.com ) 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
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 day...you 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
Saturday, October 10, 2009
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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 spaces...wow) 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 containers...no 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
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
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?...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
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
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).