Tuesday, November 30, 2010

232. All Those Parties

Every year, we throw lots and lots of parties (I'm being facetious here: think two). When the Husband and I are preparing for said party, words like “paper plates” and “plastic cups” and even “cooler of beer” are bandied about.

The high-end kitchen store where I work would have you think otherwise. High-end kitchen store believes in crystal for the children’s instant-powdered orange juice and $250 platters from France to lay out some stale Chips Ahoy cookies for an after-school snack. At the high-end kitchen store, no event (read: morning coffee) is considered too mundane to get out the real linen napkins.

So the Princessa in me (she’s in there, hi P!) lovingly walks around the high-end kitchen store pretending to “work”, saying hi-may-I-help-you to random shoppers, all the while stopping to pet the holiday table display with the 12 Days of Christmas plates and Nutcracker napkin rings. Princessa thinks this would work well for her next sit-down dinner party for 12. Yes, yes, there’s that formal dinner party on the calendar:  the day after never.

Princessa ignores the calendar. She goes right back to ogling the beautiful merchandise that the high-end kitchen store buyers on the West Coast have deemed Desirable this year, or better yet, Must-Have. Princessa adores those West Coast buyers, and firmly believes that this entire crystal/china/linen section is necessary to her complete well-being and happiness.

Princessa’s itty-bitty Paycheck ($132.77) begs to differ. With the brutal honesty Paycheck has been known for in the past, Paycheck spells it out for Princessa by phone (although Princessa likes the idea of online-banking, it’s so easy to just dial the automated system and punch in a few numbers). Paycheck rudely leaves off a few crucial zeroes.

On behalf of inner-Princessa, I boldly and confidently confront The Boss when she doesn't look too busy (she is only calculating the store's profit margin for the past 3 months and making a grid chart with units-per-transaction sold ratio compared to number of employees scheduled to present to the Regional Director who will be here in 10 minutes), “Excuse me, Boss? Uh, when I called about my paycheck, it turns out...... I mean, ummm...... I think the amount is, uh, wrong?

She nods at me; she understands this horrific situation. Then, she kindly looks up my hours in the computer, only hesitating to roll her eyes once or possibly twice this time.

“You are absolutely right. It’s wrong,” she confirms in her no-nonsense tone (the same tone she tells employees they will be working at 4 AM the day after Thanksgiving and until midnight on Christmas Eve).

I smile for myself and Princessa. I knew it!

“We overpaid you by about 1.5 hours. But you know, MOV, it’s not a big deal. You deserve it.” Now she is nodding at me, nod-nod-nod, the same nod she gives customers when she demonstrates the espresso machines, you-really-need-this-so-buy-it-today. I am nodding, too. I don’t need a new espresso machine, but I do very much need the extra hour-and-a-half of pay.

Princessa is pouting. “But, but, but what about the new silverware I need for all those parties?” she wonders to herself, her blue Princessa eyes filling with tears.

After work, Princessa and I stop somewhere and purchase the much-needed silverware: plastic, $4.99 for a set of 20, from the corner drugstore by my house. 


Monday, November 29, 2010

231. Really? Spider Webs, Really?

So I went to Target this morning with Short.  Target is our ritual.  We were not in the store any longer than normal, yet, when we returned to the car, there it was, on my dashboard, in all its sparkly and glittery luminescence:  a spider web

Really?  Come on, Spider, I wasn't gone that long.  Did the Other Bugs radio out to you, "Come in, Spider, this is Grasshopper.  Yeah, she just left home 13 minutes ago, she should be pulling into the parking lot right about now..... over".  Then Ant chimes in, "Roger that, we have her in sight currently.  Black Highlander, license plate reads 'MOV'.  She is parking in spot 657-a.  Spider, assume your position, please."

Next thing you know, Short and I innocently walk into Target to pick up a couple things and Spider (rudely and presumptuously, in my opinion) assumes that we'll be gone for, what? like 6 hours?

Spider, I have a little newsflash for you:  we were done in just 10 minutes this time.  Ha!

(I forgot my wallet.)


Saturday, November 27, 2010

229. Accolades

So Tall’s first-grade class is doing a Dramatic Reading and all the parents are invited. Since I’m obsessed with punctuality, I show up about 10 minutes early. The other parents and I are waiting patiently in the school lobby when I see it out of the corner of my eye: a bouquet of flowers.

A random dad I’ve never met before is clutching a huge bouquet of mixed flowers, a symphony of red and purple and orange and pink, the likes of which I’ve never seen before (not even at my own wedding). He's smiling and nodding and chatting with some other parents and I notice he's laughing a little too loudly and gesturing a little too grandly during whatever story he's telling. His very own personal Mini-Dramatic Reading.

A school employee with a photo badge appears.  Deep in my very soul, I'm praying that she is with the Floral Police and has been sent here to put an immediate ban on floral creations of any kind.  Sadly, she has paste in her hair and a piece of construction paper stuck to her elbow (I'm guessing she’s a teacher). Paste-hair Lady has us line up single-file and then ushers us into the classroom. Flower Dad barely fits through the door due to the sheer girth of his floral extravaganza.

My friend Kalla, who is standing behind me in line, taps my shoulder persistently. I turn around to look at her and she motions to Flower Dad with a look of contempt on her face.

“Not. Cool.” she says under her breath. She shakes her head in a cocktail of disgust and disbelief. She continues in a stiff whisper, “I didn’t bring flowers for my daughter. She’s gonna see those roses and say ‘Mommy, where’s my gift?’ and I’m gonna be all, ‘Honey, me showing up is your gift. Look, I brought your sister. Happy Dramatic Reading Day! Love ya!’”

I know exactly what she means. Way to raise the bar, Flower Dad. What were you thinking? Flowers in first grade for a Dramatic Reading? We’re not even sitting in the auditorium, for goshsakes: we’re on tiny doll-sized chairs in the classroom.

Where can we possibly go from here? When my kid makes it to the Olympics for soccer or Kalla’s daughter is on Broadway performing ballet or Tina’s son is playing violin at the Sydney Opera House, what then? No mere bouquet of roses will do at that point. Should we just throw new cars up on the stage?

Flower Dad’s little angel is up in front of the class, about to do her best rendition of “Hickory Dickory Dock”. I have to admit, with her blond ringlets and missing teeth, she's absolutely adorable.  Now she’s reading. Wow—she’s good. Hey, Disney Corporation, you should be sending a talent scout to Crazy Town Elementary right about now. I think your next Hannah Montana is in Classroom 6 talking about mice and clocks.

When Disney Child finishes, her dad claps wildly. The little girl in her brown and orange polka-dot dress and pink tights returns to her seat and her father gives her a quick hug then hands her the bouquet. The flowers are bigger than the tiny girl. She sneezes.

Tall is next. He’s reading a “math poem” and does a fantastic job. He never once mispronounces “prism” or “parallelogram”. When he’s finished, the audience claps politely and Tall walks over to sit with me. I pat his shoulder and say, “Sweetie, I’m proud of you.”

He looks at my empty hands. He leans in and says accusingly, “Mom, you don’t have any flowers for me?”

I smile a weak and panicked faux-smile. Is he going to cry? What should I say now: uh, Leighton’s mom didn’t bring her flowers either? or, your flowers are out in the car, let me run and get them?

Half a second later, he finishes his thought: “Thank you so much for not embarrassing me by bringing flowers.”

(“Mothers Of Violinists”)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

228. Gratitude

So we're sitting at the table, just the four of us, for our Thanksgiving dinner.  My family has this unconventional tradition that before dinner, we go around the table and everyone says what they are thankful for (I know--bizarre!).  Listen in:

Tall:  I'm thankful for my family and all the animals and the world and outer space.
The Husband:  I'm also thankful for my family and that we all have good health.
Me:  I'm thankful for my family, and also that we have good jobs that we love, and that we are all together right now enjoying this wonderful meal.
Short:  I'm thankful for the dinosaurs and the animals from New York.  Amen.  

Is it considered rude to laugh at one's 4-year-old son when he's attempting to have a Serious Moment and share what he's thankful for?  Luckily, I didn't have a gulp of wine in my mouth (because I surely would've had to spit it out).  The Husband and I did our best to suppress smiles. 

(Dinosaurs, I can maybe understand.  But animals?  from New York? We have only one animal, our cat named Kitty who hails from California.  And we've never taken the kids to New York--although we'd like to, it's not on the agenda any time soon.  But it's good to be thankful anyway.) 

("Monkeys Or Velociraptors?")

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

227. Punchline

So we’re at this party and I start to launch into one of my “reserve standard” stories, you know the type, a story that always elicits a laugh. There is a lull in the party and we could use a little laugh. The Husband, of course, has heard this story and its subsequent retellings, no fewer that 12,000 times. He is rolling his eyes.

“Back in the day, when I was a flight attendant, they made me sit ‘stand-by’ at the airport, which means that you go to the airport and just sit there in the crew lounge for, like, four hours, just waiting around to see if someone doesn’t show up or calls in sick at the last second,” I begin.

“Is this the ‘newspaper’ story?” The Husband interrupts, already ruining my momentum.

“Yes.” I say curtly. “So, anyway, I have to get up around 4 AM or some ungodly hour and I am randomly throwing things in my suitcase….”

“She never packed ahead!” The Husband throws in for no reason, just like I’d throw a sundress in my suitcase in November.

“Like I was saying, I had to get up really early. Now, for some reason, I can’t exactly remember why, YOU,” (I’m pointing at The Husband now), “turned off your alarm clock? or were we sharing a clock? Anyway, it doesn’t matter, the point is, The Husband says to me, with a sense of urgency, ‘MOV, make sure you reset the alarm clock. I need to get up at 6.’ He says it more than once. He's all groggy, and half-asleep, yet he knows he might over-sleep and it's of utmost importance that I reset the clock….”

“You’re not telling it right,” The Husband interjects, right when people are starting to hang on my every word, “the whole reason why it was so important was because you had done this to me before, turning off the clock and trotting off to work and then MY alarm never goes off and I have some important meeting and all of a sudden I am scrambling for something that isn’t even my fault.” He pauses only to take a sip of his beer.

I take this opportunity to seize the reins of my story again.  “All right, Sweetheart. I don’t think that matters, but, whatever. Okay. So I tell him, truthfully, yes, yes I did reset it, and I double check, sure enough, it’s set for 6 AM, not PM, it’s correct. Then I feed the cat, which is a whole ‘nother story in and of itself because that damn cat would trick us into thinking the other person had not fed him and then he would get two meals out of the deal.”

Laughter now. Some people apparently think this is the punchline.

“The cat’s not relevant,” says The Husband, semi-helpfully, attempting to get my story back on track.

“So, I’m in my uniform, I’ve got my suitcase, cat’s fed, I leave. I get to work and I am sitting in the crew lounge, waiting to hear my name on the intercom…..”

“Do they announce your name over a loudspeaker in the entire airport?” says a random party-goer I’ve never met, thus stalling my funny story.

“Uh, no. Only in the crew lounge. So I just am sitting there, bored, flipping through my magazine, waiting.”

“Now it’s 6 AM,” The Husband interjects, mistakenly thinking this is a Joint Collaboration Story, “and the alarm goes off, I get up and start getting ready for work.” He's smug, thinking he's added to the overall impact of my story.

I say, “10 AM rolls around. My stand-by assignment had been from 6—10 AM. It turns out that the crew….”

“Wait—this wasn’t when 9/11 happened, was it?” says a drunk listener, yet again derailing what was initially intended to be a short-ish story.

“No," I bark, barely masking the growing irritation in my voice from having my poor story repeatedly pummeled on its slow circuitous way to a clumsy victory. "Pre-9/11.  So, anyway, the crew desk never called my name. I go upstairs to the crew desk area to check out. They don’t need me so....”

“I could never live like that!” adds a lady I met two minutes ago, who apparently does not realize I am attempting to set up a punchline.  "I mean, on the one hand, you are already packed and at the airport, but on the other hand maybe you'd rather have the rest of the day off….”

“So I drive home," I continue, ignoring her, "I know The Husband will already be at work and I will have the place to myself. I'm planning in my head what I will do for the day, I might go for a run on the beach, I might clean the apartment a little bit….”

Beach?” says The Husband in disbelief. “This didn’t happen when we lived in Redondo. This happened when we lived on Francis Avenue!”

“No, you’re wrong. It was Redondo. But that's not part of the story,” I hiss through clenched teeth. My poor story needs some serious CPR at this point to even limp along to its sad little conclusion.

“I drive home. I walk into the apartment. And! There! Is! The! Husband!  He's just sitting on the couch, reading the paper. He didn’t go to work.”

Now some of my listeners are perking up, this is the Shocking Part of the story: The Husband stayed home from work after being so adamant that I set the alarm.

“So I say, ‘Sweetie, what’s going on? Are you sick? Why aren’t you at work?’ and then I look around the apartment and notice it's, like, totally clean. He has vacuumed and dusted and put things away, he must have spent hours cleaning…..” I am smiling, happy at last, building the story almost to where I need it to be. 

The Husband jumps in, uninvited.  “And I say, ‘Hon, notice what paper I’m reading?’ and I hold up the Sunday paper!” He is gesticulating crazily, pantomiming holding up the Sunday paper, and completely hijacking not only my punchline, but the entire joke as well.

Everyone is laughing wildly at this point. They are totally surprised by the outcome of the joke, and the reward for listening so long is that they get to laugh.

I make brief eye-contact with The Husband, who is still talking, reveling in his newfound fame as Star of The Story. “I thought it was Monday! I had taken a shower, eaten breakfast, put on a suit, I was walking out the door! Then I go to pick up the newspaper,” here he stops for emphasis and puts on his best 'perplexed' face, “and I think, ‘Hmmmm, pretty heavy for a Monday morning newspaper,’ and I look at the date, and of course it says, ‘Sunday’.”

Now everyone is laughing again, great peals of laughter, at the absurdity of the story. It was Sunday but we all thought it was Monday. Apparently the joke wasn't a Joint Collaboration after all; the joke belongs exclusively to him.


226. Therapy With Excuses

I called a therapist who had been recommended by my another friend, Balance. She said Dr. Cass specialized in relationship issues. I was hoping she could help me resolve the drama with a former chum, so it was worth a shot. After a lot of back-and-forth, we figured out a time that worked for the three of us:

Dr. Cass: MOV, pleasure to meet you. And it’s a pleasure to meet you as well, Excuses.
MOV: Thank you, Dr. Cass.
Excuses: Likewise.
Dr. Cass: Now, MOV, I know we talked on the phone, but why don’t you fill us in on why Excuses is here?
MOV: I want her to be more responsible. Right now, the way she act towards others……… it’s not acceptable.
Dr. Cass: Can you elaborate on that?
MOV: Well, it’s to the point where people avoid her. Teachers, especially, hate her. Back in school, any time homework was due, she conveniently “lost” it or “forgot” it……..
Excuses: I’m just really really busy. I’ve been swamped at work; I have a lot of papers I need to catch up on.
MOV: Why don’t you consider this as sort of an “intervention” to put you back on the right track in your life. How many people do you alienate on a daily basis?!
Excuses: You know, I forgot to put money in my parking meter, I should run.
MOV: This office is on a residential street! There are no meters!
Excuses: Dr. Cass, do you have any Tylenol? I don’t feel good. I think I’m coming down with something.
Dr. Cass: (gets up to find Tylenol) Here. Here you go. Have a sip of water too.
Excuses: Thank you.
Dr. Cass: Sure.
MOV: (mocking) Oh, I’m so sick, poor me, I think I’m coming down with something.
Dr. Cass: I’m sensing some hostility. Excuses, care to respond?
Excuses: You know, traffic will be bad this time of day, and I have to be somewhere at 2:30; I’d better get going.
Dr. Cass: What’s going on with you two?
MOV: Dr. Cass, Excuses seems to appear when I have my hopes up about something, or if I’m meeting someone, or if I have something important planned or if I’m relying on someone. Whenever she’s around, things fall apart.
Excuses: You’re mean. Maybe people just don’t want YOU around.
MOV: I’m “mean” because I’m telling the truth? At least I say “no” instead of leading people on with “sure, yeah, I’ll do it” and then later change my mind and leave them in a lurch.
Excuses: I just remembered I need to pick up my dry cleaning and they close early on Tuesdays. I’ve gotta get going.
MOV: That’s fine. I can’t say I’m surprised. Oh, and one more thing: you will NOT be invited to any more of my parties. You are the worst at parties, RSVP-ing yes and then at the last second not showing up. You inconvenience a lot of people, and I’m sick of it!
Dr. Cass: Well, this was a very short session. Shall we reschedule?
MOV: I can do any day next week, after 1 PM.
Excuses: Oh, I’m taking a yoga class, and it’s every day at 1 PM. Sorry, that won’t work for me.

So there you have it. Another day ruined by my old archenemy, Excuses.

("Ministry Of Vengeance")

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2255. Editors—There Job Sucks

So I was sitting her typing my perfect little blog and thinking, “Wow—editor's have such a difficut job!” I mean, thinbk about it: do they ever get a day of? Probalby not. They are constanty aware of any stray typo, any mised letter, any mangeld sentence.  

If I was an editor (and tahnk God, I’m I’m not), I’m sure my poor brian would just kicj into overdrive evreywhere i’d go, metnally correctng lunch menus and hand-wrtten yard sale signs all over town.  .

(Honetsly, typos can be so distracting from the true message the author is tryiny to get acrross!)

This skill, this indispultable talent of seeing every tny error, would be both an asset ad a curse. Good thing I alway remember to use spell-check, especially if I want want to impresss someone improtant. 


Monday, November 22, 2010

224. Introduction To Email

I remember the day I set up my first email account. I was 28, dating my geographically undesirable (read: long-distance) boyfriend, and virtual flirting. We would write these clever little emails back and forth, the equivalent of passing notes by the lockers in junior high. “I had a great time seeing you last week-end!” “Me, too!” “I can’t wait to see you a week from Thursday!” “Yes it will be great!” “When will you call me!” “Tonight when I get off work!” “That’ll be great!” “Bye—gotta run!”

Oh, the breathless anticipation of the very next email. What insightful and original prose would he write next? “You looked great! Love your great new haircut!”

Flash forward one marriage, two children, and twelve years later. The novelty of email has completely worn off. It’s no longer “great”; it’s greatly annoying. I scan the list of emails received since last night:
  • Amazon
  • LLBean
  • Borders Books
  • The High-End Kitchen Store (how did I get on their email list, I wonder?!)
  • Eddie Bauer
  • BabyDressesBetterThanYou
  • Barnes & Noble
  • AnthropologieWantsYourWholePaycheck
  • Nordstrom
  • Gap
  • ShutterbugMakesYouFeelGuiltyForNotPrintingPhotos
  • Target
There is not one single email from a close friend (well, if you don’t count Target, I mean). I put my finger on the nearly worn-out key: Delete-Delete-Delete. Oh, no, I accidentally deleted an Evite. Yikes. Retrieve it from the virtual trash bin and reinstate it.

When The Husband gets home, I ask him how many emails he gets per day. “Uh, maybe 70? I don’t know, why?”

70? That’s kind of a lot. Now 10 doesn’t seem too bad. “Are all of those work-related emails? Are they all important?” I ask.

“Yes and no. Yes, they are work-related—you know I work at a secured site. And no, they are not all important. A lot of them are time-wasters. Like this guy Brozo. He emails me, like, five times today about the same thing and doesn’t even give me a chance to respond. I was in meetings all day. I’m thinking, really? You can’t wait two hours until I have a chance to get back to you? Honestly, MOV, why can't he just pick up the phone and call me and then I can answer his simple question in about ten seconds.”

“What kind of name is ‘Bozo’?” I interject. “I never heard you talk about him before.”

Brozo,” he corrects, “That’s his last name. His first name is……uh, gosh, I can’t remember. Everyone just calls him Brozo.”

Later I ask my sister Oakley about her email situation. “What do you mean: ‘situation’?” she asks right back.

“Well, how many emails would you say you get per day, and how many are work-related, and how many are spam, and how many of them waste your time or do you consider relevant?” I prod.

“Wow. I never really thought that much about it. Well, you know I work for the Water Company, so I do get a lot of work emails. I have a fantastic Spam-filter (it’s by ‘FilterThis’, you should really get it, MOV, it’s the same one they use at the White House), so spam is not much of an issue. Also, because of my job, I have to return emails right away, so I always have my Blackberry and I just email people back as quickly as I can. Oh, a couple weeks ago, something was wrong with my email account through work so I wasn’t able to access anything. It was bliss. I got a lot accomplished that day.”

“Are you talking about email?” Tall is tapping me on the shoulder, interrupting my call with Oakley. “Can we get on the Lego Club email list? Pleeeeeeeze? I heard they send you coupons!” My son smiles at me, he’s dreaming of new Lego’s to build.

Short comes bouncing into the room. “Email!” he calls out. “G-mail! Z-mail! L-M-N-O-P-mail!” This has become some sort of alphabet game to him.

Just now, my screen blinks with another new email. This one looks important: it’s from my BFF (Target). “Oakley, lemme call you back.” Bye—gotta run!


223. Picking Up The Art

So I take Short to our local paint-your-own-pottery place to pick up his latest completed art project. My sister Oakley just flew in for a visit last week and was nice enough to take him to paint. However, she was not nice enough to help him actually write his name on whatever he made or provide a receipt. Which brings me (and the cashier girl and the manager and the owner) to our current dilemma: what did he paint?

Luckily, Short is with me. He can identify his own ceramic piece.

The manager smiles broadly at him. “Short, can you show us and your mommy what you made?”

He nods excitedly (delighted to have this audience of four) and walks right over to a gigantic dragon that was clearly painted by an adult with a Master’s degree in Fine Arts.

We all laugh. Four-year-old Short pouts, his feelings hurt.

I clarify, “Short, I’m not asking what you like or what you would like me to buy for you; I’m asking you what you painted when you came here with Auntie Oak. Can you please show me?”

“I know which one I painted, Mom,” he says, “that one,” pointing to a large platter with an ornate design of little gingerbread people all over it. If Fine Arts person did not make this, then clearly her even-more-talented twin did. Big sigh.

I ask the teen-aged cashier if she was here when Short painted with my sister. The cashier surprises me, “Why don’t you just call your sister and ask her what your little boy painted?”

Genius. Gives me hope for the next generation.

I pull out my cell phone, curse the 3-hour time difference, and dial anyway. Oakley answers on the second ring.


“Oakley! Sorry to call so early, hey, I’m at the ceramic place with Short and we have no idea what he painted, so do you…..”

“A tile,” she says, groggy, “a square tile.”

“Thank you! I’m so sorry I woke you, okay, go back to sleep.”

“Yeah. Bye.” The phone clicks.

The manager and I walk over to the tiles, triumphant. There are only 300 tiles here. One must belong to Short.

“Was it a handprint? Do you know what colors you used? Did you paint a truck?”

“This one!” Short grins as he hugs a very ugly tile, a tile that looks like green and brown and grey paint threw up on it. I gingerly take the tile out of his hands for closer examination. This looks like something an angry two-year-old might produce, not my much-much-older son.

“Are you sure? I don’t want to take home the wrong one….” I say cautiously.  I turn towards the manager. “Lynette? I think Short would paint better than this, don’t you? Do you think this could really be the right one?”

She shrugs. “Honestly, MOV, I don’t know.”

I hold out the tile at arms-length distance. We are both scrutinizing it as if it could be a counterfeit 100-dollar bill. “It’s pretty bad,” I whisper.

At the bottom of the tile, I notice some semblance of a name in smeared black paint. It does not say “S-H-O-R-T”. It looks like it says “S-A-M”.

I shake my head and address the would-be artist directly. “Short, this does not say your name. It says, ‘Sam’. It belongs to another little boy.”

I make a face to indicate that the offending tile is icky and he wouldn’t want it anyway.

Short mirrors my face: Yuck. Dog poop. Wouldn’t want it even if it were free.

The owner decides to add her opinion, “I think you should call your sister again.”

“Yes, me too,” chimes in the (formerly helpful, now merely annoying) cashier.

I hit re-dial.

“Hello?” says Oakley.

“Me again. Soooo sorry. Do you know what is on the front of Short’s tile? We can’t find the right one.”

“Geesh, MOV,” she says, starting to sound peeved, “It’s like, 7 AM here. I dunno, it was a swirl of brown and green paint, he was trying to paint some leaves or a tree or something. Oh, yeah, I remember, he tried to write his name at the bottom, but it doesn’t look so much like it says ‘Short’…. It probably looks more like ‘Sam’. Does that help?”

Oops. “Thanks, Oak, we have the right one. Love ya!” I click my phone shut and turn towards my son.

“That’s it! That’s the right one! Beautiful!” Only I exaggerate the syllables to sound more like beeeeee….YOU….teeeeee…..full.

Short still has the “ick” face on. Dog poop, remember?

No, no, masterpiece! Rembrandt now! Happy!

Short looks at the tile and back at me. “I made this?” he inquires, perplexed.

“Yes?” I offer tentatively.

Long pause.

“I LOVE IT!” he beams.

And so do I, now, too.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

222. But I Was Invited

So there you are at the party and you’re looking around at all these beautiful and accomplished women, women who, just like you, are moms in their 40’s, but who, not like you, appear confident and at ease. The hair is done. The teeth look good (you probably have shrimp shells in your teeth). The outfits are well-coordinated and, better yet, ironed (you are at this moment hoping you remembered underwear).

Someone is telling you a joke and for once you get it and you are laughing along with everyone else. It is really funny. So funny that you are actually shaking with laughter. You are trying hard not to spill your Merlot, and you are internally cursing yourself for not having the Chardonnay because it won’t stain the hostess’s carpet.

Which brings us to her house. High ceilings. Hardwood floors. Granite counters. Built-in surround sound (when did homes morph into movie theaters?). This house is perfect: why wouldn’t it be?

Who are these people, you ask yourself, these intelligent and magnetic women who have somehow (miraculously) included you in this gathering?

Oh yeah—your friends.

You look around the room and you realize you know so many little secrets about them individually, like a giant net of secrets that holds everyone tightly in place and you can still see through and see them. Your friends.

Elizabeth had her first marriage annulled (no one in this room is aware that Elizabeth was married a first time). Grace had an abortion when she was 17 (Grace’s mom doesn’t know this). Angela just got fired (she told you before she told her husband). Lisa wishes she didn’t have her fourth child (she confides that now her family is heavily in debt). Janelle used to struggle with anorexia (she still does). 

They trust you. They tell you things, things you do not repeat.

Then why can’t you trust them to tell you about the shrimp shells?

You wonder if they know that you are really masquerading as a smart witty charming pulled-together mom, because underneath your cashmere sweater you do not feel like any of those things. You feel like a small child who has put on her mother’s too-big high heels and too-red lipstick.

(“Masquerade Or Verity”)

Friday, November 19, 2010

221. Antiques: Good or Bad?

Good Antique: 1930’s Art Deco burled walnut armoire.
Bad Antique: Dell computer.

My computer thinks it's a valuable antique. 

It. Is. Wrong.

Daily, it has its little bouts with intermittent Alzheimer’s. I try to patiently coax it along, all the time internally cursing the fact that The Husband’s Christmas bonus (which will definitely be spent on a new computer) won’t materialize until December. How dare his company wait until December 25th to distribute Christmas bonuses!

Good Antique: retro diamond-encrusted cuff bracelet (total weight: 5 carats)
Bad Antique: Marinara pasta sauce

The Husband keeps pushing the marinara sauce to the waaaaay back of the lower shelf of the frig and I cope by pretending it’s not there. If, while searching for random left-over Halloween candy my eyes happen to catch a glimpse of it, I block it out. I am very very scared that it may have grown fangs.

(“Marinara Or Venom?”)

220. 15 Minutes

Andy Warhol famously coined the expression "15 minutes of fame". 

Could I just have 10?  How about 5?


219. Chance Encounter With Regrets

Today started out rainy and gloomy, so I decided to take Short to the library to pick out some new books. We found a great spot right in front and parked the car. As I was wrestling with the Spiderman umbrella and helping Short put his yellow raincoat hood up, someone called out to me.

“MOV!” said someone-who-knew-my-name, “MOV! It’s me! How’ve you been!” It was more a statement than a question.

Of course I recognized the voice. Oh, God, do I have to talk to him right now? What’s he doing at the library?

“Gosh, it’s been, like, forever,” he winked. “Hi Short! You are almost as big as Tall, huh, buddy?”

“What do you want?” I cut him off, impatient. “I really don’t have any time for you right now.”

“Sure you do,” he said, falling in line with our steps toward the library entrance. “While Short looks at books, you and I can have a little ‘chat’.”

What choice did I have? The library is a public place. We all walked in, with Short insisting on pressing the automatic door-opener.

“Who is that, Mommy?” Short looked up at me, his little face expectant.

“It’s my old friend, Regrets,” I replied with a weariness in my tone.

Short made himself at home in the children’s section of the library and Regrets motioned for me to join him near the window.

“What do you want? I thought we were through,” I whispered, my voice full of venom.  

“You know what I want to talk about: why you never return my phone calls or emails……..” he shook his head, disappointed. “We used to hang out together! What’s going on? Why do you avoid me?”

“Newsflash, Regrets: no one wants you around. You make people feel bad.”

Feel bad? Are you kidding? I’ve always been there for you, through thick and thin. When you dropped out of Architecture school, who offered you a shoulder to cry on—that’s right, me, Regrets. When you decided to move to Spain for a year but then came back after only a month, who was there to pick up the pieces? Regrets! Big time! Any job you ever applied for but didn’t get because of something stupid thing you said in the interview—who did you call to rehash and dissect the entire interview for hours upon hours? Me! Regrets! I listened patiently, I stood by you like a true friend. Now you’re telling me that I make you feel bad?”

“Yes, Regrets, that is exactly what I’m saying. It’s time for you to leave,” I insisted, my voice sounding shrill.

“Excuse me, Miss? Is there a problem? Is this gentleman bothering you?” said my-new-best-friend, the librarian.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, do you think you could call security and….” I began.

“No, everything is fine,” Regrets interrupted. He caught her eye.

“Oh, it’s you! Regrets!” she swooned. “How are you? You look fantastic! Have you lost weight?”

Regrets stood up and gave the librarian a hug.

“Regrets, I really need to talk to you,” she pulled at his sleeve urgently, “I was offered a job up in Boston near my family, but I turned it down. Now I realize I made the wrong decision.” She started to tear up.

Regrets turned to face me. “MOV, I have a real friend who obviously needs me. Good day.” And with that, he took the librarian’s hand and the two of them walked towards the History section, talking like old pals.

("My Only Vendetta")

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

217. 10 Reasons Why I Am More Qualified Than Kate To Be Queen

So after channeling Princess Di to get her take on this disastrous turn of events, I thought I’d compile a list of why I am infinitely more qualified to be Queen of England than Kate Whatsername. William, take note:
  1. I don’t have a phony British accent (I think an American accent is so refreshing!)
  2. I know how to act in any situation (except maybe when meeting Important Heads of State or Nosy Reporters, but thankfully, that wouldn’t be part of the job description, would it?)
  3. I have impeccable manners (and I hardly ever swear, unless it is absolutely the right situation—think maybe once per week at most)
  4. I write a mean thank you note (wait—I don’t mean “mean” mean, I mean “really awesome and perfect” mean)
  5. I never offend anyone ever (as long as you don’t count the UPS guy yesterday when I made that joke about how they must not pay him very well because he always wears the same thing or, basically, anyone who has ever read—or been the topic of—any of my previous blog postings)
  6. I love diamonds (perhaps Kate does too, but I assure you, I love them more)
  7. I look really really good in diamonds
  8. I would be very grateful to have a personal chef (and as a devoted fan of “Top Chef”, I could talk for hours to the chef and give him my good advice and opinions and even critiques—I know he’d love that)
  9. Did I mention I am willing to move to London?
  10. Castles don’t bother me (in fact, I often refer to my 800 sq. ft. home as a “castle”)
  11. I am willing to travel to other countries as part of being a Princess/ Queen (I’m a former flight attendant, so I’m, like, totally prepared)
That's actually 11 reasons. See? Overachiever.

("My Overseas Villa")

216. I Am Supposed To Be the New Queen of England

So Princess Diana calls me from the grave and we are having one of our semi-annual chats. I am totally stressed out, and being the sensitive type, she can tell something’s wrong.

“Di,” I begin, “I just heard the news about Kate. You said William was going to pick me, for goshsakes…..”

She interrupts (death has made her more brazen), “MOV, I said no such thing. First of all, you are like, what, 20 years older than he is?”

“But 42 is the new 24,” I claim.

“No, it’s not. Also, you ARE married, and you have two kids!”

“Well, so were you when you and Charles hooked up!” I challenge.

“Umm, no, I wasn’t. I was like, 15. So, anyway, MOV, you just need to get past it and realize that my son doesn’t even know you exist.”

Ouch. I don’t like this side of Di-Di. Dare I tell her that when she was marrying Charles, I wanted to BE her, not to get married to Charles per se, but just to be a princess. In my new (improved) fantasy, it’s all about marrying William. Plus I would definitely rock that tiara.

“MOV….. what are you thinking? Whenever you get silent like that for too long, I know it can’t be good,” Diana probes.

“I was just thinking how I should have moved to England all those years ago, that maybe I could have actually met William. If he'd have had a chance to get to know me, I surely would’ve won his heart.”

“Woulda, coulda, shoulda,” she offers.

“Amen to that, sister.”


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

214. She Runs

So your friend is telling you this story about how she was going to go for a long run on this new trail that someone had told her about and it happened to be freezing on the chosen day but she went anyway and she parked her car and ran a 6 mile loop and felt fantastic but when she got back to where she parked the car this suspicious-looking guy was standing there and she felt nervous but against her better judgment she opened her car just to grab her water bottle and she inadvertently tossed her keys in the front-seat because the guy was making her feel uncomfortable and—oops—you guessed it! she locked her keys in the car and now she was really stuck because it was just her and the guy and what was she supposed to do now but it turns out the guy saw that she was locked out and he was super-nice and he and his wife just moved to the area and he has three kids and anyway he ended up loaning her his cell phone so she could called triple A and get them to break into her car and the guy was so kind he offered to wait with her and the irony was not lost on her that he was the reason she was scared and locked out and now here he was offering her help and boy did she misjudge the original situation and then she called her husband on the guy’s cell phone and he said he could drive over if she wanted but the main thing is she was just so cold standing there because she had (stupidly) tossed her jacket in the car with the keys.

While she tells you this entertaining little story and you are waiting to find out how long it took triple A to get there or if the guy stayed or if her husband drove over from work, what you are really thinking is: this would make a great blog, would she be offended if I took her story and made it sound like it happened to me?

("Minor Ostensible Variations")

213. Dream Interrupted

So you’re lying there in bed dreaming about being on a cruise with Tom Cruise (while your boss from the high-end kitchen store is bringing you another strawberry margarita, nice touch) and your 6-year-old is tapping you on the head.

Tap-tap-tap. “Moooommmm,” he stage-whispers, “Mom, I need you, something terrible has happened!” He’s right, something terrible did happen: you didn’t get to finish your dream margarita.

What time is it, you wonder, 4 AM? (You are exactly right, amazing how that Internal Mom Clock works so well.) What is so terrible? Why is your son here in your room and not back in his toasty little bed where he belongs?

“Look, Mom,” he whines, as he turns on the light to full-bright and temporarily blinds you. He is holding up some sort of string, or piece of lint, or shred of dental floss, and all you can think is, “This is the Great Emergency? I don’t get to kiss Tom Cruise on the Lido Deck now because of a piece of string?”

Since your retinas are scorched, you do the only thing you can: you put out your hand for the piece of string. It is still attached to something (your son’s pajamas?), so you pull it hard to disconnect it. Voila—it worked! The offending string is no longer attached; crisis averted.

Not so fast, Sister. Your son is wailing now, not just crying, but actually wailing. Heaving sobs. Big huge tears on his pale white cheeks.

“Noooooooooooooooooooo! Why did you rip the string off? No! That is not what I wanted you to do! No! I wanted you to put the string back on! These are my favorite jammies, the Lego StarWars ones!”


Once again, you do not start your day as a realistic candidate for Mother Of The Year; this is just another snapshot of one of your (many) Proud Parenting Moments. You tore the string off, when, clearly, your son wanted the string back on.

As is typical for you, you (in your bleary 4 AM pre-dawn haze) decide to throw money at the situation: “Sweetie, I will buy you a new set of Lego StarWars pajamas.” You are a strong believer that money can fix almost anything.

This does not, as you had hoped, rectify the situation. No. In fact, it makes it worse, as it exposes you as a fraud masquerading as a Caring And Concerned Mother.

“Another set?!?” your charming and beautiful son bellows at you with all the force of a Jedi Master. “I want this set! I don’t want a new set, I want…..” pause for big long wailing sound, “this set! This set was perfect except that now YOU ruined it!”

Oh, stupid stupid Mommy, wrecking everything once again, this time in your sleep.

“Okay, uh, well I…..” you are grasping at straws here, “I guess I could sew it?”

“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” This child has witnessed your (non-existent) sewing skills, and it appears he won’t entrust his beloved garment to someone who attempts to Velcro on buttons.

“Well, what exactly do you want me to do, Honey?” you say, trying to contain the exasperation in your voice; you are starting to lose your cool a little bit, you just want 5 more minutes with Mr. Cruise.

“I don’t know! If you had just listened to me,” sniffle, “but you didn’t wait to hear what I was going to say about the string—you just ripped it off before I even had a chance to tell you!” Sniffle, sniffle.

“I have a good idea,” you offer, semi-confidently, “How about I take it to the seamstress at the dry cleaners and she can sew it back up?” You are smiling because you finally think you have come up with an acceptable solution. Now your eyes have adjusted and for the first time you actually take a closer look at where the loose string mutinied, and you are shocked to see that your son is talking about a one inch wide segment at the bottom of the shirt hem.

Where does this drama come from? Obviously it’s derived from your husband’s side of the family. You are cursing the fact that he is out of town on business and does not have to be subjected to these early morning hysterics.

“The seamstress can fix it?” your son asks quietly.

“Yes, yes, I know she can. I will drop it off to her today,” you smile sincerely at your sweet red-eyed son.

“Mom? Make sure you sit there and wait until it’s done, don’t leave it with her.”

You try to remember what your life was like before kids, was there anyone you knew who was this demanding about every teeny tiny trivial thing?

Oh, yeah: YOU.


Monday, November 15, 2010

212. Cop-out

So you know what I hate?  A blog that is supposed to be good quality writing and then BOOM--dumb photos everywhere!  You know what?  If I wanted to look at pictures all day long I would just flip through my old albums, thankyouverymuch.  When I see artsy photos in a WRITING blog, I know the writer is just one thing:  lazy.  I consider photos a complete waste of time and, truly, the ultimate cop-out. 

Oh, look, I forgot to show you the pretty red leaves on the tree in my yard: 

("Mastering Optional Views")

211. Flavors of Ice-Cream

See?  This right here is why I don't branch out and try new ice-cream flavors.  I love the classic mint-chip, and I will forever stay loyal to mint-chip.  I guess I am a traditional gal.  Why ruin a good thing (ice-cream) with a kooky flavor (not mint-chip or even that old stand-by, vanilla)?  We went on a brief road trip a few weeks ago, and saw the sign below.  And between you and me, isn't that price a bit steep for one scoop (or do you think they're talking about a gallon? it does say, "MEAL" after all, doesn't it)?  Maybe it's a Pennsylvania thing? Thank God they accept Mastercard and VISA, because I normally don't have that kind of cash on me for a light snack.   

("Makes Only Vanilla")

210. Jump!

209. Stole The Husband's Camera

So The Husband went on a trip to the Grand Canyon this past summer with his best friend.  They had a blast hiking and climbing and, uh, hiking, and whatever else you do at the Grand Canyon.  He took a LOT of photos, but I have to admit, this one was my favorite.  What I love about it is that you can see his shadow on the left of the photo as he takes the picture of his friend.  (It does look a tad ominous, doesn't it? like he might be thinking about, oh I don't know, pushing his friend right off that cliff?)  

So today The Husband is back in Arizona, but for work.  Which is, I guess, why I unearthed this photo. 


Sunday, November 14, 2010

208. Why I Hate Ads

Okay, I admit, I don’t really hate ads. Hate is a very strong word. In fact, just the other day as I was drinking my (Starbucks) latte and reading my latest (House Beautiful) magazine while I was lounging in my comfy leather chair (from Pottery Barn), I was thinking how much I actually enjoy those very clever commercials I see on TV (Sony, purchased at Best Buy) when they air during the Super Bowl. I am not even a huge hockey fan (baseball? lacrosse? remind me which sport they play for Super Bowl) but when The Husband is watching the Super Bowl, I admit that I watch it too, but primarily for the entertaining and funny advertisements (such as the highly effective commercial with the squirrels running in Pamplona, like the running of the bulls, but instead of bulls it was squirrels! get it?  they were selling, uh, uh..... maybe they were selling squirrels?).

Ads do serve their purpose. They hopefully get you to go to the place (for a random example, perhaps a high-end kitchen store) and spend your hard-earned dollars buying something you may or may not need (like a salad spinner or a $2500 espresso machine). I totally get this.

What I don’t get is WHY when I want to be on the computer and read someone’s blog, then SHEBANG! this stupid ad pops up. Why can’t I just read the funny thing (or research what type of red-leafed tree is in my backyard or learn how to make origami paper airplanes—my 6-year-old’s latest obsession) without being visually assaulted by unwanted ads? The ad is never something helpful, like how to care for red-leafed trees that might be growing in your yard or where to buy cheap books that show origami step-by-step; no. The ad is inevitably do you want to know your Credit Score (not really; I prefer to run and hide from my Credit Score……… why? does my Credit Score want to know me? did it, you know, call and ask if I was available to get together or if I thought it was cute?). Or, the ad might be: buy this really expensive car right now! (Hey, Marketing Genius? If I had the money to buy that really expensive car, do you think I would be here looking at Craig’s List for a new coffee table?).

The bottom line is: advertisements don’t work on me. Like that time the other day when Shutterbug popped up and offered $10 off plus free shipping. Who cares? (Although, I truly did need to place an order for Christmas cards, but I, like, was totally planning to do that anyway.)

Okay, that one doesn’t count.

As I was saying, I am not just one of these nameless little sheep that just do whatever the advertisers tell him/her (it?) to do. I don’t need new business cards (Got Ink), thankyouverymuch. Uh, actually, their business cards do look super cute. And wow, 2 day shipping, that’s impressive. 33 cents per card, do they even break even on that? it would be kind of criminal not to order the cards, I mean, they are practically paying me.

So, my message to all you advertisers out there is: please leave me and my poor antique computer alone. I abhor your ads, especially the crazy ones that move around the page and follow me. Makes me a little nervous and uncomfortable. If I want someone to follow me, I’ll just tell my 4-year-old that I might share my M&M’s with him.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have some really expensive cars I need to go look at.

PS--What I forgot to say, which I meant to is:  I will never sell out.  You will never see ads here in my blog, even if it happens to be a favorite product of mine.  I Absolut -ly will not do ads!  There is no Gap between my integrity/morals and the way I live my life.  I think it's safe to say we are all United on that front.  So, go enjoy some (Baskin-Robbins) ice cream and kick back and read my ad-free blog.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

207. Alice

So you’re sitting there in this teeny tiny dollhouse chair and you’re nodding-nodding-nodding at what this pretty 23-year-old, with her long dark hair like a shampoo commercial (an extremely effective shampoo commercial, you would definitely buy whatever hair products she is selling), is saying about your son and not quite believing the words that are coming out of her mouth, words like “over-achiever” and “role model” and “quite popular”. Who, exactly, is she talking about? you wonder, because she certainly can’t be talking about your son, your first-grader who lately only talks bathroom humor at home.

But she is. She absent-mindedly smooths her green and pink tweed scarf while she’s going on and on about how your son is so polite and your son is so charming and your son is such a great artist and your son is a talented athlete, and all you can think is one thing and one thing only: does she perhaps have the son in question confused with someone else’s (perfect) son? Because none of this is actually ringing a bell with you.

You stare at her lovely porcelain face and her big chestnut eyes and you think how appropriate that these chairs are meant for little dolls, because she herself in fact is quite like a doll. And you wonder if she is actually the teacher or maybe she is a (slightly) older student who has wandered in to trick you and you are wondering when all the teachers suddenly got young and you suddenly got old.

You don’t feel old: no. You still feel 23 yourself actually, or maybe 24. The dyslexic mirror flips those numbers around and tells a different story: 42.

Big sigh. 42. That is how old teachers are supposed to be, not you, you think. When did you become that? That cruel manipulation of the 2 and the 4 (reversed): 42? How did that happen?

You remember back to being the tiny child, the student (no 2, only 4) and sitting in tiny chairs like these. Not even chairs: props. Was it only a movie set or a dream? Did it really happen to you? Were you 4 once?

Today you are the parent. The squeaky plastic chair feels alien to you now, like trying on the wrong size sweater at the Gap, oops, you didn’t realize you grabbed a men’s XXL……… this moment you feel like Alice in Wonderland, or Alice in Teacher Conference Land.

Do you have any questions for me? she is asking you politely while you zone out and stare at the children’s art work arranged haphazardly on the bulletin board behind her. Yes, yes, maybe one question, you think, but then you realize it is not appropriate to ask her if you can have that art work of a giant blue and green fish that some child (not your own) drew, even though you think it is spectacular and would very much like to hang it in your living room or have it printed on a beach tote bag or at the very least a t-shirt. No. She might frown on that.

Or she might laugh and think you were joking (which you were not, damn that fish is good, look out Picasso or Andy Warhol, you would pay $500 cash right now for that painting).  She catches you staring at the fish painting and she laughs a cute little 23-year-old giggle-laugh and adjusts her scarf and says were you looking at the fish painting? and you laugh too (though you are not really sure why you are both laughing) and this 23-year-old teacher says she is so embarrassed because, you know, she painted it as an example but it looks like something a 6-year-old would paint!

And then you smile back at her and tell her she is doing a great job with your son and how very happy you are that he is at this school and that he was lucky enough to get such an enthusiastic and wonderful teacher. And you mean it.

("Mama's Obsolescent Vonderland")

206. Why Moms That Homeschool Are Really Really Really Brave

Because that means that your kids are home with you all day long. No. Break. For. Mom. Ever. 

(No thank you.)


205. An Open Letter To Architects Everywhere

Dear Architects Everywhere (but specifically Crazy Town architects),

Please consider the VIEW when you are planning a new house. So many new houses that I have toured (uh, trespassed) in the framework stages do not focus on the view at all. This is disheartening to say the least.

The other day I walked through a construction site and the lot was magnificent—almost half an acre with stunning mature oak trees. Guess where the best view was? From the upstairs walk-in closet! This is ridiculous. Even in Architecture 101, beginning students learn the critical importance of tailoring a home to the site.

I’ve seen houses with huge windows overlooking a parking lot, master bathrooms looking out to a busy street, teeny tiny kitchen windows facing a gorgeous yard, and unnecessary 3-car garages taking up the entire backyard.  Common sense dictates that the most important rooms take advantage of the view

Architect, this probably leaves you wondering what else people want in the new houses of today? The answers might surprise you (hint: square footage isn't everything). It’s difficult to answer for every individual, but I’ll tell you what I would want:
  • A formal entry. Chances are, you ripped down a 1940’s Cape Cod to put up a McMansion, so the least you can do is make it worthwhile and provide a foyer. No one wants to walk straight into the main living space; people need a transition space, a place to set their packages and keys and hang their coats.
  • Laundry room upstairs. And I don’t mean a closet-sized space. There is absolutely no excuse for the laundry area to be treated as an afterthought. At my house, we give a lot of thought to laundry on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and usually Sundays. No one wants to trudge down to the basement 50 million times (give or take). Make it convenient and put the laundry room where the laundry is generated where it should (ideally) return to: the bedrooms.
  • Views. The house should be all about the view. Take the main view (typically the backyard, but in some cases it might be the side or front yard) and arrange all the critical rooms (living room, kitchen, master bedroom) facing the most appealing view. What defines a “good” view? Think trees, yard, patio, flowers. The neighbor’s brick wall does not qualify.
  • Windows.  The more the better, the bigger the better.  I have never heard someone say "Wow, that window is just too big."  As a corollary, I have heard people say, "This room feels dark; I wish there were more windows in here."    
  • Let’s talk about internal views. What the heck is an internal view? I’m referring to what you see when you’re looking from one room into another. You look through a doorway and get an inviting glimpse of a lovely painting or a dresser or a window or archway. I also call these “sight-lines” and I give them the utmost importance. Here’s a classic example of what NOT to do: don’t place the toilet so you can see it straight from the bed in the master bedroom. There’s no excuse for that! If I was an Architecture Professor, I would give the plan an “F” based solely on that one mistake.
  • Hallways. Make ‘em wide: think 4 feet or even a little more. ‘Nuff said.
  • Basements. A basement is something that might be nice to have, but not at the point of sacrificing the main house. What I am talking about here is the insane tendency to dig out a basement and then this makes the house so high from the outside that it is necessary to put 12 stairs to get to the initial front entry way! That’s crazy. No one wants to walk up a flight of stairs while carrying groceries (or a small child) trying to maneuver their way into their home every day. Two stairs, seven stairs, that might be acceptable. Not 12, certainly not 20.
  • Formal dining and living room. These rooms are a relic of an era gone by; most people don’t live this way. Do yourself a favor and make a large open family-friendly kitchen/ eating area/ family room. It is silly to waste space on a formal dining room and then 5 feet away have another table that the family eats almost all their meals in (called the breakfast nook or eat-in kitchen). Why? What purpose does that serve? Honestly, it just makes it so the owner has to buy more furniture. I would much rather have one large family room then two small rooms (living and separate family room).
  • Stairs.  Do you know why we have adopted the characteristic of placing the stairs near the front door?  It dates back to the times when the grand old houses had servants' quarters on the ground floor level while the wealthy owners used the second floor primarily for the main entertaining and living quarters.  There would be a grand entry and the guests would immediately go upstairs.  The stairs were welcoming and inviting and suited this purpose well.  Nowadays, most of us do not have servants and the private bedrooms are located upstairs.  In a modern home, it is a bit jarring to have a large staircase right at the point of entry ushering you into what is essentially intended to be a private space.  I think architects should make more of an effort to place the stairs in a convenient and logical spot elsewhere in the house, and not just automatically (or by default) place them by the front door.    
  • Garage entry. Please please give this some thought. If you are planning to 99% of the time come in the house through the garage, then have the interior garage door open into the exact same space as the formal entry. The space should be warm and inviting, not full of muddy shoes and sports equipment. You can easily plan a “mud-room” small hallway that leads from the garage directly to the formal entry for that purpose. What I am saying to avoid is having the garage entry put you right into the kitchen or the back of the house or a completely separate space than where guests come in.  Shouldn't the owner get to enjoy the nice areas of the house too?   
  • Kitchen. Unless the ceilings are 20 feet high, the upper cabinets need to go to the ceiling. Islands are great. Pantries are divine. Butler’s pantries are gifts from heaven. Buy an undermount sink (this makes it so no yucky stuff accumulates around the rim of the sink). Everything below waist level should be drawers. Everything about waist should be cabinets. Plan cookbook storage (think open shelves). Install a pull-out trash so it is hidden. Splurge and get a slab countertop (not tiles)—choose granite or marble or whatever you like, but get it as a slab (no cleaning around grout lines). Stainless steel appliances are only a trend (just sayin'). 
  • Electrical outlets. Sure, code dictates how many, but a smart architect takes it to the next level and places the outlets in the appropriate spots: an extra outlet in the bathroom by the counter for a hairdryer, or maybe a double outlet where a desk will probably go.
  • Closets. Lots of 'em.
  • Eastern/ Southern exposure. Think about the sun. You can change where you position the master bedroom, but you can’t change that the sun rises in the East. Does the home-owner really want the sun coming in their bedroom window every morning at 5:30 AM? This actually goes for all the rooms; consider the pattern of light at different times of day and different times of year. This matters.
  • Built-in shelving. This should be standard. It’s great to have somewhere to display your grandmother’s china or all your books, and it’s even better when this has been planned from the get-go.
  • Trees.  If you are lucky enough to have them, please don't cut them all down.  Even if you plant replacement trees, it will take several years for them to grow very tall.     
  • Patio/ Deck/ Screened-in Porch. Outdoor spaces provide extra living space in good weather. They should not be ignored.
The main problem I see with new construction is that an architect designs a generic floorplan and applies it to a lot without giving any thought to the specific site.  Adjustments should be made for the lot.  Every house should be tailored and customized to its surroundings.

Floorplans need to make sense. As an architect, you should imagine walking through the space, rounding every corner, looking out every window. See yourself in that blueprint.

("Master Of Vision")

Friday, November 12, 2010

204. Definition Of Fun

So we have a few bags of Halloween candy left over, namely Peanut M&M's.  I open up the microscopic bag and two (2) M&M's roll out.  Are you kidding me?  Two?  That't it?

I take a closer look at the packaging and sure enough, right on the label it clearly says, "FUN SIZE".  Huh.  There is nothing fun (to me) about a them forgetting to put the other 19 M&M's in the bag.  Two M&M's is, frankly, insulting.  I decide to look up the word "fun" in the dictionary in an effort to obtain more insight into The Mars Corporation naming it thus.  There in black and white, I read, "fun: pleasure".

See?  I am right:  this candy is misnamed.  There is no pleasure in eating only two M&M's.

Then I read further:  "make fun ofto ridicule".

Oh.  I guess they named it right after all.


203. My 6-Year-Old Explains Basic English

So we’re sitting at the dinner table and Tall takes it upon himself to explain to us how to categorize the letter “Y”.

“Pop,” he begins, innocently enough, “did you know that in a lot of cases, the letter ‘Y’ is considered a valve?”

“A what?” I interrupt, trying hard not to smirk.

“It makes a sound like the ‘I-E’ combination, so therefore it is considered not to be a continent.”

“A continent?” Hand covering face now.

He ignores me. “Pop, do you know what year they declared the letter ‘Y’ to be both a continent and a valve? Was it 1997? I know it was a long time ago.”

The Husband cannot help himself and nearly snorts milk out his nose. He says the first thing he can think of. “Tall, I believe it was longer ago than that.”

“Oh, you’re right. Yeah, yeah, I think it was 1992. Does that sound right?”

I must hear him say these things again. “1992 was the year for what exactly, Tall?”

Heavy sigh. Mom is so stupid. “Moooooooommmmmmm. You KNOW what I was talking about! Why do you do that?! 1992 was the year that the letter ‘Y’ was offensively considered to be both a VALVE and a CONTINENT! I wish you would pay attention and get it right the first time so you wouldn’t have to keep asking me!”

Don’t worry, Tall. I’ll wait until tomorrow to ask you again. I’ll just keep playing it over and over in my brain until then.

("Magnitude Of Valves")

Thursday, November 11, 2010

202. My Blog Gets Stellar Reviews!

Well, the happy day has finally come that Someone Important has reviewed my blog and given it high ratings. As a fairly new-ish blogger (6 months on the scene), I realize how crucial it is to have Someone Important like my blog and have good things to say about it. This is, as you know, all leading up to my ultimate goal of having a book of my blogs published (and the happy corollaries of fame and wealth too).

Here is what Someone Important said in his review:

“I have been following MOV’s blog for a couple days (thank God not since the beginning!), and she is just NOT a good writer. She’s trying and trying to be funny, yet she’s failing miserably. I wish I had never bothered to stop by her site! I read it at first (the thing was recommended by a friend) to get a quick laugh, but just the opposite happened: I cried. Until her blog is forcefully removed from the internet, I will not rest easy. Could it be that hard to come up with something funny every once in a while? Not this contrived stuff. You see, I prefer humor that is straight forward, not a convoluted mess. Poor MOV. Someone needs to tell her not to quit the day job. Ugh, can you imagine if she decided to do this full-time!? Yikes, good riddance, sanity! Hello, bad writing!”

I was so thrilled that SI had taken the time to review my work that I decided to post his review for everyone to read. Of course, due to space limitations, I was forced to edit it down just a tad:

“I have been following MOV’s blog…… since the beginning! She is….a good writer. She’s….. funny…..stop by her site! I read it first….thing….. to get a quick laugh. I cried…. Until….. I….. could…..not……. see….. straight. MOV……quit the day job… this full-time! Good…. writing!”

There. A little editing never hurt anybody.


201. This Is What Betrayal Looks Like

Well, after I published that blog about my best friend forever (Target), my sister Oakley sent me this traumatizing email. Take a peek for yourself:

“RE: Your BFF, I hate to tell you this, but I have some bad news. Your BFF hasn’t told you something, that, now your good sister must:

If it makes you feel any better, in a recent moment of bliss, I forgot about Target’s harmful practices and bought some cute sweaters there. I was so proud of my purchases until I remembered that I’d vowed not to shop there. Oops.

Love ya,

As you can imagine, the sad news about Target sickens me. How dare she dump hazardous waste into the environment! See, this is exactly what I mean when I say she has been hanging around with, uh, not such a good crowd. Obviously, my BFF has a darker side, a side I apparently knew nothing about. How dare she betray me like this! (On the up side, I was glad that the hazardous items she was dumping were batteries and not peanut M&M's or KitKat bars.)

Additionally, as if Target’s environmental practices are not bad enough, my friend M tells me that Target supports anti-gay politics.

Big sigh.

You think you know someone, and then it turns out they have this whole “secret life” thing going on. Target, Target, how could you do this to me? After all the time we’ve spent together? Why can’t you just do the Right Thing?

Of course, I told Oakley that I would begin my hunt for a new BFF right away. One likely candidate that Oakley mentioned was GW (Goodwill). Now, its’ true that GW and I do go way back. GW turned me on to that super-cute red floral skirt that one time. GW helped me find a deal on some used best-selling hardback books ($2 each!). She had even produced a gorgeous large basket or two over the years.

But GW was no Target. Sometimes (most times) GW was nothing but a disappointment. How about the long black velvet skirt that was my size and only $6 (turned out to have a hole near the hem)? Or the stunning Limoges platter for only $11 (closer inspection revealed a large chip at the edge)? GW was erratic, clearly not the reliable friend that Target had been. I couldn’t deal with the bipolar tendencies of GW any longer. Some days it was UP-UP-UP with her, and other days it was DOWN-DOWN-DOWN. GW, I need a new leather tote bag, not a ride on your emotional roller coaster, thankyouverymuch. Now I avoid GW like the plague.

That leaves another likely candidate in my newly vacated BFF spot:  Nordstrom. She is my (secret crush) BFF. She totally would be my BFF if she even knew I was alive. Her problem is she is so rich and snooty.......... but that is kinda what I like about her.

So if you see me having lunch at the Nordstrom CafĂ© (while wearing my Target coat), you’ll know I am just cultivating a new relationship. (It’s not really cheating if Target did it first.)


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

200. What I Look Like

Well, two hundred blogs.  Huh.  That's kind of a lot, especially when compared to, say, state homework or trips to Target.  All this time and you still don't know what I look like.  Did you think my profile does not have a photo of me because
  1. I am so vain that no photo will do me justice
  2. I am terrified that Cyber-nuts will stalk me and start following me to the high-end kitchen store where I pretend to work
  3. I am not photogenic at all and fear that my photo will send people screaming and fleeing into the streets (will you keep reading if you think I am not pretty?)    OR
  4. I have absolutely no idea how to post pictures on a blog
If you guessed #4, then congratulations!  You're right!  You must actually know me pretty well.  But that was yesterday, and this is today.  A few blogs ago, I experimented and was able to post a picture of a GBC (green-bean casserole), so, lucky you, you get to witness the first ever picture of me posted on my blog. 

Here it comes, just scroll down a little bit......

Keep going.......

There I am!  Yep, that's me (sorry I did not blowdry my hair for that picture).  Actually, I know I look a little tired, and some might say "frazzled" in that shot.  I'll admit, it's probably not the best photo of me.

Maybe you'd rather see me as my adoring sons see me:

See?  Now I can't get the photo thing to work.  Grrrrr.  This is exactly why I need a new computer.  Okay, the photo that was supposed to go here was the same type of line drawing, but with a mad face (you know, eyebrows tilted down).

Then, I was going to say something clever and witty (insert clever and witty thing here) about how I looked before I had kids (uh, relaxed? rested?) and then there would be the final image in my MOV Photo Trilogy, and it would essentially be a generic-looking smiley face.

Well, let's all pray that I take a computer class and learn how to upload photos properly, and maybe even a cartooning class so my pictures look a little better.


199. The Shirt

So The Husband is wearing this goofy shirt that says “Team Eagle Challenge 2009”, and I (innocently enough) say, “What is that shirt all about?” He looks at me like I just landed from Mars and says, “Hon, don’t you remember? This is from that work retreat that I went on, where we did all that team-building stuff.”

Huh. The Husband is a cost analyst, not a Firefighter nor Forest Ranger nor Military Guy. What kind of team-building games exactly do they do: Who can Add Numbers The Fastest (without a calculator)? or Who Can Drink 5 Espressos & Still Make A Spreadsheet? or how about the Telephone Transfer Relay, where they see who can transfer a phone call the most times without the caller hanging up (bonus points if the caller actually calls back after being disconnected)? 

(Do you think my negative attitude directly correlates in any way to the reason why I myself am not a cost analyst?)


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

198. What Desperation Looks Like

So Tall’s teacher decided it was good and time for him and his fellow first-graders to learn all about the United States. Little did I know that it would soon be time for ME too to learn all about the United States.

Tall came home with what was probably his 788th Parent Communication & Information Sheet (PCIS) this month. I gingerly placed it in the teetering stack with the other 787 PCIS’s. A week, possibly four weeks, went by, and I decided it might be a good idea to read it. Here’s what it said:

“Dear Parent/ Caregiver,” (editor’s note: never ‘Reluctant and Harried Caregiver’—have they never met me?)

“Here at Crazy Town Elementary, we place great importance on teaching our children about the world in which they live, specifically the United States of America. To that end, we will be sending home worksheets every night (for 50 nights, plus 1 extra for Puerto Rico, which is technically a U.S. territory) for you to help your child with. Please have your child write down one interesting fact about the particular state chosen for that day (ex. Massachusetts became the 6th state in 1788). We will read these fun facts aloud in class!

Thank you in advance for your continued involvement and participation in your child’s future as a bright and shining Star!

Best Regards,
Miss Teacher”

Oh, brother. Here we go again: more homework for Mom.

Okay, MOV, let’s put aside the negative attitude and get involved, just like Miss Teacher already thinks we are.

First, I start going through the recycling bin, as I think the first 20 states or so might have, ahem, inadvertently been thrown in there. No luck. (Damn The Husband, taking out the recycling in a timely and reasonable manner!)

That’s okay, I tell myself, there are still 30 states to go, plus Puerto Rico.

When Tall gets home, I greet him at the door, ready to assist with difficult homework assignments.

“What’s with the goofy grin, Mom?” he sneers.

“Let’s do your state homework!” I say enthusiastically. “Which state did you get today?”

The next three days go, I think, quite well. On the 4th day, Miss Teacher sends a special PCIS not for all the parents, but specifically aimed at me (my name is even scribbled hastily into the “Dear ___________” section at the top of the page).

“Dear   MOV                    ,

I think it is great that you are choosing to actively participate in your child's learning experience. However, I would like to stress the necessity for the State ‘facts’ to, in fact, be factual. Although I appreciate your helping your child with this section of the homework, you might want to just have him Google some facts on the computer. In the meantime, I have taken the liberty of sending home an atlas from our school library for you to peruse. You might want to consider possibly investing in an inexpensive atlas like this, or if that is a financial hardship, I can look into donations from the Scholarship Fund for this purpose.

Thank you, and I look forward to seeing your child do the kind of work that I know he is capable of.

Warm Regards,
Miss Teacher”

Scholarship Fund???? Has she never seen me wear my $249 jacket from Talbot’s?! or Tall use his $43 StarWars backpack from Pottery Barn Kids? We don’t need financial assistance from the Scholarship Fund!

I re-read the letter for the 3rd time. Huh. That is really what she wrote. I go through Tall’s backpack to reacquaint myself with whatever “facts” Tall and I dreamt up for this assignment.
  1. “Texas is really really really really Big.” (included is a drawing on a piece of paper, and Texas looks the size of a small mouse)
  2. “I think Arizona is where the Grande Canyon is lokated.” (I can't remember if he asked me if "Grand" had a letter "e" at the end; surely that can't be my fault?) 
  3. “Alaska is a state that has a lot of snow and cold ice and glaciers, and also my mom wants to go their on a cruz somedaay.”
Those are all facts. I do want to go on a cruz (perhaps with Tom Cruise?) to Alaska somedaay. Maybe the Scholarship Fund can help pay for that.

(“Mom’s On Vacation”)

Monday, November 8, 2010

197. Why Target Is My BFF

After Our Computer’s near brush with death, it got me thinking: who is important in my life? who do I love and cherish and want to spend more time with? It didn’t take me long to think up an answer: Target.

Target has been my best friend for, oh, about twelve years now. I try to think back to the time before Target was a valuable member of my inner circle of friends, and, honestly, my memory goes all hazy. Was I even alive before I discovered Target? Could you even call that living?

I think not.

My best friend Target has enriched my life in so many ways (and I don’t just mean material ways, although she has always come through for me there too). Target is one of those pals who seems to somehow know just what you are missing in your life (say, a trashy celebrity gossip magazine or a new sports-watch or perhaps a jumbo bag of peanut m&ms) and then provide it.

Who was there for me at 9:55 PM to offer brand new pacifiers when my infant would not stop screaming? Target. Who found me a new soft and fuzzy red cardigan sweater when The Husband ruined my old favorite by tossing it in the dryer? That’s right: Target. Who came through in the end with last-minute school supplies for Tall when we waited until the day before school started to shop? You guessed it! Target.

Like most great friendships, this one did not develop overnight. It began as a sort of innocent crush from afar. One day I happened to pick up House Beautiful magazine, and there on page 132, was a small silver and white birdhouse with three little drawers in it (I know it sounds kooky, but you’ll just have to trust me when I say it was exquisite). The fact that I did not own a bird, nor a yard in which to attempt to capture a potential bird, did not stop me from coveting said birdhouse. In fact, there was no deterrent at all, as the price was listed as a mere $19.95 plus tax.

Having never heard of Target before that day, I immediately asked my elderly landlady if she knew where the closest Target was (she did), and I got directions and drove there.

I decided to use my new birdhouse to put mail in. Junk mail in one drawer, bills in another, and my new subscription to House Beautiful in the third. (Today I admit that the drawers were a little small for this purpose, but like any new infatuation, it seemed like a great idea at the time.)

Flash forward to now. Target and I meet up almost weekly for our special “girl time”. Like that trendy girlfriend she is, Target will helpfully point out special new jeans I might like to try on. Or maybe a new throw pillow for the living room couch. Target has her finger on the pulse of all that is new and hip and fun.

Additionally, my best friend Target is very thoughtful. She sends me things in the mail, like coupons or a $50 "Limited Edition" Buzz Lightyear two days before Christmas even though they were back-ordered. Yep, good ol’ Target comes through once again.

(Friendship, as you know, is a two-way street, and to that end, I have shared with Target too, namely a portion of each and every paycheck.)

The other great thing about Target: she doesn’t judge me. You’ll never once hear her say something like, “Don’t you already own three full sets of dishes?” or “Those purple suede boots don’t match anything in your closet.” No. Target is supportive.

Oh, sure, we’ve had our tiffs over the years, who hasn’t? Like the time I tried to return that navy blue jacket (tags attached) without a receipt. Target took one look at me and rolled her eyes (tough love). You know a receipt is required on all returns, I remember her saying with more than a bit of impatience and condescension in her tone. She ended up giving me a store credit knowing full well that I would use that store credit in about 15 seconds. But that’s the kind of thing that girlfriends go through—we laugh about it now.

The only thing (there’s always one thing, isn’t there?) that annoys me just the teeniest tiniest bit about my best friend Target is: she seems to have other friends besides me. I’m talking A LOT of other friends. She can be a Party Girl; I have to compete with everyone else to get her attention, and I’m just not 100% comfortable with that. We used to have so many good times together, just the two of us. It makes me sad. I wish Target would think back to what a loyal and devoted friend I have been over the years, and, well, maybe Target could make an effort to spend more quality time with just me. Say, open the store an hour early for me to just shop by myself—yes, that would be nice.

Maybe I’ll mention it next time I see Target, but for now, I have some coupons to go through.


196. It's That Time Again

  • wall clock in study; 
  • wall clock in kids’ toy room; 
Main floor:
  • decorative clock on fireplace mantle in living room;
  • thermometer/clock combo on top of TV;  
  • no less than four (4) clocks in kitchen, including stove, coffee maker, timer, and wall clock;
  • master bedroom contains two bedside alarm clocks (one for each of us);
  • several wristwatches on dresser (minimum two each);
  • each son has his own watch (not that they know how to tell time, but it’s good to own one, don’t you think?);
  • clock on dresser;
  • plus wall clock in laundry room (why?);
Outside (?!):
  • my car has one dashboard clock as does 
  • The Husband’s truck.  
Grand Total: 19 (or more) time pieces.

Late Sunday evening, I spent approximately 48 minutes re-setting all the clocks and watches we own, which begs the question: Daylight Savings Time? Really, Savings? Or is Daylight Losings Time a little more accurate?

(“Musing On Validity”)

195. When Grief Sneaks Up And Punches You In The Face

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but The Husband and I are having to deal with something that we’ve been avoiding. A beloved and valued member of our family has become very, very ill. Annoyingly so. I’m talking about, of course, Our Computer.

We adopted Our Computer in happier times, when we lived in California. Our life was uncomplicated back then; it was all about an empty (high-capacity) memory waiting to be filled and yes, I admit it, speed-speed-speed. With just a click of a mouse, we could be on virtually any virtual site within milliseconds.

It was not to last. Nine years flies by, and the next thing you know, evil words are being whispered (words like, “replacement” or “something new” or “gotten our money’s worth”). The Husband and I finally sat down and had the much-needed conversation about Our Computer, and it became painfully obvious that we were in different stages of the grieving process. While The Husband oscillated back and forth from the Anger Stage (“I hate Our Computer! I want to toss it out the window!”) to the Depression Stage (“I’m sad. I used to type a simple email and send it in less than seven hours,”), I was clearly stuck in a different stage: Bargaining. I found myself patting Our Computer on its cute little monitor (just like in the old days) and saying, “If you can just find it in your heart to let me finish typing this one short blog, I promise to clean the dust out of your keyboard more often!”

I often blamed myself for ignoring the warning signs of what The Husband and I eventually dubbed Our Computer’s version of Alzheimer’s: Computzheimer’s. We didn’t give much notice when Our Computer would not do simple commands (commands like “Turn On”). We became increasingly alarmed when Our Computer would forget bigger things (things like, “How To Save A Crucial Work Document”or "All Your Tax Records From 2002--Now").

In a valiant effort to save Our Computer, The Husband recommended drastic measures like erasing extraneous data that was apparently clogging the memory tubes of our precious dinosaur. We got to work. First, timidly, we deleted a couple files of blurry photos that we knew we also had on back-up discs. Next, we got rid of four thousand (give or take) emails that we had saved but knew we could most likely live without. Pretty soon, we were on a roll with our purging, and we got Our Computer back down to its binary roots, saving only basic email capacity and Google.

It was still not enough to breathe life back into Our Computer. Strangely, I reverted back to the Denial Stage (“this can’t be happening! anything but this!”), while The Husband pole-vaulted ahead to the Acceptance Stage (“Hon, should we maybe get a Mac this time? did you want a laptop?”). How could he so easily discard Out Computer without so much as a quick trip down (RDRAM 4-magabyte) memory lane? Had all those times ordering new shirts (not available in stores: size XL Tall) through L.L. Bean online meant nothing? How about my (former) eBay addiction? Playing computer solitaire when insomnia strikes at 3 AM? And who can forget the many MANY emails from CBS Fantasy Football Reports?

I feel like somewhat of a traitor as I type this, because I am (yes, still) typing this (through tears, though) on Our Computer. If you are able to read this blog, we are temporarily triumphing over Computzheimer’s for one more day, patiently awaiting The Husband’s Christmas bonus so we can give Our Computer a proper funeral.

(“Missing Our Vanguard”)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

194. Green-Bean Casserole (The Unpublished Blog)

So I get home from work last night at 10 PM after selling espresso machines and crystal goblets all day and I’m starving. I innocently ask The Husband if there’s any food left over from whatever he made for dinner. He says, "Sure. I made a green-bean casserole." That sounds (ahem) less than appealing, so I ask him what on Earth possessed him to make that and he says that they were sampling it at Trader Joe's. Oh, yeah? Well they are also giving away free puppies and kittens outside the Crazy Town Pet Store right next to Trader Joe's and I don't want those either.

Then, if that’s not bad enough (green bean casserole!!), The Husband adds insult to injury and say, "Honey, I don't think you will like it because," (get ready for this part), "I used canned green-beans." If a Judge Chef were here giving this dish a rating, maybe the concept or idea of green-bean casserole (GBC) would get a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best—equivalent rating for, perhaps, lobster thermador), and the 3 rating the Judge Chef would give is for creativity with a little pity mixed in. Since I now know that it is canned green-beans (frozen would be just as bad), the rating drops to a minus 2.

(Author's note:  if the fates have smiled upon you and you've had the extremely good fortune to never see nor know what goes into a GBC, besides canned green beans it also has canned mushroom soup.  In fact, there are probably some mystery ingredients too, as GBC enjoys the retro 1950's nickname of Casserole Finis which translates roughly to "Whatever's About To Expire In The Pantry" casserole.)

Then, The Husband has the strange idea to say, "You know what, MOV? If I had to make it over...." (oh, God, please don’t!), "I would not have put the cheese on top." Not have put the cheese on top?!? How about not have gotten the can opener out or even bothered to turn on the oven. How about, if I had to do it over again, I would have called Domino's.

The Husband kept emphasizing that he made it from scratch (when, in fact, he should have scratched the whole idea). There are certain items that one should buy from Trader Joe’s, and that list does not (ever) include canned green beans. (Hint: list should include the wide range of foods found in the friendly Chocolate Family and/ or the grape family—think Napa Valley).

(warning:  full-color photo of GBC below)


(my sincere apologies to Le Creuset company, as it is obvious that my beautiful French pan is calling out in agony at this unacceptable form of cooking abuse/ torture)

 Between you and me, I would rather starve or at least go to bed hungry than put anything even mildly resembling that GBC in my mouth.  I think you are pretty much guaranteeing you will have multiple visits to the “facilities” at inconvenient times if that creation touches your tongue and teeth.  (I did go to bed hungry, by the way.  Please feel sorry for me now.  But at least I can still go to the bathroom like a normal person in a normal fashion and not have to spend 6 hours in there.)   

I do not have the heart to tell The Husband all this (and/or take the risk that our marriage might indeed be held together by gooey cheddar cheese), so that is why I am telling you. Luckily, The Husband prefers CNN and Sports Center to my blog, so I am hopeful he will not read this. If I see that GBC photo end up on YouTube or your Facebook page, I'm comin' after ya (and oh, yes, I'll have a recipe in my hand).

(“Melting Only Velveeta”)
PS--thank you to The Husband for making GBC.  I had Writer's Block, but now I don't! 

193. Childhood Dreams

Most of my 9-year-old friends dreamed of becoming prima ballerinas or horseback riders or professional volleyball players or even doctors or lawyers. They would endlessly practice their grand jetes dessus en tournant (which roughly translates to "spin around until you fall on your face") or brush their Barbie’s Beauty plastic horses or spike their regulation volleyballs at my head.

I had a different kind of dream: to play the piano. To this end, I took lessons for a total of two and a half weeks and practiced almost every other day. Imagine my shock and dismay when I was not channeling Beethoven at the end of that time period. In fact, I could not even remember something as basic as the scales (“does it go A, B, C, D or G, B, A, Z?”). This did not, however, prevent me from fantasizing about walking into, say, a hotel lobby or maybe the White House, and sitting down at the baby grand and pounding out some quality Mozart.

People like the hotel manager and the President of the United States would gasp in awe and whisper to one another, “Did you hear that? That 4th grader just played a song like she’s in the symphony! She must be a child prodigy!” Then complete strangers would burst into spontaneous applause, and I would respond demurely, “Oh, that? It’s nothing.”

Next, word would get out, and Important Talent Scouts would approach me, offering me multi-million dollar (possibly billion or trillion dollar) music contracts. I would smile and say, “I don’t play for money; I play for the love of music.” My whole goal was to impress random strangers whom I had never met and whom I would most likely never see again.

Although I harbored this (very realistic) vision for years, it somehow never became a reality. Thus, I shifted my dreams to something more attainable: saving a burning plane full of innocent people from a sure and fiery death.

As a child of divorced parents, I spent an awful lot of time as an unaccompanied minor flying back and forth from Dothan to Los Angeles (don’t forget changing planes in Atlanta). I had plenty of time to observe the officious flight attendants demonstrating their oh-so-crucial emergency procedures. In my fantasy, I didn’t need any of that advice or training: no. The plane would crash, the useless and snobby flight attendants would be dead, and the only person who could help would be yours truly.

Later, the news teams would report that an elementary student from Alabama had opened the emergency slide and single-handedly saved all 700 passengers. Of course I’d be on TV. In the interview, I would humbly say, “I just did what anyone would in my situation.” I would parlay my newfound celebrity into more lucrative opportunities. Perhaps this lucky turn of events would even catapult me to the pinnacle of status: I’d be on the cover of “Seventeen” (the first 9-year-old, natch, to achieve this goal). Hopefully, they’d allow me to wear lip gloss for the cover shoot.

Which brings me to my final job (the one I actually do today): world-renowned Super Model. When I was still learning my times-tables and long division, I had no idea that my future would hold glamorous trips to Milan and Paris to strut the catwalks and have photographers swooning to take my picture. “MOV!” they’d scream out, “Give us just one smile, over here!” It would be a difficult decision, choosing either Ford or Elite Models to represent me, but in the end, I’d simply start my own corporate empire, “MOV Models, Inc.”.

Makes me feel kind of sorry today for my former childhood friends who merely became district court judges or oral surgeons or CEO’s. They are obviously missing out; too bad they didn’t pursue their childhood dreams like I did.

(“Master Of Vision”)