Friday, December 31, 2010

281. Time-Share

(a flashback)

So The Husband and I are on vacation in Hawaii. We’re celebrating our second anniversary and no small children have been born yet, so we are ignorant and happy. I scored us a screaming good deal with a combination of my good looks and witty repartee free United flight passes and some Marriott Hotel points.

After our five hour flight, we arrive exhausted and exhilarated, ready to hit the beach. We have, by some Divine Intervention on the part of the Vacation Gods, been upgraded to an ocean-view suite, complete with mini-kitchen. As the hotel front desk clerk swipes my Amex card to prepay for the week ($300 for the entire seven days, did I say screaming good deal???), he shoves some paper in my face for me to sign and mumbles something about “attending the potential time-share buyer seminar”.

Whoa, there, what? As I glance down at the fine print (font size .6), I vaguely remember something about being required to go to the 3-hour seminar in order to get the cut-throat discount. Yikes. Not sure how The Husband’s going to take that. I glance over at The Husband and notice that he’s doing what he always does in times of stress or uncertainty: he’s checking the football scores in the local newspaper. He’s completely oblivious to what the desk clerk and I are whispering about.

I decide to tell him later, maybe after a few Mai-tai’s.

There’s really no need for me to put this off, as the phone is ringing by the time we enter our room with our suitcases. Yep, it’s the front desk, calling to verify which seminar time slot we would like to sign up for. I am somehow bullied into accepting the 10 AM appointment for the next morning (Clerk: “Madam, would the 10 AM appointment accommodate your schedule? Free drinks will be served.” Me: “Yes, please, that would be fine, I'm looking forward to it.”)

10 AM comes far too quickly, and by this point I have briefed The Husband on our obligation to attend (Him: “Why do we have to do this?”, Me: “Because otherwise the room is $875 per night instead of $300 for the whole week.” Him: “Can I wear my swimsuit?”). We decide ahead of time that since our Powers of Mental Telepathy are weak at best, we should devise a simple code so the other one knows exactly how we feel about stupid idiotic time shares (essentially that they’re stupid and idiotic).

The code phrase we agree on is: “that’s interesting”. The direct translation is: “I would never in a million years buy one”.

Things start out well. Our Personal Agent of Doom Sales Rep is named Corey and he's probably in his mid-50’s with salt-and-pepper gray hair and a well-cut suit (suit, in Hawaii? for some reason, yes that's what he has on).  He lays out all the numbers of why time shares actually pay for themselves (???) in only 6 or 7 years, and how you can trade for other resorts, blah-blah-blah. I am hoping The Husband is paying attention because my mind keeps wandering back to this cute seashell jewelry box I saw in the hotel gift shop ($42, and velvet-lined).

Now it’s time for a tour. Corey takes us to the Owner’s Level, and the Husband wisely asks if this would be where we would stay (“Yes, depending on which Tier of Ownership Investment you select,”). The view is mesmerizing—we can see dolphins and surfers and future sunsets. My brain has woken up enough to transfer from its happy place ($42 seashell box) to stare at the Cold Hard Truth (timeshare cost per month: $719 plus activity fee). That is more than our rent. Now, I am not very good at math, but after scrunching up my face and thinking hard, I realize that this equates to roughly $200,000 per year, which is money we just don’t have.

The Husband is being sucked in by the spiel. He is nodding-nodding-nodding as Corey goes on and on about dolphins and fresh ocean air and pineapple burgers. In an act of sheer desperation, I pull out the code phrase: “That’s interesting! That’s very interesting!” and The Husband goes pale. He looks at Corey and then back at me, and then he asks Corey if he can talk to me alone for a minute.

Corey graciously steps out of the room. I panic and say, “Are you insane?!? We can’t sign up for this garbage!” and The Husband replies, “Me? You are the one who’s ready to get her checkbook out!”

Huh? After further discussion, I am beginning to realize that my darling husband of two years has swiftly forgotten the Secret Code Phrase. It is so top secret, it's even a secret to him.

“Hon, ‘That’s interesting’ does not mean ‘That’s interesting’. That was the special code, remember?” I say patiently, as if trying to train a deaf dog.

“Code? Code for what?” Not only has he forgotten the code, he has apparently forgotten the discussion leading up to the necessity of said code. One day of unfiltered sunshine has fried his brain.

“The. Code. The code means ‘no’.” I look at him.

He starts laughing. He gives me a big hug. “Thank God! I thought you were really interested and I was getting ready to tell you that we do not have that kind of money!”

I smile back at him. “I know, I know........... Uh, do we maybe have $42 for a seashell box, though?”

("Maui, On Vacation")

280. Remember Not To Forget To Wash Your Hands!

So as a little joke, one of my girlfriends gets me hand sanitizer for Christmas. Not just any hand sanitizer, but a special one (see photo below):

(Ha ha ha ha, my friend, yeah, I get it. Very funny.)

That’s right” “OCD Hand Sanitizer” with the lovely tag-line: “If you’re not sanitizing, you’re getting infected,” and the helpful instructions of “Clean hands. Repeat. Repeat again. One more time.”

Really, S? You think that’s a clever gift for me? I’m going to use that puppy up in about, oh, 10 minutes. If you wanted to give me an actual useful gift, maybe a case of these (48 to a case) would be adequate.

Just something to think about for next year, S. But I promise I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth (or in this case, hands).


279. What Is Facebook?

I’ll admit it: I’m Amish. Well, not Amish Amish, more like Amish-Lite. For ten years, I did not own a television (by choice!). Cell phones make me nervous, and I only broke down and bought one last year. Email is a relatively new phenomenon for me. So why should it surprise you that I don’t do Facebook?

For the longest time, I didn’t know what Facebook was. I thought it was some sort of special computer notebook for college students to keep track of their coursework (sort of a cross between a laptop and an I-Pad).

Obviously, my friends mock me for my lack of awareness. They say things like, “MOV, you need to get on Facebook so you can find out what everyone is up to!” I don’t particularly want to know what everyone is up to. I’m still trying to keep track of what I am up to.

Then, as if they are Facebook Ambassadors or Facebook Sales Reps (working on commission, natch), they say, “MOV, you can re-connect with friends from high school and college!” to which I think, if I haven’t stayed in touch with someone, there is probably a good reason, like maybe they turned out to be a serial killer (did I forget to mention that I went to high school with Andrew Cunanan, murderer of Versace, and that Andrew and I ran on the cross-country team together?).

Facebook. My cynical friends say, “You know, you’re probably better off without FB,” (they abbreviate it to ‘FB’ to sound more hip), “because I literally can spend two hours a day on it! It’s crazy!”

Two hours. Where do they get that two hours? Did the Universe bestow them with 26-hour days, because I’m still trying to cram everything into my meager allotment of 24 hours and failing miserably. Maybe they skip lunch? Maybe they don’t bother to shower and dry their hair? Maybe they just get six hours of sleep instead of eight? Where do those extra two hours come from?

The other thing I don’t get is the whole Facebook Friending Thing. Yes, “friend” as a verb. Apparently, you can friend someone and then you can leave messages on their “wall” and they can look at your Facebook Portfolio as well. I have heard of great drama stemming from someone rejecting or ignoring a “friend” request. Parents tell me their kids won’t respond to their “friend” inquiries. (Heck, my kids won’t be friends with me in the real world, you think I want to risk that kind of rejection in cyberspace too?) 

It hurts people's feelings to delete their friend requests--it's like not inviting someone to a party, but even more blatant:  you do not qualify as my friend;  I can do better than you, I can be friends with some random person I just met on the airplane and never ever have to talk to them or hear their voice or see them.  Sounds distancing to me.    

Excuse me, I have to run:  I'm meeting a girlfriend for lunch in person.  We're going to gossip and eat chocolate cake (last I checked, their is no "eat chocolate cake" option on Facebook; ah, well, something to strive for). 


(P.S. Yes, I saw the movie "Social Network".  Loved it.)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

278. That Kid Xavier

Let me tell you about Xavier. I have never met this child, but he is currently on my Bad List. My 4-year-old came home the last day of school before the holiday break merrily chirping the three most dreaded words in the English language: “Santa visits twice!” After I spilled my double martini apple juice, I managed to let out a desperate squeak of who-told-you-that? The guilty party: Xavier.

First of all, let’s make fun of his name. What kind of name is Xavier? A goofy one. How do you even pronounce it? Was his mom simply trying to make his later years easier by saying, “Oh, just sign on the line right here—well, you can put a big ‘X’ for your initial, that’ll be fine.”

Okay, back to the problem at hand: my life, complicated by three-foot tall Xavier. What gives, X? How could you do this to me? This is not in the Parenting Handbook (Revised Edition), that’s for sure. After the stockings are filled by the generous Santa Claus, we are now required to have an encore visit?

Let’s talk pure logistics, X: when exactly would Santa return? If you don’t like something you received in the first go-around, is it acceptable to ask him to take it back and possibly exchange it for the correct toy? or is that considered crass? Does Santa still come at night, or like soap opera stars does he make a daytime appearance?

What day? What time? Where (still the fireplace?)? If a child has somehow “slipped” back into the default setting of Naughty Behavior, does Santa get to seize the original gifts, sort of a “Santa’s Revenge” scenario?

For a moment, I consider calling Xavier’s mother. But I don’t speak French. Sure, I speak enough to ask if the other person speaks French, but when she energetically responds in the affirmative, all I can muster is “je prefer un éclair chocolat si vous plait” (food seems to be my undoing, as always).

I finally coax the story out of my son Short. After much probing, I surmise that Xavier’s parents are divorced. Santa is coming to his mom’s house on Christmas Eve, and two days later Santa will reappear at his dad’s apartment.

No more poor me. Poor Xavier.


277. New Year's Revolutions

So I just finished reading this great article and the author went on and on about how she never achieves her New Year’s Resolutions because she sets the bar way too high (“eradicate poverty in Third World Countries”, “find a cure for AIDS”) so this year she has decided to put things like “wake up” and “eat breakfast” on her list. Her goal is to make herself feel good every day by saying, “Yep! I just kept another one of my spectacular New Year’s Resolutions today!”

I have the opposite problem. I set the bar way too low (“go through junk mail immediately”) and then by the time December 31st rolls around, all I have to show for it is a clean table in the entry way. Sigh.

I decide this year will be different. I will make a sort of “Hybrid Resolution” list from the author’s ideas combined with my own. For example, “wake up” would now be “wake up and run marathon”. “Eat breakfast” morphs into “eat breakfast at the Eiffel Tower”. Wow—I like this game. How many more can I think up?
  • watch less TV, because I will fly to London and see plays instead
  • clean up cat litter-box daily, because this will be good practice for owning a race horse
  • wash hands frequently, because this is required for surgeons
  • help kids with their homework right after school, because then I’ll have more time to work on my Surgeon Classes
  • save coins in big glass jar, so I can buy an investment condo
  • try not to argue, in front of the Queen of England
  • floss teeth, so I will look great for my modeling contract
  • drink more orange juice (in the South of Spain)
  • hang coat up on hook, so Personal Stylist can assess my clothing needs more accurately and let me know which designer apparel I should buy next
  • drink less coffee, and more tea in Japan while on extended vacation there
  • drink 5 glasses of water every day, in Hawaii
  • take more photos (of George Clooney when he comes over)
  • read newspaper twice per week, so I have more things to talk to the President about
  • remember to take recycling out, as good example when I start my own world-wide green initiative in developing countries
  • keep a journal, so I can reliably quote myself when I go on Oprah
I am really looking forward to 2011.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

276. Flashback

So here is my favorite Christmas story. My younger sister Oakley is three, so I must be eight. We are visiting my grandmother in California, and various Distant Relatives have assembled for the occasion.

My mom’s step-brother’s second wife Madge hands my mom a beautifully wrapped present. Let me state for the record: I had never met Madge before that specific Christmas and now in thirty odd years, I have not seen her since.

My mom fusses with the satin ribbon, all the while cooing, oh-Madge-you-shouldn’t-have. A brand new fancy appliance appears on the scene. Mom hugs Madge and sincerely tells her it's what she’s always wanted and thanks her profusely for her generosity and kindness.

Oakley, normally sharp as a tack but still unable to read (she was only three, cut her some slack), is curious and wants very badly to Be Involved. She cranes her neck to see the box more clearly and says sweetly, “What is it, Mommy?”

My mother hesitates for a split-second, perhaps temporarily listening to her clairvoyant powers. Then she gives in and tells Oakley, “It’s a popcorn popper.”

You know what comes next. The part about the adorable pre-schooler who manages to say something equal parts embarrassing and cute and honest and deplorable. She twirls around and enthusiastically chirps,

“Now we have two!”

The room goes silent; everyone holds their breath. My mom, bless her heart, launches into how useful it is to have two popcorn poppers when you have a lot of people over or a big movie party (?) and need extra popcorn. Then she abruptly changes her story and says that her current (cheap? unworthy? terrible mistake?) popcorn popper has died and it’s high time for a replacement (this is untrue: I was with her when she bought it mere months ago).

I am mortified. Mortified that my sister has just humiliated us in front of the Important Distant Relatives, mortified that she does not have the good sense to just lie and act like we don’t already have one.

My mom’s step-brother starts to snicker. Then so does my normally reserved grandfather. My mom suppresses a giggle (really—how can she not?) and even poor Madge thinks it’s funny too. I succumb and laugh as well.

Oakley is laughing too.

(She doesn’t know why.)


P.S. As you can imagine, this jubilant “now-we-have-two!” has become part of the family vernacular or short-hand. We love to pull out and dust off the phrase in any circumstance (found your car keys after you just got out the Emergency Back-Up Set? Now we have two! Order a pizza and they accidentally bring you two of the same kind? Now we have two!)

275. Scribbles From A Technophobe

So I have a love/hate relationship with my cell phone: I love it and it hates me. I love the simplicity that at any moment I can say, “Huh, I think I’ll call my best friend in California” and I can! I might be at the mall or at Starbucks or in the car or at the bank: wherever. I can just punch in her phone number and the Gods of Satellites will make sure that I talk to her.

This love I feel for my wonderful cell phone, however, is clearly not reciprocated.

My phone, like some new guy you just started dating, has many many secrets and hidden talents that it prefers not to share with me. Somehow, my friends all seem to know what my cell phone can do. They’ll cavalierly say, “Just text me when you get there!” and I’ll reply, “Oh, no, my phone doesn’t do that,” to which they’ll say, “Sure it does. You have the exact same phone I have.”

Text. I don’t know how to do that. And since when has “text” become a verb? I thought text was what you read, hence the term “textbook”.

My little phone also has a playful side. I will dig it out of my purse to place a quick call and I'll accidentally brush against some Random Important Button and voila! suddenly I'm quite surprised to see a smiley photo of my mom and sister (wearing life vests, natch) standing on the deck of a cruise ship. While I slaved away at the high-end kitchen store, apparently my family members went on some Mexico cruise without me.  I can only think of one thing: my phone is a camera?

Since when is my phone a camera?

Last week, my cell phone made a strange little beeping I have never heard before. It wasn’t the tone it makes when there is a new message (miraculously, I do know how to check my messages), and it wasn’t the sound it makes when the battery is dying (I know that sound too well). It was sort of a happy little chime. I opened up the cover of my phone and stared at it, willing it to stop the chiming. Now it was blinking simply, “NEW TEXT”. I wasn’t sure what to do. I closed my eyes and prayed while I pressed something on the phone. The next thing I knew, there was a message from my freighbor saying, “Will drop off Tall about 20 min late, so sorry—traffic.”

Wow! I know how to read a text!

My stomach sank when I read the rest: “Text me back to let me know you got message.”

Yikes. I did the only thing I could: I got out the digital camera my dad gave me three Christmases ago to see if it can send texts.


274. Distraction

So we’ve just landed in California after our long flight from the East Coast. We are taxiing to the gate when I notice the woman sitting across the aisle in starting to play with her hair. Not “play with her hair” like a small child or even a flirty teen-ager: no. Rather, she is holding a small pile of detached hair in her hands and appears to be braiding it.

I stare at the woman, as do my two seatmates: we must look. As a former United flight attendant, I’ve witnessed many bizarre passenger behaviors in my decade-long career, but never this.

I cannot stop gawking. Luckily, the woman is consumed by her “hobby” and doesn’t notice.

Maybe it’s not hair. Maybe it’s just blondish yarn and she is knitting some sort of…… uh….. blonde scarf? or a miniature sweater for a Barbie doll?

After much deliberation (hair? not hair?), I surmise that the woman is making those little braided scrunchies or headband things that they sell at mall kiosks. But I’m still not 100% convinced.

At this moment, my brain entertains several thoughts simultaneously:
  1. I’m glad she didn’t braid the detached hair the whole flight. I never would’ve been able to focus on my Movie Star Weekly magazine.
  2. I wish my 4-year-old were here. He’d say (loudly), “Mom, what is she doing?” and then I’d act all embarrassed and I’d do that Universal Mom Shrug/ Eye Roll Combo to say kids! And then she’d kindly explain to him (and me) what exactly she was doing.
  3. Maybe she’ll sell me one—I could use an I-Dream-Of-Jeannie headband to fix my messy airplane hair.
("Make-Over Variety")

Friday, December 24, 2010

273. Merry Christmas!

So I call my new friend Shawna to say Merry Christmas and let her know that I will be out of town for four days visiting my mom (by myself) in California. She asks if I’ll still be writing my blog while I’m on vacation. I laugh and tell her that I don’t have a laptop, so, no (I’m sure I’ll have some great material when I return though).

Then I have a fabulous idea, and tell Shawna that I will post her brand new blog site address for my regular readers to check out (Shawna and I have similar writing styles: self-effacing and quirky.) That way, maybe she’ll get a little more exposure and (hopefully?) a couple new followers.

Shawna is mortified. “Don’t do that,” she says firmly. Now I’m confused. Is my blog really horrible? Does she just not want to be associated with me in any way? What’s going on here?

She does not elaborate. But she makes me promise on the life of my dog that I won’t post the link for her blog.

I don’t have a dog:

(PS—see you at this same Bat Channel, same Bat Time, on the 29th)

272. Favorites (Funniest)

I’m going out of town, away from my dinosaur computer. If your personal holiday is a quagmire of drunken relatives and only two-fights-short of going to jail has a lull or two and you want to read something funny, I have hand-selected 5 of my absolute favorite blog postings that you may or may not have read.

Here goes:
(you have to manually click over to them, because my slooooooooow computer is not cooperating in letting me just put the direct link here for you, sorry!)

98.  Feed What
46.  Drive-By Drop-In
103.New Best Friend
57.  Doctors Should Look Old

Enjoy! Have a slice of my family makes me crazy apple pie for me too!


271. Honk If You See BLOG GAL

So I thought it would be fun to get a personalized license plate for my car. I am 40 years old (give or take) and I’ve never had a vanity plate, so it was time.

I chose “BLOG GAL” (I’m a gal, I blog……… “BOSSY” was already taken, and "CHOCOHOLIC" exceeded the 7-letter maximum). I was so excited when the plate arrived a couple months ago, and it has been such a joy to easily locate my generic vehicle when it’s lost in a sea of black Toyota Highlanders (say, in the Starbuck’s parking lot). What I didn’t count on is: people recognize me now.

People see “BLOG GAL” and they innocently think to themselves, that’s MOV so I’ll just wave hello to her. I’ve got people waving, windows rolling down with the car occupants leaning out, cars beeping, trucks flashing their lights. It’s all very neighborly, except for one thing: I have no clue who these people are.

I’ll see a freighbor the next day at the kids’ bus stop, and she’ll say, “Hey, I waved at you by the dry cleaners yesterday, but you ignored me.” Pouty face.

Or, The Husband’s boss will see me in the line at the grocery store and say, “Why didn’t you beep back at me out front just now?” Hurt look accompanied by closed body language (arms across chest).

Better yet, one of my closest friend’s, A, will say, “The kids and I were flashing the lights and holding streamers out the sun roof, and yet you acted like you didn’t know us.” Mental telepathy message: I won’t be babysitting your kids for you Tuesday after all.

That’s right, lady, I have a hard enough time recognizing people when they are three feet in front of me knocking on my front door, now I have to be responsible for their car make and model? These same so-called “friends” of course get to cheat: “BLOG GAL” is right there on the license plate, no question about it. They might accidentally wave to The Husband if he happens to be driving my car that day, but hey, same family—close enough.

The Husband offers a simple solution: “Hon, just wave back! They don’t know that you don’t know who you’re waving to.” Oh, men. The simplicity of it all. This won’t work because obviously I will be quizzed later (see above).

In the end, I follow The Husband’s advice after all. I wave to everyone. Now I have complete strangers saying, “Excuse me, do I know you?”

(“Mundane Ordinary Vehicle”)

270. Update

We celebrated Christmas this morning. I had mentioned in a previous blog posting that I would be “recycling” in the truest sense of the word this Christmas by giving The Husband items he already owned and loved.

However, I wanted to give you, my loyal reader, an update. I did not give The Husband his leather jacket nor his alarm clock nor a butter knife like I originally planned. After thinking it over, I thought this idea was really quite silly.

I gave him some magazines he’s already read, his old backpack, and some socks I just took out of the dryer. Oh, yeah, and his car keys and house keys (the look on his face was well worth the weeks of planning and secrecy).

("Mission Of Value")

PS—he gave me my red suede shoes that I need to have re-soled, and my black sweater from Banana Republic (complete with fur shed on it by our cat). Merry Christmas!

269. December 25th

Acceptable Phrases:

Christmas time
Christmas Eve
Santa Claus
Christmas tree
Christmas gifts
“Have you finished your Christmas shopping?”
Christmas decorations
Christmas vacation
Christmas special
“We’ll be closed on Christmas day,”
Ugly Christmas sweater
“I can’t believe you’re flying on Christmas!”
Christmas spirit
Christmas carol
“What did you get for Christmas?”
Christmas theme
Christmas cookies
"My birthday falls on Christmas,"
After-Christmas sale
“I love Christmas.”


“Merry Christmas!” (substitute “Happy Holidays” instead, as they might not celebrate Christmas and they would be very offended).

(“Merry Ostensible Villain”)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

268. Believe

So my 7-year-old son announces at the breakfast table, "There's no such thing as Santa."  As you can imagine, this catches the 4-year-old's attention pretty quickly.  "WHAT?" says the 4-year-old.

I grab Tall by his sleeve and yank him out of the room.  (Okay, maybe not my proudest Parenting Moment.)  "Tall, who told you that?" I demand. 

"Older kids on the bus," he confesses timidly.  Those damn Older Kids.  Always ruining everything for everyone else. 

"Well, then I guess Santa doesn't come to their house," I say, channeling my mother or Bing Crosby or Carol Brady or someone-who-knows-how-to-handle-dissension. 

In the next few seconds, all the childhood myths cloud my brain:  Easter Bunny, Leprechauns, Tooth Fairy.  We tell our children to believe in Santa Claus and they do.  They trust us.  Until one day, the fable explodes, and then they say: 

"Mommy?  Does God exist?"

("Mashing Our Values")      

267. Christmas Present

So The Husband and I have spent all our money on renovating our house, Christmas presents for the boys, and my plane ticket to California to see my mom. That leaves no money for the two of us to exchange gifts.

At first, I thought this would be fantastic: we’re not materialist! we’re above all this blatant commercialism!  But the more I work at the high-end kitchen store and the more I see people buying things for their sweethearts (“I think she might like a whole new set of copper pans. Three thousand dollars? That’s it? Okay, let’s add some cookbooks and kitchen tools too,”), the more bitter and jealous I become.

I decide to take matters into my own hands. The Husband and I will exchange gifts after all, material expensive gifts, and lots of ‘em.

How do I plan to pull this off without incurring debt? (No, not stealing.) I tell The Husband to go around the house and choose 10 things that I already own and wrap* them up and put them under the tree (*my sister Oakley sewed fabric reusable gift bags for us last year, so we are not wasting wrapping paper). I told him he could choose things like my grey cashmere sweater or my gold bracelet I got for college graduation or a silver frame with a photo of the boys….. whatever he wants.  The surprise will be in seeing what he picks. 

As is typical, he was not on board at first. But having dealt with me known me for over a decade, he knows that I am relentless in getting my way. He finally saw the silliness logic in my proposal and is resigned eager to participate.

What he doesn’t know yet is he’ll be receiving not only his favorite leather jacket, but also his alarm clock. And possibly a butter knife.

("Mirthful Offbeat Vicissitudes")

266. Proactive

So Tall is sick and stays home from school.  It’s my one day off from the high-end kitchen store, so we're going to make the most of things and have a relaxing day watching cartoons and making brownies.

The Husband gets home from work at 6:30 PM and immediately comments about Tall’s attire and my worthiness as a mother: “Wow! You already had Tall get undressed, take a bath, and put on clean pajamas! And you’re even in your pajamas too! Way to be proactive, MOV!”

The Husband’s tone is upbeat and cheery. Whatever previous Work Stress he had brought home with him has dissipated. He smiles at me, looks over at Tall and smiles at him.

Then it hits him. “Uh, those are his Rocket jammies….. he wore those same ones last night..…. Did you do laundry today too, MOV?” (hopeful now), “or is he just wearing the same thing…...” (starting to dawn on him), “He never even got dressed today, did he?” (surprised and a little bit mad) “And actually, neither did you,” (puzzle finally solved).

“Nope!” I chirp, “Today was a ‘sick day’ and we just lounged!”

I mean, come on, really.  The Husband has known me for almost 14 years, how can he not know me?


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

265. Is Santa Jewish?

Santa sits on his comfy blue couch in the mall, the same mall where I work, and talks to little children all day, promising them goodies. I hurry in to the high-end kitchen store and Santa gives me a quick wave.

Our store traffic is pretty steady, but during a brief lull from ringing up customers, I decide to ask the question no one ever dared to ask before: Is Santa Jewish?

My co-friend M is Jewish, so I thought for sure he would know. He looks me straight in the eye and says, “I never really thought about it before, but now that you mention it, yes, yes, I think he definitely could be Jewish. I mean, it makes more sense for him to celebrate Hanukkah because he’s very busy on the 24th, and I’ll bet he just sleeps all day on the 25th, after pulling an all-nighter like that.”

Lisa, a seasonal employee, has been listening intently. “Maybe Santa is Jesus?” she offers. Huh, this possibility never occurred to me.

Clint, another Christmas salesclerk, asks, “MOV, do you have any evidence to back up your crazy claim?”

He calls my claim crazy? That Santa is Jewish? But it’s not crazy to, oh, fly in the sky in a sled pulled by animals that normally don't fly and go to all the houses in the world and deliver toys to people you don’t know, and accomplish this feat is, say, 8 hours? My hypothesis is looking pretty sane, actually.

“I’ve never seen Santa at church on Christmas day. I’ve never heard of anyone giving Santa a present—”

“That’s not true,” Jackie (a devout Mormon) interrupts. “All the kids put out milk and cookies for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.”

“That’s just a snack. That doesn’t even count,” I rally. “Let’s talk stereotypes. The common perception about Jewish people is that they are wealthy, that they are really good with investing. If you are going to give that much stuff away, expensive stuff, then you must be wealthy.”

I’ve got their attention now. They’re all nodding.

“Furthermore, I think—” I'm rambling when The Boss walks up.

“What's this little pow-wow?” she says, irked. “Can one of you restock some shelves please, we are out of gingersnaps, and the Chocolate Polar Bear candy display is getting low, too.”

“I was just saying that I think Santa Claus in Jewish,” I explain.

She rolls her eyes at me, and says, “He’s obviously a Buddhist. Have you not seen that belly?”


264. The Hiding

So this crazy thing happens in my house whenever we get close to holidays or birthdays or any event that might possibly mandate a gift: I hide the special presents. But wait. Not just any hiding spot. No. A really amazing and fabulous hiding spot. I put presents in spots so secret, so divine, that it takes a map and possibly a few glasses of Chardonnay to relocate the “hidden” (read: lost forever) item.

As you can imagine, this is a tad bit frustrating when the time comes to produce said item: 

The Husband: (calling out 10 minutes after we should have already left) Sweetie! You need to get Lani’s gift! We gotta go! We’re late!

Duh. I already know that. What I don’t know is which of my 50 million special secret spots did I hide Lani’s gift? (Let’s be honest here: it was a Borders gift card. Was I really that worried that my small children would stumble upon it and get themselves to the mall to spend it, or better yet, log on to the computer and order a couple books?).

Okay, so it could be under the mattress. Nope. In The Husband’s closet on the top shelf? Wrong again. In the boys’ bedroom, behind the bookcase? No (but wow—found my sister’s birthday gift I meant to give her last year).

Clearly, I am not hiding the special item in question from a random burglar or from my two precocious sons or even from The Husband; no.

I am obviously hiding the gift from myself (if I could just be considerate enough to give self a small clue as to where the item might be hidden this time).


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

263. The Facelift

So you wake up one day and you notice you have a few wrinkles around the edges of your eyes and you decide to do something about it. You call a plastic surgeon. You go to a consultation and the doctor assures you he can have you looking 20 years old again in no time (the doctor himself looks about 93 years old, but for some reason this does not alarm you in any way). You have the surgery and you do not look 20 again. You look like you were caught in a wind tunnel or like you were the victim of a very bad car crash and doctors scrambled to fix your face.

You regret your decision, but honestly what can you do now?

You walk into a high-end kitchen store and you tell the perky salesgirl that you are just browsing. You don’t really need anything, but maybe if you shop for a while you can forget how bizarre your face looks and that you actually paid money to look this way. You pick up a few Christmas items that have just been marked down and you notice the salespeople at the counter are laughing about something. You assume they are laughing about your face and you become hyper-aware of your appearance.

You ask yourself why you did this, why you thought that you could look 20 again, and now you are questioning why anyone would ever want to be 20 again, wasn’t once enough?

You walk to the register with a Christmas spatula with a reindeer printed on it and some angel cookie cutters, you think you might make some cookies for your neighbors, the same ones that fed your cat while you were at the hospital. The girl at the register perfunctorily asks if you found what you were looking for? and you hesitate, and then you tell her no, no, you did not find what you were looking for.

She seems surprised and confused. Apparently no one says this to her, they all tell her that yes, they did find what they were looking for.

“M’am, what exactly were you looking for?”

You were looking for youth, for beauty, for what-you-used-to-look-like years ago. The wrinkles have been erased now, but in a fake and glaring way. The dollars fill in the cracks and crevices to give you a smooth waxy exterior.

The girl is still waiting, waiting for you to tell her this mystery item you were looking for so she can miraculously find it for you. She is staring at you now (you think she is staring), she herself is maybe 40 years old, so not really a girl, she has some small wrinkles too, you notice.

You want to lean in and tell her don’t do it, don’t get Botox or a facelift or an eye-lift or cheek implants or collagen injections. You want to ask her how she can look in the mirror and see these little imprints of time and not be alarmed, how these small etchings have no effect on her or her self-image or self-worth.

But you don’t. Instead you say does this spatula come with a picture of a snowman on it? and the girl laughs and says wow that would be cute but no we don’t have any with a snowman on it.

You pay and leave, disappointed again.


Monday, December 20, 2010

262. DNA Scramble

So today I receive my cousin Francesca’s Christmas card, complete with a photo of her darling five (count them, five) children. The kids range in age from a two-year-old toddler to a nine-year-old third-grader. It’s easy to look at them and say, yep, that one looks like their dad Doug, or wow—Maisy has Francesca’s red hair! What’s not so easy to decipher from the photo is their personalities. Does Bryce talk back? Is Elliot aggressive? And is Lucinda gregarious like big brother Michael?

My own two sons are an interesting composite of me and The Husband. Purely by looks, Tall is me (blond, slim) and Short is The Husband (darker hair, broad shoulders). Then things get murky. Tall is a natural athlete (thank you to The Husband’s good genes) and an avid reader (that would be me). He’s also a great artist (me) and has lots of friends (The Husband). So who do we blame his quick temper on?

Short is determined (The Husband) and has a fabulous sense of humor (uh, me?). He is kind and genuine (not sure where he gets that) but hates to lose in games (his Aunt Oakley?). We stick these labels on our children, trying to compartmentalize their personalities, so we know what to expect and how to deal with them.

But they change. Every day.

I look at Francesca’s card again. Oh, wow. I thought that was Maisy in front of Michael…. it’s not. Lucinda just looks exactly like her.

(“Mirror Or Variant”)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

261. Charmed Equals Alarmed

So The Husband and I are at a holiday party, and the hostess is considerate enough to provide “wine charms” for all the guests to put on their glasses. Have you seen these? Essentially, they are little decorative bits of metal or plastic shaped like things (think grapes, apple, pear, strawberry) that you attach to the base of your glass, so you can say, “Aha! That one’s mine, I remember that my glass had a little charm of some grapes on it.”

Not so fast, my friend. I’m at the party. I’m drinking alcohol. It’s tricky enough for me to remember basic stuff (e.g., when I have to pick up my dry-cleaning) while sober let alone complicated things after a few glasses of wine, things like: did I have a miniature lime or a peach charm on my glass?

In theory, I like the idea. The MOV who sits at home and types her blog on the computer while sipping ice water or cappuccino really likes the idea. The MOV who eats five chocolate mini-éclairs before she even thinks about touching the carrot and broccoli crudités can’t be bothered with adding more information to her addled brain.

The Husband approaches. “MOV,” he begins, innocently enough, “I thought your Chardonnay had a pineapple on it? Why are you holding the glass with the banana on it?” He looks around suspiciously. “MOV!” he hisses, not so innocently now, “I’m pretty sure you are drinking from Susan’s glass! Put. It. Down.”  His look is its own cocktail of embarrassment and alarm with a dash of pity thrown in;  I've seen this look before.  “Don’t you remember she said she loved banana crème pie so she would remember the banana charm?!”

Oh, geesh. I can’t even remember my own charm (apparently pineapple) and now I'm expected to remember Susan’s charm? I just met Susan 10 minutes ago and can’t even recall her last name (Richlen-something? Richardson? Richman? And hello, Ms. Party Hostess—turn your damn music down so I can hear what Susan’s full name is when we’re introduced!). And by the way, I thought Susan was drinking red wine. So there.

I am mentally transported to Disneyland, senior year of college. My boyfriend and I had spent all day at the park, riding Space Mountain and making out on the People Mover. It was time to leave. Unfortunately, we (me? why am I always blamed for these mishaps?) couldn’t remember where we parked the car……… Fast forward two hours and one very nice security guard later. I was convinced the car was stolen (really, what other explanation could there be?). The guard kept asking, “Miss, can you remember which row you parked in?”

All I could think was: it was a Disney character plus a number. Cinderella 5? Or Snow White 3? Maybe Mickey Mouse 18?

No one stole my car (really? no one wants a seven-year-old Celica with 100,000 miles on it?). We finally found it sitting near some motorcycles in a distant row (Goofy 1—how fitting). All I kept thinking was: if they really want you to remember where you parked, they should name the rows bizarre things that have nothing to do with one another, things like “Asparagus M” or “Paris 931” or “Kitchen Table Blue”.

I need to come up with some memory trick to help my poor beleaguered brain to remember stuff. Aha! I’ve got it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a wine glass to identify. I think there was a smear of chocolate on the side of it.

(“Memory Of Vino”)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

260. Dellcember

God does exist, and this was proven at my house today when a harried UPS guy dropped off a special package from Dell Computers. Oh, yes, we love you Dell, and we love you God, for not making us wait until January 8th, which was the original back-order date (and? by the way? I think they make up all that nonsense about “back-orders” just so you’ll jump up and down like a crazy person—like I did—when the package arrives early).

Computer. Lovely. Beautiful. I never thought I would be so happy to open a cardboard box with a small silver machine inside.

Then The Husband has to go and freak me out. No, no, not the expected Hey-why-don’t-we-wait-until-December-25th-to-set-it-up, no. He has to go and say something practical, something like, “Ohhhh, uh, we reeeeeeeeally need to make sure we have that anti-spam guard and Force-Field 12 in place, you know, so no viruses can get through like last time.”

Sigh. How long does that take?

“How long does that take?” Good question coming from me who has been picturing our computer as inhabited by a small person living inside. Mini Computer Person goes to retrieve our files one-by-one; I envision him bespectacled and befuddled, like the absent-minded professor or ancient librarian who really should retire. I see him looking around for things (my files!) saying, “Here—is this it? or how about this one? Sorry I’m taking so long, I’ve got a bad hip, you know…..”

We have waited ten years for the technology and the greatness that is New Computer. I suppose we can wait a few more days.

(“Machinist Or Virtuoso?”)

Friday, December 17, 2010

259. Why I Can Never Twitter

Oh, so many reasons. Where do I begin? First of all, I don’t have a special device for twitting like a blueberry or iPanda or anything like that. Second, and most importantly, I am not a movie star/ nor Hollywood wannabe who actually has a life others would want to monitor every 15 minutes. My life might be, uh, a bit of a snoozer for the uninitiated.

Just for kicks, let’s compare and contrast Tori Spelling’s Typical Day a la twitter with MOV’s Typical Day. (Go ahead and guess which one sounds like more fun.)

Tori: 6:45 AM ___________________ (still sleeping)
MOV: running around like a crazy person trying to get breakfast/ laundry/ kids up/ kids dressed/ homework done/ everyone out the door in time for school bus.

Tori: 9 AM Hi Guys! Just roled out of bed, decided not to sleep in today after all. Meeting persnel traner/ yoga instructer in a few couple minutes. First, a big cup of herbal tea (from Paris!).
MOV: just polished off 3rd double espresso after doing 8th load of laundry—already behind. None of the socks are in the right pairs. = (   

Tori: 11 AM Now I’m at Fred Segal trying on skinny jeens—they’re all too big! LOL. My hubby tells me I should get some custim-made, looks like he’s right.
MOV: Crying tears of desperation as I remove fat jeans from dryer and realize they have shrunk from extra-hot setting. I do not have time to go to Target to buy more.

Tori: 2 PM Geting ready to meet up with my agent, she will let me know if we’re on target for my newest book’s sales! (last 2 were on NY Timz Best Seller List!)
MOV: Scrambling to finish buying groceries and running errands before kids get home. Dawns on me that Tall left his homework about New York on the dining room table. Again.

Tori: 4 PM Tragidy struck. Evening part-time nany. Called in sick. Not realy sure I believe her her. This sucks becuz wer’e supposed to go to Gala Red Carpet event tonite in a few hours.
MOV: Kids just got off the bus. I have a little time with them to play and do a snack (hey! who spilled something red on the carpet?) before I have to zip out the door to my part-time job at the high-end kitchen store.

Tori: 6 PM Hubby’s mom saves the day. Coming over to babysitter. Thank God. I'll show her what we have in the kitchen to make for the kids’ dinner later.
MOV: Late for work again.

Tori: 9:30 PM The evening is just getting started and we have been doing vodka shots! So much fun!
MOV: We are open late for holiday hours; I’m not having fun—feel like I’ve been shot.

Tori: 11 PM Yikes! Just realised forgot to reschecule my manicure apptmt with Misty for tomorow!
MOV: Yikes! Just realized I have to get up and do all this over again tomorrow!

Okay, other than the fact that Tori has atrocious spelling and grammar (really, Tori? Your book is on the New York Times Best Seller List and you can’t be bothered to spell “Times” correctly?), I’d say she’s leading the more glamorous life today. So she can twit all she want, and I will just keep my thoughts where they belong: to myself.

P.S. Of note: I looked up “twit” in the dictionary and it's defined as “a reproach or taunt”. Sounds about right.

(“My Only Victory”)

258. Numerology

So I have this little hobby called “Numerology”. To the outside (read: uneducated) world, it seems very similar to astrology in that you can just blame stuff on it (“Of course she’s manipulative: she’s a Scorpio” or “What do you expect? 5’s are just gossipy”).

Oh, no, my friend. Numerology is much more scientific than that. Your birthday numbers add up (for example, January 5, 1962 would be 1 + 5 + 1 + 9 + 6 + 2 = 24, and then you reduce one more time with 2 + 4 = 6) and that number value represents a specific trait. Also, your name can be broken down into number values (A = 1, B= 2 and so on) and then those “letters”, after being converted to numbers, can be added up.

Once my girlfriends find out this little sideline fun thing I do, they all want in. It’s like I sell Tupperware or MaryKay, but without charging for it. Do my numbers! Please please please!

And so I do. I do The Boss’s numbers at work (she has a 4 and a 5 in her chart, which work against each other, so sorry!) and NeighborMom’s numbers (she has a 9 which is humanitarian, God love her), and somehow the UPS guy found out I do numbers (I blame NeighborMom) and so I got roped into doing his too (he’s a 2, which means team player).

Darling’s mom (Coach) is intrigued. She doesn’t want to appear too interested in “that crazy stuff”, and yet she keeps asking me about it. Come on, Coach, it’ll be fine: I’ll do your numbers. I can even tell you what to expect in the coming year (hard work, love, money, etc.) by analyzing the numbers in your personal chart.

I don’t charge people for this; it’s just for fun. I spend a lot of time helping other people have “fun” without me getting paid anything.

Coach emails me all her crucial information for me to do her chart: full name on her birth certificate (not married name), plus exact birthday including year. At this point (going on 10 years now), I have all the numerology basics memorized. Coach happens to have quite a lovely chart, full of master numbers.

I send her a follow-up email: “Coach, I have almost everything I need to complete your chart. You forgot to give me the rest of your numbers though. As soon as possible, can you please email your social security number and all your bank account numbers, and oh, yeah, your secret passwords. Thanks!”

My own chart shows this will be a lucrative year for me.

("Mathematics? Ordinary Vice")

Thursday, December 16, 2010

257. You're So Photogenic!

So I take good pictures. I don’t mean I'm a good photographer (although I'm that too), I mean 99% of the time I am smiling and look pretty for photos. We’re talking Christie Brinkley here—in pictures, there is no bad angle for MOV. This is a huge disconnect, because I do not actually look like that in real life.

(what I look like in photos:  see below)

It has gotten to the point where people come over and ask, “Why do you have your sister’s wedding photos everywhere? And wow, your sister is gorgeous!” I say, that 11 x 14 bridal photo on the fireplace mantle? That’s me! And then they laugh and say, “Uh…… no. Really?” (long uncomfortable pause), “Uh, but you look so beautiful in that photo and in real life, you……well, I guess you’re just very photogenic.” (This, as we all know, is code for: you look like a slob in person.)

There I am, sporting sweatpants, a messy ponytail, and no mascara; honestly I can understand the confusion. It’s like being at the movies and the voices are out of sync with the actors’ mouths; it’s disconcerting.

(what I look like in real life:  see photo below)

The Husband does not share my little problem. Oh, no. The Husband is 6’4”, and somehow, whoever happens to take his photo (not me, remember I said I was a good photographer) manages to insert a strategically placed tree or lamppost or tall building or flagpole so it appears to be growing out of his head. In. Every. Shot. We now call them his “hats”.

Which begs the question: will our sons’ photos be a hybrid—smiling and looking beautiful while scaffolding grows out of their heads?

(“Manipulating Optimum Vision”)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

256. Short's Friend

So Short’s little friend Darling is over. Darling is a girl, and a girly-girl at that (let’s just say when her mom goes down the Pink Aisle at Target, she does a few u-turns and goes back up and down it maybe five more times). Feather boas. Sparkly tiaras. Dorothy glitter slippers. These are some of the more mundane, the more “normal” clothing options in Darling’s wardrobe.

The problem is: Short likes Darling. A lot. Not in the I-want-to-marry-you-when-I-grow-up way, but more in the how-would-I-look-in-a-ballerina-skirt-just-like-you way.

This is difficult for me to reconcile. Don’t get me wrong, my son is all-boy. Soccer. Mud. Cars. Lego's. Hitting. Punching. And that’s all before breakfast. It’s just that Darling intrigues him, and her luminescent pink world beckons. (To be fair, Darling is happy to try on Short's world of pirate get-ups and dissecting dead grasshoppers in the basement.)

The Husband comes home from work, and Short is wearing nail polish (again). The Husband is used to Short’s weekly playdates with Darling, so he merely shrugs and says, “Oh, purple now. That’s a nice color.”

Later, Short and I are at the toy store Christmas shopping. He’s entranced with StarWars paraphernalia, but a HelloKitty purse momentarily catches his eye. He stops to pet the fuchsia-colored sequin and satin bag.

“Mommy?” he begins innocently. I hold my breath and wait. “I think Darling would love this.  Can we please buy it for her?”


255. Plans

So my dear friend Sammi is over for coffee and she’s telling me that her mom is having knee surgery tomorrow and that her dad is in an assisted living facility because he's elderly and having trouble caring for himself. Then, Sammi tells me that on Christmas Day, she will drive over to pick up both her parents so they can spend the special holiday with Sammi and her husband and kids.

I am nodding, sympathetic, because I care about Sammi and I feel bad that Sammi has to drive and schlep all over the place on December 25th (which also happens to be Sammi’s birthday, no Sammi is not a metaphor for Jesus, at least I don’t think she is). Who wouldn’t rather be curled up in front of the fireplace, wearing their pajamas, sipping hot cocoa, and relaxing while opening gifts than driving all over freezing (possibly snowy) Crazy Town on a legal holiday?

Then Sammi throws a conversational grenade, which explodes in my face and has my heart racing. She says, “So that’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow.”

Gaaaaaaahhhhhh! Tomorrow is Christmas! How did this happen?! Yikes! I have to fly to California to visit my mom and I need to print out my ticket and I think my printer's broken or out of ink and I haven't even packed yet and where is my suitcase and I still need to do laundry first and I must finish wrapping all the presents and maybe I should buy some presents first to wrap, oh no, where did the time go, I can’t believe tomorrow is Christmas!

That is what Crazy MOV’s brain is saying. What Calm Cool Collected MOV (CCC) actually says is, “What exactly will you be doing again tomorrow, Sammi?” CCC MOV smiles complacently and casually and cautiously while waiting patiently for the answer. Deep breath, CCC MOV, deep breath.

Sammi (who must think that I am partially deaf), is happy to repeat herself (she has two small children, so she is used to explaining things 500 times without getting mad): “Taking my mom to surgery. That way, she can recover at home for the next week, and then in 10 days, on Christmas, she will be okay to go in the car to my house.”

Tomorrow is not Christmas after all. That's the best Christmas gift I could hope for.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

254. Bank

So I'm at the bank cashing a check for $80.  The teller asks if I would like that back in twenties.  I say, "No, I'd prefer hundreds please." 

He went away for a while and was talking to the bank vice-president.  I think I might be on the "Watch List" for Bank of America now. 

("Mustn't Offend Vice-president")

253. The Blog

So one strange thing that happens to me all the time is: friends will come up to me at the kids’ bus stop/ work/ a party/ wherever and say, “I just read your latest blog. It was really really funny! So, uh,” (long pause here), “who writes it for you?”

Who writes it for me? What does that even mean? I write it!

Once I set them straight, they start backpedaling and end up saying something like, “Well, it’s just that, you know, your writing is very funny, and you’re………. not.”


It’s true though. I am probably the most unfunny person you could meet. That’s why writing is perfect for me because I can ruminate and edit and revise until I get it exactly the way I want. Can you imaging a real life situation like that? Where, similar to the Three Little Pigs, you try three different scenarios in a row and see which one gets the best results (hopefully without having your house destroyed and being eaten by a wolf)?

I think of witty things to say after the fact. Not 2 minutes later, nor 2 hours later. No. More like 2 days.

I ran into an acquaintance the other day and she asked if my younger son still went to St. Religion Preschool (he doesn’t). “No,” I responded, “he’s in public school now, and I actually don’t have to drive him anymore, so it saves me a lot of time.” Then she followed up with, “Don’t you miss the spiritual aspect, though?”

To which I had no answer.

Later, I realized I could have said, “It’s okay, Linda, my son witnesses my great appreciation for the Lord every day as the school bus pulls up in front of my house and I say, ‘Thank God the bus is here and I don’t have to drive, Praise the Lord, Thank you Jesus!

Which would have been better than that blank look on my face, the same blank look my friends and neighbors are used to seeing and secretly wondering about, “Is MOV, you know, slightly mentally impaired? She just seems, uh, I don’t mean it in a bad way, but, uh…… slow.  And her kids?  Were they, possibly, adopted?  because they are very very bright.”

Maybe it just skips a generation. 

("Mother's Our Victim")

252. The Habit

The Husband doesn’t know what to make of my near-constant blogging.  He sees me disappear up to the study to get on the computer, and then he says, “Are you blogging again?”  But he says the word “blogging” with the same disdain someone might say “stealing” or “shooting up heroin”.   

(where is the rest of this blog? are you kidding me? I was lucky I could get the Antique Computer to allow me to type three sentences, I'm really pushing it with the postscript.)

251. Random Thought Time

I like spontaneity...... as long as it's planned.

("More Original Verses")

Monday, December 13, 2010

250. Crazed Day Of The Mini-Blogs

Read carefully, that says “Mini”, not “Miami”. I know, I know, you were probably hoping it said Miami, and let’s be honest, so was I (‘cause I do love Miami…). Okay, so here’s the deal. The Husband broke down and said, “Sweetie, let’s buy the new computer, my Christmas bonus will be here soon enough—come on, let’s do it!” I was feeling spontaneous and carefree (much like that time I had the hairdresser cut 11 inches off my long blonde hair, “why not?” My next-door neighbor has a bob, and it works on her…. I looked like a boy, and not a very attractive one at that). But I digress.  So. Computer is back-ordered. Will be here in January. Translation? We must coax and cajole the Dino-Vintage-Antique Computer into working for just a liiiiiitle bit longer (youcandoityoucandoityoucandoit!).

What does all this rambling mean? Alas, in the mean time, I am so fearful that the computer (“C” for short) will die at any moment (like when the red light comes on your car saying you need gas? and you ignore it?), that I thought I would write a quick itty-bitty (won’t take up much memory, C, I promise!) series of mini-blogs on various topics that are swarming around in my dyslexic brain.

Okay, here goes. Santa. Is Santa a Virgo? I thought he might be, because you would have to be insanely organized to pull off that sort of one-night madness, but when I Googled the phrase “Is Santa Claus a Virgo?” guess what? Zero results. I didn’t know it was physically cyberly possible to have zero results, unless, uh, you misspelled something (it is “Sanat Claus”, right?). And even if you did misspell a word, Google is oh-so-helpful and will provide what it thinks you might have meant (Dummy).
Yeah, yeah, Santa. Where was I. Here’s why he’s not Virgo: no self-respecting Virgo in his or her right mind would let 327 small children (many with colds and/ or lice) sit on his lap over and over and over at the mall all day long (did I mention lice?). Could you see Virgo Santa: “Sure, Connor, I will get you that Lego set….. hey Stephanie, can you get me some more of that Purex hand-sanitizer, please? Pronto?”

Next topic: my Good Morning Notes-To-Self. Last week, “get sled”, yesterday TRUCK, and today I glance at the list and see “Caroll”. People, I can’t make this stuff up. First of all, I absolutely do not know anyone named Caroll, and if I did, I assure you she wouldn’t spell her name this dumb way (oops, I think I just lost one “follower”, sorry Caroll!). So I stare at the name Caroll and wonder if I am supposed to meet friends to go Christmas caroling? Or if I have a haircut appointment with some new hair stylist named Caroll? The Husband is getting tired of me asking for his interpretations, so I have stopped pestering him. Hmmmmm. Caroll. Car—oll. Hmmm. Oh! Car oil! Need to get my car oil changed! (I feel like I just won the bonus round of Jeopardy, “For $800, what is Caroll?”).

Last mini-blog topic of the day: Buy Everything I Say. By now, if you have read even 3 or 20 of my last few blogs, you know that I work at a high-end kitchen store (is it quite possibly the one you are thinking of? yes). I'm working many many more hours than I typically do, because of the holiday demand (everyone seems to want a Spaceman spatula for Christmas or possibly a dual-purpose cherry-pitter/ olive-pitter). Here’s the thing: the customers where I work like to buy whatever the heck I suggest. I. Don’t. Get. It. Snowman Sugar Dumplings? I’ll take two! Reindeer Raisin-ettes Imported From France? How much? An espresso maker that also will also bake a chicken? Here's my MasterCard!

I must be a very good salesperson. I hear this a lot, from The Boss, from my co-workers, and from the victims customers themselves. That MOV! You should really promote her! She knows how to sell! What is my secret? I talk to the customers exactly the way I talk to my friends. If someone is looking at the Popsicle Magic Fun Kit, I will tell them not to get the Accessory Package. If a customer is looking at the “Universally-Loved Sugar Cookie Mix”, I will tell them to read the ingredients (uh, that would be sugar, flour, and vanilla—just $17, please!). I will tell them to buy the recipe book “The Joy of Cookies” instead. On the other hand, if the shopper is eye-balling Le Creuset, I will practically do a little dance of joy to let them know this is a wise purchase.

Complete strangers don’t feel pressured with me. They feel like I'm being honest with them, because I am. But if I really love a product, and it's $500, get ready to part with your wallet. I’ll make you want it, because who doesn’t need a gold-spray-painted 4-gallon Kitchen Aid Soup Dispenser right now this very second?

(Disclaimer: that is not a real product. Please do not call the high-end kitchen store and ask us to put one on hold for you.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

249. Advice

In addition to my normal duties of eating bon-bons, bossing small children around, and getting caught up on TiVo’d episodes of TopChef and Project Runway, I have become somewhat known in my circle of friends for my design ability. Seriously. I am very very good at picking out paint colors and art and coffee tables and lamps. I’m also good at rearranging furniture, to the point where it’s not at all unusual for me to receive a breathless voicemail saying, “MOV, it’s me. Call me back right away because we are having a Couch Crisis—should the couch be facing the window or centered on that right wall? and if we do that, then where should the TV go?”

When this little mini-phenomenon started occurring about a year ago, The Husband (understandably) was shocked: “You mean Kelsey had you come over and tell her what color to paint her kitchen? and then she actually painted it that color?  The color YOU suggested?”

Yes, Dear, that’s right: people invite me into their homes, ask my opinion, and listen to my advice. Amazing.

So it comes as no surprise when I receive this email yesterday from my friend Sandra while I’m at work at the high-end kitchen store:

I wanted to get your opinion on my powder room on the main level. Right now there is a mixture of finishes on the metal. The light fixture is brushed nickel, the faucet is stainless, the tp holder and towel ring are brass. I am replacing the towel ring and tp holder and also getting a new mirror. Should they be brushed or stainless? And if I go brushed should I replace the faucet to match? For the mirror I am also considering one framed in mahogany that matches the sink top (vanity?). Or should the mirror be silver-framed, too?
Thanks a mil, Sandra”

I’m getting stressed out just reading this. It reminds me of one of those unsolvable word problems from junior high algebra class: if the train leaves the station at 2:30 PM and is traveling at 75 mph and must go 800 miles, and the plane leaves the adjacent airport at 10 PM and is flying at 500 mph to the same destination, who will get there first (please remember to show your work)?

Trains. Planes. Faucets. Mahogany mirrors. How should I know? But since Sandra is a good friend, and I don’t want to leave her hanging, I decide to help her. I get out my special little Virgo notebook (read: post-it notes) and draw a quick sketch. Shiny. Matte. Silver. Nickel. Stainless. The words are flying around in my brain, crashing into one another. Whattodowhattodowhattodo.

As if from Divine Intervention, the answer comes to me.

“Dear Sandra,” I type back, “After giving your design dilemma much thought and consideration, I have come up with a recommendation: spray paint it all gold. Love, your pal, MOV.”

("My Other Venture")

Saturday, December 11, 2010

248. Captain Of The Bus

So my first-grader comes home from school on Thursday afternoon and announces gleefully, “I am the Bus Captain!” Since I have no clue what this means or what it entails (must I immediately bake eight dozen cookies for the Riders Of The Bus?), I try my best to gauge his level of excitement (pretty close to 10). “Yay, Tall! How cool is that! Uh, what does Bus Captain, uh, you know, DO, exactly?”

He looks at me like I’m stupid (it’s okay, I’ve seen this look before….. he’s a teen-ager in 7-year-old’s skin). “Mooooommmmmmm. Bus. Captain.” He says it slowly, with emphasis on the “Captain” part. “I’m in charge of the bus. If a kid, for example, sticks his head out of his seat,” this is accompanied by a physical demonstration of him craning his neck far to the side, “then I would say their name, like, ‘Hey, Morgan! Put your head back in your seating area!’ Or, if someone would stand up before we stopped?  Then I would tell them to sit down.  Understand, Mom? I have, like, a job.”

He smiles now, a broad smile, proud of himself.

“A job!” I play along, “So how much are they paying you, then? $5?”

Big exasperated sigh. Eye roll. “No. I don’t get paid paid, it’s enough pay to just be Bus Captain.” His face lights up again as he relishes his new title, the way others might relish their titles of “CEO of Coca-Cola” or “Winner of Oscar Award, Category: Best Actor” or “President of the United States of America”.

“Cool. When did you get this, uh” (for lack of a better word), “promotion from bus rider to Bus Captain?” I ask, truly interested.

“Today. The driver, her name is Miss Lori, said that I could be the Bus Captain starting this week.” Smug.

Now I’m realizing that this is, in fact, not a voted-for position nor even a well-maybe-you-could-be-qualified position. No. This is a rotating let’s-be-fair-to-all-first-graders position. Tall will be demoted next week. I wonder if he’s aware of that.

“For how long?” I inquire.

“Forever.” He beams.

“No.” I correct.

“Yes!” Angry now.

“No.” Sympathetic.

“Mom. Why do I even bother to tell you things? I! Am! Bus! Captain!”

Geesh, MOV, why does he even bother to tell you things? I need to let him bask in his special moment. The brilliant bus driver has obviously found a (legal?) way to harness the tattle-tale tendencies of 7-year-olds. More power to her. She found a job that she no longer wanted to do, and gave it to a small child, and now he is (clearly) savoring it. I should figure out how to do the same.

“Tall?” I begin, tentatively, “How would you like to be Captain Of The Laundry?”


Friday, December 10, 2010

247. TRUCK?

So you wake up in a bleary haze at 6:45 AM and the first thing you notice is the word “TRUCK” printed neatly in indelible ink on your left hand, in (this is the scary part) your own handwriting. You scan the gazillions of yellow post-it notes scattered throughout your brain for a tiny clue. While this (unsuccessful) scanning is taking place, you hear your husband walking out the front door to drive off to work in the TRUCK.

Obviously, there is something critical about TRUCK, so you call out to him in desperation. “Hey! Hey YOU!” you say with the identical love and sweetness you demonstrated when you recited your wedding vows a decade ago, “You can’t take the TRUCK, I need it!”

You are standing in your pajamas (the flannel ones with the snow globes printed on them) at the front door now. You are lucky you caught him in time, what with the urgency of the mystery word TRUCK being written on your hand.

Your husband does not ask why. He merely shrugs and swaps keys with you (he is quite used to your early-morning riddles by now).

Satisfied, you watch him drive off in your car. You hold in your right hand the keys to the (crucial) TRUCK. You look at your husband’s goofy key-chain of an iguana, a gift from your older son.

You sink into a chair, reading the word on your hand once more, like it might have morphed into BANK when you weren’t looking: TRUCK. You start to say it in your brain over and over again, like a Mantra: TRUCK TRUCK TRUCK.

You stare at the letters, which resemble some sort of late-night dance Club’s secret stamp. You did not go out dancing after work last night, and if you did, it was not at a place called TRUCK.

Sometimes, you make your husband drive your car to work so he can put gas in it. But if that were the case on this day, wouldn’t you have just written “GAS”? Other times, there is a shifting of children’s car-seats for whatever reason. Again, wouldn’t it have been easier to just write “CARSEAT”? Do you need to get the oil changed for the TRUCK? And this begs the question: why not simply scrawl “OIL”?

You marvel at how you can't remember why you wrote this word a mere ten hours ago, and yet you can still recall your childhood phone number (454-7388).  It's as if all those disconnected phone numbers have clogged up all the prime valuable real estate of your brain and there is no room left for anything new, such as TRUCK. 

You can’t focus on the “Puzzle of TRUCK” anymore as you have to get your two children out the door to school. You help them with their routine of breakfast and getting dressed and packing lunch and searching for homework. Your younger child, who knows his letters, helpfully point out that you have an important word on your hand. “This says TRUCK, Mommy,” says the helpful child, “You should wash it off.”

No, no, you will not wash it off, as it is the only (safe?) reminder of something so important that you could obviously not be trusted to remember it. The word must stay.

You feed your children cereal and banana, and the older child takes his spoon and mashes the banana in the bowl. “Why are you eating it that way?” you ask him. “I like the banana mashed,” he says, matter-of-factly.

The children finally leave, and you are left alone to ruminate.

Aha! You remember writing TRUCK on your hand while you were working last night at the high-end kitchen store. Okay, good, good, that’s a start, you think. You call work. Your mind has turned into a mashed banana and you desperately need a teeny bit of help at this point.

“Happy Holidays! Thank you for call—”

You cut her off so she doesn’t have to say her long speech, “Boss! It’s me! I’m sorry to bother you, but last night? For some reason, I—”

Now it’s her turn to cut you off. “Oh, thank God it’s you! Your giant empty crate is in the back, and we can’t even move it. What time will you pick it up? We really need it out of here, it’s blocking everything.”

You sigh a huge sigh of relief. Of course, your Highlander would never hold a crate, you absolutely need the TRUCK for the big flat crate. You tell your boss you’ll be right over with the TRUCK, you can get there in fifteen minutes.

That should be enough time to remember what the crate was for.

(“Mystery Of Vehicle”)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

246. Virgo, At It Again

So, yesterday, obsessive Queen Virgo decides it would be the perfect time to re-organize the linen closet for, like, the 585th time since we moved in last year. You know, in case Martha Steward drops by (again! call first, woman!) for an impromptu inspection.

Queen Virgo (QV) lovingly removes all the sheets (read: dumps them on the floor). She asks herself why she needs king size sheets when there are no beds that size in the house. Or crib sheets for that matter.

Time to purge. After what seems like 10 minutes in Virgo Land (but is actually 3 ½ hours in Normal People World), the task is complete. A box has been filled for the Goodwill, complete with old towels that QV is hoping The Husband will not miss too much. Other (normal) people might save these types of towels and perhaps recycle them into rags. Not QV. She is not messy (duh), so she does not need rags for any project or purpose.

You know what comes next. The story about the Radiator Guy. Yes, the Radiator Guy finally showed up to fix the leaky radiator. He is settling in, ready to earn his $800 for one hour of work. As I start back up the stairs and leave him in the basement (while I marvel that he makes more in one day then I make in a month, and why didn’t I go to Radiator School?), he calls out to me, “M’am? Excuse me, please?” (Radiator School taught him to be polite), “Do you have any rags or old towels, because I might need them if I have to drain the system.”

I turn around, not very happy with what my ears have just told my brain. Rags? You make, like $42 per minute, you can’t maybe buy some rags and bring them with you, Radiator Guy? What I say instead: no, I don’t think so.

He looks at me in disbelief. “I’m sure your husband has some?” he offers helpfully, “Maybe in the garage?” So now Radiator Guy knows the contents of my house and garage, and that I may or may not be married and that my Invisible Husband likes to store his plethora of rags in the garage.

“Nope.” I say, confidently. What I don’t say: Tall lost the garage key, and the only person who has an extra garage key is The Husband. Who is at work.

Radiator Guy is looking at me like I’m kooky (oh, so now he's doing personality evaluations in addition to his paid primary job of fixing radiators).

The pressure is getting to me. “I just remembered I do have some rags!” I say cheerfully. I walk over to the linen closet which is two feet from where we are standing and open it up. Beautiful rows of wool and cashmere blankets wink at me. Pristine neatly-stacked white towels say hello. Folded linen tablecloths from the high-end kitchen store wave. There are no rags.

In desperation, I grab the least important fabric thing in there: Tall’s beach towel (well, he did lose the garage key) and hand it to Radiator Guy. The towel is fluffy and green, and has only been used two summers. The towel screams out to me, “Noooooooo! This is a mistake! Put me back with embroidered picnic blanket! I’m too good for this!”

Radiator Guy takes one look at the towel. He, too, thinks the green towel belongs back in the perfect linen closet, but he says nothing.

Forty-five minutes later, he walks upstairs and says he's finished (I know I will be charged for the full hour, it’s in the Radiator School Beginner’s Manual). He says he left the towel downstairs next to the radiator.

After he leaves, I walk downstairs, afraid to see what I know will be a black greasy mess on the green towel. What will I say to Tall about his favorite beach towel? It was worn out? He’ll know that’s a lie.

I pick up the towel. It’s dry. It’s clean. There’s not a spot on it.

Radiator Guy must be a Virgo, too.

(“Manic Obsessive Virgo”)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

245. December Ritual

It’s that most wonderful time of year: the time we pretend we know the all the words to Christmas carols. “Angels we have heard on high, gently singing over the flame, Glo-o-o-o-o-ria, in excel spread-sheet…, leopards, we have heard, oh, hi! something-something hmmm, hmmm….” (this from the girl who was convinced that the lyrics Prince was singing for "Little Red Corvette" were actually "leave the rent, collect!").

The really tricky part for me is that my sister Oakley was blessed with the innate knowledge of not only how to carry a tune, but also a genius photographic memory so that she can glance (glance!) at the 5-page lyrics to a song and have it memorized within seconds. To this, I know she'd say, “MOV, that’s not true. The reason I know all those songs is because I was in choir, glee club, and the Aqua-Hello singing group in college, remember?” (Yeah, whatever, Oakley, this is my blog, not yours.)

So, as I was saying, when Oakley is in town, she has this “fun” idea that we (being my little family of four plus she and her husband) will all go Christmas caroling together. On the surface, I am loving the idea. Meet new neighbors! Make friends! Sing songs! Drink hot cocoa!

The reality is different than the romantic image. We have printed out the words to about six different songs, the sophisticated and technically advanced “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer” among them. The first two houses go well. Our friends pop out on their front porches, impressed and clapping. By the third house, I am realizing that 30 degree weather is not really that conducive to singing. I’m faking it that I’m happy and a good singer, all the while my sons are pulling on me and wanting to know if we’re done yet (did I mention this was only the third house?).

We get to the fourth house and my song sheets blow out of my hands. I follow them with my eyes (using the blonde logic: if I can still see them, then I can will them to drift right back to me). They stubbornly stick in some high tree branches. I am not getting my lyrics back any time soon.

The Husband, whose singing talent is on par with mine (read: non-existent) generously shares his song sheet.  Except it's the wrong song.  We muddle along, “Frosty the snowman, was a very jolly soul. With a corncob nose and a something pipe and two eyes made out of coal. Oh, Frosty the sandman…. uh, then one day he’s round. ….must’ve been some magic in the, uh, his head? he began to glance around!”

Now we are at the fifth (and final? Oh, God, let it be the final house, I can no longer feel my toes) house, my sister turns to me and says through clenched teeth, “MOV, if you don’t know all the words to a verse, try not to sing that part. You mess everyone else up.”

Ouch. There she goes, throwing that technical singing lingo at me, using words like "verse".  (And by the way, does this mean she just gave me a free pass to not sing at all?)

My son Short seems very confident in his singing ability, reaching for the high notes of Jingle Bells. “Jingle’s Bell, Jingle’s Bell, Jingle’s on the way! Oh what fun it is to slide in a fun horse's day!”

Oakley looks at Short and then back to me. She’s grinning, and then she mouths, “So cute!” I guess it is cute to not know the words.

When you’re four.

(“Maestro Or Virtuoso”)

244. Keeping Up Appearances

So I am deeply deeply in love and in a committed relationship with someone very special, someone I have been seeing for over 15 years. His name is Lawrence. My sister has met him. My mom knows about him. My husband looks the other way whenever I mention his name.  Everyone approves of my long-term happiness with my gay hairdresser.

Then tragedy struck. I moved from California, the Land Of The Great Blondes, to Crazy Town, Land Of Brunette’s Not That Bad. I tried over and over and over to cheat on poor Lawrence, but I just couldn’t do it. My former (Gwyneth) tresses withered from neglect and turned an unfortunate mousy grayish-blonde with heavy roots and straggly split-ends.

Every opportunity I had to visit Lawrence oops I mean my family in California, I would try to sneak in a quickie with Lawrence (“For God’s sake Lawrence, we don’t have time for a cut or deep conditioning, just do a few highlights and get it over with!”). He was understanding, compassionate even. Every six months or so, he’d call my mom (who lived so close to his salon she could practically hear his pet poodle barking) and say, “Darling, how are you? Do you know if your beautiful daughter MOV will be in town soon, I’m sure she’d want to get together?” (Honestly, how can you not love a man like this?)

Alas, ticket prices to California skyrocketed (well, maybe they went up 3% or so). I could no longer afford to fly out on a whim just to see Lawrence my mom. And with Lawrence’s prices being equivalent to a car payment (a very nice car, think BMW), my hair sank to the bottom of the priority list (right after “buy new sled”).

I had no choice. I had to find someone new, someone local, who could work with yellow hair, someone who wouldn’t scoff and say, “That is just not a color found in nature” like my college boyfriend used to say (I dyed my hair copper penny red for him—talk about a color not found in nature). I asked around. I accosted complete strangers on the street (“Ilikeyourhairwhodoesit?”). Finally, I met a neighbor named Margaret who had the perfect-bouncy-blonde-Reese-Witherspoon vibe.

Margaret took one look at my weak excuse for a hair style and eagerly recommended her hairdresser with the same zeal that I recommend Lawrence. This could work.

After a long drive into the Big City, and a pocket full of crisp ATM-pressed Ben Franklins, I arrived at Salon Perfecta. The girls who worked there looked like they had just stepped off the catwalks of Milan. A petite attractive redhead named Jane introduced herself and politely took the magazine photos I had brought with me, as if she did not know who Gwyneth and Reese and Cameron were. She laughed a cute laugh and said with heavy sarcasm, “I can certainly do this color. After all, these movie stars are my clients.” Funny funny Jane. I knew we would get along because she had a wry sense of humor.

After I micromanaged her every highlight (“Uh, Jane? more tinfoil for the bangs, okay?”), she handed me the mirror. The salon was living up to its name. After I paid the front desk girl (more than the rent on my first apartment—for a year), I smiled and ran my fingers through my gorgeous white-blonde tresses. When I walked out the front door, a nice blonde lady was walking in at the same time and held it for me.

It was Reese Witherspoon.


243. Pumpkins

Is it considered bad form to have cute little pumpkins arranged all over your front porch on December 8th?  Do you think the Neighborhood Holiday Police will write me a citation ("M'am, we noticed there was not a single turkey-themed element in November and we let it slide, but now we've been alerted that you're avoiding holly and jingle bells, is there a problem?")?  Would it be acceptable to just put little Santa hats on the pumpkins?


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

242. Judgey

Today’s “Word of the Day” is judgey.  (I know this is not an actual real word, and in fact, I cannot claim credit for this masterpiece of a word as indeed I stole it from cyberspace from a virtual friend.)  This is a great term for a variety of purposes. Sometimes, I find myself acting judgey (I cannot beleeeeve she let her toddler go outside with no coat again!). More often, I am on the receiving end of people being judgey (“Nice top”, but said in such a way that it is quite clear it is not a nice top after all).

Judgey people are mean (well, I don’t mean that I am mean, I’m not mean). Judgey people are, uh, judgmental. They need to stop judging others (and their cute new tops) and maybe look in the mirror at themselves (and their own tops, which they may or may not have spilled ketchup on).

Honestly, who has the time to go around being judgey (well, I guess I did, when I was in my 20’s; but now that my “Decade of Insecurity” is over, and my “Decade of Having Children” is over, I can finally concentrate on my new adventure: the “Decade of I-Don’t-Have-Time-To-Wash-My-Own-Hair-Let-Alone-Worry-About-Your-Hair”).

What is with the constant competition? “My kid is soooooo smart, he’s reading at, like, a 10th grade level” (oh, wait, I said that).

We are all doing the best we can. As my mother likes to say, “No one gets up in the morning and thinks ‘Hmmm, I’ll try to do a bad job today.” We need to embrace one another as flawed individuals and try to help and/ or learn without trying to make the other person feel bad. Who benefits if the other person feels bad (besides his/ or her new therapist)?

From now on, I'm going to refrain from saying anything that could be construed as catty. Furthermore, I am going to make every effort to avoid even thinking catty or derogatory thoughts (this will be the true test; I will have to train myself to think “oh, look, it’s not raining” instead of “that dress is way too tight”).

And my first opportunity arrives on my doorstep at 9:45 AM—two new “friends” selling Jesus, and one is wearing an ill-fitting dress oh look, it’s not raining out.

(“Must Observe Virtues”)

241. Get New Sled

So this morning I’m looking over my lengthy “To Do” list, and I see the following:
  • Go to post office, mail L’s package
  • Fill Tall’s prescription
  • Write Christmas cards
  • Birthday present—Renee
  • Call Short’s teacher (RE: that kid who bites)
  • Call landscaper (RE: dying free)
  • Get new sled
  • Buy toothpaste
  • Register for Real Estate class 
Huh? New sled? Where did that come from?

I scan my (limited) brain space. Is it supposed to snow today? Did someone mention that there was a sale on sleds? Is our old sled broken? Why the urgency all of a sudden for “new sled”? Isn’t “buy toothpaste” perhaps a little more pressing?

I get busy. I do indeed mail L’s package (although I realize once in the post office parking lot that I had neglected the minor detail of actually bringing the package with me, so I had to go back home and get it). At one point in the day, I consider writing the Christmas cards. I even go so far as to locate the cards.

But sled? Sled does not get crossed off the list.

When The Husband gets home from work, I say, “Hey, Hon, can you look at my list? What is this thing here about me buying a sled? Do you remember us talking about a sled? Do we really even need one, or do you think that could wait a while?”

The Husband is just putting down his coat and work folders. “What are you rambling about? Okay, let me see your list.” His eyes are scanning. “Who is the kid that bites? Do you mean Tony?”

“Of course Tony. But I’m not talking about that. Here,” pointing at Get-new-sled, “Sled. Why do I have to buy a new sled?”

He squints. He holds the paper far away. He holds the paper close to his face, like he is testing for authenticity. “It doesn’t say ‘sled’. I think it says ‘sched’.” He looks up at me, proud of his detective skills.

Sched! Of course sched! I need to call the high-end kitchen store to get my new schedule. I’ll do that right after I call my landscaper about that free that seems to be dying in our backyard.


Monday, December 6, 2010

240. Catch

So I’m standing on the front porch, shouting to The Husband, “Hey! You took my keys—I need them back!” He turns around and (with no warning whatsoever) tosses them in the air a good 30 feet to me. I effortlessly catch them.

This happens all the time. Tall will be coming home from school and he found some sort of special rock he wants me to see, “Here, catch!” Short is walking down to the basement with one more dirty sock for the laundry, “Heads up, Mommy!”

At the high-end kitchen store, my co-workers will toss tin containers of hot chocolate at me or plastic jars of turkey brine or tubes of decorating icing or neatly-folded linen tablecloths. No problem.

The reason this is so miraculous to me is: it wasn’t always this way. As a child, I was very klutzy. Even if a (light) ball was tossed (gently) directly into my hands, I would miss it. I would watch in horror as the ball would roll far away from me, mocking (“I'm over here, Miss Coordinated!”).  It's like I just could not make the simple connection of having my eyes see the ball, radio that information to my brain, and have my brain relay that data to my hands in time.  The hands that dropped everything seemed to belong to someone else, not me.  When the ball would (inevitably) drop, I was always surprised:  how could this have happened (yet again)?

In school, I was the last one chosen (shocking, I know) for any type of team thing where a ball or ball-like object might be involved. Luckily, there are so very very few sports involving tossing/ throwing/ hitting/ kicking/ catching a ball or reasonable facsimile (only baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, badminton, volleyball, hockey, basketball, water polo, ping-pong, dodgeball, kickball, Frisbee, golf). Nope, this barely affected my life at all. In fact, there were a plethora of sports to choose from that involved no ball whatsoever (namely cross-country running—easy for me, as I would just mentally picture myself running away from the ball).

As I got older, the Curse Of Not Knowing How To Catch followed me. Drop my sweater out of my backpack and a nice teacher tosses it a mere three feet to my waiting hands? Floor. On a date and my lipstick rolls out of my purse under the table and my date tosses it back? Lands on my foot. Kind clerk at the grocery store attempting to hand me the roll of towels that slipped away? Come on, why bother? 

This all changed one day when I turned 35. I don’t know if the stars and moons and planets aligned differently than they had for the previous 34 years, but somehow someway (I am not questioning my good luck here), I could suddenly catch ANYTHING. It became my new Super Power. Balls, pucks, Frisbees, oranges, umbrellas, tote bags—if you could throw it, I could catch it.  (And the necessary corollary of throwing perfectly and having said object land in the intended spot? yes, I simultaneously acquired this fabulous skill as well.)

Honestly, I give credit to this phenomenal development to my body, which, after 34 long years of practicing, just finally got it right.

Doesn’t help me much now, though. All those people I would’ve desperately wanted to impress years ago on the playground have grown up and moved away. And no talent scouts are stalking me, waiting to see me catch some keys.

(“Mom’s Our Victor!”)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

239. A Slice Of History

So I’m standing in the living room of our first President, and the whole time I’m thinking, huh, I would arrange the furniture differently.

The Husband and I made the trek with our two sons to tour George Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon. At Christmas time, they put on a special evening candlelight tour complete with actors in period garb, which we thought would be spectacular.

It was. If only I wasn’t daydreaming the whole time about where to buy that dental molding they used in the study. And, is the secretary desk original (and if not, where can I buy one just like it)? or, who chose that obnoxious shade of turquoise for the dining room? better yet: I love those high ceilings, I want those.

All the time, I’m vaguely aware of someone talking (a guide?), saying Important Historical Things, things like “1797” and “Potomac River” and “Valley Forge” and “blah blah blah history something-or-other” while I am mentally blocking him out thinking “yes, I would like to live on a river……I would use a different kind of patio chair though…..”.

Is it rude to simply nod along and pretend you’re listening? I ask this because so much of my day-to-day life depends on that: Nod-nod-nod:  

“I said that is a Carmel Macchiato and you ordered an extra-hot latte: it’s not yours,”
“Your husband already picked up the dry cleaning, I don’t have that ticket number,”
“M’am, I said you owe $43 in late fees to Crazy Town Library and we do accept credit cards. Hellooooo?”

I walk around Mt. Vernon in awe. I am in awe of the architecture, but mostly I am in awe that the kitchen is set apart from the main house. No. Kitchen. In. The. House. In case you don’t know what that means, I will spell it out for you: no Haagen Daz at midnight (I mean, really, is life even worth living at that point?).

We walk out of the grand house. I turn to my two sons and see their smiling faces. I can practically witness The History creeping into their impressionable brains. We are just outside the mansion now and I turn to Tall to verify that he has absorbed the full scope of exactly where we are and what it means (the home of our first President, the founder of Democracy and the Free World). He turns to me, and in my Greatest Moment, a moment when I truly truly know that he is indeed my son, he says,

“Mom? Where's the gift shop?”

(“Mt. Otherworldly Vernon”)