Wednesday, November 30, 2011

589. Famous Author Writes To Me

So, not sure if I mentioned it or anything, but I wrote a book. The other day, I was thinking about all the people that had inspired me to write in the first place, and I kept circling back to this one really famous humor author. She has written about a dozen books, all on the NY Times best seller list. She uses ten dollar bills as coasters.

Anyhow, I was thinking (okay, I was drinking) and I thought, I should maybe email her! Yeah! Great idea! She has never met me, but I will offer to send her my book and maybe it will make her laugh!  And then we can be famous author friends!  And we can drink lattes together and laugh about how successful we are and how famous!  

Then Smart Part of my brain spoke up (this doesn’t happen often, so I did try to listen): “MOV, you have never even met Famous Author You Idolize, she might view it as cyber-stalking so I think it would be best to—”

This was right when that third (okay, fourth) glass of Chardonnay kicked in, so I clicked SEND.

I was really feeling woozy (what with it being Thanksgiving and all, did I mention I harassed Famous Author on Thanksgiving? No? I left that part out, oh well), so I went to bed and took a quick little cat-nap and promptly forgot all about Famous Author and my “Hi I want to be your new best friend you are so great I love you and do you wanna read my new book? I hope I am as funny as you, or maybe as funny as your shoe.” That is not exactly word-for-word verbatim precisely what I wrote, but you get the gist.

She. Wrote. Back. Immediately.

It was totally not the restraining-order-type of email I am used to. It was friendly. See for yourself:

Dear MOV—
Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! Congrats on the book, it feels wonderful to accomplish something of that magnitude, doesn't it! Thank you for being so kind, and I am delighted if I had anything at all to do with your inspiration. If you'd like to send me the book, I'd be happy to get it, but I should tell you one thing right away, and that is that I don't offer any sort of critiques or anything like that. There is only one person who has to be happy with the book, and that's you--your name is on it. I learned a long time ago that if you're going to get rejected or fall flat or out and out fail, it had better be your failure and no one else's. I've had editors change punchlines and no one catches the shit for a bad joke with my name on it but me. If you're really looking to workshop it, although I'm not really a big believer in that, either, there are plenty of online groups and probably a writer's group in your area. But the last thing I will do is give advice. Ever. Because I could be wrong. Humor is very subjective. And you shouldn't lose out on something because I'm a dipshit. But if you like, you can send me the file over email to this address. I'm swamped with my own deadlines right now, and will be for some time, but hopefully I will have some down time soon. So if you want to send your book to someone who won't give you any feedback because it's against her religion, I'm your girl.
Have a great holiday,
Signed, Very Famous Author that you could figure out who it is by looking on my Acknowledgement Page

Ohmygod-ohmygod-ohmygod. I ran to the kitchen to find a paper bag to breathe into before I passed out. Tall walked in.

“What are you doing, Mommy?” His little face looked aghast.

“I can’t breathe. A really famous author wrote me back!”

His eyes lit up like Christmas lights when you first plug them in to test to make sure none are broken.

“Mom! Was it Mark Twain?!”

Mark Twain! Why would he say that?

I shook my head at him and replied, “Yes.”


Monday, November 28, 2011

588. Mom's Had A Rough Day

I have a very exciting announcement (drum roll please): I wrote a book. It was just released a few days ago. The title is “Mom’s Had A Rough Day” and it is available for purchase now on Amazon. It is an oversized, 240-page paperback with a slick cover, and it retails for $15. I am very, very proud of it.

MOV's book (on Amazon)

The book is a compilation of my favorite and funniest blog posts from the past year and a half. The book has a nice structure, and the essays are organized into a cohesive order that makes sense. The essays are polished and edited from how they first appeared in my blog.

I spent several months shopping my book proposal around to various agents and publishers in New York, to no avail. I became intimately acquainted with email rejection letters and their warm and fuzzy wording (“Thank you for your submission, but we regret to inform you that your project is not right for us. It might be right for someone else, but please do not ever contact us again.”). Then, being the obstinate person that I am, I said, “Ha! I don’t need them!” The Husband, being the realist that he is, said, “Uh, Hon? You kinda do need them. We don’t have any sort of printing press or anything, and I am not moving the canoe out of the garage to accommodate one you buy off Craig’s List.”

I was used to naysaying (see above: agents and publishers), so I didn’t let it get to me. Instead, I did what I always do when obstacles present themselves: poured myself a glass of wine and typed in “Google.”

Turns out, Amazon has a wonderful and affordable self-publishing program based in the USA called Create Space. I clicked the magic “select” key, and within minutes some hunky guy named Travis was on the phone with me explaining the services I’d just bought and how to submit my book.

Travis had a thick Southern drawl. “It’s already written, right? I mean, you’re ready to go?”

“Sure! I have a blog!” I squealed naively, as if a blog and book are exactly the same thing. “The essays are all written. I’ll give you the website.” I’m sure that Travis had never dealt with someone as organized as myself.

“Umm, Miss MOV, we can’t just copy and paste it in from your blog. You need to submit your manuscript in book form, with chapters and everything.”

I was getting the feeling that Travis was not going to be my new best friend, and in fact, might actually be in cahoots with The Husband.

I took lengthy and detailed notes on what Travis told me (“Format it”) and got right to work. My self-imposed deadline was to have the book available to sell by Christmas. Queen Virgo made sure that happened.

Click Amazon to be magically transported to Amazon, then type in “Mom’s Had A Rough Day” to read the description and buy my book. (As an added bonus, you finally get to find out my real name—my birth certificate doesn’t actually read “MOV”). I only need to sell 160 copies to break even on my initial investment. The books make wonderful Christmas presents, or doorstops for when you’re carrying in heavy groceries. Buy one for yourself, and maybe a couple extra for everyone you ever met.

Thank you for your support! I am excited to see what you think.


P.S. A book signing/ book launch party is scheduled for January 21 at a bookstore near me. I will announce details as we get closer, in case you happen to live in my area and want to attend. There might be cookies there.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

587. Virgo Vertigo

Can I trade in my Zodiac sign? All this Virgo perfection stuff is making me dizzy. I cannot just buy cupcakes for Tall’s birthday celebration at school, I have to bake the cupcakes myself. I can’t just use a grocery store mix, I have to bake them from scratch from a Martha Stewart recipe. One type of frosting? Please. My Virgo nature forces me to offer the options of chocolate or vanilla icing, and then decorate them in a kaleidoscope of swirly sprinkles.

My Virgo brain is not satisfied to merely volunteer for a supporting role for a fundraiser at my sons’ school. No. I must be in charge of the whole event. Who cares that my week-ends are gobbled up with drafting emails and making enough phone calls that my charger is perpetually plugged in? As long as Virgo has control, things will get done.

Virgos are overachievers.

Other signs sit back and soak it all in, wanting to help but being ever-so-slightly intimidated by the tornado of Virgo energy that silently swirls. Did you follow up on—of course. We need to do—already done. What about—check, check, and check-mate. No need to worry, Virgo will make it happen.

When I get tired of fundraising and volunteering and need a break, I go online to that website I heard about: After much thought and consideration, I fill out a formal request to officially rescind my Virgo status. I carefully study the other eleven signs searching for one without a penchant for extraneous commitments. I make a detailed spreadsheet of the pros and cons of the other Zodiac signs (the Virgo status has not been cancelled just yet). I write my obligatory five-page essay, explaining why another sign would be a better fit for me. As I am proofreading and editing, I am slightly alarmed to notice that three of my paragraphs start with the phrase, “I am exhausted.”

I am almost ready to submit my application. I drag the mouse and get ready to click on the one sign that might make my life a little less hectic: Procrastiquarius.

("Momentarily Over Virgo-ness")

Friday, November 25, 2011

586. Gift With Purchase

When I was in college in California, I worked briefly at the Clinique counter selling cosmetics at an upscale department store, I. Magnin. Clinique offered a promotional giveaway twice a year called Gift With Purchase, or GWP. If a customer spent a minimum amount, say $30, she would qualify for the “free” gift (a pink lipstick, sample-size hand lotion, pressed powder, waterproof mascara, and extra-emollient eye cream, all in a lovely cosmetics bag with a soothing green floral print) which would have a supposed value of $50.

Yesterday, I took my car to the repair shop because it was “making a funny noise.” I am not a big fan of funny noises, especially when they are coming from my primary mode of transportation. Sure enough, the mechanic called me several hours later to say, “Brakes. You need new brakes. That’ll cost $985.”

I wanted to throw down the phone in disgust and say, “Are you out of your mind—$985? Who has that kind of money just laying around? Brakes aren’t sexy, no one will even notice that I spent that much! If I got a fancy new watch for $985, I would at least get a lot of compliments! I refuse to pay it! It’s a rip off! I hate you!”

What I said instead, “That sounds great. Do you take American Express? And what time will the car be ready to pick up?”

I went over there exactly three hours later. The car was completely out of gas and filthy with empty water bottles, candy wrappers, and other random trash all over the inside, exactly as I’d left it.

The manager cheerfully swiped my credit card through the machine and I signed the receipt. I fondly thought back to my Clinique days, and wondered why the car repair shop did not fill up my tank or detail my car. $985 should get you a Gift With Purchase.

(“Mom’s Overpriced Vehicle”)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

585. Why Thanksgiving Is The Bestest Holiday Ever

I woke up this morning and said, Is today the day—is it Thursday yet? Alas, it was not. It was still dumb ol’ Wednesday, mocking me. Ha! said Wednesday, Fooled you again!

Bizarre dialogues with rude and unwanted filler days like Wednesday aside, I wanted to write a special post about Thanksgiving and why it is the premier holiday on the calendar.
  • New Year’s Day is all about hangovers and resolutions. Thanksgiving is all about dressing, pumpkin pie, and football. Point to: Thanksgiving.
  • Valentine’s Day focuses on if you have a love interest. Not Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving focuses on turkey. Point to: Thanksgiving.
  • St. Patrick’s Day is all about hanging out with friends, drinking beer, and wearing something green. Thanksgiving does not have a dress code (and I do not look good in green). I do like to hang out with friends and drink for no good reason though. Point to: Tie.
  • Easter celebrates Jesus, God, and cute bunnies. Thanksgiving celebrates grateful atheists or grateful religious people. Thanksgiving is non-discriminatory. Point to: Thanksgiving!
  • Mother’s Day and Father’s Day highlight the sacrifices parents make, while simultaneously making them work hard on the specific day to put together a brunch or something and entertain the kiddos that are supposedly so grateful for mom and dad. Personally, I would like to have a day off. Conclusion: Mother’s Day sucks. Point to: Thanksgiving.
  • July 4th. It’s all about celebrating our independence with illegal fireworks, hamburgers, and cheap wine. Hmm … Point: Tie.
  • My Birthday. Not a legal holiday in most countries* (*well, any country), yet fun nonetheless. I get to eat cake and choose what flavor. However, the whole USA does not get the day off, so this results in: Tie.
  • Halloween dwells on fake mummies, stale candy, and over-sugared children who won’t go to sleep because they are busy being amped up or throwing up. Point to (clearly): Thanksgiving.
  • Christmas reminds us to spend time with our families and simultaneously guilts us into buying them gobs of gifts and then stressing out because we worry if they’ll like them. Thanksgiving also involves time with loved ones, but no presents are required or expected, and plus you get to eat turkey. Point to: Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is the day we can sleep in, eat turkey, eat more turkey (did I mention eating turkey?) and not feel bad about it, say what we are thankful for, and play Junior Monopoly with our kids for five hours. As an added bonus, Thanksgiving is paired with a freebie extra day off and lots of football.  It’s my favorite holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 21, 2011

584. Why I Hate Dead Architects

View from my dining room window: 

View from my hall bathroom window:

Size of my hallway:

Size of my kitchen:

("My Only Vision")

Sunday, November 20, 2011

583. I Work Out Four Hours A Day

... said my customer without a trace of irony. It took every bit of self-control I possessed to stop myself from walking around to her side of the counter to inspect her abs.

She had a coat on. She looked normal, not fat, not thin, not particularly in shape. I smiled at her normal face, and she smiled back at me. How did we get here?

She had made some sort of comment about the fact that she didn’t work, that she didn’t have time to work, seeing as how she is exercising so much. She was approximately my same age, so I couldn’t help but take this as somewhat of a personal affront. Did she mean to imply that I was a “lesser” person because I was working?

“Please go ahead and take off your coat so I can see if your biceps are worth it,” I wanted to say. What I did say: “I’m going to double bag this turkey gravy and pumpkin butter.”

I started to think about what I would do with four extra hours per day if I didn’t have a job. While I swiped the Work-Out Woman’s credit card through the machine and waited for her to sign, I made a mental list:
  1. Sleep, I could sleep more
  2. Catch up on my TiVo’d episodes of Top Chef and Project Runway
  3. Clean my house for once instead of expecting magic fairies to perform this service
  4. Bake cookies
  5. Call a friend (I could have a marathon conversation with my pal in California, might eat up the entire four hours)
  6. Finish reading that latest stack of library books
  7. Put three weeks' worth of laundry away
  8. Write my blog
  9. Read my friends’ blogs
  10. Go to Target and roam the aisles
Hmm, working out was not even rating in the top 10.

What was I supposed to do with this bit of Work-Out Woman’s personal trivia? Was I supposed to volley it right back to her: “Hey, you look great! Keep working out four hours, time well spent!” or “Gosh, I am so envious of you. If I didn’t have to work, I would totally exercise for four hours, too!” What is the proper etiquette in this situation? Would I be fired if I said, “Are you sure it was four hours? Because you don’t actually look like you spent four hours. Maybe it was 20 minutes and your clock is stuck on Daylight Savings time?”

Instead, I just smiled my normal I-am-pretending-I-am-listening-to-you-but-there-is-a-line-behind-you smile.

“Okay, well, thank you then! And be sure to check back in a few weeks—we’re starting to get all of our Christmas things in!”

She lifted her heavy bag with her pinkie and walked out.

The next woman in line approached me. She leaned in conspiratorially and whispered, “I don’t think she should be proud of that time spent.”

I nodded and handed my new best friend another sample of chocolate marshmallow fluff. We were smug in the satisfaction that we were superior to Work-Out Woman. Work-Out Woman wasted her precious time on stupid things.  I thought about Work-Out Woman again later that evening when I was watching Top Chef, and again the next day when I was putting laundry away. She doesn’t know what she’s missing!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

582. Why People Don't Like To Receive Emails at 4 AM

I am not an early riser by nature. I like to stay up until the wee hours and then sleep in until noon. My one defining motto in college was “Morning is a good time to go back to sleep” and my other motto was “Why have breakfast when you can have lunch?” So it should come as somewhat of a surprise that I sometimes go to bed at 8 PM and then wake up automagically at 4 AM.

My kids are great sleepers. The same Universe that said, “You get to deal with two picky eaters, ha! Take that!” also said “Let’s give her children that sleep for 11 hours straight.” Sort of like a trade-off.

The house is quiet like a library. No, quiet like outer space. I can hear the cat breathe. I can get a lot done.

Well, vacuuming? Not so much. Cross that off the list.

Dishes? Uh, no. The kitchen is too close to the bedrooms, so that would be too loud and most likely wake everyone up.

At least I can put some laundry away. Oops, the basement stairs are creaky like old bones. Scratch laundry off the list.

Watch TV? What, on Mute?

That leaves blogging. A few clicking strokes on the keyboard never woke up anybody. I already did a nice tight blog yesterday based on an email I sent to My Idol.  Hmmmmm … I can check email.

My email box blinks up at me in the 4 AM darkness. 17 new emails! None are ads! I obediently check them all, then get ready to respond, methodically, Virgo-like, one-by-one.

Before I hit the first “SEND,” I remember something a customer at the high-end kitchen store told me: “I hate getting advertising emails from the high-end kitchen store because they start flooding in at 5 AM and I sleep with my Blackberry on my nightstand, so it starts buzzing then.” The high-end kitchen store had unwittingly become his alarm clock.

(As an aside: Who sleeps with their Blackberry on their nightstand?! And what’s a Blackberry? Is it like a gardening feature for an iPhone? Does it come with its own bugs, like grasshoppers and ladybugs and caterpillars?)

The image haunts me, someone’s phone ringing or buzzing/ beeping/ hopping because I hit reply at 4 AM confirming a lunch meeting for the following Tuesday.

I suddenly remember my computer has a neat little feature called “Draft” where I can write whatever I want and save it in my Draft Box as long as I like (if I can just remember to come back to it later and actually send it instead of saying, “I know I sent you a response! I remember writing it and making a lame joke about caterpillars, are you sure you didn’t get it?”).

I draft a beautiful email, the first one of 17 to save. I spellcheck it. I go to hit “SAVE” and make a mental post-it note to come back and send it later: MOV, you will remember, make sure you remember, you must come back to this.

Brain, yes the same evil Brain that drags me through Migraineville from time to time, cackles and says, “Oops—SEND.”

So if you received an email from me at 4AM confirming lunch next Tuesday, don’t be mad that you are up so early now. Just think of all the things you can get done.


Friday, November 18, 2011

581. Round People and The People Who Love Them

My Idol and I have something in common: I am a HUUUUUUUUGE fan of Fisher Price Little People.

Sadly, I do not have any now. But, when I was growing up, I had dozens! Probably millions!

My sister and I called them “Round People.” I hate to burst My Idol's bubble with our superior and original name, but I didn’t want her to be in the dark. Yes, they could be considered little. But look closer for different identifying characteristics: They are round! (And unlike their evil nemesis and impostor wannabes—Weebils—Round People are too good to wobble. They stand up like God and factory workers in China intended.)

We would play with them for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and days. So. Much. Fun. Of course, a good chunk of that time was spent bickering over who got which people and which accoutrements (as we all know, sharing is overrated). We came up with a system where we would lay out all the Round People and their round people sofas and beds and campers and patio furniture all neatly in rows (Princessa Virgo in her early days) and then the Choosing would begin. The Choosing could easily gobble up more time than the actual Playing. All hell would break loose if I picked the “good” mommy with the smooth face and Oakley was stuck with the crappy mommy with the chewed-on face and broken hair (Oakley and I did not have a dog who did this chewing. We had a toddler younger brother with very sharp teeth and a penchant for disturbing our playing time.).

Then, the next step in a successful Round People playing session was to name all our people. I am 43 years old. I was born in 1968. I distinctly remember naming my people Olivia and Isabel and Madeleine and Caroline, so I was waaaaaaaay trendy before my time!!!  (Of course, the Universe got me back by giving me sons in real life, when I was ultra-prepared to name daughters.  Hence, original names like Tall and Short now grace our family tree.)   

My mom would sometimes give us these gorgeous gift boxes from Saks Fifth Avenue that maybe originally held a sweater or a pair of flannel Christmas pajamas. These boxes were THE BEST. We could stack them and cantilever them and make our Round People have the best modernist houses ever.  Frank Lloyd Round would be proud. 

I went on eBay and almost had a heart attack when I saw what Round People cost now.

Not to worry. I know Mom still has everything (including the school, garage, town, gas station, and airport) in her garage. It would break my heart if she gave them away.

("My Other Vice")

580. Detour Through Migraineville

Some people have a favorite place they return to annually, a place like the beach, mountains, a special Bed & Breakfast, or other vacation spot. They might like this place so much they go twice a year, or three times. I, too, have a place I visit three times a year. It is not by choice.

“Here we are in Migraineville!” announces unthoughtful Brain, flashing annoying bright lights that make things worse, “Welcome!”

I know where we are, Brain doesn’t have to give it a name. I walk in the bedroom, pull the shades, and get intimately acquainted with my Tylenol bottle. I grip a cool wet washcloth, and place it on my head with my shaky hands. Go away go away go away, I say like a Mantra. Please please please go away.  I lie down and pray for sleep.   

Brain chuckles. I don’t think so! This detour is at least three hours long, last time was six.

I close my eyes, cringing at Brain. Stop stop stop. I feel tears in my tired eyes, tears of pain.

I desperately attempt to claw my way out of Migraineville, utterly spent. The Husband has been at work all day, he has no idea.

“You look terrible!” he says by way of a cheerful greeting.

“I had a bad headache,” I whimper. Brain scoffs and says, “Had? We’re still there.”

“Oh, Sweetie,” says The Husband in the same sympathetic voice reserved for when I accidentally step in dog poop in my new suede shoes, “you poor thing.”

He gives me a tight hug that does not help and actually might make the detour longer.

“Go back to bed,” he says supportively. “And you really should see a doctor to get some migraine medication.”

Brain slaps his words out of the air. Brain knows what happens at the doctor’s office.

Doc: How are you doing?

MOV: Great!

Doc: Any health issues or concerns?

MOV: Nope!

Doc: Great, well ... all your tests look good, so we’ll see you next year then!

Brain is not very good about reminding me of my detours to Migraineville after the fact. Brain likes to pretend they never happened.

I do not remember that I get migraines when I am face-to-face with a trained professional that can offer assistance in treating them: a doctor. No. Like the five-year-old that needs prompting about what happened at school this very morning (was it art? music? math?), Brain chooses to focus on happy things: Ooh, a new season of Top Chef is starting tonight!

The Husband walks in to check on me. “I brought you a new cold washcloth,” he whispers softly. At least he remembers.

("Migraine Of Vehemence")

Thursday, November 17, 2011

579. Queen Virgo Receives An Important Phone Call

The phone rang last night.

“MOV? Is that you?” the familiar voice asked.

“Yes,” I replied, wondering why she was calling at 10 PM.

“Did you look at your calendar? Do you know what day it is?”

I knew exactly where this conversation was headed. “Boss, duh. Mid-November. I was actually expecting your phone call yesterday, or the day before.”

“You’ll do it then?”

“Boss, you know I am loyal and all, but I do have my New Better-Paying Top Secret Job to worry about.”

“MOV, this is important. I need you. We need you. The high-end kitchen store needs you.”

“Geesh, fine, I’ll do it. I’ll be there by nine.”

I show up at nine on the dot. That’s a lie. Queen Virgo shows up at quarter till. She paces in front of the store, waiting for the opportunity to do what she was born to do.

The Boss greets me with her keys in hand.

“Thank God! Thank you, MOV, for doing this! I can’t even tell you how much it means to me.” She smiles wide, teeth like a Colgate ad.

“Boss, just one thing. You need to back off. Let me do what I came to do.”

She nods her head with the reverence due Popes and Presidents.

“You are the only one we even considered for … you know.”

I walk to the kitchen. I put on my apron. I get to work.

Six hours fly by, a blur of food processors missing parts and too many All-Clad pans. When my time is up, Queen Virgo surveys the scene.

Christmas chocolate samples line up on the top shelf. Waffle irons have their cords neatly tucked around their bases. Espresso paper cups are stacked in pristine rows.

“Are you finished already?” The Boss gasps.

I take a dish towel and do one quick swipe across the Vita-Mix blender. “Yes,” I confirm, “I’m done.”

“Thank you, MOV, thank you! The kitchen looks so great!”

If my New Better-Paying Top Secret Job doesn’t work out, at least I can take comfort in the knowledge that the high-end kitchen store has a one-day job for me in the middle of November: kitchen organizer.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

578. That Shirt Is Mine

When you have two sons that are close in age, you can get double the use out of the clothes, effectively cutting your clothing bill in half. $88 for a Janie and Jack sailboat sweater? No problem, it ends up being $44 for each child. Overpriced down winter coat, not on sale? Here’s my Amex card, and let’s get the matching gloves. Halloween shark costume made of real shark imported from Hawaii? Done.

So it should come as somewhat of a surprise that Tall is in Short’s clothes instead of the other way around.

Paint the scene: Tall (age 7 ½) has a favorite shirt, a shirt with a surfer on it. This shirt fit him two years ago. Now it is too small. However, he refuses to give it up.

In the meantime, I am feeling guilty about poor Short only getting hand-me-downs. In a moment of weakness, I buy him a brand new Target shirt with a grizzly bear. Short is not with me when I buy the shirt. I grab some random kid and hold it up to him.

“Excuse me?” I hear myself say. “How old are you, can I hold this up to see if it might fit my five-year-old?”

He tells me he is twelve, and I, being the obstinate person that I am, hold it up to him anyway and guestimate.

This is what I end up with when I get home:

When I ask them to switch shirts, they balk.

“This is MY special grizzly bear shirt, Mom! I love it!”

“You bought me this surfer shirt two years ago on my birthday, I’m keeping it!”

The Husband walks in on our wardrobe battle.

“I guess we know what you’ll be blogging about later.”


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

577. Priority Hair

We all rank things in a personal order that makes sense to us. Shopping is more fun than a root canal. Going to the grocery store is more appealing than putting gas in the car. Making the bed is better than doing laundry. Raking leaves is preferable to a mammogram.

And as far as a crucial contact at my New Better-Paying Top-Secret Job is concerned, inhaling disgustingly pungent hair-coloring chemicals for two and a half hours rates a couple of notches above spending five minutes with me.

I call up Lorraine and plead with her voice mail in my best saccharine tones, whining how I desperately need her help and advice on my latest assignment.  Lorraine and I play phone tag for a few more days. Phone tag devolves into email hide and seek.  

“Please please please I just need 45 minutes of your time for you to explain everything I need since you have done this job for ten years and I have done it for three days!” my email wants to beg at her. The editor in me realizes she will hit DELETE once the ugly words (“45 minutes”) hit her retinas. 

30 minutes.

15 minutes.

I finally settle on 5 minutes. It is a lie. I need 45 minutes to pick her brain.

I hit SEND.

The email comes back the next evening.

“Happy to meet with you! Does Wednesday at 7:19 AM work, or Thursday at 2:07 PM, or we could grab a quick coffee Friday morning at 10:43 AM.”

Jackpot! I am free on Friday.

“Yes, yes, yes, thank you so much for finally agreeing to meet with me, oh God you don’t have any idea how much this helps me, Friday is perfect, heck I will buy your coffee!! and pancakes!! Thank you!!” says my uncensored brain.

The (tiny) speck of my brain where restraint lives swoops in like a pushy teenage girl trying to score the front row by shoving wannabes out of the way at a Justin Bieber concert.

“Fri works” intelligent brain speck types.


Hours later, I receive yet another email from Lorraine.

“MOV, sorry to do this to you, but I might have a hair appointment on Friday morning. I will double-check and get back to you. The next day I am available after that is Feb 16, 2012. Crazy busy!”

I want to reach my hands though the computer wires and shake her by the long-blond-cascading-Vidal-Sassoon hair. I want to say, “Your hair already looks perfect, what the heck is your problem, are you saying that getting your hair done is more important than meeting up with me?!”

Then I pause to reflect:

  • March 12, 2000. Wedding time pushed back from brunch to early evening to accommodate my hair-stylist Robert’s schedule.
  • August 24, 1996. Job interview with airline postponed a week due to Robert canceling on me (pneumonia).
  • December 1, 2003. Hair appointment moved up a month to accommodate Robert (my new baby was born just three days later).
  • September 21, 1992. Birthday party date changed due to Robert’s schedule being full already.
I type up a new email:

“Lorraine, no worries. I completely understand.”


Sunday, November 13, 2011

576. The New Hire

Back when I was a flight attendant, we would have new hires on the plane from time to time. They were not completely finished with their eight weeks of training yet, and the flight served as an observation flight for them as well as practical experience. Sometimes, I would be coupled with a new hire and tasked with giving him or her an idea of what a “typical” flight was like.

I had been flying for about four years when Chen walked onto my flight with his temporary badge and his sticker proclaiming him a “trainee.”

“Oh, God, you don’t have to wear that,” I told him as I ripped the trainee tag right off his collar, “they’ll f***-ing eat you alive.”

Chen laughed and shook my hand. “I’m Chen,” he said, with a slight trace of a Chinese accent, “nice to meet you.” He was probably in his mid-50’s, with graying hair cut very short, and his uniform still had the creases from being fresh out of the packaging.  United hired a lot of people who wanted to fly as a “second career” after serving in the military or working for the government (especially if they spoke a foreign language). At his age, this was most likely Chen’s situation. I made a mental note to ask him later when I knew him a little bit better.

We walked to the back of the Airbus and I introduced him to the other crew member, Janet.  I showed Chen where the jumpseat was located and where to check for the various emergency equipment, like the passenger oxygen tank and the first aid kit. Janet went back up front to greet the passengers as they boarded.  Chen and I stayed back to set up the galley.

It was going to be a short flight, only a beverage service.

“Oh, Mother of God,” I heard myself say, “are you sh**-ing me? No 7-Up again? What the h*** is going on? D*** it.  That is, like, the 10th time this week! Well, Chang, I guess you might as well face reality: catering doesn’t always give you what you need.”

Chen smiled good-naturedly and helped me arrange the sugar packets in a cup and get the coffee ready to brew.  He stopped to drink a small bottle of water. 

After take-off, we listened to the uncertain announcements over the P.A. system of the other new hire, Denise.  She was training up front in first class with Carolyn.  Denise was definitely reading her booklet word for word. She even read the part where it said “Pause.”

I didn’t laugh; I was just glad it was someone else announcing it that way and not me this time.

Chen and I got right to work setting up the cart and handing out sodas and juice. Then he obediently picked up trash. He was like an eager and very helpful puppy, doing whatever I told him and basically making my life a lot easier. Too bad United couldn’t send him to work with me every day.

“So, Chang,” I said when service was over, “what do you think of your first flight so far?”

“The passengers are great. And you’re a good teacher. Great experience overall.” He smiled wide, revealing a tiny gap between his two front teeth.

I was flattered. I didn’t consider myself to be a good teacher. I just tried to do my job, and if someone could learn a thing or two from me, that was an added bonus. I knew that United didn’t purposely pair specific flight attendants with new hires, it really depended more on the timing of the flight and if it would be a quick turn-around (for example, Chicago to Washington, D.C. and then right back).

I offered Chen some crackers I had brought in my lunch bag.

“Here’s the thing, Chang,” I said, mangling his name for the 800th time in the day, “you always want to make sure you bring some food with you, in case first class doesn’t have any left over at the end of service. You could starve. I don't know about you, but I need to eat about five times a day, maybe more.  Also, you never know if you could be delayed. I hate waiting around doing nothing, but with this job, you'd better get used to it.  So, take my advice and bring some snacks with you.  Better safe than sorry.”

I glanced down at my blouse and noticed I was covered in cracker crumbs.

“Do you always fly with the same people?” Chen asked sweetly.

“Hardly ever! In fact, thank God, Jesus, and Mary because that pilot today seems like a complete a ** h***. Ugh. I think I would just drink a bottle of bleach before ever flying with him again! Can you imagine? Did you see the way he rolled his eyes when the gate agent told him there would be trainees on his flight? So unprofessional. Plus, another thing is you’ll find out things about people, like one time I was flying with this one flight attendant Lisa and it turns out the co-pilot was her ex-husband! and they weren’t even on speaking terms, because he had totally cheated on her! Thinking about it now is, like, f ***-ing crazy, but let me tell you something: when Lisa told me, I was, like ‘Holy crap.’ Talk about a stressful flight.”

We landed in Washington’s National Airport, where we had just enough time to pick up the newspapers and other trash that the passengers had left on the seats before the new passengers boarded. The return flight was sold-out. Having trainees on board actually helped our service go a lot faster.

At the end of the flight, Chen handed me his evaluation form. I checked “Excellent” for every category. At the end, I had to write a brief summation about his performance.

“Chang was a real help to us. His positive attitude, strong work ethic, and friendly personality will be great assets for United. He will make a wonderful flight attendant.”

“Thank you, MOV,” he said without reading it. “It was a real pleasure to fly with you today.”

“Sure, you’re welcome! And, hey, Chang, you never told me what your previous job was?”

“I was a monk.”

“No sh**.”

(“Monk’s Other Vocation”)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

575. My Swimsuit and I Broke Up

I never saw the warning signs:  the stretched-out elastic at the legs, the fading color, the pilling at the bottom. Oh, sure, some might say Swimsuit was frumpy, conservative, and old-ladyish, but I knew the truth:  Swimsuit had a playful side! What about that time I dove off the ledge of the deep-end at the local pool and the top of Swimsuit went down to my navel for anyone with underwater goggles or a mask to see? That was not old ladyish—that was frisky!

I had not seen Swimsuit in weeks, maybe months. I was shoving some wool socks into the front of the dresser drawer, and that’s when I caught sight of Swimsuit hiding in the way back.

Swimsuit! How’ve you been?!” I asked, enthusiastic.

Swimsuit cringed. “Don’t touch me.”

“What? You’ve never said anything like that to me before, what’s going on?”

“I’ll tell you what’s going on: I’m leaving. I’m too good for you.” The frayed strings at the top of the straps were not helping Swimsuit’s case any.

“Come on, let’s be reasonable,” I whispered softly to Swimsuit. “We’ve been through a lot together, through thick and thin—”

“Mostly thick,” muttered Swimsuit.

I could not believe this was happening. Before we first met years ago, I had literally spent hours looking for a swimsuit that would fulfill my needs, to no avail. Friends recommended I go online, but that seemed so impersonal.

“Trust me,” said my friend Anna, “I found the absolute best swimsuit on the L.L.Bean website. And it was on sale! Online is the way to go.”

I ignored Anna’s advice and asked The Husband what I should do instead.

“I think Anna is right. I always order mine online.” He was no help whatsoever.

Luckily, Gina happened to call the next day. I told her my situation and she had a solution.

“Go to Solar Eclipse at the mall. I’ll tell them you’re coming. Just mention my name.” This felt very clandestine, like a secret blind-date with a Lycra astronomer, but Gina was always ultra-fashionable so I did as I was told.

That was the day I met Swimsuit. Swimsuit was hanging behind the counter at the trendy swimsuit salon, Solar Eclipse, waiting for me.

I approached the petite saleslady cautiously and said, “Hello, uh, Gina told me—”

“You must be Congresswoman MOV. A pleasure.” The lady shook my hand, then she handed me a small bottle of chilled Perrier.

She pulled five various swimsuits, all size 12, from behind the counter for me to inspect. As soon as I saw Swimsuit, though, I knew it was meant to be.

Swimsuit and I went into the dressing room together and I pulled the purple velvet curtain closed. Swimsuit was sleek, stylish, flattering—a master of illusion. All my big areas looked small. All my small areas looked big. My iridescent ghost skin appeared tan. My 5’8” frame morphed to 5’11”. Not only was I going to buy this swimsuit, I was going to wear it everywhere.

“Yes, I’ll take it,” I said to the obsequious saleslady.

“Certainly, Congresswoman MOV,” she nodded as she gingerly took my American Express card out of my hand. “Would you like to maybe take it off first and I can wrap it in tissue paper for you then?”

Swimsuit and I had an affair, no, relationship, for many, many years. Swimsuit basked in the attention and the never-ending string of compliments we received when we were out together.

Until today.

“You’ve changed,” Swimsuit sneered at me. “We don’t fit together the way we used to.”

“Give me a break, Swimsuit! We just had Halloween! I just started a new job! Sure, I may have put on a few pounds, but it was from stress-eating. I can stop anytime I want.”

Swimsuit knew it was a lie. “I want to leave now. Don’t try to change my mind. We both know it’s over.”

I was not one to beg. If Swimsuit wanted to go, fine! So be it! I took Swimsuit out of the drawer and put it in the Goodwill box next to the front door.

“Farewell, my friend.” I gave Swimsuit one last quick kiss on the spandex to show that I still cared.

Swimsuit said nothing.

I walked away and went upstairs to the study. I turned on the computer and clicked on the L.L. Bean website. Maybe a rebound relationship was exactly what I needed.

(“Mom Or Venus?”)

574. Inventory

Tall walks in the door, still in his “costume” of his basketball uniform. He takes the orange plastic pumpkin and unceremoniously dumps the contents on the living room carpet. Rainbow hues litter the floor, their electric labels fighting for visual dominance: Twix! Starburst! Almond Joy! Snickers! Baby Ruth!

“Now we will sort them,” says Tall, making his Virgo mama proud while simultaneously causing his father to wonder if we need to have our older son tested for OCD tendencies.

The shorter child, still in his shark attire, readily agrees. Within minutes, the candy is lined up picture perfect, most closely resembling an ad for television special on Lifetime called American Consumerism: The Warning Signs.

The shark begins to dig into his stash, while his mother hyperventilates about melty M&M’s ruining the expensive shark outfit.

The basketball player disappears into the other room, then comes back a few moments later with his homework assignment. He takes out a pen and begins to inventory his candy.

(obviously this continues on the back of the page; not sure what a "gift basket" candy is)

I am horrified. What kind of mean teacher takes the opportunity of Halloween to have the children chart and graph their trove of candy? How long is this stupid assignment going to take? Couldn’t the kids have even one day off from homework to just enjoy being kids and devour cavity-inducing candy on a meaningless holiday?

I resign myself to the fact that I will have to help Tall with his project.

“Okay, Sweetie!” I cheer, trying to impersonate an upbeat person. “Should I get a ruler? What exactly do we need to do here?”

“What are you talking about, Mom?” he asks while unwrapping a lone Bit O’ Honey.

“Your homework,” I nod toward the piece of paper he has filled in so neatly.

“That? That’s not for school. That’s for me. I need to have an accurate record.”

My mind sings. My son is so smart! So organized! So talented! He’s creating new work for himself to do, to stay challenged! I smile wide, impressed with his genius abilities.

“ … because otherwise you might eat it all. This way I can keep track.”

Did I mention he was smart?


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

573. Liar, Liar

Okay, I don’t usually do this (that’s a lie). I’m going to tell you about a blog I read that I like, and maybe you will hop over there and check it out too. Her initial post struck me as false, embellished, loopy, made-up, fabricated … call it a bunch of LIES—of course I immediately fell in love with her!

I am going to go so far as to say I am THE pioneer reader, a “charter member” of sorts, and let’s freak out this new writer who is just finding her way by following her! (Clarification: “follow” does not mean “stalk” in Blogger Land. Usually.)

So, do it! Read her, follow her, freak her out! Right now!   click here


(Disclaimer: I do not personally know this individual. She does not live in Crazy Town, and for all I know, she could be a fifth-grader. But a damn smart one who travels to Parisian cafés in her mind.)

P.S. to Life in the Mountain Town: No pressure! Seriously! We’re all friends here.

P.P.S. Just found out I do know her after all, she is my anonymous cousin. Small world.

572. The Blond Monkey Society

So I haven’t been completely honest with you about my Top-Secret Job (not my New Better-Paying Top Secret Job, but the one I did right before that for, like, a week … the one where I got to wear scrubs—try to keep up). I told the Top-Secret Job when I was quitting that the reason I was quitting was because I was offered a better job—which is true to an extent. I mean, who wouldn’t want to earn more money? But, the real reason I left is because the manager called me a blind monkey.

I have nothing against monkeys. Sure, they’re cute in a spontaneous-looking sort of way. They always seem to have an awful lot of friends, and who am I to begrudge them if they want to eat 28 bananas in one sitting? But when it comes right down to it, I would mostly prefer not to be compared to a monkey, blind or otherwise.

Flashback to my second day of training. The manager was training me about special invoicing codes on the computer. I was entering the numbers and he was literally looking over my shoulder to make sure I did everything correctly. Then he took a break to zip out for coffee.

I kept clicking away, code-code-code.

When he got back, he said, “I need to double-check everything you just did.”

Now, a normal person might be offended by this statement. Not me. Ever since I quit the one thing I was good at (flight attendant-ing), I have been more than grateful to have someone check my work.

He glanced through my folders and cross-referenced the accounts on the screen. “Wow! You did it right!” said the manager, the same person who had initially hired me. And then he had to go and add, “But this job is really so easy. A blind monkey could do it.”

At first I laughed. A blind monkey! What an image! But then I thought—wait, did he just call me a blind monkey? Should I be offended here? Should I have a human rights (or monkey rights) lawyer on speed-dial right about now?

I did what I usually do when somebody insults me: nothing. Because I have a sense of humor.

I thought it was funny. I don’t take myself or managers hurling around strange new terminology like “blind monkey” too seriously.

I went to work the following Sunday at the high-end kitchen store where I immediately over-shared and told my friend Nate about the blind monkey comparison.

Nate is a great guy, but he just became fixated on the phrase, which in turn made me become even more fixated on the term than I had previously been. We were like two junior high kids sitting next to each other in Algebra class making fun of the teacher and ignoring everything else. Every transaction became an opportunity to use our new phrase:

Me: Nate, can you get The Boss for me? I have a question on this special order.

Nate: You need her for that? Even a blind monkey could place a special order!

Me: Hey Nate? Are we out of lemon dish soap refills?

Nate: MOV, they’re tons of them left. They’re on that back feature next to dish towels. Even a blind monkey could’ve found them!

Me (in the back gift wrapping a package): Hey Nate, what time are you going to lunch?

Nate: (completely ignoring my question): You call THAT a gift wrap? Ugh—what a mess! Even a blind monkey could do a better job!

Me: I made pancakes on Saturday morning, but I totally tried something new! I grated some orange peel and cinnamon into the batter. It was fantastic.

Nate: Even a blind monkey would try that recipe!

Nate sent me an email the other night. He had designed a t-shirt online with (guess) a blind monkey on the front.  The monkey had on oversized dark glasses and he held a walking stick.  The back of the shirt had the words: “Even a blind monkey could do that …”

I ordered mine is size large. Should be here next week.

("Monkeys Of Veritas")

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

571. There's Only One Thing on The Menu

I am a loyal person. I went to the same hairdresser for 15 years until I moved three time zones away; I was a flight attendant for a decade before I became a mom; my favorite black cashmere sweater has been in my closet longer than my oldest son has been alive. So it should come as no surprise that I am loyal to my food.

The Husband and I have a small rotation of preferred restaurants in Crazy Town, and we typically eat out once a week. We walk in, we’re seated, and within two minutes we’ve ordered without ever glancing at a menu. We are not merely creatures of habit, we are minions of a rut.

The Husband looks up at me one evening across the restaurant table over (surprise) Mediterranean pizza no olives and says, “You know, they also have other kinds of pizza, and even lasagna. I think.”

I laugh at him. “But what if it tastes yucky?” I say, channeling the five-year-old. “I don’t want to take that risk. The Mediterranean has always been good, every time.”

I used to be adventurous. There was a time in my life when I would travel through Europe, ignorant of the local language, and simply point to something on the menu. I’d internally congratulate myself on stepping out of my world of repetition to try something new and different.

Those days are over. Familiarity does not breed contempt; it breeds happiness or at least a good taste in my mouth.

The next week, we are at the local seafood place. A waiter I’ve never seen before says, “Scallops over rice, and a side of grilled asparagus for you, Professor MOV?”

“How did you know my name and my order?!” I ask, dumbfounded.

“My manager told me.” He smiles, delighted in the knowledge that his tip will surpass the standard 20%.

The following week, we are settling into our habitual booth at the local burger dive. I hear The Husband tell the waiter, “Four burgers, two with cheese, three fries no salt, three strawberry shakes, an iced-tea, and an ice-water.”

“NO!” I shout, unaware that my voice can carry so far and so loud. “I don’t want that! I want something different!”

The restaurant goes silent. The seven or so people there (this includes the three others at our table, plus the waiter) swivel to me, waiting to find out what I’ll say next.

“I would like my water without ice.”

Baby steps, baby steps.


Monday, November 7, 2011

570. My House Is A Person

I just found out today. All this time, over two years now of living here, I thought my house was just a normal house made of walls and bricks and electrical-type wires, but no. My house has personalities, quirks, and moods. My house is a person.

The front entry is that guy at work who has a million projects going simultaneously, and he always knows precisely where everything is and what is going on, even if it seems like chaos. There are shoes hopelessly strewn about, crying out for their wayward mates who have hidden in the closet. There are teetering stacks of Tall’s school papers mixed with Short’s library books. Mail lounges on the table with its friends, Unnecessary Catalogs. Yet somehow, when pressed, I can find exactly what I need (permission slip for the field trip, dry cleaning receipt, coupon for toothpaste) in under two minutes, tops.

I walk into my living room, and I see a very disheveled Aunt Charlene, trying hard to be stylish, but really just a mess. There is the ornate Oriental rug (if you could see it underneath all the LEGOs and Pokémon cards), the leather couch (please try to ignore the strange stains from grape juice or, more likely, wine), the “distressed” wood coffee table from Pottery Barn (it was not marketed as such), and the cute glass lamp with the red shade from Target. The cheapest thing in the room somehow has the most longevity and looks the best (the lamp), just like Aunt Charlene wears the retro-hip tortoiseshell glasses she bought for 10 bucks at a garage sale (and then had them refitted with her own prescription).

My kitchen is that pushy salesgirl from the high-end kitchen store, the one who convinces you that you need everything they sell for your fantasy world of IF. The slow-cooker is great IF you are the type of person to plan in advance and have all the ingredients all chopped up and ready to go before you leave for work; the Cuisinart food processor is a must-have IF you make your own bread from scratch daily; the egg poacher pan is divine IF you cook up Eggs Benedict every weekend. (The bridge to IF is a shaky one.) Unfortunately, I whisper to the pushy salesgirl, I do not plan ahead like that when it comes to food. She doesn’t hear me. I end up buying everything she suggests.

The dining room is my very elegant great-grandmother. Perfection. The chandelier sparkles, the hardwood floors are pristine, the table is empty (save for a crystal bowl of apples), there is no clutter. Great-grandmother winks at me and says, “Good job! At least one room in your house looks like it should.”

The bathroom is that scary guy who works at the Chevron station. Say no more.

The boys’ bedroom is that fun teenager who works part-time at the toy store. Cars, trucks, and airplane patterns on the sheets, cranberry red paint with cotton-ball white wainscoting on the walls, white wooden shelves filled to capacity with books, a comfy red pinstriped chair, a snuggly navy quilt with white stars, cute baby photos sitting on the antique dresser, two big windows that look out at the yard. Who wouldn’t want to be in this room?

The study is that nice neighbor who says hi to you at the bus stop. You have never had a conversation longer than three minutes, and it usually involves the weather. The study is all function: book shelves, computer, printer, a small storage closet. The study says “I am just what you think I am, and just what I am supposed to be.”

The basement is that girl you went to high school with. The super-smart one you sat behind in Algebra class. You always wanted to give her a make-over: to tell her that green was not her color, to recommend (nicely) that she might look better with bangs, to mention that a little eyeliner goes a long way. She was full of potential, you could see it.

The garage is that cousin you only see at weddings and funerals. Remote. Not talkative. Seems nice, but could be a serial killer.

The back patio is your college roommate. All fun. There are soccer balls, baseball bats, basketball net, Frisbees, scooters, and golf clubs, all waiting to be picked up and used daily, sometimes more often than that. There are a few pieces of metal lawn furniture for lazy/ tired parents to watch the fun from a comfortable distance. And like your college roommate, the patio has its moods depending on the weather. “Yeah, it’s snowing out. I’m not going to class today. I think I’ll sleep for 15 hours straight.”

My cat drifts around room to room to room. At least I know that when I'm out running errands, she’s never lonely.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

569. Writing Is My Refuge

The kids are screaming. There is nothing to cook for dinner because you should have gone to the grocery store yesterday. You screwed up at work. Your sister is mad at you because you never called her back. When life growls at you, you seek refuge.

Everyone has that safe place where you can get away and step off the merry-go-round of madness for a few moments. Whether it be a friend’s living room sofa, the gym, the piano bench, the mall, a country club, the garden, the bike path, you have a place that you yearn to go to center yourself and restore the calm. My haven is staring at a blank computer screen, as a latent story makes its way onto my keyboard.

When my brain is frazzled, I zip upstairs to our computer and press the power button. Only the computer is not the one empowered, I am. I start clicking at the keys, grateful for that typing class in 10th grade and for the inventor of the ultra-helpful spellcheck feature, and I bang out a story or two all the while banging the stress away with each new word.

I have something to say and I like having an audience to confirm that I am not crazy, that my words make sense. Sometimes I need the validation like I need that second cup of coffee.

Every once in a while, someone will pull me aside at work and instead of saying, “That last customer complained about you,” or “The Boss wants to see you in her office—again,” he will say, “I love your blog.  The one you wrote the other day, the story about volunteering, totally made me laugh! How do you do it?”

And instead of saying, Oh, it was nothing I am not really that great of a writer because half the time I don’t even know what I am blabbing about it's just sort of a hobby and I can’t believe anyone even reads my posts and I think my stories don’t make much sense are you just saying that to be nice … instead of saying that, you say

“Thank you. I’m a writer.”


Friday, November 4, 2011

568. Volunteering Is My Life

After Tall adamantly declared he did NOT want me ever volunteering in his school again, I did what any mother would: I volunteered at Short’s school instead.

I showed up at the office for whatever type of helper job they would throw my way. I’d had a long chat with Sammi beforehand and she’d already warned me:

“MOV, they always need victims, I mean volunteers, to help on the playground at recess. What time did you tell them you were coming?”

“Oh, I dunno, around 11 AM? I didn’t want to have to go in too too early.”

“Yikes,” she gulped, “For sure they will have you on the playground.”

Oh, Sammi. Sammi, Sammi, Sammi. What did she know?

Apparently a lot, I reminded myself as I found myself on the black-top distributing kickballs and jump-ropes. Indeed, as I had walked up at 11 AM to the security camera/ intercom system and buzzed, smiled, and waved, I could audibly hear the Office Lady say, “Oh, God, it’s you.” This was followed by a shuffling of papers, and then a long




still waiting

time before she buzzed me in. In her defense, it was very likely that she had been on an important call with the President of the United States. Or not.

“Hi!” I chirped in my best chirpiest chirpy voice as I approached her desk. “I’m here to volunteer. I’m Short’s mom, MOV and—”

“We know who you are.” She looked up at me and sighed.

“Great!” I smiled, trying to show off years of orthodontic work and unsuccessful teeth-bleaching. “Well, then I guess I will just head down to Room Four, because Short—this is so funny!—is convinced that he’s in fourth grade because the room number is—”

“Change in plans!” said Office Lady, “You’re going to be on the playground.”

Office Lady had one of those demeanors that said, “This is how things are done.” Her demeanor did not say, “There is room for negotiation,” or “That’s a cute story about Short and by the way he’s my favorite student at this school,” or, “Maybe you would rather volunteer in art because that is super-fun.” No. Her demeanor said, “Office Lady dictates how it’s done.”

I was very very worried at this point that if I did not comply with Office Lady’s instructions, my son might be kicked out of the school (it is, after all, a public school). I nodded at her and asked for the keys to the kickball storage unit.

Once on the playground, things were actually pretty easy. The kids ran around, and every once in a while, one would come up and ask for assistance in tying a shoelace. Even though my own shoes were slip-on types and I favored Velcro closures for my own sons, I was more than happy to oblige.

The Playground Director walked up and introduced himself.

“So glad you could stop by today!” he beamed at me. This was a complete 180 from the vibe Office Lady had given me. Either Playground Director had not spoken to Office Lady about me yet or he was being sarcastic. I chose the former.

“Well, of course! I’m glad to help out anytime! I even know a couple sporting-type recess kind of games, like, uh, hopscotch and … kickball? so if you need more, uh, more detailed and specific type of help, you know, with recess-type activities or things of that nature, I can help. Really. Let me know what you want help with.” I smiled wide.

“Gosh, that is so nice! I wish more parents would come out and volunteer more often like you. Hey, if you really mean it, what would be the most help today is if you could call the classes in, one by one, on the megaphone. I hate carrying this thing around, and that way, I can play a quick game of basketball with some of the kids.”

I nodded enthusiastically and took the megaphone out of his hands.

“Have you ever used one before? Let me just explain how—”

Happy to take the opportunity to let Playground Director know that I was a former flight attendant and had been taught to use a megaphone in an emergency, I said, “Sir, I am a former flight attendant and have had been taught to use a megaphone in an emergency.”

“That’s great, but this one might be a tad different, so let me go over—”

Really? He had to explain the megaphone? There was an on-off switch and a volume control. He seemed very intent on explaining it to me, and then I realized he was surrounded by kindergartners all day, so he was used to explaining things. I swallowed my pride and listened to a 10-minute tutorial on megaphones.

“… and then be careful here, on this part, because see? the back where the batteries go in is broken, so they fall out sometimes. Just put your hand over that part. I used some duct-tape, so I think you should be good.”

Even though he was finished, I was relieved when a small girl approached Playground Director to ask to go to the school nurse for a band-aid. He took her little hand and walked her to the school door.

I walked the opposite direction with my megaphone. I got to try it out a few minutes later when the teacher for Room 22 came out and wanted my help.

“Room 22!” The megaphone did a fantastic job amplifying my voice. For a split second, I considered using one of these at home. Where did they sell them? Why did United Airlines not give me one as a souvenir when I quit?

“Room 58!  Line up, room 58!”  Why were these room numbers so out of order? Were there 58 rooms in this building?

“Room 41!”

I was really getting the hang of the megaphone. Kids seemed to like me, and a couple more wandered up for shoelace assistance (word must’ve gotten out on my crucial skills in this area).

“Room 17! I said, Room 17!”

Out of nowhere, a siren like an air raid went off. The teachers, students, and other volunteer parents froze. This must be the real deal. Not a drill, but a real fire. Why did I choose to volunteer on the one day when there was a fire?

It was so obvious that it wasn’t planned. Children covered their ears and cried. Some had dropped to the ground and put their hands over their heads, most likely mimicking what they’d been taught to do in a real emergency. I looked around for the source of the siren. It had to be coming from the cafeteria area. I glanced around for Playground Director to tell us all what to do next. People were actually looking at me like I was possibly in charge (must’ve been the air of authority with the megaphone). And that was another thing: Playground Director would surely want his megaphone back to call everyone. Where was Playground Director?

No one was lining up. The noise was deafening. Where were we supposed to go? Who would save the children? Who would help us?

It dawned on me that the siren noise was coming from my megaphone, too. That is so weird, and so technologically advanced, that the siren could come from the cafeteria and they could somehow wire it (remotely?) to the playground special equipment. The noise was way too loud. I tried to turn it off, but it the switch was stuck and wouldn't move.  I fumbled to turn down the volume. Still shrieking. I struggled to take out the batteries. They fell out in a heap, and the noise stopped.

All the noise.

I was the source of the noise.

There on the side of the megaphone, it said in teeny-tiny letters “Siren function.” I had accidentally hit the siren function.

I shot Playground Director the look of death. After all his explaining, he had never once mentioned anything about the siren function.

He laughed at me as he walked up. “Well, that’s one way to get their attention.”


567. National MOV Awareness Day

Today is National MOV Awareness Day. It’s okay if you didn’t already know about NMOVAD, that is the reason we are having an awareness day (and by “we,” I mean me and my blog).

The point of the special day is to increase awareness for good quality writing, or even mediocre like mine.  How can I help? I hear you asking across the blogosphere. Easy. Forward my blog link to one friend. Or your entire email address book. Or anyone whose name starts with one of the letters A—K or L—Z. Or if you are not a fan of my writing (why are you here?), then forward the link to all your enemies. You can get even with them that way.

Now, look over to the right and notice I have 169 followers. My personal goal is to quadruple that number exponentially and multiply it by 17 million, in the next few hours or so. That should be easy.

Or if you could get me 5 new readers, that would be nice, too.

Thank you.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

566. That Starbucks Guy Has A Crush On Me

When I lived in Los Angeles, I frequented this one particular Starbucks right near my apartment (this was in the days before I worked at the high-end kitchen store and had a Starbucks-caliber espresso machine in my very own kitchen). I went in so often, that the baristas knew what I wanted before I did.

“The usual for you then, MOV? A grande, extra-hot latte, light foam?” they would chirp merrily at me when I would walk in.  God forbid I should want to mix things up a little and order a hot chocolate for once.

I would smile and nod, happy that in my transient airline world of changing planes, changing passengers, changing destinations, and changing time-zones, at least five people at Starbucks remembered my name and drink preference.

There was one guy that worked there in particular that was always very helpful. His name was Renny. Renny had a habit of making the “wrong” drink for someone else ahead of me in line, and guess what?  It conveniently “happened” to be a grande, extra-hot latte, light foam. What-to-do-what-to-do-what-to-do?

“MOV, do you want this free drink just sitting here then? It’s left-over and I don’t think you ordered and paid yet, did you?” Renny would wink at me, and then he’d hand me a bunch of free drink coupons, or ask me if I wanted to sample a new pumpkin croissant product. I wondered if he thought I was on food stamps and he felt sorry for me.

This went on for quite some time. Think years.

I was convinced that Renny was the president of Starbucks or at least the manager and therefore had the authority to give away so much coffee and snack foods.

Renny also liked to walk around from behind the counter (even if there were 20 people in line) to hand-deliver the drink to me. But, being naïve, I assumed Renny was just this nice to everyone.

One day I was walking out of Starbucks with my friend, Sarah, and she said, “MOV, that Starbucks guy has a crush on you!”

“Huh?” I said, absent-mindedly spinning my wedding ring around on my left hand. “Sarah, you’re crazy. He knows I’m married! I've gone in there with The Husband a million times.  Plus, Renny’s old enough to be my grandfather!”

Truth be told, even if Renny was my age, I never would’ve been attracted to him. He was shorter than me (I’m 5’8” and I’m guessing he was 5’ on a good day), bald, missing a few crucial teeth (always a deal-breaker), and his skin seemed angry and reactive, and, well … isn’t that enough?

I continued to be nice to Renny, and he continued to be nice to me. Until the day he followed me out of Starbucks to my car.

Now he was crossing the line. I braced for what I knew was coming next. He was going to ask me for my phone number, ask me on a date (for coffee? how original), or possibly even try to kiss me.

My mind was sprinting ahead. I was going to turn around and tell Renny once and for all that I absolutely was NOT interested in him, that I was married, and for him to stop being so nice to me and leave me the hell alone! And who does he think he is, following me to my car in broad daylight? What was his problem? This kind of behavior could get him fired!

“Miss MOV?” he said, breathless after running up behind me. He shoved a small leather object in my direction, “You forgot your purse.”


565. Here's An Example

Why do little children often sound like miniature drunk people?

Overheard at the school bus-stop at 8:15 on Monday morning (yes, Halloween):

Tiny Cute Blond Girl, age 3, sibling of first-grader: “Mommy, why is it light out here? You told me we were going to go trick-or-treating this day, and it has to be dark for that! Why is it light right now? Where is the candy? What is going on?!?”

Now, take that same phrase and stick it in an adult’s mouth. What do you have? Wasted.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

564. I Hate Calling In Sick

I have a very strong work ethic, which means I would rather infect everyone with bubonic plague than call in sick. I once flew for three weeks straight with pneumonia because I was convinced it was just a “bad cough.” Another flight attendant finally pulled me aside after my 32nd coughing fit of the day, covered her face with a paper towel, and said, “People are afraid of you. Go to the doctor!”

But wouldn’t everyone at work think I was just “faking” it? I must go to work.

Today was no exception. I woke up feeling great, took a shower, got dressed, and ate a bowl of cereal. I was just about to leave the house, when the husband said, “Good morning, MOV.” I turned around to say good morning back, and frog noises came out of my mouth region.

“G—a—g—r m—a—h—r—zyx.”


I tried again. Nothing. I was like the mute button on the TV.

“Aren’t you supposed to teach a seminar at work today?” The Husband reminded me helpfully.

I managed to whisper, “Yes.”

“Ha! I don’t think that is going to happen. You’d better call in sick right now.”

“I can’t! I just started my new job and they will totally think I am faking it and going shopping for the day or that I am a big chicken and don’t want to teach the seminar and by the way don’t you remember I broke that expensive equipment at work so now I am trying to stay on President Boss’s good side and what the heck is she going to think of me if I don’t show up?”

That is what I wanted to say, and what I did say in my head. What I said in reality was:

“G—a—h. M—h.”

The Husband gave me a condolence hug, then laughed. “Wow, the house will sure be nice and quiet for once! This is gonna be great! Too bad I have to miss it and go to work.”

I never get sick.  Never!  I am invincible.  So when the truth is staring me right in the face, I do what comes naturally:  deny, deny, deny.  But I knew The Husband was right (for once). 

I attempted to call President Boss’s secretary to let her know I would not be in.

The phone call went like this:


“Lost……… voice……….”

“MOV, is that you? You sound like Freddy Kruger. I was a little bit scared there for a minute.”

No…….. work……….”

“You know, it is kind of freaking me out to talk to you. I will let President Boss know you are sick. Go to the doctor. Feel better.”

She hung up on me.

Well, at least no one thinks I’m faking it.


563. Last Meal

“If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?”

I would want it to be a pill that would make me live longer so that it would NOT be my last meal.

Next question please.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

562. Here We Go

Even though I am morally opposed to dumb things other people tell me to do (and even though I am allowed to tell others what to do: “You should totally buy that All-Clad Slow Cooker! It will change your life! I mean it!”), I am jumping on the bandwagon and doing the National Blond Poor Mothers thing, or NaBloPoMo for short.

Apparently, I am required to write a blog post per day (only one? yawn) and they give me “prompts” because I am too stupid dumb idiotic lazy (just struggling for the appropriate word choice there) to figure out something to write about on my own.

(Aside: I have never had writer’s block. Never. I have the opposite: writer’s circle. I can write about myriad topics at will and then go off on random tangents and then circle back. Twice.)

(Another critical thing to mention: I am not "officially" signed up to do NaBloPoMo because that involves clicking on things and typing my name in and most likely hitting the control “C” function and copying links. See above:  lazy.)

So, for November 1, the “prompt” topic that the wildly creative Blogopolous people have come up with is: “What is your favourite part about writing?”

Uh, laughing when people spell “favourite” the British way? Is Blogopolous British for “bad spellers”?

This is the best topic you can come up with? That is almost like the Blogspot random question they gave me on my sign-up personal info list: “Foxes are clever and tigers are cunning. So, what’s your cat’s safety school?”

Huh? What the? (The correct answer in now obvious to me: FoCleTiCu.)

So, back to the “real” question, oh yeah, the “literary” one: What do I like about writing? (Clearly: editing).

How many bloggers wrote: “I like sitting in my pajamas and trying not to drop too many M&M’s down my keyboard”? So. Original.

How about a question where it makes your brain hurt, something like, “If you met God, what would you ask Him?”

I know, I know, I am being snarky. I’ll stop. I promise. Really.


I am going to give NaBloPoMo another chance. I will click over there tomorrow morning with an open mind, and I will write about whatever prompt they dream up. (Unless it is something inane and formulaic like “What would you choose for your last meal on Earth?”)

("Mom's Other Vocation")

561. HoSoBoDo

Where do I even begin? Okay, so some of my favorite writers (you know who you are Marianne, Kelly, Mary) have gone all corporate-like and are actually trying to get positive exposure for their awesome blogs through different venues, such as Blogopolous and all the major industrial bloggy-type things. I myself do not need to do such things, as I already have, like, a gazillion macmillion readers and dedicated followers (this is code for: 168. But we all know that with my superior math skills and superhero vision, I can just squint my eyes and 168 looks kinda like 11688, which is still a lot.).

The point is: this seems to be NaBloPoMo, and also NaNoWriMo. Who knew? And who knows what the hell those acronyms stand for?

I was curious, so I clicked over to see what all the fuss was about. Something about improving yourself, blah blah blah, and writing every day for 30 days (does my blog say 560? I think it does. Yes that is days. I must be the Marathon Writer of Blogs) and that if you take this challenge, it will make you a better writer and editorial and you’re writing skills and grammer and maybe even speling will improve dramastically.

Ha! Who needs it!

Time to guess what NaBloPoMo stands for. Native Blond Poor Mothers. Huh. Maybe I could do this after all.

("Meet Our Vixen")

560. That's What You Get

This is a secondhand story, but I gotta tell it.

This guy The Husband works with, Mick, was invited to a wedding last weekend. That’s right, Halloween weekend. Mick and about seven of his buddies thought it would be hilarious to go to the wedding in costume, as a fun little Halloween surprise.

Some sane people talked Mick and crew out of it, stuff about “ruining the bride’s big day,” blah blah blah. Mick compromised with the sane people: No costumes for the church wedding, nor the sit-down dinner, nor even the cake. Mick and company decided they would be dressed nicely for all the important Kodak moments, and after the first dance, they would disappear to don their special attire.

Mick was Gumby. His pal was a giant banana. The other six came as penguins. They happened to walk out right when a slow song came on. What could they do? The penguins paired off, and Gumby and the giant banana danced together, cheek to, uh, peel.

The bride thought it was the funniest thing she’s ever seen, the groom did not. After another few songs, he approached Gumby and told him to leave. Gumby and the rest of the costumed people left immediately (the party was winding down by this point) so as not to upset the groom further.

Now get this: Gumby and his clan went to a nearby bar to continue their own festivities (it was, after all, the Saturday night before Halloween) and who should arrive there a short while later but the bride and groom!

The groom immediately approached Mick and told him to “stop ruining” his wedding, to which Mick replied, “Dude, your wedding is over, it’s your wedding night, and what the heck are you doing here in this bar anyway?”

When The Husband told me all this, I thought:  Well, when you plan your wedding right by Halloween, you might just get a guest named Gumby.