MOVarazzi

Thursday, September 29, 2011

526. The High-End Kitchen Store Has Ruined My Life

I had only worked at the high-end kitchen store for about a month when The Boss said three words that struck lightning bolts of fear in my brain: “Paychecks were lost.” No, not really. She said, “Front and face.”

I had no idea what front and face meant, except that maybe I was supposed to face toward the front of the store (but then wouldn’t that be “face the front”?). I stood as close to the front entry door as possible, practically breathing on the glass. I made sure I was facing out toward the mall.

“What are you doing, MOV?” inquired The Boss impatiently. “I thought I told you to front and face.”

“I thought I was?” I replied.

“What are you talking about? You’re just standing there. I need you to pull all the food perimeter products to the front of the shelves and make sure all their labels are facing forward.”

Oh—front and face!

Queen Virgo was happy for the task, which was seemingly designed just for her. Front and face became my new favorite past-time. If the store was not busy and other salespeople were offering to re-stock the shopping bags or Windex the glass display cabinets, there I was jumping up and down: “And I can front and face! Let me front and face!

The Husband was not so pleased with my new little habit at home. “Sweetie,” I’d say encouragingly, “I really appreciate you doing all the grocery shopping this week, and, well, every week come to think of it. But you know what I would appreciate even more? If you could front and face the product out on the shelves, label side toward the viewer.”

Product?” he mocked. “Did you just say ‘product’? And ‘viewer’? Because last I checked, this is not a store. This is where we live.”

My newfound hyper-vigilance transcended kitchen borders and needed to be applied to the bathroom cabinets as well. “Honey,” I’d begin helpfully, “remember we had that little chat about front and face? We need to put the shaving cream and deodorant facing out on the shelf. It’s more consumer-friendly that way.” I’d give a smile, cementing the validity of my essential critique.

“Have you been drinking? I already own the deodorant. I’m not worried about it being consumer-friendly on the shelf. What is your deal?”

It went on like this throughout every shelf in the bathrooms, kitchen and refrigerator, as well as almost every room in the house (including the basement storage closets and the garage) for the next several months. The Husband even seemed annoyed when I kindly mentioned his sunglasses and pens in the glove compartment of his truck could stand to be arranged so the brand names faced out.

“Sweetie,” I’d purr, “front and face is designed for maximum visibility and organization. It really is the only way to go. I don’t get why you are so resistant to it.”

“MOV, enough! Geesh. If that is how your boss wants you to do stuff at work, fine. Last I checked, we don’t live in the high-end kitchen store.” He glared at me, his face a cocktail of pity and contempt. “If you wanna live at the high-end kitchen store, I’ll help you pack a suitcase.”

Ah, but he’d pack it wrong. All the labels would be facing down.

MOV
(“Mania Of Virgo”)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

525. Welcome to 4th Grade!

My younger son Short turned five in July. He goes to the local public school with other five-year-olds and is in what is traditionally referred to as “kindergarten.” This is, however, not what he announces to neighbors, friends, classmates, grandparents, complete strangers, and anyone else who will listen when we are out and about.

“I am in 4th grade!” he offers proudly and frequently. “Four! Four! Fourth grade! Grade four!”

After the hundredth or so time this happens, I decide to it is time to put an abrupt halt to his hallucinatory behavior.

“Short. You are in kindergarten. You are not in 4th grade.”

“I know! I know you are right! I already know that! That’s what I said! Listen, Mommy, what I said was, I’m in 4th grade!”

It feels like I am bickering with my accountant about whether my new black skirt from Nordstrom that I wear to work is really a tax write-off. Fine. I have no idea where this tenacious number four is coming from, but you win, Short. It isn’t even worth arguing about anymore.

My older son Tall gets infuriated when Short becomes possessed with The Power of Four, as we have started calling it around our house.

“Short!  Did you hear what Mom said?  You.  Are.  Not.  In.  4th.  Grade.  Get it through your kindergarten head!  I myself am in 2nd grade, and I'm older than you!  I'm seven!  Understand?!?  You can't even read, for goshsakes.  All you know is how to spell your name and how to count to ten.  Anyone can do that.  How is it possible that you are two years younger than me, but think you are in 4th grade?  Huh?  Can you explain that?”

Short shrugs.  “I only know what my teacher says.  She told me four.  Grade four.  Sorry if you're wrong, Tall, but I'm right.”  Another shrug.  Then, for emphasis, he holds up four chubby fingers on his right hand.  And, in case Tall still didn't comprehend reality, repeats loudly, “FOUR!  4th grade!”

Tall scowls.  Short smiles, then walks out of the room.  Winner. 

I had my mandatory parent/ teacher conference the other day (of course I was wearing the Nordstrom skirt), and the teacher was telling me all about what a great student Short is and what a delight he is to have in her class. I forgot all about the obsession with four.  Instead, I floated out of the classroom, high on myself and my obvious superior parenting skills. Once in the hall, I realized I had left my keys on the teacher’s conference table. I turned around to go back in and retrieve them. That’s when I saw it, the classroom number:

MOV

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

524. Betsey Johnson and The Lamborghini

I work at the high-end kitchen store, which is located in the Really Expensive Mall. We have stores like Cartier and Fendi and Chanel … and that’s just in the food court. What struck me as a teensy bit odd the other day was the Lamborghini parked inside next to Starbucks.

That’s right: inside. Not in the handicapped spot or in the yellow zone, or even on the actual sidewalk, but in the mall. I soon realized that it was the Really Expensive Mall’s answer to the kiosk. Other malls have impulse buys like Pillow Pets, Ice-Cream Dots, and Bead-A-Necklace; we have cars that cost more than my house.

So I walked past the stop-sign red (oh, the irony!) Lamborghini parked inside and who did I see flouncing along but Betsey Johnson. Okay, it wasn’t really Betsey Johnson, it was a girl who works in her store. This is what she was wearing to go to work:

She looked like Theatrical Barbie come to life. Her skirt was made of see-thru tulle, like a ballerina skirt. There were fake flower petals sewn into the hem. Her top was sequin-y and her shoes were taller than most catwalks. The whole mall, in fact, was her personal catwalk.

Instantly, maybe sooner, I became painfully self-conscious and regretful of my pathetic outfit, which I had thought (in my middle-aged stupidity) was a perfectly good idea for the high-end kitchen store.

I was cursing myself for not adding the sparkley barrette as I had initially intended. What. Was. I. Thinking.

Betsey Johnson Girl probably ate sparkley barrettes for breakfast. Her taste was the polar opposite of mine, wait—not even polar opposite: galaxy opposite.

I stood gawking at Betsey Johnson Girl, wondering if she got her Hollywood-Paris-Barbie clothes and make-up for free from working there or if she was just sort of, you know, born with them already attached.

Imagine my surprise when she addressed me.

“Ma’am? Excuse me, ma’am?”

I glanced around. I was the only one there, so she had to be talking to me.

“Yes?” I squeaked.

“I love your skirt.”

Huh? Was she mocking me? Why would she love my skirt? My antique brain realized that there was a moment hanging there, hanging in the air like a stray sequin. I needed to say something back to Betsey Johnson Girl, something nice about her shoes or purse or …

“Car. I love your car.” I nodded toward the Lamborghini. She laughed, getting my attempt at a joke. 

Turns out, we had exactly the same taste after all.

MOV
(“Magic Of Vroom”)

Monday, September 26, 2011

523. Voice of The Machine

So I call up Sammi about something or other (most likely to ask her how to spell Frangelico for my blog, she is super-smart) and I get the wrong number. Which I totally cannot understand as I have her on speed-dial.

The machine says, “Hello, you have reached 555-7399 but we are not available to take your call. If you could kindly leave your number, we will be happy to call you back. Thanks.” Beeeeep!

I immediately hang up, not because 555-7399 is not her number (it is), but because I do not recognize the male voice.

I call again, this time punching in each and every digit with extreme care and precision.

There is that Y-chromosome voice again. A hunky, husky, deep, wonderful Australian man’s voice. With a thick, beefy Australian accent. I can practically see kangaroos hopping behind him as he puts another shrimp on the barb-ee.

I swoon. Then hang up.

Re-dial. Swoon. Hang up. A half dozen more times.

Poor Sammi is getting more hang-ups than a Justin Timberlake look-alike two days before prom.

It is absolutely Sammi’s number, I’m sure of it. But her husband, nice as he is, is not Australian, nor even British. His mundane accent is, well if you must know, Lawyer.

“Hi Sammi,” I manage to say into the phone, finally, “Uh, it’s me, uh, MOV.” (Long silence where I somehow think that the Australian guy will magically start talking to me again, and maybe even address me directly instead of just generically. “So, uh, hey! I wanted to ask you a quick question, umm, could you call me back? Or could your, uh, friend call me back? He sounds nice.”

I hang up, completely embarrassed. Who flirts with a voice on the phone?!? Apparently I do. But not even a real live voice, a taped recording of a voice!

I call again to apologize for myself and my bizarre hormonal imbalance.

“Hi, me again. Well, you know. Your, ah, your machine cut me off, I think. Sorry. So, how do you spell Phranjelyko? I Googled it, but couldn’t find it. Maybe I spelled it wrong. Like maybe I dialed your number wrong. This is you, right? Sammi? Are you screening calls? So, uh, well, what is with the voice on your—”

*CLICK*

Geesh. I cannot call back. I contemplate emailing her, but think better of it. She will call me.

She does call me, the next day. She jabbers on and on about some Important Grant she has just received and I dutifully ooh and ahh. There is a slight lull in the conversation. I expertly maneuver the topic over to the voice on her phone with subtlety and finesse.

“WHO IS THAT SEXY GUY ON YOUR ANSWERING MACHINE??!?!!”

She laughs, a hearty Sammi-laugh, and I get the feeling this is not the first time she has been asked that question.

“It’s a very long story. Okay, not really that long. My cousin Sophie is married to an Australian guy. They lived, like, five minutes from here. Then, he was dying to move back to Sydney and next thing you know, they’re moving. I love love love his voice, which I apparently tell him all the time, so Shazam! he hijacks my answering machine and leaves this message. I am still not exactly clear on the details of how it happened. I just know I call and check my messages bare minimum five times a day now. From my cell phone. In the driveway.”

At least I’m not the only one.

MOV
(“Magical Otherworldly Voice”)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

522. That Time I Won

One day I was checking my blog comments, like I always do hourly, and I noticed a new comment that first appeared to be spam, but upon closer inspection was actually a notification of an important and crucially potentially career-boosting writing award.

“Dearest Wonderfulest Writer MOV,” the comment started, like so many of them typically do, “I am nominating you for a special blogging award called Versatile Blogger. Congratulations! Now, all you have to do is blah blah blah fine print who cares blah blah name some other bloggers blah blah send me a million dollars blah blah blabbity blah.”

I was winning an award! Again! This was so exciting! This was almost as good as that time I won “Most Improved Field Hockey” player after playing Junior Junior Varsity for three years. I would love to have been a fly on the wall during that behind-the-scenes award selection process:

Primary Coach: Has MOV quit hockey yet?

Assistant Coach: No. I keep hinting that this might not be the sport for her, yet she keeps showing up to practice.

PC: Well, I do give her that. The girl’s got tenacity.

Ass. Coach: Too bad she can’t trade that in for some skill. Or talent. Or coordination.

PC: I feel sorry for her.

Ass. Coach: Who doesn’t?

PC: Do you think she’s just staying on ‘til she wins some sort of award or medal or something? I get the feeling maybe she is doing this so it will look good on her college applications. What if we give her, I dunno, like Most Improved or something, then maybe she would go away?

Ass. Coach: Worth a shot!

But this time, no one was forced to choose me. Bluespeckledpup just picked me all on her own! There was absolutely no mention of this being pity-related at all! (Although, it did sound like she might have misinterpreted my blog as a Diet Blog—see what she wrote about me: “Don’t read with something in your mouth, though, or it might spray out your nostrils.” FYI disclaimer: I do not endorse anorosia-bulexia nor spraying food out of your nostrils as a dietary success method. Consult your doctor before embarking on a new weight-loss regime. Just so we’re clear, my blog recommends chocolate, wine, vodka, and trying to impress others, especially when it comes to parenting. This may cause weight loss, or in my case, weight gain.)

I just have to nominate a couple other blogs that I think people might want to be exposed to. Wait, “exposed to” sounds kinda germy. I meant, introduced to. Here goes:

  1. blue speckled pup (thank you for the award, my cyberpal!)
  2. southern fried children   I think if she lived next door to me, I would permanently move in with her just to hear her talk all day, she could be my new best friend (run, SFC, run!)
  3. cheese blarg Cheesey doesn’t really need a shout-out from me, there are like 1200 followers already
  4. daddy scratches   I know! A man can write too! Tell him MOV sent you (although he has no idea who I am, and look out there is a bit of 4-letter word type language just warning you)
  5. haley's comic  she draws stuff
  6. the new lunch lady   she writes a food/ recipe/ healthy family blog (kinda the antithesis of my blog?)
  7. jeannie jeannie oh, she is so artsy and New York-ish!  so cool!  stylish musings on steroids
So, thank you Blog-cyber-sphere and bluespeckledpup for my new award! I am wearing my freshly-polished tiara right now in anticipation of the TV crews who I know will be showing up on my doorstep at any moment!

MOV

Saturday, September 24, 2011

521. My Coffee Maker Joined The Army

I make gourmet cappuccinos every morning with my fabulous automatic espresso machine purchased for full price way before I ever worked at the high-end kitchen store. For reasons unknown to me, The Husband makes coffee on the weekends with his coffee machine bought on double clearance and an expired coupon at Target. I never really stopped to notice, but apparently The Husband’s coffee machine has a built-in clock. In typical Virgo fashion, I wear a highly-accurate Swiss watch (okay, two if you must know), so I never really worry about getting my time from an appliance designed to heat water and pump it over coffee grounds.

So it came as somewhat of a surprise to me when I walked in the dark kitchen one night and noticed that the coffee maker clock glowed “20:18.”

Now, having worked for the airlines for a good chunk of my adult life, I am well-acquainted with what those in the know call “military time.” 20:18 means 8:18 PM. To avoid confusion, the crew schedulers always gave us our assignments in military time, as in, “MOV, you will be working ID #9633 which is a three-day trip, layovers in Miami and Chicago, and you need to be at the airport at oh-five-thirty for check in.” If it was a red-eye flight, the scheduler might say, “ID #277, a two-day, laying over in Boston, check in is twenty-one-oh-five.” A flight attendant could never miss a trip by saying, “Oh, I thought you meant PM! Oops, you meant AM! So sorry!”

Last I checked, the coffee machine is not going to Miami.

Why the military time, coffee maker? We don’t even make coffee at night because, well, it tends to keep us up. Tell you what, CM (can I call you CM? I feel like we might be on a friendly basis by now), you don’t even need to show the time after 11 AM! That’s right! You can have the rest of the day off. The only hours that matter in Caffeine Land are 4AM—11AM. So stop blinking 16:00 at me! You are confusing me, and I left that part of my brain (the military time translating section) back on the tarmac at LAX.

I mention this interesting tidbit to The Husband, that his bargain coffee maker has this newly discovered talent of announcing military time.

“Huh, that’s cool,” says The Husband, barely looking up from his ESPN.

When I ask him to convert it back to normal people time, he just gives me a blank stare. “I don’t really know how to do that,” he says finally, apparently channeling me and my Amishness.

I do the only thing I can: I ask Tall.

“Tall,” I say, my voice full of caramel gooeyness, “do you think you could help Mommy program the coffee maker? You know, since you are good at electronical things?”

“Huh, I guess,” says my seven-year-old, barely looking up from taking apart our old computer and rebuilding a new motherboard for fun. “What seems to be the problem?”

After I explain the situation and walk out of the room, I hear him furiously pressing random buttons on the coffee maker for the next 30 seconds or so.

“All set, Mom!” he calls out.

He walks past me and gives me a goofy grin and a wink. Since when does he wink?

I look at the coffee maker’s clock. No more military time. It reads:

;) ;)

MOV

Friday, September 23, 2011

520. Why That Other Job Never Called Back

So I have lots of imaginary friends. We go to lunch, we email each other, we hang out. And then I ask them for job references when I am applying for jobs. Guess what they do then:

“FYI, MOV: I got a call from that job you applied for today re: the reference check ... I explained that I couldn’t really answer the online questionnaire they sent for previous employers because we’ve never worked together professionally.

So, they took a personal character reference instead, and of course I said you spanked your children regularly, routinely blow off commitments, are perpetually late and extremely disorganized, and that I wasn't even sure how you had managed to keep two children alive. ;)”

Uh, thank you?

MOV

Thursday, September 22, 2011

519. Bad Dream

Tall came home from school with his daily bushel of Random Important Papers. His homework sheet said that he had to put a small paper bag together with five things that were important to him. He would be giving an informal presentation in front of the class about why each thing held significance. The sheet gave acceptable examples, such as “A ballet shoe if you like to dance” or “A favorite stuffed animal” or even “A drawing you made of yourself and your grandpa playing baseball.” Tall and I sat down and brainstormed ideas for his special “All About Me” bag. He had tons of great ideas, and I knew that whatever he ended up choosing would be perfect.

As usual, I went to bed around 11 PM.  The next thing I knew, the clock read 8:10 AM (the school bus comes at 8:15) and he had somehow not done the bag yet. We frantically ran all around the house, basement, laundry room, garage, patio, backyard, and even our neighbor’s backyard (?) desperately looking for appropriate things to put in the “Me, Procrastinator Version” bag.

“I’ve got it! I’ve got it!” Tall shouted in my direction. “Just chill, Mom, I have all five things!

A wave of relief washed over me (maybe it was more like a jolt of relief, as it was to be short-lived). As a quick precautionary measure (or reflexive parenting, not sure which), I double-checked what was in the bag. Five gruesome things stared up at me sardonically:
  1. The remote control to the TV (“I like to watch TV whenever I can, sometimes more”) and two back-up AAA batteries (“We go through a lot of batteries, what with all the violent cartoons and movies we watch and the excessive channel-surfing”)
  2. A half-eaten bag of M&M’s (“I thought my teacher and the School Nutritionist might like to know what we really eat for breakfast every day”)
  3. A handheld computer game called “Crazy Drivers With Big Guns and Lots of Noise, Level 8” that I had never seen before (“You let me buy this with my birthday money last year, remember, Mom?”)
  4. Three crumpled dollar bills (“This is to illustrate to my peers that money and what I can buy is the most important thing, and that my values are completely hollow”)
  5. A sheet of paper that at first glance looked like an innocent Christmas list. Thousands of things were written in minuscule writing on the multi-page list, with the heading: “Stuff I Want To Buy Or Other People Should Buy Me Immediately If Not Sooner.”
I woke up in a cold sweat. Ohmygod-ohmygod-ohmygod. The Husband walked into the room.

“MOV, it’s 7:05, I let you sleep an extra five minutes, but you’d better get up now. The kids are already dressed and I fed them breakfast. Tall wants to show you his school project, and he wants to know if it’s okay for him to take his soccer medal and that turtle he painted at the ceramic place. I told him to ask you, because the turtle might break. What do you think?”

I bolted out of bed to look at his bag. No remote control or batteries. No junk food/ candy. No horrible mystery video game that did not exist in real life. No dollar bills.

There was the soccer medal. The orange and yellow turtle. A LEGO airplane he had designed himself and built from spare LEGO pieces. Surprisingly, a Sacajawea coin cozied up to the turtle.

“Tall? Sweetie? Money is not the most important thing and our values are not hollow, so why are you taking this coin to school?” I could feel my voice rising.

“Well, I thought it would be cool to show everyone ‘cause the Tooth Fairy brought it to me.”

“Oh, oh, yeah. All right. That’s nice.” I smiled weakly. I reached in the bag and pulled out a rolled up piece of paper. I warily unrolled it, bracing for the materialistic Christmas list. Instead, I saw a detailed drawing of four smiling people and a large misshapen black and white horse, all holding hands (or hooves).

“This is not what I was expecting,” I mumbled to myself. “What’s this?”

Tall beamed at me, proud of his art. “That’s our family including the cat ... do you like it?”

I did.  A lot. 

MOV

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

518. When It's Your Birthday

You want to walk around and have people automagically KNOW, not have to ask or guess, but just somehow know that today is your birthday. How would the clerk at 7-11 who has never seen you before in his life know that it’s your birthday? Who cares—the point is, he should just psychically know (oh, wait, he could look at the date on your driver’s license when he cards you for buying alcohol—getting carded is a compliment because it implies that you look younger than 21, and really wouldn’t you be completely happy with even 31 right now? You know, Baskin-Robbins is happy with 31. The month of March is happy with 31. Thirty-one would be a remarkable score on 9-holes of golf, but a fairly awful score for bowling. Thirty-one is considered a nice number in the game of age.). But no one seems to know it’s your birthday, if fact, they seem to be taking great pains to NOT know.

Today is my birthday! you want to scream selfishly and narcissistically, it’s not like you expect everyone to break into song or do back handsprings or noisily tap-dance, just a small, Oh, good for you, wow, I didn’t know, happy birthday! would suffice.

You go to your older son’s school and volunteer, just as you have every single Wednesday since last week. The office people know you by now, and they have only gotten your name wrong twice, okay, well, three times but probably that was because you mumble.

So you help them in the office with some projects like sorting mail, all the time humming a little song under your breath, a little song that sounds suspiciously like “Happy Birthday.” No one notices. You curse yourself for not wearing some sort of goofy party hat that screams BIRTHDAY GIRL ROCKS but you were afraid that it might not be taken literally (the one time you want something to be taken literally) and that everyone would think you were being ironic or something, making fun of society’s fascination/ obsession with age and youth and beauty, etcetera, or advertising some sort of new unknown British band but really you just want someone to say

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

which is what your voice mail says when you check it later, your mom called first thing and apparently you missed the call.

You get home from an exhausting hour of volunteering and mail-sorting to be greeted by your own mail, which includes (excitingly) two rather large boxes that look strangely like birthday packages. They are from two friends (yay—this means you have at least, bare minimum, two friends!) and you debate whether you should open them now by yourself or wait until your family comes home. Now/ later/ now/ later/ now/ later. Instant gratification now is winning out, but later is guilt-free. NOWlater NOWlater. Your older son gets home from school, and you decide that is a little bit later than now, but not quite as later as LATER later, but oh well. It is your day, so you get to decide.

You open the packages while your older son helps by popping the bubble paper loudly, and the boxes are full of fabulous things you love, like chocolate, and you are basking in the fabulousness that is having a birthday. Even if random strangers that you haven’t ever mentioned it to DON’T REALIZE that it’s your birthday, you can lovingly forgive them.

Cards have arrived in the mail. Cards with fancy pictures of cakes and candles, cards with money inside (thanks, Mom) and cards with gift-cards taped securely in place.

When you went to work at the high-end kitchen store last night, your boss gave you a gift. You were not expecting it at all, you sort of just froze and looked at her and did not understand why she was handing you a box with a neatly-tied ribbon. She said, “I know your birthday is actually tomorrow, but Happy Birthday!” and you smiled and said, “Birthday?” weakly, like you did not know what the word meant, like she had said, I need you to get several carts and break down all the props from the window displays because our Displays-Visual Manager is on vacation and so you will need to do it all, you have 20 minutes, good luck! But that is not what she said. She said “Happy Birthday.”

Lots of people have remembered your birthday.

It is a good day so far, and it’s only 3 o’clock.

MOV

Monday, September 19, 2011

517. My New Top-Secret Job

I started my new top-secret job recently. I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but I am at liberty to reveal that I work in a medical facility. I noticed on my very first day that pretty much all the medical-type people are wearing scrubs, and even though my particular job would not typically be classified as “medicalish,” I decided to take a chance and ask my supervisor if it would be okay if I wore scrubs, too.

My supervisor thought about my request for an appropriate amount of time (two seconds, possibly three) then said decisively, “I don’t care one way or another.”

That means I get to wear scrubs!

Have you ever worn scrubs? They’re like pajamas!

I immediately went out and bought a couple of sets. I was ultra-worried that the uniform people at the Uniform Selling Place would ask for my non-existent medicalish ID badge before letting me walk into the store and try on anything. Nope. I thought the clerk would say, “Ma’am? I need a notarized letter from your boss and a copy of your last three paychecks verifying that you do, indeed, work in a medical kind of place.” She didn’t. Instead, she said, “We take Visa, Mastercard, American Express, personal checks with a valid driver’s license, and layaway.”

I’m not sure why she mentioned the layaway part. Have you priced scrubs lately? I spent more on a grande triple latte Frappuccino this morning than I paid for the scrubs.

The Husband was irritated when I got home from the Uniform Selling Place.  He took one look at the bulging shopping bag and said, “Oh, God, what sort of scheme is it this time?”

“I told you, I was picking up my new uniform.”

“Uniform? Ha! Uniform makes it sound like that’s what they wanted you to wear. You casually mention to your supervisor that you want to wear scrubs and they say whatever, and next thing you know—more random clothes clogging up your closet.”

“These are not random clothes. These are my scrubs.” I said the word scrubs like one might say diamond tiara if one were, say, Princess Kate Middleton.

Sure enough, the other parents at the bus-stop noticed my officially officialish medicalia attire right away.

“Halloween is not for a few more weeks, right?” I heard one bus-stop mom whisper to another.

“This is not a costume,” I corrected. (Working in the medical building doing important non-medical things had apparently enhanced my hearing.) “I work in a medical facility.”

I could tell by the rapt expression on her face she was waiting for me to elaborate. She wanted me to say something like, “I am secretly a podiatrist,” or “I perform open-heart surgery on my days off from the high-end kitchen store,” or “I am studying to be a manicurist at a fancy day spa.”

Instead, I gave her an enigmatic smile, a smile that said, Hon, you can fill in the blanks for yourself.

A new level of respect surrounded me at the bus-stop, a level that reverberated, “MOV is obviously super-duper-magruper smart, because she works at some sort of medical kind of office, and she wears scrubs!”

I braced myself for the questions that I knew would follow, questions like, “MOV, Tyler’s had a nasty cough for over a week, do you think it’s bronchitis?” or “Could you give me a second opinion on this suspicious mole on my ankle?” or “Does this mean you won’t be driving the soccer carpool on Thursday afternoons anymore?”

Even though I was armed with answers to those questions (yes, no, yes), they knew better than to use up all their questions the very first time they saw me in uniform. They decided to pace themselves and save most (okay: all) of their questions for another day.

I spent the better part of 20 minutes lovingly ironing my precious scrubs this evening so they would be spectacularly medically beauteous for tomorrow morning.

“You know you can just toss those in the dryer on high and all the wrinkles will come out on their own?” inquired The Husband helpfully right when I was finishing up. “I thought that is why you bought them: the minimal care required.”

The Husband does know me well. I like things with minimal care required, things like invisible dogs and second homes that don’t exist but The Husband and I talk about as if they do (“Oh, sorry, I’d love to help out on that school volunteer project fundraiser, but we’ll actually be at our second home in Portugal that week.”) But he forgot one crucial detail: Looking smart trumps minimal care.

I just went online and ordered a new accessory I figure I can wear every day with my scrubs: a stethoscope.

MOV

Sunday, September 18, 2011

516. Master's Thesis In Architecture

I love architecture. I love anything relating to floor plans or houses or design. If what you’re holding in your hands has the words “blue” and “print” on it, I want to see.  Even though my college degree is in English Literature, I initially majored in Architecture (Architectural Engineering, to be precise). I drop this fascinating little tidbit into conversation whenever the opportunity allows:

Random co-worker: So, MOV, my cousin, she’s an architect in Boston, is helping us design our new house.
Me: That’s so exciting! You know, I majored in Architecture.

OR

New neighbor: Do you happen to know a good designer, MOV? Because we might be adding on to the back of our house.
Me: That’s so funny you ask, because I went to school for Architecture.

OR

Person I just met at a party: It’s so nice to meet you, MOP! Susie mentioned that you work at the high-end children's store?
MeI actually studied Architecture.

AND

Complete stranger in line ahead of me at Starbucks: Excuse me, ma’am, I think you knocked over that coffee bean display with your purse.
Me: I’m an architect!

So, as you can see, there are different times when I may or may not have mentioned it to loved ones and just really super-close friends.

The only reason I bring this up is because I am completely dismayed by homes being built today.

(*ALERT: blog takes serious tone, for once)

I frequently tour new construction houses in the process of being built. Some might call this “trespassing,” I prefer to call it “Continuing Education and Independent Studies in Architecture.” I’ve noticed an alarming trend out there: Bad houses.

We are going to fix this, right here, right now. How, you say? Well, I’m going to tell you what makes a good house, and you are going to forward this blog to everyone on your email list. I mean, EVERYONE. I will keep up my end of the bargain (keep reading), and then you need to hit the forward key.  Done.

Homes today are outdated. (I'm not talking about some historical, Gone With The Wind-type property here, so don't get all upset.)  You most likely do not wear the same style of clothing that your parents or grandparents wore at your same age. (Poodle skirt, anyone?) This begs the question: Why are we living in houses that are from another era, completely outmoded, that have ceased to work for the way families live today? Small, choppy rooms. A formal living room that never gets used and pretty much serves as a furniture museum and a separate family room where everyone really does hang out. A kitchen that is a far away from all the other rooms. No formal entry/ foyer to set your purse and keys and hang up your coat. A floor plan with two or three separate floors where the family is wasting time and energy going up and down all day. Not enough windows/ connection to the outside. These features (lack of features) may have worked for our grandparents 50 years ago, but they are a dismal match for our current needs.

Number One Important Thing: The house should take advantage of the view. The End. I mean, come on. Why do I even need to type this? This should be common sense. The house I toured this morning is adjacent to a spectacular park. The grass is green, the trees are mature, there is a creek involved. Guess which room takes advantage of this view? The upstairs hall bathroom! And the closet (with no window). Are you kidding me? The entire living room should have floor to ceiling windows of the gorgeous park! It was as if the owner of the lot looked through a book of floor plans and said, This one might be okay. It is not okay!  EACH HOUSE SHOULD BE SITE SPECIFIC. What a tragic lost opportunity.

I could go on and on and on and on (and on) about that one issue all day long, but you get the gist.

Moving forward.  I have designed a basic home that works in most situations where there is not really a view one way or another. I affectionately call this house “The H,” due to its H-shape. The kitchen and entry are the center of the H. The main public (daytime) rooms are on one side of the H, and the other part of the H is all the bedrooms. It is a simple design, really.

Wanna see?

Here:

My plan works for several reasons. One is that it gives the family an entry, a respite from outside, a spot to set down their things and regroup before continuing into the home. THIS TRANSITION IS IMPORTANT. If you are building a home, put an entry in it. If your current existing home does not have it, consider adding it somehow, or at least trying to make some sort of area that can serve this function.

My H plan also acknowledges that the kitchen is the center of our lives, the gathering spot. I put the kitchen right smack dab in the middle, with a nice patio off the back.

The patio is also accessible from the master bedroom and the living room (notice there is NO family room, which means that the living room really is the place to enjoy and LIVE).

The living room is in the back of the house, looking at the backyard and patio. The dining room is the room where the family is intended to eat and be together, it is not a drop-all zone for junk from the front door. THAT IS WHY I PUT IN AN ENTRY FOYER AREA!

The kitchen is not fleshed out in exact detail, but let me tell you right now, there is not room for a table. There would be an island with bar stools, but the family is meant to eat (I repeat) in the dining room. That is the room with a nice table and chairs and NO TELEVISION. Use it.

The bedrooms are separate from the main rooms, which means that if the kids are asleep, the parents can have some friends over for a cocktail and conversation in the living room and not have to worry about waking anyone up.

There is a nice study/ library tucked away to type on the computer or pay bills. It is in a private area not encumbered with distractions.

This plan also includes a mudroom. The mudroom is essentially a space that connects the outside garage area to the home. So, if the owner happens to be bringing in groceries or muddy kids from soccer or hockey games, there is an appropriate spot to enter.

The beauty of this H floor plan is that most of the rooms can have windows on two sides. This is great for light and also for cross-ventilation.

I love this floor plan. I am so proud of it. Obviously, it needs all the details mapped out, like closet placement and exact cabinets arrangement in the kitchen, etc. But for the most part, the design is nice and solid.

Just like the letter H.

MOV

Friday, September 16, 2011

515. I Don't Have Enough Time To Be Pretty

A strange, strange phenomenon has occurred in my life since I had children and hit my 40’s, and that is: I’m tired. I wake up tired, in the middle of the day I’m tired, and when I cannot fall back asleep sometimes at 3 AM when I am awake for no reason I am still tired. What this means is that I’ve had to prioritize in my life, really evaluate what needs doing, as in, downright essential, and what does not need to be accomplished so much as it is a “nice to have.” Being pretty falls into the category of “nice to have.”

Wash dirty dishes? Essential. Buy milk? Must do. Throw away tsunami of junk mail before it threatens to engulf our entire front entry hall? Crucial. Help child with homework assignment which involves counting how many plugs and light switches are in the house and approximating the dollar amount spent per plug/ switch per month by analyzing the latest electric bill? Urgent. Spend one hour blow-drying my hair? Not so much.

Here is a list of things that no longer fight for time-slots in my day:

• Make-up: eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick, or any of these components separately
• Shampooing hair
• Conditioning hair
• Drying hair (see above)
• Curling hair (I have long, stringy hair)
• Hair-spraying hair
• Brushing hair
• Putting cute barrette in hair
• Jewelry of any kind (plastic Timex watch does not count)
• Dry cleaning nice outfit (vs. desperately pawing through heap of wrinkled but clean clothes on basement floor five minutes after I should have left for work)
• Ironing outfit
• Manicure 
• Pedicure 
• Flossing teeth
• Doing a good and thorough job flossing teeth
• Bleaching teeth (I used to do this, I swear I did)
• Plucking eye-brows
• Polishing shoes
• Packing myself a simple and healthy lunch to take with me (vs. paying $10 for convenient junk food on my break)
• Working out in the morning (or any time of day for that matter), which includes a doctor-recommended mix of cardio and weight training
• Walking to work to my new top-secret job, which is literally a half mile from my house (vs. driving and then lying about it to my new boss—“I live so close! I walk every day!”)

I used to be naturally beautiful, breath-taking/ super-model/ stop-and-look-again beautiful, for about a week in my 20’s. Okay, maybe more like two days.

Now, sadly, there is more work involved, and apparently, less time to do it in. Is it just me, or have the 24-hour days that we were raised on suddenly morphed into 19-hour days without giving us any advance notice? I would actually be happy if this were the case, because it would explain a lot.

Every morning, I focus on my kids: Getting them up, making insightful wardrobe recommendations (“I don’t care, as long as it’s clean!”), making their breakfast, politely reminding them that it would be a good idea to brush their teeth (“Brush! Teeth! Now!”), helping them retrieve their (unfinished) homework from the previous day (this might be when I am first informed of the counting-of-the-plugs accounting experiment and advanced calculus problem), locating their coats (which I know I saw in the front closet yesterday), getting their shoes from the Great Mystery Shoe Places scattered around our home …

Have I proved my point yet? I don’t have time to be pretty.

I haven’t even talked about cleaning up the house. Dishes. Laundry. Mail. Unmade beds.

The Husband and I have an understanding, and that is: either I can be pretty, the house can be pretty, or the kids can be pretty. But not all at once.

I catch sight of myself in the rearview mirror on the short drive to work. Ack! Who’s she? She is not that girl from that weekend in 1994, the one who was mistaken for a model. Not even close. She is a mom, a tired mom, who is tired of fighting the war against the Not Pretty. Okay, Not Pretty, you win.

This time.

MOV

Thursday, September 15, 2011

514. Yes, Because I'm Magic

So I’m at the high-end kitchen store, doing my job. People are walking in, I am directing them towards kitcheny stuff they want to buy, and all is well. Until. There’s always an “until,” isn’t there? This lady comes in and asks for paring knives in bright colors.

I take her to the “Cookin’ Utensils, Etc,” bins and show her the knives. They come in red, yellow, blue, green, orange, and apparently

“Purple,” says the lady, “I saw them at your other store in a lovely shade of lavender.”

“Which store?” I inquire.

“The Other Kitchen Place.”

I take a breath.

“We’re not The Other Kitchen Place. We are The High-End Kitchen Store. Our logo is the golden bumblebee. Theirs is a squirrel on an olive branch throwing orange confetti. See?” I pick up one of our catalogs with the classy bee on the front and point at it helpfully. “Bee.”

She is not happy with my explanation. “No, what I meant was: purple.” She dons a fake smile, the kind that says, I-would-not-even-stoop-to-hold-a-conversation-with-you-you-loser-if-I-didn’t-need-the-knives-you-sell.

I know what purple is. I know we don’t carry purple paring knives, nor have we ever carried purple paring knives, nor do we have any plans in the immediate future to carry purple paring knives. (And between you and me, what kind of lunatic wants a purple paring knife, anyway?)

“I said, PURPLE,” she shout-whines, like a petulant teen-ager.

I stare at her pretty face. She looks like an exotic doll, black silky hair, shimmery dark eyes the color of shadows, olive skin to make tanning booths jealous, all ruined by her snotty attitude.

“I am very sorry, miss,” I say sincerely, “but there is no purple. Maybe you would like red? The red is very nice.”

She makes a little squeak noise, like, “Eihnh.” Followed by, “Well, then you’d better look in the back.”

I love love love when customers tell me to look in the back. They think “the back” is a Costco warehouse with all kinds of discontinued coffee machines and purple paring knives.

I debate my options. Option one: Tell her again that we do not carry purple. Option two:

“Sure. No problem. I’ll be right back.”

I disappear for a sensible amount of time, say three minutes. All the while I am wanting to call out to the Cookin’ Utensils, Etc:  Here, knifey-knifey-knifey, like the purple knife is a stray dog that we recently adopted from the Humane Society (Kitchen Division) and it somehow got loose in our back room, which, by the way, is not the size of Costco, but more the size of my basement linen closet.

I walk back out, empty-handed. She looks at me, assesses my pale hands holding nothing but air and space and time and bad luck, and asks,

“Well? Did you find any?”

What I want to say: I was able to procure purple knives for you after all. Because I’m magic.

What I do say: “Nope, sorry.” I shrug, a gesture to cement the futility of my search.

“I think you need to talk to the manager then, he would know for sure,” says the exceedingly beautiful but now totally on my personal-Bad-List customer. “Get him now.”

I walk over to Holden, who has been doing his very best to hide behind the new feature of “Taste of Autumn.” He is suddenly quite engrossed in studying the exact pyramid formation of a stack of Harvest Apple Jam jars and comparing it to our corporate photo sheet. 

“Holden, this customer wants to know if we sell purple knives?”

He looks at me like I may have lost my mind, or at least temporarily misplaced it in the linens aisle.

“MOV, you know that I have only worked here two years, and you have worked here, what—four years? Have you ever seen a purple knife? Lilac? Lavender? Violet? Periwinkle? Mauve? Fuchsia?” He rattles off color variations faster than any straight guy not employed by Benjamin Moore has a right to. Working retail can do that to a person.

I lean in toward him and whisper, “Will you tell her? Please? She does not seem to believe me.”

“Ma’am?” Holden approaches the woman, who is now in the process of taking every cookbook off our shelves and putting them all back in the wrong places, “We do not sell purple knives.”

“But I saw it in the catalog, I know that I—”

“No.”

“Are you saying it's discontinued then? Because I—”

“We. Do. Not. Carry. It.”

At this very moment, straight or not, married or not, I want to hug Holden for not backing down to Purple Knife Lady. He is my new hero in a bumblebee embroidered apron.

“Are you sure?” she asks, one last time to emphasize her own personal brand of OCD-ness.

Positive.”

“In that case, I will go ahead and buy the red one. Close enough.”

Now she abandons her preferred color choice as if it were a crumpled napkin at a picnic that got rained out. 

She walks up to the cash register and hands me the red paring knife. I dutifully ring up her purchase, when she catches sight of some purple spatulas in a display.

“You carry spatulas!” she beams, as if she has only seen them in movies but never in real life. “Do these come in black?”

MOV
("Mystery Of Violet")

513. The Ultimate Recycler

Talk turns, as often does, to recycling. The Husband and I are discussing our final final (as in final) wishes, and I state clearly (which negates any Will I may or may not have written at a previous time): You may put my ashes in a Baskin-Robbins container.

The Husband, as has been known to do in the past, laughs when I am being serious. (And the equally cruel if not more cruel corollary: Does not laugh when I am joking.) Why does he not believe/ not-want-to-carry-out my final wishes? Have you seen the urn choices available lately? They are not pretty.

I thought for a long long time (okay, six seconds) about what type of container would be appropriate for my Queen Virgo ashes. (Appropriate answer: none.) Then I thought, Aha! A Haagen-Dazs container! However, upon going to the freezer and inspecting the plethora of Haagen Dazs (and let me interject by saying that when I was younger I thought it was “Hog and Dots”) containers littering the landscape of our otherwise uninhabited freezer, it became painfully clear to me that Haagen Dazs not only makes delicious ice-cream, they also care about the environment and make their containers out of flimsy biodegradable paper.

Hence, the upgrade in urn materials (plastic) and the downgrade in ice-cream (Baskin-Robbins).

Before you email me saying how Baskin-Robbins is waaaaaaaaaay better than any other kind (and you are absolutely right about mint-chip), please remember that my ashes will not be in there for all eternity: I want my family members to sprinkle (read: fling while trying to make sure the wind does not blow my ashes back onto unfortunate family members or funeral director whom I have never met but who will run the funeral saying things like, “All who knew her loved her,” and “She was a really hard worker,” while all my former co-workers from the high-end kitchen store snicker) my ashes into the water (lake, ocean, river, tributary, whatever) while they run through a slide show of my (fabulous, yet tragically cut short at the tender age of 98) life.

So you see, I (or “The Ashes of MOV”) won’t actually be in the Baskin-Robbins pint container very long.

I hear laughing. Maybe my full-sized bones are not quite tiny enough for a pint. Maybe a quart might be suitable. (I heard you again! Stop saying “gallon”!)

So. On the ship. Queen Mary, Cunard, Crystal Cruises. Throwing ashes overboard from the Baskin-Robbins container.

It is fitting, isn’t it? Considering how much I love love love love love love love love love love did I mention love ice cream. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

So that’s it for today. It wasn’t meant to be funny. It was just meant to save The Husband $119.00 on a stupid urn he doesn’t even want so he could make better use of that money at the roulette wheel on the cruise.

MOV
P.S. Not a paid advertisement by Haagen Dazs. Or Baskin-Robbins.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

512. Nominated! For, Like, An Emmy!

I was nominated today. And not, as you might choose to believe, for “Wearing Ugliest Office Fashions.” No. This was a real true nomination for the Best Blog of the Universe for 2011. Oh, wait—maybe it was for “Meme Blog” which means either “All the Same” or “Me-me-me-me” or “Short on Memory Space” (that could have been it). Well, the point is, someone somewhere is reading my blog and wanted me to answer a simple questionnaire about myself. I glanced at the questions and noticed that they did not once ask for my bra size, American Express card, or Social Security number, so we were in good shape.

Here are the questions and my answers, and then at the end I nominate some other bloggers to take part in this cyber-lovefest. The whole goal (I think, no one really explained it to me or maybe I just didn’t feel like reading the fine print) is to get exposure for some super-cool other blogs. I am very excited to help.

How It Works:

1) Blogger is nominated to take part
Pay attention, this part already happened, see above.

2) Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category

- Your most beautiful post
327. Snapshots Of Me

– Your most popular post
429. That Super Helpful Flight Attendant
About 3000 more views than any other post (or maybe that was 30, I’m not very good at math).

– Your most controversial post
459.  My Job Has Forced Me To Become An Alcoholic
This was not my most controversial. I just like it a lot. Maybe me putting a non-controversial post in the category of most controversial is actually controversial?

– Your most helpful post
340. How To Plan A Vacation In 18 Easy Steps

– A post whose success surprised you
489. Spanish Alzheimer's

– A post you feel didn’t got the attention it deserved
150. Champion

– The post that you are most proud of
368. Motherhood Is Orange

3) Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part

1. Pie Near Woman   (this is a satire/ spoof of Pioneer Woman)
2.  Happy Hour Mama (same vibe as my blog:  mom trying to do it all and laughing about it later)
3. Mama Is A Four Letter Word (on temporary hiatus, but worth reading her archives!)
4. Windy City Publishers Blog  (oh, you will like this one!  a lot!)
5. Just Inappropriate (do we go around in a circle forever now?)

4) These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers
Okay, people, the ball is in your court.  Now get over to those other blogs and check it out!

5) And so it goes on like a bad double episode of Entourage or an extremely narcissistic and effective chain mail letter

Thank you, Mary at Just Inappropriate, for the nomination. Queen Virgo just got her tiara back from the cleaners, and was looking for an excuse to wear it.

MOV

511. Opposite-ing

Do you know what opposite-ing is? Of course you do. If you have a husband or a small child, then you are well acquainted with opposite-ing. It is the phenomenon where you do something, something good like, say, set the old heavy wool blanket by the front door so you will remember to put it back in your car later where it belongs, and then your beloved husband comes along and does something bad (hence, the term opposite-ing) to “help” you and he takes the blanket (that he knows resides permanently in your car) all the way down to the linen closet in the basement and puts it on the shelf where it most certainly does not belong. You, however, in your naiveté (even though you have been married over 10 years and should surely know your husband and all his quirks by this point), think that he might have been proactive and put it back in the car for you. Well, actually, you don’t even think about it, because: out of sight, out of mind.

Until you are looking for some kitchen dish towels in the closet a week later, and there is the blanket, saluting you. Hi, you! calls out blanket, and you think, Huh? I distinctly remember putting the blanket by the front door, how in the world did the blanket get all the way down here where it does not belong?

Then you have your answer: opposite-ing.

Children are great opposite-ers. You make your bed, they come along and pull every sheet, pillow, blanket, dust ruffle off to make a “fort.” (Be assured that opposite-ing is not just reserved for things like blankets, these are only two small examples in less than a 24-hour time period.) You vacuum the living room, and one of your children immediately remembers his live plant the teacher gave him and he must show you this instant and—whoops!—just like that, he spills all the dirt in the small pot all over your (formerly) freshly-vacuumed carpet. Opposite-ing at its finest.

You put all the children’s shoes away in the closet where they belong. Ten seconds later, your home resembles a shoe factory that has vomited all over your living room. Seems the kids got all the shoes back out because they “couldn’t find them” when they are stored in the closet. Opposite-ing in pairs.

You bring the stack of clean but wrinkled laundry upstairs to fold and you set it on the bed and when you take a quick phone call, the pile is gone. Where did it go? Your husband took it downstairs and put it in the hamper. So it can be washed. Pure, clean, opposite-ing.

You set a stick of butter on the counter first thing in the morning because you are going to make cookies later and you need the butter to soften up for your special recipe. Your husband comes along and, unbeknownst to you, puts the butter back in the fridge to be “helpful.” You find this out when you have preheated the oven and gotten out your mixer and laid out the rest of your ingredients and are now ready to mix, and the butter has somehow disappeared.  Raw opposite-ing.

You set the library books that are due today right next to the front door as a visual reminder so you will take them back to the library before a three-figure sum is owed (again), and your husband comes along and—POOF!—the books have vanished! You assume (because you are not just naïve, but stupid) that your husband took the books back to the library himself. That is, until that very night when you go to read a bed-time story to your children and you reach on the shelf for a book and you see (to your horror) several library books nestled in among the books you do, in fact, own. You recognize the books, the library books, because they clearly stand out as “different,” namely because they have Dewey Decimal call numbers on them and are covered in special library-plastic that you have no idea where to buy or if it is even sold to consumers. You are well aware that you do not own any books covered in this special heavy-duty-millions-of-people-can-touch-this-book-and-it-won’t-be-ruined plastic. You call out to your husband and say something along the lines of Why are these books that were by the front door on OUR bookshelf now? To which he responds (helpfully), I put them away for you! I was being helpful!

Opposite-ing in its pulp-fiction form, my friends.

I could think of myriad more examples, I know I could, but I have to zip out right now. To the library. Before they close.

MOV

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

510. Presto Change-O

I started my new job. I can’t tell you what it is, because it's too top-secret, and I might have to erase your memory banks if you should find out. However, suffice it to say: I have to wear business attire to an actual office.

I have been a mommy for close to eight years now. My current wardrobe options consist of shorts, t-shirts from Target, unfashionable swimsuits, sweats (also known as “pajamas” or “suitable enough for the grocery store”), jeans, baseball caps (to control unwieldy/ dirty hair), and taffeta ball gowns. Don’t ask me why I have taffeta ball gowns (or tiaras for that matter). They are left over from when I pretended I had somewhere important to go, like maybe to a wedding or a fancy party where they serve champagne in actual crystal flutes, or out to dinner at an elegant restaurant that did not have “Mc” in the title and paper placemats on the tables.

I guess what I am trying to say here is: I don’t have the right clothes for my new job.  Not even close.  I had the Interview Suit and the Follow-Up Interview Suit, and, well … that was about it.  (For a brief moment-- very brief, okay maybe not that brief-- I contemplated wearing my United Airlines uniform as a nice suit option for one of the days.  Sadly, I could no longer zip the skirt, and I realized that cute scarf I had held onto all these years since quitting was adorned with tiny airplanes-- all this time I thought they were triangles.)  I went straight out to Nordstrom to correct this little wardrobe deficiency, only to be reminded that Nordstrom clothes cost more than my first five paychecks combined.

After wearing the Interview Suit and the Follow-Up Interview Suit on my first two days of work, I hit the department stores once again. I was lucky enough to find a big sale, and was able to buy a few nice pairs of pants that I can rotate in with the separate pieces from the initial Interview Suit.

Here’s what I did not factor into the clothing equation: walking the kids to the bus-stop in the morning. It is a short walk, but we are usually in a hurry, and the grass is wet and slippery, and I do not want to wrinkle my pristine new Office Fashions nor risk somehow slipping and getting mud on said outfit.  Today I opted to wear normal MOV attire to the bus (read:  shorts and a t-shirt) and then change after I got home before going to work.

The clock scowled at me. “MOV, not a smart move! Yes, you do have a very short commute, shorter than most people, but you are adding 15 minutes to your day! You might be late to your new top-secret job now!”

I don’t really like it when the clock has to offer its opinion, especially when it is right.

Today, my new boss had only scheduled me for a half day, to sort of “ease” me into the routine and get me acclimated to everything. Which means: I was able to pick up Short from the school bus after his half day of school. I had just enough time to change out of my Office Fashions before greeting the bus.

For a split-second, I thought that maybe I should have worn the Office Fashions on top of my regular clothes, then taken off the extra layers in a phone booth, like Clark Kent/ Superman, before I resumed my role as clever and beguiling Supermom.

Office Fashions/ mom clothes/ Office Fashions/ mom clothes.  My brain was spinning over what I should wear to the bus-stop.  And didn't I want to impress all the bus-stop parents with my new Office Fashions so they would all know I had a top-secret new job?  Should I just stay in the Office Fashions, even though that brown splotch on the front of my blouse may or may not have been a coffee stain (and not part of a "flower pattern" as previously thought)?        

It was tempting, but in the end, I ultimately did change into the only thing that was still clean and ironed in my closet: the taffeta ball gown.

MOV

Monday, September 12, 2011

509. Why The iPhone Was Not Designed For Me

All my friends have iPhones. They laugh at me for not having one, saying things behind my back, like “MOV is Amish.” It doesn’t matter that I have uttered that very phrase on several occasions on my blog, when someone else says it, well … it stings.

Okay, people, this is why I do not have an iPhone (besides the high cost, I mean):  My fingers are too fat. If you saw my fingers, you would say, “Those certainly look like normal size fingers to me,” and they are, but the kind of fingers you need for an iPhone are skeleton sized. Think: bony.

I already know that there are problems with having fingers wider than a strand of spaghetti, namely that you might accidentally type in the wrong thing. (One of my friends, okay it’s Sammi, even has gone so far as to put a permanent apology in her signature line, reading “Plesae excuse brevitg and typos, sent hrom my iPhone.”) See, what I mean? Sammi has super-model fingers, like Kate Moss but even thinner, and she still struggles with typing on the molecule-sized iPhone.

I receive a lot of email from my iPhone friends (iFriends?) that inadvertently were sent to soon. Is this an iProblem with the iPhone? Is the “send” key, like, the size of Africa?
I will receive a desperate email like, “MOV! Can you help me? I really need to you babysit my kids this coming”  BOOP!  This coming what? Friday? October? When? Or, I will get an email divulging important information such as, “MOV, remember I told you I spoke to my brother after that big fight he and I had? Well, I was really torn with that advice you gave me, but in the end when he called back, I told him”  BOOP!  What did you tell him? Argh! It’s like watching the best part of a movie and having the power go out! The funny thing is, my friends don’t even realize they’re doing it.

So, you see, I will not be buying an iPhone any time soon. It is just too easy to make mistakes and then not be ab




.

508. Can You Call It Insomnia?

I don’t get insomnia. When I go to sleep, I sleep hard. We’re talking coma sleep, the kind that barking dogs, car alarms, and jets taking off in my front yard cannot interrupt. So it should come as somewhat of a surprise when I woke up this morning at 1:30 AM.

Paint the scene. Yesterday, I worked at the high-end kitchen store. I had a piercing headache all day, the kind of headache that you try to disguise at work, that you walk around rubbing your temples as inconspicuously as possibly while squeaking out phrases like, “Did you need help with blenders?” all the while wishing you could lay down on the floor in the back stockroom or possibly even right here on the sales floor and just die.

I had no Tylenol with me. NO TYLENOL.

Caffeine usually helps my headaches, so I made myself a few shots of espresso on one of our demo machines to try to take the edge off.

By the time my shift was over, I was entering a dangerous place: Migraine Land.

I drove to the drugstore and bought Tylenol. It took every molecule of self-control I possess to not rip the packaging off and inhale three pills before even paying.

I got in the car, took the Tylenol, and prayed to the gods of relief (these are the same gods that sometimes send our tax refund in March instead of June) to take over.

I drove home, crawled in the door, and uttered a few words to The Husband, words like Please shoot me, Pain level 9, and Leave me alone, then I collapsed on the bed. This was at 7 PM.

Six and a half hours later, guess who woke up HEADACHE-FREE, rested, relaxed, and ready to tackle the day awaiting her? I usually go to bed around 11 PM and wake up at 6 AM, without an alarm being set. My body is happy with six and a half to seven hours of sleep, and when that is attained, says, “MOV, time to get up!”  Oh, yay! 

On the upside, I got caught up on a lot of email. So if you received an email from me at, say, 1:30 this morning, please just ignore the time-stamp.

MOV

Sunday, September 11, 2011

507. September 11

I was a flight attendant for United Airlines. I could have been on those planes, but that particular day, I happened to be off.

We all know what happened. We watched it unfold with horror in our living rooms. We clogged up phone lines trying to make contact with friends in New York or Washington, D.C. We desperately read every shred of news we could get our hands on in the days that followed.

I went back to work, to the airport, suspicious of everyone, suddenly envious of ground personnel like gate agents because they got to stay on, well, the ground. Our pre-flight crew briefings changed. The captain now included special instructions about shifting beverage carts to block the cockpit area if a pilot needed to use the restroom. The danger level of flying might have been a Code Orange, but I constantly felt my personal meter read Code Red.

To all the people who were harmed, directly or indirectly, my heart goes out to you. We will remember the victims, and we will remember the heroes.

MOV

Friday, September 9, 2011

506. Easy-Peasy New York Times Crossword Puzzle

I am not a crossword kinda gal. Seeing all those empty white squares makes me want to grab a handful of crayons and color them in muted ombre variations, like an art project. I am not sure where this fear of crosswords comes from, except possibly that they make me feel dumb. I tried them in high school, again in college, and from time to time while waiting for planes at the airport. My first mistake was not using a pencil with an eraser. My second mistake was not memorizing every piece of trivia that has been introduced to my beleaguered brain since 1982. Crosswords are very, very hard, and I have all the half-finished and quarter-finished relics to prove it.

So it should come as somewhat of a surprise that I picked up The Husband’s crossword puzzle book off the dining room table and began to leaf through.

It was funny, I never realized that The Husband was a fan of crossword puzzles. In our 11-year marriage, he had never mentioned this interesting tidbit about himself. But there it was, in black (ink!) and white, page after page of neatly filled-in boxes of letters, most even spelling actual words.

Now, The Husband is a sharp guy. He has some important cost-analyzing-type job where he tells big companies what they can spend (this bossiness about spending carries over into our personal life as well). He is very good at what he does, and I was thrilled to discover this fun, literary side of him.

If The Husband can do crossword puzzles, maybe I can, too! It had been a while (a decade, maybe longer) since I had attempted one, possibly my brain had matured and captured all that information that is necessary for crosswords.

You know where this is going. I decided to answer a couple of the questions. I scanned the clues for one I could recognize: “33 Across: Skip to my _____.” Lou? Lou! It fit! Wow, this wasn’t as hard as I remembered. Getting older makes you smarter, not dumber!

After this initial confidence boost, I decided to try a few more. “16 Down: The main color of a stop sign.” Red! Wait—was this a trick question? That seemed a little obvious. Maybe it was burgundy. Maroon. Reflective, was that a color? I scanned the puzzle, 3-letters. Red was the correct answer!

Why did I think crossword puzzles were so difficult all those years? What was I so scared of?

“2 Down: Typical.” Uh, normal? No, usual? Right!

The complex puzzle progressed like this for the next three and a half hours until each and every square was finally filled in. (The only one I really stumbled on was “Last name of the author of Winnie the Pooh.” How should I know? I haven’t read any of those books in years. But, luckily I was able to piece together that it was Yilnx from the answers in the squares going the other direction. This made me feel smart and resourceful, traits I am sure Mrs. Yilnx would appreciate.)

I looked over my puzzle with an immense feeling of smugness and self-satisfaction. I could hardly wait to tell The Husband about my newfound (latent) crossword genius skills! He was out running some errands but would be back soon. Gosh, he was going to be so impressed.

I was giving the crossword book a little hug, as if to say, Thank you for reinstating my confidence in my abilities, and showing me that I can do something hard if I focus and put my mind to it, when in walks my second-grade son Tall.

“Oh, good, Mommy, you found my crossword book!”

MOV

Thursday, September 8, 2011

505. The Kitchen Store Doctor Is IN

People love me. They love me sober, they love me drunk, they love me at work, they love me at parties, they love me at the super-market … the point is: They just love me. So it should come as no surprise that random customers at the high-end kitchen store love to confess to me their entire life history, complete with embarrassing moments and crazy, unbelievable stories. This happens a lot. Daily.

Yesterday, I was at work and the phone rang. “Thank you for calling the fabulous high-end kitchen store, this is MOVee, how may I help you?” I sang into the receiver.

The woman on the phone wanted information on the French porcelain dinnerware we carry, specifically if it was microwave safe (it was) or dishwasher safe (it was). She continued to barrage me with questions, and I continued to answer helpfully. The next thing you know, she proceeds to tell me how her sister just died, and the sister happened to give her all these fancy dishes mere weeks before her impending death (from Leukemia). Yikes! We are new BFF because she has confided this important secret to me.

Whoops—we accidentally get disconnected. Bye-bye random person whose name I do not even know!

Same day. A customer comes in and is looking at some expensive pans from Italy. She goes on and on about how beautiful they are, but the cost is prohibitive. Next thing you know, she confuses my nod-nod-nodding as a sign to tell me things that she should probably tell a therapist. Here goes: She was diagnosed with a rare brain disease and given six months to live. This was four years ago. She wants to celebrate her alive-ness by buying all the special pans.

This happens to me every day. EVERY DAY.

People are compelled to tell me things, private things, because I must have that demeanor that says, “I can keep a secret! I don’t write a blog or anything, ha ha, why do you ask?”

When I was a flight attendant, passengers would corner me in the galley and tell me how they just quit their job/ were planning to get divorced/ hate their mother-in-law/ can’t get pregnant (choose one). Additionally, other flight attendants confessed their fondest hopes and their darkest secrets to me on the jumpseat (this particular phenomenon, in airline parlance, is known as “jumpseat therapy”). I must have one of those faces with a giant “T.M.” printed on my forehead (“Tell Me”).

The other day, I was going through some junk mail, when I spotted an ad for grad school. Masters in Psychology. Hmmm. Maybe I should get paid for what I do.

MOV

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

504. The Disease of Virgo

I have often been accused of using this space to poke fun at myself and my hyper-Virgo-ness. Today is no different. If there was a 12-step Virgo program, I would be the one to write in sections 12.a and 12.b, because I can’t just leave well enough alone.

You get a neat treat today, my friends!  My sister, Oakley, sent me a link to something called “The Art of Clean Up:  Sorting and Stacking of Everyday Objects.”  Gah, what a boring title. Bad bad title (now I realize it must be tongue in cheek?).  I almost did not look because I half expected it to be some how-to thing from Real Simple magazine telling me how to live my life. 

The first picture is a bowl of soup, who cares? But then … you scroll down … and there is the first visual punch. Followed by an entire neon-lighted ring-side match of visual punches on steroids.      

OMG! Or should I say OCD?

The correct title for this little exercise in Virgo-ness should be: “How The World Is and How It Would Be A Million Billion Times Better If My Perfect Virgo Self Could Just Get Her Hands On It.” There. Now you have an idea of the treat in store for you.

Click now, HERE and then come back to my site later and tell me what you think!

Best,
MOV
("Me:  Obsessively Virgo") 

* with special thanks to fellow-blogger Jeannie Huang

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

503. Why Absolut Sent Me The Cease and Desist Letter

So after my successful blog ad (blad) experience with Starbucks, I was not really surprised at all to receive a phone call from Pierre Pringuet, the CEO of the French company (Pernod Ricard) which owns the Absolut vodka brand.

“Is this Mademoiselle MOV?” asked a dreamy French voice into the phone.

“Yes.”

I was gleefully expecting an offer to write a lovely blad and work it into my posts in as unobtrusive a way as possible, with a subtle title like “50 Reasons I Love Absolut.” Fresh from my lucrative new contract with Starbucks, I had been waiting for this phone call.

“Mademoiselle, this is Monsieur Pringuet, and my legal department here at Absolut has asked me to contact you. We need you to cease writing about Absolut immediately, if not sooner.”

“Sure, when do you need my blog by?” I offered chirpily. I started to fantasize about how I would spend my new million dollars and how the tellers at the bank would be so impressed when my bank account suddenly jumped from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000. I might even take the employees at the bank a nice case of Absolut to celebrate my hard-earned success.

I wondered if the Absolut people knew exactly what a one-month supply of vodka was for a writer like myself, and I also wondered if that could include gifts. I’m sure it could, why not?

“We do NOT want you to write about us, we want you to STOP writing about us,” clarified the still-dreamy but now-somewhat-insistent-and-a-tad-bit-mean French telephone voice.

“Excuse-M-moi?”

“STOP. WRITING. ABOUT. ABSOLUT.”

His French accent, truth be told, was a little thick. It sounded to me like he mumbled something about him not wanting me to write this particular essay after all. That’s okay, I thought, the Pernod Richard company owned several alcohol labels, maybe they wanted me to help launch a new one?

“Which product would you prefer-Y-vous that I write about then, sir?”

“NONE.”

“I’m sorry, I think we have a bad connection?”

“Mademoiselle, alors, here is the situation. You wrote a blog about Pinktinis, giving the recipe and mentioning us, and we, how do I put this delicately, we received beaucoup d’ hate mail after that. Your blog is not enhancing our image. It is harming us.”

“What?!”

“You heard me. The probleme,” (here he drew out the word, prah—blehhhmmmm, like I couldn’t understand French) “is that your writing is killing our sales. Our stocks are down. My legal department has asked me to advise you to stop any and all reference to our product immediately. Also, we will be sending you a confirmation of this phone call with a letter in the mail so you are 100% clear on what I have said. No more writing about Absolut.”

“Not even for a recipe?”

Non.”

“What about, uh, am I allowed to maybe say how clever your print ads are, the whole thing about the vodka bottle shape and the creative art campaign, and …”

Non.”

“But—”

“Non. Good day.” He hung up with an abrupt click.

I wonder when I’ll receive my check?

MOV
(“Mistress Of Vodka”)

Monday, September 5, 2011

502. Starbucks Is The Best

I never set out to write ads or turn my blog into a money-making venture, so it came as somewhat of a surprise when Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, contacted me yesterday and asked me to write a blog-ad (“blad”) about Starbucks coffee.

“Is this MOV?” he asked into the phone.

“Yes.”

“This is Mr. Schultz, and I hear you like Starbucks, and that you write a blog.  How would you like to do both at the same time?”

I had tried many, many times to drink Starbucks and write simultaneously, and it mostly just resulted in me knocking over my coffee and my keyboard shorting out.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Schultz, but I think you have the wrong person. I never do ads. It is against my religion, against my aesthetic, and against my readers’ positive perception of me as ad-free.”

“I will pay you one million dollars, plus a month’s worth of free coffee.”

“I was just thinking how I should revise my aesthetic. When do you need the blog posted by?”

(Lucky for me that Mr. Schultz doesn’t know I would’ve done it just for the free coffee.)

MOV

Saturday, September 3, 2011

501. Overachiever

Tonight I am babysitting for my neighbors. Their son is well-behaved, and I am sure he will be asleep by 8 PM. Which leaves me four hours to read.

I am in a panic. Four hours! Four hours! When do the Gods of Time ever hand me a free pass with four hours scrawled across it?

I absolutely have to make the most of this (sacred) time. I will not be required to cook, clean, do dishes, do laundry, fold clothes, make beds, get caught up on emails, straighten the kitchen, go through the back-to-school mail from the school, nothing. Zip.

I want to do my favorite thing in the entire world:  Read.  I must read.

I eye the end table in our living room. A teetering stack of overdue books from my last visit to the library threatens to tip over. They are all hardback books, with titles like House Lust and Crazy Busy and Memoirs of an Italian Princess from Wisconsin

I go to the front hall closet and find a tote bag, the largest one I own. I start shoveling the books in there, as if I will never have four hours of uninterrupted time again, ever. Which I may not. I throw in a few magazines (if you can call nine a “few”) for good measure.

This is so great, I tell myself, an opportunity to read uninterrupted!

This opportunity used to present itself to me from time to time when I was a flight attendant. Sometimes United would send me to another city to pick up a flight back, so I would only be working in one direction. I would take several books and magazines so I would have something to do on the multi-hour flight.  However, I usually did not finish everything I brought.

That will not be the case tonight. After 42 years on this planet, I am now a very fast reader.

The appointed time arrives, and I walk over to the neighbors’ house. Sure enough, they have already put their son to bed, so my reading time can actually start right away.

Neighbor Lady says, “MOV, here is the remote control in case you want to watch a show.”

I try not to laugh. “Oh, hey, that is really sweet of you, but I actually brought a couple of books with me,” I motion to the small suitcase I have brought with 27 books inside. And 50 magazines.

“Oh, okay, well, if you change your mind, here it is.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t.”

They finally leave, and I settle in. I start looking at all the choices of books I have, and wonder how many books I can finish in one sitting.

I put a couch pillow under my head to get more comfortable.  Wow, so many books!  I always dream about reading this many books!  Oh, I can't wait! 

“MOV?” says Neighbor Lady quietly, while she taps my shoulder lightly, “MOV?  Hello!  We’re back. I texted you, but you never responded.  So sorry it’s way after midnight! Looks like you must’ve fallen asleep.”

MOV
("My Only Virtue")

Friday, September 2, 2011

500. Contraband

So I am a bit of a snob when it comes to towels. It wasn’t always this way. Growing up, a towel was a towel was a towel … I mean, really, who cares? It can dry you off, then you get dressed. What difference does it make? But I blame my wedding guests for turning me into the Virgo Towel Snob that I am today:  Someone gave us bath towels off our registry for a gift.

The minute I opened the linen wrapping paper and crinoline bow on that box of towels, I knew my life had changed forever. It was exactly like Lady Diana must’ve felt when Prince Charles slipped that 48-carat sapphire and diamond engagement ring on her finger. It felt like:  Royalty.

These towels were beyond plush; they were like blankets. Thick, thirsty, luscious, heavy, cottony, pristine white blankets of goodness. Imagine going to the nicest hotel in the world (think Ritz Carlton, but much nicer), and imagine checking into the Presidential Suite, and imagine taking a steamy shower and what kind of towels would be hanging there. Oh, no, my friend, the Ritz towels look like a sad little washcloth impostor from the local Chevron station next to my amazing towels.

For the next two years, every time I got out of the shower and reached for my gorgeous, 5-inch thick Pottery Barn towels from Turkey, I said to myself, “This is why I got married.”

Imagine my surprise when I reached for my towel one day, and found a thin, see-thru, pathetic minuscule sheet of paper posing as a towel on my towel rack.

I was not happy. The towel could barely dry my ear, let alone my entire body. Where had this towel come from? How had it gotten past the front door, into the house, and to its current spot hanging on the towel rack next to the shower?

Turns out, as usual, The Husband was to blame. I greeted him at the door that night, dripping wet. Water was raining from my freshly-shampooed hair, and a giant puddle of more water followed me throughout the house. I was making my point.

“Where did this come from?” I said, holding up the offending wannabe “towel.”

“Uh, Pottery Barn?” he replied, handing me an umbrella.

“Ha! You and I both know that Pottery Barn does not sell things like this,” here I held out the thin towel for closer inspection and more sneering. “Be honest. Tell me where it came from.”

For some reason, The Husband is not up on inventory of household objects like I am. He merely shrugged and said, “Maybe it got mixed up in my bag at the gym.”

I gasped. His gym does not provide towels, which means that he took one of our (my!) Pottery Barn towels with him and accidentally got stuck with a fellow gym-goer’s towel instead. How could he do this? And how could he not notice as he was leaving that he grabbed the wrong towel? Some random stranger was now reaping the benefits of the Pottery Barn blanket-towel, and we would most likely never see our (my!) beloved Pottery Barn towel again.

Why would you take one of the good towels to the gym with you in the first place, Sweetie? Why not take a Costco beach towel, or maybe an old rag or something?” I offered helpfully to my 6’4” tall husband who could certainly dry off with something not as nice or big as our Pottery Barn towels.

He looked me right in the eye and said, “I’m used to the thicker towels now. I like them better.”

MOV

Thursday, September 1, 2011

499. Two Weeks Notice

So last night I told The Boss that I got another job. Predictably, she was not happy. “That’s so great! I am really, really happy for you!” she said quite cheerfully, without a trace of sarcasm in her voice. “When do you start?”

I told her that I start next week, but I do not want to leave the high-end kitchen store going into the busiest time of the year:  holiday.

“Boss, my new job is during the day shift, so it doesn’t impact me still working here for the time being. I plan to keep working my normal one night per week plus Sundays through Christmas. So I am giving you four months notice.”

“Oh, wow. You don’t have to do that. Two weeks is standard!”

“I know, but I don’t want to leave you high and dry …”

She smiled that kind of smile when you offer someone the last cookie, not to be polite but because the cookies are gingersnap and you are allergic.  

“MOV, honestly, it’s really hard to work two jobs. I totally get it if you need to quit now. You can go tonight if you need to!”

I truly had not expected this type of positive support, encouragement, and understanding from my current boss about leaving and going to work somewhere else. I was touched.

“Boss, thank you! But I am the type of person to honor my commitments. I will stay through December 24th.” I grinned back at her.

“You don’t have to!” She clutched a stack of blue and white oven mitts and aprons she had been arranging in a basket.

“I insist!” I insisted.

“Really!”

“Really!”

Her smile turned to a frown. “We don’t want anyone working here who doesn’t want to be here!”

“I want to be here!”

“Uh, okay …” she said, pausing to choose her next words very, very carefully. “Uh, great.”

I never meant to upset her by giving my four months notice. Maybe I should have made it six months instead?

MOV