MOVarazzi

Monday, October 31, 2011

559. Mother of The Year Award

It arrived in the mail today. The ivory envelope was lined in gold, and the card was hand-written in stunning, jet-black, loopy calligraphy. It read:

“Congratulations! You have been selected as Mother of The Year, 2011. You have been voted on from a pool of over one million highly-qualified candidates because you have demonstrated time and time again what a wonderful and caring mother you are, and how your children are always your top focus and priority. We salute your motherhood achievements! Please compose a five-minute acceptance speech to present to the guests at the award ceremony, which will be held on Saturday, November 5.”

This, as you know, just on the heels of being told (politely) to never-ever-never-I-mean-it-never volunteer in my older son’s class again, as well as the unfortunate instance of (was it only this morning, October 31st) not having any sort of Halloween costume for Tall and me imploring him to merely wear his basketball uniform and go as … a basketball player. I guess the confirmation letter for my award must’ve been mailed out last week before the basketball thing happened.

I re-read the letter, and almost fainted dead away. Mother of The Year, 2011. Me! I set down my triple latte (no vodka this time, it was only 3 PM) so I could get to work on my important speech since the awards banquet was only days away. Now, where was a pen? Why are all these markers dried out, and all these pencils broken? I ultimately found a flattened eyeliner pencil in the bottom of my purse under the emergency chocolate and started scribbling on the back-side of a wrinkled post-it note (good enough, they weren’t going to be evaluating how I wrote my speech, just that I did write one).

“Ladies and Gentleman,” (oh waitwould there even be men there? I was already second-guessing my speech) “I am honored to be the recipient of the coveted Mother of The Year Award representing all the fine moms out there for 2011. Really, it is such a thrill to even be nominated, and, truth be told, I was unaware that I had been nominated. Thank you for this honorable honor! It is an honor, a true honor.” (My best writing skills always seemed to surface at important times like these.) “The example that I set for myself and others and other mothers and children of those mothers, as well as my own children, is the example of setting a good positive example, one that can be emulated. Positively. Every day, I try to do the right thing so that they can copy it and learn that copying others is good, always good to copy. Or, if since I am a human being with all the frailties and foibles of a typical human person, sometimes I might be unknowingly setting a bad example, in which case, the children of myself and others and their mothers can learn what not to do, and instead copy others and not copy directly me at all times, unless it is to follow a good example of positive behavior, not frailties. In conclusion, with much honor and thanks and gratitude and appreciation, I thank you for this honor. It is an honor, and I do not deserve it.”

In my head, I could hear the rampant applause. How could they not applaud when I used words like “frailties” and “emulate”? Next, I had to think about what to wear. Unfortunately, since I had overdrawn my checking account buying little metal skeleton people on etsy, I would have to use my American Express card. I called to check my outstanding balance, and was somewhat unnerved to hear a soothing tape-recorder voice say, “If this is Princessa MOV, we will still not release charging privileges until your past three months’ bill of unnecessary items from the high-end kitchen store has been paid. Do not call us again, unless it is to notify of us a certified check being fed-exed today. If you would like to hear this in Spanish, press two.”

I guessed I might have to make due with something already inhabiting my closet, like a little black dress. I tried on a few options, and finally settled on the one outfit that was in its original dry-cleaner bag and not laying in a crumpled mess on the floor of my closet. The dress was linen, and it was November, but maybe I could wear some tights with it.

Almost as an afterthought, I went to the front hall closet to search for my beaded red jacket. It was fancy. Unfortunately, while I had been watching a Top Chef marathon last week, my five-year-old loaned the red jacket to our cat to lie on, as a makeshift pretty red bed.  The beading was now laced with fluffy white fur.

I decide to have the jacket dry-cleaned, knowing that I could request rush service and have it back by Friday. I searched around on the front-entry console table for a dry-cleaner coupon that was not expired, and that’s when I saw it:

The address on the envelope. It was not addressed to Mrs. MOV at 1234 Everywhere Lane, like I had originally assumed.  It was addressed to Jenna Wilkersen-Smith at 1243 Everywhere Lane, and the mailman had obviously mixed up our mail again (at least that explained the missing Amex bill!). Jenna Wilkersen-Smith had just moved here from Florida, and I hated her because she was like that Martha Stewart/ Stepford Mom-Hybrid who was perfect, funny, nice, beautiful, and helpful at all times, and her sons were darling sweet little angels. I despised her.  I toyed with the idea of just crumpling up the award notification and tossing it in the trash, or of impersonating Jenna at the award ceremony, or of doing the right thing and hand-delivering it to Jenna so she would get it in time. I knew what that last choice meant: I would have to put on make-up, brush my hair, and be cheerful and perky if I was going to see her.

I looked down at the post-it note speech I was still clutching in my hand. Well, at least the last line was correct:

“I do not deserve it.”

MOV
("Mostly Offering Validation")

Saturday, October 29, 2011

558. Teacher's Pet

Teachers always loved me. I was the annoying student who sat in the front row, raised my hand a lot, paid attention, and took detailed single-spaced notes, even when it was an assembly or guest speaker (“MOV, this speaker is just for fun! You don’t have to take notes on Magic Mania,” another student might say helpfully as I scribbled furiously in my green notebook. I knew that my so-called friend would be woefully underprepared for the next pop-quiz.). So it should come as no surprise that my son Tall has inherited my academic prowess and ability to impress his teachers:  Tall is teacher’s pet.

Tall is the smartest kid in his class. And the funniest. And the most creative. And the most athletic. And the nicest. And the fastest runner. And the best singer. And the most helpfulest. And the friendliest.

I am totally not biased at all, these are all things I witnessed for myself.

I sat in on his class for the first time yesterday. It was clear from the get-go that the teacher had spent a lot of time getting to know my son. She greeted me warmly and said, “Big is really excited to have you here today!” to which I responded, “His name is Tall.”

Later, I noticed that she kept looking at my son, or possibly she was looking at the wall-clock located just beyond his desk. She asked Tall to help her out with important tasks, like picking up the garbage can that he had inadvertently knocked over when he kept kicking it (“Big! Geesh! Your grandmother is here today! Show some respect and stop knocking things over. You need to pick up all that trash. Right. Now.”). I loved the way she singled him out as a positive example (some might say “role model” for the class). She called on him repeatedly, whether he raised his hand or not (“Big, stop doodling little stick people and pay attention,” and “You just got a yellow card, do you want to continue this behavior and have a red card?” and “Big, what did I say about paper airplanes? No more, I mean it.”).

When it was time for the class to form smaller groups for a math game, she made sure that Tall was on a good team (“Big, come over to my desk and work with me. Well, that’s what you get for taking the caps off of all of Sarah’s markers.”). When it was time to go to lunch, she asked him to stay behind, presumably to compliment him on his stellar performance during science (“You have lost recess again. Brian did not appreciate you dumping water on his head to simulate a tsunami.”).

I approached the teacher to let her know that I had an urgent appointment (at Starbucks, and then later at Macy’s super-sale) so I would not be able to stay the rest of the day. I thanked her for letting me sit in on the class and help, to which she replied, “I am so glad you were able to come today! Now I understand your son so much better, because of meeting you.”

I asked her when would be a good time for me to return to volunteer and that I was free the following Thursday.

She responded, “Wow, Dr. MOV, that is so nice of you, but the principal is, uh … he’s decided that having parents in the classroom is too distracting. So the volunteer program is going away.”

“What? I just talked to Tessa’s mom, and she is volunteering next week?”

“Yeah, well, she was already on the schedule.”

“Vladimir’s dad said he comes in every Friday?”

“He is a concert pianist, so he has a valuable skill set to share with them.”

“Lacey’s mom told me that she—”

She cut me off, “Can I be honest with you, Dr. MOV?”

I nodded.

“Your son, he is just so, so, so … well, you know. And I think he would benefit from a break from you. He has your, uh, influence all the other hours of the day at home.”

It was too painful for her to say what was really on her mind: Tall is teacher’s pet.

MOV

Friday, October 28, 2011

557. Schooled

I sit by the phone, willing it to ring. That’s a lie. It’s a cell phone. I carry the phone from room to room, checking that it is charged over and over and over and justonemoretime and wondering why it hasn’t rung yet.

Having an on-call job is exactly like dating.

The phone ultimately doesn’t ring (see above: “exactly like dating”), so I decide to make the most of my day and volunteer in Tall’s second-grade class as a “helper parent.”

Our local elementary school is quite innovative and creative, and the administration there has coined this special advanced terminology (“helper parent”) to describe a student’s mom or dad who visits the classroom for a few hours and assists the teacher as needed.

Being a “helper parent” is precisely like being a parent at home, except without the helpful part.

I am mentally prepared to find out about second-grade math and second-grade spelling and second-grade science projects. What I am not mentally prepared to find out about is:

My complete lack of parenting skills.

Now, if you have followed my blog for more than 60 seconds, you already know that my membership in the Quality Mom Club has been revoked, never to be reinstated. Was it the time I sent Tall to school without brushing his teeth (“Here! Gobble up these breath mints, the school bus is coming down our street!”)? Or the time I threw all Short’s painted macaroni “art” in the trash because it looked like vomit? Or the time(s) I served my children raw broccoli for dinner while I ate ice-cream? Who knows precisely what the turning point was, but it is clear that Hallmark did not have me in mind when they coined those annoying Mother’s Day cards touting “World’s Best Mom.”

At any rate, the teacher teaches. The students listen attentively. I pick up a few new weather words (anemometer, troposphere, cumulonimbus, rain). And then it happens.

The kids get too rowdy and loud.

I freeze. If this behavior was happening at my house, Pokémon cards would be ripped up. TV privileges would be revoked. Promises of chocolate waffles on Sunday would be reneged.

Star Teacher does none of these things. She merely does some mysterious little clap pattern, and the children copy her. Then she calls out, like a military drill sergeant (albeit one with a voice like Mariah Cary's) “Voice check!” and they all stop talking. Next, her arm shoots in the air and she is holding up some sort of symbol with her fingers, a cross between a peace sign and a hang-ten. Again, the kids mimic her. Silence descends upon the room.

How does this happen? How did I never learn these tricks in eight years of being a mom? And how soon can Star Teacher move in and can I afford to match her teaching pay to have her be our family’s new permanent nanny?

I excuse myself and walk out to the hall. I open my cell phone and press a number on speed-dial.

“Hello, Boss?” I hear myself say, “I might need to pick up a few extra hours at the high-end kitchen store over Christmas. Like maybe a thousand.”

MOV

556. The Queen of Punctuality

If you hate people that are always on time, or worse, early, then you can stop reading right now. I am that person.

I didn’t used to be that way. I used to be an on-time-ish person, or a five-minutes-late-ish person, or a who-the-hell-needs-a-watch-and-time-is-a-stupid-concept-anyway person. All that changed on September 21, 1996. United Airlines hired me to be a flight attendant.

In training, they fed us tiny bags of peanuts along with subliminal messages about being punctual (“This is how you fasten a seatbelt. This is how you evacuate a plane. This how you read a clock.”), and the not-so-subliminal messages (“If you are late three times you are FIRED!!!”).

I immediately went out and bought three alarm clocks.

Once clock is for sissies. Two clocks is just about right. But Hyper Virgo Girl needed three. Then she needed extra batteries.

As I would go through security, my suitcase would inevitably trigger all the “Code Red Danger” alarms with the guards (“Ma’am, I need you to open your suitcase, it looks like you might be building a bomb”). As you can imagine, this is not such a good thing for someone dressed up like a flight attendant going to work. So as not to upset the security guards in every airport across America, I started separating my clocks like chatty little second-graders that cannot sit next to one another in math class, one in my tote, one in my suitcase, one in my purse. Even my lipstick and credit cards were concerned with being on time.

I would check into my hotel room on my layover and start spreading my clocks around, like sacrifices on the altars for the Gods of Time. One clock would be right next to my bed. Another would be across the room, maybe on a dresser, so I would be forced to physically get up out of bed to turn it off. The third might be in the bathroom or perhaps next to the door depending on my mood. I was slightly paranoid that one of my lovely clocks would malfunction or that I might sleep through the alarm due to jet lag and time changes.

And that was another thing: time changes. I was constantly changing the time on all three clocks to local time. Daylight savings added another element of fun to the situation. Picture my elation when I discovered a special type of clock with an outer spin dial that changed the time zone for you.

I bought three.

In my decade flying, I never missed a flight. I have some fabulous memories of layovers in Hawaii, Australia, New York, France, and I also have a permanent case of punctuality. 

MOV

Thursday, October 27, 2011

555. Sick

Short is sick today. When he woke up with a nasty cough, I told him he was staying home. He asked if that meant unlimited hot chocolate, so the Nice Mommy/ Bad Nutritionist said, “Sure!” Next, I informed him, “We have to call your school to let them know you’re sick.”

He looked me in the eye, a flat expression on his little round face, and said completely deadpan:

“No. Just let them guess.”

(This is why the school secretary loves me.) 

MOV
("Meet Our Virus")

554. You Won't Write About This

So talk turns, as often does, to my blog. Scenario in my head: “I read your blog, and you are, like, frickin’ brilliant. How do you do it, day after day after day, the wow-factor you possess, and the high caliber of writing? You are a genius, and everything you write is yet another example of your literary prowess.  The agents and publishers must be beating down your door to get you to sign with them!” Reality check: “You write a blog?” (unstifled yawn, accompanied by severe follow-up yawn) “Uh, oh geesh, it’s time for me to schedule my annual PAP smear, gotta run. Maybe we can catch up never?”

A person at the New Better-Paying Top-Secret Job corners me.

“I have very important and influential stuff for you to do, this could directly further your career and help you in general, especially since you broke (insert name of ultra-expensive specialized equipment here) recently.  It would be your opportunity to redeem yourself.  Are you interested, Duchess MOV? Because you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BLOG ABOUT THIS.”

What is his problem, and how does he even know I have a blog in the first place?

Then he goes on to tell me all about the scope of this project I can be in charge of, and how I will most likely get a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge raise if I do it, and how the last person could not handle the pressure of it and was ultimately fired.

I feel like saying: NO.

But I say YES. Yes I will do it, and no (maybe?) I will not blog about it.  Promise. 

(It’s okay, Co-Worker, no one reads my blog anyway.)

MOV

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

553. Traffic!

When I am driving with my five-year-old in the backseat and we approach an intersection with maybe one other car in it, he screeches out, “Mom!  Look out!  Traffic!”  This is a word that typically conjures up images of multiple cars and trucks backed up on the freeway while the driver is frantically rustling around for maps and alternate routes while being late to other people’s weddings. This is an ugly word that should be avoided at all costs, unless you are a

BLOG WRITER. In that case, you obsessively check your blog 20 times a minute to see what the traffic sources are. Traffic, traffic, I love traffic!

Imagine my surprise when I discover that a site called (I’m not making this up) “Jobs For Smart People” has been referring readers to me.

Smart people? Smart people are looking for my blog? Or are they looking for jobs on my blog (because then in that case, they are not very smart after all; the only job available here is Chief Complainer Writer, and that one is pretty much taken).

I don’t get it. Maybe they are saying that I need to be looking for another job online, or that I am smart?

Who knows. But it sure beats all the emails I was getting from the halitosis people.

MOV

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

552. The New Better-Paying Top Secret Job

Okay, I haven’t been totally honest about my New Better-Paying Top Secret Job. It is better-paying then the previous Top Secret Job and better-paying than the high-end kitchen store, as long as I actually do work. The thing is, my new job is an “on-call” position.

When the HR lady initially interviewed me, she assured me that I would get oodles of hours. That might even have been her exact word, “oodles.”

“How many hours, exactly, are you looking for, Captain MOV?” I remember her asking me eagerly.

“Oh, you know, uh, what is a normal work-week these days? Forty? Four hundred? Somewhere in that vicinity.”  She hired me for my math ability alone

Sure enough, my phone rang that very night with an automated message from work. I pressed “1” to accept the job for the next day. My first day went surprisingly well, except for the part where I accidentally broke some very expensive equipment.

I immediately went to the office of my new boss to turn myself in.

“Excuse me? President Boss? Uh, remember me, MOV?”

She stopped what she was doing and glanced up. She nodded, indicating that she did indeed remember me.

I continued. “So sorry to interrupt your, uh, yearly stats meeting with the entire board, but, umm, I accidentally broke the (insert name of super-expensive piece of crucial equipment here).”

She smiled kindly at me, as if I’d just told her that Starbucks was out of caramel and did she want vanilla instead.

She responded, “No biggie. I think it was due to be replaced soon anyway. I’ll just add it to my list. Thanks for letting me know, MOV!”

That was the thing about President Boss. She made you feel like even though you might’ve unintentionally caused some sort of major problem, she was actually somehow grateful to you. I walked out of her office feeling good and wondering what else I could break and how soon.

My phone did not ring the next night, nor the one after. I became slightly suspicious that perhaps one of my new co-workers had said something mean or true about me (“MOV broke some expensive equipment” or “MOV is not very bright and should not be left alone if at all possible”).  I began to worry that I had made a grave mistake, accepting this New Better-Paying Top Secret Job, when I could have kept working at the high-end kitchen store for the rest of my life, or at least indefinitely.  My superior math-deducing skills told me that zero hours would equal, uh, probably not a very big paycheck. 

The next day, I didn’t bother to set the alarm. What’s the point if I am just staying home? Who cares if I take a shower and wash my hair or not? The New Better-Paying Top Secret Job is obviously not calling me. At 7 AM, the phone did ring. I had an assignment!

I arrived to work exactly on time, greasy hair and all. I even had enough time left over to pour myself a cup of fresh coffee from the lunchroom when I arrived.

I ran into President Boss in the hall. “How is everything going for you, Countess MOV?” she inquired enthusiastically.

“Great! Just great!” I made a grand sweeping gesture with my arm, to echo the sentiment of “great.” I spilled my entire cup of hot black coffee on the pristine white carpet.

President Boss looked at the floor, then up at me.

“Are you okay?” she asked without even the slightest trace of sarcasm, as she produced a handful of paper towels from out of nowhere. “You didn’t burn yourself, did you?”

“No, no … I’m fine,” I managed weakly.

And then I heard her say under her breath, “This carpet is so old anyway. I’m going to add it to the list.”

MOV

Monday, October 24, 2011

551. Project Someday

So I have been known to watch a reality show or five. Project Runway currently takes the top spot in my TiVo Queue of Urgency. It got me thinking about other potential ideas for new shows.

Project Nunway: A cross (get it?) between Project Runway and a Church salvation-type show. Instead of making new outfits, they would be making over lives.

Project Funway: Like the above, but about drug-addicts (before they hit rock bottom and quit drugs).

Project Gunnway: I know you think this is going to be about firearms and guns—wrong. This would be EXACTLY like Project Runway, but would give Heidi Klum a break and Tim Gunn would host instead.

Project Segway: A documentary about the inventing of the Segway, specifically focusing on how annoying they are to everyone else not on one, and how superior you feel if you are on one.

Project Sunday: A contest to see which moms can accomplish the most on the supposed one day “off” (this would of course be accompanied by husbands lounging around doing nothing but watch football).

Project Punway: This contest would pit comedians against one another in an attempt to see who is the funniest. Winner would get his own sitcom on ABC.

Project Running Away: A documentary about runaway teens, especially if they are well-dressed.

Project Oneway: A show about a mom who refuses to listen to her (constantly interrupting) children, and instead insists that they do what she says.

Project Sunway: A show about a mom (see above) who flees her life of folding laundry and driving carpool to go to Hawaii and selfishly start over, with nothing but an out-of-style black one-piece swimsuit, some cellulite, and an uncharged cell-phone in her possession. (I know someone who might be interested in starring.)

Project Faraway: A documentary about looking for one’s former self, specifically the size 8 version that one knew so well when one was 23, but one has somehow misplaced in a former elusive decade.

Project Highway: A documentary about building roads. This would be targeted to the demographic of three- and four-year-old boys.

Project Giveaway: A show where they give prizes to deserving blog writers who have never won anything. Prizes could include (but are not limited to) a trip to Hawaii, a gift card for Barnes & Noble, or a permanent live-in nanny.

Project Throwaway: The concept here is following a mom around when her kids are at school and watching how she miraculously makes certain annoying beeping toys, favorite Sponge Bob t-shirts, and three-minute “art” projects disappear into the trash, never to be seen again.

Project No Way: A comedy that stars a defiant seven-year-old who basically disagrees with everything his mom says, even when she is right, which is 99.99% of the time.

Project Halfway: A horror show about a home (possibly mine) that never gets cleaned all the way, but instead looks either messy or really messy, causing the owners to simply close the doors to every room so that people will not know the truth. The owners spend a lot of time sitting in the hall because, you know, it’s clean there.

Feel free to write to your favorite TV producer or friend who does marketing for Bravo. You’re welcome.

MOV 
("Mother Of Variety")

Saturday, October 22, 2011

550. How I Know He Is My Son

Yesterday, my sons and I played an impromptu game of baseball in our backyard. We hit the ball, we ran, we cried, we slid, we tagged people out, and we had temper-tantrums. About halfway through the 3rd quarter of the final round of the game, I was ahead by approximately four goals (I believe in baseball parlance they’re called “touchdowns”). Tall was sulking, as he tends to do when he is not the best at something (I wonder where he gets that from?), when suddenly, out of nowhere, he lunged for an impossible pop-fly.

As if magnetically led by gravity, magic, and Lotto-winning luck, the ball went right into Tall’s little paw where it remained in his Velcro-like grip.

“Mom!” he screamed. “Mom! I caught it!” His face lit up like a thousand gazillion Christmas trees when you are just testing the lights to see if they work.  His skills were a remarkable triumph of catching, and even better, not letting go.

And then I heard him say it …

“Does that mean I score an extra point, Mom? Because I thought I remembered something about a point for catching the ball. Because catching is hard.”

MOV

549. Let's Talk About The Weather

Children are little tape recorders. You make one random, off-handed remark about a neighbor, and before you know it, you overhear it being played back to you later that same day (“What does ‘Bipolar’ mean again, Mom?”). For this reason, The Husband and I have had to taper back our gossip a bit.

It's like living with midget Saints. Saint Tall and Saint Short bop around our house, going about their business of playing LEGOs or Pokémon or doing their spelling homework, all the time secretly noting any interesting conversational infraction that has occurred.

Some tip off words and phrases that seem to garner the most unwanted attention: liar, promiscuous, quit his job again, unreliable, flake, obese, drug-addict, repossessed, wasted, jail, irresponsible, cheap, obnoxious, cheated on, extravagant, lazy, or any word of the four-letter variety. For some reason, if one of these words makes it into a chat about a movie star, distant relative, acquaintance, or even fictitious character, the house becomes deadly quiet and a three-foot shadow appears in the doorway.

“I don’t think she's obese, Mommy, she might just be big-boned.”

Gahhhhhhh!

Much monitoring of words goes on in my head, but it is hard to talk about sunshine and puppies and Christmas every day.

When the kids first started being able to mimic us, we took to whispering, spelling words out, or even communicating in Spanish (however, since I am the only one in our household who can speak Spanish 101, The Husband had a difficult time keeping up; we were forced to nix this method). We started writing things down, but who wants to find notes scattered around the house later that read, “bizarro telemarketer” or “mean lady at the bank.”

Instead, The Husband and I lock eyes and say a terse, “We’ll talk about it later,” which we all know is code for “We’ll talk about it never.”

MOV

Friday, October 21, 2011

548. Chardonnacea

I just found out about Chardonnacea. Apparently, I have a bad case of it. A helpful reader pointed it out to me, but I suspected all along that I was contaminated with some sort of icky (and incurable) condition.

I went online to check resources and look it up, you know, for symptoms and things.

Nothing.

Not one single word written about this horrid condition called Chardonnacea.

So, once again, I will have to be the pioneer in my field (the field is “expertise”) and do even more research and inventing of words and meanings and definitions and such, so that I can inform you, my devoted reader, about Chardonnacea.

Chardonnacea noun.: The condition experienced by women in their 30’s (okay, fine: 40’s) who have had a difficult day with their own children and so, to help them cope, are compelled to reach for a bottle (okay, fine: two) of Chardonnay. Preferably from France, or California, but Trader Joe’s budget wine also qualifies in a pinch.

Some signs that Chardonnacea may be imminent: twitching, looking at one’s watch to see if it is 5 PM yet (okay, fine: 4 PM), opening the fridge repeatedly to verify that the wine is, indeed, chilling, popping a Toy Story or Cars video in the VCR/ DVD player to buy oneself a piece of quiet.

Chardonnacea may strike groups of mothers, or it can strike one hapless soul all by herself. Chardonnacea is not picky.

Cures, how to get rid of Chardonnacea, etc: You can’t. You must embrace it, and repeat the words, “Mom’s had a rough day. Mom deserves diamonds and a million dollars, but Mom will be happy with two buck Chuck.”

MOV
(“Mapping Out Vineyards”)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

547. Evil Spammers

I write a happy little blog giving people laughter and sunshine (no, not this particular blog, of course I am talking about some other wildly successful blog I write—with 100,000 followers—that you don’t know about and so you are stuck with this one, my sample “testing” blog instead, ha!). Imagine my consternation when I am repeatedly spammed by dentists.

That’s right: online dental web sites, promising to fix cavities and overbites in a single click, exalting the praises of teeth bleach (“FDA-Approved Cosmetic Whiteners!”), and convincing 40-something women that they are not too old for braces (“Invisalign Is Right For You!”).

They, of course, do not have the decency to spam my personal email account: no. They go straight for the figurative root canal: my blog (or as The Husband affectionately refers to it, “That damn blog of yours, do you even realize it’s time to feed our family dinner? Do you?”).

I do not fall for the toothy hype by following their dastardly links from their faux comments. Instead, I go to my own blog “behind-the-screens,” to the small box marked “traffic sources” and then ultimately “key word searches.”

Aha. There it is in black and white: bad breath. I wrote a three-sentence throwaway post about Tall saying mommy you have bad breath and voila! Dentist spam.

Turns out, halitosis is totally fixable online. I just have to send them a small check, in the amount of $285 plus $6.95 for shipping, and for that nominal sum, they will send me the equivalent to a trial size tube of Crest.

Ohh, but if there weren’t some female telemarketer with a Midwestern accent on the phone right this instant, seductively offering me three cases of Chardonnay for an important school/ church/ scouting fundraiser, and for the very same dollar amount.

(Marianne, you know who you are—“Napa Valley Premium Wine Source for The Virgin Mary Scouts,” indeed.)

MOV

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

546. I Hid From The Boy Scouts

The rumors are true: I hid from the Boy Scouts. And also the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And the guy selling meat out of his broken-down truck. I don’t feel that guilty about the last two, but the Boy Scouts episode sometimes keeps me up at night.

Let me back up. We were living in our last house, the house before this one. A sweet little neighborhood Cub Scout and his dad knocked on our door selling popcorn (I guess those Girls Scouts had already cornered the market on cookies). When I opened the door as a preemptive strike against them ringing the doorbell and waking up my sleeping toddler (this was a couple of years ago when Short was a toddler, now he is a runner), the scout immediately walked into my living room and started his speech.

I did not want any popcorn, but I felt sorry for him having to sell stuff. I remembered back to my junior high days where we were forced to sell donuts door-to-door, and I instantly felt sorry for my former self … although I do remember the donuts being quite tasty.

I politely listened to his speech, culminating in a chipper, “So, Mrs. MOV, how many boxes of popcorn can I put you down for?” while his father beamed from the comfort of my living room sofa, like a paid studio-audience-member (I thought he might break into a round of applause at any moment).

“Uh, boxes?” I asked, confused. Shouldn’t caramel popcorn come in canisters?

He handed me the order form and I signed up for three boxes, for a grand total of $45. Conveniently, the Boy Scouts accept all major credit cards and personal checks.

A few months later when I had completely forgotten why my checking account was overdrawn and what the heck “B.S.— $45” stood for, I almost tripped on three tiny boxes (think the size of a can of tuna, maybe smaller) outside my front door. There was a cheery note in childish scrawl that read,

This was accompanied by a smiley face in thick, black Sharpie.

I felt good about sending him to the Grande canyon, and I hoped his trip might include some spelling lessons. I did not feel so good, however, about the doll-sized tuna boxes by my feet. How were three large canisters of caramel popcorn (“Perfect For Any Gift-Giving Occasion!”) supposed to fit in these boxes of Lilliputian proportions?

I picked them up and brought them inside. When I opened them, I was dismayed to see microwave popcorn, like the generic kind you buy at the grocery store. I had overdrawn my checking account and paid $45 for microwave popcorn, and we don’t even own a microwave?

I was livid.

But I couldn’t take it out on anyone, like, say, an unsuspecting Cub Scout, because the cowardly cub had (wisely) abandoned the grasshopper size popcorn boxes at my front steps (most likely so he wouldn’t have to deal with the fall-out of my disappointment and Popcorn Rage).

When The Husband came home that evening, I shoved the little boxes at him by way of greeting.

“What’s this?” he asked. “Did you order some eye-drops from Amazon again?”

“Open it,” I sulked. “Go ahead.”

He peered in the boxes. “Popcorn. Oh, hon, you got the wrong kind. We don’t have a micro—”

“Duh, I know,” I glared at him, as if he were the reason for this mistake instead of my own impulsiveness and inability to waste time reading fine-print.

“Uh, well, why don’t you return them?” he offered helpfully.

“They are from the stupid Boy Scouts! You can’t return charity!”

The Husband was used to my kooky moods by now; we’d been married several years, some of them happy.

“You know what?” he started. “I will take them to the office. We have a microwave there. Then they won’t be wasted.”

“Okay,” I pouted.

When the next selling spree commenced a few months later and I happened to notice the uniform-clad boys walking up my block yet again, I quickly turned off the lights and closed the plantation shutters so that they couldn't tell we were home. They knocked anyway (I guess the car in the driveway tipped them off). I decided I would rather have a woken-up, cranky toddler than overpriced, microwave popcorn.

The Boy Scouts have followed me to my new house as well, where they stalk me and pester me to buy stuff. Religious zealots join in the fun, as do wannabe lawn-care professionals.

I draw the blinds and ignore them all. I might crack open the door if someone comes up with a fundraiser involving Chardonnay.

MOV

545. Happy Birthday (I Think)

Actual email I sent to an actual friend:

“Dear Charlotte,

Happy Birthday! I have it in my head that it is October 18, but now I am realizing that my head is not such a safe spot to store things, important things like when your birthday is. Was it yesterday? Is it tomorrow? I hope it was happy, or I hope it will be happy, or I hope it is happy right now this minute.

I owe you a birthday lunch (unless it turns out your birthday is not until November, in which case, I will send you this same email again in about four weeks).

Your devoted friend (the one with the memory like a steel vault, well, a steel vault where the key has been misplaced),

MOV”

I hope I sent it to the right person this time.

MOV

Monday, October 17, 2011

544. So Which Religion Are You?

“Mom,” began the seven-year-old, innocently enough, “which religion are we again? Republican or Dominican?”

MOV

Sunday, October 16, 2011

543. My Dyslexic Washing Machine

So my washing machine is a relic of happier times, times when people drove around in gigantic cars with fins and no seatbelts, and watched boxy TV sets in black and white without remote controls. My washing machine (in all its pastel glory, sporting a color that can best be described as “understated cantaloupe”) is what the listing agent who sold us our house affectionately referred to as “original.” I am not picky about washing machines, just as long as they accept soap, produce water, and swirl the clothes around. My vintage washer does all these things.

But.

My washer likes to surprise me. I leave the dials in the same spot approximately 99.9% of the time (cold, delicate), and yet, my washer likes to dictate its own temperature and activity levels according to its mercurial moods.

“Cold?” washer inquires in that antiquey metallic voice. “Uh, no. I prefer hot now.”

I put my hand in to verify the cold, and my skin is scalded off in unattractive, blistery chunks.

The one time I am washing all whites and think, Hmm, maybe a dash of bleach and I will set the cycle on hot today, washer decides, “Let’s try cold this time. Icy. Mmm. That’s refreshing.”

I want to pull all the dials off in a rage, a rage of Temperature Angst, but when I try, washer clenches down its bolts and screws and says, “Ha! I was made more sturdiest than you thought!” (washer has good bolts, but lousy grammar).

Come on, washer, I whine, Can’t you do what I ask for once?

Washer laughs. “Tell you what, MOV, I can do what you ask … exactly as often as your own two children do.”

Point: Washer.

MOV
("Machine Of Vexation")

Saturday, October 15, 2011

542. Thank You, Bogleheads!

Okay, I admit, I am not really sure what a Boglehead is. But, I do know that the site sent me a lot of traffic in the past 24 hours, due to an old post of mine about the TV show “House Hunters.” Yay! Yay, Bogleheads, yay “House Hunters,” yay me!

From what I gather, Bogleheads is some sort of investment advice thing, where bloggers chat about money. See, I like money! I can chat about money, too! I especially like the money with Benjamin Franklin’s picture on it, but I am also quite happy with Andrew Jackson.

So, anyway, like I was saying, I clicked over to Bogleheads to see what they linked me about. There was this heated discussion about “House Hunters” and if it is fake (duh), but I still was not seeing my link. I scrolled down about halfway, and the poster named “Pointy Haired Boss” with the Dilbert comic image was the one who referenced me. Thank you, Pointy Haired Boss! I think I love you!

So, if Bogleheads happened to send you over here, please take a minute or 50 to peruse some of my other posts, and maybe even sign up as a follower. I can make you laugh, I can make you cry, and I can certainly offer the groundbreaking information of exposing Reality TV for being not quite totally 100% completely real. You’re welcome.

click here for link to Bogleheads

link to my "House Hunters Is Fake" post

MOV
(“Mistress Of Vision”)

541. Modify The Right Word

So Tall and I are reading Ezra Jack Keats’ childhood classic, “The Snowy Day,” a book we have read a million gazillion times, if not more. Tall has morphed from the child who liked picture books to the one engrossed in real chapter books. Normally, he rebuffs my offers to read cute books like this one, but for some unknown reason, he is indulging me.

We get to the part where Peter has come back inside after playing in the snow:

“Peter tells his mother all about his adventures while she helps him take off his dirty socks.”

(turn the page)

“And then he thought about them and thought about them and thought about them. He could not stop thinking about them.”

This is when Tall laughs for about 20 minutes straight. His rich giggle reverberates and consumes his small room. He is well-aware that the author is referring to the adventures, but he jokingly interprets it as Peter thinking about the dirty socks.

“Why would Peter want to spend so much time thinking about his dirty socks? Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha hahahaha!”

Tall climbs into his bed and pulls up the covers.

“Too bad the author didn’t have my teacher. She would never let him write like that,” says Tall matter-of-factly. “She would read his essay, pull him aside, and then—ZIP!—right into the trash!”

MOV

Friday, October 14, 2011

540. My Son Could Totally Get A Job With Hallmark

So I am putting Short to bed (Tall is still in the shower) and I lean down to give him a hug and a kiss goodnight. He throws his chubby little five-year-old arms around my neck and says

“I’ll always keep your kisses, Mommy. They’ll always fit in my heart.”

I swoon.

Then I remember back to what Tall used to say to me in the same situation at the same age:

“Mom? Could you not lean in so close? You have bad breath.”

MOV

Thursday, October 13, 2011

539. Three Jobs Are Better Than One

Today was my last day in scrubs. Tomorrow, I start my Better-Paying Top-Secret Job. This weekend, I will be working at the high-end kitchen. I am exhausted just thinking about it.

I mentioned all this to The Husband. His response?

“Oh, poor baby. You have to work four days in a row. Call CNN.”

I soooooo do not get his sense of humor sometimes.

MOV

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

538. But Why?

I quit my job. The New Top-Secret Job where I got to wear scrubs every day. I know, I know, it's terrible, I only worked there for about five and a half seconds (and my boss was super-duper gracious and nice and even said congratulations when I gave her my official two-weeks' notice, which just made it worse). 

But.

I got a new job. This one is also Top-Secret, and happens to be Better-Paying. Alas, I am not permitted to wear scrubs.

Craig’s List: Three sets of aqua-colored scrubs (size large). Barely used. Cheap. Contact MOV.

If no one calls, I am thinking they would make very nice pillow covers?

MOV

537. Why We All Die Before Age 700

You hear people say things like, “My grandfather had a lot of stuff when he died. He lived in the same house for 45 years,” or “When my great-aunt passed away, my family spent months going through her belongings—she had a lifetime of things,” or even “My neighbor was a pack-rat. When he moved to assisted living last year, his daughter had to clean everything out of the childhood home, and she filled six Dumpsters!”

This is exactly why God does not let people live to be 700 years old. Can you imagine the accumulated clutter? It is bad enough to say, “17 years’ worth of stuff,” or “collected things for 30 years,” or “couldn’t ever part with anything,” but to multiply that by 10? Can you even imagine?

God, I’ll make you a deal. If I throw away all the junk by the front door, can I live to be 110?

MOV

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

536. Migration of Things

Everything in my house lives next to the front door. Maybe that is so it can all make a quick get-away at any given moment. One million-gazillion partnerless shoes (maybe more)? Front door. Tote bags full of useless junk that I plan to keep for no good reason? Entry way. More useless junk waiting for me to call the Purple Salvation Veterans Will to come get it? Foyer. Sweaters/ coats/ swim gear/ mittens/ reflective vest for running (still in package)? Front hall closet. Random boxes? You guessed it. It’s like they all want to wave hello to the UPS guy or the mailman or any neighbor that might drop by. Look at us, look at us—we are the Front Door Dwellers!

It is futile to put the Front Door Dwellers (FDD) elsewhere in the house (for example, where they belong). Like their frisky cousin (ADD), they have a very short attention span and will simply drift back to the front when the opportunity arises. Cold day? Tall getting a scarf out of his very own bedroom closet, perhaps? Changed his mind last minute because classic navy and green plaid wool scarf in question is “too dorky”? That’s okay! Just plunk that scarf with its (abandoned) friends, the Front Door Dwellers, right by the (you guessed it) front door! It’s cozy and fun there, and remember our motto: the more the merrier!

Extra plastic Target bags? Front door. Reusable fabric bags (initially purchased so as not to be “wasteful” and have to use plastic bags)? Front door! Newspapers, mail, catalogs, magazines, in-going or out-going packages, sporting equipment—please, everyone, join the party!

I find myself complaining to The Husband about the FDD. His response?

“MOV, our last two houses had no front entry whatsoever. You walked right into the living room. When we were shopping for a house, you said you would not even consider a house without a foyer, that it was a deal-breaker. What, exactly, would make you happy?”

As if on cue, the Pod company deposits a giant Pod onto our front lawn, right next to the front door.

“Boys!” I call out. “Put your extra shoes in there!”

MOV

Monday, October 10, 2011

535. She Is Way Cooler Than Me (and probably has better grammar, too)

Okay, I was up at 4 AM and found a blog that is pretty darn cool. Since I do not have a good topic for today, I will bless you with her link. Here ya’ go:

We Band of Mothers
Now, read that title carefully:  band.  It says band, not banned like I originally thought.  No one is banning moms (although I am sure my sons would like to).  But it is not like a music band, it means like a group.  Although I would probably go so far as calling the writer a rock star.

So, point is:  she is funny, funny, hilarious, sarcastic, and well ... a change of pace from my blog?  (After you read her stuff and are done snorting coffee out your nose, come back over to my blog and read some of my archives.)

MOV

Saturday, October 8, 2011

534. Squirrel Down

Even though I myself spend 23 hours per day on the computer writing my blog and buying unneeded things on etsy, I realize it is not healthy for my children to spend more than six seconds per day on the computer or their eyes will fall out of their heads and their brains will explode. (Yes, it is an awesome responsibility to be a parent.) Imagine my surprise when my kindergartner came home from school the other day tossing around computer trivia facts like they were Halloween candy.

“So, Mommy, my teacher in Computer Lab today was showing us how to boot up the computer. Then, you click the mice on the bottom left to open up your selected program option and then you can do a game about counting. You drag the mice to the individual apples in the tree until you see that is where the cursor is and then when you are done, you click on the little number icon and it lights up and chimes! It is so cool.”

Wow, maybe I had been unnecessarily stingy with the computer time in our household. Maybe I was unconsciously stifling my children’s natural curiosity and intellectual growth, and unintentionally jeopardizing their futures as the next Bill Gates. At the insistent urging of my older son, I agreed that Short could do a Club Penguin computer game for five minutes (Queen Virgo handed him a timer).

We sat down together at the computer and I was amazed to discover that my child’s computer skills gleaned from one month in kindergarten far surpassed my own. The penguins had Puffles (small pets) and outfits and adventures and vacations and igloos and discothèques. The penguins seemed to live a nicer life than most college students.

Short was even kind enough to let me play Club Penguin for a minute. I didn’t understand what the heck was going on, but that’s okay because my helpful five-year-old was there to give me detailed instructions. When I got stuck and couldn’t really see some crucial element that was past the bottom of the screen, he commandeered the mouse and shouted, “Here, Mommy, squirrel down! Squirrel down!”

Thinking this was some sort of new character development/ plot twist in the land of penguins (squirrels are small, cute, and fuzzy—like Puffles), I asked for clarification.

“What squirrel? Where are the squirrels? Do I have to catch any of them? I don’t see them!”

Exasperated with Mommy’s unsettling lack of computer knowledge, Short repeated, “I said for you to squirrel down! You know, squirrel down!”

“Okay, Short, I’m trying, uh, to dance squirrel or climb somewhere, but I don’t see the squirrels?” Were squirrels black and white and float around on icebergs and go jet-skiing?

Tall, who had been watching over our shoulders this entire time, said, “Mom, what are you talking about? He’s saying scroll down.”

MOV

Friday, October 7, 2011

533. Oh, Yawn, Another Win

Haley’s Comic just gave me the equivalent of the Nobel Peace prize in Blogging. But instead of being called the “Nobel Peace Prize” and awarding me 1.3 million dollars, the name of the prize is the “I Dig Your Blog Award” and I received a photo image on my computer of a lovely city skyline with absolutely no instructions on how to plagiarize upload this image.

Here is the list of rules for the “I Did Your Blog Award”:

1. Say how grateful you are, and be very humble
2. Try to upload photo of skyline for award
3. List three random facts about yourself that your readers may not know already
4. List three other bloggers that you like
5. Get out your tiara (this wasn't really in the original rules, per se, but the whole reason I win awardds is for my inovation and goode speling)

That’s it for the rules on “I Blog Your Dog Award.” Now, onto the ceremony!

Thank you, Haley’s Comic, for the fabulous “Award Your Dog A Blog.” I am eternally grateful and also undeserving. In a room full of talent, well, I am the one falling asleep.

Okay, uh, technical difficulties on getting the image thing to work. (The frame, it should be noted, is from Target.)

Three random facts about myself. Wow, I have to edit it to only three?!? Why couldn’t I have won the “100 Amazing Trivia Facts About Me Award”? Hmm?

ONE: My tech-savvy skills leave something to be desired (oh, wait, I was supposed to mention something my blog readers do not already know).

ONE: (this is my do-over, so ignore the above trivia fact) I am really really good at handicapping horses at the track. Yes, I like to go to the races (have not been in years, but I do like to go), read the racing form stats, and choose the winners for the Exacta in the 5th. Impressive, I know. I also like to jump up and down when my chosen horse wins, possibly stepping on someone’s feet (not my own) in the process.

TWO: I moved a lot growing up. I was born in California, then my parents divorced and my mom remarried. My step-dad was in the army so we moved to Pennsylvania. Then Alabama. Then another house in Alabama. Then back to California. It’s hard to be the new girl in school all the time and try to make new friends when you were just getting to be accepted by the old ones. It makes you start writing obsessive little notes to yourself in a little notebook and draw little sketches of little houses and make up stories. Not that any of that happened to me.

THREE: I have two sons. If I had had daughters, their names would have been Cora Alcyon and Lake Kathryn. Since I am done having kids, you are free to use those names for your own future daughters or pet poodles. You have my blessing.

FOUR: Oops, that’s right, EDIT!

Now comes the part where I pass on the amazing “I Die For Your Blog Award” to three other super-talented recipients. But I am lazy (now you know what I was going to type for FOUR above) so I am just going to list the new recipient three times (and I even baked her cookies):

1. Haley's Comic (get it?  like Haley's Comet, but she is not really a comet)
2. Haley's Comic (some of her stuff is super-duper funny)
3. Haley's Comic (but not as funny as my stuff ... okay, possibly funnier if you must know)

When you make your way over to Haley’s, tell her MOV sent you. And just ‘cause you like her new blog, possibly better than mine, please still come back over here. I have a dozen cookies with your name on them waiting (hold the walnuts).

MOV
(“Mistress Of Vision”)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

532. Pathological Likeability

I have this pathological curse that I want to be please everyone. Call it Sally Field Syndrome (when she won the Oscar for Best Actress, her acceptance speech started with “You like me! You really, really like me!”). I am always surprised when people like me or recognize me or even want to talk to me. Yet, I obsessively try to be nice to everyone so that they will like me. It is an endless and exhausting loop.

Sometimes I just want to say, “It doesn’t matter if you like me, so there!” but that would be a lie.

For example, I have been volunteering at my older son’s school. The fabulous office staff is always happy to see me because I will hopefully sort some mail or organize files or otherwise accomplish some busy-work that has been sitting around waiting to be done.

What do I do? Bake them muffins. And cookies.

“Yay!” says The Husband. “You made us some cookies!”

“They’re not for you,” I hiss, apparently not worried about whether or not The Husband likes me. “They’re for the school.”

“Oh. Is it for a Bake Sale?”

“Duh, no. The cookies are for the school office ladies.”

“Why?” he probes. “Is it someone’s birthday?”

“How should I know?” I say impatiently. “I’ve only volunteered there a couple of times so far.”

“Uh-oh. Is this part of your I-am-such-a-nice-person campaign?”

“Of course,” I confirm defensively.

Our little psychotherapy session is cut short by the kitchen timer beeping.

“MOV, seriously? The school office people must already like you because you are helping them for free. I don’t think you need to bring cookies in.” The words are accompanied by the surreptitious theft of a cookie, perhaps eight, while I get the next batch out of the oven.

How can they possibly like me from just talking, getting to know me, and me helping them? I must bribe them with delicious foods to cement their approval of me.

This carries over into other aspects of my life as well. I hold the door for people at the dry cleaners (who will soon enough cut in front of me in line, and then I will never see them again) so that they will like me. I take the next-door neighbors’ newspaper to their doorstep when I go out for an early morning run, even though the delivery guy puts it at the end of their driveway which is not really that far to go. I volunteer to coordinate our moms’ group dinner club for several months, even though I have just started my Top-Secret New Job and am actually quite busy.

I want people to like me! I obsessively need people to like me!

When I find out through the grapevine or Facebook (“I Hate MOV—here’s why”) that someone does not like me (say, a previous co-worker from my airline career), I ruminate about it for days. That’s not true: months. How dare Deena not like me? I traded flights with her to accommodate her schedule! I helped her distribute the Duty Free forms on that London flight that one time! I held her place in line at Starbucks at the airport while we were delayed for two hours for that Boston flight! I’m nice! Damn it, I am!

The Husband shakes his head when I try to explain this to him. “MOV, why do you care what other people think? You know who is really important in your life. Your immediate family, your close friends. A few other special people.”

That’s right: my blog readers.

MOV

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

531. Emergency Outfit

As usual, you didn’t read the fine print on the bushel of papers that came home with you younger child the first day of kindergarten. There was, apparently, some Important List buried in the papers, and the Important List (which might have accidentally been recycled or worse, cavalierly thrown in the trash) detailed all the things that he needed to bring with him, things like school supplies, party money, hand sanitizer, snacks.

And an emergency outfit.

You completely missed the section about the emergency outfit.

The Angel Teacher, who herself is Minnie Mouse incarnate (in the most flattering way—all huggy and smiley and encouraging and everything you would want your child’s kindergarten teacher to be) sends you a helpful reminder note:

“Dr. MOV” (apparently your child has shared the tidbit that he believes you are, in fact, a doctor because you wear scrubs to work every day) “Your child still needs his emergency outfit. Please send it tomorrow if possible.” Three smiley faces follow, each in watermelon-red teacher ink.

Even though you had somehow blocked out the crucialness and requiredness of the emergency outfit, this was not actually your first exposure to it. Of course your older son had been through kindergarten and first grade and needed to provide the emergency outfit for those classes. And, truth be told, even preschool had requested the emergency outfit.

Here is what happens with the emergency outfit: As a newish mommy, you realize this is your golden opportunity to not only shine but put on the strobe light and sparkling disco ball and show the teacher what a style maven you are in regards to choosing clothing for your child. You might select (if you put the necessary thought into it, and why wouldn’t you?!) apparel from a trendy store like Gap Kids or Janie and Jack. Pants would be linen. Shirt would be ironed. Sweater would be embroidered with sailboats or vintage cars or both. Socks and undies (with appropriate self-esteem-building super-heroes) would be new. Shoes would be preppy.  Your selected emergency outfit could pretty much qualify as a very expensive Christmas gift for your nephew or your best friend’s son. The outfit is 2% practicality, and 153% impress-the-teacher.

This is precisely the right emergency outfit if the emergency falls on, say, picture day.

However.

The cuter the outfit, the more likely it will never see the (primary colors and weather stickers) light of day. That child of yours who spills grape juice on everything within a five-mile-radius on the weekends? Pristine at school. The kid who gets a bloody nose in his sleep every other day at home? Not a drop of blood on him, ever, at school. The one who takes a dark green Sharpie permanent marker and writes backwards numbers like some kind of gang symbols on his jeans for fun? Sternly parrots the teacher’s words “At school, we do not allow drawing on clothes.”

The emergency outfit mocks you in June when it is handed back, still hermetically sealed in its oversized Ziplock bag. When you take the outfit out and fluff it up, you actually hear it guffaw and say, “This is three sizes too small now! Ha!” Additionally, the sweater cackles and shrieks with glee, “And even though I still have my original tags, guess what—moth holes!

You picture the emergency outfit sitting in a dark cupboard with 24 of its best emergency-outfit friends, staring longingly at the Play-Doh and wishing for a finger-painting mishap or at the very least, a glitter explosion.

And then like a police light flashing in your brain when you are driving, an idea comes to you: You decide that YOU need an emergency outfit. Your outfit would be tailored khaki pants and a freshly dry-cleaned black cashmere sweater over a new white shirt from Nordstrom. Socks would be cotton and shoes would be shined. You briefly toy with assembling an outfit like this and keeping it in your car if you ever had a strange situation arise where you were far away from home and couldn’t get to a much-needed change of clothes for whatever mysterious reason.

Yes, the idea of the emergency outfit lodges in your brain, like the parking ticket you forgot to pay six months ago, but that is still on your bookshelf by the printer in your study. The idea patiently sits there, waiting for you to notice it and remember it and do something about it.

You know, however, (sadly you know) that if you ever DID put together such an outfit in your car, the one time you would go to use it, you would hear it say,

“This is three sizes too small now! Ha!

MOV

Monday, October 3, 2011

530. Another Flight Attendant Story

I had been a flight attendant for about a month. I was in the back of a 737 by the galley and I noticed that near the lavatory was a locked storage closet requiring a key. The door had an official sign stating:

“Supply Closet—For Authorized Personnel Use Only”

Who was this authorized personnel, and what exactly was in that closet? I asked the “senior” flight attendant (she had been flying for two whole months) and she wasn’t sure either. Maybe toilet paper? Extra pillows? Back issues of SkyMall catalog?

I really didn't want to ask anyone else as it might make me look like I didn't know what I was doing. The closet bothered me the whole flight. I kept looking back there, wondering if the ground crew in Chicago was going to have that key, and maybe someone on board like, say, the pilot should have the key if we needed it. 

My crew and I were keeping this same plane for our continuation on to Denver. How I wished we were changing planes to a nice simple Airbus that did not have mystery closets.  I had never heard of these special closets at training class.  Obviously, they were beyond my jurisdiction, just as the engine and wings were beyond my jurisdiction.

We finally landed, and the cleaning crew swooped in to do their thing. The lead cleaner, a gray-haired, heavy-set woman, efficiently checked the work of her team, then came back to talk to me. She was holding some paper towels and a few rolls of toilet paper. She motioned toward the supply closet.

“Can you please open the closet, Miss?” she asked politely, her hands full.

I shook my head no, then I set down my soda.

“The closet?” she repeated.

“No, sorry.” I shrugged.

“Excuse me?” she questioned.

“I said, I am sorry but no.” Was she stupid?! Did she lose her key? Surely someone on her cleaning team had an extra key. Why would only the lead person have the key? That wouldn’t make any sense at all because—

“You. Have. The. Key.” she said in staccato tones.

“No, you are mistaken,” I shook my head again, “the only key they give us at flight attendant training is the cockpit key. See?” I showed her my shiny brass cockpit key. Then I said, “See the sign? It says ‘Authorized Personnel.’ We all know who that is. The cleaning crew.” I went back to my Us Weekly magazine and my 7-Up, like the true professional that I was at age 23.

She started laughing. “No, dear,” she said, not unkindly, “the cockpit key also opens the storage closet. YOU are the ‘Authorized Personnel’.”

MOV

529. Top-Secret New Job

I am getting ready for work. My scrubs are crisp from the dryer, my hair is pulled back in a slick ponytail, and I am wearing a neutral but flattering lipstick. The boys are ready for school, we are gathering up backpacks and lunchboxes and keys and umbrellas. We are walking out the door.  As if seeing me for the very first time since I started working day-shifts at my new job several weeks ago, Short notices my uniform, looks me up and down, and says,

“So … you’re a doctor now?”

I laugh out loud, not meaning to but not being able to help myself.

Still laughing, I correct him: “No, no, Short, I am not a doctor.”

He smiles and shakes his head as if to make the wrong answer fall away. “Sorry, Mommy … I know you're not really a doctor.  Uh, a dentist then?”

I guffaw. My brain quickly does somersaults and back-handsprings around the requirements of secretly obtaining my M.D. (in general practice or dentistry) in the past few years while staying home as a full-time mom and raising my two sons.  Several years of night school, several thousand dollars, several more IQ points than I currently possess, and then of course passing those pesky licensing exams. In the innocence of childhood, apparently you can be whatever profession you want just by proclaiming it to be true.

“Short, sweetheart, I am not a doctor nor a dentist.”

I briefly fill him in on what it is exactly that I do at my Top-Secret New Job. Predictably, his eyes glaze over. Wearing scrubs does not equate (to him) to the job that I do. I finish up with something easy and relate-able:

“ … and then sometimes I have to call insurance companies and resolve issues regarding payment.”

He found something he can grasp on to. “Oh! You talk on the phone!” And then, reassuringly parroting all those special mommy-moments of the past seven years when I have cooed encouraging comments to him or his brother, “Mommy, that is a perfect job for you because you’re really good at talking on the phone!”

MOV

Saturday, October 1, 2011

528. If You Are Buying 50 Renuzits, Are You A Serial Killer?

There I am at Target, my favorite store of the universe (sorry, Betsey Johnson). I am perusing the myriad choices of laundry detergent. It is 8 AM, and the only people in the store are me and the dozen or so red-and-khaki-clad Target employees, so imagine my dismay when another customer finds his way into the cleaning products aisle at the precise moment I am there.

I don’t care what other people buy, as long as they are not buying the last bag of Mint Milanos before I get a chance to grab it. I needn’t have worried about my precious Mint Milanos, as the customer in question is buying out Target’s back-up supply of bleach and Renuzit.

Truly. Why would I make this up? His cart has nothing else in it, no cute Missoni rain-boots, no slick magazine on kitchen décor, no coffee filters. He is methodically filling his cart with Renuzits, one by one, almost a pyramid formation.

Let me tell you about this so-called customer. Grunge for him is not so much a fashion statement as a default lifestyle. He is wearing baggy jeans with holes, and a stained t-shirt. His cheap plastic glasses are held together with duct tape and a prayer. He appears to be in his late 50’s, early 60’s. He has not shaved in at least a week, and his greasy hair would impress an Elvis impersonator. (He is super-skinny, and for a very brief moment I deduce that he thinks Renuzits are food.)  This guy would be especially scary in a dark alley at 3 AM, but even in the harsh neon lighting of 8 AM Target, he is giving me the creeps.

I find myself staring at his cart, full of Renuzits and getting fuller by the second. He is crouched on the floor so he can find all the ones on the bottom shelves. What is with all those Renuzits?!? I have never bought even one Renuzit (let alone enough for my zip code) as I am not exactly clear on what they do, except make things smell (artificially) good.

Does he have some coupons? Do the coupons say that he must buy out the store's entire stock of Renuzits or the coupons are void?

Does he own, say, 100 cats? Dead, decomposing cats that he needs to bury and in the meantime hide the dead-decomposing-cat-smell from his neighbors and quite possibly the police?

IS HE A SERIAL KILLER? Is this how serial killers spend their time when they are not serial killing, they buy Renuzits at Target in bulk to cover up their crime(s)?

I try to think of an innocent explanation for ten large bottles of bleach and enough Renuzits for a professional football team’s locker room (for the next couple of seasons). I can think of no other reason than the killing spree. 

I slink away from the suspected killer, not wanting to focus any undue attention on myself from him. 

Maybe there should be a law, like a waiting period or something (like with guns), or a maximum number of Renuzits a person could buy at once. Four would be acceptable. Four hundred would not.

Today’s blog doesn’t have that cutesy little ending or punch line. I just want to warn you to beware of creepy guys buying too many Renuzits.

MOV

527. That Time Someone Stole The Desk Out of The Trash

Back-story: Recent severe storms have caused flooding in our area, specifically to unlucky people’s basements

Result: Driving down the streets in our neighborhood, you see all kinds of abandoned furniture and rolled up soggy carpets that were casualties of Mother Nature’s rampage

Personal Connection: The Husband impulsively decides our older son needs a wood desk; he sees one that is clearly “FREE” on the street corner and brings it home in his big truck

Ensuing conversation:

MOV: What’s that?

The Husband: (proudly) It’s a desk! For Tall! Look, the drawers are even dovetailed. (attempts to open ancient drawer, handle falls off)

MOV: Are you insane? The feet are completely covered in mold! Look, you can see, like, ten inches of water damage here.

The Husband: That’s really just superficial damage.

MOV: Superficial?

The Husband: It will sponge right off.

MOV:

The Husband: I’ll get a sponge.

MOV: No. That thing is not coming in the house.

The Husband: This from the woman who got her entire set of patio furniture off of a curb?

MOV: That was totally different. The patio-furniture-people were obviously moving. The desk-people were apparently drowning.

The Husband: A fresh coat of paint, and the desk will be brand new. (deranged smile)

MOV: No.

The Husband: Fine. You win. I’ll just put it in the garage until you change your mind.

MOV: I’d rather not have it getting mold in the garage. I think you should take it back wherever you got it.

The Husband:  (stops to think for a minute) Not right now. It could get mold on my truck.


And all this time, you thought I was the crazy one.

MOV
("Mystery Of Vision")