Friday, June 29, 2012

805. The Tenth Circle of Hell: If Dante Were Alive Today

I love our sons’ doctor, the same doctor they have gone to for the past seven years.  Love love love him.  He is brilliant, cheery, kind, helpful—in short, everything you would want a pediatrician to be. 

His office staff?  Not so much. 
Every time I go in there, I feel as if I have committed some type of capital offense.  “Why are you here?” the new receptionist barks at me.  “For a bikini wax and a few rounds of beer?” I desperately want to answer, as I hold the hand of my sick kindergartner who has an appointment. 

Calling the office to make an appointment or ask a question about a medication is an exercise in futility.  I think the DMV must have written their customer service training manual.     
A recent incident floats to the surface of my brain.  Short had some sort of skin rash on his face and head.  The Husband took him in, suspecting chicken pox to be the culprit.  Short was (thankfully) chicken pox free, but our doctor recommended a strep test to rule out that possibility as well.  The nurse called 24 hours later:  Short was positive for strep.  She called our pharmacy to give them our prescription. 

After I administered Short's first dose of Amoxicillin, it occurred to me that the drug might not be compatible with the drug he was on for the skin rash.  I called the doctor’s office to find out. 

Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell need an amendment:  Waiting on hold while listening to recorded messages that don’t pertain to you is surely the Tenth Circle.  I tried to be patient and open-minded while the tape advised me to “listen carefully, as our options have changed.”  I waited for each option, focusing on what could be different; strangely enough, the one I needed (operator) had not changed.  It was still zero. 
But then, I decided to see if there was possibly an option to talk to a nurse.  After all, I didn’t need an appointment, I just needed to discuss if mixing my son’s medications could be toxic. 

There was, indeed, a “nurse” choice.  I pressed the button.  Then I got another perky tape-recorded message: 

“Thank you for calling the nurse!  Most questions can be answered on our website, so please take a few minutes to self-diagnose, and then you won’t need to call us back because it is probably some silly thing like choking and you can just give him a whack on the back and he’ll be fine!  Or maybe you are calling because he is bleeding, but have you even tried a Band-Aid?  Simple solution!  If it is a big thing, you should be calling 911, so you are at the wrong place and wasting valuable time, so hang up and call a paramedic!  Hang up, I say!  But, if you still really really really want to talk to the nurse … too bad.  Leave a message and she will call you back sometime before next Tuesday.  If you or your child is not already dead by then.”

Then I tried to leave a message, but the tape hung up on me, saying the voicemail box was full.  I called back, livid.  This time, I pressed zero. 
The indifferent receptionist knew nothing of my ten minutes in the Tenth Circle of Hell.  I tried to keep this in mind as I spoke to him.  “May I please ask you a question about my son’s medication?” 

“What is your son’s name and date of birth?” 
I told him.  Then I said, “I do not want to mix his medications if they can be dangerous when taken together—”

He cut me off.  “Oh, wow, for that—you will have to talk to a nurse.” 

“Okay, great, may I talk to a nurse?”  My voice was still pleasant at this point. 
“Sure!  No problem!  I will just put you on hold and transfer you to the nurse’s phone line so that—”

This is where I lost it.  “No!  NO!  Do not transfer me to the nurse’s line!  I have already been holding forever on the nurse's line!  The nurse’s line says for me to go to the website because it will answer all my questions but I do not have a vague question, I have a very specific question!  My question is not about choking or Band-Aids!   There is NO WAY my question would ever be on the website because it is a question about mixing the medication for strep with the medication for a skin rash and that is too specialized of a question!  DO NOT put me on hold for the nurse’s line, I need to talk to a live person!!!!  Hello?” 
“Ma’am,” he said, his tone both condescending and weary, “What I was going to say is that I would get a nurse for you.” 

Then he put me on hold.  For fifteen minutes.  Then he hung up on me. 

I called back.  I got the tape.  I waited.  A (different) receptionist answered.  I asked for the nurse.  While I was on hold, my cell phone beeped with another call from (you guessed it) the doctor’s office on the other line.  They were trying to call me while I was waiting to speak to them.  I knew if I beeped over, it would be too late.  I opted to continue to hold. 
Finally, just as I was about to take my son’s medicines myself to see if I would die instantly or if it was safe, a nurse answered.  “May I help you?” she asked. 

“Yes,” I said, feeling defeat.  “I am calling about my son, Short.  Do you have his chart there?”
“No, of course not,” she said, like I was stupid.  I was thinking it was the same nurse who had just beeped in on the phone trying to call me.  “Ma’am, what is your son’s date of birth?” 

I told her, and then I told her the medications.  “Ma’am, it is no problem.  He can take both medications simultaneously.” 
“Thank you very much,” I said to dead air space right after she hung up on me.  Then I called my own doctor for a new personal prescription:  Prozac.   


Thursday, June 28, 2012

804. Paranormal Sour Cream

I am not a sour cream eater.  I realize that this is un-American, as we have been conditioned to put the stuff on baked potatoes, nachos, and according to, even on blueberries.  No.  I do not buy it, I do not like it, I do not seek it out.  Something about the texture of it makes me cringe, and I am not fond of that fact that it is cold but not quite cold enough to qualify as ice-cream but not quite creamy enough to be whipped cream.  I am wary of sour cream, suspicious of its indecision to be one thing or another. 

If sour cream was a person who approached me at a party, I would politely pretend I only spoke German, and quickly move away. 
So it should come as somewhat of a surprise that I notice a container of it in my very own fridge.  The Husband, apparently, does not share my phobia of all things sour cream.  He bought it and stuck it on the top shelf.  I had an epiphany: Why not make a lemon Bundt cake, with the principal ingredient being (you guessed it) sour cream?  THIS, my friends, is why sour cream was invented:  to put in things, not to eat by itself. 

I laid out all the components that the recipe called for.  My kitchen counter resembled a Martha Stewart prep kitchen (albeit a very tiny one):  premeasured flour, eggs at room temperature, two sticks of butter waiting to be transformed by their friend white sugar, and of course, the sour cream. 
I opened the lid.  Underneath the lid, was a clear protective wrapper made of plastic.  It was similar to what you would find on the top of the Tylenol bottle.  Just an extra layer to keep it safe from terrorists or maintain its freshness levels, or whatever.  Then, I tore off the plastic. 

Now, usually when I bake, I don’t really “study” the ingredients very carefully.  I just set them out, toss them in the bowl, then bake (I have been blessed with the Baking Gene—everything I bake is magically perfect.  I’m not kidding.).  But, in this case, for whatever reason, when I opened the sour cream container and removed the plastic, I happened to glance at it just as I put the spoon in, but right before I went to measure out one cup. 
The sour cream was smiling at me. 

Here, see for yourself.      
photo by MOV

Literally smiling at me.  So I had to grab the camera. 

yep, I took this photo too

Next, I went over to the trash can to find the crumpled clear protective plastic to see exactly how the marketing people at the Sour Cream Factory got the clear wrapper to make that smiley impression.  So clever!  How did they do it?    
However, upon closer inspection, I determined that the plastic wrap was just a plain ol’ piece of plastic.  It did not have any type of design in it.  The people at the Sour Cream Factory had nothing to do with the face that was smiling up at me.  It was a freak occurrence. 

But, honestly, I wasn’t too freaked out by it.  You see, this kind of thing happens to me all the time. 
Flower petals fall in a heart formation on my table.  Clouds spell out my name.  The license plate in front of me has my birthday numbers on it (921).  Seriously, the Universe is constantly calling out to me.  I once heard about a woman that found the image of the Virgin Mary on her toast.  Please.  That’s the best you can do?  I have my own personal angels sending my cheery signs almost every day. 

I bake the lemon Bundt cake, then slice it to serve my sons. 
Short takes one bite and exclaims, “Mommy, this cake makes my tummy smile!”  Of course it does.  The sour cream is in there. 


Monday, June 25, 2012

803. Muse's Latest Posts

Muse’s Latest Discovery
“MOV, have you ever shopped online?” said a little voice, startling me in the middle of the night while I sat at my computer shopping online.  “It’s kinda fun.” 
“Muse, my gosh, do you never call first?  You almost gave me a heart attack.”
“So answer the question.  I found this cool web sighting, it’s called Overstock, and, like, they have really good deals.” 
Receiving this piece of news was like finding out that trees are made of bark and leaves and roots.  “Umm, yeah, I already knew about Overstock.”
“Oh, you did?  Huh.  Well, they send me 10% off coupons all the time now, so if you ever need a coupon, I can give you one.” 
I was slowly realizing that she’d been drinking again.  “Muse, they email coupons to everyone.  I don’t really need your coupons.  But thanks anyway.” 
“I bought a couch from them!  But then it arrived and we had to put it together, you know, it came in pieces.” 
We?!  “Muse, who?  Who put it together for you?” 
“The UPS guy.  I asked him what was in the box, he said ‘How should I know, you ordered it,’ and the next thing you know, he’s sitting on my floor with his shirt off, drinking a beer, and putting my couch together for me.”  She winked at me. 
“Muse, are you trying to say you were flirting with the UPS guy?” 
“No, I am not trying to say that, I am saying that.  Have you seen my UPS guy?  He’s hot.”
I only knew what my UPS guy looked like.  Not hot.  Not even lukewarm. 
“So anyway, Paulo and I are going out to dinner tomorrow night.  Wanna come?” 
“Who is Paulo?” 
“Have you not been listening just now?  My UPS guy?  The one who put my couch together?  I told him it was the least I could do, buy him dinner, after he stayed all afternoon adjusting my—”
“Muse!  I have heard enough.  Wait—his name is Paulo?  What kind of UPS guy has a name like that?” 
“So you will have dinner with us?  I don’t want him to get the wrong idea about me.” 
I decided I would have dinner with Muse and Paolo.  What could possibly go wrong?
(To be continued …)
Meal With Muse
I got to the restaurant early, as per my Virgo nature.  The maître d’ greeted me warmly.  “May I help you, miss?”  I could see why Muse picked this restaurant—what 40-year-old woman does not want to be addressed as “Miss”? 
“Why, yes,” I enthused, “I’m meeting some friends here, and—”
The maître d’ was looking behind me, and I realized he had not been speaking to me after all.  I turned around, and there was Muse. 
“Hello!  Yes, there will be four of us.”  Muse winked at him, winked at me, and gave a few extra winks to whoever happened to be within winking distance. 
I smiled in relief that she was here.  “Muse!  Hello!”  I leaned in for the European back-and-forth kiss that I always seem to get wrong.  Muse leaned in for the American air kiss and accidentally got her hair tangled in my necklace. 
“Ack, MOV, take the necklace off!” 
“I can’t!  You’re choking me!” 
We someone separated, hair and jewelry intact, and then her previous words seeped into my brain:  four.  She’d said four people. 
“Muse, who else is coming besides Paulo?” 
“Aha, MOV, he has a twin!  Armin.” 
“Why is Armin coming?  I’m married.  You know that.” 
“Oh, dear God, MOV, don’t be naïve.  Armin is not for you to suss out, he’s for me to suss out.  I might like him better than I like Paulo.  I don’t want to get stuck with the wrong twin.”  She shrugged, as if she’d said, I don’t want to accidentally buy the wrong size shoes.
“Muse, you do realize we are talking about people, don’t you?  You can’t say this person is better than that per—”
“Ladies,” interrupted the maître d’, “shall I seat you now and bring your dates over when they arrive?” 
“Yes, please!” Muse exclaimed.  “Perfect.” 
We sat down and before we even had a chance for Muse to flirt with the waiter, Paulo and Armin approached our table.  To say they were handsome is like saying the sun is a tad bit warm.  I was mesmerized by their good looks and could not stop gawking at them. 
Muse jumped up out of her seat and hugged them both, as if they had been long-lost best friends from childhood, not the UPS guy and his brother whom she met for the first time four hours ago. 
“Guys, guys, I am so happy to see you!  This is my boss, MOV.” 
Wait—what?  Did she just call me her boss? 
“Nice to meet you, I’m Armin,” said the one with the blindingly white teeth.   
“How do you do, I am Paulo.  Muse has told me so much about you,” said the one with a better tan. 
We all sat down in the booth, with Muse and me on the same side. 
“Shall we get a bottle of wine?” asked Muse. 
“Absolutely!  You know, our uncle owns a small vineyard in France.  Maybe his wine is on the list?” said Paulo. 
Armin scanned the list.  “Look, Paulo, they have three of his wines!  I told you this was a good restaurant.” 
I excused myself to go to the ladies’ room.  I stood in front of the mirror critiquing my outfit.  I always felt old next to Muse. 
When I returned to the table, they were gone.  I looked to the right and left, and then in desperation, under the table.    
The waiter appeared and set a glass of wine down for me.  “Ma’am, are you MOV?” he inquired. 
“Yes?  Hey, do you know what happened to my friends?  Did they switch tables and go outside?”  I craned my neck to see the patio section. 
“No.  They left.  They left $100, and said for you to have a very nice dinner on them.  What can I get for you?” 
This was not the first time Muse left me stranded …


Sunday, June 24, 2012

802. That Time We Thawed The Ice-Cream Cake for Two Hours

When I was growing up, my mom fell in love with ice-cream cakes.  I don’t know if they were a new thing, or if they had been around since her own childhood, but she acted like she discovered them.  “Shall we call Baskin-Robbins and order an ice-cream cake?” became the catch phrase of my childhood.  Any occasion was ice-cream cake worthy:  birthday, Easter, Valentine’s, Christmas, good report card, get well soon, trash day.      

So it should come as no surprise that we ordered an ice-cream cake for my little sister Oakley’s sixth birthday.
Oakley’s birthday was on a Wednesday that year, so her party with her friends was going to be the Saturday after.  My mom is a big believer in celebrating on the actual day, so she made a point of making dinner reservations at our favorite restaurant for the five of us.  She had my step-dad meet us at there so that he could go to Baskin-Robbins to pick up the cake first without Oakley seeing it. 

The plan worked perfectly.  He arrived at the restaurant before us and had already spoken to Phyllis, the manager, about the cake.  He winked at my mom and whispered, “They’ll take care of everything.” 
By “everything,” I assumed he meant that Phyllis would put candles on the cake and walk out of the kitchen at the appropriate time.  By “everything,” my mom assumed that no one would ruin the surprise for Oakley.  By “everything,” Phyllis assumed that is was a regular cake (albeit it a very cold one), so she stuck it on a side counter in an out of the way spot in the kitchen. 

I shouldn’t say, “out of the way spot.”  I should say, “directly under the heat lamp.” 
We ate our dinner, blissfully unaware of the melty tragedy taking place behind the swinging kitchen door. 

When we finished our dinner, Phyllis came over to our table and sweetly asked if we would like dessert.  My mom shook her head no, then said dramatically, “No, sorry, we are all much too full for dessert!” 
Just then, a troop of waiters, waitresses, cooks, and underage dishwashers all came out of the kitchen cheering and singing “Happy Birthday” to my sister.  She loved being in the spotlight, and she clasped her little hands together in glee and anticipation.  The server gently set the cake down in front of Oakley. 

It was cake soup. 
I’m not sure if it was the excitement of the day or the fact that 20 people were hovering around us, but Oakley seemed to not notice that her cake was no longer a solid, but a liquid.  She blew out her crooked candles (reminiscent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa), and everyone clapped.  I felt like we were on stage in a strange play where one of the props malfunctions and the cast ignores it and goes on. 

My mother, however, could not ignore it.  While my step-dad cut into the cake with his spoon and my toddler brother reached for a straw, my mother left the table to speak to Phyllis.  “What happened?” I could hear her imploring.   
In the end, there of course was nothing we could do except eat the hot cake with sticky creamy sugar fossilized around it.  My brother licked his plate clean.   

On the drive home while my brother slept and Oakley chattered on and on about her Barbie wish-list for her party on Saturday, my parents bickered quietly in the front seat.  My mom blamed my step-dad for not explaining to Phyllis that the pink box with brown dots and the words “Baskin Robbins Ice-Cream” emblazoned on the top actually housed a frozen confection.  “I didn’t think to tell her, because I thought she would just know!” he hissed through clenched teeth. 
We arrived home and changed into our pajamas, Oakley still oblivious to the cake drama that swirled around her.  My mom came into our room to say goodnight, and Oakley asked: 

“Mommy, for Saturday’s party, can we have more of that ice-cream soup?” 

Friday, June 22, 2012

801. Hair Scare

While I slept peacefully, my hair had an emergency meeting just after midnight last night. 

“Hey, Roots!” shouted Split Ends like a drill sergeant.  “We need you!  You know how she prefers blond?  I don’t like it.  We gotta let people know her age.  GRAY!  Gray is what we’re after.”       
Roots agreed.  “And what about Frizz?  Frizz, you make her look like a sad, deformed chicken.” 

Frizz guffawed.  “I’m glad you noticed.  Hey, she was talking about doing some family photos this week.  This is the time for us to give her a scruffy look.”   
“How about breakage?” said Follicle.  “I think that would be upsetting.  Or some of us could just fall out all together?” 

The rest of the group nodded and cheered.  Bangs spoke up for the first time:  “She’s never liked me anyway … how about I do that sticking-up-thing, you know, out to the side?  Even after she tries gel or hairspray.” 

“Bloody perfect.”  Random Curl always used British phrases with her phony accent.

I woke up, still oblivious to their clandestine meeting and their recent mutiny.  I inadvertently glanced in the mirror as I was brushing my teeth;  I choked on my toothpaste.
The second the clock reached 10 AM, I reached for the phone.  I made two calls.  The first, to reschedule the photos, and the next ...       
“Hi, when can you squeeze me in for a cut and highlights?” 
(“Mistress Of Vision”)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

800. Following Newspaper Recommendations

Being the Virgo that I am, I had diligently mapped out activities for my kids this summer. 

I was going to take them to the pool, enroll them in art camp, ride bikes with them, go to museums.  

All kinds of fun things. 

But, as much as I love my kids, I had carelessly neglected to make any summer plans for the one who matters most in my life, the one I could not do without, the one I spend so many of my waking hours dreaming about. 

That’s right:  Food. 

Never fear. 

In my local newspaper a few days ago, the journalist helpfully devoted an entire article to just what I needed:  “Summer plans for the kids and food.” 

YES!  This was the exact article I had been waiting for!  I could finally get some good ideas about making summer plans for my food! 

I read the article in its entirety, and then I immediately began fantasizing about where I could escort my food.

Of course, I instantly thought of the beach.  I could take my Food for a nice run there. 
Food would probably want to go to an amusement park.  That would be a good use of our time. 

Since the kids were in art camp, Food might be interested in that, too. 
I considered taking Food to the pool, but then remembered Food had been banned there.  This smacked of foodism.  I vowed to check Food’s legal rights later.   

Food would love to fly, and I made a mental note to help Food apply for a passport. 

I was so excited to tell The Husband all about the new plans I had come up with for Food based on the wonderful newspaper article.  Then I realized the perfect summer activity for Food, the activity my family and I treasure most:     


Monday, June 18, 2012

799. I Was Adopted

I was adopted.  I don’t talk about it much.  You are the first person I’ve ever told.  Well, besides my mom I mean.   

“Mom, was I adopted?” I asked her in a quiet moment between ballet class and homework.  She furrowed her eyebrows in that same way I had seen reflected in the mirror the past 12 years. 
“Adopted?  Don’t be ridiculous.  Ha!  You were not adopted.”  She tucked a stray blond hair behind her right ear.    

It was a lie and she knew it.  Oh, sure, there were photos of her when she was supposedly “pregnant” (adult code for “fat”), but she was obviously hiding something. 
I tucked a stray blond hair behind my right ear.  “Come on, Mom, you can tell me.  Really.  It’s okay.  I can handle it.” 

“MOV, would you stop?  You were not adopted.  End of story.” 
She and I both knew it was actually the beginning of the story, because clearly I was Russian royalty.  Every night, after my fake mom would tuck me in bed, I would get out my special “I am adopted” journal and write letters to my birth parents.  I knew it was only a matter of time before their identities were revealed to me. 

My father, I decided, was a king.  Or at least archbishop or knight.  And married.  My birth mother, on the other hand, was most likely single.  And beautiful.  It was a classic case of them meeting at the wrong place at the wrong time, him already being married, and her finally finding her soul mate. 
They had no choice but to give me up. 

I often wondered when they would swoop in to get me.  Would today be the day that one of them would just show up at my seventh grade science class and say, MOV, pack your bags we’re going back to Russia? 

“You have your dad’s laugh, you know,” a new cousin would tell me once we had a big family reunion and they signed over the majority of their fortune to me, the only missing link in the Russian dynasty, “They never stopped looking for you, never stopped loving you.” 

We would sit around for hours catching up, my new mom telling me about her successful modeling career and my new dad telling me about political regimes he’d overthrown, while I would show them my latest algebra test (A-) and tell them how I was captain of the chess team. 

I’ll admit, after all these years it would be sad to have to say goodbye to my adoptive family and especially my younger sister and brother (whom my adoptive mother actually was miraculously pregnant with, because I remember both pregnancies), but it would be for the best.  I planned to send my (former) family a postcard from time to time, and possibly a (small) box of chocolates on Mother’s Day. 

I wondered how I would look in a tiara, and at what age my glamorous and wealthy-beyond-belief “real” family would let me wear it out of the house.  Even though my adoptive mother refused to let me get my ears pierced or wear lip gloss, I knew my birth mother would allow these things (did I mention she was a model?). 
For six months, I mentally prepared myself for the day that my birth parents would come to reclaim me. 

“MOV, help me with the dishes please,” said my adoptive mom.  I knew that royalty would never be asked to do such menial tasks.  “MOV, can you watch your brother for 10 minutes so I can take a shower?”  It was practically slave labor, something my birth family would be furious about as soon as I told them.  “MOV, it’s your turn to walk the dog.  Don’t forget to take a plastic bag with you.” 
It was unbearable. 

Then it happened.  My birth parents were killed in a plane crash.  Or murdered in a political coup.  One of those.  I cried every day for a week. 
I knew that now I would never get to meet the brave woman that had given me up for adoption in California* when I was mere days old (*yes, I know that California is far from Russia—I had not worked out those details of why she was giving me up in that location, but honestly it is irrelevant to the story).  I would never get to play chess* with my birth dad (*a game I was sure he excelled at).  But mostly, I would never know the love that was an inheritance of $50 million dollars that had been set aside for me in trust. 

My cruel adoptive mother had of course burnt all the official records, making it impossible to trace back my lineage with the solid proof that I so desperately craved.  It was pure selfish motivation on her part.  She did not want me exposing her crime of denying my royal heritage.    
I hadn’t thought about this smudged piece of my past for decades, until the other day.  Tall came home from school and asked, “Mom, was I adopted?” 


Sunday, June 17, 2012

798. New Muse Post

Muse has a brand new post. 

Muse stood on my front lawn in her tiny reflective-dot bikini.  She was smiling up at me, like a sunflower turned toward the bright sunlight.  “Hey, MOV, are you following me on Twitter?” 

“Muse, I can’t keep up.  Are you saying you’re on Twitter now?” 

“Yeah!  So Delta called back after my lawyer talked to them, and now they are offering me my job back!”  She grinned wide, exposing teeth so perfect they looked alarmingly denture-like. 

“That’s great, Muse!  I’m happy for you.  When do you go back?” 

“Oh, I turned them down.  They wouldn’t let me be based in Atlanta again.”  Here she paused and adjusted her bikini top.  “Sorry!  I lost a lot of weight with all this biking!  My clothes are just—”

“Muse, wait.  Where did they want you to be based?” 

“Oh, yeah, that.  Well, they offered me Salt Lake City, but I told them no.  I do not want to have to move to a foreign country.”  She shrugged, then starting flicking at imaginary lint on her swimsuit.  “So, for now, I have a lot of time to do the biking thing.” 

“Salt Lake City is not a foreign—”

“Gah, are you still talking about that?  You gotta check my tweets.  Then you would be up to date.”  Muse got a mirrored compact out (not sure where she’d hidden it) and examined her eyebrows. 

“I talked to Oakley, she told me all about what happened …” 

“Can we not talk about her?” she asked, snapping her compact shut.  “I mean, one little charge one her Visa and—”

“I thought it was American Express?” 

“Yeah, whatever, quit interrupting!  And if you were on Twitter you would already know all this.  So anyway, like I was saying, one purchase at the Ferrari dealership, and she’s all Ohmygod, the world is gonna end!  You are ruining my credit!  Muse, why did you buy a Ferrari?” 

“Muse, why did you buy a Ferrari?” 

She looked intently at me.  “You really are sisters, huh?  You are totally channeling Oakley right now.  That was a very good impression.” 

“So what is your new plan, Muse?  Where do you go from here?” 

“I don’t know.  My plans are up in the air right now.” 

I was regretting the day I let Muse into my life.  But even more I was regretting that I didn’t have a Twitter account. 


797. Happy Father's Day

I am very blessed to have my wonderful husband in my life, and he is a great dad to our two sons.  But today I want to talk about someone else:  my own dad. 

My dad is my hero.  He has always been the calming presence in my life, always the one that would listen and give solid advice, always the one sitting in the front row and cheering me on.  He is the type of person that stops and helps people in wheelchairs when they are getting off rides at Disneyland, rides that involve water where you may or may not drop your sunglasses out of your pocket into the water and never get them back while helping these people.  My dad does not care about his sunglasses. 

He spied on me at my first job when I was 16 (a fast-food restaurant—I was the drive-thru girl), not so he could make sure I was doing a good job, but because he was so proud, proud of me for having a job. 

My dad is the one that paid for my religious private high school.  He put me through college.  He supported  my decision to change schools and change majors (twice).  He is the one that encouraged me to travel to Europe on study-abroad programs.

He congratulated me when I got my first airline job.  And I flew him to London, first class (finally, I was able to pay him back a little bit!). 

He has helped me all along the way with big things and small, money and time. 

I would not be where I am today without him.  This post is for you, Daddy!  I love you. 

(read more great blog posts I wrote about my dad, HERE and then HERE and next HERE)

Friday, June 15, 2012

796. The Exciting Conclusion

(**Just joining us?  Consider reading Part IPart II, and Part III first.)

I hadn’t heard from Oakley in more than three days; I was getting nervous.  “Just call her,” prodded The Husband helpfully, “Pick up the phone and call.” 

I did as instructed and she answered on the first ring. 
“Oh, it’s you,” she said with the identical level of enthusiasm normally reserved for emergency dental work, “I can’t talk long.” 

“Why, what’s going on?” 
“I was just waiting for a supervisor at American Express to call me back.  Seems your little friend Muse has a spending addiction.” 

I thought very carefully about my next choice of words.  Being the older sister, my role in our growing up years was to tell her I told you so.  However, now that we were adults, I realized those same four words, even from a place of sisterly love, could be misconstrued as insensitive. 
“Well, Oakley … I told you so.” 

“I knew you were going to say that.  Look, I don’t have time for your preachiness.  Muse made some unauthorized purchases and I am in the process of returning the items, even though the policy was no returns.” 
I was dying to know what she had bought.  I couldn’t contain it any longer.  “Oak, what did she buy?” 

“Oh, you mean besides the Ferrari?” 
This was typical Muse.  My sister might not have noticed if Muse had bought, say, a Honda.  But a Ferrari would most likely draw attention.    
“Wait—so your credit card can take a charge for a down payment on a Ferrari?  Wow.” 
Down payment?  No, MOV, she charged the whole thing.”

I was instantly envious.  Not only did Muse have a new Ferrari (red, is there any other color) ...
... but apparently Oakley had stellar enough credit to support such a purchase.  I usually would develop a nervous twitch if I tried to charge a grande latte and a blueberry scone (Please don’t say declined like last time, please don’t say declined like last time, Please don’t say declined like last time, I would chant out loud at the Starbucks counter). 
“Oak, your credit is that good?  I had no idea.  You must have the gold Amex card.” 

“Gold?  Are you kidding?  I have black.” 
“Black?  Don’t you mean platinum?  There’s no such thing as black.” 

“Uh, yeah, there is, Sis, ‘cause I have it.  Black.”  She said black the way someone might say, I own my own Concorde supersonic jet, which come to think of it, she probably did if she had credit that good.    
A normal person would NEVER ask another normal person how much money they made or what exactly they did to earn such a large income, an income that apparently American Express deemed worthy of charging a Ferrari or perhaps a small continent.  And, in fact, I did not have to ask Oakley because I already knew:  she was a pro bicyclist.  I internally vowed to become a pro bicyclist myself, and I would start by biking at least half a mile every day on my stationery bike.  Or maybe just once a week to ease into the competitive training schedule. 

Oakley's voice cut out.  “Oh, MOV, that's Amex beeping in, I gotta go.”
“All right, that’s fine, but could you put Muse on the phone first?  Or tell her to call me on my cell?  I need to talk to her.” 

“She’s not here.  She left three days ago to do her bike across America thing.” 
Without you?  But did she even buy the right biking gear?  The helmet, the special shoes, the reflective clothing?” 

“MOV, I can't talk.  I need to straighten this out with Amex.”  She hung up abruptly, as if her financial security was more important than my question. 
It didn’t matter, though, because Muse was already at my door.  “Hey MOV,” I could hear her familiar voice on the front lawn, “Come out here!  I am biking across America!”