Saturday, September 29, 2012

853. Gym Rat

I have been working out a lot lately.  And by a lot, I mean every day.  I started this new regime yesterday, and I can already tell a difference. 

For one thing, I am hungrier because I am burning a lot more calories than when I do my normal activities, like watch TV.  My new work-out includes riding the exercise bike, lifting weights, and doing floor exercises such as sit-ups.  I have calculated that I am burning approximately 400 calories.  This means I can eat something I want to later. 
Like ice-cream.  I mean, everyone knows that dairy is one of the four essential food groups (the others being whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and chocolate), so it is imperative that I eat some dairy. 

I get out a bowl.  I get out the pint of ice-cream.  I get out the ice-cream scooper.  And that is when it dawns on me:  my biceps!  My biceps are now so strong that scooping out frozen ice-cream is much easier than it used to be.  I scoop out twice as much twice as fast. 
I love exercise. 


Friday, September 28, 2012

852. My Son Is A Martian

Lately when Tall comes home from school, he immediately opens his backpack, takes out his papers, then sits down at the dining room table and does his homework. 

He is eight. 
This type of behavior is perplexing to me, as I always did my homework in front of the TV.  Or mostly I sat in front of the TV and forgot all about my homework and then got yelled at by my math teacher the next afternoon.  Where did this sensible behavior come from? 

It was becoming more and more obvious to me by the day:  Tall had been switched at birth.  But I don’t mean by some careless nurse who had worked a double shift and was too tired to notice that one baby was blond and one baby was a red-head, or that one baby was super intelligent and the other was an idiot.  I mean that aliens came down from outer space and took my genetically average son and replaced him with one of genius caliber. 
I am not complaining.

Most days it comes in handy to have a resident future-Mensa individual living in the house.  Certain situations arise where I might need help, situations like setting up the DVD player, programing my phone, or plugging in the coffee maker.  Tall is able to offer assistance with all of these. 
It’s just … I kind of feel sorry for those Martians out there with my real son. 


Thursday, September 27, 2012

851. Why I Cannot Hire a Cleaning Lady

Despite the Death Breath and the toothlessness that are happening in our house lately, I have more important things to focus on.  Like cleaning.  I looked around our messy house and realized a simple truth: 

My house is too dirty to be cleaned. 
It was a thought that was simultaneously horrifying and liberating. 

The bathroom was an embarrassment.  Layers of grime coated all surfaces, much like the bathroom in a trendy nightclub, or abandoned gas station.  I wondered if I could get someone else to clean the bathroom instead of me, someone like The Husband, or the six-year-old, or perhaps the cat. 
Speaking of cat, her litter box was ready to revolt as well. 

I shook my head and walked out, without even bothering to brush my teeth (which is why I had gone in the bathroom in the first place).  Looks like I was going to have my own Death Breath Super Power today. 
I walked into the kitchen, which was no better.  The tile floor, for example, looked like it might not have been cleaned this week, or ever.  The stove was covered in so many grease marks that I started to wonder if The Husband had secretly replaced our white stove with a Dalmatian model.  At least the sink was clean, I hoped, but I could not really tell for sure since the teetering stack of dirty dishes was blocking my view.    

The living room appeared as it had been hit by an angry tornado of school papers.  There were PTA fliers, old homework, field trip permission forms, and basketball sign-up sheets (from two seasons ago).  These cozied up to newspaper articles that The Husband “might want to reread, so don’t throw those away,” random Lego pieces, and old candy wrappers that Short was “definitely going to use for something, I’m not sure what, but I need to keep them.”            
I did what I always did when confronted with a great amount of work:  complained to The Husband about it. 

After listening to my diatribe, he nodded and said, “Why don’t you just call a cleaning lady?  We have had one a few times before.  We can afford it.” 
It was not a matter of money, did he not see that?  I shook my head sadly and said,

“I can’t hire a cleaning lady.  Our house is too dirty.  I would be embarrassed.” 
“MOV, come on!  I’m sure she has seen a lot worse than our house.  Just make the call.” 

In the end, my pride got the better of me, and I cleaned the house myself.  I used the money I saved to invest in some extra equipment that will help me the next time such a crisis arises:  wine. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

850. Tooth Fairy

The Tooth Fairy made an appearance at our house the other night.  She had planned in advance this time and gone to the bank to procure some fancy gold-colored Sacagawea coins.  Adults, of course, know that Sacagaweas are worth a dollar.  Our six-year-old, however, was not aware of this.  We heard him squeal from the next room: 

“One million dollars!  The Tooth Fairy left me a special gold coin that is worth one million dollars!” 
Uh-oh.  This might not go so well after all.    


Monday, September 24, 2012

849. Super Powers

The Husband told me the other day that he had been thinking a lot about his special Super Powers.  I always thought my Super Power was reading minds, but how had I missed this?  I knew The Husband was fairly tall (6’4”), so I expected him to say,

“Reaching things off the top shelf,” which anyone could say, really, as long as they owned a step-stool.  That was kind of a dumb Super Power.   
But he surprised me.  He gave a wicked grin and then breathed on me, directly in my face.  I at first thought he was going to kiss me, but it was only his hot, smelly breath.  I grimaced and backed away immediately.   

“Argh!  You need to brush your teeth!  Did you eat garlic pasta again for lunch?” 
“See?  Death Breath.  That is my Super Power.”  He opened the refrigerator, grabbed a raw onion, and took a big chomp.    

I was suddenly jealous.  This would be a very useful Super Power to have if, say, you were avoiding talking to your boss about that new project she assigned you, or if the PTA president was trying to corner you into selling more wrapping paper (or any wrapping paper). 
Turns out, this was not the only Super Power that The Husband possessed.    

“Sweat,” he proclaimed proudly, “I also sweat a lot, and that makes people stay away from me.” 
It was true.  I mean, at our own wedding, had I not loaned him my powder compact so he could dab his greasy nose before we spent three grand on pictures?

“Sometimes, at the office, I purposely put my suit jacket back on when I am really hot.” 
“Wait a second, isn’t that counter-intuitive?  If you are hot, you should take your jacket off, not put it on.” 

“MOV, my shirt is soaked under the arms and around the collar.  If I put the jacket on, then it hides all that.  If I don’t have a jacket handy, I just grab a sweater.” 
“That is silly!  You are just going to make yourself even hotter and sweatier that way!” 

“I turn on a floor fan and blast the air-conditioning in that case.  I have been known to crank it down to 60 degrees.” 

“Yeah, so you don’t want to catch me on a blazing hot day right after lunch.  Sometimes, so many people avoid me that I get about eight hours of work done in one afternoon.  I don’t even have to close my office door.” 
Right at that moment, I discovered a latent Super Power of my own that I had not even realized existed:  pretending to be interested.   


Sunday, September 23, 2012

848. Ode to Cake

I love you on my birthday
I love you late at night
I look for you at bakeries
You are love at first sight

Chocolate is my favorite
Vanilla will do if they’re out
Strawberry is also acceptable
But peanut butter makes me pout
Ice-cream cake is best
I adore the frozen treat
Who needs lunch or dinner
When there is still cake to eat! 


Thursday, September 20, 2012

847. Shoes On, Shoes Off

Is it copying if I post what someone else posted?  Nah, it is called "referring."  Head on over to my new favorite blog of the universe, PointCounterPointPointPoint, and prepare to laugh a lot.  And then when you are done, take your shoes off and walk outside in the rain.  It's what they would want. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

846. Johnny Depp Wants to Marry Me

So there I was in line at the airport Starbucks when I noticed him. 

“That is not exactly, true, MOV.  It was the gas station.” 
Ahem!  Johnny, who is telling this story?  Like I was saying, I was ordering my triple latte and there was Johnny Depp in line directly behind me.  For a second I thought maybe I should let him go ahead of me in case he was in a hurry. 

“Who are you kidding, MOV?  If a bleeding nun wanted to go ahead of you, you would say no.” 
So anyway, there was Johnny Depp, in all of his Johnny Deppness splendor.  I smiled over at him, willing him to notice me.  I wanted to be subtle. 

“Gag!  That is not what happened at all.  Is your entire blog like this?  Made up?  You came up to me in the middle of me pumping gas and begged for an autograph.  For your daughter!” 
Okay, Johnny, first of all, get your facts straight.  I do not even have a daughter, so why would I do that?  All right.  Back to my story.  I smiled at Johnny, and he definitely noticed me back.  I was in my United Airlines uniform. 

“This was after you quit.  You were not in your uniform.  You were pumping gas and eating M&Ms straight from the package.  And when I said I had no paper to do the autograph, you said I could just sign your arm.”    
Johnny made his move.  He said to me, Are you working the flight to Paris? 

“Gah!  I would never say that.  Hello, I live with Vanessa, the mother of my children?” 
And then I said, No, and then he said—

“Bwahahahahahahahahaha!  That is, like, so unoriginal.”
Excuse me, who is telling this story?  Then he said, Such a pity, because I will be on that flight.  In first class. 

“MOV, that is all implied.  I always fly first class, I am Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean? Remember?  Alice in Wonderland?  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?” 
Johnny, please stop interrupting.  So then Johnny turned to me and said, Maybe you could change your flight. 

“Are you smoking crack?!  It was the gas station!  Vanessa!  Your arm!”
And I said, I would love to switch flights, but I might be fired, and then Johnny said—

“Is this the part where you are going to say I asked you to marry me?” 
Marry me, lovely flight attendant—

“This is so far-fetched!!!  Who is your target audience, anyway?”
Run away with me to Paris, and we can drink fine wine and eat chocolate croissants all day—

“I would never say that.  I am on a no-carb diet.” 
So I said, Johnny, I would love to, and I already fell in love with you back in your Edward Scissorhands days, but alas, I cannot because—

“Let me get this straight:  now you are saying no to me??” 


Not really. 


845. MOV vs. Technology

Back in March, a good friend of mine got me a part-time job.  As a corporate event planner for a non-profit, something I had zero experience in.  I like to think that my primary skill (lying during interviews) got me the job. 

No matter.  After six months, I have proven myself. 
One of the things that I am responsible for is posting our events.  I also am tasked with writing our twice/ monthly newsletter, updating our website, and responding to email questions within 24-hours. 

This last one is where I get stuck.  Sure, I email people back.  But lately I have been calling them instead. 
I noticed that almost everyone has their phone number in their signature line.  So I pick up the phone and call. 

I say, “Hello, this is MOV and I am responding to your email from five minutes ago to CEP (Corporate Event Planning).  You said you were having difficulty logging on to our website.  I reset your password, would you like to try it now?” 
They are always shocked.  And happy.  They say, “You know, I am shocked that you called me.  And happy.  Thank you!”  They cannot believe that in a world of email, someone knows how to punch in a phone number.  Instead of going ‘round and ‘round in a series of six email exchanges over the next week, a simple two-minute phone call gets the job done.    

I walk into my boss’s office.  “Boss,” I say, “what did people do before emails?” 
She laughs and hands me a big box of documents to shred. 

“What are these?” I ask.
“Just some expired files from about 15 years ago.  Mostly faxes.” 


Thursday, September 13, 2012

844. The Real Meaning of Words

When I haven’t written for a while, my brain starts to do dolphin flip somersaults in the waters of anxiety.  I tell myself I will have time for what I love later today, or tomorrow, or most definitely by next Tuesday.  I predict that work will slow down, or the house will clean itself, or the kids will make their own dinner. 

Somehow, none of those things happen.  I want to open up my calendar and split the days into layers, unearthing secret days within the others, like a scientist splitting the atom.  If only there was an extra 24 hours camouflaged behind the standard-issue Mondays, maybe a day just for me:  MOVday. 
I would take this clandestine day and hug it tightly to my chest.  I would whisper gratefully, Now I will write.  The day would smile back at me, knowing that writing would give me back what the dishes and the errands and the must-attend-meetings had stripped away: sanity. 

I would sit at the computer and let my fingers tap away merrily at the letters, the imprints of my fingers worn into humanized divots on the hard plastic keyboard.  I imagine myself as a concert pianist, practicing for an audience of one—tap-tap-tippety-type-tap.  The music of my typing soothes me as I lose myself in my words. 
I recount a recent funny incident, or make up a story, or just ramble.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is I am here, seizing this minute, this hour, this day for my own radical purposes.  I no longer abandon my inextinguishable desire to write into the recesses of the laundry hamper, like a forgotten sock.  This time is for me. 

And when I finally stop, I re-read my story, correcting a word here, adding a sentence there, polishing and finessing until the story tells me I am done.  The words blink up at me, it is their turn to be grateful.  The completed paragraphs temporarily blind me, like fluorescent diamonds sparkling in the sun. 

trifecta writing challenge.  the required word is:  "radical", exactly 333 words

Sunday, September 9, 2012

843. J.Crucial

Today I went to my local J.Crew store to stock up on a few necessary wardrobe items.  I instantly fell in love with everything in the store.  All those rich autumn colors, all that glorious wool and cashmere and tweed … it’s like the mannequins were calling my name.  Before I knew it, my arms were overloaded with shiny essentials.  The friendly clerk—I named him Johnny Crew in my head—asked if he could start a fitting room for me. 

“Sure,” I gushed, “that would be awesome.”  I may no longer be the appropriate age of the J.Crew desired demographic, but I am at least within a decade (or three).  I knew that “awesome” was still the right word to use.    
Johnny Crew walked me back to the dressing room area, which was surrounded by full-length mirrors.  I immediately noticed that I looked about six feet tall and a size 2 in these mirrors. 

“Johnny?” I said, noticing how he did not flinch when I called him that even though his nametag read Wyatt, “Johnny, what is the deal with these mirrors?” 
“So glad you noticed!” Johnny-Wyatt enthused.  “The new slimming mirrors have, like, tripled our sales since they were installed.” 

I stood there gazing adoringly at myself in my attractive black sweatpants and faded Target t-shirt, red flip-flops, fraying baseball hat, and still-wet hair.  I looked good.  These sweatpants did not even have a hole in them (that I could see from the front anyway).     
Johnny had hung up all the Fall essentials on the narrow metal rods lining my dressing room.  Just this morning when I was back at home, I had looked at my pathetic wardrobe and decided something needed to be done.  With that in mind, I now glanced at my (typed) list to make sure I had not forgotten anything: 

·         Khaki pants
·         Jeans
·         Black pants
·         Basic black skirt
·         Leather belt
·         Tan skirt
·         White blouse
·         Tweed jacket
·         Silk top
·         Black sweater (pull-over)
·         Red cardigan sweater
·         Striped t-shirt
·         Black ballet flats
·         Gray tights
·         New socks

I had mentioned to The Husband that I would be going to J.Crew to stock up.  He replied predictably, “Well, now that you finally have a job, I really don’t care what you waste your own money on.”  That meant I could buy whatever I wanted!   
Luckily, everything I tried on fit and looked great (thanks to the new mirrors, which I was internally vowing to have installed all over my house the minute I got home).  I went to the cash register to pay for all my goodies. 

“Wow,” said a different clerk (I had named her Jane Crew in my head), “you are being so smart to buy everything mix and match so it will all coordinate.  These are perfect neutral basics.” 
I smiled at Jane.  She was right about me and my smart shopping skills. 

She totaled up the prices of the clothes and started to get out some tissue paper so the delicate sweaters could safely make the difficult trek home in my car to my house a full five miles away.
Then she turned to me and said something really, really mean.  Something I could not believe a salesperson would be allowed to say to a shopper without getting fired. 

“That will be $3497.65, please.” 
“Wait, how much?”  I was shocked.  This is apparently what I get for not looking at the price tags when I shop, a somewhat new habit I had adopted half an hour ago. 

She cleared her throat, like a stage actress.  “I said, $3497.65.” 
I looked in my walled at the four crisp twenty dollar bills I had just taken out of the ATM for this specific shopping excursion. 

“Umm, well, I think I went a tad over budget,” I mumbled.  “Please remove, uh, can you take the socks off?” 
Jane re-scanned the socks and set them behind her on a shelf.  There, I knew that would make all the difference! 

“Okay, ma’am, then your new total is $3411.42.” 
Whew, that had helped, but not as much as I needed. 

“Please subtract the black sweater, I think I might have one already that would work.” 

“Your new total is $3218.09.” 
This went on for quite some time until the people in line behind me were shuffling around impatiently and whispering to each other.  Yeah, like they had never gone over budget by $3000! 

Finally, we were left with just the khaki pants. 
Jane squinted at the register total.  “This can’t be right,” she said.  “I have a negative $266.  That means I owe YOU $266 plus the khaki pants.” 

I was not about to argue with her, as she clearly knew what she was doing. 
“Okay, Jane, that sounds good.  And I would prefer my refund all in fifties if it is not too much trouble.” 


Friday, September 7, 2012

842. What Not To Do at “Meet the Teacher” Day

When you are looking in your closet and telling yourself you want to make a good first impression on your older son’s teacher, refrain from choosing a cute black linen dress that is very flattering and “9-5” looking.  If you must wear this because it erases 10 pounds, then at least do not accent it with your favorite dressy coral and turquoise necklace.  If you do this anyway, please avoid doing full make-up and curling your hair with the curling iron and adding lots of hairspray.  If you go ahead anyway and reach for the bright red lipstick, then please for the love of God leave the high-heeled leather pumps at home.    

If you feel compelled to ignore this advice too, then do not be surprised/ embarrassed/ offended/ or flattered when the ninth parent in a row approaches you at “Meet the Teacher” day inquiring if YOU are, indeed, the teacher. 
Hell, you look like the principal. 


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

841. Baseball People Can Fix Anything

So there we are at a professional baseball game.  We never go because tickets cost, like, a gazillion dollars.  But, The Husband won the lottery of nice co-workers, and one gave him her season tickets for a particular game (today) because she could not go. 

Anyway, the seats are rock star seats.  Okay, maybe not rock star like Rolling Stones rock star, maybe more like Vanilla Ice.  But still.  Quite good seats, front row, right next to the bullpen.    
There I am, taking photos as if it were Christmas, eating junky baseball food, singing baseball songs, pointing out baseballish things to my sons, and basically soaking in all the baseballyness of the situation. 

That’s when I see it. 
The giant screen with the giant message: 

“If anything is impeding your enjoyment of today’s game, please let us know.  Text us at 78345 and provide your seat number.  We will be right over to help.” 
I immediately started tugging at The Husband’s shirt sleeve as if it were made of dollar bills and I wanted some.  “Sweetie!  Sweetie!  Did you see that sign?  What do you think it means?” 

He rolled his eyes (not to worry, I was used to that after 12 years of marriage).  He gave a weary sigh and said, “It means if someone is smoking.  Or swearing loudly.  Or drunk.  Or having a big fight.” 
Aha—he meant if any of his relatives were here with us! 

I tapped his arm again.  “Sweetie, what you are telling me is that all I have to do is text and they will send someone over to fix the problem?” 

I was really starting to like baseball a lot more than I initially thought.  Imagine if this nice policy were in place about everything in my life: 
“If anything is impeding you from buying a whole new wardrobe at Nordstrom’s, just text us and we will help.” 

“If anything is impeding you from flying to Paris tonight (first class), text us, and we can assist you.” 
“If anything is impeding you from working out four hours a day with a personal trainer who looks like George Clooney, give a quick text and we will take care of it.” 

I could see why baseball game attendance was up lately—this was the coolest thing ever! 
I decided that my enjoyment was being impeded right now.  Mostly because the sun was shining right in my eyes and I forgot my sunglasses at home. 

I went to reach for my phone to try to text the helpful baseball gods. 
I forgot my phone at home, too. 

p.s. I tried to text them when I got home later.  My phone does not know how to text.  I might need to text somebody about that.    

Monday, September 3, 2012

840. Bikes, Helmets, and the ER

This was the Summer of the Bike.  My older son, Tall, told me the day that school let out that he wanted to get really good on his bike over the next three months.  So, like any reasonable parent, I promised he could bike on our 15-foot long, completely flat driveway whenever he wanted.  For some reason (?), this was not really what he had in mind. 

“I want to go on the actual bike path, Mom!” 
Since he is 8 ½ years old, I felt like he might be ready to do this, but under heavy supervision.  I reluctantly agreed that he could go on the bike path with me. 

The times we went were great.  He was cautious, focused.  I knew his speed was not up to Lance Armstrong levels, but he seemed pleased.   Here is a picture of Tall:  
A few weeks ago, Tall was biking with The Husband. 

Tall had a bad accident.  

(He is FINE now, Aunt Oakley, if you are reading this; everything turned out okay). 

The Husband and Tall were on the bike path together, and Tall was pedaling hard to get up a slight slope (when he tells the story, it is a mountain). 

Anyway, according to The Husband, the bike picked up way too much speed on the downhill portion and Tall lost control of the bike and his feet came off the pedals. 

Next thing you know, Tall went flying over the handlebars and crashed into the asphalt of the bike path. 

Did I mention he fell on his face? 

He fell on his face. 

Here is a picture of him after the trip to the ER. 

Two very kind women who were walking on the bike path at the time and lived nearby ended up driving The Husband and Tall to the Emergency Room.  They even put the bikes in the back of their SUV.   
Once at the ER, there was a lot of bleeding, a lot of crying (mostly mine after they phoned to tell me what happened and I zipped over there to help), but thankfully no stitches nor broken teeth.  He had a large cut inside his mouth (from his own teeth), plus a very black and blue swollen lip.  His eyes were fine because he had the quick reflexes to close them and cover them with his hands (to avoid seeing the crash, he tells me later). 

“You are lucky, young man,” said the ER doctor, “Your helmet saved your life.” 
Saved your life???  Wasn’t he being a bit melodramatic?  I mean, I 100% endorse helmets, and everyone in my family wears them 100% of the time (in my case, to hide my messy hair), but could it be true that the (now completely dented) helmet truly saved his life? 

“Yes, ma’am,” replied the doctor.  “He definitely would have had, at minimum, a concussion.  But it could have been much worse …” His voice trailed off to that ugly and unspoken place that mothers fear to go:  brain injuries, comas, death. 
I looked at Tall’s bloody, scabby face.  Although his modeling days to pay for college were now over before they had begun, I didn’t mind. 

“You will heal right up, Tall!” I cheered enthusiastically, when internally I was not believing it at all.  He was alive, and that was all I cared about.    
In the days that followed, Tall was very embarrassed if we had to leave the house.  He did not want anyone (even the teller at the drive-thru bank window) to get a glimpse of his face.  He constantly covered his face with his hands. 
Two weeks later, here is another picture of Tall.  Healed, beautiful, lucky.  Hands down.   

Of course, he is not allowed to leave the house anymore, unless wrapped in bubble wrap and duct taped in pillows at all times. 
(Not sure how that will go over with the school administration on the first day of school tomorrow.)  



Sunday, September 2, 2012

839. My Genius New Diet

I just started a new diet that is not restrictive at all. 

I can eat any food I want as long as it is a raw vegetable. 

I am happy to say, I have been able to stick to my diet for two full hours so far without even cheating once*!