Friday, December 30, 2011

614. The Recent Interview

I have been on many interviews in my time. Most I have even cared about. Typically, I will receive a phone call from some mystery person whose name I didn’t quite catch because I didn’t recognize the number and therefore was bracing for a telemarketer.

Mystery Voice:  Hello, may I please speak with MOV?

Me (as a question):  This is she?

Mystery Voice:  Hi, MOV! My name is Kara/ Karen/ Caroline Something-or-other Johanson/ Cranson/ Shmansonson. I work for Perfect Job Company and I am calling about your résumé?

Me:  Hi! Yes! Great! Oh, hi! Uh, what is your name again, I’m sorry?

Perfect Job HR Guru (ignoring what I just said):  I see here that you used to work in the airline industry?

Me: Yes!

Perfect Job HR Guru:  Great! Can you tell me a little bit about that experience?

Me (choking, now realizing that this is in fact, going to be an impromptu phone interview):  I loved flying! I loved people! I loved flying people! I flew with flying people for 10 years! Best. Job. Ever.

Do I need to mention that Perfect Job Company had absolutely nothing to do with flying/ travel and that I possessed no discernible transferable skills? You just eavesdropped on the “best” part of the interview.

Fast forward to today. The eight-year-old walks into the study where I am pretending to “work” (read: blog) but am actually surfing the J.Crew website and their spectacular after-Christmas sale. He taps me on the shoulder and says, “Are you ready for your interview?”

My mind catapults to the aforementioned hideous phone interview and I suppress an involuntary shudder. Next, I panic. Does my older son know something I don’t? Is there an interviewer currently at the front door and as usual I am still in my pajamas (the flannel ones with the snow globes)?

“Is something wrong, Mom?” he inquires, as if we were not just bound by DNA but bound by impressive ESP skills as well. “Because you said I could interview you.”

“Of course, Tall, you can interview me. Fire away!” (I make a quick mental note to not use phrases with the words “fire,” “firing,” “got fired,” or “should have been fired” for real job interviews in the near future.)

He sits down, opens his notebook, and clicks his pen.

“What is your name?”

Easy enough. I should be able to get this one right. I give my answer.

“Have you ever had a nickname and why?”

I smile to think of the sweet but boring nickname my doting grandmother gave me: Blondie. Because I was blond. I confide this interesting tidbit about myself, to which my son laughs.

“That’s a dumb nickname. Besides, you’re not really even that blond. Are you sure she didn’t mean to call you Gray-Gray or Klutzy or something more apropos?”

This is the way Tall speaks. Like a second year law student instead of a second-grader. He uses words like “discerning” and “blasphemous” and “irrelevant.”

I struggle to come up with something better, something that will make him happy. Was there a different nickname that I am perhaps blocking out? A funny nickname, a sporty nickname, a silly nickname that reveals important information about me?

“That Super Smart Girl Who Knows Everything.”

He scribbles something down, then crosses it out.

“We’ll stick with ‘Blondie.’ Okay, next question: What is your hidden talent?”

I pause. I am very, very good at handicapping horses at the track. I have been known to win several hundred dollars in a day.

“I can pick winning race horses.” I smile, proud of my answer.

“Huh.” He scrunches his little face. “Anything else you can think of?”

“I’m good at drawing?”

More scribbling. Some flipping of pages.

“What present do you want for your next birthday?”

Queen Good Mommy arrives on cue. “Absolutely nothing. I have everything I need. You and your brother are—”

“What about that trip to Hawaii you are always talking about with Pop?”

“Oh, yeah, put that.”

Scribble, scribble. 

“Last question: Which movie star are you most like?”

“Gwyneth Paltrow,” I answer without hesitation. “We could be twins.”

“Excuse me, Mom, Gwyneth Paltrow?” He shakes his head. “How do you spell that name?”

I spell it out for him. He has no idea who she is.

“This concludes our interview for today. Thank you for your participation.”

I would like to tell you he is reading from a script at this point. He is very much not.

I wonder when I’ll find out if I got the job?


Monday, December 26, 2011

608. Amazon Is The New Santa

Looking back on my childhood, Christmas was a special time. My siblings and I knew that the entire month of December was a celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth. This we knew, we knew on an intrinsic level, deep in our DNA. We might have known this, we might have said this if asked (“Why do we celebrate Christmas?” “Because that’s the day Jesus was born,”), but that is not what we actually thought. Oh, no.

What we thought was, “Let’s build a shrine to Santa, he’s the one we really need to impress.”

Obviously, the tree was such a shrine. My mother would carefully unwrap painted clay snowmen and crystal pine cones, and then she would hunt around until she found the delicate glass ornament of the Virgin Mary holding the sleeping baby Jesus.

“MOV, honey, here. You're old enough that you can have the honor of putting up the special Jesus ornament!” She handed it to me with a careful reverance, as if she was entrusting me with a piece of her very soul. 

I shoved it on the bottom of the tree where the cat or my younger brother might break it, then dove back in the box searching for the carved wooden Santa Claus ornament.

“I found it!” I’d squeal, and Oakley would zip over, eager to touch the emblem of celebrity and All Things Good.

That ornament was hung front and center.

Of course, our letters to Santa started almost the day after Thanksgiving.  

“Dear Santa,” I’d begin with my first draft, “Please send me a Snoopy Snow-Cone Machine and a Pet Rock like the one Wendy Papadopolous has and an Easy-Bake Oven and the Barbie Dream House and also a new bike (in red or purple). I have been very good. And, I want to let you know I admire your work. Love your biggest fan, MOV.” Even as a fourth grader, I used flattery to get what I wanted.

We memorized the words to the songs with Santa in the title (“Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Santa Baby,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,”). We sang them all day, every day.  When the religious songs would come on the radio, we’d just turn it off.

We knew Santa was way more important than Jesus because we saw Santa everywhere: at the mall, at the other mall, outside the grocery store ringing a bell, in parades, on TV shows, on commercials, riding around on fire trucks in our neighborhood. It was Santa Saturation.  In all my years of Sunday school, I had never seen Jesus in person even once. Oh, sure, there were pictures of Jesus, but not an actual Jesus wandering around and chatting with people and passing out candy canes. And yes, there was talk of God and Jesus being everywhere and all around you, but let’s face it: I was nine and I needed tangible proof.

Presents were tangible.

Christmas morning would finally arrive and we would tear into our neatly hung stockings and Martha Stewart-perfect gifts like starved wolves at a bunny buffet. Shredded confetti strips of torn red and green wrapping paper and slivered wisps of shimmery ribbon would be all that remained, strewn everywhere as a reminder of Santa’s promises kept.

We would play with our toys for hours, congratulating ourselves on how good we’d been and how effective our letters were and how we wanted to marry Santa when we grew up so we could have direct access to all those toys.

A few weeks ago, Tall and Short wrote out their wish lists for Santa. There were a few items I’d never heard of (involving sophisticated versions of Legos), so I asked Tall to show me on the computer precisely what he was talking about.

He sat down and clicked on Amazon’s website. Within seconds, not only were we able to look at the exact Lego Ninjago set he wanted, but über-helpful Amazon had a few suggestions of “Things You Might Also Like.” Of course Amazon was right: Tall did like those things. He promptly clicked “Add to Shopping Basket.”

What are you doing?” I asked, my voice rising. “I’m not buying those! We’re just looking at them so that—”

“I know, Mom, sorry,” he cut me off, “I didn’t mean to put them in my Shopping Basket, I meant to put them on my Wish List.”

“Your Amazon Wish List?” I was amazed. How did Tall know about these things?

“Sure, Mom, that’s what Santa uses to compile his database.”


Sunday, December 25, 2011

607. The Naughty List

Growing up, we were constantly threatened with empty stockings on Christmas morning if we didn’t behave. I was a certifiable Type-A/ Teacher’s Pet/ Über-Virgo, so the whole “Just be nice” thing came easy to me. I was eager to please my parents, so I flossed regularly, made my bed, fed the cat, played with my sister, and cleared the plates from the kitchen table.

When I went away to college, I was still That Girl. I would call my parents weekly, help my classmates on group projects, turn my homework in early, bake banana muffins from scratch, and go to the gym five days a week.

While dating, I continued in earnest to be That Girl. I would paint handmade ceramic Christmas ornaments for my boyfriend’s mother, be the designated driver, and work extra shifts for my co-workers when they called in sick or hung-over.

I was not just on Santa’s Nice List, I was the Valedictorian of Nice.

I woke up one day and realized the Naughty List is a helluva lot more fun. I was studying for a semester in Italy. Some friends and I scored tickets to a sold-out Violent Femmes concert. About halfway through, I had the brilliant idea that we should try to figure out a way to get backstage so we could meet the band after the show. I schmoozed the bouncer with my minimal grasp of the Italian language and somehow convinced him that I was the lead singer’s sister. Next thing you know, we were partying like a rock star with, ahem, some actual rock stars.

Naughty List.

Back when I worked in the hotel industry, I went to Hawaii on vacation for a week. The day I was due to fly back (I was scheduled to work the next day), my flight out of Honolulu was cancelled. The helpful airline rep offered to book me on the next flight which was leaving in just three hours. I started to nod yes, but then suddenly thought to have her to book me for the next day instead. I called work and told them I was stuck in Hawaii for 24 hours.  It felt sneaky, illicit, and delicious.

Naughty List.

When I was a Denver-based flight attendant for Continental (briefly before United hired me), the airline closed my base. My supervisor informed me that I could either transfer to New Jersey or be laid off. For several weeks, I commuted back and forth and slept on the crew lounge floor in between assignments, and then one day I had had enough. I heard my name being paged in the Newark Airport (“Flight Attendant MOV please report to Gate 88 for your flight to Detroit!”) but I kept on walking, wrote myself an employee flight pass, and hopped on a flight to Los Angeles as a passenger. I changed out of my polyester uniform in the lavatory, sipped on my glass of Champagne as I settled into seat 1A, then phoned my dad and told him I quit and could he please pick me up at the airport?

Naughty List.

I recently celebrated my four year anniversary of working for the high-end kitchen store.  Last week, a crazy customer was complaining and then started yelling at me about some defective product or other and ended her tirade with Why don't you know more about the items you sell?  To which I replied with a straight face Today is my first day here.

Naughty List. 

A PTA member of my children’s school called me the other day and asked if I could help out with an upcoming fundraiser which I had initially considered being involved with.  I thought about it for all of two seconds and then heard myself reply, No—I am just way too busy right now.

Naughty List.

So, Merry Christmas and may you find your Inner Naughty. It’s wildly liberating.

P.S.  And thanks to HW for her fun comment on my last essay, which gave me the inspiration for this post

Friday, December 23, 2011

606. The Great Cookie Debacle of 2011

So The Husband brings home this giant tin of homemade specialty cookies from his co-worker, Pamela. She had a health scare earlier this year and had surgery, so she is on a temporary leave. The Husband was very instrumental in helping her get her disability pay started while she was in the hospital and in covering her job while she was gone for months. These cookies were not so much “Merry Christmas” as a gesture of goodwill and thanks.

Within a half day of the cookies being brought home, a small child who lives in our house ate them all. Every. Last. One.

How does a person even begin to punish this blatant disregard for others? How greedy to eat all the cookies.

Of course, The Husband was quite upset (more on this later), as deathbed Pamela had gone to great effort to make these stunning cookies, complete with “Santas” iced in red and white, “reindeers” with silver sparkly bell and red frosted noses, multi-colored presents with delicately swirled icing, and sleigh bells that looked much too good to eat. The central ingredients were not flour, vanilla, and sugar, but instead love and kindness.  The cookies were exquisitely beautiful and it was flat out rude, selfish, and thoughtless for one individual to inhale them all without even so much as offering to share one with The Husband, who they were originally meant for.

Now, substitute the name “MOV” for the words “small child who lives in our house” and you can see the dilemma. I was actually the one who ate the cookies, like a naughty first-grader with zero impulse control.

They were SO good. They were like the potato chips of the cookie world, impossible to eat just one. And I was so hungry. I had skipped breakfast and run out of time for lunch.  Did I mention how good they were?

I looked down in horror at the empty tin, much like a murderer must survey the scene right after he just killed five people. What was I possibly going to say when The Husband found out the tin was empty? “I’m sorry”? Was I really sorry, or would I do it again given the chance? I was mostly sorry that I had not at least saved one for The Husband, but ohmygod they were so delicious.

I had the brilliant idea to rush out to my local bakery and replace them all. The professional bakery cookies looked perfect, painfully perfect. At this point, I was not trying to fool The Husband into thinking they were the same cookies (it was beyond obvious that they weren’t), I just wanted to make amends and not appear quite so gluttonous.

I set the new box of cookies on the counter. Don’t worry, I did not eat these too if that’s what you’re thinking.

But then the phone rang and it was one of my girlfriends calling to set up an impromptu happy hour/ playdate for Tall and Short. I am not usually as spontaneous as I should be, so I embraced the chance to just show up at her house in 20 minutes and not have to spend two weeks planning it and emailing back and forth.

Her parting words were “Don’t bring wine, Mike just bought a case last time he was in France.”

France?!? When did Mike go to France?

I scanned the cupboard for something, anything, to bring. Ha, I would ignore her and bring wine even though she told me not to.  The Trader Joe’s discount wine winced at me. It said, “Don’t even think about bringing me unless you want to appear cheap. And stupid.” That Trader Joe’s wine, even though reasonably priced and actually quite yummy, seemed to have an attitude.

I had a half bag of pretzels that I decided against. There was one yogurt in the fridge, expired. A lone unopened jar of peanut butter blinked up at me.

That’s when I remembered the bakery box of cookies, humming holidays tunes on the counter top: “We wish you a Merry Christmas, and take us with you!”

What else could I do?

My friend was delighted. The happy hour/ playdate was a success and I didn’t look like a cheapskate to her.

I did, however, look like a piggy to The Husband that evening.

“All?” he asked in utter disbelief. “You actually ate all of them? You didn’t even save me any crumbs? What are you, a human vacuum?”

I have this incredibly annoying habit of giggling when I'm nervous. I started to giggle.

“Yes,” giggle-giggle-giggle, “I guess I ate all of them.”

“You guess? You guess? Did someone force you to?”

Geesh, he was acting as if I’d spent the mortgage money on new shoes. Again. Were a few cookies really such a big deal?

Apparently yes.

“Pamela made those for me! Her husband is out of a job and she is totally stressed that she’s going to lose her job from these medical absences. I assured her that everything is okay and that HR wants to help her. She made these cookies out of the goodness of her heart, and I know it took her all weekend and then you have the audacity to gobble them all up in one fell swoop?”

Giggle giggle giggle. “I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry.” Giggle.

“You’re not a bit sorry. Why would you be laughing if you’re sorry?”

He stormed out of the room.

I followed him. “Sweetie, I bought you new cookies! From the bakery! To replace the other ones.” I smiled. The giggling finally stopped.

“Fine. Where are they?”

“Uh …”

“You ate those, too? Unbelievable.”

It is utterly unbelievable, as I told the bakery lady my sad, sad story today when I bought the second batch of replacement cookies for The Husband. She shook her head, as if to say, I totally get it, or maybe to say, You are a complete piggy.

I got home, put the new cookies in the tin. And walked away.

Good impulse control? Nah. The bakery lady gave me a free piece of cake.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

605. I Found A Job I Like

If you have read this blog for any length of time, you know my trials and tribulations on the career front. I was a flight attendant for a decade and then quit to be a stay-at-home mommy. That lasted all of four years (the stay-at-home part, I am still very much a mommy) because I grew very antsy and needed adult stimulation. I ended up getting a job at a high-end kitchen store as a “Holiday Helper” meaning that I would work there for a month over Christmas.

That month morphed into 48 months. I’ve loved every second of it, but I finally need a change. I’ve been floating around since September, trying to figure out what color my parachute is (remember that career planning book?) or if I even have it strapped on right. I have determined it is sparkly-color, but I am still not sure which job this corresponds to.

As you probably remember, I started a Top Secret Job. I ended up being bored out of my mind there. Next, I got a New Better-Paying Top Secret Job. But it’s an “on-call” position so I never know if I will work or not.

Obviously, I want to focus on promoting my new book. I decided to take the entire month of January off for this purpose (“Marketing”/ catching up on TiVo’d episodes of House Hunters and Top Chef). Yesterday, on a whim, I asked one of my favorite bloggers of the universe (come back and click here when you are done with my story, and you should totally follow her I mean it she is hilarious) for her address so I could send her a gratis copy of my book. I laugh a lot when I read her stuff, so I thought I would try and return the favor. Good karma and all that.

She sent me a chatty little email with her mailing address. I kept reading the email, marveling at how she can instantaneously think of witty things to say when I got to this line in her email:

“I just had a bottle of wine dropped off by FED EX for a review.”

That sentence was not meant to be bragging (although of course now I might possibly interpret it as a teensy bit bragging), she just was mentioning it because in the context it was necessary.

But I really didn’t need to read anymore. I had an epiphany: I need to be a Wine Reviewer Blogger! Of course! This is what I was born to do!

I am going to email her right away and ask her how she got that fabulous job.

Once I secure my new job (I think I will revise my title to “Chief Wine Reviewer Blogger Extraordinaire”), these are some of the types of reviews you can expect from me:
  • Campa Rialta Bella Chardonnay from Central California: Very dry. Very fruity. Light, but complex. Giving, but forgiving. Pleasant after taste of, uh, grapes. Highly recommend, but might need one more test bottle to make sure.
  • Red Jumping Grasshopper Riesling from Germany: Fresh. Abundant. Abundantly fresh. Happily grape-y with undercurrents of honey and almond, but not soapy. Would drink again. Please send extra bottle for this purpose.
  • Mossy Neptune Pinot Grigio from New Zealand: Produces a great buzz after just two glasses. Makes you feel happy. Would feel happier if someone sent me another bottle.
I just know this is the job I was meant to have! Thank you, Mrs. Tuna!  I can’t wait to start!

(“Mixing Our Vinos”)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

603. Sexy Money

Christmas is all about Sexy Money. Sexy Money is money spent on diamonds and smiles. Sexy Money likes to show off by making children giddy and best friends say “You shouldn’t have,” when they don’t really mean it. Sexy Money never has regrets.

Sexy Money shops at art galleries, Italian shoe boutiques, Pottery Barn, and over-priced electronics stores. Sexy Money loves museum gift shops, leather, suede, handblown glass, and anything considered “impractical.”  Sexy Money sleeps with the latest Neiman Marcus catalog under the pillow. 

Sexy Money despises words like replace furnace, new roof, or needs braces for three years.  Additionally, mold in the basement and broken septic pipe are against Sexy Money's religion and any mention of them make Sexy Money instantly envision lunging for the phone to call that sleek Art Deco hotel in Miami, the one right on the beach near that trendy coffee house, to book a weekend getaway.               

Sexy Money does not waltz into Home Depot to look at refrigerators. No. That makes Sexy Money cringe. Refrigerators are part of contract negotiations inside a marriage, they are never even in the same zip code as Sexy Money.

Once, a husband might (ruefully) utter a phrase like, “So this Kenmore fridge can be our Christmas gift to each other,” but a wife will immediately (if not sooner) wilt him with a look, a look that says Tiffany’s is down the street and that is where we are headed next, you fool.

A husband might (sadly) still not get it and continue on with “In that case, let’s just get the $700 one, I think a fridge that costs any more than that is just a waste,” to which a wife will rub her ears and wish at that moment that she was partially deaf, like her dad. Instead, she will ignore the comment, march over to the sales manager and declare, “We want the floor model. Knock 25% off the price.”

The sales manager will flinch, just a little, and then follow up with some mumbo jumbo about how they never sell floor models, blah blah blah.

A wife will look the sales manager right in the eye, not just the eye but the deep center of the pupil, the only person who ever looked in his eyes that deeply was his fifth grade teacher when he was reprimanded for cheating off his friend’s homework, and a wife will say, “Sir, I refuse to spend a penny more. I know it’s December and all, but this is not Sexy Money.”

The sales manager will laugh, of course he will laugh. He is not familiar with this new term, but he is already figuring out how to work the phrase into his next conversation. He will be in the back stockroom about five minutes after this couple leaves, regaling his co-workers with the story of The Refrigerator Purchase Not Being Sexy Money.

A wife and a husband leave, without a resolution and without any new kitchen appliance. They return home to their lovely Colonial and its rebellious refrigerator that refuses to keep things cold anymore and instead actually warms things. The couple has been eating a lot of protein bars lately.

After a few more days and a few high-pitched conversations and some late-night Internet trolling for appliance deals, there is a phone call confirming the delivery of a new refrigerator, one that keeps things cold as it was designed to do.

There is also a distinctive robin’s egg blue box with a white satin ribbon under the tree. Sexy Money, indeed.   


*with infinite thanks to Stephanie S. for sharing her story and also to Peggy for my new favorite term!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

600. Santa Shops At The High-End Kitchen Store!

There I was, training the new girl Chantal on the registers, practicing how to input UPS charges for send sales and how to print out gift receipts.  We were interrupted by an older gentleman waiting to pay for a lemon juicer.

“Do you want to try to ring it up?” I asked Chantal.

“Umm, sure, okay,” she hesitated.

“Just scan the bar code here, and then ask him if he needs anything else.”

“Sir, do you need anything else?”

Chantal and I looked at the man for the first time. He was average height, older, overweight, and he had long white hair in ringlets, and a thick snowy beard. He was wearing a blue flannel shirt, jeans, wire-frame glasses, and a NASA baseball hat (I never knew they had baseball in outer space, but NASA is making new advancements all the time that are not always reported in the media).

Chantal pinched my elbow.

“Look who it is!” she whispered, as if the customer was waaaaaaaay across the store and couldn’t hear us instead of one foot away and looking right at us.

“Santa!” we both squealed in unison, as if he was Bruce Springsteen and we were Courtney Cox and he was pulling us onstage to rock “Dancing In The Dark” with him.

“Santa!” I cried, “You shop!”

All this time, I thought he made everything, you know—like God—but it turns out he has to squeeze lemons just like the rest of us, and maybe that was the secret ingredient in Rudolph’s pre-flight energy drink that helped him get around the globe in one night.

Chantal and I smiled at each other. We smiled at Santa. Santa smiled back at us. We were like a Christmas toothpaste commercial.  The other sales associates and a few random customers began to gather ‘round. We all wanted to be in the glow that was Santa, but away from his red suit and cameras and lines of children wanting to sit on his lap. This was the real deal.

“I’ll give Santa a discount!” I declared eagerly, as if Santa needed a discount and as if I couldn’t be fired on the spot for arbitrarily giving out discounts to whomever I wanted. “How about military discount, Santa? You are wearing a NASA hat.”

Santa beamed. “That is very nice of you.”

I totaled out the transaction, all but shoving Chantal out of the way. I kept thinking, Wait ‘til I tell Tall and Short! They will be so excited!

Chantal bagged up the lemon juicer, she somehow had edged herself back in when I was gawking at Santa. We both waited for him to sign the electronic signature pad. He signed “Santa Claus” with a big flourish and we both swooned.

“This is the greatest thing ever,” I said to no one in particular.

Chantal and I handed Santa his bag with the lemon juicer all wrapped in tissue paper as if it was fragile. I thought Chantal might tie a ribbon on the bag, what with her being French and all. Those French people like to show off how stylish they are, and what better opportunity then in front of Santa.

“Bye, Santa, bye!” I waved. Then I added hastily, “We love you!”

I wanted to go around the counter and follow Santa, to see exactly how he got in here (he couldn’t possibly have just walked, could he?) but right then another customer came up and started asking about holiday chocolates. Her timing could not have been worse.

“Do you have any idea who that just was?” I said to the woman.

“No?” she said like a question.

“It. Was. Santa.”

My customer, Meryl Streep, and I walked over to the door, hoping to get one last glimpse of him.

(“Merrily On Vacation”)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

597. Please Do Not Bleed On My New Chair

One of the nice things about working for the high-end kitchen store is our connection with the well-known furniture retailer. Both stores are owned by our parent company, and both stores give all employees a 40% discount.

When I initially got the job four years ago, I had grand plans to replace all our furniture pieces, one by one. First, the stained leather couch would have to go. Next, the pair of living room chairs (a gift from my dad) that had long ago been scratched to shreds by the crazy cat would need to be replaced (to clarify: the chairs would need to be replaced, not the cat. The original owner of the cat told us in no uncertain terms that she would not take her back.). The dining room table, pilfered from a neighbor's trash pile (because it was deemed “not acceptable” by the Goodwill), could stand to be swapped out as well.

You get the idea.

We saved up our American Express points and cashed them in for the dining room table at the well-known furniture retailer’s outlet. The table was priced at $2500 and then marked down as a floor-model sample to $1000 and again to $700, and finally with my discount ended up being $420. I had $500 worth of Amex points, so we had enough left over to buy new sheets for the guest room.

Then our home improvements came to an abrupt halt. My car (this is over two years ago) was diagnosed with a rare disease known us Engine Dead. I had only heard about Engine Dead in horror movies and urban legends (plus my hairdresser told me his cousin’s next-door neighbor was afflicted once), I had never realized it could happen to me and my 10-year-old Highlander.

Turns out, Engine Dead is a very expensive ailment, and they do not accept discounts to the well-known furniture retailer as payment (believe me, I tried). Bottom line: we spent all our extra money that would have been allocated for furniture as well as money that wasn’t even ours (I’m talking to you, Visa!) to replace the car motor, because Engine Dead is of course terminal.

Now every time I turn the keys in the ignition to my car and hear the replacement engine start, I get wistful that I could have had a new sectional sofa. Granted, it wouldn’t take me anywhere, like to work or the grocery store, but at least I could have a quality nap or two on down-stuffed cushions on the weekend.

In a recent act that could best be described as rash, I decided to quit my job at the high-end kitchen store. I told them my last day would be December 24th. All my co-workers and even The Boss said the right things to my face (“Oh, but you are such a valuable employee! Please don’t go!”) even as they were high-fiving each other in the back room. I didn’t think much about any of this, until one of my co-workers had to go and say,

“Won’t you miss your discount?”

I had not thought of that. I mean, I’d thought of it a little, but I have signed over many paychecks over the years right back to the high-end kitchen store, so my own personal kitchen is actually pretty well equipped. Right as I went to open my mouth and inform her that I had enough crystal wine glasses in my possession to host a small nation’s political independence party, it occurred to me that she meant the discount at the well-known furniture retailer.

I did what I always do when I find out unsettling news: I panicked. Then I went home, went online, and tried to order a new living room couch.

Turns out, employees cannot order from their home computer. They must place their order at their own store they work at. Which was a good thing, because there is no way we could afford the couch. I settled on a chair instead.

The very next day, I walked into work armed with my American Express card and a SKU number. I ordered the most beautiful living room chair on the face of the planet.

The chair was available in about 50 different fabrics. Practical Queen Virgo whispered something about navy blue velvet not showing stains. Her noises were quickly muffled by Designer Virgo shrieking with joy at the look of the pure white linen coupled with the fact that it was on sale.

Click, click, done!

My chair was delivered yesterday, along with a small box of buyer’s remorse. I set the box in the closet and told myself I would wait to open it later. The chair was not so much white as Albino Ghost Snowy Blizzard Chalky Milk Cloud at the North Pole.

Removing the protective plastic on the new chair only made things worse. I seared a retina with the chair’s glowing whiteness.

About this time, the boys came home from school, a tornado of mud and grime and sticky granola bar wrappers.

“Oh, yay, Mom, your new chair is here!” cried Short. “Can I sit on it?”

I took one look at his grungy hands stained from some sort of art project at school and said emphatically,

“Sure! When you’re 18!”

Honestly, my kids are used to my eccentricities by now. If anyone is going to ruin my new chair, it’s going to be me. Later that evening after the kids were tucked safely in bed, I sat down for the first time to enjoy my new chair. I made sure my pajamas were clean. I made sure my cup of hot chocolate was far far away on the coffee table. Then I distractedly started picking at a hangnail.

This is one of my favorite things to do, one of those icky closet habits that I don’t normally share with the world: I bite my cuticles. (Not the nails themselves, my nails look great. Just anything within a one inch range of the nails.) Not surprisingly, the edges of my fingers started to bleed profusely. I jumped up from the new chair just in time to not get a drop of blood on the white linen.

The chair is safe.

For now.

(not quite as white in photographs as in real life, yet sure to be a stain magnet nonetheless)


Thursday, December 8, 2011

596. Another Phone Call From Alec Baldwin

“MOV, we need to talk. Call me back.”

How many times had I hoped he’d call me? And yet, there he was, irritating flight attendants across America and getting kicked off planes again… now he calls? A little bit late for that.

I hit the return call button. Then I hung up. What did he want me to say?

I thought back to all the times I had kicked passengers off in my 10-year career at United Airlines. Thousands. Dozens. Well, just twice I guess. I had a woman removed from a flight after she threw her suitcase at me and told me she didn't have to listen to me (about stowing her bag in the overhead bin).  I was not going to be trapped with her for four hours at 35,000 feet with no bodyguard. Nope. Off you go.

The other one was a drunk guy in Phoenix. I felt bad for him, he was returning home from a bachelor party, yet he could barely walk on board let alone speak a coherent sentence. The pilot took one look at him and backed my decision to have him removed until he could sober up for another flight.

So, based on those two isolated incidents, obviously Alec thought I was qualified to give my invaluable opinion of American Airlines kicking him off.

I hit re-dial. I knew exactly what I would say; I rehearsed it in my head over and over:

“Alec, listen up. The FAA has strict rules in place regarding the use of electronic devices such as i-Pads during taxi and take-off. These devices can interfere with cockpit communications.  Furthermore, it is not okay to go hide out in the lavatory and scream obscenities at the flight attendants through the bathroom door while the seatbelt sign is on. Seriously, what did you expect might happen with actions like that? You are gonna get kicked off. Face facts. You cannot pull that Hollywood Diva behavior and think you’ll get away with it. Honestly, you are just lucky no one called the cops on you for disrupting or interfering with an airline employee’s duties. You think flight attendants are so star-stuck that we would just bow down and let you get away with murder?”

His voicemail clicked on right about the time I perfected my little speech.

“Hello, this is Alec. I can’t get to the phone, so please leave a message.” BEEP!

“Hey, uh, Mr. Baldwin! It’s me, MOV, you called me? Uh, I just wanted to let you know that situation never would’ve happened on United. And by the way, can you please send me another autographed glossy 8 x 11 headshot of you? The sun has really faded out the last one you sent.”


Saturday, December 3, 2011

591. A Stranger Buys My Book!

So I worked at the high-end kitchen store today. At the end of my shift, I drove over to The Awesome Book Store to chat with the owner about my book. I had already met the book buyer a few weeks ago, and she had given me a fantastic review of my book (“You have a typo on page 85”) and offered me the chance to have a book signing party (“I guess nothing else is going on the evening of January 21 … tell you what, if you pay for all the wine, we’ll do it.”). I was super-excited to finally meet the owner and to leave a few copies for the staff (with the ulterior motive that they might recommend my book to customers).

That was my plan.

Things don’t always work out the way you planned.

I walked into The Awesome Book Store with five books tucked neatly inside my purple and gold paper bag with the bumble bee logo. I approached the counter, where a cheerful woman who appeared to be in her early 30’s was reading a book.

“May I help you?” she asked, looking up from her book.

“Yes, please. May I speak to the owner?”

“That’s me. I’m Elena. What can I do for you?”

“Uh, hi! I’m MOV, and I spoke to—”

“Oh, sure! She said you’d stop by. So nice to finally meet you!” She shook my hand firmly, but for a moment I thought she might walk around and give me a hug instead.

“Great! Uh, great!” I was not used to people being so happy to see me. Just this morning, The Boss had greeted me with, “Oh—you. I forgot I had you on the schedule.” Then she had mumbled something that sounded like “Dammit.”

I struggled with my bag, then unwittingly dropped all five books on the floor. I hastily scooped them up and set them on the counter.

“I, er, I wanted to leave your staff some copies of the book. My book. Mom’s Had A Crappy Week.”

“You mean Mom’s Had A Rough Day?” she pointed to the cover.

“Yes! That’s what I meant.”

“Did she mention that we can’t technically sell the book here at our store for you until after your event? We promote the event in the weeks leading up to it, then they are available that night. Not before. That’s our policy.”

This was one of those times that Queen Virgo would ask to speak to a manager or the owner. But, Elena had already told me she was the owner, so instead I said,

“Sure! I know, she already told me. That’s totally fine. I don’t want you to sell any of my books! I mean, uh, I want you to sell all of them, but not until the launch party. These are only samples, I mean, preview copies. For the staff.”

“Oh, okay. Well that’s really sweet of you. I cannot reimburse you for them, though. They don’t count toward your sales.”

“Right! They’re gifts!”

“Thank you.” She ran her hand along the cover of the top book in the stack.  “And I like your cover design.” 

My heart was pounding.  This woman could sell all of my books or none of them.  She could talk my book up to every single person who walked through the door, or use my book as a coaster and spill coffee all over it.  I desperately wanted to impress her, to have her know that I was a talented writer, and to feel happy with her decision to carry my book in her store.

I backed up from the counter. “Can I browse around? Is that okay? I know how to read, I mean, I like to read, and maybe I might find something to buy?”

“Of course. Browse around.  You don’t get a discount though …”

“No problem. If I buy something, I can pay full price.” I was regretting saying this as the words tumbled out. I knew my Amex bill was past due, and if I bought a book, it might be declined. Maybe I could pay cash for a greeting card.

Right then, a really handsome guy walked in. He glanced my way, but then headed toward the biography section.

“Sir, can I help you?” asked Elena.

“Yes, actually. Where’s your humor section?”

Elena walked over to the opposite end of the store and showed him a few titles. I could hear them talking, but not the exact words. I stood staring at a wall of cookbooks. I felt like I never left the high-end kitchen store. Suddenly, I heard great peals of laughter.

Elena walked back to the register, wiping away tears of laughter. She was shaking her head. She had a book in her hand, which she set it down. I was too far from the counter to see the title.

Handsome Guy called out to Elena, “Excuse me, do you have that new book by Mindy Kaling? You know, the girl from that show? The Office?” 

“Yes, it’s on that display right there.” She pointed toward it.

“My wife said it got good reviews,” Handsome Guy remarked.

“Shall I add it to your collection?”

Wow, Elena was good. Those were pretty much the same words I said a dozen times a day at the high-end kitchen store if someone so much as checked the price of an espresso machine—shall I add it to your collection?

He shrugged. “Sure, why not?” And then … “What else do you have that’s really funny?”

I turned to Handsome Guy for the first time. I smiled wide, and then I took a deep breath.

“Sir, if you like funny, you should read this!” I was holding up my book, which I'd picked up off the counter.

He walked closer, and then took the book out of my hands. I could feel my face flushing a deeper shade of crimson. Was he going to throw down my book in disgust, and then call me out for being an impostor writer?

“What’s it about?”

Elena and Handsome Guy both stared at me, wondering what I would say next. I was wondering myself. Finally, I spoke.

“It’s this book of short, funny essays, about life and about parenthood. Very funny. It’s supposed to be funny. I think it’s funny. Do you have kids? I have two sons, and they are really funny. They inspired me to write—”

“Wait—you wrote this book? You’re the author?”

He said the word author with a reverence normally reserved for Pope or President.

“Yes.” My face caught fire and the smoke detectors went off and the sprinkler system clicked on and doused us all with water and we stood there in a flood until the fire department came. That is what I thought might happen.  This is what happened instead:

“I’ll buy a copy. For my wife.”

I felt woozy. I was wishing I had eaten lunch, a sandwich or something, instead of just a chocolate milkshake. I could feel my brain flipping around inside my skull. This guy had just wandered in off the street, and I had spoken to him for all of 15 seconds, and he was already buying my book! For his wife. Who was most likely my exact target demographic.

The words tumbled out before I could stop them. “Only one copy? Don’t you have, maybe, a sister or someone to buy a gift for?”  I had not realized that I'd brought my other alter-ego, Queen Pushy Salesgirl. 

Elena started furiously keying something into her computer. She leaned over to me and whispered, “I don’t have your ISBN number entered in the system yet. Let me do that real quick. Then you can sell your book right now.” She winked at me.

Handsome Guy paused for a minute.  “You know, I do have a sister. I will buy more than one. And there are a lot of women who work at my office, and I need to buy a few gifts for them. I’ll take 20 books.”

Elena and I looked at each other.

“Twenty?!” I gasped. “Are you joking?”

“We only have five, sir, that’s all she brought,” offered Elena.

“Only five?”

I suddenly remembered that I'd brought two boxes full of books in my car in case Elena had wanted to sell the book sooner than January.

“I have a box of books in my car?” I said like a question. “Let me go get them.”

I walked calmly out the front door and then sprinted to my car. As I rushed back in, Handsome Guy held the door for me.

“Are you really buying 20?” I queried.

“That’s all I need for now. If the book is as good as you say it is, I can always buy more.” He smiled, his teeth like a thousand light bulbs.

As Elena started to ring him up, I turned to leave.

“Aren’t you going to sign them?” Handsome Guy asked me.

Sign them! He wanted me to sign them!

It was my turn to smile. Was this guy flirting with me?

“Can I borrow your pen?” I asked Elena, as I subconsciously reached for her pen jar.

“No problem.” She handed me a thin, black Sharpie.

“Who should I sign to? Do you have a list of names?” Queen Virgo would’ve brought a list.

“Just write ‘Best Wishes’ and then your autograph. That way I don’t have to keep track of who I give which one to.”

I got right to work. I was signing something fun for a change, instead of the check to the electric company or Verizon. My hand started to cramp up at about book number 17.

“Okay, there you go, sir! And thank you!”

“No, thank YOU. Well, I guess I’ll see you on Oprah then. I can tell everyone I met you and knew you before you were famous.”

He looked so genuinely kind, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Oprah didn’t have a talk show or a book club anymore. Why embarrass him when he was buying 20 of my books?

“Yep, Oprah. Me.” I stared at him too long. “Bye then!”

I walked out the front door, the bell hanging on the door handle clanking loudly. I walked down the street toward my car. I got in and started laughing. Twenty books! Ha! I wonder what Elena was thinking right now.

Handsome Guy appeared out of nowhere with his box of books. He tapped insistently on the passenger window.  I reached over and opened the door for him. 

“MOV? Should I set these in the back seat?”

“Geesh, Sweetie! Don’t let the owner see you! Get in!” I said curtly to The Husband. “All 20 books? Oprah? That was laying it on a bit thick, don’t you think?”

He set the books down and climbed in the car. He leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.

Sometimes things work out exactly the way you planned.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

589. Famous Author Writes To Me

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

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

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

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

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

She. Wrote. Back. Immediately.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mom! Was it Mark Twain?!”

Mark Twain! Why would he say that?

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


Sunday, November 27, 2011

587. Virgo Vertigo

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

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

Virgos are overachievers.

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

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

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

("Momentarily Over Virgo-ness")

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

585. Why Thanksgiving Is The Bestest Holiday Ever

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 18, 2011

581. Round People and The People Who Love Them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

("My Other Vice")

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

578. That Shirt Is Mine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I ask them to switch shirts, they balk.

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

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

The Husband walks in on our wardrobe battle.

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


Thursday, November 10, 2011

575. My Swimsuit and I Broke Up

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

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

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

Swimsuit cringed. “Don’t touch me.”

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

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

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

“Mostly thick,” muttered Swimsuit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until today.

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

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

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

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

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

Swimsuit said nothing.

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

(“Mom Or Venus?”)

574. Inventory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did I mention he was smart?


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

572. The Blond Monkey Society

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

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

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

I kept clicking away, code-code-code.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nate: Even a blind monkey would try that recipe!

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

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

("Monkeys Of Veritas")

Monday, November 7, 2011

570. My House Is A Person

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, November 6, 2011

569. Writing Is My Refuge

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you. I’m a writer.”


Friday, November 4, 2011

568. Volunteering Is My Life

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

I showed up at the office for whatever type of helper job they would throw my way. I found myself on the black-top distributing kickballs and jump-ropes. Indeed, as I had walked up at 11 AM to the security camera/ intercom system and buzzed, smiled, and waved, I could audibly hear the Office Lady say, “Oh, God, it’s you.” This was followed by a shuffling of papers, and then a long




still waiting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Playground Director walked up and introduced himself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Room 41!”

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

“Room 17! I said, Room 17!”

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

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

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

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

All the noise.

I was the source of the noise.

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

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

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


Thursday, November 3, 2011

565. Here's An Example

Why do little children often sound like miniature drunk people?

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

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

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


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.


Friday, October 28, 2011

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. 


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.) 

("Meet Our Virus")

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.”