Saturday, January 29, 2011

313. Alarmed Clock

Tall wakes up every day around 7 AM, whether it's a school day or a weekend.  So it came as somewhat of a surprise when he begged me to buy him an alarm clock.  I say "somewhat of a surprise," because the particular clock in question was shaped like a StarWars clone trooper.

I told him he could use his Christmas money if he really wanted to buy it.  Twenty-eight dollars later, he was the proud owner of an alarm clock.

When we got home, he immediately set the alarm for 7:05 AM.  This went on for a few days, and he woke up happily when it beeped, and his brother Short also was beeped out of bed, and took this latest variation in his routine like a trooper (pun intended).

Then, the slightly mischievous side of Tall came out.  He set his alarm for 7:05 AM, and placed it on my nightstand.  On a Friday night.  When I don't have to wake up early on Saturday. 

Oh, yes, he has inherited someone's sense of humor (I won't say who, but she is identified in these blog essays by three initials).

Next, I was putting Short to bed this evening, and I noticed a glimmer of something white and plastic hiding under his bed.  Yep, Tall had set the alarm and placed the offending clock under his little brother's bed.  On a Saturday night.  When no one needs to get up early on Sunday. 

I can hardly wait until April Fool's Day.  It used to be my own personal favorite holiday, but something tells me some new traditions will be created in our household this spring. 

("Mischievous Or Villainous"?)

Friday, January 28, 2011

312. Discipline Is Not For Wimps

Last night, a crime was committed. Details follow:
  • Who: alleged perpetrator—my 4-year-old son Short
  • What: talking back, kicking, not cooperating, yelling, slamming toys around
  • Where: his bedroom
  • When: yesterday evening, approximately 7:20 PM while he was supposed to be getting ready for bed
  • How: the victim (Short’s father) was repeatedly kicked in the shins (evidence is exhibit A: large bruise)
  • Why: because that’s what preschoolers do
Punishment: the case has not gone to trial, but instead was settled out of court by a panel of judges (me and The Husband). It was unanimously decided that the accused’s new toy Hot Wheels monster truck from Target (cost: $3), would be thrown in the trash.

Result: crying, tantrum, and meltdown ensued. The panel stayed firm in their irrevocable decision.  Notable quote:  Panel members labeled "dum-dum poopy-heads" by the convicted, which is the equivalent of being cussed out by a 4-year-old. 

Update: this morning, the convicted child remembered the incident and the resultant punishment. We got to re-live the tantrum all over again (fortunately, a condensed version). The Husband and I cringed as if bracing for a storm, and we somehow got through it intact.

Final Conclusion: This parenting stuff is not easy.

("Mommy Of Villain?")

Thursday, January 27, 2011

311. Rearranging The Furniture

I know what you’re thinking. You read the title of today’s blog post and you say, “Aha! MOV is going to write about how moving your furniture around is a metaphor for life, that if you take your normal surroundings and change them, you can get a fresh perspective on life.” Uh, no. I was going to talk about literally rearranging the furniture.

I became obsessed with rearranging furniture at a young age, maybe four years old. I had a dollhouse, and I remember taking every little chair and table and armoire out and then putting them all back in again, but in different rooms. Who says this has to be the bedroom? Why not make it the garage. The kitchen doesn’t have to be on the bottom floor—maybe move it to the third floor instead.

Later, I morphed into a teenager who got bored easily, and what better way to stave off monotony then to move the furniture? Let’s see what this dresser looks like on that side of the room. What about that shelf next to the bed? There was no problem so big that it couldn’t be fixed by pushing a piece of furniture to an adjacent wall.

This caused, as you might imagine, a bit of friction in the family. My mother would walk in a room and declare, “You moved everything again? That’s what, the third time today? It looks good, just leave it now.” With no warning, my little sister would come running into my room fully expecting to jump on my bed, and would unceremoniously land on the floor instead—PLOP!

As I got older, I took this addiction fun little habit on the road. I lived with my grandmother while I was in high school, and I quickly came to realize that her living room might look a little bit better if she only moved the couch facing the fireplace, and the TV over by the window. She discovered the changes to her home the way all of my victims did: by stubbing her toe. “MOV! MOV, you get in here this instant! Who told you that you could move all my furniture? But … this does looks fabulous, and now I need your advice on where to put the desk in my study.”

That was the thing, the reason I was never stopped: everyone loved the changes. In college, roommates and sorority sisters wanted my advice, as did the UPS guy (he got a glimpse of my newly-rearranged living room and then made a quick sketch of his family room for me to give my opinion). Flash forward to today, and my girlfriends are not offended in the least when I say, “Have you ever thought of putting your dining room table in front of the fireplace?”

The Husband, however, remains unconvinced. His attitude toward furniture can be summed up in two words: status quo. He gets very grumpy when he comes home and can’t find the coffee table that was there just this morning. After 14 years together, two apartments, and three houses, he should know what to expect. Lucky for him, the size of our current house (teeny tiny) makes furniture rearranging prohibitive. The dining room is only 9 x 9 feet, which means the dining room table can go … in the middle of the room, under the chandelier. Our master bedroom (master!) measures in at a whopping 10 x 8 feet, meaning the bed can go on the one large wall and nowhere else. Complicating matters is the fact that our 1942 home has radiators in every room, which hinders original furniture placement let alone its subsequent rearranging.

We discuss our future plans to expand the house someday, perhaps adding a huge family room on the back with walls of windows looking out at the beautiful trees in the yard. Whenever I bring up the dimensions of the new room, The Husband gets a panicky look on his face. “So, you want the room to be 22 x 22 feet? Uh, where would the sofas go?” And then I impress him with all the myriad possibilities, sofas facing the fireplace, sofas facing the window, sofas facing the patio … and then I lose him: “We could even put the sofas diagonally if we wanted!”

He is overwhelmed. He goes in the bathroom, turns on the water, and fills the tub. I knock on the door. “Why are you taking a bath right now? It’s 2 PM.” He answers simply, “Because you can’t move the tub, I know exactly where it is.”

Maybe I have taken this furniture rearranging too far.

(“Moving Our Village”)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

310. Just Use Our Automated System

I don’t do well with automated systems. I panic when I drive up to a toll booth where I must insert exact change. Self check-out at the grocery store gives me the hives.  So it should come as no surprise that I had a very difficult time ever booking myself on a vacation flight when I worked for United.

On the surface, it sounds simple enough: call the special phone number, follow the voice prompts. Sure—very simple, if by simple you actually mean “complicated.” I would call the system and enter my employee ID # (called “personal metric”—Terrorists, take note). Then, a very pleasant sounding male voice would say, “Leaving from what city, please?” And I would say, “Denver, Colorado,” and The Voice would repeat “Des Moines, Iowa, is that correct? Please press one if correct.” And here I’d be panicking, saying, “No! No! Not Des Moines! Den—ver!” and the helpful-sounding Voice would say, “So sorry, my mistake, Nashville?” Argh!

We’d go back and forth like this, The Voice and I, in our own little tennis match of naming cities and trying to enunciate clearly. My favorite was me trying to fly to San Diego and him confirming in his soothing tones, “Did you say Singapore?” Me: “NO! Not Singapore! SAN DEEE— EGG —OHH!” Him (trying his best), “Was that Sydney, Australia?”

Remember what my job was at the time: I was a flight attendant. Remember where I spent an inordinate amount of my waking hours: at the airport. So, that being said, many of these one-sided conversations between me and my computer phone pal were taking place in airport gate areas, often with an audience. Picture the scene: me, in my uniform, rollerboard suitcase at my side, yelling into my cell phone, “I said Seattle! SEEE—AT—UHL! Nooooo!  No, don't do this to me!  Operator!” These poor random passengers, waiting for their connections to Chicago or San Francisco were probably looking at me like I was insane (“She must be talking to her crew scheduler, and apparently she really has something against Seattle. I hope she’s not working on our flight.”)

I have not received a paycheck from United in seven years now, since I had my first son.

I had forgotten all about United’s fun little phone system, until the other day when I called my favorite local restaurant to book a dinner reservation. A friendly computer answered the phone, “Welcome to Crazy Town Restaurant! If you’d like to make a reservation, please key in the time, followed by the pound sign. Then, press the asterisk if correct, and key in the number of diners in your party.” I did the only thing I could: hung up. We have left-over pizza in the frig.

(“Memphis? Ontario? Vegas?”)

Monday, January 24, 2011

309. Is She REALLY Employed?!

So I just realized that I never told you about how I got the job at the high-end kitchen store. Well, I had been whining to The Husband about how I needed to get out of the house a bit (the kids were 3 and 1), and I thought it might be “fun” (yes, my word choice) if I got a little retail job over the Christmas holiday. I filled out the job application and waited for my phone to ring.

And waited …

And waited …

Still waiting …

So they finally called me and I went in for the interview. Normally, I don’t stress about these kinds of things (who am I kidding, I practiced my faux-interview for hours in front of the mirror). I asked The Husband if he could do a Mock Interview (minterview? mockerview? intermock?) to help put me at ease. After I promised to do the dishes for an entire week in a row (and ultimately reneging after only two days this time), he said okay. Our minterview went something like this:

The Husband (pretending to be the interviewer): (taking his role very seriously) Hello, nice to meet you, how do you pronounce your name?

MOV: Sweetie, don’t do that. Just ask me real questions. Project Runway is on in 10 minutes.

TH: (whispering, so as not to break character—in case TV crews are recording us in the living room) I was trying to be realistic.

MOV: Read off the sheet I typed up. (pointing)

TH: What experience do you have?

MOV: Well, I was a flight attendant for a decade so that gives me lots of customer service background and …

TH: Don’t say decade, that sound stupid. It sounds rehearsed. No one says decade; say “10 years.”

MOV: (ignoring him) What does the sheet say?

TH: You know this is a kitchen store, do you like to cook?

MOV: Yes, I love to cook. I am an excellent cook. My family also …

TH: Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

MOV: (impatient) What now? What’s so funny?

TH: You don’t cook! You don’t know the difference between a whisk and a spatula! You don’t even know how to turn on the stove!

MOV: I do too. Plus, the kitchen store people will probably expect me to at least be familiar with their merchandise.

TH: What are you going to do—call me at home? “Sweetie, this customer wants to buy a grill pan, is that the one with the raised ridges on it?” Or “What is a santoku hollow-ground knife?” Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

MOV: (teeth clenched) Stop it. My show is almost on. Focus on the sheet.

TH: If there was a “problem” customer, what would you do?

MOV: I would be very polite and try my best to empathize with them and solve their problem, all the while following company guidelines and procedures.

TH: Oh, that was pretty good. Sounded kinda convincing. All right. Uh, why do you want to work here?

MOV: My availability would be evenings after six or pretty much any shift on the weekend.

TH: No. I didn’t say what hours can you work, I said why do you want to work here? Is it because of the discount?

MOV: I’m trying to be serious here. Quit doing that. (starting to crack up a little)

TH: I’m sorry. What I meant to say is: are you just begging me for a job so you can have a discount?

MOV: (going along with it) Yes, that’s right.

TH: Okay, then, do you have any questions for me, MOV?

MOV: When will I hear back? When can I start? And what is the discount?

You know what happens next. There I am, in the real interview, and my (future) boss is asking me all the same things I rehearsed with The Husband. I feel relaxed and confident because I already know all the answers to her questions. And then she gets to that final one: “Do you have any questions for me?”

My mind immediately races to my practice answer “What is the discount?” and I start laughing. I imagine the Husband sitting here with me in this back office with the rows of pristine white aprons hanging on hooks lining the wall and him saying “Is that why you want to work here?” and me saying “You betcha!” I cannot get this soundtrack from our minterview out of my brain.

The interviewer is staring at me. She doesn’t understand why I’m giggling (and between you and me, would it be unprofessional to giggle at the “problem” customers? I’m guessing it would). Finally, I try to squeak out an answer (“I don’t have any more questions for you, sorry, I laugh when I’m nervous sometimes”), when she drops the bomb.

“We expect our employees to be very flexible about their scheduling blah-blah-blah social security something-or-other corporate secrets blah-blah-blah and by the way, our discount is 90% off.”

Yippee! 90% off!

Just when I think it can’t get any better (and I know you are thinking this whole blog is a dream sequence and I assure you it is not) she says,

“… and you also get the discount at our sister store, Flawless Forte. Same discount of 90% off.” She smiles broadly, revealing model-straight teeth that an orthodontist would kill to have featured in his ads for the “After” photos.

“Excuse me, did you just say the discount applies at Flawless Forte? Because that is one of my favorite stores! Almost my entire house is from Flawless Forte!” I am babbling.

“Good, good—me, too! When can you start?” She gets out her notepad, ready to write in my start date.

I am already standing and reaching for a white apron. “I can start right now,” I say enthusiastically. “Let me just call my husband and ask him a quick question about kansotu grill whisks.”

(“Mom’s Other Vocation”)

308. Pokemom

If you have a seven-year-old or if you are a seven-year-old yourself, you can skip today’s blog, as you could have written it yourself. Still there? Please, come on in. Enter the dark secret world of all things Pokemon.

Now, having grown up with a sister (hi, Oakley!), we never had Pokemon. We had Barbies. I remember my sister and I spending hours “choosing” our Barbies and all their accessories, down to the last little shoe or purse. We would lay out all the possibilities in neat rows and most of our “play” time was actually gobbled up with us going back and forth bickering over the acceptability of each other’s selections (“If you're going to choose the white fur coat, then the shoes and purse combined should only count for one pick for me, not two.”). I got this part down to a science: being the older sister, I would pretend I was interested in something (say, that ugly green jumpsuit) and then I’d talk it up so she would pick it.

Oh, how I miss the simple days of mind manipulation. Now, Tall has a passion for Pokemon cards. We have his friend Ashton to thank for this, as Ashton gave these cards out as party favors at his recent birthday party (thanks a lot, Ashton, and Ashton’s mom:  you've ruined me).

In a word, Tall is: obsessed.  He sleeps with the precious cards mere inches from his bed, and he wakes up spewing important details about these Japanese characters, such as “Muk can do 50 damages”—whatever that means. Tall corners me several times a day (more on week-ends) saying will-you-play-Pokemon-with-me-will-you-play-Pokemon-with-me-please-please-Pokemon in a relentless loop. Naturally, I try to force the game off on my unsuspecting husband (“MOV, I’m trying to make dinner here, if you want to make dinner I’m happy to play a Japanese card game with him,”). Eventually, I succumb.

Tall grins at me, partly because he’s worn me down, but mostly because he knows he’ll win. We sit down and he starts dealing out the cards. I do not qualify for the luxury of having the rules explained to me in advance. Apparently, in Pokemon World, things are on a need-to-know basis. “Please, Tall, please can you give me a quick run-down on the essentials?” (Insert Tall’s condescending gesture of eye-rolling here). “How ‘bout I just tell you as we go along, Mom, it might be too complicated for you.”

I would scoop up all the cards and throw them at him in a rage if he weren’t right. It is too complicated for me. These unpronounceable characters have nicknames and powers and levels and damages (an inordinate amount of time is spent going over damages, does my kid have law school in his future?). There are also various “points” associated with each one, and from what rudimentary knowledge I’ve garnered, you play by setting down one of your cards against your opponent’s, while your opponent proceeds to tell you how your card sucks and his card is so much better. Next, you lose. Over and over again.

I am immediately nostalgic for the uncomplicated times of “CandyLand,” “Sorry!” and even “Monopoly.” With the first one, as long as you weren’t colorblind, you could figure out how to play (“Mommy, your card is green. Move your person to the green square here.”). With the second, basic one or two digit numbers were involved (“Your card says two, Mom, move your game piece two spots.”). My favorite, “Monopoly” required the advanced skill of knowing how to read dice. Fortunately, I’ve been to Las Vegas and I can roll dice with the best of them.

As Tall is dealing the cards and taking my so-called “bad” cards (shades of me manipulating my little sister all those years ago?), I am zoning out, thinking about backgammon. Backgammon is a game of advanced skill and planning, and by some random trick of nature, it is a game I excel at.

Tall wins again. What a surprise. The Husband calls us to dinner, we eat, then get the boys ready for bed. After we read to them and turn the lights out, The Husband and I retreat to the living room. “Ready for House Hunters?” he says, “They might even have an international episode tonight.”

I ignore his offer as I walk toward the front hall closet. I return with a small briefcase. “I don’t feel like watching TV tonight,” I say, “Let’s play backgammon.”

(“Monopoly Or Videos?”)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

307. We Got Game

I’m not good at game shows. I suck at Trivial Pursuit. Any kind of charades or friendly get-together with a “game night” theme has guests whispering things like, “you take her” or “no, we were stuck with her last time” or “for once I’d like to win, dammit.” So it was a complete shock when The Husband and I stood up at his company’s annual party (theme: Game Night) and enthusiastically volunteered to be contestants.

No one made us do this. In fact, no one would’ve noticed one way or another if we just sat there for two hours, sipping our free Pinot Grigio and stealing extra chocolate mini-eclairs from the buffet table.

But, as fate would have it, word got out about the prizes involved. (Yes—there were prizes.) Turns out, you would automatically win some sort of prize for merely participating. This was my kind of contest (insert flashback here about winning trophies in junior high sports for things like “most improved”, which means you were really really bad to begin with, or “missed the fewest practices”). The grand prize, the paid announcer called out on his static-y microphone, would be a $25 gift card to the Emporium of All That MOV Loves: Target.

I was motivated.

We were put in three teams of three, multiplied by three separate rounds, and then the top teams for each round would compete for the grand prize. My head was spinning just trying to keep up with the rounds and teams and multiples of three, and we hadn’t even answered the first question yet.

Our turn. We strode (yes strode, that’s how winners walk) up to the podium area, which was set up to realistically resemble a TV show, complete with electronic buzzers and flashing scoreboard. The Husband, myself, and one of the Husband’s work colleagues (we’ll call him Brains, because let’s skip ahead, he’s the reason we won), lined up in a neat row, hands poised above our buzzer.

Then the humiliation began. Much like Pavlov’s dogs, we quickly learned that it was not a game of skill, but a game of who could press the buzzer first. We (okay, me) started randomly pressing the buzzer before the announcer had even finished asking the question. This progressed (degenerated?) into pressing the buzzer before he had even asked the question. My nickname rapidly became Betty Buzz-All.

Some questions were super easy, like "Please identify this TV show theme song" (Gilligan’s Island) or "Is a tomato considered a fruit or a vegetable?" (correct answer: fruit). Unfortunately, these were the types of questions reserved for the other rounds in which we did not compete.

I was ready for the high-brow literary questions I anticipated being on the roster, like “Who is Rosebud?” (hint: a sled) or “Which Meg Ryan movie also starred Tom Cruise?” (that would be Top Gun) or even, “name that really famous bridge in Venice, Italy” (Rialto). Instead, we were expected to know the answers to inane things like, “Which team was first awarded the Vince Lombardi trophy and in which year?” Since this was a sports question, and The Husband is a sports fanatic, I assumed (there’s that word) that he would know the answer. I was only helping him out, really, by getting a slight head-start on pressing that buzzer so he could gloriously announce the correct answer (Baltimore Colts, in Miami, 1970). Come to find out, The Husband is not quite so adept at answering sports-related trivia questions after all.

As previously mentioned, we were lucky enough smart enough to have Brains on our team, and thank God for him. He spit out correct answers like watermelon seeds at a summer picnic. He blurted out “Minnesota!” or “Ontario Lake!” or “the color red!” in rapid succession, each time gaining another 10 points for our pathetic excuse for a team (how was I supposed to know we’d get points deducted for wrong answers? that hardly seems fair).

The pressure was on. We had progressed to the point where the announcer was incorporating taped lines from movies or TV shows. I listened carefully with my eyes tightly closed (everyone knows you can improve your sense of hearing, and possibly mental prowess, by closing your eyes tightly) as a gravelly voice mumbled something (a sentence, perhaps just a word) and My Personal Guardian Angel of Game Shows came and sat on my shoulder and whispered the right answer: Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. Applause rose amidst murmurs of “well, of course” or “I was going to guess that.”

This was, for me, the highlight of the evening. It was to be, sadly, the only question I would get right, thus barely preventing me from completely humiliating my entire team (which was the track I had been on).

Miraculously, we made it to the bonus round. The Husband and his good old buddy/ new best friend Brains got lots of right answers. Enough to cause us to win. We proudly picked up our respective Target cards and I said a little prayer of thanks to my secret helper.

A few minutes later, I went to use the ladies room. After washing my hands, I looked around for where to dry them. I did not see one of those hot air blow-y things, nor did I see a neat stack of paper towels. At last, I noticed one of those electronic motion-sensor paper towel dispensers. I didn’t read the instructions, although I’m sure they said something like “Put hands here, Dummy.” Instead, I boldly, some might say brazenly, waved my hands under the red laser light while paper towels popped out. I smiled, smug. Finally, there was one thing I knew the answer to.

("Matter Of Victory")

Thursday, January 20, 2011

304. What Does MOV Stand For Anyway

It’s been reported to me that people are under the impression that this blog is run by only one person. The 22 of us who work here got a huge laugh out of that. First of all, how could one person possibly write so much amazing material in such a short amount of time and continue to produce quality essays day after day after day for over six months now?

The answer is: she can’t. MOV is, if you must know, a corporation. MOV actually stands for (ready?) Multinational Organization Vertex. (If you are wondering what “vertex” means, and 21 of us were, Webster’s defines it as “the highest point, top”—this is as opposed to “vortex” which means “black hole, suck the life out of, disappear completely; alternate definition: motherhood”.)

So, here at Multinational (that’s what we call ourselves for short, I mean, who even knows how to pronounce “MOV”? that’s goofy, isn’t it? Should it be MOV, like the color mauve, or is it actually the letters pronounced individually M-O-V? Who knows?), 22 people labor day and night (well, truthfully a lot of nights) to bring you writing so sharp, you might cut yourself (it’s just an expression, the only cutting around here is paper-cuts).

We thought, since we are finally exposing this sham for what it really is (a sham), that you might like to meet some of our team. First and foremost, we have our Chief Writer. She is a cutie-pie, despite her drastic mood swings. Give her a piece of Godiva chocolate, and she turns nice. Second, we have our Lead Researcher (that’s “lead” pronounced “leed”, not “led” researcher. What is there even to research about lead? Uh, that it’s bad? that they make pencils out of it?). She goes on that little website (Google) and finds out things, important things, to report back to you.

Third, we have our invaluable Focus Group Consultant. She talks to focus groups and get people’s opinions about potential blog ideas. If they are dumb ideas and she decides to do them anyway, she might have someone post a few choice comments about those particular postings.

This brings us to our Comment Poster. I know, I know, here you thought all those wonderful comments were legit. Here’s a hint: they’re not. Any time you see a comment that says “Oh, that was the best blog I ever read, you are hilarious!”, yep—that is our good old Comment Poster. She takes her job very very seriously. In fact, the other day when a couple of us (well, 17 or so) were complaining that Comment Poster was useless and a money suck on payroll, BAM, she goes and comes up with this whole banter back and forth between “MOV” and some random commenter. It was like, “I hate your blog” and then the response was, “Go away don’t read it” and on and on. She, like, totally got a raise after that. Do you know how high our ratings went in just that one day?

Payroll Administrator. Her job is super-important, because this is, after all, a job where we all get paid. Our Chief Writer gets paid (and I’m not embarrassed to tell you this because you could just Google it anyway) one million dollars per year. We feel she is worth more, but the Payroll Administrator says that’s all we can afford for now. Everyone else on staff gets $500,000 per year, plus stock options. We feel we are being underpaid, but in this economy, what can you do?

Who did I leave out? Oh yeah, High-End Kitchen Store Advisor. She basically helps us to “keep it real” by constantly keeping us abreast of what it would be like to work in a nice store. MOV does not actually work there, as she does not need to (remember the part about the million dollar salary?). It is, however, super-critical that everything sound official and believable.

There are a few jobs I am leaving out (boring stuff like Snack Getter), but the last job I want to mention is probably the Really Great Liar.

She wrote this whole post.

(“Multinational Organization Vertex”)

Monday, January 17, 2011

301. She's Got Balls

Basketballs, baseballs, footballs, soccer balls, tennis balls, volleyballs, golf balls, rugby balls, lacrosse balls, dodge balls, beach balls. When you live in a house with men and boys, there are a lot of balls around.

I step on them. I trip on them. I curse them. I laugh at them.

But mostly, I buy them, because they wear out.

Me at the sporting goods store when Tall was 3 years old buying his first soccer ball: “I guess I’ll take that one that is $25. That should hold us for the next 15 years or so.” (smug smile)

Me at the sporting goods store three months later: “Yeah, he wore it out. Who knew you could wear out a soccer ball out? Here’s my Visa card.”

Me at the sporting goods store last week: (Silent, takes ball, pays)

Me, walking into the sporting goods store yesterday: “Hey Shane, good to see ya’, Becky, how’s the baby? J.D, my man!” (Everyone else to me: “Hi MOV! Good morning! Hey, MOV’s back! MOVee, babe, how’ve you been?”)

Me at the sporting goods store this morning: “Do they come in, like, economy packs of 20? Or if not, could I maybe get a price break if I buy more than ten at a time?”

I never set out to be a soccer mom, and truly, I’m not. I’m a ball mom.

("Marking Outside Victories")

Saturday, January 15, 2011

300. My New Computer Is Possessed

So The Husband’s Christmas bonus came through, and the UPS guy delivered a lovely black box full of technology and wonder. Ah, yes, I’m talking about my New Computer.

The brother-in-law Robert was visiting and I wasted no time in securing his Guru Genius Computer Skills in hooking up and setting up New Computer.

First of all, I cannot say enough good things about New Computer and about Robert. New Computer is approximately 800,000 times faster than the old one (give or take a few times). I go to turn on New Computer and in the two seconds where I—sneezed? blinked?—new computer is up and running! No warm-up required here! The old computer might have taken 15 minutes or 4 hours to warm up, depending on its mood.

New Computer has a better memory capacity too. As I was flipping through the 500-page manual, Robert told me that New Computer has a capacity of 12 million gigabytes of RAM. I took a peek at the old instruction pamphlet for the previous computer: it had one half mini-byte of memory. Maybe less.

Also, Robert explained to me that although I had been referring to the old computer (hereafter to be called: That Piece Of Crap, or TPOC for short) as suffering from Alzheimer’s, computers are not technically able to become afflicted with this disease. (Did I mention that Robert is super-smart?) No. It’s not that TPOC was forgetting things, it’s just that TPOC had no more memory left for new important information (information like, that blog posting I just spent an hour on, or Tall’s school report on Martin Luther King complete with footnotes, or all of our financial information and tax records for the previous twelve months, or photos of the kids from Christmas).

Once, (and I know you think I am making this up but I assure you I am not) TPOC actually flashed a scary warning message at me. It read:

****Virtual Memory Almost Full****

Yikes, what does that even mean?

So, anyway, as I was saying, TPOC has gone to that great computer graveyard in the sky (okay, TPOC is sitting right behind me on the floor with random wires sticking out everywhere until we can figure out what to do with it) and I am typing on my lovely New Computer.

(takes quick break to pat New Computer and give it a smooch)

Yes, I luuuuuuhhhhvvvvvve New Computer.


There’s always a “but”, isn’t there?

It seems that New Computer (I’d better whisper here, I don’t want New Computer to be offended or worse, I don’t want TPOC to laugh and mock me) is quite possibly….. possessed. There I am, typing along and my super high-speed rate of 23 words per minute (some of them even spelled correctly the first time, natch), when I oh-so-subtly brush against an extra “helper” key along the bottom row of the keyboard and WHAM! I’m on some other screen I’ve never seen before. Now, this, I suppose, is at least more interesting than getting that bizarro page that TPOC used to deliver (“page has expired” or worse “internet connection lost—report problem?”).

But, like that bratty kid in 8th grade who had all the answers (the correct ones too) and had to raise his hand every five seconds to share his wisdom with the entire class, these extra keys are just show-offy.

I don’t know what they do. I don’t particularly want to know what they do. Heck, they might be able to fly me to Mars, but I just want to look at that periwinkle blue scarf on etsy, thankyouverymuch.

What kind of screens pop up, queries The Husband after he decides he can’t stand my whining anymore (”I thought you wanted a new computer, and what does TPOC stand for again?”). Well, if I am typing a document, an “Outline” option might suddenly appear. I scan in desperation for the “GO BACK” arrow. Please, just let me GO BACK! Another fun one is: New Computer will make some sort of happy chime sound and then I realize I have inadvertently closed the window I was just working on. Ack! No chimes! No chimes! I am like Pavlov’s dogs in reverse.

So, New Computer and I have come to an uneasy truce. I will still smooch it and pat it, but I will also try my hardest to type with my fingers up high and not dragging on the secret helper keys.

So far, so goo 82**^ksjnj$#doaifj009w4//9qqoh37&-wenbk


Function override

Restarting system


(“Moping Over Vibrations”)

299. An Inventory Of Sorts

My boss from the high-end kitchen store called me at home yesterday. “We need to talk,” she said, which we all know is shorthand for “I need to talk and you need to listen.”

What could she possibly be calling about, I wondered. Surely she had moved past the Unfortunate Incident of me eating an entire tray of chocolate covered almonds we were sampling at Christmas time (and in my defense, the tray had been on the counter in the back kitchen, how was I supposed to know it wasn’t intended for the employees?). And I hope she’d gotten over the time a few weeks ago when the actor Ben Affleck had sauntered into our store and I’d followed him around for half an hour like a puppy dog (come on, we’re talking Ben Affleck! I can’t be blamed for that).

“MOV,” she began in her firm, no-nonsense voice, “corporate sent me an email about you.”

My heart was racing. Was this good news? Would I be named Top Seller of the Year or maybe Most Helpful Associate in the Eastern Division?

“They said you have bought everything in the store. There is nothing left to buy, and furthermore, they believe that without the motivation of beautiful things you can buy at a huge discount, you just won’t be a very focused employee.”

“Wha— wha— what are you saying?!” I stuttered in disbelief. “I certainly have not bought everything, I think that might be a slight exaggeration, don’t you? I mean, I never bought the deep fryer or the panini press.“

“Our records indicate you have. Be honest, MOV, you bought the espresso machine, the blender, the toaster, the coffee maker, the All-clad pans, the Wusthof knives, the linens, the lead-crystal wine glasses, the French china, all that bakeware….”

“But, but..... so? That doesn’t mean anything! There are still plenty of things for me to buy!”

She paused. “Like what?”

“Uh,” I tried to rally, “uh, there are a couple cookbooks I haven’t bought yet? I could maybe, you know, buy a cake stand?”

“Ha! A cake stand! I have copies of all your receipts from the past three years right here in my hands and you bought a cake stand the very first week you worked here!”

She wasn’t making this easy.

“Boss, I don’t need to buy any more things. You’re right about that. But a paycheck, the money itself, could be a powerful motivator for me. I promise I will still do a good job, even though I have everything already. Please give me another chance.”

I heard her give a weary sigh. “MOV, when I spoke to corporate, they were pretty clear about their decision. Most of our employees don’t want to be paid in cash. They want pans.”

“Well, Boss, surely this has happened before? There must be some other employee that has gone through this same sort of thing, what did you do about this in the past?”

“MOV, I don’t know what to tell you. Your situation is rare. The last time this occurred, it was with an employee that had been with the company for fifteen years. You’ve only been here three and a half.”

Once again, I was the overachiever.

("Mom's Other Vocation")

Thursday, January 13, 2011

297. Elaborate House Plans

So we’re sitting at dinner and Tall announces, “I thought of my perfect house today. Would you like to hear about it?” He's offering me an opportunity to jump in his seven-year-old brain and peek around? Sign me up.

He started by counting off how many rooms there would be: 52 bedrooms, 23 kitchens (each with two dining rooms), 17 living rooms, 12 garages, and we haven’t even gone outside yet. Short was getting very excited listening to his brother’s grand plans; he wanted in on the action. “Will I get to live there with you?” he asked sweetly.

In a rare moment of magnanimity, Tall nodded. “Sure, Short, you and your wife can live with me.”

Short smiled broadly, revealing all twenty of his itty bitty Chiclets teeth. Then the smile vanished. “Uh, wife?!?”

Tall leaned in towards Short and said conspiratorially, “Do you know what a 'wife' is, Short?”

This should be good, I thought. What exactly is a wife? How does my seven-year-old define her?

“You know how you have to marry a girl when you grow up? That’s your wife!” he explained enthusiastically.

(Well, at least he didn’t imply that she had to do all the laundry and make the bed every day.)

Next, Tall wanted to describe what the outside of the house would look like. Three stories tall. Three miles long. One mile wide. What color? “White—like the White House.” Of course. There would be tennis courts and basketball courts and volleyball courts (maybe he’ll be a lawyer? he seems to favor courts) and pools and gardens with garden mazes.

As dinner table talk tends to do, we revisited a previous topic (where Short would stay and for how long—he will no longer live there with his new wife year-round, he will merely come for vacations).

The Husband shoots me a look. The look said, “Will we, the future old people, be shunned?” What he said out loud: “Can Mommy and I come visit you, too?”

Tall lit up (at the thought of free labor?). “Sure! Of course! You will have the biggest bedroom, well, I mean, after mine. There will even be a bathroom connected right to it. And, Mom, you’ll get your own kitchen with two dining rooms attached!” Obviously, I cannot escape the theme of preparing meals.

Short was getting bored of the conversation not being about him for two minutes. “I want my room to look like StarWars!” he blurted out.

Tall shook his head and laughed. Oh, stupid stupid little brothers. “No, Short,” he began firmly, “We’re talking about when you’re a grown-up. When you’re a grown-up, you’ll want something fancier than StarWars decorations.” He rolled his eyes at me, as if to say, “This is so far-fetched, this crazy stuff that Short wants!”

“Okay, so next, Mom, I need to tell you about the viewport thing on the top of the house. It will be one mile high.” Now Tall disappears to locate a pen and paper to record his genius.

The Husband whispers to me, “Is the kid designing a hotel? Or maybe a palace?” He snickers.

“What are you talking about?” says Tall suspiciously upon returning to the room.

“Uh, I was just wondering who is going to sleep in all those 52 bedrooms….” The Husband rallies.

“Pop! I don’t really mean 52! Actually, more like 15.” Sure, 15 makes a lot more sense.

“Does that mean you’ll have 15 kids, Tall?” The Husband presses.

“No, I mean, I don’t think so.” He considers his ideal number of children.

My ears perk up at the mention of future-grandmotherhood. “How many kids will you have, then, Tall?” I ask as nonchalantly as possible.

“Uh, four. I guess, four. I’m not really sure. I might have to ask my wife.”

Short has a practical question, “Tall, what kind of food will we eat there?”

Tall is on a roll. “Good question, Short,” he begins in full-on Teacher Mode. “In our garden, two hundred radishes will be picked per day, with 15% of radishes going to each kitchen.” He says this deadpan, and when I am ready to laugh, I notice he's being sincere.

The kid has never eaten a radish.

(to be continued…..)

(“Mother Of Visionary”)

Friday, January 7, 2011

291. This Is How It Started...

So The Husband’s close friend is shipping out to Iraq (my intestines tense up as I type that). The Husband and his circle of friends from his college days want to toast Dave and have one more hurrah before he leaves (understandable). The thing is, they can not narrow down a date, time, or even place (not understandable). I ask you: is this a guy thing?

The Husband sends out what he thinks is a good email, “Guys, let’s get together before Dave leaves. Uh, maybe this week-end? You all free?”

Is that supposed to substitute for an actual invitation?

How girls do it: “Ladies! This Monday! 8 PM! Dinner! Continental Divide Restaurant in Crazy Town! RSVP right now!”

After this vague-ish email, The Husband (not surprisingly) receives the following emails:
  • “That doesn’t really work for me.”
  • “How about next week-end instead?”
  • “Sat is good, but not Sun”
  • “No sushi. Hate sushi.”
  • “Night is good, but not day.”
  • “Can do afternoon, but Charlie has a game that night, so I can’t do night.”
  • “I don’t want to drive far, ‘cause then I can’t drink. Where are we meeting?”
See? The Captain of Vagueness.

You know what happens next. Yep, the date gets moved. Was Saturday, now it’s Sunday. Yikes—I work Sunday, who will watch the kids?!

Accommodating wife that I am, I call a co-friend and beg her to trade schedules. She is a trooper and says no problem. Good. Now I work on Saturday.

With all the advance warning of a mugger (none), the “party” is changed back to Saturday. I am too embarrassed to call my co-friend to switch back (I prefer my current Work Label of “Know-It-All” to “Wishy-Washy Girl”). I tell The Husband we will get a sitter.

The venue has been changed no fewer than six times. 

The Husband is freaking out (who knows why, and anyway, couldn’t this have all been prevented had he just picked a place and time?). Amidst much pressure, I yet again trade my schedule (from a pleasing let's-sleep-in-a-little-bit 12--6 shift, to an early-riser 8--2 PM).

Needn’t have bothered. The perverse faction of the Well-Wishers of Dave that initially wanted a midday fiesta has been out-numbered and the latest news is that they are meeting up at 7 PM on Saturday night. My previous work shift would’ve been fine. I’m sure my boss is wondering why my schedule has been X-d out and re-written three times.

The Husband is no longer irritated and frustrated (frirritated?) at his so-called “friends”. Now he laughs. “What do you expect, Hon? That’s what guys do.” Now he is all smiles and inside jokes as he furtively emails back and forth pinning down the time and place like you might zero in fiercely with a rolled-up newspaper on a fly that is buzzing around your window sill—take that!

“It’s Dave,” he says, a grin as big as Alaska. “It’ll be fun.” It will be. I will hear about it later, and when The Husband retells his stories, I, too, will have a grin as big as Alaska.

(“Monsoon Of Vagueness”)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

286. Knock Knock

“Mommy, I have a new joke for you!” Short squeals.

“Okay, great! Let’s hear it,” I smile.

“Knock knock….” he begins.

“Who’s there?” I say dutifully.

(Very long pause. Too long.)

“Who’s there?” I say again, prodding helpfully.

“Uh, wait….. I don’t know this one.” Now he glares at me. Apparently, I have told him the wrong joke.


285. Angry Tsunami Of Toys

I’m drowning in toys. Plastic parts, wooden bases, metal poking-out-things; they are everywhere. When our house is quiet and still, they breed.

My children do not play with all of them. Of course they have their so-called “favorites” (today that honor goes to a “Bionicle”), but somehow they quickly lose interest. Unfortunately, the time-span of adoration is in inverse proportion to the monetary cost of the toy.

  • Empty paper towel roll (piece of cardboard), cost= 0.00……….. child will not part with, even amidst begs and bribes (“It’s a piece of trash! Play with your real toys!”). Uses item as a telescope or to play the drums or as a weapon to antagonize brother.
  • Building set with complicated instructions and 329 pieces, cost= $85………. This is the toy the child could not live without (“I will die if Santa does not bring me this!”), and now the child is no longer interested in it upon realizing how frustrating and time-consuming it is to build.
I cannot bear to get rid of this expensive toy, even though it sits on the shelf mocking us (“You bought me last year! I’m dusty now, no one has even looked in my direction for 11 months!”).  It was rated in the Top 10 by the American Pediatric Committee for stimulating learning toys. 

And yet…..

My 4–year-old pulls small pebbles from his pockets. “I like these,” he grins. (No Junior Archeology Kit required.)

Yesterday my 7-year-old rescued the 2010 calendar from the recycle bin because he wanted to make collages from the pictures………… I ask you, why did I buy an Budding Artist Starter Set for him?

Next Christmas, I vow to save money: my kids are getting some tinfoil and maybe a few leaves.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

282. Almost

So I woke up at 3 AM today and my brain was spinning about the word “almost”. Who came up with that word? Probably a small child was involved: “Did you finish all your dinner, Sweetie?” “Yes, Mommy, all. Uh, except those peas. Most.”

The English language is a funny thing. “Almost” is not all, and it’s not most. It’s more like, yeah, good enough.

What word combinations are we sorely lacking? Well, I’ve touched on this one before, but how about a hybrid of friend and neighbor to describe just that: freighbor. Or a friend that is a co-worker: co-friend?

I will jump on the train with whoever coined the term “stay-cation” to fill in for a vacation at home. But let’s do it one better and come up for a term when you call in sick but you really aren’t: Day-cation.

I love words that look like what they are, like awkward. “Awkward” just looks plain awkward, what with that double “W” thing going on, and that “K” stuck right in the middle.….. almost like a middle-schooler with braces and a really bad haircut (oh, wait, that was me).

“Freeze” seems to have icicles coming off of it. “Sweltering” looks like steam rising off the asphalt.

Let’s modify “delay”: I think “de-late” is more fitting.

The other day I was at Starbucks and ordered a “capp-a-latte”. The girl knew what I was talking about. She turned to my husband and asked if he wanted a “mocha-ccino”. (Of course, we did have to wait in a long line first, a line where the Clever Marketers have placed things to buy, things like coffee mugs and stuffed animal Mooses and cd’s. Which begs the question: am I in line, or in “buy-n”?)

The only thing more frustrating than the word frustrating is trying to remember how to spell “frustrating”. The word “knowledge” drives me crazy. Is there a “D”? a “G”? Quite possible both? Let’s get rid of that and substitute my new word: brain-full. That sums up nicely what knowledge pretends to be.

I’m actually pretty good at spelling. I can spell most words. Well, almost.

("Meaningful Or Vapid?")