Friday, September 28, 2012

852. My Son Is A Martian

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

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

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

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


Thursday, September 27, 2012

851. Why I Cannot Hire a Cleaning Lady

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

850. Tooth Fairy

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

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


Monday, September 24, 2012

849. Super Powers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

846. Johnny Depp Wants to Marry Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Not really. 


Thursday, September 13, 2012

844. The Real Meaning of Words

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 9, 2012

843. J.Crucial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, September 7, 2012

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

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

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