Saturday, July 31, 2010
Knock-knock-knock. I am puzzled: I am not expecting the UPS Guy, or anyone else for that matter. I glance through the peephole ("peek"? "peep"?), and I see two ladies I do not know. One is holding a book.
I start to quietly slither away undetected, because I just don't want to deal with salespeople, when Short goes blazing past bellowing, "WHO IS IT, MOM?" Before I can stop him, he has opened the door.
Ugh. I do not want a magazine subscription or a free in-home security system nor do I want a lecture on political candidates or someone to mow my lawn (well, actually, I would like someone to mow my lawn now that I think about it). It turns out I need not worry about magazines/security/politicians/gardeners..... these ladies are selling Jesus.
I'm a person who believes in God, but more like, "Dear God, when will these salesladies leave?"
I'm not one to tell you that your religion's right or wrong, I'm a tolerant person, but I want to be left alone and not have religion shoved down my throat while I just want to get back to my sandwich (which the cat may or may not have jumped on the counter to lick while I have been gone and the opportunity presented itself).
The ladies are well into Their Spiel. Sigh. How can I cut this short? And speaking of Short, he is standing there in full rapt attention (how come I never get this attention when I say put your shoes away?).
Now they are forcing a free introductory Jesus CD at me. What should I do? If I admit yes I am already Christian have a nice day they will start inviting me to their church. If I say no I'm not interested, that will make them stay even longer to try to convince me. Just let me eat my Goddamn sandwich!
Fine, I will take the CD if that will make them leave. They seem happy now. I don't want the CD (obviously) but I don't want to be rude either. It does occur to me that they initiated the rudeness as they bothered me in my house uninvited. Argh.
OK, they are gone now. Yummy sandwich time!
The next day, the CD mocks me from the front entry table. I am still here when you want to accept Me as your Savior! That CD has got to go. I plop it where it belongs, right in the trash.
The following day, I go to take the trash out, and the Jesus CD stares up at me from my recycled Target bag. You are throwing me away? Just like that? You don't need Jesus? I have hurt the CD's feelings.
Be quiet, Jesus CD! You are just a CD and I didn't want you in the FIRST place! Isn't there something somewhere in the Bible that says "thou shalt be polite" or "thou shalt be nice" or "turn the other cheek" or "thou shalt not kill the annoying saleslady" or something like that?
Fine, Jesus CD, you win. My guilt gets the better of me (must be a Catholic Jesus CD) and I pluck the Jesus CD out of the trash. I study His picture on the front. This is a Retro Jesus, with a 1970's hip look to him with rainbows and birds flying around.
I put the Jesus CD in a paper bag next to the front door. And pray I won't be struck with lightning as I drop it off at the Goodwill.
("Metaphorically Offering Virtue")
Friday, July 30, 2010
In a rare instance of serendipity, our meal order is ready at the exact moment we finally get seated. The husband walks toward the counter to retrieve the food, our de facto Table Savers (Tall and Short) sit squirming impatiently in their seats, and I set out for straws and napkins.
I know an important rule: however many napkins you think you might need, double it. I stand conspicuously next to the napkin dispenser: napkin-napkin-napkin-napkin-napkin-napkin-napkin-napkin. Hoarding.
Before I became a parent, I would always get exactly how many napkins I needed: one. Who AM I now? When did I turn into a Walking Napkin Distributor?
The Husband has all the food on the tray and is sauntering back to the table. He glances my way, spots the napkin-obsession-in-full-force, then averts his gaze. He is embarrassed. Sigh. He misses the Single And Child-Free One Napkin girl I used to be.
We all sit down and start handing the proper drinks and food items to the proper owners. The Husband inadvertently spills his (un-lidded, just broke Rule #471) Coke all over everything. He gasps.
I wordlessly hand him 32 napkins, and he uses every last one.
("Messy Or Victorious"?)
Let's say you have a son named Short who is So Very Excited to have his good pal NeighborKid over. Now, NeighborKid has been over before, and somehow all the planets have aligned just right because not only is this kid a cutie-pie, but you also like the mom! Yay!
But NeighborMom is not coming over this time, it is just NeighborKid and Short. And Tall. Tall is not supposed to be here, hence, this is the very reason you and NeighborMom pre-selected this precise date and time amidst much shuffling of calendars and clicking of blackberries. Spontaneity is great as long as it's planned weeks in advance. Yes, Thursday at 1:15 til 3 PM will be absolutely perfect. Tall is supposed to be at his swimming lesson. But, due to a possible thunderstorm, the lesson is cancelled.
In some miraculous strain of temporary good luck and minimal intervention from you, Tall has decided to play quietly in his room. Whew. No drama here! Just happy kids, playing happily.
NeighborKid arrives and Short practically starts levitating. Yay, NeighborKid is finally here! NeighborKid and Short go upstairs to the toy room and start playing a game they made up involving trains and dinosaurs ("Dinotrain"?). Things are going well until........... Tall decides at that moment (when everything is blissfully peaceful) that he needs his special car book RIGHT NOW and he forgot it upstairs.
He quietly goes into the room and retrieves the book and starts to make his exit. Uh-oh, too late, NeighborKid sees him. It is as if Brad Pitt and Superman and Mickey Mouse all rolled into one just traipsed through the room. NeighborKid whispers to Short, "You did not tell me that your brother was going to be here!" It is more and admonishment than an observation.
Then, "Tall! Tall! Stay and play with me!" (not "us", just "me"). NeighborKid has morphed into Tall's groupie. Tall shrugs. "Okay." NeighborKid attaches himself to Tall like a magnet, helping him build a new Lego creation. It is as if Short no longer exists. Which he pretty much doesn't at this point. Tall is somewhat flattered, but he did not seek this attention out. He showed up with no ulterior motives, and now a friend wants to play with him. Who cares if the friend is two years younger? It is someone other than Short, who he is sick of seeing and playing with every day for four years.
Short begins to cry. Tall and NeighborKid do not notice. Short runs dramatically out of the room searching for you, his mother, to console him and remove the Vicious Offender. He sniffles through his story, "I was playing with NeighborKid and we were having fun and we made a new dinosaur thing and then," (sniffle) "and then," (trying to regain composure but failing) "and then HE," (pointing in general direction of perpetrator) "came in and wrecked everything! I hate HIM! I hate Tall!" (stomping his little feet for emphasis) "Mommy, make him leave this house FOREVER!" You look into those sad little eyes of this helpless little person, and you, too, feel helpless.
It does not help that thunder is booming in the background, mirroring Short's mood.
So, to recap: Recipe for a Hijacked Playdate: take one thunderstorm, one cancelled swim lesson, one neighbor friend, five dinosaurs and a million Lego's, and one really cool older brother. Mix together violently and stir it all up vigorously. Duration no longer than 45 minutes, an hour at the most. Tears will be produced. Possibly even a tantrum or at least a meltdown if you're lucky! When NeighborMom shows up and asks how everything went, you say, "Oh, pretty much same as always. Just fine, actually." And then you smile a genuine smile, because she is nodding.
She knows exactly what you mean: she has two sons also.
("Melancholy On View")
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Water bottles and more water bottles (some empty, some full, some with lipstick marks-- why not have options?) share Valuable Real Estate with empty Altoids containers; an ancient pine cone resides in a cup holder as a sort of talisman for my younger son; beach towels mingle with forgotten sweaters; relics from the school year such as random worksheets and papers that used to beg for attention now merely take up their spot in the sedimentary layers that make up my car; all competing with other dinosaurs-- literally-- plastic toy dinosaurs that were so urgently needed in the car at one time, but now have been relegated to that no-man's-land of The Crowded Floor.
An abandoned bath toy (?) cozies up to a rubber snake. A forlorn stuffed pig lounges next to a jumble of small trucks and buses of questionable lineage (do they belong to us? or have they been surreptitiously "borrowed" indefinitely from a neighbor friend?), thus completing the tableau.
Sunscreen and bug-spray inhabit their Special Corner of the vehicle, ready for sunny buggy days. A blanket permanently rests in The Way Back, mocking me now while we enjoy yet another 100 degree day, "Ha ha, that's right, you will DEFINITELY need me in all my woolly splendor any day now!" The Husband has also donated an item to my formerly pristine car: a collapsible chair/stool for watching sporting events-- except that he would rather stand because this seemingly clever item is, in all actuality, quite uncomfortable.
Plus, strangely, my car has a proliferation of extra carseats, including one more than Toyota says my particular vehicle can legally accommodate-- which begs the question: where was I planning on putting the extra child in the extra seat? on the roof?
Don't even get me started on the misnamed Glove Compartment: maps of places we will never go, an old speeding ticket (gosh, I hope we paid that), dried-up pens, an underemployed hairbrush, a small flashlight (a nod to Virgo's Practical Side), extra lollipop bribes from the drive-thru window of the bank, sunglasses for me and a few guests (Virgos are nothing if not polite), and a plastic monster or two, with nary a glove lurking anywhere.
Don't forget the actual trash: old milkshake cups and wrinkled paper towels, a catalog from 2006 (most likely expired) to be used as Desperation Reading Material while I wait in the carpool line, an orange rind, discarded library slips reminding us of impending due dates, some Trader Joe's stickers, and a plastic ruler (not sure why that is in the trash-- looks perfectly good to me. Ohh, yuck, there's sticky gum all over it and all over my hand too, yes, now I remember why we opted to throw it away).
When did this happen? My car used to be a Sanctuary Of Cleanliness and my lucky lucky passengers would even comment on how clean it was-- even going so far as to say my precious car looked brand new. They never once said something like, "Should I put a towel down first?" or "Actually, you know what? I think I will drive after all and just meet you over there." That is code for I don't want to sit in that mud on your front seat if indeed it is mud and not something much worse.
When I hire that elusive maid (most likely a fellow Virgo), maybe I can have her devote a full day's attention to my neglected car.
("Must Overcome Virgo-ness")
Monday, July 26, 2010
Even though it seems like it would save a lot of time by you not having to crawl under the side bushes to get back to the spigot and turn the handle and it would just be so much easier and less chance of getting swarmed by gnats and possibly pricked in the hand by sharp thorns attached to God-knows-what and probably a fine idea to just hook it up while the hose is already going, it is actually NOT a fine idea at all.
("Manual Of Vegetation")
I eagerly start devouring the pages as if they were chocolate bon-bons (which they might as well be). Then the record scratches: ekrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Lawn cushions? Outside? Princess is confused.
I do not currently own any lawn cushions. I like the "idea" of them, but I just don't understand the reality of them. Practical Princess wonders: Do they stay outside ALL THE TIME? And if that is true, don't they get wet when it rains? and don't they get mildewy? and don't birds poop on them? And how, exactly, is that supposed to be enticing: bird poop cushions?
Restoration Hardware laughs at my concerns. No, I mean literally. I call their 1-800 number, and ask the salesperson how these cushions work. The Customer Service Representative who is lucky enough to pick up the phone for my call is named Marshawna. She good-naturedly says that no one has ever asked her how the cushions "work", and then she follows up with the aforementioned "laugh" (in retrospect, it may be merely a nervous giggle; I mention this information is going in my blog and she may become quite famous). She asks if I can be more specific about the purpose of my call. I tell her the truth: that I am incredibly lazy and I really do not have time to clean these so-called "outdoor" cushions before every use. She sighs a big sigh of relief, and says
Marshawna: Oh! I see what you mean now. No, no, no, you absolutely DO NOT have to clean them every time! Ha ha ha, that would certainly be a lot of work wouldn't it? These cushions are low-maintenance, and you can tell that by the two letter code highlighted in yellow that precedes the SKU number: "LM". See the code? That stands for "Low-Maintenance". You do not have to clean them all the time! These cushions are virtually work-free! Nothing could be simpler. What makes it so simple is that all you have to do is bring them inside or store them in your garage.
Me: (incredulous) You are telling me that I have to bring the OUTSIDE cushions INSIDE my house after every use?
Marshawna: (in sing-song happy voice) Not every use. Just most uses.
Me: But, see, that DOES sound like a lot of work. In fact, carrying them back and forth is probably more work than just cleaning them. I don't know if this is a wise purchase for me.
Marshawna: Hmmmm. (Sound of pages flipping in the background) Well, then one product that might suit your individual needs is located on page 17, a wonderful teak storage bench that houses up to three large cushions. You could buy that too and store them inside. That way, you wouldn't have to move them very far OR clean them.
Me: I don't have enough money to buy all those things. Can't I just leave the cushions OUTSIDE since the description says they are OUTSIDE cushions?
Marshawna: (still perky) Well, it is just the manufacturer's recommendation to bring them indoors between uses, to, you know, extend the life of The Product. You don't have to do it.
Me: But if I don't do it, what happens?
Marshawna: Ummm, it really depends on the type of climate situation you are residing in.
Me: I don't live in Antarctica or anything.
Marshawna: Well, that's good because shipping costs extra there. It is just that, under normal circumstances, the cushions might get wet and possibly dirty if you leave them out all night.
Me: So now you are saying that I have to bring them in every single night? I can barely remember to feed my cat and I will have this new responsibility too if I buy these cushions?
Marshawna: (a little impatient now) Honestly, I don't think it will hurt anything if you skip a day. What kind of climate did you say you live in?
Me: I live in Crazy Town, which has sort of a normal climate: rain in the spring, sun in the summer, wind in the fall, and then some snow in winter. Pretty typical, middle-of-the-road, Average Joe climate. Unless there is an earthquake. Or flood. Or tornado. Or hurricane. (getting carried away) Or avalanche or blizzard or...
Marshawna: (interrupting) The product information guide says that these cushions are not intended for "outdoor snow activities".
Me: I'm not planning on snowboarding with them.
(long uncomfortable silence)
Marshawna: (starting to sound annoyed) Did I answer your question then?
Me: I guess so. So, hey, one more thing then, Marshawna: I just want to know what the exact purpose of these cushions is?
Marshawna: The main function of these cushions is to "provide a comfortable sitting experience", especially if you happen to have wood furniture. I'd say another selling feature is that they look nice. (closing the sale) How many would you like to order?
Poor Marshawna. She is missing my point entirely.
My Inner Princess is none too happy about the extra work these lawn cushions will end up being. Gardening and watering duties have already been delegated to Princess and that pretty much is all she can handle. The cushions go unordered. Besides, I have ultimately come to the happy-and-money-saving conclusion that my patio furniture is actually fairly comfortable and looks okay without cushions.
Excuse me while I go remove this splinter from my butt.
("Multitude of Outside Variations")
Saturday, July 24, 2010
So I told The Husband. Predictably, he was not happy about this. Guess what he said?
"I think you should fire her."
Huh. The conversation between myself and this woman who pretends to clean my house (but actually does a pathetic job at it) will probably go something like this:
Me: You're fired!
The timing could not be worse. My dad and step-mom are visiting from Colorado, and the incompetent maid has left some obscene number of loads of laundry undone (probably 26 loads).
Sigh. How can I (oops, I mean she) justify that? And how can anyone find anything to wear? Not only that, the sink is full of dirty dishes just calling her name: "Maid! Maid! Come back! We need you!"
Under the circumstances, I have no choice but to post the following job opening:
Effective Date: Immediately
Job Description: Must wash lots of laundry. Constantly. When candidate is finished washing all the laundry, wash more. And contrary to popular opinion, laundry is not done until it is removed from dryer, folded and put away. Unacceptable to leave so-called "completed" laundry in giant wrinkled pile on basement floor. (This is part of the reason last maid was fired). Additional duties include hand-washing dishes (sorry, no actual dishwasher on premises). Also, must clean bathroom. Oh, and, ummm, light gardening required (this involves watering grass and plants for about an hour a day; ideal candidate must know how to adjust a sprinkler).
Hours: 24. Someone who arrives late every day or not at all will NOT be tolerated.
Terms: Someone with no life and no outside interests is preferred.
Ideal Candidate: Reliable, hardworking, non-complaining, self-motivated, and must never disappear for an hour to "check his Fantasy Football scores on the computer" or to "see if anyone left comments for her latest blog."
Contact: MOV; if I am busy checking my blog, please leave a detailed message.
I expect to hear from several qualified candidates any day now.
("Maid Of Value")
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
- wake up leisurely around 8 (never at the UNGODLY hour of say, 5:30 AM)
- kids go right to the dining room table and draw pictures (it goes without saying that they do not get any marker on the placemats)
- if they decide to exercise their creativity with Play-Doh, then they certainly clean up every little speck when they are done
- if they are not drawing, or working on a Play-Doh project, they can often be found taking turns reading to each other on the couch (Tall will patiently and kindly help Short sound out words)
- if they prefer, they can build Lego's, which they always share willingly
- they allow Mommy to shower in peace, and it would never occur to them play a mean joke like flushing the toilet not once but 3 times because it is funny to hear Mommy scream when the water gets scalding hot
- they sit down for breakfast right away when Mommy calls them
- THEY NEVER EVER WATCH TV, ESPECIALLY NOT AT BREAKFAST, AND ESPECIALLY NOT CARTOONS, AND DEFINITELY NOT FOR AN ENTIRE HOUR EVER
- the boys eat all the food Mommy has lovingly prepared without saying, "THIS IS GROSS!"
- they do such a good job making their beds that Mommy has to verify with The Husband that the kids did it and not him
- they get themselves dressed (in the coordinating outfits Mommy has pre-selected and ironed) without once saying, "I HATE THIS SHIRT!"
- they put their dirty pajamas right in the hamper, and in fact, they actually carry it all down to the laundry room (they definitely do not say something like, "MOMMY, I THOUGHT THAT WAS YOUR JOB.")
- then they gather up their backpacks that they have carefully put any Relevant Papers in the night before
- they quickly find an entire pair of shoes that matches and they put them on the correct feet
- they walk out to the car while refraining from hitting their brother with a stick
- they get in THE FIRST TIME MOMMY SAYS and put on their seatbelts
Of course this is my life, because my children are Perfect Little Angels.
The table goes silent. The Husband is staring at me, sending me a mental telepathy message of "Do we even live in the same house?" I catch Sammi's eye. She is desperately trying to suppress a smirk. Then the four of us burst out laughing and Sammi says what I knew she would: "MOV, whaddya say we all order another bottle of wine?"
("Made Of Vino")
(I need to inform you right off the bat that I just dropped off my kids at summer camp. I have 3 hours free, in which to accomplish EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD. This is a lot of pressure.)
First, it is Very Important that I re-do my entire calendar (which is done by hand, not on a Blackberry as I am a certified technophobe). My calendar is a blank one that shows 6 weeks at a time, and I can hand-write the dates on it. I Xerox more at Kinko's when I am close to running out (which I am now: add it to the list).
I copy all the relevant items onto the new calendar. This is very time-consuming, which is fantastic for procrastinating. Then, it really helps me a lot (because I am a visual person) if certain things on the calendar are certain colors. So I switch pens a lot. Special events, like girls' night out or doctor appointments, are in red ink. Work is in green ink (get it? I make money at work, and money is green). Tall's and Short's schedules are in blue. If something important like a week-end away or out-of-town guests is coming up, those entire days are highlighted in yellow.
OK, so the Making Of The Calendar can take a very long time as it is very detailed. Then, I must make today's specific schedule (luckily, no color-coding involved). This still takes a while. I find it therapeutic to add things to the list that I might have already done, just so I can cross them off. My list might say
- make breakfast
- take shower
- get kids dressed
- feed cat
- remember sunblock for Tall
- pack Tall's lunch
- pick up Tall's friend for summer camp carpool
- drop off Tall and friend at camp
- take Short to his camp
- go to Starbucks
I get in my car and look over my list. I am a Super-Hero! So many things already crossed off!
When I get back home, I head upstairs to the study. Now I will do another favorite thing which is Make A List of all the stuff I generally need to take care of (but this is on a separate sheet of paper because it most likely will not all be accomplished today). This list will say things like
- rotate tires
- research different soccer camps for Tall
- put together Short's baby album (Short is age 4 now)
- find really good chocolate mousse recipe
- learn to play saxophone
- get Real Estate broker's license (take 8 week class first)
Maybe checking email would be a good way to Avoid Other Stuff. Drat. Just a couple emails from Old Navy and Amazon, and something about a Nigerian Prince needing my social security number.... hmm, that sounds intriguing.
I am worn out from Not Doing Stuff. I wisely decide to peruse the latest Eddie Bauer catalog in case there is something I Cannot Live Without. Sigh. I have seen all these items before, I think they just switch out the covers on these catalogs just to get you to flip through them again.
I decide my bangs are too long and I should cut them.
Now I decide they are way too short and I am depressed. Why do I cut my bangs myself? What was I thinking? I get them wet and blow-dry them STRAIGHT DOWN. There, that's better.
When I put the scissors away in the closet with the toiletries, I notice the towels and sheets are kind of tipping over. I take every single linen out of the closet and refold them all. I decide towels look nicer on the top shelf and sheets on the bottom. Much better.
I glance at the clock. Ack! It is 12:20! I have to pick up Short in 5 minutes!
Where did the time go?
("Missing Only Volition")
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Since we do not live in Colorado, my dad calls his neighbor (who is an Orthopedic Surgeon) and asks for a recommendation for a pediatrician. Then we book our appointment.
Tall and I show up on time. The receptionist is very nice and efficient. We are shown to the examination room, where we wait patiently. Then in walks Dr. Housechurch. I stare at him. Tall stares at him. Dr. Housechurch is just about the shortest person I have ever seen who is not a midget or dwarf. He is very very little. You could probably put him in your pocket, or at least in your tote bag.
I notice Tall really looking at Dr. Housechurch carefully, studying him. Dr. Housechurch is asking all the usual questions and we are giving all the usual answers. He is very thorough and very professional and very sympathetic. He has a kind bedside manner. But he still reminds me of an elf. I can imagine him in a green hat with pointy shoes; it does not help that we saw the "Wizard of Oz" on TV last night. Oh, God, what could Tall be thinking? I know what he is thinking, but I am willing him not to say it. Don't say it! Don't say it! whatever you do, don't say it! I am sending him a mental telepathy message: TO PLEASE NOT COMMENT ON THE DOCTOR'S SIZE. Children do not intend to be rude, they are just naturally curious and inquisitive. They say things from a place of honesty, not trying to be malicious or hurtful. I am sure Dr. Housechurch has been on the receiving end of thoughtless comments his entire life; the last thing he needs is for some random patient who does not even live locally to waltz in and say some uncensored derogatory thing about his stature, which he cannot help.
Dr. Housechurch is writing out a prescription and joking around with Tall. Even though Tall is still studying him intently, I am feeling like we could be in the home stretch. Now it is time to leave. I grab my sweater and thank the doctor for his time. We are walking out, and Tall turns around and seems prepared to say something to the doctor; I brace myself for what I know is coming next.
"Dr. Housechurch? That is such an unusual name you have," Tall says simply. The nice doctor gives a genuine smile and replies, "You know, I have heard that before."
("Medicine Of Vail")
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Honestly, I have HAD IT UP TO HERE with these so-called "doctors" (with their Stanford or Yale Medical School degrees) looking like they just stepped out of the latest issue of Italian Vogue, or at the very least, looking like a celebrity-impersonator. It gives off the wrong impression, looking young and nice.
Call Central Casting and give me someone old, kinda gray, maybe even a little bit fat. That's better. Now I can respect this doctor. I don't need no perfect-looking, perfect-talking, totally nice doctor. That just freaks me out!
Reasons I Am Freaked Out By Young And Nice Doctors:
- It's not natural. They need to be a bit on the bossy side.
- Instead of listening to them when they talk, I stare at them and imagine they are a doll.
- I feel intimidated by them. I can't think, "Well, at least I'm younger than you!" or "At least I'm prettier than you!" and I definitely can't think "At least I'm smarter than you!" because, well, they are a DOCTOR, so that part is pretty much a given.
- I walk out of the appointment feeling bad about myself. Why did I not go to med school? Why do I not go running 10 miles per day? Why was I not born in 1982?
- I secretly wonder if they passed all their Important Classes, classes like "Operating On People."
- If it is a woman doctor, I keep thinking that maybe I could set her up with my younger brother. Or my son.
- If it is a male doctor, I keep thinking he could BE my younger brother. Or my son.
- I'm perplexed that someone SO YOUNG can spell all those hard medical words they write on your prescription.
- I'm amazed that they can spell "prescription."
- I worry that they are writing fake things on the prescription, things like "jelly beans" that will just make the Pharmacist laugh about me behind my back and give me a placebo. A very expensive placebo that Insurance Does Not Cover.
- Well, that is all the reasons I can think of right now, because OBVIOUSLY I'm not that smart. I'm not a doctor.
What You Must Do About It: Think about going to the doctor. Call in sick to work. Go back to sleep. Go to the drugstore and try to decide which over-the-counter medicine is best for your particular symptoms. Feel overwhelmed by too many choices of medicines. Call your friend who is in pharmaceutical sales and ask her opinion. Buy what she says. Go home. Eat chicken soup. Call your mom. Sneeze a lot. Feel congested. Call your boyfriend. Call work back, tell them you probably won’t be in tomorrow either. Call the doctor. Make an appointment. Feel nauseous. Go to bathroom, in case you might throw up. Don’t really need to throw up after all. Read a magazine. Start reading a new book. Feel tired. Take a nap. Drink plenty of fluids. Put your latest photos in new album. Listen to a CD. Mope on the couch. Go to the doctor. Decide he's not really a very good doctor when he says you “just have the flu”. Pick up prescription. Get an orange juice smoothie at smoothie place next to drugstore. Lounge around your living room. Watch soap operas. Fall asleep. Sniffle. Cough. Call three of your closest girlfriends. Try to convince everyone you know that you are dying. Whine a lot. Drink wine. Go to sleep.
Pain Level Now (when you are 40, married, and have two kids under age 7): on a scale of 1 to 10, almost a 9.
What You Must Do About It: Suck it up.
("Morphine Obliterates Virus")
My new dermatologist is Gwyneth Paltrow. Janna didn't mention this.
Now, you may have noticed if you have been following my blog that I do not obsess over my appearance (scratch that: I DO obsess, but I make sure to do so retrospectively when I no longer have any control over it). I can often be found wearing the universal standard-issue "Momiform". I have been known to skip a shower if I am in a huge rush. Make-up is generally not on my radar. However, I would like to go on record that, by the Grace Of God and Maybelline Mascara, I looked all right on the particular day in question, the day of my appointment. With Gwyneth.
I walk in. I check in at the desk and fill out approximately 38 forms. Then I sit and wait, eyes scanning the waiting room for clues. What kind of name is "Dr. H" anyway? Is that Vietnamese? French-Canadian? Russian? On one side of the waiting room is a large framed photo of an older gentleman in doctor's scrubs shaking hands with Someone-Who-Is-Obviously-Very-Important. Ahh, that must be Dr. H! He looks about 60 years old in the photo. That's about right: everyone knows that doctors are old. It is one of the prerequisites, like chemistry 101 and biology lab. After you go though about a gazillion years (give or take) of med school, that just makes you old.
Near the photo of old decrepit Dr. H is a framed newspaper article. Maybe about Skin Cancer. Or Baby Ducks. Can't tell, as I am sitting too far away and am feeling too lazy to get up and go over there to look at it. Why should I know what that says, when I am sitting way over here? It's not like I am at the Optometrist's.
The Receptionist/ Helper/ Clerk/ Secretary/ Medical Intern/ Janitor (choose one) comes to get me and lead me back to the examining room. I never actually know WHO it is that I am walking back with. I am just aware that some random person has butchered my name yet again and is holding a clipboard (with my vital information? or this month's Net-Flix options?) and has asked me to Follow Her Down The Hall. I do so obediently, like a little dog.
I try to make quick small talk with the Receptionist/ Medical Intern/ Janitor, but she is having none of it. She is all business, hands me the paper gown, and says Dr. H will be with me shortly. I start to put on the lovely gown (ties in the front? ties in the back? whoa, there are snaps on this one, what am I supposed to do with that? how am I supposed to get myself into this Origami creation?), and then I remember that I am here about my face, so I do not change my clothes after all. Instead, I start flipping through an older issue of "US Weekly" ("Surprise Wedding: Angelina Jolie marries Billy Bob Thornton" to give you an idea of what older means), and wait. And wait. And wait. It is 8:15 in the morning! Just how busy can Dr. H be at this hour?
I finish my magazine and fantasize about Opening All The Cupboards, just to see what is inside. In walks Gwyneth. To say that she is beautiful is an understatement. She has long luxurious hair, the color of a baby chick's fluff. She has big blue eyes, the size of saucers. She is quite tall, almost 6 feet. She is model thin. (In fact, I briefly think: "Hey, Dr. H! If this whole 'Doctor Thing' doesn't work out for you, you can always go back to being a supermodel!") She looks about 23 years old.
I immediately hate her. Then I hate Janna for not warning me. It is like telling someone who is about to go to Paris for the first time how delicious the food is and what kind of jacket to pack in case it rains and if we have a decent exchange with the euro right now but then omitting the small teeny tiny detail that you might want to pack a camera.
Dr. H introduces herself, and sweetly asks about Janna. Then she checks my skin. She leans into my face very close to examine my pores, and I have no choice but to examine hers as well. My job only takes 3 seconds, because she does not have any pores. When you hear someone use the term "Peaches and cream complexion", rest assured this is what they are referring to. She touches my face; I can smell her perfume (something with gardenias). I could kiss her.
I don't. Instead, I say, "Dr. H, what is your opinion of that weird brown spot near my right ear?" She takes a look and then assures me that it is Nothing; but she can use a special laser to get rid of it if I would like it to be more aesthetically pleasing. (She is obviously well-versed in "aesthetically pleasing".) She goes to retrieve the special equipment and tells me this will not hurt and will only take a couple minutes. She returns and gets set up, all the time chatting and joking around. OK, great: she is gorgeous, funny, and obviously smart (she did graduate from med school). Winner of the Great Trifecta Of Life.
While she performs the procedure, my mind is wandering. I rationalize that although Dr. H may "seem" perfect, she must get parking tickets like everyone else. She must step in gum occasionally. Maybe she has a difficult time swimsuit shopping, what with being so tall and all. And you know what? she probably did not even go to a very good med school! Ha! So there! She probably went to University of Can't-Get-In-Anywhere-Else in somewhere like, I don't know, Puerto Rico or North Dakota.
Dr. H is finished and recommends a follow-up visit. We say good-bye, and I go back to the front desk area and write the check for my co-pay. I am gathering my purse and keys and cell phone together and I glance up at the wall behind the receptionist.
That's when I see it. Dr. H's Medical Degree. From Harvard.
("My Optometrist is Vince Vaughn")
Friday, July 16, 2010
That's right, I knew everything. How to discipline, how to get your child on a schedule, what kind of food to feed your baby, what you are doing wrong (hint: everything), how much TV is acceptable (none), and at what age your child should be reading independently (two years old).
Needless to say, I have had to, ummmm, amend some of these beliefs. OK, not some, more like all.
It is very very easy to be an "armchair quarterback" or in this case, an "armchair mother." You might think you know everything, but until you have actually LIVED it, you do not.
When I lived in California, I had a friend named Mary Ann who had a sweet little daughter named Dylan. Imagine my dismay when I saw Mary Ann give this little girl CANDY on more than one occasion! Sometimes before 10:30 in the morning!
Oh, the horror!
I expected all her teeth to instantaneously rot out of her head. Mary Ann would dole out candy as a reward, and sometimes withhold candy as a punishment. Other times, candy was a bribe. It was the Candy Channel, 24/7.
Did I voice my concerns to Mary Ann like a true friend would? Hell, no. Instead, I sat there smugly, watching her, and thinking exactly what every-woman-with-no-children has thought before me:
"That will never be me. I am better than that. My future child will never eat candy, and certainly NOT before breakfast."
Flash forward nine years. I now am the mother of two young sons, Tall-- age 6 1/2, and Short-- age 4. This morning, after dropping Tall off at summer camp, I drive Short to the bank drive-thru window so I can cash a check. He is whining that he wants to go to summer camp too, how it is NOT FAIR that Tall gets to go, and that four is a good age for camp and not too young. He is talking himself into a frenzy, getting more and more upset. The screechy whining is giving me a headache; I am annoyed. So I strike a deal:
"Short, if you stop whining right now, I will give you a lollipop when we leave the bank."
Ever the negotiator, he pushes, "Two?"
"Okay, fine, sure, two lollipops."
The whining ceases, and a sense of calm descends upon the car. The teller finishes the transaction and places the money in the envelope so it won't blow away. On top of the envelope are two lollipops. One is strawberry and one is peach. I thank the teller as I slide the money into my wallet. I turn around in my seat and reach out to Short. He takes the lollipops and smiles. I glance at the clock on my dashboard.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
You have decided to get a jump on the day and knock out a couple of loads of laundry, which you are currently folding in the living room. Additionally, your children have been pestering you to make waffles, which you just did, so all the detritus from that venture are scattered about the kitchen. They have simultaneously opened up the recent birthday Play-Doh (with all its accoutrements) and a new set of miniature Lego's. All of the pieces are hopelessly strewn about.
It goes without saying that your hair is not washed (it is in a sloppy ponytail-bun hybrid, with no princess barrette in sight) and you have no make-up on. The TV is on, and it is louder than you might like. Ahh, the peace and tranquility of this lovely domestic moment.
The door-bell rings, shattering your private and messy bliss.
You mildly freak out (just "mildly" because you are pretty sure it is some Jehovah's Witness and you can usually get away with the twin adult strategies of Being Really Quiet and Just Not Answering The Door). No. The bell rings again, followed by a persistent knocking.
You think, "Wow-- those religious zealots are tenacious! Guess that's why they're called 'zealots'!" Then, your husband (without thinking to consult you first) innocently enough goes to the door and answers. There, in all her glory, is the Relative-You-Barely-Know.
"Hi!" says perky Relative-You-Barely-Know, with her pretty hair and recently-ironed sundress, "I was just in the neighborhood" (she lives about 30 minutes away, so it is not a complete lie) "and so I thought I would just drop by, hope that is okay!"
"Ummm," you think "no it is not really okay at all. Have you never heard of a PHONE for goshsakes, RYBK?"
Instead, your husband-- who you now realize does not possess the powers of mental telepathy-- says, "Come on in!"
You wonder what your husband is thinking. You wonder what RYBK is thinking. What YOU are thinking is, "Can we just go back to the way things were 10 minutes ago? Why don't you just leave right now, RYBK?"
You slip out of the room and throw on an outfit (well, "outfit" in the broadest sense of the definition). It does not even qualify as a standard momiform. Sweatshorts, t-shirt--possibly with cranberry juice spilled on it-- that you wore yesterday because it was laying on the chair and was the closest thing you could grab. All the damn baseball hats are in the front closet, so that is not going to happen.
You glance in the mirror and see a dried clump of mascara just below your eye. Mascara from yesterday.
Then, thru the thin walls, you hear RYBK say to your husband, "Hey, I heard you renovated! Can I get a tour?" Oh, God, nooooooo, no no no no no no, that is NOT what she said. No no no, please no. Then you hear footsteps up to the kids' toy area, not typically described as the "neatest" room in the house.
Your mind is going in a million directions. How can you get RYBK out of here? You need a plan! What is the plan?! You are grasping at straws. It is too late and you know it. RYBK and your husband are now coming down the stairs and your husband is saying (you wish you could just grab his tongue and YANK it out of his head),
"Hey, RYBK, we just finished breakfast but maybe you might like to sit down for a while and stay for some coffee?"
What could have possibly made you marry this man? What exactly? You are now beginning to question every decision that you have ever made that has led you to this precise moment. Your husband obviously does not know you very well at all.
RYBK wants to see the basement. And the garage. And the yard. And "Before/ After" photos. You are starting to hate RYBK more and more.
"THIS is why we never invite you over, RYBK!" you want to say, but don't. Then, RYBK starts to GET OUT HER CAMERA. At this point, you have had enough.
The rage is about to boil over and you are going to say something, you don't know what yet, but chances are, it won't be pretty. Then, as if sent by God, a loud shrieking-- wailing really-- ensues.
"He hit me!" says your one child, "No, he started it!" says the other. The crying escalates and the whirlwind of chaos stops RYBK in her tracks.
"Oh, I have caught you at a bad time," she coos to your husband, "I should get going." She gives your husband a quick pat on his shoulder and then scoots out to her car. You have never wanted to hug your children and thank them so much in your life!
"Cry louder!" you think. And, as if by magic, they do.
("Mentally Off Vortex")
Sunday, July 11, 2010
- taking a shower
- dressing up
- wearing jewelry
- washing, blowdrying, and curling my hair
- working out
- wearing high heels
- saying witty things
- reading women's magazines about witty things I should say
- wearing make-up
- reading women's magazines about best way to put on aforementioned make-up
- making sure no broccoli is in my teeth
- plucking my eyebrows
- shaving my legs
- checking that my breath is OK
- brushing my teeth
- bleaching my teeth
- spending a lot of time on my teeth
- eating mints
- not answering call-waiting (don't want to seem rude)
- reading the newspaper ahead of time to have something relevant to talk about
- washing my car and vacuuming out the inside
- straightening my apartment
- baking brownies
- leaving work early to get ready
- laughing at things that aren't really funny just to be polite
and I could have just finished my meal?!?!? THAT'S ALL IT TAKES?
I looked over at Sammi's plate. She had eaten every morsel. Gotta hand it to her.
("Macaroni Omelets Vichyssoise")
Saturday, July 10, 2010
- What Contractor SAYS......What he Means
- "Sure"..................................No way
- "I'll call you"........................I won't
- Next Thursday...................Never
- The tile store was closed....I was playing golf
- 8AM...................................... noon-ish
- out to lunch..........................might be back tomorrow
- almost done.........................not even close
- What Home-Owner says.....What He/She Means
- There's a tiny problem with the tile......You're gonna have to rip the whole thing out
- I'm not really very happy.......I'm livid
- My husband doesn't like it...... I don't like it
- Can you finish by tomorrow?....Could you have finished by yesterday?
- We're having people over.........I want you gone
("Millwork Oakum Vermiculite")
- Start with one cute girl, thirty-ish. Add one nice guy, same age.
- Gently blend together for a few years.
- Add one baby, then another.
- Now, take away any outfits that fit or that are flattering in any way.
- Eliminate all working-out.
- Take away time for showers and washing hair. Substitute one baseball cap and ponytail, if necessary.
- For any remaining outfits, cover in baby spit-up or cat fur (your choice).
- Stir into a frenzy.
- Repeat until no sleep left.
- Make sure you have the following ingredients on hand: flat comfortable shoes (under NO circumstances should these be described as "sexy" or "attractive"! That will not work for this recipe!), greasy hair (see above: "take away showers"), dowdy jeans that go above the waist, sweatshirt (in summer, you may substitute generic Target t-shirt instead).
- Do not overlook final crucial ingredient: large purse to fit the world in and possibly some extra crackers.
Friday, July 9, 2010
- Grow increasingly unhappy with how Hairdresser is chatting on the phone while he is cutting your hair.
- Notice that his prices have recently tripled.
- Not quite know how to respond when he wrinkles his nose at your photo of Gwyneth Paltrow and says, “But your hair is not that texture.”
- Grow irritated when he hands you off to someone else for the shampoo.
- Go to Hair Cut Store and pay $15 for a so-so haircut because you cannot stomach his prices right now.
- Go back to your original Hairdresser and wait for him to say, “Who cut your hair?!? Did you cut it yourself?” which is what he does say.
- Lie. “I was in Florida for my sister’s wedding. I went to the salon at the hotel.”
- Catch his eye in the mirror. He knows you are lying. You know he knows. And he knows that you know he knows.
- Pretend the whole thing never happened.
- Give him one more chance. Write a really big fat check that is more than the rent on your first apartment.
- Walk out to your car and cry.
- Ask your neighbor who does her hair.
- Call this new person and tell her that you are “new to the area” (this is code for “cheating on your hairdresser”).
- Schedule an appointment.
- Walk out of the new person’s salon with hair that looks like Gwyneth Paltrow.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
This little fantasy is spoiled only by the nagging realization that I do not even know 12 people, let alone 12 people that could stand to be in the same room with me for two or three hours and eat my cooking.
I buy the goblets anyway. For my princess life.
I also have an ice-cream maker. For my princess life.
And an espresso machine. (Wait-- let me guess.)
In my princess life, I know lots and lots of people and have lots and lots of friends and have lots and lots of time to do lots and lots of entertaining. And apparently my princess alter ego must also have lots and lots of money to pay for all this fantasy entertaining.
Nevermind that I start sweating like a pig when I remember that my (one) friend is coming over (by herself) for coffee in 20 minutes and the house is still a disaster and I have not even brushed my teeth yet. Noooooo, I don't get stressed out before entertaining! I run around throwing random newspapers into the recycle bin and scooping up shoes of all genders and sizes and shoving them into the front hall closet.
Ugh. Princess needs a maid.
Then, I realize I am running out of time and therefore must take the easy way out-- shut the door to master bedroom and kids' room. The kitchen looks, well, like The Husband made a gourmet dinner last night and I have not attempted to clean it yet. I valiantly start scrubbing.
Oh, to heck with it. I will keep my friend out of the kitchen too.
Why do I have this bizarre princess life with all the accoutrements? Sterling silver flatware? check! Wedgwood china, service for 20? bien sur!
On the rare occasion when we do host friends, we typically eat on the back patio and use the default setting paper plates with flowers printed on them from The Party Place. Convenient. Realistic. Not very princess.
Did I mention our dining room table can accommodate four people? on a good day? and yet ... I am inexplicably drawn to the Russian jacquard linen and silk tablecloth that mocks me from the shelf at the high-end kitchen store.
Pizza is our favorite meal. How can I align this to my princess life?
As a corollary, I also own about eight thousand sparkly barrettes for my princess life. Really? I need that many? To go with what, exactly? my sweatpants? I realized it was getting a little out of control when The Husband knocked over the basket that I keep all the princess barrettes in. They went all over the bathroom floor. I heard the clanking, and rushed in to see what was going on. He started scooping them up and said naively,
"Who do all these hair clips belong to?"
("Magical Overstated Venus")