Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lousy Dentists

I do not like dentists. I used to despise going to them because it hurt to get my teeth cleaned. I didn’t like to floss. The hygienist raked that floss between my teeth like she was sawing through a redwood, and I’d be sore and bleeding for days. I also didn’t appreciate the lectures I got about flossing. They were always so hateful about it.

“You haven’t flossed, have you?”

“Yes, I flossed just before I came here.”

“And when was the time before that?”

“Uh, I think you did it that time.”

“Why don’t you take better care of your teeth?”

I felt like a miscreant.

Now I floss all the time. I discovered these little packages of sticks with floss on them that I use constantly in my car. I’m driving down the road, flossing away. It’s a great invention.

These days my loathing of dentists comes from their apparent incompetence. I say apparent to be nice, because the last couple of ones I’ve had have been awful. One ended up doing a crown on a tooth that I thought he was only going to cosmetically improve. I didn’t realize I was getting a crown until was done and got infected and he wrote me a referral to see someone to have a root canal. Fortunately I didn’t go to the appointment and instead found another dentist who gave me penicillin that cleared it up.

Unfortunately, she decided I needed a bite adjustment and ground down my back teeth to the point that my front ones banged together the whole time I was talking, which led to agony and finally getting braces to bring the back teeth up. Two years of that and my teeth are working again. My orthodontist did a good job, but he’s not a dentist.

When he took the braces off the crown, part of the fake tooth came away, so metal is showing. I went to my regular dentist (the one I started going to after the bad dentist ruined my bite), and he told me he didn’t want to bond over the missing part that tooth needed a crown and I should just have it done at one time.

“But it’s already a crown.”

“No, that’s your regular tooth.”

“Then why is there metal there?”

“I’m not sure that’s metal.”

“It is metal.”

“It can’t be metal, because it’s not a crown.”

“But the dentist who put it on said it was a crown and it got infected and he said I needed a root canal.”

“I don’t know why he’d call it a crown. It’s not a crown.”

It’s hard to argue with logic like that.

I’m not sure how these people got through dental school, but I’ve sure had a lousy string of dentists in the last few years, and it’s leaving a very, very bad taste in my mouth.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rain Induced ADD

I take it back about the rain. It’s been pouring all day. On my patio, earthworms are holding up white flags. I’ve never seen such rain! It’s thumping and thumping and thumping on the roof like a bill collector pounding at my door.
Speaking of bill collectors, I got my 2010 Census envelope in the mail, and already they’ve sent a notice saying it’s late. I think the notice came before the census. I am not looking forward to filling that out. It’s not like I have anything to hide, it just seems like I did one just recently. Can’t they have a form that says, “Check here if nothing’s changed in 10 years.” Sure we’ve all aged, but that shouldn’t be too hard for them to figure out. Other than that, everything’s stayed pretty much the same. Filling out the census is just one more thing I don’t really want to do.
That list is getting longer. As I get older, it seems like the list of things I do want to do gets smaller. I’ve narrowed down my wants to a few essential things. I want tasty food, less commercials, and a lot more sleep than I’m getting.
They say we don’t get enough sleep in this country. How can we? The phone rings at all hours. Kids are sick. The dog is sick. Computers and late night TV vie to keep us up. And this freaking rain. It’s like a jackhammer out there.
Now there’s a job. Can you imagine the physical strength it must take to hold a giant vibrator all day long? I bet those guys start out weighing 300 pounds and have to be replaced every few months when their weight drops to 150.
Once I rented a floor buffer. I’d never used one, and I turned it on and it swung me around the room like I was on Dances with the Stars. That’s one powerful machine. I never did have my way with it – I just hung on and hoped it would eventually cover the entire floor at least once. My arms were sore for days.
I’ve been listening to comics on the satellite radio that came as a trial version on my car. Those guys are so funny, but when I tried to analyze what they were doing, all I could observe is that they just surprise you all the time. They say something like, “I got a dog on my birthday. I married her on New Year’s Day.” They take you where you don’t expect to go, and it’s amusing. I can’t wait to get in my car now.
One was talking about Hot Pockets – you know, those frozen fast-food microwavable delicacies for teens and singles? He wondered why they weren’t on menus in restaurants. “I’ll have the chicken cordon bleu with a hot pocket on the side.” It made me think of food names when I heard him. Some names like Wheat Thins tell you pretty much what you’re getting. Others, not so much. If you’d never seen these products, what would you think they were? Skittles? Nestles Quik? Cheetos? They could be anything. Cheetos could be cheetah toes. Skittles could be little skillet things. And Quik could be microwavable fast food.
Oh that rain outside! Who can think? On a night such as this, a person would do well to simply head to bed and hope sleep steals in during a lull in the deluge. Please forgive me for saying “Hooray” for rain.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rainy Day Hooray

We get a lot of rain in Oregon. Right now it’s pounding on the roof like a million squirrels are doing aerobics up there. I went into the laundry room and found water on the floor. This happens for three reasons: the toilet has overflowed, the trap in the washer is full of rusty coins, or the gutter outside is clogged up.

I don’t know how I became Little Miss Fixit in my house. Well, actually, I do. I have to do it because my husband says, “Aw, screw it.” He doesn’t actually say that, but it rhymed.

What he says is to remind him tomorrow and he’ll fix it. “I’m reminding you right now,” I say. “I’m watching this show right now. It will keep until tomorrow.” When tomorrow comes, I say, “You told me to remind you to clean the gutters out.”

“I said to remind me tomorrow,” he answers.

“But it is tomorrow,” I say.

“It’s actually today,” he says. “It will keep until tomorrow.”

He thinks he’s clever. When I strap on the tool belt he turns the TV up higher so my hammering and drilling won’t disturb his show.

This evening, after I mopped up the water, I got the screwdriver and took the washer apart. I hate checking that trap because it’s got this very complicated clamp that frightens me. I worry I won’t get it back on the hose right and water will spray out like a fire hydrant. The washer was fine.

Then I checked the gutter and sure enough, it was full of pine needles. Thank goodness – that’s easy to fix. Whenever it rains hard, which used to be perpetually, the gutters get clogged and overflow, forming a puddle that finds its way into our laundry room.

I like the rain, though. It’s a good excuse to sit inside and read a book or play on the computer without feeling guilty. We’ve had the most awful run of sunshine in Oregon this winter, though. Usually we can count on steady rain from Halloween to the 4th of July, with the exception of a couple of weeks of sun in January, and maybe a day or two scattered here and there, but that’s it. Nobody uses umbrellas here when it rains, but I’ve seen people carrying them to get some shade.

I guess I’ve got the opposite of the rainy day blues. What would that be, I wonder. Rainy day reds?

I can hear the frogs down at my neighbor’s house croaking their delight. Well, they croak for no reason all through the evening. And they don’t actually croak. They ribbit. There are so many – hundreds of them – that you can hear them over the TV with all the doors and windows shut. Still, they seem to ribbit more when it’s raining. People come over and can’t believe how loud they are. It’s like a frog rock concert. I’m going to go now and let the rain and the frogs lull me to sleep – they almost drown out my husband’s snoring. Almost.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dumb Studies

I like studies. I especially like it when they prove something that I’ve already been doing and didn’t want to change. A study that says fixing fish sticks and fries once a week isn’t going to kill your kids is a great service to humanity, in my opinion.

However, there are studies I read about that make me think – “Isn’t this obvious already? Why would you need to prove this? And who gives a flying rip?”

I found some studies on the National Post website under the fitting title “Dumb Studies 2008.” I’m going to share them but I have to make the disclaimer that I’ve not researched to see if they are true studies or where they came from, so if all of this information is incorrect, it’s par for the course on this blog.

FYI, the headlines and some of the text in these belong to National Post. To show this, I’ve used this handy punctuation device (“) to show that I lifted this verbatim from their website because they said it a lot funnier than I could. When you see this (“) that means it’s the end of the quote and I’m talking. Also, if I’ve left something out of the quote, I’ll use dot dot dot to indicate the left out part. If this is too confusing, perhaps someone will do a study on ways to improve quotation marks so that people aren’t misled into thinking that the blogger actually wrote the really funny part and not just the regular part. Perhaps I should apply for a grant...

“Study finds: People who exercise are less fat than people who sit on the couch all day eating chips and watching Oprah. People who added 20 to 40 minutes of walking a day lost a small but steady amount of weight, according to researchers at the University of Michigan. The lead researcher also noted that changing eating habits could help lose even more weight, in what seems a shameless attempt at lining up grant money for a follow-up study on the merits of eating more salad and fewer donuts.”

“Study finds: Young children are a little frightened by clowns.” Researchers found that kids in a children’s hospital didn’t want pictures of clowns on the wall. Did this take a study? Picture of clowns – especially those ones with the huge black, sad looking eyes and the frowns – are not fun to look at. They are downright depressing and have been known to induce nightmares and fear of clowns hiding under the bed.

“Study finds: Women don’t like to be told they look fat. A national survey found 68% of men have lied when asked by a woman: “Do I look fat in this?” The other 32% of respondents were said to have recently been dumped by their girlfriends or wives.” I personally don’t condone lying in men, but this is one area where they absolutely must be diplomatic, and by diplomatic I mean lie.

“Study finds: Smoking not so good for you. University of Waterloo scientists conducted a study that established that smoking, which is hazardous absolutely every place it is pursued, including the house, the office, in elevators, crowded rooms, uncrowded rooms, lobbies, bus shelters, bars, restaurants, small caves in southern France, in the upstairs bathroom when you think your parents won’t notice and in every other conceivable location, is also dangerous in cars. The study said second-hand smoke ‘reaches unhealthy levels in cars, even under realistic ventilation conditions,’ which is scientist-speak for ‘with the window open a crack.’”

“Study finds: People who think the government wastes their money might fib a little on their tax returns....But even the honest tax payers were not about to tell their wives they look fat in those jeans.”

“Study finds: People tend to underestimate how much they weigh. McMaster University researchers found that people self-report themselves at a lower weight than they actually are. The most likely to under-report their weight were people who qualify as ‘obese,’ according to their body mass index. They were also most likely to finish those fries if you were done with them.”

“Study finds: Getting fired is disappointing: University of Toronto research found that a pink slip can be disappointing even to people who consider themselves optimistic... Optimists also tended to find it disappointing when they were romantically dumped, a pet died, or they whacked their thumb with a hammer.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed these, courtesy of National Post. There’s a link here if you want to “study” these studies more (yes, I should definitely do standup):

Standupize It

I have exciting news. I know you remember how hard I was working last week. I’m certain you recall that I was working on a solar proposal for my company, Mr. Sun Solar, to solarize southwest Portland. Well, if you do recall that, you can read minds and should be in the circus, because I didn’t mention it. I was just grousing in general.

However, specifically right now I’m saying that my company got the bid. To show his appreciation for my part of the effort, designing and editing the 17 page bid and making it pretty, my boss had a plaque made for me, which really touched my heart. He presented it during our company celebration, so I read the inscription out loud.

“For Outstanding Achievement

Solaize SW Portland Proposal”

I stumbled on the word “solaize” and he said, “They misspelled solarize.” To which I said, in a voice like a brotha: “We gonna sola – ize southwest Portland” kindof drawing out the “ize” into a long whisper-like sound.

Everyone at the office got a laugh out of that, which makes me think I should do standup comedy.

I can’t blame the plaque company, it was probably the first time they’d ever seen the word. It’s a made-up word, after all. Well, I think it’s made up, but I’d better check with Google….. I’m back, and I’m wrong. It’s a real word. Here’s what Google says: “(Physics / General Physics) to treat by exposure to the sun's rays.” I’m not curious enough to question the difference between Physics and General Physics, but if someone else wants to, have at it.

Anyway, I was going to continue this blog talking about how we make up words to suit us but you’d never find them in the dictionary – words, for instandce, like “solarize” – but now I’m screwed.

Still, there are a bunch of words that appear to be made up. Super-size is one of them. I’ll look that up….. Just as I suspected. No mention of this in a dictionary. McDonald’s gets all the credit for this made-up word.

I have been known to make these words up myself. To appear cute and funny to my kids, if I’m putting a spread of pure yellow fat on a piece of toast I’ll say, “Do you want me to butterize it?” They show their amusement by rolling their eyes. They do that a lot around here, which makes me think I should do standup.

In my head, I’m trying to think of other words I could make up with “ize” and I’ve discovered something very interesting. One syllable words don’t work very well when they’ve been ized. If I want to shovel an organic material around a new plant, saying I’m going to “dirtize” it doesn’t sound right, whereas “fertilize” sounds great. If I’m going to throw a ball really really fast, saying “speedize” it sounds weird, but saying I’m going to “rocketize” it sounds just right. Here’s one more. If I have some grape juice and I want to conduct an experiment by letting it sit out a few days, I could say I’m going to “wine-ize” it, but it will sound better saying “fermentize” it. I’ve actually conducted this exact experiment before, and what ends up happening is that I “fruitflyized” it.

Oh what fun! Don’t you just love playing with words?!! I bet I could do a whole standup routine about this one suffix. If I do, I’ll be sure to let you know where and when I’ll be performing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Complexities of Good and Evil

Mae West said, “When I’m good, I’m really good, but when I’m bad, I’m even better.” Mae was a saucy gal decades before her time - a woman using such innuendo was uncommon whenever Mae was around a long time ago.

Today’s bad girls don’t use innuendo at all. They probably don’t even use deodorant. They just come right out and do whatever they want. Like Miley Cyrus, who was a good girl until recently. She did a pole dance at some teen award thing that got everyone up in arms. She went from sweet little Hannah Montana – the darling of the tweens, to a stripper wannabe. Obviously she was trying to shed her good girl image to attract a new segment of the audience – lechers and pedophiles.

I’ve concluded that we like to put people in our “angels” and “demons” folder, and we want them to stay there. When someone like Miley no longer fits in the “angels” folder, we get confused. We scrtatch our heads, look from side to side with a furrowed brow, scratch our heads again, and burp. The same holds true in the opposite direction. Madonna and Lady Gaga are in the “demons” folder because they strut around on stage in underwear, killing two birds with one stone by singing to a crowd of thousands while acting in a porn movie all at the same time. When one of them does something humanitarian, perhaps to get publicity or not – I generally tend to be suspicious of the motives of people I’ve put in my demons folder – then it throws us off guard.

I use the words “us” and “we” as if you agree with everything I’m saying, which would be the smart thing to do in my humble opinion.

I think people in show business go from angels to demons and visa versa to rope in more market share, which is good for their careers if it works. Robert Downey Jr. used to be a very bad boy and I tended not to like watching him. Now he’s decided to be good and has become a very fine actor, and I’m not just saying that because my eyes get all soft and twinkly when I see him in the movies. I’m being objective. Honest. I tend to admire people in the “angels” folder a lot more.

In fact, when they move over to the “demons” folder, I’m less likely to want anything to do with them. I think this is more a factor of my age than anything else. Younger people love bad people because they identify with the expression of freedom and being rebellious. Rock stars busting guitars on stage used to be quite a thrill. Now I just think, “Who’s going to clean up that mess? Are they going to grab a broom and sweep up those guitar splinters? Hell no. They’re going to make someone else do it. Just like teenagers to have their fun, make a huge mess, then expect their mom to come in and pick up after them. I bet his mom is backstage, hair tied up in a bandana, old printed housedress, fuzzy pink slippers, leaning on a speaker with her arms folded, just standing around waiting to tidy up and make macaroni and cheese and never get a word of thanks. Yeah, go on, have your fun while I cook and clean all day for what? For ungrateful kids who don’t even give me the time of day.”

This is what I personally say to the TV when I witness rebellion these days, but when I was rebelling myself, I’d raise my fist in the air and yell “Whoo-who.”

So being good or bad is a complex thing. There was an episode of Seinfeld where George figured out that a young woman was attracted to him because he gave the appearance of being naughty. So he played it up, and she couldn’t get enough of him. Of course he couldn’t keep it up, and she drifted away, or something like that, I can’t really remember how it ended, or for that matter, what the point was of bringing it up in the first place. It probably had something to do with being good or bad, but we’ll never know.

As I’ve matured, I find I’m more drawn to angels. I think it’s because I have faith that angels put their dinner plates in the dishwasher without being told, and they pick their dirty clothes off the floor more often than every six months. I like angels. When Lady Gaga comes on, I flip the station. She’s very interesting in interviews, but I just know she’s sloppy. She doesn’t even put forth the effort to get dressed all the way. I bet Robert Downey, Jr. has a spotless home. I bet he puts the toilet set down, too.

The Pork Chop Story

I’m not a bad cook, it’s just not my favorite thing to do. If I had my way, I’d open the refrigerator and find the perfect meal without having to do anything more than fire up the microwave.

When my husband and I had just started dating, I decided I’d go to his house and cook dinner. Don’t know what got into me, I guess I was trying to prove I was domestic. I bought these big thick pork chops because I’m from the south and I know how to cook a pork chop. You mix up some flour, salt and pepper, a little garlic powder, then wash the chops and dredge them in the flour, then sizzle them in some oil until they’re brown as a speckled heifer on the outside and white as a chicken breast on the inside. I may not know much, but I know chops.

So I went to his house and let myself in, found the frying pan, prepped the chops, but I couldn’t find the oil. I called him and asked, “Where’s the oil?”

“Under the sink.” He was bemused and impressed that I was cooking him dinner. I felt special.

I put about ¾ inch of oil in the pan – just the right amount to fry half a thick chop at a time. As I was waiting for the oil to heat up, II called my friend, Claudia. She was intrigued about this whole cooking adventure since she had never known me to voluntarily cook. She’s very funny. I was laughing as I added the pork chops to the oil, arranging them just so in the pan to keep them from touching for even browning.

Have you ever had one of those really happy moments in life? Like all the planets line up and everything goes exactly how it should. I was cooking my specialty for a guy who I was liking enough to go to the trouble, and a girlfriend on the phone who was entertaining me with her endless stories of people at work. Birds were singing. Flowers were blooming. I couldn’t wait to serve this scrumptious meat and mashed potatoes and green beans meal that I knew would make a good impression.

I happened to look up and noticed a black cloud hanging just above my head in the kitchen. “Claudia, there’s a black cloud in here. It’s like being in an airplane when you are in clear sky and suddenly it’s white. I can see where it starts.”

“What is it?” she asked.

“I don’t know. This is so weird.”

“Is it the pork chops?”

“No, they aren’t burning. They’re just sitting there frying away. There’s no smoke coming from anywhere.”

I’m paranoid about everything. The black cloud made me think immediately of some chemical contamination – some horror movie kind of fog that rolls into town and everyone drops twitching to the sidewalk. “I’m going to hang up. I think it’s a chemical fog. I’m running outside.”

I dashed out the back door to find a clear sky. Hmmm. I went back in. The cloud layer was only in the kitchen. It had to be the pork chops. And then I saw that they weren’t browning on the outside – they were flour-white just sitting in the bubbling oil. And the oil looked like water in a rolling boil – little circles of air breaking the surface everywhere. With dread, I looked under the sink. There were two identical big plastic jugs with handles. When I picked up one, it said oil. The other said dishwashing detergent.

I pulled one of the pork chops out of the oil and ran it under some water in the sink. It bubbled. I could have washed an entire car with the thing.

In the meantime, gravity was acting on the black smoke, and it was falling to earth in little black specks that landed all over the white countertops.

I spent the next hour trying to get the evidence out of the kitchen by wiping everything down and then wiping again and again as more particles fell. When the cloud was gone and the counters were finally clean, I had a great idea. What if I washed the soap out of the pork chops? They had been very expensive. Maybe I could salvage the dinner after all. I ran one under the water, and bubbles flowed out of it like a foamy waterfall.

When my boyfriend got home, I had to tell him that dinner was all washed up. We went out to eat, we ended up getting married, and he’s been doing most of the cooking ever since.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Two-fers. Love the sound of that. Getting two for the price of one.

When my husband and his best friend had a landmark birthday, we sent out an invitation that said, “It’ a Double Whammy!” We love the value we can get by acquiring two things and paying only one price.

I wanted twins. Doesn’t that seem like a great deal – get the pregnancy done all at one time, go through the terrible two’s once. Not that I begrudge having my two separate children, but I always envy twins.

Sales can sucker you in when they say, “Buy one, get one free.” It sounds too good to pass up, so you fill your cart. It’s a great marketing ploy. Why not just give us one at half price? Because they want you to take two lemons off their hands.

You see this all the time in those infomercials. If you order the Ronco Veg-o-Matic, they’ll throw in the potato peeler/screwdriver/toothpick/shoehorn in for free. Who can pass up a deal like that? Or if you buy one 1950’s music CD, you’ll also get a ginsu knife. Remember those things? They’ll cut a tomato into a slender slice or whack off a dog’s tail like it was butter.

Congressman will bury a little stinker of a clause in a mountain of legalese that benefits the people from their state. This is kindof a reverse two-fer. You’d be better off without the extra little rider. Congress approves the whole bill because no one reads them, and the public is worse off for the two-fer.

I thought two-fers would be a great blog topic, but I’m stretching and not really reaching any high comedic heights here. The only other two-fer I can think of is Reese’s Cups. They give you two little cups that don’t add up to another candy bar, and yet I love those things. You finish one so fast in your lust for chocolate you barely taste it, but then you have another one to look forward to and savor.

I will end with a joke I read today. One beautiful Sunday a priest decides it’s too pretty to say Mass – he wants to go golfing instead. So he gets someone to cover for him and sneaks off with his clubs. He decides to go to a course 50 miles away because he knows he won’t run into any parishioners there.

Meantime St. Peter is talking to God and says, “Are you going to let him get away with that?” and God says, “I guess not, I’ll have to do something.”

The priest arrives at the course, tees up at the first hole and hits a long, soaring shot all the way down the 400 yard fairway, and the ball lands just shy of the cup. It takes a bounce or two and rolls right into the hole.

“Lord, I thought you were going to punish him,” St. Peter says, a little dismayed.

“I did,” God answers. “Who’s he going to tell?"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Income Tax Blues

Oh my gosh – I’ve got a public! Someone emailed me missing my blog post last night!!!! How truly exciting.

I have no excuses except for taxes. I’ve put them off as long as I can, and my husband tied me to my desk last night and said I couldn’t move until they were done. At 2:00 a.m. I remembered I had a switchblade hidden in my shoe (never go anywhere without it), so I was able to get my shoe up to my mouth, untie the laces with my teeth, scrape the shoe off on the desk leg, contort my hand down to the switchblade, saw through the ropes and free myself. After all that struggle, I was in no mood to blog.

Oh, and before I forget, I have some nice swampland in Florida I’ll sell to you at a very good price – a steal really. Please respond directly to this post for more information.

The reason the tax stuff is so daunting (and sucks) is because I own a very small yet very unlucrative business doing anything anyone will pay me to do, which apparently isn’t much, and I do my own bookkeeping. I hate accounting with a passion. More than a passion, even, with a vengeance, and even more than that if I could come up with a more loathsome word. I hate it because I lose receipts, forget to make entries in my checkbook, and make business purchases with the wrong credit cards. I have a business credit card, American Express, that isn’t taken everywhere, so I use one of my own. How do I account for this? Plus if it’s only a buck or two, I pay cash. Am I supposed to keep that receipt somewhere and if so, why and where? Because I can’t even keep the AmEx ones that I know belong with the business.

I have folders, and I’m very well organized with everything but accounting. I can retrieve a picture I took six years ago of a random squirrel on my computer in 3.7 seconds. But there is no way I can find yesterday’s receipt for photocopying.

It’s a combination of dislikes that causes it. Keeping up with accounting means typing in numbers – and there’s the origin of my mental block. My fingers protest at having to reach that far. They never liked it in high school typing class, and they don’t like it now. To show their disapproval, they go to y instead of 6 and o (oh) instead of 0 (zero). Here’s what one of my number’s looks like: y3r.o5. If I’m typing a whole column in Excel and hit Sum without looking at the typing, it just doesn’t add up.

The second reason I hate accounting is because it has to do with the IRS. I despise tax code as much as I fear tax men (and women). I know I’m going to get something wrong, even with the best intentions. Besides, tax code is designed by the wealthy for the wealthy. You know the system is screwed up when Warren Buffet pays less in taxes than his secretary. I advocate an across the board 10% flat rate for everyone above poverty level, but would that ever fly? Not no but hell no. H & R Block, millions of tax attorneys and accountants, and nearly all the IRS men and women would lose their jobs. It’s a self-perpetuating infestation eating away at the core of the American dream.

If I had my druthers, here’s what my tax return would look like:

Annual income: $ r,43y.uq

Tax Rate %: x .1o

Total tax due: $ r43.yu

Now that’s the kind of taxes I can live with.

Oh, must sign off now. My husband’s coming, and he’s got a rubber hose…*

*(My public – and I love you all – will get this inside joke, or see the Score Some Gore blog).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wicker or Liquor?

Carol, my friend’s mom, is 79 years old. She claims to have been an this close to being an Olympic ice skater. It’s hard to believe because now she walks slow and hunched over like Yoda. She told some interesting stories.

A couple of weeks ago, on her way home from her furniture store, she had filled her with wicker. Every time the road curved, the wicker in the passenger seat rolled over and bumped the gearshift. She shoved it back in place each time.

When she was almost home, police lights appeared in her rear view mirror. She pulled over.

“Lady, are you drinking?”

“No, officer, I don’t drink.”

“I’ve been following you for about ten minutes and you’ve been weaving all over the road.”

“It’s the wicker,” she explained.

“Are you sure it’s not the liquor?” he asked.

Finally he let her go with a warning, but she was befuddled. When she got home, she somehow got herself into the dog pen. I’ve heard the story twice and can’t figure out how this happened, and didn’t want to belabor the point (or extend the story) so I took it at face value. She went into the pen for some reason and locked the padlock before she remembered to go back out.

It was a cold, dark Montana night and she lives in the middle of nowhere. No one else was home, and she didn’t have a cell phone. She yelled and screamed for awhile but knew no one could hear. Finally she stacked a few items that happened to be in the pen – “the dog’s stool,” a bucket she uses for fireplace ashes and a grocery cart – up on each other. I didn’t dare ask why the dog needed a stool, much else why the ash bucket was in the dog pen. By the time she mentioned the grocery cart I was over being surprised. She managed to climb up these items and get to the top of the chain link fence, straddling it and thinking, “How the hell am I going to get back down the other side?”

Within seconds she found the answer when she lost her balance and fell – plop – on the ground. Despite the six-foot fall, she got up, brushed herself off and lived to tell the story.

That’s the end of the story, and as exciting as it is, I have to wonder how much of it is true. She told another story about a policeman pulling her over and saying, “Lady, I clocked you at 67 mph.”

“That’s not right,” she said, “I was going 75.” He threw back his head and laughed for a long time, then said, “Lady, because you’re so honest I’m going to let you off this time.”

There were other stories along these lines – notably the Olympic ice skating and being asked out by Frank Gifford. I don’t doubt that she is totally honest. On the other hand, I have stories that I tell that I’m no longer positive even happened. I’m pretty sure most of the details are correct, but some are fuzzy and I think I might have put in some embellishments without even knowing it. That’s what happens when you tell the same stories so many times over so many years.

In the end, I don’t know if it matters how much truth there is. If someone can tell a good story and hold my interest, I’m not so sure I care about the particulars. Carol has that gift, and we enjoyed our dinner with her tonight. I hope my stories can hold the attention and get a laugh out of the young folks when I’m 79 like Carol’s do. Thanks for the memories – no matter what they are.

Score Some Gore

I just watched a movie called, “Zombieland” that was a gorefest, and yet it didn’t bother me. Knowing it was just a fake spoof or something made me not care that zombies were biting into people’s faces and yanking off their arms to eat like Henry the VIIIth gnawing a turkey leg.

The lead characters, two guys and two sisters, one of whom was 12, survived by blasting the zombies in the face with shotguns – twice – and running over them – and backing back over them – with cars, and smashing their heads in with baseball bats. Anything that would have had me pressing the off button on a regular show.

The blood and guts looked real, the shooting looked real, but I continued watching without blinking an eye. However, I have to turn my head if there’s the least little finger prick on a “real” show. I can’t stand to watch people hurt themselves or being hurt.

One exception is “America’s Funniest Videos.” Those skateboarders who ride down handrails and lose their balance – the boys who end up crashing down spread-eagled on the metal bar – I cringe, but I laugh. Same with the guys on bikes going up homemade jumps that collapse, the guys on sleds, the guys on stage that are either drunk or lose their balance. All that stuff is so funny, even though you know some of those guys are getting pretty bruised.

This Zombieland wasn’t much of a movie – I don’t think it’s going to get an Oscar. But it had a few entertaining moments. Woody Harrelson was in it, and my favorite line of his was when he was rallying the gang to be brave: “It’s time to nut up.” Half the gang was female.

I can’t remember much more than that. It reminded me of “Shaun of the Dead,” except that movie was way funnier and not nearly as gory. There were some old drive-in movies we teenagers used to go to that were gorefests, but they took themselves seriously. None were memorable at all because the acting was so awful and they were so poorly done. One thing I vaguely recall was a guy smacking another with a rubber hose. It struck us as hilarious. What screenwriting genius came up with that?

I’m not a fan of blood and guts, and I can’t stand war movies, but give me a good old gory spoof to pass the time, especially if it has a laugh. My favorite horror spoof is “Bubba Ho Tep.” Rent it if you can find it. You won’t regret it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Naked Truth

I surfaced today after a week of ball busting, number crunching, endless work of helping to get a bid together for my company, so I wanted to see what’s going on in the world.

I went to BBC’s website and saw a fascinating story about human fish. These are people in Lagos, Nigeria who swim to the bottom of the sea and bring up buckets of sand. It was hard to tell how many people where doing this because heads were popping out of the water everywhere like that kids’ amusement hall game with gophers coming up that you bonk back into their hole with a mallort. I don’t know how long they were on the bottom filling the baskets with sand with their hands and hauling the heavy things up to the surface, but it seemed like hard work. They dumped the basket in a boat and went back down, hour after hour.

It reminded me of chasing pennies in the deep end at the swimming pool, except a penny weighs nothing and we were only under the water exactly long enough to swim like tadpoles to the 10 foot bottom, snatch the coin, surface gasping for air, swim to the side, and rest for awhile before throwing the penny again. While we were down there for those few seconds, it felt like someone was ramming their thumbs in our ears – I guess from the water pressure. These Lagos guys must truly be part fish.

As interesting as that was, my curiosity was piqued by another title. “Can people unlearn their naked shame?” It’s loading right now – excuse me while I watch.

Well, that was certainly educational – and I’m saying this sarcastically – thought I’d tell you since you can’t actually hear my voice. They brought in 15 men and asked them to take their shirts off. Then a doctor photographed them. Then they shaved the guys’ backs and chests and took another photograph. They probably went through a lot of razors because a couple of those guys looked like orangutans. Then the good doctor assembled some studious looking men and women and had them rate the photos on the slide show according to attractiveness. The finding? That some hair was okay on a certain physique, but overall both men and women prefer a guy who has little to no hair.

Like a whole lot of “scientific” research, I could have told them the outcome of this one before those guys got shaved and have to itch for months while the hair grows back. Nobody desires a wooly mammoth, though all kinds of people fall in love with the person inside all that hair. The certain physique I mentioned above was one in which the guy’s breasts were not the biggest part of his chest. Turn out people like a lean, mean, hairless machine.

One final video was Dame Joan Bakewell giving tips on growing old. Or so they claimed, but this is not what she did at all. She simply answered five minutes worth of questions and said that, at age 76, she misses her memory but she’s doing pretty good. She looked darned good, too. Many people my age don’t look that good, including me first thing this morning. So she has inspired me to continue living a full life even when I reach her age, which will be awhile, I hope.

Meantime, I’m not going to trust two-thirds of the headlines I read on the BBC’s website. Though I do love the BBC. They have such a sense of humor about their news. Oh my gosh, I just scrolled down and saw there was also an article about the naked shame that shows naked men (from the back) and must talk about their naked bodies. What am I doing writing this blog? I’ve got some scientific research to do. See ya tomorrow.

Mom's Medical Myths

Tonight I had to take my daughter to an Urgent Care because she spiked herself in track. That sounds like something illegal or immoral. It doesn’t sound like the name of a rock band, however (inside joke).

I’m not sure how you spike yourself on the side of the leg just under the knee, since it has to be done by one of your own feet wearing a track shoe with spikes, but she was pole vaulting and found a way. She came home limping and bleeding with a bandage the size of a sheet of paper on her leg.

Unfortunately, her timing couldn’t have been worse because my son was coming over for dinner for the first time since he moved out, so I was preoccupied making hamburgers. “We’ve got 24 hours to get you stitches if you need them, so we might as well all sit down and eat,” I told her.

I don’t know where I got the 24 hour rule, which is much like the 5 second rule of letting food drop on the floor and being able to pick it up and eat it. Within 5 seconds it doesn’t get any dirt or germs – after that it’s infested. This is a handy rule with small children because they are constantly dropping food, either by accident or on purpose. If it’s an accident, like if it’s candy, they cry but you can cure that immediately by saying in a very chipper voice, “5 second rule!” and pick it up and give it to them. If they’ve dropped it on purpose, like if it’s broccoli, then you can say in a flat voice, “You know the 5 second rule,” then pick up the broccoli and put it back on their plate so they learn they’ll have to come up with something more creative to get out of eating “healthy” food.

If some of you reading this think it’s disgusting that I have picked food off the floor, let me assure you that it is a common practice among the mothers I know, and we are not meth moms.

Anyway, we had a rather pleasant dinner, and fortunately for my daughter, my son was chomping at the bit to leave because he had a friend coming over, so we went directly to the clinic. They looked at her gash and said, “Yep, she needs stitches.”

A rather cute, very young doctor, who I had passed in the hall earlier and, I’m telling the truth, he winked at me, came in and examined the wound. He smiled with dimples before he told us that he would be injecting pain killer right into the wound itself. We gasped.

“It’s a very short needle,” he said reassuringly.

“Oh yeah,” I said, “like that’s going to make a difference.” I continued to joke and kid around, getting a snicker out of my daughter here and there. Apparently to the medical staff, however, this was no laughing matter.

Part of the reason my daughter was snickering was because I had informed her earlier that the gash, swollen and on the soft, puckery tissue of the inside of her leg just below the knee area, looked like a woman’s private. She shushed me, of course, but as the doctor squeezed the wound and prepared to stitch, there was no denying the resemblance. I told her to take pictures with her phone, and when she showed me the first one, a close-up of the gaping wound just prior to the first stitch, it looked like pornography.

We watched him sew her up, which he did with delicate precision using a needle shaped like a U, pulling at the skin on the side with tweezers that made us both cringe, and slipping the U through then repeating on the other side before tying the whole thing in several carefully engineered knots. If I had been young and single I would have said, in a heavy southern accent, “Oh, doctor, you have such wonderful hands.”

Instead I made pleasant conversation. “Good thing she’s within the 24 hour rule of getting stitches,” I said to show how medically astute I was.

“Oh no,” he said. “Only 6 hours,” after that she risks serious infection.” My daughter scowled at me because I had forced her to sit and eat before getting medical attention. “Well, we’re still safe then, since it’s only been two hours since it happened.”

I did not mention the 5-second rule.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rusty Saws and Beeping Comics

I always type my titles last, and the one tonight could be names for two rock bands. Yes, I stole that idea from Dave Barry. Sue me.

I was working late tonight in my home office and my husband was asleep on the couch where he usually is from about 7:00 on, and the TV was blaring on some gruesome History channel thing about cutting people’s legs and arms off. They showed these awful saws that the doctors used, saying how they had to briskly saw back and forth because it was hard to keep the patient still, even with two assistants holding the poor guy down. Ghastly. I can see the TV from my desk and even knowing I’d have nightmares, I couldn’t resist looking, which only served to disturb me.

I was too engrossed in what I was doing to go in and turn the hideous spectacle off at first, but finally I couldn’t take anymore. I turned it to Comedy Central thinking I could get subliminally inspired for tonight’s post by listening to jokes.

A show came on that was such an abomination I shudder to think this is the stuff my son is watching. I knew he is the target audience because it was an extremely trashy cartoon with the cartoon characters, trashing sketches of guys, saying stuff I didn’t think they allowed on TV. The plot was a teacher trying to teach boys not to have sex with hundreds of women. There may have been zombies involved, I kept hearing that word. The job of the teacher in this episode was to say the words, “…have sex with hundreds of women…” as many ways as he possibly could in one TV show. I think he broke his own record. Everything anyone said at any time was answered with something like, “We have to cure you so you won’t want to have sex with hundreds of women.”

Again, I was too engrossed in what I was doing to get up. My company is putting in a bid to do a huge solar project, and I’m designing the bid. I worked 16 hours today – mostly because I’m slow and meticulous (and make mistakes). I got ‘er done, though, but not without orofactory torture (that’s ear torture and Word is telling me it’s misspelled but I’m not looking it up this late at night).

The next show that came on was a stand up comedy show with this raunchy comedienne who may or may not have been funny. The audience was laughing, so I guess he was, but we viewers at home heard this: “And then the beep beeper said get your sorry beep beep beep the beep out of here or else I’ll knock the beep out of you with a beeping baseball bat after I ram it the beep up your beep.”

Do you know how annoying it is to hear all that high-pitched beeping when you’re exhausted? I’ll tell you how annoying it is. After about three minutes I had had it. I marched right in and turned off the TV, which startled my husband awake because I grabbed the remote, which he was not holding - but he has remote radar. If anyone touches the remote and he’s in another room he comes out flying and snatches it.

“Why’d you turn that off, I was watching that!”

“How come you were snoring?”

“I wasn’t snoring. I told you I don’t snore.”

I’m going to go to bed and put my earplugs in because I love having a wad of memory foam in my ears all night long, and dream of beeping rusty saws. Shiver!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This Spells Trouble

Have you ever had to spell something to make sure a child doesn’t know what you’re talking about? The family might be watching something on TV and you say to your husband, “Better switch the station because this next show has a lot of S-E-X in it.”

I used to do a ton of that when my kids were little. It was like some kind of Morse code. “Don’t get the i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m out before the kids go to bed or they’ll have to brush their teeth again. And by the way, I’m too tired for s-e-x so don’t wake me up.”

This is a very common practice with most families who have kids who haven’t gone to school yet, and for some parents with kids in high school. Some students managed to get passed along because they were troublemakers and the teacher didn’t want to risk another year with them. Believe me, I know this must have happened because I volunteer tutor and I’m pretty amazed at what I see. But I’m sure I’ve harped on this in a prior blog so I’m not going to waste people’s time going on a rant.

Yes we have s-p-e-l-l-e-d things out for our small children, but have you ever spelled words out for your dog? Around my house we can’t say certain words around our Yorkie Poo because she’ll whimper us to death if she thinks we’re contemplating giving her something. I’m talking about b-u-t-t-e-r. (She’s in my lap right now and can see the computer). This dog lusts for butter around the clock. We leave ours out in a cupboard because this is one b-u-t-t-e-r loving family and we like it soft. We go through a stick every day or two, so it doesn’t have time to spoil. If someone leaves the plate of b-u-t-t-e-r on the counter rather than putting it in the cupboard, the dog whimpers all pitiful-like until someone gets up off the comfortable couch and gives her a chunk. B-u-t-t-e-r to her is like chocolate to us, I suppose.

What I usually do is slice a little off and sling it right on the tile floor. This may seem disgusting but it does not really even hit the floor before she’s on it and looking back up at you to see when the next chunk gets fired off. I have hit the dog right between the eyes by mistake, which is a tragedy for both of us – her because she can’t reach it and me because I’ve got a b-u-t-t-e-r-y mess to contend with.

I thought I was the only one who spelled around my dog until today. I was walking with my friend and her dog ran past another dog, stopped, did a double take and ran back to check out the dog in that fashion that all dogs have. Laurie says, “Oh Pepper, are you checking out his b-u-t-t?”

“Laurie, you don’t have to spell butt, it’s not a cuss word.”

“Yeah, I guess so, but I always have to spell stuff around him or he goes nuts.”

So in conclusion, and I don’t want to make sweeping generalizations here and am only basing this on observations I have personally made, it appears that some dogs are smarter than some high school students.

I know for a fact that dogs are certainly easier to train.

Computer-fried Brain

I have been staring at my computer for hours and my brain is fried. I bet a lot of people feel this way. I read somewhere that nearsightedness is up by 42% or something, and I’m sure it’s because of computers.

Twenty years ago if someone told me I’d be staring at a bright light for hours at a time, I would have thought it was some Bush Administration torture. My eyes burn and water, and the next morning everything is out of focus.

I’ve been chained to my computer creating this cartoon movie that took about 72 hours to make and is about 45 seconds long. If I can figure out how to upload it I will, but just in case I can’t, I’ll tell you the plot. BTW it was for an Adobe Flash class I’m taking.

There’s this Martian (from Mars) who lands a spaceship on Earth and starts walking. First a bumblebee stings him, then a dog bites him, then a skunk sprays him. So he turns around and walks back to his spaceship and goes back to Mars. The End.

Why did something so easy take so long? The Flash program is not really all that complicated, but you have to be precise with everything, and that was my downfall. It probably took my classmates three or four hours at the most. I had to keep looking at my notes, looking at the textbook, and still I couldn’t get it right.

Walt Disney this is not. I have a highly elevated respect for those guys now that I’ve done my own animation. Their cartoons actually move like something normal. Mine are just pictures yanking from one place to the next – a picture of a bee zigging a half inch here and zagging a half inch there. It’s actually pretty pathetic. I’m not going to upload it because I’ll be embarrassed.

So I’ll talk about the other fun things I did today besides work.

Well enough of that. I read a quote by Bob Dylan that went something like this: Money isn’t what’s important. What’s important is getting up in the morning and going to bed at night, and doing whatever you like in between. It’s a good philosophy, and one of these days, if I can figure out how to break the chains on this computer, I’m going to do what I like in between. Crazy thing is, I like working on my computer, I just don’t like looking at it, and I don’t like having a fried brain.

That is why I’m going to turn it off right now.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Useless Additions

I saw someone’s house the other day that had a big second-floor deck that looked right onto the street and directly into their neighbor’s house. Who would go out on such a deck? I guess if you wanted to smoke, maybe, but are you going to sit out there and stare down into the front window of your neighbor? Seems like the person would go downstairs where there was a fenced yard and hang out in private. The only reason I could see for that deck was a builder thought it would be a good selling point, “And here’s a deck right off the master bedroom!”

Earth Day is bound to be coming up sometime in the future, and everyone is always talking about ways we can conserve or live more sensibly. Someone needs to inform builders and homebuyers that they really don’t need a lot of this useless window dressing.

Like fireplaces. What a waste. They’re messy, practically worthless for actually heating anything, and most of them don’t ever get used. You know why? Because they smoke like a…chimney. Light one up and you get a smoke streak on the wall above the fireplace. When we bought the house we’re in now, the bricks surrounding the fireplace had been painted white, and they were so streaked it looked like black sunrays.

And why do we need all those extra rooms? I’ll tell you. Because most of us have so much junk we have to have separate rooms for everything – a sewing room for our hobbies, entertainment room to fit a wall-sized TV, exercise room to collect spider webs, mudroom to hang coats and keep mud out of the entry room, and a bonus room to stick our children so they don’t bother us. Remember old timey shows like Happy Days where families hung out TOGETHER in the living room? They watched the same shows on a little box of a TV and enjoyed the shows as much as we do today. Maybe more, because today it’s embarrassing to watch TV with your children in the same room. Even if you’re watching a G rated show, the commercials are often R rated. Drives me nuts.

And since when does everyone need their own bathrooms? I remember growing up and having only one. Someone was always banging on the door wanting in. One of my best friends had eight people in her house, with only one bathroom. Today everyone has their own, or only has to share with one other person. Our friends have a vacation home with six bedrooms and six bathrooms. The house sits empty most of the time, or just the two of them go over for a couple of days here and there. There must be hundreds of dead trees sawed up to make that house.

I wonder how many kids these days have missed out on the experience of shifting from one leg to the other, trying to hold it while they wait for the bathroom door to open.

I remember my dad had radar for whenever we went in the bathroom. I barely got the door shut he started pounding on the door needing to get in. “Hurry up and get out of there,” he said every single time. My husband is like that, too. I think it’s a guy thing. They don’t want to have to share their throne.

I also remember little turf wars with my brother when I’d take extra time to get something done in there out of spite. He did the same thing to me. My kids do this too – brings back good memories to hear them screaming at each other and pounding on the door.

So in honor of Earth Day, whenever it might be, I hope you will reconsider trying to have it all and keep up with the trends, and the Joneses. Many of the things I thought I needed in life weren’t necessary after all – like boots that I rarely wear, towels I only have out for decoration, my children. Just kidding on that last one.

The thing about life is, it isn’t about things. I just made that up – profound, huh?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Performance Anxiety

Does anyone except me have performance anxiety? Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about not being able to do things as well when someone is watching. I noticed this first when I tried to play piano at a recital. Even though I knew the piece backwards and forward because it was something very simple like chopsticks, when I got up in front of everyone my mind was blank as a dumb blond’s face.

Actually I was going to say: “As blank as a piece of notebook paper,” but then I decided that was a cliché. So I wondered what else was blank, and I thought of a blond girl I knew who used to stare off into space. That seemed to fit – I just added the “dumb” part because it seemed funnier.

Back to my recital. So I came up blank, and my teacher whispered, “D, then C.” He might as well have been saying @%#$ and &*%@# because I didn’t have a brain left to think. It had turned to liquid and was flowing under my shirt down to my ankles. My fingers were dis-attached from my body. I was frozen in time and space, except the time was passing very very slowly. I felt my classmates staring at me, waiting for the show to begin. I saw them start to squirm and look around. Still the fingers didn’t move. “Would you like to do your recital later,” I heard my teacher say in the distance. “Yes,” I said, like I was grabbing a lifeline.

Later came after the next person. By then I had rehearsed again and willed myself to perform, which I did, though I was miserable.

I decided that I was not cut out to be a concert pianist since I couldn’t perform. After that I started noticing a certain self-consciousness whenever people were watching.

A couple of nights ago I had a strange dream. I dreamed I was out in the woods taking pictures with my digital camera. I was capturing some gorgeous shots of flowers and honeybees when a school popped up that had a beautiful candy counter with exotic candies. I started taking pictures of them, getting some great shots, then President and Mrs. Obama drove up in a limo. The school authorities and colorfully clad children surrounded them, and I took pictures of that. Suddenly, Obama saw me and said, “Will you please get some pictures of me and the girls and candy?” I was astounded, even in my dream. But from that moment on, I could not take another picture. The lens fell off my camera. I pushed buttons that didn’t respond. I dropped the camera on the ground.

It’s pretty crazy when a person’s anxieties creep right into their dreams. Of course I was embarrassed to death because of all my fumbling. Finally the Obama’s went on their way, and I was left with no pictures, a broken camera and a broken heart.

I’ve decided I don’t care what people think. I’m going to do my best in spite of them watching. I’ll keep you posted about my success.

Inopportune Visits from the Police

This morning as I was racing across my bedroom from the shower to get to my closet, an idea popped into my head. You know those TV shows where the police break down someone’s door, their guns held out in front of them with both hands, as they yell, “FREEZE!!!!” Then they go through the house while dopers and greasers and thugs cower until one of the bad guys reaches for a gun and bullets start flying.
The residents of these places are drug dealers and murderers and other assorted no goods who expect the police to crash down their door at any minute.
Then you read in Reader’s Digest and other highly entertaining and informative journals about the police busting into a house with an elderly woman sitting there knitting who grabs her heart and has to be whisked off to the hospital because the police wrote the number down backwards or got the wrong street.
This seems to happen all the time. So as I was darting across the room in my birthday suit today, the thought crossed my mind: What if the police suddenly appeared at my bedroom door with their guns pointing at me and said, “FREEZE!!!”
Would I dive for cover because I was so embarrassed to be seen naked, risking my very life because I can’t manage to lose those extra few pounds that I don’t want anyone to see with the lights on?
What if I just stood there, naked as a Chihuahua? What would they do? Would they cuff me and drag me out into the street bare assed? Would they let me get a robe? Would they make fun of me? “Geeze, lady, how come you’ve let yourself go to fat? Hey Jack, come here and check this out. This woman’s got more dimples than a room full of babies. Ha Ha Ha!”
You never see these people who get busted on TV doing anything except sitting around the living room or running toward the back of the house. They’re fully clothed. On TV, the police never have to chase naked people around the house.
Then I had an even worse thought. What if I was on the toilet and they busted in? What if it was Number Two? What if they didn’t want to take any chances that I might run so they tried to cuff me right there? “Geeze, lady, what crawled up in you and died? I’m suffocating in here.”
“Please Mr. Nice Policeman, can I wipe before I go?”
“Aaaawgh, I gotta get out of here. Yeah, go ahead but don’t try any funny business. Ha Ha, Ha! Funny BUSINESS, get it?”
Then I thought: what if a couple were enjoying a little marital bliss on the dining room table and the police busted into the room. What would the husband do? “Officer, can you give me just 20 more seconds and I’ll go quietly?” And the wife? “Can you at least turn your heads? People got no manners these days.”
I entertained myself most of the morning with these scenarios. I don’t want anyone to get the impression that I might be subject to a sting by the local law enforcement authorities, because to the best of my knowledge I haven’t broken any laws warranting a door getting busted in. But if we’re to believe Readers Digest, then this could happen to any of us at any time. I thought about being constipated, and how a bust-in would work way better than X-Lax. If you have any funny scenarios, please share them.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Slaves for Fashion

Today I got a couple of sale flyers from department stores. I like to thumb through these to keep up on the latest trends, and I was surprised to see that fashion is dictating that women should go from being sluts to being slaves.

The cleavage and belly buttons have been replaced by short dresses and sandals that look like they were snatched off a Roman, except the heels are 4 inches high.

Seriously, I glanced through the Macy’s catalogue and couldn’t believe how many of the models could have been cast in “Gladiator.” All they needed were some chains around their wrists.

I guess this is a sexy look for men. I remember seeing those Fredericks of Hollywood catalogues and there was a lot of this kind of stuff in there. They were famous for crotchless underwear. When I was a kid I thought that was hilarious. Why even wear them? I’m still not sure I know the answer.

I don’t think men care anything about the way women look. My husband never notices anything I wear, but maybe it’s because I’m not doing the bondage thing. If I got some of the clothes in these flyers, maybe he’d take notice.

“Where are you going? To a toga party?” he’d probably say.

I’m not knocking all the fashions. The Penney’s flyer had some nice, decent looking wholesome women wearing pretty, classic style clothes. Even though that was just the first couple of pages, still it’s a step in the right direction. Moms are sick of seeing their daughters in revealing clothes, and we’re sicker of having to talk to other women who flash us with their cleavage, especially since we don’t know where to look to try and avoid it.

I don’t know who on earth has come up with these shoes, though. That strappy stuff all the way over the ankle looks uncomfortable. Plus there are an awful lot of buckles that have to be contended with. One pair of flip-flops had buckles all around the ankle. Aren’t flip flops for jumping into? Who wants to bend over and wrangle with buckles? And what about those spiky heels that leave divets all over linoleum and hardwood floors? I won’t even talk about what it feels like after a few hours of walking on stilts.

Luckily I’m tall so I don’t have to force my feet into those dual torture chambers. When I wear boots with heels I tower over a lot of people. I like wearing flats, though I was just informed by the TV that I should wear flats with pointed toes so I’ll look taller and slimmer. I’m not sure how a person looking at my feet is going to think butt looks smaller, but I guess it’s wroth a try.

All in all, some of the new spring styles look very fun, and I’m glad that long tops and skinny legged jeans are back in style – there’s a fashion that actually does make you look slimmer – if you can get into them. The long tops hide a pretty good sized spare tire, too. With all the coupons that came in the mail today, I’ll be certain to head right to the mall and, knowing me, get the same bland stuff I always buy because I tell myself not to get trendy clothes because it’s not practical. Sigh. I guess the slave craze will just have to pass me by.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

If You Don't Relish It, Embellish It

I think grownups live pretty dull lives. I’ve deduced this from my own experience, but also from talking to a lot of other people who pretty much have one common experience in their lives – complaining.

If grownups work, they complain about their bosses or co-workers. If they love everyone at work, they complain about the hours or the working conditions.

If grownups don’t work, they complain about their families, what’s on TV, being bored, or not having enough time.

Spouse bashing is a great way to complain. The husband/wife never seems to do things the way we’d want them to, so there is plenty of material.

I was in a great mood Tuesday morning and met my friend to walk. She started in about her daughter not calling home from college, then moved to complaining about her husband, and then to griping about work. I’ve got to give her credit, she covered all the main areas of discontent in a short amount of time.

I pointed this out to her, and we decided that our lives are so dull there’s really nothing but complaints to talk about. We’re not riding around in limos meeting famous people, going to swank parties, or jetting off to tropical places very often. Our lives are full of house cleaning, working, taking care of our families, and trying to attend to assorted volunteer and parental duties that suck time like a Hoover. When we share these experiences with others, it usually sounds like we’re complaining.

Last night at the open mike show I went to, the comediennes were moms talking about their lives with kids. It was hilarious stuff. One woman said she got a spa vacation recently. She had to get her gall bladder taken out, which was the only down side, but she got to stay in bed two days, watch TV and read while other people brought her food and cleared away the dishes. I kindof envied her.

Another said that when kids get lost in department stores there’s no need to worry. All the mom has to do is go into a bathroom and the kid will be there in five seconds pounding on the door.

Their stories were based on the most mundane, dull lives. Picking up clothes off the floor, replacing toilet paper on holders that disappears in less than 24 hours – who uses that much toilet paper? Losing one sock in the wash, finding things growing in refrigerators, breaking up fights among kids, scrubbing rings out of bathtubs and collars – this is the world of grownups.

Teens and 20 something’s have such exciting lives to talk about. Someone is always breaking up or getting together. There are meetings in bars, and what crazy things people did when they drank too much. Grownups just get stupid when they’re drunk – slurring and slouching and staggering. They don’t dance on tables or whoop and holler. Teens sleep at each other’s houses and talk about all their mutual friends who are also doing very fun things – this is why teenage girls never shut up, and why they’re texting every second of the day. They have news to tell and gossip to keep up on.

I think I’m going to have to start making stuff up if I want to reduce my complaining. Problem is, I’ve gotten so used to griping that I don’t know where I’d begin to get the material. I mean, what am I going to say, that my husband suddenly has turned into Brad Pitt, and my children have decided I am an interesting and smart person they’d like to spend time with? That I’ve hired a maid and cook so I now spend all my time shopping with my Hollywood friends who fly up to Portland every weekend just to be with me?

Actually, I’m liking the sound of this. I’ll make up an interesting life full of interesting activites and people to talk about. It will be good practice for when I become rich and famous, which is any day now….

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Beans and Laughs

I’ve had beans all three meals today. There were some leftover baked beans that were so good I had them for breakfast. I finished them off at lunch. Then tonight I went to an open mike comedy session and they had pinto beans on the menu so I ordered them. Needless to say, I’m a walking time bomb. I wonder how long I’ll be in bed tonight before my husband kicks me out.

The comediennes were very funny tonight. They bill themselves as the “Mother of All Comedies” because they are all moms telling about their lives with children. It was some pretty funny stuff. One woman got up to the mike and instead of holding it in her hand, she attached it to the mike stand, saying. “I don’t want to hold anything in my hand, especially something that looks like a penis. I might get pregnant again.” She said she didn’t know how she got pregnant. “I just tripped on a penis and it got in there and all of a sudden I’ve got three kids.”

Penis is a funny word spoken out loud in a room full of women. We all laughed every time she said it. She described her vagina after pregnancy as looking like “a dog got in my uterus and ate its way out of there.”

Another older mom with four kids said she gets mistaken for her 3 year old’s grandma at the playground, so she milks it. If her son misbehaves, she tells the young moms, “They just spoil that child, it’s really a shame, but what can a grandmother do?”

All the while I’m laughing, I’m shoveling in beans because I love them so. Refried, in soups, boiled, salted, stir-fried, baked – I’ve never met a bean I didn’t like. The feeling isn’t mutual, though. They go down the hatch and all hell breaks loose. They gurgle a warning like a rattlesnake signaling that an eruption will soon take place and everyone better run for cover. I know this is going to happen as sure as the 2010 census will arrive in my mail any day now, but I can’t help myself. My family gets upset. They buy me Beano. They threaten to move out. They make fun. It does no good. I’m addicted.

This was a fun evening tonight, laughing with friends about experiences close to home and heart, and eating beans that they say are good for my heart, at least that’s what the rhyme says. I’m as happy as a mule eating briars.

Food for Thought

I’m in the mood to talk about food. I made a batch of chili mac the other night that was so good. The half that didn’t have the burger in it was, anyway, since I’m vegetarian. I knew it was good, though, because my son ate it.

He’s been finicky about food ever since he was about one and a half. Before that I used to grind up squash in a blender and feed it to him and he gobbled it up. Disgusting looking stuff that I wouldn’t even test – just plain yellow squash that managed to take on a brownish tinge from the grinding process.

There really wasn’t anything the child wouldn’t eat – if I could turn it into a watery mush, he’d scarf it down. I don’t know what happened to him that made him into a discriminating eater, but over time he gradually started cutting out all foods that were (1) healthy (2) possibly healthy or (3) not part of the hamburger and French fries food group.

He also had this thing about food touching when he was little, which is why I could never get him to eat combined foods like spaghetti or pot pies. He wanted a separate pile of peas, another pile of potatoes, and his meat in it’s own area. He took pains to catch peas that rolled away from the pile, chasing them with a fork and turning it sideways to form a fence. This is why it was remarkable that he ate the chili mac.

My daughter and I will eat just about anything, but she can’t stand the feel of squash in her mouth. We goaded her as a child to “just try it one time.” She finally did to make us hush and within seconds of putting a bite in her mouth she jumped up from the table and ran to the bathroom where she Ralphed it and everything else she’d eaten into the toilet. If she ever wanted to be bulimic, all she’d have to do is put a piece of squash in her mouth.

I guess everyone has one thing they can’t or won’t eat. I absolutely despise brie. This comes as a shock to everyone who knows me because I have a mammoth appetite and will literally eat anything, especially if it has Heinz 57 Sauce or blue cheese dressing on it. Everything about brie disgusts me. I can’t stand the taste, smell, or texture of it. I’m apparently the only human who feels this way because every gathering I go to always has a plug of brie with some jelly and crackers. Ewe!

There are foods I’d never want to try. Like those things that short stocky guy goes around eating on one of the cooking shows my husband insists on watching. He goes to Amazon jungles and the southern United States to sample odd foods. Possum, cockroaches, and still squirming worm-like creatures are some of the fair he eats – not to mention eyeballs and gonads. I can’t be in the room when that show is on.

My palette is simple - I like food that tastes good. I’m not into novelty dishes or ones that make some kind of statement. I don’t have to show off that I’m eating truffles because they’re expensive, or snails because they’re gross, or alligator because it’s unique. I ate a piece of alligator once. It was coated in a fiery sauce so I couldn’t taste anything because of the burn. I could have been eating the sole of a tennis shoe for all I knew. I ate gold leaf one time on the first date with my husband. It had no flavor at all, and who ever came up with the idea of shaving thin slices of gold and serving it with dinner? How can that be good for you? I thought they should jut shave off part of the price and skip the gold.

Perhaps you’d like to comment on foods you like or don’t like. Perhaps you’d like to comment on the eating habits of people you know. Food for thought – or thoughtful food. Either way, I’d eat it up!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Meteorite Men vs. the Oscars

The Oscars were on tonight, and I missed them. My husband was watching a yawner on another station, and I dozed off in the La-Z-Boy and slept right through. He had “Meteorite Men” on and I asked him to change the station, and he said in a minute, because it was getting interesting.

This is one of an assortment of shows that appeal to my husband for reasons I can’t fathom. “Ice Road Truckers,” “Survivor Man,” “Ax Men,” “World’s Dirtiest Jobs,” and “Greatest Catch,” are some of the others. These are shows about people doing their jobs – jobs that my husband would never want to do in a million years – yet he finds their experiences fascinating. I can’t imagine how these shows got started. Can you picture someone pitching this concept to network executives? “Okay, you’re going to love this show!!! It’s about some guys on a crab boat CATCHING CRABS!!!!.”

Or this one, “I’ve got this fantastic idea for a show. We’ll take two guys and have them walk around in the middle of nowhere LOOKING FOR PIECES OF METEORS!!!!!”

Tonight the engaging stars of “Meteorite Men” were walking through the snow in Wyoming with metal detectors that sound like a cow wailing after she stepped on her own udder. They walk along, commenting on the weather, and then the metal detector wails, and they get all excited and bend down and start digging in the dirt with magnetic pick axes. Soon a chunk of meteor the size of a grape attaches to the pick axe and they whoop and holler about their great good fortune. They manage to get 4 or 5 meteor chunks then go to a buyer who examines the pieces thoroughly like a jeweler looking at the Hope Diamond, and then pays the guys a couple of thousand bucks.

When I saw this monetary transaction, I thought, “Who buys this stuff?” Sure, a little piece of outer space must be worth something, but if the guy is paying the Meteorite Men $600 bucks for one of these, how much is the average Joe going to have to pay to get it from him? Would you pay $1,000 or $2,000 or more?

Frankly, I haven’t given it much thought. On my list of “must haves,” I’ve got vacations and handbags and a new house, but I’ve overlooked space debris.

This is why I fell asleep and slept right through the Oscars. Luckily Baba Wawa was having her interviews. I really like her and was sad that this is her last Oscar show. Comedians have had fun with her over the years, but she’s been a gracious professional all things considered. I like the way she asks people if they’re gay or if they pass gas in the bathtub, and if so, does it wake up the neighbors. We’ll miss you, Babs.

Right now as I’m typing I’ve got one eye on the TV – it’s stuck on there and I’m not sure how I’m going to get it loose. They are showing the actresses and their gowns, which is what I watch the Oscars for anyway. I love Kate Winslet’s dress. And Sandra Bullock’s. They’re probably not going to show the ugly dresses – and that’s half the fun. I’ll have to wait for People Magazine to see them. Doggone Meteorite Men!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Things Aren't Always What They Seem

Tonight at my daughter’s gymnastics competition they handed out coupons to get $15 off of T-shirts or sweatshirts. What a great deal! I stood in the line that snaked through the gym for the better part of my life to take advantage of this great opportunity. When I finally arrived at the order area, I leaned that I would still pay $24 for the long-sleeve t-shirt with the logo and a star by my daughter’s name on the back.

Funny thing was, that’s the same price I paid at the last competition at a different gym, WITHOUT the $15 discount. Could it be that this vendor simply handed out coupons to make us think we were getting a good deal?

Of course that’s what the little weasel did. And we all fell for it because we can’t resist trying to get a good deal. It’s the same reason we hold out when buying a new sofa until the guy sweetens the pot with a couple of cheap throw pillows. Then we’re scrambling to say, “We’ll take it!”

One of the most frustrating things about this is finding out that someone you know also got the same throw pillows. Then it seems like you didn’t really get a good deal after all. You merely got the standard deal. Worse than that is finding out you got the standard deal, and the other guy paid less for the couch than you did.

It’s actually a competition – you try to win with the salesperson, then you try to one-up everyone else. After all, you can’t get a good deal without having something to compare it to.

Another way people try to get you is packaging. Often there will be a really nicely boxed item with cellophane enclosing it like a chastity belt so the would-be purchaser can’t see what’s in there. The label makes the contents seem irresistible. The customer buys it because it’s on the clearance table by the check stand, marked down from $49 to 9.95. I’ve bought this item many a time. When I get home and tear into it, it’s always a tiny, flimsy object that breaks in seconds.

When I was a small child, I got a giant chocolate bunny in my Easter basket. You know where this is going, don’t you? I bit into that bunny’s foot and discovered that it was simply a thin layer of chocolate wrapped around nothing but air. In fact, the whole thing broke up into bits and fell to the floor. There wasn’t much more chocolate in that thing than in a Hershey’s kiss. I was heartbroken. Who would do such a thing to a small child? How could the Easter Bunny be so cruel?

Once I bought a beautifully packaged box that touted itself as the best spice cookie mix the civilized world has ever known. When I opened it, there was a ziplock bag full of flour mix that looked like some kid had put together. I followed the directions and made the worst cookies I’ve ever attempted to eat. They scrimped on the sugar and spices and spent the flavor budget on the fancy box.

This has happened to me more times than I care to divulge. For this reason, I’ve been leery of everything in a nice box for a long time. Last Christmas I refused to open a beautifully wrapped present with a pale green ribbon because I knew I’d be disappointed. When I get up my nerve, I’ll let you know what it was. I’m sure my husband got a great deal on it!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Insane Rock-O-Plane

There’s something on TV right now about Ferris Wheels. Have you ever ridden one of those things? I’m terrified of them. I don’t like being so high in the air, and I sure don’t like the way they make you go backwards. But the thing I hate most is those seats rocking back and forth, especially when it’s stopped and you’re at the very top, which seems to be the entire time you’re on the ride.

I’ve never liked carnival rides, and I’ve got good reason. When I was a kid, my mom took me to the carnival that came to town for two weeks every summer. I can see her watching me as I went slowly in a circle on a little motorcycle with a horn that I pressed constantly in different patterns, like beeeeep beep beep beep beep beeeeeeep. Then there were little airplanes that went up in the air about four feet with little guns so we could pretend to shoot at the kid directly in front of you. Each time I went by my mom, I waved frantically at her with one hand, keeping my other hand securely on the trigger of the gun, which fired non-stop.

These were fun rides, and I loved the carnival. Then my brother asked me to go with him and I was thrilled. I must have been about 8 and he was 12. I jumped at the chance.

When we passed the kiddy rides, he turned his nose up at them and wouldn’t even wait for me to ride. “Come on, there’s some really cool big kids’ rides over here you’ll love.”

Ooooo! Big kids rides! I skipped along after him, bubbling with anticipation. First we came to the Tilt A Whirl, which I thought was the funnest ride I’d ever been on. Then the Twister, which I also loved because it made me slam into my brother while he pretended he was being squished to death.

Then he took me on the Ferris Wheel, and that thing swooped me up into space like a rocket launch. I was terrified. When we got to the top and stopped, he swung the seat and I knew it was going to tip over and we’d drop forty stories to our deaths. I hit him on the arms and begged him to stop, which he finally did after I started crying like a baby.

He gave me some pink and blue cotton candy to settle my nerves, then took me to where the Rock-O-Plane was. It was very tall just like the Ferris Wheel. “I AIN’T getting on that thing,” I said.

“It’s really fun,” he said. “Look, you’re in a cage so you can’t fall out and you just go round and round a circle. It’s not scary at all.”

“Is too!”

“Is not!”

“Is too!”



After much arguing, coaxing, shaming, and bribing, I agreed to get on the ride as long as he PROMISED that it would not spin like some of the ones we’d seen. “There’s a bar in there, and you can control the spinning by pressing down, so you don’t have to worry.” Next thing I knew, I was in a cage. When the ride started, he pressed down on the bar and the cage started to slowly rock as we soared into the sky like we were on the way back up from a bungee jump.

“Let me out of here,” I screamed. He kept pressing until the cage turned completely upside down. Assorted change in our pockets sprayed out and pelted us like a hailstorm. The faster the giant wheel went, the more our gage turned.

I started screaming every obscenity I’d ever heard in my life, which surprisingly was an entire dictionary of cuss words. “Let me out of this effing thing! You son of a __! Let me out of this mother ____!” I was like a wild animal with Tourettes – foaming at the mouth, crying, screaming, cussing, flailing limbs against the cage as coins smacked my arms and legs and face. “I HATE YOU!” I screamed. My brother, dredging up some mercy from his black heart, took his hands off the bar, but the cage didn’t stop spinning. It had too much momentum.

The carnies must have thought my screeching was amusing, because the ride should have been over but it didn’t stop. Round and round we went. I tumbled out of the seat and was rolling around like a towel in a dryer. My brother was even starting to panic. “I can’t get it to stop!” he shouted. “Just hold on!” What was I supposed to hold on to? The bar? So it would spin faster?

Finally, a line must have formed so the carnie had to stop the ride. I flung that cage door open and huffed out of there, bruised from head to toe and fit to be tied. I folded my arms across my chest and took giant strides across the carnival grounds, refusing to look back at my pleading brother who was fervently begging me not to tell our mom.

I’ve haven’t been a rides person since. I still look up to my brother, but I will never forgive him for the Rock-O-Plane. Not in a million years.

Creating the Aha Moment

Creativity is an odd thing. A lot of people think you have to wait around until that Aha moment strikes and then you paint your masterpiece or write your opus. I have news for you. I’m not even sure what the word opus means, and it’s too late to look it up. Oh, all right if you insist. Be right back.

According to my dear friend Google who knows these things, an opus is a miniature octopus – so small, in fact that the cto had to be left out. A million of these creatures together can fit in a teaspoon and be fed to unsuspecting children with a smile and assurance that, “It’s good for you and will build strong bones and teeth.”

Okay, Google didn’t say this after all. Like I said, I don’t have time to go on a wild goose chase hunting down opuses at this time of night, but I’m pretty sure that an opus is some huge literary endeavor like the Bible that has many, many chapters full of adventures.

You think we’ve got a world full of sin and vice now, and you’re right, but it wasn’t much better back in Biblical times. People were “laying with” (wink wink) their daughters, lusting after a married women and killing the husband to get to her, killing their brothers, almost killing their only sons, worshipping golden calves when they weren’t busy entertaining themselves with drunkenness and women of loosely defined morals. The Bible is pretty good reading, especially the Old Testament, and especially if you get one of those versions without the thees and thous.

My favorite story is about these two women fighting over a baby (I told you this stuff was good). They went before Solomon who was the wisest man in all of history. Each woman called the other one a bee-och. Not really, I just think that word’s funny. But there was a verbal cat fight going on that even Solomon could no longer stand to listen to, so he said, “For crying out loud, just cut the baby in half and each take an equal share and be done with it, then everybody’s happy, especially me.” Well, one woman said, “Okay, sounds good to me.” The other one said, “No way. I’d rather let that bee-och have the baby rather than have it cut in half.” So Solomon says, “Aha! The one who wants the baby to live is the true mother, and you – bee-och – you are a conniving imposter.”

And now I’m happy to say I have just proved my point about creativity. Oh, wait, I forgot to make the point. Here it is, and it is certainly worth the wait. Creativity doesn’t come from an Aha moment. You create the Aha moment by parking yourself in front of whatever medium you use to create something and then just start doing it. If it’s paint or a computer or a kitchen counter where you want to whip up a culinary delight but don’t know what to make – a cake, cookies, or a pie, and what kind of pie – fruit or chiffon. I like chocolate pie myself – chocolate pecan is even better. If I waited for inspiration I’d never write this blog. I sit here and start typing because I’ve thought all day long about a topic and none has popped in my head (as usual) and it’s late (like I said before), and if I want to go to bed I’ve got to write something. With any luck, my fingers will start pecking out some senseless foolishness that I can drag out to about 600 words and call it good. Aha! I think I’ve done it yet again. Goodnight. And apologies for my loose Bible translations – I was just trying to be creative.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Money Madness

It’s been raining money around here lately, or so it appears because there are coins on the floor in every room I of my house. A lot of pennies, but a surprising number of quarters are sprinkled over the carpets like confetti. Where the heck are they coming from?

I know the men in the house keep coins in their pockets, and when the pants come off, the coins come out, so I understand the coins in the bedrooms. But they are everywhere – living room, dining room. No one is taking their pants off in these rooms for the most part, that I know of.

My husband has a coin basket that he puts all his change into. When we were just starting out and money was tight, I’d fish in there for quarters to do just about everything – pay for movie tickets or buy ice cream cones. I even paid for lunches with my friends with quarters. I got a reputation – I wasn’t the bag lady, I was the quarter queen. At restaurants I’d dig out a fistful of quarters and start making little one-dollar stacks on the table to pay my part of the bill.

My son used to dig out quarters out to pay for gas or Subway sandwiches. I’ve given both kids lunch money out of that basket. Quarters have always been a big thing around here – semi-precious almost. So now I can’t understand why I walk through my house barefoot and end up with a buck fifty in change stuck to my feet.

I can’t just leave it on the floor. It’s unsightly, plus it makes so much noise when sucked up in the vacuum cleaner. And, I’m embarrassed to admit, I compulsively pick up coins because it’s supposed to bring good luck. Popeye the Sailor said, Finds a coin and picks it up and all the day you’ll have good luck.” If this is indeed true, and I have no doubt that it is, then failing to pick up a coin could only mean one thing – all the day you’ll have bad luck.

Because of Popeye, I’ve picked up dirty money since I was a child. It pains me not to pick up a coin. Seriously, I get stomach cramps, and warts start popping up on my body in odd places overnight. This is not true, but I’m positive beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would be true if I didn’t pick up every coin I pass. I’ve been in evening gowns in swank lobbies and bent down to snatch a fusty penny off the plush carpet.

I walk through my house and feel like I’m at the gym bending down, standing up, bending down, standing up as I try to get the fresh coins off the floor each day. They’re like rabbits; they’re multiplying faster than I can get to them. I’ll pick the whole house up and turn my back for a minute, and when I look around, there they are again, millions of them. It’s like something out of the Twilight Zone.

The thing I can’t figure out is why no one else wants all this money? I tell you, the whole world has just turned upside down around here. And apparently its pockets are full of change.

College Barage

My daughter got a decent score on a practice SAT test, and now we’re being bombarded by colleges wanting her to attend.

I always thought it was so competitive to get into a college. Everyone says to fill out the applications early and write an excellent essay. Yet the Ivy League schools and some of the most prestigious universities in the country are sending very colorful spreads trying to lure her to come to their college.

One private Catholic school in California that I’ve never even heard of offered her $20,000 to sign up at their school.

I’m quite proud of her good test score, of course, but I think this is ridiculous. If they are sending these things to her, they’re sending them to thousands of other kids in the country – kids who take the tests when they’re sophomores and the only thing they’re thinking about is being a junior next year and getting to park their beater in the school’s parking lot instead of miles away on the street.

One college called me a couple of days ago. A bright young student tried to tell me what a great place it would be for my daughter to attend. I said, “She hasn’t given any thought at all to college.”

“Well, when she does, would you please tell her that we have a great school?”

All I keep thinking is no wonder college tuition is so high all over the country. Those brochures they’re sending us cost a fortune to design, another fortune to mail, and still another fortune to keep revising each year. They also send us emails that have to be designed. I used to forward them on, but now I just hit the delete button. They sound so desperate: “We’ve sent you three emails already. We’re beginning to wonder if we have the correct address. Please let us know at your earliest convenience. And by the way, we are a great school.” And now there are people calling. I’m certain as taxes that these students aren’t volunteering to call high school kids.

My daughter hasn’t responded to any of these lavish attempts to get her attention. She likes opening the envelopes and looking at the pretty pictures, then she tosses them into a grocery sack. Sometimes her friends go through them, so they’re all tossed together like a jigsaw puzzle.

If any of you colleges are listening right now, I’ve got some words of advice to you: SHOW ME THE MONEY! You could send checks and money orders in those envelopes and it will make a much better impression on me personally. If you decide you don’t want to do that, then please quit sending us these expensive fold-out brochures the size of posters and glossy flyers that cost as much as a textbook. Because I know that they’re driving up your tuition, and trust me, sophomores aren’t going to make up their minds about college yet. Not in this house, anyway.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cell Phone Secrets

I have procrastinated until the last minute writing my blog and turning in homework for a class I’m taking. But I’m not worried about it because I discovered something very cool that will save me a lot of time so maybe I won’t be behind in the future.

My daughter showed me how to text without having to type each letter. What a revelation! I’ve avoided texting except to my kids when they refused to answer their phones because it took so darned long to do it. My phone just has the numbers and letters together so #2 is ABC. It was such a nuisance because I had to think all the time about whether to hit the number once or twice or three times so it took two hours to type one sentence.

My daughter, in stark contrast, has thumbs that dance over the keyboard like somebody doing an Irish jig. She was sitting beside me on the sofa texting and said, “Wanna see how fast I am?” Before I could say, “Yes,” my phone was beeping with the text message, “I already sent you this message before you could even answer, that’s how fast I am – just like a lightning bolt!”

“How did you do that?” I said in complete awe. I don’t know if I would have been any more amazed if she’d jumped on the ceiling and started walking upside down like that pig in the Simpson’s movie while Homer Simpson sang (to the tune of Spiderman) “Spider Pig, Spider Pig, does whatever a Spider Pig does.” I love that scene.

At first my daughter claimed she was just extremely agile when it came to thumbs, but she finally confessed that the phone had a button that, if selected, allowed you to type each letter on the phone only once and it would automatically figure out what word you wanted and put it in your text. I am not explaining this well, but the gist of it is, instead of having to hit the #2 button three times to get the letter C, I only had to hit it once, then hit my next letter once, and the little genius inside the cell phone would read my mind and know what word I was trying to peck out.

“But what if it doesn’t know or gives me the wrong word?” I asked worriedly. “Then hit Zero and it will give you options,” she said with a sigh, already bored and wanting to continue texting without being interrupted. She texts continuously, but if I ask who she’s on the phone with, she won’t say. “It’s a bunch of people, mom.”

“Like who?”

“Like a bunch of people I know.”

“Can you text them all at one time?”

And then she lets me know how utterly awful it is to have to explain these extremely simple things to a blunder head like me. “YES, mom, now leave me alone.”

I don’t know how she got so impatient. I can remember answering the same questions over and over when she was a kid. Just the simple, “Is it done yet?” must have been asked 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times. But did I ever tell her to leave me alone? Maybe – I wouldn’t put it past me. Still, I hardly bug her because she does get so impatient, and I know I was the queen of patience when she was little so I certainly don’t deserve this.

However, I’m not going to say anything because she might get another sweet streak and show me some more secrets of cell phones, so I want to stay on her good side.