Friday, February 24, 2006
"Do you work here? I don't...recognize you."
"Good to see you, Scott. You're not Scott? (surruptitious glance at name tag)--you're Bill?"
"Ya know, if it weren't for this event, I'd have no idea who my employees were. Maybe they should always wear name tags."
Needless to say--I'm not going.
ON EDIT: The characterizations above are entirely fictitious, and do not resemble Mr. Sweetie in any way. Mr. Sweetie DOES, in fact, recognize all the many people who work for him and is now and always has been good with names and faces.
Mr. Sweetie also informs me that the event is actually "Employee Appreciation" and NOT "Recognition." We at MoAE regret the error--especially since there are no jokes to be made about "Employee Appreciation."
But still--these are hardcover books, substantially sized so they are, in fact, easy to read. Some of the greats are represented: Dickens, the Brontes, Kafka. Last week, they were three for $10--a very nice price for some solid and good looking books. So I bought some.
This week, they were further discounted to $1 each. The stock was quickly snapped up.
That--of course!--was when I noticed I had purchased only volume 2 of "The Complete Sherlock Holmes." So, in fact, it was NOT complete.
Could I find volume 1? Anywhere? Of course not! But you CAN'T have just volume 2! That's ridiculous! It's not so much the complete Sherlock Holmes as "e plete lock mes." And who wants to read that?
So I had to go online. The matching edition is still available. Full price. Plus shipping. Dang.
Yeah, I don't get it either--but I'll admit that doesn't stop me from looking at it and basking in the imagined sunny warm weather. Face it--it's February. You don't survive it without a little fantasy.
But this--this is just so wrong. Click the link and then go to the index on the left for the full effect--the "Plushenko Sex Bomb" video.
That's right--the winner of the 2006 gold medal in Men's Figure Skating is pretending to be a Chippendale's stripper--er, dancer (?)--stripping down to a gold lame bikini and gloves. And black skates. To a Tom Jones song.
With a totally fake muscled bodysuit on. Yeah, from a distance it may look like he's stripping, but he's got more layers on at the end than anyone watching has. Boyfriend is PADDED. Remember the Austrian bodybuilders from SNL, Hans and Franz--"We want to pump (clap) you UP!"? That cheesy.
Which again, raises the question. Is stripping now a sport? Or anyway, pretend stripping? There's already stripper aerobics. Will we see "Pole Dancing" join "Pole Vault" in the 2008 Summer Games?
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Just think about it! All of human history has lead to a moment in time. A moment that is nearly here.
Billions of years, untold complexities of chemistry and physics to create the universe, the unimaginable size of space, all pointing to the coming moment.
Millions of years of evolutionary growth, from single celled creatures to humans who can develop sophisticated tools, can record their own histories...all coming to a culmination in one moment.
One tiny moment.
The moment that is almost here.
It's coming very soon.
It's almost here...almost...be patient...
But now it's gone. It's all over...
Until the figure skating comes on, of course.
I say "of course," but I don't really mean it. That's right--we are not following figure skating this year. "Why?" you ask. "What happened? What has changed about the Olympics that you no longer find yourself following every spiral and triple Lutz? Is it the time difference, so that you can learn the winner before you can see the competition? Is it the new scoring system? Is it the terribly misconceived disasters that pass for costumes?"
No I'm afraid it's none of those. Instead, it appears that my need for sparkly, shiny shiny glitter has increased. Increased to the point that a black bodysuit covered with exploding fireworks of sequins simply fails to hold my attention for four minutes. Sure, I can gawk in horror at the stripper costume donned by the Ukranian ice dancer--what was she thinking? White pasties complete with fringe?!? But it is not the skating that keeps me from being able to turn my eyes away (the heinousness! Is she actually auditioning to be talent at a bachelor kegger later?). Sure, it amuses me that the Italian ice dance pair were refusing to speak to each other like a bad opera--or junior high--but it doesn't keep me watching the skating.
(Italy keeps its reputation for breeding divas, but has to lose its standing as a fashion capital of the world based on what they wore on the ice.)
No, I'm afraid sequins were merely the gateway drug. My need for sparkles and shinies and glitter and bling and tacky huge gems--real or fake, just the bigger the better--has grown. I am no longer satisfied with the dosage that used to keep me happy.
Yes, that's me in the future, wearing rags and begging for change outside the Clare's Boutique.
Friday, February 17, 2006
For some reason, the Bunny has become obsessed with the idea of the Ice Hotel. She wants to visit Sweden, just to stay at the Ice Hotel. I would say that she thinks the Ice Hotel is cool, but that would just be lame.
I, however, have NO interest in the Ice Hotel. I like ice in my Diet Coke. That's about it for me and ice. I will ice skate occasionally, but I have no desire WHATSOEVER to stay in a hotel that requires me to remain fully dressed at all times. I live in Minnesota. That's enough cold for me.
So, in an attempt to discourage the Bunny from this obsession (yes, I know. This is Bad Parenting. So sue me.) I mentioned the facts of the beds.
Me: "Did you know that the beds are just slabs of ice?"
Bunny: "You mean ice with a real bed on top of it."
Me: "No. Slabs of ice."
Bunny (excitedly): "You mean like ice all around a mattress and stuff?"
Me: "Nope. Just ice. They do give you some kind of animal skins to lie on."
Bunny: "Cool! That way you don't have to worry about drooling in your sleep and waking up with your face frozen to the bed!"
Now I really don't want to go.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
The first Valentine's we had after finishing graduate school, he picked me up after work, looking very sheepish. "Um. I didn't do anything for you for Valentine's Day." You know how darling Mr. Sweetie looks when he's sheepish? Very.
"Oh good," I blurted out. "I didn't do anything for you either."
I am informed that this is the sort of mistake only a rookie would make, and might only be excused because I was young and in love.
A couple of years ago, we each gave the other Norah Jones' second CD--Feels Like Home.
This year, we got each other noise cancelling headphones for the iPods. Now we can't hear the other one nagging us. It's a gift that keeps on giving!
"Guess what I got to do in school today!" She glowed with excitement like a lightbulb under her skin.
"We called [the teacher's] sister who was turning 30 today, and we said congratulations! Because she thought she was getting old, so we had to tell her congratulations. And then..."
She paused, because the Bunny has an awesome sense of comic and dramatic timing.
"And then we called South Africa!"
Who did you call in South Africa?
"[The teacher's] daughter! And we sang "Happy Valentine's to you. Happy Valentine's to you!"
[off-stage sfx from the new Harry Potter video game Pony is playing in the kitchen]
The local Mexican restaurant--which was always good for some wicked margaritas and chips--has shut down, although the building is still there and the sign out front forlornly declares "We Cater." For the first time in about five years, I am not a room mother, and I'm feeling closed out of my kids' schools. The snow is melting, but the ground is still frozen--all is fallow and dead.
In the garden, of course, this inert season is followed by growth and bloom. It starts imperceptibly--a greenish tinge to the creeping sedum, a softer texture to the grass. Spring bulbs start to push up their leaf tips, and the chives are suddenly bright with color.
So, in my heart, I am holding the hope that after the destruction and demolition will come a season of growth and renewal, where we ewill look back at this time and see it as a time of gathering our resources for the next adventure.
Got Bunny to school. Got Pony to school. Got phone call on the cel from the Bunny.
"Could you bring my valentines to school? I grabbed the wrong Target bag."
I know I am not the only person in the Free World with multiple Target bags around the house. I mean, if you have a Target, you pretty much don't need any other retail outlets, right? And the bags are so useful for stowing trash from inside the car, for hiding the Valentine's presents you haven't wrapped yet, and for carrying class Valentines to school through the frozen slop. As long as you check you have the right one, I guess.
Yes, we really look like that.
Okay, but Mr. Sweetie looks like that...and the heights are exactly right.
And no. I am not going to tell you what he wrote inside. But it gives me goosebumps.
Monday, February 13, 2006
It being Saturday, and thus Date Night, we were directed next door to the coffee shop to await our table--in lieu of a bar, as the restaurant is VERY small.
As we were ordering our idiosyncratic drinks (did you know you can get a marshmallow flavored Italian soda?), Mr. Sweetie turned to me and asked; "Do you know what today is?"
Given that I'm sometimes unable to remember the day of the week, I thought I was doing well to say "Saturday?"
"It's the 25th anniversary of our very first date."
How wonderful that we were already out with our favorite people on a festive and tasty dinner date! How embarassing that I hadn't even noticed such a momentous date! What a great way to be celebrating it anyway!
Thursday, February 09, 2006
But! Suddenly! in the middle of a problem she leapt up and said "This is a job for Calculator Man!" She went into the other room, and returned with one arm in front of her as if she were flying.
"I am Calculator Man, and I am here to solve the math problems!" And she did. "Twenty-nine divided by 9 is....I am using a dramatic pause....THREE! With a remainder of TWO!"
When she needed a piece of scratch paper she announced "I must find my Special Worksheet!" She picked up her can of Fresca and proclaimed: "This is my special superhero drink, which helps me to do math! It is MathFresca! It is MASCA!"
Calculator Man did about half the problems, but then decided to let the Bunny have a chance to do some math as well, so he flew out into the other room, and after a few moments, the Bunny came back in.
"Bunny! You just missed Calculator Man!"
What's that up in the sky? It's a slide rule...it's an abacus...NO! It's CALCULATOR MAN!
It was like he grew them in his basement, and once one was "too old" he simply released a younger model.
So, imagine my horror when I discovered I have that exact Syndrome. Let me explain.
For about the last eight months, I have been virtually marinating in U2. Got the latest album: check. Went to the concert: check. Bought the complete oevre from iTunes: check. Signed up at U2.com, the official web site of the band: check. Stayed up way way too late on a school night to see the band on Conan O'Brien: check. Feels that God is in his heaven and all is right with the world because U2 won all five Grammys for which they were nominated: check. Turn "Vertigo" on EXTREMELY LOUD to get the kids out of bed in the mornings: check. Find myself feeling withdrawal symptoms when I forget to listen to U2 on any given day: check.
So, is it any wonder I have developed a celebrity crush on The Edge?
I mean, just look at him! He's handsome, he's got a lovely smile, he's incredibly talented while remaining criminally unpretentious. He sings! He plays guitar! He lets Bono make fun of him in public! He's my boyfriend and you can't have him!
But what is the deal with that cap? Is it like the Phantom of the Opera, and he is afraid to take it off? Is he hiding Lord Voldemort on the back of his head? What is it? So, I Googled him, looking for what he looks like without the cap.
And I found one.
So, take a moment and decide what it says.
It's okay. Take your time.
Done? Good. Here is what your answers say about you:
Love Fashion: You are most likely female, and either under 30 or in the fashion business. You watch the Oscars for the dresses, and regularly watch E! "Fashion Police." You may also be Kelly Osbourne.
Live Fashion: You work at a magazine, or all your favorite novels have a heroine who works at a magazine. The darkest day of your life was when Sex and the City ended. You own more than two pairs of black heels. You secretly wish Santa would bring you one pair of Manolo Blahniks for Christmas. You may also be Sarah Jessica Parker, Sienna Miller or Chloe Sevigny. This is not necessarily a good thing.
Love Fishing: You are male. You do not live on either coast. You have a three car garage to hold your bass boat. You own several dozen caps, which you rotate wearing. No one knows why. You do not shave on weekends.
Live Fishing: You own this license plate.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Which is sort of unusual. Sure, I'm an English major and proud of it, but I put in my time with math, and even got some college credit for calculus. So, numbers don't scare me. Mr. Sweetie is a veritable number cruncher, having taken something called "linear algebra" which you apparently need calculus to even start to understand. Frankly, I was decent at differential calculus, but got in over my head with integral calculus. I don't even want to know about "linear algebra."
So, I've already forgotten more math than most people get to, but THE POINT IS that numbers are not scary here at home.
Apparently, numbers are scary at school. The Pony has a frustrating time with her math--which I put down to the fact that her textbook was written by a mathematician, not an ENGLISH MAJOR, which would have helped enormously. There is nothing more confusing that to read a mathematician's attempt to explain numerical concepts in--there's really no way to say it other than--"English."
Look. If numbers are your first language, that's fine, but when it comes time to introduce algebra to sixth graders, just step aside and let someone who actually speaks the language do it.
But (if you are still with me) this is actually a story about the Bunny. Bunny came home with a worksheet of division problems. About 30 of them, all 2s and 5s, so the math was not onerous. BUT. Half of the problems were in a new format. The dreaded DIVISION BOX!!
Does this shape fill you with terror and make you want to cry? It did the Bunny. It was just one too many things at the end of a long day.
"I don't even know where to put the answer!" she cried. And cried.
So, being the MOM--which means it's my job to FIX IT--I came up with a story.
"Imagine," I said, "That this is a little house. It has room for 24 little guinea pigs. That's all the guinea pigs who will fit in that house."
"Like Nut-nut?" she asked, raising her sweet little tear-streaked face.
"Just like Nut-nut. Now, imagine that all the little Nut-nuts are coming to the house in groups of two. How many times do you have to open the door to let them all in?"
This was capturing her imagination. She managed to consider the problem, and then offered, tentatively "Um....12?"
Exactly. So I wrote the answer on the top of the division box. "And that's where your answer goes. So, what's the next one?"
It was 2) 12 and Bunny came through. "Six?"
Exactly! She was off to the races.
She made her sister add up all the divisors in all the division box problems, just so she'd know just exactly how many guinea pigs there were.
After that, the entire page took less than 6 minutes.
Monday, February 06, 2006
To date, however, no one has asked the cows what they think.
A local Jersey, identified only as "Bessie" states her concerns about the end of a way of life. "We like it, the small town feel of East Dublin. I mean, we chose not to live in the big city, but now we're going to lose that special community you get when you know everybody."
Some express concern for the calves. "Well, once you have that many cows, you have a lot more competition, don't you?" Mrs. Buttercup gestured to her two calves, who were wearing basketball jerseys and gym shorts. "These two have been looking forward to playing varsity sports for years, but now there's no guarantee they'll even make the team. It's a huge disappointment."
Local law enforcement also has concerns. "Look, you get a large number of cows in a short time, you don't know who they are, who their dams are," says Shep, a black-and-white border collie who keeps order among the cows in East Dublin. "We don't want to see some cows coming in, flagging their gang colors, spraying grafitti to mark their territories. We just don't have the dogpower to keep that many cows in order if things get out of hand."
A contrary point of view was expressed by Fernando, a large bull sporting an iron nose ring. "Yeah, well, that should improve my live, ya know? I mean, sure, all cows look the same in the dark, but I appreciate some fresh talent, you know what I mean?"
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Today, I am dealing with the fact that my iTrip (which broadcasts to my radio so I can listen in the car) has decided to strike, and is not recognizing the radio AT ALL. So, since my iPod doesn't hold all my music, I have to make a playlist of what I want in the car, and then I have to add the iTrip station(s) I want to use for broadcast.
Which is not what I want to do, because then the iTrip shows up as a "song" and will get played. Yeah, it's annoying--like a Test Of The Emergency Broadcast System This Is Only A Test. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.
So, I tainted my playlist with the iTune station that I need. I plug in my iPod to my computer to update it.
And nothing happens.
So, iTunes now refuses to recognize my iPod. There is a help page for this problem, and there are about 6 or 7 "fixes," most of which involve uninstalling and reinstalling and restarting the computer and....just too much!
So, while iTunes doesn't recognize my iPod, the iPod thinks it's updating and is flashing threatening messages that I MUST NOT DISCONNECT it.
On Tuesday, I was trying to download 3 songs from iTunes to a CD. Currently, iTunes will not burn CDs either.
But really! It's really great when it works!
EDIT: Well, I got the iTunes to recognize the iPod. All it took was to update iTunes, update the iPod, restarting the computer, plugging iPod into a power outlet to flash reset, manually reconfiguring what iTunes downloads, and then reconnecting the iPod.
Next, we teach pigs to fly and examine why women can't play professional football.
My Little Pony, the Voyageur.
Despite her disappointment in her costume, Pony DID go to the Rendezvous simulation and actually had a really good time! So, score one for me!
The MoaE in Detention?
Was I engaging in enabling behavior by delivering freshly sharpened skates to the Pony at school? Well, you make the call--the next day she had PE, she forgot them and I had to go get them and deliver them. I'd say: Take away one point from me!
So, I'm back where I started.
Why do we train our children to believe that animals are just humans in fur coats? I mean, I found a cute open-the-flaps book back when the Pony was about 2, and the whole text was about what animals say, and the pictures were cute. Darling even. Because the animals all looked like babies do--big eyes and heads, doing cute things. Not necessarily animal behaviors, though.
And, as I was going through this book with my toddler, I wondered why animal sounds are so important? I mean, we live in the city--it's not like cows and pigs and chickens etc. are part of my children's daily lives. The acutal animals might not even be part of their lives at all--if it weren't for a pig roast we attend each year at the Fourth of July, my kids might not ever see a whole pig.
And there I was, teaching my kid to "talk" with animals. Why? I asked myself, Why why why?
Of course, I'm totally anthropomorphizing animals all the dang time. I "know" better, but I still do it.
Why is it such a big deal? Well you might ask!
Because when it comes time to actually deal with animals, I totally suck, because I see them as little people.
The problem is because at the moment, we have mice in our house. Not a big surprise, really--this house was built at the end of the nineteenth century, winters are cold here, and mice are small. They find ways into the house through tiny tiny tiny cracks, and once they are in they Breed! Like! Mice!
Now, I don't have anything against mice per se. My sister, the Fabulous Babe, had at least one pet mouse when she was a kid, and I certainly held it and played with it. Mice as pets are okay, or they were, until their wild relatives took up residence in my house. MY house, not THEIR house.
The real problem with these wild mice is that they totally fail to Respect The Social Contract. I am willing to share my house with them, so long as they keep themselves hidden. But! They don't! NO! They have to run around and leave their droppings in their paths. They chew cords and short out appliances, and they chew the kidlet's stuffed animals to get nest materials. And they eat the guinea pig's food. And they get into everything!
So, they have to go. They just do. But so many rodent removal techniques are so cruel, especially if you think of them as little Beatrix Potter tailors who wear little vests and eyeglasses. They are VERMIN! I KNOW THIS! They are The Enemy! But I just can't bring myself to use glue pads, that stick their feet to the ground until they starve. I can't bring myself to set traps to snap their necks--I don't want to remove carcasses. Plus, those sometimes only maim them, which is even worse.
I tried live traps. Even caught a fair number of them, and found myself putting them into a bucket with some kibble and water until I could release them into some woods. Which I did, only to see a bird swoop down and snatch the little critter with its talons for lunch.
Instead, I was convinced to use a certain kind of poison--which is supposed to dehydrate them, forcing them out into the snow for a water source, where they are supposed to die. Except they don't leave the house. They just get sick and die where we have to remove them, or where we find them later, or where we never find them. I'm not even ready to decide which is worse, and I pull my perogative to behave like a squeamish girl and make Mr. Sweetie deal with them.
Except now, he's not home. And just now, in the middle of the bright afternoon, a little mouse appeared in my kitchen, all hunkered down, looking tiny and terribly vulnerable. This must have been one sick mouse, as my dog came right up to it, wagging his tail with curiosity. Is this a new friend? Will it play with me? Is it a toy? What should I do with it?
I put it in a container and dumped it outside into the freezing winter. I couldn't bring myself to seal it inside the container to suffocate, and I couldn't finish it off myself. So I 'm hoping it dies quickly in the cold where I will never ever ever have to see it or know what happened.
But I do still have this stupid Tom and Jerry kind of reaction--I should pick it up and take care of it! Meanwhile, another primal part of my brain is screaming "EWWWWWWW! YUCK! Get it away from me! EEEEEEKKKKK!"
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Thing #2: When choosing to remove wallpaper from a Victorian era house with exposed radiator pipes--the pipes are a bitch to strip.
Just so you know.
Fortunately, that is not the case. Like me, my kids have remarkably slow growing teeth, and there is very little that the doctor wants to do now. A couple of months of an expander for the Bunny, to help her upper arch grow wide enough for all her teeth, a couple of baby teeth extracted for the Pony, to give her adult canines the room they need to come in straight. Then nothing else for nearly a year.
So, I gotta say YEA! Because I went through a TON of orthodontic mauling, and it looks like the kidlets will escape that.
Yes, I had 4 permanent teeth pulled because my jaw was too small. I had braces from 11th grade to college. I wore headgear for a horrible period of time--it was hard to sleep with that stuff on. I had mandibular advancement surgery--the technical term for jaw surgery to correct an overbite, which required surgery to move my jaw forward, and then eight weeks of my teeth wired together with a retainer between my teeth. The retainer covered most of my teeth, so I couldn't even use the hospital's "liquid diet" because I couldn't get ANYTHING with any mass between the spaces at my gum line. I can't even tell you how much weight I lost. I couldn't talk either. It was a bitch of a time.
But! I now have great teeth! Really great teeth! My last dentist appointment, the hygenist couldn't stop admiring my teeth. "You really have beautiful teeth" she said, at least five times.
Even at the consultation for the kidlets, the assistant admired my magnificent smile. "Great teeth, your smile is really beautiful" she said.
So, Dad and Mom--I think you deserve to hear the compliments, since you had to PAY FOR IT ALL!
As I was walking up the stairs at school to the Pony's locker, I was met by two teachers. The Language Arts teacher was pleasant and took a sort of aesthetic joy in the idea of freshly sharpened skates.
The math teacher, however, started quizzing me.
First of all, this math teacher is a very large man, even on level ground. Several steps above me on the stairway, he was enormous. To look at him, you'd assume he was the gym teacher and/or football coach. He has that air of aggressive good health and hearty exercise. I can only imagine that middle school kids quail before him.
So, he gave me the skunk eye and demanded, "Are we engaging in enabling behavior here?"
And he meant it, don't doubt that! Which I appreciate, because this is where the kids have to learn to be self sufficient in order to succeed in the higher grades. Plus, it's a big change from the lower school, where parents are welcomed and frequently seen around the school. The middle and upper schools discourage parents in the building--and we parents need to be trained about this just as much as the kids do.
Plus, I had been thinking the very same thing, since I had been at the school yesterday, delivering something else the Pony needed and didn't do, so I did it for her.
I said, "Welllll. She did ask earlier, and I was the one who forgot."
Math Teacher immediately lightened up and said, "Well, okay."
"So I don't get detention?"
"No. Not THIS time."
I took my items to the register, where I was met by the stoner high school boy wearing ragged jeans, a black t-shirt from an obscure band, dark and dead black dyed hair. He looked shrunken in this fiercely bright place. I guess Goth fashion just doesn't hold up against perky shiny helium balloons.
He rang up my purchases, swiped my card and presented me with the receipt to sign.
"Man," he said. "Your signature rocks."