Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Am, Like, Walking Around Upside Down

Whoa, y'all, that was kind of hard. But we made it. I am blogging from Australia, where it is currently late Tuesday afternoon. I think in my Atlanta time zone right now it is Flursday, the 39th of June, in the year of the Llama. Seriously, I have no idea, and it is so disorienting. I keep thinking that if I can figure out what time it "really" is, then that will help me somehow with this jetlag situation, which at this point is not so much physical as spiritual, honest. I voiced this feeling last night at dinner, and Amy said, "Okay, I can tell you exactly what time it is there. In Atlanta it's 5:00 in the morning, Monday." And I was like, "That is so creepy." It didn't help at all.

Also, it is winter here. We knew that, and we packed warmer clothes. It's not like hardcore winter anyway--more like a Northern California winter. But the sun is in totally the wrong place, and it gets dark by 5:30, or 17:30 as they call it, freaks. Last night as I was grappling with the notion of June 27th, and what happened to it--I mean, we flew to Sydney on June 26th, and we arrived on June 28th, so someone owes me a June 27th--Mom had a revelation. We were talking about how early it got dark, and she was like, "I get it! We just had the summer solstice, which was our longest day of the year, but down here it was their shortest day of the year!" Dad laughed at her like she was a complete simpleton to just be figuring this out, but it seemed like a major epiphany to me too. Be gentle with us, we are not from around here. Today when I was ordering fries for Hank, or "chips," God help us, I was offered "chicken salt" to go on them. Chicken salt! What the HECKS! I've asked if it is actually chicken-flavored, but nobody will quite give me a straight answer.

Matt just helpfully explained that we did in fact have a June 27th. It lasted from when it struck midnight as we flew over the Pacific until we crossed the International Date Line into June 28th. Hmmph.

Tomorrow (whenever that even is) I'll share the saga of our journey with you, and how I came to learn that Hank's underwear will not fit over my head, at least not loosely enough to be comfortable. I hope that you all had a good weekend (whenever that even was).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Can Has Naps?

Today's itinerary was not especially hectic. But somehow I was barely up to the challenge of normal life. Matt is still in California, so it was just me and the kids. Because I love daily itinerary posts. . .

I woke up at 8:30. Today was my day to drive the carpool up to swim team practice. I rousted both kids out of bed and I was driving to pick up our neighbors by 8:55, a cup of yesterday's reheated coffee on board. While the girls swam from 9 to 10 at the pool, I pushed Hank on the swing. Science has yet to determine the maximum amount of time that Hank would want to be pushed. In computer models of the scenario, either the sun burns out or the universe collapses back into a singularity before he wants to get off and go slide. So that was my cardio for the day.

At 10:00, we dropped our friends off and came back home to a round of cheerios. I dragged the garbage and the recycling to the curb. Then things are hazy. I think there was a lot of playing with trains. I was allowed to touch some of the trains, even. I nurtured Hank's burgeoning imagination by pretending to be tied to the train tracks. Then I did a few loads of laundry, neatly dumping the clean clothes in a giant pile in a chair. Oh, why there they are right now.

Around noon I called AT&T to see about options for using my iPhone in Australia. I don't even know that I can't just get by with a temporary Australian phone and my sister's internet connection. But my iPhone is my precious, and I don't want it to think I didn't even try to keep us together. So they signed me up for some kind of AT&T World Explore & Swashbuckle plan for six dollars a month that gives me the privilege of paying $1.29 PER MINUTE for voice calls Down Under. Seriously. I don't think I'll be talking much. Also I signed on for the AT&T Sun Never Sets on Our Empire Plan for data, costing $25. I feel like I just got worked. They are probably sending me a fruit basket right now.

Then I arranged online to have our mail held while we're away. The USPS website is awesome. You can do anything on there. Anything. Go try it.

Then I noticed that Design Mom had a post about having arranged her bookshelves by color. I have been wanting to do this for the longest. Go look at it. But I need someone to come over and help me do it. Takers?

Then after lunch Frenemy Neighbor texted me and said, "Would Laura like P to come over and play at this time?" And I texted back, "Sure." And she answered, "Thank you. I can work in peace now." Great! Me, not so much. I was feeling bad, because the day after my last post about Frenemy, in which I gave vent to my frustrations with her, she got stung on the hand by a fire ant, and she's seriously allergic to them, and had to go get a shot and spend two days in bed. She showed up at my house with a puffy Frankenhand. So I'm not sure if this blog has the power to call down the wrath of nature on people, but it was not my intent.

I put Hank down for a nap. I didn't go to sleep in his room, though I really really wanted to. I did some work, a very little. Laura and P straightened up my bedroom for me. They like to do this, and it is adorable, except they hide the dirty clothes I've left on the bathroom floor somewhere in my closet.

At 3:30 I woke Hank up and we took Laura to her orthodontist appointment. The office manager wanted to chat with me the entire time Laura was with the doc, instead of letting me read Us Weekly. Sad trombone. There may be some detail of the Jon & Kate sitch that I missed, people. So the dentist is happy with how Laura's headgear is working, and gave us some extra rubber bands to take on our trip. I said, "Oh, you can't buy these at the store?" And he laughed, like, "Oh NO, you can't just buy those rubber bands." Because these are special or something.

It was nearly five o'clock, and I had no intentions of cooking supper. Then I remembered that Tuesday night is Kids Eat Free night at Chick-fil-a. I've written a paean to them before, those God-lovin' chicken cookers. (Amy's phrase.) I figure the play place would be a good way for Hank to get his ya-yas out a little. So we roll up to the Chick, and lo and behold, it is Cinderella night. There is a young woman in full Cinderella drag, smiling and hugging on the kids. Her wig made her look only slightly tranny. The excitement level in that place went to 11. Probably 20 little girls were there in their princess costumes. Laura was really into looking at Cinderella, but with an expression of bemused tolerance, like she was so far beyond all this princess nonsense. Hilarious.

Have I mentioned that at every moment of the day, it was 149 degrees? It was.

Perhaps that's why, when we got home, I was felled like a tree. I lay down on the couch and dozed while Hank watched the entirety of Night at The Museum. Yes. Please don't forget to nominate me for Mother of the Year, if you haven't already. You see, I had been up late the night before because I got sucked into that "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria" show on BBC America. It's like American Idol, only Andrew Lloyd Webber is picking the star of his production of Sound of Music, to play in the West End. It is what TV's are for, y'all. Look into it.

Then I got vertical, and there was more nurturing of children and some light housekeeping. Then when it was almost bedtime, Frenemy Neighbor called and asked if Laura wanted to go up to the pool for one last dip with them. That's what summer is all about, after all. So I hustled her out the door, and Hank into bed. And here I sit, refraining from eating all the leftover birthday cake.

Are y'all getting into your summer routines? Oh, and in my day there was lots of thinking, and thoughts, and a rich inner life. Don't know if that came across, the rich inner life part.

I'm humbly submitting this to Keely's Random Tuesday Thoughts.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Target Gave Me a Counterfeit Twenty

Counterfeit Twenty

This has never happened to me before. Last Friday I went to Target to get a few things. At the snack bar, I bought a slushie for Hank and asked for $40 cash back. They gave me two twenties. One of them I spent somewhere, and then on Saturday night I tried to pay for a movie ticket with this one. The ticket guy slid it right back to me and said, "It's fake." I was like, "What?" Our friend Rick was there, and he had to translate for me: "He said it's fake." I was all, "HUH?" Then when we compared this bill to another one Rick had, you could definitely see a difference in the print quality. The lines and printing just weren't as crisp. It was obvious that it wasn't printed from a plate, but was a photographic reproduction. Look at the line above where it says "Dollars."

Also, and it's hard to tell in a photograph, but the "20" in the lower right corner--that's embossed and slightly metallic on a real bill--was dull and flat on this bill. None of the ink felt raised like it should, which would have been the first giveaway to a bank teller. Not so much the cashier at Target, I guess. This bill didn't have the strip you can see if you hold a twenty up to the light, either.

Those tiny 20's all over the back were too visible on this bill, compared to how they look almost watermarked on a real bill. The paper felt fine though. Weird. Also weird was how uninterested in this fraud the guy selling movie tickets was. It must happen every hour, or something. He was, like, "Next!"

After I got over the novelty of the situation, I got annoyed, because Target had debited my checking account $40 and given me only twenty. So yesterday I went to the customer service desk there, brandishing the fake twenty and my receipt from when I got the slushie and cash back. (It pays to have a bottomless pit of a purse that you just thrust every scrap of paper into.) They summoned their security guy (who looked about 19, or am I just really old?). Dude said that someone had paid with a fake twenty at the Starbucks in the store, recently, and that this had happened a few times. He took the bill to go "log it," he said, and they gave me a crisp new twenty, which I carefully inspected before leaving. Thanks, Target, for being so stand-up. After I got my good twenty, I wanted to stay and chat about it all, but they seemed kind of embarrassed, so I left.

Ever happen to y'all?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

There Will Be Cake

Our Daily Hank

This person is three today. Mister Hank, zooming 'round the sun! I can't believe we've only had him here for three years. His personality is so big. I've noticed that when I'm remembering things that happened before he was born, I retrospectively place him in the memory with us, in places he never lived.

New Glasses

And of course, there's this guy. Happy Father's Day, Matt! This is one of my favorite pictures of him, because it shows his "I'm concentrating" face. His Father's Day present is a trip for work, I guess. He just left for California, so we'll have to celebrate properly later.

This afternoon I'm going to go round up all the ragamuffins in the cul-de-sac and bring them inside for Hank's birthday cake. Then I need to get the house straight, and start the countdown for our Australia trip on Friday. Oh and I have to do a ton of other crap before then.

And have I mentioned that it is hot? Yesterday my car thermometer said it was 111 degrees. Not to change the subject. Have a great Sunday, y'all!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Awesomely Awkward, Part II: It's the Heat

Sorry to vanish like that. We've been entertaining our friend who's visiting. Matt is working extr-y hard, and I've been keep our domestic life on the rails. Oh, and also, it is hot as hell. This has been happening since, like, Wednesday. I walked out my front door, and instead of stepping into the soft embrace of early summer, I felt a wave of heat travel up from the sidewalk and hit me in the crotch. Then my eyelids started to sweat. Those two sensations combined make it really hard for a girl to keep her composure.

It is well known that heat waves cause psychological stress, and even an increase in violent crime. When I lived in California, my friend David and I used to be in the habit of blaming our moments of cattiness or bad behavior on the heat, which in Santa Cruz, meant that any day that the thermometer climbed above 76, you could be nasty as you wanna be. But this place, this South, this Hotlanta. . .well, it's amazing that any of us speak civilly from June to October. I'm going to blame the temperature for the way I let Frenemy Neighbor get my goat the other day.

Remember how last week I treated her to a view of my giant Obama face t-shirt, and she looked horrified? We met up at the pool after that for the kids to swim, and after a brief chat about nothing, she asked, "Have you been keeping up with this Judge Sonya story?" Judge Sonya, kind of like Judge Judy. I said, "Sure, I just saw that Laura Bush likes her." Frenemy Neighbor said, "I like that she's a woman, but I would really hate for us to get a justice with a political ax to grind." We were quiet for a moment. But I said, "Yes, a politicized Supreme Court is not what anyone wants. Like, look at Gore v. Bush--I think we still don't fully know what a travesty of justice that was." We were quiet for a moment. She said, "I don't like that Judge Sonya belongs to that Hispanic separatist group." I said, "What group are you talking about?" She said, "Oh, I don't know the Spanish name, but they want to create a Spanish-speaking nation inside America and exclude white people." I said, "Frenemy, I am one hundred percent sure that that is not true." She kind of laughed and said, "I hope you're riggghht. . ."

Then, fortunately, the pizza we'd ordered for the kids arrived. She reached over and squirted some Purel on Hank's palm. He said, "What the HECKS?" Which is exactly how I was feeling.

We left not long after that, and didn't really see each other until this past Wednesday afternoon. Her little girl was here playing with Laura, and FN came to pick her up. She has a history of making snotty remarks about my decor, so I should not have been surprised when she locked her eyes on a new pendant lamp I have. Oh, why it's this one right here. She said, "Did you get a new light?" She almost shouted it. And I don't know if FN knows that we here in the world can see her facial expressions, but she made a grimace, and held it, in kind of a rictus of pain. It reminded me of those frozen wide mouths you see on ancient Greek masks. I said, "Yes, we never liked the other one we had up there." I am not kidding, y'all, it was actually funny: FN's eyes were really wide, like her eyelids were pinned open and she was being forced to watch something horrible. Remember that scene in Clockwork Orange? She looked like that.

FN said, "But wasn't it BRASS?" I said, "Yeah, but it was tacky." She said, "Did that come from Ikea?" Only she kind of spat the word "Ikea," as though it were a curse. It was starting to get hilarious. I said, "It's okay, Frenemy, you don't have to like it!"

Then, then, something weird happened. She looked really irritated. Her mouth became a tight line, and her eyes got frowny. She said, kind of in a huff, "I do like it." And I kind of lost it, for me, because I said, "Then why do you look like you just ate a bug?" And then I waited a beat and laughed, "AH HA HA HA HA," insert more raucous laughter here. I thought if I laughed, it would soften the moment. Because yeah, that always works, the forced laughter thing. It brings people together. But she wasn't finished, and said, "You could have asked me, and I would have had Jim (her husband) rewire the old chandelier." Then I blacked out from the rage.

I'm telling you, it's the heat. But later we had a perfectly nice conversation about cleaning ladies. In my next post, I'll tell you about my search for (and finding of) a cleaning person. Two more things: it was really hard not to title this post, "Awesomely Awkward Part II: Electric Boogaloo," for some reason. And my little mowing dude never has come back to get his money. What the hecks?

I hope that you are all doing well and beating the heat.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Come Back, Little Mowing Dude

Matt wound up sleeping at a Motel 6 in Spartanburg, South Carolina late last night, because he ran into major traffic delays between D.C. and home. I was like, "Honey, treat yourself to the Super 8! It's 2 more!" But he is a frugalisto. We always joke (in that way that jokes are totally true) that if he didn't have me and the kids, he'd be happy living under a bridge. The Motel 6 is like Xanadu to him.

So while he was making his way home this morning, and I was starting my day with the kids. some switch in my head flipped and I was like, "Okay, the business of today is to find someone to cut the grass and deep clean the house like RIGHT NOW, immeejitly." You know how you can just sometimes feel very urgent about something that isn't actually a matter of life and death? I just wanted it done, son. As I mentioned yesterday, Matt wants us to get the house cleaner back, so I got right on that, and I thought I'd also get someone to come do the yard, just this once, so he didn't have to do it. And the grass was getting so long that I sensed an HOA howler coming our way. (True story: Laura and Hank made a playhouse out of a big box last week, complete with mail slot. Laura made fake mail for them to receive, and all the pieces of mail were bills and HOA letters.)

Well, you'd think it wouldn't be that hard to get someone to agree to come and do our grass. All my neighbors use big chemical services who also cut grass, and I just wanted a dude to mow. Like a lone dude. So I got a bunch of numbers on Craigslist and called them. I was like, "You sir, good day! I am in possession of money that I would like to exchange for your mowing services! If you would do me the honor of coming 'round to my place. . .what's that? Such much? A contract, you say? Well surely our word as gentlefolk. . .I see. Very well. And best wishes in all of your endeavors too, Chad."

So that's how that went. I finally found one young entrepreneur who agreed to come out. And he did, looking all of about 14 years old. Though he was driving and he does own a business, so he must be an adult? He said that he would cut the whole yard for $35, but he didn't have time to trim our big hydrangea bush because he had a doctor's appointment. I said, "That's fine, Mitch, just do what you can." He mowed, and I could see him dumping the grass clippings in a bag, and then he got in his truck and drove away. Without coming to the door to get paid. Huh? I was on the phone, and I could see him climb into his truck, and I thought maybe he was going to prepare a little invoice or something, and then he was gone.

So I called his cell and left a message saying, "Hey Mitch, you didn't get your money!" I don't know if he had to rush to his appointment or what. But I feel bad. He just seemed so young and vulnerable, or something. I'm going to call him again tomorrow, if he doesn't show back up, and I'm going to hound that kid until he gets his $35. Weird. I told my friend that it felt kind of like the ding-dong ditch, if the person who rang your bell also mowed your lawn.

I also had four conversations with house cleaners, including my old cleaner Bobbi, but I'll save that for another post. And OMG, the mountain of laundry I did today. The absolute Kilimanjaro of laundry. Last night I was dumping it over the landing from upstairs, down onto the living room floor. The load from my bedroom was so big that when it hit the hardwood floor, the booming sound woke up my child.

Hope y'all are easing into your week.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I Am Somewhat Rabbit-Like Now

Sometimes in the past when I’ve been sleep-deprived or stressed over a period of weeks, I’ve developed an eye twitch. It’s not really visible to other people, because I’ve run to the mirror and looked, but to me it feels really weird.

Well now I’ve got a new thing. On Thursday afternoon, Matt told me that he has to take an impromptu trip to California for work, arriving back home two days before we leave for Australia. (We leave for Australia exactly twelve days from now.) Moments after I absorbed this news, my nose twitched. Then it twitched and wiggled, kind of a twiggle. Like, not wrinkling or making a sniffing motion, as I've seen some people do. It's not a habit, it's totally involuntarily. There’s a muscle on the bridge of my nose that I didn’t even know existed, and from time to time, it wiggles. I think this is definitely stress-related.

Or possibly I am becoming magical, like Elizabeth Montgomery. I've tried to run to the mirror to see if my nose looks really cute like hers did on Bewitched, but I can't catch it in time. Then I thought, maybe nose wiggling is the first symptom of a degenerative neurological disease, so I asked Dr. Google. When I searched for “nose wiggling,” the first link is a poll asking people whether they can wiggle their noses, and the second link is for rabbit owners who want to understand why their pets are wiggling their noses so dang much, is it because they're upset? And how do we calm our rabbits down?

Apparently rabbits wiggle faster when they’re interested in something. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing if your rabbit is wiggling its nose, and I guess it’s not bad that I’m doing it either. But this is exactly how I do stress, it seems. I'll feel great and happy, and everything that's happening is good, but then some part of me starts to wiggle. (Oh, and I also have a slight jaw-pop that I am convinced is dissertation-related. I bet when I get my Ph.D, the jaw-pop will leave in the night, but that's a whole 'nother thing.)

Yeah, so here's some of what's up chez moi:
  • I've had the kids alone this weekend, because yesterday Matt took off for Washington D.C. to deliver our beagle to my brother and sister-in-law. They're going to take care of her until we get back. Which won't be until July 20. That is a dang long time to watch someone else's dog. But we realized suddenly Friday night that they were our only option, and that there was literally no time between now and our departure on the 26th that we could get her to them. So away Matt went yesterday, with Percy on her bed in the back of our Jetta wagon, and a thousand podcasts downloaded to his MP3 player. He drove ten hours, got there at 1:30 this morning, spent the night, and is now steaming south. He is a champ, and Dave and Kate are awesome to do this for us, and I actually miss that beast (the dog). Matt too.

  • We each have major work to do of our own before we leave town (isn't that always the way?) I really need to get some more writing done. Why is the period before a vacation more stressful than normal life? The trip prep just compounds everything. I've already gotten the kids' passports and visas, but we have to pack and create an airplane survival kit for Hank. By which I mean, a survival kit for me (a long book, several little bottles of gin, and a disguise would be good). That is a 24-hour trip, friends.

  • Our friend Rick is coming to visit this week, and it would be nice for him if some semblance of housecleaning had taken place before his arrival. On the housekeeping subject, readers of this blog back in the beginning will remember the sad day we said goodbye to our housecleaner, due to some tough fiscal decision-making. Well, the other night, Matt came and sat down next to me and said, "Make the call." I thought I knew what he meant, but I am coy. "What call?" I asked. And he said, "Call her back. Get her back." Then I knew for sure. I've been waiting forever to hear him say those three little words. Hurray! But I don't think I'll get her in time to help with this week.

  • Then next Sunday night, Matt and his partner will be off to CA, probably getting back Wednesday the 24th, leaving him two days to help me freak the eff out about getting us all ready to go. He's got major work stuff going on, and it's all great, but there goes my nose again.

  • Oh, and I'm trying to book a little side vacay for Matt and me, while we're in Sydney, to Vanuatu. More about that later. Whee! That's not in the complaint category--it's just on my mind.

And there's like a bunch of other junk, but I can only dump so much of my stuff on you guys. I'm still hanging in with the Weight Watchers, and the scale at the gym says I've lost six pounds. Funny, the first two pounds were really noticeable (to me). I was like, "Oh yeah, girl!" Then the next four, not so much. But this is good news, given that last weekend, I met my archenemy, Cheese Plate, on the field of battle, and I was vanquished.

How are y'all? Any weird wiggling going on?

Friday, June 12, 2009

In Which I Am Vain AND Reckless

But also thrifty! I wanted to start using Retin-a or some tretinoin product like Renova on my various fine lines and wrinkles, since it's the only "cosmeceutical" that is proven to work. I mean, I love all my Origins stuff and I am using that too, but as the poet says, at my back I always hear time's wingéd chariot hurrying near. So I decided to step it up a notch. I had an expired tube of Retin-a, but I thought that it might be so old that it would be like that scene in Raiders where the Nazi looks at the ark after Harrison Ford told him not to.

So why didn't I just make an appointment with a dermatologist and ask for a prescription for a tretinoin product? We have an HMO that doesn't require referrals to specialists. And we have prescription drug coverage. Somehow, though, it just seemed like a lot of hassle. And do you know how expensive that Renova stuff is? It's basically the same thing as Retin-a or generic tretinoin, just packaged and marketed to the cosmeceutical crowd (rather than the acne crowd), and the price is redonkulous.

I decided to try an experiment and order some tretinoin from one of those shady online pharmacies. I looked at some websites for Canadian pharmacies, but they're not shady enough--they're sticklers for the whole prescription thing. So I went shadier, and found a website for a big operation in some undisclosed location that seemed like a real business, and that offered 20g tubes of Retin-A .025% for about $8. The only catch was that it seemed like I had to buy 10. I thought, hmmm. Possibly I will pay for this stuff and never receive anything. Or maybe I will be sent some tubes of relabeled hemorrhoid cream. I would NEVER order anything this way that I was actually going to put inside my body. I mean, some of these outfits sell botox, so you can BYOB, I guess. Hard to imagine buying an injectable that way. But what keeps them in business is Viagra, it seems. Too big a gamble.

Buying things with a credit card, though, gives you a lot of protection. I decided I'd give the stuff 2 weeks to show up, and if it didn't come, or if it seemed sketchy when it arrived, I'd dispute the charge. In my experience, CC companies are very helpful in that area, for some reason. So sure enough, they emailed me that they'd shipped my order, and today it came, all the way from Mumbai.

When I opened the box, I was like, "OMG it's so cute and foreign looking!" The tubes have some Hindi writing on them. But they say Johnson & Johnson, and they're all sealed up and everything. I opened one, and it feels and smells the same as the stuff I had, so I'm gonna declare this a success. They expire at the end of 2010, and I don't think I'll get through ten tubes before then, but maybe I can give them as hostess gifts? It's still cheaper than the generic copay would be if I had bought them the normal way.

So that's a thing. I am not trying to push you into a life of trading in the black market, hiding from the light, looking over your shoulder, never knowing when the long arm of John Law is gonna reach you. Or maybe you're all shooting bovine collagen that you're buying from Thailand? I just thought you might find this interesting, and I tell y'all everything anyway.

Local News

I swear to God, I think I'm living in a well-heeled suburb of a thriving city in the New South, and then I open my county's weekly paper, and it turns out I'm living in Dogpatch. Actual headlines from pages 2-3 of my paper:

"Dancing Leads to Knife Fight"

"Woman Can't Remember Much"

"He Chose the Wrong Guy to Chest Bump"

"Suspect Dropped His Drawers and Ran"

One day I aspire to live in a place with a better class of mischief-maker. Anyway, the clear winner of the Dumbest Person in My Paper contest is the chest bump guy. Apparently he shoved a woman outside a restaurant. An off-duty sheriff's deputy confronted him about it, and told him he was a cop. Dude chest bumped the deputy, and after the deputy had totally immobilized him and was holding him, waiting for backup, he kept telling the deputy that he "had 15 seconds to release [him] or [he] was gonna buck." What a spirited rascal! The woman who can't remember much is just sad--I'm worried about her. And the guy who dropped his drawers and ran gets points for agility. The knife fight story is also hilarious, but you can kind of imagine how that one goes. It contains an exciting turnabout: the guy attacked on the dance floor kicked the knife out of the perp's hands, and then kicked him in the face. The police expressed astonishment in their report that such a fat man had kicked someone in the face. To which I say, welcome to the South. You never know what we're capable of.

I hope y'all are well. And please keep it classy out there.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Remembrance of Windfalls Past

Wendy at On the Front Porch is posting about choosing corn today. Reading that was like taking a bite of Proust's Madeleine cookie--I was thrown back to remembering a week when I was 11, and how I earned the first money I ever made by picking, shucking, and selling corn. My friend and I spent a week sitting in her father's field. He had advertised self-pick corn for five cents an ear, or ten cents if we girls had picked it.

It was hot. We had a blanket spread out under an oak tree, and we might have had folding chairs. Our job, when not picking corn, was to sit there and wait for people to come by the field, count their corn, and take their money. We had a cooler of water, and some books to read, and no adult supervision. Today, I am kind of amazed that our parents let us sit in a field by the road, all by ourselves, for hours at a stretch every day. We were only a couple of miles from my friends house, though, and it was pretty rural out there.

I have heard some theory of memory that claims we record more memories in our childhood and youth, and then as we get older, it's like watching a movie on fast-forward. We haven't recorded as much data. The details that jump out are fewer, and those we have are not as vivid. I think that's definitely true. Think about being a teenager, or being in college, and then think about being 32, if you've gotten there yet. Is there a memory and an overarching feeling that just takes you right back to being 32 the way there is for 15? It's like my early life was recorded in higher definition than the rest.

So I have many sensory impressions of that week, the mud between the corn rows, the sharp leaves, and the worms and bugs. Lord, the worms and bugs. The extremes of hot sun and cool shade. And I also remember that I was reading the novel version of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. And that sometimes my friend and I got along great, and sometimes we bickered, and once we had to go find a phone to use, so we walked across the road and knocked on the door of a trailer, and the girl who opened the door was someone we knew from school. She was a sweet girl, and I remember thinking, "Mustn't let her feel embarrassed that she lives in a trailer." I guess I was a snot-nosed kid, but I meant well.

Ooh, and the big payoff, and where I was going when I started this post, was that at the end of the week, my friend's dad paid us each $100. I have no idea if he took a loss on that corn or not. But $100, it was astronomical! We had a big shopping trip to spend it. There haven't been many times since when I felt that rich, you know? Isn't that the way that goes?

I bought, among other things, the Footloose album ON VINYL, and a big pink hobo purse made out of sweatshirt fleece, with mesh accents. The purse I am carrying this very day is exactly the same shape and size. I just love me a big purse, always have.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Thunder Down Under: Updated

As I write this, Amy, beloved sister and blogger at Matron Down Under, has gone into the hospital to have her baby girl. Or, as they say down there, she's "gone into hospital." (I think when Australia was a prison colony, the definite article was in short supply, so they got used to going without.) Through some elven magic, it is midnight Tuesday night there, and she was checking in late in the evening to begin induction. She's only a few days past her due date, but she went in to her OB's office yesterday and told him that if he didn't induce her, she was going to go outside and jump up and down on the hood of his car. So he was blinded by her American sunshine and gave in.

I feel like she's been pregnant forever. Seriously, I think it's been 11 months. I must have heard the good news before the cells began dividing. And as I've told you before, I am blamed for having spilled the beans to our mother before Amy could, simply by asking, "Have you talked to Amy lately?" And then there was the time she refused to get really drunk with me at Thanksgiving, "because of the baby." So you can see that this pregnancy has been full of ups and downs for me.

Here she is with Nate right before leaving home.

She said they do labor and childbirth a little differently down there--they don't go straight to an epidural for pain relief, but they have a progression of other things they try first. I said, "Amy, just tell them that an epidural is an important part of your culture," but she is a more natural girl. Here's hoping for an uncomplicated delivery and a healthy baby Grace. As much as we in the developed world are lucky enough to be "used to" childbirth as a normal thing that women do, it never seems really routine. Whenever a woman gets ready to have her baby, it's like she's going on a journey, and she has to travel beyond the safe places of our everyday world, and go on a dangerous crossing, all by herself. Sure, we can love her and try to help her, but we're really just waving and calling from the shore. So come on, Amy! We are here waiting for you and for that baby. Be strong, girl!

I will update y'all in case you somehow manage to escape the Twitter/Facebook/total media storm that my brother-in-law Jason will unleash.

And here she is! Grace Elaine:

She just arrived, 5lbs 13 ozs. Mother and baby are fine!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Awesomely Awkward

I just answered my door for Frenemy Neighbor wearing my t-shirt with Obama's giant face on it.

She did not know where to look. Her face was kind of horrified, like you might appear if you walked in on your neighbor kicking his dog, or having sex with a couple of Mexican midget wrestlers. It was awesome. I think we might be the only family of Democrats she knows. And based on the emails she used to send me, she thinks Barack is the devil.

Oh well, we're still meeting up at the pool in ten minutes for the kids to swim and eat pizza. I had better go make some flashcard conversation starters, and prepare to serve as the representative of All Liberals Everywhere.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Where I've Gone

Greetings from the land of toobin'. Hope you're having a good one. Back soon, muchachas!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I'm Huge in Poland, and Other Updates

Now with photographic illustration!

1) Remember the other day when I posted my little infographic about Jon Bon Jovi? Well, after I put that up, the traffic on this blog more than doubled overnight. Gracious! I was like, "When did I get to be such a big deal?" So I delved deeper into my newfound popularity. Turns out that my little chart had been linked to by five different Jon Bon Jovi fan forums. Also, turns out that there are at least five different Jon Bon Jovi fan forums. Three in English, one in Spanish, and one in Polish. They're loggin' in from Lodz. ("Lodz" is pronounced "woodge." How I know that is a boring story. But go ahead and purse your lips and say, "woodge." Doesn't that feel nice?) So I don't read Polish, but based on their emoticons, they liked the chart. Unless there's some weird opposite thing with emoticons in Polish culture, the way a thumbs-up means "screw you" in some countries? I think my Polish 15 minutes is coming to an end now anyway. I seem to be back to regular popularity levels. Do widzenia, y'all.

2) I finally turned on the air conditioner in my house. I blasted through my June 1 goal, and even made it to June 2, for dignity's sake. (You don't do the thing the very minute you're allowed to do the thing, right?) Okay actually it wasn't even really warmish in the house until the very end of May, and I could have toughed it out a little longer, but last night, Hank woke up around midnight in his bed and called out for me. This is unusual. When I went to him he was crying. I said, "Why are you crying?" and he said, "I'm sad." Then he wept softly. Once I'd eliminated all the possible sources of toddler-sadness, I decided that he was really trying to say, "I'm hot." So down slammed the windows and on came the air. He went right back to sleep.

3) Another reason to air-condition, besides how good--so good--it feels on my body, is that Laura has gotten fitted with orthodontic headgear that she has to sleep in. The headgear is to head off the crazy monkey prognathism that she inherited from my family on my mother's side. Hi Mom! She is being a total trouper about it, and I didn't want to compound the discomfort of the headgear with a warm bedroom. Her only complaint is that she can't sleep on her stomach. She said, "But Mom, I'm made to sleep on my face!"

4) I started Weight Watchers last weekend. My sister and I were starting to joke about starting a girl band called The Muffin Tops. And unlike Amy, I'm not pregnant. So I signed up for the online program, because their website seems really good, and they have an iPhone app for tracking food points. I like that there really aren't any forbidden foods--that you just track what you eat. So far it has definitely kept me from random, incidental eating, like finishing those leftover sandwich crusts. Like, I'm not spending two points on those soggy child-leavings, two points buys me a shot of vodka. So far I've lost two pounds. I'm practically disappearing here.

5) I went back and got my eyebrows and my hair done this evening. That took almost 4 hours.

New Highlights, Thank God

One takeaway: I had forgotten this, but the eyebrow shaping hurts more than the bikini wax. I think because it goes on longer, and it happens on your face. Then it was time to get coiffed. The hair lady went crazy, in a good way. She put lowlights and two different colors of highlights in my hair. Kind of like Neopolitan ice cream, only blonde. And natural. Because that's me--so, so into being natural. The cut is good, I think, and she fluffed and styled me to a fare-thee-well. So yeah, there's another reason to air-condition the house: my increased HOTNESS. Wha-chow!

I crack myself up.

I feel like there were other matters I wanted to share with you, but they escape me. My life seems to be made up of things that are too insignificant to mention by themselves. I guess this is the stuff of life. Anything exciting with y'all?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Facing My Fear, or, Childbirth is Much Worse, Right?

So today I have an appointment at the spa at Lifetime Fitness to get a bikini wax. Is this way more than you want to know? Don't worry, it's not a Brazillian or a Hitler mustache or anything crazy. My appointment was for 7:15 tonight, but they just called and left me a message asking if I can come earlier. Gulp.

So I have to call them back and tell them yes, because probably by saying "No, I need until 7:15 to drink and mentally prepare myself," I'm keeping an aesthetician from getting home to her kids, or maybe from setting her tivo to record "Jon&Kate Plus 8." I don't want to be that person, you know?

I've had this done several times in the past, though never frequently enough to be routine, and it isn't like it hurts THAT bad. It was way worse the time I tried to do it myself. Way. worse. But in my experience, it depends a lot on the person doing it and her technique. I've never put myself in these people's hands, so I'm a little scared. Just wanted to reach out to you good people in my hour of need. I hope you have a lovely evening. And remember this?

UPDATE: bikini wax is over and the patient is resting comfortably. The aesthetician was a 60-ish year-old woman who did a really good job--didn't hurt nearly as much as some I've had. She had me change into one of those little disposable thongs. . .and that is all we need to say about that. The wax lady, whose name was Brenda but I called her Ma'am, was the type to tell you exactly what you need to have done to yourself, and she was exactly right. She appraised me and said, "I want to do your eyebrows," and then she introduced me, rather pointedly, I thought, to their head hairstylist. I left with an appointment for brows and new highlights, and the stylist's promise of, "I'll make you beautiful! Or, you know, you are already beautiful, but I'll make your hair beautiful."