Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Seven things

Now that I've discovered I've been tagged by two people (Janet and Greg), I guess I should take a stab at this survey meme-thingie. However, I'm having a devil of a time coming up with seven semi-interesting things to write about.

The Rules:

1. When tagged, place the name of the person and URL on your blog.

2. Post the rules on your blog.

3. Write 7 things about yourself.

4. Tag 7 of your favorite bloggers.

The Seven Things:

1. I'm fascinated by tiny things. (First person to make a short joke gets smacked in the kneecaps.) One of my favorite childhood books was The Borrowers, which inspired me to spend many afternoons making little dollhouse rooms from shoeboxes and castaway items I scavenged from my mom's sewing room. Secretly, I hoped a Borrower family would take up residence in one of these rooms. Recently, Kevin's cousin Sam gave me a set of miniature Beatrix Potter books, which thrilled me. Two of my favorites (books and tiny things) in one package!

2. I think I've developed Magpie Syndrome. (I'm not trendy enough to have adult ADD.) I start a task, and then get distracted far too easily by something else. You know: "Oh, something shiny!" This new tendency concerns me.

3. I resist new technology. I didn't own a microwave until 1997, when visiting friends insisted I could no longer exist without one. I still don't have an iPod and can't foresee needing one anytime in the near future. When I moved into this house and had cable hooked up, the cable guy brought a shiny converter box and a remote with enough buttons to land a 747 remotely. With these two devices, he claimed I could use that newfangled DVR technology all you kids are talking about. I tried. Honestly, I did. However, the instruction manual was less than helpful, and after two frustrating hours and generating a blue cloud of cusswords over my house, I unhooked the damn converter box, called the cable company to pick it up, and went back to my tried-and-true method of taping shows: my VCR. Hush! I hear you snickering.

4. If you're knocking at my door, and I don't know ahead of time you're coming, I'm not answering. Period. Door-to-door salespeople and proselytizers have NO chance with me.

5. I order things online partly for the convenience but mainly because getting a package in the mail makes as excited as a child. Even though I know what's in the box, I always have a moment of thinking "I wonder what's inside?" I love that feeling.

6. I'm intrigued by the notion of being organized and having a place for everything. In practice, I find it daunting and exhausting. Since moving, I've done better at organizing my stuff, but I worry I won't be able to keep up my new and improved ways. I yearn to be one of those anal-retentive types with neatly labeled boxes in my closets and an alphabetized pantry, but I lack the follow-through.

7. I get paid for my obsessive-compulsive behavior. Even when I'm not working, I'm editing in my mind: menus, store signs, pamphlets in the doctor's office, instruction manuals, etc., etc.

Good Lord, that was hard. I'm not tagging anyone because everyone I know has done this survey or been tagged by someone else. Get me: I'm a rebel!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Eight legs, two fangs, and an attitude

When I'm startled, apparently I sound like a chihuahua yelping in pain. How do I know that, you ask? I have an unimpeachable witness: my mom. I was sitting on my bed yesterday afternoon talking to her on the phone, with Charlie snoozing contentedly next to me. My upper arm felt funny, as though somebody was tickling it. Still chatting, I looked down at my arm and Holy Mother of God, the biggest spider I've ever seen was crawling up my arm! I'm not exaggerating one bit when I say it looked like an extra from Arachnophobia. I didn't stop to study it carefully, but I think it might have been a wolf spider. Christ on a biscuit.

The reason I didn't have time to study it is because I was too busy flinging it off me, shrieking, dropping the phone, leaping five feet straight up from a sitting position, and falling on the floor, gibbering in a panic. From far, far away, I heard someone calling my name, and I thought the SPIDER WAS LURING ME TO IT. Finally, I realized my phone was on the bed and still on. I grabbed it and heard my mom yelling "What happened to Charlie? I heard him yelping!"

I was too scared to be embarrassed to admit it was me who made that noise. I told her what happened, and she asked whether I could still see the spider. I peered over at the bed and saw him crawling along the edge of the mattress. He was coming for me! I scooped up Charlie, who was awake now and puzzled about my hollering, and shooed him into the living room. Then I raced back into the bedroom while my mom was telling me to just squish the spider with a kleenex. I said "Mom, you don't understand! He's so big he'd fight back. Besides, if I squish him, he'll crunch!" I picked up a People magazine and swatted ineffectually at him. He paused and chuckled, and then scurried behind the bed.

Well, that was it: No way was I ever sleeping in that bed again. I told my mom I'd talk to her later, and then I paced around the living room, wondering how long spiders live. Suddenly, I had the bright idea of sucking the evil thing up into my vacuum cleaner. (A pity I don't use my cleaning tools to, you know, actually clean more often, but they get quite a workout in home defense.) I hauled my Bissell into the bedroom and quickly set up the tool attachment. I inched the bed back from the wall, switched on the vacuum, jumped on top of the bed, and began sweeping the attachment wildly back and forth along the floor behind the bed. I couldn't see the spider anywhere, however.

Just as well. It didn't occur to me until later that if I had sucked the spider up, he would have been trapped inside the canister alive and really pissed. I don't know how I'd have managed to empty the canister without him attacking me. I shut the bedroom door, just in case the spider was still in there somewhere.

Kevin got home about an hour later, and even though I used very descriptive words and gestures to explain how huge the spider was, I don't think he believed me. I even mentioned Arachnophobia twice to make sure he understood! Despite that warning, he went into the bedroom while I cowered on the couch. I heard him yell "Holy crap!" followed by some muffled bangs and thwacks. I tiptoed down the hall and saw him going into the bathroom, holding a wad of kleenex at arm's length and looking extremely pale. The toilet flushed, and he came out. All he would say was "I'll never think you're exaggerating about spider size again."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fear my mop!

Sasha demanded to see a better picture of the women in funny hats, so here it is:

Feel free to add captions!

Hmm, it's not showing up as well as I'd hoped. I posted the picture in Flickr, too. You might be able to see it better there.


Good thing I don't have the real-life version of The Truman Show being filmed in my house. I swear, if people could see the bone-headed stunts I pull sometimes, they'd fear for my sanity. Last week, I was chatting online with Sasha. I had the patio screen door open because it was fairly warm outside. Suddenly, I heard the dogs go into a frenzy of barking, and I rushed to the door (after brb-ing, of course). I looked outside and saw the lead dog from Hounds of the Baskervilles sauntering around my backyard. Seriously, this dog was so huge I could have thrown a saddle on him and ridden him off into the sunset, with my feet never touching the ground. Okay, I'm very short, but still: BIG DOG.

I hollered at him to shoo, but he didn't even look my way. I'm not usually afraid of big dogs on principle; as a matter of fact, I'm likely to be the idiot who walks up to a strange dog cooing "Who's a good puppy?" right before getting my arm taken off at the elbow. Something about this dog's complete disregard of me unnerved me, however. I shut the glass door and came back in here to report to Sasha.

I said I was worried about letting the dogs out later, especially Charlie. I'm sure he'd be a tasty snack treat for this beast. I was trying to think of ways to arm myself the next time I took the dogs out, in case the Baskerville Beast came back. Sasha suggested a baseball bat, but my days playing shortstop (snort) are long over, and I haven't had a bat in the house for years. I had a brilliant idea, though. I said I'd take a can of Raid with me and spray BB right in the face if he came back and tried anything! Sasha said, "No, you don't want to spray Charlie by mistake if that dog gets Charlie in his mouth." Holy crap. I hadn't even thought of that possibility. Sasha advised me to just get a big stick and whap BB across the nose.

Later, when the dogs started doing the pee-pee dance, I realized I'd better go find a weapon before taking them out. I peered out the door but saw no sign of BB. I sidled out into the yard to grab a stick, but when you need a big stick, there's never one around, right? The best I could come up with was a foot-long twig, and that would just make BB laugh.

I came back inside to look for an alternative. Meanwhile, the dogs were staring at me fixedly to remind me of their overloaded bladders. I was in the kitchen, looking around wildly for a weapon. Cast-iron frying pan? Too cartoonish. Butcher knife? Too violent! I glanced in the pantry, saw a mop, and grabbed it. It was stick-shaped, sort of, and I figured it was close enough. I turned to the dogs and said, in a falsely cheerful voice, "Okay, outside!"

I got the dogs outside, and while they were busy, I was surveying the backyard, whirling around to make sure BB wasn't sneaking up behind me and waving the mop threateningly. The mop has one of those elongated bell-shaped plastic shields on the end that you slide down to wring water from the mop head, and I realized it resembled those dumbbell things I've seen on American Gladiators. I heard children's voices from across the ravine. When I looked over, I saw the kids from the Montessori school outside for receess, and they were waving at me and laughing. I'm sure they were enjoying the show the crazy lady was putting on! I decided to get back inside before one of the teachers came running over, with a look of horror on her face, to herd the children inside away from the insane woman threatening invisible foes with a MOP.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Every picture tells a story

Celeste sent me a link to an article in the New York Times about eVites. Ha! I'm delighted to see my distaste for e-vitations confirmed. See? I'm not just a cranky curmudgeon. And now I promise to drop this topic. Really.

I got a lot of unpacking-and-setting-up work done on my office this weekend. I've neglected my office a little because I've been working so much on the rest of the house. I did get my desk and computer set up right after we moved in, and really, those two things are all I need to work. I'm a happier worker when I have my things surrounding me, however. I unpacked and shelved books (thank God for all the built-in shelves in this room), hung pictures, and arranged tchotchkes, and I'm pleased with my progress. I still have a few boxes to unpack, but the room looks much less like a warehouse.
Here's an example of a must-have in my office (with apologies for the glare):

This picture came from a book of postcards based on illustrations from pulp novel covers, and it always makes me laugh. A little macabre, but it helps that the editor in this illustration isn't a woman! Such a melodramatic book title, isn't it? The old photographs to the upper left of that postcard were a present from Kevin. I should take a more close-up picture or perhaps scan it, but you might be able to tell that they're old photos of prim-looking Victorian women wearing a series of funny hats. I get a kick out of imagining what was going on when the photos were taken and what the women were thinking.

I understand some people have bright dogs who can actually learn tricks and obey commands and all that? Not my dogs. I always knew they weren't the brightest canines, but recently they confirmed that any attempt at training them would be an utter waste of time. A sliding glass door leads out to the patio and back yard, and shortly after I moved in, the screen part of the door came off the track. At the time, there was still snow on the ground, and it was too cold to use the screen door anyway, so I left it. A few weeks later, Kevin cleaned out the track and put the screen door back up. The first time I took the dogs outside after the screen was up, guess what they did? They waited for me to open the glass door, and then promptly galloped smack into the screen door. What's worse is that Charlie saw Holly hit the screen door first and still rushed headlong into the screen. Not even the Dog Whisperer could do anything with dogs that dumb!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Old but new-in-a-way news

Oh. My. God. This eVite nonsense will not die! Yesterday I got a reminder e-mail, saying that I hadn't responded on the Web site. It might be an automatic function, but the note in the e-mail seemed to have been written by the hostess. The three close friends I mentioned the other day? Haven't responded either. Heh. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!


I've been trying to think of news that happened during my blogo-hiatus, other than moving-related news, and so far I've come up with only two things. They're fairly big, though. Daniel took his driving test--and on his 19th birthday, too. We went back to Mayberry so that he could take the test with one of the instructors from his driving school instead of at the BMV. We met his dad there about an hour before his appointment because Daniel was going to spend the weekend with The Ex. Daniel wanted to use the time to practice parallel parking because he hadn't done it since the previous summer, when he took driving lessons. Christ on a biscuit. He had NO idea what he was doing! After 10 years in Chicago, parallel parking had become second nature to me, so I couldn't figure out how to explain to Daniel what he was doing wrong. The Ex was giving him useless, contradictory hints, and I got huffy, and things devolved from that point. Finally, I said "Look, we're making the poor kid nervous! Let's just head over to the driving school and hope for the best."

Daniel was barely speaking to us, and I can't say I blame him. I paid for his test, and the instructor told Daniel which car she was going to use. (The school tests students on its cars, which is good because Daniel was familiar with them from his lessons.) He stalked out to the parking lot, and the instructor smiled reassuringly at me and said "He's nervous about parallel parking, right?" "Oh, yeah," I replied. She said not to worry because she gives that portion very little weight in her assessment. Mainly, she wants to make sure students know the steps, not whether they can actually get the car into the space because they use parallel parking so rarely.

While they were gone, his dad and I paced the parking lot and fretted. With it being Daniel's birthday, I kept thinking of the long wait for him to be born. In a way, I felt as though I were going through that process all over again, but this time a full-fledged adult instead of a baby was going to pop out. (Uh, ow. I just had to cross my legs and wince.) When I saw Daniel pull into the parking lot and jump out with a huge smile on his face, I almost collapsed from relief. He passed! Now he just has to pass the written test, but he decided to do more reviewing before taking it. I'm going to pick him up next Tuesday or Thursday, when he has a three-hour break in the middle of the day, and take him over to the local BMV. Keep your fingers crossed he passes that portion, OK?

The other piece of news: The Ex and his wife are having a baby! He called me about a month ago because he was nervous about telling Daniel, remembering Daniel's reactions to the prospect of siblings when he was much younger. The most famous episode happened shortly after I started dating Kevin, when Daniel was 9. He sat down with me one day and informed me that he DID NOT want any baby brothers or sisters and wanted to know "my plans." He also quizzed me on whether I was taking birth control! It makes me laugh now, but at the time? I was glad he was aware of birth control but not very pleased at being lectured on preventing conception by a freakin' 9-year-old.

The Ex was also having a little trouble adjusting to the thought of impending parenthood at his age. He turns 49 this summer. In his shoes, I don't think I'd be looking forward to changing diapers and walking the floors at midnight again. I'm too cranky and need my sleep too much. I love borrowing other people's babies for a short time, but I also enjoy handing them over when they get upset or smelly. At 40, I think I would have been thrilled to have another baby. Almost 10 years later, not so much.

It turns out this pregnancy wasn't planned, either--at least not by The Ex. He said, with a forced-sounding joking tone, "It wasn't my idea!" and grumbled about it being the price he pays for marrying a much younger woman. Well, yeah, buddy. He expected a 30-year-old woman to not want children? Please. I'm sure her parents are overjoyed. They have no grandchildren, and her older brother isn't likely to give them any because it might cut into his working-out schedule.

Of course, Daniel handled the news well and told his dad congratulations. I think he's secretly tickled at the idea of being a big brother, and I know he'll be a good one. I'm happy for The Ex's wife because I've suspected for a while that she's been longing for a baby. Strangely, though, I'm a little sad. I'm not jealous, but I guess I was accustomed to thinking of Daniel as The Ex's only child. Now his dad's attention will be split--and of course it should be. I don't mean The Ex should always show a preference for Daniel; that's silly. Babies do demand almost undivided attention, however, and I think my inner mother lioness is being overprotective of Daniel. He seems to be handling the situation with maturity, however. Now I just need to follow his example.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dear Mr. Moron

Thanks for the confirmation that I'm not being rude by refusing to play with my friend's invitation toys. I checked the site today (day after the RSVP deadline), and seven people still haven't responded at all, including three of her closest friends. I don't think I'm alone in my distaste for e-vitations. Hmmmph.

Volunteering at Obama's headquarters yesterday was great! I spent about three hours doing data entry, which is something I can do with one hand tied behind my back and half asleep. Very easy. Figuring out how the database worked took about five minutes, and then the only difficult task was deciphering handwriting on sign-up sheets. People, if you go to the trouble of entering your name, address, and contact info on a sign-up sheet, for God's sake, write legibly! Some poor unpaid (or underpaid) schlub has to interpret your chicken scratches. If your name is "Joan Mason" and you casually scribble it on an sign-up sheet, don't bitch about getting mail addressed to "Mr. John Moron."

I have to admit that I was a little nervous driving down there yesterday, going into a new situation with people I don't know and all. Of course, everyone was friendly, so there was no need for my attack of nerves. I just realized something about myself. (Wooo, an epiphany!) I was painfully shy in elementary school, even through junior high, but I got over it in high school and became somewhat outgoing. I think I started turning shy again when Daniel was a baby, and I'm still having trouble with it. If you met me, I don't think you'd notice; I'm not as visibly awkward as I was as a child. I introduce myself and initiate conversations and, in general, act like a real live grown-up. It's more an internal shyness--agonizing over whether I'm looking, sounding, or behaving like a dork and worrying about what people think of me. Sometimes I wonder whether my inner 13-year-old will ever grow up.

The headquarters are near the courthouse and historic district of downtown Lafayette, which is quaint and pretty but rather eerily deserted. When Kevin and I went there Saturday to register to vote, we decided to walk around the historic district because the weather was gorgeous. We found several antique stores and even an honest-to-goodness soda fountain in McCord Candies, but I didn't see the kinds of crowds I'd expected--just a few other people like us wandering around. Even yesterday, on an weekday, I didn't see many people around.

Celeste, would you believe I haven't seen a single redbud blooming yet? This year is the latest arrival of spring I can remember. I'm just now starting to see a few daffodils and tulips, but most of the trees still look pitifully bare. I'm itching to start gardening, too. Oh, would you e-mail me sometime? (My Gmail address is over there to the left.) I'd love to ask you about the Parthenon and any other Lafayette/Purdue places you can recommend. Go Boilermakers!

You would have been 54 today, Leslie. I think about you on this day every year--and many, many others days of the year, too.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Be my Emily

Now I know why I haven't moved for the past 12 years. Moving is a major pain in the ass, isn't it? Well, I love my new house, and I'll actually get around to posting pictures soon, after I get more boxes cleared out of the way. I can't tell you how much I adore calling the landlord when something needs to be fixed and having a handyman sent out tout suite! The best part? My handyman's name is Butch, I kid you not.

I have an etiquette question for you. A friend sent an invitation to a surprise birthday party for her husband this Saturday. She didn't send it until this past Saturday, so I can understand not being able to mail written invitations, although this woman does event planning for a living and is constantly trumpeting her superior planning skills. So a mass e-mail is fine, but she sent one of those stupid eVite things. Have you ever gotten one? I hate them, and I think the notion of needing one is ridiculous unless you have 200 guests to keep track of (not the case here). Also, you can see how everyone else replies on the eVite site, and my reason for not being to attend isn't one I care to announce to several people I don't know. I'll tell you, my lovely Internet friends, because I know you. Or I sort of know you and think you're very funny. Anyway, my night vision has gotten so bad that driving at night is downright scary unless it's a trip down the street to the grocery on extremely well-lit roads. Kevin can't go, so I'd have to drive 35 miles back by myself late at night with my old-lady eyes, and I'm not going to get into a head-on crash just to holler "Surprise!" at a man.

ANYway, I e-mailed her privately to tell her why I couldn't attend and sent my best wishes, yadda yadda. Very polite. (I was raised right.) Not three minutes later, she sent out another goddamn eVite e-mail, saying the following:

Some of you have been very kind to RSVP to me directly via email and for that I thank you. However, to make sure I don't miss anyone, would you please click on this link and respond directly on the invitation website? Its pretty kewl in that it tabulates everything for us. Yep! I'm getting lazy in my old age. Thanksabunch everyone! I truly appreciate it.

She's inviting less than 30 people. What the hell is there to "tabulate"? Half the people on her list haven't even responded yet, even though today is the RSVP deadline. Why didn't she just e-mail me back? Clearly, she means the e-mail for me. I guess she wants to prevent any other people who don't follow instructions from doing the same thing, but would sending a personal note to me separately have killed her? Fuck it. I'm not going to do it. Does that make me rude? (Apparently, it DOES make me quite the pottymouth.) I could be really rude and point out her punctuation and spelling errors. Uh, I guess I just did, didn't I? Oh, well.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm volunteering at Obama's headquarters. I'm excited! I've never worked on a presidential campaign before. When I went there Saturday to sign up, a woman wandered in, looking confused, and asked where Hilary's headquarters are. All the volunteers stared at each other for a minute, and I muttered to the guy signing me up, "Tell her that if you do tell her, you'll have to kill her." He started sputtering and choking on his coffee. Either he was amused, or he's rethinking having me come in tomorrow.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Moving on

It's been a couple of weeks since my last update, but I think you'll understand when I tell you what's going on. I'm losing my house. I've tried working out solutions, yadda yadda, but I decided giving up was the wisest choice--for me. Honestly, I'm no longer all that enamored of home ownership. I've done it for 12 years, and I'm ready to let someone else worry about repairs and taxes.

Now for the positives: This house is too much house for just Kevin and me, so we're moving into a smaller house that will be much easier to keep clean and in order. Packing to move has forced me to clean out unbelievable amounts of useless crap--things I haven't looked at in five years, things I'd never, in a million years, use. I can't believe I had all that junk sitting around gathering dust. No wonder I've felt overwhelmed and mentally cluttered for the past few years! With each bag of trash that gets tossed, I feel lighter mentally and emotionally.

Next positive: We're moving to a college town (and, yes, it's the town where Daniel goes to school, but I've sworn a blood oath not to intrude too often), and as I told Greg, I feel as though I'm re-entering civilization after 12 years of exile. The new town has live music and theater! An art museum! Tons of restaurants, bookstores, and cool shops! A botanical garden! A historical society! I can't wait to get out and start exploring.

Yet another positive: The job market up there is much, much better than here in Mayberry, so Kevin and I are hoping he can find a job with more of a future. After a little surfing, I've already seen listings for job search, career counseling, and job retraining services, so that's a good sign, I think.

And another one: Rent is going to be far less than my mortgage payment, so I can get caught up financially and maybe even save some money (what a concept).

I know losing my house is a bad thing, but I don't think I'm wrong to feel a little hopeful. This house and this town were a wonderful place to raise Daniel, but that chapter of my life is over. Time to turn the page to the next one.

I won't have Internet access next week because my service provider is switching cable companies, but I might head over to the library a few times and check e-mail (address over there to the left). I'll have plenty to do to keep me busy--just wish me strength to withstand the withdrawal pangs, would you?

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Almost exactly 48 hours after Andrew was here, I'm coughing, hacking, sniffling, aching, feeling nauseated, and running a fever. DAMN IT. Anyone know the penalty for ex-icide?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A laugh and a rant about exes

Celeste has officially stolen my heart, as the person who's made me laugh the hardest in the past 24 hours. She left a comment yesterday about my picture over there in the sidebar to the left, saying she adored my baby picture and it reminded her of Dale Chihuly. Of course, I had to Google him. I clicked the first link that looked promising, fully expecting him to be a photographer like Anne Geddes, who takes nauseatingly sweet photos of babies (inexplicably reposing in giant roses and assorted fruits). You can imagine my surprise when I saw this picture of Dale Chihuly. Bwah! Bless your heart, Celeste. I had a long, tiring day trying to turn an author's meandering incomprehensible prose into something approximating English, so ending my day with that kind of laugh was exactly what I needed. By the way, Dale does very cool glass art--check out some other links for him on Google.


Giggling over my younger self's resemblance to Dale also helped me deal with the annoyance that is Kevin's ex-wife. Some of you have heard me complain about her before, so I won't get into repeating the litany of her horrible parenting skills, her nastiness, her lying, etc., etc. Well, I'll give you one example: She's mysteriously been able to afford digital cable services ever since I've known her but whines about not having money to buy new winter coats for her children. Anyway, she's always been a little afraid of me, which delights me to no end because I'm hardly what you'd call intimidating. I'm 4'11" if I stand up very straight, and if I had to compare myself to a celebrity, I'd say Mrs. Claus before her red hair turned gray. Not exactly the stuff of nightmares, but she fears me so much that she's terrified of actually speaking to me on the phone. Mwah-ha-ha-ha.

Here's how I know that: When she wants to call Kevin, she has to work up the nerve to leave a message for him, so she calls about five to six times first, hanging up right before the answering machine picks up each time. (Yes, she is too stupid to realize I can tell it's her because of caller ID.) Finally, she gets brave enough to leave a message, which invariably starts this way, in her slow, whiny voice: "Keeeeeeeevin, you neeeeeed to call meeeeee the second you get this meeeessage." First? I cannot stand it when people say "You need to . . ." Perhaps you'd like me to do something, or you think it's important I do something, but I don't need to do anything, except maybe pee after drinking three cups of coffee. How about "Would you please call me?" or "I need to talk to you soon." Second, she usually calls while he's at work, so he's not able to call her back until he gets home, often a few hours later. When he does call back, she bitches about him not calling the "second" he got the message, which hello? Just because he didn't call the second she left the message doesn't mean he didn't call back as soon as he got it.

Gah. ANYway, The Ex-Wife wanted to talk to Kevin about Andrew feeling "a little sick" because he was supposed to come over last night and spend the weekend. The Ex-Wife said Andrew threw up yesterday morning but was fine now. That didn't sound serious, so Kevin said he'd be there at the usual time to pick him up.

Well. I wish you could have seen this poor kid when he walked in. He threw up three times yesterday, not once, and he had a fever of 102 and a cough that rattled the windows. He couldn't take his coat off for half an hour because he had chills from going out in the frigid air and said he COULD NOT EAT his dinner. I've known Andrew 10 years, and I've never seen him sick enough to not eat. Plus, he was coughing and hacking everywhere without covering his mouth, and I don't want to sound Monk levels of neurotic, but Jesus. I could practically see flu germs arcing through the air and leaping down my throat.

I gave him some cold-and-flu medicine and had Kevin bundle him up in bed, and he fell asleep at 9:00, which is also unheard of for him. And then I fussed at Kevin for about 10 minutes nonstop about The Ex-Wife's idiocy in letting a kid that sick leave his home. It's not just her being inconsiderate enough to let him to infect other people, but when kids are that sick, they shouldn't leave their own homes and beds, where they're more comfortable. I don't like being sick in someone else's house, and I don't think anyone does. I've never let Daniel go over to his dad's house when he's ill enough to run a fever. With a typical cold and sniffles, maybe, but with a fever and vomiting? No way.

When Andrew got up this morning, Kevin checked his temperature, and it was still 102 (which worried me because fevers are usually lowest in the morning). Kevin asked him how he felt, and he said "Okay, I guess, but . . . I'm sorry, Dad, but I want to to go home." So Kevin called The Ex-Wife, and she said "Oh, sorry, I didn't know he was that sick." Argh! I could tell with one look from 15 feet away, and he's not even my kid!

I'm going back to look at that picture of Dale Chihuly again because I need another laugh. Damn it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I can't get ANYthing to work

I've been trying this contact lens site because I want to see what I look like with different-colored eyes, but I keep getting an error message. Maybe it'll work for you. Some of the contact colors I saw look so unreal--bright green or purple?--that I'm dying to see whether I look like an alien in them.
Let me explain the "alien." I have a first cousin, Jennifer, who was born with beautiful dark-brown eyes and brown hair. Several years ago, she dyed her hair a rather unnatural yellow-blonde and got bright-blue contacts. She was a pretty woman: tall, great figure, beautiful features, olive complexion. With her new hair and eyes, she looks bizarre, though. At a recent family reunion, my mom told me that Jennifer was talking to my Cousin Dewey. (Yes, his real name, and he's something like my second cousin once removed, I think? I'm a bad Southerner because I can't keep all those convoluted cousin relationships straight.) After Jennifer left, he told my mom, "She's still gorgeous, but she looks like an alien!" My mom and I still laugh about it. Dewey's such a sweet old man that she didn't expect that comment from him. Every now and then, we try to work "alien" into a compliment. "Nice eyeshadow, even if does make you look like an alien." "New haircut? It's a little alien-like, but pretty."

I'm such a moron about computer hardware. Software, I can learn, but show me anything with cables and electronic parts, and I'm intimidated. My printer finally died last week, so I bought a new printer/scanner combination. I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I'm stymied about unhooking the old printer and scanner and hooking up the new one. If I don't shut down the computer before disconnecting the old printer and scanner, are sparks going to fly out that start a raging inferno and burn down my house? And if I do shut down the computer and disconnect the old equipment, is Windows going to be confused when I turn the computer back on and repeatedly inform me that some hardware isn't connected? If so, how do I shut it up until I can get the new printer connected? And do I need to uninstall the software for the old computer and scanner at some point? My new printer/scanner has been sitting on the floor of my office for four days, which is pathetic. Any suggestions? Feel free to make fun of my ignorance; I can live with the embarrassment if you can get me past this ridiculous frozen-by-indecisiveness point.

Edited to add: I just found the link for the top 10 Superbowl commercials. If you're slow like me and haven't seen them yet, there you go. Love the last one: I could watch Justin Timberlake getting smacked upside the head with things over and over and over. :)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

AI and PR

I've been working my short little fingers to the bone this week, so in terms of exciting news to report? I have nothing. So far this week, I've been collapsing on the couch around 7:00 or 8:00, watching a little TV, and then going back to work for another hour or two. I'm unduly excited about the variation in this routine planned for tonight. Kevin decreed we're spending the evening upstairs putting away piles of laundry he's washed, cleaning the bathroom, and generally straightening up. Few people see the upstairs, so I tend to neglect it, but the general chaos up there is getting on both our nerves.
I'll spare you the whining and complaining about lazy, incoherent authors and move on to the TV watching. American Idol aired its "Best of the Rest" episode last night, and I was unimpressed, except for Ryan being so familiar with Dolly Parton songs. Watching him sing "Islands in the Stream" and doing a little dance with the auditioner's mom was pretty much worth the time I wasted on that episode. Ryan's such a tiny little man that it was like watching a wee leprechaun caper around.
What else? Oh, Project Runway, of course! SASHA, if you haven't watched yet, STOP READING.
Ricky, the designer who's been sobbing all season at the drop of a hat? Tell him he's awful, and he cries, but tell him he's good--yep, he cries then, too. And he's been weeping and wailing in every episode while wearing the most godawful hats I've ever seen. So last night when he was eliminated, I was bracing myself for the inevitable waterworks. Not one tear, however. What the . . . ? Maybe his Greek fisherman's cap made from mesh (why??) consoled him.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I thought I had a few good years left

Would you believe I haven't continued reading that stupid Cornwell book? Well, yes, you probably can. I finally gave up and turned to the end of the book to find out who the killer is. I know. I'm just like Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally, minus the fear of commitment, the wit, the neurotic self-obsession, and the skill at imitating "white man overbite." Other than that, I'm just like him, though!

Recently, Miz S wrote about one of the most devastating effects of aging: Noun Loss. Her description was spot-on and, sadly, all too familiar. You see, I've been suffering in silence for several months about my struggle to pluck the noun I need out of my brain's word soup. Verbs and I play together nicely, and I'm still master of my adjective domain, but nouns and I? We're becoming strangers to one another.

For a person who makes her living with words, this development is upsetting, as you can imagine. Worse, it's embarrassing. I used to laugh, smug in the knowledge I'd never have this problem, when Kevin told me about common exchanges with his mom, which went something like this:

"Kevin, get the thing from my bedroom. It's under the thing."

"Uh, Mom? What thing?"

"You know! Goddammit, the thing. It's under the thing."

If I can remember what letter the word starts with, at least I can reel off several possibilities, as Miz S did when searching for "smoothie." Sometimes, however, the entire word is simply gone, with no clue as to what it starts with or sounds like. A couple of weeks ago, I wanted Kevin to give me the remote because he has no idea how to work it, and it takes him longer than three seconds to find the volume control, and with my patience issues, I can't abide the wait.

ANYway, I started with "Would you please hand over the . . . " and then went blank. I stared at the object of my desire, hoping its name would come to me, but nothing. In desperation, I mimed clutching the remote and pressing buttons on it, but apparently I'm not destined for success in charades because Kevin guessed "The lobster?? You want me to give you the lobster?" I'd like to point out that with a guess like that, Kevin's not about to take the charades crown, either. He's begun referring to the remote as "the lobster," which does amuse us. See? I can still laugh about my . . . uh, the thing that's wrong with me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Not a meme in sight!

I figured John Edwards would be dropping out soon, but I'm sorry to see it's this soon. He was a gentlemanly candidate, and I believe he's sincere about issues such as poverty and health care. I'll miss him in debates--and with him gone, who's going to keep Hillary and Barack from coming to blows? (Kidding. I know they'll save slap fights for a more private venue.)


Patricia Cornwell is going to do me in. To be more precise, her inept writing is going to kill me. I read a few of her early books because I'm twisted enough to be fascinated by serial killers and forensics procedures; oddly enough, I don't watch any of the CSI shows, though. Anyway, those books were fast-paced and had enough plot twists to keep my interest. I picked up a more recent book of hers at the grocery store the other day. Is it just me, or is she churning out so many books that she's given up on even attempting to write well? I'm going to quote a passage from this book as an example:

"Nice of you to let me know," Marino says angrily as he angrily digs through a saddlebag for his tire-plug kit as he angrily thinks of Joe Amos, getting angrier with each thought."

Just a guess, but do you think Marino was upset about something? Gah. I don't know whether I can finish this book because I want to throw it across it the room. I hate not finishing a book I've started, but she's driving me to thoughts of homicide. "Angry thoughts," I think angrily.


Last night proved to me that Indiana has the most bizarre weather in the entire country. Here's what happened: Yesterday afternoon, the temperature was a balmy 54 degrees. Around 8:30 p.m., there was a bad thunderstorm with heavy rain. By 9:00, there was a tornado warning followed by hail. An hour later? It was snowing with near-blizzard-force winds! Needless to say, the temperature plummeted like a rock; I think it was around zero this morning. I'm changing outfits as often as a chorus girl in a musical revue here. Maybe I'll go read some more of that damn Cornwell book. My anger will keep me warm.

Monday, January 28, 2008

More questions! Now with pictures!

Man, Janet wasn't kidding when she said this meme is time consuming! I did have fun seeing what images popped up, though. The instructions said to use Photobucket to search for images, but I don't have an account, so I used Google Image. Anyway, here are the instructions:
  1. Type your answer to each question into Photobucket's (or Google Image's) search box.
  2. Choose a picture from the first page of results and post it with the answer.
  3. You can't copy the pictures the person who posted before you used.

1. The age you will be on your next birthday:

2. A place you'd like to travel to:


3. Your favorite place:

Right now? My couch.

4. Your favorite object:

I have so many, so I picked a little piece of rough opal Daniel gave me for Christmas. Opal is my birthstone, and I was amazed he remembered that!

5. Your favorite food:

Chocolate (but then I saw this picture of a chocolate cake and thought "Ooooo, cake!")

6. Your favorite animal:


7. Your favorite color:


8. Your hometown:

I don't have a "real" hometown. I was born in Macon, Georgia.

9. The state in which you live:


10. The name of a past pet:


11. A dream come true:

I wouldn't call this a dream exactly, but my first thought was "a clean house."

12. Your nickname:

I've never had many nicknames, but sometimes Kevin calls me "Daisy Mae" because of my habit of running around barefoot.

13. Your middle name:

Michelle (a picture of Hurricane Michelle--ha!)

14. Your last name:

I felt a little odd answering this question (even though almost everyone who reads here probably knows it). Most of the image results I got were related to a famous movie trilogy, though.

15. Your bad habit:

16. Your first job:

I painted ceramic Christmas tree ornaments in a woman's basement, which was less like a sweatshop than it sounds, really. After some dithering, I came up with "ceramic painter" as a job title of sorts.

17. Your grandmother's name:


Thursday, January 24, 2008

AI chatter and some questions

Oh, my God. A Freecycle message I got this morning offered "2 Small miniature full blooded datsun's (weiner dogs)." Good thing she clarified in parentheses--for a second, my poor brain almost exploded trying to figure out what a full-blooded Datsun might be. And "small miniature" wins the Department of Redundancy Department prize.


I have a pile o' work waiting for me, so I'm talking a little American Idol, throwing up a questionnaire, and calling it an entry. So, AI first. I think I've detected this season's theme: chastity. So far in auditions, I've seen the Boy Who's Never Been Kissed (because he made a pledge to his creepy father, and the two of them wear matching lockets as a symbol of his pledge, aaaaaaand it was exactly as disturbing as you think it seems); Nanny Who's Never Seen an R-Rated Movie (and she's married and in her 20s); a crazed-looking man who sang his own composition, "No Sex Allowed"; and Abstinence "Whatevs!" Chick, a 17-year-old girl who preaches perkily and annoyingly to her classmates about the benefits of waiting for marriage to have sex. (Meanwhile, she's captain of the dance team and shakes her booty in an extremely short skirt. Uh, a little more consistency, please?)


I saw this questionnaire at Sasha's:

When you walk in your front door, which room do you enter?

I refer to it as the "entryway," but it's more room-sized than that term implies. I have two big bookcases in there, and in the corner, between two windows, is Daniel's reading chair and a lamp.

Do you have a dishwasher?

Yes, thank the Lord.

Is your living room carpeted or does it have hardwood floors?

Hardwood, after I ripped up the hideous beige carpet several years ago.

Do you keep your kitchen knives on the counter or in a drawer?

On the counter in a block, but I'm slowly the replacing the not-very-good knives that came with the block.

House, apartment, duplex, or trailer?


How many bedrooms?

Three upstairs, but one is the art room/music room/Kevin's cave.

Gas or electric stove?


Do you have a yard?

Yes, but I wish it were fenced. I'd love to be able to open the back door and turn the dogs loose out there.

What size TV is in the living room?

30-something inches? I think?

Are your plates in the same cupboard as your cups?

Nope. I don't have cups that match my dishes; I keep all the coffee mugs in a cabinet above the coffeemaker.

Is there a coffeemaker sitting on your kitchen counter?

Have we met? Of course!

What room is your computer in?

In my office, which was intended as this house's dining room. It's midway between the bathroom and the kitchen, so it's placed perfectly for me.

Are there pictures hanging in your living room?

Yes, and probably too many. One of my favorites, I actually found in the trash! The man who lived across the alley from my apartment in Oak Park died, and his children threw out an enormous pile of perfectly good stuff. This picture is a watercolor, possibly Victorian era, of a young woman sitting in a rowboat with her head bowed. She could be melancholy or just tired, but I like imagining what she's thinking about.

Are there any themes found in your home?

I don't go for obsessive themes, I guess. I have a few things with pictures of chubby chefs on them in my kitchen, but I wouldn't say it's a theme. Other than that, I'd have to echo Sasha's answer: "Yeah, that would be the Dogs and Cats Own This House We Just Live Here theme."

What kind of laundry detergent do you use?

I have no idea because Kevin does the laundry.

Do you use dryer sheets?

As a matter of fact, I think he switched from fabric softener to dryer sheets recently.

Do you have any curtains in your home?

Yes, because I'm too lazy to dust blinds as often as they need it.

What color is your fridge?


Is your house clean?

I intended to lie like a rug when answering this question, but I feel guilty doing that. I'd say my house is reasonably clean but cluttered, with pockets of chaos (my office, the basement, etc.)

What room is the most neglected?

Usually, it's my office, but I'm slowly making progress on straightening it up. I guess Daniel's room is the most neglected now because he isn't living in it.

Are the dishes in your sink/dishwasher clean or dirty?

I have clean dishes in my dishwasher waiting to be put away so that I can load the dirty dishes in the sink.

How long have you lived in your home?

Since 1995. (Please do the math for me. Thank you.)

Where did you live before?

In a duplex in Indianapolis.

Do you have one of those fluffy toilet lid covers on your toilet?

No (shudder).

Do you have a scale anywhere in your house?

Yes, in the bathroom. It's dusty, if that tells you anything.

How many mirrors are in your house?

Seven: an antique mirror propped up on a kitchen counter, a candle sconce in the living room with a mirror behind the candle, downstairs bathroom mirror, an antique black-framed mirror in the entryway, two in the upstairs bathroom, and the round mirror attached to my antique vanity in the bedroom. Could I say "antique" more in this answer? I think not.

Look up. What do you see?

On top of the hutch over my desk: a Magic-8 ball, my dictionary, a cardboard standing Einstein, a little statue of John Lennon, two small red-and-black silk Japanese boxes, and assorted framed photos and pictures.

Do you have a garage?

Yes, a detached garage at the far end of the back yard.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Everyone needs a sludge hammer

After the responses to my plea for dinner ideas ("Yeah, dinner. Whatever. A bowl of cereal is filling! Can we talk about American Idol now?" Heh.), I think I know what my problem is. It's not hatred of cooking; actually, I love to cook--occasionally. What I hate is the daily-ness of cooking dinner. You do it one day, and damn it, you have to do it again the next day, and the next, and the next, etc., etc. Bring on the Soylent Green tablets!

I do get inspired by watching the Food Network, however, and searching the Web site always gives me ideas, especially if I have an ingredient and don't know what the hell to do with it, too--a pack of chicken breasts, for example. What I should do is make a regular-sized recipe and freeze half of it, right? But that involves having freezer containers with matching lids. Oy. Face it: Dinner is just a pain in the ass. That bowl of cereal is sounding better all the time.


About a month ago, I joined my local Freecycle group. My first experience making an offer wasn't a good one because the woman who claimed she was "so excited" about getting my book of knitting patterns never showed up and wouldn't reply to my e-mails. I was discouraged, but I've been keeping a box of items to give away, and I'll give it another go soon.

I get the group e-mails in a daily digest, and I have to say that I'm dismayed (and snottily amused) at the near-illiterate messages. Isn't there a spell-check feature for messages to Yahoo groups? Clearly, no one uses it. The grammar and punctuation are just as appalling. I sound overly picky, don't I? Because I'm hateful, I'm copying a few here to show you I'm really NOT that picky. Some are unintentionally funny, too:

"i have over 50 jars of baby food that need gone to day!!"

"Im in need of a sweeper if you have one you no longer use please let me know. i Can pick up anytime."


"I'm Looking for an outdoor fire pit for next summer my fiance gets really cold easy and I like to sit outside with the kids during the evening and I figured since it was the winter someone may be getting a new one next year and I could take the old one off there hands!"


"Offer: A sack full of paring knifes."

"As it seems my very comfy office chair that I have for my computer chair. Has seen its better days, my hubby gotta love him tried to fix it..Its broke on the bottom of the arm. Now if you happen to not to know and lean back it will come apart or just throw you out of the chair." (Maybe her husband meant to make the chair throw her out?)

Her next message: " I forgotten to put down that I live in [next town over] and that I can pick up..Goodness I forgotten to put that in."

"These chairs are metal, kind of have a roth iron look to them. They are from the 70's or 80's not sure. They still have some good life left in them. And they do swivel."


Sasha has seen requests for some unusual items on her Freecycle list: "wemens clothes" and a "sludge hammer," for example. Sasha, what was the other one that was so funny?

Friday, January 18, 2008

I saw this CD Cover Meme at Alicia's and had to try it. Here are the instructions:

1. Go here. The first article title on the page is the name of your band.

2. Go here. The last four words of the last quote are the title of your album.

3. Go here. The third picture, no matter what it is, is your album cover.

Here are my results:

"Applying the Wrong Remedy" is a great album title, isn't it?


I need dinner help. Since Kevin started working full-time again, I offered to make dinner during the week. I'm at home all day, so it should be no big deal, right? Kevin cooks on the weekends, which gives me a break, but I'm stymied by cooking for only two people. I don't think it's the math of cutting recipes in half that bugs me. I might be a math moron, but even I can do that. I could make full-size recipes, too, because leftovers are handy for Kevin to take to work for lunch and for me to heat up the next day.

I guess I got used to cooking for three, and I haven't adjusted to the notion that Daniel isn't here for dinner? Whatever. I'm feeling decidedly UNcreative, and I'm bored to tears with making the same thing over and over. Suggestions?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What's next??

I called Daniel late this afternoon. My main reason for calling was that my mom called me earlier today, saying "Do you think Daniel got the package I sent UPS on Monday? It was supposed to get there Tuesday. Maybe it got lost! I put a loaf of banana bread in there, and it's going to get stale."
You're probably thinking "Why didn't she simply call Daniel to find out?" Wait, let me pause here . . . Bwah! Oh, that's a good one. You're so funny. Silly, if she'd called Daniel, she'd have missed an opportunity to subtly make me realize I've raised a rude, ungrateful son, and IT'S ALL MY FAULT. You think my mom would pass up a chance like that? Please.
Also, I'm sure she knows I don't have nearly enough to do to keep me busy, and she was kind enough to devise a little task that would occupy some of my empty day. Bless her heart.
Anyway, as you might have guessed, he's been busy this week and hadn't checked his mailbox until today. The package, of course, was there, and he was happily munching on banana bread while we talked. I did chide him for not calling my mom right away to thank her, but he said he'd planned to call her tonight. Sure, he could be giving me the party line, but he's been doing better about remembering niceties without my reminders lately. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt here.
We chatted about his classes, and then he confessed that he's developed a new interest. This new interest--it's so unlike him! I've been thinking about what it means ever since I talked to him. I hardly know where to begin . . . I mean, it involves changing partners frequently. Daniel claimed it's good exercise, but I don't know; that sounds like an excuse to me. I would have felt hypocritical discouraging him because I have to admit--embarrassing as it is--that I engaged in this same practice in my younger days.

Well, I guess the only thing to do is just blurt it out: My son has . . .

. . . taken up swing dancing.

Try not to judge him too harshly?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Lifetime movies! Can Harlequin romances be far behind??

I'm in a quandary. For the first time in my life, I'm considering watching . . . I can barely bring myself to type it . . . a Lifetime movie tonight. Before you gasp in horror, I am not becoming my mother (yet). The only reason I'm considering it is because that adorable Nikki Blonsky from Hairspray is starring in the movie. I don't think she sings in it, however, so I probably won't watch it. Also, I'm worried she's going to get stuck in roles about chubby girls who heroically manage to overcome fat prejudice and triumph in the end, you know? Still, she's awfully cute, and seeing her makes me smile.

Miz S, I hope you didn't get the wrong impression about my attitude or anyone else's attitude toward the younger generation. I was irritated beyond belief at Daniel's irresponsibility, but in general, I consider myself lucky to have him for a son. Except for losing any object not attached to him with a cord and occasional bouts of moodiness, he's a great kid who's never given me a minute's worry about the drinking or the drugs or the inappropriate friends or anything. (I do enough drinking and carousing with inappropriate friends for both of us! Well, in my younger days, anyway.) I'm sure lrw7 didn't mean Daniel when she mentioned entitled, overprotected kids, either; she's actually met him and knows he's a good boy . . . er, young man. After hearing some stories about the people she deals with every day at the college's financial aid office, I can understand where she's coming from, though.
Since I wrote that entry yesterday, I've been thinking, and it's probably true that Daniel's been overprotected somewhat. He's an only child, and it was just the two of us for several years, and I'm sure I made some mistakes in not letting him handle his own problems enough. To be honest, sometimes I'm amazed he turned out as well as he did. It was so hard for me to suppress my urge to do things for him instead of letting him do it himself and learn from his own mistakes occasionally. Even now, when he's out of my maternal grasp about 90% of the time, I have to bite my tongue to keep myself from exclaiming "I can do that for you!" Good thing he had a healthy independent streak--I think it prevented him from turning out completely helpless.
Eh, maybe I'm being too hard on myself. He'll probably always be a little absent-minded and forgetful, and that's not necessarily my fault, right? Some people just are that way. As a matter of fact, there's a chance he inherited that tendency (cough). I know plenty of mature adults who lose their phones and debit cards, and they manage to survive. As Rizzo said in Grease, "There are worse things I could do."
Why, yes, I can sum up everything in life with a song from a musical! Heh.

Edited to add: Guess who called me earlier this evening? My mom, to tell me Nikki Blonsky's in a Lifetime movie tonight. Ha!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Death by absent-mindedness

My dad's home from the hospital and driving my mom crazy already. Oh, I guess he's not behaving too badly for a stubborn, 78-year-old man. However, the doctor doesn't want him to drive for the next couple of months until he's had a chance to adjust to his new blood pressure meds. You can imagine my dad's reaction to THAT advice. My mom and I have explained ad nauseum that these medications can cause dizziness and lightheadedness--not conditions you want to experience behind the wheel of a two-ton vehicle, right? (Um, I don't know how much cars weigh, but "two-ton" is more euphonious than "800-pound" or whatever, so just go with it.) He's not eager to go back to the hospital anytime soon, so I suspect he's more willing to listen and follow instructions than he might be otherwise.


I certainly don't want my son to have to go to the hospital to make him more biddable, but he's going to send me to the loony bin if he doesn't stop acting like a senile, dotty old man. Daniel's always been a tad absent-minded, but when he was 6 and couldn't find his Lego pirate, it wasn't such a big deal. Now he's 18, and when he can't find his freaking cellphone, it's a slightly bigger deal. He lost the damn thing not once, not twice, but three times while he was home for Christmas. That's roughly once a week. One time he left it at his dad's, and his dad discovered it under the covers of Daniel's (unmade) bed.

Misplacing a cellphone, by itself, isn't that bad, I'll grant you, but here's a short list of other things he's misplaced or lost recently: He left his debit card at a game store in Indianapolis (when he was home for Thanksgiving), he left his iPod in a girl's car, he left a T-shirt at a friend's house, he lost the Purdue hat Kevin gave him for Christmas, and he lost his room key 5 minutes after he'd unlocked his dorm room Sunday when we were moving his stuff back in. (He finally found the key on his desk, but if you could see his desk, you'd understand how something could get lost on it.)

I've saved the worst for last. Sunday I'd taken him to the bookstore to get his books for the semester and used my card to buy them (400-something-dollars, yikes). Monday, he decided to change two classes, so on Wednesday, he took the books he no longer needed back to the bookstore to return them and buy books for his new classes. However, he couldn't get a refund unless the cashier had my card. Being the lovely, helpful person I am (and, of course, I had no objections to any excuse to drive up to Purdue to see Daniel), I agreed to come up Thursday after his botany lab. I pulled up to his dorm, and he came out looking upset. He got in the car and said, "Mom, I can't find the receipt."

People, I almost fainted. The books he was returning added up to $240! We searched his room: no receipt. I asked him where the bookstore bag was, and he said he threw it out, and then added, "Uh, I think the receipt was in the bag." And of course he threw the bag in the trashcan out in the hall that's emptied every night, not in the wastebasket in his room.

I was feeling slightly sick by this time, but I suggested we go to the bookstore anyway and see whether we could persuade the cashier to get a refund. Two of the books had "Used" stickers on them with the bookstore's name, so I thought there was a chance the cashier would believe the books came from there, not from another bookstore. The first cashier we approached--a harried-looking young woman--snapped "No receipt, no refund!" but grudgingly agreed to find the manager for us.

The manager, thank God, was a bookish, middle-aged man, and I'm very good with people of the bookish male persuasion. I'm not embarrassed at all to confess that I went into full-on Southern belle, sweet-talking mode. I flattered him shamelessly and flirted mildly. I threw my own son under the bus without a second thought and bemoaned his typical freshman carelessness, and the manager and I commiserated over the tribulations of dealing with college-age children. The whole time, however, I was thinking impatiently that this idiot had a computer record of my transaction and could easily pull it up, compare it to the number on my card, and verify the books against the record. Finally, I worked around to suggesting gently that he do just that. He pontificated about the unreliability of computer records and said condescendingly, "Well, you know technology is a wonderful thing--when it works." Christ on a biscuit, buddy. JUST GO LOOK. I swallowed my vitriol and smiled sweetly, however, and finally, finally he pulled up the damn record and lo and behold, found the transaction.

I managed to hang on to my smile until I had the new receipt in my hands and the refund credited to my card. The second we were done, however, I grabbed Daniel by the sleeve and marched him out of the store, hissing "And you hang onto THIS receipt, kiddo, or I'll come up here and wait outside your dorm, holding a hat and gloves and fretting over how my baby never dresses properly for the weather IN FRONT OF YOUR ROOMMATE AND FRIENDS."

That damn kid is going to kill me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Even Blogger is chortling about "erectus"

Despite the writer's strike, a new episode of The Daily Show was on last night! All is right in my world again. I am, I realize, a wee bit obsessed with Jon Stewart, but the past six weeks or so, I can't tell you many times, while watching the news, I'd think "I bet Jon is dying to comment on that story!" Hey, he knew I was thinking about him. Primary season is going to be much more enjoyable now.


Last night, Kevin and I were watching a show on Discovery Channel about the "human hobbit," which is a skeleton of a tiny human found on an island near Indonesia that's sparked fervent debate among bearded scientists about whether it's an example of a new species of human ancestors. I was feeling rather smug and faux-intellectual about us watching a science-y show, and then Kevin, who's normally a fairly mature person, snickered unexpectedly when an Australian anthropologist suggested the "hobbit" was related to Homo erectus. I, who am fairly immature and always eager to join in on 14-year-old humor, said "Homo erectus is also the mascot of the Viagra race car team!" Oh, how quick I am to throw the benefits of intelligent TV out the window.


My dad's improving, but more slowly than he'll admit. The doctor is taking the temporary pacemaker out today, so he can finally get up and walk around a little. When I talked to him this morning, he claimed he's going home tomorrow morning. Uh, according to my mom, that's unlikely--it's more like Thursday. Keep your fingers crossed she can bully him into accepting he's not leaving tomorrow as easily as she bossed him back to life, will you? I have a lot of faith in the Power of Bossiness, but my dad is the King of Stubbornness. The nurses had better be cautious entering Room 1103 of that hospital to avoid my parents, Scylla and Charybdis.


I did some Christmas shopping at Half Price Books about a month ago and got a free calendar that included several 15% off coupons to use throughout 2008. The other day, I pulled the calendar out to clip the coupons and stick them on my refrigerator. Before I threw the calendar away, I flipped through it to check what famous literary people were born on certain days and noticed the calendar also had "green" tips for each month. I was a little horrified to see how much power I'm wasting by leaving my cellphone charger plugged in all the time instead of only when I'm recharging my phone. So sure, I can unplug my charger when I'm not using it. That's simple enough, but reading green tips always makes me feel guilty and wasteful, as though I'm stomping around leaving a giant Ugg-sized ecological footprint instead of a small, dainty, uh, thong sandal of a footprint. (One day I'll be able to complete an analogy skillfully.) My anti-guilt immune system is practically nonfunctional, I know, but why don't I feel all motivated and charged up when I read about simple things everyone can do to have an impact?

(By the way, Blogger flagged "erectus" in this entry with a red underline. I know it's a spell-check thing, but I like to think Blogger is giggling childishly.)

Monday, January 7, 2008

No more hospitals!

I have an announcement: If you're a friend or related to me, you're not allowed to be admitted to the hospital this week. Thank you.

Why the bossiness, you ask? Well, first, my friend Janet's lung collapsed last Thursday, and she's been in the hospital since, getting transfusions and God knows what-all, and bless her heart, she's been freaking me out. Her pitiful little voice on the phone makes me want to cry. Second, after having Daniel home for almost a month, I had to take him back to school yesterday, and the combination of saying good-bye and spending $400 on his books did have me in tears. (OK, that event has nothing to do with a hospital, except that my wallet might need to be put in the ICU.)

Then this morning, my mom called at 8:00. That's early for her to call, so I knew something was up. And it was something, all right: My dad almost died yesterday afternoon. He's been on a slew of medications for his kidneys and blood pressure and has had several spells of dizziness and weakness the past few months. He had another one yesterday afternoon, but he passed out and stopped breathing. My mom had already called 911 and still had the operator on the phone, so she yanked him out of his recliner, got him down on the floor, took his top teeth out, and gave him mouth-to-mouth. My frail, weak, full-of-aches-and-pains mom! She said, "Lisa, you know how bad my knees are--I haven't kneeled on the floor in 10 years. But I got down on the floor to give him CPR, and in between breaths, I kept screaming at him that he's NOT ALLOWED to die on me now." Only my mother could boss someone back to life, I swear.

He started having a seizure while my mom was giving him CPR, but she said his eyes were wide-open the entire time, which scared the crap out of her. Right as the EMTs got there, he started coughing a little, so she figured he was breathing again. However, his blood pressure wasn't even registering, and his heart rate was down to 25. After they got him to the hospital, the doctor had to put a temporary pacemaker in. I don't know yet whether he'll need a permanent one. If his medications get adjusted better, he might be able to avoid that. One medication he's on, Coreg (I think), does tend to slow the heart rate; it's helped quite a bit to control his blood pressure, but its side effects seem too strong for him.

I talked to him this morning for a few minutes, and he's already feeling well enough to grumble about going home. He thinks he's just fine, and everyone's overreacting. Oy. I didn't have the heart to tell him that the doctor is probably going to keep him there at least another night. I did tell him I have the number to the nurses' station (which I do), and if he gives them a hard time, they have my permission to duct-tape him to the bed. It made him laugh, but I was only half-kidding. He's a sweetheart, but I know he's going to pester those nurses to death about going home. Actually, I wouldn't put it past him to get up and try to get dressed and walk out of there. He's just that stubborn. Good thing I didn't inherit that quality, right? I'd appreciate any good thoughts you can send his way (perhaps thoughts about the value of patience!)--and maybe a few for my mom in dealing with him.

Friday, January 4, 2008

I've been on an archaeological dig in my office for the past month or so in an attempt to get this space clean and organized. Oy, the papers and books and mementos and just plain crap I have to wade through! Some days I get a lot done. If need be, I can be ruthless about getting rid of useless items. Why, earlier today I even tossed a pile of old computer books I'd edited 10 years ago. (Of course, first I tore out the acknowledgements pages where the authors waxed poetic about working with me and saved them in a folder. I'm not embarrassed to admit I reread them occasionally as a ego boost.)

Other days, I unearth an envelope of photos--a six-year-old Daniel dressed up in his homemade wizard Halloween costume; the white rabbit we named Runaway Bunny after one of his favorite books, who ate a good chunk out of the dining room table leg, nibbled his way through an entire folder of important papers, and shortly afterward went to live on a farm (seriously, a real farm, not the "farm" parents use as a euphemism); cast photos of the play I was producing when I met Kevin. I can't just throw them all in a box to await their final resting place in an album, which should happen by the time I'm approximately 72, I figure. No, I have to go through them and reminisce, snort at pictures of me on bad hair days, and get maudlin over Daniel's gap-toothed grin. Needless to say, I don't get much organizing and cleaning done then.

However, I was making some progress this evening until I came across a pile of old letters and cards. Not many people write letters now, do they? Maybe that's why I've saved most of the letters I've received, especially my grandma's because she wrote exactly the way she talked. Getting a letter from her was like sitting down at her kitchen table and chatting while she shelled peas. One thing about her letters used to crack my Aunt Joan and me up, though. Grandma had a martyr streak in her, so she always managed to work in a heavy-handed hint about her children and grandchildren not visiting her lately or a description of some ailment, but she always assured us she'd get through it, thankyouJesus, and maybe we could remember her in our prayers, if we had the time? Bless her heart.

Anyway, I found this letter tonight, and I felt as though Grandma was here for a short visit. I've retyped a little of it, with her own grammar and punctuation. I'd written her a letter for her 83rd birthday in October, 1994, a few months after I moved to Indianapolis from Chicago. Here's her reply with a few comments from me:



Tues Morn

Dear Baby,

I was so surprised to get the sweet letter from you, I was real happy to get it. So glad you moved closer to your Dad & Mom, I just know they are thrilled too.

I had a very nice birthday, I did not feel like I would since I knew that none of my children would be here with me. [Subtle hint, huh? Heh.] Then I get this call from Italy with the familiar voices [I think my aunt and uncle were in Italy on vacation and called her. Or maybe Grandma was just hearing Italian voices, but ones she'd heard before--that's reassuring!] Joan and Buddy called me too and I got a lot of nice gifts. I was real happy, it's not so hard being 83, is it? Ha ha.

Honey, I hope you can read this but since I cut my hand 2 years ago, I just don't write very good (wasn't too good before).

It sounds like Daniel is some boy. How I wish I could see him. Why don't you and Daniel come down for a visit? Tell Daniel I'll cook him some peas and cornbread. Remember when he was real little, I don't think he could walk, we were at Jerry's, and I cooked him some peas and cornbread. I'm still doing most all my work at 83. However, Eddie [her third husband--Grandma was a hussy] do help a lot. If he did not help as much as he do, I could not get along as well as I do.

I think I better hang it up. I have a headache. [Ha! Love this closing.]

Let me hear,



This picture of her with Daniel, when he was about five months old (I think), is one of my favorites. She had the magic touch with babies. Give her a fussy, colicky baby, and in less than two minutes, she'd have him or her cooing and smiling angelically.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What? It's 2008 already?

Long time, I know. I don't want to bore you with a long-winded explanation of why I haven't written, so I'll just say "Depression, blah, busy work schedule, blah blah, assorted problems, yadda yadda, major empty nest syndrome, etc., etc." and let it go at that.

I don't do New Year's resolutions; instead, I have two Stupid People stories I'm dying to tell. (If I made resolutions, my first one would be vowing to reduce the number of idiots in the world.)

1. The other day, I was checking out at the grocery and noticed a display of lighters at the counter. They had cartoons of current presidential candidates, and the one of Barack Obama was a particularly funny drawing, so I decided to buy it. The cashier made a disgusted face and sniped "I've been trying to persuade people to buy this lighter and then crush it!" Taken aback, I asked "Why?" (And yes, I should have known better.) She said "Well, I'm no racist or nothing, but I'm not gonna have a Muslim for a president."

Uh. I tried to be polite, but I told her he's not a Muslim and asked what made her think that. She claimed he "took an oath on the Muslim Bible." I said "First, it's called the Koran, and second, I don't know what your source of information is, but that NEVER happened." Unfazed, she went on to call Hillary Clinton "a raving bitch," and I threw up my hands and walked out, clutching my Barack Obama lighter. I swear, I have to get the hell out of Mayberry one of these days.

2. New Year's Eve afternoon, Kevin, Daniel, and I went to see Sweeney Todd, which I've been dying to see. My favorite musical ever, plus two of my boyfriends are in it (Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman). When the credits rolled, the row of people in front of us got up immediately, and one guy said to another, in a disgusted tone, "Well, that was no Pirates of the Caribbean, that's for sure!" ARRRGGGHHH. Yes, Pirates is the standard by which all other movies must be judged. Help me.