Category Archives: Life

One Little Bit of Normal

CONVERSATION:

English: A normal pisform bone as seen on late...

Nurse: I have good news! Your x-ray is completely normal.

Me: Well at least ONE part of me is.

Nurse: Yep. It’s just that tiny spot on your wrist, but one little bit of normal is better than nothing.

Comedians. I am surrounded by them.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Once Upon a Bedtime Weary… (a.k.a. When Bedtime Stories Attack)

Cartoon by Gaspirtz (cc) via WikiMedia

Once upon a time, there were three little pigs who left their mother’s house and wen off to build houses of their own.”

“Mom, did the pigs have names?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Well, then I’m gonna call them Curly, Bart and Petey.”

“Uh, okay. So the first pig went to build his house.”

“Which pig?”

“Um… the first one?”

“Mom, you gotta use the names. The story’s not the same without the names.”

“Okay. So, the fir– Curly built his house out of straw.”

“Outta what?”

“Straw.”

“That would take a long time, wouldn’t it?”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, did he leave the paper on, or take it off?”

“What paper?”

“The paper on the straws.”

“No, honey, it’s not that kind of straw. This kind is like hay.”

“So, you’re telling me Curly made his house out of grass?”

“Yes.”

“He wasn’t very smart, was he?”

“It’s a story, okay?”

“Okay.”

“The second little pig… what? Oh. Bart, I mean Bart. He built his house from sticks.”

“Mom, these pigs were poor weren’t they?”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because they built their houses out of grass and sticks. I bet Petey made his house out of dirt.”

“Ha! No, Petey build a house of bricks!”

“Mom, you do know bricks are baked dirt, right?”

“Um… yes.”

“Told you so! These pigs were poor!”

“Yes, Curly, Bart, and Petey were poor. They had to live in houses made of grass,sticks and dirt and they never got pizza for dinner and had to eat brussel sprouts all the time. It’s probably because they didn’t go to college.”

“What about the Wolf?”

“I don’t know if he went to college or not.”

“No, I mean the Wolf part of the story.”

“The wolf knocked on Curly’s door and said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in — What now?”

“You gotta do the voices, Mom.”

“LITTLE PIG, LITTLE PIG, LET ME COME IN!”

“Why did he do that?”

“Because he wanted to eat the pig — er, I mean Curly.”

“Mom? What’s this story rated?”

“What?”

“Is it PG-13? Because if it’s full of scary stuff like cute little pigs that get eaten, maybe we should stop now. It’ll give me nightmares.”

“Okay, I was wrong. The wolf didn’t want to eat Curly. He wanted to sell him something.”

“So, he’s like the guys that come to the door selling meat off a truck?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, what did Curly do?”

“Curly said, ‘Not by the hair of my chinny, chin-chin.'”

“Why would he say something stupid like that?”

“Look, kiddo, you said it yourself. He’s not very smart.”

“Oh.”

“And the wolf said, I’LL HUFF AND I’LL PUFF — for the love of Bob, what now?”

“Too scary. Who’s Bob?”

“Never mind. What the wolf really said was, “Litt– er — LITTLE PIG, LITTLE PIG, LET ME COME IN AND SELL YOU A NICE SIRLOIN. Better?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Well, let’s see… where was I?” Not by the hair of his chinny-chin… sell a nice sirloin… Okay, so Curly didn’t have any money because he always spent his allowance as soon as he got– WHAT?!?”

“I get it already, Mom. Just tell the story.”

“Curly was broke, so he ran next door to Petey’s house.”

“The brick house?”

“No, the one made of sticks.”

“That’s Bart’s.”

“Curly went to Bart’s house.”

“To borrow some money?”

“Sure, fine. And the wolf followed him and knocked on the door and said, ‘LITTLE PIGS, LITTLE PIGS, er… How about a nice steak? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Did you know your face gets all wrinkly like Grandpa’s when you talk like the wolf?”

“Do you want to hear this story or not?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Well Bart didn’t have any money either because the allowance thing ran in the family, so both pigs ran to Petey’s house and the wolf followed them. By now the wolf was getting tired of following pigs around and knocking on doors, especially since he didn’t even get to say his good line or use his really big voice, so for fun he decided to climb down the chimney. The end.”

“Mom, do salesmen ever really come down the chimney?”

“Only the persistent ones, and only during dinner.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.”

“Mom, I just want to know one thing. The Wolf’s a guy, right?”

“Y-es?”

“So why did he try on the Grandmother’s underwear?”

“It was her nightgown.”

“Same thing.”

“That’s a whole different story.”

“Can you tell me that one?”

“Not tonight.”

A slightly different version of this originally appeared in Today’s Woman.  magazine.

A World of My Own

Photo by Tuppus via Flickr (cc)

Today, my daughter accused me of living in my own little world. I tried explaining that I don’t get my own ROOM, much less my own WORLD, but she just rolled her eyes. For those of you without teens, this is secret code for ‘Where are the men in the little white coats and what have I done with my butterfly net?’.

It really bugs me. Oh, not that she rolled her eyes. She does that all the time. I’m bugged by the fact that she thinks this world I’m living in is of my own devising. Like I would PICK this. Face it, if I lived in my own little world, things would certainly be different.

For starters, clothing would be more compatible with my wants and needs. I would never (and I mean ever) have to wear pointy-toed or pointy-heeled shoes to look professional. In my own little world, I would pay the underwear designers triple to create a panty design that covers both halves of the great divide, AT THE SAME TIME. Stains would be en vogue and unbuttoning the slacks to breathe would be an accepted fashion statement. And don’t even get me started about pantyhose.

If I had my own little world, I’d proudly display all the awards I’ve won for inventing the four-wheel drive vacuum, the childproof parental bathroom, and the self-cleaning laundry. I’d also show off the Nobel Prize I won for curing the neurological disorder that compels a single child to dirty twelve glasses in a two-hour period. As a result, my happy, well-adjusted children would be proud of me instead of pretending I’m an odd acquaintance they haven’t figured out how to ditch.

I wouldn’t constantly be required to be in two places at once. I’d live in Soap Opera Time where one day can stretch to last a whole week. Not only that, but my newly discovered twin sister, Cynthia, who had been thought lost at sea, but only suffered from amnesia, would return and give me a much-needed week off. AND nobody in my family would notice the difference between the two of us.

I’m reasonably certain that in my own little world, the bedroom doorknob wouldn’t rattle during intimate moments. Small voices wouldn’t call through the door, “Are you okay in there?” and they definitely WOULD NOT CALL 911 if they didn’t get an immediate answer.

Telephone calls? All for me. Plus, the person on the other end would not use words like “siding,” “refinancing,” or “Do you know what your child just did?”

Grocery shopping? A snap! I would be able to identify the food I need to buy because the empty containers? They’d be missing from the shelves! Or, even better, the Corn Puffs Fairy that my children believe in would turn out to be REAL and it will be her job to magically refill the boxes the kids carefully replace in the cabinet.

I would be best friends with Mary Poppins, the New Battery Fairy, and the Elf in Charge of Hanging Up Wet Towels.

I could have my own room… my own room!

I think my daughter may have just said something. I’m not sure, though. I was off in my own little world.

This originally appeared (in slightly different form) in Today’s Woman Magazine. September 2004.

Conversation

“Mom, I smashed my finger at work twice. Right across the nail.”

“Ouch. Did you sing the #$%#%@ song?”

“Yes, both times, while hopping on one foot!”

One day we’ll take this act on the road…

Smart Time

Alarm clock

Image via Wikipedia

I currently own an alarm clock that is smarter than the average human. It automatically sets itself to the right time, has an alarm that can tell the difference between weekdays and weekends, and knows the day of the week without any input from me. Any day now, I suspect it will take control of the DVR — microwave and laser printer to follow.

This latest item in the inventory of intelligent appliances is supposed to make my life better. It joins the ranks of answering machines that arbitrarily delete messages, a computer that cheats at solitaire, and a talking refrigerator. Okay, technically I’m the only one who hears the refrigerator speak, but trust me when I tell you it sounds like an Italian grandmother and says things like: “Look at this cold pizza just sitting here. You are too skinny! Eat!”

Who am I to argue?

While I can’t blame my husband for the fridge, I can blame him for the clock. He bought it and gave it to me as a gift. The jury is still out regarding his motivation. I’m leaning toward self-defense.

See, before the arrival of Mr. Smarty Clock, I used to set my alarm clock precisely nine minutes fast. In a perfect world, this would make sense to people other than me. In this world, all it does is make my husband’s eye twitch and causes him to mutter things I never quite catch.

Obviously, the world is flawed, so I will explain. Math is not my thing. Let’s just say I view math the same way I view handling live insects or piercing my navel with a knitting needle. I can pull it off, but I’d rather not if it’s all the same to you. Ditto for mornings.  See, when I set the clock fast, it forces me to do math. In the morning. Math in the morning. Understand? Just nod. It’s okay.

After two or three snoozes, I either A: get up in order to avoid more early morning calculations, or B: turn the blasted thing off in order to avoid more early morning calculations. The options, albeit limited, are still options. At least they used to be. Now my clock knows exactly what time it is, whether I want it to or not. When I set it nine minutes fast, it corrects itself. If I tell it today is Wednesday instead of Friday, it calls me a liar. Does this make my life easier?

On one hand, I never have to reset the clock if the power goes out, and I have to admit the separate alarm feature is nice. On the other hand, I have now spent countless hours trying to outwit an inanimate object. For the record, this also makes my husband’s eye twitch. Serves him right, I think.

To  simplify my life, this clock would require other special features. Lots of special features. Like something from the Jetsons. I’m compiling a checklist to send to the appliance geeks to help them invent the clock I really need. So far, the system requirements list includes:

  • An alarm with a thunderous, drill-sergeant voice that blasts teens out of bed: WAKE UP, NOW! AND WHILE YOU ARE AT IT CLEAN UP THIS ROOM! IT IS A PIG STY! MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!
  • A microchip allowing me to set an alarm and send the clock into toilet-scrubbing, dog-bathing action. Though not, now that I think about it, at the same time as this could complicate my life more than it simplifies it.
  • A translator diode-thingy to help the clock communicate with the refrigerator and make it quit talking so I can lose a few pounds.

I hope the appliance geeks are listening.

 

This originally appeared (in slightly different form) in Today’s Woman.

Just Call Me Fingers

An alphanumeric computer keyboard.

Image via Wikipedia

I’m a writer by trade and spend a lot of time at a keyboard. You might not recognize it as a keyboard, as most of the letters have completely rubbed off over the years. Q is still recognizable, as are J, Z, X, and for some odd reason, P. The rest of the keys have either been rubbed blank, or have miniscule traces of the letters that used to live there. Anyway, I tell you the condition of my keyboard to show that I use it. A. Lot. One very used keyboard. On my desk.

Yesterday it occurred to me that maybe I shouldn’t be using it so much. Or that I should really pay attention to the words I’m making with it.

While working on a piece about creative writing, I typed the much more imaginative “creative writhing.” I’m reasonably certain that those two terms should never be used interchangeably unless it involves some sort of porn script. As it is, I can’t get this imagined conversation out of my head.

“Hello, what do you do for a living?”

“I do creative writhing.”

“Can I watch?”

Um… right.

Snow Daze

Snowflake. Small microscope kept outdoors. Sna...

Image via Wikipedia

Snow Season is upon us. This means school closures are imminent. Snow days will happen. Yet, with preparation, I’m certain our family will weather the storm, uh, so to speak. As usual, I’m meeting the challenge head on by making a list of family guidelines.

GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR MY CHILDREN DURING THE COMING CRISIS:

1. Despite my best efforts (it turns out that phoning the superintendent of schools at 5 a.m. to plead my case is not a good idea. Who knew?) we are having a snow day. Repeat after me: SNOW DAY. If it was Shave-The-Dog-And-Set-The-Microwave-On-Fire day, we would call it that, okay?

2. For entertainment, why don’t you go make something? When I say, “go make something” I am picturing your little hands at work building a model or drawing a picture. I would prefer you choose to make something more specific than “a mess.”

3. In case of emergency, do NOT break: Glass, dishes, windows, your little brother’s favorite toy, nose or teeth.

4. Do not play with fire. It should go without saying that this rule has not changed. Yes, it IS an electric stove, but it is still considered playing with fire if you use it to turn marshmallows on forks into flaming torches.

5. If you look into the hall closet, you will find several puzzles, books and other activities purchased specifically for your fighting pleasure. Please note that the TV remote is not one of them. Put it down. On the table where you found it. Now.

6. As I just mentioned (You are reading all of this, right?) the closet contains many pastimes and amusements. Use them. Yes, I know you possess creative souls. I do not require a demonstration. No. Really. I mean it. It is not necessary for you to invent your own entertainment while I attempt to work. This means I would appreciate it if you do not invent games. Despite what you think, the adults in this house have finely-tuned powers of observation. We are likely to notice small children hanging helplessly from doorknobs by their teeth. Likewise, we can identify the sound of small butts surfing down the stairs on the lid from the toy box. And trust me, even I, with my limited intelligence, am able to deduce that the stream of water running under your bedroom door probably does not belong there.

7. Before you don hats and coats and head outside, plan ahead. At some time during the day, there will be a question and answer period. You will be responsible for the answer portion. I’ll give you a hint. Past questions have included such gems as: “Who put the yellow snowball in the freezer?” and  “How did the snow shovel get on the roof?” Start planning now. Keep in mind “Not me” and “I don’t know” are not the types of answers I will be looking for. Nor is it acceptable to answer questions with new questions, for example: “”What anatomically correct snowman?”

8. If at some time during the day, you interrupt my work with the words, “Mom, I’m bored,” I will be happy to assist you with your predicament. I am your mother. I love you. And I am currently making a list of toilets to be scrubbed, socks to be sorted, and other fun activities. Just in case.

9. One final note worth mentioning. If at some time during the day you notice that any adult in your presence has lost the ability to speak in complete sentences, run. This is never a good sign.

Let the snow days do their worst. I am ready. Now, if I could just convince the superintendent to take my calls…

 

 

This originally appeared in Today’s Woman magazine

Killer Workouts

Hatha Yoga Video Tree Pose - Vrksasana

Image by myyogaonline via Flickr

The Yoga People want me dead. This really shouldn’t surprise me, since I’ve suspected something similar about all the other Fitness People.

The Aerobics People started it. Their plot revolved around making me think Spandex = Good Idea. Never mind that in reality Spandex = Torture. Of course all the hopping and wriggling and squeezing burned a lot of calories. Hasn’t anyone besides me reached the conclusion that getting dressed for a workout shouldn’t BE a workout?

When I swore off aerobics, the Pilates People stepped in and tricked me. I see that now. They had a simple three-step plan.

1. Get me on the floor.

2. Make me move my body in ways that would maximize muscle strain and fatigue.

3. Invite friends over to laugh at me while I starve to death because I’m too sore to get up and all the food in the house is stored above knee level.

Big meanies.

The People with Giant Exercise Balls (which sounds so much better than calling them the Big Ball People) thought to distract me with a fancy toy. The sole purpose was to prevent my noticing that I spent the entire workout wobbling around like a defective Weeble in search of blunt objects to pound with my head. Or maybe they just wanted to show that the Pilates  People weren’t the only ones who knew how to have a good time.

Then there were the Kickboxing People. The Kickboxing people didn’t have anything against me personally. They just hated my furnishings and accessories.

You are probably wondering by now, if the Fitness People are trying to kill me, why do I keep working out? Two things. I call them my thighs. Just the thought of swimsuit season makes them cower in fear. Which, now that I think about it, makes no sense. Thighs this big should fear nothing. They should be super bully thighs, the toughest thighs in the dressing room, ready to kick butt and take names. Except, that might be too much like exercise.

Enter yoga. The first thing I noticed about yoga is that it doesn’t look like exercise. This is how the Yoga People trick you. They lure you in by making it look easy. They can make it look easy because Yoga People have no skeletons.

The lack of a skeleton means the Yoga People also come with a complete set of strange ideas about how my body should move. Just this morning I was instructed to “stretch through the crown of my head.” What the huh? First, my head isn’t exactly what I am trying to tone up. I don’t wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and say: “Wow,  the muscles in my head have really gone to seed. I should do some lip-ups.” I have never purchased a Foreheads of Steel video. Second, I checked, and guess what? My head? Not all that stretchy. If it was, I probably wouldn’t have time to workout. I’d be too busy signing autographs as my famous alter-ego: The Amazing Elasti-Head.

Don’t get the wrong idea. I like yoga. I think it is especially cool that all the poses have names. They don’t even call the poses, poses. Instead they are called, aptly enough, asanas. If you add the syllable “ow” to the end of the word, you get the sound I make while trying to contort my body into position. It’s sort of like a sneeze caught in slow motion: “aaah…saaa…nnnaaa… OW!” I’ve also decided that asana, loosely translated, means: Help, my leg is cutting off my oxygen supply and I am starting to hallucinate.

So if sometime soon I turn up dead, just know the Yoga People got me. They did it while talking in quiet voices and taking deep cleansing breaths. Or possibly they just snuck in and smothered me with a pillow because I couldn’t master stretching my head.

The Pilates People will be so jealous.

This piece originally appeared in Today’s Woman magazine.