Friday, October 05, 2007

Bad News

I haven't been able to say this out loud for awhile, hoping that maybe if I don't it won't be true. So far, this plan has not been working so well. So here goes.

We lost the baby.

I may be MIA for awhile while I try to get my life back together.

Thanks for all the kind emails, prayers and thoughts.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Conversation With Son

So a few weeks ago, Hubs and I decided we needed to have a chat with Son.

"Son, there's something Dad and I want to talk to you about."

"Oh man. Am I getting a baby brother?"

"What? Where did THAT come from?"

"Well, whenever parents want to sit down and have a talk about something with their kid that's what they always want to talk about."

"Hang on, when have we ever in your entire 12 years of existence EVER sat you down to tell you you're getting a brother?"

"Fine. Then what do you want to talk about?"

"Well, actually we have agreed to have someone come live with us."

Son's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Someone? Who?"

"Not sure. All we know is he or she does not speak English, will need a room of his or her own and probably won't be housebroken." Son's eyes became huge. His face lit up with joy.

"Really?" he squeaked, "You're not just teasing right?"

"No! Really!"

"Seriously? Yay! We're getting a DOG!"

"Wait! No! We're not getting a dog!"

"But you said..."

"I know, but it's not a dog. This is better."

"What's better than a dog?"

"You can't think of anything that would be better?"

"Hmm. Nope."


"Nope. Wait, it's not an exchange student or something is it?"

Hubs looked at me for the go ahead. I nodded. Hubs turned to Son, smiled and said, "Actually, you were right the first time."

"I was?"


"Really? Well it's about time!"

"So you're excited then?"

"Are you kidding? I'm gettin' a DOG!"

"Hold it! No. We're NOT getting a dog. You're getting... a new brother or sister!"

"Oh. Right. Well, that's okay, I guess."

"Good. We're glad you're pleased."

"Yeah. dog then?"


His grandparents were a little more excited by the news. But then, they already have a dog.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Computer Issues

My computer is having serious issues. I haven't been able to get on-line for wa-a-a-ay too long and it's driving me crazy! Well, crazier. Dad had mercy on me and let me use his computer to check in today. Hubs is FINALLY back in town for more than a day and he's working on getting us back on-line. (I promised that my knowledge of cooking just may return once I'm no longer distracted by the whole computer thing. He'll get hungry soon. Then I'll be back in business! I hope...)

Thursday, August 02, 2007


This may come as something of a shock, but my parents have a somewhat, oh let's call it "warped" sense of humor. I know. Clearly I was adopted and they haven't found time to break the news yet.

Anyway, during the last week things with Dad have been pretty scary. Seeing him in the hospital that first day was an experience I could never have imagined and will never repeat because Dad is doing better now and he will live forever and ever just like I'd always assumed he would since he is after all, the strongest man in the world. (What? Like you never regress to the sweet, reassuring denial of childhood?) Dad was in bed, staring at the ceiling, refusing to speak. Well, sort of refusing. He did deign to share a few words (none that are fit to print, of course) when anyone disturbed him. You know. Like whenever anyone annoyed him by making too much noise existing in the same building. Dad is pretty easy going, really. He is. Affable, friendly, pleasant. You know. Just as long as he isn't sick. Because when he is? Wow. Like Jeckyll and Hyde on the days that Hyde forgot to take his meds.

So when Dad reached the point that he wasn't even sniping at the nurses and glaring at the doctors while muttering about how he would be just fine if everyone would just "LEAVE ME ALONE ALREADY, ONLY BRING ME A COKE FIRST" I got worried.

At one point Dad's doctor came in the room, saw my brothers and I and asked, "What did you do to get all these people to come visit you?" While Dad was busy responding (and by "responding" I mean "glaring in silence") to the hassle of having one more person in his room using up all that extra oxygen and space that the hospital probably charges for, my brother Ryan volunteered, "It's his sparkling sense of humor that draws us in, Doctor."

All kidding aside, I admit the lack of humor was something that really worried me. Even when the surly attitude returned, there was still not the slightest indication that Dad might crack a joke. And that's scary. Even in the worst of times Dad has always had a sense of humor that withstands anything. Frequently irreverent, always dry and usually more than a little twisted, he gets me every time. And I am just not ready to part with that humor or its owner any time soon. I kept hoping for some sign of Dad's sense of humor, somehow believing that if I could catch a glimpse of it then my loving funny father must still be in there somewhere.

A couple of days ago, a nurse came into the room and asked Dad, " We need your full legal name for our records. What does the 'L' stand for?" And I froze, knowing that a nurse was about to be treated to some of Dad's less pleasant remarks. You see, Dad hates his first name so much that I was 12 years old before I even knew what it is. He never uses it and I have never heard him even speak it aloud. He was so secretive about it, in fact, that I was deeply disappointed to find out that it's not some horrible abnormal name. I was kind of hoping for something like 'Leakyzit.' It's not though. It's a completely normal, rather common name and yet I still fear that if I were to put it in print here? He'd find out and my life as I know it would be over.

So of course, when the nurse unwittingly broached this very dangerous subject with her extremely cranky patient, everyone in the room sort of braced themselves, you know, the way people do at the first signs of an earthquake.

And then it happened. Without missing a beat Dad replied solemnly, "The 'L' stands for Lucifer."

Ladies and Gentlemen: My father. He's going to be just fine.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Good News

Okay. Dad's doing much better. I may be able to breathe again soon! Thanks for the good thoughts, prayers and e-mails. I'll be back very soon!

Friday, July 27, 2007

I'll Be Back

I may be out of the internet world for the next few days. My father is critically ill.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Always Pre-Order. It's A Good Thing.

Friday night, Son and I, along with what appeared to be a large percentage of the Utah population, made the pilgrimage to the bookstore for the release of the last Harry Potter book. I think I first realized that I had seriously underestimated the rabid nature, not to mention the sheer numbers of the fans in the county when we arrived and saw the line snaking from the front door, down the street and around the corner.

We arrived early, but not as early as those more dedicated than we. For example, I was not dedicated enough to show up with a sleeping bag, snacks and two gallons of drinking water. (Some might question the wisdom of bringing gallons of drinking water or bucket sized mugs of Diet Coke to a place where leaving to use the facilities could jeopardize one's place in line, but onward.)

Son took it in stride, I think. "Mom! We are NEVER EVER EVER GOING TO GET A BOOK! We will be here FOREVER!"

I thought he was exaggerating. Not by much, however. I was more than a bit concerned myself. You see, I don't really like lines. Mostly because lines very frequently involve people and people? Well, sometimes they bump into each other. This is a problem for me because, well, you know how most people require some degree of personal space? I kind of like having a bit more space than most people. In fact I'm most comfortable with, oh say, twelve feet in every direction. I know. I need help.

Anyhoo, I spent the next ten minutes reminding myself that having a panic attack would likely interfere with all the fun I was supposed to be having, especially if I passed out, hit my head on the sidewalk and not only embarrassed Son for life (which would have made it all worth it, really) but had to call Hubs to drive me home; Hubs who is still questioning my sanity in even going in the first place, because first, he has NO SENSE OF FUN and secondly, because, well, he knows how I feel about crowds. Still, I tried to be brave for Son's sake and pressed on.

Son and I kept each other entertained by asking each other Harry Potter trivia questions, which was kind of interesting because the questions he was asking were very detailed and difficult and I have a sneaking suspicion that some of them were based on other stories entirely. That is, unless I missed the chapter where Harry and Ron build a raft and sail it down the Mississippi River shortly before encountering Indian Joe in the Cupboard of the Temple of Doom.

Finally, the doors opened and the line started creeping forward. And then it happened--my own personal miracle. The nice lady (and yes, I know she was nice because she was dressed like Professor McGonagall) announced that everyone who had pre-ordered could just come into the store without waiting in line! And? I had PRE-ORDERED! So, feeling very much like Paris Hilton's parents on visiting day at the jail, Son and I breezed right past everyone who was in front of us and into the store where we were able to partake of the lovely refreshments provided. (Ho Ho's! Yummy AND the chocolate sticks to your teeth so you look like a mountain troll, which at most other times is somewhat embarrassing, but for this event? Awesome!)

And then? THEN! As Son and I were loitering casually near the registers we heard an announcement: "All pre-order customers please form a line by the middle register." And guess where we were? RIGHT NEXT TO THE MIDDLE REGISTER! There were two, TWO people in front of us. The clerk hovered over the box, box cutter in hand as everyone counted down the remaining seconds. And then it happened. The box was open and within seconds the first book was out of the box. Then the second book and then the third book, OUR BOOK was out of the box and in our hands.

I couldn't help noticing that Son was carrying the book in such a manner that ensured all could admire it as we made our way through the crowd. You know. So people could see that he was by far the coolest person in the whole store. Or at least the third coolest person.

Son started reading the book aloud by the light of my IPod on the drive home. (Yes, I'm still hearing about how foolish I was to dismiss his suggestion that we take a flashlight. Sigh.)

It took us a little over eight hours to finish the book. I was right about some things, wrong about others. I was happy with most of it and disappointed by very little. (And no, I'm not going to spoil anything here.) But mostly, when I put the book down I was overcome by that sensation I always had as a kid when I would scarf down my ice cream so fast I barely tasted it: (What? If you knew my brothers you, too, would learn to scarf it before they got to it.)

I was glad I finally got what I wanted, but I'm very sad that now it's all gone.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Just What We've Been Waiting For

Moments ago, I arrived home from work. This morning I had (foolishly) entertained thoughts of taking a nap when I came home. I've been up for the last 44 hours (Hubs. Allergy Season. Snoring. You do the math) and since I promised weeks ago to take Son to the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release party at the bookstore, I was kind of thinking a nap may be in order. But before I could even get out of the car, Son wrenched the door open and shouted, "THIRTEEN HOURS! THIRTEEN!! Do you know what this means? DO YOU?"

"Uh, does it mean that you're just a little excited?"

"A little? A little? Mom, I've been waiting for this day my whole entire life!"

"Really? Your whole entire life? Wow. That's interesting, because, you know, the world hadn't even heard of Harry Potter until 1997. To spare you the hassle of doing the math, in 1997 you were two years old. And frankly for the next couple of years after that you were far more excited about seeing how many Cheerios you could shove up Daddy's nose before he woke up (the record is 3) than you were with anything to do with Harry Potter."

He sighed heavily and rolled his eyes the way he always does when he contemplates just how sad it is that his mother has such a penchant for remembering the more embarrassing aspects of his infancy. In case I hadn't noticed his disgust he huffed, "Mom? It's a figure of speech, okay? Now could we please get on with things? We've got a LOT to do before tonight."

Thoroughly chastened (okay, maybe not"thoroughly" chastened. It was more like "not at all chastened") I said, "Right. Sorry. Okay, what kind of 'stuff' do we need to do?"

He sighed again no doubt pondering the irony that as a child, he is forced to rely on people so much less intelligent than himself to get things done. Like driving. And paying for stuff. Yes, it's difficult indeed to be a child.

"We need to get some snacks. To keep up our strength."

"Good point. I'm thinking chocolate. You know. In case we get scared by the Dementors again."

"And can we get beef jerky?"

"Ah! A source of protein that requires no preparation and can be consumed without having to put the book down. Very good, Son. I'm impressed."

"Thanks. Also, can we get a flashlight? Or maybe one of those lights you can clip onto the book?"

"Why? I'm sure the store will have lights on. I mean, it's a special occasion and everything. I really think they plan on having at least some of the lights on."

"Mom? For in the car? While we're driving home from the store?" To his credit he refrained from adding, "Like, duh, you tragically clueless woman."

"I see. You do know that reading while driving, while very common in Utah, is still technically against the law, right?"

"Mom. Please. Work with me, here, okay? Okay. Now, we're going to want to make sure all the chores are done today so we can spend tomorrow reading. I've already got mine all finished but if there's anything else you want me to do this weekend can you tell me now so I can get it done?"

Good heavens.

My son has commited the pre-meditated and voluntary act of completing his chores without being asked.

I've been waiting for this day my whole entire life.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Shy? Really?

So last week I was talking to my father about my upcoming high school reunion. He, as I knew he would, recounted stories from his high school reunion (Class of 1842) One of his favorite stories, and I know it's his favorite because the details are remarkably similar with every telling, involves the moment when, many years after high school, he came face to face with The Girl. You all remember The Girl. She has attended every high school, in every class, ever since girls were allowed out of the kitchen and into the school room, thus altering the course of formal education forever by reducing it to a convenient excuse to spend time in close proximity with prospective dates. (See also: The Boy.)

Dad has often told the story of how he admired, from a distance of course (Dad has always had a very healthy sense of self-preservation) The Girl. He tells how he used to wish he could have dated her. Or even been able to command the English language long enough to introduce himself. But being a member of a long and proud line of absurdly shy people, he knew that if he were to speak to her he would, of course, burst into flames.

Years later at his reunion, he threw caution, not to mention pyrophobia, to the wind and actually spoke to her. With words. Out loud. And the result was positively mind-boggling. Dad summoned the courage to confess that he'd wanted to ask her out way back when. Her response? "Oh, I wish you had. I never went to a single dance in high school because everyone assumed I already had a date, and I was too shy to let you know I was interested."

I know. I was shocked too. Who knew they had dancing back then?

Anyway, like I said, I've heard this story many times. Dad used to bring this story up every time my high school had a dance and I was spending the evening hanging out with my likewise dateless friends. So, yeah, I heard it pretty much every weekend. It was sweet, I suppose, for Dad to try to make me believe that the only reason I wasn't at the dance was because everyone assumed I was too cool to go with them. Delusional, sure, but sweet. Still I knew the truth. I knew that all The Girls from my class were going to every dance, every party and living every day as if it were the Prom. Well, maybe not every day. I'm sure they had bad days, too. You know. Days they lived as if it were just Homecoming.

So imagine my suprise, (suprise, shock, whatever) to learn recently that some of The Girls at my school did NOT, in fact, attend every dance. Some of these girls are now, after lo, these many years, even claiming to have been SHY. Really. They are.

I'm finding this somewhat difficult to believe in some cases. Consider, for example, the girl who was not only beautiful and popular but she was skilled athletically as well. That's right. She played sports. In public. Wearing a sports uniform. In front of everyone. Shy? Seriously?

Or? OR? The girl who was so beautiful and smart and, let's say it together: popular that I used to wonder what it would be like to just live one day in her world? Turns out? She thinks she was shy, too!

It doesn't end there. There are GUYS from my class who are now saying that THEY were shy! Guys who inspired many a daydream in many a female mind, guys who were cute, hilarious, smart, athletic...and...shy?

Clearly they have no idea what "shy" means, because if they really thought they were shy, well, they were doing it wrong.

Of course, I'm willing to concede that they may have, for whatever reason, believed they were shy. And perception is the stuff of which certain realities are made. But still. Were they really that shy? If so, what would High School life have been like if I had only known then what I know now? I mean, besides the fact that I wouldn't EVER use calculus again once finals were over? (Seriously, not once.) How would life have been if I had known that they might have burst into flames at the thoughts of speaking to other people? Besides smoky and hot, I mean.

I guess I'll never really know. I have decided one thing, though:

Perception is a powerful, powerful thing.

It is also highly unreliable.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Father vs Son

"There's something wrong with your son."

My son. If Hubs' tone of frustration wasn't enough to tip me off, the fact that Son had just somehow become my son and mine alone, made it very clear I'd come home to another father/son dispute.


"Well, I told him to shower and he was gone three minutes, then came back with perfectly dry hair and still smelled like he'd spent the afternoon playing field hockey with a herd of mountain goats."

"Hmm. You told him to shower with water and soap and shampoo, right? Because you have to be specific with him about that."

Hubs looked affronted. "Yes, of course. I'm not new around here, you know."

"I know, but you did you give him any further instructions?"

"Such as?"

"Well, you know that he thinks if he actually had water coming out of the shower head, and if the soap and shampoo were physically present with him in the shower, then technically he followed instructions, right?"

"Are you serious?"

"Sadly, I am. Also, you have to remind him to stand under the water, not just near it."

"What's wrong with him?"

"Other than being twelve?"

"Oh. Right. So now what?"

"Okay here's what you say: "Stand under the water coming from the shower head. Pick up the soap. Lather it up, apply it to your body until the dirt is gone, then rinse. Also, the shampoo? It goes in your hair. You lather it up, in your hair--not just in your hands-- and then rinse it out."

"So is it that he doesn't understand the concept?"

"Oh no. He's just looking for a loophole. A technicality, as it were."

"So I didn't handle it right?"

"I wouldn't say that. In fact, hosing him down in the driveway while you washed the car is, I'm sure, a lesson he'll remember for years to come."

"You think?"

"Definitely. And hanging that pine tree air freshner from his collar? Inspired."


"Oh, absolutely."

Hubs will get the hang of this eventually. I'm not too worried, though. Son is bound to discover girls any time now. When he does, I have a feeling getting him in the shower will be the least of our concerns.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

So Close and Yet So Far

I am expecting something and I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. After years of waiting and hoping and longing for this day to come it is FINALLY happening! That's right! Today I pre-ordered my very own copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! (Had you going there for a second, huh Mom?) This is a purchase I have been eagerly, nay anxiously awaiting for quite some time now. This is even bigger than when I finally got my IPod (which I still maintain is a psychological aid and should really be covered by insurance).

When I went into the bookstore today, my friend (because when you spend excessive amounts of time in bookstores? You make friends with the employees) rang up my purchase, put my name down in the Official Harry Potter Pre-Order Spiral Notebook and then leaned across the desk and whispered, "Guess what came in yesterday?"

"What?" She looked around carefully then, once she was certain the coast was clear, beckoned me to the doorway of "The Back Room." You know. The Back Room. That mystical place where I suspect they always keep the best stuff, like, say the last pair of cute shoes in my size. They do this, of course, just for the sheer glee of watching customers search vainly for things that the Powers That Be have hidden away, to be sold to those who prove themselves worthy of the right to purchase them only after demonstrating persistence above and beyond what is reasonable or normal. And this proved true again today as she pointed to a large box that had been covered with more packing tape than I have ever seen on any item not packaged by my father, Lord of the Un-Openable Packages.

We stood together, gazing at the box with reverence.

"Is that what I think it is?" I breathed. She nodded.

"Yes. Isn't it something?"

"Wow. Could I...just...maybe...touch it?"

"Hmmm. I don't know. I'm kind of pushing it just letting you see it."

"Please? You don't know what this would mean to me. It would give me hope to sustain me through the week ahead." She paused, contemplating the tortuous days to come. Then she nodded.

"Well...okay, but be quick about it."

And I was. As quick as one could be when touching what, in some opinions (including mine) could be considered almost a holy relic. I reached out a hand and carefully brushed the top of the box, then the sides, imagining the stacks of perfect, new, smooth pages with the final words of Harry Potter's tale printed on them in wonderfully inky smelling print. Is Snape really good or evil? (My money's on "good") Can Draco be redeemed? Who will die? (Not Harry. Please not Harry. Please don't let it be Harry. Or Ron. Probably Hagrid though.) Is Dumbledore really dead? Where does Dumbledore's brother fit into all of this and is R.A.B. Regulus Black? (Well, yeah, obviously.) These and all my other theories are this close to being answered.

And I was RIGHT THERE. It would have been so easy, in theory at least, to just rip that box open, grab a book and start reading. I wondered how far I could get before store security reached me, and if I would be allowed to keep the book with me while we waited for the police. You know. For evidence.

I was so close. There was only one thing that stopped me: We have tickets to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix this weekend, and I was uncertain if I would be out of jail by then. Especially since all my discretionary income for the week has been used on book orders and movie tickets. Not much left for bail. Hmmm.

And so, I tore myself away and my friend and I walked back into the main store.

But next Saturday at 12:01 a.m.? I'll be back and this time there will be no stopping me.

Nine days. This is worse than waiting for Christmas.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Just Because He Loves Me

For some time now, I've feared that one day I will be on the news. Not in a good way either. I worry that I will be led from my home in handcuffs and escorted to a waiting police cruiser all the while screaming, "You don't understand! Do you have ANY idea how many times that man snoozes his alarm clock? HE HAD IT COMING!!"

I've mentioned before that Hubs and I have very different approaches to beginning the day. I am a very light sleeper. I routinely wake up instantly, sitting bolt upright in bed, every nerve standing at attention and breathing like I've just outrun a five-year old on a sugar high simply because I heard a jarring, sleep-shattering sound, like a hummingbird dropping a feather on a cobweb twenty miles away.

Hubs on the other hand? Well, remember that bed George Jetson had that would just disappear into the wall, propel him onto a conveyer belt that would eventually get George showered, dressed, groomed and out of the house? I have wept tears of envy over the life of bliss this device must have afforded Jane, his wife.

Hubs is pathologically incapable of waking up with the first alarm. Or the second. Or the sixth. He has an elaborate system that involves three different clocks, and his cell phone but the fact is, I realized years ago that he doesn't set the alarm so that HE will wake up. He sets the alarm so I will wake up and then somehow wake him.

This has caused many, let's call them "discussions" at our house. He contends that if I were to get up at the same time he does, he would have no problem. Being the accomodating soul I am, I tried this. The only thing that happened was I was up, dressed, ready to go and he was still hitting snooze.

I've kept water guns next to the bed, dousing him in the morning. He reacts by wiping his face on the comforter and going back to sleep. I've tried rolling him out of bed, but he just keeps sleeping.

Last month the situation changed. I now have to be at work early in the morning before Hubs even pretends he's going to wake up. I've wondered how he manages to get up without me there to inflict bodily harm, but I suspect it has a lot to do with Son pestering his father for breakfast now that Mom is off kitchen duty until lunch-time.

And so it came as no surprise when Hubs announced, "You know, I don't even hear you get up or get ready or anything."

"Really? I am SHOCKED."

"No, really. I sleep right through it."

"I know. And don't think I'm not terrified that the house will burn down with you and our son in it, simply because I'm not here to point out that you're on fire and may want to think about getting out."

"Yeah. You know, this would be a really good way for you to get rid of me. It would totally look like an accident."

"I suppose, but what about Son? I wouldn't want him to get hurt."

"Oh, just do it on a day you can take him to work with you."

"Right, that wouldn't look suspicious at all. But I do appreciate the thought. It's sweet of you to give me pointers for bumping you off."

"I do what I can."

Yes. Right. He'll do practically anything for me. That is, he will as long as it doesn't involve waking up.

Monday, July 09, 2007

An Important Reason To Avoid Sedation

A few weeks ago, I apparently agreed to play the organ for our church services. I'm not sure exactly how this happened, really. The only reason I can think of for consenting to such a thing probably has a lot to do with the fact that at the time I was asked I was recovering from surgery and rather heavily sedated. These people are sneaky.

Most perplexing is the fact that I don't, technically speaking, even know how to play the organ. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is that playing the organ involves using the feet and frankly, just being able to walk without tripping over my own feet? Nothing short of a miracle, my friends.

I've never really understood why people assume that the ability to play the piano equals the ability to play the organ. To me it's sort of like saying, "Oh, you play soccer? Excellent! I'll bet you'll be SUPER at water ballet!"

Once I sobered up and realized what I'd agreed to do, I naturally tried to get out of it. To my great dismay, however, I'm finding it difficult to get anyone to take "Um, actually no" for an answer. It is in many ways similar to finding myself somehow affilitated with the Mafia. Except, presumably in the Mafia I could hope to lose a finger or two, thus having a legitimate excuse to bail.

And so, today I decided to give it a go. I met a very nice lady at the church who proceeded to explain the basics of the organ. It was an excellent presentation and one I feel certain would have been helpful to anyone who had the ability to learn, which sadly, does not include me.

"These are the swells, and down here? The great."

"I see. And what about the "nifties"? Would they be somewhere over here next to "groovy?"

The very nice lady stared at me blankly. "No."

"Right. Okay, moving on then. "

I tried to smile enthusiastically while she pointed out the foot pedals but all I could think of was the time years ago when a particular organist who suffered from extreme lack of height, reached for one of the far pedals, slipped right off the bench and landed in a heap on the pedals causing a spectaular scene as she startled the bishop so badly he actually woke up.

Also? I may get a lot of flack for this, but I really hate organ music. Really hate it. Hate it so much that I've asked Hubs to promise that at my funeral he'll have bagpipers play since that seems so much more cheerful to me.

Yesterday Hubs, completely misunderstanding that I didn't want him to solve the problem, I just wanted him to listen while I groused about the injustice of life, offered several ways to get me excused from this assignment. I just kept shooting down his suggestions until he finally hit on one that I think will do the trick.

I'm supposed to be on the bench ready to play in two weeks. And I plan to be ready. Now, if you'll excuse me, I just have to go practice the footwork for "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

High School Revisited

Ever have the feeling that time is passing by much faster than is strictly necessary? Yeah, me too. Despite all my efforts to ignore it, hoping that doing so would make it go away, I am faced with the horrifying reality that during the last month or so twenty years have passed.

Sure, I've had a vague awareness that the years have been sliding by. Usually this awareness occurs when Son expresses his horror that I grew up in the Dark Ages before DVDs and, gasp, IPods or when he asks, in all seriousness, if I came across the plains via covered wagon. But rarely does anyone shove that reality in front of me and insist that I accept it. Rarely. But it does happen.

Like recently when it came to my attention that my graduating high school class is holding a reunion next month. I brought up the subject with Hubs, simply to demonstrate that due to circumstances beyond my control, I'm now officially very, very old. Missing the point entirely (as he does) he asked, "So are we going?"

"Um, no."

"Why not?"

"Well, I'd love too, really I would. But I have pressing, not to mention less painful plans that evening and I'm afraid I simply can't change them."

"Like what?"

"I thought I'd start the evening by pouring hot tar down my ear canals then finish up by pulling out my toenails with pliers."

"Not my good pliers, though, right?"

"Yes, your good pliers. So you see, it's just not going to be possible to make the reunion."

"Oh come on. Why not go?"

"Look, do you remember high school? At all?"

"It couldn't have been that bad."

"No. No it wasn't. It was much worse."

"Really? Were you, like, openly mocked? Shunned? Shoved in a locker?"

"Well, no. I was invisible. I was ignored. It's hard to shove an invisible person in a locker, especially while you're ignoring them."

So, no. When I first heard about it, I wasn't terribly excited by the prospect of the high school reunion. High School may have been fun for some but for me? Not so much. Until recently, I remember my high school experience as something akin to being required to attend a party every day, but being forced to stay in the corner, bound and gagged by insecurity and pathological shyness, limited to nothing more than lonely observation.

But then I started to remember other things. There were people who were kind. There were people I enjoyed talking to and being with. There are people I still think about and I wonder what ever happened to them. There were good times. Maybe it would be fun to see some of those people again. And maybe the last twenty years have taught me something. (Not a lot, obviously, but maybe something.) Those cool "visible" people who never realized I was there? Maybe they weren't nearly as secure or cool as I once believed. Maybe they were mere mortals, after all. Well, not Jed, naturally, but everyone else.

Maybe it would be fun to go to the reunion after all.

Does perspective come with age?


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pushing Buttons

So we did it. We moved. People keep asking if we're all settled in and I'm not entirely sure how to answer that. Okay, technically speaking, yes, all of our possessions are under one roof. Of course we can't put the cars in the garage, since it's full of boxes and I saw Son eating cereal out of a gravy boat the other day. I'm still not sure where the dishes all ended up. I have an idea, of course, but I'm more than a little afraid that finding them will involve sorting through the box warehouse formerly known as the garage and I'm just not ready to face that yet.

On the first day we were actually moving things into the house, I was taking a break (by break I mean "collapsing in a heap of overworked and only recently-discovered muscle groups while whimpering quietly") when Son called to me from the entry.

"Mom! Have you seen this? It's so AWESOME!"

"Have I seen what?"

"The alarm system, you should see this!"

Realizing that checking out the alarm system would mean moving my weary and very sore muscles more than I was willing to do unless someone set me on fire, I tried to stall by asking,

"Describe it to me?"

"Oh it's so cool, it's got buttons you can push to call people to help!"

"Oh? Is there a Moving Man button on there?"

"Funny. No. BUT there's a button for the police, one for the paramedics, one for the fire department and we've even got a button for the army!" He now had my full attention.

"The what?"

"The army!"

"We can call the army?"

"Yeah, this must be the deluxe model or something!"

Curiosity finally won out and I limped into the entry to investigate. "Okay, Kiddo, show me this system."

With his best Vanna White impression he pointed to the buttons on the alarm key pad. "See? Fire, medical, police and the army, only it has a police car icon instead of "police" and a red cross icon for medical, and a little flame for the fire department. But there's no icon for the army button. It just says ARM for short. Cool, huh?"

Very cool. Moving all those boxes should be a breeze with the army at my fingertips!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pining Over the Derby

Originally posted on Observations of a Misfit:

Call me paranoid, but I sometimes suspect that the Boy Scouts of America was formed as a means to relieve parents of their grip on sanity. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are many positive attributes to the scouting program, and just as soon as I come up with some, I’ll be sure to list them.

In the meantime, I feel compelled to discuss what I believe is a subversive attack on harmonious family relationships. This attack is sly, and innocuous in appearance, yet remarkably effective. One event in particular often turns normally peaceful and sane parents into competitive raving maniacs. I speak of course, of the Pinewood Derby.

For the uninitiated, the Pinewood Derby is an event that features races with small wooden cars. The scouts and their parents are given a block of wood, a set of wheels and a hearty “Good luck!” before the scout leader beats a hasty retreat, not to be seen again until the evening of the race. His disappearance helps facilitate the plot against parents by depriving them of anyone who can answer questions. Some people have asked why we must put our sons and ourselves through this experience. The answer is simple: the Pinewood Derby aids in the development of our young men, so that one day when they go out into the world and decide, for whatever reason, to make cars out of blocks of wood, they'll be prepared.

Once the scout has received his kit, these rudimentary wood and plastic elements are supposed to be transformed, somehow, into a sleek, swift race car. While some debate the best method for creating these cars, I have found that what works well, for me anyway, is to hide and let Mike deal with it. Last year, when we had our first experience with the Pinewood Derby, I was innocent and naïve. I wasn’t aware that the best way to handle the situation is fleeing the country.I still remember the look on Mike’s face when I handed him the kit our son’s den leader had dropped off earlier. He narrowed his eyes and looked at it suspiciously.“What is this?”

“It’s for the Pinewood Derby! You did this when you were a kid, didn’t you?” Mike looked at me blankly.“You know, you build a little car, then you race it against other little cars?” He still looked bewildered.“Okay, we can look it up on the Internet, and you can call my dad. He can help you."

I have fond memories of the Pinewood Derby. I have three brothers who were all Boy Scouts. My father was something of an expert on cars in addition to being very artistically inclined. Each year, he produced beautifully crafted Derby cars. I was never permitted to actually handle these little works of art and neither were my brothers. In retrospect, I realize that preventing my brothers from helping with these projects probably defeated the purpose.

Making a car for the Pinewood Derby has the potential for being a great opportunity for parents and their children to spend time working together on a project. This was not the case at our house, however. The car was Dad’s project. The only responsibility my brothers were allowed to assume was harassing Dad and sneaking into his shop to play with the cars when Dad wasn't looking.

After spending a great deal of time doing research by looking on the Internet and speaking to every scouting father he knew, Michael then interviewed my father, gleaning advice to help make this rite of passage as successful as possible. He returned home from work the next day informed and ready to begin.

“I’ve got it all planned. I know how to build the fastest and best looking car ever!” While Michael explained the importance of weight placement and the best way to carve the car, I indulged in fantasies of the happy bonding time my husband and our son would enjoy. I imagined them working in the garage, smiling at each other and having deep, meaningful conversations. I know I certainly enjoyed the peace. At least, it was peaceful until they came in the house and shattered my Norman Rockwell-like visions of father and son working together to craft a handmade toy.

After my little son stomped up the stairs and slammed his bedroom door, Michael emitted a sound that registered somewhere between a frustrated sigh and an infuriated howl. Approaching carefully, I put my arms around him and asked, “That bad, huh?”Mike sighed again and sat down wearily. He folded his arms across his chest, tipped his head back and closed his eyes.

“I think we should withdraw our son from Boy Scouts." I moved behind him and rubbed his shoulders.

“Oh, come on. It can’t be that bad.”

“Can’t it? You wouldn’t believe what he wants to do to that car! He wants to carve it himself, and he doesn’t care when I tell him where we need to place the weights so it will go faster. Don’t even get me started on his thoughts about aerodynamics.”

“He knows what aerodynamics are?”

"Of course not, but I do, and he won’t listen.” I thought for a moment about how to impart my thoughts tactfully.

“Honey? You do realize this is our son’s project, right? I mean you need to supervise and advise but ultimately, this is about him.”

“Yeah, I know. I just don’t want to show up with a stupid looking car.”

I reminded Michael that young boys were also creating the other cars, so I was certain that the cars would all be equally stupid looking. I realize now that this was the foolishness of inexperience talking. In addition to Michael’s competitive nature, there was another problem. Mike is a perfectionist. Anything he produces or oversees must not only be better than anything else, it must be flawless. Our son, on the other hand, isn’t terribly concerned about perfection. Like many boys his age, he didn’t really care what the car looked like, he just wanted the wheels attached so he could play with it.

The next evening, the second battle of the Pinewood Derby car took place. Hoping to prevent another scene, I gave Mike a pep talk before he headed out to the garage. “Remember, this is about having quality time with your son. You can either create memories of working together that he’ll think of fondly, or let him make memories of being told to sit still while his dad built this car without him. Just remember, it’s his car, not yours." Mike saluted me comically.

“Yes ma’am! I’ll do my best!”

It wasn’t long before my son came storming into the house in tears, complaining about bossy, overbearing parents. I went in search of my husband and found him in the garage muttering to himself. I could see he was agitated about something, but I interrupted anyway. “Problem?”



“He wants to paint it orange!”

“I see. So do we send him to military school now or should we try counseling first?”He eyed me in disgust.

“Orange isn’t a cool color. It’s going to look ridiculous.”

“Michael, it’s HIS car. If he wants to paint it orange with pink polka dots, that’s his choice.” Mike looked at me in horror.

“Pink? How can you even suggest such a thing? We’d be the laughing stock of the neighborhood!” Despite the drama, on the appointed evening, we arrived with a completed car. Michael and our son had compromised by painting the car red, with orange flames on the sides. I was genuinely surprised by the professional appearance of the other cars. Some even had little drivers with determined-looking faces painted on them. One had a license plate that read, “Eat Dust”.

All of the contestants spent a great deal of time before the race applying graphite to the wheels of the cars to ensure higher speeds, and doing practice runs on the track while Michael and the other fathers griped about how the cars shouldn’t be played with before the race. I listened absently to Mike's complaining while I contemplated whether or not to tell him that rubbing his eyes and nose with his graphite covered fingers had left him with a really cool racoon-like quality. (I decided against it when I thought about the photo-op that would occur after the race. I'm thoughtful like that.)

The races began, and I watched as my son cheered for his car. Michael was deeply engaged in conversation with the other fathers, speculating about the importance of weight placement. This only made things worse for Michael. He returned to my side uptight and concerned. “Now what?” I asked, even though I really didn't want to know.

“Well, now I’m wondering if we should have placed the weights further back. Or maybe further forward. I don’t know anymore.”

“Michael, either relax and enjoy the evening or I'm sending you home, got it?"

“Sure, that’s easy for you to say, you don’t have a car in the race.”

“No. No I don’t. But I’d like to remind you that you don’t either. Our son has a car in the race, and it might be nice if we focused on him, don't you think?" Michael had the decency to look a bit chagrined.


Our son’s car performed reasonably well. It didn’t win, but it wasn’t last either. The important thing, in my opinion, was that our little boy, despite his disappointment, was able to congratulate the winners. He had a wonderful time, and in my ignorance, I thought that was the point. Michael and I congratulated our son on his car's performance and more importantly on his good sportsmanship, then we watched as he returned to the racetrack where the other boys continued racing just for fun.Michael waited until his son was out of earshot. “Is it really wrong that I wanted my car to win?” he asked. I refrained from rolling my eyes. Okay, I waited until he couldn’t see me, and then I rolled my eyes. As I gave him a hug and tried to offer comfort, I glanced over his shoulder to see several wives also comforting their husbands. One wife was tugging her husband out into the hall to quiet his ranting and sputtering about an unfair start.

It was oddly comforting to realize that my husband wasn’t the only man struggling with the loss. I couldn’t help overhearing one father comment angrily, “The only reason that boy won is because his father did all the work for him.”

“You mean the way you did all the work on your son’s car?” his wife replied. I decided to make my escape before I burst out laughing.

Over the past year, which I considered an ample mourning period, I thought Michael had recovered from his disappointment. I had hoped that he might actually feel a little silly about how emotionally involved he had become in the Pinewood Derby. Alas, my hopes were dashed at the last Boy Scout meeting, when the scout leader passed out seemingly harmless little boxes containing kits for making small wind-driven boats. “Don’t forget” she chirped, “This month is the Rain Gutter Regatta!”

I looked about the room and saw determined looks on the faces of the fathers in the room. I also noted the equally resigned looks on the faces of the mothers. A year ago, I was new and naïve. This year I am an experienced mother of a Boy Scout. More important, I'm the wife of a Boy Scout's father. I know exactly what to expect and how to handle it.

That is why I’m headed to an undisclosed location just as soon as I’m packed. It’s not that I don’t plan to help, though. Before I leave, I’m going to christen the boat. In tiny letters, I shall paint the name "Titanic” on the little hull. I’m hoping it will help Michael set his expectations at a realistic level. If nothing else, it might make the other moms laugh. If there are any mothers present, that is. I've extended an open invitation to all the moms to join me in my getaway.

The Fairly Odd Couple

Originally posted on Observations of a Misfit

My husband is not a perfect man; however, I’ll concede that he is closer to perfection than I. That, in and of itself, is a flaw, as far as I’m concerned, since it can be more than a little irritating. I like to think that we somehow balance each other with our differences. Despite our contrasts, we love each other enough to overlook them. On the other hand, sometimes these differences result in experiences that makes us laugh so hard that we are certain we have ruined each other for polite society. Thus, despite and because of our different approaches to life, we are very happily stuck with each other.

Mike is a highly organized, efficient man. I’m more of an absent-minded, running-at-the-last-minute, can’t-find-anything sort of person. He’s cautious where I’m impulsive. He’s careful, while I can be a bit reckless. As a result, he has suffered far fewer embarrassing moments than I. But, every now and then the gods smile on me and something flaps the unflappable Michael. When it does it’s a beautiful thing.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not as though I enjoy seeing him squirm. Well, maybe I enjoy it a little. Okay, I enjoy it a lot but my point is, since I have provided him with innumerable anecdotes from the train wreck of embarrassment that is my life, I don’t need to feel especially guilty for getting a little chuckle out of his rare and fleeting moments of foolishness.

For example, he still teases me about the last time we were in Vegas. I was so giddy with the novelty of being out late without a child or the need to get home to relieve a babysitter that I neglected to watch where I was going. I managed to trip and nearly fall while walking through the casino on our way to the hotel restaurant. Fortunately, I saved myself from the humiliation of falling flat on my face by grabbing the closet object I could find. The arm I grabbed to steady myself belonged to a very nice man who even helped me pick up his bucket of quarters I had caused him to spill all over the floor. Once we arrived at the restaurant, I became transfixed by the keno game going on, not to mention the view of the glittering neon of the Las Vegas strip outside. While we were eating, I was so busy gawking at all the sights and sounds, I didn’t notice that there was a straw in my glass, until I inadvertently inserted it right up my nose. Did Mike politely look away, and pretend that this was not embarrassing for me? No. He may as well have pointed and laughed. Has he refrained from mentioning the incident to others? One of those experiences that isn’t funny in retrospect to me for at least another year? Of course not. Michael shares this story with anyone who will listen, including total strangers we met in the elevator after I tried to duck out unseen in humiliation.

True to form, I followed the impaling straw performance by standing up, turning quickly, and running smack into an adjacent table, thereby knocking some unfortunate lady’s drink into her lap. I managed to escape somehow, with Michael trailing behind laughing every step of the way.

When it comes to organizational styles, we couldn’t be more opposite. This is probably most evident in our closet. (Although he would say that the checkbook is better proof of our different methods, in my defense I would like to stress that the bank did claim partial responsibility and all charges were dropped.) We have a fairly large walk-in closet, with built-in shelves and racks. One morning, Mike was selecting a tie from his color-coordinated, battery-operated tie rack, while I rummaged through several drawers hoping to find two socks in roughly the same color family. Glancing over at his side of the closet, where every item is neatly hung and arranged by form and function, I couldn’t help but feel a little sheepish. “This looks like a closet shared by Felix Unger and Oscar Madison,” I observed. Without missing a beat he came back with, “Yes, it does. And Oscar needs to quit hanging his dresses on Felix’s side.”

I never know where my keys are, I’m not always entirely sure where my credit card is, and I once went seven months without knowing where my driver’s license was. (Naturally, it turned up right after I replaced it.) Once, I even managed to leave my son at the store. I console myself with the rationale that because my mind is so brilliantly gifted, it’s much too busy to be bothered with such trivial details as the location of our car in the mall parking garage. Most men would be exasperated by this inattention to detail, and to be honest, Mike is exasperated by it. Which is why it’s so impressive, really, that he just smiles and pats me on the head before sifting through a stack of magazines in search of the mail.

Mike is seldom in embarrassing circumstances of his own making. Fortunately, I’m able to facilitate awkward situations for him that he would have trouble getting into on his own. It’s just one of those things I’m willing to do simply because I love him.

One evening during the Christmas season, we were together at a bookstore shopping for gifts. I wasn’t feeling well and the lines seemed endless. Mike, being the considerate husband he is, offered to finish shopping, then wait in line and make the purchases while I waited for him in the car. I gratefully handed over my basket, accepted the car keys from him, and headed out the door. When Mike finally got to the cashier, he became involved in the transaction and failed to notice that I had, as usual, absent-mindedly left my purse in the basket. He was gathering his purchases and preparing to leave when he saw the clerk pick up my purse and put it under the counter. “Oh wait!” Mike called, “That’s my purse!” The cashier eyed him in disbelief while Mike stuttered and tried to explain himself. “Well, it’s not my purse. No, it’s my wife’s purse.” The clerk and the other customers glanced around obviously noting the fact that Mike was alone and had in fact been in the line alone for quite some time.

“It’s your wife’s purse?” the cashier asked skeptically.

“Yes! Yes it is,” Mike assured her. Unconvinced, the clerk asked,

“And your wife is...where?”

“Oh, she’s not here. She was here but now she’s not here, as you can see, so I’m just finishing some shopping and, uh, I ended up with her purse,” he continued to explain, trying not to notice the crowd behind him as they listened in rapt fascination. In one, final, desperate attempt to explain, Mike announced, “Well, it’s obviously not my purse. See? It doesn’t even match my shoes!”

I really have to give him credit for seeing through the ordeal to the end. Many a man would have walked out and made me go back and claim the purse myself. Not my Michael. He finally convinced the clerk, whom he suspected of actually snorting at him, to return his purse. He then turned and fought his way bravely through the smirking crowd, with his shopping bag and a purse tucked under his arm that didn’t even match his shoes.

Now, that’s love.