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?