Tuesday, July 05, 2011

It's In The Bag

I have a confession to make. Even worse than my revelation that I could not make Jell-O if my life depended on it. And in Utah, that's pretty serious stuff. (The confession is serious, I mean. Although we're pretty serious about the Jell-O thing too.)

I just spent the past hour shopping for a purse. And now that thud heard round the world is everyone who knows me passing out from the shock. Because here it is, the big confession: I. Detest. Purses. I may have to turn in my functioning female card. (I do buy a lot of shoes, though, so that should make up for some of my failure. Ok, I don't actually WEAR the shoes, but I buy them so I'm counting it.)

In my defense, I wasn't shopping for myself. Mom spotted one my cousin had the other day. It was big, baggy, grey with a rose-like ruffle on the front. Cute, if you're into that kind of thing. And I guess Mom is into that kind of thing because she decided right then and there that if she did not have one for herself she would surely die. And having Mom die right now would really be a problem for me personally, so tonight I headed over to the mall. I furtively looked around. Nothing. Finally I asked for help. I SHOULD have asked for help for Mom because nobody needs this many purses. There should be medication for people who need this many purses.

But I love Mom and we can't have her dying just because some purse caught her fancy. So the clerk and I looked. We searched. The nice girl finally offered to call each and every store and wouldn't you know each and every one was sold out? And I really don't get why this particular one was gone, because there were plenty of other equally huge, flowered bags about, but whatever. And despite the plethora of purses available, no way am I making that call on my own. A purse is purse-onal. (sorry, I'm very tired here. Forgive me my bad puns.) No, I decided she must go herself and find that one magical bag that claims her as its own. Then she'll take it home and stuff it with candy, gum, Kleenex which will soon smell like gum, and heaven only knows what else, because I'm for sure not looking in there. Pretty sure she won't have money in there though. That is just not the way the purse works. At least not any of mine.

So tonight I pondered where and how I developed this distaste for handbags. I suspect it had to do with a particular small beaded reticule I had when I was four. I loved it. I carried that thing everywhere. Slept with it, even. And one Sunday, I realized it was the perfect size to carry not just all MY pennies but all of Tyler's too. Oh, it was a tight fit, but I made it work. True, a couple of little purple beads popped off, but I figured it was collateral damage. Well worth the knowledge that I was carrying a veritable FORTUNE in pennies around with me. And I very happily played with my little purse all through the meeting, until karma showed up and pointed out that purloined pennies have no place in a house of worship. And sometimes karma has really bad timing.

It was at a point during the service where I was meant to be reverently reflecting on holy matters, which apparently did not include "What will happen if I close the clasp then squeeze the bag really hard?" Because that's what I was thinking and that's what I did. Do you have any idea how much noise a few dollars worth of clattering copper makes? On a wooden pew? In a chapel with fantastic acoustics? Well, it's A LOT. I froze. I couldn't even look at my mom. I didn't need to, I knew we'd be nose-to-nose momentarily and so I scooted closer to Dad and looked up at him entreatingly. Being taken out by Mom was most unpleasant. She could time exactly how long I could tolerate having her hand over my mouth muting my wailing before I had to breathe or lose consciousness. Then she'd raise her hand long enough for a quick gulp of air and then the hand came back down. And this lasted for ages and ages because, as we've discovered through similar instances, I don't learn.

Being taken out with Dad? Well, it wasn't Disneyland but it was pretty close. We got to play with the water fountain, and I got to clomp across the stage in my patent leather shoes, pretending I was a tap dancer. Then we'd compose ourselves, arrange our faces in penitent reverence and return to the chapel.

But no, this time I was out of luck. And pennies. Because not only had I created a disturbance I had stolen. Funny the things one remembers. I was certain creating the disturbance had been the more evil of my crimes. It took a minute before I realized that the stealing wasn't my best idea either. And as penance, I had to give Tyler ALL the pennies and worst of all, I lost my purse. It went into The Permanent Box.
The Permanent Box was the final destination of toys that weren't put away, or used as a weapon of war against a sibling, which meant most of mine lived there. Away these things went never to be seen again. I once had a nightmare that I fell into The Permanent Box and had to live there forever and ever. But it was ok, because all my stuff was in there already.

Since the loss of my little purse, I've never been able to love another one. I'm a one purse girl, I'm afraid. And it wasn't until I was about 8 and my cousin pointed out that carrying money in my sock wasn't particularly cool (or clean, for that matter) that I started grudgingly considering purses.

I started out small. A wallet. A wallet was ok. I could stuff pictures of the current crush in there, phone numbers, movie ticket stubs and sometimes, not very often but sometimes I even put money in there.

Eventually I graduated to something a little larger. After all, I had to accommodate car keys. And a driver's license. And lip gloss. And a comb. And, on rare occasions, money.

By the time I hit college I had finally succumbed to bag large enough to contain all my books, notebooks, pencils, pictures of the current crush, and my favorite Wint O' Green Lifesavors. (with which I have struggled with a life long addiction.) Never money though. Because this was college. Money was something spoken of in hushed tones but rarely seen.

Later on, when I did have money, it seemed ridiculous to pay money for something to carry money in, because then I would no longer have money because I used it to buy the purse, so no need to have the purse right? (Sorry, this is how logic works in my head. Be glad YOU don't have to live in here.)

Mom finally decided that, since I was getting married and all I should probably grow up and have a real, grown-up sized purse and she bought me one. We argued for a time about the size. See, I figured out a looooong time ago that there's a good reason men don't carry purses. Know why? Because if they don't have a purse, they can turn their woman into a personal pack mule. Seriously, how many of us have heard, "Honey, would you mind putting this in your purse?" Yeah, I fell for it too, for awhile, but it was kind of a game for me. Because any man who has not been raised by wolves knows, the purse is sacred. I've never in my life witnessed a male looking into a purse. Unless it was a movie and the guy was about to die anyway. So any time That Man wanted to put any of his stuff in my purse, it became MINE. I win!

The purse is sacrosanct. You just DON'T open another woman's purse. I'm not sure why exactly, but I have a theory. It's not like I have anything in there like a pipe bomb, or a sandwich with the image of Elvis burned into it. There's nothing to hide. Nothing I wouldn't willingly display if someone were really that interested. No, it's the PRINCIPLE. I don't know about you, but at my house no area of the building is child/man proof. Nothing is just mine that no one else can touch. I have no secrets. I have stashes of chocolate and stuff, sure, but they're not exactly secret. Apparently. (Looking at you here, Son.)

The purse is the last and only item left to a wife/mom that is totally off-limits to the rest of the family. I seriously grew up believing Dad would get grounded if he opened Mom's purse. If ever he needed something she had in there, he would dutifully fetch the purse, avert his eyes respectfully, and then back away slowly after the transaction was finished.

I myself used to retrieve the purse and bring it, like frankincense and myrrh to my mother and wait at a respectful distance while she pulled from it Kleenex that smelled like Spearmint gum. (I confess, I reached adulthood before I realized Kleenex doesn't actually come from the factory smelling that way.)

So, given that the purse is the last sacred untouchable item in creation for me, why would I so willingly give it up? Is it really that I hate being a pack mule that much? Is it really because no matter how organized I start out, I invariably let it fall and be disemboweled on the car floor? Is it because it's something I have to carry, which means at some point I'll set it down, which means I'll then spend hours trying to remember where I left it? That may be part of it.

But I think it may mostly have been the dance of joy I did the first time I was able to leave the house without a diaperbag containing everything an infant might need to cross the country on his own. It was a joyous day for me when I realized I no longer had Happy Meal Toys, crayons, Baby Tylenol and Hotwheel's cars in my bag and I could put things in there that I actually wanted. The possibilities were endless. A phone! A camera! Sunglasses! Lipgloss and a brush! Even, very daringly, a mirror! A driver's license, Lifesavors and the hand sanitizer I carry everywhere. (Still no money though.)

But my needs are fairly minimal, and so since that time I've returned to small purses. Which for reasons I fail to grasp, bothers Mom. She says they look like little kid purses. And there you go. I've come full circle. I have at last avenged my little beaded bag which perished in The Permanent Box.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I Can Still Hear the Bells

Note: I can't seem to get the paragraphs to stay in place. Weird. But let's cut me some slack. I am EXHAUSTED. Last week I had the marvelous opportunity to see two performances of "Hairspray" at a local theater. It's the Hale Center Theater in Orem, and performances are in the round. Son was astounded that they were able to perform so much so well in such a small space. We are now attempting to launch a performance of Phantom of the Opera in our living room, just to see if it can be done. I'm a bit concerned about the chandelier crash, but I digress. I had been dying to see the show, because my cousin Xandra was playing the role of Tracy Turnblad and knowing Xandra, I knew it would be incredible. Plus, it's a show I really enjoy. I get the song "I Can Hear the Bells" stuck in my head for days on end. And I don't seem to mind. To clear up a tiny bit of confusion, Xandra is actually my first cousin once removed. Her mother Laurie is my first cousin. For some reason, this confuses several people when I refer to Xandra as my cousin, but I figure, hey, close enough. Alas the show was sold out almost immediately. But, I had some amazing luck. First, my sister-in-law had two tickets she was unable to use and I was the fortunate recipient. It was a night Xandra wasn't on, but her husband Ben was and the show itself was so enjoyable. Plus, it was such a thrill to just get away from the blah of current life and lose myself in a play. And then? THEN? Xandra's mom and dad worked it out so I got tickets to see another performance, with Xandra. Bless you, bless you Laurie and Eric! I enjoyed that so much. I'll love you forever. Not just for the tickets, but it doesn't hurt. Although I thought all the performers were fantastic and I enjoyed every second of the show, I must say there were some actors in particular that have remained with me, singing and dancing in my head ever since I left the theater. First is my Xandra. Ok, technically she's not just "my" Xandra, but I would certainly lay sole claim if I could. Xandra (short for Alexandra) is tiny. As in, I would love to put her in my pocket and have her sing to me all the time. And it could be done because she would totally fit. (I have no clue how she performed those dances with that fat suit on, but she apparently can do anything.) Her person is so tiny that the only things that it can possibly contain are an astounding joy for life, a goofiness that defies all reason, an enormous heart, several inspiring talents and that voice. That voice has brought me to tears on many occasions. She has performed for years, here, California, New York...this is not just your garden variety talent we're talking about here. The first time I heard her sing, it literally knocked me off my feet. And all I could think was MORE! I want MORE!!! It's impossible for me to be near her and not be affected by her infectious humor, joy and appreciation for life. In short, (no pun intended, dear) I absolutley love this cousin of mine. She's always been quite special to me. Due to certain circumstances when she was a couple of months old, I had the chance to just hold her for a couple of days. Even then, she was unusual. Her eyes would follow something around the room, tracking something I couldn't see, though I certainly have my opinions on just whom she was watching. My Xandra, my little cousin. How I love her. She played Tracy in Hairspray. She WAS Tracy. That joie de vivre, her utter lack of prejudice or malice, and all that enthusiasm and talent...well, that's Xandra. Xandra's husband was also in the performance. I haven't had the chance to meet him as often as I'd like. In fact, I wasn't certain he'd even know who I was, but he either recognized me as family or he's an even better actor than I thought. He was so kind and sweet when we spoke after the play. I suspect he went home and asked Xandra to identify me. Anyway, I was utterly stunned to see him in action. That boy can DANCE. Son asked me to point out which one was Ben. Well that was easy enough. Ben was the only only looking off stage while "Tracy" was kissing "Link." Ben adores Xandra as much as she does him and they are delightful to see both on and off stage. My other favorite performers were people I've never met, but they were incredible. "Penny" had me in stitches, and Edna...oh Edna. For reasons I don't fully understand the part of Edna, Tracy's mother, is played by a man. I don't really care why. He was hilarious. I laughed so hard I think I may have injured myself. Adam, I will be a fan forever. And, the guys who played Seaweed? Good heavens. What talent! I've never seen people dance so well. Color me impressed. I really had only one complaint about the play. It ended. But on the bright side, I'm hoping I can get a private performance of "I Can Hear the Bells" out of Xandra later.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cell Phone Rant

Can we talk about cell phones? I'm not sure when exactly the law was passed stating that I have to have a cell phone on my person at all times, answer it each and every time it rings, no matter how inconvenient or impossible that may be, and answer all my messages the second that icon pops up. (Assuming I know what the icon even means.) As my mom says, "I have a phone for my convenience, not so I can be on-call at all times." I have friends. I have a phone. I like to talk to my friends, on my phone. If you have my number, chances are good that I like talking to you. (Visa, obviously I don't mean you. I'm sure you get that a lot. Sorry.) But I think things would be a lot easier for all of us if we establish a few rules.

1. I own a phone. You have possession of my phone number. Knowledge of my number does not entitle the holder to claim sole possession of my time/schedule/priorities/ability to remember to charge my phone. Sometimes I just can't talk at that very second, but I will be delighted to talk to you another time. You know, unless you're Visa. And sometimes I just have no idea where my phone is.

2. If I don't answer the phone, please don't be alarmed. Or offended. Especially not offended. I really can't handle one more "discussion" about how I'm deliberately not answering your calls. First of all, if you know me at all, you know I tend to lose things. My phone is no exception. And secondly, if you don't know me at all, why are you even calling me? And another thing: calling me again 30 seconds after the first attempt and still not getting an answer really isn't giving me a sporting chance. Aside from which, you're arguing with me NOW. That's kind of an indication that I DID answer your call. Eventually. See? Not avoiding you!

3. Voice mail. My message clearly states that it's unlikely that I'll even remember how to check my messages. That is assuming I can find my phone. If you choose to proceed at that point, don't be surprised when I don't remember how to check my messages or can't find my phone. In fact, just go ahead and assume that's what happened when you don't hear from me.

4. Texting. I don't know if there's something wrong with my thumbs. I think maybe they didn't evolve adequately for life in this century. I don't know. But I don't seem to be able to text very quickly. And in fact, I am just barely getting past my resistance to the entire concept. (I still think texting is like reverting to the telegraph.) For one thing, when you speak to me, I have no idea that you can't spell and I don't get distracted by it. Chances are I'm going to pay more attention to what you're actually saying if you just TALK to me. You know, with your voice? Otherwise I'm going to be busy thinking, "Why do so many people think "definitely" is spelled with an "a"? Plus when I spell things wrong, as I sometimes do, or finally break down and force myself to abbreviate and write "u" instead of "you", I feel on some level I'm disappointing my English teachers. And I've got enough guilt already, thanks. So please be patient. I'm trying!

5. Texting again. As mentioned, I'm not very quick with the texting thing. If you send me a text and then send me ANOTHER text while I'm still trying to answer the first one, and then I either have to forget finishing this answer and skip to the next one, or quickly finish and send it, knowing full well you've moved on to another thought...try not to be surprised or confused when I respond to your text "Where should we meet for dinner?" with, "Because the vacuum is on fire and also I lost the chicken. Again." Actually, from me that answer shouldn't surprise you under any circumstances, but especially if you get it via text.

6. Texting yet again. I know people like the texting option because it allows them to send a message somewhat privately, thus sparing unfortunate bystanders the graphic details of their conversations. A quick text may be necessary now and then, to the kids or the spouse, or whomever. But I've been with people who are so absorbed in their texting it's like spending time with someone who's only half there. If that. If you're with me and you're texting someone else throughout dinner, through the movie, etc. the message I'm getting is, "I'd rather talk to this other person right now, so you just go ahead and sit on the back burner until I have time to talk to you." Seriously? I don't know anyone who enjoys being "multi-tasked". If you'd rather be talking to someone else, by all means, you go right ahead. Just don't be outraged when you come up for air and realize I'm no longer with you. Come find me when you're able to put the phone down. You know, the way I do for you.

7. Yes, actually, I do know my mailbox is full. Maybe I just don't know how to empty it. Or maybe I like keeping it full, just so I don't have to deal with new irate messages about how I never check my voicemail. And? Leaving messages on my voicemail complaining about how I never check my voicemail? How effective do you think that's going to be, really?

If you have any questions about these rules, feel free to call me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I May Have Watched Too Much TV

This week, I had an appointment to meet another doctor in my continuing quest for answers to questions like: This…thing on my esophagus and stuff in my lungs, any thoughts? Can you make it go away? Also, one day when I’m strolling around the neighborhood, is there a chance an alien is going to rip through my chest and scare the neighbors? (Ok, actually that would be kind of awesome. And potentially messy. And painful, probably. Never mind.)

While I was hiking the stairs of the doctor’s office (Unofficial Motto: “If you can survive the wait for the elevator then we’ll see you because clearly you are tenacious beyond words and we can use people like you in the billing department”) I kept thinking about the name written on my little appointment card: Dr. Douglas Ross. For real. I’m just going to admit, I was super excited to meet this man. Dr. Ross! Flawed but extremely appealing doctor on “ER” reruns by day, GEORGE CLOONEY by night!

After working my way through the obligatory new patient stuff, I wondered if I’d be able to calm down in time to give the nurse accurate information when he took my blood pressure. Then I realized how silly I was being. I’m sure they adjust for that when someone is meeting Dr. Clooney, um...I mean Dr. Ross, for the first time.

At last, the door opened and in walked Dr. Ross. First impression: I thought he’d be taller. And that he’d look more like George Clooney. All through question-and-answer time, I kept thinking: Wow. I thought the camera adds ten pounds, but obviously the magic of television has more tricks than I ever suspected.

Oh, I’m not saying this doctor was some Quasimodo-like gnome. In fact, he was so normal looking, I probably couldn’t have picked him out of a lineup an hour later. (I’m not particularly good at remembering a face.)

Finally, he gave me his diagnosis, reminding me that I was there for more than the possible meeting of a celebrity. “I’ve reviewed the reports and honestly I really don’t know what this thing is. I’d like you to see a thoracic surgeon and get his opinion about removing it.”

I’ll bet the real (ok, the fictional character) Dr. Ross could figure it out. I’ll bet he could do it in under an hour, too, especially if we cut out the commercials. In fact, he might even bring in Dr. Gregory House to consult and between the two of them they could come up with an answer in thirty sarcastic-quip-filled minutes. But I’m sure this Dr. Ross did his best. As is the case with most professions, it’s probably a lot easier if you have good writers.

I asked him for reassurance. “This guy isn’t going to meet me at the door with a scalpel, right? Because I really, REALLY don’t want any cutting to happen until we’ve exhausted all other options.” He assured me that I’d be treated as conservatively as possible and then led me to the front desk to schedule an appointment.

My mother is convinced my brain shrinks every time general anesthesia is administered and if I go under one more time my brain will be just the right size to roll right on out of my ear. I’m not going to lie to you; I think she may be right. Because when I walk into the doctor’s office later this week? I’m kind of hoping I’ll be greeted by Noah Wyle.