Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Christmas miracle

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was forced to go to the supermarket on Christmas morning. Since I had to run errands anyway, I decided to get gas and pump up my low front tire in preparation for a long day of traveling.

Someone was hogging the air machine when I pulled up to the station, so I went ahead and filled my tank. I checked my purse for spare change, knowing that this particular station doesn't give its air out for free. I know, I know... if you buy gas you are supposed to get the air for free, but I didn't feel like walking all the way across the parking lot to the cashier to get a token. Also, I'd neglected to have the pump print a receipt which I knew I would have to present in order to prove that I was an actual gas-purchasing customer, not just some floozy off the street who needed to fill her tire.

I thought I might have a quarter in my purse and it would be worth 25 cents to me not to have to stand in line just to argue with the cashier about my right as an American to free air. I zipped over to the air machine as soon as it was free and was dismayed to see that the zero cents I was currently carting around in my purse would be insufficient to feed the greedy machine. (Seventy-five cents for air! You've got to be kidding me!) Resigned, I opened my door and prepared to brave the blustery weather to claim my token from the cashier.

But then... I heard a noise. Kind of like the merry jingling of Santa's bells or a choir of heavenly hosts singing hosanas or a frosty snowman chasing laughing children down the street or chestnuts roasting on the open fire. Something CHRISTMASY!

"BrrrrrrRRRRRrrrrrrrRRRRR...." was the gentle message which vibrated into my soul. The air machine was still on! I leapt from my car, scurried around to the low tire, sprayed some cold water on my shoe (because I can never tell which one is air and which one is water), grabbed the correct nozzle, and jammed it onto my tire.

A soft whoosh of air told me that my PSI was going up, up, up, just like my Christmas spirit. And then... *clunk*. Just like that the free air was gone. "Perhaps it is enough," I mused solemnly, trying not to let my dejection show. It was, after all, Christmas, and I'd been blessed with 10 seconds of free air.

I started the car again and my dashboard readout showed me the happy news. Ten seconds had been sufficient. My tire was full again... just like my heart.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Born free

Quote of the day:

"You don't get it. Dudes like to be naked in public, but just not too close to other dudes. If we could stay far enough apart, we be in loincloths all the time."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dilemma, part 5

It's a happy dilemma this time (so stop rolling your eyes).

Last night was the Christmas recital for my five piano students. They did great and their families were so impressed with their progress since last year. I was showered with praise and also (yay!) with presents.

In previous years, the families of my students have usually given me Christmas cards with some sort of treat inside (like a gift card). The message inside is "Thank you for all your hard work. We appreciate you. Have a Merry Christmas." I've always felt like these were thank you gifts, rather than Christmas gifts. I felt a little silly trying to write a thank you card for a gift that essentially was a thank you gift. So, I would verbally express my appreciation and leave it at that.

This year, I received similar cards from a couple of the families. But in addition, one family also gave me a wrapped present. Okay, I opened it last night when I got home (even though it was a Christmas present. Don't judge me! You would have done the same!) It turned out to be a whole bunch of really cute baby clothes and a soft soft blanket.

Clearly, a thank you note is in order for the baby stuff. It's obviously beyond the scope of thank-you-for-being-a-great-teacher. So, I should send my thank you card to them along with my regular batch of Christmas thank yous, yes?

I also have a new family this year and I'm teaching both of their boys. At the end of the night, each of the boys gave me a present. These were Christmas presents (not that that stopped me from tearing them open as soon as I got home) as opposed to thank you gifts. I feel like I should send thank you notes for them as well.

So, here's the dilemma(s):

1) Two of the three families gave me Christmas gifts. If I send thank yous only to them, I feel like I'm leaving out the one family who still gave me a lovely card and a gift certificate. But I feel stupid writing a thank you card for a thank you gift. It might set off a parastoltic chain reaction of "Thank you for your thank you for your thank you for your thank you..." Should I acknowledge all the gifts in writing, regardless of their intent?

2) Should I address the thank you notes to the family or to the students? The presents from the two brothers were clearly marked "Merry Christmas, from Connor" and "Merry Christmas, from Cooper." But it is obvious that the boys had no part in selecting, purchasing, or wrapping the gifts. Do I write individual thank you notes to each of them, to set a good example? Or should I send one note to the family as a whole?

3) There is one more piano lesson before Christmas. Should I try to get something for each of the students? Should I get something for each family? It feels weird to have received this huge haul of presents, especially when you consider they are already paying me for me services.

Please note: I'm not trying to get out of writing thank you notes. I love to get thank yous in the mail and I have no problem sending them to others. I just want to do it appropriately.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Open mic

At my last doctor appointment, I was advised that the time has come to up my office visits from once a month to every two weeks. Based on past experiences, I am thrilled to have this opportunity. So, I know that this every-two-weeks things means the end is quickly drawing near.
(Not that I would know when exactly the end will be because I am Mrs. RottenMotherAlready.)

I guess I'd better start getting ready.

So, all you pregnancy-gurus out there (you know who you are), tell me about childbirthing classes. Do I need them? What would you recommend? The hospital offers Lamaze classes but there are private instructors in town that offer other methods, for a price. I'm not planning to try a natural or low-med birth or anything crazy like that, so would it still be of value to take classes?

I've been told I have a low pain-tolerance so I'm open to anything that minimizes the pain.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Degrees of separation

My husband was born in Wisconsin. My college roommate was from Wisconsin. I've never been to Wisconsin or anywhere near it, really. Apparently, it's a very, very small place.

Last winter, my mother-in-law and I were chatting as we drove through the dreary Nevada wastelands to get to the dreary wastelands of Utah. I mentioned that my college roommate was from a little town in Wisconsin called Grafton and asked if she had ever heard of it.

"Nope. Doesn't ring a bell. Must be a very small town."

"I think so. But I understand the ward and stake boundaries out there are huge, so I thought maybe it would have been in your stake or something. It didn't look like it was too far from where you guys lived when Brett was born."

"That's true. But I don't think I've heard of it."

We drove on through the unchanging scenery, each lost in our own thoughts.

"Wait!" she cries, causing me to almost veer off the freeway. "Did you say 'Grafton'?"

"Yes. So you've heard of it?"

"Of course, it wasn't too far from where we lived when Brett was born! They were in our ward! I thought you said 'Brafton' at first."

"Well, my roommate was Miranda. Miranda M******. But everyone called her Mandy. She about my age so she would have been a baby when you guys were there. I think her dad was Mike M*******."

"Oh oh! I do remember them! Mike was a big, big guy, if I remember right."

"Yeah! He came to visit Mandy while we were in school and I remember he filled up the whole doorway to our room. Wow. It's a small world. Who would have thought that you were in the same ward with my college roommate's parents when my husband was born?"

Amazing, right? It gets better.

At Sunday dinner last week, the talk turned to delivering babies and the relative merits of taking pictures or video of your offspring being born and the appropriateness of sharing such a record with others. My father-in-law remembered that once in his was a member had brought photos of his wife giving birth to church and had shared them freely with others.

"It was certainly... out of the ordinary," he admitted. "Do you remember who that was?" he asked my mother-in-law. "Was it when we lived in Chicago? Or no... It think it was Wisconsin. Yeah, it was, uhhh... I don't remember his name. But they were related to the J***** family."

"Hey, I know some people named J*****," I chimed in unhelpfully. "But they lived in Provo. They were my roommate's cousins and they used to store her stuff for her in when she went home for the summer. As a matter of fact, mom actually knew my roommate's family when you guys lived in Wisconsin. The M******* family. Come to think of it, my roommate's mom's maiden name must have been J*****, because it was Mandy's aunt and uncle."

"Yup. That's it."


"M*******. That was the guy's name. Mike M*******. He's a really big guy. Very tall, just massive."

"How funny! That's my roommate's dad! I can't believe you knew him!"

"He was a great guy. We went hunting a few times together. Anyway, yeah, he was the one who brought the pictures of his wife giving birth to church."

"No kidding. It makes sense though. I mean, he is a photographer by trade so it's understandable that he'd want to capture and share the moment on film. It's so weird that we can be thousands of miles away and yet still so connected. I only know one family from Wisconsin and they happen to be people you also know. AND you've seen pictures of..."

My voice trailed off. "It just occurred to me," I finally was able to continue, "Those pictures... that baby... That was my roommate. Being born."

So there you have it. My father-in-law not only knows the parents of my college roommate, but has seen pictures of her birth.

Now, if only we could fit Kevin Bacon in this story somewhere...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's a bird, it's a plane

We were having a Christmas-themed sharing time on Sunday. The teacher asked the kids what the Wise Men saw waaaay up in the sky on the night that Jesus was born. One enthusiastic boy cried out:

"Harry Potter!"

It wasn't one of my Sunbeams this time, though. Phew.

Friday, December 5, 2008

COD is not just a tasty fish

I got a call from a vendor this morning...

Her: *curtly* I'm calling about such-and-such a shipment. We haven't gotten paid for it. Can you tell me when to expect payment?

Me: Hmmm... that doesn't sound familiar. I don't think the invoice has come across my desk yet. Can you tell me when it was sent?

Her: According to UPS, it arrived at your store C.O.D. on December 2nd. So-and-so signed for it. When will we be receiving payment?

Me: You sent it C.O.D. with UPS?

Her: That's right. So, when can I expect a check?

Me: *blink* *blink* Well, if it was sent C.O.D., without knowing anything about it, I would have to assume that you've already been paid. It was delivered C.O.D. by UPS on the 2nd?

Her: *impatiently* Yes. I have the tracking record right here. So, you've sent a check?

Me: Noooo... UPS would have collected it upon delivery.

Her: What do you mean?

Me: Well, if it was sent C.O.D....

Her: That's right. Collect. On. Delivery. C.O.D.

Me: Yes. That's right. So we would have had to pay for it in order for UPS to deliver it. Collect. On. Delivery. C.O.D.

Her: Ma'am, I'm not seeing what that has to do with you sending me a check for the shipment.

Me: Well, if we paid for it when it was delivered, I don't want to send you another check and pay for it twice.

Her: Why would you have paid for it when it was delivered?

Me: Because, according to you, it was sent C.O.D.

Her: I don't understand. Hold on...

At this point I can hear her talking to someone in the background...

Her: Hey Gary, that thing was sent C.O.D., right?

Gary: Yup. What's the problem? When are they going to pay for it?

A different voice is heard in the background...

DV: Hey, you two! C.O.D. means that...*garbled sounds as the phone is now being covered*

Her: *back on the line* Uh, ma'am? I guess... the uhhh, shipment wasn't sent C.O.D. It was sent, uhhh... whatever the opposite of C.O.D is...

Naming fail

I was driving behind a van this morning that had the company name emblazoned across the rear doors. The name of the company was:

"WTF Plumbing"

WTF, indeed. I wish I had my camera.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Waterslides and whirlpools

I like to sleep. When I sleep, I tend to dream. A lot. And unlike many people, I remember a good portion of my dreams. This provides hours of weekly entertainment for my husband, whose absolute mostest favorite thing in the entire world is hearing about my dreams. I know he loves it due to the glassy-eyed look he gets within the first three seconds after hearing the words, "So, I had this dream last night..."

But it occurs to me that the entire world (all of whom read my blog, mind you) might not enjoy hearing about the random crap my brain spews forth during my downtime, so I generally refrain from posting about it.

I'll bet you didn't know though, that I am a hack dream analyzer. It's true. I've read (okay, own) two books on the subject. With these credentials, I can certify that 98% of what I dream about is just loose wiring in my brain. Inner crapola. But I have been able to identify a few recurring dreams, the themes of which should be easily identifiable to even the novice dream-ologist.

Recurring dream #1: I'm being thwarted in my efforts to communicate with someone. Usually it's because they are refusing to listen. I start screaming and shouting and throwing things around. Sometimes I threaten them with bodily harm, to no avail. In the end, I am never able to get my point across.

Ooooohhhh...mysterious, I know. Whatever could it mean?

Recurring dream #2: I am unprepared for something. Most recently, I dreamed that I'd been asked to give a talk in church but didn't know about it until I got there. I've also been unprepared for tests in school, late for important meetings at work, still packing my bags when my plane is leaving, and enrolled in classes which I never attended and never completed any assignments.

I'm just a hack, but I sense a theme of "unpreparedness" in these dreams.

Recurring dream #3: Waterslides. I dream about waterslides ALL THE TIME. I kid you not. It's not uncommon for me to have a waterslide dream twice a week. As far as I can tell, there are no other common elements to these dreams. The settings and characters vary. The emotions range from misery to glee. Sometimes I work at a waterslide park. Sometimes I am hiking in the forest and just happen to come across a waterslide coming down the side of the mountain. Sometimes I'm riding the slide, sometimes it's just there.

"They" say that water in dreams is significant. Whether the water is clean or dirty, calm or tempestuous is supposed to be symbolic. Are you drowning or in a boat? Are you afraid of the water or happy to be near it? It's a subject ripe for analysis.

But I've not been able to find one scrap of information specifically about waterslide dreams. Does no one else dream of this on a regular basis? Why are you holding out on me, internet? Why? I need to know!

In the last couple of weeks a new angle has cropped up in the waterslide dreams. The waterslides are now usually a series of interconnected spas or hottubs or whirpools. Sometimes the jets are on, sometimes the water is still. Sometimes it's warm, sometimes not so much. But now my waterslides have multiple landings, all of which are some sort of jacuzzi tub.

What do you think? Feel free to poke around in my psyche for a bit. I'm stumped.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two more victims

My in-laws came to visit last week and we all settled in to watch a movie. Even though the movie was interesting and entertaining, I fought to stay awake. My eyelids drooped and darkness began to cloud my thoughts. Surrender to the sweet, blissful oblivion seemed to be the only option. Suddenly, I was jolted back to reality by an unwelcome din coming from the other end of the couch:


My mother-in-law had succumbed to the siren song of the sofa and was snoring peacefully at the other end. To be fair, she had already seen the movie.

Sunday, my parents came over to celebrate my dad's birthday. Since my parents had not seen the new furniture yet, I suggested they try it out.

"Oooohhh, ahhhhhh..." sighed my mom. "I want one just like this..."

"Wow, this is really comfortable. This headrest supports my neck just perfectly," my dad commented appreciatively.

Stop the press. Did I just hear my parents agree on the comfortableness of a piece of furniture? To my knowledge, this has never, ever, EVER happened before in the history of the universe. A tear came to my eye. It was like watching history in the making.

Two parents sat on the couch. Only one got up. A few moments later, I was not surprised to find my dad fast asleep, cradled in the loving embrace of my new best friend, The Couch.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Dilemma, part 4

One of the roads I have to drive on to get home from work has been under construction forever. There's a part where the left lane ends and all the traffic has to merge right. I know from experience (since this road has been under construction forever) that if I stay in the left lane until it ends and then merge right, I can save a couple of minutes.

The people who have chosen to merge into the right lane early often do not appear to appreciate this tactic. I can see why. They have been sitting in traffic for some time, watching people like me zip by and merge much further up the line. Occasionally, they try to refuse to let me in. Their disadvantage is that they are not moving and I am, so I can partially wedge myself into any newly created opening, thus securing my spot in front of them before they can move forward to block me out.

My dilemma is two-part:

1. Is it wrong to pass up all the people who have been sitting in the right lane and merge in when my lane ends? My guts says I should have to wait just as long as anyone else, but my mouth says, "Suckers!"

2. Should I refrain from waving a "thank you for letting me in" wave to a driver that I merged in front of, knowing full well that if he was in a position to shut me out, he would have?



Quote of the day:

"No one wants to touch your belly when it's just FAT, but put a fetus in there and BANG, you're fair game."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Primary gems

On Sunday, the Sharing Time lesson was about being thankful for our bodies. The teacher prefaced her lesson by telling the children that Heavenly Father had given each one of them a very special gift.

Teacher: And that special gift is... a body. Each one of us has a body that Heavenly Father has given us.

Kid sitting on the front row: Yeah! A body! He gave us a body! And also... a potty! He gave us a potty, too!!!

The teacher then had the kids come up and choose pictures of various items that would either be good for our bodies or would go into the garbage can. One of my Sunbeams had bailed hard on his turn at the board, putting the scriptures into the garbage can as the rest of junior primary screamed for him to change his mind. He was still smarting from the embarrassment and so I tried to make him feel better on the next round.

Me: Okay, look what she chose... oooohhh... it's a picture of cigarettes. Do those go in the garbage or are they good for your body? I know you know this one...

Sunbeam: *sniff* Good for your body.

Me: *blink* Cigarettes? Does Heavenly Father want us to smoke cigarettes? Or would he want us to put them in the trash?

Sunbeam: Good for your body.

Me: No... if you had cigarettes, you would want to throw them away... wouldn't you?

Sunbeam: *stubbornly* Well, I liked them when I tried them!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Another no-so-update

By popular demand, more of my uneventful pregnancy:

I've been having monthly appointments with the OB/GYN. (Which reminds me: Brett wants to know why it is pronounced "Oh-Bee-Gee-Why-En" instead of "obgin." Any input?) The routine is pretty much the same, I check in, pee in a cup, get weighed, and have my blood pressure taken. Then, the nurse asks me for my due date, which I think is funny because she has my chart in hand as we are speaking. I tell her, "March 7th" which she notes and then tells me exactly how far along I am. Then invariably, she looks at the chart and says, "Oh, you are actually due on the 9th!" Then she revises her estimatation of how far along I am and gives me a look that says, "You are a rotten mother already. You don't even know when your baby is due!"

Two thoughts to keep in mind here: If I tell her I'm due on the 9th, the exact same scenario plays out. "You're actually due on the 7th. Mrs. RottenMotherAlready!" Also, two days? Does it really matter? Aren't there only, like, 5% of babies born on their due date? Honestly woman! You are just setting me up for failure. I can't live up to your expectations. I'm going to have the baby 3 weeks late, just to spite you.

So, then my doctor comes in. I like my doctor. She's easy-going and sympathetic and never tries to make me feel bad for not knowing my due date. She's got a big smile and you can tell she just loves babies. She reviews my chart and then always asks, "How are you feeling?"

From what I can tell, this is why I have an appointment every month. So a person with a lot of schooling can ask, "How are you feeling?" And then, so I don't feel bad about paying $40 to have someone with a lot of schooling ask how I am feeling, she listens to the baby's heartbeat.

These appointments are riveting, I tell ya.

But, in other baby news, we've been testing out names. Brett will lean over to my belly and say, "Hello. How ya doin', Helga?" or "What's up, Baby Olga?" You know, we're just throwin' names out there to see if they stick.

I felt one stick, just a wee bit, last night.

So, we have a contender. But it's a strict "don't ask don't tell" policy 'round these parts. Sorry.

Dilemma, part 3

When my sixty-something year old co-worker tells me (for the FOURTH TIME) that she has begun giving computer lessons to an 80-year old lady who lives down the street from her, would it be wrong for me to comment supportively:

"Must be nice to have someone close to your own age to talk to."


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I'm gonna take you on a magic sofa ride

We bought a new couch and easy chair last month. At first, I was resistant to the idea of purchasing new furniture in such economic times, but after we sold our easy chair at a garage sale and Brett took our sofa to his office, it became clear that I no longer had a choice. It was either buy new furniture or sit on the floor.

We parked our butts on a lot of different living room sets during our search for The Couch. When we came to the couch that would eventually become The Couch, Brett knew it right away. He was in love. Me, on the other hand, being the skeptic that I am, had to be convinced. I didn't particularly care for the style (it's fluffy and casual, I would have preferred something more formal) and the fabric was unlike any other sofa we looked at. It's a very soft green micro-fiber with almost a terry-cloth feel to it. I joked, ala "Friends", that is was made from Genuine Muppet Skin.

But we ended up buying it anyway and we had company over for dinner the night we brought it home. Our friends ooohhhed and ahhhhed appreciatively, but I thought it was probably just because they were glad not to sit on the floor. Late that night, Brett's pregnant sister arrived after a long and grueling flight from Utah. We invited her to relax on the new sofa. She settled in, popped up the footrest, leaned the back back, and summed her feelings up in one word:

"Uuuuunnnnnnggghhh..." <--- groan of approval

My feelings for the new furniture started to grow after Shauna gave her unabashed endorsement, but for some reason, I still held back. When I would watch TV, I'd sit up ramrod-straight and never even try to relax and get comfortable. I didn't want to become too attached. Then, one night as we started to watch a movie , Brett insisted I recline my seat and use the footrest. I did so just to humor him. And, after a few moments... I fell asleep.

This wasn't just any sleep. This was the sleep of the dead. I was comatose for almost 2 hours. Brett woke me when the movie ended and told me to go to bed.

It must have been a fluke, I rationalized. I was just really tired. I could have fallen asleep like that anywhere. The sofa had nothing to do with it.

The next night, the couch beckoned to me with its siren song. "Just recline for a few moments. Rest your weary bones. It won't take long. A little rest is just what you need..." I thought I would experiment to see if the previous night's slumber was due to the couch or my personal exhaustion. That was my last thought... for another two hours.

Repeat for the next 4 nights in a row.

Now, I can't sit on The Couch without falling asleep. We rent movies, I fall asleep. I read a book, I fall asleep. I sit on The Couch to talk on the phone, I fall asleep. The Couch is like a vortex to another dimension... a wonderful warm, relaxed, sleepy dimension where troubles melt like lemon drops.

The ultimate demonstration of The Couch's power came last night when I was reviewing my ballot in preparation to vote today. The house was chilly from the rain so we built a small fire in the fireplace. The flames crackled merrily and The Couch lured me in once again.

By 9:30, all thought of ballots and propositions were forgotten. "Must not recline... Must be responsible citizen... Must vote..." I struggled to focus. I glanced over to where Brett was already slumbering in the recliner at the opposite end. "Just for a few moments," I thought. "I'll be able to focus better after a 10 minute nap."

I should have known better. I woke up at 8:00 this morning...still cradled in the loving bosom of my new best friend, The Couch.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'd like three four-inch sandwiches, please

Brett and I attempted to use a discount card that we had purchased from the local high school at Subway the other night. The discount was "Buy one 6-inch sandwich and a 32-ounce drink and receive one 6-inch sandwich FREE." I thought that since we were both pretty hungry, we might be able to buy more and save more, so I asked the girl behind the counter...

Me: I know this is for a 6-inch sub, but if we bought two drinks, could we use it for two footlongs instead?

Her: No. It has to be a 6-inch sandwich.

Me: I gotcha. That makes since because if we did that we'd essentially be using the card twice in one visit.

Her: --

Me: So, anyway, we'll get a footlong ham and cheese and one six-inch pastrami...and a 32-ounce drink.

Her: And what would you like your other 6-inch sub to be?

Me: Huh? Nothing. Just one footlong and one 6-inch.

Her: You can't do that. They both have to be 6-inch subs.

Me: Well, I'm getting at footlong, part of which is the first 6-inch sub, and then the second 6-inch sub is free. I'm still paying for at least one (actually two) 6-inch sandwiches.

Her: You can't do that. They both have to be 6-inch subs.

Me: *blink* *blink* But I am buying 6-inch subs...

Her: You need to buy two 6-inch subs.

Me: I am. I am buying three 6-inch subs...

Her: You can't do that. The discount is only good two 6-inch subs.

Me: So, I can't buy more than two? I don't want an additional discount. I just want one free 6-inch sub. Just call it three 6-inch subs instead of a footlong and a 6-inch.

Her: --

Me: *deep breath* Okay, how about I buy a footlong for me and a footlong for my husband and, of course, a drink. Will I have enough sandwich credits then?

Her: It has to be 6-inch subs.

Me: Mine is a footlong so just ignore that. Imagine that he is getting two 6-inch sandwiches. They are just the same kind of sandwich. And they are on the same piece of bread. You can cut them apart and wrap them separately if that makes you feel better.

Her: You still need two 6-inch subs.

Brett finally steps in...

Brett: Okay, my wife will have a footlong ham and cheese and I'll have a 6-inch pastrami and a 6-inch Reuben.

Her: *beaming* Great! What kind of bread would you like?

I can't tell if she was just not very bright or if she knew that she could scam us into buying another six inches of sandwich by playing dumb. Either way, our discounted dinner turned out to be over $13. For that money, we could have bought two whole pizzas with the same discount card and probably had leftovers the next day. It certainly would have been less hassle.

And another thing I hate about Subway, while I'm on the topic, do they just assume that we all eat there enough that they don't show which meats come on each sandwich on the menu? I mean, Meatball Marinara and Ham and Cheese are easy enough, but am I really supposed to know what comes on a Coldcut Combo or a Spicy Italian Sub? Are these sandwiches so common that they need no introduction? Would it kill them to give me a heads-up so I can make a decision without holding up the line?

I'm just sayin...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Now for the weekend not-an-update with Andrea

Last week, I was talking with my boss and he said that his wife keeps asking for updates on my pregnancy. (For those of you who don't know, or don't know me, I'm pregnant. Great, now it's no longer a secret.) Anyway, he said his wife asks about it every night and his response is always the same:

"I dunno."

"How can you NOT know?!" she cries. "This is a big deal! I need details!"

"Well, honey...I'm a guy."

I told him to reassure her that everything was normal as far and I knew and not to feel too bad on not having any details for her.

There aren't any.

The doctors tell me everything looks normal (even though I will be officially "old-fart" age in terms of giving birth by the time the baby is born next March), all my test results have been satisfactory, and I feel fine.

But for those who really, REALLY want something juicy...I still can't brush my teeth without gagging. Should make for a fun dentist appointment next week.

Oh, and she's a girl. Please let me know if you would like us to consider naming her after you or someone you know.

Sorry I'm so boring. *sniff*

At the bank

There was a sign on the door of my bank yesterday:

Happy Halloween!

Please leave masks outside.

Great sign. Tactful and to the point. It would have been so easy to muddle the issue with "In light of the fact that we were recently robbed, for the safety of our customers and employees...blah blah blah..."

I wonder if facepaint is okay, though.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dilemma, parts 1 and 2

Workplace dilemma, part 1:

People at work often greet me with, "Hi, how are you today?" I reply, "Fine, thank you."

I know the socially acceptable response is, "Fine, how are you?" But I don't want to feed the how-are-you-as-a-greeting machine, so I simply answer the question. It has led to an awkward pause on more than one occasion, though.

Am I wrong for failing to observe this nicety?

Workplace dilemma, part 2:

A certain co-worker starts all of her phone conversations with me, "Sorry to bother you, but..." When she has to call more than once in a day, she starts with, "I know I'm being a pest, but..."

She pauses and waits for me to reassure her that she's neither a bother nor a pest. I never do. I usually just say nothing and wait for her to get to the point.

Whether or not she is bothering me is irrelevant. The damage is done. She's already pestered me. Also, I don't really believe she's sorry. If she was, wouldn't she stop calling me?

Should I cut her some slack?


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Love may transform me to an oyster


Does anyone else out there think John Mayer always looks kind of clammy? Sleepy and clammy?

Kind of like he was sleeping inside an oyster and having a cold-sweat nightmare, but then was suddenly jolted awake when someone slapped him across the face with a dead fish?

It's just me, isn't it? I promise, this has nothing to do with the fact the I've never met a John Mayer song I liked.

Bonus points for naming the movie from whence the title of this post cometh.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Office

Recently, Brett's cousin became convinced that we would be the kind of people who love "The Office" and insisted we borrow season 1 and season 2 from his collection. He was right. We are totally hooked, as is, to my understanding, most of the rest of America.

It has come to my attention, however, that there are a few naysayers out there. The most common complaint I've heard (okay, it was hearsay from ONE person, but still) is that Michael is way too over-the-top. The show is not realistic because no one would ever act like that.

Untrue. I am here to bear witness to this fact. I worked for Michael for a brief time, only his name was Rick back then.

I'll give only one example to support my claim, but I think it should be sufficient. *Warning! The following material may not be appropriate for young children and for those who are squeamish about body parts/functions.*

This scene from "The Office" was actually one of the deleted scenes. Deleted, mind you, probably because it was too much for TV.

Pam is eating her lunch and reading a book. Michael approaches her and begins to small talk. Even though he is clearly interrupting her break, she humors him a little which encourages him to stay and chat more. He peers over her shoulder and asks about the book she's reading. She replies and an awkward pause follows. Michael fills in the dead air by saying:

"Yup. Had a big scare this morning." Pam responds by nodding politely but uninterestedly. Michael continues:

"Yup. Big, big scare....probably took a few years off my life. Yup, it wasn't good. Found a lump. You know...down there." Michael gestures toward his groin. He pauses dramatically. Pam lowers her head and begins to cover her eyes. "I was totally freaking out. Just freaking out. Wow. My life flashed before my eyes. Just think about... well, you know... what would happen if... well, you don't need to worry about that but, wow... I was really sweating it. Yup... Oh, it turned out to be nothing, but phew! Can you imagine? It's scary to think about..."

Of course, the comedy is that Michael is sharing way too much personal information with someone, his employee even, completely oblivious to the fact that she's uncomfortable and he is being completely inappropriate.

Compare the following situation:

Andrea is at work one afternoon when the power goes out. Computers are down, phones are down, and there's almost no light. Being the only one in the office, she opens the doors to some of the exterior offices which lets a small amount of sunshine in. About 10 minutes later, the power revives and a few minutes after that her boss comes charging in.

"Good thing the power came back on. I hadn't realized how dark this office is when the power's off. I was about ready to go home." she jokes with her boss.

"Dark? You think it's dark in here? I was in the bathroom when the power went off. It's pitch black in there."

"Uhhh...yeah. I can imagine," Andrea replies, treading lightly. She's not really interested in exactly where in the bathrooming process her boss was when the power went off. She's afraid he's going to tell her anyway.

"Yeah, it's pretty funny. I'll tell you, because it's just the two of us and I know you can keep a secret..."

Andrea cringes. Rick continues.

"So, I was in the bathroom and well, I'm of a certain age where doctors start checking for various illnesses and diseases by using stool samples. So, I was actually trying to collect my sample when the power went out. It was soooo dark! *chuckle chuckle* Anyway, I've got the collection stuff all ready and I don't want to loose my opportunity..."

Andrea lowers her face and covers her eyes, just like Pam. Rick charges on:

"Actually, you've probably never had to do this, but basically you collect the stool on a piece of cloth, then there's this little scooper that you use to take the samples to send to the lab. Aaaaanyway, I'm standing there, all of a sudden in the pitch black, all ready to collect my sample and I don't know when I'll get another chance, so I pull out my cell phone, open it up and set it on the counter, just for a little light. And when I'm right in the middle of things, someone calls and the ringer makes the phone vibrate right off the counter, because I've got my hands full and can't answer it. Then, when it hits the floor, the battery pops off, so I'm in the pitch black again. But now, I'm crawling around with the scooper in one hand, trying to find my phone and the battery with the other. Hahaha! I'm glad the power came on when it did, because I might have been in there all day. I finally found the battery and it was clear over on the other side of the bathroom, under one of the urinals..."

Andrea is wishing the power would go off again so that she can escape under the cover of darkness.

"Anyway, pretty funny story, huh? Just don't tell anyone. It's way too embarrassing! Hahaha!"

Mercifully, the story ends when the office door opens and another employee enters. Rick accosts him in the doorway.

"Hey Keith! Want to hear a funny story? This happened just now when I was in the bathroom and the power went out. See, I was trying to collect a stool sample for..."

Too over-the-top to be true? Not even. I was there. It just wasn't as funny as "The Office."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Darn kids! Turn that racket down!

I was out toodling around this afternoon, running some errands for the office. The glorious weather inspired me to pull out a CD that Brett made for me a couple of years ago which is filled with rap, dance and hip-hop music. It's not always what I am in the mood for, but today it was perfect.

One of my favorite songs came on just as I was pulling up to a stoplight. ("Yeah!" by Usher. Ok? Don't judge me.) I cranked it up and the bass started thumping.

"BOOM! BOOM! Ba-BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BA-BA-BA-BOOM!" The windows of my car were almost rattling and I was feelin' da power.

An elderly man and woman were in the car next to me, waiting at the stoplight with their windows down. (My windows were up, thank you very much.) As soon as the song, and specifically the BOOM-ing, started, the woman's face contorted and looked as if she had just caught a whiff of something very, very rotten. She turned her crusty-face to her husband and he began twisting around every-which-way in his seat, obviously to locate the car from whence this unholy sound was emanating.

"BOOM! BOOM! Ba-BOOM!" My stereo thumped on and on.

After making a quick survey of the surrounding cars, any of which could have been producing the offending noise, the man turned and stared directly at me with a look of annoyance on his face. I stared back, displaying my innocent blue eyes and distinctly pregnant belly as prominently as possible. His gaze immediately softened and he rolled his eyes at me as if to say, "Kids these days! You must be as annoyed at this racket as I am..." I nodded sympathetically and lifted my hands in a "But what can you do?" gesture. The light turned green and we both drove on.

Poor guy. He had no idea that he was trying to commiserate with Chill Cool Li'l Puffy Snoop Platypus herself. At least, that's what they call me in da 'hood.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

With our powers combined

Thanks to my awesome husband, I am now the proud owner of this awesome shirt. Jealous yet?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another one bites the dust

Three years ago we purchased a gazebo for our patio. In addition to giving us some shady, bug-free outdoor living space, we hoped it would protect our dining room from the harsh afternoon sun. We bought a couple of patio chairs, added an old end table, and hung a basket full of trailing flowers at the peak of the roof. We planned to add a two-person swing when our funds permitted. It was a lovely little sitting area.

One morning I awoke at my customary hour and stumbled out to the kitchen for some water. Something was different. I couldn't put my finger on it. I turned around slowly in place. No, the dishes were still piled in the sink in their typical state of unwash. The garbage can was still stacked to the top. Junk mail and empty cereal boxes still littered the dining room table. What was different?

I peaked out the sliding door onto the patio. Hmmm... patio chairs were still there as was the end table. I noted that one of our potted plants had been knocked over by the windstorm that began the night before and was still furiously blowing around the house. "I'd better move those plants so they don't get totally destroyed," I thought.

My bathrobe began to flap around my ankles as I stepped out of the house and looked up at the steel-gray sky. The wind chilled my bones and I mused, "Looks like it's going to rain today...look at those clouds...they're so big and black and OH MY GOSH! Sweet mother of a badger! WHERE IS MY GAZEBO!"

My gazebo was gone. Disappeared without a trace. Vanished like the fine morning mist. Where it had stood, there was... nothing. Just open sky. Sky that I should not have been able to see due to the fact that my gazebo should have been covering me.

"What the... Who the heck would steal a gazebo?" I tiptoed around the back of the house, wary that the gazebo thief might still be lurking in the backyard. He would have accomplices, I was sure and I wasn't sure if I could fight off two or three wanton criminals in my bathrobe with my hair whipping around in my face.

The backyard was empty, though. No hardened criminals. No gazebo.

"Maybe there's a clue out front...maybe I'll find some tire tracks or bloodstains or something," I thought.

Yeah. There was a big clue out front in the form of a mass of twisted aluminum which I surmised must have once been my stately gazebo. Apparently, the wind during the night had been sufficient to lift my 10'x10' gazebo completely off the patio, carry it over a 6-foot redwood fence, and twist it almost inside-out before smashing it down in the middle of my front lawn.

I reacted like any normal person would. "Brett! Brett! Wake up! We've got to get this gazebo off the front lawn before the neighbors see! Hurry! Oh gosh. I wonder how long it's been out there. People have probably been driving by all morning and laughing. Ack! Help me!"

Together, Brett and I wrestled apart the mangled posts and rods until we could remove the corpse to a more suitable resting place, in the backyard, away from the prying eyes of the neighbors.

I guess the ropes and stakes that were provided (which we promptly discarded) when we purchased the gazebo were actually supposed to help anchor it to the ground on windy days. Who knew?

The next summer, when the sun began to scorch our dining room again, my mom called and told us that she'd found a similar gazebo on sale. She was going to buy one for herself and she wanted to know if we wanted one, as well. Being older and wiser to the care and feeding of gazebos, we felt that we were responsible enough to try again, so we agreed.

The new gazebo had an extra vent at the top which seemed to be a bonus feature. We pondered this vent and promptly concluded that the lack of this vent on our other gazebo was what led to its early demise. Surely, a gazebo with a vented top would not be carried away in a windstorm, but we were not about to take chances. After completing the assembly, we weighted down each side with weights borrowed from Brett's dumbbell collection. No way this gazebo would be blowing away. Not with a vented top and 40 pounds of metal on each corner.

We enjoyed the new gazebo all summer and in the fall, when the winds started to blow, we congratulated ourselves that our patio decor had remained intact.

Intact, that is, until one beautiful day the next spring when birds sang to a clear blue sky and not even a gentle breeze ruffled the budding trees, I arrived home and found the gazebo collapsed in a heap on the patio. This time, there was no explanation. It was as if the gazebo had simply given up the will to live and crumbled to the ground. Disgusted and unwiling to give this second traitor-gazebo a proper burial, we dragged it to the corner of the yard where it remains to this day, unwept, unhonored, and unsung.

The next summer, we purchased a super-UV blocking screen door for the sliding glass door. It worked almost better than either gazebo for keeping the sun out and the house cool. I was done with gazebos forever, I thought.

On Labor Day, Brett returned from the sporting goods store with a new swimming suit, several pairs of shorts, and ... a gazebo. This was a different type of gazebo, though. Instead of being like a room with decorative supports and mosquito-netting walls, this was just a sun shade. It was made to be portable and could be set up and taken down fairly easily. Brett said it was on sale (50% off) and he could use it at some of his DJ events. We set it up on the patio where its forefathers had stood during the summers before. Since it provided a nice, shady spot for the dogs to rest while we were gone, we left it there.

Yesterday, as in the Octobers of yore, the wind began to blow. I mentioned to Brett that we should lower the gazebo, and maybe put it away, just in case, ha ha. I didn't really think it would blow away since it was quite a bit heavier that either of the other two and the wind wasn't really that strong. We were both running late for work, so we left it up... just for a few hours.

That night when I got home, the gazebo was gone, presumably packed up and put in storage for the winter. I told Brett I appreciated it and asked if he'd had any trouble taking it down by himself.

He was very, very quiet.

"Well..." he began eventually.

"Oh, ha ha ha. Very funny. Don't try to act like this one blew away, too. I'm too smart to fall for that."

He was very, very quiet.

"I didn't have time before work..." he started again.

"I know. We were both running late. You're not saying... No, you're kidding. I can see it in your eyes. You're kidding. You're kidding, right? RIGHT?"

"It was in the rosebushes when I got home."



More silence.

I thought if I acted like I believed his little tale, that he'd come clean with the truth. "Okay. So it was in the rosebushes. Was it broken?" I said, waiting for him to break into a smile.

"Just a little. I think we can fix it," he replied solemnly.

"NO FREAKING WAY! You're not kidding, are you?"

"No. I'm serious."

I'm beginning to think we are just not supposed to have a gazebo on our patio. Really. I'm not kidding. I'm just now BEGINNING to think that.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

You can't get there from here

On Saturday, when Brett and I were in Roseville setting up for a homecoming dance at their local high school, he asked if I would run to the Radio Shack to pick up some cables for him.

Roseville is not my town. Most of the time when I try to find anything in Roseville, I get lost. Even if I have been to my intended destination a thousand times before, I will probably get lost. Knowing this, and knowing we were short on time, I resolved to call the Radio Shack and have them give me directions to their store.

The following took place between 11:03 and 11:04 am.

Me: Hi. I need to get directions to your store. I'm at Roseville High School right now. Can you tell me how to get there.

Radio Shack Employee: I don't know where Roseville High School is.

Me: Oh. Well, I'm just off Highway 80 at the Eureka exit.

RSE: Hmmm... well, we're next to Big Lots.

Me: I don't know where that is. I'm not from around here.

RSE: Big Lots is in the Harding Plaza. You know, where Random Store #1 and Random Store #2 are. We're right next to Random Store #3.

Me: I'm sorry. I don't know where any of those stores are. Maybe you can just tell me how to get there from Highway 80.

RSE: From 80? Well, uhhhhhh...

Me: If I'm on 80, what exit should I take?

RSE: Uhhhhhh... Douglas?

Me: Great. So, after I take the Douglas exit, which way should I turn?

RSE: Uhhhhhhh... I don't know. I, uhhhhh... don't drive that way.

Me: *patient sigh* Okay. When you drive to work, which roads do you take?

RSE: Uhhhhhh... I don't know.

Me: You don't know?

RSE: Well, uhhhh, it's just... we're next to Big Lots. Just go into the Big Lots parking lot and we're right there.

Me: I'm sorry. That doesn't help me at all. I don't live around here, so I don't know where that store is.

RSE: *suddenly excited* Oh! Oh! I know! Do you have internet? I can give you the address and you can get a map... just go to mapquest.com. It's totally cool and will give you a free map. You can even put in the address of the place you're coming from and it will give you directions and everything. That would probably work great for you.

Me: *gritting teeth* No. I do not have internet access right now. If I DID, I would NOT have needed to call YOUR STORE FOR DIRECTIONS.

RSE: Oh, yeah. Tee hee. Silly me.

So, who a) doesn't know where the high school in their town in located, b) can't give a customer any useful directions on how to get to their store from a major freeway, c) can't even tell someone how she gets to work in the morning?

There are really two kinds of direction-givers in the world: Dead Reckoners and Landmark Navigators. A Dead Reckoners will actually give you directions to get to your destination. "Take the Douglas exit. Turn right at the light. Turn right at the second street. Go down one mile and it will be on the left." A Landmark Navigator flails around, throwing out places she thinks you might recognize and then says, "Oh, you do know where the Wal-Mart is? Well, we're right next to Wal-Mart." Of course, this approach is completely useless if the person receiving the "directions" is not familiar with your landmarks.

In the interest of time, I terminated the conversation with Radio Shack #1 Employee and proceeded to call Radio Shack #2.

Me: Hi. I'm at Roseville High School and would like to get directions to your store.

RSE2: I don't know where Roseville High School is.

Me: Okay. I'm on Highway 80 coming from Sacramento toward Roseville. What exit do I take?

RSE2: Oh, okay. You, uhhhhh, take the Highway 65 exit then go to the Pleasant Grove exit, turn left and we are in the first strip mall.

Me: Thank you! Now just to clarify, when I take Highway 65, I'll be going north, right?

RSE2: Uhhhh....

Me: Like, in the direction I would go to get to the mall?

RSE2: The mall? No way! We're not near the mall AT ALL. It's the exit after Galleria Boulevard.

Now, as previously mentioned, I get all turned around and lost a lot in Roseville. But the one thing I do know in that the GALLERIA MALL is on GALLERIA BOULEVARD.

I drove out there and found the Radio Shack. I also found that I could see Galleria Mall from their parking lot. But, dude, if it makes you feel better to think that you are not near the mall AT ALL, whatevah.

Friday, October 3, 2008

3:26 am

Last night, the night before, and the night before that, I woke up at exactly 3:26 am.

That must be the maximum limit for my bladder.

Either that, or the island is trying to tell me something...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Does that come with curly fries?

Brett took the dogs to work with him today. He left them in the car while he went in to disable the store alarm. We he returned, he saw that, in the few moments without adult supervision, Sammie had chewed up some of the papers that Brett had left in the back seat.

There were a lot of papers for Sammie to choose from: online map printouts, receipts from recent oil changes, old church programs and newsletters, lots of junk mail.

Amid all these tempting options, Sammie chose to chew up the Arby's coupons that Brett was going to use for lunch.

You know, the coupons with pictures of roast beef sandwiches on them.

I'm thinking we might need to start feeding Sammie more often.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brett's genius idea

I can't even go 5 business days without yielding to the demands of my eager public for "NEW POSTS!"

And since the eager public's birthday just happens to be today, I must oblige.

My husband is always coming up with genius ideas. Why, just last night, he devised a solution by which we could remove our rather large sofa from our living room to his office. I would have sworn this task was impossible, since I had measured all the means of egress from our house and concluded that none of them were large enough to move said sofa through. But then again, we got it in the house, why wouldn't we be able to get it out again? He had no doubts, though and he was right. We were able to get it out with minimal effort.

As an added bonus, we now have no sofa and no easy chair in our living room. (It was another one of his genius ideas to put the easy chair out the last time we had a garage sale, just to see if anyone would buy it. Someone did.) If you've ever been in our living room, you will now realize that, as of this moment, we have gotten rid of all our furniture and now have nowhere to sit (except the massage chair, but that doesn't really count since contrary to what you might think based on its name, the massage chair is not very comfortable to sit in.). On the plus side, it's super-easy to vacuum the room now. On the super-plus size, I mean side, now we have no choice but to buy new living room furniture. Yay! See what I mean? He's an out of the box thinker.

I am generally skeptical of Brett's genius ideas at first, because I'm not wired to think in the genius way, like he is. Also, they almost always involve me going out of my comfort zone. Like getting rid of all our furniture when we have company coming over on Thursday. Like that whole, "Let's get scuba-certified while we are in Mexico!" thing, or the "Let's go down the natural waterslides!" thing, or that ever-annoying "Why don't you bear your testimony today?" thing. But I have to admit (since he's unlikely to read this), my predictions of doom rarely come true and his ideas are generally solid.

It was a few years ago when Brett had one of his genius ideas. We were sitting in the car, engine running, getting ready to go home from the weekly Fox Family Dinner, when he said thoughtfully, "I think it would be really great if you were friends with my sister."

"What do you mean? I am friends with your sister. Well, I mean, you know, I like Shauna. She's your sister. What's not to like?"

"I know. But you guys aren't really friends. Why don't you invite her to dinner or something?"

Crap. He was serious about this whole make-friends-with-my-sister-thing. It was definitely out of my comfort zone to approach someone and say, "So, uh, let's be friends, okay." There's a vague, nebulous, but very real fear associated with this kind of endeavor. Is it the fear of rejection? Is it the fear of just looking like a dork? Is it the fear of attempting to make a new friend and flat-out failing? I don't know, but it sure put me in my stress zone. I tried to blow him off.

"Sure, yeah. I'll catch up with her sometime and see if she wants to hang out," I replied non-committally.

"Great! I'm so proud of you!" He smiled and then sat there, looking at me expectantly.


"Go ask her."

"What? Now?!"

"Yeah, why not? You know she's there. I know you won't call her because you hate to talk on the phone. Go back in and see if she wants to have dinner with you this week. Tell her Tuesday, 'cause I'll be at scouts." He continued to smile angelically. "You promised, remember?"

I hadn't technically promised and I could have debated that fact with him, but it wouldn't have done any good. I sighed, steeled my nerves, and trudged back up the driveway.

Shauna was just coming down the stairs and I almost ran into her in the doorway.

"Hey, I thought you guys had left already. Did you forget something?"

"Uh, no. I, uhhhh...ahem... well, see, I was, uhhhh wondering... if you... uhhhh..." Sweat started to bead on my forehead. My body felt like someone was holding a blowtorch to my back. "Iwaswonderingifyouhadtimethisweek... ifmaybeyouwantedtogoouttodinnerorsomething."

It took a moment for Shauna to parse what I had just said into actual words. "Uh, sure. That sounds great."

"Okay." I had to take a deep breath because I was feeling lightheaded. "HowaboutTuesday? Justcomeonoverafterworkandwe'lldecidewheretogo."

Another pause. "Okay. Tuesday is good for me. I'll come over around 7:00."

"Greatokaygottago. SeeyouTuesday."

I know Shauna thought I was a blithering idiot. Or maybe she was so taken off-guard that she didn't notice my perspiration-soaked armpits and my fight-or-flight breathing. I'm just glad she said yes.

Lemme tell you why I'm glad. Shauna is really is the coolest chick ever. Actually, she's the Coolest Chick Ever. It's a proper name and a proper name for her.

She's funny. She's smart. She's cute. She's generous. She's loyal. She's fashionable. She can sing. Boy, can she sing!

Trying to describe all the great things about Shauna is like trying to tell someone about a dream you had last night: words do not do it justice. She's subtle and layered and full of little nuances. We used to work out together and then go out to Coldstone for ice cream. She teaches her mom how to tell "your mom" jokes. She sings karaoke with me in the garage. She eloped with Coolest Husband Ever. She made the best dang churizo and waffles for us when we visited last December. She drove all the way home from work the morning we left, just to wish me happy birthday. (Well, that and to pick up the super-important papers she'd left on the piano, but I like to think I was the real reason she came home.) She sent me a pizza all the way from Utah, because I had subliminally messaged her to do so. She sat with me all day in the cafeteria at Park City because, honestly, who wants to get all wet and snowy on a ski trip. She bought me a platypus flute (coolest gift ever). That's how awesome she is. And I'm not just saying that because it's her birthday. I'm saying it because it's true.

Brett really hit it on the head with this genius idea. He was right. His sister and I really should be friends. And I'm glad we are.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shannon, you make my day

Amy gave me the “Make My Day” award. Here are the rules:

(1) give this to people whose blogs mean something special to you - or give it to the blogs whose persons mean something special to you
(2) leave a comment on their blog so they know they got it
(3) you get to pick the number of times you give it

Shannon is the lucky winner from this blog because a) she is one of my oldest (not age-wise) friends, b) we are fortunate enough be now be related to each other, and c) she is most likely to pass the award along to one of her friends or family.

There's no serious injury inflicted when Shannon's around. That makes my day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vacation, all I ever wanted

"I need a vacation. Just a little one," I sighed heavily last night while getting ready for bed.

"Uh-huh," Brett replied, not really paying attention.

"I'd love to go back to that Westin hotel... you know the one we stayed at on our honeymoon."

"Oh, yeah?" Brett's ears perked up.

"Yup. Remember that awesome bed? It was huge and piled high with pillows and fluffy down comforters and it had the softest sheets EVER. I wonder what the threadcount on those sheets was..."

"I have no idea about the threadcount, but you can bet that I remember that bed..."

"Well, here's what I would do for my vacation...I'd check in as early as possible, go upstairs to the room, hang the 'do not disturb' sign on the door..."

"Go on..." I had Brett's full attention now.

"Then I'd hop into that big ol' bed and I think that within 5 seconds of my head hitting the pillow, I'd be fast asleep. I'd stay asleep until 11:00 the next morning, at which time I would phone the front desk and let them know I'll be staying another night. No need to make up the room. Then I'd go back to sleep until check out the next day."


"You're welcome to join me on my vacation, if you want. You just can't make any noise or flop around in the bed or kick your feet or anything like that. I also don't want to hear any whining about you being hungry or going into a diabetic coma or anything like that. This isn't an eating vacation. It's a sleeping vacation. I also don't want you complaining about being bored. If you can't sleep the whole time (it's a rare gift I have) then you can watch TV. Softly. I love you that much."



"You're a cracksmoker."

"I know, honey. I know."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Six things

I was (unofficially) tagged by my excellent sister-in-law over at cutestfamilyever. You might read her post and think, "She didn't tag you! She didn't tag anyone!" Well, you would be wrong. She cleverly tagged me on my own blog. I am that special.

So, here are six things about me. Don't judge me too harshly.

1. I am obsessed with lava. It's just so... so... awesome. It's beautiful and powerful and scary all at the same time. For Christmas, I want a lava video to watch over and over and over again. Mind you, I do not wish to actually go near lava (I have safety issues), but I wouldn't mind flying over in a helicopter or something like that. But not the lava stuff that looks like a mudslide. I want to see the real fiery stuff. You know, that stuff that seems like it could make you burst into flame if you look at it long enough. That's what I be talkin' 'bout.

2. I don't have a preference between Miracle Whip and mayo. Really. I don't. It just does matter which one is on my sandwich. I was accused of being a blasphemer by my brother-in-law when his mom asked which one I wanted on my BLT and I replied, "Whatever is out. I don't care." He roared in indignation. "You can't NOT CARE! You HAVE to have a preference! I don't even care if your preference is different than mine, but you HAVE TO PREFER ONE OR THE OTHER! You can't LIKE BOTH!" Uhhh... okay. Mayo... I mean Miracle Whip. See, I can't make myself care one way or another.

3. I don't "get" poetry. I can't even explain to you what I don't get, because I don't get it. I know poetry is popular. People like to read it and people love to write it. I don't DISlike it. I just don't understand it. Brett wrote a poem for me after we were engaged. I read it, appreciated the craft and sentiment that he put into it, kissed him and thanked him, and then tucked it away with all my other keepsake treasures. This, apparently, is NOT what you are supposed to do with a poem that your loved one writes a poem for you. I still don't know what the correct behavior is, so any tips are appreciated. I'm a total clod in this respect. I know it. I despise it.

This deficiency extends to song lyrics, too. On more than one occasion, we've been listening to a song and Brett will make a comment like, "Oh man, this guy has had his heart ripped out one too many times and he is so bitter..." and I'll say, "Huh? This is a song about heartbreak?" and he'll say, "So, when he sings, 'I'm so bitter because I've had my heart ripped out so many times and I'm brokenhearted,' that wasn't a clue for you?" I just... well, never thought about what the song was about. I know. I'm a clod.

4. I hate the word "lilac." Not the color, not the flower, just the word. When I was a kid in Primary, we used to sing about walking by the lilac tree and it would make my blood boil. It just makes me angry and I can't explain it. Other words that make me angry: squat and condiment. Some favorite words: eucalyptus, gecko, and barley.

5. I have to hold my nose to jump into water/I can't gargle. This is a source of endless amusement for those who know me. I HAVE to plug my nose or I'lll get water in it. I even hold my nose going down waterslides. When we were scuba diving and I was wearing a mask that covered my eyes and nose, I still plugged my nose for my backward tumble off the boat and into the ocean. (That might have been psychological, though.) I think this is related to my inability to gargle in some way. There must be some genetic anomaly that affects my nose and throat. Maybe I don't have a uvula. Oooohhh.... uvula. Another good word.

6. I love "The People's Court." I watch it every day at work. Yes, I am Rain Man.

If you feel like playing, consider yourself tagged.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You are afraid of the claw (part 3)

As previously mentioned, Brett loves to scare me when I'm in the shower. I try to get him back, but I'm just not as sneaky, conniving, and weaselly as he is, so I have limited success.

One morning when I woke up, I could hear the shower running in the other bathroom. As I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I realized that this could be the chance I had been waiting for. The dogs were still sleeping and Brett didn't know I was awake. I could scare the crap out of him and he'd never see it coming. My palms started to sweat in anticipation.

Rather than try something fancy like dumping in ice water or surreptitiously turning the faucet to cold, I decided to keep it simple. An eardrum shattering shriek should do nicely. (It's a wonder our neighbors don't call the police sometimes.)

I cleared the morning frogs from my throat and crept down the hallway into the bathroom. I stood on the mat and drew in as deep a breath as I could manage. Then I let loose.


From the kitchen, I heard a tiny snicker start. The tiny snicker crescendoed into a booming laugh. "Are you trying to scare me, you crazy platypus? 'Cause if you are, you are in the WRONG ROOM! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!"

It's true. I had unleashed my lungs' fury on an empty shower. Brett was in the kitchen having a bite to eat while waiting for the water to get hot.

Score one for Brett, zero for the platypus.

On another day, Brett was out running errands. He told me he would be home soon and I resolved to find the perfect hiding space from which to leap and shriek and prove my superior scaring-skills. How about behind the door to the garage? Naw, he would probably come in the front door. Behind the bed? No, he'd see my big ol' rump in the mirror. Bathroom? Nope, the dogs would give it away. What about the coat closet?

Hmmm.... a promising idea. The closet was jammed full with enough coats and games and blankets that it would be an unlikely hiding spot. Also, I could leave the door open just a crack to watch him approach and spring out at the optimal moment for maximum scariness. Alright. The coat closet it is.

It required some precise measurements and I had to give it several test runs. To avoid suspicion, the door could only be open a tiny crack. And when the moment arrived, I would have to leap out, opening the door, springing forth, and screaming like a banshee, all in one fluid movement.

At last, I heard his car pull in. I squeezed into my hiding spot. There was barely enough room for my feet and I had to semi-squat between a big pile of blankets on the ground and our winter coat collection hanging from the rack above.

The garage door opened. I could hear the dogs going nuts and Brett encouraging them to "jump higher and I'll love you more." I was trembling with excitement as I waited for him to come into view.

I heard the mail keys rattle and the door opened again. "So, he's going out getting the mail," I gloated. "All the better. He'll walk right past me to take the mail to his office. He's toast." I waited, ready to strike.

I waited. And waited. And waited. I could hear faint voices outside. He was talking with our neighbor at the mailbox. The ringing of his cellphone finally brought him inside again. He answered it and began pacing around the living room. I thought that the effect I was trying to achieve might be spoiled if I interrupted his important business call, so I resolved to wait in the darkness for as long as it would take.

It took a LOOOONG time. He finished, snapped his phone shut and went back outside to shut the garage door. Just when I thought I could bear it no longer, he approached, lighthearted and carefree, never dreaming that he was about to get the fright of his life.

Like a coiled snake I burst from my hiding place. Or rather, I intended to burst forth. The semi-squat to which I had subjected my doughy legs for the preceding 15 minutes had turned into a crippling lactic acid burn in my thighs and massive charlie-horses in my calves. I tumbled from the closet and landed in a heap on the floor at his feet.

"Rrrawr..." I managed weakly. I thrust my claw toward his kneecap for added effect.

"What the heck are you doing? Were you trying to scare me? Aww.... that's cute. You are a cute platypus," he said, patting my head condescendingly.

Brett's score, two. Andrea, still zero. I should give myself minus points for that failure.

But I never learn. I thought I'd give my scaring-skills another workout one evening when Brett was showering after mowing and edging the lawn. He had looked exhausted and filthy when he'd come in and I hoped he be off his guard.

I put the dogs outside and waited outside the bathroom door, listening. I heard normal shower sounds, so I was pretty sure he was in there, but this time I wasn't taking any chances. I inched the door open and peered inside with my eyes right up to the crack.

Suddenly, a geyser of freezing cold water shot directly into my face. I spluttered for air and heard manical laughter echoing off the bathroom walls.

He'd been waiting for me to try something. And he didn't just spray me with the showerhead. He had actually removed the nozzle so he could point the hose directly at my face for maximum saturation. I retreated. I was beat.

Later that night, I bemoaned my fate to him. "It's not fair! You scare me every single day and I never get you! Ever! I'm so depressed."

"Awww... isn't that just too bad?" he snarked. "Just keep practicing and maybe someday you'll be a master, like me." He got up to get a soda.

"Will you bring me a glass of water while you're up?" I asked mournfully.

"Sure. It's the least I can do for such a pitiful little platypus."

A moment later, there was a yelp and a crash. "Why you little..." he cried as he came around the corner, his face and shirt dripping wet.

"Gee honey, you're all wet. How did that happen? It almost looks like someone put a rubber band around the faucet sprayer nozzle while you were in the shower and angled the nozzle just so that whoever used the faucet next would get sprayed in the face. What kind of pitiful little platypus would do such a thing?"

Score: Brett, 2. Andrea, 1. You'd better believe I'm catchin' up.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's a hate/hate relationship

I have had a hate/hate relationship with Nextel ever since I was in charge of a 50-phone account at My Former Company. Nextel hates me. I hate them. It's symbiotic.

It was very distressing to me a few years ago when Nextel announced plans to merge with Sprint, my cellphone carrier. I'd always received excellent customer service from Sprint and I was sure that the insidious apathy and flat-out mean-spiritedness that I'd encountered in my dealings with Nextel would eventually taint the alabaster halls of Sprint.

They got tainted, alright. Tainted with stupidity.

After the merger, Brett bought a new phone and wanted to swap his cell service onto the new phone. This was a procedure I'd performed literally hundreds of time in my stint as the Nextel Administrator for My Former Company. It was either very easy or very time consuming, depending on the experience level of the Nextel rep that answered the call. But, Brett had never had any problems swapping service through Sprint, so he was confident it would only take a few minutes.

In order to avoid being bothered by pesky customers like us who would just call and want stuff, the newly formed Sprint/Nextel cleverly changed their customer service number. Not only did they change it, but they kept the new one carefully hidden. It wasn't on any of our bills, nor was it on the website. We were kind of at a loss until Brett remembered that he could use a Sprint phone to get directly to customer service by dialing *611. (Or something like that. I can't remember what the code was exactly.) Knowing he would have to power the old phone and the new phone off for the swap, Brett wisely made this call using my cellphone.

It worked. He was connected with Anton, a highly-trained Sprint/Nextel customer service representative.

From the other room, I could hear Brett giving Anton the serial numbers and SIM codes from the old and new phone. Standard procedure, I thought. Then, I could hear Brett disagreeing with Anton and re-explaining what he wanted to do. More disagreeing, then more patient explaining. Then came louder disagreeing and less-than-patient explaining along with a hearty dose of frustration. I couldn't hear exactly what was going on, but Brett was obviously not getting his point across.

Because Brett had to leave soon, I offered to take over the call for him. He threw the phone at me and said, "Good luck getting that moron to understand a simple swap."

"It can't be that bad," I thought. "Maybe the guy just doesn't understand English very well. I've talked to a lot of people that I've had a hard time understanding, so I'm sure sometimes they feel the same way. I'll just try a little harder."

From Anton's first words, I could tell that he was as relieved to be rid of Brett as Brett was to be rid of him. I could not, however, detect anything in his speech that would indicate that English was not his primary language.

A: Phew. Okay, ma'am. Your husband said he would like to swap his service onto the new phone. I can assist you with that. Are you calling from a landline or a cellphone?

Me: I'm calling from a cellphone, but it's not the one we are going to be swapping.

A: Well, ma'am you're going to need to power off the phones, so I need you to call back from a landline.

Me: No, really. This is a totally different phone, totally different number. This phone I'm calling from won't be affected at all. But I have the old phone and the new phone both powered off, right now. Do you want me to turn them on?

A: I can't perform the swap if you are on a cellphone. I need you to call from a landline.

Me: Okaaaaaay. Why? What's going to happen if you try to swap the phones right now?

A: We'll get disconnected. I need the numbers from the back of the phone, behind the battery. The phone won't still work with the battery out, now will it?

Me: I'm not going to take the battery out of the phone I'm talking on. I would think I'd have to take it out of the phones involved in the swap, right?

A: No ma'am. All the batteries will have to be removed.

We went back and forth like this for about 10 minutes. When I realized that I wasn't going to convince him to change his mind, I gave up.

Me: Okay. I'll call back on a landline. Will you give me the number? It wasn't on the bill or on your website, so I don't know how to get back to you.

A: You don't need to speak with me personally. Any representative can help you. Just make sure to call back on a landline.

Me: I know I don't need to speak with you directly. But I don't have any customer service number to call. Do you have the 800-number for customer service?

A: You just call the same number you called before.

Me: Well, I used my cellphone to get to you. I just dialed *611.

A: You'll need to use a landline.

Me: That's my point. I can't dial *611 on a landline and get to customer service. What is the number I should call?

A: *exasperated* Just use your landline to call the same number.

Me: *more exasperated* No, that won't work. You need to give the number that should I dial.

A: The same one as you dialed before.

Me: Listen, the number I dialed was *611. If I dial that from my landline, it won't work. Give me a different number!

A: Um, I'm not understanding the problem here. You don't have a landline? Well, you might want to go to a neighbor's house then.

Me: *deep breath* Okay. Try to picture this. I'm walking to my home phone, my landline, my non-cellphone. I pick it up. I hear a dial tone. My pointer finger is poised, ready to dial. What number should I press on my telephone?

A: The same number as before.

Me: *another deep breath* Okay. The first number I pushed before was *, then 6, then 1, then another 1. Picture me pushing those numbers on my landline phone. Now what I hear on the other end of the phone is "doo Doo DOO! The number you dialed is not valid. Please check the number and try your call again." I CAN'T DIAL *611 ON THE LANDLINE AND REACH SPRINT/NEXTEL OR ANYONE ELSE! IT WON'T WORK!

A: Ahhh, of course not. You need to call the customer service number.

Me: YES! Ex-actly! Now tell me... what is the customer service number?

A: What do you mean? It's the same number. You're going to need to hang up and call back from a landline. Do you want me to hang up first? Is that what you are saying?

Me: No! If you hang up, I will never be able to call back on a landline, because I don't know what number to call! You must have a 800-number for customer service, yes?

A: Yes, of course. That's the number to call you need to call from your landline.

Me: Please, please, please... tell me what that number, that number that starts with 1-800, that number that will connect me with customer service from my landline, tell me what it is. I beg you. Please.

I don't know why, all of a sudden, Anton figured out what I was talking about. But, bless his poor idiotic heart, the lightbulb finally went on.

A: So, you don't have the customer service number? I think you do, otherwise you wouldn't have been able to call mein the first place. But, okay, let me get it for you again.

The ironic thing is that the number was something stupid like 800-GO-NEXTEL. If I had invested the 40 minutes I spent talking to Anton into dialing random numbers from my landline, I probably could have figured it out. Actually, the ironic thing is that Anton had to go look it up when, essentially, it is his phone number. Actually, the ironic thing is that it was probably all a practical joke and the mystery people who "monitor calls for quality assurance" were probably busting a gut. Actually, the ironic thing is that Anton probably won $5 for each minute he kept me on the phone.

Anton, I want my cut of that money, jerk.