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.

I'm lovin' it

As part of our lesson on Sunday, we talked to the Sunbeams about where food and clothing come from.

"Where do we get clothes from? Do clothes grow on trees?" I asked.

"No! That's silly!" the Sunbeams shouted.

"What about food? Does food grow on trees? Yes? What kind of food grows on trees?"

"Apples!" shouted one girl. "Oranges... and... and... uh, grapes!" said another, enthusiastically.

"Very good. But what about things like hamburgers? Do they grow on trees?"


"Really? Well, where do hamburgers come from then?"

There was no hesitation before three kids answered in unison, "MCDONALDS!"