Monthly Archives: August 2007

Chinese Takeout

I’m really aggravated.  I ordered Chinese takeout for dinner, okay?  I called the place and asked for a large order of Roast Pork LoMein, a large order of General Tso’s Chicken, and a large order of the Chef’s Special: Crispy Beef.  I ordered the beef because it was the Chef’s Special, so:

a. it had to be good, right? and
b. the menu said it had carrots in it and that could count as my vegetable

Phone order-taker man said it would be 20 minutes.  To be fair, since it was approaching dinner time, I gave them an extra five minutes beyond the time they quoted me to get my food together before I went to pick it up.

But when I got there, it wasn’t ready.  I was directed to grab a chair for a while.  I sat and waited while they seemingly caught the chicken, cut its head off, plucked the feathers out of it, cut it up, and deep fried it and poured General Tso’s secret sauce all over it. 

FINALLY they brought out my order.

As the order delivery lady handed it over to me she said something in Chinese that I didn’t quite catch.  I was going to say “What?” but then didn’t because I remembered that except for take out menu, I don’t speak Chinese anyway, so it wouldn’t have mattered.

When I got home and unpacked the sack of food, I got a surprise: two egg rolls that I hadn’t asked for.  I deduced then (because I’m smart that way) that the order delivery lady had probably said to me, “Thank you for your patience.  You waited longer than it took us to build the Great Wall and so I hope you’ll accept my offering of two free egg rolls.”  I mean, I’m not exactly sure that’s what she had said, but I wasn’t about to drive back over there and return the egg rolls, so we ate them.

The egg rolls were good, but the Chef’s Special was not special at all.  Not even close.  In fact, I suggest you skip it.

The sack of food also contained 6 bags of Chinese noodles.  The fried kind they’d put in a bowl on your table if you were sitting at a restaurant.  The equivalent, I think, of a basket of corn chips on your table when you go to Don Pablos.  Then there were about 12 fortune cookies in the bag.

I wondered what they were thinking.  I mean, people!  Come on!  I only ordered three entrees.  Why do I need 6 bags of noodles and 12 fortune cookies?  Then I started to think that maybe they were trying to tell me something.  Perhaps three large orders of food are supposed to feed more than 3 people?  Well, no matter, we could each have four fortune cookies for dessert.

But here’s the part that pisses me off the most.  They gave me the WRONG fortune cookies.  They gave me someone else’s fortune cookies!  No wonder there were so damn many of them.

How do I know they weren’t MY fortune cookies?  I opened them all.  I read the fortunes.  Check these out:

The only rose without a thorn is friendship.  What is THAT supposed to mean?  Whose stupid fortune is that?  Not mine.

Keep your feet on the ground even though friends flatter you.  What friends are flattering me?  Where are they doing this?  Behind my back?

You love sports, horses and gambling but not to excess.  Okay.  Wrong, wrong, and wrong again.  I don’t love sports unless roller skating counts.  Does roller skating count?  Not the roller blade kind.  The old fashioned kind where you have 4 wheels underfoot and are much more stable and the disco lights are going and you skate round and around to the beat of the music until they call “couples only.”   Plus, I hate horses.  I’m sorry, but it’s true.  I was never fond of horses as a child, even though all girls are supposed to be in love with them.  Sorry Black Beauty.  Plus, once when I was in high school I had this boyfriend who took me horse back riding and the horse slipped on a patch of ice on a hill and we were thrown to the ground and the horse fell and my stupid boyfriend worried more about the horse’s leg and if it was hurt than he did about me, and it wasn’t even his horse!  And finally, gambling?  Come on!  Okay, I do sometimes buy a lottery ticket, but only when the jackpot is REALLY, REALLY big so millions of others are buying tickets too and they ruin my chances of winning.  Like I said, this one, definitely NOT mine.

But wait.  It gets better. Immediately after I opened the one about horses and gambling I opened:

What’s vice today may be virtue tomorrow.  Seriously.  Look, I have it right here.

I couldn’t stop there though.  There were two more cookies left and I had to see if one of them was actually meant for me.

You have an important new business development shaping up.  Well, that’s totally news to me.  So I think it’s not mine.

And after that:
You will have good luck and overcome many hardships.  Does that mean hardships in the new business?  And if so, what is it?  So again, not my fortune!

I went through all twelve cookies and am feeling terribly full now only to be disappointed. 

I decided I wasn’t going to stand for this so I drove over to the take out place again and told them my problem.  There was a lot of fist pumping and pointing and raised voices as they argued with me. They said I couldn’t prove I got those fortunes from their cookies.  They said maybe I got them from Wong’s down the road.  I got mad and stormed out and all the workers yelled after me in Chinese as I headed out the door.  I don’t know what they said.  It was probably an apology but I’m going to have to learn to speak Chinese beyond the menu dialect if I’m going to be able to figure it out.

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Filed under Chinese food, fortune cookies, humor

Backseat Driver

My husband and I are both Geographers.  By schooling and by hobby.  We both have undergraduate and graduate degrees in Geography.  We like maps, especially old maps, and we have framed maps hanging on many of the walls in our home.  We have more than one globe, and issues of National Geographic abound.  We have road atlases in our car, and folded up maps in the glove compartment.  And the irony of this is that none of those things, of course, ever stop us from getting lost.

And our son seems to be following, to some degree, in our footsteps.  Or in this case, our tire tracks…

You see, I was driving Snags to preschool one recent morning when he pulled one of our many road atlases out from the door compartment in the car where we store them.  From his position in the backseat of the car he asked, “Mom, what does ‘S’ stand for?”  I had to think about this for a moment.  Then I realized that he must be looking at the north arrow in the atlas so I responded, “Um…South.”  To which my backseat driver announced, “Okay.  We’re going to go south out of the garage and down the driveway. Then we are going to turn west up the street.” 

And now you must be wondering, if I just taught him ‘S’ stood for south, where did he learn about west? Well, from Curtis, Kimee, Karla, Shaun, and Jenn on Hi-5, of course!  You don’t think professional geographers like my husband and I would teach this kind stuff to a child do you? Because we didn’t.  We don’t have the time.  North, south, east and west are on a whole other directional plane from “Go UP to your room!” or “Sit DOWN, you know better than to stand on the table!” 

Anyway, think about this… Snags was holding that atlas flat on his lap.  In that position, the north arrow on the page would point straight ahead and north would always be in front of us.  If we back up, go in reverse to get out of the garage and down the driveway, we must be headed south.  Because as he sees it, the north arrow is pointing forward, and south is pointing behind us.

And so naturally, if we turn left off of our street we will be heading west, and conversely, if we turn right, we’ll be headed east.  And mostly this is correct.  But kids don’t understand that you need to take into account your current position when you are reading a map, and THAT makes all the difference.

As I continued driving toward preschool my son announced, roughly every 7 seconds, that we were “…going north… still going north… still going north… still. going. north.  Still going north, mom…” 

I found myself driving a little faster, trying to get to the place where we had to turn.  Because, I figured, at least then he could stop saying “still going north…” 

I mean, I felt like I was stuck in that orange-banana knock knock joke.  You know it right? 

Knock. Knock.
Who’s there? 
Banana. 
Banana who?
Knock. Knock.
Who’s there? 
Banana. 
Banana who?
Knock. Knock.
Who’s there? 
Banana. 
Banana who?

And just when you are about to take out your own eardrums with the stiff end of a banana peel after saying “Banana who?” for the 432nd time, the joke changes and they say “Orange” and you say, “Orange who?” and the joke teller says: “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?” Yes, I know…  Ha. Ha. Very funny.  Not.

Finally, we had a turn approaching and the voice from the back seat declared “We’re going to turn east.”  I thought then I would just test my theory about my son’s directional competency and so I asked him, “How do you know that?” and he replied, pointing out the window, “Because my school is over there; see EAST!” 

“Okay,” I said.  “Is that right or left?” I asked him.

“Right!” he said.  And he was correct, he was pointing to the right.

Except… right wasn’t east.  On that point he was wrong.  And backing down our driveway isn’t south.  But he’s only 5.  I think this method of learning about direction is just fine for right now.  My husband tends to disagree and thinks I should correct Snags, tell him the actual direction we are traveling.  But understanding that takes more skill than I think a five year old possesses.  It requires the ability to read a map for one.  It requires the ability to READ as another. 

Besides, even possessing those very important skills of literacy and map reading, my husband still manages to get us lost when he’s driving somewhere.

So for now anyway, I’m content to keep on heading north.  You know, as long as I can turn once in a while.

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Filed under direction, driving, geography, humor, life, maps

Little Slice of Hell

So here’s a little slice of hell.  Our air conditioner is broken down and it’s 98’ out with a heat index of 105’.  Minus the visible flames licking at my heels, I’m sure this is the full on heat of hell and I vow here on out to live a better life if only to avoid having to spend eternity in that great inferno. I mean, I’ve only been dripping sweat miserable in this for about a day, but I already can’t stand it.

My husband discovered the problem with our air conditioner late yesterday afternoon.  I guess he thought the house felt too warm and he went outside to check the unit.  He came back in saying the little red light was on indicating that the power company had assumed control of the unit, cycling it off to conserve energy in a period of peak demand.  But that didn’t sound right to me.  Peak demand?  Up until about 3:00 yesterday afternoon we’d had rain and clouds for an entire week.  Temperatures most days hadn’t made their way out of the 60s.  So how there could be such a huge demand causing the electric company to turn off our air conditioner was beyond me.  I could understand if temperatures had been high for days on end, but not when they’d only been elevated for some three hours.

I urged my husband to call the power company.  He did and came back to report that they had not, in fact, turned anyone’s AC unit off, not even ours.  And they were not experiencing a peak demand.

So it was our problem.  The utility company wouldn’t be turning our AC back on because they weren’t the ones who had turned it off.  Next, my husband shut the whole unit off and then back on from the thermostat inside the house.  Maybe it would work then, like how you sometimes have to shut the #%$&%@! computer off and turn it back on again to get it to work right.

But that didn’t help at all.  My husband came back in and shut the AC down for the evening.  He said that when he’d restarted it, the unit outside was making a horrible grinding noise and it was blowing hot air from its sides.  Worried it would get hotter and hotter and hotter until it would self combust, we had to leave it off.  He called the service company who said they would come out and take a look sometime after noon today.  When it’s supposed to be even hotter outside.  The thought alone was enough to get me all hot and bothered.  But not in an Ellen Barkin – Dennis Quaid Big Easy kind of way.  More like a red faced and sweaty after a 13 mile run, and pissed off that the air conditioner isn’t working bothered kind of way.  Not sexy at all, that.

As the sun set, we opened windows around the house.  A hot breeze, we thought, might be better than no breeze at all.  No?  I’d say it was a draw except for the animal outside that was croaking-chirping in the backyard.  Was it a frog?  Was it a bird?  It wasn’t Superman, that’s for sure.  Whatever it was, it croak-chirped outside the bedroom window all night long while the ceiling fan swirled hot and humid air around the room.   I imagined this must be what it feels like to sleep in a rain forest.  The carpeting in our hallway felt damp.

The service guy showed up at 4:00 in the afternoon today and determined that our air conditioner’s fan had burnt up.  As luck would have it, he doesn’t carry fans on his truck. He also declined to rig up our table top fan to work the AC for us.  I thought that would be a good stop-gap measure but apparently service guy is just a mean and lazy bastard.  He insisted that he has to order the part and it should be in Monday, maybe Tuesday.  Which means they can install it on Tuesday, maybe Wednesday.

Now we’ve got the shades drawn, the lights off, and fans circulating wherever we can.  We’ve spent the better part of the day in the basement where it’s at least 5 degrees cooler than anywhere else in the house.  But I’m not sure how much longer we can stay here.  The chocolate in my cupboards is melting, which means it’s officially time to do something.  First, I think I’ll eat the chocolate.  Then, I think I’ll take a look at the list I made last night.  The list of places I know of that do have air conditioning:  the mall, the bookstore, the frozen food section of the grocery store, the video arcade, the movie theater, friends and relative’s houses, the interior of my car until it runs out of gas…  We might pack up and go to one of them.  Any place cooler than this house will be a little slice of Heaven.

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Filed under air conditioner, heat, hell, hot, humor, life

The Most Magical Place on Earth

“Really?  A whole week at Disney World?  Are you sure? I mean, what will we DO there for a whole entire week?” I asked.

But my husband was sure this was a good idea.  Our first official family vacation, just the three of us, where we would go someplace where we weren’t simply visiting family, should be to Disney World in Florida.  After all, Snags was five, a good age for this kind of thing.

I conceded, but I still wasn’t sure I actually agreed.  It’s not that I didn’t want to go to Disney World, it’s just that well, when I was a kid, Disney World meant the Magic Kingdom and we could do that in a day.  And we did.  Nearly every summer from the time I was born until I was in my early teens, my family piled in the car and we drove to Florida for our summer vacation.  We had family there, a grandmother and aunts and uncles and cousins.  And some of them lived in Orlando.  And some of them worked at Disney World.  One of my cousins was Pinocchio! Well, she wore the Pinocchio costume.  She wasn’t made out of wood or anything. 

So every year, we went to Florida to visit the relatives and we’d take one day and go to Disney.  To the Magic Kingdom.  Because at that point in time, there wasn’t anything else.  There was Sea World, but that’s not Disney. Epcot, MGM, and the Animal Kingdom, they didn’t exist yet.  So I was used to seeing Disney in a single fun filled day, but I had trouble comprehending how we could spend an entire week there.

Still we purchased the tickets.  Way ahead of time — we had almost an entire year to plan our trip.  Getting there would be the easy part.  We’d take the Auto Train!  Because who doesn’t like trains?  Yes, it was more expensive than flying, but it would be an adventure, right?  I’ve flown before, too many times to count. It’s boring. All that waiting around in the airport, and then the delays and flight cancellations, and getting frisked at the security checks. Been there, done that.  What I hadn’t ever done before was take a long train ride.  I’d ridden the subway before, but I had a feeling that just wasn’t the same.  So we’d board the Auto Train in the afternoon, sleep peacefully in our little compartment over night and when we awoke the next morning, we’d be in Florida.  And we’d have our own car with us!   

Our car was key.  My son has food allergies so we don’t travel lightly.  We carry boxes of food with us, and because my son is also five, we carry the requisite entertainment items:  portable DVD player and movies, books, markers, drawing pads, toys, favorite pillow and blanket, etc…  In other words, enough baggage to weigh down a plane so its underbelly can’t raise more than an inch off the ground.  Something I imagine other airline passengers wouldn’t like very much – driving a plane along the highway to Florida…

In planning our trip we also purchased the dining plan.  It allowed for more than enough food for each person each day, but I needed to arrange our meals.  My friend, a travel agent who specializes in all things Disney, suggested I make all of our dining reservations six months in advance, because you can.  Only, I couldn’t.  With my son’s food allergies we don’t eat out.  The thought of letting someone else prepare my son’s meals, of putting my son’s life in the hands of a stranger, it paralyzed me.  I kept promising my husband that I’d do something about the dinner reservations, and then I kept putting it off, even though I had only ever heard great and wonderful things about how Disney handles food allergies.  In a word, I was terrified.

With about six weeks to go I finally got up my nerve, called Disney’s dining number, and got us all set with reservations.  We were officially on their records as a family with allergies.  At each restaurant the chef would come to our table and meet with us, tell us what they could safely prepare.  I was encouraged, but still, I packed some food to take with us.  I had to bring allergen free food for my son to eat on the train, and then I needed to pack extra food in case I chickened out at dinner.  I packed enough food to get by for at least a few days.  We could always go to a grocery store if we ran out.  We had our car with us, after all.

The Auto Train WAS an adventure.  As we lined up on the platform to board the train, an old woman positioned herself in front of the train’s door, determined that she would be the first to board.  At first glance, other than the fact that she seemed to be in an awful hurry, she looked harmless enough.  But it wasn’t long before she revealed herself to be the crabbiest witch in the land.  Any time my son whispered or even blinked, as we stood out there on the platform she’d turn toward him and say “Shhhhh!” very fast and very loud, like an angry hissing snake about to attack.  My husband and I looked at each other in surprise and disbelief, and then in dread as we boarded the train and found that her sleeping compartment was next door to ours! 

Old Crabby rang the porter every ten minutes the entire way to Florida.  I am not exaggerating when I say she did this all night long.  I know this because I heard her, and I heard her because it is hard to sleep on the Auto Train.  Around midnight, Old Crabby rang the porter and kept pushing the call button even as he appeared in front of her.  She didn’t stop, even as he stood there and said, “Ma’am!  Please stop ringing the button, I am right here!”

Ring…ring…ring…

I listened to all of this though closed eyes as I pondered how I had thought the ride would be smooth, not unlike a ride on the subway.  I envisioned a peaceful night’s sleep where we would wake in the morning fully refreshed and not even an hour from our destination. Travel while you sleep, leave your worries behind…  But oh, how wrong I was!

It turns out that the Auto Train rides on freight rails because well, all the autos it’s carrying are freight.  Therefore, the ride is not exactly as smooth and light as I’d imagined it would be.  It’s rickety, crickety, loud, and screechy and the train shakes, at times, rather violently from side to side.  Neither the wine I drank at dinner nor the Benadryl I downed in desperation in the middle of the night helped to lure me into sleep. At one point, the ride was so violent I was certain we’d left the tracks and were hurtling through the woods to our death.  You can imagine my surprise then, when I opened my eyes a few hours later to find it was morning and that we had survived the great train derailment that never was.  We’d made it to Florida!

And Disney!  Well that is a magical place!  They don’t lie about that.  But my son had never actually shown an interest in anything Disney prior to our trip.  Not even once.  We borrowed and read travel books about Disney from the library, we watched a DVD on loan from a friend.  My husband and I started to get more and more excited.  But Snags, he didn’t seem to care one way or another.  And as we walked about the Magic Kingdom that first day he looked around a bit and smiled as he rode a few rides, but he didn’t seem terribly impressed.  He complained about having to wait in line!

That’s when I started to get irritated.  Where was his excitement?  We’d come all this way for complaining?  We’d spent thousands of dollars and endured Old Crabby and the shaky train for this? And we had to stay an entire week?  What had we gotten ourselves into? I wondered.

Later though, near the end of that first day, as we were heading to dinner, my son turned and saw all the Disney characters on stage at Cinderella’s castle. And that’s when the magic hit him.  He screamed at the top of his five year old lungs, “MICKEY!  MICKEEEEY! I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU ALL DAY!”  Had he been looking for Mickey?  How odd.  He’d never mentioned it. Yet if excitement was a firecracker, my son’s head was exploding right there.  Maybe, I thought, this would all turn out okay after all.  Then again, we still needed to eat dinner…  Dinner that someone else had prepared.  For my son with life threatening food allergies.  

I held my breath through dinner and tried to hold back tears as I watched my son eat his first restaurant meal ever.  Was his meal actually free of milk, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts?  The chef assured us that it was.  But if he was wrong, we’d likely spend the rest of our vacation in the hospital. I insisted that my husband try the Tofutti sundae the chef brought my son for dessert. “Taste his dessert!” I hissed. “Make sure it’s safe for him to eat!” Tofutti, a soy based “ice cream” looks exactly like vanilla ice cream and it tastes so much like it that I have trouble telling the difference.  My husband though, he can tell the difference if he tastes it.  So he did.  And it was fine and my son was thrilled.  Not only did he get to eat prime rib for dinner, he got a giant sundae too!  And because it was a character meal, he got his picture taken with the characters and he got autographs from Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore,  and best of all, from Mickey Mouse himself!

As our second morning in Disney World dawned my son turned to me and said “Mom, I thought this was going to be a BORING vacation, but I’m having fun!” 

And the week I had been so worried about?  It flew by but it was MAGICAL!

*************************************************************

This post was written for the Family Vacation Group Writing Project over at Babylune.

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Filed under Disney, food allergies, GWp, life, Mickey Mouse, vacation

Glad I Could Be of Service

I don’t know how many people realize this, but my little blog here, like nearly all blogs, I suspect, has something called a “dashboard.”  It’s a behind-the-scenes tool through which I manage this place.  It’s through the dashboard that I access my page and write my posts and respond to comments.

And like the dashboard in a car, my blog’s dashboard has some instruments that give me feed back.  I have stats! About my blog!  Almost as if I had a crystal ball, I can tell how many people visited my blog on any particular day, and I can see what site referred them to me, meaning, where someone clicked on a link that brought them here. 

But no need to panic.  My dashboard is a bit dusty, my crystal ball a bit murky.  I can’t tell who exactly these people are.  I can only get a general idea.  In other words, it’s like walking around without my glasses.  I can tell it’s a body, I just can’t make out the faces or read the name tags. 

I can, however, tell you that over a 30 day period the following posts here were the most popular: The Unfunny Files led the group and Okay Listen Up came in second place.  That means these two particular posts were viewed by the most people. 

You see, the feed back you get from a blog’s dashboard is not unlike the speedometer on your car.  It tells you how you are doing.

Probably the best feature on the dashboard, or at least the one I find most fascinating, is the tool that tells me what search engine terms people used to find me.  Because that’s where it gets interesting.  Or scary.  Or funny.  Depending on your perspective.

I’ve been watching my search engine list and decided it was time to share some of these with you.  In doing so, I thought I might be able to provide additional, um… guidance, to those people who found their way here via the search engines.  I try to be helpful like that.  So without further ado…

I’ve had nearly a dozen people find me by searching on terms like:
carmex bad for you?; lips feel like sandpaper; why Blistex is bad; Blistex addict;
lip smakers addiction; and my personal favorite blistex DCT+the truth, as if Blistex has a big conspiracy going and the truth about it can be found on the internet.  Or here, at my site. 

I’m heartened by the fact that I am not the only one with a lip balm addiction.  If you have found me by searching the internet for information about your own lip balm addiction, I point you here, and tell you that your problem is most likely related to the phenol (also known as carbolic acid) in your lip balm.  It’s drying.  That’s why you need to keep applying the stuff, why you can’t live without it.  I did not make this up. I read it in the 1997 issue of Self Magazine.  I have the little article, ripped from the magazine, at my house.  If you really need to see it you can email me and I will scan it and email it to you.  As a public service.  To save your lips.

Over half a dozen people found my site because they have apparent problems with their feet.  Queries on lost toenails from running; treat lost toenail; whole toenail black injury will it grow, are just a few. I am not a doctor.  But, if you are a runner and you have lost a toenail, or if you’ve dropped a hammer on your toe and the nail has turned black, then let me tell you that yes, in my experience it will grow back.  It could take six months to a year for it to do so.  Just so you know.  Also, for the person searching on treat lost toenail if you are still hanging around, I suggest you let the lost toenail go.  There is nothing to do about it, once it’s lost you can’t treat it.  Focus your energy on the remaining part of the toe that’s still there.

I am sorry to say that I cannot help the person who searched on pain in foot after car ran over it except to say that Ouch! I bet that hurts!  If it happened to me I would probably cry and curse loudly, take some Advil, ice it up, and see the doctor.  Maybe I’d get some x-rays.  And a lawyer.

Then there’s the bunch of folks who got here by searching on guy ran over foot with lawn mower; man runs over foot with lawn mower; and mower cut off toe.  If you are simply mocking my husband, that’s ha! ha! ha! ha! um… not funny!  I am the only person allowed to do that.  But if you’ve suffered a real accident, whoever you are, I do hope that you got yourself to an emergency room tout de suite.  And by the way, that is French for immediately.  Don’t waste time googling it.  If you ran over your foot with the lawnmower, Go!  Go now!  Get to the emergency room!  Google will not tell you how to stitch yourself up.  Lawn mower cut patterns are very individual you see, and Google cannot hope to tell you all the possible ways to suture your particular injury.  You need a doctor for that.  Are you still actually reading this?  Go!

Okay, now that the bloody stump guys are out of here, let’s talk about the people who are searching for the proper thing to wear under their skirts.  I suggest a slip and a pair of underwear.  You don’t want to get caught on film like Britney, do you? 

To the person who searched for actresses wearing bunny tails:  You are at the wrong place.  Sorry.  Try again.

For the person who searched on Why three year olds don’t like to wipe their own butt, I imagine they don’t like to wipe themselves for the very same reason you want them to wipe themselves.  Poop is gross and it smells bad.

Finally, to the few of you who searched on husband doesn’t acknowledge birthday and husband doesn’t buy me birthday presents, send the cheap bastard here.  I’ll tell him off for you.  And if that doesn’t help, then I suggest you buy yourself a big expensive bling bling kind of gift and tell him to go to hell when he complains about the credit card bill.  My husband buys me gifts, he just doesn’t like my favorite kind of pizza.
 

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Filed under blogging, blogs, dashboard, google, humor, internet, search engine terms

Turn the Lights Down

My husband is coming back.  Any day now he’ll ask if he can return to our bed and I suppose I’ll sigh and have to relent. You know, since we’re married.  Hopefully I’ll have mentally prepared myself for this and will allow him back with only the slightest bit of irritation on my part.  And no, we didn’t have a fight.  I didn’t kick him from our room or send him to the couch in the midst of yelling and tears or the slam of a door. 

He ran over his foot with the lawnmower, and we I thought it best, while his toe was precariously held together with string stitched up and supposed to be healing, that he sleep in the spare room where he could prop his foot up on a ton of pillows and sleep without bumping his toe against me in the middle of the night and having it all fall apart and staining the sheets (because, YUCK!).  And also, the spare room would spare him the risk of the dog jumping on the bed and perhaps landing smack on top of the doctor’s delicate needlework.

My husband’s stitches were removed a week ago, and although the toe still looks rather ghoulish, all black and scabby with miniature Frankenstein-like scars crisscrossing its tip, it’s healing nicely enough and I suspect he’ll soon be ready to come back to our bed and sleep with me and the dog once again.

But I’m feeling a bit conflicted by this. Because, while I love the man, I sleep better alone.  It’s no secret, the fact that I prefer to sleep alone.  And my husband knows this.  That’s just the way I am and I’ve more or less always been this way.

I’m not the cuddly type, at least, not at night.  When it’s time to sleep I don’t anyone or anything touching me.  Sheets and blankets are okay.  Human hands and feet or dogs with wet noses, hot breath, and fur are not.  I could never be one of those couples who “spoon” in their sleep.  The very idea makes me want to whip out a dagger and scream “BACK OFF!  Get out of my personal bed space!”

I’m not sure why I’m like this.  Maybe it’s because, years ago, I overheard some of my college roommates discussing how the person sleeping on the top bunk would be stuck breathing in the germy exhalations of the person sleeping in the bottom bunk.  Because breath is hot and hot air rises.  And that idea planted itself firmly in my head and I cannot get it out. Or maybe it stems from riding in the back seat of the car with my brother on family vacations where we each had one-half of the seat for the ride.  Do not cross this green vinyl seam, not even one pinky finger over or… “Mom!  He’s on MY side again!”

And so this bed of ours, we’ve got sides.  I sleep on my left side facing outward, off the edge of the bed, where the air is fresh.  My husband sleeps on the other side, all stretched out with five or twenty pillows and the remote control to the T.V. and a book or the Nintendo DS I confiscated from Snags because of bad behavior and then I’m all “I’m trying to sleep here!  Can’t you turn that shit off already and go to bed?  It’s almost 11:00! And why can’t you sleep like a normal person with one pillow?  Why do you need six pillows tonight?  There’s no room in this bed!  And move the dog over to your side!”

I had a cat once who liked to crawl under my bed covers and curl herself up against my stomach, probably for warmth.  But I couldn’t sleep like that, because with every intake of breath my stomach would touch the cat, then when I’d exhale, there’d be a space between us.  Bump, space, bump, space, bump space until I started taking shallower and shallower breaths, trying not to bump the cat at all, and then I’d be low on oxygen and suffocating right there in my own room surrounded by fresh air I couldn’t inhale because it would make my stomach bump the damn cat. 

And now, years later, if anything touches me while I am trying to sleep, I start to breath funny and feel like I am going to suffocate.  And if my husband and I happen to both roll over and face each other on the bed, I can’t breathe because I’d be breathing in his exhalations, which I was warned against back in college.

So there’s that you see, and then there’s the fact that I treasure sleep.  I can’t get enough of it.  When I was a freshman in college I had this one roommate who was some kind of vampire.  She’d sleep all day and then stay up and read all night with the help of a lamp clipped to the headboard of her bed, and the light shone across the room directly into my eyes where I was trying to sleep, like a normal person does at night.  I lost an entire year of sleep right there.

Once I got married, I started waking up whenever my husband blinked or twitched or rolled over or snored. And he seems to do this all night long. I also wake up the very second that he steals all the covers, which is also, ALL.THE.TIME.  So it’s always something.

Then, eight years into our marriage my son was born and in the first 6 months of his life alone I lost what seems like 20 years worth of sleep. So now I am desperately trying to catch up on all that I’ve lost.

I’m sure as a mom I’ve had it easier than some.  When I got pregnant I paid close attention to my friends who already had children.  I watched their weary faces as I listened to their tales of woe about how their children would not sleep or would sleep but only in their bed, not in the crib or the beautiful teak toddler bed so lovingly purchased for them.  One friend gave up and placed a sleeping bag on her floor and let her son sleep there.  As he got older and she and her husband decided they wanted to try for another child, she came up with a schedule to move the sleeping bag 6 inches every night until it was near her bedroom door, then in the hall, then back into the child’s own room and she and her husband could claim their bed for themselves once again.

That’s CRAZY, I thought.  No way, no how, not in my house, NEVER.  And so from the start I put my son to sleep in a bassinette beside our bed and then after 2 weeks moved him to his crib.  My rule has always been that everyone sleeps in their own room.  My son is not allowed to sleep in our bed, though he asks.  Sometimes he is so cute I am tempted to cave.  But I know one night would be all it would take for him to request a second, then a third, then eternity.

So my son sleeps in his own bed and on rare occasions, as a treat, he gets to sleep in the spare room which has a queen size bed in it.  On these nights we’ll have a special adventure where either I or Snags’ father will sleep with him in the spare room.  And it’s rough.  Snags you see, moves around at night as if he’s fighting off demons.  So first I have to warn him 350 times that he has to lie still and go to sleep and STOP WIGGLING or he’ll have to go back to his own bed.  And then once he does drift off, he starts to move.  Sometimes he quite suddenly sits up and mutters something in the foreign language of those deep in slumber.  But mostly he kicks.  And so I lie there, perched precariously at the far edge of the bed trying to keep my back out of reach of his kicking feet and flailing limbs.  But sometimes I’m unsuccessful and wake with a start from a sucker punch to my kidneys.  In the morning I tell Snags it will be a long time before we do that again and I count my bruises. 

Now Snags wants to go camping.  I don’t think I’ll manage it well, being stuck in a small tent with a husband who snores and a small child who kicks.  I imagine it will be like sleeping in a cage with an angry bear.  And once we get home, my husband will probably decide his toe has healed enough to risk bumping it against me or the dog in the middle of the night. 

It will be okay, I tell myself.  It’s only been a few weeks.  I’ll get used to sleeping with a person again.  But secretly, I wish these were the days of I Love Lucy, where Lucy and Ricky had separate beds but in the same room.  And the dog would sleep with my husband.

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Filed under sleep

Use The Force, Luke!

My son, Snags, has been watching a lot of Star Wars lately.  He’s totally enthralled by it.  So much so, that he’s been sucked in, and he’s changed his own identity.  He calls himself Luke Skywalker now.  And if I want to get his attention, I have to call him that too. 

This is not the first time he’s changed his name.  Over his short life he’s been Eddie, Bob the Builder, Diego, Willy Wonka, Fred Jones, The Beast, and Peter Pan, to name just a few. 

The first time he changed his name publicly, Snags was three years old and we were out for a walk around our neighborhood.  Snags ran up to an elderly couple in their driveway.  “Hello!  What’s your name?” they asked him.  “Diego!” he lied. 

Diego?  Diego?  My husband and I just looked at each other.  Diego wasn’t his name.  What were we supposed to do?  But before we could do anything they pointed at our dog.  “And what’s your dog’s name?” they asked him.  “Kutchee!” he lied again.

My husband and I were shocked.  We didn’t know what to do.  And we didn’t know the elderly couple.  On one hand we didn’t think lying was appropriate, on the other hand, they were strangers.  So instead of telling them, “Oh, he’s just kidding!  His name isn’t Diego.  It’s Snags…” we simply gathered Snags up and wished the couple a nice evening.  Once we were a few blocks away we asked Snags why he had told the couple his name was Diego.  But he wouldn’t answer.

Not long after that he told the librarian that his name was Peter Pan.  I’m pretty sure she knew he was lying, but she was kind.  She helped him find the book he was looking for anyway. 

After a while, getting dressed in the mornings became difficult.  He needed a tool belt, or a field journal, a “W” brooch to wear on his collar, an entire outfit of the color green, or a white shirt with a blue collar and blue pants to look like Fred.  White shirts aren’t a good choice for young boys who seem to think “shirt” is another word for “napkin”.

Each time my son would change his identity he’d insist that everyone address him by his new name.  Even his teachers.  We’d walk into preschool and the director would say hello and he’d ignore her.  “That’s funny!” He’d whisper to me.  “She doesn’t know my new name, does she?” he’d ask with a sly smile playing on his lips.

On his school papers he’d write his new name: Willy Wonka, he’d print.  The letters would be large and shaky and ill-formed and often backwards.  The alphabet of a child just learning how to write.  Eventually his teachers would concede, and while I never knew if they actually called him by his new name, his cubby would be re-labeled.  “Snags” would be replaced with a plastic label on which “Willy Wonka” was neatly punched out.

Sometimes my son would change his identity after only a day.  Like he was changing his underwear.  Other times it would be weeks, or even months before he’d turn into someone new.  Eventually another television show or movie would catch his fancy and he’d trade the old identity in for another, and we’d start all over.

At various times he’d think about his future and map it all out.  “When I get married,” he’d tell me, “I’m going to have 10 children.  Their names will be: Peter Pan, Wendy, Michael, John, Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, Tinkerbell, and “Alltheotherpirates”.  And I’d listen to that and count them out on my fingers.  That’s only eight children,” I felt compelled to correct him.  But then I’d think how, maybe it was okay because if you actually had 10 children, you might forget a few of their names.

I imagine Peter Pan, Wendy, Michael, and John would have it somewhat easy.  Peter could claim Pan as a middle name and simply go by Peter.   Wendy, Michael, and John are all nice, normal names.  Probably many of their friends and classmates will share the same first name.

But the others, I feel for.  I really do.  Captain Hook?  Even if the poor fellow uses Hook as his middle name, Captain as a first name sounds a little pretentious.  Or pet-like. “And this is my new cat, Captain.”  And how about Tinkerbell?.  Let’s hope he gives that name to one of his girls.  She’ll be teased enough with that name, but if Snags’ Luke Skywalker’s wife should bear only one female child, and they name her Wendy, then one of the seven boys is going to be beaten up at the playground on a daily basis.

And Mr. Smee?   That, to me, sounds like the lad is in some pretty big trouble.  Like when your mother or father calls you by your full name.  You just know you’re in for it.  You’ve gotten caught at something you’ve done and now, when your parents add Mister to your name you’re officially in trouble. 

The one I worry about the most is Alltheotherpirates.  Even I want to tease the child and he or she isn’t even born yet.

Then again, Snags’ Luke’s done this before, planned his future family out.  Only he had other children with other names.  When he thought he was Willy Wonka he decided his children would be named Charlie Bucket, Mike Teevee, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, and Violet Beauregarde.  This was brought up daily for months.

“But what if your wife doesn’t like those names?” I asked him. 

“Oh, she will!” he insisted.  “She won’t have a choice.”

And I don’t understand that.  Because in this household, things are more or less split 50/50.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t abide by a 1950’s traditional household where June Cleaver does all the cooking and cleaning and laundry and the man comes home after work and pours himself a drink and puts his feet up.  In my house, my husband often gets home from work before me and he unloads the dishwasher and starts dinner.  I admit I’d prefer that he have my Mojito all ready for me when I walk in the door, but he rarely does.  And that’s okay.  I understand he’s already got his hands full and he can’t take time out to make my drink because he’s busy with the Filet Mignon.  He knows I’d be mad if he let it burn…  So why Snags Luke Skywalker thinks he can dictate the number or names of the children he and his future wife will have, is beyond me.  He’s not learning that attitude here.
 
All I can think is he’s planning to use The Force upon his wife.  Perhaps then she’ll bend to his will.  Maybe with The Force he can mold her mind to not only agree with having ten children, but also with giving them the crazy names of his favorite movie characters. 

He demonstrated this to me just the other day.  I was at the kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast when Luke told me to close my eyes and “keep them closed until I tell you to open them.”  When I did open them, the kitchen light was on, where it had been off just a moment before.  It was also swinging on its chain. 

I was surprised.  I thought perhaps there was some kind of electrical surge, but Luke admitted that HE had actually turned on the light and set it swinging by using The Force!  When I feigned shock at his ability, he thought it uproariously funny and so he spent the next half hour flipping lights off and on and poking the hanging lamp with his plastic light saber, all the while insisting he was doing it with The Force.

When I told him to turn the lights and leave them out out so we could save some money on our electric bill, he obliged but moved the game along to transporting things, both needed and unneeded, to me.  Again, he used The Force to do this.  I had to close my eyes as he brought my book (needed), a jar of spaghetti sauce (unneeded), and a can of Diet Coke (morning caffeine fix, very much needed) to me where I was still sitting at the table.

Eventually I tired of the game and got what I thought was the greatest idea any mother ever had.  I suggested he use The Force to clean up his toys.  He looked at me.  Then he said, “I can’t.  The Force doesn’t work for that.  I’ve turned that program off.”  And he turned his back and walked away.  As I watched him retreat I thought, “Oh yeah, we’ll see what your wife thinks about that, Mr. Luke Skywalker!”

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Filed under children, identity, imagination, Luke Skywalker, Snags, Star Wars, The Force