Friday, February 29, 2008

Bring It

Friday night in the wilderness.

Major snowstorm on the horizon.

Vodka chilling in the freezer.

Let's go, Winter. It's on.

Six to ten? Is that all you got?

Let's DO this...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's Not Me, It's You...

Feeling a bit blue today.

Getting dumped will do that to you.

I got the message this afternoon - yeah, the message. Cold, huh?

Apparently, I have until Saturday to pick up my dry cleaning, as they are going out of business on Sunday.

Sigh. I really thought this time it was for keeps, too. True, I've believed that before...

I have the worst luck with dry cleaners. Someone else should really choose them for me, because clearly my judgment is faulty. This break-up is easily my 400th since I began requiring such services. ...OK, maybe not 400th. But what a string of losers I have chosen...

There was the one that ruined every light-colored shirt I brought them and indignantly insisted I was to blame. I was naive then, and somewhat intimidated by the owner's Turkish accent, so I guess I didn't "fire" them until the fourth or fifth incident...

Then there was the one with the girl who called to say I had 24 hours to pick up my stuff or it was going to be given to charity...turned out she had called several customers who, like myself, wore the same size as she, thus making her the "charity". She had already been discovered and fired, but still I moved on to the next loser...

...Who proclaimed to pick up and deliver to my place of business, and conveniently appeared in my life at a time when I had no time. A successful relationship for a while, until one time the delivery part didn't so much happen. Ever again.

No need to keep going. I'll just say, I played it safe this time and chose a big fat corporation - one with a zippy name and trademark colors, one that gave me a personalized nylon bag for toting my stuff to their establishment, that proudly displayed its good press in laminated stands on the counters. The stable choice. The secure choice.

Apparently, my paltry twice-a-month visit was not enough to sustain them. So I am on my own once again.

No matter how many times it happens, it never gets any easier.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tornadoes at an Exhibition

I resolve after this post to not mention my children again...for at LEAST three posts.

Hold me to it.

The point of writing this blog - well, beyond exorcising angst and jealousy of the presence of blogging in the lives of others I know, which I believe I have accomplished - was to get myself to write on a semi-regular basis. However trivial or unimpressive, each post represents, at a minimum, time spent writing.

Not anywhere near enough time, but writing nonetheless. At any rate, it's more than I had been holding myself accountable to pre-blog.

Over the past week, I wrote down my blog address for two more people within my personal world. Brick by brick, bird by bird...

Now I've headed down a road with no bearing on where I began. Regarding the tornadoes...

Today is Sunday. Many recent Sundays have really sucked.

It's nobody's fault. They haven't all sucked. By and large, however, the tail end of each weekend has proved terribly trying. I believe it's because we - the two tornadoes and myself - have had to again adapt to some life changes and as a result have had an awful lot of togetherness time.

Togetherness time is invaluable. Don't get me wrong. The duelling value vs. actual experience is part of the suckiness of Sundays.

Value: Your children are only children once, every moment should be savored; time together is time to try new things.

Actual experience: Your children do not necessarily recognize that you are a human being who sometimes would like to just relax. If there must be entertainment, must it always involve game tokens?

It's exhausting, and the laundry never gets done, and then it's Sunday night. Monday morning you're all off doing your own thing again, sort of...if doing your own thing means school and work.

Thankfully, this Sunday was a non-sucky Sunday.

I would even go so far as to call it pretty good. Everyone slept late. Baths happened without arguing. And we had lunch in a restaurant (ok, Friendly's, but still it was in public) without climbing under the table for any reason!

We then attended a family concert called "The Phil". I bought tickets last week without group consent. Since "Phil" is short for Philharmonic and not the name of a Disney pop star, this was quite a gamble.

"The Phil" performed Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." Children's artwork decorated the hall. If you aren't familiar with Mussorgsky (that would be me before today), this symphony describes the composer's visit to an art museum to see a late friend's work. Each movement matches to a particular painting of this friend - standing in for these paintings were the interpretive renderings of local schoolchildren blown up on a movie screen behind the orchestra. There were about a billion children there.

The beauty of the Phil: 50 minutes.

Speed culture. Enough time for me to sit and enjoy beautiful music, not so long that a billion children become restless and ruin the whole thing. Perfect.

We followed the Phil with a surprisingly peaceful visit to a bookstore, a fight-free drive home, and everyone eating the same thing for dinner.

Overall, pretty good.

Remember: three posts minimum.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Groundhog Day

So guess what happened yesterday?

Yep. It snowed.

Not so much snowed as rained teeny, frozen pieces of insanity. All day, those eensy bits of stir crazy. Plink-plink-plink.

Of course, no school. Of course, can't play outside.

After pointlessly begging the heavens to please make it stop, I resolved to rise above the inevitable roar of the D Channel and the plink-plink-plinking on every window... and actually use my shut-in time to write.

Determination, it eludes me so often. Yesterday I was determined to be determined.

Then we lost power.

Have I mentioned that we live in the woods? Loss of power is no laughing matter, people. It can go on and on. And on. And on.

There was no way I was going to stay in the woods with no power, no heat, no water and no D Channel with two little tornadoes.

One manually heaved-open garage door later, we were outta there...they to a friend's powered house, and me - sadly, not to write, but to work. So much for determination.

Despairing edge having slightly softened with few hours of adult contact, and confirmation made with neighbor that power was restored, I scooped up the tornadoes and went home.

Then we lost power.

Now it's almost dark. It's dinnertime. It's cold.


Somehow, right then - maybe instinct, maybe insanity - I surrendered. I can't explain it. I just gave in to the whole ridiculous, frozen, dark, gloomy, never-ending winter of it all.

We built a fire. Played Twister. Lit every candle we could find and lined them up on the mantle. Dug up barbecue skewers and roasted hot dogs.

We sat in front of the fire and ate our hot dogs, the scent of lavender/christmas cookie/fresh cut grass, and burning wood, wafting all around us.

Pillows and layers of blankets made their way into a giant bed where we hunkered down together for the night.

In place of bedtime (we guessed it was bedtime) stories, we played Telephone. You know, pass around the whispered message and see how it changes.

I don't guess it can change much between three players, but I still had to ask to hear the last one again. Just to make sure I heard it right.

Thank you for the best night ever. That was the message.

...Now, listen. The point of this, lest you misunderstand, is not that I am now in love with winter. I most definitely am not in love with winter.

The point is, you just never know. You never know what's coming next. It might be, for someone, the best night ever.

AND...I wrote! OK, I blogged. Blogging counts.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Generation D

Since I have apparently been confused with a billboard (note to thank you for COMPLETELY missing the point), I thought I would offer up a little space for a brand of my own choosing.

To call it advertising would be wrong. I don't mean to promote anyone, and they certainly do not need my help, anyway.

To say "choosing" misleads a bit as well, since the smothering presence of Disney in my waking life is certainly not by my own choice. I've always been more of a Sunday comics type.

Yet there it is, hanging in the air everywhere we go: the sounds of Disney, audible even at this moment. Two rooms away, my youngest sits mesmerized in front of a chirpy little time travel movie she has watched easily a dozen times already.

They are way beyond the princess of it all, this generation. We're talking secret pop stars, twin moppets living in hotel suites, high school wannabes...forget about "just be yourself." Be a superstar!

Interesting change of message, given the examples set by certain former mouseketeers...

I am not embarking on a campaign here. Overall, I don't really have a problem with any of these cutesy little actors, all of whom have apparently also recorded an album of cutesy little pop songs. This morning, when my oldest commandeered the car radio, I playfully cautioned her that she may find herself sprouting the buds of balloon-like ears pretty soon.

Which brings me to the cautionary tale (pun intended) of this post for the Mouse and his makers. Before turning up the volume, this superloyal Gen-D child asked me:

"So who invented Disney, anyway?"

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dear Babysitters

In case you haven't been taught this principle in school yet, our economy thrives on a system of supply and demand.

In the role of Babysitter, you function as supply.

It's a simple principle that works like this: if demand is high for your particular service - in this case, temporary supervision and entertainment of other people's children - then supply has the upper hand.

That's you. You have the upper hand. Particular to your role, this means you could potentially name and receive your desired hourly rate.

As I play the role of demand in this example, the burden is upon me to reach out to you and make my demand known.

I won't so much demand anything as politely call you and state my request for your services on a particular day and time.

I typically mention the ages and gender of my children so that you can easily understand there is no truly despicable work associated with my request - no diaper changing, no real possibility of spit up messing up your clothes (though I wouldn't recommend loading them up with pizza and soda right before bed).

In the course of this request, it is my standard practice to leave information as to how you may contact me. You may presume two things from this practice: first, I have a phone. You can probably use it to contact the outside world while you're here, provided you fulfill supervision and entertainment duties as agreed upon.

Second, I'd really like you to call me back.

This is where it all falls apart. You never call me back.

I'm puzzled, because I have been told that you are someone who supplies this service. Someone who knows you has provided me with your name and number. Do you realize this?

So I have to ask: are you so inundated with demands for your services that you can't possibly respond to everyone?

Is my desperation to get out of this godforsaken house for just a little while that glaring in my message? And if so, are you holding out until I reach the brink so you can get more money?

Lemme tell ya, you can seriously name your price. Right now.

You are forfeiting some very easy cash.

Please know, this is a babysitter epidemic. I do not single out any particular unresponsive so-called caregiver. You all seem to be pretty reluctant to give up a Saturday night.

I promise I'll come back. At a reasonable hour even. With cash for you.

Have I mentioned cash?

I await your call.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

And He's All Yours...

A male colleague informed me last week that he planned to take Monday off due to Sunday night's Big Game. It was the responsible thing to do, he said. Due to the late hour he would be up and the excessive amount of beer he expected to drink.

And the excitement, of course. History is in the making. The exhilaration from witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime episode in the annals of athletic competition - it would exhaust even the heartiest football fan.

Plus, you know, he'd be up late getting drunk.

Seven hours prior to kickoff, I imagine my colleague is getting ready to go pick up whatever last minute junk food his wife "forgot" to get, plus maybe another six pack for reserves. Just in case.

He has to go now, see, because pre-game coverage starts at 1:30.

I wonder what Eli Manning is doing?

At Patriots practice on Thursday, the players wore pads. Brady didn't limp and his ankle wasn't taped. He threw well.

At work on Thursday, my colleague struggled to stay awake at his desk. His kids didn't sleep through the night.

And Monday, while the Super Spectator sleeps off his beer and wings, where will the players be?

Celebrating. Giving interviews. Nursing their sore bodies. In some cases, thinking about the Pro Bowl ahead.

As a former football widow, I feel for this colleague's wife. What does Monday look like for her?

Kids to feed, entertain, lasso. House to clean up. Sluggo passed out in bed, wrecked - frisky and giddy if his team won. Frisky and surly if they lost. Either way, a complete nuisance.

Where's the big ring? Where's the big check? Where's the island getaway?

Then again, she married him. We all make choices. Foxboro is only an hour away.

Surely there are ways to infiltrate a locker room.