Friday, February 25, 2011

Do NOT Follow Me!

An hour and thirty minutes. Correction: an hour and thirty-TWO minutes. That’s how long it took me to traverse the 17 miles to work today.

First it was raining, and then it was snowing and then we were getting some mixture between rain and snow, which felt a little like someone flinging ice chips at my windshield.

Before venturing out, I carefully listened to the traffic reports and then mapped out my route. Immediately I discarded the idea of traveling 71 South since it was closed halfway to downtown due to high standing water. I didn’t want to (a) sit in traffic, or (b) float my way downtown. Perhaps now I see a reason to own one of those strange-looking amphibious automobiles like we saw at last year’s Auto Show, after all. Wonder if they come equipped with snow tires, too?

I left home approximately 15 minutes earlier than normal, which as soon as I saw the weather conditions, knew wasn’t early enough – but I thought I could maybe get to work somewhere close to my regular start time. I’m either completely delusional or have somehow inexplicably retained my childlike positive outlook on life.

Yeah, I’d go with completely delusional, too.

Nevertheless, I gamely started out. I left an assured clear distance between me and the driver in front of me. I didn’t speed – not that it was possible to speed – unless 5 miles an hour can remotely be considered speeding.

When I reached the ramp I normally take, I saw an interminable line of red brake lights, so I elected to go straight, which meant that I’d be driving South on High Street. This actually wasn’t a bad decision. Sort of.

You ever see that cartoon, Family Circus? When little Billy heads out the door of his home and, instead of walking in a straight line to his destination, takes all sorts of little detours so he can explore everything in his neighborhood and you can tell where he’s been by all the little black dashes in the drawing?

Well, I sort of felt like that this morning. I was on one road, and then diverted to another road when I saw police cruiser lights ahead. Assuming there was an accident, I veered off to avoid sitting in traffic. I took so many lefts and rights on my convoluted route, I can be assured that nobody was following me!

Eventually, I ended up on the Ohio State campus, which was definitely not where I wanted to be. There are way too many pedestrians down there – and they have the right-of-way. I didn’t think it was a good idea to start my day by plowing into a college student.

So I turned left somewhere in the middle of campus and then turned right again. And, finally ended up on a road that heads into downtown.

If someone had been mapping my route with black ink, it would either have resembled little Billy’s convoluted journey – or a big plate of spaghetti.

While I never sat in non-moving traffic, I probably would’ve gotten to my destination about the same time as if I’d just stayed in the long line behind all the brake lights on the freeway.

And the weather now? Nuthin’. There is no snow other than a mere dusting on the flora and fauna. There is not a speck of snow on the roads. It’s not raining. And no one is flinging ice chips at any windows whatsoever.

Are you kidding me?? If it’s gonna take me an hour and thirty-TWO minutes to get to work, I would appreciate it if we had at least SOME blizzard-like conditions out there!

Ah well. I’ll get over it. Allow me to wish you a happy weekend. Stay warm. And may it not take you an hour and thirty-two minutes to get to your destination. (Unless it’s significantly more than 17 miles away!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

BAD Kitties!

I’m sick of winter, yes, but I’m also sick of writing about the crappy weather. So…let’s see…what else can I talk about?

Well, I could talk about how I’m usually greeted each morning by two happy, playful kittens when I start descending the stairs. Today, however, they were nowhere to be seen…so I knew something was up.

Sure enough, I reached the bottom step – and nearly stepped into a mound of brownish-black…dirt. (What did you think I was going to say?!) Yes, it was only dirt and not something of an earthier (read: smellier) nature – but that didn’t make me any happier to see it.

Both kittens were lying meekly on the floor at the diametrically opposite point in the room from the mound of dirt and trying to look utterly guileless and innocent.

Yeah, like I bought their act.

It’s at this point that parents of real-life children ask their little darlings who created the mess and hope that even if the guilty party won’t admit it, the narc in the family will point a finger. Kittens, however, aren’t quite as cooperative. For one thing, they don’t have pointer fingers.

Since Twinklebelle is usually the culprit at torturing the plants on the plant stand by the stairs and has earned her share of water gun squirts in an attempt to teach her not to torture said plants, I assumed it was her fault. But what does that really matter? I mean, I can’t punish her by forcing her to clean up the mess. I can’t put her in a time-out. And I can’t take away her iPod or TV watching privileges. So I kind of think I’m screwed.

Oh, hey, I know…I could refuse to clean out her litter box! That might make me feel a little better as it’s not exactly a chore I look forward to. But once the smell overwhelmed us, I’d wonder WHO exactly I was punishing. So…no. That’s not a solution.

And, for some odd reason, Twinks likes a dirty litter box! Every day when I grab a plastic bag and the litter shovel (and gas mask and industrial strength gloves) and head toward the litter boxes, Twinks runs alongside me attacking the plastic bag. And when I actually scoop out some dirty litter, she takes swipes at the bag as if to say, “Hey! That was some good stuff I took great pains to hide in that box! What do you think you’re doing unearthing it?”

There are times I even resort to bribing Twinks with treats and then shut her in the pantry while I clean out her litter box. The last thing I want her to do is claw a hole in the plastic bag so that I’m leaving a trail of dirty kitty litter as I walk out to the garage. Can you say, “Yeeuccckkk!”?!

I never had this sort of trouble with my first cat, Tux. Or maybe I just don’t remember anymore. But I don’t recall her chewing on roses or swiping at plants on the plant stand. And, as she was a rather fastidious cat, she was more than happy to let me clean and sanitize her litter box.

And our other kitten, Jinx? Well, she’s no angel either. She learned how to take a flying leap off the top of the chair into the big potted plant in the dining room, which caused me to have such apoplectic fits, she learned just as quickly how to scramble out of the big potted plant. But since she has grown and doesn’t fit quite so easily in the big potted plant in the dining room, we haven’t had to deal with that issue lately.

Kittens? You gotta love ‘em. But for the life of me, I can’t remember why I was so determined to have tiny, little furballs at home instead of mature cats that no longer need to explore the world with quite so much, um, gusto.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Who's Sick of Winter?

So…winter came back with a vengeance. Snow and ice. Freezing temperatures. Y’know – all the stuff to let us know that it is still FEBRUARY, after all, and we shouldn’t expect to be wearing those t-shirts and flip flops again anytime soon.

Nevertheless, on Sunday I believed my own hype about our mid-winter reprieve and ran out the door on my way to church wearing a lightweight corduroy jacket. No hat. No gloves. No wool scarf. Vince, wearing his sensible winter jacket, tapped the weather icon on his handy-dandy iPhone (SO glad he got one…), and turned the screen so I could see that it was a mere 31 degrees. The non-verbal subtext was that wearing a lightweight corduroy jacket was a stupid move.

Okay, okay...I admit it wasn’t perhaps the smartest move on my part. I guess I should have listened to the weather report before venturing outdoors.

While we weren’t bombarded by enough snow to measure it in feet rather than in inches, it was enough to snarl up traffic yesterday. Apparently there is at least one patch of ice on each of the major roadways that snowplows are required to miss so that traffic is forced to slow to a crawl. And that very ice patch on 315 South was the one some car had to slide on and then skid into the car nearest them and cause a wreck. And it certainly wasn’t the only one. I swear there was at least one accident on each of the routes I could possibly take to get downtown so that I had zero possibilities of getting to work in under an hour.

And I had only allowed an extra 10 minutes for foolish drivers. Silly me.

Fortunately, I wasn’t the driver who slid into the ice patch and caused the wreck in the first place. Gotta be grateful for the small things, right?

Today, however, I was able to get to work on time. Not that there weren’t the same problems that we experienced yesterday. But I just lucked out and picked a different route that didn’t have any major traffic snarls. Sometimes it’s a crapshoot and at the very last possible second I veer into another lane to take a different route. And then I cross my fingers and hope that I made the right choice.

Today, thankfully, I made the right choice. I congratulated myself all the way downtown, particularly whenever the traffic report aired. Every time the announcer reported the ever-increasing backup on 315 South, I gleefully pumped my fist in the air. Sad, huh? When this part of the winter rolls around, we take even the most miniscule of victories to lofty levels.

Who knows? Tomorrow I may even be bumping knuckles with myself for having picked out a pair of matching socks.

Sigh. Will spring NEVER arrive?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mid-Winter Reprieve Part Two. Or...Jane Might Have Been…(mumble, mumble…)

Okay, so I have to admit something. I might have been sort of, kind of, maybe just a tiny little bit…wrong. (Ack, that wasn’t easy to spit out!)

Whatever could I – Ms. Perfect – be wrong about?

W-e-l-l, for one thing, calling myself “Ms. Perfect.” Undoubtedly, I am setting myself up for all sorts of snarky comments like, “You? Perfect?” Followed by what I consider, quite frankly, rude mocking laughter.

(I roll with a very cynical crowd.)

But, also, I was maybe not really 100% right in some of my comments about the whole mid-winter reprieve thing.

It IS easy to get sucked into happy sunshine-y, balmier temperatures in mid-February as if we will not be exposed to snow and slush and ice again for the rest of the year.

So if I owned a motorcycle, I might even be tempted to haul it out, dust if off, strap on a helmet and go for a ride. (Fortunately for all those sharing the road with me, I do NOT own a motorcycle.)

Instead, I went outside and literally basked in the sun like a cat that has found that one perfect slice of sun shining on the carpet and lies down to nap in its warmth.

I sighed as I felt the heat warm my very bones. I wore my sunglasses for reasons other than fending off the glare from the winter snow and ice. And I actually smiled at other people for the first time all winter.

Hmmm. Maybe there IS something to the whole notion of wearing shorts, t-shirts and flip flops when the mercury rises twenty degrees above freezing. It is a figurative thumbing our noses at Old Man Winter for forcing us to wear ugly snow boots day after day when we really want to wear strappy sandals that show off our petal pink painted toenails.

It signifies the hope that soon we will be baring shoulders and knees to the heat of summer and will be frolicking in pools and at beaches.

Except I don’t think I’ve ever really seen anyone “frolic.” Who does that??

Besides, what will really happen is that we will forget all about the frigid winter we’ve just survived and all too soon we will become cranky as we deal with soaring 90 degree temperatures and 100% humidity. And we will complain about our ever increasing utility bills as our air conditioners struggle to keep up and cool us down. We’ll gingerly slide into our cars that have baked under the merciless sun for a mere 4.5 minutes before the internal temperature reaches the boiling point.

As do our tempers.

But. For now, we’ll look at the sun and we’ll smile. We’ll walk outside with our feet hitting actual pavement and we’ll be grateful that – just for today – we don’t have to worry about broken appendages from taking nose-dives on ice-covered sidewalks.

Some people will even haul out their motorcycles for a spin. And some people will drive with their windows down.

Not me, of course. I said I wasn’t 100% right. I didn’t say I was crazy. I still believe people catch colds when we have mid-winter reprieves.

Plus, I’m nearly out of Echinacea.

Enjoy the sunshine and warmth while it lasts, folks. And pass me the hand sanitizer, would ya?

Mid-Winter Reprieve

I’m trying not to get too excited about the 50+ degree weather we’ve had the past couple days because I know that winter is just waiting to return with a vengeance. It’s simply the way it is around here in mid-winter in Ohio. We get a few days of nearly balmy weather and people start running around in shorts and t-shirts and flip-flops.

Come on, people! Fifty degrees is NOT flip-flop weather.

Yesterday I even saw a bunch of guys on motorcycles roaring past me on the highway and all I could think was, Yeah, yeah, it’s 59 degrees out, but, dudes – admit it – you HAVE TO BE freezing!

Not that the dudes responded, of course, since I was just thinking that in my head. If they had responded, I’d have been a little freaked. Or maybe a LOT freaked. Because then I’d have to acknowledge that I was hearing voices in my head…

Now I have to admit at least they aren’t as crazy as those crazy people who belong to crazy Polar Bear clubs and plunge into ice-covered waters in the middle of zero degree temperatures. Who is crazy enough to do this? And, okay, so some of those organizations raise money for charity, but still. I’ll stay bundled up at home and will send a check, okay?

At any rate, the guys on the motorcycles weren’t the only ones behaving as if they’d never experienced warmer weather. Even Vince was not immune to the hints of springtime to come. We drove the mile or so to our destination last night with the windows open! Since the sun had nearly set and the temps were dropping, he raised the window on the driver’s side. But he still left the window behind me open. That is, until I shot him a dirty look and said, “Do I look hot over here or something”?

Fortunately, Vince is getting really good at understanding the difference between my asking him questions that necessitate answers and questions that are purely rhetorical where it’s probably not a good idea to respond.

So he didn’t say a word – he merely closed the window.

Thank. You.

Now I won’t say that I haven’t appreciated the warmer weather myself. I’m happy to see that all the soot-encrusted black snow has melted – for two reasons. 1) it’s ugly. And 2), it has freed up room for the next round of winter snow and ice to accumulate.

I have also been able to ditch my bulky winter coat for a day or two. Yesterday I wore my lightweight spring raincoat and was surprised at how much less confining it felt – especially in the car where I usually feel like I’m being strangled between my bulky layers of clothing, winter coat, knit scarf and the seatbelt. Somewhere around the mid-point between home and work I start clawing at the scarf to loosen it so I can breathe a little easier.

And today I didn’t even wear an outer coat! Instead, I wore a suede jacket. Now, true enough, I am wearing a turtleneck sweater underneath the suede jacket, so I’m not exactly dressed for summer. But it’s a start.

Of course, you know what this means, don’t you? People will start coming down with sore throats and colds and all manner of nasty bugs.

Why is that, exactly? I’ve never been able to figure out why people start getting sick when we have a couple days of warmer weather in mid-winter.

Maybe there is no actual scientific correlation between warmer weather and illness, but I’m not taking any chances. I think we’ll up our daily intake of Vitamin C, Echinacea, and Airborne. I’ll be using antibacterial hand gel like I have stock in the company.

And if all that doesn’t work and I feel a scratchy throat and a congested schnoz coming on, I might even go so far as to make an appointment with a witch doctor – maybe he’ll have some magical potions for kicking the common cold.

In the meantime, I’m heading outside. Anyone have some sunscreen handy?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lunch, anyone?

I keep forgetting we have kittens at home – kittens as opposed to adult cats. And I’ve forgotten how vastly different kittens are from adult cats.

Adult cats like to find warm, sunshiny places so they can nap uninterrupted for approximately 22 hours a day. The other hour is for eating. And the last hour is for creating stinky messes in their litter boxes. Okay, maybe they only nap for 21 hours a day as it seems physically impossible for the stinky messes in their litter boxes to be the result of one mere hour of effort.

But I digress. (I could write a book on stinky messes in litter boxes. Sadly, no one would want to read it. Or ever have an appetite again.)

Anyway, as I was saying…

Kittens, on the other hand, are rambunctious and extremely curious. Like when there is a lovely bouquet of red roses in the center of the dining room table from my wonderful husband for Valentine’s Day. Kittens who have never before seen red roses think they are something to be explored. And they think it is their kittenly duty to chew on said roses to see if they are edible.

When they discover the flowers are not as good as say, whipped cream, they continue to pounce upon the innocent petals and shred them to bits.

Now I know where the saying, “Curiosity killed the cat” comes from. The kitty funeral will be tomorrow at 10AM. No, I kid. Like shredding my roses warrants the death penalty. (This was not as easy a call as you might think...)

No, instead, the first time I caught them on the table chewing on my roses, I shrieked. While that startled them into immediately jumping down, it didn’t deter them for long.

Since I didn’t want to spend the entire day shrieking at kittens or standing guard at the dining room table causing Vince to regret purchasing the roses in the first place, I moved the vase to the sideboard. I then piled stuff on top of the chair closest to the sideboard in hopes that it would keep the kittens from reaching the roses.

Ha. Like that worked. Apparently I didn’t use enough sharp, pointy objects on my barrier.

Eventually, Twinks and Jinx lost interest in the now-shredded roses and moved on to other pursuits. Like clawing their way up my leg and sliding back down, claws fully extended, of course, in an attempt to create their own human amusement ride.

By the next morning, three of the roses were black and had to go to that great rose heaven in the sky (also known as that great trash can in the garage).

And for the next four days the roses sat way back on the sideboard barely visible and somewhat neglected. Finally, Vince suggested I bring the survivors to my office so I could look at them without fear of reprisal from destructive kittens. Duh. Why didn’t I think of that before?

So now they sit on my desk to be enjoyed and admired for another day or two.

And, surprisingly, not one single co-worker has come in to my office with the intention of chewing on my roses.

How great is that?!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Computer Hell

I’ve spent the past several days at work digging out of computer hell. And, no, it has not been pretty. Frankly, I’m so disillusioned by the whole technology thing that I’m considering chucking the ol’ PC out the window and going back to paper and pen...

…except that I’ve discovered that I now totally suck at writing with actual paper and pen. When did that happen? I used to think I had fairly decent handwriting.

The clues have been there for a while, though. Like when I address the ever-diminishing numbers of greeting cards that I send through snail mail. I don’t seem to get the whole cursive thing as easily as I once did and there is invariably an error or two. I try to fix things by going over the incorrect letter with the correct letter several times leaving a big dark blob of ink, which makes the envelope smudge.

I know I can’t be the only person having trouble writing these days. I mean, when is the last time someone wrote an actual letter? It has been years for me. Decades, even!

We have received notes written in crayon from my 7-year-old niece, but they don’t count. Well, actually, they probably should – her penmanship is far superior to mine at this point.

I had to use another computer in the office while mine was out being debugged. And my work progress was completely hindered because the file that I use to compose letters was on my hard drive. And the graphics for our letterhead was also on my hard drive. And my address list was on my hard drive.

Working on someone else’s computer that doesn’t have my “stuff” on it was quite distressing. But I took a deep breath and figured that I, an actual college graduate, could get the job done despite these hardships. So I found the addresses online. Then I grabbed a couple pieces of old-fashioned letterhead from a folder I haven’t used in about five years (seriously) and wrote the letters out by hand. Egad, I swear I had writer’s cramp after about 20 words!

Plus, there were those infernal smudges because I couldn’t seem to get the letters to flow error-free.

I’m hoping the recipients will be so shocked to receive handwritten notes that they’ll overlook the smudges. Besides, I was sending ‘em free hats and T-shirts – what more could they want?

There were other lessons in frustration for me besides just the handwriting thing. Like, for instance, it took me three times as long to complete any task. I’d begin working on something, only to realize that the e-mail address I needed was in a folder in my office. So I’d walk to the other end of the building to my office, locate the information I needed, and walk back to front of the building to my temporary office. I’d get the e-mail written (thankfully using my temporary keyboard!)…and then I’d discover that the last piece of information I needed was in yet another file folder in my office.

Grrr. I should’ve worn a pedometer because I guarantee you I walked the requisite 10,000 steps the past few days.

Nevertheless, I was beginning to catch up on the work backlog. That is, until the black ink cartridge on my borrowed printer ran dry. And, no, we are not networked, so I couldn’t send files to other machines to be printed. Naturally, we didn’t have any backup ink cartridges for that particular printer in the office.

In defeat, I stumbled back to my office, plopped down into my chair, and stared blankly at the dead computer screen sitting in the center of my desk. I can’t be sure, but it sort of felt like the wireless keyboard and mouse were mocking me.

Eventually, the computer fixer lady came back to the office with my hard drive. She had been certain that my computer had a virus on it. But it didn’t. (Which ticked me off. She had my computer ALL DAY and couldn’t find anything wrong with it??)

Sounds like the story has a happy ending – right? Well, if you guessed that you would be wrong, Skippy. My computer is running way slower than it used to. For all I know, she could’ve been so mad that she was proved wrong that she infected it on purpose.

On the other hand, it’s better than nothin’. I didn’t have to write a single handwritten note today. So – for this one day, anyway – I didn’t chuck the ol’ PC out the window.

Tomorrow, however, is another day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sore Loser?

Vince and I are on the Ski Club Euchre league this winter, so we play Euchre with a group of other cutthroat Euchre players. Well, okay, not really. Most of them are casual players and play just for fun. And then there are the serious players who are not there to chitchat or discuss the latest serving of American Idol. They’re there to maximize their points so they can win at the end of the season.

I’m there for fun, although I admit that I’d love to win. Just once. I’d even take second or third place. But I’ve never managed it.

Oh, I’m not bad. There have even been a few times I’ve been up there at the top of the list, but then I’d have a week where my score was abysmally low and I’d lose my top ranking.

Sigh. Such is the way of card playing…

So here we are embarking on our fourth week of play. I’m in 5th place. I think. I might even be tied for 5th place, I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter – because unless I have a phenomenal score tonight, I’ll stay out of the top spots and won’t win. Again.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I should think positively. But I seem to have a good week followed by a bad week. Tonight, if I’m following this same pattern, will be a bad week.

I hope not. I have to admit that I’m a little competitive and get a little cranky when I don’t play well. Okay, a LOT competitive and a LOT cranky. What can I tell you? I don’t like to lose. And, since I’m in Confession Mode…I get even crankier when Vince’s score is higher than mine.

Ooh…I probably shouldn’t have admitted that. Except that Vince totally knows how competitive I am. He’s just loving enough not to verbally point out my glaring flaw. Truthfully, Vince is a little competitive himself and freely admits it, but he’s a better poker player than I and is able to act like it doesn’t matter to him.

I guess this is why I don’t play poker. Well, I tried once. Let’s just say that I do not possess a poker face. I couldn’t contain my excitement when I was dealt a full house – only to have everyone fold before I could amass a fortune. Nor could I even pretend to bluff when I had a crappy hand.

So even though we were playing for nickels, dimes and quarters, I figured it was better to stay away from the gaming tables.

Probably I should stick to Go Fish with my 7-year-old niece. Only she has beaten me the last several times we’ve played Go Fish together. And I don’t think I could take being called a sore loser by a 7-year-old.

Hmmm…what’s left? Solitaire?

Oh well. I will just have to keep repeating, “It’s only a game…This is FUN!...It’s only a game…This is FUN!”

Maybe I’ll even believe it.

But I wouldn’t bet on it!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gotta Go...Gotta Go...Gotta Go Right Now!

I’ve noticed something as I’ve gotten older. Well, yeah, there are a whole lot of somethings I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older. I can’t see as well. I can’t hear as well. I can’t remember stuff anymore. And my body creaks a whole lot more. But, I mean, besides all that.

What I’ve noticed is that I don’t like to be too far away from a restroom at any given time. I may not even have to go, but when I can’t go, I seem to develop the urge. Weird.

Put me in the OSU football stadium to watch the Buckeyes and the first thing I want to do after I’ve climbed all those cement steps is to head back down them so I can use the ladies room.

Get me on a plane and settled in my seat with my seatbelt securely fastened across my lap – and I immediately wonder if I should make a quick run to the loo before the flight takes off.

Now, you should know that I don’t actually GO to the bathroom once I arrive in my stadium or airplane seat. I just think I probably need to – even if I don’t.

I’ve also noticed that my driving habits have changed. I used to be able to drive for a minimum of 4.75 hours before a potty break was required. Nowadays, I can’t even make it to my parents’ home in Alliance – which is about a 2 hour and 20 minute drive – without making a pit stop along the way.

Sometimes getting older ain’t all that much fun is it?

So today was definitely a challenge for me. See, I didn’t have easy access to a bathroom while I was at work – and I felt like I had to go. All. Day. Long.

We had a couple of little old Italian masons in our German Village office all day repairing the brick wall that is located in the room next to my office. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a brick wall repaired, but red brick dust flies everywhere! We had plastic sheeting taped up all over the place to try to keep the dust to a minimum. And the door to my office was closed all day. Which meant I was practically hermetically sealed inside…and there are no, uh, “facilities” inside my office either.

I stopped drinking water at 8:35AM, which was hard to do because I normally drink water all day long to get in my requisite 8 glasses a day. Yep, I’m a veritable H20 drinking machine while at work.

So all morning I wanted to emerge from my cave to hit the john, even though I hadn’t had a drop to drink and was probably even slightly dehydrated. The thought of a powder room break crossed my mind approximately once every 45 seconds. This, as you can imagine, made it difficult to concentrate on any actual work.

Lunchtime was a blessing and I figured I would just spend the entire hour in the WC. Except…ewwww. So I didn’t, of course.

Normally at lunchtime, I suck down a whole can of Diet Dr. Pepper or another glass of water, but today I took a few miniscule sips from my water bottle fearing the need would hit me just as the afternoon brick repair session began.

This is all probably payback, you know. When I was younger and had the constitution of a, well, a younger person, I didn’t need to go to the restroom as often. But I had friends whose bladders must be the size of a teaspoon. Not only that, but they’d had children, which in female language apparently means they have to use the latrine infinitely more times as often as the rest of us. Like every 60 seconds.

One time a girlfriend and I drove to Cape Cod to spend a week at the beach. I’d made the drive a number of times previously, so I knew how long the trip should take given the usual potty breaks, which were timed with gasoline fill-ups to minimize stops. Ha. Little did I know that we’d have to stop every hour on the hour so she could make a pit stop. Just as we’d get a good driving rhythm going, she’d tell me she needed to stop. Arrrgghh! I thought we’d NEVER get there!

If she’d been a guy, I would’ve handed her a Big Gulp cup. But, nooooo. Couldn’t do that.

Sigh. You know what they say about paybacks, right? So I guess I should apologize to my friend for my superior attitude back then. Maybe I should hope that I get older quick. That way, I won’t remember all the things I used to give people a hard time about, and then won’t have to apologize. Or at least won’t remember that I should!

By the way…you ever notice how many euphemisms there are for “bathroom”?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Squinchy Face

Before leaving for work this morning I cleaned kitty litter for the five millionth time. Which is sort of amazing since we’ve only had these kittens for 48 days (and 10 hours and 34 minutes). Those little buggers use the litter box a LOT.

Nevertheless, it occurred to me that there are a great many chores I do at home that cannot be completed without squinching up my face in a grimace that could easily frighten small children or timid adults.

As if making that face will help the chore become more palatable.

Still, time after time I find myself making that face. Sometimes I even catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror after I have scrubbed the toilet or pulled long strands of my own hair out of the hair catcher in the tub drain and I have to laugh. Remember when your mom told you your face would freeze that way? I’m thinkin’ that maybe mom was right.

Perhaps I’m a little squeamish about things. Yeah, okay, so there is no “perhaps” about it. I AM squeamish about things. Most things.

Like squishing a bug. If ever I am home alone and am forced to handle a bug all by myself, I will pull a wad of paper towels off the roll big enough to squash an armadillo without feeling the thing underneath the paper. Because if I can even remotely feel the bug squish, I screech and jump away as if the now-dead bug has somehow developed magical powers and can fling its gory bug guts at me.

Then I do a full-body shudder and flap my hands around for a minute and make that really bad face. And then, glutton for punishment sort of person that I am, I walk back to the wad of paper towels and scoop the whole mess up and run to the big garbage can in the garage to throw it away. And then I slam the garbage lid down for extra emphasis: Take THAT, you nasty ol’ bug!

Don’t tell Vince, but I think that’s the primary reason I married him. I was tired of squishing bugs on my own. No, I kid. I really married Vince because he’s good at opening jars and is also willing to check the fluid levels in my car.

No, really. I’m just being silly. I married for love – and only love. Besides, I long ago figured out how to open jars, which is basically by never purchasing anything in jars that has to be opened.

Anyway, I’ve decided that it’s a good thing I have a normal job in a normal office where the only reason I have to make a grimacing squinchy face is when the UPS guy takes a potty break and doesn’t use courtesy spray afterwards. Mostly I stay in my office when the UPS guy is around, but sometimes I forget and walk by the bathroom and then not only make the squinchy face, but sometimes am forced to hold my nose while inadvertent tears stream down my face.

Hey, what can I tell you? It’s bad.

Can you imagine if I had one of those weird jobs where I had to be a sniffer tester? Like at a factory that manufactures men's deodorant, for example? No, I don’t think I could handle that job. They’d have to pay me big bucks – and we’re talking well beyond minimum wage for that sort of job!

I’d take a whiff and then I’d do a full body shudder, flap my hands around and grab a wad of paper towels and jam it up in the guy’s armpit. And then I’d quit.

So, no, it’s a good thing I’m not a sniffer tester.

Nor do I think I could be a taste tester. I used to work at a company that manufactures nutritional-type products, and I once volunteered to be a taste tester. For baby formula. Let’s just say that I could not be objective. Yuck. Frankly, I don’t remember being a baby and drinking out of a bottle, but I’m guessing that I probably made that squinchy face back then, too.

Maybe I should practice making a serene face so that the squinchy face lines, which are already threatening to become permanent, do not have a chance to set any further. I have a whole list of chores I could perform to test myself. Like cleaning the vent at the bottom of the fridge that collects all sorts of nasty furry-type debris. Or scrubbing the grout in the bathtub. Or even cleaning kitty litter for the five million and first time.

But I simply can’t make any promises when it comes to the UPS guy. Some things are just squinchy-face-worthy. And, believe me, that’d be one of ‘em.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Angry Birds

A couple months ago we were at a football-watching party with some friends. I’d just gotten my new iPhone 4 and was happily showing it off when one of my friends asked me if I’d downloaded the “Angry Birds” app.

Have you heard of this game? I hadn’t.

She said it was so much fun and I just had to download it. So I did. And there the game sat on my iPhone 4 for over three months while I was busy with things like holidays and family and friends and kittens. Oh, and bowling and euchre and snow and ice. Lots of snow and ice.

About a week ago, I wasn’t feeling so hot, so I was lounging on the couch in my PJs. Sadly, I had finished my last library book and had absolutely nothing to read, so I started scrolling through my iPhone to see what might capture my interest. I stumbled across the Angry Birds App, so I opened it to see what it was all about.

And now? I’m hooked on the damn thing. (Thanks, Kara.) And it’s so silly!

See, there are a bunch of birds. Well, bird heads, actually. None of the birds have bodies, which is a little strange. But it’s a game, so you just go with it.

What you do is shoot the bird heads from a slingshot at a bunch of green pigs that are hiding in various structures made out of wood or ice or stone. Or, actually, you shoot the bird heads at the pig heads. (Maybe it was cost-prohibitive to build little bodies onto the heads? Who knows?)

Anyway, I’m not really sure if birds and pigs are natural enemies in real life, but all I know is that in this game the pigs sure did something bad to piss off those little birds!

In the free game (I’m way too cheap to actually pay for any apps that I download onto my phone!), there are 12 levels. And each level is more difficult than the last.

I’m currently working on the 12th level and cannot – for the life of me – annihilate all those stinkin’ pigs. Some of them cheat, though, and are wearing helmets, so they’re twice as hard to kill.

I get all happy when I bust up the structure with my first shot and the pig heads are left balancing precariously on what’s left of their fort. Each pig death brings 5,000 points to your total. And if you manage to kill all the pigs and you still have birds left, you get 1,000 extra points.

Sigh. When did I become so bloodthirsty and violent?

I think it started after the first level when I missed that last little green pig. See, when you run out of birds and there is still a pig left, he very smugly grins at you as if to say {in a really mocking pig-like tone of voice}, “Ha ha, loser. You missed me!”

As soon as that happened the first time, I immediately turned into a snarling, Rambo-like pig-killing machine and I wanted to wipe that silly grin off that silly pig face in the worst way!

Yeah. Sure. Whoever said that revenge is a dish best served cold had it right. I’d immediately try again and I’d invariably fumble that first bird shot so that the little bird head would plop out of the sling shot, bounce once and then roll a little bit never even coming close to the target.

Some killing machine I am, huh? Not so much.

Nevertheless, I did make it through the first 5 or 6 levels pretty quickly. Some of the later levels were pretty tricky and I had a hard time getting all the pigs. And sometimes one bird will split into three little birds – but never have I been able to use that phenomenon to my advantage. Nor do I know what I’ve done to magically multiply the birds. Usually it happens when I fumble, so all three birds bounce onto the grass well short of the target. And, yes, then I feel three times as foolish.

Maybe I should read the instructions? Yeah, sure. Like there were any instructions with this game.

I’m guessing that the developers figured that anyone younger than 80 knows how to play since gaming has been around for a few decades now.

Except for me. Other than playing foosball in college, I was never a “gamer.” (But you should know that I was GOOD at foosball!) Arcades with all their flashing lights and pinging noises and packs of kids hopped up on excessive amounts of sugar from Twizzlers and neon-colored Slurpies, made me a little nervous.

Thus, pinball, Pac-Man, and anything involving a joy-stick are beyond my capabilities. Or, maybe they’re just beyond my interest. I was never into Atari or X-Box or Wii or any of those gaming systems that require any sort of manual dexterity and the ability to shoot at targets, blow up little spaceships or gobble up little dots while evading some not-so-scary-looking ghosts with big eyes.

So it’s amazing to me that I’ve spent a lot of spare time shooting bird heads from sling shots at pig heads. And I like it.

Maybe there’s hope for me yet in the world of gaming.

Or maybe I should just get myself back over to the library to pick up some more books. And then maybe the little birds can make peace with the little pigs without my Rambo-like interference. Ah, see? I guess I AM a peace lover at heart!

Yeah, yeah, sure, peace. Whatever. First I need to get through Level 12…