Friday, October 28, 2011

No Cooties Allowed!

I think I was just dissed by a 4-year-old. And I did not like it!

It all started this morning when my coworker brought his three sick children into the office today rather than miss work to stay home and care for them. Noble intentions, perhaps, but I’m not thrilled with the prospect of catching their cooties. I think he should’ve given me advance warning so I could’ve stopped at the drugstore on my way in to work and stocked up on plastic gloves, face masks and extra Purell to try to keep the germs a safe distance away from me.

That’s a losing proposition if I ever heard one since these kids plant themselves in the TV room outside my office and use my restroom and touch all sorts of things that I surely come in contact with on a regular daily basis.

I am certain those germs are sitting on some innocent surface eagerly waiting for me to touch it and then touch my face so they can infiltrate my sinuses. I’d try sitting immobile all day long with my arms bent and my hands up in the air like a surgeon who has just scrubbed for surgery, but that’s rather impractical and would make it nearly impossible to get my job done.

Thus, I made a concerted effort to avoid touching my eyes, nose and mouth. Interestingly, it’s when I’m not supposed to be touching my face to avoid catching others’ cooties, that’s precisely the time my eyes, nose and mouth itch inexplicably. Weird.

I think the cooties fool my nasal cavities into thinking that hosting a germ-party is a good idea. The germs make it sound like it’ll be a lot of fun. So they tell my nasal cavities to send a message to my brain that my nose needs a little scratch. When I do, and subsequently catch a cold, my nasal cavities suddenly realize the error of their ways.

It’s rather like a kid in high school whose parents go out of town so he decides to throw a small party for a few friends. His friends start texting other friends and suddenly the house is exploding with raucous teenagers and the kid host knows there’s no way his parents won’t find out about this mess. The kid starts begging his friends to get rid of the party crashers before the cops are called.

That’s the exact same thing that happens to my sinuses. They think inviting a few little germs over will make for an interesting get-together and then suddenly there are too many germs joining in on the fun and my sinuses know there is no way I’m not going to find out about this mess. Then they start begging me to get rid of the unwanted party crashers by pointing me toward the Puffs Plus.

You’d think after all these years my nasal cavities would learn their lesson, wouldn’t you?

My coworker’s children have a field day in our office since my boss has a bad habit of keeping a big tub of pretzels and assorted candy in a glass candy jar in the TV room. The kids gorge on the junk and, in my humble opinion, completely ruin their appetites for a healthy dinner. I really wouldn’t care since I’m not responsible for the feeding and watering of them, but the chomping and smacking sounds they make are a little distracting.

My coworker, whose office is at the top of the stairs off the TV room, sometimes realizes what is happening by the furtive rustling sounds made by little hands trying to open candy wrappers, so he’ll come downstairs to remove the contraband.

But sometimes he doesn’t realize what is happening – perhaps he is wearing childproof ear plugs or something – and so someone whose office may or may not be close to the TV room might anonymously send him an email suggesting that if he doesn’t remove the junk food, his kids will soon either be throwing up or bouncing off the walls. Neither scenario of which the anonymous email sender cares to witness.

So what does he do? He puts the pretzels and candy out of reach in my office. The only good thing about this action is that there ain’t no way I’d dare to put my hand in those cootie-infested containers.

So how was I dissed by a 4-year-old, you ask? (Hey, thanks for asking.)

Well, I had taken off my boots because they were pinching my toes and I was walking around in my stocking feet. I left my office for a few minutes and when I came back, the 4-year-old was standing in my office mentally measuring the distance from her little outstretched hand to the top of the shelf where the candy was.

This 4-year-old, by the way, is adorable. Long blonde ringlets and a cherubic face. But in the two years she’s been coming around, the kid has never once spoken to any of us in the office. We’re all starting to feel a little paranoid. Was it something we said?

At any rate, I walked in and with a big smile on my face I said, “Aha! I caught you!”

Naturally, she didn’t respond. But she gave me a very disdainful look. She pointedly looked at my stocking feet as though she could scarcely believe her eyes that a grown-up could be walking around without proper footwear. She crossed her little arms across her little chest. And then she silently marched out of my office in her very stylish pink tennis shoes.

Wow. That kid is gonna be one scary woman.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to put my boots on – and go pop another Airborne with a Vitamin C chaser. Just a little insurance in case my sinuses are thinking about throwing another party. And it might be a good time to stock up on a new box of Puffs Plus.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Nighttime Adventures of Twinks and Jinx

We’ve never let the cats sleep with us at night. And now I know why.

Believe me, it was not a conscious decision to allow them into our bedroom for an overnight sleepover; it was purely circumstantial.

Lately Twinks has been very “needy” and she starts meowing after we close our bedroom door. She’s on the wrong side of the door and she doesn’t like it. Extra petting right before I escape to our bedroom hasn’t seemed to help. So the other night I let her come in while we brushed our teeth and got ready for bed. She jumped on the bed and did the flopping-on-her-back maneuver, which is my cue to give her a belly rub.

Unbeknownst to me, the stealthy one, Jinx, also slithered into the room. Jinx doesn’t hop on the bed and demand love and affection. Instead, she crawls under the bed and explores. I’d call it “hiding,” but Jinx doesn’t want a reputation as a scaredy cat.

We don’t usually know she’s under the bed until either Twinks, who was politely escorted out of the room, starts meowing because her cohort is still inside and it’s unfair or (b) Jinx squeaks at us to let us know that she’s done exploring and wants us to get up immediately and let her out. Who knew a squeaky kitty could be so loud?

So after I gently encouraged Twinks to leave the room the other night and I closed the door Vince said, “You know that Jinx is still in here – right?”

I hadn’t known, but realized he was right because Twinks commenced meowing through the closed door to let me know that I was playing favorites.

Knowing it would be nearly impossible to get Jinx out from under the bed, I sighed and opened the door to let Twinks back in. And right then I knew it was going to be a long night.

Vince wasn’t too happy with this turn of events (not that he volunteered to crawl under the bed to try to retrieve Jinx-the-Explorer or anything). Instead, he grabbed earplugs from his nightstand and stuffed them in his ears to drown out the twinkling sounds the bells on their collars make whenever they move.

Clearly, our cats are nocturnal creatures and move around at night. A lot.

Thus began a very long sleepless night with one or more cats crawling over the bed and us to find comfy spots to sleep in, which usually meant crowding us in some way. Once they’d curl up, they’d start whapping their tail on my cheek every 10 seconds or so. They’d whap, I’d twitch and scratch the ensuing itch the whapping caused and then I’d flip over to avoid the tail entirely.

Yeah, like that worked. My cats are persistent if nothing else. Once I turned over, the cat would move such that my cheek was once again in her line of fire.


Did I mention that it was a VERY long sleepless night?

I contemplated trying to get them out of the room, but being dark, I wouldn’t have been able to see them clearly. And I wouldn’t have been able to see Jinx, the black one, at all. Made me wonder why I hadn’t considered adopting an orange tabby or something more visible in low light situations.

Besides, I knew that even if I was successful in getting one of them out of the room, I wouldn’t be able to get both out simultaneously. So what would happen is that if I eventually herded the second one toward the door, the moment I opened it, the first one would rush back in.

So I lay there trying to count sheep in the hopes that I might eventually fall asleep. Inevitably, the sheep turned into cats and I started having nightmares that we lived with an entire clowder of 'em instead of only two.

At some point in the early morning hours, I heard the bedroom door slam. I figured either Vince gave up and decided to sleep on the couch – or he managed to convince the felines that they were no longer welcome and was able to escort them out of the room.

Since he came back to bed, it turned out to be the latter. Probably they were hungry and had gotten bored with torturing us. Of course, by this point we didn’t have a whole lot more snooze time before the alarm went off.

When it did, Vince turned over toward me, blearily opened a bloodshot eye and said, “this thing with the cats sleeping with us? It’s not gonna work.”

Yeah. No kidding.

Cats. Ya gotta love ‘em. Can’t sleep with ‘em.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Talent Is, er, WAS Baking…

Our church had a rummage sale and Harvest Festival on Saturday and I volunteered to bake both brownies and cookies for the bake sale portion of the event.

I didn’t volunteer to work the cash box for the rummage sale since trying to make change for people would have given me nightmares for a month. Adding and subtracting on the fly is not my strong suit and if more than one person was standing in line waiting for me to figure out exact change I’d end up embarrassing myself by frantically counting on my fingers and then blubbering in utter defeat when they corrected my bad math.

So, no money handling for me.

I also didn’t volunteer to do face painting on the kids attending the Festival because I can’t draw on demand. They’d ask for a butterfly and they’d cry when they saw the big purple blob adorning their cheek, which would be the Jane version of a butterfly.

I know where my talents lie – and it’s in doing the behind-the-scenes baking.

Or at least I thought it was.

You know how you have certain talents that you can always count on? Say you volunteer for an event. Some people are good at promoting it. Some people are good at entertaining. Still others are good in the execution phase – getting things done beforehand. And then there are others who are good at running the show.

If I’m running an event, I’m large-and-in-charge – but if not, my “thing” is preparing party foods and baking simple things like brownies and cookies. I’ve been baking since I was a kid and, other than that first lopsided cake wherein I used granulated sugar for the frosting instead of powdered sugar, I’ve had pretty good success with whatever I’ve baked.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know I’m not good enough to audition for Cake Wars on the Food Channel or anything. I don’t do fancy desserts that are scrumptious enough to be featured in gourmet magazines and I don’t do pies. I’m not, after all, the second coming of Martha Stewart – but you want soft, melt-in-your mouth brownies? I’m your go-to person. Want thick, chewy Oatmeal Scotchies or decadent Chocolate Chunk cookies? I am woman, see me bake.

I needed to bring my confections over to the church early Saturday morning, so my plan on Friday night was to mix and bake like a mad woman so I could go to sleep knowing I’d be ready for Saturday morning bright and early. I figured I’d bake a couple pans of brownies and, while they were cooling, I’d mix the cookie dough.

So what did I do as soon as I arrived home from work Friday evening? Did I haul out the measuring cups and mixing bowls? Noooo. I relaxed on the sofa and watched my DVR’d episodes of Modern Family and Survivor.

The whole time I was sitting there watching TV, I kept thinking that the brownies could be baking. But did I get up? Noooo.

As soon as Jeff Probst said “The tribe has spoken” and snuffed out some blindsided player’s torch, I hopped up and headed to kitchen where I finally hauled out the measuring cups and mixing bowls. I made two pans of brownies and put them both in the oven to bake. And then I started mixing the dough for Oatmeal Scotchies. I doubled the recipe, thinking that probably there would be a plethora of chocolate chip cookies and I didn’t need to bake any of that variety.

So what happened? The brownies in one pan came out half burned and half raw. The other pan was good except for the very middle pieces that were undercooked. And the cookies were so flat they stuck to the Airbake pans (which they are never supposed to do). When I was finally able to remove them, they came out in crumbles.

Arrrrggghh! How did this happen?? I never have these problems with baking – and how are we going to sell any of this mess?!?!

I suspect that I should have baked the brownies one batch at a time. I’m not sure I’ve ever attempted to bake two pans – let alone two at one time. And I obviously didn’t double something in the cookie recipe, but I still haven’t figured out what.

I was able to salvage about a dozen good-sized brownies and wrapped them for the bake sale. But I went to bed completely stressed because I didn’t have any cookies that could be used. In desperation, I looked around our pantry, but we didn’t even have the odd Oreo I could wrap up and pretend it was homemade.

So I got up at some ridiculous hour in the morning and once again hauled out the measuring cups and mixing bowls – and started over. Since I was completely out of butterscotch morsels, I had to go with the tried and true chocolate chip. I didn’t bother doubling the recipe. I figured if I had enough to fill my tray, I’d be good.

So I mixed and baked like a mad woman. I packed a lunch for Vince and brewed his coffee. I even got as far as cutting up onion and bell pepper for his eggs, but since I didn’t have a fifth hand, he actually had to crack his own eggs and cook them. Darn. And here I was thinking I was Superwoman. Guess not.

But the chocolate chip cookies came out perfectly.

Vince helped me wrap them – still soft and slightly warm and gooey. He headed to work and I headed to the church, happy that I had something to contribute.

But, man. My faith in my baking abilities was severely shaken.

Next time I should probably forego the DVR and sofa and get right to the baking task at hand. I should no longer trust myself to double recipes correctly. And next time I go to the grocery store, I think I’ll stock up on some Oreos. Just in case.

Friday, October 21, 2011

'Tis the Season. Trick-or-Treat Season.

It’s a cold, rainy day in October and I can no longer fool myself into thinking that the warm weather is going to last.  Instead, I know we’re heading smack-dab directly into winter.  How do I know this?  Because I flipped the switch on the “butt-warmers” in my car this morning.  That’s a for-sure sign right there.  It’s as significant as when Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow and it means six more weeks of winter.  I probably won’t turn off those warmers until mid-April – whether I see my shadow in February or not. 

Plus, Vince finally turned on the furnace.  Fuzzy mittens and fleece-lined boots and winter jackets cannot be far behind. Sigh.

I’m not sure why we stick around Ohio, but we continue to do so year after year.  Maybe I like self-torture?  Probably.  Even when Vince suggests we move to a locale with a warmer climate (like Barbados, perhaps?), we don’t do it.  I start thinking about all the family and friends we’d be leaving behind and I get nostalgic and homesick before even thinking about packing that first teacup.

At least there are a few fun activities we can participate in before the snow flies.  Hopefully.  Like, we have a Halloween party to go to next weekend.  I’m looking forward to it because I think I have a cool costume – if it all comes together.  If it doesn’t, I might be wearing the same costume that Vince is wearing.  It’s a T-shirt that reads, “This IS my Halloween Costume!” 

Hey, it counts.  He won’t, after all, wear it to Sunday dinner with the in-laws.

Also, Vince’s son was over the other day and he wanted to carve a pumpkin.  So off to Kroger we went where they carefully reviewed their options and finally selected two decent sized pumpkins.  I assumed that Vince would be joining his son in carving the second one, but it turns out he expected me to carve it.  Me?

I have to confess – I have never in my life carved a pumpkin!  Seriously. I mean, sure, we had jack-o-lanterns for Halloween when we were kids, but do you think my father trusted any of us with sharp implements?  Not on a bet.  He probably figured we’d already filled our family quota of ER trips for stitches, broken bones and life-threatening fevers.  He wasn’t taking any chances.

So we all gathered around him while he did the honors and made the pumpkins come to scary life.

That was actually okay with me because the insides of a pumpkin are pretty gloppy and ooky. (And, yes, as a matter of fact, those are the technical terms.)  I didn’t really want any part of scooping out the guts of a pumpkin.

As I grew older, I realized that carved pumpkins were a target for neighborhood hoodlums and I didn’t ever want to walk around picking up bits of orange-y smooshed pieces of pumpkin goop.

Plus, I’ve seen more than my share of decaying jack-o-lanterns on neighbors’ front porches and stoops.  There IS an expiration date, people, and while a scary-faced jack-o-lantern that is caving in on itself IS even scarier than the original creation, it should probably be tossed well before Thanksgiving.  I can’t imagine it’s a fun chore to pick up something that has the consistency of a giant rotten tomato.

But mostly, I don’t want to carve my own jack-o-lantern because I don’t like scary faces.  I would’ve totally carved some happy face on the thing and it would’ve completely missed the point.  Halloween is supposed to be about scary witches and bad-luck black cats and ghosts and goblins.  Not about smiley faces.

So I wimped out in the end.  I implored Vince’s son to carve the second pumpkin, too, and he finally did.  Made the second jack-o-lantern afraid of the first one.  I thought it was clever.  And it was way better than my happy face idea.

So now we’re sort of in the Halloween spirit with two carved jack-o-lanterns gracing our doorway.  But I’ve come to realize that we’re woefully underdecorated for the holiday. Around the neighborhood, houses with strings of orange lights and blow-up ghosts on their front lawns abound.  They have Halloween-decorated wreaths on their doors.  And, if you’re lucky enough to be invited inside, they have some great Halloween decorations on their walls and tables, plus they’ve stocked up with bags full of the good candy.  In contrast, all we have is a bowl with a few expired fun-size Kit Kats. And those were probably leftover from last Halloween.

Huh.  When did it become a requirement to decorate for all these holidays?  Pretty much the only holiday I decorate for is Christmas and that alone is a big pain in the patootie.  Don’t get me wrong – I love the twinkling lights and festive atmosphere the holiday brings, but it’s still a pain to haul out all those lights and garland and wreaths and candles.

I can’t imagine decorating for Arbor Day and Valentine’s Day and Easter, too.  If I were to purchase more decorations for all these holidays, I’d just have to give up thinking that our garage could be used to house an actual car and instead we’d use it solely for holiday decoration storage.

Ah well.  Maybe those carved jack-o-lanterns will inspire me to get into the holiday spirit.  I’ll buy witchy wreaths and decorate with orange and black strings of lights.  I’ll fill the garage with more boxes of “stuff.” 

Or maybe not.  After all, unless I go out and buy some more candy, I’d have to give the Trick-or-Treaters the few expired Kit-Kats we have left.  And I really don’t want to walk around picking up bits of orange-y smooshed pieces of pumpkin goop when they smash our jack-o-lanterns in revenge for giving them crappy candy.

Plus, I don’t want to have to park in the driveway because years ago I vowed not to spend my mornings scraping snow and ice off my vehicle.  But that’s another story.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bridesmaids. Gross.

We splurged on a premium movie on cable the other night, mostly because neither of us felt like going out to one of the ubiquitous Redboxes around town.  The closest one to us is a mere 1.45 miles away, but we didn’t really want to stand outside Kroger’s wearing our jammies. 

So we spent five whole dollars and watched “Bridesmaids.”  I’d heard how hilarious the movie was – and, since I was a recent bridesmaid myself – I thought I’d get a lot of yuks out of the film.  I thought I’d recognize all those pre-wedding bridezilla “moments” that surely every bridesmaid has experienced. 

Well, except for my bridesmaids, of course.  I was the epitome of a calm, cool bride who didn’t put an iota of stress on her bridesmaids.  And, no, I am not giving you their names so there’s no point in trying to check the veracity of my statement. 

Oh and, uh, that one moment shortly before the rehearsal dinner?  We’re not counting that. 

Anyway, I’d read that Bridesmaids was a female buddy movie and that it IS possible for women to carry a comedy based on the nonstop laughter the movie inspired

Yeah, not so much.

Maybe it was just me, but I thought the movie sucked.  I didn’t laugh.  This was very disappointing because I really wanted to (a) spend a couple hours laughing while watching a funny film and (b) pump my fist in the air in support of Girl Power.  Alas, I didn’t do either. 

The early indication that it wasn’t a great movie was when after only about 10 minutes Vince let go of my hand, got up and went over to his computer to do some Facebooking.  He played a little backgammon, checked out the status of his 9,000 friends and generally ignored the movie.

I, on the other hand, sat rooted on the couch with a look of horror and disgust.  Have you seen this movie?  The scene at the chichi bridal shop where all the characters suddenly experience a nasty bout of food poisoning?  I wouldn’t have laughed if it had been a bunch of guys blowing chunks and fighting each other for the use of the toilet, let alone a bunch of women.

That scene was just plain nasty.

Plus, I couldn’t really get over my dislike of Kristen Wiig as the lead in the movie.  I kept expecting her to break into one of her annoying characters from Saturday Night Live.

Actually, the entire movie seemed sort of like a skit from SNL that ran on way too long and went awry somewhere along the way.

Oh well.  They can’t all be hits.  In my mind, anyway.  For all I know, the flick could’ve broken all sorts of box office records and the producers don’t care one little whit whether or not I liked their movie.  They’re probably laughing all the way to the bank.  Meanwhile, my bank is five dollars lighter thanks to them. 

I wonder if my opinion of the movie would’ve been different had I seen it at the theater along with a big crowd.  Maybe hearing other people laugh would’ve inspired me to do the same.

Or maybe not.  I think maybe I’ve just moved beyond that sort of gross-out humor.

Next time I’ll let Vince pick the movie.  Couldn’t be worse – could it?!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

iCloudy with a Chance of iCranky

I’m tired today and am feeling decidedly less-than-inspired. Actually, I suppose the truth is that I’m feeling decidedly cranky. 

For some reason, we’ve been staying up later and later this week and I think I snagged – maybe – 5-1/2 hours of sleep last night.  That’s practically pulling an all-nighter – and I can’t do all-nighters anymore. 

Part of the problem was that Apple released their new iOS 5 and iCloud thingies yesterday and I wanted to be in on the cutting edge of technology for once.  So last night around 9 o’clock I started uploading or downloading all sorts of things that had cutesy names beginning with small “i’s” and clicking on things I had no business clicking on. Did I know what I was doing?  Nope.  I did not.

So as of this very moment, I have no idea if my iPhone is iClouded or not.  I don’t even know what that means except that supposedly I don’t have to plug my phone into my computer any longer to back up the stuff on my phone.  Where that information goes, I have no clue.  Will someone now be able to snatch my Uncle Lou’s address out of thin air?  Will all the provocative texts that I’ve sent my husband be accessible to someone by accident?  It’s a frightening thought.

Oh, and if you must know, the most provocative text I’ve sent Vince is: “T O Y,” which means “thinking of you.” 

Yeah, hackers just got bored, too.

By the time we finally decided to get some sleep last night, it was technically this morning.  But my iPhone was still plugged into my computer and iTunes was still updating something or other and warned me NOT to unplug the phone.  Another three hours were needed to finish the task.  Apparently I don’t update my phone enough.

Anyway, my immediate concern was how I was going to manage to wake up on time.  I use my phone as my alarm clock and I was worried I wouldn’t hear my alarm a few hours hence since it would be in the spare bedroom hooked up to my computer. 

Being half deaf means I usually sleep on my good ear so all sound is blocked and I sleep completely unaware of things like rumbling freight trains and meowing cats and nuclear bomb explosions.  So I can hardly be expected to hear the ringing alarm clock sitting on the bedside table a foot away from my head, can I? 

But Vince is very good at nudging me to get me to wake up and turn off the alarm.  I don’t like being nudged.  Of course, Vince probably doesn’t like listening to ringing alarms.

So when Vince suggested he’d nudge me awake when he heard my alarm go off in the other room, I reluctantly agreed – but only because I didn’t think I had another choice.  We couldn’t use the alarm on Vince’s phone as an alternative since it was plugged into his computer downstairs going through the same machinations as mine.

So all night I kept waking up because I was afraid of oversleeping.  Grr.  I did manage to drop off into a sound sleep, but, naturally, it was a scant 20 minutes before Vince poked me and said he heard my alarm.

Poking, in this case, is the same as nudging and I don’t like being poked either.  But I grudgingly got up, fumbled around for my glasses and then stumbled out of the room to shut off the alarm. 

In my groggy state, I forgot that the phone was still tethered to the computer – so as I grabbed it from the desk, it ricocheted and landed back on the desk, but my hand kept going – and I smacked myself in the nose. 

Now I was mad at my phone.  And it was still buzzing and ringing. 

I quickly disengaged it from the computer and did the swiping thing to get to the menu where I could shut it off.  Except that that didn’t work.  Apparently with this new upgrade, you have to answer all sorts of questions before you can use the phone. 

I kept trying to hit Cancel so I could do the set-up later, but it either wouldn’t let me – or I wasn’t awake enough to figure out how to do it.

Under normal circumstances, entering passwords and answering questions wouldn’t be a big deal.  These weren’t, however, normal circumstances and I was getting more irritated because the buzzing and ringing sounds were so incredibly grating.  How I am ever able to sleep through that noise is a mystery, deaf ear notwithstanding.

By this point, I was afraid I was going to wake up the entire neighborhood if my alarm didn’t shut off, so I tried smothering my phone underneath a pillow while I struggled to key in the answers to the questions.  Like that helped.

So then I tried holding my thumb over the speaker, but that barely muffled the sound.

Meanwhile, I’m frantically tapping answers and filling in the blanks.  On the fly I even had to set up some new email account. For what reason, I have no idea.  I have more than enough email accounts.  And I’m not even exactly sure what name I selected – although I clearly recall it telling me I couldn’t change it once I picked something.  That can’t be good. 

Finally, I answered enough questions that the phone seemed to be satisfied and it allowed me to get to the normal screen where I could turn off the infernal alarm.

Obviously, this was not a peaceful, refreshing way to wake up in the morning after only maybe 5-1/2 hours of sleep.

I was proud of myself, though.  Because when I went back into our room where Vince was soundly sleeping and blissfully unaware of my stressful wake-up call, I didn’t nudge, prod, poke or kick him awake.  Nice of me, huh?

And the next time my phone needs some major upgrade, I think I’ll just toss it in the garbage and buy a new one with the upgrade already installed.  This technological stuff is for the iBirds.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bad Hair Day

Last night we drove to Newark to have dinner with Vince’s dad.  Since it was a beautiful, still warm and sunny evening, we drove with the top down on the convertible.  I both love and hate this.  I love having the wind in my hair…but, once I arrive at our destination, I hate having had the wind in my hair. 

Despite numerous barrettes, clips and coated rubber bands to hold my hair down, it still manages to escape from its confines and by the time we arrive, I look like a crazy lady.  Doesn’t matter how much I try to pat my hair down or drag my fingers through it to tame it, it remains impossibly tangled.  I keep telling myself to carry a brush in my purse, but I’m afraid if I were to try to brush my hair afterwards, I’d rip all the hair out of my head.

The worst thing is when I forget about the state of my hair after we arrive in the convertible.  A few weeks ago Vince and I drove about 20 miles to our friends’ house to help decorate for their wedding, which was taking place the next day.  We had a lot of work to do in a short period of time, so I got right down to business.  During the course of the afternoon, we were introduced to several members of the wedding party whom we had never met before. 

After a couple hours, we finished our tasks and I stopped in to use the restroom before we left to drive to our next stop.  While I was washing my hands I happened to glance up at the mirror…and I was horrified.  I closely resembled Albert Einstein on one of his really bad hair days, although I think I might’ve looked just a little worse. 

At least it explained the behavior of the other members of the wedding party since they seemed to keep a healthy distance between us.  Maybe they were a little afraid how the crazy lady would react if they were to ask to borrow the scissors.

It also explained the huge sigh of relief one of the other bridesmaids heaved when she asked me if I planned to join them at the hair salon the next morning and I said yes.

All told that day we drove about 150 miles – much of it with the top down on the convertible.  So you can just imagine how much conditioner I had to use on my hair in the shower later that evening in order to get a comb through it.

Fortunately, Vince didn’t even try to suggest we drive with the top down the next day as we headed to the wedding after I’d had my hair coiffed at the salon and my makeup professionally applied.  Smart guy.

I’m seriously considering buying one of those long white chiffon scarves that ladies in the 50s wore tied around their heads to keep their hairdos intact.  They’d arrive at their destination, whip off their scarves and the little curls all over their head would look exactly the same as when they’d stepped out of the beauty parlor five days prior. 

Yeah, I can just see it now.  The ends of that long diaphanous scarf can trail in the wind behind us as we zip along and I can wear bright red lipstick and big Jackie O sunglasses so I can look all mysterious and stuff.

Except that I (a) don’t have little curls all over my head, (b) don’t look good in red lipstick anymore, and (c) know I couldn’t handle the taunts I’d be sure to hear: “Hey, Jane.  The 50s called and they want their look back!”  Besides, I’m not really the mysterious Jackie O type.

I’ve also considered simply donning a ball cap.  Only reason I haven’t is because of the whole hat head issue afterwards.  I’d have to leave it on all during dinner and that seems a little rude when practiced by either men or women.  And I’m not really a ball cap kinda girl.

This is one time I envy Vince’s full head of curly hair.  When we arrive at our destination, he looks no different from when we started.  Well, except for maybe last night since he’s about a week past due for his regularly scheduled haircut.  Whenever he’s overdue, he has to use massive amounts of gel-type product to keep his hair plastered relatively close to his scalp lest he risk being called Ronald (as in McDonald).  Driving in a convertible is not conducive to keeping his curls in check, so he told me I was going to see his version of the white man’s afro.  Yikes.  Hair Club for Men members might be a little jealous, but they’d be about the only ones.

Probably we should’ve considered ourselves lucky last night that Vince’s dad even agreed to be seen out in public with us.

Oh well.  I suppose it could be worse.  Like we could both be bald and suffering from severe sunburn on the tops of our heads from driving around in a roof-less car.  Or it could be October in Ohio and we might not get another opportunity to go for a ride with the top down on the convertible again until next spring. 

Oh.  Wait a minute…


Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Well, today’s commuting obstacle was fog. Wicked dense fog. So much fog that I felt like we were in a Whitesnake video – except we were driving instead of standing around in the fog playing guitars. And nobody has all that big permed 80s hair anymore.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t much like a Whitesnake video after all.

But thanks to the fog, visibility was reduced to basically the car in front of me and the commute was more “stop” than “go.” Thus, my mind had plenty of time to wander. Sure, I probably should have been holding the steering wheel in a death grip in the 10-and-2 positions and I should have been thinking about nothing other than getting to work safely. But…c’mon. I’m a safe driver. I mean, I wasn’t applying mascara or filing my nails or fiddling with my phone even though we didn’t move long enough that I could’ve downloaded the entire Whitesnake’s greatest hits album, had I so desired.

Instead, I spent the downtime looking at license plates – particularly vanity plates. Some people are so creative and others…well…not so much. As a matter of fact, I saw CRE8TIV, which I liked a lot. And then there are those vanity plates that are probably inside jokes because they’re impossible to figure out.

I happened to be driving directly behind 28TEETH this morning. The obvious conclusion is that the owner is a dentist, but it also could’ve meant that he’s proud that he has a full set in his mouth. Interestingly, I was following 28TEETH home a couple weeks ago so we must be on the same schedule and may even be neighbors. Sadly, I couldn’t tell you the make, model or color of his car – I just know him by his license plate.

But since I had a little spare time on my hands, I started counting the number of teeth in my own mouth, which is silly because I know I’m four short. (I had them yanked the summer I got braces when I was 18. It’s a rather traumatic memory – but that’s a story for another day.)

People who have unfortunate monograms should probably stick to generic license plates. For instance, this morning I saw YAK. So is the owner’s name something like Yolanda Alice King, for example – or is she publicizing the fact that she has a large domesticated wild ox at home? It also made me think of a euphemism for vomiting. Yuck. No pleasant images come to mind with a license plate like that.

I’d rather see clever or interesting vanity plates. Or plates with a positive message. Like, for instance, one of my friends has a great personalized plate: NRGVUP. I love that.

I have an attorney friend who used to have the license plate ISUE4U, which was very clever – but he eventually got rid of it because people kept keying his paint job. Maybe the opponents he beat in court were a little disgruntled?

Vanity plates that make me laugh are always good. My funny bone wasn’t tickled by any on the road this morning, but when I Googled photos of vanity plates, I saw a few good ones. Like a plate in Maine that reads: PLNAHEA. Ha ha. And the plate on a Hummer that reads 1 MPG. And the BLOND or BLONDE plates from various states where the plate is affixed to the car upside down.

Some personalized plates just seem to invite trouble. For example, there was a car parked off the side of the freeway this morning that looked like it had been there all night. The license plate was SCOCH. I wondered if the driver had had a little too much of it last night and was pulled over for drinking and driving? Tsk tsk.

But even if the reason the car was sitting there all night was because the driver ran out of gas or something more innocent than driving under the influence, it sends a negative message. A license plate like that is kind of like daring law enforcement to pull you over to give you a Breathalyzer test.

The most foolish plates are on those expensive sports cars with license plates that read something like 2FAST4U. Whenever I see those cars whizzing by on the freeway I always think they should probably keep their license and registration handy.

When I was younger and had a little red sports car of my own, I wanted to get a vanity plate – but all the ones I wanted were taken. My first choice was MEJANE. Eventually I gave up searching for something personalized, which is probably a good thing because I got pulled over twice in that car with my plain old generic plates.

I still have plain old generic plates, but if I did get a personalized one today, it’d probably have to read something like IMLOST or WHEREMI. Truth in advertising, right?

Oh well. At least my commute this morning wasn’t completely boring. And I’m outta here. If you see me FLYNBYA, it won’t be advertised on my license plate. I prefer to, uh, keep under the radar. If you will.

Oh, never mind. I’ll CUL8R!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Murphy's Law Monday

I had a “Murphy’s Law” sort of day yesterday. Not that anything really major happened that had me cowering under the comforter by day's end, but just a lot of little things that went wrong one right after the next. Sort of made me wish I had stayed under the comforter all day.

I should’ve known how my day was going to progress as soon as I woke up and realized I’d forgotten to set the “Hair Washing Wake-up Alarm.” Instead, it was on the “Woohoo! I Get to Sleep In Another 20 Minutes Alarm” setting for those days where I pretty much only need to brush my hair and spritz a little spray on it and I’m good to go.

So I immediately knew without even glancing in the mirror that it was going to be a bad hair day. But I couldn’t pull it up in a ponytail – because that would’ve exposed way too much of my face.

In addition to Murphy’s Law Monday, yesterday was also apparently “Relive Your Adolescence Day” because I awoke to a cheek full of acne. I swear, if it weren’t for the wrinkles, dark circles and bags under my eyes, you could’ve mistaken me for a 14-year-old.

After carefully applying an extra layer of cover-up (that covered up absolutely nothing), I threw on a tank top and a lightweight corduroy jacket because I knew it was a chilly morning, but assumed it would warm up at some point during the day. It wasn’t until I arrived at the office later that I noticed the big splotch dead center in the middle of the shirt that didn’t come out in the laundry. “Shout it Out,” my foot.

Prior to my reaching the office, however, other little mishaps continued to dog me. Like, for instance, when I walked downstairs and tripped over Jinx-the-cat who was doing her morning weave-and-bob thing of trying to get me into the kitchen quicker to show me that her food bowl was – alas – empty. Like either of the felines in the household would ever allow me to leave without fulfilling my morning chore of refilling their food bowls.

Kitty logic must not extend to the understanding that if you trip your human and she breaks an ankle, it won’t be conducive to a full belly.

My morning commute has been brutal in recent weeks due to road construction, which is closing an ever-increasing number of routes and exits in downtown Columbus. I might as well get used to it since this construction project is going to last three YEARS. Ugh. So I’ve dealt with the delays by leaving earlier each morning, but most of the time it’s hit or miss whether or not I’ll arrive at the office on time.

Yesterday was not one of those on-time kinds of mornings.

My first hurdle was when I reached the double set of train tracks near our home. I’ve gotten used to the train schedule and knew that no trains were scheduled for another, oh, six point seven minutes (or thereabouts), but as I approached the tracks, I noticed that the lights were flashing and the safety arms were down. However, cars coming from the opposite direction were crossing the tracks.

Now, crossing train tracks when the lights are flashing and the safety arms are down is not something I want to attempt any morning, let alone on a Murphy’s Law Monday morning. I figured the other cars would be the Road Runners in this scenario and I’d end up being Wile E. Coyote. Only when the train comes barreling out of nowhere and squashes me flat, I won’t be able to pop back up like the cartoon character.

So I sat there debating what to do as more cars from the opposite direction continued to cross over. Finally, I inched up to the tracks and looked carefully in both directions – and then blasted across like I was shot out of an ACME cannon.

As soon as I crossed the tracks (after I crossed myself, of course), I noticed a police cruiser idling by the side of the tracks. Did I assume that the officer was there to see to the safety of the drivers due to the malfunctioning lights at the train crossing? No, of course not. I assumed the officer was there to arrest me for illegally crossing the train tracks.

I didn’t stop to ask the guy if he wanted to cuff me and bring me in, though. I kept right on going and hoping for green at the next traffic light all the while looking in my rearview mirror for flashing lights. Fortunately, none appeared and I continued on my way.

By the time I finally reached the office, I had a pounding headache. Opening my desk drawer to reach for my ever-present bottle of Excedrin proved fruitless as I’d used up the last two tablets on Friday. Had I remembered over the weekend to pick up another bottle? Of course not.

So I went to CVS on my lunch break to buy another bottle. I dug through my purse for the 20% off coupon – only to discover that it had expired the day before. Figures. I hate paying retail. Well, actually, it’s Vince who hates paying retail. For anything. Doesn’t matter if there are no deals or coupons or bargains for the product – he just wants to deal. That’s a car guy for you.

But I hate paying retail when I can get something for less with a coupon. It just doesn’t make sense to me that one day I can buy something for $1.99 less than I have to pay for it the next day all because of an arbitrary expiration date.

Of course, headache trumps a buck ninety-nine in savings, so I bought the Excedrin at full price.

After numerous other little glitches in my workday, 5 o’clock arrived and I gratefully shut down my computer. I had originally planned to make a couple stops, but then decided I didn’t feel like being sociable – even if it was only to answer “Yes” to the “Plastic okay” question.

So I headed toward home, but realized that my gas tank was nearing “E” and with the way my day had gone, I figured my car would somehow suck up those last few precious drops of fuel and leave me stranded on the side of the road. So, even though I really just wanted to go home and climb into my PJs, I drove toward the gas station...where I shivered in my tank top and lightweight corduroy jacket while filling up the gas tank. Had the temperature outside ever warmed up yesterday? Of course not.

Since I was already out and numerous strangers had already had the opportunity to stare at my acne-covered, stringy-haired, splotched-shirted self, I figured what was one more stop? So I went to the grocery store to pick up a few essentials to get us through the week...

...where, naturally, I ran straight into my old college roommate, whom I’ve seen exactly once in the last twenty-seven years. Sheesh. I stood there under the bright fluorescent lights of the grocery store chatting with her, but inside I was totally rolling my eyes. I mean, couldn’t I have bumped into her when my hair was looking decent? Or my face was red bump-less? Or I had on stain-free clothing? Did I really have to see her when all three problems were going on simultaneously? Of course.

She nicely refrained from bringing up any of my fashion faux pas, although she did look rather pointedly down at the laundry and stain removal aisle. (No, I’m just kidding. She didn’t really do that.)

Anyway, like I said, it was just one of those days. But I was grateful that (a) Jinky-Jinx didn’t cause me to break an ankle, (b) I didn’t get squashed like Wile E. Coyote by an oncoming train, (c) I wasn’t issued any citations by an officer of the law, (d) my headache went away, (e) I wasn’t stranded on the side of the road and (f) my old college roommate didn’t run shrieking in the opposite direction after taking a single look at me.

So it wasn’t really all that bad a day. But, still. I was very grateful to arrive home safely, climb into my PJs and bid goodbye to Murphy’s Law Monday.

And this morning? I remembered to set the “Hair Washing Wake-up Alarm.” And it’s Tuesday.

Life is good.