Monday, February 21, 2011

Land Seals anyone?

I have a new colleague who is from the Middle East.  She moved here for work, having never been to the United States before.  As you can imagine, she's experiencing significant culture shock.  I find her insights to be clever, touching and occasionally baffling.

She told me the other day that she wasn't comfortable around pets.  Meaning, specifically, pets in people's homes.  Someone had invited her over, but they had a new dog, so she wasn't going to accept the invitation because she didn't want to be in a house with an animal.

I tried to get her to explain this to me.  Had she had a bad experience?  Been bitten?  Something?  No, it was more just that she wasn't raised that way.  They didn't have animals in their homes and, to her, this was completely foreign and very odd.

Juxtapose that with this crazy new series I caught (as in, flipping through, made the mistake of stopping, and then continued to watch in complete horror) on Animal Planet about this growing issue of people hording animals.  To quote one of my daughter's favorite expressions at the tender of age of three...."THAT'S RESGUSTING!!!!"

It was resgusting.  I can handle a fairly significant level of filth (since I happen to have two animals living in my home .... in addition to the human animals) but when the health department needs to don hazmat suits just to come in to your house to stage your intervention you've lost me completely.

I think we can all agree THOSE people have a little problem.  Hording is the result of psychological issues, and my heart goes out to them.  But, in thinking about it, just because we are all used to it doesn't mean that having ANIMALS in our homes isn't, on some level, a little crazy when you stop to think about it objectively.

I have these two animals that I let walk around, get on my furniture (not on my bed, or even upstairs in my home, mind you, beause I do have my limits, though I know plenty of people go there), occasionally crap on my floor, eat my trash, and generally drag God only knows what from the outside to the in.

What are we thinking?  It's really terribly random if you think about it, that cats and dogs became the creatures that are the universally accepted choices for inclusion in our homes from the animal kingdom.  Why not ground hogs and falcons?  Emus and springbok?  Mice and meerkats???

I love my dogs.  But I'm not going to blame her or think her odd for not wanting to come over.  I think I kind of get it. 

Paralyzed by possibilty

I know three things for sure. One, I am alive. Two, I will not be alive forever. Three, everything in between is just a long series of choices that I make.

Given those parameters, and a little bit of perspective, I am tempted to wonder why the day to day often seems so challenging, when, from 40,000 feet, it feels like it should be simple. I’m lucky enough to wake up in the morning; I make a series of choices, and then I’m lucky enough to lie down in my bed at night again. Day after day after day.

Things are constantly happening around me, and I, in turn, make choices based on that. I’m constantly choosing. This or that? Here or there? In or out? And so it goes.

Are the choices I make really any different from each other? It feels like they are. I categorize them into big and little, important and trivial, immediate and long term. Sleep in or go to the gym? Brown clogs or black? Honey yogurt or plain? MBA or MPH?

I lied. I know four things. The fourth is that this dizzying array of possibility is completely paralyzing to me on a regular basis.

If you had nothing better to do I could bore you with the whys of truth number four, but I’m sure you have places to go, things to do, decisions to make.

I’m envious that you can make decisions without employing a panel of experts, or spending the day Googling your options (and seeing what’s new on Etsy and Twitter), or needing to retreat to a dark quiet place so your brain will stop smoking. I can’t seem to get there.

I have too many options. Take grocery shopping. If I am in hurry, don’t have a list, or am suffering from low blood sugar, it is all I can do to exit the store with both products and my sanity. Somewhere in the cereal aisle it all starts to fall apart for me. Whole wheat? Whole grain? Brown sugar? Cane Sugar? Stevia? Mommmmmmmy!

I don’t want all those choices. I don’t want to have to weigh all those freaking options. Good for my wallet but bad for the landfill? Good for my health but bad for my kids’ college fund? Organic but not local….local but not organic….low spray and from only two states away. I’m freaking exhausted just trying to get out of the produce aisle after all these decisions. I can’t figure it out, and if I stop to try to employ technology to help me WHILE I’m shopping, Dear Lord, you’ll find me in a crumpled heap in the middle of the dairy aisle.

If technology wanted to be REALLY helpful, someone could develop an app whereby I would enter all of the details of my life, including neuroses, and then I could just point my phone at things and the app would do the decision making for me! It would weigh my financial parameters, environmental factors, time constraints, life goals, etc and it would spit out answers for me. Store brand unsalted, roasted almonds in glass jar at 5.79 actually a better deal than the bulk shi-shi almonds in the plastic bag with the twisty tie considering that the store brand come from America and the shi-shi almonds come from Chile, so the fossil fuel factor is significant, in spite of the price difference. Plus the app would confirm for me that no where else in town had almonds any cheaper, so I could spare myself the angst that maybe I should just not buy these now and try another store later. That would save me 10 minutes of mental wrangling right there on that single transaction.

I can’t believe I used to enjoy shopping. I have to be medicated now, just to navigate the parking lot.

I realize I’m rambling. But that’s just what crazy people do when they have too many choices. See???

Monday, February 14, 2011

The PTO done lost its mind....

Last night I received the following email request from my son's middle school PTO:

Dear Parents,

We are in desperate need of the following items:

100 Mini Milky Way bars
100 Mini Mars Bars
100 Pop rocks- in individual boxes
100 Mini moon pies
100 Hersey kisses
100 Starbursts candy
8 boxes of the 36 count standard size Hersey’s chocolate bars
8 dozen frozen fruit punch mixes & 10 64 oz gingerales
200 Ring Pops
Multitudes of Homemade sweet snacks, candy cookies, treats with a "planetary" theme

Actors to dress up as movie stars and red carpet greeters, e.g. Joan Rivers, etc.
"Hot rods" or other "fancy cars" that will be parked outside
Enough gift cards from (Dairy Queen, McDonalds, Starbucks, Smoothie King, etc.) for each child to go home with one in their gift bag.

Items are needed for the 8th grade graduation dance.

Maybe it's just because it's Monday, and I'm tired, or old, or tired AND old, but this request made me completely lose my mind.

This is not a wish list for a graduation event. This is a recipe for a mass casualty disaster.

Oh my god, really?  Perhaps I am still suffering from PTSD for Friday night's Jazz Band incident (wherein my son had a mountain dew-induced meltdown of Charlie Sheen hotel-wrecking porportion).  But, in his defense, there was not a healthy snack in sight that evening.  SODAS, CUPCAKES, CANDY....the healthiest thing they had to offer was Domino's Pizza (which we all know is sauce covered crack).  No wonder everyone is so EFFING FAT, DEPRESSED and CRAZY.

What are we telling our children?  We are so proud of you for surviving what are possibly the three most socially awkward and damaging years of your, double fist some sugar and caffeine and have your photo taken with the Queen of Mean.  What a perfect send off. 

I cannot wait for this super fun event.  I hope my son elects to just stay home.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Things I like

In no particular order:

Larabars  - specifically the lemon flavor (4g of fiber, the equivalent of a 1/2 serving of fruit, with big ol' pieces of nuts scattered throughout). delish!  this bar is so hip, it even has its own BLOG:

The fact that finally someone had demonstrated that diet soda will kill you.  I keep telling the kids that the artificial ingredients therein actually turn into formaldehyde in your brain, but they didn't believe me, and now, it's been proven there is a link between consumption of soda and strokes (and heart attacks, etc.)  HA!  Get thee hence diet soda, we'll have no more of your fizzy shenanigans!

The fact that both my children are on-line blogging about music.  I mean, Wow!  I gave birth to them, but I pretty much feel like everything they've accomplished since has been kind of in spite of that fact.  They are phenomenal people about whom I am indescribably proud.  (And I know I will have to beg them to spend time with me a lot sooner than I want or want to admit.)

This new cd by the David Wax Museum.  Check out the live clips on their website:  C'mon now, how often does a band come along that makes you want to jump up and dance to a song about broken hearts?    

She plays the donkey jaw bone.  Yes.  It's not to be missed!

Honorable mention to Mother Nature for the weather forecast, which predicts something at least masquerading as Spring headed our way this weekend. 


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Time to be kind

Magnolia Meadow is not a big town and I work for its largest employer.  It stands to reason that I would get to know, at least, visually, a lot of the people I live and travail with.

There's a man in my neighborhood who also works with me.  I don't know his name, but I know this about him:

He drives a popular 4wd vehicle and an old model American muscle car (only on nice days and weekends). 
He likes a sports team from the great state of Louisiana
He smokes cigars
He works on the facilities side of things and carries a hard hat to and from work

I've drawn the following conclusions about him, which may or may not be true, and are, either way, irrelevant:

He's single
He's gay

All of this I've absorbed just from watching him.  We have not crossed paths at work or in the neighborhood.  I'd be surprised if he knew as much about me, but who knows.

If one were to observe me going back and forth to work one could note the following:

I rarely arrive before 8
I bike
I run
I like the beach 
I carry a lot of crap around with me
I own a lot of different coats and I wear several pairs of the same brand of boot that likely no one has ever seen before b/c you can't buy them anywhere near here. 

If you were really paying attention, you'd also notice that:

I'm married with children
I'm forgetful
I spend an awful lot of time driving around in my car
I pack my lunch
I do not have perfect vision

Just the basic kind of stuff.

In any event, I find it fascinating to observe all of these things about all kinds of people who travel in my teeny tiny little circle.  It makes me feel like Harriet the Spy, and I LOVE, still, Harriet the Spy.  I certainly fancied myself her, at that age, and I still cling to a component of that.  Obviously.

As I was following this gentleman in to work today for the gajillionth time, I decided that I would follow each and every move he made, including lane changes, etc. to see if I could tail him straight into the garage.  All was going well, until he blew through a crosswalk cutting off a pedestrian in front of me.  At which point, I decided to play a different game.  I stopped for every pedestrian I could.  I stopped and let everyone out in traffic.  I stopped on the yellows, and did not jump the greens.  I took my time, spreading a little vehicular love as I went.

And, do you know what?  I STILL pulled into the garage right behind him!  Ha!

Therefore, empirically speaking, it does not take any more time out of the day to be kind.  And, conversely, you don't save any time being an asshole.

I knew this, but it's never bad to have a reminder.

Bon journee mes amis!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Stuff and Stuff

Still purging old emails, and I just opened one from someone who has since passed away.  Tragically.  By their own doing.  Seeing their name completely took my breath away and I stopped to wonder what I was doing with my life.

Blessedly distracted by a new email, however, I notice that there's a new Yoga Newsletter out at The Magazine of Yoga , which I like, and, specifically a post from those hilarious Recovering Yogi girls complete with video that TOTALLY cheered me up and so I stopped to wonder what I was doing with my life.

Then I composed a prayer.

Dear Universe,

I would like to make a living doing something fun and silly and creative.  Please.

Love me

In the meantime, I'll be sitting at my desk here eating my body weight in GINGER SNAPS.  Specifically, the Whole Foods 365 brand ginger snaps, to which I am suddenly and solidly addicted.  (But hey, at least I didn't spend my lunch hour doing lemon drop shots, so give me a break ok?  I know, I know, it's like asking for points for not going to jail.  You're not SUPPOSED to go to jail.....or get drunk at lunch, durrrrrr.)

Try the snaps and read their article.....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Purging results in a few pearls

In a job I had a long time ago, I worked for a crazy person. I loved him, love him still, and he had reasons for being a crazy person, and considering what it was he did for a living, it kind of worked for him. And while there were moments of hair-pulling frustration, it provided HOURS of entertainment for me and was well worth it.

At one point, I played matchmaker for an assistant position between him and a colleague/friend, also a little nuts and who was a Vietnam veteran (which explains the former).
I thought that they would be a good match, working together…..but, apparently, I also thought that the situation needed some massaging, as I uncovered the following two emails I sent to each of them respectively. (I am purging today, which will likely uncover significant blog fodder).

The first email is the one I sent to my boss about “Bob”:

Reasons to hire Bob

Because, should the need arise:

1. He could commandeer the air ambulance and drop us behind enemy lines.

2. He could cook us a three course meal using a packet of ketchup and saltine crackers.

3. He could belly crawl past four secretaries, wait 17 hours behind a potted plant, kill any Division Head of your choosing with a spoon and retreat, completely undetected.

4. He could string your office with land mines in order to take care of those snooping colleagues.

5. He could dig down through the layers of crap in your office and find water.

6. If need be, he’s willing to just kill them all and let God sort it out.

7. He could rewire your PDA and make it a torture device to extract information from recalcitrant advisees.

8. Because it is really cool to have an assistant who packs a sidearm.

9. He can suture his own wounds (with dental floss.)

10. Because deep down inside of you, in places you don’t talk about at cocktail parties, you want Bob on that wall… NEED Bob on that wall.

Subsequently, I sent an email to Bob coaching him on his interview with my boss:

Suggestions for a successful interview

1. Do not respond to questions with “Sir! Yes Sir!”

2. Do not come dressed in full camo.

3. Do not, at any point, tell him to drop and give you twenty.

4. Please leave the sidearm at home.

5. Do not reenact any scenes from the Deer Hunter

6. Do not offer to kill his secretary with a paperclip

7. Do not show him your scars

8. Do not discuss God, politics or your mothers

9. Do not offer to hum a few bars of the Battle Hymn….

10. When leaving, use the door. Do not rappel from the window

For reasons I cannot remember they decided, mutually, not to work together. Huh. I hope it wasn’t something I said…..

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The Mother of Invention!

The only reasons why I haven't shaved my head bald at this point in my life are: 

a) EVERYONE would assume, given my age, that I'm dying of cancer and while I could endure the drama, I would hate to detract any attention from the people who really truly are and....

b) I have a lumpy head and ginormous ears and it just really wouldn't be a good look for me. It doesn't look good any shorter than the bottom of the ears.  My hair is, in fact, just an ear sweater for my head, if you will.  That is its most useful camouflage the satellite dishes.  (I'm secure, but we all have our limits, non?)

But, my hair makes me crazy!  It's too short, too long, too limp, too dry, too frizzy, too brown, etc.  It is a constant afterthough for me.  Clothes, shoes, work stuff, wallet.....oh, crap.....HAIR!

I'll make the effort (dry it, curl it, twirl it) and yet the minute I sit down at my desk, I'm constantly on the hunt for a scrunchie so I can pull it back and pretend it's just gone.  No scrunchie?  I can use a pen, or a pencil, as long as the surface isn't too slick.

Well, today, I had a bit of a brainstorm.  I managed to put my hair up with a PAPER CLIP!!!  Yes, one of those big fat paperclips that we working drones have at our constant disposal.  A little untwisting of the clip, a little sweep, twist, tuck and rewrapping of the end of the clip and VOILA! 

I need to do something (else) with my life.  I'm pretty sure this will end up being the highlight of my day, and that's just sad.

I'm open to suggestions.