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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"It only happens when I dance with you...."

Okay, now that I’ve had 12 hours to digest this Palin stuff.

Yes, I watch “Dancing With the Stars” and yes, I watch it even though I look at it’s increasingly lame line-ups and say “Oh good, I can watch “Two and a Half Men” this year because they’ve really hit rock bottom.”

I love dancing and I love people in pretty clothes and I always end up watching the damn thing, in spite of myself. I voted for Donny Osmond. If anyone spreads that around I’ll deny it. There are people on the internet who claim I say stuff all the time and then say I never said it so I’m used to it and you should be too. These are people, btw, who claim this about things I’ve actually TYPED and published. As in “you said my fence was white brick, you’re a liar” and I then say “where did I say that? I said your fence was WHITE, which is true” and then they usually counter with “I don’t have to look up where you said it, someone told me you said it and that’s all I need to know. You said WHITE BRICK. You’re a liar and I’m not only punishing you, I’m going to spread it all over the internet.”

But I digress. My original point was that yeah, everyone calls everyone a liar on the internet. Whatever.

I have, like all 14 remaining viewers, been hearing rumors about the line up. David Hasslehoff. Oh Phu-LEEZ! His videos are readily available all over You Tube anyway. Dancing is about the only thing we HAVEN’T seen him do. “The Situation”? Don’t get me started. A football player, a basketball player and, in the part made famous by Cloris Leachman, Florence Henderson.

But, first and foremost. BRISTOL PALIN.

WTF?

Every time I think Sarah Palin has reached new heights in child exploitation damned if she doesn’t come up with another. See, in the first place, I have problems with mothers who define themselves by waving their children in the air. “Look at me, I have a child! Out of my way, I have a child!”

Even worse are the mothers who spend their time waving their handicapped children around. “I’m THE MOTHER OF A DISABLED CHILD AND I RESENT THAT”. Thus leaving me with the feeling that they wouldn’t resent whatever it is if it WASN’T for the child. Let me try and put this into a more logical example, as I really would rather not be sued at this point in time.

Let’s say someone says to you: “Stem cell research is a joke, a waste of money and a violation of Godwin’s Law”. If your argument is “My great grandfather has Alzheimer’s and I resent your ignorant attitude” instead of “That’s an ignorant attitude, I feel your dead wrong in opposing this medical research as it will help hundreds of thousands of Alzheimer’s patients and the people who care for them” well, you’re pretty much waving your great-grandfather around as an excuse for your soapbox and using his plight to garner sympathy from all and sundry for yourself.

I feel the same way about mothers who wave their disabled children like a banner. “How DARE you insult me, I have a disabled child!” Yeah, well, you’re still a cow. Has nothing to do with your kid, it’s about you. Having a handicapped child doesn’t make you instantly eligible for cannonization.

I knew someone like this and, sorry all you red-necked Glenn Beck following Jesus Freaks, but Sarah Palin is one of them .The first time I became aware of her on a National level she was dancing around on a platform at the RNC waving little Calculus around like a front line Confederate soldier with the Stars and Bars in his rebellious little hands. “Look at ME. My baby has Down’s syndrome! Look at ME!”
Do I think he should have been hidden away? Oh HELL no. I think he should have been presented as part of the family, no more, no less. “This is my son, Algebra, my daughter Bristol and my husband, the First Dude.”

But no. “This is my DOWN’S SYNDROM son”. And then she trotted out Bristol. Obviously pregnant Bristol and her obviously good ol’ boy fiancĂ©e…the one she was going to marry AFTER the baby was born.

Okay, I’m not going to get into the hypocrisy of preaching abstinence when you’re daughter is 7 months along and ringless, these things happen. But, at the time I found myself wondering…okay, she’s knocked up, that poor, uncomfortable, collar tugging zit faced sap says he’s going to marry her. WHAT are they waiting for, Vera Wang’s maternity gown collection?

That’s water under the bridge, I’ll admit it. Over and done with and, as I suspected, once the Palins were sent packing their Neiman-Marcus duds in their Louis Vuitton luggage and headed back to Wasilla, everything calmed down. A bit. Oh, and the wedding was off. BIG SURPRISE!

But then Sarah formed a PAC and quit being governor. Well, sure, that was fun but then she went to work for FOX what ever the hell it is because it sure as hell isn’t news and, sure as God made little green apples she dropped under the national radar. I like to think there just aren't that many thinking people watching Fox.

Enter Levi. Again. Levi and Bristol are oh so in love and getting married.

This was AFTER the interview Levi gave about his future mother-in-law, by the way, which leads one to wonder why this wedding is on again. Then it hit me. IF I remember right, Deep Throat gave a sage piece of advice to Woodward and Bernstein back in the days of real journalism. “Follow the money.”

That struck me. Someone was getting paid off and my guess was Levi. Sarah is making at run at 2012, my blind cat has that figured out. She needed respectability. She needed that girl married. She needed a big, strong, extended family to showcase herself.

I have no freaking CLUE why it fell apart again, maybe someone read Vanity Fair to Sarah. I’m sure she didn’t read any of Levi’s original comments on her as reading doesn’t seem to be one of her strong suits. So I figure she found it on “News you can use on audio downloads to your iPod” or something. The rumor is that Levi has a slight problem with fidelity. If so, well, I guess he finally found something he was good at. Everyone should have a hobby.

Well, so now THAT dust settles and no ones talking about Sarah again.
I figure, having observed her these last few years, there’s some sort of handler standing just off camera holding a loaded weapon to keep her from wandering off script (in Palin speak, “going rogue”) and the rest of the time she’s wearing a ball gag.

But wait! There’s Bristol. Who hasn’t been exploited by her mother in at least TWO MONTHS!

So little Bristol’s going to learn to dance. And get paid for doing it. And the longer Bristol gets votes (and, let’s face it, a few season’s ago even the Bug Man got enough votes to keep dancing for awhile) the more money she makes.

AND…mommy can sit in the audience and get that goofy grinning, big hair mug on national television every week. For FREE! And none of that pesky equal time crap either.

And maybe then, when it’s all over, Sarah Palin can get in front of the camera again and say “Look at ME! I have a disabled child. She has two left feet!”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sugar and Spice and everything...else.

Okay, with regards to Paris Hilton; apparently she didn’t Twitter the ENTIRE time her home was being robbed, only part of the time. Probably the part while she was posing outside talking to the police wearing nothing but a blue bath towel.

I don’t really blame her for walking around wearing nothing but a bath towel. The heat has been pervasive here this last week. The hubster and I have spent a great deal of our time at home wearing nothing but bath towels.

Although, I imagine when Ms. Hilton wraps herself in a bath towel she can tuck it in and have it stay up. I can’t even get the damn towel to come together let alone wrap around me with enough left over to tuck into itself.

This morning, it was so damn hot inside (we have no real air conditioning, and I’m betting Paris Hilton does) I got out of the shower and just sort of threw the towel around anything that might show out the window as I walked from the bathroom to the living room. The kids weren’t up yet, they were both laid out on their beds. Not in them, on them. We’re not even bothering to pull the sheet down at night right now, we all just sort of flop down on top of the spread and wait for three or four hours until utter exhaustion finally gets the better of the heat.

So there I am, sitting in the living room with the towel pretty much non-existent. I was bone dry in about 45 seconds. Bone dry, exhausted, and naked for all intents and purposes. I didn’t care. Although it occurred to me that I resembled an outsize Cream Soda Jelly Belly. Not the vanilla, the cream soda one. Because I’m pale, but not quite THAT pale.

No! Not a Jelly Belly…a “Belly Flop”! That’s what I looked like! I giant “Belly Flop”. In case you’re not that into Jelly Bellies I’ll explain. If you are, fell free to skip this part, because you probably know about it.

Okay, first off. Jelly Bellies are made in Northern California. In a great big factory in a town called Fairfield that, as far as I can tell, has little else going for it. Except the olive oil tasting room and a serviceable Applebee’s. Although, I must admit, I haven’t really explored the town to its fullest potential. It’s at the end the highway you end up on when you get lost going through Napa. So there you are, having started in the absolutely charming city of Santa Rosa, you’ve headed east through the vineyards and tasting rooms of Domain Carneros and you veer the wrong way in Sonoma and you come out, finally, into a land of sun, heat, wide expanses of new highways and an industrial park which houses that beacon of light and civilization…the Jelly Belly Factory.

They have a HUGE parking lot, benches with big photo-op jelly beans sitting on them, clean restrooms, a really excellent free factory tour (I’ve been twice, it’s second only to the factory tour of the Bacardi Rum plant in Puerto Rico) and the most amazing gift shop ever.

There are jelly beans in bottles, in bags, in pop top cans, in oven mitts and Tonka trucks. They have WALLS of them; in flavors you’ve never heard of and certainly never seen in your local Kroger’s. These are the pretty Jelly Bellies. The perfect ones, the ones with the white stamp on them, the ones that shake through the perfect die and fit and fall into the perfect Jelly Belly bin. You see this on the guided tour, btw.

But a LOT of them don’t make it into perfect $9.00 a pound land. However, so it’s not a TOTAL waste, the fine folks at Jelly Belly gather up all the misshapen beans, package them in four pound cellophane bags and sell them in a corner of the gift shop for, oh, something in the neighborhood of $2 to $3 a pound. And they call them “Belly Flops”. Clever, isn’t it?

We like to buy a case when we’re there. This, now that I think of it, might contribute to the fact that I LOOK like a great, big Belly Flop. OMG! You really ARE what you eat!

Now, for the record, it’s not like we eat a case in the week after we get home. It usually takes us several months. And Belly Flops are a LOT more fun than the cool, perfect, expensive ones. Seriously. First off, it’s a grab bag; you don’t know what you’ll end up with. It’s a big, multi-color polka-dot of a bag and you get what you get. Sometimes they DO divide the misfits into sours and sweets though.

Anyway, there we sit, with a great big bag of Belly Flops. Mostly we just enjoy them while we all sitting around having a family film night watching “The Wicker Man” or something equally bonding. Occasionally someone pulls out a really cool flop…my son holds the record on size, he once got 17 jelly beans all melded into one big Everlasting Gobstopper of a treat.

Eventually we start holding them up for others to admire, or passing them around to see what everyone else thinks it looks like. Sort of like edible shadow puppets. They’re fun, nutritious AND entertaining!

Needless to say, the “free” factory tour usually ends up costing around $20 a head. Oh sure, I can hear you all cluck clucking at me now. It’s my own damn fault. Go in, take the tour, use the potty and go back to Santa Rosa. I’d like to see YOU get out of that place empty handed. Yeah, past all those fresh faced high school seniors trying to earn an honest living and their grandparents, smiling sweetly as they offer samples of 7-Up flavored beans.

Oh, and by the way, go next door after you leave, to the Olive Oil tasting room. I don’t remember the actual name but he’s got signs outside, you can’t miss it. It’s actually very interesting. And all the healthy olive oil you’ll end up lugging home will help negate the mess all the sugar in the candy is making of your colon.

I’m fully expecting to win Mega Millions any day now, and I certainly hope they release my funds in time for the holidays. Thanksgiving in San Francisco is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever done on a holiday. And, because it’s a four day week-end, one can shop Black Friday morning in Union Square, finish up in time for dim sum that afternoon, and spend Saturday doing the Santa Rosa to Fairfield sugar rush trip.

This, btw, includes the outrageously priced wineries of Napa, which only adds to the sugar blitz you’re about to embark upon…wine is full of sugar, admit it. And, if you time it right, you can go back to “The City” via 101, which affords one a stop at the premium outlet mall and dinner at one of the few A & W Root Beer restaurants still left.

As for my unfortunate resemblance to the giant Cream Soda Belly Flop, I’ve decided the best way to handle that problem is to buy bigger bath towels.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pick a little, talk a little...

This morning I was doing what I do every morning, Mon-Fri. I was watching the local morning news. I’m not one of those whiny people who watch the news and then bitch because they are subjected to stories about things they’re not interested in. I don’t know if that happens in other places but it sure as hell happens here.

Granted, I’ve been known to whine when I thought the coverage was excessive. But it’s what happens. We’re pulling out of Iraq, BP hasn’t finished the job in the gulf, and Tiger Woods got divorced. There’s a LOT of news time to fill and, while stuff like Tiger Woods divorce may not be hardcore news, it’s certainly an event of sorts. Don’t care? Don’t want to listen to it? Go get your coffee then.

This morning, during the news, there was a story about Paris Hilton. Not news either. I personally don’t get the fascination with her but I don’t resent it either. After they got her and her stilettos off the Bentley in that hamburger ad I pretty much tuned her out. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not sorry her house was broken into while she was in it, and I’m certainly distressed that the miscreants were brandishing knives. That shouldn’t happen to anyone and it would probably make the news if it happened to someone I had never heard of. I’m also happy the police got to her house and no harm was done.

Want to know how I know all of this?

SHE WAS ON FREAKING TWITTER THE ENTIRE TIME, THAT’S HOW I KNOW! Well, okay, that’s how other people knew, because I don’t do Twitter.

Twitter, I have come to realize, is the crack of the internet. Once people start, they can’t stop. I’ve never seen anything take over people’s lives as pervasively as Twitter. I personally know people who have no idea what goes on in the world except by way of other people’s “tweets”. I know someone who watched both the Golden Globes AND the Oscar’s by reading people’s tweets about the show. Picture it. Someone sitting in a room with a big screen TV tuned to a show. That someone has their laptop open and fired up. Said person misses the ENTIRE SHOW because they’re reading Twitter. Out loud. “So and so says that Mr. X is already potted. They said there’s no food there, just booze.”

I knew so and so was toasted, I SAW him get up and stagger to the stage. Because I was watching the show, not the Twitter feed.

It’s not just me. The Twitter addiction in my own home is pushing crisis and that’s not hyperbole. I am almost to the point of grabbing the laptop and heaving it out the front window, shattering a lot of glass, while I scream at the top of my lungs ‘LOOK AT US!!!!!! PAY ATTENTION, WE’RE ACTUALLY TALKING TO YOU!”

It occurs to me that I’m not alone. Paris Hilton, people with KNIVES were breaking into your house while you were THERE? Why the HELL were you on fucking Twitter? For God’s SAKE. I’m just trying to put myself in her place. I’m rich, I’m pretty and because I’m rich and pretty I have an iPhone with an unlimited data plan. I hear someone trying to break into my house. I grab my phone and I crawl under the bed. I do this because a) a phone will be handy in this situation and b) I’m rich therefore I have a personal trainer and am thin enough to actually get under my bed.

Now I’m under the bed. What do I do? Do I call 911 and then shut the hell up so that whoever’s breaking into my house might think I’m NOT HOME? Do I send a text message to the hubster and my sons so they know not to just wander in the front door?

No. I start sending Twitter updates.

I understand some things about the way people use Twitter. Roger Ebert is on it constantly. It’s his lifeline, his conduit to the world as he has all but lost his voice. His tweets are actually clever and show a keen mind, a liberal spirit and a love for life and what he does in it. He does not tweet things like “OMG, I just took a crap that looks like Donald Duck“and “McDonalds on Main St for lunch. Big Macs. YUM.”

Everybody is important. As Horton the Elephant says “A person’s a person, no matter how small”. Tweeting your every freaking empty headed thought doesn’t make you any less important. But it does make you look stupider and stupider. Lest I get bitched at for saying people on Twitter are empty headed, no. That’s not the point. There are empty headed twits everywhere and having access to the internet hasn’t altered that. Interesting noun use there, isn’t it?

Anyway, my point is, we all have empty headed thoughts, all the time. Sometimes I think things to myself like “Damn, what should I make for dinner?” and “Oh, I have to go to the bathroom” and “Oh shit, the cat’s barfing. Again.” None of these thoughts (except maybe the cat as in the damn cat’s barfing and some one ELSE is going to clean it up this time) are worth vocalizing.

If you wouldn’t announce it verbally why the HELL would you blast it all over the Internet?

Come ON, people. You’re just NOT that interesting.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Taking the long way home

Okay, it was a really weird Sunday. And a lot of Saturday. I needed to go to the fabric store again, for some thread and a seam ripper. Well, on Saturday I was all set to go and get it over with and the damn bus never showed up. So there I am, sitting at a bus stop, getting fried. After about 20 minutes of this I thought, fine, I'll take the next bus. But the next bus doesn't go to the end of the line. It's a short one and stops in the middle. This is WAY short of the fabric store.

So I came home and sat around and was hot. Not in the best sense of being "hot" either, sad to slay. However, I decided to work on the project I had at hand, which is the oft mentioned shower curtain. I measured and pinned and pinned some more. I fired up the sewing machine and, while the hubster watched "Goldfinger" I stitched. Carefully, as I was using hot pink thread on white fabric. I made button holes in the top. I don't know why it didn't dawn on me sooner...the window a/c unit is in the dining room. Along with the light and the table I set the sewing machine on. Ha! I was able to stand wearing pants! This is a good thing for everyone concerned, btw, I don't just have "thunder thighs", they're more like Category 5 thighs. And a lap full of my chest. Boobs don't say up on their own, at least not anymore. Yeah, me in the heat? NOT a pretty sight. And I'm too old to give a rat's behind about it, for the most part. Lord, I'm turning into my mother.

Anyway, the first one (I need to make two) came out beautiful, if I do say so myself. But I needed to open up the inside of the button holes so off to the fabric store I went on Sunday morning. You know, if at first you don't succeed, make a gin and tonic and go to the fabric store. Well, after a round about trip (oh, as long as your going out refill the bus pass which necessitated a trip to the subway station) I ended up at the store, which, btw, was having a half price sale on thread. It was fairly early. I found I needed an extra yard of a trim I had purchased for the new valance in said bathroom. So I grabbed the spool and headed to the measuring table.

There was no one there. Just me and the woman behind the table. I put my spool of trim on the table, smiled and said "I just need one yard, please". She looked at me. All alone. No one else even close to the cutting station. And she smiled. And said "please take a number."

I swear. A number?

"Yes. I have to log it into the book". So I pull a number. She doesn't look at it. She's measuring off the yard I had previously requested. She punched the button to make the read out change to the next number, hands me my trim and says "Have a nice day." She didn't log crap. I'm still wandering around the store with my paper number. The one she never looked at. I crumpled it up and tossed (okay, threw. Hard) it into a waste basket. It was the damndest piece of corporate bureaucracy I'd seen in action in YEARS. Well, okay, more like WEEKS, but still...

Well, I got my seam ripper and trim and stuff and I went next door to the big super drug store. You know, one of the ones that you have to look for the drugs because the pharmacy is hidden behind the deli and frozen foods case? I wanted a Popsicle mold. I got to thinking, it's very hot. And I like popsicles. They're better for me than ice cream. And I could just freeze lemonade and limeade and make my own and it would be WAY cheaper.

Nothing even close to Popsicle molds. There was a smallish aisle where the summer items were being sold out. Beach umbrellas, plastic cups, igloo coolers. No Popsicle molds. I went to kitchen ware. Lots of things to put your leftovers in, but no Popsicle molds. I turned to leave. And there is was. On the other side of the summer sale.

Two entire aisles. Filled with nothing but bags of "fun size" candy bars. But Wait! There's More! Rows and rows of plastic jack-o-lanterns in fun, festive colors. Like purple. There's an end cap with witches and scarecrows on sticks, to put on the front lawn you don't have anymore. And HOLIDAY LIGHTS! Granted, the lights are black and orange and purple.

And I'm standing there in the drug store in the middle of August in the 100 degree heat. And I can't find a freaking POPSICLE mold but there's an entire section filled with Halloween merchandise!

It's not even Labor Day yet. WTF?

Well, out I go to catch my bus. I thought I would make myself feel better by taking the next bus down the street to Macy's, where they are, most likely, having a blow out sale. Macy's has a blow out sale pretty much every day of the week, I hadn't seen any ads but it was a good bet. Well, I waited and waited. The bus should have been there by 1:05. No bus. So I thought, okay, it's a sign. You are NOT supposed to buy 10 dollar pants from Macy's today. The next bus home should be there in about 10 minutes so I cross the street and sit on the bus stop over there. Well, I looked at my phone for something. Well, hell, my phone had the wrong time; I hoped I didn't need a new battery. Then, I checked my watch.

That explains why the 1:05 bus hadn't shown up yet, it was 11:55. I have NO idea what clock I had looked at or why I thought it was 1pm when I looked at it. I'm guessing it was the shock of the Halloween display. So I thought, okay. THAT'S a sign! I crossed the street again and waited for the bus that would take me to Macy's and the 10 dollar pants.

After plowing through sale rack after sale rack I had my pants and a nice, floral shirt to go with them. I got to the register and gave her my Visa. She asked about my Macy's card. No, I haven't used it in a very long time and if Macy's has half a brain they closed the account due to inactivity or just plain undesirability, either one would work. Oh, no, she's GOT to look it up. Okay, I said, look it up. But I do not want to use it. I do NOT want to re-open it; I hate being laughed at in public.

After several computer entries I'm being prompted to enter my social, my income and I'm getting rattled and very annoyed. I refused to answer the last questions and she said "well, okay, they'll just send you a letter."

I don't WANT a letter; I just want my 10 dollar pants.

Well, on my way out my son calls, I'm telling him when I'll be home and it hits me. I don't WANT THE 10 DOLLAR PANTS! Or the shirt I bought to go with them. It occurs to me that, with one or two exceptions, everything I buy at Macy's looks like crap on me and I end up not liking it much and it sits in my closet for a year until I stuff it in a bag and donate it. It makes me look old, and dumpy, and worn out. Now don't get me wrong, I am old, dumpy and worn out but I would rather not advertise it.

I went back upstairs and returned the pants and the shirt. They never made it out of the store. It took approximately 10 seconds to do this, another clerk was at the register (thank GOD) and she scanned the labels, said have a nice day and I was off. Something tells me they get a lot of returns.

Feeling quite in charge of myself for a change, I got off the bus at a stop I don't normally use. It's a little longer walk, not much, and the street is shady. The houses, for the first few blocks, list and sell for over a million dollars, even in this market, which is why I don't use it a lot, it just depresses me. As I was strolling down the sidewalk I saw something sitting out on the curb, looked like an old computer monitor. I stopped to look. There was a nicely made sign on the front of it.

"Free Color TV. Works".

I now have a 14" Sony Trinitron in my bedroom. Works like a charm and has picture quality that would make a professional photographer weep. It's smaller than the old TV I had in there, the one with the washed out color, the fuzzy channel guide (which, btw, I thought was my aging eyes) and the odd static humming that had belonged to my mother. The television,not the humming. It's a better size for the room too.

And, I reminded myself of two important life lessons, which I had lost track of over the years.

1: Even though the 40 dollar pants are on sale for 10 dollars they're still a rip off if they're ugly. And

2: Rich people throw away better stuff than I buy new.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Listen, Mr. Cat Burglar...

It's finally become hot here in the urban village. Like 100+ degrees. We have lot of windows here, a flat roof and a very old window unit in the dining room. Needless to say, sleep isn't all that good right now, at least for us. The dining room furniture is quite comfortable though. Since it was too hot to sleep, I stayed up watching Katharine Hepburn movies until I finally dozed off. I didn't see the end of "Summertime" which kind of annoyed me, I rolled over when the hubster came in and found someone on the television telling me how to cure my zits. How much you want to bet that THIS time Rossano Brazzi grew a pair and didn't let her leave? I probably fell asleep on the previously un-known and much more satisfying alternate ending.

Well, anyway, after about four hours of what passed for sleep I gave up. The sun was up and my son was starting college today and, as we're still without vehicle, his 10am Saturday class means he has to leave by 7:30am to make a 12 mile trip. And then the government bitches people aren't using public transportation and it's OUR fault we drive and keep the price of gas artificially inflated.

I decided to get up because, frankly, I think it stinks when someone has to get up abnormally early and everyone else is contentedly snoozing away.

I was washing the dishes that had accumulated in the sink since last night. Not one Y chromosome will WASH a glass or plate they've used after all the dishes are done, they just put them in the sink and wait for the Palmolive Fairy to show up. So there I am, in my undershirt, baggy seersucker shorts and bare feet, washing glasses, cups, forks, small plates and knives that have obviously been copulating with peanut butter and/or Nutella when I heard the cat yapping outside.

Out of habit, I reached over, opened the door, and in he sauntered, tapping me insistently with his paw to make sure I knew he was there and wished to be fed. As I was dumping Cat Chow into the bowl it hit me.

I opened the door. I didn't UNLOCK the door, I just opened it. Whoever the last person in the kitchen door was had left it open and never bothered to check it. I don't know what bothered me most, the fact that it was unlocked or the fact that no one had bothered to check it and just relied on someone else to keep everything running smoothly. Yeah, that would be me.

The hubster, who is rather pragmatic, basically called this faux pas a "no harm, no foul" although he did agree maybe the door should have been locked. He suggested maybe it would be a good idea to just get in the habit of keeping the door locked all the time.

Here's the problem...that's the kitchen door. As if the place isn't hot enough, the kitchen, of course, gets hotter. So I tend to leave the door standing open. The breeze helps. My neighbor occasionally comes up that way, but not often, I have no problem with that, we say hi and she moves on. Sure, she peeks in my kitchen. That's okay too. As long as I don't have any dirty laundry stacked up in there, wth? I hope to eventually, I'm eying one of those little washer/dryer all in one machine things, and as there's a great, big empty hole under my counter where a cabinet probably was once but never has been since we took possession it should slide right in. But for now, nope, nothing much to see in there. Mostly she likes my curtains.

Besides, as Virginia Woolf once said: "I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in." Now, I wouldn't be locking myself out of my own place, but it certainly IS unpleasant to be locked in. Well, okay, yeah, I've locked myself out before. Three of us, standing at the door, each one looking at the other two and saying "YOU didn't bring your keys?" And, of course, no one had left the kitchen door open. That evening ended with the removal of a window. A small window. Just enough to get a hand in and trip a lock. It occurs to me that, while we were standing there very noisily and clumsily breaking into our own place no one raised an eyebrow about it. So much for that secure feeling...

Well, then I got to thinking about it. Maybe someone DID come in. And they looked around and thought "Crap. There's nothing in here, I'm leaving". I mean, it's entirely possible that there's nothing to steal, which has me really annoyed. Damn it! What' wrong with MY stuff anyway, you hot weather sneak thief? I've sent years collecting this stuff from some of the finest internet clearance sale sites and second-hand shops in Los Angeles.

I find the fact that we left the door unlocked and no one robbed us to now be highly insulting. Obviously, no one here has any taste. The fact that we live on the wrong side of the tracks in a VERY ritzy, high class neighborhood with a private lake and multi-million dollar homes which are patrolled regularly by both private security firms and city police prowl cars which all use our street full of swimming pool less and central airless rental units as an artery to and from the private country club gates has absolutely nothing to do with it.

However, as long as I was up at that ungodly hour and it was still relatively cool, I seized the opportunity and cleaned out the front closet. I found the phone, five Monopoly games, the fabric I bought three years ago for the outfit I was going to make from the pattern that's been in the desk drawer since June, 2008 and my sewing machine.

I have no excuse now. First on the list are the new shower curtains. Which, if I'm lucky, will lure the next midnight burglar into thinking we have good enough taste to make something worth stealing. Because good taste IS timeless.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Anchors Aweigh

Damn, it's hot! It's so hot I prefer to be at work. We have decent air. Not great, I mean, no one's complaining or putting on sweaters, but decent. And I have liberated myself to the point that I'm wearing short sleeves. You have NO idea how much cooler short sleeves and a haircut makes me. Yeah, I got my annual "shit it's hot, just CUT IT OFF" summer do. Although this year, I kind of like it. It's retro, bangs, puffed up on the top, back behind the ears. This necessitates earrings though. AND make up. Because, for some reason, all new hair styles necessitate make-up. Or maybe that's just me. I've always had a hair problem and the more out of control it gets the less I do anything about it. I mean, why bother with the mascara if your hair looks like crap anyway, right?

Okay, so this really started snowballing with an innocent question from a good friend. "Is Talbot's going out of business? They're having an insane sale on line right now." Hmmmm...Talbot's. Now I may have grown up in the 60s and 70s and I may have worn love beads and polyester pants but damn! Deep in my heart I've always had this thing for khaki slacks, blue blazers, ascots and riding crops. Oops, not the crops, that's another blog entirely.

Anyway, you get the picture. I used to have a red velvet blazer. I wore that thing out, I always looked like I was riding to hounds. I think it was something about Candice Bergen in "The Group". I mean, who wouldn't want to look like Candice Bergen, especially back then. Hell, I wouldn't mind looking like her now. I think I figured if I dressed like her I'd look like her. Didn't work, but then, I was to stupid to know that. As I remember, she spent much of her limited screen time in upper class riding gear, which was supposed to indicate that her character was a lesbian because, apparently, only lesbians rode English saddles.

Well, anyway. I've never outgrown that. I mean, that taste in clothing. I call it "classic". My family calls is "Grandma". Eh, what do they know anyway? They all live in Levi's and Chuck Taylor High Tops. So I decided to check this out, WAS Talbot's going out of business? No, didn't look like it. So I typed in www.talbots.com and MOTHER OF GOD! 75% off and FREE SHIPPING!

Now, I haven't bought clothes in over four years. Seriously. I mean, recession, cutting expenses to the bone, clothing is a luxury. No, I didn't go out naked, although the hubster once said I looked as if I'd been evicted from a trailer park. I highly resented that, I looked as least as if I'd been evicted from an RV campground.

And here I was in what must be some one's heaven. Classic clothing, wonderful nautical flair, navy blues and whites, natural fibers! And all priced to put Big Lots to shame! My eyes bugged out, my hands trembled as sale item after sale item went into my cyber bag.

On the last day of the sale, I took a deep breath and pressed "Purchase." That's class for you, it wasn't "Buy" it was "Purchase". Most everything sitting in my bag was sold out. But I plunged in, removed, re-thought and re-pressed the button.

The box came a week later. I must have been drunk. I ordered a knee-length skirt! I haven't worn a dress since my wedding day and the last time I wore a skirt was to my mother's funeral. Ten years ago. And THAT one was mid-calf. (I do not let my legs out. At their best they look like upside down bowling pins and trust me, at my age and with my fat ass they're not at their best). But damn, it's navy with breezy white sailboats all over it. It's cotton. And there's a white cotton shirt to go with it, and bateau neck tops and navy slacks with the worlds most perfect navy and white stripe tee. All with short sleeves.

I didn't care. Summer has just arrived here and I was wallowing in riches! I've lived in long sleeves for years now. Trust me, once you hit 40 your upper arms are no longer your friend. Those taut, tan shoulders and arms you once took for granted are now looking like the shank end of a ham and the muscle tone you had and never thought twice about is now on an extended leave of absence. Look at Michelle Obama if you don't believe me.

Look at her two years ago.

Look at her now. Sleeves!


Anyway, I put on the blue striped tee and the navy slacks and the new little bronze flats I also snagged. Why, btw, do we call them "little bronze flats?" For gawd's sake, my shoe size is a TEN. At least. Ten and a half if the toes are pointed. There's nothing little about that shoe. It falls into the category of "Little Black Dress" I guess. I don't care HOW big your butt is, if you're looking for a basic black dress it's called "little". I don't get it. What's wrong with Basic Black? That's what my mother called it, it was boring but it got the descriptive job done nicely and didn't give everyone currently wearing anything over a size 1 a complex. But I digress.

Well, anyway, I thought about the short sleeves. Then I thought about my arms. I have seriously been considering going in for the current trend of tattooing one's arms from shoulder to wrist in a nice mass of some sort of floral pattern. I figure, if I do that, I can go out in a tank top and tell people it's not a tank top, it's a sweater with dolman sleeves. However, as I haven't yet taken that plunge, and the temperature is now in the low triple digits I figured to hell with the fashion police, it's just too damn hot right now to worry about the caftan-like way my arms wave.

Now, because I was no longer wearing my worn out tweed pants with a long sleeve, button front solid color shirt and loafers (which I will NEVER wear again since the cat found a big bug in one of them) in the heat I found myself standing straighter. My hair is off my neck and I'm appropriately dressed for summer and I threw my shoulders back and damn! Guess what I discovered? When you pull your shoulders back, your boobs stick out farther. Now, I've never been one to lead with my tits but...if you get the girls father out front? It creates a new angle of decent for your shirt. As it now falls straight off the ends instead of sort of laying flat against your front, the natural flotation device I've been carrying above my waistband doesn't show NEARLY as much.

Not only that...with my shoulders back and my spine in it's proper position not only doesn't my lower back ache but I've managed to lose a chin. Unfortunately, I still have an ass the size of Cleveland. I'm trying to figure out some way to do for my thighs what this has done for the rest of me. We shall see. Perhaps the skirt will help. I'm not ready to wear it yet though. I need shoes, I do NOT wear skirts with loafers, or gladiator sandals. Hell, even gladiator's probably didn't wear gladiator sandals. This is pure conjecture on my part though. AND I need to find one of those old fashioned split half slips, the kind that look like culottes? Because, seriously, I walk to work and you have NO idea what happens to unprotected inner thighs when then rub against each other.

Especially in this kind of heat.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kids will be kids...but then, most of them grow out of it.

Years ago, when my kids were, I don’t know, maybe in kindergarten, they had an exchange in the back seat of my car which I remember to this day. My two angels were having a childish argument over something, probably a Rug Rats episode. My younger decided to finally end it once and for all by sing-songing “You’re so-oo du-mb” The older then produced his trump card. In the same sing-song pattern he countered with “Poo-pie he-ad”. I bit my lip, hard, to keep from exploding in laughter. It was the height of 5 year old debate and my older son had played his younger sibling like a fiddle.

That was about 18 years ago. I’ve watched those two toddlers turn into boys, into teenagers and into young men. I am SO proud of them I could cry, they are terrific people in spite of their parents, who blundered through their childhood. One of them struggles with Autism. The other does too, but in a different way. They’re both incredibly smart and incredibly brave. One of them is very loving and trusting. Guess which one?

And they BOTH grew out of the “You’re a poopie-head” stage by the time they were out of 1st grade. This is more than I can say for a great many adults I know. I have, on more than one occasion, found myself reluctantly in the middle of a work crisis between two grown-ups. It always consists of, basically, “I want you to do this” and “No, that won’t work, I refuse to do it.” THIS, btw, is also the most mature part of these confrontations. I’ve been actually been asked to sneak around and take notes in order to prove that the crisis is, indeed, a crisis and is being noted. For GOD’S SAKE! The issues have been, without a doubt, among the most UNIMPORTANT things I’ve ever heard of. But the eternal power struggle continues.

I could probably deal with this if I didn’t have the same crap going on in my personal life. Several years ago I met someone and we became friends. I used to wonder about the age discrepancy, which was pretty wide, but she was fun, I liked her, I liked her kids, her family. It didn’t last long; she is a person who flits from person to person to person, keeping only the most toxic and manipulative of them. These she clings to. People who liked her and did her favors? Not so much.

Anyway, this ran its natural course and, as is my nature, I really felt bad about it. She WAS good company and, in that way, I missed her. I kept thinking that the nasty chain of events that occurred when she kicked a small rock down the hill to amuse herself was just that, an error.

Apparently not.

Life was made difficult for me because, while she spoke ill of me behind my back and told stories that weren’t true and ever so slightly altered actual events to suit her need to attack me she maintained a relationship with one of my sons. The autistic one. The kind, loving and sweet one.

After much angst, I decided to bite my lip once again and take the high road. It was MY problem, not his. While we never, physically, saw one another again we did occasionally have contact, brief internet conversations about my son, and one of hers. She always assured me that she thought dearly of my son. I, like the fool that I can be when it comes to relationships, believed her.

What a fucking MORON I was.

In the last couple of months her blind hatred for me has escalated to some sort of DefCon number, 42 I think, the answer is always 42; I have that on reliable authority. And my son found himself on the end of a Face Book “Unfriend” and a block on top of THAT, his texts remain unanswered, she has become so childish and immature that she’s taking her own problems out on people who actually LIKED her and, more importantly, TRUSTED her. No, that’s him, not me. Although, for what it’s worth, I DID trust her with him. I now don’t trust her as far as I can throw her and the last picture I saw of her indicates that’s probably not very far.

Yes, this is a rant. It’s basically designed to make ME feel better. She wouldn’t stoop to reading it, nor would she believe a word of it if someone read it to her. Hell, if I were on the receiving end I probably wouldn’t either. Somewhere, deep in my conscious, I like to think that she WILL find out that I know what she did to my kid and she WILL grow a conscience and she WILL find the balls to say “OMG, I shouldn’t have done that, what a lousy thing I’ve done, let me fix it and apologize for acting in such a horrible, slimy and immature way to someone who never, ever deserved that kind of treatment. I was a jerk to take my anger at his mother out on a kid and I’m so sorry.”

THAT would be the mature thing to do. THAT would be the kind thing to do. THAT would be the honest thing to do.

I’ve got five bucks in my bra (yes, I keep money in my bra and so do a lot of you) that says it’s not gonna happen. But, like Professor Harold Hill, I always think there’s a band. I will always cling to the fantasy that she wasn’t lying all those times she told me how fond she was of my son and how important and dear he was to her. That’s not going to happen either. Because, when it comes down to it, how can I trust someone who could treat a person like she’s treated him? Trust it, hell I can’t even comprehend it!

The part of me that holds a grudge says good riddance to bad rubbish. Actually, ALL of me says that. While I'm concerned my kid is wondering what HE did to her, I, personally, am glad she's gone, from all of our lives. I have a greater appreciation for the people who remain with us than I did before. Someone once asked me what my biggest fault was. While I'm sure there are people who can, and will come up with something absolutely HUGE and AWFUL about me, my answer is that I hold a grudge. As in forever. You know that crap kids pull on you when you're about 9 or so? No, probably not. But I do. It's kind of hard to confront people with some ages old, pent up resentment only to have them look at you and, in all honesty say "What the hell are you talking about? No, I don't remember, it was 50 years ago!"

And this is my last word on the subject:

Poopie-head!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

See you in C U B A

So I'm sitting here and the hourly CNN "Emergency! It's an Update! Drop Everything!" pups up on my screen. This, by the way, popped up a good two hours before the pop up about the last American convoy leaving Iraq. I'm not sure if that speaks more of their priorites (legal Cuban cigars) or their rather plodding news coverage which plods because they won't put up anything until they've actually verified it as being true, unlike other news outlets (koffkoffFoxNewskoffkoff).

Obama is going to loosen travel restrictions to Cuba. Oh goody, I thought. Just want I want to do. Go to Cuba. Can't wait, you betch'a.

Then I thought, well, hey, there MUST be something to do in Cuba besides look for Elian Gonzalez who, I imagine, is probably making a tidy living charging people to have their picture taken with him. I mean, what else is there to DO in Cuba? And, lest we get into this, now that the years have gone by I actually think Clinton and Janet Reno were right in sending Gonzalez back, I've rather mellowed with age. I still, however, do not think it was necessary to sent the Green Berets or the Navy Seals or the World Wrestling Federation or whoever it was in with loaded weapons to drag a six year old out of a closet. He'd have come out soon enough. And the only thing that was accomplished was the world's greatest accidental Taco Bell ad...a whole lot of servicemen with bayonets drawn terrifying a small boy and in a word balloon: "Drop the Chalupa!"

It probably cost Al Gore the 2000 election too, because maybe if all those pissed off Cubans in Miami-Dade had voted for Gore it would have made up for the votes accidentally cast for Pat Robertson, the votes cast for Gore by the poor and elderly who didn't push the little punch thingy hard enough and the 20,000 voters illegally disenfranchised by Kathleen Harris because they were black and likely to vote Democratic. And then we wouldn't have been subjected to 8 years of that addlepated twit, who freaking shot his friend in the face because he couldn't tell the difference between a flying duck and a lawyer, and his sock puppet, the Connecticut born drugstore cowboy of a President. No, that's not fair. That's an insult to drugstore cowboys everywhere, and I apologize.

And, while I'm here, can you imagine what would have happened if CLINTON had shot a lawyer? I mean, come ON. Cheney (or his distant cousin because, frankly, I think Cheney died years ago. I read The President's Plane is Missing, and I saw "Dave", I know how this crap works) shoots someone and apologizes. Clinton manages, in one fell swoop, to get half the country to stop smoking cigars, thus improving the lives of not only the smokers but those who have to smell those things and he gets impeached. Let's face it, the only thing Clinton was guilty of was bad taste, if he'd been caught with Scarlett Johansson no one would have thought much of it. And all of this because of Elian Gonzalez.

Okay, so back to Cuba. Cuba in 1956? Oh HELL yes. Nightclubs, casinos, people dancing the rumba in the streets of Havana and Desi Arnaz headlining? In a heartbeat. Well, probably not from California, Vegas is cheaper but you get my drift here, I think. Sure, it was corrupt as all get out. But it was fun and they made a TON of money. Cuba today? Uh, yeah, not so much. I googled "What to see in Havana". There are about a dozen churches, a cemetery, a furniture museum, a couple of monuments to Jose Marti and Lenin Park. Lenin Park! I don't think they have one of those in Moscow anymore. And, with the exception of Lenin Park, I can find most of the same stuff in downtown Los Angeles and I won't need a passport. Six bucks for a bus pass and I'm good to go.

I sailed past Cuba once, on one of those really nice cruise ships. It was in the 70s and the cold war had yet to start thawing. There we all were, lined up on the port side, looking at the big island off in the distance, knowing it was Cuba. It was the closest any of us had even been to a real, live Communist. Ooooo, scary stuff. I saw Cuba! Closed up tight as a drum, probably building some atomic weapon which would be aimed at the Fontainebleau, Cuba. How cool was THAT?

Now, who knows? I think Castro may be dead too. But, unlike Cheney, they didn't get a look alike, they're just propping him up and moving his hand in a half wave by means of fishing line. Periodically something pops up on video, Castro making some rambling speech but then, so does Bin Laden so that doesn't prove anything.

No, I think Havana is more like "Week-end at Bernie's" right now. Without the luxury condos. And the money. And the private docks. Okay, it's probably not THAT much like "Week-end at Bernie's."

Except for the dead guy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe...

Damn! Summer's almost gone. It's been a rather mild one too, weather wise. And I'm sitting here trying to figure out something to do with the two days I have to take or lose. But, with no car, my choices are limited. I thought "I KNOW! I'm going to take a train ride to Santa Barbara and poke around there for a day trip, how NICE would that be?"

Have you PRICED the train lately? $64 bucks, round trip. I could drive it in less than an hour and a half. Even with gas at $3.25 a gallon it would take half a tank. No wonder public transportation in Los Angeles is going broke. Guys? Basic thing here...lower the prices, put MORE people on the train, and you make MORE money. I know, lower ticket prices shouldn't mean more money but it will. Trust me on this one.

So, here I am, trying to figure out what to do with my two days. Because if I can't figure out anything I'll end up sitting on my ass watching The Price is Right. This, btw, CAN be a wonderful way to spend one's vacation time, except that every member of my family will also be sitting on their asses watching "The Price is Right". Because I'm the only one with a damn JOB!

Well, I thought maybe I would splurge and take a bus (2 hours, btw) to Disneyland. Disneyland used to be fun. We used to go down there all the time, the hubster and I would take off just to eat dinner and have an ice cream sundae on Main Street. Oh man, the Carnation Cafe used to make this absolutely awesome salad, a big green salad with chicken breast in it, and they topped it with Frito's and a tangy vinaigrette. Damn, I loved it. Then everything changed.

The food got upscale. So did the clientele. People quit going to Disneyland because they loved it and started going because it was the thing to do. You got an annual pass and you went to Disneyland. Two, three, four times a week. Because the more you went, the more likely you were to be seen by people who would then count you into a secret society where people who had nothing else to do with their lives but go to Disneyland and eat at the now upscale, oh so chic and oh so expensive restaurants on the property (which is now a "resort" instead of a "theme park")all recognized each other. And then they went on line and said you had been seen there and you intimated you had seen them and the little dance you did became the 21st century equivalent of a secret handshake.

Disneyland was no longer something one loved, or took out of town relatives to, or saved up to see at Christmastime. No, Disneyland was a social obligation. And I've NEVER really been good at social obligations. Groups and groups of people formed, and they had meet-ups and you could spot them, milling around the Esplanade, slowly gathering into a huge mass of humanity, slowly lumbering towards the promised land like so many zombies, eyes glazed over, little trickles of drool running down their chins, their matching t-shirts and name tags and lanyards full of pins to trade and passes to show off to the unfortunate day visitors who HAD no annual passes to display identifying them, per group, as the ultimate in humanity, the creme de la creme...LOCALS!

Have you ever been on a scavenger hunt at Disneyland? Lord, I have. I used to sign the entire family up. And we staggered through the property, shoulder to shoulder with other hunters and nice people from Kansas while you ran after Alice in Wonderland demanding an autograph which would net you 10 points if you were lucky. They were always held on the hottest, stickiest days of the year, these people must have consulted the Farmer's Almanac (which is notoriously reliable) to find the nastiest Sunday and book the damn thing. By the time it ended, late in the afternoon, we wished we had been on Bataan, it would have been a lot more comfortable. And we wouldn't have had to count how many teeth the hippopotami on the Jungle Cruise had.

This could have been a rather fun afternoon if it hadn't cost me about two hundred bucks for the four of us. That was on top of admission. Two hundred bucks for the privilege of being jostled, pushed around and missing parades because we spend the entire freaking day working out word puzzles, climbing Tarzan's extrememly boring tree house and fighting our way through crowds to get whatever prize would prove we had actually done the task put to us.

We did this three times.

Until it dawned on us that a) it wasn't any fun and b) the money we paid for the privilege of abusing ourselves wasn't even doing anyone any good, except the people who wrote the tasks. I mean, if the proceeds were going to the Children's Hospital of Orange or the Midnight Rescue Mission or Doctors Without Borders or something, that would have been different. No, it was going into some one's pocket, where it stayed. Or maybe got turned over to Club 33, I'm not sure. I do know if they're giving it to charity they all keep that to themselves. It seems to go for expanding bandwidth.

Not too long after September 11, 2001, a bunch of porn stars got together and wanted to do something to help. They organized a fund raiser and a bunch of really big stars of that time all rented a strip club and they all "danced" (it depends on one's definition of dancing, there wasn't a LOT of choreography) and every damn dime that came in was turned over to the American Red Cross. I thought it sounded like fun and I went. I was right, it was. It was a LOT of fun and they raised several thousand dollars, I heard. There was a BIG crowd and I was squeezed into a great big crush of people. Not unlike a Disneyland scavenger hunt. But I actually had a GOOD TIME. And my 10 bucks (no, I did NOT put it into some one's g-string. I would have, but there were no male dancers. I put it into a coffee can that was being passed around, thankyouverymuch)actually went to an organization that would use it for a good purpose. Now that I think about it, maybe if a bunch of Porn Stars decided to do a scavenger hunt at Disneyland I'd go again.

Anyway, I haven't been to one of those "private events" in YEARS. When it dawned on me that my check was being cashed for the sole purpose of making money for someone else I thought, no. Two hundred bucks buys a lot of enchiladas and tequila. Two things, btw, you CAN'T get at Disneyland. Well, okay, maybe the enchiladas...

I've been told that the cool girl club, or the Six Chicks or whatever the hell it is has decided I can't come this year. Which is pretty effing funny when you realize I haven't been to one in six years I think it is. Can't you just hear it? "Oh my GOD! I SO fixed it so she just WON'T be here! So don't worry about her and her good manners, I'm just SO OVER THAT!" It'd be worth the price of park admission just to watch it from the outside. Although I've never really been into self-abuse.

Besides, I'm actually going to Disneyland in Mid-October. One of my sons loves the Trick-or-Treat Mickey gives you last year's stale fun size Snicker Bars events. The price isn't bad and it gives him a great deal of pleasure, which in and of itself makes it worth twice the price of admission. He gets to wear his costume before Halloween and we can ride Big Thunder and it will be a lovely evening.

So yeah, the Magic Kingdom is decidedly UN magical for me these last few years. Which leaves me with the same problem I started with. What the HELL do I do with my two days off? I'm actually tempted to not bother taking them. The air conditioning is a LOT better in the office building and the Internet connection is a hell of a lot faster than that steam driven wireless I use at home.

There's a big screen TV here, and cable. No HBO, but plenty of Food TV and The Learning Channel. Also, ABC, so I can watch "Wipeout!" There's a large kitchen,with a microwave, a soft drink machine and a candy bar machine. Hell, I can just show up with an armload of Lean Cuisines and a sleeping bag and hole up over the long week-end. Me, central air, microwave popcorn and the Jerry Lewis telethon.

Believe me, I've had worse ideas. Like going on a scavenger hunt at Disneyland.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Student Prince

Well, the dust has finally settled here in the Urban Village. We had a crisis, which was even divided, 50/50 between bureaucratic ineptitude and "my son forgot".

California, cradle of the current recession, has, apparently decided to crack down and stop pouring money into the coffers of the undeserving. So, of course, their first cutbacks were in education. We sure wouldn't want anyone who could READ living here now, would we?

Well, the hubster and I are the proud parents of a college senior. All this time we've been existing on loans, grants, scholarships, spit and sealing wax. This summer, as usual, all the forms were filled out and filed, on line, as always. All the i's were dotted and t's crossed. This was, after all, just the usual renewal. Ah, but then someone in the Office of the State Controller (I'm guessing that's where he or she was) said "Holy crap! We just GIVE this grant money away! Well, yeah, that's why it's a GRANT, as opposed to a LOAN, doofus. So we get a notice. Thanks for the on line information and by the way, now we want corroborating evidence. So we spent an entire week-end looking for our tax returns and W-2s.

Now I figure it's probably because our income dropped dramatically last year, in fact, when we filled out the on-line forms we got a chatty little pop-up box saying "Hello. You're income is considerably less than it was last year, would you care to change the figure?" OH HELL, YES! I would LOVE to change the figure. Unfortunately it still won't show up in the bank account. Um dude? Read the "source of income". Can you spell U-N-E-M-P-L-O-Y-M-E-N-T C-O-M-P-E-N-S-A-T-I-O-N?

So, anyway, we gather up all the papers and Number 2 Son toddles out to the west Valley with his packet. He stopped by my office before he boarded the bus. We sat down and checked off all the paperwork, we dotted and signed and double checked and lovingly placed everything in a nice manila envelope which we sealed and wrote upon in clear, precise letters.

About two hours later I got a frantic text from the kidlet. "The line at financial aid wraps twice around the building and they have a drop box. Is it okay if I use it?" Apparently it wasn't JUST us. "Of COURSE" I reply. Put the envelope in the box and go on your merry way!

Can you spell B-I-G MISTAKE?

About six weeks later my son gets a letter. It says "You didn't enclose copies of your SIGNED Federal Tax Returns. We can't process your request until we get them."

Okay, I enclosed them myself. I signed them. We double checked them and placed them in the envelope. I have NO freaking CLUE what they DID with them, but then, neither do they.

By this time it's the middle of summer and my son is in the middle of his summer job, which involves long hours and short pay. But it ends in early August. So he gets through that and THEN he gets the missing paperwork together and hies himself out to Financial Aid. Where they say "Thanks a lot, you're good to go and, oh, btw, your aid will be in very late because of this". Okay, so what do we do while we're waiting, school starts in two weeks, will it be in by then. Not even close, is the answer. Okay, so how long can he attend classes while we wait? That would be "not one freaking second".

Last year, when the Governor refused to sign the budget and all funding for everything was stalled we got a notice saying, in essence, it's the State's fault, just come to school and when the State money comes in we'll apply it to your account.

But, as they seem to have lost half the initial paperwork it now becomes OUR fault and we need to cough up the tuition, which will then be reimbursed when the grant and loan funding comes in. Okay. When's the tuition due? August 22nd. Great, we've got a week. I start the wheels in motion, I go to the Credit Union, I start looking at those lists online that say you have money somewhere that you didn't know you have...

And then, last night, here it comes. "I checked my account with the University. It's not due the 22nd." "Oh cool. When?"

"Tomorrow. Midnight."

At 11am today I had officially decided to give the kid a check and send him out to pay. I'm thinking, well, okay, they can't deposit it until tomorrow anyway and they'll have thousands of checks to post so that'll take a day at least...and if the Credit Union comes through...and I get paid on Thursday...

Seriously. He's worked way too hard to not go back this semester. Anyway, at about 11:30 I get a text..."how can Grandpa electronically transfer the funds to the California State University system?"

God LOVE him, my son had called his grandfather who, upon ascertaining how much was needed and for WHAT these funds were needed, basically said sure. Who should he make the cashier's check out to?

I said, no. Tell him I will fax him a copy of a deposit slip to my bank account. There is a branch of that bank (a very large bank known to many as "The Evil Empire") about five minutes from Grandpa's house. If he deposits a cashier's check into my account I can then go on line and pay the tuition with my check card. Easy peasy! OR...give Grandpa your student ID and he can put it on HIS check card. Or his AmEx. Whatever.

Uh, no. Grandpa doesn't trust the Internet. He doesn't trust the very large chain of banks I have a small account with. He doesn't trust going into a bank and depositing money into an account that isn't his own. He doesn't trust giving out his credit card on line. I'm not sure he trusts my son, or me for that matter because he wants to make the check payable to the school. I SUPPOSE, when I'm in his position and I'm bailing out my grand kid, I'll feel the same. Just to make sure the money IS actually going to the University and not the closest Indian Casino.

HE then DROVE it over. He lives an hour and a half away. Hello, good-by, here's your check, have fun, see you later". We handed over a signed, undated check and said we would call and tell him "deposit it" as soon as the funds come in. And he was off again.

He actually HAS another grandfather, who lives about 15 minutes away and could well have done the same thing. But probably not in time, because there would be a lawyer involved, loan papers drawn up and notarized and a lot of disclosures to read and sign swearing that we would not file charges against them for usury when the 35.8% interest rate started accruing. My father is a grandparent. There was NO consultation scheduled, no interest will be charged, no indictments brought against his pantie waist parents who didn't have the money and just WHAT were they thinking of, it wasn't as if they didn't KNOW you were going to college and why do you have to go back anyway and why don't YOU have a proper savings account and oh, btw, have you tried welfare?

My son is currently in line at the cashier's office. It's very long, I'm guessing it wraps twice around the building. This time I strongly advised him to NOT use the drop box. If I'd been using my head the first time I would have figured out that the line to drop off paperwork wrapped twice around the building because all of these people had used the drop box previously and knew that investing two hours in line would net them a RECEIPT for all their paperwork. So when the University lost half of it some kid could wander back in the middle of summer when there was absolutely no line and say "Dude, I gave it to you, you checked it off. See?" and then head off to Taco Bell, where he or she is either lunching or working.

Ah HA! There's already an update. Someone wandered up and down the line asking if anyone was ONLY paying their tuition in full. All those who were got pulled out of the line, which was also processing payments plans, meal tickets and parking permits and taken over to a separate window where a young lady was sitting there punching in student id's and "2533" into the accounting program, over and over and over. Sort of like the person at the bank on Friday afternoon who keeps yelling "Does anyone have a straight deposit, no cash back?" His wait was cut to about 10 minutes. He's paid in full. As for me, yeah. I'm pushing retirement and I couldn't pay his damn tuition. I suppose setting the good example that we'll do anything to get them an education sort of balances out the lousy example that we can't AFFORD to pay his damn tuition and, even though I'm starting to push retirement, I still have to get money from my father.

As for my father,I won't rest until I know he's home. I've driven with him.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"Everybody cut loose..."

Wow! I have solid evidence that people are actually reading this! This is really hella cool. Although I do have it on rather reliable authority, that there are people who read the same damn entry. Over and over and over...

Now, let's get a thing or two out of the way, as you obviously have no idea just who it is, exactly, that actually walks around in my skin.

I'm not going to be tweaking it anymore, you've read it, move on. They stand as they stand. I edit, a LOT, right after I hit "Publish" because, for some reason, it doesn't matter how many times I spell check it, or how carefully I read it in the edit window, I ALWAYS find a typo, a dangling participle or something that could just be made a little tighter once it's in actual blog form. If someone tells me it's funny I leave it alone. Never mess with funny, it just ruins it. I'm not a comedian. Comedians mess with funny. I don't. It's NOT gossip either, it won't change as news breaks. I don't DO gossip. Well, okay, I used to read Joyce Haber, I admit it. But then, THAT was real gossip. Unlike Perez Hilton, who is, well, hell, I'm not really sure what he is, let's just say I wouldn't believe him if he posted England was currently being ruled by a Queen. Also the people who read stuff and then call their friends and say "OMFG, you have to READ this, she's talking about ME!" Don't flatter yourself, chances are I'm not.

Also, I'll bet real money I've written better stuff. Right here. If you don't believe it, go back to late last year, when I was doing battle with the laminate flooring and the exercise equipment. I wouldn't recommend re-reading the same damn entry six, seven, eight, forty seven times in one day though. I'm NOT that good. If I were, I would be freaking Margaret Atwood. I would have written "The Handmaid's Tale". I love that book, btw, that book is brilliant. I re-read that book. Now and then. Not daily. I'm better than Ayn Rand though. Although even SHE made money from that bilge she wrote. I do it because I like it. No one pays me jack.

Nope. I'm a fat old lady with strong opinions and writing them down every now and then keeps me off the streets and away from a vagrancy charge.

I do re-read books, and I do watch Golden Girls re-runs though. And HBO movies. I'll watch the same movie over again, and more than once. I seldom go to the theater and PAY to see it a second time but damn! Once it hits cable, I'm SO in. For some reason, lousy movies aren't quite so lousy when your sprawled out on the couch in your jammies with a remote in one hand and a glass of Mourvedre in the other. "Mamma Mia!" is really, really pretty. It also has Pierce Brosnan singing, which kind of negates the pretty part. But I consider things like, oh, his nasal head voice strangling "S.O.S." to be built-in bathroom breaks, so it's all good. But damn, even I wander to new stuff every now and then.

Well, anyway, the other night I was watching a chick flick on a non-premium cable channel. I don't remember what the movie was, maybe "Legally Blond". Anyway, my sons and I were all watching it. I'm lucky, my sons like certain chick flicks. Not much into "Steel Magnolias" but "Legally Blond"? Oh yeah, that's a winner. Also "The Princess Bride" but then I'm not sure that's really as much a chick flick as just really, really clever.

So there we are, it's around 10pm or so and there comes a commercial. And here's some young woman sitting on the edge of a bed, staring deadpan into the camera and talking about how boring her bed used to be until she discovered "warming jelly". And then she starts discussing how really great the "big moment" is now. And then they cut to fireworks. Dude, that worked when Hitchcock did it in "To Catch A Thief", it's NOT working now. You're already in for the obvious, we don't need pyrotechnics. Well, she stops talking about this titillation in a tube and we sat there, in silence. Until my son, age 20, announces "Well, THAT was uncalled for". "I'm sorry you had to see that" I apologized.

"Don't worry" he told me, "it's not like we haven't seen them before". They have? I mean, sure, I've been seeing WAY too much of them but then I tend to watch garbage on Lifetime Television. Something told me the boys weren't watching "I Was Tied To A Tree In A Remote Forest And Left There For 7 Months By A No Damn Good MAN And Now I'm Graduating From Harvard So Suck On That!" the other night. No, they ran several of them during "Tremors" last week. Kevin Bacon! Who the hell wants to look at some woman discussing "KY Kissable" when you have Kevin Bacon in your bedroom? Can't you hear it? "We now return to "Footloose," sponsored by the fine people at Trojan rubber products. Trojans: WE take our responsibility seriously. (Trojan prophylactics are not associated with the rule-bending coaching staff at the University of Southern California)." Um, no...

"Ferguson, too" my older son chimed in. Okay, Ferguson is on after midnight. While I think the commercials are stupid, I'm pretty okay with this stuff after midnight. It kind of pairs up with the "What Are YOU Wearing" phone party line ads which, I was surprised to find out, are still around. I figured cyber sex had pretty much done away with that waste of money.

But there probably isn't a kid from middle school on up who wasn't up at 10pm watching "Tremors" the other night. I'm not under the delusion that they don't know about this stuff, or the stuff being touted in the commercials for "Adam and Eve" products (which, btw, are WAY more discreet), most of them could probably teach US things. So there's the point. Okay, KY Jelly has been around since, well, at least since I was way too young. We all knew what it was. We snorted when we saw the tube tucked away on grandpa's headboard. We also knew that it was really good for slicking back your hair, in case you wanted to go trick-or- treating as Buddy Holly or Dracula, because it not only held better than spray, it was water soluble - you could wash that crap right out.

Here's what I think. I think we watch so much TV now that advertisers figure we've all gone stupid. And we watch the same thing, over and over again. Because we're too stupid to change the channel and follow a plot we've never seen before. So they have to advertise exactly what to do with the same stuff we all KNEW what to do with. The other day I found myself alone in the afternoon and I turned on a movie about a young woman who ran a flower shop and always decorated weddings and didn't have a boyfriend. Early in the movie we were AT one of these weddings and someone said they were gathering because the groom was getting ready to throw the bride's garter belt.

GARTER BELT?

Send me an email, I'll tell you the name of the movie and the channel that runs it every now and then if you don't believe me. If you're under 30 I'll also explain what a garter belt is, if you don't know. It is NOT something normally thrown at any event that doesn't involve a pole.

It all fell into place. The people who write crap for television, be it commercials or movies, have NO CLUE WHAT IN HELL THEY'RE DOING!

If I hadn't been watching the movie for the second time I wouldn't have noticed that though. Sometimes a second look at something CAN be beneficial.

BUT...if we hadn't been watching "Legally Blond" for the 87Th time we probably wouldn't have been subjected to the KY commercial either.

So branch out people. Watch a movie you've never seen before. Be daring...watch one you've never even HEARD of before. Read a new blog entry. Hit the little arrow up top and read someone ELSE'S blog for a change. But stop boring yourselves with the same old blog entry. You can probably find another one that will offend you even more than the one you're re-reading.

If you guys don't stop reading the same day's entry over and over I just may start putting KY ads on this.

"KY Intense. FEEL the burn!"

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I don't understand the Parisians...

So, there I am, sitting at my desk at home waiting for my abysmally slow wireless connection to finally let me into my email. It's evident I'm going to wait a very long time and probably will have to go back to work soon so I figure to hell with it and click on a news link that's just too titillating to resist.

Something about finding the body of a famous chef.

My first thought is Holy Cow! Someone finally snapped and hit Sandra Lee over the head with the margarita pitcher from her latest "table scape".

No. Sandra is alive and well and probably making casseroles with canned anchovies, tomato soup and miniature marshmallows.

I wasn't familiar with the chef in question. And the event happened in France, about two years ago. It seems that the famous French chef's lover had her fill of the guy. I always picture French relationships in one of three ways. It's either a passionate, devoted couple that sits around and eats French food, drinks French wine and makes love a LOT (because they're French) in between strolling over Parisian bridges hand in hand, or an older couple, devoted to one another, with snow white hair and round faces with perfect complexions who sit on a porch in Provence smiling at each other, or they're Apache dancers who throw things at each other, drag each other around the floor by the hair, wear striped shirts and smoke too much.

Apparently this couple fell into the latter category.

It seems the chef disappeared about two years ago, about the same time their landlord said he'd noticed that it wasn't as noisy in their apartment as it used to be. Now I'm guessing that they've been looking for the guy but then, I'm not up on how the gendarmes conduct investigations of this sort.

Well, within the last 24 hours or so, the matter appears to have resolved itself. Apparently the chef's lover reached her secret keeping/guilt limit and confessed to her daughter that she wasn't exactly an exemplary mother anymore. Seems that the missing chef had been occupying space in her freezer.

TWO YEARS in her freezer and no one had a freaking CLUE!

According to the news, they got in a fight and she killed the guy by punching him. No, I haven't seen her, I have no idea how large she is but the mind boggles. On my best day I don't think I could have landed a lethal blow on anything bigger than a water balloon.

It gets odder.

Apparently it was a "crime of passion" or whatever phrase the French use, probably "just another Monday". Instead of calling the police, or the doctor or 911 (or whatever they call in France), she parked him in her bathroom. And, at least according to her, she kept him in there for quite some time, until she saved enough money to buy the freezer.

The obvious question here, and SOME ONE'S got to ask it, is: DIDN'T ANYONE NOTICE THE BODY IN THE BATHROOM? Even IF she never had company in, that MUST have been disturbing. Not to mention the obvious concerns. I mean, the French aren't famous for their hygiene but....

So she gets the freezer and stuffs him in it. And two years later she finally develops a conscience and confesses to her daughter that "something unfortunate" had happened. Far from me to lecture people on right and wrong, I mean, ultimately that's pretty much between you and whoever, or whatever you eventually come up against. I think it was Mark Twain who once said "France has neither winter, nor summer, nor morals". If it wasn't him it was probably Will Rogers. But "something UNFORTUNATE?" Litote. According to freetranslation.com, litote means "understatement" in French. Le GRAND litote!

But wait! It gets better!

The French prosecutor, who I'm guessing is the equivalent of a district attorney, was quoted as saying "It would have been a banal affair if there hadn't been a cadaver lying in a freezer for two years."

Quote of the year, friends.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yet another cock-eyed optimist

Okay, there's someone actually reading me. Although I'm pretty sure he's reading me to report to other people on me, and frankly, I think that's funny as hell. I dunno, did you ever read some news story and think "OMG, that's all about me! How did they find out?" only to discover the dateline was Vladivostok?

I'm reminded about the time, years ago, when there was a serious war somewhere in Eastern Europe, if I remember right it was the mess in Bosnia. In the first place, I had discovered BBC News. It's hella cool, they cover stories that aren't about Lindsay Lohan. I sort of LIKE knowing where, in importance, issues like Bosnia rank in the rest of the world. While here is was usually the fourth story, on BBC it was #1. Well, there was the news footage, tanks grinding down streets, locals and national military lining the same streets, throwing stuff. And then...there it was!

An upraised middle finger!

First off, that's something one would NEVER see on an American news broadcast and second, I was suddenly struck with the fact: IT'S A UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE! Holy crap! If they're flipping the bird in eastern Europe, I bet they're doing it in Asia too! It means the same thing, that was pretty obvious. Who needs Berlitz! We can communicate with anyone, at any time, via hand gestures. Okay, okay, I always knew I could use them in Italy but now I know...it's worldwide.

This is why you think that the news report about the woman with the batshit crazy neighbor who finally went off the deep end end and was found wandering the town square naked at high noon is actually about your aunt. Everyone does the same thing. They may do it in another place but we're all people and we all do batshit crazy things at times and if we haven't we probably will soon or know someone who already has. So if you read the Internet and decide someone else's blog is about you, well, yeah, you might want to bulldoze some land from the top of the big rock candy mountain of an ego you've been standing on because it's NOT all about you.

Although, since it IS my blog it's all about me. Perspective wise, anyway.

Now...AFTER the Walmart trip I found that, while I'm now well stocked with pudding cups, I still needed fabric. I have the world's tiniest bathroom with the world's tiniest window and no fans or overhead lights in the shower or the tub. The tiny window affords little more than a vent for, well, let's just say it's a bathroom. Use your imagination here. If you don't know what's venting out the bathroom window there's no hope for you anyway. This steamy little room grows two things. Philodendrons and mold.

I'm constantly spraying mold and mildew remover on the walls and I'm constantly replacing shower curtains. I've never been in a position where I didn't have a shower door, so this is kind of new to me. I've discovered I like a pretty shower curtain and I need two of them because when they "renovated" my bathroom they took off the shower door and lost it (and I'm sure as hell not paying to replace it, I'm not the one who lost the damn thing) and they left me one of those spring loaded rods in it's place. This means I always have to buy TWO curtains and, let me tell you, whoever came up with the idea of commercially made shower curtains has one of the greatest rackets going.

So there I am, looking at the mold spots on yet another shower curtain and suddenly it hits me. I can make my own! It's nothing but a big square of fabric with grommets and I have one of those things that put grommets in fabric (I believe it's called a hammer). But then I don't really like grommets and I figure button holes will do a fine job.

Have you priced fabric lately?

And then, yet another brilliant idea! The garment district! Dollar a yard fabric and I can change the damn things out for 10 bucks whenever I feel like it. So Saturday, I get on the subway, all my myself. I do not remember the last time I went anywhere all by myself, except to work. Well, not since I had kids, anyway.

Now I'm cooking with gas.

Home I trudge with 8 yards of fabric and a huge bouquet of sunflowers. As I chugged up the escalator at the subway station into the light of the week-end afternoon I felt like Mary Richards, coming up the escalator with that big pot of chrysanthemums. I think they were mums, anyway. Then I realized I have a lousy haircut and was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and that escalator wasn't at the Mall of America so I lost that one fast.

Sunday I'm ready. I'm gonna cut and sew. The fabric I bought was white with black flowers with bright pink centers. I'm going to make a BIG square, and make 12 hot pink button holes to go over the shower hooks. I opened the closet door to get my spiffy Brother practically-makes-the-damn-quilt-by-itself sewing machine.

I closed the door just in time. Do I really need to go into detail on this? I didn't think so.

I'm hoping that, by this coming Saturday, I'll have sorted and removed and organized enough of the stuff that's been stuffed in there to actually FIND the sewing machine.

Told you. I'm an optimist.

Monday, August 9, 2010

They call it Sam's Song

Oh, the world is full of sad, sad little people. It seems the bigger they think they are, the meaner they act. It's hard to swallow someone being deliberately cruel to an autistic kid just because they think the kid's mother is a jerk, but it happened and there you have it.

Okay, that was a little, personal vent. You know who you are and you know you're pretty low down for that.

Personally? I've had a hella busy week-end. It started with my son not shaving. My older son has some difficulties that are not of his doing. One of them is a seizure disorder. When he neglects his medication he tends to have them. This pretty much makes him remember to take his pills regularly and, even though he NOW has one every four or five years it drives me to distraction and I, of course, spend pretty much every minute of my day on pins and needles because of this. I keep thinking ONE of these years I'll relax but it hasn't happened yet.

Anyway, as a precaution, he doesn't use a razor with a blade...yeah, even a safety razor which would be fine but hey, I'm a nervous Nellie about it. And he LIKES electric razors. My father always used an electric and my son adores my dad and wishes to be like Grandpa. He dresses like him and he uses an electric razor. Well, the razor he had crapped out and jeez, have you PRICED electric razors? Like I've got 80+ bucks to spend on a razor. So occasionally he would lather up and try and use one of the Bic disposable razors but, as dear as he is and as wonderful as he is, he's not real good with a razor.

So, on Friday morning my father picked the kid (okay, he's going to be 22 but he's still my kid, back off) and I up and we went to the aforementioned performance of "Seussical". And, as we were racing up to stopped traffic on the freeway and I'm yelling "brake!" to him he says "After the show I'll take you to Walmart and I'll buy you a new razor. Early birthday present, okay?"

Walmart. Ugh.

I do NOT patronize Walmart. I could get into why but you probably know why. You've heard all the stuff about Walmart. You may not believe it. I do. I don't go there.

My father, however, is in LOVE with Walmart. He belongs to Sam's Club. There was no point saying "Hey, there's a Target a LOT closer." It's just the way it is. He shops the right hand side of the menu. He uses Valero Gas, which I personally think is half water.

So off to Walmart we went. I sent him to one in a much better neighborhood than the one he had planned to visit. Better parking too. There's a Joannes fabric store there and I was hoping to duck in while he wandered the aisles of the crooked store but, well, yeah, that didn't quite work. So in to Walmart we all troop, my step mother complaining that it was hot and the store was too big, me complaining that I wanted to go to the fabric store and not Walmart and my kid happily heading off with his grandfather.

I got my step mother inside. Now to be fair, she's got a bum knee. So I was looking for someplace to park her. Try to find a seat in a Walmart. Well, she decided to go look for the boys in the razor department. As we headed into the store proper, I saw it.

Tide.

100 ounces for TEN BUCKS! This price is outstanding. You can't touch that much Tide in my neck of the valley for less than $12.99 on sale and with a coupon. I dug through and found a bottle without Downey or Febreze or Pina Colada mix in it. I don't know why, but if there's something extra in the detergent you don't get as many loads. One hundred ounces of plain, old Tide yields 64 loads. Add a bottle of Chanel No. 5 and suddenly you're down to 52 loads, don't ask me why. Seems to me 100 oz is an 100 oz. Anyway, I do a LOT of laundry so I find a 64 load bottle and grab it.

Hefting my bottle I head to the back of the store to look for the rest of the tribe. I have to go through the make-up department to do this. Well, I haven't had a tube of mascara in MONTHS and I've been realizing that I don't wear much make-up because I don't HAVE much make-up left so I wander over to look at mascara. It's pretty cheap. I pick one of those up too, after all, I'm already in for the Tide. So, with Tide and mascara in hand off I go and...oooooooo

SHINY!

I finally found the rest of my merry troop and we headed off for the registers. As I was piling the last of my pudding cups on the conveyor belt and digging for my bank card I felt the tug of remorse. Not enough of a tug to put my loot back, but I DID stop piling $1 packs of pudding cups on top of the Jergens self tanning body lotion set before I actually sank into the quicksand that is Walmart.

My step-mother, son and father were at another register and we met up at the door. They were carrying a bag with a Remington three head electric razor, I was hauling well, let's call it several bags. My father eyed me suspiciously.

"Oh, shut-up" I said.

As I hauled the bags with the big, blue Walmart logo up the stairs and into the apartment later that afternoon the hubster said nothing but eyed the bags.

"Oh, shut-up" I said.

Later that evening the hubster said it was okay. He understood. He had run into a Walmart several weeks earlier because he'd broken a shoelace and that was the nearest place. Apparently he brought home socks, breath strips, beer and Snicker bars. The beer, btw, was for me. I just didn't know about it because wasn't there when he got in.

"I feel dirty" I said.

"Don't worry Mom" said my son. "We've got plenty of Tide."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"It starts when you're always afraid..."

God, I love that song. Buffalo Springfield. Okay, yeah, it's an age marker. Because I can sing the whole damn thing. It's been running through my head the last couple of days.

I have had a couple of experiences with people the last few days that have me, well, in one case puzzled and in another, rather awe struck. That's because something dawned on me and I wondered why it took me so long to figure this out.

Volunteers are usually good people. We all know this. What I didn't realize is that volunteers are also people who have control issues and WAY too much time on their hands. This is why they're volunteers, 'natch. Now, I'm not talking about all of you people who juggle responsibility with volunteerism. I'm talking about the people who volunteer because they have nothing better to do.

You know, sort of like what happens "when the idle poor become the idle rich". If you've ever read, or seen "The Nanny Diaries" you'll know what I'm talking about.

Case in point: Yesterday I found myself at an absolutely wonderful event. It was a performance of "Suessical" performed by high school kids for kids much younger than themselves and, frequently, less fortunate. It's a joy to watch, it invigorates me to no end. At the end of the performance the cast comes out of the theater. Right out, no changing, no make up removal. You can't imagine the face of a six year old day camper who has just met The Cat In The Hat! I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Anyway, I had seen the show over the week-end and wanted to see it again. It's magical. It's also closed, sorry. Anyway, I invited my father and step-mother to come. My father drove. Yeah, been there, done that. My step mother is a very small white haired woman with a cane. We dropped her off close to the theater (which is on a college campus) and parked the car. The show was obviously starting extremely late, the theater doors weren't open. There were hundreds of excited day campers and one missing little old lady. Who is married to my father who is deaf in the best of circumstances and is now trying to hear me over the din of 400 six year olds. As we're walking I'm yelling to be heard over the din and I'm saying "maybe she went in there, I'll check" (pointing to the open door of the adjacent building which contained the ladies room).

Some volunteer behind a folding table who was supposed to be selling Snicker bars started yelling at me..."who are you looking for?" After three times I finally turned and said "My step-mother, do you know her? " Now, as the woman didn't know ME I was pretty sure she didn't know my step mother. I was right. "Well, she didn't go in anywhere, the show hasn't started. The doors are closed." "Yes," I said, "I'm aware of that." The volunteer had time on her hands, I guess. "Well then, she's not inside, is she?" Volunteer lady? Do NOT condescend to me, I'm fifty six freaking years old. I am losing my politeness with age. I think that has something to do with my growing a mustache. "Then what bush are you sending people to pee behind?" I asked her. Two hundred kids giggled hysterically..."she said PEE". The volunteer got even huffier. I left. Lady, my son is the stage manager in there, I did NOT just fall off the turnip truck. But I digress. The point I was making was that this was, someone who was volunteering because she had time on her hands, not because she had any special fondness for, or belief in the program. You can spot those volunteers. She wasn't one of them. And she wasn't very nice.

During this same time period I found myself on the end of another martinet volunteer. This one runs a web site which, I gather, nets her no monetary rewards. You may be familiar with it, this isn't the first time I've mentioned it (koffkoffJuly17koffkoff) . Now, said volunteer identifies herself as a mother and a businesswoman. She has children, that's true. She also has a home based business which, from both personal experience and customer reports seems to consist of ignoring the people she recruits to work under her, packing incomplete orders for shipment and then shipping them late. Based on this, I don't see that the business would take up a lot of time.

Periodically the news trickles in to her that someone, somewhere, in some space/time continuum has fallen out of love with her. And THIS, apparently, is what fills her hours. She uses the internet to stalk people who have annoyed her. She searches and investigates and follows link after link until she finds just what, exactly, the person who annoys her is doing, thus gaining powerful insights into the psyche of people who don't like her as well as filling a veritable arsenal with information to be used against the transgressors.

God in heaven, what I would give for that kind of spare time! Seriously. Not only the time, but the space in my brain to store all that crap. But I have a full time job, I actually contribute something besides my smiling face to my family. If I spent that much time tracking down people who annoyed me at least one of my kids would be in jail now. I mean, come ON...there are times you just have to put down the mouse and take care of those people you brought into your life. You married the guy, you owe him. You had the kids, you owe them.

Not to mention, and this is what I REALLY don't get, all the time spent chasing people you don't LIKE! Here's the way I see it. Maybe I don't like someone. Okay, no maybe about it, there are definitely people I don't like. And there are also people who don't like me. Now I could jump up and down and say I'm so secure that I have pulled on my big girl panties and I don't CARE about the people who don't like me because I know how absolutely awesome I am. But, come on here, everyone feels bad when someone doesn't like them. Well, everyone with a heart, anyway. But, 9 times out of 10, there's really nothing you can do about it so you move on.

Because why the hell would I waste time chasing people I don't like? Hmmmm, let's see. I don't like you, you annoy the hell out of me. If I never heard from you again it would be too soon. So what am I going to do about this? I know! I'm going to spend hours and hours chasing you all over the internet so I can tell my friends, who probably don't like you either, that you're a psycho and a drunk and I want them to be mean to you because it'll make me feel better.

Really?

"Paranoia strikes deep", I'm guessing.

Now, maybe it's just me but if someone annoys me I do NOT waste my time trying to find out what they're doing and what they're saying. I've got way better things to do with my time. I've got kids to listen to. I've got a husband to annoy and a cat to feed and a job to look after. I've got carpets to vacuum and pizza to order on warm summer nights. I've got sunsets to watch and a father to reminisce with. I have a grieving, recently widowed friend to be there for. I have wine to sip and an ocean to watch. I have trips to casinos in the desert to make and visits to outlet malls at the beach to relish. I have shows to see and flash mobs to dance in. I have picnics to pack and jazz to hear. I have checkbooks to balance and bills to pay. I have fragrant Indian food to try and I still have the pyramids to see.

See? I simply don't have TIME to spend chasing people I don't like through cyberspace. I barely have time to deal with the people and things I LIKE let alone waste all those hours worrying about slights, be they real or imagined. So, you found my blog and you read it. You stuck your nose into the doorway of a party you weren't invited to and everybody was having a real good time and they didn't even notice you weren't there. So you cried and cried and fumed and turned red and stomped your privileged little foot until someone said "I will block the big bad person you don't like from our website which she seldom visits anyway and it will break her heart and you will feel better and you will feel vindicated and can hold your little head up high, knowing you have slain the demon."

And if it makes you feel better, well, go ahead on. If that will help you with the hatred and the paranoia, sure, why the hell not?

But it still won't make me give a crap about you.

The opposite of love, my poor, deluded volunteer, is not hate. It's indifference. Hatred and arrogance are what unfocused people with too much time on their hands use to fill up the empty spaces. And there's a difference between cojones and petulance. Hillary Clinton doesn't pout. 'Nuff said.

"You better stop, hey, what's that sound, everybody look what's going down."

Volunteerism is good. People who volunteer to do stuff because they aren't paying attention to the things that are really important? Yeah, I think those are the ones who NEED the help. They sure as hell shouldn't be giving it.