Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm an important part of the process. Bitches.

I got called for jury duty this week. I had visions of sitting around for days, reading books and watching daytime TV. I even thought of taking up scrap-booking. That's how you know you're a mom. You are completely delusional about what can be accomplished in a block of time Away From the Kids. Take the kids away for an hour or two and I should be able to get through the back-log of laundry, clean the kitchen, sew up some new shower curtains, and create and store healthy pre-made meals for the week ahead. In my head a weekend away should be enough to figure out this whole life-on-other-planets business. After I've managed denuclearization. And after I've figured out whether that is actually a word.

So I admit that maybe my expectations for down-time were a little astronomically unrealistic. But I got called before I'd even cracked my first trashy tabloid (that I took out from the library so is actually not trashy anymore because things from the library aren't trashy). And ever since then it's actually been kind of work-y.

Guys, there's something I've been keeping from you.

I'm weird. I may call my babies crazy, but they didn't get it all from their father.

Now that I've actually been selected to sit on a jury, I've come up with numerous ways I can humiliate myself while also bringing the justice system to a screeching halt.

Number one - I have a blood/injury/injection type phobia. And this case . . . well, let's just say that there is blood and injury involved. The second I took the oath it occurred to me that in their attempt to prove their case, the prosecution might actually, like, describe it to me. How embarrassing is that going to be? I mean when I pass out looking at the pictures.

Number two - I suffer from vertigo. Doesn't usually affect my daily life, but what if I get an attack while listening to testimony? This especially concerns me because of the physical appearance of the courtroom. When they were interviewing me from the back of the room I didn't realize it, but as soon as I moved into the jury box I realized that, for whatever reason, the front half of the room is made up of vertical strips of wood, which in my peripheral vision really seems to set off my whole vertigo issue. So I'm trying to imagine how I'm going to explain to the judge about the vertical lines without sounding like a FUCKING LUNATIC.

Number three - the whole thing is stressing me out. How am I supposed to concentrate on testimony when I'm consumed with fear that I will inadvertently fart? The anxiety has caused my bowels to contract or something so I haven't pooped in days (yeah, I did just go there) and now I'm also worried about what I'll do if the urge suddenly strikes. We get these unpredictable breaks and I looked around during one of them and realized that I'm not the only one who seems to have frozen their face in an "I'm concerned" look. We will all need botox when this is over except for juror number 6 and he's pretty clearly not operating on the same plain of reality as the rest of us. We joke sometimes but then we fall into these morose silences. And that's good because every time I laugh I hope the defendant didn't hear me because whether he did it or not (and believe me when I say I'm close to panic about how I DON'T KNOW) this probably isn't funny to him.

But I'm doing my best. I keep feeling like it's some kind of movie and any second now something dramatic and exciting will happen. Mostly it's just listening and taking notes and trying not to fall over because of the vertical stripes. They made us watch a movie in the beginning - like jury training. And they kept telling us how important we are. And man am I a sucker because I'm falling for it. I've started to feel important.

Also herded like cattle because they make us go everywhere together. But still important.

Like Hindu cattle, maybe.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Don't look up

Weird summer, eh? Really it’s just been an extended spring turning directly into fall. And I think it’s confusing everybody. I’ve been seeing advertisements for back-to-school sales for WEEKS now and my stomach drops each time in sympathy to all the kids who are crying, “But! No! Wait! I just got OUT!”

Of course, I don’t care about the summer break anymore because I don’t get a summer break. My kids are too young for summer breaks yet, thank god. You know, daycare doesn’t close in the summer. What do working parents do with their kids when June hits? Pack them in a purse?

So this weather is strange, and people across Ohio are aghast because seasons aren’t seasons until you are distinctly uncomfortable. I think we are afraid that we won’t be able to store up enough heat to last us through the winter.

Speaking of storing things up for the winter, the acorns have returned.

This is our fourth year in the house. I don’t remember the first fall, but the second fall I was still at home with our first-born and that was when I realized that the giant tree in our backyard is an oak tree.

In other words, it was raining head injuries.

Oh, the acorns. The many, many acorns falling from the heavens.

It is impossible to express in words what it is like to be outside, in the shade of your giant oak tree, and realize that your backyard is now a war zone and you, my friend, are losing. I know it is impossible to describe because I called Chris up at work to let him know the baby was going to need a helmet for outdoor play, and he was all, “Why are you calling me at work to talk about nuts?” And I was all, “Because they are not nuts, they are teeny missiles dropped on us by nature.” And he was all, “You need a hobby.”

But oh, the joys of I-told-you-so. Chris decided to barbecue that evening for dinner. I tried to warn him. “You don’t know what it’s LIKE out there!” I cried. But he went, heedlessly, recklessly, out into the line of fire. As the grill is right outside the living room windows, Sam and I had a front row seat to the carnage. It wasn’t long before I heard the familiar,
“peuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuooooooooooooooo . . .

“JESUS,” Chris mutters. There is another “peuuuuuu” and another, and Chris is getting slightly more emphatic in his exclamations. And then there is a “peuuuuoooo” that ends in a hollow “BLOOK” rather than a BAM and I know he’s hit. He does not mutter this “JESUS!”

When he comes inside, my husband has learned a lesson about ignoring his wife.

Last year, we had the tree trimmed and it really seemed to help the acorn volume. But this year they are back with a vengeance. I was in a minor fender-bender recently and when I took the car into the body shop the guy was perplexed about the small dents that cover the top of the car. "Acorns, dude," I said. "You gotta watch out for 'em." He looked at me all confused and disbelieving and do the rest of you not HAVE oak trees? Why does nobody understand this phenomenon. Or is our tree particularly violent? Are the acorns cute when they fall from 20 feet instead of 100?
All the squirrels, they are joyous. Fat, fat, squirrels. Now I have to worry about the legions of fat and rabid squirrels ready to eat the toes of my children in ADDITION to the nutty pellets of distruction falling on their tiny heads. The tiny heads of my children, not the squirrels. You know, Sam used to call squirrels, "Squirr-la-las." I thought it was really cute. But he doesn't do it anymore. He doesn't make as many pronunciation mistakes as he used to. So now I can totally understand his sass. Excellent.
Children - Cute + Attitude = Totally not irritating at all

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Isn't it ironic?

Ever since Alanis Morissette sang that stupid song about things being ironic, it seems that people have become way too interested in pointing out what isn't, actually, ironic. How late-nineties IS IT to hear that song on the radio and say, "you know, none of those things are actually ironic." I always felt bad for her. I thought that most of those things met the fairly loose common definition of irony at the time she wrote the song. Who knew she was going be all famous and under a magnifying glass and stuff? She probably would have used a thesaurus.

Anyway, I went to visit some old college friends this week. Becky drove to my house and we were going to fly out together. The night before we left I remembered that Melissa had dogs and we were going to be sleeping there and the dogs would probably also be sleeping there. I asked Becky, "Oh, hey, please help me remember to pack my allergy pills. Actually, also help me remember to take them." So we fly out and I DID remember to pack my pills and when we got to Melissa's house Becky reminded me right away to take one. So I took one and things were good. We hung out and the dogs hardly bothered my allergies at all. Then I walked into the bathroom and the dog had eaten all my allergy pills.

Is that ironic?

Also, when I say "the dog ate all my allergy pills" I mean, "the dog chewed up the allergy pill bottle and probably didn't eat any allergy pills." There were no dogs harmed in the making of this blog post.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Book review: A Reliable Wife

I thought I'd start doing a quick review of books as I read them.

FYI, these are not going to be FUNNY so stop looking for the punch-line because it isn't coming.

A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick

This is the story of Ralph, the rich man with a past of both undeserved pain and unfortunate choices, who advertises for "A Reliable Wife." Answering his ad is Catherine, a woman who is not entirely truthful about her past or her purpose.

Smoothly written and emotionally evocative, this book is a pleasure to read. I thought the pacing was quick and the author's use of language was both precise and eloquent. The story was interesting and it felt fresh even though it is set at the turn of the century. For all it's twists, the story is simple and easy to follow. I found this to be a satisfying but undemanding read.

I hope to do this fairly consistently. Stay tuned for the moving story of "Dog" - where fluffy dog, and scruffy dog meet their match in soft dog and smooth dog.

I'm kidding. That's Owen's book. Just because I've read it 100 times doesn't mean I'm going to review it. Though if I did I would have to say that while I appreciate the attempt to create language both simple and rhythmic, the rhymes were lost when you had to stop to pull the tab that wags the dog tail for, like, an hour before you could turn the page.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gross. It's all "nature-y" out here.

So my crazy sister-out-law was all, "I have a good idea! How about we take a four-year-old camping!" and so my husband, who will jump on just about any bandwagon bound for It-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time, was all, "Super! Let me grab my three-year-old and I'll join you!"

I had misgivings.

I mean, camping? With a three-year-old? He's pretty reliant on routine, isn't really comfortable with new situations, god only knows about access to toilet facilities AND he would have to take care of a three-year-old?

But despite my reservations, my sister, Kim, and her Kristi packed up their four-year-old and a bunch of other stuff and my husband packed up Sam and half a blanket and some underpants and they headed off to the wilderness. And I'm glad he did. It seems like the kind of thing children should do and I am sure as heck not going to volunteer.

I did, however, take Owen out to have dinner with them Saturday night. When we arrived they were on a hike (so that's just, like, walking? in a circle? for no reason?), so we hung out and waited for them and it went kind of like this:

Owen! Stay AWAY from the campfire. HOT. HOT. BAD.

No! No, stop touching those plants! It could be poison ivy or something that drips acid! I think I read about a deadly, acid-dripping, plant once!

Jesus Pete how many mosquitoes are OUT here???

Why is it so HOT??

What are we supposed to DO???

NO. FIRE BAD. But not the plants either! And stop wandering! You could get eaten by a bear or run over by car or stolen by hill folk to increase their gene pool! Stay close! But not that close. Good lord you radiate heat. Why do we even need to turn the heat on in the winter when we have you and you could clearly be used in lieu of a fireplace? In fact, lets bury the campfire and roast marshmallows over you and solve a bunch of problems at once. But seriously, get off of me.

Eventually we just went and sat in the car.

So it was nice when everybody got back from their hike (all sweaty and not seeming to care??). It was more fun with other people, and the talking and the eating of food that somebody else had provided. Chris talked about taking the boys swimming and how gross the lake had been and how even he couldn't handle how nasty it was but it was so cute because the boys started to play a game where they jumped over the "goo." Ah-ha-ha.

Why are you letting the baby swim in pollution?

Overall, though, I think they had a good time. And there were no disasters, and Sam did way better than I thought he would at tackling this new experience.

This is one reason it is nice for kids to have two parents. Left on our own, I don't think Kim or I would do a lot of camping, but because we've partnered up, our children get to do these things that generations of crazy relatives have called "character-building" and "fun."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mr. Man! Save me from that yucky thing!

When we arrived home from daycare/work yesterday the kids were feeling noodly and wanted to noodle around the backyard. Which was cool because the weather was nice and we now have a fabulous fenced in back-yard thanks to my Pops. Even though Owen is about as stumped by the gate across the driveway as I am.

It goes like this . . . waddle waddle waddle . . . reach waaaaay up high . . . flick the latch with the very tip of your extended finger . . . push open the gate . . . push it closed from the other side because you are Owen and weirdly taken with "putting things back where they belong??" and then . . . fast waddle! fast waddle! fast waddle! down the driveway while looking over your shoulder, laughing, as mommy demands you Come Back Here. Right NOW. She's hilarious. Then trip over a rock because you weren't looking where you were going. Squeal like an outraged teakettle.

I don't understand this about Owen. In the morning he waits about 10 minutes for us to get our act together and then starts demanding that we "oll OUT." What exactly is so awful about our lovely, toy-and-snack-filled home? When we pull into the driveway after daycare, Owen starts thrashing in his seat, crying, "nooooooo" "NOOOOO!" "Anywhere but heeeeeeeeere!" (maybe not that last part, but it's what he MEANS). And when I do pry him out of his seat and let him loose in our lovely, sand-box-and-climber-filled backyard, his first urge is to escape its clutches.

I digress.

So we're in the backyard and I'm looking at the driveway and see a piece of wood, and isn't it funny but that piece of wood looks just like a dead bird! OH SICK IT IS A DEAD BIRD. I see it's little empty eyeball. Why is it in the middle of my driveway? Did it just fall dead out of the sky? It is pretty little, maybe it's a baby. Wait. That doesn't explain anything. Are baby birds more prone to falling out of the sky? I don't think so. Out of nests, yes, but not the sky. But this appears to not be an infant bird, just a little bird. Do birds have heart attacks? But more to the point KEEP THE CHILDREN AWAY FROM DEAD BIRD. Neither of them have noticed it, but they do seem intent on inadvertently stepping on it. And, Oh, Jeez, now the neighbor girl is asking to come over to play. Well that's just not going to happen with a dead bird lying in the driveway. And you know who doesn't touch dead things? Me. That's cool, Chris will be home soon.

Any minute now.

Annnnnny minute now.


He's not coming.

But the chants from the neighbor girl and the imminent bird squashing by toddler feet are stretching my nerves and I think the neighbor girl's grandfather thinks I'm weird with the "you can come over when Chris gets home" and the acting like football player blocking for the quarterback (did I say that right, Chris?) except the quarterback is a dead bird. So I confess to the girl's grandfather, "Look, there's a dead bird in the driveway. I don't handle that kind of thing. But Chris will be home soon and as soon as he cleans it up, she can come over." And then he says, "Oh, I'll take care of it" and proceeds to LEAP OVER THE FENCE. I don't think Chris could do that. And then he gets a shovel and starts poking the dead bird. Gross, man. And then he PICKS IT UP with his BARE HANDS.

Then he turns to me and says, "Dear, this is a piece of wood."

I tried to argue with him about it's lifeless eye, but he wouldn't listen and just kept showing me this piece of wood.

It seems to me that the combined lack of judgment that Chris and I have been exhibiting recently should at least get me out of jury duty, if not disqualify me from parenthood.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dude, I don't know if you've heard, but Michael Jackson is dead

It's a slow day at work today. We don't have any appointments scheduled and I am largely caught up on all my urgent stuff so I've spent the first two hours here playing on the computer.

And god is it boring.

What is wrong with me? I have access to a wealth of news, entertainment, commentary, and shopping the likes of which has never been seen in the history of human-kind. And I'm all, "But I already checked all the blogs I follow and CNN is just blah blah Michael Jackson blah. What is left to DO?"

What did I used to do for fun?

I used to not work, that was what.

Okay, well, then, what did CAVE PEOPLE do for fun? My guess is that they ate. But times have changed and wherein a cave person's snacky-snack might have been a pine cone, the snacks I've got access to are, again, unrivaled in human history. So I've already done the snack thing to excess and, thusly, I'm on a diet.

Okay, so you're a cave person. Sitting around, munching on moss. You are relatively safe, the sun is shining. Whoops now the moss is all gone. What else do you do? Maybe cave people talked to each other. Could cave people talk? NO QUESTION IS RHETORICAL IN THIS ERA: I just googled it and it looks like the answer is probably, in a fashion.

Maybe the problem is we used to email, and now we facebook. Used to be, if you were bored, you could write long emails to all your friends or hope one of them wrote one to you. But nobody does that anymore. I can't remember the last time I got an email that was just chatty. I still check my email, but it's only advertisements and Netflix notices.

Maybe I should stop writing boring blog posts about being bored and go do some work.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

State Farm, like the undead, harshes my mellow

A lot of you have asked for details of the crappy meeting I mentioned in the last post. Actually, that's not true. Nobody has asked me about my crappy meeting. Thanks, guys. I love you to.

Well, because I feel like talking about it anyway, here it is.

We've got this State Farm insurance agent and she figured out at some point that we did not yet have life insurance, and boy it was like spilling fresh blood in front of a vampire. And like a vampire, I think you have to tear her apart and burn the pieces to keep her from coming back.

Chris did end up buying life insurance from her a few months ago and it was frustrating, but in the end, hey, we did need it, right? We're responsible adults, now. We should do things like get life insurance. So that's cool. We'll give her a pass on how freakin' irritating she was.

But then she got the idea to sell me the life insurance, too. And ever since that happened she's become my own personal person-in-the-mall-kiosk-trying-to-sell-you-spa-scrub. She calls me at home, on the cell, at work. And when I tell her I need to think about it, she gives me a week, or a day, and then calls again. She was relentless. She was like the terminator. Like a vampire terminator.

And then she calls and says, "We need to schedule your annual insurance review!" and while I find that irritating for it's own separate reason, I agreed. And I'm making this sound easier than it was. Initially, I resisted. The day I finally scheduled my insurance meeting, I logged TEN phone calls from them. Who calls you ten times in one day? SOMEONE YOU DON'T WANT TO TALK TO. Someone who is UNDEAD.

Vampires are ALWAYS going over their minutes.

So I go in for my meeting and my actual insurance lady isn't even there, I'm supposed to meet with this random guy. And this is not, it turns out, any kind of annual insurance meeting, unless by "annual insurance meeting" you mean, "meeting to hard sell life insurance." It took me a few minutes to figure out what was going on. That this guy was actually FILLING OUT MY APPLICATION FOR ME, while I watched, instead of, you know, having the dignity to ask me if I WANTED IT.

Did I let him? Yes. And that's what made it crappy. Every time I fall for a hard sell I feel awful. I KNOW the psychology here. I should know better. I should be a grown-up. And I hate them for it. I hate the smarmy, pushy, BLOOD-SUCKERS who do this to people. And I hate myself for LETTING them. That's a lot of hate, dude.

The thing about this experience is that it is hard for me to separate how I feel about the WAY it happened from how I feel about the actual purchase. I think I probably SHOULD have life insurance. And left on my own to mull it over for a few months, I'm pretty sure I would have come to the decision to purchase. And then they would have gotten my business, and I would have felt like I made an adult decision. Instead, I feel like I have life insurance with people who probably aren't even really alive. Who feed, in the night, off of LIFE (insurance policies).

So I don't feel good about how it went down, but I guess it is good that I have it, right?

NOTE - yeah I did just finish Twilight, what about it?
ANOTHER NOTE - If I die within the next month, my bad! State Farm totally rocks!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I DO, Jessica!

I came home from a crap meeting the other day (you know, the kind where for the rest of the day you are going about your business with the vague feeling that something TERRIBLE has happened) and I got the mail. In the mail was a personal card, addressed to ME! Well, that's exciting, isn't it? How often does that happen?

It was from my soon-to-be sister-in-law and, at first, I was really confused. She was saying all these nice things about me and that's just not something that I'm used to. Honestly, my first thought was that she was breaking up with me. Like, Beth, you're really great and, someday, you're going to find a sister-in-law who is really right for you. But it's not me. Tell Thomas I said "Peace."

But then I read all the actual, you know, words and stuff, and she was asking me to be a bridesmaid! And then I was all confused again. Because she's all little and cute and she does know I'm a cow, right? Besides, I'm old enough to have birthed her myself. Why would she want to hang out with me? On her wedding day? I don't get it.

Too late SUCKER!!! I'm totally accepting!!! I get to be a BRIDESMAID! I will wear a matching dress and cut in line at the bar! I will walk around and tell people to do things and when they hesitate I will ask, "Do you know who I am? Let me give you a HINT. I'm wearing a matching dress. That's right, I'm people that knows people. Now GIT." I will tell Jessica she is beautiful, because she is, and I will help her hold her dress while she pees (actually, I'm hoping her sister will take care of that). I will be served dinner first, or at least be first in line at the buffet! I will request a song and that DJ better take it seriously! I will shout, "WooooHooo!" at various times, and with increasing frequency as the night progresses, and nobody will be able to kick me out because I'm a BRIDESMAID, fool.

I'm so excited for my special day.