Are You KIDDING Me With This???

Monday, July 31, 2006


I think I've been watching too much Food Network lately. Last night, I had a dream I was showering with Tyler Florence and Bobby Flay. That's a little odd, in and of itself, but while in the shower together, we were eating lemon bars that Bobby Flay had made. I don't imagine he makes many lemon bars on the grill. Not only that, the lemon bars were less lemony than I would have expected from someone who has shows on the Food Network, not to mention his own restaurant. So there we were, eating our lemon bars, in the shower (MY shower, in case you were wondering, although it must have had at least another linear foot of space in it), which were somehow not getting wet. And the next thing I knew, Tyler Florence stole my lemon bar, so I tackled him and we made out. At least that part made sense.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

It's All About Meme

So there I was, methodically running down my list of blogs, trying to see who had updated lately, when I found myself on Flip's site. For those of you who don't know Flip, we share a special relationship. If Mark is my boyfriend and Nate is my brother, Flip is kind of like my celebrity crush. For some reason, knowing that he reads my blog makes me feel almost famous. Anyway, there I was on Flip's site, and I noticed he had been tagged by a meme.

I was innocently reading along, fascinated by this particular permutation of the meme, in which someone assigns you a letter, and you come up with 10 words that begin with that letter to describe yourself. And then I got to the end. And he tagged me. And he assigned me the letter "s." And I groaned, because in five minutes, I was lucky to come up with ONE word that started with the letter "s" that described me. So for a minute there, I considered telling Flip he was dead to me. But cooler heads prevailed, and I broke out the trusty thesaurus and the next thing I knew, I had 10 words. So, you know, without further ado, this is me in an "s" shaped nutshell.

Steadfast: If you were to ask me what kind of friend I am, the first word that would come to mind would be "loyal." That's why, although Snark's Mistress stubbornly insists that my Ex-Boyfriend is dead to her, I still take his calls. I'm the kind of person who sticks. Which means that if you're my friend, and you get arrested at 2:30 in the morning, I'm the person you call to bail you out.

Snarky: On the other hand, I have a bit of a sarcastic streak. And I am an equal-opportunity snarker. No subject is safe. Politics, religion, superficial celebrity gossip? I'm there, snarking away, usually with Snark's Mistress or Hotass by my side. So when you call me at 2:30 in the morning to bail your ass out of jail, just bear in mind I'm going to give you no end of crap about it later.

Softhearted: I admit it...I'm a big ol' mushball. I cry at the drop of a hat. I was crying so hard, I had little bits of Kleenex stuck to my face at the end of Legends of the Fall, for chrissakes, and that movie, as Snark's Mistress nicely pointed out to me, is the cheesiest piece of crap movie ever. So rest assured that when I pick you up after bailing you out of jail, I will be crying while I give you a big hug.

Supportive: I try to be my friends' and family's biggest cheerleader. I don't always understand the choices they make, but I'm always there to help them along. So when we're on the way home from jail and you tell me that you were framed and the cops were totally out to get you for no reason, I'll be right there with you, nodding vehemently and interjecting a few "Those BASTARDS" where appropriate.

Strange: I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm a little....quirky. Surprised? I know. Sometimes it's hard to tell. But it's true. Spend any amount of time with me and you'll come to the same conclusion. But that's okay, because after I've bailed you out of jail and given you no end of crap about it, you will have any number of embarassing stories you can threaten me with if I don't shut up about your arrest record already!

Slothful: I'm not proud of this fact, but I have a tendency to be a bit on the lazy side. I try to contain this particular trait to limited bursts of time. Because after sitting on my ass for a long period of time, I get frustrated by the stuff that piles up and the pouty look on Turtle's face. But I'm not always successful. So, you know, if it takes me a little longer than you think it should to get to the jail to bail you out, I'm sorry. I had a bit of a motivation issue.

Scrappy: When I think of the word "scrappy," I always think of Maggie Smith. And I think I could do worse than be compared to Maggie Smith. In any event, I am a feisty, opinionated, no-nonsense kind of girl. So when I come bail your ass out of jail, and you tell me you were mistreated while you were incarcerated, you can bet I'll raise hell and not be satisfied until appropriate recompense has been paid.

Strategist: One of the more annoying things about me is that I plan everything. Up to and including when my son was conceived. It's not that I don't like surprises, it's just that I feel if I have a plan ahead of time, when it goes to hell, at least I have some basis for comparing how far into hell things have gone. Of course, I don't think being a consummate planner is all least I'll have step-by-step instructions for you on how to get out of trouble when I come bail your ass out of jail.

Stubborn: I think, as a Taurus, this one goes without saying. I can dig my heels in like no other...except perhaps Snark's Mistress who, as a fellow Taurus, is equally adept at being an obstinate pain in the ass. Oscar will probably tell you that this is one trait he wishes I didn't possess. But he can bite me. He's stubborn too, and he doesn't have astrology to fall back on as an excuse. Besides, I wear my stubbornness like a badge of honor. It's the one trait I possess that would force me to overcome my reluctance to go to a bail bondsman so I could bail your ass out of jail.

Sci-Fi Freak: Stargate SG-1, anyone? And back in the day, The X-Files. And before that, Star Trek: The Next Generation. And prior to that....well, you get the point. Mama Jo has an incredibly voluminous library of science fiction books. You could argue that my fandom started in the womb. I know that most people don't understand my fascination with it, and that's okay. It just means more SG-1 for me, and I'm okay with that. Of course, my overdeveloped interest in it does increase the likelihood that I will, in fact, be the one needing to be bailed out of jail at 2:30 in the an unfortunate consequence of stalking Michael Shanks, Christopher Judge, and Richard Dean Anderson. But I'm okay with that, too. I have a feeling Snark's Mistress will be keeping me company.

Speaking of which, having now revealed myself to you in all of my "s" word glory, I hereby tag the following people to play along and describe themselves in 10 words:

Snark's Mistress: You are probably not even going to distinguish this meme with a response, so I'll give you "E," just because.
Nate: Let's see what you can do with the letter "Q."
Mark: You're ALSO probably not going to play along, but I'll give you "T," because lots of words start with "t" and you have enough going on with work.
Lunatic Wife: You have a blog now, so start paying your dues....submit to the power of the meme. Your letter is "H."

Have fun, guys. I did.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Project Runway Episode 3

I think I need a hit of whatever it is the judges were smoking during the last elimination. Angela's dress looked like hot, fried ass and not in a good way. And quite honestly, I'd wear something that was "simple," even if poorly constructed, before I'd wear something that made me look like a crack whore.

Also? Keith is an asshole. But how cute was his dog? I mean, he would have been cuter if he'd been dressed, but I hear naked dogs are the new black.

God, I love this show.

Carry on.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Can't You Just Make It Work????

Right before I left for vacation, McMama and I were talking, as we are wont to do, and I casually mentioned to her that I had not seen her IP address pop up on my blog's stat counter. I thought this was rather significant, considering McMama is rather obsessive about my blog (a fact which makes me love McMama even more, if that is possible,) so I asked her what was happening. Little did I know that I was opening a rather large can of worms.

See, McMama's computer was not working properly. Actually, it wasn't really working at all. And McMama, being a proactive kind of woman, took it upon herself to embark on what she thought would be a positive course of action: she contacted Dell Tech Support. It's really too bad that our lives are not accompanied by killer soundtracks, like in the movies. If they were, the minute McMama picked up the phone, she would have noted the "twinkling music of impending doom" and would have foreseen how this was destined to end. Instead, McMama spent a very dissatisfying hour and a half on the phone with Dell, with nothing to show for it but a still-broken computer and a boatload of frustration involving how they deal with customer issues.

Dell's solution to McMama's problem was to have her open up her computer, start unplugging and replugging wires (some of which required highly skilled detective work to even find,) check this, remove that, turn this on, turn that off, jump on one foot, pat her head, rub her tummy, yell "Dell Support" three times with her back to a mirror, and contact the dead spirit of Elvis Presley. I'm guessing that this didn't solve the problem because the last one was a trick; Elvis clearly isn't dead. In any case, an hour and a half of this exercise later, and they still weren't willing to send a technician out to look at her computer. And it's not because she doesn't have a warranty, either.

Anyway, as she relayed this story to me, I was clearly sympathetic, because I've dealt with customer service people who were anything but "customer" or "service" oriented. And that did sound like a monumental pain in the ass, particularly since it didn't resolve anything. And McMama did make the quite valid point that an elderly person was not going to have the easiest time doing all of the things that she had to do to test her system and if they couldn't understand that and STILL wouldn't send a tech out unless someone completed these steps, well....quite obviously something is wrong with their business. But. In the back of my mind, I confess to thinking that if it had been me, I would have had no problem doing anything they instructed, because I've seen Oscar take computers apart countless times. So I have a fair idea of how they're constructed, how resilient they are, and how not to screw things up.

Note the "twinkling music of "Oh, this bitch is SO going to get hers now!" playing in the soundtrack of my life.

Last night, when my laptop started doing that freak-out thing, Oscar systematically went about diagnosing the problem before he even considered contacting Dell. And when he DID finally get online with Dell, I thought it would be a brief conversation before they agreed to send a tech out. After all, I did pay the extra money to get the special 2 year, in-home tech support warranty option. I mean, McMama probably just had a basic warranty, right? That's why they went through all those steps with her before they would even consider (and then reject) sending a tech out? Right? Right? Hahahahaha. NO.

Instead, Oscar spent an hour online with a tech, who ultimately wanted him to take my laptop apart. Now, I have no problem taking apart a CPU, but a laptop? Are you KIDDING me????? It's a laptop! It's all scary and small and stuff. You don't seriously want us to take it apart, do you? Isn't that counterproductive? I want it fixed, not broken even more! And what if something else breaks while I'm in the process of taking this thing apart? Are you going to tell me that I've voided my warranty, because the damage was self-inflicted? IS THAT YOUR SCAM, YOU STUPID, SMUG, UNSUPPORTIVE TECH GUY????

Apparently it was, because we weren't going to get any more assistance until we took the laptop apart. I all of a sudden had newfound respect for McMama's computer plight. I mean, it all worked out in the end, obviously, because my laptop is working, Oscar didn't kill anybody and I never did have to contact the dead spirit of Elvis Presley. But the whole situation really got me thinking about Dell's system.

McPapa actually works somewhat tangentially with Dell Support and he informed McMama that the reason they are reluctant to send techs out at the first sign of trouble is that it costs a lot of money to send someone out and the techs usually find that the problem is so easily fixable, it could be taken care of by the customer with some diagnostics and coaching. And I'm sympathetic, really. Dell needs to make its money too, and overall, I'm quite happy with my (relatively) inexpensive laptop. But why encourage people to buy an extended warranty plan that leads your customers into believing that when they have a problem, a nerdy little tech guy will show up on their doorsteps, ready and willing to do whatever necessary to get your computer fixed? Seriously. WHY, Dell Support, did I spend the extra money on my warranty when you made ME (okay, well, OSCAR) do all the work to get my laptop up and running again? So you could save money? Should I send you MY bill? I assure you, my hourly rate is more than reasonable.

In any case, the whole situation just annoyed me. It annoyed me and it concerned me. I mean, I consider myself relatively tech savvy. I can't imagine how other people, who don't have the benefit of living with a computer geek, might feel about the kind of "support" we were offered. Although, I would not be surprised if the words "uncomfortable," "apprehensive," and "uncertain" came to mind. I just think there's a better way of handling this. Besides, I would imagine Elvis has better things to do than fix computers.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bad News/Good News

Bad News: Before tonight, I hadn't posted anything in 5 days.
Good News: I am making up for it a little by posting twice in one evening.

Bad News: While working on my last post, a computer glitch I had been sporadically experiencing decided to graduate into a full-fledged problem.
Good News: I was able to work around it enough to at least finish my post.

Bad News: The computer problem was bad enough that I was concerned I might be without my precious laptop for several days, if not longer.
Good News: Oscar was home. Oscar is a computer genius. Oscar could help.

Bad News: Oscar couldn't help enough to fix my computer, just identify that my problem was significant. (Thanks, babe....I figured that out all by myself.)
Good News: He very sweetly got online to Dell Support for me to find out what to do about my poor, crippled laptop. (Sorry for the sarcasm, honey. You know I love you.)

Bad News: Dell Support sucks big fat elephant balls.
Good News: Oscar is a patient man.

Bad News: Dell Support was out to screw me in a big way. They wanted me to undo the screws and open up my laptop to the elements. Then they wanted me to reseat the cable to my keyboard. As if THAT would help, losers.
Good News: Okay, not so much "me" as "Oscar" and he's so much better at that stuff than I am. I read the instructions and went "What the hell?!?!?!?" Oscar, on the other hand, read the instructions and proceeded to very competently open up my laptop and reseat the cable.

Bad News: Reseating the keyboard actually worked, and Oscar had to eat crow with the support tech he'd been abusing for at least an hour. (Okay, not "abusing," really. He just wanted to strangle the guy...he didn't actually do it. Of course, the fact that Dell Support Guy was undoubtedly in India and therefore out of reach was a significant factor.)
Good News: Reseating the keyboard actually worked. Which meant, when Oscar went to eat crow, the stupid Dell Support Guy said, "I was pretty sure that it would resolve the issue." (Smug bastard.) Which meant I had the opportunity to pipe up, "Gee, don't break your neck sucking your own dick, dude." Which meant Oscar dissolved into the first fit of genuine laughter I think I've heard from him all week. I think it was worth it.

Bad News: Now I won't be able to use the "poor, ailing laptop" as an excuse not to compose a post tomorrow (which will no doubt delineate in exquisite detail why I love my Dell laptop, but I hate Dell Support).
Good News: Now I won't be able to use the "poor, ailing laptop" as an excuse not to compose a post tomorrow (which will no doubt delineate in exquisite detail why I love my Dell laptop, but I hate Dell Support).

Looks like we're all winners here. Except for Dell Support. Smug, annoying bastards.

Choose Your Own Blog Adventure

Hi Kids! Sorry to be absent from my little corner of the blogosphere for the past couple of days. I've been busy (a) cleaning my house, (b) counseling a friend through a marital crisis, (c) watching a boatload of porn. I have no excuse really, except that (a) my living room has never been neater, (b) my friend has really needed me lately, (c) I think I finally figured out how Jenna Jameson gets her leg to do that thing and I can't wait to try it with Oscar. If it makes you feel any better, (a) Lunatic Wife gave me crap today about not updating, (b) Snark's Mistress hasn't updated her blog, lately, either, and probably won't, even if you ask, (c) I'll send you some porn, too.

So what's new with you? Over in this neck of the woods, (a) Oscar is currently working two jobs PLUS his consulting gigs, so I hardly ever see him, (b) we've been experiencing record heat here and I feel like melting into a big puddle of goo, (c) I have discovered that the importance of having an engaging plot is inversely proportionate to the heat generated during the sex scenes in your average porn flick. But that's okay because (a) Oscar is making some pretty decent money, and we might actually be able to get out of debt in our lifetimes, (b) our air conditioning is working quite nicely (knock on wood) and Turtle has been enjoying himself, dancing along to various musical numbers on both television and the radio, (c) even though our personal stash of porn is on the low end of the "great porn" spectrum, there are still many intriguing selections to be found on the internet.

Also? With my non-blogging time? I have managed to (a) organize Oscar's sock drawer, (b) spend quality time with Turtle, (c) research what I'm hoping will be more satisfactory porn selections for future purchase. And that really makes me feel like I've made progress in my quest to be a better (a) wife, (b) mom, (c) slut. In fact, even though I know I have given you the expectation that I will update every day, I might just start (a) updating my blog only when I feel particularly inspired, (b) making you write your own blog entries, on my behalf, (c) writing for porn instead of my blog. I'm not committed to that idea, it's just something I'm (a) mulling over, given that I don't want to write something substandard, just for the sake of posting something in a given day, (b) trying for the day, since I used to love the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books as a kid, (c) hoping will generate extra income for us (since porn is one of the most lucrative industries out there) so Oscar doesn't have to work as hard.

What do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know. I (a) am really interested in your feedback, (b) figure if I'm too busy to write an actual entry, I'm probably also too busy to read your comments, but feel that having a lot of comments posted to my blog wins me some sort of popularity contest, (c) need something to do in between watching porn. Thanks for your support!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Did I Say Something About A Gnome?

I was looking for a particular picture on my camera this morning when I realized I still hadn't downloaded all of the pictures of my vacation yet. And that, of course, meant that I still hadn't made good on my promise to post about what a good time my gnome had on his travels. Shame on me. Really, the gnome had an excellent time, particularly when other people came up to him and commented about how lucky he was that we remembered to bring him because they had REALLY wanted to kidnap their neighbors' gnome to bring along with them, but for whatever reason or another, didn't do it. (Yes, that really happened. In Niagara Falls of all places.)

Anyway, I'm sure the Gnome would have reminded me to post this sooner, but I still haven't unpacked him yet. But without further ado, here is the Gnome on Vacation:

6-26-2006 5-40-44 AM
Don't let their small stature fool you. Gnomes are notorious for overpacking.

6-26-2006 5-40-59 AM
Gnomes in the know always fly Continental, for the ease of their advance online check-in.

6-26-2006 6-30-07 AM
Taking a moment to stretch his legs, the Gnome begins to wonder how much longer he'll have to wait before the in-flight movie begins.

6-26-2006 12-30-19 PM
Sometimes you just need a time out.

6-26-2006 5-33-56 PM
And sometimes, the reason you need a time out is because what you REALLY need is a nap.

6-28-2006 4-50-31 PM
Having successfully made it to Rochester, the Gnome realizes he needs to pick up a few things from the store.

6-28-2006 4-58-33 PM
Being a considerate house guest, the Gnome decides to make dinner one night. Since McMama is hopeless with a chicken breast, he figures he'll show her how it's REALLY done.

6-28-2006 10-39-05 AM
After picking up his luggage, the Gnome decides to stop at Bob Evans for some breakfast.

6-29-2006 11-12-26 AM
En route to lunch, the Gnome encounters construction. Thankfully, it does not cause too much of a delay.

6-30-2006 11-51-21 AM
Mmmm....homemade macaroni and cheese.

6-29-2006 7-04-01 PM
Of course, no trip to New York is complete without the requisite trip to Dunkin Donuts.

7-4-2006 2-46-13 PM
The Gnome decides to put his diet on hold in favor of some excellent ice cream from Papa Jack's. He's big on the sprinkles.

7-5-2006 11-30-22 AM
Wistfully watching the boats pass by, the Gnome contents himself by feeding the ducks at the lake.

But the Gnome's favorite part of his trip? Was the day we took him to Niagara Falls.

7-10-2006 11-30-44 AM
Being afraid of heights, the Gnome decided to pass on walking out onto the big platform overlooking the American Falls.

7-10-2006 11-35-39 AM
He's in the US! No, wait! He's in Canada! No, wait! He's in two places at once!

7-10-2006 11-45-09 AM
Checking out one of the gardens around the Falls, the Gnome feels right at home.

7-10-2006 12-48-40 PM
Not wanting to muss his hair, the Gnome is grateful for the slickers provided for his Maid of the Mist tour.

7-10-2006 11-54-22 AM
The Gnome contemplates taking home a souvenir of his time away from home. What a great vacation...!

Project Runway

Isn't it a bit EARLY to be giving Malan his "I had a troubled childhood so you must love me" REDEMPTION ARC???? It was the second episode! He was pretentious and annoying. No amount of "my mommy didn't believe in me" bullshit is going to make me feel bad about the fact that he's gone. GAH!

Carry on.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Boys And Their Toys

Oscar is practically doing back flips in his office right now. He recently bought surround-sound speakers for his computer, and was finally able to get them all working tonight. We don't even have surround-sound speakers for our television and he has them for his computer. Of course, if I were to be honest, I would tell you that I'm more concerned about getting a better television before I consider speakers. But my topic tonight has nothing to do with honesty and everything to do with needling Oscar. So let's move on, shall we?

Oscar asked me to sit down in his chair and behold the greatness that is his new speakers. And yes, they are very nice speakers. My toes were tingling from the thumping bass. I suppose by awesome-speaker-standards, that's a good thing, but I don't know a whole lot about these things. Anyway, Oscar started telling me about his friend's system, which I'm guessing was the impetus for his purchase, considering I didn't have a clue that Oscar was jonesing for surround-sound. As he waxed poetic about his friend's set-up, and how loud it was when he walked into his friend's office and how you could feel the bass thumping, and blah-blah-blah-I-wasn't-really-listening-cakes, I sat in silence, waiting for my opportunity. When it finally popped up in the form of Oscar pausing to take a breath, I made my move:

"Awww, honey, is that why you decided to buy speakers? You were feeling like your penis wasn't big enough?"

Oscar's jaw clenched as he stared me down. I grinned adorably. He called me a name I won't repeat, as he will undoubtedly feel bad about it later. (Or at least, I like to pretend that he'll feel bad about it later.) Then we laughed together, because there's nothing better than having a conversation in which one of us calls the other a nasty name to make us feel the love.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Reason #187 Why My Husband Is Awesome

My weekend was certainly not what I had hoped. After traveling on Wednesday and trying to get back to a regular schedule on Thursday and Friday, I had formed this vision in my mind that the weekend would be calm and relaxing and would mostly consist of us sitting around, watching the Food Network and ordering take-out. Instead, I dragged Turtle over to Mama Jo's house and then, later, to Snark's Mistress's house so Oscar could have quiet, uninterrupted time with which to finish up a consulting project. And although he was able to get quite a bit done, all of that time he spent working meant we didn't spend very much time together as a family, and I didn't have too much help managing Turtle. So much for the nice, relaxing, "all couch potato, all the time" weekend I had envisioned.

As a result, I wasn't in the best of moods by the time last night rolled around. In fact, I was pretty bitchy. It didn't help, of course, that part of the reason I was so bitchy was that I really couldn't blame anyone for my pissy mood. It's not like Oscar wanted to spend his whole weekend working any more than I wanted him to. And the money he brings in from doing these consulting projects is extremely valuable to our family. So really, I was cranky and bitchy and I couldn't blame anyone which just made me more cranky and bitchy and it was a vicious, vicious cycle, is all I'm saying.

Which brings me to why my husband is awesome: after putting up with my terse, one-word answers to his questions and my snappish comments and bitchy mood in general, Oscar disappeared into the kitchen for a while. And when Oscar came back out from the kitchen, he had my foot spa in his hands, already filled with warm water. And after letting me soak my feet, Oscar then dried them both and gave them brief massages. And after giving my feet massages, he......can you believe this?.......gave me a pedicure. That's right. He cleaned up my cuticles and painted my toenails and OMIGOD I have the BEST. HUSBAND. EVER!!!!!

Know what else? He didn't even expect to get laid after all of that! He just did it to make me feel better because he knew I was in a bad mood. HOW DID I GET THIS LUCKY???? Now I'm kind of wondering what I could get for him on eBay. Not that I am looking to get rid of him because HELLO? You do not get rid of a man who gives you a pedicure without demanding sex later. I'm just thinking maybe we could make some extra money if I rented him out for an hour at a time.... that I think of it, that's a posting better suited to craigslist than eBay. We'll be out of debt before we know it.

Shouldn't There Be Some Licensing Requirements For This Or Something?

I don't profess to be the world's greatest mother. Not even close. I love Turtle and I think I do pretty well at providing the basics: love, discipline, consistency, guidance, support, food (and lots of it....this kid can EAT!), that kind of thing. But when Mama Jo or McMama, after spending time with my little boy, tell me what a great mom I am, I demur. I'm far from perfect. And Turtle probably watches entirely too much Playhouse Disney. And we don't spend enough time outdoors (although I blame that primarily on the fact that it's 115 degrees in the summer.) And he has at least one temper tantrum a day. I'm certainly not up for any awards.

Of course, my self-perception changes a bit when I'm face to face with a mother who is struggling to provide even the basics.

Oscar's step-brother, as I mentioned, showed up with his new girlfriend and her three kids mid-way through my vacation. They had to drive 24 hours straight to get to New York. And since they barely had the money to make the trip, they didn't have much money left over for incidentals. Such as toys. Or food. Or lodging, apparently, as they ended up staying in a tent on his mother's property. That being the case, we saw quite a bit of them.

I actually thought I would like the girlfriend (whom we will call Joan for the purposes of this exercise.) Despite the fact that I thought it pretty odd that a woman who had only been dating a man for three weeks would then move herself and her three kids into his home, and then take an exceedingly long road trip with those kids to visit that man's parents, I was prepared to enjoy the unique solidarity of having a fellow mom, my own age, in the house. I thought it might be fun to bond over toilet-training techniques and the like. I was completely prepared to enjoy her company. Unfortunately, that feeling only lasted about an hour.

It didn't take long to discover that our parenting styles were polar opposites. That is to say, I actually had a parenting style, and she, regrettably, did not. Joan wasn't often bothered by the fact that her kids were running wild in a house that wasn't their own. That probably has something to do with the fact that she was most often found on the back deck, smoking her cigarette and drinking her beer, blissfully ignoring the fact that she actually HAD kids. When she could be bothered to notice that a) she had kids, b) her kids were, in fact, running wild, and c) they probably needed some discipline, her solution was to yell at them and then head back out to the deck, thereby providing zero follow-up. So her admonitions only lasted as long as she was in the room, watching them.

It's not like this is the first time I have come across this kind of hands, ears and eyes-off parenting approach. I do spend a lot of time at the play areas at the mall with Turtle, after all. But in those cases, at least, I could feel a tug of sympathy for the kids, but then go home with my own and not have to worry about it again. In the case of Joan, I was an authority figure in the house in which her kids were running rampant. Not to mention the fact that I was the parent of the little boy who was chasing these little girls around. And I DO pay attention to what my child is doing. So, by default, more often than not, I (and McMama and McPapa and Oscar's sisters) ended up parenting her kids. And that really chapped my lily-white ass.

Not just because it wasn't fair to me, but because it wasn't fair to Joan's kids. They barely knew me, but all of a sudden I was in a position to order them around, mediate their fights and keep them in line? Joan had known me less than an hour before she decided that it was just fine, since I was watching my kid anyway, if I watched hers, too. I'm not saying that first impressions aren't important, but I am saying that in the case of Turtle, I expect a hell of a lot more face time with someone before I decide they can be trusted with my little boy. For all Joan knew, I was way too strict and would have made her kids stand in the corner for hours on end for even the most minute of offenses. Or worse, I could have been too lax, and let them play in traffic without batting an eye. The point is, she didn't know me, or even McMama and McPapa, well enough to blithely turn her back on her kids. Which is exactly what she did.

To be fair, things could be completely different when they're back on their home turf. Vacations do tend to mess with a family's routines, after all. I will be the first one to admit that. But honestly? I don't think that was the case here. The behavior of those kids indicated to me that they had been attention-deprived for much longer than that one week. And at the heart of it, that's what upset me the most. These kids were suffering because their mom wouldn't muster up enough parenting know-how to attend to their basic needs. They weren't bad kids. They just had a bad mom. Which just makes me wonder: why even have children if you're not going to love them, nurture them, and pay attention to them? Get a goldfish and call it a day. The rest of the world will thank you for it, trust me.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Back To Reality

It always seems difficult to get back in the swing of things upon returning home from a vacation. On the child front, I went from having three live-in babysitters one week, to having five live-in babysitters the next week, to having no live-in babysitters and being completely on my own with my toddler and Oh My GOD, how did I ever do this before, by MYSELF, and how soon does Oscar get home because this child seems to require constant ATTENTION, and you want me to fix you scrambled eggs AGAIN, and please dear holy gods of Disney, just suck my little boy into your alternate animal-speaking realities for FIVE MINUTES, would you, so I can go hide in my bedroom and pretend that I remember how this used to work!

Okay, honestly, it hasn't been that bad. It IS taking some adjusting, because two weeks is more than ample time for our routine to get completely tossed out the window. And reestablishing order with a 2 year old is like....well....I was going to come up with an appropriate analogy, but there isn't one really. Reestablishing order with a 2 year old is like nothing else. But for the most part, Turtle has been pretty easy-going about everything and has settled back into his own room and his own schedule fairly easily. I think that may have something to do with the fact that he's been very excitedly getting reacquainted with his toys, but whatever it is, I'm not complaining.

So kid-wise, we're not in really bad shape. But I am struggling with two things: fatigue and the weather. Working with a three-hour time difference between where you were and where you are now is always difficult. Add to that the fact that we tried to cram a lot into a short period of time, and the fact that Oscar's step-brother showed up somewhat unexpectedly with his new girlfriend and her three children (ages 2, 4, and 9) (about which you can expect to hear a long rant later) with all of the noise and chaos you can reasonably expect with five extra people hanging around the house for a week, and then, of course, there was the main reason for our visit: McPapa's birthday party, which took two solid days of cooking between me and McPapa to prepare.....Put it all together and I think it's pretty self-evident that despite all the fun we had, it was not the most restful of vacations.

That doesn't even take into account the fact that the day before we left NY for home, Oscar and I got three hours of sleep, and then flew 6+ hours with a cranky toddler. I think, if we were still childless, Oscar and I would have gotten home, collapsed on the bed and slept for at least eight hours straight. But, of course, we are not childless, so we were lucky to get in a couple of hours worth of nap before Turtle decided he was done with the sleeping thing, and let's check and make sure all of my toys are still here, shall we? So the utter and complete bone-weary exhaustion? Has not abated.

And it's not being done any favors by the weather here, either. I've never been a big fan of Arizona summers, but I can usually put up with it, because for the most part, I'm able to forget that this oppressive heat is not found many other places in the country. Of course, then I go and do something silly, like schedule a vacation right in the middle of one of the hottest parts of the summer, and go somewhere that I can sit outside on the deck in the morning and get a slight chill and drink my very hot coffee and not sweat a single drop. At all. All day long. And where, occasionally, I have to go inside to grab my jacket because I'm actually a little on the cold side. In July. (Really? There are places where you can DO that????) So then I come home during a streak of record-breaking heat and all I can do is look around and think "Has it ALWAYS been this mind-numbingly hot here?" before I pass out from heat exhaustion and dehydration.

It really isn't any worse than it's always been, but that's kind of the point. It's always this hot during the summer, and coming from the gorgeous weather we had in NY, it's taking me that much longer to readjust to it. (And also prompting me to peruse real estate websites, looking for homes for sale in McMama's area, but that's another story.) Not even the lure of the pool is helping, because, well, I'm kind of afraid to go out there, even though Oscar assures me that it did just fine in our absence and just needs the usual maintenance, not the $500 worth of chemicals and other treatments to bring it back from the deeply green color it was earlier this year.

So we're getting settled back in, but it's a slow process. Still, I can't really complain. We had a great time, and McMama and McPapa now understand what I mean when they're talking on the phone with Turtle and I tell them that they would be laughing their asses off if they could just see his facial expressions. And Turtle's aunties were able to indulge their need to spoil their favorite nephew by buying out half a toy store. And Oscar and I were able to enjoy some kid-free time. All in all, it was a great vacation. It's just too bad it had to be over so quickly.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Yeah, Not So Much With That

So there I was, smugly thinking that I would have all manner of things to post while I was on vacation. Because I was with McMama, and when I am with McMama, there's no telling what kind of hijinks will ensue. And surely something would happen every day that would be blog-worthy and about which I'd be rushing up to my room at night to write long, glorious posts. Right? Right?

Well, we had an excellent time together, as we always do, but most of it was spent just doing normal every day things. And I was so busy enjoying the fact that I could sit on the back deck (which McMama painted and decorated like a nouveau, less felonious Martha Stewart), soak up the beautiful weather and just relax, that I was not particularly inclined to rush upstairs and sit by my computer to wait for inspiration to strike. So I neglected you. And you know what? I don't even feel all that bad about it.

Okay, that was a bald-faced lie. I do feel bad about it. Particularly since I checked my stats today, and it appears everyone has disappeared, given the lack of new material to read. So in addition to feeling bad about it, I now feel the pressure to be even MORE witty and clever than I am normally, in a desperate attempt to lure you back. Because I need constant validation, people! My self-esteem is a fragile thing.

In any event, I am back home now and am planning on resuming regular posting immediately. (Particularly since I am no longer sharing a house with McMama. She is not so demanding of the new content when we see each other 24/7. But when I am not in her immediate vicinity? She cracks that whip like nobody's business.) On the agenda: that long-ago promised pictoral representation of our trip, featuring my gnome. Seriously, I think that gnome might have had more fun than I did on this vacation. Also? A rant on why, if you're going to have children, it might be a good idea to pay attention to those children. And, of course, some fun stories featuring McMama (who, amazingly is still speaking to me after the post about her cooking!) Of course, all of this assumes that you are all still out there, randomly checking in to see if I'm still here...... (I am, by the way.) (Please feel free to start running up my stat counter again.) (I love you.) (I won't leave you again, I promise.) (Or at least, never for this long.) (Please come back?) (Okay, that is all.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Sahara Has Nothing On Us

Okay, so here's the thing about McMama: she is an excellent baker. She makes the most exquisitely beautiful wedding cakes. And her cookies are unbelievably adorable. Her pies not only taste incredible, they are practically works of art. There is no question. When it comes to baking, McMama is the master. When it comes to cooking, on the other hand....well, let's just say that for the most part, she leaves it up to McPapa.

Unfortunately, this strategy doesn't always work. The last time Turtle and I visited, McPapa was out of town for a couple of days on business. And not wanting to eat out every night, there were a few evenings during which McMama was responsible for putting dinner on the table. On one particular night, she decided to show off her culinary expertise by throwing some chicken in the rotisserie (Ronco is a beautiful thing, apparently). To be fair, she had told Oscar's sister to take the chicken out of the freezer earlier in the day to get it thawed before it started turning on the spit, and Oscar's sister conveniently forgot to do so. So the chicken needed a little microwaveable assistance to get it to the point where you could use it for more than just a hockey puck. And not even the microwave could do a perfect job, so McMama decided to give it just a little bit more time in the rotisserie to take care of the extra thawing. So you could reasonably argue that what happened with that chicken was not completely McMama's fault.

But, as you might imagine, the little extra time in the rotisserie not only took care of the extra thawing, it also took care of any extra juices that may have been present in the chicken. It has become an inside joke in the family that not even a full container of applesauce could save that chicken. It was drier than dry. It was so dry, we became dehydrated just looking at it. McMama, the brilliant baker, had destroyed that chicken beyond all recognition.

Now, being the kind of person who just does not let these things go, I have never missed an opportunity to needle McMama about that poor desiccated chicken. If she tells me that she cooked dinner the night before, I ask if there's any applesauce left in the surrounding counties. When she comes to visit us, I try to put chicken on the menu often and when she asks if she can help, I shoo her away before her presence causes all the juices in the meal to mysteriously dry up. I. Do. Not. Let. It. Go. I am such a bitch that way.

But even I have my limits. The other day, McMama was telling me about how she and McPapa have recently rediscovered the joys of the pressure cooker. She was bragging about how she has not made a dry chicken since that fateful day with the rotisserie. And she assured me that the pork chops she was going to put in the pressure cooker that night would be the most moist pork chops I had ever had. So I was greatly anticipating dinner that evening, particularly when the savory aromas of the chops browning in the cooker started wafting through the house. I might have even drooled for a little bit.

When we sat down to dinner, I was eagerly anticipating a meal so succulent, it would more than do justice to McMama's considerable talents in the kitchen. I took my first bite. I was perplexed; the pork chop was dry. But I kept my mouth shut. It was a piece on the end, I reasoned. The middle would surely be juicier. I kept eating. It didn't get any better. The meat had great flavor but I had to keep my water nearby to help me get through the meal. Still, I said nothing. I was trying so hard to be good. I don't mind needling McMama in a good natured way, but I love her and don't really want her to feel bad about the fact that every time she cooks for me, I can't help but be confused at how someone so amazing with a cake could be so completely hopeless with a piece of meat.

So I had every intention of never saying a word. In fact, I had almost completely consumed my chop when McPapa looked up from his plate and asked, "Is your meat dry?" Glad that he had been the one to say something, I chuckled with relief. I still wasn't going to give her a hard time, but at least I didn't have to suffer in silence any more. McMama, meanwhile, looked surprised. Apparently, her chop was just fine. McPapa and I seemed to be the only ones trudging through the desert-like landscape of our dinner plates.

Personally, I kind of wonder if she dried out my pork chop on purpose, as a sort of revenge for my needling her all this time for the chicken that only applesauce could render remotely edible. But she seemed so intent on proving that the chicken was a fluke, so I'm not quite sure. Either way, I now know the rules to being a guest at McMama's house. If McMama is BAKING, then loosen the belt a few notches. If McMama is COOKING, get takeout or you're going hungry.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

You Don't Understand....I Smelled Really, Really Bad

One of the unfortunate consequences of taking an alternative route to McMama's house was that my luggage did not automatically take the detour with me. As I mentioned previously, the gate attendant with whom I spoke seemed to believe that my bags would be sent on to Buffalo with or without any intervention on my or his part and there was nothing I could do about it, so I might as well just shut up and sit down, because I wasn't going to get HIM to do his job and see if there was any way to get my flags on the flight to Rochester, NO SIRREE!!! By that point, I really didn't care, because I don't think I actually believed that I was getting on a flight to Rochester, anyway, so the location of my luggage was hardly my primary concern. But when I DID get on a flight to Rochester and I DID have to consider the lack of toothbrush, toothpaste and sleep wear I had available, the difficulty of not having my bags get on the same flight with me became more apparent.

It became even more apparent the next day, when I called baggage services and discovered that my luggage could be located in any one of three places, Buffalo, Newark, or Rochester, and there was no way to find out where they were without starting a claim, and by the way, while we're on the subject, why didn't you start a claim at the airport, and well, that would be because the gate attendant was wearing his cranky pants yesterday and didn't want to help me, and oh, well, we're probably not going to be able to find your bags for at least 24-48 hours, so I hope you have money to go buy extra underwear, or you're going to start to stink really soon, and I appreciate it but that's not really going to help because we crossed that bridge already. After being in either an airplane or an airport for 13+ hours the day before and sleeping in some of the same clothes overnight, I was not exactly minty fresh. Luckily for me, McMama vowed to tell me the minute I turned the corner into "too smelly to comfortably be around" and to hold the hose so I could stand under the running water with all my clothes on and lather up.

Anyway, the very, VERY nice woman helping me locate my bags did say that if I hadn't heard anything back by the evening, I should give them a call back and they'd see what they could do. And this is where I made a mistake, I think, because when we HADN'T heard anything by the evening and I DID call back, I listened to the chirpy little voice on their phone directory when it said that I could check the status of my claim by looking on the internet. By entering in the claim number the baggage services representative gave me, I could track my luggage without having to disturb their customer service line. And I didn't want to disturb them, because the woman with whom I spoke was so nice to me, and I was sure she was dealing with hundreds of customer claims that day. So I kept disturbing the internet instead, over and over and over again, with no change. (I really think I could have gotten faster service if I'd kept calling. Live and learn, I guess.)

When I checked again early the next morning and found there was STILL no change, I decided it was time to call back. Much as I didn't want to disturb the baggage services representatives, I smelled really bad, and my clothes felt like they could easily stand on their own without me. I wasn't quite so sick of them that I was ready to burn them, but we were walking a thin line, so finding my luggage was really in my best interest. When I got someone on the phone, after waiting my requisite 12 minutes, I told the very, VERY nice woman helping me that I would not be at all surprised if my bags were in Buffalo, and if she could just get someone to CONFIRM that for me, I would drop everything and drive to Buffalo to pick them up. She put me on hold. I rocked out to James Brown while I waited. McMama laughed at me. I waited some more. And then? Victory! The lovely woman came back on the line and told me it was time to drop everything - my bags were in Buffalo. EUREKA! I could take a shower and put real perfume on and clean underwear and clean clothes and I wouldn't smell like a homeless person! BRILLIANT!

So we went to Buffalo, and we picked up my bags. And I'm happy to report that everything was intact. My laptop had the same smears on the screen that it had when I packed it away. But I have given it some thought, and I have decided on a new packing strategy for the future. I have decided that the next time I take a trip, some very key items are going in my carry-on. A clean pair of underwear, so it takes longer for me to start smelling like the inside of a whorehouse. My toothbrush and toothpaste, so I have some recourse when my mouth starts to taste like ass. My perfume, so when I take a sponge bath (feeling, of course, that since I have to wear the same clothes non-stop, a full shower is rather pointless), I can still stink pretty. And cyanide pills, to slip into the gate attendant's drink if he so much as hints that helping me get from Point A to Point B with my possessions is outside his job description. I think that will ensure me a pretty comfortable trip, even IF my bags go missing again.