Wednesday, December 29, 2004

HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION: If it is true that a) My boss is out of town, and b) All of today's tasks have been completed with grace and flair, is it therefore logical to conclude that I should spend the rest of the afternoon with my door shut knitting a superpunk sweater and listening to Spoozys at a decidedly unprofessional volume?
On my to-do list before the year ends:

Find a way to use up about 2 pounds of frozen pork in my freezer, hopefully in some sort of tasty, low-effort casserole.

Select "EspaƱol" when I check out my groceries through the self-service lane at Schnucks.

Finish a project at work that's tied to a bonus. I could be finishing that up right now if I weren't making lists… whatever.

Make peace with the pre-tax reimbursement accounts so all columns end with zero.

Reacquaint myself with the concept of healthful snacking and reasonable portion sizes. Right now my pants are so tight I can't put my hands in my pockets, and that's seriously crimping my ain't-no-big-deal style.

Clean the house so that when people come over they're not tripping over human-sized balls of lint.

Pretend I actually have people coming over so I'll have an excuse to prepare six or seven packages of Little Smokies swimming in barbecue sauce.

Buy toothpicks, because Little Smokies taste ten times better coming off a toothpick. Even if you're standing over the crockpot in your own kitchen, wearing sweatpants and stabbing at them like fish in a barrel.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Santa got a lot of things right this year. A Pixter for Gert and a Gameboy for Matilda, a karaoke machine, a bottle-sucking baby Annabelle, and several of the very loudest board games known to man.

The karaoke machine was cool on Christmas morning, but it didn't really come into its own until later that day when the girls were given a huge set of "play" (a word which here means never-ever-to-be-worn-outside-the-house, or not-even-when-you're-forty) makeup by Grandpa. And Matilda's biodad "gave" (a word meaning to foot the bill for an idea he never would have come up with on his own) her a spot in a musical theater class.

Well, by the time Monday rolled around and Daddy had to go back to that business of being in business, it became clear to me and the girls that it was time to become Pop Stars.

First stop was Wardrobe – rooting through closets for mismatched clothing skirts with some spin, to them.

Then it was time to hit the ProStyle Salon for Hair and Makeup, in which it was announced that I was "the best!" for letting them smear makeup on themselves. Have you ever applied mascara to a 3-year-old? Go ahead and tell me how wrong it is. Both girls got the whole thing – eyeshadow, lips, blush, nails. And then they did the same to me.

As my face began busily breaking out beneath thick layers of Walmart cosmetics, the little brittneys sang and shrieked into the microphone, taking turns calling the other up on stage to perform.

Just as I had them believing I might possibly be the coolest mom ever, I announced my next big idea.

"Okay! Now let's all go wash our faces with Noxema before Mommy realizes what's actually taking place here."

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Another successful office party last night, rounded off with competitive alphabet belching. Props to Whitney for her victory, who apparently after we left started cranking her fist in the air and yelling, "I'm a belching machine! BraKK! BraKK!"

Whitney doesn't even work here.

She claimed to be with one of the designers, but I'm not so sure he was willing to admit to that by the end of the night.

Ah, to be young and drunk again.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

There's a strange hostile vibe in the toy section of stores these days. You'll notice it kicking in if you find yourself standing in front of a display thinking over a purchase, weighing the price, features, etc, all of the perfectly rationale shopping strategies that you employ the other 11 months of the year. Then another parent walks up beside you and starts eyeing toys on the same display.

Suddenly, it becomes critical that you end your leisurely browsing and make a dive for any particular toy that interests you, because you might be picking up the last one in stock. And the other parent might pick it up first, leaving you frantically grasping for Plan B before that too is snatched up.

Hooray for the holidays.

I'm normally very "whee, it's Christmastime!" but not this year. It came around too fast, and I wasn't prepared. I don't feel organized, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something important that will occur to me on Christmas Eve when it's too late. I haven't baked cookies, I haven't sent cards. Sorry, I don't think they're going out to anyone this year – please don't take me off your list. I'll send you two next time.

I want to be excited about Christmas but I'm afraid I'm failing at the whole thing and therefore should enjoy none of it. I guess I just need to lighten up because no one gets it 100% right, and those who do end up with display-case Christmas scenes where everyone is sitting perfectly still, afraid of upsetting the perfection and sending you into convulsions.

That's not cool. What's cool is sitting in your darkened living room watching the lights blink on the tree, just like you did in when you were a kid and it was magic.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I'm really ashamed of myself (well, not really), but I just told a spammer where to go.

Not one of those who steals your email off your website or a message board and bombards you with offers of cheap Viagra… I'm talking about people who you have one simple exchange with over email, and then you find yourself suddenly added to a list of about 90 "close friends" in her address book. The kind of friends to whom she routinely forwards every joke, urban legend, puppy photo, inspiring Bible passage or Christian preaching that happens to land in her inbox.

I'm normally very nonconfrontational. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. So for five or six months, I simply deleted the 500 or so "FW: FW: this is so cute!!!" subject lines from this individual and assumed she was well-meaning and harmless.

Then I randomly opened one of her emails and was kind of horrified that it was being mindlessly forwarded by people who evidently see the word "God" and think it's a nice sentiment to pass along.

I'm paraphrasing, but it said (in loud, magenta, 36-point, sans-serif type):

You suck if you:

  • Are an immigrant, the child of an immigrant, or have ever spoken a language other than English!
  • Say "Season's Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas!" Everyone knows Christmas is the "real" holiday this time of year, and if you don't believe in Jesus you're retarded!
  • Don't want organized prayer in public schools! If you don't like God, you should go find another country to go live in! (Sadly, that last line wasn't paraphrased.)
  • Are offended by this email! Because that means you're one of THEM!

It went on and on, spewing intolerance and ignorance to the point where it felt like even the other spam in my inbox was kind of staring at its feet and exchanging embarrassed glances.

Feeling that perhaps this had crossed the line from "well-meaning and harmless" to "offensive and unacceptable," I replied to the spammer, expressed my disappointment in her decision to forward such a hate-filled email, and requested that she remove me from her address book.

Five minutes later, I received two more "FW: FW: this is so cute!!!" subject lines.

I drafted a new reply. "Seriously," I said. "Please do not send me any more crap. Please. I really mean it."

"FINE!!!" came her reply. "You're not getting anything else from me!!! Don't reply to this email!!!"

"Reply," I replied. I like that I amuse myself.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


I have a very practical approach to shoes. I buy a few pairs and wear them to death, repeat.

I also cannot stand to pay more than ten dollars for a pair of shoes I plan to wear to death. Don't ask me why. I also have an eight-dollar sweater rule. It makes it very painful to shop outside of the off-season, but nevermind.

Yesterday I kicked off my shoes at the end of the day, and later heard them whimpering and licking their wounds in the corner of the closet. When I went to see what was wrong, they flinched and tried to scoot away from me. So since I had just been given a $25 gift certificate to a certain major department store, I went to check out their shoe selection. I was excited to see a rack of shoes 50% off! Less excited to find that the discounted price of every pair exceeded my gift card allowance.

The best option was a very uninspiring pair of black flats for $24. Sure, I could pay $24 for a pair of shoes I don't love, but I'd rather pay $8 for a pair I do.

So on the advice of a fellow cheapskate, I went to check out the store's outlet. I was immediately encouraged by racks of $6.99 sweaters. And they had shoes. Cute, sassy, fun, inspiring shoes! I cautiously approached a pair of black flats and struck up a conversation.

"Hi there," I said. The shoes smiled and looked interested, so I continued.

"I couldn't help but notice you're sitting under a red clearance sign. I'm sure this is a terribly personal question, but I was just wondering how much you are."

"$9.99," said the pair.

"You're kidding! Hey, I hope this isn't some scene where all the cute, affordable shoes are tiny. Do you mind if I ask what size you are?"


"Hmm! Would you be willing to pretend you're a 9?"

The shoes agreed, and three more pairs joined the party. And we all lived happily ever after. And I have a new favorite store. But I'm not giving you any more details because those are MY $6.99 sweaters.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I've always secretly believed that I'm a really, really uninteresting person. If you happen to find anything interesting about me, that's only because some of your own interestingness is reflecting off this big tabula rasa where my personality ought to be.

But never mind. If you're not seeing it, then I'm doing a good job of disguising it. And that's good enough for me. Consider it the gift of optical illusion. Merry Yule.

Of course, the best delusion is self-delusion! If anyone were ever to come along and poke a hole in my thin, reflective veneer… boy, that would be depressing.

Have I shown you my collection of irrational fears lately? It's around here somewhere, probably right behind my stack of unresolved issues and bottles of emotion.

Speaking of depressing, I'm starting it wonder if it was a mistake to get involved in Freecycle. I now find it impossible to drive down any residential street on trash day without thinking, "What??! Why would anyone throw out what appears to be a perfectly serviceable seat cushion from a chair circa 1978?"