Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I love our IT department, but I have no idea how to talk to them.

We're from different worlds: Me, wanting to describe the many esoteric and substantial ways in which my email's downtime is affecting the quality of my work and, consequently, my fragile mood. And them, desiring only to know when and why the problem occurred, and what I had done to mess things up.

We just can't seem to reach an understanding.

When I call the help desk I want the problem addressed, sure. But what I really want is someone to empathize with me. I want the person on the line to say, "Oh my god, you've been without email for how long? That's ridiculous! How are you even getting any work done? You poor thing. This must really be stressful. I'll open a ticket right this second and send one of the Cute Boys over. And I'll specifically tell him to bring you glazed donuts. And coffee."

Possibly I would like a little metaphorical hand holding and shoulder patting as well.

Instead, they say things like, "Yes, there is a known server issue at your location. Do not worry."

Okay, she did tell me not to worry. At least they seem to be making an effort.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Matilda came home from school Friday lugging five hundred pounds of fundraiser candy, all of which is now stockpiled in her room. She's supposed to sell it to finance her way to camp in October.

And hold on, before you start thinking this post is a plea for candy purchases, let me assure you that quite the opposite it true. I'm discouraging Matilda from doing any active selling, because as long as that candy is sitting here I have the option of scrounging up $1 in nickels and swiping a Snickers.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hair update: I profoundly love my hair color. Yay! I am a redhead. I would show you pictures, except for the unfortunate thing about my hair being attached to my head, which would violate my No Heads on Blog policy. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Starbucks update: If I don't get a frozen Starbucks beverage at some point in the next 48 hours I will throw this cute, fluffy hamster from a moving vehicle into oncoming traffic. Save a hamster. Knit with me at Starbucks tomorrow night. Who's in?

Knitting update: This little nightgown is just about kicking my ass. I keep telling myself it's not about the destination, it's the journey. Getting there is half the fun. Knowing is half the battle. I'm about halfway done. Despite the tedium of it, I kind of think I'll miss it when I'm finished. It's the most long-term project I've ever attempted, and it's a real lesson in living in the moment -- I will never knit this pattern again, I will never use this yarn again. This experience is happening now, and when it's over it will never be repeated.

Dog update: It has come to my attention that Finnegan is jockeying for the number two position in our pack, looking to knock me down and take up at Alpha Male's right hand. Gary noticed that when he and I snuggle on the couch, Finnegan fidgets and acts all needy. When Gary pats my leg, Finnegan sneaks his nose under Gary's hand and tries to slither up into the pet-me zone. To test the theory, Gary playfully rubbed my belly and I rolled over with my paws in the air… Finnegan went ballistic, climbed my husband and started nosing him in the face. Now Gary likes to mess with the dog by shooting him a look and then blatantly coming over and scratching behind my ears.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

As I type this, I'm a good fifteen minutes past the point of no return and well on the way to Herbal Essences' Radiant Ruby.

It itches. Oh how it itches.

And yes, I know I always do red. But I don't believe I've ever tried THIS particular shade of red, and that makes me slightly impulsive-crazy but not leave-your-kids-at-Walmart-on-accident crazy.

Okay! Time to go see if my hair falls out. And I'm not saying that wouldn't be amusing too.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

If you were working at the computer and all of a sudden a huge, black, hairy moth interposed itself between the computer screen and your head… would you jump back out of your chair and yell things like holy shit and fuck?

No, of course you wouldn't. Moths can't hurt you. They're just dumb, light-seeking, butterfly-type bugs.

It certainly wouldn't make you rapidly back away from your office door watch anxiously as the moth fluttered around your ceiling, your pulse pounding in your ears.

As the moth descended and crawled behind your office chair, I'm sure you wouldn't feel the need to cautiously poke and kick the chair with your outstretched toe, hoping to provoke the moth out of hiding so you could call someone else over to deal with it.

Okay, and I'm sure if you couldn't get the moth to come out, you wouldn't be sitting on the edge of your chair listening for signs of the moth's movement or intent, ready to freak out and bolt at the merest sign of it.

Because that would be silly.

Monday, August 22, 2005

If a problem can be solved, there is no point being unhappy.
If a problem cannot be solved, there is also no point being unhappy.
-- Shantideva

I'd like to be zen, but I'm crabby.

It's really hard to leave a sobbing little girl at preschool on her second day. It's heartbreaking, actually.

My fingernails are inexplicably brittle.

None of my clothes fit.

The air conditioner broke.

The chiropractor wants more money.

I can't find my favorite black sandals.

That's all, I think.

No wait. Also the tap water at work smells like feet.

That's it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Someday there will be a reality TV show dedicated to the World's Smelliest Vomit, and Gertrude will be worth several million.

Oh yes, Gertrude vomits and miles away a dozen emergency response teams don hazmat suits and ask which way to the biological disaster.

Gertrude vomits and around the world hundreds of bulimics are instantly cured.

It eats through ceramic tile. It corrodes metal.

Even the dog runs from it.

And worse, it hits the floor running and slithers into cracks so that days later you'll still be smelling the vomit that's hiding, breathing, and spawning inside the walls.

Friday, August 19, 2005

First, a bit of shameless bragging. After a few IQ tests and knowledge inventories recommended by her teacher last year, Matilda made it into Alpha, colloquially known as the "gifted" program. Whether this is a good thing or bad depends on whom you ask. Personally I think it's pretty cool to have a kid who can out-logic and out-analogy both her parents with several brain synapses tied behind her back.

So one day a week, they pull the Alpha kids out of regular classes and bus them off to the middle school where their delicate little brains will be nurtured and cultivated in a plan to take over the world.

They're being indoctrinated into the secret nerd society. Cool.

So last night they asked all the Alpha parents and their little Alphas were asked to sit in on an Alpha orientation for the coming school year. Matilda and I went, feeling very Gilmore Girls.

I'm not sure what I was expecting. Executive blonde mothers in suits with blonde, perfectly groomed and nannied children? At-home mothers waving flashcards and living vicariously through their bright-eyed little Baby Einsteins? Not really. Lots of normal-seeming people who, like me, were just trying to figure out which forms to fill out and give to which teacher.

We slid into hard plastic seats near the back of the middle school cafeteria and watched the Alphas file in. I discretely pulled out my knitting so as to avoid having to interact.

Matilda was horrified. "Mom!" she said. "You're not going to knit during this, are you?"

"No!" I lied. "Just until they start talking."

When they started talking and I was still knitting, Matilda gave me many dirty looks.

Welcome, etc., said the program director. And then he smiled broadly and said something about these kids being the future and having the potential to change the world.

I kicked Matilda. "That's you!" I hissed.

"Shut up," she pleaded.

The teachers came to the podium one by one and explained different things about the program. One of them described how hard the kids work and all the wonderful things they accomplish throughout the year.

I leaned over and whispered, "Sounds like a lot of work. Should we bail?"

She ignored me. I poked her.

She glared at me.

"You smart kids are no fun," I said.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I keep having dreams about being fired, and it's really an unpleasant feeling being without a paycheck and insurance. I really do appreciate that insurance. I very much enjoy not having to worry about anything but co-pays to cover hospitalizations and tooth-pullings. And I know that merely by giving voice to these fears I'm guaranteeing that something unfortunate will befall me. I'm superstitious that way.

Two "you're fired" dream in a week. It's got to have something to do with my deep-seated feelings of incompetence on the job and the conviction that no one likes me. But I really would like to keep my job, and so…

Dear boss of mine, who undoubtedly reads this site and is fully knowledgeable of the fact that I sometimes blog instead of work (like now),

I am not perfect. I sometimes feel unmotivated and unchallenged or completely out of my league on a project. This doesn't mean you should fire me! I bring a lot to the table, actually.

Like, for example, I often bring that chocolate ├ęclair cake to potlucks. Depite the fact that it really only takes about ten minutes to make, it tastes like I poured my whole heart and soul into it. Which I did, I believe! For ten minutes. And that is the kind of dedication you should appreciate in an employee.

In addition, I am not currently pregnant. No maternity leave to plan around! Yet! Er, I mean, ever! I think. Let's move on.

In terms of job performance, I may not be the flashiest writer on staff but I do have an excellent history of correct spellings. I'm not to bad with verb agreement, either. Plus also, I have never used the word "modicum" to my knowledge with any degree of seriousness.

And let us not forget who recently spent several hours reorganizing the supply closet and labeling the shelves. The extra five seconds saved every time you don't have to search for those pens you like… well, you can thank me for that.

And let's just ignore all those visits to on my Internet activity log, okey doke? It was business-related.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I arrived at work with a throbbing need-caffeine headache, despite the obnoxiously large travel mug of coffee in my hand. What is that all about? Then I realized. My brain must have heard the rumor that due to circumstanced beyond our control (Meet the Teacher night at school), I'll be foregoing the usual Tuesday night Starbucks/knitting fix upon which brain and I have become so dependent. It is truly sad that my brain has come to anticipate caffeine shortages and respond accordingly.

I conclude that Starbucks coffee is ten times more habit forming than crack. It has to be. I've been drinking coffee my entire adult life and have never felt dependent on it the way I do on this stuff. It's over-roasted and poorly brewed, but throw in some sugar and I keep going back. Why? I don't know!

Of course, this obviously means it's time to shrug off the Starbucks monkey. Time to renew my commitment to living a healthy lifestyle that does not accomodate an addiction to creamy, frothy, caffeinated beverages, iced or otherwise. I deserve the right to freely choose whether to indulge in a grande mint mocha chip Frappuccino – not because of a chemical urging, but because I feel like it.

Unfortunately right now I really, really feel like it.

I love you, little monkey. Come here and let mama scritch behind your ears.

Monday, August 15, 2005

If you happen to be one of the few people in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area with power after this weekend's storms, and if you by chance ever dabble in the fiber arts, please make quality use of your Internet connectivity by laughing your ass off at You Knit What??

Being published in a pattern doesn't make it okay, people.

Meanwhile, I've been "commissioned" to knit a backpack for someone known to me only through Craftster. I told her I could probably get it done in a few weeks. That was two days ago. I'm almost halfway done. I know…obsess much? She seems like a cool chick so I'm optimistic she'll come through on the payment side. Knitting for fun and profit! I asked Gary if I could now quit my job and knit full time, but he said no (damn).

Saturday, August 13, 2005

An interesting postscript to the Instead test...

It's Saturday morning and there I am in the shower, indulging in a good, leisurely leg shave. In mid-lather, Gary bursts into the bathroom.

"EWW! The dog got your bloody toilet paper out of the trash!"

"Ew!" I agreed, and resumed my business, figuring a little toilet paper is nothing a grown man can't deal with.

A few minutes later, I heard screaming. "Oh my God! Oh my God! He's eating it!!!"

I reluctantly shut off the water and grabbed a towel.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the sounds coming out of my children were of laughter or crying. My husband met me in the hall with an expression of horror on his face that defies description. "Oh. My. God," he said.

"What?" I said, "The toilet paper?"

Gary pointed. The children were indeed laughing. The dog was lounging in the middle of the kitchen, casually gnawing on a pink rubber ring.

"OH MY GOD!!!" I shouted.

And then I laughed so hard I think brains came out of my nose.

Friday, August 12, 2005

And now, friends, I present to you the conclusion of yesterday's product testing. For those of you just joining us, yesterday around 2 p.m. found me leaving the office for an afternoon of meetings, squeezing my thighs together to prevent a rubber donut from launching itself into restricted airspace.

2:10 – Promise carpool people would be right back and ran to restroom for one last place check. Product seemed to be holding steady. Retrieve maxi pad from machine on wall for backup. Mildly berate self for not thinking of doing this sooner.

2:17 – Confide in coworker about product testing, to circumvent the need to spill to random folks at happy hour later. Voice concerns about being shaped weird.

2:44 – Stop in swanky restroom at hotel to check. Leakage. Blah. Reposition. Congratulate self for picking up pad.

3:15 – Hate this.

3:28 – Hate this.

3:42 – Hate this. Never doing this again. Very uncomfortable. Actually, hate everything in the room right now. Hate uncomfortable hard chairs. Hate speaker. Hate stupid slide show. Grrrr.

3:55 – Escape meeting and head for restroom. More leakage. Very frustrated. Consider giving up. No, must not give up. Probably just doing it wrong. Deep breath, relax. Hmmm? Well, okay! Definitely feel a difference. Still aware of it, but less "popping out" anxiety. This is probably more right. Exit stall with confidence and hope.

4:30 – Find self in small, intimate conference room, seated directly across from head of Market Development. Consider winking inappropriately.

4:36 – Hey there, Mister Market Development. Guess what my cervix is wearing right now?

5:08 – Raise pencil and ask probing question. Deliberately place too much emphasis on the word "instead," causing me to giggle on the inside.

6:20 – Things are not going too badly. Then again, I am holding a glass of Merlot.

9:12 – Join husband on couch for post-child couple time in front of TV. Show him the box. He is horrified. I sometimes forget he's not as fascinated by female biology as I am. As I'm explaining the concept to him, he interjects, "But what happens if your cup runneth over?" Groan.

9:48 – Completely give up. This is not working. It's no fun. It's not worth it.

9:52 – Study package directions intently. Examine illustrations. Have an epiphany. Down and back! Maybe…?

10:00 – One last try, and this is it. I mean it.

10:03 – Wow. I feel nothing. Nothing! WOW! It worked!

10:07 – So ecstatic! Bounce down steps to feed cat. Do several leg lifts in the kitchen. Squat. Jump. Whee. This feels like not even having a period.

6:42 a.m. – All night, no leakage! Success.

Conclusion: If you can get the hang of using it properly, Instead is really great. I couldn't even tell it was there, and it was like having a completely normal, non-period day. However, there's a lot of inappropriate touching involved. It's slightly messy. And it really doesn't like to be positioned incorrectly. Plus, the more I think about it, I'm not sure I'm crazy about landing all those rubber rings in the landfills. I don't see why you couldn't wash them out and reuse them, but it's probably got something to do with spooky bacteria, and that's good enough for me. I'm going to check out the Diva Cup since it's reusable. At the very least, I could see using something like this overnight and on weekends.

Now, I really, really promise not to discuss menstrual blood with you again for a very long time.

I hope eventually I can persuade the boys to come back into the room. It's safe, y'all.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Those of you who enjoy making boys cringe at the mention of things like tampons and childbirth will appreciate this. Next time the conversation lags, ask the woman next to you if she's heard of Instead.

This happened at work the other day, immediately causing two males to stand up and exit the room.

Instead, as the website boasts, is "a unique, proven advancement in period protection."

My friend at work described it as more of "a plastic condom attached to a thick rubber band."

She went on to tell how well it works, and in the process actually mimed the removal technique, which we nicknamed the Hook-and-Pull.

I decided I must try it.

As a public service for my readers, exclusively on this website, I hereby dedicate Heavy Flow Day #1 to personally testing and reporting my impressions of Instead.

8:35 – Stop at Walgreens to purchase product. $6.99 for a box of 12. If, as stated on the packaging, each one can be worn for 12 hours, this represents an economical bonus. I use the pad/tampon tag team technique, which is effective but not cheap.

9:17 – Close door to office and begin perusing the product website. Am highly, highly, HIGHLY relieved to learn after a few clicks that their "send us a picture of you using Instead" is not a call for money shots, but rather a marketing campaign featuring real women in real life scenarios.*

9:48 – Time for a tampon change, which means subbing in product on its first rotation. Exciting! Feeling a little tingly as I pop open the box. Nothing like shaking up the routine now and then. I remember my first tampon was just as thrilling. Inside the box are 12 neat purple packages that look a lot like ultrathin pads.

9:50 – Open packaging and remove product. Aw, isn't it cute! It looks just like a big, fat diaphragm.

9:51 – Now how the…?

9:52 – Oh! Okay. That makes so much more sense.

9:53 – "*&)(*$&#*(@)#($&$#*(@#)($&#*$#(*#!!!!!!!!! Fu&*ing mother )(&#(*#$&!!

9:57 – Feeling lighter, freer, and quite wonderful, actually. Why doesn't everyone use these? It's the tampon revolution, I tell you! This is the best feeling in the world!

10: 02 – Is it working? How do I know if it's working? What if it's not working? Why, oh, why didn't I wear a backup pad? Am I stupid or something? I'm way too trusting. This is going to be a disaster. Like a murder scene. Wish I'd brought a change of clothes. Stupid, stupid, stupid…

10:06 – Leakage! I sense leakage! Run to the bathroom for a Hook-and-Pull. Hmm. No. Product seems to be working perfectly.

10:07 – Thought this would be easier the second time. Goddamnmotherfu…

10:14 – Feeling a bit like if I sat down wrong it might cause product to shoot out and thwak someone in the eye.

10:31 – Acutely aware of feeling completely normal. This is so weird. Something must be wrong.

10:45 – Another leakage scare reveals no leakage whatsoever.

11:58 – Finally starting to relax a bit.

11:59 – Yes! This is great! Love this product! Am never going back to tampons!

12:05 – Realize I have a happy hour with important people tonight and probably should not drink at all. Am quite sure I would end up telling a VP all about my experiences with Instead.

1:10 – Just managed to entirely forget about leak worries for over an hour! Need to pee. Confidently proceed to bathroom, only to discover leakage. Small and spotty. No big deal. This is Heavy Flow Day #1, after all. Obviously Heavy Flow Day can defeat even the most dedicated period protection device. Removal, however, was not unlike a murder scene. A little disturbing to see that much blood at once (yet kind of cool).

1:16 – Aware of someone entering stall next to me. Resist strong urge to "drop" bloody toilet paper.

1:18 – Reinstall device. Slightly easier this time, but really starting to question whether I want to be this familiar with my anatomy multiple times per day.

1:52 – Product feels like it's in a perpetual state of slipping out and running away to join the circus, which is really unnerving if not uncomfortable. Realize it was a terrible idea to test anything while on one's period. Mood swings causing me to hate product right now. Wishing someone would invent a cure for cramps.

2:00 – Leaving office to attend long meetings at really swanky downtown hotel, followed by happy hour. This scenario all but guarantees disaster.** Will keep you posted.

* Since I have always been extremely grossed out by those "Tampax was here" TV spots (especially the beach scenes), this approach did not win points with me.

** Possibility exists that Instead SoftCups make really great frisbees in meetings.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Wee Juniper

Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

This is not my baby. That is not me holding someone else's baby. But I did have the opportunity to hold this particular baby yesterday when she was brought in to work for a visit.

Of course I held her! And again. And again. And then while she was sleeping. And then one more time.

I want one of these in a bad way.

My youngest is starting school, after all.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Psychologists will tell you that The Monsters are a child's manifestations of uncertainties and fears surrounding events in their lives. But you can't really tell that to a three-year-old.

The Monsters have recently moved in with Gert. In part, I blame the impending start of preschool. In part, I also blame this book. But with Gert's imagination, I knew it was only a matter of time.

Gert will describe to you exactly what The Monsters sound like when they talk in their growly voices at night. She'll tell you what they look like, where they sit in her room, and what time of night they usually show up.

Gert came into my bed around 4:30 this morning and plopped her head down on my pillow. " I didn't close my eyes all night," she said.

"You can't sleep?" I asked, pulling her into bed with me.

"Sometimes," said Gert, "if you keep your eyes open, The Monsters won't come."

I thought about repeating the it's-in-your-imagination speech, but I was too tired. Gert, however, was clearly not, and she proceeded to tell me (in very animated tones) every detail about last night's encounters.

"My bed was spinning! And I would sit up, and I would get really dizzy. And the pictures on my wall turned into diamonds. Not the Lance picture, but my Bambi picture did. And it started to spin. And the walls were spinning too. And The Monsters came when I closed my eyes. But when I opened my eyes, they would not come. So I kept opening my eyes all night. But then my ceiling turned into a tunnel! And your ceiling looks like a tunnel too! But my eyes are open so I don't see any Monsters. They talk like this – GRROWLLERROWWLL! And when I looked at the window it looked like morning, so I thought I could wake up. Because Monsters only come at night time. But then I went potty, and when I came in here it was still night time…"

I haven't told you this, but I have an overactive imagination too. I sometimes lay in bed awake totally paralyzed with fear that aliens have stolen my husband and replaced him with an alien. Or that if I put my feet over the side of the bed to go to the bathroom, something will grab my ankles.

I still remember being about Gert's age and Actually Seeing Monsters. They were cartoonish and a little transparent, but I watched them wander around my room, climb into my baby brother's crib, and swing from a chair.

Gert's talk about beds spinning and gravelly monster voices was giving me the serious willies.

Then Gert leaned over with her face close to mine and put both hands on my cheeks. "Mom! One of The Monsters has eyes like a flashlight!"


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Help, my littlest girl is starting preschool and I'm completely flipping out. How did she suddenly attain the ability count to twelve, write the letter "C," and run in a circle around a group of seated children, slapping them in the head and yelling about ducks and geese?

She's going to school, and somewhere upstairs in the same building her sister will be sitting in a fifth-grade classroom learning about things like ecology and geometry (and she'll be enjoying it too, because she's weird like that).

I'm now frantically finishing the cross-stitch baby blanket I started for little Gertrude when I first found out I was pregnant.

I was sitting on the couch with it yesterday, trying to untangle a knot in a thread that was supposed to be the outline of a teddy bear's head. Gert came over and poked her nose into what I was doing.

I told her, "I'm making a baby blanket for my very special little baby girl."

"THAT'S ME!" Gert squealed. "That blanket is for me? I get a blanket?"

I told her yes, and she squealed some more, and then did a little dance on her toes.

Then Matilda ran into her room and showed Gert "Baby Blank," which is the cross-stitched blanket I made for her when she was a baby. It's looking a little worn, but it's in pretty good shape considering she's slept with it for the past 10 years.

Gert said to me, "Can I have my blankie now?"

"I'm almost done with it. I just have a few more outlines to sew."

"Can I sleep with it tonight?"

This all made me feel very much appreciated and incredibly guilty. The child is about to start preschool, and good God, here I am still stitching her "first" baby blanket.

"Gert, I promise I'll be done with your blankie before preschool starts."

At least three separate times last night, Gert sat up in bed and called out, "Mom… are you still working on my blanket?"

I am, actually.

I'm working on it now. And now. And also right now. Good night, Gracie.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Fish guts and more

table rock waves
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

In my blogging absence, I managed to convince my two neurotic daughters that it was safe to wade into unchlorinated lake water.

Yes, you might step on a fish. Yes, you might get your head cut off by speeding boats. But that's all okay because the waves feel cool and wet on your little toes, and you're children, and this is what summers are for.