Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stupid, Sentimental, Unbelievable, Overly-Wordy, Implausible Drivel

A friend recently gave me a book called "On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan. She thought I would like it (Ian McEwan wrote "Atonement"). This friend is usually spot on with her book recommendations and I gladly started reading it last night. The review on the front cover was "Wonderful . . . Exquisite . . . Devastating."

My review is "Horrible . . . Excruciating . . . Waste of Paper."

Why on Earth would I be interested in reading 166 pages of sappy crap about a couple (both virgins) having sex for the first time on their wedding night? That's right . . . the entire book is about ONE NIGHT. And, what's worse is that they don't even have sex until page 103! And the sex is bad sex and only lasts for one paragraph before the woman runs out of the room and down to . . . you guessed it . . . Chesil Beach.

Total. Waste. Of. My. Time.

I gave up - something I rarely do with books unless I am totally disgusted. I was totally disgusted. I threw the book away and read the first three chapters of "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court." Now that's good reading.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Who Is This Child?

On our way to the zoo in my parents' hometown this weekend, my daughter suddenly announced, "When I get big, I'm gonna get a Hummer."

My mother and I looked at each other and I said, "A Hummer?" My daughter is not quite three years old and sometimes she is hard to understand. Usually, if I say multiple words that are wrong, she gets upset until I say the word she was trying to say. I thought I had certainly misunderstood her. But I hadn't.

"Yeah . . . a Hummer."

"Like a really big car . . . that kind of Hummer?"

"Yep . . . when I get big." Duh, mama.

For the record, I don't drive a Hummer. I drive a nice little four door sedan. No one I know drives a Hummer. I doubt she has ever been in a Hummer. But she was absolutely certain she was going to get a Hummer when she gets big. Alrighty then . . . .

The next day, she informed me she wanted a "cleaner" toy for her next potty-chart-reward-toy. A vacuum-cleaner toy. Keep in mind - the child has never seen me use a vacuum cleaner. She knows we have one because it fell out of the front hall closet once when I was searching for a missing mitten. I have no idea how she knows how to use one, but when she saw a cute little pink one at the children's consignment store, she was all over it, vacuuming away. So, I bought her a used pink toy vacuum cleaner. And she's used it more than I have ever used my real one.

So, this week, I am asking, "Who is this child?" Some non-environmentally friendly, super-sized SUV-driving suburban soccer-mom/Stepford wife in the making?

Jeez . . . next she's going to tell me she's voting for John McCain.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oh Good Grief - I've Turned Into My Mother

I just shut my door and laid down to take a nap on my office floor because I was so tired. After about 10 seconds, it occurred to me that I have become my mother. My mother keeps a pillow and blanket under her desk in her office so she can cat nap between patients. I always thought it was such an old lady thing to do even though my mother is the most un-old lady I know.

It was actually kind of nice to stretch out during the work day but I couldn't relax because I kept envisioning my secretary seeing me on the floor and thinking I had passed out. How she would have seen me through the solid locked door is beyond me, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. Anyway, my mother may have a good plan - resting during the day.

Okay, so I've become my mother a little bit. That's alright, I guess. But I'll be damned if I'm going to give up wearing high-heels because they are uncomfortable and switch to only Birkenstocks. And there is no way I'm going to start eating herring for breakfast with dry toast. And I'm sure not going to start hording toilet paper like it's the end of the world. I have my standards, after all.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mamma Mia Contains a Few of My Favorite Things

Specifically . . . the music of ABBA, Colin Firth, and Pierce Brosnan. Ahhhhhhhhhh . . . heaven!

As some of you may know (and I found out last night), the popular musical based on ABBA music is coming to the big screen. I was not lucky enough to see the stage version but I will be there for opening night for the movie version. Okay, maybe not opening night but within the following week or so (depending on which child is sick and/or particularly needy at the time and can't be left with a babysitter.)

Just watching the preview made me want to get up and start dancing and giggle with delight. First, the music. I am not ashamed to admit it - I love ABBA. Love, love, love, love ABBA. I get this from my mother, who also loves, loves, loves, loves ABBA. (As an aside, I just wish to point out that I got my love of the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel from my dad, so it balances out.) Fun music to sing along to, to dance in your underwear to while singing into your hairbrush, to drive to, to sing to your children to embarrass them . . . the fun-ness never ends with ABBA.

Oh, and the lyrics! Only people not completely skilled in the English language who were raised in the cold northern part of Europe could come up with these dreamsicle lyrics:

Waterloo - Couldn't escape if I wanted to
Waterloo - Knowing my fate is to be with you
Waterloo - Finally facing my Waterloo

Or these:

Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again?
My my, just how much I've missed you
Yes, I've been brokenhearted
Blue since the day we parted
Why, why did I ever let you go?
Mamma mia, now I really know,
My my, I could never let you go.

Anyway, the other reason I love ABBA is the Swedish accents. My maternal grandparents both spoke with the Swedish accent and every time I listen to ABBA, I can hear them again . . . particularly my grandmother, who loved "Dancing Queen."

Also . . . Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan. Yum. They just get better and better with age.

Speaking of yum, the movie I saw last night was "Made of Honor" with Patrick Dempsey. I'm sure there were other humans in the movie, but I really didn't care. It was cute and totally predictable in every way, but Patrick Dempsey was in nearly every frame (and quite often shirtless, although he looks damn good in a suit), so it was well worth the price of admission.

He had me at "Can't Buy Me Love" and I've been in love ever since . . . .

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Your Bra Can Save the Planet

Well, not quite yet, but a Japanese company has invented a "solar-powered bra that can generate enough electric energy to charge a mobile phone or an iPod." Well, thank god. I was wondering when someone was going to figure out a way for my bras to be more proactive in saving the planet.

The bra is not without its problems however. The solar panels are worn around the stomach, which makes it more of a corset than a bra, really, and not very comfortable or breathable. It is hospital-gown-green, but that's not really a problem, is it? I mean, I've always felt there aren't enough green bras in the world. Oh, and it won't work if you wear clothes over it. So, it looks like we are going to bring back the whole Madonna "under-wear-as-outer-wear" look. Also problematic - it can't be washed or worn on a rainy day. Aside from those minor details . . . I say FABULOUS.

Most importantly, "it does send the message of how lingerie could possibly save the planet." Wow! And here I was, you know, trying to save the planet without using my underwear by doing things like recycling, turning my thermostat down, and buying Energy Star appliances. Silly me.

I don't know . . . if you are going to invent solar powered clothing to recharge cell phones and iPods, wouldn't you start with outer clothing like coats and jackets? Or hats? Why bras?

It does give added meaning to the phrase, "Charge me up, baby!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Daughter Has Been Possessed by Miss Manners

Not even three days after I thought I was going to have to send my two toddlers to military school, my daughter decided to change the name of the game. Now she's trying to kill me with kindness. In the two hours we were together this morning, she managed to be the nicest toddler this side of the Mississippi.

6:49 am (coming upstairs from her room) - "Good morning, Mama!" This struck me as odd, as her usual first statement of the day is either "I just wet" meaning she has peed in her bed or "Find my ________ (toy) right now!"

6:55 am (after I have told her to go potty and get her clothes) - "Okay, Mama!" And she actually did it! Without stalling with playing she must do before completing any other task or screaming "NO!!" at the top of her lungs.

7:10 - 7:30 am - Actually using Please and Thank You at breakfast. The norm is saying, "Milk, milk, milk, milk, milk, milk" with increasing volume while I am clearly doing something else for someone else.

7:40 am - Putting her shoes on without being asked. She did this without arguing with me about which shoes she was going to wear and without five minutes of insisting she couldn't put her shoes on by herself when she has been putting her shoes on by herself for the last six months. And they're Crocs, for christsake. A monkey could put those on by himself.

7:55 am - Trying to appease my son while he is throwing a temper tantrum. Usually, when he is throwing a fit, she stands next to him and screams, "That hurt my ears!! Too loud! Mama, he hurt my ears!"

8:17 am - Offering to carry both her bag and his bag out to the car. I expect her to carry her own bag to school and mostly, she dramatically flops her arms down when I give it to her and says, "Too heavy! Can't carry it!" Yeah, right . . . because one pair of underwear, a pair of shorts, and a lip smacker are too heavy for your petite 35-pound frame.

8:26 am - while driving to school in the car and the boy is throwing a different fit, she says, "I sorry for [the boy] Mama." That one really got me - now I am sure the child was abducted by aliens and replaced with some sort of robot-toddler who only uses her nice words, is fully potty trained (even through the night), and never deliberately pisses off her brother.

OR . . . .

She has discovered the age-old trick of older sisters . . . if the brother is acting like a complete shit, turn on the charm and become the perfect child. The rewards will be endless!!

OR . . . .

They are in this together . . . the old bait-and-switch. In a few days, the boy will be the perfect child and the girl will become possessed by the devil! That's the perfect way to keep Mama on her toes (and walking the fine line between psychosis and neurosis).

Tricky, very tricky! But, what you don't know my pretties, is that your Mama has been around the block a few times. You will never win . . . resistance is futile!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pointlessly Hypertechnical is One Year Old!

Today is my first anniversary as Ms. PH. While blogging has not turned me into the amazing superhero I thought it would, it has been a great year.

Incidentally, May 12th last year was one day before Mother's Day. My Mother's Day post the next day was almost shocking to read because it was so serene and calm. I long for the baby days . . . .

This year's Mother's Day was not a celebration at all. I really had one of the worst days as a mother . . . ever. The screaming and fit-throwing started as soon as they woke up and continued all day. After their naps and another fight about whose toys were whose, I had finally lost it and said, "The next time either one of you screams or cries, you are BOTH going back in your beds and I'm going in my bed for the REST OF THE DAY!!!!"

For reasons no one knows, that actually worked and they were pretty good for the rest of the day. What didn't work was telling them it was Mother's Day and they needed to be nice to me. Surprise, surprise.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I'm So Stimulating . . .

. . . the economy, that is.

When I first heard about the economic stimulus checks, I thought it was a cruel joke. The government giving me free money? No way . . . too good to be true. But, you know, as the checks rolled in, I thought maybe this is a good idea. After all, even though my check was cut because of my income level, any extra money is always helpful.

I planned exactly what I was going to do with the money - new tires for my car. My car guy told me in December that I desperately needed new tires and I pretty much ignored him. After all, car guys are almost always lying or puffing to get you to spend more money at their shops. I asked him if he defined "desperately" as (1) need to change because it is a good proactive thing to do or (2) need to change because the car will explode tomorrow if they are not changed. After a pause, he said, "Well, the car's not going to explode . . . ." Thanks, buddy! That means I'll wait six months to replace the tires.

But, since I am a responsible adult, I resigned myself that this stimulus money was going mostly to new tires, although I would have rather used it to spend a week at the spa. (Man, does it suck to be a grown-up!) So, last weekend I bought my car some new tires. Then I went and bought the kids some big toys - a Dora "Best Friends" trike for the girl and a "Cozy Coupe II" for the boy. And then I bought them some clothes and a few unnecessary items at the Disney Store (store closing prices!)

I still had some money left (I feel like I am on some sort of game show . . .) and I thought I would buy myself some clothes, shoes, and books. But my house had other ideas . . . my house apparently wanted a new dishwasher. It told me it wanted a new dishwasher because the existing one basically exploded on Sunday night. I guess my clothes, shoes, and books will have to wait until next year. (OK - who are we kidding - I'll buy that stuff anyway.)

So, yesterday, I bought a new dishwasher and was questioned by the sales clerk. She wanted to know if I have an existing dishwasher. Yep! Then she asked if it can be removed. Umm . . . well, I've never tried to remove my dishwasher, but I am assuming it wasn't cemented into the kitchen . . . so, Yep! No, she explained, what I mean is has a floor been laid in front of it?

Oh shit.

I personally haven't laid a floor in front of it, but the people who owned it before I did put a new ceramic tile floor in the kitchen. I have no idea if the dishwasher was in place when they did that. Damn.

The bottom line is that, if the current dishwasher doesn't slide out on its own, I can either (1) rip the floor out or (2) rip the countertop off. I'd rather do the countertop because the floor is relatively new and the countertops are much older (and faux-wood Formica - Yikes!) But, if I take the countertops off, I will have to replace the sink as well because it is pretty much cemented to the countertop. And, hell, as long as we're going . . . why not a new faucet? Water filtration system? New cabinets? New stove? Let's replace all the windows, too. Why the hell not?

Take that stupid economy. Now get up off your lazy ass and start making my investments worthwhile!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Big. Red. Balls.

Clearly, the people responsible for designing Target stores have never had preschool aged children. If they had, they may have thought twice about lining the front of their stores with big red balls. I understand their purpose, but why big red balls? I know, I know . . . big red balls sort of resemble their logo, a flat red target. And by "sort of" I mean that the color is the same and they are both generally circular. Sort of like how the sun and an electric burner are the same - they are both hot and generally circular.

I digress . . . my point is that if those designers had come up with something else, I wouldn't have to hear this conversation during our weekly visits to Target.

17-month old son: (Upon seeing the balls) BAAAALLLLLLLLLLL!! BAAAALLLLLL!! BAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLL!! (This will continue until I acknowledge he has spoken about the balls.)

Me: Yes, those are balls.

2 1/2 year old daughter: Mama, look at those balls!


Me: Yep, look at those balls.

Daughter: Those are RED balls!


Me: Yes, those are red balls.

Daughter: Mama, those are BIG RED BALLS!

Our little procession from the parking lot to the store is often very amusing to people, particularly teenage boys. I must admit, I find it pretty amusing as well, but sometimes I just don't want to hear about big red balls over and over again. Then I wonder if there will ever be a time when I grow up enough and don't laugh at things like "BIG RED BALLS!" I don't think I ever want to be that grown up.

After all, if I were that grown up, I couldn't laugh every time my daughter says, "Schwing-nex" rather than Kleenex. Sometimes I deliberately ask her "What's this?" while holding a Kleenex just to hear her say "Schwing-nex" and giggle a little.

Huh-huh . . . she just said "schwing."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Comcast Brainwashed My Dog

There have been so many negative things being said about Comcast lately, rightly or wrongly, that it has almost reached mythical proportions. But here is my story, which has a happy ending and a cute guy involved. The only bad thing I can say about Comcast is that their employees seem to lack a decent sense of humor.

The dog ate my remote control on Sunday night. Well, I guess she didn't really eat it, per se, she gnawed on it and split it open so some of the insides came out. However you want to explain it, she rendered the remote non-functioning. Despite my irritation, I find this hugely amusing and have been telling everyone my dog ate my remote. Most people find this amusing as well.

So on Monday morning, I called the Comcast number listed on my bill. When I get to a real person, I say, "Hi, my name is Ms. PH and my dog ate my cable remote. Can you tell me how I can get a new one?" The woman on the other end said, "Is it broken?" (No, lady, it's not broken, I'm just calling you to tell you that my dog ate my remote but it still functions perfectly - I just thought you wanted to know. Jeez.) "Yes, it's broken," I said. "OK," she said, "just bring it into your local office and they will exchange it for $15. But since you broke it, you will have to return the old one and you have to pay $15." She sounded so serious, like I had smashed some very important equipment that would cost thousands to replace.

But, I was in a fairly good mood and still thought my predicament was very amusing, so I was gladly willing to pay $15 for a new remote. On my lunch hour, I drove home and picked up the pieces of the old remote and drove to Comcast. When I opened the door to the building, it was like I had stepped into the third circle of hell - the DMV circle. But it was worse than the DMV - there were about 12 people in line ahead of me and they were pissed. When I opened the door, they all looked at me like "Wipe that happy look off your face and welcome to hell."

Then I became aware of the noise in the room. Everyone has heard this noise before - the sound of three people complaining about no services, high bills, and unfair treatment and tired employees trying to placate them. I took my place at the end of the line, with remote in hand. The guy in front of me looked at it and said, "What happened?" "My dog ate my remote," I said. "Oh," he said, "Well, Comcast threatened to cut off my cable. They called yesterday while my wife was in labor having a baby and said I had to come down and pay my bill immediately."

"Well, congratulations on the new baby . . . I just want a new remote."

Another guy (the cute guy) in front of me turned around and said, "They are not exchanging equipment," and pointed to a sign that said, "WE ARE NOT EXCHANGING EQUIPMENT DURING OUR SWITCH." I smiled at the cute guy . . . well, because he was cute and had a British accent, and said, "The hell they aren't! I called this morning and they told me I could exchange my remote for $15!" Cute guy kind of scoffed at that notion. He had clearly been in Comcast too long.

In the half hour I waited in line, I heard all sorts of sob-stories. Billing problems, equipment problems, service issues, rudeness. As I stood there with my remote, I sort of felt like I was in the ER waiting room with a twisted ankle while everyone else was bleeding from the head or unconscious. My problem didn't seem that bad. But I was determined to get my new remote and ready to do battle if they said they wouldn't exchange equipment.

Finally, it was my turn to talk to the customer service representative, who was clearly very drained from being yelled at for the last four hours. I walked up to her window and smiled. Then I set all of the remote pieces on the counter. "My dog ate my remote." No laugh, no smile, nothing! She wasn't amused at all!! She simply scooped up the pieces and dropped them in the trash can. Then she handed me a new remote.

"Thanks," I said, "and as long as I am here, I might as well pay my bill." She told me the total and I said, "Is that with the $15 new remote charge?" She looked at me blankly. "Why would I charge you for a new remote?" I said, "Well . . . um . . . because the woman on the Comcast phone told me I had to pay $15 for a new remote because I broke it. Or, I mean, the dog broke it . . . ." My second attempt at the joke failed too.

She replied, "I just threw the old one in the trash, which I would have done anyway because it said Insight on it. So, I'm not going to charge you for a new one."

"Awesome! Thanks!" I smiled again at her but got the same blank look. I smiled at all of my fellow queue standers and said, "Bye! Good luck." Then I got the hell out of there.

The moral of the story is: Comcast is not entirely evil and has the ability to use common sense but needs to work on its employees' sense of humor.

And, if you are the cute guy . . . I hope your issues were solved and you are back on the Internet. You made me almost wish the line was longer . . . almost.